Tuesday, May 31, 2011

~ "He loves me, He loves me (or the first half of seven)..."

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood (Prov 6:16-17)

Okay - so what does this mean??? When we constantly look down our noses at others, when we refuse to love our neighbors or tell the truths about them, when we cause the death or abuse of another person by murder, battery (or even abuse) - we are considered to be an "abomination" to Him.

We are no better than others simply because we "believe" or are "Christians". God loves all of His creations the same. We are all sinners. No one better than the next. In the past few days, I have seen the hand of God, which has poured out blessings on families, lifting them out of their pain and suffering as a result of the prayers of His faithful ones, removed. God blesses those who praise His name. You cannot stop after your prayer has been answered. You cannot fool God!

He commands us to love one another, to look out for one another. We are all in this together. There is no greater or lesser person...only those who walk with God and those who don't. Those who don't walk with Him have the same opportunity as we who do. They are no to be looked down at, lied about or even abused because of their "lack of faith". They are to be prayed for. It is not our place to judge them. That privilege is reserved for God. There is no justification for murder (of any kind) or battery or abuse (be it physical or emotional) - there is no justification for neglect or abandonment.

The question "what would Jesus do" - heightened our awareness to the changing world we live in, and it is a good place to start on your journey to "fixing" yourself. Did Jesus ever once look down upon anyone He encountered in His life on earth? Not once. He came as a servant to man. He never turned His back on or anyone who came to Him. He never spoke an untruth or misrepresented the Kingdom of God. He was beaten and executed for our transgressions. He was gentle and humble, kind and loving. He now asks us to use His life on earth as an example for our own lives.

Do not set yourself above anyone else. You are no better (or worse) than anyone you may come in contact with. By the same token, do not allow anyone to set themselves above you. Walk away, pray for them and place yourself back in the company of the one who fights for you, defends you and loves you - Jesus! Use Him as your template. Define your life as He defined His - make it one of prayer, love, and humility. Give glory to God in ALL things and at ALL times! His way is the only way!

Monday, May 30, 2011

~ "God's final victory..."

The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. (1 Cor 15:26)

Today we remember the men who have fought and died serving this country. It is our "Memorial Day" - originally know as "Dedication Day". We also take the time to honor those who currently serve and who have served. We take pride in our servicemen and women. We are grateful for the price that has been paid for our freedom.

The freedom we speak of comes in the form of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". It's written in our Declaration of Independence. Many hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes have gone to their graves defending that right. Their innocent blood was shed for the continued freedom we all enjoy.

Another young man, about 33 years of age, also paid a price for our freedom. His innocent blood was shed on a tree at Galgotha. He was put to death for what we would consider "war crimes" - he claimed to be a King!

Jesus died for our sins. He conquered the grave. He rose and lives today! He has won for us freedom - freedom from death and eternal damnation. We have a choice. As I've said before, we know how it ends - God wins!!! Choose life over death, choose right over wrong, choose humility over pride, choose the truth, the life and the way!

Only two defining forces have ever died for you...Jesus Christ and the American Soldier -- Jesus's death freed your soul - the soldier died to defend that right! Honor what they have done, but give glory to the King of heaven and earth!!! He reigns forever!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

~ "Sunrise..."

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name [is] to be praised. (Ps 113:3)

"Today I will acknowledge my faith in God, my Father in Heaven! I will confess to Him any resentments and bitterness over past life events and will renew my trust in Him for my present walk and future hope. I will aspire to trust God unconditionally in all things, demonstrating a living hope even when I may not understand what God's plan is." This is my affirmation for the week. I do not fear where I walk, because I walk in the light, and I do not walk alone - wherever I go, God goes with me!

When I look back at what my life was, I praise God for bringing me through it! If I had never lived in torment, I could never know contentment. It takes some getting used to, especially when all you've known is verbal and emotional abuse and neglect. I had come to expect it and didn't know quite how to react when treated with respect. The positive side of life came only in short spurts and was overshadowed by the constant clanging of "the useless bell". I know now that I am none of those horrible names and vulgar expressions that were used to describe me. I am a child of God. I loved and cared for by the greatest man to ever walk the earth - Jesus!

We all have our "midnights". We need them to appreciate the "sunrise". When God shines His light in your life, you stand up and take notice! He's not someone far away, too busy to hear your cry or wipe your tears away! He comforts you in ways no human ever could. He loves you unconditionally! He's there, right beside you as you suffer; He's there right beside you in your moments of joy! Have the faith in Him that He asks you to have - He CAN do anything...but He's given us "free will" which means He will not MAKE someone change if they choose not to. Don't walk away from God, walk away from what is not of God! There are many things that God despises - you are not one of them!!! Thank Him for those nights - they tend to turn into beautiful days filled with joy and love from above! He IS the sunrise - praise His name!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

~ "A game of hide and seek (ready or not, here I come)..."

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)

He did not come to earth to bring peace. He came to save. He is the righteousness we seek. He is the truth we long for. He is the authority we answer to. He is the one we long to be like. He is the one who sets us free. He is the judgement we all fall under. He is the light that brings us hope. He is the King we worship. He is the Lord we serve!

It's not as easy as it looks sometimes. We have our moments of struggle. We are forever being sought after by the enemy. Why? Because we belong to him. We do our very best to walk that narrow road. We have a conscience. We have a choice. Do you need to rededicate yourself to your God today?

Satan has a way of manipulating and distracting us from the truth. He is constantly at work. His "demon hoard" is always lying in wait, looking for any opportunity to sabotage us and take us away from the only thing we know to be perfect, the only thing we know to be pure, the only thing we know to be real - Jesus!

Don't play hide and seek with him. He can't win. Reach out to the Father though Jesus. Hide your heart and soul in His love and protection. Draw your comfort from Him, knowing that all His judgements will be brought forth and you will be vindicated. Let the love you have for Him shine brighter than His stars and His sun. Seek His guidance. Seek His blessings.

