Tuesday, December 31, 2013

~ "We'll take a cup of kindness..."

And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed to the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. (Ex 12:41-42)

Although the last day of this particular year most likely occurred in April, the children of Israel, none the less, set out without delay.  It was some 430 years after God's promise to Abraham.  "God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ (Matthew Henry)".

God's promises to us are often long in coming...but they do come!  One of the most wonderful things about our heavenly father is that each day is a new opportunity to walk with him!  The frustration we feel at times, the overwhelming anxiety that comes to us through the world, can all be laid aside in an instant.  Our failures can be turned into successes if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.  Each day can be the beginning of a new year without the disappointment that comes from not keeping our resolution.  God is more than willing to wipe the slate clean and allow us to start again.  We just need to have a sincere desire to walk with him and allow him to work on us.

Whatever the new year holds for you is not going to be lessened or multiplied by the resolutions you make tonight and break tomorrow.  God has your year mapped out for you already.  He knows what will cross your path, he's looked at it and deemed it to be in your best interest.  Whether it's a new job, a new home, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one - it's all good.  Rejoice in whatever it is that comes your way! Continue to praise him for everything - even the things that you don't feel are blessings!  Make that prayer list and pray every day.  Pick up your Bible and read it every day.  And if you have a day that is filled with distraction and you forget or can't seem to find the time to meet him in prayer - thank him right then and there - don't give up!    If you feel compelled to make that "New Year's Resolution" - make it one that is worth keeping - make it one that you can keep!  Put "become closer to God" on the top of that list and you will have a year filled with blessings!  Remember, God does great things for his people ~ do great things for God!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

~ "Away in a Manger..."

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matt 1:21)

When my ex-husband and I went on our honeymoon, we decided to take a short trip to Virginia Beach before returning home to the Jersey Shore. We drove for hours and both assumed there would be plenty of hotel rooms available at that time of the year. Surprise! There was a convention in town. We were tired and just wanted to find a quiet place to sleep. We ended up in this dingy little hotel where it was anything but quiet! The room was clean, the bed was small, and there was an ice machine in the parking lot. We stayed two nights and then headed home. When I read today's verse, it reminded me of how "plush" that room actually was in comparison to where Mary gave birth to Jesus!

We don't know what lies ahead of us. We have a general idea and we "plan" for our future, but as most of us know through experience, "the best laid plans of mice and men..."

God has a plan for us and in that, we come to him and ask forgiveness for our sins. We struggle and claw our way through this life and sometimes we lose sight of the prize. We need only look back to this verse and remember what took place in order for eternal life to be attainable. Without the birth of Christ, without that first "Christmas", there would be no redemption. There would be no miracles, there would be no healing, there would be no shed blood; and without that shed blood, there would be no salvation! All things unfold at God's design. Each event in our lives occur to bring us closer to His promise for us! The Light of the World, the "Star" of Bethlehem, wants to be a part of YOUR life! Is there a place in your heart for him, or will you tell him there is "no room" for him???

Saturday, December 14, 2013

~ "Yes I Can..."

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)

Scrolling through my news feed last night, I came upon a hockey video.  Not unusual, since my daughter-in-law's family are big hockey fans, her youngest brother plays on two teams and although I hate the cold, I enjoy sitting in an arena that is often warmer inside than out, watching and cheering these boys on!!!  This video (http://youtu.be/daDix4ne8a8) is from the 19th Annual Special Hockey International held in Ontario, Canada.  It made me smile, made me cheer and brought tears to my eyes - and you don't have to be a hockey fan to appreciate it.  

Even in today's world, we still see ignorance in people and other children when it comes to being in the presence of someone who is "different" or "special" - the words still fall out of people's mouths as they did when I was a kid.  It's hard enough to get through life - and even though many consider themselves "normal" and others "abnormal" - God sees us all the same.  We are, each and every single one of us, made in His image!  That means those of us "vertically challenged" (like myself), those of us who are "perfect models", those of us who are less than 4'9", those of us whose features are a bit off due to a silly little chromosome, those of us with ectrodactyly, or other "deformities", are, in fact, all perfect replicas of God's love!

Take a moment and watch the video.  Take another moment to thank God for all you have.  Then take a final moment to make a difference in the life of a child! 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

~ "Show me where it says THAT!!!"

