Sunday, August 31, 2014
The pressure and stress of each day can be trying, at best. We wander through our lives at the mercy of our employers, our family and our friends. Each relationship requires a certain amount of strength (some more than others) to enable us to get through any given situation. At work we have time constraints, deadlines and a multitude of personalities to contend with. At home, it is our spouse, our children or our extended family that puts pressure on us. Our friends often demand more of our time and attention than we are able to provide at any given time. The only constant peace we are assured of is that which is of God.
There are no "rules" as to how things will play out from day to day. Some days are easy; some difficult. The only thing we can depend on without any fear of change or diversion is the love that comes from the Father. He has assured us that he does and always will love us, provide for us and take care of us. He has laid out the foundation of what our lives are to contain and it never changes. His Word is as true today as it was 1,000 years ago.
When we feel beat down by the pressures, the stresses and the demands that this life often throws at us, we can rest in the knowledge that his love for us remains. His love never fails...
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Trusting in God means giving everything over to him and allowing him to give the blessing. It's not easy, we have a natural desire to "fix" things.
God wants us to give him our burdens. He wants us to trust in him and his almighty power, mercy and grace. We often say we have given them to him, yet in our human weakness, we continue to "bear" them ourselves all while telling ourselves we have given them over.
We serve a mighty God. He knows what is ultimately best for us. He knows all of our strengths and weaknesses. He continues to strengthen us in our time of need. We need to trust that the same strength that sustains us will also carry those burdens.
Friday, August 29, 2014
The temple of God, a vessel, a place of dwelling - that is what we are. We carry the beacon of light for those who cannot see, a lighthouse illuminating the rocks of the shore. Our actions and our words are held to a higher standard, simply because we have been called.
So much focus has been placed on a "Christian" way of life. When one fails to portray the perceived view of a Christian, we all take the hit. We cannot individually change the views of others with regard to being a true believer in the word...only our actions and our testimony can speak for what we represent. A true Christian understands that persecution is one of the consequences that comes with professing our faith.
Be a true Christian all of the time, not just when it's convenient and not just when you are with a group of other Christians -- profess your faith all the time, in all situations. Allow the Spirit of God to not only dwell within you, but to shine constantly, even in the darkest moments!
Thursday, August 28, 2014
We've all had those moments when we thought God was not listening when we called upon him to ease our pain, answer our prayer or intercede on our behalf. "I talk...God listens" is a testament to just this verse. He is always listening. There isn't a word or prayer we utter that he does not hear...we talk...he listens - it's that simple.
Often we need to go through the problem as opposed to around it. Our greatest learning comes from our pain, our failures and our waiting. Truth is, he will not give you more than you can handle and nothing comes to us unless it has passed through him first.
It's been said that major crises cause us no problem, but those broken shoe strings can cause a meltdown. We can weather any storm as long as we lift our voice to the heavens and wait on his guidance.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
We tend to get a little crazy when our lives appear to be falling apart. Our human nature takes over and the desire to "fix" what it wrong with it becomes overwhelming.
When we are focused on the power of God, the love he has for us and so readily offers, there isn't too much that bothers us. Sure, we become upset, fearful and concerned...but we do not panic, for we know that God's mercy and grace will bring us through.
Trusting in the Lord is not an easy feat sometimes. Instead of waiting it out, we want to get in there and hurry things along. That only tends to make the blessing take longer to reach us simply because what we've done to "help" needs to be undone.
Leave the fixing to one who is a master at fixing and bestowing blessings...
Monday, August 25, 2014
As long as we walk in his ways, we will have everything we need. It's a blessing God has given to us. He will keep us fed, he will keep us safe...we are loved!
So many times, when our existence seems to be on shaky ground, when our way of life is threatened, we begin to think "what am I going to do now?" If your faith is firmly planted, there is nothing more you need to do but trust in the Lord. Yes, you have to do the "footwork" that is necessary - if you've lost your job, you must look for another one - they don't just generally come looking for you. The promise comes in KNOWING that anything that touches you, comes through God first. There is always a blessing headed your way. Even if you make the wrong choice (that one you don't pray about, the one you make out of fear) - our heavenly Father will take that and use it to bless you. He doesn't cut you off because you've made a mistake.
Continue to pray, to seek his will for you, to live a life that pleases him. Know that he is always on your team - he has your best interest in mind! You are always a work in progress, HIS work! He will mold you into the person he needs you to be, for him!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
We all get angry from time to time. I think it's safe to say that some people are angry most of the time. It's even safer to say that a lot of people enjoy being angry.
There is something to be said for anger, but it needs to be in the right place and at the right time. Being angry at a disease (cancer, to name one) can be the driving force in recovery. But not all anger is healthy. There are times when it can be more detrimental than anything, and if one continues to feed the anger, it morphs into rage and then into unspeakable horror.
