Wednesday, December 31, 2014

~ "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!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

~ "Stress..."

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7)

We often worry about our position and status.  We hope we'll get proper recognition for what we do.  We carry around pain and stressed caused by another's inability to mind their own business.  We finally continue to feel good about the direction our lives are going until someone else's misery spills over into our happy world.

Peter advises us to remember that God's recognition counts more than human praise.  God is able and willing to bless us according to HIS timing.  Carrying our worries, stress and daily struggles shows that we have not trusted God fully with our lives.  It takes humility, however, to recognize that God cares.

We must admit our needs and let others in his family help us.  Sometimes we think that struggles are caused by our own sin and foolishness.  We think they are they are not God's concern.  When we turn to him in repentance, he will bear the weight even of those struggles!  Letting God have your worries is active, not passive.  Don't submit to circumstances, but to the Lord, who controls all circumstances!
Obey God regardless of present circumstances, and in his good time, either in this life or in the next, he will lift you up!!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

~ "The wings of eagles..."

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

My first thought every time I hear or read this verse is of the movie "Remember the Titans", which was about a high school football team newly integrated.  Much of the story is pure "Hollywood" but the basic truths are there.  The team overcomes the racial divide in 1971 Virginia and goes on to win the state championship.  

All people (races and nationalities) have had to cope with decades of prejudice.  The Irish immigrants, those from Poland, Italy and India have been subjected to a "class" discrimination at one time or another, and some narrow minded Americans still refer to them by their slang names.  The Israelites, too, were scorned and treated poorly by others.  God's words to them were to wait, because he would strengthen them and they would be able to rise above the distractions and difficulties of life.  
We, too, can receive the strength promised by God.  We, too, can rise above the distractions and difficulties that life brings.  Listening to God helps us to be prepared for when he speaks to us, be patient when he asks us to wait and trust him to fulfill the promises found in his Word!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

~ "For Natacha..."

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Isaiah 41:10)

Although written primarily for the Israelites (who disobeyed God and were sent in captivity), this verse applies to all of God's "chosen" people.  Christians have been given the right to the promised land through their belief in Jesus and the salvation he brought to us.

When I read this verse this morning, my first thoughts were of my dear friend who has recently suffered a great loss.  Like Mary, her son died right before her eyes.  Her faith is strong, as Mary's was.  Her heart is forever broken, like Mary's was.  But through this event in her life, the Lord is telling her that he is with her (as he is with all of us).  He is her God and he will strengthen her.  He will help her.  He will hold her up through this grieving period.  He has a plan for her!

I can't imagine her pain...I pray I never have to.  I see the power of God working in her, I see him lifting her up.  I see the strength he has provided her with.  I am in awe.  Our lives are at all times in God's hands.  He continues to come to our aid without failing.  We have accepted his life for us and he doesn't walk away.

We can all take a lesson in faith from this woman of God.  Faith that tells her that her son is with Jesus in heaven.  Faith that tells her this was part of God's plan for her.  Faith that one day he will reunite her with her his time.  Faith that something good can come from this pain.  Faith that will allow her to continue to walk the path laid before her and her blessings will be many.

Fear not...God will be with you always, he will strengthen you and help you and lift you up.  He's promised!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

~ "The great commission..."

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." (Matthew 28:19)

The disciples were to baptize people because baptism unites believes with Jesus Christ in their death to sin and resurrection to new life.  Baptism symbolizes submission to Christ, a willingness to live God's way, and identification with God's covenant people.

Baptism is scriptural, but not essential for salvation.  Baptizing infants does not "guarantee" them something they may or may not believe in later on in life.  It does not give them a "pass" to enter eternity if they should die young.

I was taught that it is most important to baptize a baby within the first month "just in case"!!!  I followed the rules even with a dozen questions rolling around in my mind.  What happens to babies that are miscarried?  What happens to babies that are aborted? What happens to babies whose parents don't believe in God and die shortly after birth?  The place sits on the border of hell and is called Limbo.  One of the more absurd things I was ever taught.  Yes, they died with "original sin" so were prevented from entering heaven!

I've learned a few things since grammar school and high school.  There were many things I questioned over the years but this one truly bothered me.  After researching and reading my Bible, I have been able to put aside that nightmare knowing that all of my miscarried siblings, my miscarried children and the young girl up the street from me who had a seizure and died at age five, are, in fact, with Jesus!  Water does not save souls, Jesus does!

I understand those who have been brainwashed by doctrine and misinterpretation of the Word.  I don't understand their inability to at least look at what is written as opposed to what it taught!  Years and years of training and upbringing are hard to break, but definitely worth a try.  God will not condemn you to hell for examining his Word outside the context of religion.  If anything, he will bless you for your courage and strength!  Take a moment and open a King James Version or even a New King James Version if you find reading the KJV difficult.  Read the Word for yourself, see what the message truly is!  Open your heart to accept THAT word!

Friday, December 26, 2014

~ "Shepherds in their fields abiding..."

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had seen, as it was told unto them." (Luke 2:20)

As Christmases go, I would have to say that yesterday was one of the better ones in my book of memories.  Lots of love masked an undertone of sadness in my family.  It was their first Christmas without "Grandpa Charlie".  Since 1987, my children spend every Christmas at Grandpa's.  There was  always prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy and presents galore!  Grandpa died in April.  The roll of patriarch now falls on my ex-husband.  With my children all grown and having lives of their own, after watching my granddaughter open her presents, we all went our separate ways.  My son to the in-laws, my oldest daughter to her boyfriend's family and my youngest daughter to work.  That left my ex-husband, middle daughter and her boyfriend to have dinner in their apartment - a standing rib roast with all the trimmings.  I'm sure it was no where near what they were use to, but they have created a new family tradition for themselves.  Life goes on.