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2)
I love Paul's letters!  He packed them so full of teaching and love that every time I read one I find something new to rejoice about!  He reminds me here that it is not enough to just believe!  
I have spent a lifetime believing in God and believing that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross to pay for my sins.  It's what I was taught.  It's what I knew.  Salvation is not an "entitlement" that is received because we were sprinkled with water as a child, attended church every Sunday, gave up something for Lent or confessed our sins in a box every week.  As I have so often pointed out, there comes a time when you realize that you want the gift being offered to you and when you receive it, it changes you!  
Sometimes I use my Bible as a reference manual to either confirm or deny what I've been "programmed" to believe.  I follow one general rule of thumb:  if it's not in the Bible - it's not!  I don't argue with people anymore who think they know it all and have all the answers simply because of their religion...I pray for them!  I am not defined before God by the church I attend.  I am not defined by the knowledge I have attained.  I realized that had I died when I attempted suicide in 2006, I would have spent my eternity in hell!  Not because I would have taken my own life, but because I was not saved!  My life never reflected any of the changed behaviors talked about in the Bible.  It reflected those sins that had been forgiven by Christ, but not the changes those sinners made after they were forgiven.  To "go and sin no more" means precisely that - to get off the merry-go-round and walk the straight line.  You cannot say "I'm saved" and continue to live a sinful life!  
To have the "intellectual knowledge" that Christ died on the cross for one's sins does not guarantee a place in heaven.  The "tingles" and "warm fuzzies" one gets when one can FEEL the Holy Spirit at work, those indescribable moments of praise and sorrow that roll into each other and the belief of being created for a higher purpose than the life lived on earth, the acceptance of that knowledge, the humbling of oneself at the feet of Jesus, the desire and willingness to live as Christ lived and to do his work is what defines a "saved" Christian. Don't talk yourself into believing you are in the will of God if something inside of you is telling you that you aren't!  Chances are, if you're having those doubts, that you are not!  Ask him into your life today, offer to serve him in HIS way (not yours) and you will find a life worth living and a place to go home to when it's over! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

~ "Do what you're called to do..."

For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father's house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  (Esther 4:14) 
When the opportunity presents itself for you to be a hero for God, what will you do?  Will you boldly answer it or will you pawn it off on someone else?  Will you worry about your own reputation among your peers or will you stand up and stand firm?
It's not "someone else's job" to spread the Good News - it's YOURS!  Each of us, as Christians (i.e. "followers" of Christ) we are instructed to tell others about him.  It's not going to church on Sunday and dropping your check in the offering plate.  It's not being the best dressed in the sanctuary, nor is it having the biggest smile screwed to your face while fighting back the pain you are in so that no one knows.  It's doing as Christ did ~ key word here: doing!!!
All things will happen as they are supposed to happen.  God will claim victory in the end.  Satan will be defeated.  Just as Esther was afforded the opportunity to deliver the Jews in the time of King Ahasuerus, thus preserving the line of which Jesus would be born, the King's scepter is also being held out to you!  Had Esther not answered the call that came to her through Mordecai, someone else would have.  God's plan will unfold whether you choose to be a part of it or not!  So why would you choose to be on the losing team?  
Whether you get the giant trophy, the ring with the precious stone in it, or just your name in the commemorative booklet, be part of the winning team!  Do your part in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ!  We are all called to do something!  Find what it is and do it!  Stop dragging your feet and sliding on the coattails of the guy in front of you.  Be an "Esther" ~ change the course of your own history with one word...say "YES" to the calling placed on you as a Christian!  Say "YES" to the voice that has died for you!  Say "YES" to the one who created you!  Stop trying to "keep up appearances" and looking as though you walked out of fashion magazine.  This may be exactly why you are in this place at this time!   Be a Nike commercial ~ just do it! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

~ "Mary, Did You Know..."

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

I have four children.  Each of them are different from one another.  They have different likes and dislikes; dreams and goals.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what their lives would be like today as I held them then. 

I can only imagine the joy that Mary felt when she delivered Jesus in that stable and held him for the first time.  A perfect being born in an imperfect world to save sinners.  That was His destiny.  That was what He came to earth to do.  Redeem.

Never before and never again would there be such a birth.  This baby, whose birth we celebrate each year, was the single most important treasure this world would ever know, yet for so many, it has become a season of trying to outdo last year, desperately seeking to display more spectacular decorations and frantically cramming as much unnecessary stuff in stockings and under a tree as is humanly possible.  Forget it!  You will never top the first Christmas, nor will you ever find a gift more perfect than the one that God gave us that morning. 