Today is the day to rededicate your life to Him. If you've made a mess of it (again) and you are afraid you are slipping away, ask Him to renew your life from within. Ask Him to lead you. Let Him find you right where you are. No need to clean yourself up first, He will do that for you! You are all He wants! Stained and unkempt - He loves you! Take yourself just as you are to the foot of His cross...He's ready to receive you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

~ "Your God Place (by Scott Moody)..."

Then hear thou from the heavens, [even] from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. (2 Chr 6:39)

Scott Moody is an old friend from high school. When I read his "note" yesterday, it asked for his permission to use it today. God speaks to us in many ways, sometimes through the words of others...

Your God Place (by Scott Moody)

The other day I was having lunch with a friend and our conversation turned to Bible study. As it turns out, a Bible study he joined a few years ago included a former astronaut. At one of their meetings, my friend asked him what it was like up in space, to be able to look out into space and to see so many more stars than we could back here on earth. Now we are talking about a man of science, highly educated and disciplined in his thinking and yet his response was, “It makes you believe in God”. He did not speak about the composition of the various planets, the distances to the stars or the big bang theory, but simply in that the vastness and beauty of space, so little of which we still know or understand, it was impossible not to see God’s hand. To believe.

Upon reflecting on this later, I thought of space being the astronaut’s God Place. I have one too, although mine’s a lot easier to get to.

Almost every morning I start my day at the beach, reading and studying (and always with my cup of Starbucks!). I love the beach in the morning. It’s nice and cool, the waves drum out the sounds of the rest of the world and most importantly, I’m able to look out at the magnificence before me. It’s like gazing up at the Sistine chapel and seeing the beauty and creativity of Michelangelo’s work for the first time and yet being able to do just that – anew and for the first time – each and every day. One day the waves are big, attracting surfers before they head into work and yet the next day, the ocean can be as still as a lake, the dolphins trading places with the surfers. One day the sand is full of seaweed and the drop-off sharp, the next day the sand can be wind swept and as smooth and sweeping as a rose petal. One day the sun peeks over the horizon as if some giant orange ball, the next day only its rays are visible as they stream down to the water’s edge. And one day the beach is alive with wildlife and the next, all you can see are the tracks of a turtle as she made her way back into the ocean after laying her eggs the night before. Each day is so totally different and each day I sit there and simply give thanks to the Lord for painting such a beautiful picture for me today. And I can’t help but know there is a God.

Each of us needs to find that God Place. It might be in space or on the beach, but it also might be sitting by a lake, peering out from atop a mountain or watching the sunset over a river. Or it might be simply looking at a baby sleeping or children playing at the park. Life’s a zoo, it’s easy to get caught up in our every day challenges and lose sight of what is important.

We all need a God Place.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

~ "Tick-tock-tick-tock..."

Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (John 20:27)

Poor Thomas. We all have our moments of doubt and lack of faith. We see by this example that even those who knew the Master and walked with Him in His earthly form also had their doubts. When we doubt, we only need to remember His promises.

Many times throughout our lives, we are faced with "issues" we'd rather not deal with. We experience pain that cuts so deep we don't believe it will ever stop. We may often think the wound will never heal and that blessings will never fall on us again. When we walk away, for what ever reason, and come back - nothing has changed. His love is still as strong and as constant as it always was. He waits for us. He longs to hold us and tell us all will be fine. In our "pitty party" we don't want to hear those words - we want to remain sullen and depressed and carry the "nobody loves me" banner higher than anything. We want the world to know we've been hurt and that we feel deserted.

We are never alone. Our heavenly Father is never more than a heart beat away from us. The Holy Spirit that lives within us feels our pain and hears our sobs. I will tell you that He definitely has His work cut out for Him in my life! The enemy has been making camp here lately and it's time to clean house!

Are there things in your life that need to be put away? Are there things that need to be tossed out to make room for the blessings? Are you a hoarder in the sense that you hang on to every pain, every hurt, every memory (good or bad) and every emotion that you've ever experienced? Do you constantly flip through that photo album in your mind and long to go back to that day when you were the happiest you can ever remember being?

We can't. It's not possible. Time is the one commodity that slips away and never makes it's way back to us. We can spend all our money, eat all our food, and it can be replenished. We cannot turn back the clock and change the course of history. We can roll over in our minds the decisions we've made and the acts we've committed but we cannot change them. We cannot take it back and "fix" it. The choices we've made define who we were. We have the ability to change who we are! We have the option to walk with Jesus. He doesn't hold our past against us, so why do we? Why do we listen to the dribble of the demons of our past?

Today is the day to close the door to the past and lock it. Walk forward with your head held high! Look to Jesus to lead you and stand by your side. He's the one person who will never turn His back on you. He does not hold your past against you. He will not belittle you, nor will He abandon you. He considers you to be worth something - after all, He died for you! Cleanse your heart and your soul - let His love and that shed blood wash over you and relieve you of all your burdens. Put the photo album in the trash can and leave it there (and don't go picking it up because of your fear of what's to come - allow yourself the opportunity to experience something new - you deserve it). There's a reason why that part of your life is over. God has a new adventure for you! Go out and find it! He's just waiting for you to put the lid on that trash can. The clock is ticking...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

~ "Souvenirs here..."

Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. (17:15)

The advertisement is for "Tour Israel" - the slogan is "What makes the miracles of Jesus more miraculous? Standing where they happened." I have to tell you that I was a little dismayed. Making a pilgrimage to Israel because that is where the miracles of Jesus happened is, at the very least, false advertising. Yes, I get it - I "get" the significance of walking on the very ground that our Lord walked. Seeing the places I read about in my Bible come to life before my eyes. No - I have never been and the truth be told, I don't really have a desire to go for the reasons the travel agents think that I should. If I ever do go, it will not be on a site-seeing tour, looking for the plaques that read "Jesus Ate Here" or "On this site, Jesus gave a blind man sight."

