Welcome Readers!

"Hello" to all my regular readers and those who are here for the first time!
I hope that this blog enlightens and encourages those who read it but I also hope that it will wake up those who have been asleep to the clock that is ticking within our beautiful nation and within the body of Christ. It is my goal to glorify our Lord and share the Truth with anyone who will listen!
I pray that the Lord will give you strength and courage each day to do His will and to glorify Him. It seems to be getting harder and harder these days to keep our heads above water, but He does promise us that He will not allow the waters to overtake us! Praise Him for that promise!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jesus...Whole or in Part?

When my husband and I are traveling together and we get behind someone who turns without using a blinker, my husband usually comments that they must have purchased the model without the "turn signals" option. This is silly of course, but in reality when you purchase a car, your goal, I imagine, is to buy something that is drivable and will get you from point A to point B safely. You shop for a complete car, not just an engine or four tires. There may be options available, but they are usually only to upgrade your comfort level not to ensure that the car will actually run. If we look at this illustration in regards to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, how does it compare? When you accepted Him into your life, did you accept the whole deal or just the parts that you wanted?

The dictionary has multiple definitions for each of these words but I will give you the first ones that were listed: part; portion or segment of a whole, an essential, separable element, whole; healthy, not diseased or injured, not broken, intact, containing all the parts, complete. As I read these definitions, I hadn't even considered the first one for whole: healthy, not diseased. So, as we look at these descriptions, do images come to your mind about your relationship with the Lord? If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you have an essential part of the equation, but until you make Him your LORD, you don't have the complete and whole package. The definition of whole, being healthy and not diseased makes this picture even better when we think about Jesus causing us to be spiritually healthy.

Is Jesus part of your life or is He your whole life? Your actions and behaviors may help you to determine which is true for you. Do you take His Word to heart and not just pick out what you feel applies to you? Do you seek God with all of your heart and soul and include Him in every aspect of your daily life? Maybe you realize that God is first, others are second and you come after that in God's economy. Are you a reflection of mercy and grace to others and even when you sin, you take responsibility and ask for forgiveness? If Jesus is your life, you feel Him with you and you desire to be saturated with Him and His Word and to fellowship among others who feel the same. But, maybe you do what you need to do to be a "good" Christian in the eyes of others, yet in private you are living for yourself? Do you tell people that you pray and go to church yet you party hard and live life for yourself first and others second? Do you pick parts of the Bible that you agree with but throw out the portions that you don't? Are you critical and find things to complain and grumble about on a regular basis? These images describe a person who really is committed to themselves first and allow Jesus to fit in somewhere down the line, when it works for them.

God doesn't want to be chauffeured; going where you want, when you want and in your timing. He desires that we leave the driving to Him and just relax as He guides us down the right roads. But if He is only a part of our lives, we will never hand Him the keys and trust in Him completely. The cost of a "part-time" Jesus is the less than perfect life He has chosen for us and missed opportunities to be used by Him. The abundant life that is promised in His Word is the joy of knowing that we are complete in Him; healthy, not diseased nor broken (spiritually speaking). Amen? 

Read Romans 6:1-14 and Psalm 37:3-8 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Love, Honor and Obey

Approximately every 4 minutes these three words, "Love, Honor and Obey" are said somewhere in the U.S. as people say their wedding vows. Without a doubt, more time is spent in finding the right dress and making all of the arrangements, than is spent contemplating what these words really mean. Probably less than half of the couples getting married consider the specific words to their vows, unless of course they are removing some or all of these words and replacing them with something that isn't so "restrictive". I shared these words with my husband over twenty years ago and honestly, I had no idea what they meant or how to live them out. I truly believe, that until a husband and wife know the Lord, they don't have the ability to do any of them. Oh we may think that we can, but time will prove that to "love, honor and obey" is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is easy to "love" for the first few months, maybe even years, but with time, the casualties of life take us down and we become a little tired of the things we used to think were cute. "Honor" is something that goes hand in hand with love. As we love our spouse we honor them, but as the love fades, the honor isn't far behind. Let's say that in the early years, the way they snored used to help us get to sleep. Wedded bliss clouded our minds into thinking of it as a sweet little bedtime hymn, but as the years passed the snore became an irritating interruption to our much needed beauty rest. Now love and honor go right out the window when we are complaining about this to our friends. "Obedience" is one that I think is said mostly because of tradition, especially in the current era of women's rights and equality in the relationship. It's never really treated with any sincereity. Unfortunately this is a major error in light of God's plan for marriage. 

It is only after we are able to experience the unconditional love that God gives to us after we accept Him as our Savior, that we are able to love others with a selfless heart. God helps us to understand that the world doesn't revolve around "me" and "my issues". God's love allows us to put our spouse first. As we see God forgive us for our sins-big, little and in between-we are able to develop a softness in our hearts for the shortcomings of our spouse. Honor isn't so quick to depart because we realize that God's forgiveness has a ripple affect. We love them for who God made them to be and we honor them because of that. Love and honor are the easier ones to incorporate into our lives after accepting God's forgiveness. The tough one is obedience!

God has a lot to say about submission in His Word. He instructs husbands to be obedient and submit to Christ and to love their wives as Jesus loves the church. He teaches women to be submissive to their husbands and to respect them. He doesn't say to do these things only if the spouse deserves it! We are to do these things in spite of their behavior. Obedience in God's eyes isn't just for the women. And I can tell you from personal experience that when my husband IS being obedient to the Lord, obeying him is much easier! BUT, it isn't a prerequisite to wives obeying their husbands. Given the way society views submission to anything these days, enacting this into a marriage is very difficult. However, if it is put into play, the marriage will be stronger and healthier for it!

If these three words have been exchanged between you and your spouse, or they will be exchanged in the future, go through God's Word and explore the definition He has given each one. Certainly look up Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1st Peter 3:1-7 for a summary regarding husband and wives. You will be blessed and so will your marriage! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trip Hazards

If you have children in your home then you probably have a number of trip hazards lying around. They may be in the form of a toy or shoe. Maybe you are like me and you have animals that offer opportunities for you to fall on your face. A couple of my dogs love to help me in the kitchen and even though they are not small dogs, they still lie around unnoticed and under my feet. Somehow they have the uncanny ability to come into the kitchen without any sound and lie right where I am headed next. It's not uncommon for me to trip over a tail, paw or nose and then be given the look of "What did I do?". Shoes and toys and pets are usual physical trip hazards, but what spiritual ones are lurking in your home?

For each one of us there are certain things, be it a behavior, action or recreation, that is a temptation for us. It may not be unlawful, but for each individual it is something to which God has told us "No". For me it is certain foods. I love ice cream and can sit down and eat a container of the stuff within a day! I know that this is a temptation for me so I remove this trip hazard by not keeping it in the house. Is ice cream illegal? Well no, but for me it becomes gluttony and that is a sin in the eyes of God. What trip hazards are in your home? Maybe an ice cold beer or a bottle of wine, the satellite package that you have in your home that offers sports 24/7 or X rated movies, possibly a big bag of cookies or maybe the computer. When the kids have left those toys or shoes on the floor, you either pick them yourself or you require the kids to do it but in any case, they are removed so they are no longer a danger. Our spiritual temptations need to be treated in the same fashion. They are just as dangerous and can cause serious injury or even death if we are not careful. I suggest that you go on a thorough search and remove those trip hazards from your home today!

Trip hazards don't only exist in our homes. They are pretty much everywhere. I can be tempted in a simple trip to town, at social gatherings and at the grocery store. For those who have problems with lust, you would have to wear blindfolds these days to not be exposed to stumbling blocks. People who trip over their quick temper can find hazards at work in an annoying co-worker. So how do we deal with these since we can't remove them entirely? We seek the help of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of self-control and wisdom. For example: I have a hard time going to town without the thought of buying myself a "treat"! I may be talking yummy fastfood, having a flavored coffee or even splurging and getting a "Blizzard" (my favorite!). Because I am aware that these are temptations for me, I need to prepare for my trips to town. I try to take a healthy snack with me and a bottle of water, I don't go to the grocery store hungry and I limit myself to a "treat" only every now and then. In all temptations God promises in His Word that He will provide a way out. It is up to us to identify the known temptations in our lives, to do all that we can to avoid them and above all to seek His wisdom for escape from the ones that come up without notice.