Only when she held that baby for the last time did she truly understand the sacrifice.  He was sent here to die for us, for our sins.  She said "yes" to God and watched as that baby hung and died on the cross for all mankind.  She stood in horror as they nailed His hands and feet to what would become a symbol throughout the world for the bridge that was built for us.  In her own personal nightmare came the salvation promised Adam and Eve. 

She could never have known what that child would become.  None of us know what our children will become.  We can hope and we can pray.  We can raise them with the best of intentions - but God's plan for each of them stretches farther than our imaginations.  A mother's love transcends all other love, except for the love of God! 

Mary saw a baby - a tiny bundle of joy - she held Him, nursed Him, cared for Him, taught Him, and loved Him with all of her heart.  She watched as He taught others, fed others and cared for others - in a way that she could never have imagined.  He still loves us with all His heart!

Jesus continues to teach, to feed and to care for all those who call on His name.  He lifts us up in times of heartbreak and comforts us in our sorrows.  He wants all of us to remember the sacrifice He made for each and every one of us.  Will there be room in your heart this year for the gift He gives???

Saturday, November 30, 2013

~ "One year later, it's still blessings upon blessings!!!"

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt 23:12).

One year ago, I was happy and shouting for joy!  I received a very much earned promotion at work and was taking on a new challenge.  It was a job I loved and a job I was good at.  But once again, God had another plan.  I don't question His plan.  The truth be known, I was relieved as it unfolded.  What I thought the job would be and what it actually evolved into as the months went by were two entirely different things.  I learned that not every businessman supports an ethical work environment and that people will use you until you have been used up, then discard you like trash.  They will lie, cheat and steal all while wearing tiny little, invisible mustaches reminiscent of a dictator from this mid 20th century.  

But once again, I find that everything is on time - God's time!  He teaches us patience through his word and as history will show us, all things are on time.  Our Heavenly Father does not delay one minute longer than is necessary and very often does not rush in and give us exactly what we want when we want it.  He does, however, give us all that we need when we need it the most. 

For a few months, some my friends have been encouraging me to stay strong.  We often need those people round us more than we realize.  They lift us up in our time of need and they lift us up when we are at our best.  They are always there for us, no matter what!  The same is true of Jesus.  He is there through everything we encounter.  He understands and does not abandon us.  We owe a multitude to his undying love for us.

Today, and everyday, lift up your praises to the Father.  Remember that nothing touches us that has not passed through his hands first...that includes the blessings as well!  

Friday, November 29, 2013

~ "Tis the season, again, to beat people to death over a pair of socks...with a new twist!!!"

And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

When people talk about putting "Christ" back in "Christmas", I wonder if they realize that to do that would require people to to not kill each other on "Black Friday"? And this year, we've seen the unbelievable!  Open on Thanksgiving?  Wow!  What a greedy nation we have become!  We have become so obsessed with "bargains" that insanity now ensues before the dinner dishes have left the Thanksgiving table!!!  I don't think this is what God had in mind when he gave us our Christmas "gift"! And might I add that I do not miss being in retail at all!

Imagine, if you can, the fear in Mary when the angel appeared to her and told her she was going to have a child and he would be the Son of God! Imagine Joseph when he was told in his dream that Mary was "with child" and he should take her as his wife anyway, then to be told the child's name would be "Jesus"! I know that when I realized I was pregnant with my son, I "knew" how I got that way, but yet I wandered around saying to myself "it can't be" ~ "I can't be pregnant". Mary had no such encounter to cause her condition! 

God chooses us for specific work. He knows exactly what he has for us, just as he knew that he had the "perfect" gift for us! He chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, Joseph to be his guardian and John to be the one to "prepare the way". None of them asked for this gift , nor did they feel they were worthy of it. Instead, they accepted what God gave them and said "thank you" and proceeded to do the best they could with the situation laid out before them. Their "success" came as a result of their attitude; an attitude of love and devotion to God and a willingness to do what he asked of them! 

How much better off we would be to take a lesson in acceptance and love from these three people. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones we don't deserve and never expected! We all have a "wish list" for Christmas gifts. If I don't get what's on it, I won't be disappointed. The ultimate Christmas gift was given to me long before I was ever born, it was chosen specifically for me and I would not trade it for anything! He IS the "reason for the season" because it is HIS birth we celebrate! There is nothing anyone could buy for me that could top that! So while you are wrapping all those wonderfully expensive items you've purchased, remember to wrap your heart around the greatest of gifts ~ Jesus!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

~ "There is a fountain..."