I have seen the power of God at work in those around me. I have seen the sick healed (on more than one occasion, might I add). I have experienced things that psychiatrists would deem as coming from a deranged mind. I have felt the presence of God in my life more times than I could count.

We are not "more blessed" if we journey to Israel and walk the steps that Jesus took to the cross so long ago. We are blessed simply because we were there that day - we are the reason He came to earth in the first place. We are the reason He preached. We are the reason He went to the cross. His stripes were put there for our benefit. The nails that pierced His hands and feet were driven through his flesh by our sins. That nasty crown of thorns has been replaced - He is the King of Glory and now wears a crown greater than any other.

Each day, Jesus offers you His greatest miracle - the one many fail to understand, the one many believe is an inherent right, the one that cost the most - eternal life! That miracle is performed (if that's an appropriate choice of words) each and every day, on every continent, in every nation, in every city and in every heart! Don't allow the enemy to tell you that it's not offered to you - it's offered to everyone! Grab a hold of it and don't let go! You don't need a tee-shirt that reads "I've Been to Gethsemane"...it will be written on your heart forever.

Make the pilgrimage that means something...accept the one miracle that is offered to you, personally! Accept the gift of life from the giver of life and your soul will read: "Jesus lives here!!!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

~ "It's not ending yet..."

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

It's been brought to my attention that of late, I have been focused on Jesus' second coming. No, I do not have an inside "scoop" on when it will happen. No one does. I do not put any stock in the Mayans, nor do I believe the world will end in the next few days. It could - but it's highly unlikely, as all that is prophesied in Revelation has not yet come to pass. It is my belief that only when all the scripture has been fulfilled, will God's mighty hand end life on this planet as we know it.

In this verse (and a few others), we are reminded that we will not know when. If we knew when, we would have the opportunity to get our lives in order. We could take our time. That's not what God wants from us. He wants us to always be ready. He doesn't want us to scramble at the last possible minute. He wants us now! The "world will end tomorrow" banner has been being flown since I was in single digits. I remember the first time I heard that possibility. My thoughts were not of readying myself for His coming, but in doing everything I'd never get to do if it did end. I don't worry about the end times. My soul is ready. I am ready.

Live each day to the fullest. Offer God your praises and prayers. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to be a follower. Examine your heart...if it's not right with God, then make it right! After all, the end of the world for you could be an hour from now. We don't know when our time is up, any more than we know when the end of the world will come. I'm looking forward to writing my post on 12/13/12...the day AFTER the world is supposed to end! I'm sure God will have a boat-load of "I told you so's" for me to write!!!

As Peter, Matthew (Matt 24:42) and Paul (1 Thes 5:2) tell us - Jesus in His return will come "like a thief in the night". We do not know when. Guard your greatest possession against the enemy - that is, your soul! Prepare for that night, whenever it comes, but don't stop living because of it. That is not what our Heavenly Father wants from us! He's given us great gifts...share them, use them, enjoy them! He is coming back, just as He said He would...be prepared!

(today's photo was attached to an article dated 9/1/08 which was titled "The End of the World in Nine Days")

Sunday, May 15, 2011

~ "Sorry, this one doesn't have a title..."

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

Yesterday marked an anniversary. One year ago, I began a task laid on my heart by our Heavenly Father. Satan would rather I remain silent, but the Lord had other plans for me. I looked back over some of the posts I had written and some of the songs I had posted as Sunday Worship Videos. My posts have blossomed from a few short lines, into what you read today. I thank God for the gift He has given me and for those who read them faithfully each day.

Today's verse reminds us that we are all one family in Jesus. It doesn't matter what nationality we are, where we call our earthly home, or even where we worship - if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent here to take on all of our sins in one act of redemption, are, by that act, saved through His mercy and grace by faith in Him, then we are all in His will. We are all heirs to His Kingdom.

When we come to the well of salvation and ask for a drink, we are given the living water of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But we must ask for that water! We cannot expect or assume that it will be given to us simply because of what we've been taught or what we believe to be true because we have heard or read it over and over again. We still must ask Jesus into our hearts, make a firm commitment to follow and do our best (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to walk in the ways that He has given us. Pornography, excessive drinking, gambling, foul language, psychic readings, praying to idols (statues and the like - actually, praying to anyone but our Father in Heaven, through Jesus) takes us away the promise of salvation. It is a wedge placed there by the enemy to keep us from honoring and worshiping God!!! God wants to hear our voices - not the words written by others over the centuries that purport doctrine and pledges to a building which houses the cattle of that denomination. He wants to hear our earnest requests, our heart-felt praises and even though we may stumble over those words we utter, they mean more to Him than the ones you were forced to learn as a child.

Make a decision today to invite the Holy Spirit to awaken within you. Confirm with God, through Jesus that you want to follow HIS way, no one elses! Celebrate your new life with an offering of prayer to our Heavenly Father who tells you that you are HIS!!! Who am I??? I am a child of God! Travel HIS road!!! You will not be disappointed and the opportunities and the blessings that will fall on you will be more than you've ever imagined!!! Who am I??? I am one whom God has chosen! Accept HIS offer!!! You will be richer than all the earthly kings who have ever sat on thrones!!! Who am I??? I am the one Jesus died for! If I were the only sinner to ever walk upon the earth, He would have gladly gone to that cross for me!!! That makes me important. You, too, are important, because He went to that cross for you as well!!! Don't walk away - drop to you knees and thank Him for that!!! Why??? Because you, too are a child of God; you, too, have been chosen and you, too, are loved!!!

(Photo: "That I Speak Unto Thee Am He" - Michael Phipps)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

~ "Gimme another chance, please???"