For the shepherds, they too had experienced a new tradition.  The celebration of the gift of life.  Although the first recorded celebration of Christmas was not until 336AD, I'm sure those shepherds carried the memory of that night with them and told the story to their families and those families told the story to their families, and so on.  One birth, one child to save the world, one King for all people!

The spirit of Christmas is still as intoxicating as it was at Jesus' birth.  Just watch a YouTube video and try not to feel the emotion and have tears running down you face.  Tears of joy that you cannot contain because the message is so beautiful that it makes you praise God out loud!  Look around you and you may still see a Christmas miracle.  They happen all the time!  So many wonderful things God continues to give us!  So many powerful moments of faith surround us.  So much strength and courage displayed in our presence!  These are all gifts, just as our salvation is a gift, given by God!

Hold tight to that joy for the next 364 days.  Make that feeling of love your priority.  Praise God for what you have seen, what you have not seen and what you have been told in God's Word!  Rejoice!  You are blessed!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

~ "Come and worship..."

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.       ( Luke 2:15)

He came heal the sick. He came to feed the poor.  He came clothe the naked.  He came to redeem mankind. 

Many people will flock to church this morning out of obligation.  Many will go to celebrate the birth of Jesus simply because they are moved to.  Many will continue on with their day without giving a thought to the reason for the season.  Many will worship from the quietness and comfort of their homes.  "Why can't every day be Christmas" was a song attached to a Christmas movie entitled "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't" hit theaters when I was a kid so many of you would not have every heard of it.  A movie I saw only once, yet the lyrics to the songs and the moral of the story have stuck in my head all these years.  

The verses of Luke, the ones that tell of the birth of our Savior, have been written into children's Christmas shows ("A Charlie Brown Christmas"), they have been etched across the hearts and minds of people everywhere.  God is not gone from this country.  We continue to sing his praises and tell his story.  We continue to pray.  We continue to mourn and try to understand his plan.  There are quite a few people who seem to think that we need to bring God back to schools and other places where he is "not allowed" -- may I remind you that God is everywhere!  The best way to turn anyone's heart is by giving them a gift...the power of giving has an effect on both the giver and receiver.  He lives in the hearts of the children who enter the school, in the hearts of the teachers who educate them.  He lives in the offices we work in.  He lives in the businesses we patronize.  He lives on the floor of the Senate and in the halls of Congress.   He lives where ever a Christian walks...and we are many!

Take some time today and worship the gift of love given to us that very first Christmas morning.  That miraculous birth that occurred for one teach us the true meaning of love.  Take some time today and pray for those who do not know the joy that is Christmas.  Do not let the events of this world overshadow the greatness of what is in the next!  Live it, breathe it, feel it...share it!!!  Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

~ "Interpretation..."

"And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  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 2:6-7)

There are so many parts to these two verses that leave me in awe!  I had four kids - they were each born in a hospital.  It was air conditioned in August, and heated in November, January and February. I was medicated to ease the pain.  The sheets were clean.  My children were bathed and diapered and wrapped in a soft blanket.  So much more different than the birth of our Savior.

As the story of Jesus' birth tells us, Mary did not have the luxury of "around the clock" nursing care.  She was not offered any pain meds and her bed was anything but soft and clean.  She gave birth and wrapped him up.  I'm sure she wiped him off, but she could not shower herself.  She was tired and then had to entertain guests - shepherds and their sheep.

In all of this, she didn't complain.  She knew full well who she had given birth to.  Her first born was like no other child who had ever been born before and there would never be another like him to follow.  His 4 brothers and 3 sisters would follow, however, even though Jesus was their older brother, they were not any different than any of us.  Many religions denounce the existence of these offspring of Joseph and Mary, but they are listed by name (James, Joses, Simon and Judas).

We all interpret the events in the Bible through the eyes of anyone reading any book.  There are many things we see differently, there are many things open to interpretation.  Two events, the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus, are relatively free from interpretation - we believe what is written, what has been taught and what has been taught through the generations since these events took place.

The birth of Christ is a profound miracle that sets the stage for our redemption.  His birthday is celebrated in almost every country on December 25.  We imitate this by giving gifts to others, as we were given a gift that first Christmas morning.  Remember, though, when you open your gifts and they are not what you wanted, they were given with love, with thought and with joy - just as God's gift to us was!

Monday, December 22, 2014

~ "That one special gift..."

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9)

"Only begotten"...the only unique Son of God.  We are all sons and daughters of God, yet only Jesus has that special relationship with him.  He IS God, made human, to suffer and die for our sins!

God made the rules, we broke the rules, God made it right for us.  The sin of our ancestors has been wiped away.  We only need believe and ask for a gift given to us without any cost to us.  The price was paid, in blood, so very long ago.

As we close in on the celebration of the birth of Jesus, remember that gift was the beginning of God's promise to us.  We try to replicate that by buying the most expensive things available.  No matter what any of us spends on gifts, it will never compare to the first Christmas gift ever given to all of us - the gift of life ever after.  God gave from his heart...shouldn't we do the same?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

~ "The greatest gift..."

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)

How much does our Father love us?  I think it's safe to say that by sending and sacrificing his son for all the world tells us that he does love us unconditionally.  Unfortunately, we cannot make the same claim.  Often we put our love for God on the back burner.  He isn't always front and center as he should be.  Why?  Because we are human.