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thes 5:18)

We are commanded not only to "pray without ceasing"; we are commanded to give thanks. Again, the use of 'every thing' as opposed to 'everything' is significant! We all know it's easy to give thanks for the good times and the good things in our lives. We are to give thanks for the things we feel aren't so good as well. ALL that comes to us passes through the Father's hand first, so why should we not be grateful for the trials?

With each "trial" we grow. We become stronger and better "conditioned" to handle God's call on our lives. There are many things we could whine about and be "depressed" over. Our economy and the current job situation is taking its toll on many people. I'm included in those "many people". Yet, I rejoice!!! Many things over the years have led to pain and depression - my divorce, my move to Tennessee, the loss of my house (due to a grinding halt in the NYC elevator industry followed by my ex-husband retiring on disability), had I not taken a job that drained every ounce of strength and energy from me, had I not lost that job, many "things" I have to be thankful for today would not exist! As a matter of fact, had all of those "things" not occurred, you would not be reading this post, simply because this site would not have existed. Giving thanks to God in hard times, giving thanks when it hurts, offering our pain and suffering to the King of Kings is what it's all about! 

So, give thanks! Give thanks for the "fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins"! The greatest of all gifts, something to always be thankful for ~ the salvation offered to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ~ the guarantee of heaven, not hell! And remember to thank him for every thing else as well! Although you may not see the blessing now, it's there just the same! Mercy is not getting what we deserve; grace is what we get instead of what we deserve. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and rejoice! As you pass the dinner rolls around the table today, give thanks for something besides the food! Give thanks for the "Bread of Life"!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

~ "23 years ago..."

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. (John 16:21)

The joy of holding your child causes you to forget the pain (usually).  I have four children.  Each labor and delivery was different.  Each birth was different.  The most difficult labor, delivery and recovery came on this day in 1990.  Five weeks before she was due and ten days after my mother-in-law died, Kathryn Elizabeth made her entrance into the world at 4:55am, weighing 5 lbs 8oz.  My beautiful little bundle, named after her Grandma, was not only a blessing to my husband and I, but to a family who had just lost the single most important member of their family - their mother.  As my sisters-in-law tried to call her "Kathy", my father-in-law, then in his early 70's, picked her up and said "Hello, Baby Katie".  My husband and I had already decided she would be "Katie".  

Over the years, she would cause me to roll my eyes and shake my head.  Katie always danced to the beat of her own drum (even in dance classes).  Her infectious smile, her giggle and her dark, dark eyes could melt your heart.  They still can!  

God had blessed us with Katie as well as her sisters and brother.  He entrusted her to our care.  Some days were challenging, some days were frightening and some days were pure joy!  She has never disappointed us.  Her loving and caring nature is unbelievable at times...but don't cross her!  

Each child God gives you, he does for a reason.  Some he chooses to take home before we are ready to let go.  Hold tight to the gifts he gives you.  Teach them.  Show them.  Love them.  They are one of his greatest gift to you!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

~ "Spoiled children..."

Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request (Esther 7:3)

Most of us know the story of Mordecai. We've read (or hopefully will read) what happens to Haman and how his plan "backfires". This particular verse speaks volumes to me! 

God speaks to us through his word. Although most of the Old Testament is viewed as a "history lesson", but there's a lot to be learned about prayer and humility. And, once again, enter the Fear of God! Our most powerful, loving Father could show his wrath (nothing we wouldn't deserve), but instead, he shows us mercy and grace. He is able and willing to do anything, regardless of how impossible we may think it is, he wants to give us our hearts desire, even those things we hesitate to ask him for. 

Unlike "spoiled" children, we are to keep going to him, we are to keep bringing him our requests. We are to keep talking to him and asking for his guidance and help. The more we walk in his ways, the more we need his guidance and the more we need the Holy Spirit to run interference against Satan. We will never be "worthy" of the the gift given to us, so what makes us think we can "take it from here"??? 

Know what you know about God's promise to you. Don't let Satan steal your thunder! Don't let him in to dance all over your heart and stomp out God's fire! Believe what you know! Have faith in what you know! God will take care of the small details ~ he always does! 

