Friday, September 13, 2019

Marvel - ous!


(pinterest.com)
There’s a story in the Bible that always catches my attention, one that sends my brain into a tizzy of ponderings.


When you’re in the presence of someone you perceive to have greatness, there’s a secret longing in your heart to capture their attention, if only for a moment.


While at a Reba McIntire concert a few years back, my youngest son screamed out to her from the crowd at the foot of the stage, “I love you Reba!” To his great pleasure, she looked right at him, pointed and said, “I love you, too, darlin’!” For an instant, he had Reba McIntire’s attention. He’ll cherish the memory forever. Reba? Maybe not. She just doesn’t know the greatness of my son!


The Bible story (here) is one that most of us will quickly recall. Jesus was talking with a crowd of people when an unnamed Centurion approached Him, asking for healing for his servant. Jesus made Himself immediately available and said that He’d come heal the servant. The Centurion stopped the whole incident in an instant when he stated simply that he wasn’t worthy of the Master’s presence in His home, but that because of Jesus’s authority, His Word would be enough to heal the servant. 


What happened next? 
What was the reaction on Jesus’s face? 
Where did the conversation go after such a statement?


We don’t get to see the faces in the crowd, or of the disciples, but we can conjure up imagery of what splashed across the face of Jesus. The Bible tells us that He marveled.


Ponder that.


Jesus marveled. 


Jesus marveled over the faith of a believer. Other versions of the Bible say that Jesus was amazed, or that He was astonished, or taken aback; surprised.


We don’t have any record of this Centurion ever interacting with Jesus again. 

The story is brief, but always commands my attention, every single time I read it. How could I make Jesus marvel? What about my faith would cause amazement to rise up on His face?


What was it about this Centurion’s faith that allowed him to take Jesus at His Word?


We don’t read that he sat at the feet of Jesus, listening intently to every teaching He shared. We don’t have any other account of how this guy chose to believe on Jesus, but he clearly demonstrates faith like few of us have, or have even seen.


If we could grasp ahold of this, and simply believe, like the Centurion, we might just cause Jesus to marvel. And we’ll definitely see what we ask for come to pass, because this is the kind of faith Jesus is looking for. 

Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1 (NIRV)


Who believes like this?










Thursday, July 25, 2019

Apples and Apples and Revelation

(freshplaza.com)

Again, while praying and standing in the red-light booth at Planet Fitness, I found an analogy. This time, for revelation.



It’s really quite simple. I have an apple and I place it on the table between us. You take a picture of it from your side of the table, I take a picture of it from my side of the table. We trade phones and check out the pictures. It looks as though we’ve taken pictures of two different apples! Somehow, your picture shows a greener apple than mine. In my picture, the apple looks almost completely red. How can this be? (Not a fancy illustration or a difficult mystery to unravel, I know. God has to use simple points to ponder with me.)




Since it’s my apple, I pick it up and hand it to you. You examine the apple to see that, yes, it’s one apple that simply looks different from differing angles.

But, without holding the apple to see for yourself the magic of one apple displaying two different colors in appearance, you couldn’t have the revelation you needed to understand and unravel the mystery at hand.

Throughout life, there will be mysteries to unravel, many not quite this simple to solve. For understanding, we need revelation. And to know the truth of the matter, that revelation has to come from the One Who holds the answers, the owner of “the apple”. 

(pinterest.com)
‘God, I see what this mystery looks like from my human perspective, please show me how You see it.’

Is that too simple? That’s godly revelation. Perspective is everything, I’ve blogged about it many times. But, until we see things from God’s perspective, life can look to be too hard.

God doesn’t hide things from us, He hides things for us! He’ll show them to us when we’re ready to ask for the revelation. Sometimes we’re quite content to sit there with our puny human perspective, but why? There’s so much more to life! There’s so much more to every aspect of life than what first meets the eye.

“You have not, because you ask not.” – James 4:2


Ask God for revelation. He’s more than generous, 
He wants you to have the revelation.





Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Fruit Roll-ups


(fggam.org)
As I was praying over a dear friend this morning, God nudged my memory and I recalled having a discussion with a friend many years ago. This friend was feeling attacked by someone else we knew from church. An illustration came to mind about the precious Blood of Jesus.



This Blood is the only thing that can cleanse us from sin, it’s our “ticket to Heaven”. It provides a whole lot more for us, though. It provides for our every need. The Blood of Jesus fulfills every promise God made to us in His Word. It provides deliverance from spiritual afflictions, brings life to our spirit, gives us physical healing, protects us from the enemy and more.



Appropriating all the blessings this Blood provides is our job. Jesus did the work on the Cross that makes available the blessings of salvation, but it’s up to us to take those blessings and believe they are ours, to walk in them and to apply them to our lives.



If I buy you a brand-new car and drop the keys in your accepting hands, the car won’t do you a bit of good if you never put the key into the ignition, turn the key and drive off. You’ll still have the car, but I didn’t spend my money on a gift you refuse to use...