We often lay blame rather than admit wrongdoing - there is always a reason for why we do what we do.  It is a learned behavior.  We make excuses for not following through on our daily praises.  We make excuses for not attending a worship service.  There is always a "yes, but" in our lives.

We all fall into this category, some more so than others.  Again, we are human and God knows that better than anyone...he created us with free will.  What I've realized is that those of us who were not raised with God as the head of our existence tend to make excuses more often than those who were! We struggle with our priorities and work very hard at undoing and redoing what is most important.  For many of us, this verse is something we learned but did not fully comprehend until that moment when we realized that THIS is the reason we can spend eternity with God, not the fact that we attended a church service every Sunday for our entire lives.

God sent Jesus for all of us!  He is the way to heaven - there is no other!  You cannot get there by following certain church doctrines, nor do you get there because you were baptized into a certain religion.  It is through the acceptance of that gift that we are forgiven and saved from the fires of hell. Choose to accept the gift being offered to you each and every day!  Make a sincere effort to put God first in all that you do.  Work at removing influences that condemn and replace them with those that commend!  Pray for other as well as yourself!  Focus on the gift given to us that first Christmas morning and know that God's love for us exceeded any material gift we could ever receive!

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014 ~ "Still her little child... (REPOST 12/19/2010)"

For my eyes have seen your salvation, Which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. (Luke 2:30-32)

Simeon had received a promise from God. He would not die until he saw his salvation! God kept his word! When Jesus was brought to the temple and upon receiving him and blessing him, Simeon turned to Mary and told her "this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yes, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Although we know very little about Christ's life as a child, being a mother or a father would allow you to "presume" a few things. I think of my kids. I think of their "firsts" - rolling over, sitting up, standing, crawling... I think of them learning to walk, stumbling and falling. I think of their little person giggle, the way they spoke certain words, the way they described different things, the first time they called me "Mommy". I think of their first day of school, how excited we both were (I was not one of those parents who cried). I think of their birthday parties, their favorite games, the sports they played, the friends they made. I think of the "private" talks as they got older, the times spent in the car together. I think of vacations. I also think of the times they were sick, when I would hold their head over the toilet, putting bandaids on their "boo-boo's". I think of their high school graduations, their chosen career path, their college days. I think of my son's wedding. I think of them on their own, perhaps someday raising their own children. Then I think of Mary. Jesus was her child, her first born son! Imagine knowing that that precious child you held in your arms would die for all mankind. Imagine the panic that set in when she and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with them when returning from Jerusalem. Imagine the day that he left home to begin his teaching. Imagine what she felt when he was arrested and condemned to die. Imagine watching your precious child nailed to a cross. Imagine that precious child being laid dead in your arms. 

Jesus was born, lived a life and died. The joy comes from what followed - the resurrection! Without his birth, there would be no salvation! Without the life he led, there would be no "model" to imitate! Without his death, there would no hope! In all the world there has not been one as innocent or one as sacred as "her little child". God not only gave Mary a gift that first Christmas morning, he gave a gift to all of us ~ he gave us his son. Our redemption lay in Mary's arms. God fulfilled the promise to all people that day - the promise of Savior. 

Whatever you are facing this Christmas season, whatever burdens you bear, whatever hardships you face remember this: It took a miracle for Christ to be born. Your salvation was guaranteed through that miracle. If it took faith in a miracle to get you to where you are, what makes you think that same "faith" is not standing beside you? God's love for us is so great, so unending, and so powerful - who are we to NOT believe he will continue to watch over us until we meet him? Remember - YOU are still his little child!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

~ "Passing the buck..."

"To do justice and judgement is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice."  (Prov 21:3)

Sacrifices and offerings are not bribes to make God overlook our character defects.  It is the act of giving up something you want to keep.  It is giving up something to help someone else.  It is going without so that others won't have to.

Our Christian attitude and behavior must extend beyond the doors to the church.  We cannot be the front row Christian and expect that our heavenly Father finds favor in our shoddy business dealings.  Our tithes, what we do for others is not payment for our shortcomings.  It is not payment for our sins.

If our personal and business dealings are not characterized by justice, there isn't any amount of generosity we render when that offering plate is passed that will make up for it.  Lead a good life both in and out of the eyes of your Christian community.  Be fair, be honest and then be generous!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

~ "Grown men do cry..."

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

The shortest verse, the greatest image!  If ever anyone doubted that Jesus understands our pain, he need only read this verse and know the truth!

His friend, Lazarus, had died before he was able to reach him and heal him before that occurred.  Lazarus had faith, Martha and Mary had faith.  They had yet to truly understand the full meaning of his coming.  They knew he was the Messiah, yet they had no clue as to what this meant.  They were looking for a King to lead them out of persecution (literally lead them out of persecution).  They would come to learn that day that what Jesus promised was a eternal life with him that would not end at the grave.

"Why me, God?"  This was a favorite prayer of mine for many years.  Why was I bullied?  Why was I left to struggle alone?  Why was my life filled with misery?  The answer...why not!  Suffering and trials build character.  They are what builds strength of heart, mind and soul!  We don't often see our own strength.  We don't see how far we've come simply because we do not look back!  We walk ahead knowing that there will be more mountains to cross before it is time to rest in his arms!