We do have an adversary who would like nothing more than to trip us up with every step that we take. If we are tripping with every step then forward progress is slow and difficult. Here is where the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" takes on new meaning. Spiritual prevention includes awareness of our surroundings, a keen sense of our weaknesses and the humility to go to God for assistance. If we take these things very seriously and watch where we step, then God will keep us safe as we face each hazard. If we ignore them, deny them or even try to tackle them on our own, we will fail every time.

1st Corinthians 10:12-13 and James 1:13-15

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Too Much Time on My Hands

It may appear as though I have song lyrics on my mind, but they have just corresponded quite well with the thoughts on my mind. This one in particular came to me as I was working with my pastor's wife recently and she mentioned that the time God gives to her is not hers, but God's to use as He chooses. This is a very true statement I believe, one which we don't consider all that often. The concept seems to be very common when we discuss money and the fact that God gives us that which He knows we will use responsibly, yet when we try to apply this concept to our time, it is alien. Time viewed as an allotment from God to use for Him? Well, yes.

Over the years, my Bible study teacher has said that you will determine a person's heart regarding finances if you look at their checkbook register and their heart regarding their time if you look at their day-planner. How true! So how does yours look? Are you too busy with things that will burn like running here and there, shopping, even working extra hours for that yearly vacation? Or are you spending time seeking God's "to-do" list for your day? It will probably look more like; making that phone call you keep putting off, helping your neighbor with something they mentioned awhile ago or spending extra time with your child or spouse. Sometimes we are doing things that we think are for God, but if He doesn't ask you to do it then it isn't on His agenda and may still "burn".   

I don't work outside the home anymore as God has truly blessed my husband and I with this gift, but as I have more time on my hands, I find it difficult to give of it freely. I tend to hoard it and behave as though it is in limited supply. In fact it is in limited supply, but that shouldn't be my concern. God may allow me to live to be one hundred or He may take me much sooner, but nevertheless, I can only be concerned with today. Therefore, I need to be completely sensitive to the following thought: If this is my last day, how would God choose for me to spend it? Most times, it is doing something that was not even close to being on my agenda! However, when I am obedient to Him and do as He asks, I am abundantly blessed.

I challenge you to seriously take a look at the things that you spend your time on throughout the day. One pastor suggested that you log every hour of the day and write down what you do every day for thirty days. It would be an eye-opener to most of us to see where our time is spent. Then as we evaluate the list, consider what things are going to burn up when we go through our "awards" ceremony in heaven. As I was listening to the pastor teach on this, I had just finished spending three straight days working on projects around our place. This is something that I thoroughly enjoy and feel is quite important. After hearing his message, I decided that this ranked a little higher on my priority list than it probably ranked on God's! I do believe that keeping our place up is important to God, but I had put off other things, like serious time in His Word, calling a few people that He had laid on my heart and seeking His day-planner for those few days! I may have missed out on opportunities to serve Him in ways that would remain at the "awards" ceremony. Once again I am reminded that this life is not about me and my wants or desires, but as my profile states, for Him to do as He chooses. 

1st Corinthians 3:10-15    

Friday, August 13, 2010

Take this job and...

If you have ever been an employee, then this post is for you! 
We've all been there; unfair working situations like the guy who takes numerous breaks, and does little work, but gets tons of "Kudos" from the boss. What's up with that? Then there's the co-worker who takes credit for all of your good ideas. How about this one; you've been an employee there for a number of years and they hire a new person at the same wage you are currently making. Do any or maybe all of these scenarios sound familiar? Well, you are welcome to join the club of "life...unfair".

These types of situations are very frustrating to say the least. Sometimes they may cause us to quit and move on, or maybe they lead to a bitter attitude which can in turn lead us to despise our job. It is so easy to become negative and cranky...that is if we allow it to become an issue of "self". You may say, "Well of course it is a "self" issue; it's about me and my job". But is it...really? How did you get that job anyhow? Is it not true that it was God that provided the job? Sure you hunted for it and applied for it, but ultimately, He worked out the details so that you were the one selected. He has also allowed the situations to arise that you have been or are currently facing. Right? Truly, if God is sovereign over all things, then yes, He has complete control over all of these things. He gave you this job to earn an income, but that isn't God's main focus. He wants us to glorify Him in our position. Are we doing that as we grumble and complain? No! But if we look at it as a chance to work for Him then we will have a better attitude.

With each of the frustrating situations that we find ourselves in, He is allowing us an opportunity for growth. We can look at it as the world would and throw ourselves a little pity party, or we can take hold of this and make it a positive thing. We can look for the lesson that God is trying to teach us. Maybe the lesson is to have compassion, or to be more helpful with our co-workers, maybe there is a little bit of pride that He is trying to knock out of us, but whatever the case, you can be assured that there IS a goal that God has for you in this trial.

Now, the question is what are you going to do with this opportunity? Will you allow it to pass you by or will you grab it by the horns and meet it head on? God would prefer the latter and if you choose to pass, more than likely you'll be faced with the same opportunity again somewhere down the road. I am learning that it is best to just get each lesson over with as they come rather than waiting for the next time! So the choice is yours. And, just some extra food for thought; usually when we take the high road so to speak, we are blessed abundantly for our obedience.

Read Matthew 20:1-16, Colossians 3:23-25 and 1st Peter 4:-11    


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prayer...the last resort?

How many times have you heard or even used yourself, the phrase; "All we can do is pray"? Well, I too used to say this more than I care to admit. Many times we don't really mean that prayer is the last resort, but it sure sounds like it when we put it that way. The other day my husband and I were talking about prayer and discussing a couple we know who are new to the Christian faith. They don't know many other Christians and we realized that we weren't praying for them very consistently. In fact not near often enough. It occurred to us that we may be the only ones praying for them at all! What an eye-opener that was; to think that if we were the only ones, we weren't doing a very good job of it!

As we reflected on our own lives and the work that was accomplished through the power of prayer, we were reminded of just how privileged we are to pray for others and that it is also a responsibility that is far too overlooked. Prayer is not at all "the last resort" but should be the very first thing that we do...daily! And not just for ourselves, but for others. In fact, prayer for others should be at the top of our list.

Another common occurrence is to say "I'll pray for you" when in reality it may never cross our mind again. I am guilty of this offence as well! I caught myself doing this regularly and because God impressed upon me that what I was doing was lying, I have made a decent effort to do as I promise. Is either of these scenarios familiar in your life? If not, kudos to you! But if so, then take a few minutes to reflect on God's Word and the emphasis God places on prayer. Look up the following verses to see what He has to say regarding prayer. James 5:13-18, Matthew 7:7-11, Ephesians 6:18, 2nd Chronicles 30:27, Ezra 8:23, 1st Thessalonians 5:17 and all of Jonah 2. These are only a few of the verses that will be listed in a concordance but they will give you an idea of just what prayer means to God...and should mean to us!

Prayer shouldn't feel like a burden; it should be something that we desire and look forward to. It is conversation with the Lord and King of the universe. That should be exciting! On top of that, we get to bring our requests to Him and our concerns. He tells us that He will not only hear our prayers, but answer them too! Not according to our will but His and that is even better because we can depend on His will being perfect. I don't know about you, but I have learned over the years that my will is NOT perfect! Prayer can lead to physical healing, spiritual healing and God's imparted wisdom. It doesn't get much better than that. So, I hope that you have a fresh view of prayer and the work that can be accomplished by it through the power of God Almighty!

NOTE: A very good book on prayer is: Effective Prayer Life written by Chuck Smith. It is a quick read and one of those books that should be read every year or so to refresh your perspective on prayer. You can visit his web site at www.twft.com  (twft=The Word for Today)  

Monday, July 5, 2010

You can lead a horse to water...

Isn't it frustrating when you try to get someone to do something and they just won't do it? Maybe you want your husband to rub your feet without being asked, or maybe your wife is never able to have dinner ready when you get home from work. Do your kids pick up their rooms right away when you ask them to? Probably not! This is the way of life it seems as we struggle every day with things that are out of our control. The saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" is SO true! Are you trying to make your spouse, child, family member or close friend drink of the living water of Jesus and they are having no part of it? Well, welcome to the club! Funny part is, the leading IS our job, the drinking part is God's!

