Friday, December 29, 2017


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Okay, nothing as embarrassing (but, clearly needed) as a spiritual time out.
Not too long ago, I woke up complaining. It’s a nasty habit I need to break, for sure. But, I clearly heard God say to me, “If you’re complaining about someone, you’re not praying for them. If you were sincerely praying for them, you wouldn’t want to hinder those prayers with doubt, unbelief, grumblings and complaining.” Ouch!
Proverbs 3:12 tells us plainly, “For whom the Lord loves, he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delights.” (KJV)
Of course, He’s right. He’s always right. Those are the arguments we can’t win, there’s no defense when God points out something like that. Conviction sets in, repentance falls from your heart and you start over, yet again.
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Makes me ponder the point: how many of our prayers go unanswered because we ask amiss. (“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss….” – James 4:3 KJV) Surely, it would be considered asking amiss to pray and complain about the same person/situation.
Do you have that one person or situation you find yourself complaining about a lot? In the Old Testament, God became so angry with the Israelites for grumbling and complaining that the ground opened up and swallowed a bunch of them. (Numbers 16)
Thank God for the covenant of grace!
I just wanted to share this “spanking” with all of you, so that God doesn’t have to chastise you, too. Or, perhaps, so that He can use this blog post to do the chastising for Him.
Heads up: Complaining and praying do NOT go hand in hand.
Mark 11:24-26 “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:24-26 (KJV)
Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go they way; first be reconciled to they brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (KJV)

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Hammer

This is my Christmas story, I've share it before - but, here it is again. However you imagine the hammer used to nail Jesus to the cross, here's the story inspired in me many years ago. I hope you love it as much as I do....and the songs that follow the blog post. 
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The Hammer
by Helen Williams!

Since Mary and Joseph had been turned away from all the inns and told they could stay in a barn and that their child could sleep in the newly made manger when he was born, that’s where they found themselves the next morning. Their child had been born late in the night, a boy child. They named him Jesus. He lay quietly on a bed of hay in the manger. As Mary sat there watching him sleep, she couldn’t help but notice what a beautiful manger it was. Considering it was built to hold hay for the cows, she wondered why its maker took such care and put so much delicate work into it. Her husband, being a carpenter, might know. She called it to his attention and asked him why he thought the carpenter that built it would have made it so ornate.

‘Well, either he just takes a lot of pride in his work, no matter what he’s making, or he had nothing much else to do and decided to put all that detail there to keep himself busy. Or perhaps God told him that our child – His child, would lay there. Only the carpenter himself knows. And yes, he did a wonderful job on it. But we’ll probably never know who made it, dear.’

As he was answering Mary some straw from the hayloft sifted through the boards and they heard a rustling coming from above.

‘But then again,’ he whispered, ‘one never knows.’

He tiptoed around to the steps that led to the hayloft and as quietly as he could, climbed them. When he got to the top he boldly asked, ‘Who’s up here?’

He waited for an answer. At first there was silence. But when he saw the straw moving, he asked, ‘Shall I come see for myself?’

At that, the straw moved a lot and from it emerged an old man. He tried to stand, but lost his footing and sat down.

‘Hello, master. It is only I, the keeper of the animals. I mean you no harm. I sleep here alone. I’ll be on my way about with my chores now.’

He got up and hobbled to the top of the steps as Joseph descended. He came down slowly. By the time he reached the last step, Mary eagerly asked him if he knew who had made the beautiful manger.

He nodded his head. ‘It was I, ma’am.’

Mary noticed that even though he was on the ground now, he didn’t stand up straight. She complimented the craftsmanship he’d so skillfully used on the manger but had to ask, ‘Why did you make it so special? A manger is for animals to eat from. You made it look like a piece of furniture for a king’s house.’

‘Ah yes, ma’am. I did make furniture for the king’s palace, and he did like it to be perfect. I can still work as well as I used to, even though I’m all bent over now. So my work carries on. Though the only job I could get was here. You see ma’am, once you’ve worked for the king and been let go, no one wants you. I’m a reproach among men and they don’t even know why. The king didn’t like the way I look. When I was young and strong looking they liked to have me as the king’s carpenter. But as I’ve aged, time has not been so kind to me. The longer I live, the more bent over I stay. When the king dismissed me no one would even look at me. I felt as though he’d spit on me. All I managed to bring with me was that big ol’ hammer there.’
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He pointed it out. ‘So now, you must know that God’s hand is upon me for me to make such a craft using such a big hammer. The other tools I use, I’ve made myself. They too are meager, but that big hammer was once in the king’s carpenter shop. I guess it’s rather special to me. I worked there a long time.’