We weep.  We mourn.  We grieve.  We have something so many do not - we have faith!  Faith in the promises of our Father, faith in the salvation given us by Jesus, and faith that Jesus understands our pain and has already interceded on our behalf.  Death, physical death, is inevitable.  We will all die.  Eternal life is a gift offered to us by the sacrifice of one man - flesh and blood just like us!  It is there for the taking with a simple request:  Jesus, I am a sinner, not worthy of anything. Forgive me of all my sins.  Come into my heart and lead me!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

~ "For Chandler..."

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb 11:6)

I'm sitting here on "autopilot" this morning.  What I write may or may not make any sense.  My mind is cluttered with images of a young man who had his entire life ahead of him.  He had the loving support of his mother, his family.  My dear friend must now bury her only son just days before Christmas.  The "whys" are not important. It wasn't a hate crime, nor was it police brutality.  It wasn't racial profiling either.

When we begin our walk with Jesus, we begin often because of a tragedy.  Our inability to cope or understand brings us to our knees and we are lovingly picked up and carried through the event, coming out often broken, but definitely blessed.  How do we manage to deal with and understand these events when they come years later?  How do we not doubt the existence of God?  How do we push through and believe that God has a plan for us?

As a mother, I have tried to give my children everything they need to survive in this world.  No, not the material things, the spiritual things.  I have taught them that although we do not know God's plan for our lives, we know that all things pass through his hands first.  I have taught them by example (not always the best example, but that, too, takes time).  They know how deep my belief goes and how strong my faith is...there's that word...FAITH!

It is our faith that takes us through our tragedies and it is faith that brings us closer to Jesus.  Each step we take, be it a soft and easy one, or a heartbreaking one, brings us one step closer to his plan and his purpose in our lives.  As we walk this walk, we are not alone - ever!  We are held and comforted knowing that regardless of the outcome, we are not failures.  We are beautiful reflections of all of God's love!  We are his and in his time, we will call each of us home.

So it is at this time that I would step out of the "writer" mode and ask that you take a moment and pray for my friend.  Pray for her courage and strength to endure what lies ahead of her in the next few months.  Pray for her family, that they can be the support system she needs in this time of loss.  Pray for her friends, that we may continue to walk in faith and carry our sister in Christ in our hearts.

We are blessed with our children for only as long as God gives them to us, and us to them.  Cherish every moment...

Monday, December 15, 2014

~ "Words..."

"Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be."  (James 3:9-10)

Our contradictory speech often causes us to question which of the two is the "real" us.  It is very difficult to go from the every other word explicative to none at all, especially when one has been doing it for a life time.  There are times when the words creep out of our mouths in total disbelief of a situation.  There are times when no other word seems to fit the emotion.  And there are times when the anger rages so hot that you just cannot contain yourself.

We are good people.  We are made in God's image.  We are bad people, too.  We are fallen and sinful.  God works to change us from the inside out.  As our hearts are purified by the Holy Spirit, we are given the self-control to eliminate these words from our vocabulary.  Do we master it completely?  No.  We will never be perfect because we will always be sinners!

When we call upon the power of the Holy Spirit to help us in speaking only words that are pleasing to God, we are inviting an inner change.  As our hearts cry out for what seems familiar somewhere in our wasted existence, we begin the metamorphosis into a pleasing, meaningful child of God!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

~ "Ask..."

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 John 5:14-15)

Ask and it shall be given to long as it is God's will.  That's the part of the prayer many often forget.  God is many things, however, he is not the genie in the bottle who will grant you three wishes!

Be careful what you pray for, you may just get it...often our Heavenly Father does just that!  Remembering that he does have a sense of humor, I am reminded of a prayer I prayed for about a year - he answered that prayer and it was at that time I learned to be more specific in my prayers to him!

In these verses, we see that not only should we pray, but we should pray with confidence!  Going into prayer not believing in what we are petitioning for will happen is the same as making a decision we aren't going to like something before we've experienced it.  Additionally, praying for God to change things after they've occurred is similar to closing the barn door after the horse has escaped!  God is not going to turn back time and change what has transpired (I've asked, numerous times)!  He will, however, bless you with the courage and strength to go through the situation and come out a better person for having experienced it.  Often when we realize our own shortcomings just a tad bit too late, he will intervene and make right what we have risked destroying by our own shortsightedness.  The lesson we learn is what we were supposed to learn!  He is our greatest teacher if we allow him the opportunity!

So, pray with confidence, pray with purpose and be specific!  If you desire the ability to be compassionate, know that you will experience situations that will require you to know what it means to be shown compassion.  If you desire patience, know that you will inevitably find yourself in situations that are annoying.  If you desire the courage, strength and wisdom of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, you may not find yourself walking in a firey furnace, but you will be thrust into a walk with Jesus that will teach you about yourself and you will find out just what you are made of and with God's help, you will come through that walk braver, stronger and wiser than you could have ever imagined!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

~ "Sufficient grace..."

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9)

I woke up this morning with a nasty belly.  It felt as if the stomach acids were literally chewing a hole clear through!  Some dry heaves, a half a piece of toast and then a cup of coffee (yes, I know, but I can't function without it) and I'm tolerating the uncomfortable mess I've become.  In in this "mess", the enemy thought it would be a good idea to tell me I didn't need to write this morning!

Strength in weakness...yes, that is when I feel him the most.  When I am physically unable, mentally unstable and emotionally stunted, the power of the Holy Spirit intervenes and I am rejuvenated!  I become a viable conduit for the love and strength Jesus talks about!

Find that same grace that Paul reminds us of in the simple things life brings and when the more complex trials are knocking at the door, you will instinctively know that his grace is sufficient!