When I think of leading a horse, I think of a nice easy walk where the horse is willingly walking along side of me and there is no struggle involved. Is that how our leading of others to Christ looks and feels? If you are like me then probably not. A lot of the time, my leading feels more like I am pulling and tugging and straining to get them to just take one step! God tells us in His Word that many times, words are not even involved in the leading; that it is through our actions, our gentleness and our love, that others will walk with us to meet with the Lord. What an encouragement it is to know that it shouldn't be a lot of frustrating work to lead others to Him. Then, once we do get them to the brook of Living Water, it isn't our job to pour the Water down their throat! God will take it from there.

So, if you are living with a non-believer, or you have a loved one who hasn't yet trusted in the blood of Jesus for their forgiveness of sins, take heart! It is when we are obedient to the Lord in our leading, that He will refresh the one led to Him with what he needs. We can stand at the water's edge all day long trying to get those we've led there to drink, but that will most likely only frustrate us and cause the one on the bank to dig their heels in even harder. My husband shared with me after he came to know the Lord, that had I pushed him or tried to force my faith on him, he would have resisted; it was through the changes that were taking place in me and the patience that I exhibited, that he was comfortable in taking the walk at his own pace. But, it was only through God's power that I was able to be patient and to make those changes.

Who are you pulling towards the Lord? Are you really making any headway? What do you need to do to allow them to comfortably walk at their pace and in God's timing? Do you force God's Word on them through your words? Or, do you use God's Word to intrigue them and instill curiosity? If your leading others feels like work, then you are trying too hard! Be obedient and do as God asks you to do but then trust God to do the hard labor and quench their thirst.

1 Timothy 4:12-16 and 1 Peter 3:1-4  

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The "F" Word

Did I catch your attention? Good! Even though I am not going to talk about the more common "F" word, the one I have in mind is treated in a similar fashion. It is used frequently and is thrown around without thinking in many cases. The word is forgiveness. How many times have you tossed it out there without much sincerity behind it? Do you "forgive" your spouse when they offend you with their words only to help the tension dissipate? Do you forgive your friend because you know that she will feel guilty for days on end if you don't? In any case the bitterness and irritation may still be alive and well and in fact thriving in some cases. I am doing a Bible study about King David this summer and as I thought about forgiveness I contemplated the affects that the lack of true forgiveness has in our lives; but not forgiveness towards others, forgiveness towards ourselves.  

God is so wise in His desire for us to be holy people. Most of my Christian life I have spent believing that He wants us to be holy so that we can set a good example to others. As we walk a holy life, we can show that there is an ability through the Holy Spirit to live out a life pleasing to God. This is a very true principle to the Christian faith; however, I recently realized another reason God desires obedience from us. As I thought about the sin in David's life and the recent sin in my own, I considered the guilt and the condemnation that I felt. David, too, felt this cloud of despair and the separation from the Lord as he wrote Psalm 51. God knew that sin would lead us to guilt and guilt would cause us to create a wall between ourselves and God. It isn't because He doesn't forgive us our sins, but because we have a hard time forgiving ourselves. This lack of forgiveness causes a dam that blocks the flow of relationship and the longer the dam exists the harder it is to break the drought of connection with the Lord.

My sin was a bad attitude. I wasn't behaving with the appropriate heart in a certain situation and I was irritated. This irritation within myself caused me to feel unworthy of being in His presence. Commencement of the dam building had begun! As the first day went into the second and then the third, I found it more and more difficult to talk to Him. I didn't want to linger and go on and on in apology about my sin because we are supposed to go to Him, repent and move on, yet I felt that if I moved on too quickly, I was acting as though I had done nothing wrong! Hence, God's wisdom! He knows what sin will lead to; that it causes us to build a dam and that it can cause conflict within our own hearts regarding the forgiveness that we just can't seem to give ourselves. Yes, God does want obedience from us for many reasons, but He doesn't necessarily request it just for His own glory, but for our preservation as well. 

For which sins have you not forgiven yourself? Do you have a mighty dam that has stopped-up your relationship with the Lord? Do you find it difficult to go to Him without feeling lowly and pitiful? Take heart! Go to Him right now and repent. Share your every feeling and thought and then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. That is what God wants from us. WE are the ones who don't let go. God has already moved on and so should we! Pray the words of Psalm 51 in all or part. If it truly is God against whom we have sinned and He has forgiven us, shouldn't we be able to forgive ourselves?

Monday, June 14, 2010

How Strong are You?

How often do you work out, one to three times per week, more often than that? Do you religiously squeeze in a workout no matter what may be happening in your hectic schedule? Taking care of our bodies is important. We should eat right and get enough exercise, but how often do you exercise your spiritual muscles? Do you make that a priority in your schedule? Maybe you are asking, "What do you mean by spiritual muscles?" Well, thanks for asking!

I didn't come up with that term. I have heard it many times over the past number of years, but I like what it means. Exercising spiritually is simply growing in the Lord. Whenever we are put to the test, so to speak, we are being given a chance to exercise our faith which inevitably allows us to gain strength in our faith. The specific exercise may a situation like when we end up with an extra expense that we just can't seem to cover on paper, when one of our family members falls ill, if we lose our job and even daily trials like an annoying co-worker or an angry boss. It can also be just setting aside OUR desires for a few hours each week for church or Bible study! We are so blessed because we don't even have to try to squeeze these workouts into our schedule! God gives us opportunities every day to exercise.

As we look to the Lord for encouragement and direction, we are taking action that is strengthening our spiritual muscles. As we become stronger, God asks us to do harder things. If you have a trainer and they start you out lifting 10 pounds, eventually they will be increasing that to 20 and then 30 and so on, as you are able to handle more. God does the same thing with us.

Now, the situation itself isn't any use to us unless we take the action to do the exercise. This involves time in prayer, reading His Word and seeking godly counsel from mature Christians. As we work through the situation and put God first we receive help and power from the Holy Spirit and we then grow stronger for the next 10 pounds of weight. Why does God want us to be strong spiritually speaking? Because we have work to do for Him and it requires us to stand firm in difficult situations. Being a Christian is pretty easy in this country, but it is becoming more difficult. Not only do we need to be able to stand for God's values and God's name but we need to be careful not to fall into the traps of society's victim mentality. Weak Christians will not be willing nor will they have the spiritual strength to do this. As we watch the Lord work in our lives, we will become bolder and we will desire to share Him with others. So, how strong are you? Do you have what it takes to be a strong firm believer in Christ? If not are you willing and ready to put in the proper time and effort to be trained? Don't wait until tomorrow. Start exercising those spiritual muscles today by spending 20 minutes alone with the Lord!

Deuteronomy 31:6, 1st Corinthians 16:13, Ephesians 6:10      


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

God: The Board Flipper

Hay season is right around the corner so I decided to do a thorough and much needed cleaning of our barn. Currently we use pallets with wood over them on which we stack the hay. Our barn is old and not very critter proof, but to my surprise, when I flipped up a piece of wood that was laying on one of the pallets, I discovered a skunk underneath! It took a few seconds for my brain to register what it was but it didn't take long after that for my legs to register what to do next...Run! After I gathered my dogs and got a safe distance from the barn, I decided that I needed to go back and flip the board back up so that the skunk wouldn't feel like sticking around. I needed to remove it's sense of security. I realized later that the skunk wasn't the only thing that needed to be removed from my life, a few pesky little sins needed to be chased off once and for all too.

Sometimes it takes God turning over boards in our lives for us to see what has been hiding underneath. We have a canny ability to act as though we don't know they are there. In some cases, I believe that we truly aren't aware of their presence until God reveals them to us or they start to smell a little! Sins can be like this skunk, and until they are revealed to us, we ignore them or are oblivious to them. Either way, God knows they are there and will deal with them in His timing. I know that was the case with me today. I was blessed with the opportunity to see an area of my life that needs to be thoroughly cleaned.