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Peter 2:4-9)

Surely God knows who is righteous and who is unrighteous! He has shared with us, through His word, the events that have taken place in the lives of both. My dear friends, take heed! God's justice will not be any less severe this time around. He will not hesitate to destroy what is ungodly. Read very carefully these verses that Peter writes to you. In it contains a message that God wants to remind you of as you continue on down that road of willful sin. He has not shied away from condemning His creations that disobey Him. He has not held back His wrath from those who do not listen. He has no tolerance for the sexually immoral and the perverted hearts and minds of anyone. He will, however, deliver those who walk with Jesus. He has destroyed nations, entire kingdoms and the world as a whole (save eight). He is giving you, the unrighteous, the perverted, the blasphemer, the atheist, the separatists and the rest, an opportunity to come to know Him, through Jesus.

Do not take lightly the power of God. He is ALL-POWERFUL and ALL-MIGHTY!!! He can heal a cancer-ridden person. He can mend a broken heart. He can cause deaf men to hear and blind men to see. He can give life where there is none. He can alter the tides in the sea. He can change the direction of the wind...and in an instant, He can cause the world to stop! That day is coming, and it's coming sooner than you think!

It is time to prepare your soul for the second coming of Jesus. Our King will come and spare those who believe and testify to His holy name. Those who have chosen to follow and have tried to bring others to Him will be spared the horror.

God has delivered me from my "Sodom and Gomorrah", He will deliver you as well - if you ASK! Lift up your eyes to the heavens, lift up your voice in praise, fill your heart and your soul (as well as your mind) with the good things that come from God! Do not accept the unrighteousness of others as ignorance. Don't fool yourself into believing "they don't know any better". They know perfectly well that what they do is immoral, irreverent and NOT what God expects from them. They lust in one breath and deny in the next. Their attempt to alter the will of God extends far beyond their own little brothel. They make attempts to restrain, restrict and remove Him from our midst. They allow for the acts forbidden by God to be accepted and applauded by men. Those who follow, those who condone, will not see the Kingdom. God has spoken and His words will not be silenced!

In all that you do, pray! Pray for the strength to pursue what is right, what is holy. Pray for the strength to walk away from what is not. You don't have to condemn something to oppose it - you need only refrain from it. Set the example, be the role model Christ calls you to be for others. Listen for the trumpet - for on that day, there will be no other chances!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

~ "Laudate Dominum..."

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD. (Ps 117)

I love classical music (especially Mozart). At one time, I had a complete library of CDs of Mr. Mozart's pieces. One of my favorite pieces is "Laudate Dominum", which is the Latin translation of Psalm 117 and Gloria Patri (a doxology used in some Christian liturgy). Last night, I attend my youngest daughter's choral concert and was both entertained and impressed at the musical selections chosen for this event. They lifted their voices and they praised God with "Laudate Dominum" (and probably didn't even realize it). Let me remind you, my daughter attends a public high school! So this was, without a doubt, a surprise!

What I walked away with last night is that God's word IS being spread in places where it is theoretically against the law...and it is being spread in the talented voices of our young people. God loves to hear our voices in prayer; He loves to hear them lifted in songs of praise!

God's mercy toward us is great! His forgiveness of our human nature is unfailing. We are His creation and He loves us with a passion that is stronger than any man-made laws. His Word will be spread in the company of those who do not believe in Him, who do not know Him and who want to silence Him. Don't be afraid to tell someone that He is real; that He does "exist"; that He LIVES!!! Share His good news with your friends and family! Give everyone the opportunity to know and serve the Lord who came to bring salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike! The Messiah HAS come, He has torn down the curtain in the temple and made a way for ALL of us to talk to God! We are righteous through Jesus! So, praise Him, love Him and share Him!!! His love and truth endure forever!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

~ Let me get this straight..."

And he brought up Hadassah, that [is], Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid [was] fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter. (Esther 2:7)

In a photo album on Facebook, titled "Thirty Days of Beth", is a photograph of someone I'd want to trade places with. I chose Esther. The caption under the the photo reads: " She won a beauty contest, became Queen, was a woman of God whose boldness and fearlessness under pressure preserved the line of David, of which our Savior was born! I'd wanna be HER!!!"

Esther was not your average, run-of-the-mill beauty. She had brains, too! She was "adopted" by Mordecai and he raised her as his own child. How proud he must have been of her when she became the bride of Xerxes; Queen of Persia! She had her work cut out for her, though.

It doesn't really much matter how we get to where we are, as long as we get there...or does it??? The road we take on our journey with Christ can be filled with joy and praise or it can be filled with rocks and pain. It's the same road. What makes the difference is your point of view. If we start out bold and confident and continue on in the same manner, chances are we will experience much joy. Often we start out on the right foot, with the best of intentions and somewhere along the way, we get sidetracked. Sometimes finding our way back onto that road is more difficult than we had imagined. When the "detours" in our lives begin, we need to pay even closer attention to the details than we would normally. Once we've stepped off the map, finding our way back without a compass can be more trying than the actually journey itself.

We have all been adopted into the family of God (those of us who are born again). He has provided a guide for our earthly journey. The Holy Spirit enlightens and guides us every day, in every step - if we allow Him to. We are, as I've said so often, children of the King. We are special; we have a royal destiny. Do you really think that He's going to allow you to get lost again??? Never!!! Once you've become His, you are always His. The detours you encounter on your journey are merely that, detours. You are, even though it doesn't seem like it, still on the road He's chosen for you.

God is proud of the efforts we make. He wants us to succeed! He wants us to give Him the glory for all of them. From the simplest act to our greatest accomplishment - none of it would be possible without His consent. Thank Him for that! Thank Him for the choices you've made that may not have been the greatest, because even in them, there is joy! They bring you to where you are now and who you have become. If you aren't happy with who you have become, maybe you need to examine your heart and soul. Maybe you haven't come to terms with what He's called you to do. Maybe you haven't responded to His invitation yet. Now would be a good time!