As he rambled on, he came nearer to the baby and was straining his neck to see him. Joseph sat down behind Mary, putting his hand on her shoulder. They both smiled at the man. Mary asked, ‘Would you like to see our baby? Come closer. He seems to have awakened by your voice, but he’ll not cry.’

‘Why, his eyes are opened and he’s just a newborn. I’ve never seen the likes of him,’ he chuckled. ‘It looks as though he’s looking right up at me, almost as if he knows me. Cute little boy. What did you name him?’

Joseph spoke up, ‘His name is Jesus. Come closer. Would you like to hold him?’

‘Oh, you can’t trust my back. I don’t think I should.’ But there was a look of yearning in his eyes.

‘God’s hand is upon you, remember? You said so yourself. Pick him up and hold him close,’ Mary said.

The old man came closer and bent over to pick him up, praying he’d be able to hold the boy Jesus. As he stood up, he kept straightening himself to a standing position. At first he didn’t even realize he stood up straight, as he did in his youth. He smiled at the child and talked to him ever so quietly. He looked at Mary and said, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was trying to tell me that he knows me. Just the wishing of an old man…’ His voice trailed off.

Suddenly realizing he was standing tall, he exclaimed, ‘Why, little Jesus, if you could see me now! I’m standing again! It’s a miracle!’

He held the baby close to himself and began to dance around the room. Joseph smiled at Mary and she said, ‘It’s not the first one to happen in this barn.’

After returning the baby to the manger, the man said, ‘I’m blessed by the hand of God, indeed. I can’t repay God for the miracle He’s done in my life, but I do want you to take my hammer with you when you go. I want you to teach this young child to be a good carpenter. As he grows, show him how to bring life to something as simple as a piece of wood. And tell him about me when he’s older. And tell him about the manger. And, I wish I could tell him myself. If you were going to be around for a while, I’d make him something to take with him, from me. But I’m sure you’ll be moving on shortly here. So take the hammer, please. The hammer reminded me of when I worked for the king. But my walk will remind everyone that I walk for the king, now.

His eyes gleamed with joy and delight.

Joseph accepted the hammer from the old man and promised that it would be Jesus’ to use as he grew, knowing that he’d have to be quite a little man to swing that hammer. It was a big one, indeed.

When Jesus was big enough to swing the hammer, the first thing he made was a manger for his donkey to eat from. He took time and care and lovingly made it after the pattern his mother had described so many times. When he’d completed his work, he called his mother to see it. He led her by the hand into the workshop where he and his father worked so diligently. She was proud of his work and her eyes filled with tears.

Jesus said, ‘Mother, if my donkey can come into the house, we can keep it there! It does look beautiful enough for a king’s house, doesn’t it?’

‘It sure does, my son. But the donkey stays outside. We’ll keep the manger forever. It will remind us how our heavenly Father wants us humbled before Him, so He can lift us up with His blessings. The manger you laid in was truly a blessing, to me, as well as to the old man. I wanted you to have the best, but God wanted you to be born in a barn. But in the midst of that barn, He let us know that He was there with us. Oh my Jesus, I love you.’ She hugged him tight.

As Jesus grew older, he grew in the wisdom of God and in love. He always showed his love, never esteeming himself more highly than others. He knew that it was better to give than to receive and he knew that he would give the ultimate display of love at the appointed time. He knew that when you lend, expect not to receive back what you’ve lent. And he always gave his best, which is why when a city boy came out to where Jesus lived, looking for the biggest and heaviest hammer he could find, Jesus gave him his.

The boy told him, ‘My father is the biggest man in the city and he has a big job to do. I told him that I would find just the right hammer for the job and I’ll keep looking until I do.’

Jesus stopped him and said, ‘Why did you promise to find this special hammer for your father?’

‘Wouldn’t you?’ the boy replied. ‘Besides,’ he added with a whisper, ‘if I do bring home the perfect hammer, he won’t send my mother and me away.’
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Jesus told him, ‘Well, you’ll need a little help to carry my hammer. It’s very big; just right for that big job. I’ll help you carry it.’