As I grow in my walk with the Lord, I find at times, that I become disillusioned into thinking that I am running out of sinful behaviors. I tend to look back and see how much work He has done in my life and I start getting a little puffed up. It is about this time that the Lord will flip a board over and low and behold...another sin! Where did that come from? I am starting to see that it is true; sanctification is a process and takes a lifetime. I will never be done sinning this side of heaven, so I remember what my husband says, "...as long as I am a little better today than I was yesterday". So don't worry if you are not as "good" as you think you should be, God's work is not yet done. And don't worry if you think that you are running out of sins to work on because God will flip boards as needed!

1st Thessalonians 5:23, James 1:4, Hebrews 12:10

Monday, May 31, 2010

Who have we forgotten on Memorial day?

Each year, a few days before the Memorial Day weekend, television programs start to center around our veterans and the sacrifices that they have made for our country. We are able to hear stories about long-lost heroes, watch documentaries on America's history and participate in the patriotism that is celebrated this time of year. It is a time of reflection and remembrance. This year in particular has been somewhat emotional for me. I haven't had a loved one die in a war nor was I raised in a military family, but I am an American and as I watch the country which generations have fought for, deteriorate before my eyes, I begin to appreciate my country's godly history even more.

The one thing that is missing from most of the media coverage is the fact that we were blessed with victory and success from God. It is because of His hand of protection that America has thrived and prospered. As we cut our ties with the Lord God Almighty, the security and strength that He has afforded us is removed. If we think for a minute that we can remove Him from our schools, court systems, public buildings and our most of all our government and not pay a price, we are sadly mistaken. As I watched some of the programs on TV this week that depicted our country's history, I was amazed at the odds which America faced to defeat the British. Yet, thanks to God fearing leaders, we did. God promises in His Word that He will prosper those who abide by His laws and follow His leading. As we stray from the faith that our founding fathers exemplified, we head down a path of destruction and I fear for our future.

Most of the time, the problem seems overwhelming to me. I wonder what I can do to help, to not allow the fallen men's lives go to waste. A daunting task it seems, but a few things came to my mind. First of all, we need to never forget that this nation IS a godly nation, even though it isn't acting like it. Secondly, we can make a difference by being involved and not just sitting on the sidelines: Vote, join local organizations, write to your representative and PRAY! And last but not least, choose to live a godly life: Don't participate in sinful activities, boycott corrupt and dishonest businesses, stand for godly values and morals and continue to seek God's will in your life. He will never lead you down a road of unrighteous behavior or actions. If those who claim to be God fearing Christians follow these guidelines, no matter how ungodly our country becomes, God's hand of protection may remain; if not, we haven't a chance.


Psalm 33:12, Proverbs 14:34, Deuteronomy 6:3

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I guess organizing is on my mind these days. Yesterday I cleaned out a closet that I use to store miscellaneous items in and every so often I go through it and thin things out. It amazes me that I can see things differently in just a few months; items that I thought I absolutely needed awhile back are now considered donations for the local charity. As each day, week, month and year of life passes by, our circumstances and needs change and so do our tastes and desires. This fact is reflected by the things that we may sort through from time to time. This is also a truth of our walk with the Lord. The Bible study that I am involved with has a number of faithful women in it who have been attending for years. I don't mean three or four years but fifteen and twenty years and some even longer than that! As we share about the things that we are learning and how God is growing us up, we find that even though we may have previously completed a particular study, new truths continue to be revealed to us as we go through it again. I am learning that God is into spring cleaning as well!

Just like in my closet, I find things in my spiritual life that I had never really noticed before. "Oh. Where did that come from and do I really need it in my closet (life)?" Or, "Gosh I really used to enjoy that pass time, but I don't think it is something that I will continue to do so let's get it out of here." Can you relate, not only to the closet but to your spiritual condition? God is so good to allow us to clean house a little at a time. He never just backs up the dump truck and says "OK. Let's get you cleaned up today!" He knows that we would never be able to handle that any more than I would be ready to clean out everything in my closet. I have emotional ties to some of my "stuff". I am not ready to say goodbye to all of my pet sins. In fact I don't even notice all of them. He is so faithful to just clean us out a little at a time. It can still be painful when He points to something and says that it's time to say goodbye, but most of the time I am ready for the freedom that comes from allowing those things to be removed from my storage closet. And you know what? It's not too long before I realize that I don't even miss those things.

What areas of your life are becoming cluttered with useless habits or hobbies? Do you smoke? Maybe it's time to let go of that! Think of all the benefits! Do you spend too much time watching TV or on the computer? Maybe you waste money that could be better spent helping others? How about your language? Do you use words or expressions that you may not use if a child was present or better yet Jesus? (By the way, He IS present with you in His Spirit!) It doesn't matter what God may be pricking your heart about, I am sure that He IS convicting you of something right now that needs to be discarded. Will you choose to do some spring cleaning and allow God to bless you with the freedom that comes with letting go of the clutter? Fall isn't too far away and the process will start all over again!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Recycle Bin

Typically I am not someone who digs up my past failures or sins only to live them over and over again. Usually I let the past be the past and get on with things. That is of course, as long as it's in MY past. I may not be so quick to let those things go in someone else's past...but I am working on that! Anyhow, I attend a Bible study that met today and one of the ladies mentioned that she is someone who has a tendency to relive her past and struggles with letting the forgiven sins go by the wayside. Her comment caused me to consider this and to visualize what this may look like. I pictured the recycle bin on my computer and thought about how when you delete something, you have the opportunity to retrieve it again unless you empty the recycle bin; in which case it is lost for good..."So long!" I like to keep my recycle bin emptied regularly. Why hang on to those things and allow them to take up valuable space on my hard drive? Our past sins and failures may quite possibly become just like items in the recycle bin.

Which type are you? Are you cautious to not empty the RB (recycle bin) too quickly just in case you made a mistake and deleted something important? Maybe you are like me and are in a hurry to remove trash that is cluttering up your memory. If you are the latter then you probably don't struggle too much with your past, which frees up your time to organize and de-clutter not only your computer but your house, your husband's garage and the kids' rooms, just to name a few areas that probably need your assistance! However, if you do tend to revisit the RB on a regular basis and just can't bring yourself to clean house regularly then you and the Lord need to talk!

God promises believers in His Word that He forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west. If you are traveling east, will you ever catch up with the west? No, you won't...ever. That is God's point. He will never bring up your past sins or failures because He chooses to forget them. When Christ died on the cross, He carried the weight, humility, guilt and shame of every sin you, me, the mailman and the rest of the world ever committed; from the beginning of time to the end! They have been paid for in full and there is nothing that you can do to bring them back to God's mind. So, why hang on to the pain and guilt from them in your own life if God has already moved on? Possibly it is a spiritual battle that Satan, our long-lived enemy is waging with you hoping you will feel inadequate for God to use or causing you to question your salvation. Another option is that you don't feel that Jesus' death was sufficient to pay the price for your sins because they were just too horrific. Well never fear, which ever the case God will and does prevail! Satan can't use the past against you unless you allow it and Jesus' death WAS sufficient for even the worst of sins. Do you realize that if Hitler acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and savior prior to his death that he would be in right relationship with God?

Recycle bins have their purpose on your computer. I myself have retrieved things from mine a time or two, but we don't need them in our relationship with the Lord. As you take your sins to God, you are hitting the delete button once and for all, and so is God. With Him, there is no RB to have to empty or that will allow your nasty mistakes or bad decisions to linger for a later day when you are tempted to revisit your past. So will you trust in the work that Jesus did on the cross and believe that it was a complete and final payment for your sins? Because it was! And the next time that you are tempted to go digging through the trash ask the Lord to remind you of His love and forgiveness and delete that trash from your life once and for all!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Acts of God

Mother Nature has no idea how she interferes with our lives does she? Who would think that a volcano could cause so much headache and inconvenience? No one could imagine the personal situations that were experienced due to this unforeseen event. It is because of worldwide travel and news media capabilities that we are so aware of this act of God. Do we truly realize that we are not in control of things as we believe ourselves to be? It amazes me to think that volcanic dust can bring the world to a screeching halt. Acts of God in the way of natural disasters seem to be on the rise. The number of earthquakes, hurricanes and now we can add volcanoes to the list, are more a headline news item these days than ever before. So what is going on out there?

