Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Skeleton Key

(photo courtesy of
There’s always someone to blame; the lover that tore your heart from your soul, the fool who assaulted you, the teacher who said you’d never amount to anything, the kids who called you fat, the director who would never cast you in a leading role, the co-workers who mock your singing, the parent who was too overbearing or the one who didn’t care at all.

And of course, the there are always folks to point back to at pivotal points in our lives, the ones who made a positive difference; the teacher that pointed you out as a leader, the ones who saw potential in you, the parent who gave all they had to help you succeed, the friends who stuck with you through thick and thin, the lover that still loves you – faults and all, the friends who chime in with your singing - harmonizing to cover for you when you fall off key.

There are many people who have come and gone in our lives, they’ve all shaped us in one way or another. Some have shown us the evil side of everything living, others who have lifted us up when we were lying at rock bottom, those who walk beside us, and those who step on us when we’re down.

We love to revel in the joy our friends draw out of us, and we often blame our failures on those who came across our path with nothing good in their hearts.

We can harbor hatred and become more bitter with each passing day, focusing on everything negative. Or we can let go of our anger and let the enemy of our soul choke on it, focusing on all we have to be thankful for. We can approach every rock in our path as a stumbling block or a stepping stone. Certainly some are harder to get around than others, I’ve climbed a few boulders, myself. No one says this is easy.

But on behalf of those whose heart-breaking actions were unintentional and those blind to the pain they were causing at the time, I offer this olive branch, a skeleton key that opens very old doors:

“In the past I may not have loved you like I should have
I may not have loved you like you needed to be loved
I may not have poured into your life the things you wanted from me
            But, please, forgive me and let me love you now”

From those whose intent was plain evil, I have no words, but forgiveness is the same key to unlock your freedom from the hold they still have over you.

We can seek healing – or excuses, but not both. We can forgive and move forward, or point blame and wallow in our anguish. No one from our past can make that choice for us.

Enter the holidays (and the rest of your life) with joy and thanksgiving by letting go of a past that can’t be changed and embracing the future where we write the words on each page.

“…Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’S approval.” –Judges 18:6 (NIV)

“No discipline [today’s example, the discipline of forgiveness] seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
(Words in bracket are mine.)

“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For theeyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:10-12 (NIV)

“Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” – Jude 1:2 (NIV)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Hammer - My Christmas Story For You

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.’

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.
(photo from
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?’
(photo from
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.’

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 pleased. 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.
(photo from
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 hammer.

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?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Anointing in His Presence

(Now Faith available on
Who’s rubbing off on you?

Our pastor tells about when he had a camel named Kramer. Anyone could tell when he’d been spending time with Kramer; he smelled like Kramer.

What scent do we carry with us throughout the day? Can people tell we’ve spent time with God? I think they can, if, indeed we truly have spent time with Him. I don’t just mean taking a few minutes to breeze through some passage in the Bible that we read as an obligation; but truly spending time in God’s presence.

Sometimes I’ll see a woman with a glow and marvel; she’s a Christian and it shows. On occasion, I’ve even approached her to ask. Of course, she beams with joy to discover Jesus shining through her to whoever may gaze her way. That ‘pregnant glow’ that we hear tell of, is alive in her, too. Though she may not be pregnant with a baby, God’s Word is growing in her, to birth all sorts of blessings He wants to pour out on those around her.  

I may have noticed that ‘glow’ in you, too, in person, or through something you’ve written or shared via Facebook.

Right now I’m reading a book entitled, “Now Faith” by Cheryl Stasinowsky. Each page reveals tremendous evidence that she’s spent time in the presence of God. Her words are anointed. But, just as everything has its season, her words may not jump into your heart immediately, as they’re doing to me. I think the readiness of our heart enters into the equation, as well. I’m reading it slowly, and purposefully, it’s overwhelming me. I feel like I’m entering a holy place, wherever I’m at when I read it. I was in a drive-thru line the other day and I pulled out the book, even there, I felt God; alive and in my car with me, tangible. I’m getting ready for a new level of fulfillment; of anointing!

Join me? Let me smell some God on ya! Let me see your glow!