(choosingchia.com)

So, here’s my strange analogy. Way back when I got this revelation, Fruit Roll-ups were a new thing. Kids and adults alike seemed to love the fruity snack. Supposedly made of fruit juices (I have my doubts), they’re a sticky substance, rolled out into a flat sheet, then rolled up into a roll and packaged for convenience.



In my mind’s eye, I could see my grown friend lying on a huge, spread out Fruit Roll-up, then rolling over and over, folding the gummy, sticky substance over themselves until they were covered completely. To touch them, I’d have to poke through the Fruit Roll-up. Bizarre? Perhaps, but, the image was to illustrate that the Blood of Jesus completely covers us.  The enemy has to poke through the Blood to get to us.



Unlike the roll-up, the Blood of Jesus is strong. There’s nothing stronger. I can easily poke my finger through a roll-up. But though the enemy try repeatedly, he cannot break through the Blood of Jesus. That’s our permanent protection, promised and delivered by God, Himself.



We can feel beaten up and worn down by all the poking the enemy does to us, but he cannot get through.



When we stop spending time in God’s Word and talking with Him daily, we weaken, but the Blood of Jesus is still as strong as it was the day He poured it out for us. Even when we spend time with God, the enemy is still trying to poke through, but His Word encourages us and tells us the truth – that the enemy is lying to us, again.



We need to get it into our understanding that the enemy cannot take us out. If he could, he would have done so already. All he can do is lie to us, hoping to deceive us into believing we’re sick or oppressed or afraid or confused, etc.



Begin to praise God in the midst of your circumstance (and get back into His Word!), believe God. Then, laugh at the mess you thought you were in. God will show you your breakthrough as you praise Him, as you acknowledge His protection and promises fulfilled to you.



Complaining, whether internally or to others, about the negative garbage the enemy is throwing at you will only help it to stick to you.


(wccowboychurch.org)


Trust that bloody roll-up of Love, trust in God’s provision. He’s not a man that He should lie to you. (Numbers 23:19) He’s provided every single thing you need to live a prosperous life; to live life abundantly. That’s what He sent Jesus to do for you!



“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus  Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." -Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tares in the Heart






“Your words water things,” our pastor said Sunday morning.



Immediately, I grabbed my little notebook and began to scribble. We plant so many seeds in the garden of our lives. But, others plant seeds there, as well.



Ultimately, it’s our garden. We get to determine what grows there, we choose what to tend to; what to water.



To which seeds, seedlings or towering trees are we giving our attention and energies?



In the Bible we read, “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while the men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.: - Matthew 13:24-26 (KJV)



This scripture came to mind, simply to enforce the point that other people, whether we know them and trust them, or not, plant seeds – good or bad, in our garden.


In this parable, it was the man’s enemy planting tares (a noxious weed) in with his wheat to mess with the man’s harvest.



Whether the person sowing weeds in our garden is an enemy, or a well-meaning friend, a parent, a boss or coworker, a pastor or a neighbor you meet in passing along the road – and whether they plant the weeds knowingly or not, weeds will spring up in our garden.



Seeds, weeds or good plants, are otherwise known as words and idea.



Which plants are getting our attention?



The weeds are symbolic of anything that would distract us from what God wants to do in our lives. He gave us life, when we’re born again, we give Him back our lives, to do with as He pleases. Because, what He pleases is, ultimately, what’s best for us; it’s where we’ll prosper and grow to be more and more like Him. It’s where we’ll feel content and joyful; even happiest.



The weeds are symbolic of the problems that come up in our lives; problems set to distract us from living.


Those distractions can be different for all of us, but there are many we face in common. Though I’ve yet to meet a father who’s been distracted by it, I know moms who suffer intensely because of the empty nest syndrome; sometimes to the point of despair. It can derail us and send us in search of a new identity.



Demands for super-performance at a job, or at school, or sicknesses, or losses – can all distract us from even knowing who we are, let alone what we’re supposed to be doing.

We’ve all heard a phrase that says something like, “Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is in the midst of them!”



Are we focusing on, (watering), giving our attention to – our problems, or to our God?



How do we refocus our attention?



Oh yeah; get our heads and hearts into God’s Word. What’s up with that? Do I think all of our answers are in there? You bet I do! I believe it with my whole heart.



Trust in the LORD with all of thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understand. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct they paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

(Picture from Victory 91.5)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sitting at the Lake

(photo from dissolve.com)


Jesus looked more tangible to me today, more fleshed-out, as I read in Matthew, “That day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake…he got into a boat and sat in it…” -Matthew 13:1-2 (KJV)



Can’t you just picture a man who’s staying at a lake house, walking out the door, making his way down to the beach and sitting down beside the lake?



I don’t know what time of day it was, but from personal experience, walking out to the lake first thing in the morning, as the mist rises from the water, is magical. Sitting there, listening to the sounds of creation, watching birds dive into the water for their breakfast, smelling the pines – it all filled my happy tank to overflowing. 


(photo from newspring.cc)


When God created the first Garden, He created man to take care of it. Clearly, it meant a lot to Him, right? I mean, as you’re reading Genesis, that’s the only reason I’ve noted, that God states He created us for: to take care of what He’d created. He takes as much joy in nature as we do, maybe more!