I am currently going through a Bible study of the gospel of John. Last week we studied the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus and learned that the sun quit shinning for the last three hours of Jesus' life while He carried our sin in His body. I assume that many people try to explain the darkness as an eclipse or some other natural event, but either case was a work of God. Whether it was something that we can somewhat understand or something that totally perplexes us, no matter...it was God! In fact there are so many stories in the Bible that scientists and theorists try to explain or chalk up to a naturally occurring episode: The parting of the Red (or Reed) Sea, the burning bush, the plagues of Egypt and the list goes on. If you spend enough time watching the History channel or Discovery you'll be filled with very plausible and fitting reasons as to how these things took place.

Before I was a believer in the Lord Jesus I used to watch these programs and liked the fact that there was some reasonable explanation for these Biblical stories. I am a science minded person and I appreciated the proposed evidence and theories that drew a conclusion. But now, as I grow in my love and faith in God and His Word, I have gained a new vision for the why's and how's of the sometimes seemingly impossible events. It really is quite simple. God is sovereign and in complete control of EVERYTHING!! Case closed. The Webster's definition of faith is; unquestioning belief specifically in God, complete trust or confidence, loyalty. God's definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1. God says faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. So with that in mind, we can look at the circumstances of life that are confusing and sometimes perplexing to us, and trust that God has it handled.

What circumstances in your life are causing you stress or frustration? Do you look at the situation that the world is in these days and get a little nervous or even frightened? Are you concerned for your loved ones and the future generations of our country? As difficult as it is at times to let go and to cast your cares on our Lord Jesus, it is ultimately what will bring you not only peace but the answers that you seek. Let go and let God! Amen?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Such Thing as In Between

If you are married or ever have been, you are familiar with those two little words that say volumes: "I Do". Those words don't mean "maybe" or "I'll think about it". They mean, Yes, I do. If you are at the altar and decide not to say them, you are making a choice to say "No, I don't". There isn't any in between. Do you realize that this is the same situation with God? If you don't say "I do" to God you are saying "I don't". It is a clear and concise rejection of Him. Yet most people don't understand or see this as rejection. They may say, "Well, I do believe in God, I just don't believe that He has control over my life", or "Yes, there is a God, but I am not a sinner and therefore I don't need to believe that Jesus lived, died and rose, for me". Unfortunately, these comments are a firm and flat out "No" to the offer that God has made to every person, for forgiveness and relationship with Him.

Where do you fit into this picture? Have you gladly accepted the gift of His love, grace, mercy and righteousness through the blood of Jesus? Or are you being deceived by the Father of Lies by thinking that you are a-okay right where you are: That you have never consciously denied Jesus, therefore you are in the middle, safe from hell, yet you get to live as you choose? Well, there is no such place. God makes it clear in His Word, you are either on the side of Jesus or against Him. I guess the example of wedded vows fails in this era because living together has become an acceptable lifestyle and in a way, it is middle ground. No firm "I do's" were cited yet in most daily situations, things flow along as if vows had been exchanged. That is of course until you want insurance as a married couple, you try to file joint taxes, you want to have a child with the same last name, etc. Then these things start to expose the true reality that there wasn't a joining as one, as God had originally planned. Maybe this example still fits, because as you live your life trying to be "in the middle" with God, things start to expose the true reality that you are not committed to Him and that you are living a lie, pretending to be on His side.

So again I ask you: Where do you stand? Are you choosing God by believing on Jesus as your righteousness before God, or denying God by denying this need to be cleansed from sin? There is no in between, no middle ground. It's either "I do" or you don't. I will leave you with this thought: If Jesus' blood was not necessary for our redemption and payment for our sin, why would an innocent Man, whom by the way Pilate agreed was innocent, have given His life for the very same people who tortured and crucified Him? No one in their right mind would do that unless it was necessary to fulfill God's ultimate plan. AND no one except God Himself has the power or authority to have victory over death and atone for our sin. Apathy is not an option with God!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Heaven. Is it a real place or is it just a figment of our imaginations? If it is a real place, do all people go there and if not, who does? Do I get there by being "good" or by going to church? More importantly, can I have complete assurance that I will be going to heaven or is my place in eternity something that I'll discover when I die? These questions are on the minds of millions of people throughout the world. A recent news headline profiled Heaven and the possible answers to these questions. In fact I, myself, have asked them previously. So let me ask you: Do you know where you are going when you die? Do you understand that you CAN have complete assurance of your final destination?

With Easter being a few days away, I thought that I would join the many other groups and individuals who are pondering the life and death of Jesus. Even the secular television stations are examining His historical journey. It is a common thing both this time of year and around the Christmas season, for people to contemplate His existence. Why is He a curiosity during those times of the year but the rest of the year a forgotten and obscure historical figure? Obviously the two celebratory days are based on His life; however, commercialism and secular society have changed them into the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. But let us look right now, to the factual and truthful events that brought about Easter.

Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus but what does that truly mean and why did He have to die? Even though Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, God was not finished with mankind. He still desired to have a relationship with us and had the perfect plan for restoration. The only way for this to happen was for the proper payment to be made for their sin. Sadly enough death is the wage of sin and therefore someone had to die. Unfortunately the only way for redemption was through a perfect sacrifice; something no person could be due to the "sin DNA" we as a race acquired from our "original" parents. So in God's wisdom, sovereignty and love He became man in the flesh, aka Jesus, and was therefore a suitable sacrifice for the atonement of Man's sin. If Jesus had not chosen to die there would have been no payment made, and had He not risen from the grave, there would be victory over death and His crucifixion would have been in vain. It is only because He was God the Son who lived, died AND rose again that we have the opportunity for eternal life in heaven.

Now, as for the "How do I know that's where I am going" part: There is no trick, no test or even a difficult level of "goodness" that you have to reach to obtain a seat in the glorious Kingdom of Heaven. God knows our weaknesses and knows that there is no possible way that we could be good enough. Hence the role that Jesus played; our righteousness! It amazes me how many people understand that Jesus was God and died on the cross for their sins, yet they can't answer the question emphatically, "Yes, I am going to heaven when I die!" I suppose it feels too easy for some people. Maybe others out there don't think that they need God's righteousness because they have lived good lives. I know some who struggle with the idea their loved ones who have passed, to their knowledge, never believed in Jesus while they lived. This leads them to the cold, hard truth that those loved ones may be in hell. Whatever the reason, people have a hard time accepting this awesome and beautiful gift. Our God is the perfect Father who loves us beyond our comprehension. Why would He make it difficult for us to spend eternity with Him? Why would He make it too complicated to understand? He doesn't!

I truly find more joy in Resurrection Day, aka Easter, than I do in Christmas. Yes, Jesus had to be born to die, but there really isn't any doubt that He lived. On the other hand, He had to rise to be my propitiation and that is the foundation for my faith. So, if you are not one hundred percent certain that you are going to spend eternity in heaven with our Lord and Savior, Jesus, might I suggest that you seek God in prayer and ask Him to show you where you are mistaken. Either you haven't truly believed in His blood for your sins or you are being lied to by the Father of Lies and you need to hear the truth from God. It is a simple thing really, to know with a certainty like none other, that you are heaven bound. It is my prayer that each person reading this, will today, find the comfort and assurance of salvation that God offers. So, I ask you again: Do you know where you are going when you die?

Note: Please see the Prayer of Assurance at the bottom of this page if you have any doubts about where you are headed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Ultimate Health Care Plan

"Side effects may include; dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, nausea, weight gain or weight loss, sexual dysfunction, liver or kidney failure and in some cases death."
How many times do you see this on TV or read it in a magazine for a pharmaceutical ad? The list of side effects can go on for a paragraph or two! It makes one wonder if the side effects are worth the risk of whatever drug a person may be considering.
I read an article in a magazine the other day about a woman who had suffered from severe depression all of her life and, as I believe it typically goes, periodically she would need to change her medication because it would eventually stop working. After years of treatment, the last medication left for her to try came down to a drug that caused significant weight gain. I mean significant. The article was focusing on the dilemma of being fat and somewhat happy versus being thin and depressed. As I read this person's story, I began to feel an acute sense of sadness for the numerous people worldwide, who are seeking pharmaceutical help for certain physical, mental and emotional conditions. Then I began to consider: Why? What is the cause for our society to be so dependant on medications to be "healthy" and "happy"?