They walked together for almost a mile. Pointing, the boy announced, ‘There’s my father. We live over there. He will be please. Would you like to meet him? Come on.’

The boy ran ahead of Jesus, calling to his father. Looking up, he saw them coming.

‘I’ve found the biggest and best hammer for you, Father!’

His father looked at Jesus and furrowed his brow. ‘Do I know you? You look so familiar. Your look says you know me.’

‘No,’ Jesus replied, ‘you don’t know me yet.’

He handed him the hammer and shook his other hand. After Jesus turned to walk away, the man looked at his hand, the one that held onto Jesus’, running his fingers over the palm as if he were feeling for something.

‘He was a big man, wasn’t he, Father? He sure had a big hammer, and he gave it to us, Father!’

Years later on a hill called Golgotha, Jesus saw that hammer again, and it was being used for a big job alright. After the soldier swung the last blow of the hammer, he looked at the man he was nailing to the cross. His eyes filled with horror as he recognized his face. He fell to his knees but quickly got back up before anyone would realize that his heart was being pierced. It seemed like forever as he looked into Jesus’ eyes, everything he’d ever done came up in his mind. He felt so helpless and he somehow knew why.
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Jesus said to him, so quietly that no one else heard, ‘Now, you know me. And yes, I’ve always known you, and I love you.’

It was no coincidence that his marriage was mended from the day he received that.

It was no coincidence that his son was standing there beside him, also in a Roman soldier’s uniform.

He dropped the hammer and walked away from the cross, looking back only once. In his heart he grieved. But he knew that God knew of his grief when Jesus cried aloud from the cross in the air, ‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.’

He followed after the disciples – forgiven and alive for the first time in his life.

Have you yet to hold that hammer in your hand?

The house the King desires to live in is your heart. What have you let Him build there – with His hammer?
Ray Boltz - The Hammer

Ray Boltz - Feel The Nails

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Blame It On Christmas

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When we’ve called ourselves Christians for a long time, but no one around us has a clue that we profess Jesus Christ is Lord, it can be an awkward step to speak out about our faith and to walk it out in front of our friends.

What better time to take advantage of the holiday season? Blame it on Christmas! Speak out a little bolder, give a little more generously, love a little more freely – and blame it on Christmas. Jesus IS the reason for the season, take advantage of that.

Speakers sometimes brings up the challenge, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Does it make you feel a little uncomfortable, do you squirm in your seat a little more than usual? Do you wonder? Where is your evidence?

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In James we read, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus, also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is on God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!  (James 2:14-10 NKJV)

Yes, our faith empowers our works. Without faith in God, nothing we accomplish will mean a thing throughout eternity.

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It’s time for your big break, hide behind the mantel of the season, if need be, but exercise your faith. Speak up when conversations or situations make you uneasy; it’s the Spirit of God inside of you moving you to speak, to take action.

When you feel that nudge from God – blame it on Christmas!

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Struggle is Real

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What an honor to be asked to share a guest blog for Positively Debbie! She never ceases to amaze me with her courage, tenacity and determination. She continues to inspire me and encourage me in my fitness journey as I watch her push forward with hers.

It’s not just about weight loss, but that seems to be where we measure it the most. For me, it’s clearly about what I do and don’t put into my mouth; that’s where my weakness seems to triumph over me, daily.

I tend to look at things through the mirror of parallels – what’s going on around me spiritually while I take part in what’s going on around me physically?

My weight loss pendulum swings far to the heavy side, at the moment. As I age, it’s quite tempting to blame the advancing years for the slowing down of my body. It’s also easy to blame my emotions for the Doritos and pizza my mouth craves.

I’ve read some terrific books over the years (here’s a great one: - Made to Crave, by Lysa Terkeurst).

And, I’ve met some fabulous encouragers, those who’ve gone before me in this fitness journey, and met it with success. Debbie is one of those who’ve faced the battles, though different in appearance from my own, the roots are the same.

Among so many things, we face loneliness (empty nest syndrome), sadness (the absence of loved ones), hormonal fluctuations, boredom, and an overall emptiness that longs to be filled.