Rejoice in all things. You never know when the pain you suffer at any given moment could be the difference in the lives you have yet to touch!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

~ "English Grammar 1-oh-1..."

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Ex 3:14)

I AM. Two very small words - one very great statement. Note that our God does not say "I was" or "I could be" or "I might be"...He says "I AM!!!" Present continuous tense!!!

As I've said before, Moses was not as delighted as one would like to think at the prospect of doing God's work - he battled with God, made excuses to God, he lacked all the skills one associates with greatness, yet, God chose him. He did not want this job. He would have gladly continued on doing what he was doing in his life until it was time to die. God said "No, I have a better plan for you". So Moses went. He did not go alone - for God went with him.

Anything we do for God, at His command, has been scripted to perfection whether it is perfect in our eyes or not. What we see as imperfect, God can and will change if it's part of His plan. He takes us as we are. He sent Jesus to pave the perfect way for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to inspire and enlighten us and to give us strength to do whatever we are asked to do. He does not take our commitment to Him lightly and doesn't say "thanks, I'll let you know if there is anything you can do for me". From the moment we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are commanded in all things. Every facet of our being cries out to be and do just who and what God asks. When we don't listen to the voice of hope, we become uncomfortable in our own skins. When we "slack off", there is an element of shame that seeps into our minds, causing us to fall on our knees as repent once again and to continue on in His benevolence.

It doesn't matter that you've spent a life time following other gods (money, pleasure, imagined happiness) - God wants you and He'll take you as you are, and even train you! He reminds you that the hours are long, the pay is slim at times and the work can sometimes seem like you've accomplished nothing...all while achieving one greater accomplishment than you could have ever imagined. You have become one with the Spirit of God and He lives in you and you are His.

Don't worry that you won't have the right words to say - God will give them to you as needed (He does it with me every morning). Don't worry that you won't have the finer things in life - you will have all you need. Don't worry that people will laugh at you, "unfriend" you, or ridicule you for your choice to follow - they did that to Jesus and that all turned out okay. Stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution. Stop complaining about where the world is headed (it WILL end) - you're wasting time and breath that could be better spent praising God! Be a warrior in the army of God! Pray, praise and rejoice in His Word!!! Lift up everything within you to the great I AM...He waits patiently for your answer.

As He so powerfully said to Moses, He says the same words to you with the same great statement - I AM!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Dream...dream, dream, dream!!!"

For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve (Acts 27:23)

"No storms or tempests can hinder God's favour to his people, for he is a Help always at hand. It is a comfort to the faithful servants of God when in difficulties, that as long as the Lord has any work for them to do, their lives shall be prolonged. " (Matthew Henry). How fortunate we are to serve a living God...one with eyes to see, ears to hear, a voice to comfort with and arms to hold us! There is nothing more powerful than His love for us; there is nothing more mighty than His justice; there is no one more loving than He!!!

When our work is finished, we will go home. In the meantime, we have a very important job to do...we are to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all we meet. We are to live our lives as an example to others in such a way that it bears our true faith in Jesus! There are those among us who do not know of, nor believe in our loving Father in Heaven. They do not know the Son who came to save us from Hell. They do not know the power yielded by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the hardest place to do that is in the midst of our own families. We tend to "let our hair down" when we are in their company. We are comfortable around them and often our "armor" becomes softened. We cannot afford to, not for a moment, give the enemy an opportunity to distract us from what the Lord has laid before us. In everything we do (our careers, our homes, our entertainment and our travels) we must put God first and each step we take must include Him.

We can't all be dynamic speakers, perfectly read preachers, spectacular evangelists or Pulitzer Prize winning authors. The majority of us will be considered "average" by the general public. But, it's not "public opinion" that dictates our greatness, for we are all nothing more than dust and water. We brought nothing with us into this world except the sin of being human and we will take nothing with us when we leave, save a life lived in honor and service to the King. The riches we amass here on earth will be left to those who remain. The jocularity of our lives here will remain here. The good deeds we have performed will be remembered in the letters of appreciation and plaques we've acquired. The only thing that will be seen when we stand before God will be our acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, the gift of grace through faith we receive when we humbled ourselves before Him on this plain; the realization that we could not attain Heaven by our own means and that He, through His life, death and resurrection - has attained on our behalf.

Don't fool yourself. You cannot buy your way into heaven. The only way in is through that precious blood of Jesus. He made the way - He built the bridge - He is the light!!! Take a lesson from today's verse - be known to Him, belong to Him and serve Him. He will stand by you in flesh someday and will tell our Heavenly Father one of two things ~ let Him say of you "Well done ~ welcome home!"

(photo by Jeff Beverly, Sr)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

~ Family Tree..."

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14)

My life has not been an easy one. It has been filled with heart ache and heart break. It has seen death visit family and friends in the most devastating forms imaginable. It has taken from me children I will never hold on earth. It has taken the love of my life and turned it into a nightmare I could never have imagined. I have watched as people I called my friends spew harsh and ugly lies and innuendoes about me. I have witnessed the destruction of a family that I was once a part of with no real attempt made to salvage it. I have experienced the most ungodly acts from the most Godly people. The one thing I did not count on was that there would be a rescue made with such precision, that it would bring me to my knees and cause me to rejoice for all the pain that had come my way!

I enjoy the privilege of being a mother. In a few months I will be a grandmother for the first time. God has always had a plan for me. Whether it was to be a single mother, a hard-working secretary, a friend, a bride, a wife or the resident of the great state of Tennessee...it was HIS plan that has shaped me and molded me into who I have become. I am blessed beyond what I deserve.