Continue to praise him, continue to serve him. He's looking out for you! His plans for you are many and great and he's calling you out! Bend that knee of yours a little bit and the bucket of blessings just may fall on you!

Monday, November 25, 2013

~ "Make the pain go away..."

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

It's hard to stay focused when we are hurt or are in pain.  We want it to go away instantly.  We don't want to suffer.  Sometimes we don't learn from our pain and suffering because we use alcohol or drugs to ease that pain.  I get it.  No one wants to hurt.  No one enjoys pain.  Healing takes time.

Whether we have a small grease burn from frying bacon, or a paper cut,  a broken toe,  a migraine headache, have multiple injures sustained in an accident, or a broken heart, we seek relief from the pain.  It's natural. We all want relief.  

A preacher told me once to just read and re-read Philippians.  At first, I thought he was crazy.  How is this going to help heal my heart?  My thought was the only thing that would heal that broken heart was to put something in that hole that had been created by a broken relationship.  In other words, another man.  Someone to help me forget about the one who had dumped me.  I could not have been more wrong.

Each relationship that ends, each broken heart (as with all other physical injuries) needs time to heal.  We must experience the pain.  I once broke my middle finger on my right hand playing softball.  It was splinted.  I was able to shape that splint to enable me to still hold and throw that soft ball because I was determined to play and not sit the season out.  The finger eventually healed, but it didn't heal properly, because I refused to listen to the advice of the doctor.  It's still crooked.  The same holds true for any event that causes us pain.  We need to heal from a broken heart before we start letting someone else in.  

In all of this, we need to be mindful of these verses in Philippians.  God will not dessert us, He will give us peace, He will heal our pain.  

We have to take the time to allow that hurt to heal...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

~ "I've been going through some changes..."

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galations 5:19-21)

I've been out of work for over 3 months now and I am finally at a point where I can sleep without nightmares.  I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunity He gave me and for the people I met - 2 of which have become very good friends and have helped me through this depressing and trying time.  They have encouraged me and made me laugh so hard I've cried!  In January, I will be going to school (yes, again).  Who knew that I would need to change career fields at age 56?  Well, God knew.

I've not spent a lot of time on the computer, but more time reading and relaxing and soul searching.  I debated on whether or not to change the format of this blog or just end it entirely.  The Lord, in His time, would let me know.

This morning saw an article on how the dead communicate with us and the hair on the back of my neck stood up!  I tried to just walk away, but the power of GOD (not the dead) held me fast in my seat and reminded me of today's verses.  Therefore...

Our loved ones do not come to us through animals, they do not place objects in our path, they don't 'make' certain songs come on the radio at just the right time, make buzzing noises near our ears and they most assuredly do not put thoughts in our heads.  

God comforts us in our time of need.  To give credence to anyone or anything other than God for our blessings, is to encourage Satan to continue to deceive you.  We know from the Bible that once we have died, we go to one of two places: heaven or hell.  We know the story in Luke 16 in which the rich man asks that the poor man be sent to warn his brothers who were still living.  We know that NO ONE returns to tell us anything.  

Once again, God comforts us.  That peaceful feeling we sometimes encounter may be the presence of an angel, or of Jesus.  Thoughts that flow through our brains are often memories coming to the surface.  They are NOT spending their days concerned with contacting us - they are spending it in one of two places - in the presence of God or in the fires of hell.  There is no pain in heaven, so therefore, seeing us struggle, do wrong, make mistakes, i.e., sin - would be painful.  

Perhaps those 'encounters' are just God trying to get your attention.  Are you strong enough and brave enough to walk with Him as opposed to the enemy?

Monday, November 11, 2013

~ "in honor of those who serve..."

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)

The statement "There are no atheists in foxholes" is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power. We know that to be the power of God!

"We, the people" are free today because of hundreds of thousands of America Soldiers. They have come from all backgrounds, all 50 states. They are men and women who "write a blank check" to the United States of America. They put themselves in harms way for our security. They live in the deserts, in the snow, in countries that hate them. They leave behind families for our benefit. They love this country so much so, they are willing to die for it! 

"We, the chosen" are offered the gift of eternal life because one man also thought we were worth dying for. He, too, came from a humble background and wrote a check ~ in his blood. He is our strength in times of sorrow, in times of war and in times of joy! We lift our voices in prayer for courage and we persevere. He will not leave us! 