The way I see it, the deciding factor for reaching our fitness goals is simply: with what do I fill my gaping voids?

Another great book? I AM, by Michele Chusatt

Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m a Christian, because too often, there’s a lack of evidence with which I could be convicted as such. I feel like many could judge me and say, “If this God of yours truly loves you, why doesn’t He help you with these important areas of life struggles?”

And that’s just the kind of thing the enemy tries to silence me with, not being a good example before my fellow strugglers.

But, the blame lies with me. Enough of this banter that says, “…it’s not your fault…” Indeed, most of the time, it IS my fault. I get to choose whether I listen to the voice of logic and reason that tells me the bag of Doritos I’ve hidden for myself is the wrong place to go for validation and acceptance. I know in my heart, that God has already validated my heart, and has unconditionally accepted me, blemishes and all. He waits eagerly to meet my every need. He longs to be my source, for everything. Better yet, He loves me – always has, always will.

Yet… I too often seek refuge in a salty snack. Why? I suppose if I had all the answers, my book would be the next best seller and I wouldn’t have a weight loss care in the world.

The answers that I know will truly work, are those answers that have worked for me in the past:

*Get my eyes on Jesus, not on the weight scale. What we look at determines what fills our minds. Is my mind on God? Or on that little digital number that can ruin my day?

*Turn to the Bible before I lunge for the snacks. Most often, the desire for the snack disappears. My focus determines my actions.

*Get my praise on! Don’t listen to sad, sappy love songs where the songwriter ended up on the losing end of things!

*Listen to what God says about me, not what the world tries to force down my throat. I AM worthy of love, I AM accepted and justified, through Jesus Christ! Gone are the days of shame, Jesus has washed me clean of all that. The enemy of my soul loves to drag me down with his lies and a big bag of chips.

*Recognize: I GET TO CHOOSE. With every single choice presented to me throughout my day, I get to choose my response.

*My go-to passage in the Bible: Philippians 4:4-8 – Think on the good things!

Of course, eating clean and moving more are pivotal, but, we have to get to a place where we recognize that we deserve to eat clean and move our bodies. The lie that it’s just not worth it, we’re just not worth it – is the chain that binds us to unhealthy habits (whether it’s overeating, or overconsumption of alcohol or any other addiction that tempts us).

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 Thank you for hearing my “points to ponder”.

Here’s a poem I wrote a few years back while seeing the weight scale greet me with pleasantries each morning. But, it’s true, even when the scale is mean to me.

Perhaps you didn’t hear me when I said I’d lose this weight

I meant it when I said it and you cannot change my fate

In Jesus’ Name I cast down any morbid enemy

that would try to take my freedom

and my grace away from me

I rebuke you, I resist you and you cannot steal my day

I choose this day Whom I shall serve,

and I shall serve His Way

I choose to live and not to die, I’ll walk a life of faith

I choose to lose the extra weight I’ve carried and I hate

In Jesus’ Name I’ll not give in to worldly ways and whine

I’ll not go running back to food for comfort for my mind

The God that made the universe and holds it in His Hands

Can surely take me through this trial into the promised lands

My mind’s made up, I’ve turned my face

away from earth’s rewards

I’ll draw upon my GOD as I take up His trusty Sword

I’ll fight the battle to be fought and know that I will win

His Sword is filled with Living Words

that keep my soul from sin

His Word will build me up

and keep me from the snares of man

He’ll fill me up with all I need -as only Jesus can

He Himself said meat is just to do His Father’s Will

He is the Bread of Life and will sustain me ever still

I’m living proof that Jesus truly saves, forgives and keeps

He’ll sanctify me daily as I yield my heart so deep

The wounds that I have carried for so many haunting years

Are healed in Jesus’ Precious Name, erased with all my fears.

~Helen Williams! c  2002

Monday, August 14, 2017

Shake It Off

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“God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

I personalize this by receiving the good news that, God has not given me a spirit of fear (another scripture points out that perfect love casts out all fear). But, God HAS given me His spirit of power, His spirit of Love and the spirit of a sound mind.

Fear has reigned in my heart for a good deal of my life, even when I thought I’d tackled it. But, yesterday it jumped out at me, that the word for fear in this verse is also translated timidity.

God has not given us the spirit of timidity.