Today, Mother's Day, is bitter sweet for me in many ways. Today I will miss my own mother and recall that this was the last holiday I spend with her. Today I will pray for a friend's mother who is in intensive care. Today will be the first time in five years that I will get to spend this day with three of my four children (which is definitely a bonus - there are great advantages to living in Pennsylvania!!!) Today also marks an anniversary. Four years ago I sat in a court room and watched as a judge terminated a vow taken almost twenty years earlier. A vow to love, to honor, to cherish, to care for...a vow that was not taken in haste and a vow I thought could withstand anything.

I praise God today that I do not fall under the law, but under grace. I praise God today that I am forgiven for any real or imagined transgressions I may or may not have committed. I praise God today that I have wonderful, beautiful and God-fearing people in my life who never cease to make me smile, or laugh when I want to cry. I praise God for the four beautiful children he has entrusted to me (and although some will tell you that my ex raised three beautiful daughters - they did not live in that empty house, they did not see nor do they know the true story of this mother's heart). I praise God for it all!

Whatever "cross" you've been selected to bear, bear it with praise! Know that whatever you have dealt with in life, it came to you through our Heavenly Father first! He truly does not give us more than we can bear, and that which does not destroy us brings us in closer union with Him. His grace IS sufficient! My family tree may have a few broken branches on it, but the gardener can and will mend them if allowed.

(My Mom - Millie - taken in the early 70's)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

~ "Grounding is gonna be the least of your problems...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Matthew Henry tells us that "the plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father's mind to the world."

It seems to me when the world becomes so immeshed in sin and has walked away from His laws, God sends a very strong reminder. Like children insistent on disobeying their parents, they receive warning, some punishment, warning, some more punishment, an ultimatum and finally, that crushing blow that is often preceeded by those immortally burned-into-our-minds words... "I've had enough!"

Our Heavenly Father has afforded all people (from every generation - going back to Cain and Abel) the opportunity to get right with Him. They ignored Him then, they ignore Him still. He has even gone so far as to walk among us, in a form we can understand and relate to, and yet the ignorance continues! We know the wrath of an angry parent (some us know far too well that wrath) and we know what not to do to cause them to release their anger on us. We know just how much we can get away with. Some of us had parents who did not allow for any infractions of their rules (that would be me). There were things we could hide from them, things we knew enough not to discuss with them, things we knew not to mention in front of them and things we knew, if found out, would bring disastrous consequences. There are two differences between our earthly parents and our Heavenly Father...1 - God doesn't bargain; 2 - God sees everything.

We can, however, go to Him and ask forgiveness. God can and will wipe that slate clean. He doesn't use a dry eraser. Those of you old enough to have had "blackboards and chalk" in you classrooms when you were in school know that even though the words were erased from the board, you could still see the shadow the eraser left behind and only when the board was actually washed, did the writing disappear. Well, our slate is washed as well, with the blood of Jesus. There are no remnants to bleed through (pardon the pun); they are washed away and we become clean once again.

I am almost every day reminded of the man in the disaster movies with the sign what reads "the end is near". God has always given His people fair warning of what is to come - from Adam to Jesus, His Word was known. His Word is still known, yet so many refuse to abide by it. They look at the Bible like a menu in a Chinese restaurant - one from column "A", two from column "B"; a fortune cookie for dessert and a pot of tea to wash it all down.

The time is now! Step up your witness to the Living God! Stop pretending to be a Christian and make the commitment. *Posting the link to the latest tear-inducing video from the popular Christian website right above your daily horror-scope does not make you a Christian! "It's harmless" you say??? So is arsenic in small doses. God says NO! You cannot serve two masters. Surrender to the Living God and march in His army of righteousness! He wins! Do it now before it is too late. He is beating down the door to your soul - for your sake, I hope He's still there when you decide to open it!

*(For those of you who are not reading this post on the popular social networking site that I subscribe to, "posting a link" to one's homepage is a popular way to share information with others in your network. What you "post" is viewed in a news feed which carries all the latest headlines of your friends.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

~ "Blinded by the light..."

And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. (Acts 22:6)

Saul was on his way, doing what he did best (torturing Christians) and Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks, blinded him and told him what to do next. That was the first step in becoming "Paul". He had a choice, but he saw (without actually seeing) the power that God can and will yield when he wants you to follow. He may have been a little more persuasive in Paul's case, but drastic times call for drastic measures! I may not have been "blinded" by the light, but I was certainly drawn into it.

Each of the steps that Saul took in becoming Paul was designed by our heavenly Father in an attempt to show him not only the power of God, but the mercies of God as well. We are all given the opportunity to see the power of God and we all are given the choice as to whether we follow Him or the enemy. The life you lead dictates your successes and failures. If you do nothing, you receive nothing. If you don't talk to God (pray), He doesn't hear you. We all have to start somewhere.

When I began to "talk" to God, really talk to Him, it wasn't the prayers of my childhood, it wasn't through the scripture (because I didn't read it with any type of regularity), and it wasn't in church (because I didn't go). It was me, alone, reaching out to Him for help and guidance. It was my willingness to follow and do. It took a long time for the lights of that runway to be lit up to ensure a safe landing for me. But since then, since the day my sight was restored, I have not faltered. Every day I thank Him, every day I praise Him, every day I continue to ask for forgiveness and believe it or not, every day I ask Him if this is the day I can be with him. No, I'm not suicidal (even Paul wanted more than anything to be with God - but he knew he still had work to do on earth). My ultimate goal is heaven. I'm going to see the King; I will sit at His feet and rejoice! Until then, my job here on earth is to share Jesus with as many lost souls as I can.

I have pages of names that I pray for each day. I'm sure there are many who pray for me. Every day the list becomes longer, the time spend in prayer for others lengthens maybe a second or two. When I started out, it had maybe ten names on it, now it has over a hundred. No, I'm not complaining. I'm rejoicing! God has filled my world with so many people in need of salvation. He's filling yours as well, I just don't think you realize it. If you've read my post more than once, He's looking for you! He's calling out to your heart through your soul and wants to enlist you in His peaceful brigade. In time, that final war will begin and He wants you in His company. It's okay to let go of the facade that you wear around your friends. It's okay to be a follower of Jesus Christ! It's okay to fall on your knees and ask Him to shine a light on your path and darken everything around you. Take ten minutes - talk to Him. Reach out and ask for help if you need to - my laptop is always up! If you need someone to pray with, I'll pray with you! If you need to be directed to a pastor or minister, I'll help you find one.