Whatever situation you are facing, go with the belief that God goes with you! Stumble through the words offering praise as you go, if that's what you have to do! He will give you the strength and courage you need to sustain you ~ he always does!

Remember, there are but two defining forces that have ever died for you, Jesus and the American Soldier - Jesus died for your soul, the soldier for your freedom. Thank God today for all he has so graciously given you. Thank a soldier for fighting for your right to thank God!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

~ "for Sheila..."

photo by Celia Darrigo
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. (Ps 37:7-9)

Sixteen years ago, a beautiful woman was taken from this earth because a man she had married believed that he was right and that he could "trump her ace".  He spent his life bringing pain and suffering to almost every life he touched, including his daughters.  Not only did he solicit, conspire and finance the execution the mother of now 6 children (his two daughters and her quads from her second marriage), he had sexually abused one daughter and manipulated and lied to the other.  Pathological and psychotic don't even come close to the horror this man brought into the lives of others.  He now lives in a prison.  Justice was served.

Resting in the Lord and waiting patiently is not an easy task.  When we look at the injustices around us, the evil that lurks and can be present in anyone, it is a constant reminder that our Father in Heaven will prevail.  If we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we can reach the bridge and be saved from the quicksand that surrounds us...if we walk in faith, we shall inherit the earth. 

Anger and worry are two very destructive emotions. They do not exhibit faith in God's love for us.  When we constantly dwell on what has been done to us, we become anxious, we become angry.  Our concentration needs to be not on the justice that we may seek in the human world, but on God and His goodness.  Only there will we find peace.  Only in His embrace can we truly be comforted.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

~ "Making the effort..."

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. (Prov 30:5)

Have you ever purchased a book because you thought by reading it you may be enlightened, only to discover that its terribly written and tells you nothing that you did not already know?  By the middle of the book you have become discouraged, disgusted and ready to throw it out the window.  It's flow is terrible and you have no clue where the author is coming from nor where he is going to...yet, you keep reading, hoping it will get better and make sense by the time you reach the final chapter.  Yes, I'm reading one now and unfortunately, throwing it out the window is not an option, since it's on my Kindle.  

I am happy to say that not all books written are like this one.  There is one bound collection of words that at no point, leaves the reader wondering what will happen next.  Everything is specifically spelled out in "easy to understand" words and sentiment.  Yes, you've guessed it - God's word - The Holy Bible!!!

There are many chapters and verses that I do find rather dull. I have a hard time reading who begot whom and at what point in time this all has occurred, yet I love my own genealogy!  That doesn't mean I don't read it.  

The past few days, I've outlined a brief and simple understanding that all that is within the Bible is right, correct and contains no mistakes.  Here, in Proverbs, we find that, indeed, every word is pure!  The bottom line is simple.  If you don't like a law (man made), or you feel it doesn't apply to you and you break it, you will, in fact, pay the price for your actions.  Likewise, if you do not like what God is telling you and you feel it doesn't apply to you, that too carries a price.  Breaking a law and being adamant against it's validity are two different things.  You can say that you have "been saved" and may very well be saved.  If you are truly saved, you are accepting that Jesus died for your sins and understand that only through Him will you be able to stand before the judge with Him as your counsel.  

Like the prostitute in John 8:11, Jesus makes two statements to her:  she is forgiven ("Neither do I condemn thee") and commands her to "go, and sin no more".  If we continue on in our sins, blatantly denouncing the sin as a sin - can we truly say we are saved?  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

~ "Well, I think it's a stupid riddle..."

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.(Matt 22:29-30)

Yes, there are some denominations to this day that believe you should marry only once because you and your spouse will be reunited in Heaven as husband and wife.  Jesus tells us that is not the case.  

Jesus tells the Sadducees, without hesitation, that they don't know God, the scriptures nor do they know the power of God.  He tells them, point blank, that they are wrong!  He is very aware of their intent to "trap" Him, yet He does not falter, and, unlike the rest of us humans, does not gloat and wear a smirk of contentment on His face when He walks away.  

Not all humans insist on being "right" all the time.  There are some who can, without hesitation, admit they were wrong or that they have made a mistake.  There are others, who will insist their answer is correct regardless of what anyone tells them.  My case in point is the "Giraffe" riddle - which is part of a battery of cognitive thought process analyses, requiring common sense.  Even the media got it wrong (which is not surprising).  My purpose in going here???  Some people would not accept that they had given the wrong answer.  They were right, regardless of what the correct answer was.  They refused to accept the truth of what was being tested.  The same can be said of many Christians who decide which parts of God's word they will accept and which parts do not apply to them.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it ALL applies to ALL of us!!!