The answer I believe, is simple. As our society has become more and more "Me" focused we have become less and less "He" focused. When times get tough, to what do we turn? Food, alcohol and drugs would probably be on the "top-five" list. We are programmed to want instant comfort, help and gratification. We want pills for everything: weight loss, depression, better sex and the list goes on. If we can't get pills or are too proud to admit we need help, we then turn to food or some other form of "self-medication". So, to what or whom should we turn? To God and His Word! The more dependant we are on ourselves and others to meet our needs to be happy and healthy the further we truly are from real and lasting joy and good health. God designed us in a certain way. He created a being whose perfect situation would be fellowship and companionship with Him. Originally in the Garden of Eden, that is the way it was. It wasn't until we, as a race, were deceived by Satan into thinking that there was something better out there than what God had provided. We believed that lie and broke our relationship with God through disobedience.
Aren't we still doing the same thing when we turn to things other than God to "fix" the problems? We really aren't fixing them anyhow, we are just covering them up and pretending that they are all better. We are believing the lie that God can't or won't help us. The enemy wants us to be lulled into a false sense of security in our own ability to overcome. Well, we can't overcome and pill after pill, bite after bite or drink after drink will never fix the problem.

If we were to stop living according to our own ideas and looked to God's will for us, we would become a healthier and more joy filled people. We wouldn't be obese and lazy, but instead we would be busy doing the work that He created us to do. We wouldn't be overloading out insurance companies with prescription after prescription for medications that are only relieving the symptoms, not dealing with the root problems. Our bodies would be functioning like they were made to function. If you fill your car's gas tank with water how far will you get? Nowhere! Why would we think that a body designed by the Creator of the universe would work any better without the proper fuel? The long and the short of it is that we are way off track with God's Master Plan and until we get headed in the right direction we will continue facing these problems as they exponentially get worse.

Where are you off track with His plan for your life? If you are struggling with addictions or depression, I can tell you from personal experience that He can and will help you to overcome. The answer isn't found in what we put in our stomachs but what we put in our minds. We need to start with prayer and feeding on the Word of God. As we do this, He will show us the cure to our poor health. Sometimes He may lead us to modern medicine for assistance, but allow Him to direct you there rather than choosing that first. God has the ultimate health care plan and if you choose to follow His directions the side effects will be: a healthy heart that can love and be loved, increased energy to do His work, a sense of well being, an overall radiance and ultimately, eternal life! So, read two verses and call on God each morning!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Who is Your Judge?

This week I had the privilege to help in a community project. A local Christian school hosted a regional speech and debate tournament. I was asked to assist in the judging; something that I had never done before, but was assured that I needed no prior experience. I was nervous and excited to be involved and when the day arrived I prayed for guidance and headed out. They provided a brief orientation for all who were willing to judge and gave us clear instructions. It seemed simple enough. The first event I was scheduled for was a debate and at the end of the orientation, I discovered that there would be only one judge for each debating event! I had assumed, of course, that there would be a panel of judges. Well, that wasn't the case; the sole responsibility would be on my shoulders! Feelings of trepidation began to creep into my mind and I started to become quite concerned.

I found the correct room and got settled in. The students began to arrive and before long we were under way. As time passed so did my nervousness. In fact it was quite interesting and informative. I was amazed at the professionalism and knowledge of these high-school aged students. It truly was a blessing to be a part of this tournament. The students wrapped up their closing arguments and thanked me for judging and that was it. Now came the part that I won't quickly forget: the time to choose one over the other, to rank them for their effort and to JUDGE them!

I was able to make the decisions that I needed to make but as I was driving home later that day, I found my heart to be troubled over the scores that I had given one of the students. Even though this student was clearly not the best of the four, I started to feel guilty about the scores that I had recorded. An overwhelming feeling of responsibility came over me as I prayed about this. I began to contemplate the debate and to ask for forgiveness if I was too hard on this student. This path that my mind took regarding judgment went down a road that I wasn't expecting. I started to think about how heavy a responsibility it is to judge others and then I realized that I probably do it every day! Maybe not on paper, maybe not out loud, but in the secret places of my mind. I place judgment on others for things that I have not been given the authority to judge; like the woman who, in my opinion, wears too much makeup, or the person who was in too big of a hurry on the highway. Maybe the judgments I make are even deeper than that regarding my friends and family. My wandering mind then quickly went to the ultimate judge: God. How thankful I am that the only Person's opinion that truly matters for my judgment His! I am so grateful that it is a Perfect and Holy God that I serve and follow and that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will NEVER be good enough on my own to meet His requirements. What a tiring and endless effort for those who think that if they are good enough or that they work hard enough they may have a chance to spend eternity with Him. What poor souls!

Ultimate judgment will come to each and every person who has ever lived, but for those who have believed on the blood of Christ for their righteousness they can be assured that condemnation will pass over them. We can take heart that even though we try to live according to His Word and by the conviction on His Spirit, we will never live a sinless life. A score of 10 out of 1,000 on our evaluation will not eliminate us from the round and cause us to lose the ultimate reward; a relationship with the Lord God Almighty. He knows how hard we try, (or don't try), He knows what our limitations are and He knows exactly on what and where our hearts are focused. It isn't up to others to try to determine that; only Him. So have you accepted the glorious gift that Jesus gave you when He died on the cross for your righteousness? If so, do you still live in fear that you aren't good enough or that other people may not give you a good enough score? Don't despair! You're covered, you're in, you're set! You are now considered a child of God and your permanent residence is in the Kingdom of Heaven. AMEN!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Counselor with a Capital "C"

How many people in your circle of close friends and family have had serious issues to deal with in their lives such as death, divorce, addiction or job loss? Maybe you have personally gone through or are going through, one or more of these situations. Counselors' couches and waiting rooms are being filled to the brim these days with people waiting to share their pain and to seek help with their overwhelming lives. If it weren't for my pride and embarrassment, I too, would have been waiting years ago, to find guidance through the struggles that I faced. What an empty and lonely place to be. Sometimes it can feel like the dark clouds will never lift and the tunnel of darkness will go on forever. In some cases, that may be the truth, but for those who seek guidance and help from the Counselor with a capital C, the truth of their situation will be revealed and healing will begin.

An important thing to remember, for those who have accepted Christ's sacrifice for their sin, is that we have available to us the One and Only True Counselor. If you buy a Kenmore washer, do you use a Maytag operator's manual? Of course not. So why wouldn't you go to the Counselor who made you? There is no one who knows you better than the Creator Himself. A gift that He gives us when we commit our lives to Him is His Holy Spirit. I believe that far too many Christians overlook this truth. I am filled with sorrow when I hear of the lost and struggling Christians who feel that they have nowhere to turn. Is it that the churches fail to remind us that He dwells within each and every believer? Is it that we don't desire a personal relationship with Him and therefore, He is quiet in our lives? Whatever the case, I am here to remind each Christian out there that we have the very best and purest form of counseling, guidance and comfort available to us if we would only seek Him.

I use the term "seek Him" quite a bit as I share with people and this is what I mean: to give Him some time each day talking to Him, reading His Word, listening to sound Biblical teaching on the radio or on tape and really showing Him that you want His guidance and direction. Seeking Him also means to keep doing it day after day, not just until you receive the answer but for the rest of your life. If you quit when you get the direction you were looking for, He'll just allow another trial to come your way so that once again you'll be on your knees seeking Him again. Believe me, it's just easier to make it a part of your life, permanently! He very much desires a personal daily interaction with us because He knows it is best for us and because He loves us.