Listen to the voice that calls to you from deep inside and says to "Come!" It is the voice of the one, true God - He wants to listen to all that you have to say - so start talking!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

~ "Gee, was this listed in the travel brochure???"

David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. (1 Sam 17:37)

I have noticed that in the past four years, there are certain things that no longer bother me; things I am no longer afraid of. Why? Quite simply - because where I go, the Lord goes with me.

I was on one of God's journeys yesterday. Those are the ones He lays on my heart, the ones Satan tries to dissuade me from, the ones I know will bring glory to HIS name. My faithful GPS took me through the streets of Philly without incident until the little checkered flag popped up and told me I'd reached my destination. Well, the place I was headed was not there. Being smarter than the GPS, I drove a bit, turned around and drove back thinking that maybe I should have made a left instead of a right. After a block or two, I pulled over at a corner and called the place I was headed. "Where are you?" So I announced my coordinates..."We'll be right there". Within less than a minute, there were two smiling faces saying "follow me"...so I did. Long story short - I was sitting on the worst possible corner to be sitting at. I was not phased by this news, just shrugged my shoulders and said "oh". God was with me, what was there to fear? I was going to see what kind of assistance I could offer this little mission because the Lord laid it on my heart to do so.

When I was reminded yesterday that I want faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I was reminded also that David went places that weren't very popular either. He faced some pretty serious enemies in his day and God never let him down. He fought a giant and won, he faced the lion and came out unharmed, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will protect and provide for those who commit their lives to Him without hesitation, without question.

Most of us live relatively "safe" lives. We don't do anything purposefully to put ourselves in "harm's way". We deal with our demons and our problems quietly and often shamelessly. We forget where we could be if God removed His hand from our lives. Not all of us were fortunate enough not to fall prey to the drug and alcohol scene, the the prostitution of the body, to the thievery that lurks deep in the heart or the anger that consumes the mind. Are "those people" not children of the King? Were they not created in His image? Do they not deserve the chance to choose and to have Jesus save them as well? One person asked me - "well, couldn't you find a mission in a "nicer" section of town?" -- I'm not going to even justify that with an answer!

When I was about 10 years old, I'd save my allowance and send it to a missionary organization based out of upstate New York. They'd send me a little magazine every month. One day I got a letter from the then head of this organization and we became pen pals. He had received a letter from my father, explaining how it was that my contribution came to him. I loved the idea of bringing Christ to others then, I still love the idea today. It was not in God's plan for me to serve in that "capacity". I had to experience the life I've experienced in order to serve Him the way He is calling me to serve.

Go where He sends you, do what He asks you to do! Live the life HE has prepared for YOU - even if that plan takes you places you never dreamed you'd go or would never want to be. He is there!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

~ "My help comes from the Lord..."

And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (Acts 22:10)

"Okay, Lord, now what???" These were the words uttered last Thursday evening when I found that my income had been reduced to nothing once again. I wanted to shout to the heavens that I had done everything He's asked of me and now I'm in worse shape than I was two months ago. I wanted to tell Him that I don't feel His presence like I used to. I wanted to tell Him that I'm afraid. I wanted to scream at Him for allowing all the things that have happened in my life to happen. I wanted all the suffering to end and to just be done with all of this. But God has a way of making your see with your soul what you cannot see with your heart, your mind or your eyes. He does whisper in sweet, soft tones and reassures you that everything will be just fine if you trust in Him.

My response to that whisper was very simple: I trust in you, Lord, it's the people around me that don't have that same level of trust in you, nor do they think for a minute that you can and will provide for me. I have to deal with them on a daily basis and it's getting tough. I know I am where you want me to be, but right now I don't know what to do...PRAY!!!

The very essence of our faith lies in the belief that everything will work according to His plan. When we give ourselves over to Him, do what He asks us to do, will He not see that we are cared for??? Will He not wrap His heavenly arms around us and protect us from the earthly enemies that seek to destroy us? Will He not make our seemingly horrific situations a testimony to His good works? Will He not preserve us as we wander around in the furnace???

I laughed to myself when I remembered that some months back a friend and I were talking about "faith". My comment to her was "I want faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego." In Daniel 3:26, their faith protected them from the fires of the furnace and they walked out unharmed - they didn't even smell like smoke! My desire was to have faith like that!!! Well, in order to have faith like that, one must endure similar situations and not "cave" under pressure.

I am not now, nor will I ever be, a "perfect" worshipper. I don't always take the time to sit and offer Him the praises He deserves. I make excuses for my short comings some days, I ask forgiveness for them and begin again. What I don't do is walk away. There have been moments over the past year that I have been angry with God, disappointed, I've felt rejected and left alone. I will even go so far as to say there were moments of hate directed towards Him as a result of certain situations I found myself in. But no matter how miserable life on earth got, God never left my side and continued to whisper those words I've become so familiar with..."I am here - you are MINE".

Whatever you face, you do not face it alone. Reach out the Lord of heaven and earth and entrust your soul to Him. Hand over your problems and your worries. He'll shine them up and hand them back to you so that you can see what needs to be done, if anything does, in fact, need to be done. He will offer you the solutions you need if you're listening. They may not be the ones you were hoping for, but they will be the ones that are right for you. Trust in Him, have faith in Him - listen...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

~ "Today's trifecta winner is..."