Friday, December 12, 2014

~ Pieces of life..."

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of grace of God."  (Acts 20:24)

We often feel that we've failed at "life" unless we get a lot out of it.  We Look for recognition, fun, money, success...but Paul thought life was worth nothing unless he used it for God's work.

What we put into life is ultimately more important than what we get out of it.  Doing our best day in and day out, making someone else's life a little easier, taking the extra steps to insure that we don't miss anything...all the characteristics of someone who is living a well-rounded life.  That "life" is only full when we include God in it!  Certainly, he blesses us in ways we take for granted (simply because we "forget" that it is through his mercy and grace that we have what we have - home, job, family), but how much greater the blessings will be when we give back to him what has been given to us by sharing it with someone else!

Which is more important to you - what you get out of life, or what you put into it?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

~ "Mary, Did You Know???" (REPOST 12/2/2012)

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???

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"This little light of mine..."

"He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." (John 1:8)

In the time when John began to prepare the way for Jesus, many thought him to be the promised Savior.  He was the last in a long line of great prophets to proclaim the coming of the Lord!  He was called upon by God and answered that call.  His life was, contrary to what you may believe, a chosen life.  He could have declined the invitation God gave him and chosen to sit on the sidelines while someone else did the work.  He was a true man of God!

We are all called to bear witness in our own, unique way.  God has given each of us a choice as to how we will serve him, using the talents and gifts he's given us.  We each have that same choice - we can decline.  Some choose to ignore his calling, others do not even realize they have been called.

We are not the "light", yet we can walk in it.  We, like John, can bear witness to that light!  We can share that light with others in some of the most profound ways imaginable! We have not (at least not that I'm aware of) be asked to leave everything we love and spend our time in the wilderness preparing others for his return.  We have, however, been tasked with spreading the Gospel and interpreting for others, the events that are coming.  We know that coming is soon.  As we continue to prepare ourselves, by sharing that Word and getting our affairs in order, we should pause and reflect on the events that have led to the return of Jesus.  They all began with God's love for us!  They will end in the same manner!  The the light of hope reflect off of your soul and let the love of God fill you with content and joy!  Let it shine!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

~ "Perfecting holiness..."

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Cor 7:1)

Cleansing is a twofold action: turning away from sin, and turning toward God.

To "perfect holiness", we need to remove paganism from our lives.  We need to make a clean break from our past and replace it with what is of God.  The way we speak, the way we interact with others, our thoughts and our actions that are defined throughout God's word as "sinful behavior" need to be eliminated.  We need to at least make the effort, as change is not something that occurs overnight and what has been learned as "okay" must be unlearned and replaced with what is truly "okay".

The general rule of thumb is that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit (Maxwell Maltz).  A habit, however, can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days, depending on the individual and the habit.  If you are replacing a bad habit with a good one, sometimes it can take even longer, it can take years!  The power of God cannot be compared with the power of the human mind.  God can, and has, changed people's "habits" overnight!  Sometimes, however, we must fight for the change to become a habit.

Through prayer, and God's mercy and grace, once we begin the transformation, he will continue to provide us with the means (the Holy Spirit) to make that change!  We are capable of anything when we are sincere in our desires and are consistent in our prayers.

Like the Corinthians, we are told to turn away from sin and turn to God!  If we are sincere in our quest, we will not be forgotten and our prayers will be heard and answered.  Take back what has been stolen from you by the enemy.  Take back and give back to your Creator in the most gracious way - through prayer and abstinence, you can perfect the holiness Paul describes and lead a life that is pleasing to God!

Monday, December 8, 2014

~ "Salvation..."

"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb 9:28)

Value, in our human way of thinking, is not measured by how many can have something good, but by how few can have something good.

"Limited edition" means "valuable" because only a few can have it.  God's great plan of redemption, however, stands in sharp contrast to this.  We are all given the opportunity to redeem ourselves in his sight.  We all have the ability to be "saved".  Although salvation is not a "limited edition", there is a "limited time only" attached to it.  We cannot accept this gift of salvation after we have died.  It is not something someone can just give to us.  It is not something we get because we are of a certain "religion".  It is something freely given if we ask for it!

It is the  most valuable of all treasures.  The more who have it, the more they use it, the greater its value.  Encouraging others to reach out and simply ask our Savior to come into their lives, just as we have asked, makes this gift of love spread like wildfire!  Exercise your faith by sharing it and using it to serve God and increase its value!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Meet and greet..."

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

How wonderful it must have been when the disciples realized that Jesus was truly the son of God!  We have so many star-struck people in our society, so many paying for a chance to "meet & greet" the big names in the entertainment world.  The status of being able to say "I met him or her".  Truly believing they are now "friends", simply because they paid for an opportunity to meet and have a photo taken.  I prefer to savor the few wonderful moments I've had in my lifetime that were true "meet and greets" - the ones that weren't planned - the moments that you know that "star" will remember simply because it was different.

We all have the opportunity to "meet and greet" our Savior!  We have the opportunity to walk in his ways, to learn his Word and to shine because of it.  To say I am a "Christian" is to know that Jesus does, in fact, know your name and is a part of your life - not just a "photo op" after Sunday service.  It is a relationship that does not require you to pay's free!  It's a relationship that continues to shower you with blessings...a relationship of love.