We, as Christians, should not even be considering which parts of the Bible apply to us and which apply to everyone else, or don't apply to anyone at all.  Unlike the child who has to reach up and touch the hot surface to learn "hot", many have remained ignorant and continue to avoid the warning, or just completely remove it from His Word!  

Are you willing to stand before the Creator, the author of the Bible and tell Him that He is wrong?  I can assure you that the penalty will be much worse that sporting a giraffe as your profile picture for 3 days.  Every word, every charge, every command is true, regardless of what you THINK.  Just because you don't see the sunshine at midnight, doesn't mean it isn't there.

Monday, November 4, 2013

~ Pick and choose..."

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luke 17:1-4)

Luke 17:2 is a verse that was held to bear the weight of a controversial murder trial in the great state of Texas.  When you mix bad and unfounded religious beliefs with the impressionable mind of someone who is not IN their right mind, there is bound to be trouble.  When you throw human imperfection into that mix (the fact that even well educated physicians make mistakes), you come up with tragedy!  I have experienced these occurrences personally and was VERY fortunate to walk away dented, but not destroyed.

Some people tend to pick and choose verses at random, offering an often irrational or unbelievably sinister interpretation of one verse in a chapter of many.  God is not irrational, nor is He sinister!  His word - the entire word of God - is good!  It is the testimony of His mercy and grace toward us that shows through in each and every chapter, in each and every book.  

Yes, there are verses we focus on when we are in sorrow (they help to lift us), there are verses we focus on when we feel lost (they help to ground us), there are verses we focus on when we are lonely (they help remind us that we are not alone), and there are other verses that essentially have become our favorites.  However, without knowing the verses that precede or follow, how can we know the context of what is written, the meaning of the individual words when applied to the whole.  You cannot open "War and Peace" (yes, I'm dating myself) and read one line in the middle of the book and KNOW what the writer means.  You have to read the entire book, or at least the chapter or maybe, I'll acquiesce to, at least a paragraph or two.

It is important that when we pass on our knowledge of God's love and mercy, that we remind our often, less familiar listener, that God does not require any sacrifice on our part to be saved.  He does not advise us that destruction of others is part of His plan of salvation.  He does not ask us to do what Jesus has already done.  

We have seen the results of over-indulgent cults who have led to the deaths of many people, allegedly in the name of God.  We have witnessed the destruction of many thousands of lives based on a belief in someone or something other than the God of love we choose to follow as Christians.  We know the brainwashing of certain Christian denominations that actually insist that unless you are OF this denomination, heaven is not within your grasp.  

So where do we draw the line?  How do we know which is right and which is not?  For me, it's as simple as listening when "preachers" are speaking.  If they do not use the word of God as a whole, then I probably wouldn't want to spend too much time sitting in one of their pews.  If the hair stands up on the back of my neck, I know its probably a good idea to research and get other opinions.  When I see preachers leave and start their own church because the majority of the congregation they are serving doesn't seem to agree with what is being taught, I sit up and take notice.  Only through open-mindedness and conscience interaction can we come to know in our hearts that are souls are being fed properly.

One verse that can stand on it's own, without being misinterpreted comes in John 12:46..."I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

~ "Hope...by Natacha Hall McDonald"

Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. (Lamentations 3:19-21)

People think depression is about being sad. They think it’s just when you feel down. It’s not. It’s like a darkness that creeps over you and fills you slowly until it's taken all color from the world. It drains all your emotions. It takes everything from you, it takes you from you and leaves you feeling hollow and numb. It’s not sadness, it’s not anger, it’s hopelessness. Imagine waking up and there being no color. Walking outside and feeling no wind. Eating a meal and tasting nothing. Holding someone and feeling completely alone at the same time. When you’re depressed, it’s not a bad mood. It’s a numb, empty, hollowness that seems to never leave. It’s feeling alone in a room full of people. You feel like there’s no hope left.