(To read all of Hebrews chapter 11, click on the blue link above.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Got Brokenness?

(photo courtesy of
Apparently it’s true that one man’s junk is another Man’s treasure. God loves broken vessels. To some, that would make Him a junk collector, but others say God doesn’t make junk.

His Word tells us so much about this “broken vessel collector”….

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. – Psalm 34:18 (KJV)

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3 (KJV)

But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. – Isaiah 64:8 (KJV)

When God made us, He created us in His own image, with no need of fixing. Over time, we’re the ones who mess things up. We become those broken vessels through time and the trials of life. Both what we do, and what’s done to us create fissures in the finish of the vessel of life we’re created to be. Over time, those fine lines and deep cracks bring us to a breaking point, a place where we can crumble as waste and blow away, or where we can crumble at His feet and allow Him to pick up us a create in us a new heart – one that mirrors His.

In the 18th chapter of Jeremiah we read a story liking God’s working in our lives with that of a potter at his wheel, redefining or totally recreating each vessel that becomes flawed.

There are fancy delicate vessels, created to hold but one flower or sturdier ones made to hold a huge bouquet. There are vessels that hold wonderful foods, whether to cook in or eat from! There are vessels that hold garbage, and those that are specifically made to hold our waste. He created each of us with a specific purpose. I often wonder what kind of vessel God created me to be, as well as what kind of vessel He sees me fit to be as I am now.

No matter my condition, God is willing and able, even eager, to mend me or recreate in me a new heart, I pray for one like His own.

Our pastor says, jokingly, something to the effect of, “We’re an exclusive club; you can’t get in if your heart hasn’t been broken…”

I’ve never seen anyone that didn’t meet the requirements.

What can He make from your brokenness?

And when he[Jesus] had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he, [Jesus] closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. – Luke 4:18-20 (KJV)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Let Me Hear Your War Cry!

(photo courtesy of
Francis Schaeffer, a Presbyterian pastor (1912-1984), is quoted as saying, “In front of every abortion clinic there needs to be a sign that reads, Here by permission of the Church.”

Where is our voice? The idea that our voice is not wanted or needed is a lie of the enemy. And we swallow it hook, line and sinker; keeping our thoughts to ourselves more often than not, so as not to ‘offend’ anyone.

Not to debate statistics, but just pulling some from the internet:
According to ABC News polls, only about 4% of Americans consider themselves to be gay or bisexual, yet their voice is loud!
According to those same polls, about 83% of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, yet this voice is so small, so quiet.

I’m not making a point here regarding who is right or who is wrong, simply that we don’t have to be many to be heard.

We have our own beliefs, each and every one of us, not counting the people who respond, “I don’t know” or “I never really thought about it” to questions of conscience.  (Apparently those people don’t know how to think for themselves.)

But ponder this: what makes those of us with godly values cower in our prayer closets, afraid to be challenged about our beliefs? What makes us keep our opinions to ourselves? What makes us think that no one wants to hear what we have to say?

By keeping our convictions to ourselves, what’s said by the masses goes on record as what the majority of Americans have to say, simply because so many Americans have nothing to say!

Across our nation, we with godly beliefs remain silent, while those with opposing viewpoints decide what our children will be taught in school, from tainted history lessons, to immoral attitudes about sexuality and procreation, to teaching mere theories without providing opposing arguments on those theories.


Why do we let anyone take from us the rights that we, for so long, have enjoyed in this nation? Be it politicians or school boards, judges or juries.

Why do we look the other way when important decisions are being made that involve depriving us of our rights?

Why do we turn off the news when we hear stories that frighten us?

Why do we toss our hands up in the air and shrug, mumbling something about God having everything under control?

He clearly doesn’t have everything under control if we haven’t submitted ourselves to Him and the guidelines and promises He’s laid out for us in His Word. We’ve chosen to let the world and it’s perversions take control of our how lives will be lived, just as Adam and Eve surrendered control of the Garden of Eden, and this realm, to the beguiling serpent.

We can no longer “pass the buck” and blame someone else, or pretend that if we were Adam or Eve we wouldn’t have bitten that forbidden fruit.