Meeting celebrities is exciting, but meeting Jesus is ultimately more exciting and fulfilling than meeting any other man, woman or child can elicit!  No one else can offer salvation.  No one else can offer eternity.  No one else will ever know the depth of the love in your heart.  No one but Jesus!  He became a living, breathing man - for us!  He walked the earth - for us!  He paid a price no man has ever come close to paying - for us!  His sacrifice gave us life!  His life gives us hope!  In that hope lies the greatest gift we could ever hope to receive!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

~ "When life gives you lemons..."

"Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience." (James 1:2-3)

We were never promised that following Jesus would exempt us from trials, we were only promised it would be worth it!  There are so many cute sayings that remind us that without the hardships we encounter, we could not appreciate the blessings!

Each one of us has had and will have our fair amount of suffering, pitfalls and setbacks.  We will all experience a loss of some sort, a let down and a disaster at some time in our lives.  How we act (or react) to such situations, is determined by our point of view and our relationship with God.  We can become overwhelmed at just the thought of failure, or we can press through our fears and know that nothing will touch us that has not first passed through the hands of God!

In the end, James tells us to "count it all joy" because without the temptations, without the trials, we would not grow in faith!  Having faith that God will see us through any situation and that there is a blessing in it makes that situation bearable!  We do not walk alone!  We are constantly under the watchful eye of our Creator!

Breath in, breath out!  Let the anxiety you feel be turned into energy used to praise!  The blessings will come, the pain will subside and you will walk on into the next situation knowing that this, too, shall pass!

Friday, December 5, 2014

~ "Enough..."

"As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the work of God who doeth all." (Ecc 11:5)

Wisdom alone cannot bring justice.  Everything we have, from wisdom to riches, is nothing without God.

All of my life I looked to be a better person, a smarter person, a richer person.  I had it all at one point, but it wasn't enough.  I was not happy.  The reason was simple...I did not "know" God!  He was not a part of my life (with the exception of the Sunday morning cattle call).  I watched as all the things I'd "wanted" slowly slipped away.  I tried to grab hold of them and keep them from leaving, but the harder I tried, the more quickly things slipped away.

Today, I don't have any more (materialistically) than I did ten years ago.  If anything, I have less.  The one thing I do have is a relationship with God.  Through Jesus, I continue to "talk" to him, just as I did as a child and young adult.  I don't ask to be rich or famous.  I don't ask for a partner.  I ask only that he will continue to provide for me (providing the means, not the actual money) and comfort me.  I look around at the many things I have in my life and I know there are others who have much more.  I don't need "much more".  I am content with what he has seen fit to bless me with.  With God, everything is enough!

Take the time to be grateful for what you have been given, knowing that it truly has been given to you by God!  Give back to him as he asks you to.  Spread his word and his truth and he will surely continue to bless you and keep you safe.  Remember, when God uses what little we have, it becomes all we could ever want or need!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Priorities and perspective..."

"Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.  Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name." (Ps 63:3-4)

Life, itself, can be a bumpy ride.  I can be wrought with potholes and speed bumps, falling rocks, rain, snow and ice, as well as a smooth highway with beautiful scenery.  It can include nightmares and daydreams.  It will have good days and bad days.  It will be, regardless, an interesting journey.

Most people don't get the smooth ride with the beautiful scenery, though.  Yet, those who do are often the ones who feel the need to flaunt their good fortune in an attempt to make others jealous.  They pretend to thank God for all their blessings and can make one question why they are so "fortunate".  The expression "the grass is always greener on the other side" is the phrase that belongs here.

I'm not one who has a lot of anything.  I never have.  I have always had just what I need.  There has never been a time where I lived in a box under a bridge, rummaged through trash cans for food or had nothing to wear but the clothes on my back.  There has always been someone to comfort me, to hug me and to remind me that it is not this life I need to concern myself with.  It is not what I accumulate or accomplish here on earth that matters.  My future does include what I do here, but not what I own or the places I've gone or the people I've impressed!

God's love supersedes all the warmth, all the love and certainly all the pain I have experienced here on earth.  His constant guiding hand and the blessings he bestows is worth more than any material thing I could ever own.  Knowing that he knows my name is more important than having the latest chart-topping performing group pose for a picture with me.

Living a life that is pleasing to him is the single most important accomplishment anyone could ever have in their repertoire.  Praise his name without being embarrassed.  Lift your voice and your hands to show the gratitude in your heart!  You don't need to have everyone on the planet "oohing and aahing" over your accomplishments - you only need for him to notice the good works you do in his name!  Put this life into perspective with the next...which one is more important?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

~ "God's faithfulness..."

"O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth." (Isaiah 25:1)

Isaiah gave honor and praise to God because he realized that God completes his plans as promised.  God also fulfills his promises to us.

How many times have you cried out in pain for relief?  How many hours have you spent in prayer before making a serious decision?  God always has the perfect plan for each of us and always brings us to the place we need to be.  The things we are taught through our pain and suffering are lessons in love...HIS love!  His love does not change, nor do his words!  They remain constant and complete!

Think of the prayers he has answered, and praise him for his goodness and faithfulness!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

~ "The Affair" (REPOST)...

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

I have a confession to make. I am in love with a wonderful man! He's not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of guy. He is very strong and fearless. He came into my life many years ago and I just kept pushing him away. He wasn't exactly what I was looking for. He was persistent. Although I was not interested in him, he wanted me in the worst way. He continued to give me gifts even though I rejected his love and advice. Every time I needed something - there he was! He wasn't annoying, if that's what you're thinking - just very subtle. 