So, yes, this man at the lake house, ventures out and sits by the lake. Don’t you wonder what was going through His mind? Was He thoroughly enjoying His physical senses as He sat there? Sometimes we need to be reminded to be mindful of where we are; I somehow doubt Jesus missed a thing.



In the first chapter of John, we read that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, the Word WAS God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men,” (verses 1-4 KJV)

(photo from pixabay.com)
Since Jesus is the Word, we can see that He is the One Who spoke everything into existence. I hardly think He sat there and thanked Himself, but rather, took in the beauty of what He’d created. (He really should have come to sit by a lake in Colorado! Ha! Who’s to say He hasn’t?)



For me, sitting there was about taking in what I saw, as well as thanking God for showing it to me, for allowing me to enjoy the breathtaking beauty, and be a part of it all.



Matthew doesn’t tell us how long Jesus sat there, but he does say that a crowd began to grow around him, so he got into a boat and sat down, then began to speak to them.



The very One Who spoke everything into existence was speaking to them! In the flesh, out loud in an audible voice, they could see and hear the very One Who’d created them.

(from pinterest.com)
For us, it’s an inner thing, an inner knowing that comes from the Word of God. Yes, our hearing comes from Jesus, Himself. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing from the word of God.” Romans 10:17 (KJV)



All of this, not to introduce you to what He was about to teach, but to introduce the notion that it was Jesus – the man, Who was speaking to them. The same Jesus Who speaks to your heart every single day, whether you’re paying attention or not.



Perhaps, by closing our eyes and imagining ourselves there with Him, by the lake, sitting at rest, taking it all in – we can hear Him a little more clearly. That opens us up to falling in love with Him, completely.


(from pinterst.com)



Monday, June 25, 2018

Seriously? We Going to Talk About This Again?

(photo from youtube.com)

Rejoice. It’s one of my favorite words. But, what does it mean? There’s a dictionary definition, then – there’s the picture definition my brain comes up with to give me understanding.



The dictionary definition is easy, anyone can look it up. It’s right there at your fingertips, there on your phone. We call up the magical world of Google with just the touch of a finger. There we can see that rejoice means: to be glad; take delight in, to make joyful; gladden. (from dictionary.com)


(picture from thommiodom.com)

But, what of the word picture in my head? I suppose, since none of us thinks exactly alike, the word picture in your head is likely quite different than mine. I listened as a woman read the definition of the word aloud the other day, and this is where my brain took me:



Picture, if you will, your favorite bowl. At the moment, mine is a decorative blue bowl with a scripture around the edges. Inside there’s a magical liquid that can be sloshed around, spilled out, poured over my head; I can drink from it, I can dip my fingers in it, I can pour some into your bowl…. I can do most anything I choose with the magical potion, yet the bowl never goes empty.





No, not Love Potion No. 9 – but, a love potion from the Creator of everything, He calls it joy.



Of course, I don’t take this bowl with me everywhere I go, if you knew how clumsy I can be, you know I’d break it the very first day we ventured out into the world together. The next part of the word picture is to imagine this bowl inside of me (you). I see it resting on my diaphragm. It goes with me everywhere, and not once have I dropped it or laid it down somewhere and forgotten about it.



It’s there every time I need to dip into it. The contents are there sloshing around, reminding me that I can always choose joy. It’s warm and soothing, letting me know that no matter the situation, I can draw from it.




I may find myself receiving harsh news, or growing impatient in traffic, or battling a headache. Or I may see someone else in need, someone I love – or someone I don’t even know yet. The situation doesn’t need to be futile; I have joy to dip into!



Part of the Bible that thrills me completely, is Philippians 4:4-8. Verse four tells us to: “Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again, I say, rejoice!”



People look at you like you have three heads if you suggest they rejoice while going through a tough situation. But, three-headed Child of God, or not, that’s just what we need to hear. We need to hear it in our ears, and we need to hear it in our heart.



I’ll admit it, if I’m in a grumpy mood and you tell me to rejoice, I may not shoot the most pleasant glance your way. It’s the exact opposite of what we’d naturally do in a rough spot. The carnal way of responding is with sorrow, or even anger. (By the way, carnal simply means, perceived by our five senses, it doesn’t necessarily mean sinful. Just thought you should know.)



That’s when we most need that bowl of joy within us stirred up and poured all over us. That’s when we need to reach into the resources God already gave us when we chose Him.


(picture from pinterest.com)

God supplies the joy, just as He provides every other blessing we’ll ever need – or want. Whether we ask for the joy or not, it’s right there inside of us, waiting to be tapped into.



What color is your bowl? Whether you need a sip, or a shower from the bowl, it’s brimming with the greatness of God; His joy – to be enjoyed every minute of the day or night.



“…the joy of the Lord is our strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10 (KJV)

No wonder the enemy of our soul attempts so strenuously to hide our bowl from us.



“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:4-8 (KJV)


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)