Timid – lacking in self-assurance, courage, or bravery; easily alarmed; timorous; shy. Characterized by or indicating fear. (

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I immediately recognized that I’ve allowed a spirit of timidity to overcome me and my daily actions and conversations. It dawned on me that I’ve allowed the opinions of others to cloud or overshadow my own thoughts and convictions. Not so much to the changing of my thoughts and convictions, but, limiting and inhibiting my expression of these beliefs. Since these are beliefs that I hold dear, I now challenge myself; why? And how have I let this self-doubt or apprehension creep into my thinking?

Are my thoughts and beliefs any less valid than the thoughts and beliefs of those around me? No.

Have I fallen prey to the notions of political correctness that would intimidate me into silence for fear that I’ll offend someone? Perhaps.

Am I so concerned with what others might think of me, that I’m hiding the very core of who I am? Is my ego that shallow? I think so. What a crushing blow!

I choose to live my life as I believe God leads me.

I’ve chosen to surrender my life to the God of the universe, the God that created us all and everything we see, as well as plenty we don’t see.

I believe that all life is sacred, that God loves us all, with His love that knows no limits and cannot be removed from us. Whether we want His love, or feel we deserve His love or not – He loves us, without end and without conditions.

I believe that to live in peace with God, we must go through Jesus Christ, His Son, Whom He sent to redeem us from a fallen state.

I believe what God says in His Word, I receive His promises to me, knowing that most of them are conditional upon submission to Him. I choose that submission.

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Today, I choose to shake off that spirit of timidity; it’s not from God.

Today, I choose to take up that spirit of power, God’s spirit of Love and the spirit of a sound, confident mind and wear them boldly.

Might I fumble? You bet.

Might I fall flat on my face, and even get angry with myself for doubting my relationship with God or for doubting the power of the spirit of Love that wants only the best for me? Of course.

Continuously, life is choice after choice. Most of the daily choices we make, we make subconsciously, not even recognizing that a choice has been made. Whether we give in to old patterns, or whether we step out into new boldness; whether we see why we do the things we do or not, choices are being made.
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Today, I choose boldness.

Today, I choose to trust God with all my heart.

Today, I choose God’s generous, rewarding will over my own selfish, limiting will.

Check back with me tomorrow. The spirit of fear is sneaky, I’ll likely need your prayers.

Friday, July 28, 2017

How Did He Teach Us to Pray?

 While walking and praying on one of my favorite trails, I saw revelation in the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father. My intention was to pray over one specific friend this morning, as I began my prayer, I joined myself to my sister and prayed, “Our Father….” We share this heavenly Father; she is my sister, whom I love dearly.

Our Father in Heaven. Heaven has reached into our hearts. The very kingdom of God is within us, growing and reaching into the lives of those we love.  As we allow God’s love to grow in us, we expand the kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.

Our Father in Heaven, holy is Your Name! Time for the hosannas and the hallelujahs as rejoicing breaks through my prayer time. How can one commune with our Father, even in times of despair or great sorrow, without allowing His joy to permeate our prayers, without reverencing all that is holy?

Thy kingdom come. By joining myself to God I allow His kingdom to come and reign in my life. I exalt Him as King of kings and Lord of lords; I submit to Him as God of my life, as God of all life. His kingdom is the only kingdom I want to explore. There are principalities and dominions I don’t understand that have hold in the lives of many around us, but, I choose to live in Christ and allow Christ to reign in me. Every facet of my life somehow revolves around expanding God’s kingdom reign in the world around me. Is He God of all? Absolutely! Has He given dominion of the world to man? Yes. Every unholy choice we make leads us further from the next line…

Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. I won’t claim to know God’s will in everything. It’s His will that we commune with Him, it’s His will that we know His Word, His Son, Jesus. It’s His will that we love, always. But, whether or not He wants me to take a specific job or to redecorate my kitchen, well…..sometimes He lets us in on which way to go, other times, I think He’s willing to bless what we choose. He always guides and directs us, but, He’s given us tremendous freedom as well.

Can you imagine His perfect will, as it is in Heaven, surrounding us here on Earth? According to the Bible, I don’t think that will happen until a new heaven and a new earth are ushered in….but, can you just imagine it? Yes, we pray come quickly Lord Jesus, and we agree in prayer, Let Thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven. I want God’s perfect will accomplished in my life, and in the lives of those I love. And yes, in the lives of everyone on the planet.

How pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
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Give us this day our daily bread. We generally consider our daily bread to be our meal. Jesus Himself said that His meat was to do the will of the Father. So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that our daily bread isn’t just our physical meals, it includes all the sustenance we need from day to day. It includes our food, but so much more! 

What else do we need to thrive? Not just to exist from day to day, but to really thrive! Our greatest need is something many of us push away, as if we don’t deserve it, as if it’s a special treat reserved for the truly worthy. Our greatest need is love; God’s love!

We all need to feel loved. It’s not just a want, it’s a God-given need. We’re not asking for something God can’t provide. He created us with a built-in need for His love, and for the love of our fellow man – and perhaps that of a spouse.
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God freely gives us His love – and more; everything we need is within our grasp.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Many years ago, I read a column (as they were called before the word blog became popular) which told the story of a mother listening as her child prayed at bedtime. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer, he said, in part, “forgive us our trash passing, as we forgive those who pass trash against us…” That’s the way I hear it in my head now. Cute? Yes, adorable. But, just as true.

I think perhaps, this might be the scariest prayer to pray. Forgive us as we forgive others?

But – what if we’re not so forgiving of others?


Mark 11:25 says, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (NIV)

Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV)

Yeah, to me, that’s some pretty heavy stuff. “But, God…..” we whine.

There’s the story of the man who was forgiven much then turned around and demanded that another who owed him a pittance pay up immediately or he’d have him thrown into debtor’s jail. In Matthew 18:21-35 Peter asks Jesus how many times we’re to forgive those who wrong us. Jesus explains the parable of the unmerciful servant. Because forgiveness is so important within the kingdom of God (which reigns in our hearts), I’ll include the story here.

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt.
Personal note here, that was a forgiving king! He didn’t just agree to be patient until the servant could pay him, he forgave the debt altogether. I wonder how the servant came to owe the king so much, or how he ever thought he could pay it. But, the king shows mercy, so it’s kind of irrelevant. But, the parable goes on….

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion o your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him.

“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (NKJV)
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Yowza! It doesn’t sound like Jesus is making light of the powerful act of forgiveness, does it? I’ll just leave that there for us to chew on.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. None of us wants to endure trials, as they tend to stretch us. But evil? No, none of us ever want to experience evil, personally. Most of us are grieved to hear of others enduring evil. Although, plenty of us seem to enjoy watching it on television or at the movie theaters.

Deliver us from evil – when we ask God to lead us in His ways, to turn us from the path of evil, we’re asking Him to direct our footsteps. We’re giving up the right to choose to walk down a road that’s filled with consequences, some we know of, some of which hide in the darkness along the way. But, we’re directly asking God to spare of us all that.

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Then. Sometimes. In our own stubbornness, we continue down that road, because the temptations seem so rewarding in the moment. Then, we wonder why God allowed such evil to befall us. In a word; consequences.

God chastens those He loves. Yes. But, punishment is reserved for the wicked. Consequences follow when we walk where God has clearly shown us not to. We can’t feign ignorance, we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us.

If I tell my granddaughter not to ride her bike in the middle of the road, and she defiantly does so anyway. She may get hit by a car. Being hurt by the car isn’t a punishment for riding where she was told not to, it’s a consequence. My telling her to be careful not to pedal there was a warning out of love, not me playing dictator and keeping her from “all the fun”.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory – forever and ever. Amen.

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Here comes the rejoicing and the hallelujahs again. What a thrill to share in God’s kingdom and in His power and in His glory! It’s all His, but, He chooses to bless us in all of it, simply because we are in Him and He is in us! Hallelujah! Ponder His kingdom, His power and His glory!

Along the trail, God brought my attention to a tiny ant carrying a stick that was measurably, much bigger than he was. As he made his way across the smooth sidewalk, I was impressed. He skittered down the edge of the sidewalk and through the grains of sand, that looked like boulders around him. He didn’t seem to let the harshness of his terrain deter him from his task at all.

Sometimes, our hearts are heavy and we carry them around for everyone to see, or we hide the struggle as if we’re punishing ourselves for feeling the crushing weight of whatever it is we’re going through.