I would see him occasionally, secretly, so as not to alert my friends. I was embarrassed to tell anyone how I truly felt about this man. I was afraid they would laugh or tell me I was weird. I still could not bring myself to admit to anyone how deep my feelings for him were. I couldn't admit them to him either. I do think he's always known and that's why he continued to pursue me. I guess he was just waiting for the right moment in my life. 

A little over three years ago, I left everything I had and knew in my life. I wasn't running from him, though. In all honesty, I think I was running from what I had become. He had helped me get out of my marriage but when I couldn't find a new home that he approved of, I headed south in a motorhome. I settled here, in Tennessee, and he followed me. He continually took care of the little things in my life that I was unable to take care of. He made sure that I had a place to live, enough food to eat and enough money to survive. When things would get really bad, I'd call on this man, and he'd help me. He eventually found a way to invite me to visit his house. I didn't see any of the beautiful, ornate items I'd seen in his old house. It was very plain and sparsely decorated. He began to show me, as opposed to telling me, how much he truly loved me. 

I don't know when I fell in love with this man, I don't know when he first reached in and grabbed a hold of my heart and said "you are mine", but his love has captivated me and I am his! This man's love is greater than any that I've ever known, greater than the love of any child I've ever held in my arms, greater than any possession I could ever hope to acquire. He's done more for me than any other man ever could or ever would. He puts up with my attitude and my sometimes ranting and raving like a mad woman. He's listened to me scream at him when I'm in pain, he's wiped the tears of sorrow from my face. There is nothing he wouldn't do for me. 

I'm no longer embarrassed to call him "mine", I do not apologize to anyone for what he's asked me to do. He will continue to take good care of me for the rest of my life on this planet. And when I take my last breath here, he will take my hand and walk me into paradise. He will show me the scars on the hands that have so lovingly held me, I will look fondly into the eyes that have loved me since before I was born, and I will spend eternity this man, who, unlike any other man I've ever known, thought I was worth dying for! He's always looking for someone to love and take care of the way he takes care of me - give him a call - his name is Jesus!

Monday, December 1, 2014


"Why are thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." (Ps 42:11)

When you are lonely or depressed, meditate on God's kindness and love.  He will bring you to a place where you can rejoice!  He can and will do things, perform miracles, that seem impossible.

Prayer is not just an intercession to the Lord.  It has a calming effect on you as you do it.  Praying takes you outside of yourself, away from your own pain and puts you in a "one on one" scenario with our Heavenly Father.  That feeling you experience, that easing of your pain, is God comforting you!

Let him ease your troubled and tired mind, let him soothe your hurting heart, let him lift you out of the pit you've fallen into through prayer.  He can and will quiet the storm within you!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

~ "Clear the way..."

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." (Mal 3:1)

There are two messengers mentioned in this verse.  The first is generally understood to be John the Baptist.  The second messenger is Jesus, the Messiah.  Both Malachi and John prepared the way for Jesus.

During the Christmas season, many speak about making a place for Jesus in one's heart.  Why is it only at Christmastime that "Jesus" is acceptable?  Should we not make a place in our heart for him all the time?  Should we not carry that "giving" spirit with us all year?  Just as many are only thankful in November, many are also only joyous and giving in December.

Prepare yourselves to celebrate the season of giving by doing just that!  Give a little of what you have to someone who does not.  Share a little of your time with someone who is alone, or lonely.  Make someone's day better.  If it is more blessed to to give than to receive, think of how much more blessed you will be if you give of yourself!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Strong in truth..."

"Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." (Col 2:7)

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.

When the soil is good, the roots of a tree will grow deep into it.  It will be firmly planted and unmoveable.  So, too, should be your faith.  Firmly planted and grounded in him!!!  But remember, the truth is not always what you were taught, the truth is contained in God's Word!!!  Church doctrine and the Bible are not one in the same.  Seek out the truth and follow that path!

I do not hold with many of the things I was taught, simply because there is no foundation for it in scripture.  Much of what was ingrained in me as a child (because of my religion and my heritage) has been replaced with what I know to be true, what I know to be real.  The foundation on which my faith was planted gave way to a greater, richer soil, nourished by the Holy Spirit in anticipation of my acceptance of God's calling.

What you have learned (be it fact or fiction) can help you discern for yourself the truth and the way.  The Holy Spirit will guide your every step.  Let this season, which celebrates the birth of our Savior guide your heart, help you establish a rebirth in faith and cause you to experience gratitude on a whole new level!

Friday, November 28, 2014

~ "The reason for the season..."

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  (1 Cor 15:57)

Ah, victory!  Knowing that my debt has been paid in full, my soul washed in the blood of Christ - an awesome feeling!  There is no greater gift that could ever be given!  With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas approaching, we begin to think of the gifts we will give and those we will receive.  For me, I have no real requests for presents this year.  God has seen fit to provide me with everything I need and just about everything I want.  Sure, there are a few material things that would make my life a little more comfortable, but I'm not going to be terribly upset if I don't get them.

The season of Christmas, the birth of Christ, is the season of giving!  Give with your heart, not your wallet.  Don't look to outdo with the bigger, more expensive gift.  Give something that you will be remembered for, something unique.  It's not always the most expensive gift that is best!  Look around at those who have less than you and include them in your holiday joy!  Take the time to convey the true meaning of Christmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

~ "In Thanksgiving..."

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." (Ps 100:4)

To those in the United States, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  It is truly a day filled with love, warmth and food!  Not unlike a great banquet thrown by a King!