Now, I am not saying that if we seek Him through prayer and Bible study that He will miraculously make all of our trials disappear, but what I am saying is that He will reveal to us things that will help us through them. Maybe He will reveal sin in our lives that is causing the problem, maybe He will show us a different path we need to try or maybe He will show us a relationship that needs healing or may even need to be severed. Sometimes we do need outside assistance with our situations, but we certainly need to seek Him for guidance with that decision as well. No matter what He leads us to do, it will be in our best interest. Sometimes the process is long and it is rarely easy, but it is worth it. The days of dark clouds and long, light-less tunnels are far and few between for me anymore. I am learning to look to the Counselor for my direction and comfort. After all, it's His job and He's really good at it!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Common Denominator

Have you ever noticed how often we find life to be disappointing? It started very early. We didn't get the toy that we wanted for our birthday, or our friend got a better bike than we did for Christmas. As we grew older the disappointments seemed to go deeper. The person we'd given our heart to broke up with us for our best friend (OK, previous best friend!). Our parents told us that we had to move away from our friends or worse yet, they said they were getting divorced. On and on the scenario goes as we age and as life "happens". Maybe we are the ones divorcing or losing a parent to cancer or losing a job and struggling to make ends meet. Even though there are "ups" in the midst of all the valleys, the mountain top joy doesn't seem to remain and the valley looms closer and closer with each passing moment. Unfortunately, this describes life here on this rotating sphere we call earth. Do you wonder why God allows these things and why they seem to be never-ending? Well, recently I have seen a tiny speck of clarity as to the "why" and "how come" of disappointments.

As I was dealing with one of my own frustrations in life, an interesting thought came to my mind. It was this: It is not others that disappoint me, but my expectations of them. I pondered this for awhile and as I dismantled a number of the frustrations and disappointments that I had faced over the years, I realized there was great truth to this idea. My expectations seemed to be a common denominator to my disappointments. Consider the gift that you didn't get for your birthday; wasn't it the expectation of your parents to purchase the gift that caused the disappointment? What about the relationship that went sour; was it an expectation that the other person didn't meet that caused hard feelings and bitterness? I am not saying that we shouldn't have expectations of faithfulness in a spouse or loyalty in an employer, but what I am saying is just simply that when we expect others to behave in a certain fashion, no matter what the circumstances, there is a possibility we will be disappointed.

This week's verse comes into play here because in the "grand plan", "the big picture", we really don't have any knowledge about tomorrow or the next minute for that matter. When we expect things to go a certain way, we truly have little or no control over it. Ultimately, planning and expectations are fine as long as we don't set them in concrete. As I have been learning to go with the flow and to bend like a tree in the wind, I have had fewer disappointments along the way. It isn't through my ability though. It is through the grace and mercy of our lord Jesus Christ. He gives me the patience and the faith to go with His flow. As I seek His will in my life, I am learning to allow Him to take me in His direction. If there are disappointments along the way, I am beginning to realize that they are there because He has allowed them and they are a tool He is using to grow me and change me. I suppose it comes down to how we choose to handle life's disappointments. Will you start by seeking God's will in your life? Next, will you accept the path that He leads you down, especially if it isn't what you expected? And lastly, will you trust in His sovereignty and wisdom to know what is best for you? I guarantee that if you do these things, you will find joy that remains whether you are on the mountain or in the valley because you will be right in the middle of His will. There is no better place in which to be!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Childlike OR Childish

Although these words are similar they have two very different meanings. Even the pictures that come to our minds when they are mentioned are different. I picture a spoiled person who throws tantrums and is impatient when I think of the latter. I don't have a feeling of warmth and love in my heart when I think of a childish person. But on the contrary, childlike behavior sets off in me a whole different emotion. I think of fun and lightheartedness. I conjure up imagery of laughter and giggles. It is no wonder that God's Word instructs us to be childlike not childish. The sad part is that I believe we see way too much childish behavior these days, in those who call themselves Christians.

If we are truly taking the Words of the Lord to heart, then we should at least be making an effort to reflect the "fruit of the Spirit" (see Galatians 5:22-23). Although "childlike" isn't listed as a "fruit", it can be inferred to mean some of the same. The Webster's definition of childlike is innocent and trusting. If we are living by the power of the Holy Spirit, then these two characteristics of childlike should be present. An innocent child is gentle and kind while their hearts are full of joy and love. Throw trusting into the equation and you get patience, peace and faithfulness. Does this describe the Christian who is in church on Sunday, but on Monday is impatiently honking their horn at the person driving the speed limit, all the while they have an "I love Jesus" bumper sticker on their car? How about the Mom who serves in the Sunday School ministry but during the Wednesday PTA meeting, complains that Mrs. Jones only brought half of the cookies for the bake sale that she promised to bring? Well, I'd say these are childish behaviors, wouldn't you? Webster's definition for childish is immature and foolish. If the shoe fits!

When I was a little girl I loved it when my Dad would push me on the swing. "Higher Dad, higher" I would sing. I trusted him and knew that he would push me as high as he could. I felt a joy in my heart then, that to this day I can still feel. I don't remember feeling that joy as an adult, that is until I gave my life to the Lord. I am learning how much better it feels to be childlike than childish. As long as we are clinging to the selfish desires of getting "our way" and what "we want", we will not be able to fully experience the lovely fruit of the Spirit. There are two main ways that we glorify and honor God: producing His fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit and sharing His fruit with others. There is one sure way to dishonor the Lord: by doing neither of these. What childish behaviors do you need to leave behind? What childlike behaviors do you want to embrace? Give some quiet time to the Lord and discuss these things with Him. He'll take it from there...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Water-The Universal Solvent

Years ago I heard the term "universal solvent" being applied to water. As an explanation was given to me, I pictured the work that water can do; washing off dirt and grime, polishing stones to a beautiful shine as it pours over them for years. It can be the gentlest cleanser available yet has the power to shape and mold even the hardest of surfaces. It makes a beautiful and peaceful sound when gravity pulls it along a stream bed, yet with the mighty strength of the oceans' currents, it is a force with which to be reckoned. Yet our bodies can't live without it! So is it any wonder that our Lord and Savior, Jesus, would be called "The Living Water"?

If we look at this for a moment, we can see that it was His deep love and compassion for us that caused Him to be our "solvent". His blood and death on the cross washed us clean of our sins. While His resurrection brought victory over the wage of that sin which was death. He died for ALL who choose to believe in Him not just a select few. Christianity is not a private club or a religion of preferred members only. Jesus offers eternal life to everyone on the face of the earth. You can't get more "universal" than that!

As we explore this a little further, we can see that He is so very gentle in His daily washing of us as we get dirty from walking in this world. Yet He will be a torrent of judgment to those who have rejected His gift and denied Him as God. Just as any human needs the molecule of water to survive, so too is the need of His "water", His Spirit, to live eternally. His "living water" comes to us as we accept Him as our Savior and dwells within us forever. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity and was promised to us as our helper. He prays for us when we don't know what to say, He counsels us in our trials, He brings peace to the believer even in the hardest of times, He convicts us of our sinful ways and brings to us the power to overcome them. He provides for us a multitude of things, but without Him we will die, spiritually.

Like the stones in the river bed, we notice with time that the sharp edges we used to project are softening and that we are starting to have a little bit of sheen to our appearance. Even the roughest of stones can be polished into a gem with the "living water" of Jesus.

So, the next time you shower, ask yourself if you have truly been cleansed by the blood of Christ. The next time that you take a drink, think about whether or not you are drinking enough of Jesus, through prayer and by reading His Word. Are you receiving the peace that you need from the Holy Spirit, like a quiet stream of water would provide, as you lean on Him? What part of your life needs the perfect "Universal Solvent" applied?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

True Security Comes from God

It seems that security is a very important and sought after item these days. We buy security systems for our cars and houses; we spend a ton of money on insurance for security while we live and for loved ones after we die. We seek security in finances and security in relationships and even have self-help books and classes on finding security in ourselves. Whichever the case, security is a coveted thing. Where do you find yours? Do you feel comfortable in your relationships but not in your job? Or maybe it's the other way around? Are you struggling with your teens and their choices? Do you feel safe in your home at night or while you walk down the street? How can we feel secure in life these days with the crime, economy and the immorality that is taking over our world? In ALL things, we can find comfort and security in the Lord Jesus.

The Webster's definition of security is this: 1. a feeling secure, freedom from fear, doubt, etc. 2. protection, safeguard.

WOW! Is there really a way to have true security? Can we ever be free from doubt? From fear? To feel safe at all times? Years ago I would have answered unequivocally NO! I had so many fears and doubts that I never could have imagined a life without them. Does that mean that now I am completely and totally free from them every single moment of the day? Well, no I am not. But, I am learning how to experience the freedom from them a little at a time. As the Lord allows trials in my life and as I turn them over to Him, I learn each step of the way that I CAN trust Him in ALL things and that He is my security.