If you feel like this right now, if you have no hope left, borrow some of mine because its hope that saves you, it's hope that's gets you out of bed but it's you who must fight. Tell your family and friends that you don't need someone to save you, you just need a little support and patience while you save yourself. I remember exactly what it felt like to lose all hope. Although it was one of the loneliest most frightening times of my life, it was also the most inspiring. Losing hope can actually be a great motivator, loosing hope can spark action. If you are still searching for someone to save you, go to your bathroom and look in your mirror because that person, is YOU! If you have lost hope, please feel your hopelessness with an honest, courageous heart and see where it takes you. Today could be your turning point. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

~ "Strength..."

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:19)

People tell me all the time that I am a "strong" person, yet, I do not see myself as such.  They remark of the many trials I have faced over the years and confess that they "could never have survived" what I have.  I do not view it in that light.

The inner me, the part that no one sees, has been crushed and battered for so long that the scars will never fade away.  In the quiet recesses of my mind, when night comes, the memories come flooding back into view.  One by one, I must take them and put them aside, asking God to remove them from my mind because they are too painful to bear.  He has removed only one (and I remember asking Him to remove it because it was THAT painful, but I don't remember what it was - which was the point of asking in the first place).  So, that scar has, in fact, faded.

The strength that comes to us that allows us to crawl out of bed every morning is a gift from God.  In Him, we can find the strength and the courage to face another day.  The challenges that we face, we do not face alone.  We do nothing alone.  Our own self-defeating and berating minds is our only obstacle.  We rise through our failures by strength and continue our journey through strength - strength in His name, His word and His promises.  

What others see in me, the "strong" person that they have come to believe I am, is not mine to brag about - it is the Lord's strength they see.  On my own, I am powerless, yet "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil 4:13).

Friday, November 1, 2013

~ "Committed..."

None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 33:16)

At this moment, I am very grateful that I fall under grace and not under the law.  God's mercy surely is THE best gift I've ever received or will ever receive.  Since being "terminated" from my job in August, I have been lax and sullen and unfortunately, not as devoted as I can or should be to the work He has laid before me, nor have I been as devoted as I should be to His word!  

Why?  Because I have allowed the enemy access to something that is not his to take - my heart.  Along with the normal things that happen when one loses a job, there were other factors weighing heavy on me physically and emotionally.  Satan saw his opportunity and took it.  He had reduced me to a whining lump determined to handle things myself.  I was not going to ask the Lord to intercede because in some part of me, I felt what I would be asking for would not be right.  Whether is was the enemy trying to convince me that I was unworthy of what I would be asking for, or whether in my heart I believed I was not justified in my actions, remains a mystery.  Regardless, I am sure of one thing...I am forgiven.

At this point in my life, according to "society", I should be winding down, preparing for retirement.  In less than 10 years, I will be finished with my "work" and eligible for my "just reward" of pension and social security.  I had foolishly thought that I would spend the remained of my working years in my previous place of employment.  I FORGOT that it may be my plan, not God's plan.  So, once again, I updated my resume and have spent countless hours applying for work.  

When I begin to get frightened that my unemployment will run out before I procure a position, I had once again FORGOT a promise that was made to me - "I will supply your needs".  I have never doubted that in the past, and always, with a smile, regardless of how dire my situation was, my FAITH allowed me to hold on to that promise.  Why not this time?  What was different?  

The difference was, and is, very simple.  I took the focus off God!  I took control of the reigns again.  I couldn't let go!  I did not humble myself to the Father and offer the praise "YOUR will, not mine".  And here I sit.  

I could stomp my foot like a 2 year old, I could turn my back and say "thanks for nothing", but that in itself would be enough to allow the enemy to smile, let alone win.  We are not guaranteed an easy life for following Christ, we are not guaranteed success in this life for doing what we are called upon by the Father to do.  We are, however, guaranteed eternity with Him, forgiveness and love.  We are offered a choice.  We have the ability to belong to kingdom far greater than any created here on earth.  

I look at and listen to so many preachers and evangelists who never seem to have the worries I have.  They have done the Lord's work and have prospered.  Then I look at those original 12 men who walked with my King.  They did not have a home, the spent time in prison and yet, they were at peace within themselves.  They preached the good news and continued to up until they took there last breath.  They were not celebrities.  They were not rich.  They were honest and truly did God's work.  They were humble beyond any reasonable doubt!  It was never about them, it was always about Jesus!

I have decided to stop looking for the winning lottery ticket that solves all my problems - it does not exist in this life.  My reward will be given to me at the end of my work here on earth, but the man whose death gave me life.  His name, Jesus!  His promise - worth more than any salary, mansion or status here on earth!  The length of that promise - for all eternity!