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt 19:28)

The Apostles had shown their respect to Jesus, as the first that followed Him, and to them He promises not only treasure, but honor, in heaven. We, too, have been given the opportunity to follow. We, those who follow and are faithful, will also receive our reward. Whatever the Lord bestows upon us will be more than we deserve. We are sinners, all of us, and will deserve nothing. Even our entrance into Heaven was paid for by someone else. Who are we to become greedy over what we will receive when we get there? I'll be happy just to BE there, I don't really much need or want anything other than that. If sweeping the streets or cleaning the toilets in heaven is my job, I will go well prepared.

We all regard many "duties" as being beneath us. For some reason, society has put it out there that mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms and shoveling horse manure are positions for uneducated or ignorant people. The wages paid for these jobs will barely put food on the table for the worker, let along an entire family. There are many jobs that do not cover the cost of living. There are many that quadruple it for doing absolutely nothing. Fortunately for us, Heaven isn't achieved through "works" and you don't need a college degree nor do you need to keep a minimum balance in your bank account to enter. As long as you accept Jesus as your Savior and believe that His blood has cleansed you, walk by faith and bow only to Him, you are in harmony with the saints of Heaven. There is no credit check.

All that we give up to follow Jesus will be returned to us many times over. Some of us have given up our friends whom we have known for a lifetime, some have given up family (both blood family and acquired family), some have given up lifestyles and homes, some have given everything. Those of us who can actually admit that our lives are much better and fuller with Jesus in it, as opposed to the "privileged" one we'd become accustomed to, will tell you that is it worth it. Our moments of joy and happiness may be short lived, but our eyes are not focused on the present - they are focused on HIM. We live each day in hopes that "today is the day" and wait with an anticipation that is ten times greater than that of a five year old on Christmas Eve...He is our life, our joy, our hope!!!

Decide. Make a choice. Choose Jesus over everything else and everything else will fall into place. Walk out in front with Him and you will reach the finish line and hear the praises of those who have gone before you. There are no losers in God's race - everyone comes in first and no one is left behind. The winner's circle is large enough to accommodate everyone who participates. There is a crown for all of God's people and reserved seating elsewhere for those who choose to be spectators. Answer the calling of the Holy Spirt and lift your eyes toward heaven. Your King waits there...

Monday, May 2, 2011

~ "Justice is served..."

This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. (Jer 13:10)

Waking up this morning brought with is closure that has taken almost ten years to arrive! An earthly justice has been served on the man responsible for destroying many lives and families. A heavenly justice, I'm sure, was not far behind.

God tells us many times that it is HE we worship, He is who we serve. We are warned that bowing to other gods will surely have an end for us in the fiery lake and remember, He doesn't bargain. His justice is inescapable. His mercy is unlimited.

There is sadness in all of this, though. This man's talents and skills could have been used in service to God, as opposed to the army of the enemy. One of Satan's greatest followers has been defeated. Had Bin Laden chosen the living God, as opposed to the one he chose...well, he didn't. And that is what is sad. Another of God's beloved children has been lost and will suffer eternally for his choice. Remember, God formed each of us (every single one of us from the greatest to the least) in our mother's womb. He knew us before he formed us and He is always with us, no matter what we do, no matter where we are. We cannot hide from Him, nor from His justice.

I take comfort in the knowledge that it is finally over. There are no more excuses. The anger and vengeance exhibited by many (including members of my own family) can no longer be justified. Good has once again triumphed over evil. We remain, "ONE nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and JUSTICE for all".

Sunday, May 1, 2011

~ "What Faith Can Do..."

And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)

Having faith in the "good" times is easy...our faith is tested during our struggles. Many of our gifts are given to us simply to show us that we "can". If you grew up like I did and lived the life that I have lived, having "faith" in anyone or anything was hard. I was always being "let down". Additionally, there are times when I think that if "they" could blame the state of the economy, the war(s) we are currently involved in, the horrific gas prices and a million other things on me, "they" would! Yes, Satan has been a very busy little creature these past few days. But I am not amused. I am, quite frankly, shaking my head in disbelief!

The word "charity" doesn't just mean giving to the poor. To be charitable towards someone is to be kind, is to have a kind or lenient attitude towards, or to be mild and tolerant in judging others. Since Jesus tells us it is not our job to judge, my guess is to go with the kindness and be a bit more lenient. I also will go so far as to say that to be open-minded would be yet another angle of charity.

Hate and disgust tend to feed off the continued circle they create. They are also both very addictive insomuch as if you hear blame laid on someone for something long enough, you will cease to draw your own conclusions and just flat out blame that person without even thinking the matter through. It hurts the one it is directed at. They no longer have a defense that will be listened to simply because your mind has been made up. No matter what they do - they are, and always will be wrong!

So what do you do??? Consider the source of the uncharitable act. Be "kind and lenient" towards their stupidity, be "tolerant" of what they have learned as a result of their surroundings. Forgive them for their ignorance. Pray that God will open their eyes and that they will humble themselves before Him (an appology to you would be nice, but it's not always necessary).

In this verse, we see that we can have everything and still have nothing. If we continue to pass blame on others, fail to see the pain we cause others and refuse to accept the fact that we may be wrong, we have nothing. Charity, as I've said, isn't just giving money or time to a worthy cause. Charity is love - love towards one another. Love begins with those around you. Try to put your own selfishness aside and look at what they might be dealing with for just a second. If you have faith in God, you can and will move mountains. If your trust is in the Creator, what could possibly happen to you that He can't handle? Don't discount the faith someone else has in God...maybe you need to try it on yourself. Maybe you need to "give up the ghost" of your dead religion and try worshiping the LIVING God for a change. Maybe you need to have just a small sliver of faith in something other than yourself or your wallet. Remember, you were a part of the decision that was made so don't be so quick to dump the blame on someone else. Accept your responsibility in it, answer for it, ask God to forgive you for ever doubting in Him and have a little patience...THAT's what faith can do!!!