God is sovereign, meaning that He is in charge of all things, supreme in power. Therefore, He has control over the circumstances of our lives. If we are struggling, He knows about it. If we are steeped in sin, He knows about it. If we are trying our best to be obedient to Him or if we are lost and don't even know Him personally, He knows about it! In this we can be secure.

As we learn to trust Him in small things, He will show us that we can trust Him in the big things too, like failing marriages, the loss of a job, the death of a child and even in the things that cause us to be insecure in ourselves. This doesn't mean it will be easy, but it means that it will be okay. Jesus loves us more than we love ANYONE in our lives. Do you think for a moment that He will forget us or abandon us? He promises us in His Word, that He will never leave or forsake us even though sometimes it may feel like He has. When we get to the other side of our struggle, we will clearly see that He was there the whole time, holding our hand.

God's Word teaches us verse after verse, to trust in Him, to look to Him and to follow Him and it is when we do these things that we will experience the freedom from our fears and doubts and ultimately experience true security.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

With the winter Olympics right around the corner, it caused me to think about what most of the athletes are willing to do to gain a spot in the famed games. For one, they usually have been competing in their sport for some time before they even breach a chance to enter the Olympics. They have pretty regimented lifestyles; no drinking, smoking or eating a bunch of junk. Right? They work very hard at their sport and put more time into practice than most anything else in their life. Typically the general populous admires them for their self-control and dedication. I know that I do! To be so passionate about something...WOW!

Do we ever think about our relationship to God in the same terms? I never used too, until recently. We can look at this from both sides; our side and God's side.
First God's side: God wants all of us to be Olympians for His kingdom. He wants us to be the best that we can be...in His strength. He takes care of us when we allow Him to. He provides all that we need for us to be able to run the good race. He even allows us to practice...a lot through our trials and temptations. As He is doing the work in us that He needs to do (the chiseling), He is providing us many opportunities to get into shape. The greatest proof of His passion and dedication to us is His willingness to come to earth as Jesus. To die on the cross a criminal's death and finally to rise again to be victorious over the wage of sin which is death. HIS pain...OUR gain.

So now let's look at our side of the relationship. How are we as athletes for God? Do we show discipline and self-control in our lives? Are we devoted to Him by reading His Word, worshipping Him, time in prayer and putting what we learn into action? Is He the main focus in our lives and everything else comes in second or third? For me, I am slowing allowing Him to gain rungs on the ladder. Some days He is even at the top! But I have to say not every day. As I have grown in the Lord, I find things being replaced by Him regularly. Like my need for TV and my desire to be as lazy. It doesn't just happen though. I know Christians who are in the very same place spiritually today as they were when they accepted the Lord. An athlete doesn't become an athlete by reading a book on how to do it and then voila, they're an athlete! NO! It takes work and lots of it. But when they are standing on the platform receiving their medal I bet they would say it was all worth it. Are you longing to hear the words by our Lord and Savior, "Well done good and faithful servant"? That is truly the hour of our award.

Becoming a Christian happens the moment you believe, with all sincerity, that Jesus is God and came to earth to die for YOUR sins. But it is then that the work really begins. God's purpose for us is to glorify Him and to lead others to the Truth. We can't do that by just reading about it, it has to be a way of life, our lifestyle. Yes, it is at times painful and hard. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming, but God is ALWAYS there to carry us through. He won't let us down.
So, OUR pain...HIS gain!! Amen?

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Work has Begun (Part Two)

Years ago my husband and I ran a small cabinet business from home. It was fun and I enjoyed being with my husband all the time. But the work was hard. There were so many steps to building a nice cabinet. Our shop was small so when we had a big job it made it rough to maneuver the big sheets of material around without getting in each other's way. But, finally, we would get to the point where we were ready to go install them and it was such a good feeling to see our finished product. Our cabinets were made with care to last for many years.

It made me think of the work God does in us. When we do hand the chisel over to Him, also known as our life, it seems like there is a lot of stuff that gets in the way. Sometimes we can feel like the job He has is too overwhelming and that there is no room to maneuver. Will He ever be able to clean up the clutter in my life, the bad habits and the wrong ways of thinking? AND, do I really want Him to go to some of the places that I've hidden way down deep? It can be intimidating to think of all the work that lies ahead. But never fear, because God LOVES a challenge! The bigger the mess, the more work to do, the more glory He will ultimately receive. We serve an awesome and mighty God and nothing is too big OR too small for Him.
When my husband and I first started our business, I was worried about having to figure out the process. You know, being a woman, I am a planner! Well, I quickly learned to just let my husband do the directing. He knew how to get things done and it was best if I just let him show me what to do. What a relief it became, to trust that he had a plan. Sometimes he would ask for my opinion and I appreciated that, but overall, he had it figured out. We need to do the same with God. TRUST Him to know what to do. TRUST Him to have a plan and to take you step by step. TRUST Him to be able to complete the job.

Are you asking "How" do I trust and give it all over to God? Start small. First, go to Him in prayer and let Him know what you want to do. Acknowledge that you know it will be hard to allow Him to do the work, but that you desire to hand Him your life to shape and to clean up. If you've never before committed your heart and life to the Lord, below is a prayer of assurance that you can start with. From here, you need to spend time getting to know the Lord Jesus. You can do that through fellowship with mature Christians, reading His Word (the Bible), attending a faith based church, listening to Christian radio and mostly listening to God. When you accept the gift of forgiveness and give your life to the Lord, the Holy Spirit comes into your body and helps you along each day. He is your counselor and helper, He convicts your heart when you are being disobedient and He helps you to pray to God. Don't panic, just trust. If you have sincerely, at any time, committed your life to the Lord, He will gather you to Himself and take it from there. Your job is to listen to Him and then follow His instructions.

The first few months of working with my husband were difficult. There certainly was a learning curve. I got frustrated, sometimes angry, hurt and I even cried a few times, but I got over it. I didn't give up and neither did my husband. God won't give up on you either. And chances are good that you will go through each of those emotions and probably some that I didn't list before it all is said and done. Don't expect it to be easy, because it won't be. Expect it to be worth it because it will be. In fact committing your ways to Him will take you places that you've never imagined and in the end He will have a finished product that will be useful for years to come!
Until next time as I continue my work, take the steps to begin yours...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hand Him the Chisel (Part One)

Isn't it funny how you believe certain things when you are growing up and as you get older it becomes harder and harder to change those beliefs? It's just like washing the dishes. If you rinse them immediately after you use them, the stuff washes off pretty easily, but if you let them set too long, you may have to break out the chisel to get the stuff off! Life is so much like this. Ideas and beliefs we grew up with are so hard to change as we grow older. Add experiences on top of that and it is like adding cement to the stuck on food. Sometimes I wish I could take a chisel to my life and get rid of some pretty icky stuff. But, that's not the way it goes.

I am learning that as I was growing up I had some very poor examples of how to be a good wife, how to live a godly life and what to expect from others. This certainly caused a lot of heartache and a bad attitude, not only in me but in those around me. Just ask my husband or a couple of my sisters!

So other than taking a chisel to our lives, how do we make the changes that will offer us a better, and more fulfilling life? Hand the chisel over to God. Let Him take care of removing the stuff off of you that is icky. Trust me, He won't chisel off the wrong thing (as I know I would!), and He will take what is probably a messy and mis-shapen person and turn you into something beautiful that He can use. At least that is what He is currently doing with me. It is a process though. It doesn't happen overnight, thank goodness! I would probably have freaked out if He had changed me so much overnight that I woke up and didn't recognize myself! What He is really doing is chipping away all of the dirt and grime that I have picked up from living in this world for the past 40+ years, and is removing it to reveal the person that He originally created so long ago. He does this glorious thing for anyone who asks. So, do you want to have a "chiseled" body, by God? Do you seek the strength and ability to make some changes in your life for the better? All you have to do is ask Him and allow Him to get busy.
I will be praying for you as He removes the first chunk. It may hurt a little, but it is SO worth it!

We'll touch base again and do some more work before I go Home!