Though our terrain changes, God is still God and at the end of the day, He’s still the One Who carries us. He’s still the One Who gets all the glory. He’s always the One Who never gives us on us; Who will always answer our call.  He is still, our Father.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” – Jude 1:24-25 (KJV)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gifts or Giver?

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We’re surrounded by so many blessings, we sometimes take them for granted. Generally, around the winter holidays, we see an upsurge on social media, extolling the virtues of thankfulness, and that’s great. Sometimes it even sticks and we find ourselves being mindful to be grateful on an everyday basis.

But, going a step beyond not recognizing the plethora of blessings God pours out on us daily, I ponder whether we often times look to the gifts of God, rather than to God Himself.

The church isn’t a building, it’s the people of God that gather together, the body of Christ. That’s blessing enough, in many circumstances, especially when it’s a congregation of hungry souls seeking after God’s best for everyone, led by a godly man or woman who won’t compromise with the world or ignore, or even hide sinfulness that threatens his or her congregation.
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But, as I look around, it sometimes appears that people look to, follow or even worship individuals within the body of Christ. Yikes!

We see how whole congregations fall apart when their leader falls from grace. We read how pastors of mega-churches are being investigated for financial fraud and mishandling of the funds their congregations have entrusted to them. When pastors are making millions of dollars a year from the giving of those who trust them, sometimes the very poorest among us, I have a problem with that. Not to say that pastors can’t prosper financially, but, I’ve often heard it said that God sends you more when you don’t let it stick to your fingers. There are too many needy people in the world that the church isn’t reaching, though giving may be at an all time high.

Looking at what some consider a polar opposite to the church, we have science, another incredible gift of God. How exciting to have the need, the drive, the ambition and intelligence to seek out the mysteries of God and His universe, the world around us, and our own bodies! It must thrill God to see us exploring all He’s given us. Observing the world around us can create peace and excitement. Discovery can be phenomenally fulfilling. Wonder is a beautiful gift in itself.

Yet, there are those who put science above the God Who gave it all to us in the first place, even denying that Someone greater than they can conceive, has orchestrated everything around us and within us.

I’ll never understand how the minds that can fathom what most of us find unfathomable and seek out great mysteries, can be locked into their own little paradigm so snuggly, that they can’t see beyond it.

Life doesn’t just happen. It’s created. To be created, there must first be a creator. That sounds like Logic 101 to me.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” – Luke 11:13 (ESV)

We all have so much in common, but our thinking can be so diverse. It’d be silly to assume that everyone thinks like we do, yet many of us carry that myth well into adulthood.

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 Art and music are often such an integral part of our lives that we don’t notice it surrounding us. Yet, there are many of us who feel that these beautiful things are the substance of Life itself; enthralled with the places it takes us or the serenity or excitement it brings us; putting pleasure before anything else.

Money is certainly something people put first in their lives, giving their lives away in pursuit of it, giving it the authority of a god over their every day comings and goings. Some people put so much effort into acquiring money; they leave no time to enjoy what it can afford them.
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Working! We have workaholics who set no time aside for anything else, not family, not vacations, not even the God Who gave them the strong hands and the brilliant mind with which they themselves into an early grave, because they’re driven to work, work, work. I’m not pondering the reasons behind it, just that it happens.

Our children! Don’t get me started. How easy is it to put them first, before the God Who gave them to us?

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When we look to the gifts God gives us instead of looking to God Himself, we make those gifts into gods. One of the most important commands God ever gave us tells us: I am the Lord your God, you shall not have any other gods before me. He doesn’t instruct us this way because He’s arrogant and selfish, thinking more highly of Himself than He ought, though there is no one higher. He knows that we’ll miss out on so much that He has for us, if we serve His gifts instead of enjoying them. We can’t really enjoy them if we don’t honor the God Who gives them to us.

When our focus is so single-minded and focused on one gift, the others fade from sight, though they’re still there to enjoy if we can allow ourselves the freedom to look up and see them. When we focus on one gift – we become slaves to the gift and to how we think the gifts benefits us.

“Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves.” – Nehemiah 7:66 (ESV)

Are you seeking God for what He can give you? Are you seeking a relationship with the God Who gives? Or, are you denying yourself the opportunities to really enjoy everything life offers, by denying He’s the God of every good gift?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Light…” – James 1:17 (ESV)
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