How can we call ourselves children of the Most High God – yet believe that we have no authority at all?

Perhaps we should adorn ourselves with the attire of paupers if that’s how we want to live. Perhaps we should surrender our titles as priests and kings and princes, since the majority of us are choosing to live as peasants.

Where’s our war cry? Where’s our voice?

Let’s hear it!

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” ~ 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” ~ Revelation 1:6 (KJV)

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” ~ Revelation 5:10 (KJV)

Monday, November 4, 2013

What If I Don't?

(photo courtesy of
What if I begin to ask my questions backwards? I admit I’ve been struggling to lose weight here in the past few years. While pondering the conundrum, it occurred to me that I’m settling for answers to the wrong questions. Duh!

For lunch today, I presumed I’d have my leftovers from yesterday. I barely ate half of the calzone from my Sunday lunch at Old Chicago, where we watched the Cleveland Browns start a winning game! Knowing it’s not my best choice, I asked myself why I had to eat it. Well, I already paid for it, no sense in wasting it. (I’m one of those folks who’s been trapped in the “I ordered it – I eat it/I paid for it – I eat it” game of reasoning.)

But what if I ask the question differently? What if, instead of assuming I should, I ask, “What if I don’t?” I’m delving into areas I seldom consider for my own life. What if?

I need to go for a walk this morning. But, what if I don’t? If I don’t, I get to stay in my warm house and write, or piddle around with my other chores for the day. But I know my weight will remain the same. Normally, I settle for that. But, what if I do? If I do go for that walk, I stand a chance at bettering a good habit, and the numbers on the scale may become more kind to me!

Let’s go back to that carb-filled calzone. What if I do eat it? I laden myself with the burden of those carbs and I slide away from the table bloated and feeling lazy, perhaps adding to my weight concerns. But, what if I don’t? What if I just eat the meat inside? Or what if I throw it away!? Now that’s a profound thought! Hmmm, pondering… processing….. Whether I eat it or throw it away, the money is already spent. But, one’s mind might argue, if I don’t eat it, I’ll spend more money on a new lunch today. (Can you tell I might be trapped in a poverty mentality, even though our budget is a healthy one?)

The bottom line is - which choice will get me one step closer to where I want to be?

When the weather is too cold, I can rationalize not going out for a walk. But, yes, we have an elliptical….and yes, I can make excuses for not using it, but what if I don’t? What if instead of making excuses, I rationalize reasons I should do it?

Many of you may have already faced these choices and have come out on the winning side. I commend you, even though you’re resounding “duh!” rattles in my head. You’re smarter than I am, I get it. But for me, it’s finally getting interesting. What if I argue the other side of the coin in my mind?

What if…..?

“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” – Proverbs 4:26 (KJV)

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.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Constant

(I took this photo at the Denver Botanical Gardens 2012.)

A few years ago the word ‘intrinsic’ kept floating through my mind, to the point that I finally looked it up. I felt like God was talking to me about my intrinsic value. I was incredibly blessed to discover its meaning.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the value of human life, or rather, how little human life is valued these days. With abortion an accepted part of life-as-we know-it, we’ve all but erased the value of human life from our nation, and diminished it greatly in our everyday lives. The atrocities of yesteryear don’t even raise our eye brows now. We read of child abuse of epic proportions on a daily basis. Violent crimes become more and more violent, as man turns against man (or woman, or child).

Clearly, we as a people, not necessarily as individuals, do not place much value on human life. Though we are numbed by the news and oftentimes block out reality, God never changes. He’s the one constant. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” – Hebrews 13:8 (KJV) His values don’t change, His nature doesn’t change. Our intrinsic value is still the same, because we are made in our Maker’s image.

Over the years our own self-image changes. Whether we were raised to feel loved and believe in ourselves or we cowered in fear, wishing to be invisible and feeling unloved and unwanted, God’s love for us has never changed, the value He places on our life is constant because it’s intrinsic and His thoughts toward us are always good. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” – Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)

Reflect on how valued you are; the worth placed on your life.

What does intrinsic mean? Read that post here.