We walk into the home where we will be eating and we compliment the host and hostess on the wonderful smell emanating from the kitchen.  We are in awe of the beautiful table that has been set for us.  We hug and we offer each person present a "Happy Thanksgiving" and we reminisce over the year that passed.

I look forward to the banquet that will be prepared in my honor; the one that had been prepared for my mother, my grandmother, my brother, my brother-in-law and all those who have also, at one time or another, sat around my Thanksgiving table.  The banquet Jesus speaks about.  The banquet to welcome me home!

On this Thanksgiving Day, don't be thankful just for the food and the family, be thankful for the right to celebrate it (and remember that there are soldiers who will not be sitting with their families this day).  Be thankful for God's mercy and grace in blessing us with those we gather together with, as well as the food that has been prepared!  Be thankful for all he has given you this day and every day!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

~ "The heart of the father..."

"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Malachi 4:6)

Benjamin Watson is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints Football Organization.   In light of the trouble in Ferguson, MI, here is what this man had to say...

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I'M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I'M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I'M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I'm a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a "threat" to those who don't know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I'M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I'M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I'M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I'M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I've seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I'M CONFUSED, because I don't know why it's so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don't know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I'M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take "our" side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it's us against them. Sometimes I'm just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that's not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That's not right.

I'M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I'm not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I'M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it's a beautiful thing.

I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

~ "More thanks and praise..."

"Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name." (1 Chron 29:13)

Once again, we see that giving thanks and praise is in order.  It must be important if we are reminded of is so often.

Giving thanks and praise is not limited to going to church on Sunday.  Giving thanks is just what it says: thanking God.  When you receive a gift in the mail, don't you opened and then call the person who sent it to you and say "thank you"?  Why would you not do the same for the gifts given by God?  Call out to him!  Thank him!

The same goes for praise.  We (parents) are very good at telling other how our children made us proud - we praise them openly and to anyone who will listen sometimes!  Why do we not openly praise God for all he's done in our lives?

When it is all said and done, Chronicles again reminds us that praise and thanksgiving are important pieces of a Christian's life!  Incorporate them into yours!  Say thank you every chance you get - for the little things (like an uneventful ride to work).  Praise him every chance you get (after you arrive at work on the uneventful trip, praise him for the job you have - some people aren't as fortunate).  Even if you feel you've already given thanks and offered praise -- it's okay to repeat it again!  Our heavenly Father does not get tired of hearing us thank him!

Monday, November 24, 2014

~ "Growth..."

"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." (1 Chron 16:34)

The mercy granted us by the Father is surpassed by none.  Regardless of the path in life we choose, he is merciful throughout the entire journey.  His love for us is so great that he sent someone to redeem our souls, make a way to heaven and bring us closer to him.

Giving thanks to God for all he has done for us is a task we should not shy away from.  It is not an "embarrassment" to praise God, nor to give thanks for all he's done for us.  Far too many people mumble the words and then look around to see who is watching.  Shout it loud for all to hear!  Make your faith known to all!

Showing mercy to others does not mean allowing them to walk all over you.  Don't hesitate to say that something "off color" offends you, or that the constant barrage of four-letter-words makes you uncomfortable!  If someone is offended by your honesty with regard to their behavior, do you really need that person in your close circle of friends?  Can you keep them at a distance and still maintain a healthy relationship with them and with God?  Who is the more important one?  Who has given you more? Who will stand by you when all others leave?  Where does your loyalty lie?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

~ "The gift of life..."

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Cor 9:15)

As we approach the season of "giving", while still in the season of being "thankful", we have the opportunity to reflect on all of the gifts given us by our Creator.  The greatest of all gifts is our salvation!  The sacrifice that paid our way, the unselfishness of the act and the opportunity to reach up and touch the face of God is unsurpassed by any of the other gifts afforded us through faith in Jesus Christ and belief in the power of God.

Do we take the time, throughout the year, to be grateful for this gift?  Do we pray the words written in this verse by Paul so very long ago?  Do we share with others this gift of eternal life?

Open your eyes and your heart this Christmas season!  Give a gift that is from the heart, not from the wallet.  Take the time to seek, for each person you buy for, a gift that reflects the love in your heart, the joy in your soul and the beauty of the season!  Give something unique, something special and something that will be remembered for years to come!  In doing so, remember to give thanks for the gifts given to you and remember that the reason for the season is the birth of Christ - the gift of life!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

~ "Purity..."

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word." (Ps 119:9)

How can a person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to God's word.

Even in this world, at this time, purity is not impossible!  It just requires a lot more dedication than it use to!  Why is purity so important?  God tells us to be "sanctified" - to remain holy; to avoid sexual immorality.  He tells us to learn how to control our bodies (just because it feels good, doesn't mean you have to do it).  He also tells us what not to do.  He tells us not to engage in incest, or to have "affairs".  God calls us to live a holy life!  By living a life of purity, we can save ourselves countless problems.  We will not be bringing sexual issues from past relationships, into the next relationship.  We will not be putting ourselves in a position to contract and spread diseases.  We will not be cheapening ourselves with partners that have nothing in mind beyond their own immediate satisfaction.

Many young people today take a public vow of purity.  They announce to the world that they will remain "virgins" until they marry.  The world today in which our young people (even some of us "older" folks) live in is telling them there are no rules, or rewriting the rules set forth by God.  "To doubt of our own wisdom and strength, and depend on God, proves the purpose of holiness is sincere." (Matthew Henry).

Don't look at it as a burden, a denial of "happiness" (don't I have the right to be happy?), look at it as yet another way to please the Creator and receive his blessings!