The Lord tells us that we need to be patient, not allowing anger to consume our heart, our mind or our spirit. When we allow anger to govern our entire being, we tend to look a bit ridiculous, venting and frothing like a rabid dog. We do things and say things that we would not necessarily allow from ourselves if we were being rational. Yes, we are human and we do get mad. Being mad and being angry are, believe it or not, two entirely different things.
Take the time to inventory your anger. Is it justified? Can you do anything about the situation aside from being angry? Will your anger cause change if you allow it to be seen by others? Most times. our anger comes from the inability to change something we know is most discernibly wrong...something we want to change but can't because it is not within our mortal power to do so. That is when we take that anger and turn it into prayer and leave it in God's hands.
Take that anger, place it in HIS hands, and move forward. Don't let it poison your spirit - the spirit within you where his holiness lives...
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Knowing that we are loved is something every human has a need for. When we are loved, our joys are multiplied, our sorrow divided. We can get through any challenging situation knowing that we are not alone.
God has just the kind of love we crave. He loves us unconditionally. There is nothing we can do that he cannot forgive. He is love! He sent Jesus to show us the way. Only through him can we achieve salvation. Only through him can we receive the crowns of the kingdom. Only through him are we forgiven.
So many seem to think that just by the nature of their birth (and introduction into certain religious denominations) gives them a right entitled to those who believe in and worship God. Stating the fact that you are of a certain denomination is not enough to get you into heaven. You have to accept Jesus - his birth, his death and his resurrection. You have to acknowledge that you are not worthy and that only through the sacrifice of Jesus do you have the ability to stand before God and be forgiven.
Don't allow the "church" of your choosing to place demands on you that are not contained in the Bible. Don't allow the "church" to take your Bible away and make their own rules that they say will get you into or keep you out of heaven. God's law - not man's law! God's word - not man's word! God's love for you - not man's fear tactics! Have you accepted Jesus as opposed to a church...
Friday, August 22, 2014
We talk about the effects of conflict and gossip in our lives and the lives of others. We talk about bullying. We talk about erasing hate. We generally rely on "love one another", but here is a verse that is a little more specific.
Troublemakers. We all know at least one. Some of us have the uncanny talent of attracting them! They are the ones who like to tell tall tales that are not true, or are half true, or have maybe an ounce of truth to them. They attack and then sit back and wait for the party to begin. They need our prayers, but they do not need to be an active part of our lives. They will not bring us joy, they will only bring us pain.
Gossip. Such a fun way to spend the day - discussing the shortcomings of others, passing along information that is neither helpful or kind. It destroys friendships, it destroys lives. It's not relaying information for the good, it's passing on hurtful opinions of a situation that is not our business.
Drama. We all know the effects of drama - those people who find the need to make a mountain out of a molehill. Those people who need to whine and carry on about what others have done to them and how we need to ban them from our lives.
With everything that is wrong in the world, the time for these types of individuals in our lives is long passed. It's time to stand up, in the name of Jesus, and declare that we will love one another by not encouraging them by listening to and believing their script. It is time to erase the hate from the heart and put the love of God there instead. Easy? No, not if you've been a part of it for years and years. Possible? Absolutely!
Let the love that Jesus spoke of, the love for one another, quell the voices of hate with the simple act of saying "no, I will not be a participant". Erasing hate begins with you...
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Being proud of our accomplishments is fine, as long as we give credit for those accomplishments to the one who has made them possible. God gave us the talents and abilities we use to become successful. It is only fair that we give credit where credit is due.
So many times, we see people accepting awards for their achievements - how many remember to thank God for allowing that dream to become a reality? When we forget how we got to the place we are at, when we forget to give thanks, we become self-centered and proud (proud as in the opposite of humble).
Take the time to give thanks for all that is given you...
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
When you walk with your nose pointed high in the air, you run the risk of tripping and falling flat on your face. When your head is bowed, you have the ability to see not only what is directly in front of you, but your peripheral vision allows you to see some what out in front and to the sides.
There is nothing wrong with the feeling that comes with success. When that feeling takes on a life of its own and when we forget how we got to that place (i.e. the grace of God), that's when we can trip over our own feet. God does not want us face plant after receiving our greatest blessings. Remembering that we accomplished our successes only through his mercy and grace makes the success that much better. Remembering that simple fact provides us with the humility we need to walk in wisdom.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Bullying? Maybe...maybe not. I saw a video this morning that brought tears to my eyes. A group of 5th grade boys found out their 6 year old waterboy was being made fun of because of his clothing choice and his stutter. They stood up and were counted.
Bullying is nothing new - it's been going on since I was in grammar school and I would venture a guess that it goes back even farther than that. Ignorant, immature and inconsiderate people find it appropriate to laugh at others for whatever reason. They are hurtful with a purpose and feel a sense of accomplishment when they have succeeded in making another human being cry. Wow.
My mother gave me a piece of advice back then that has stayed with me. "They laughed at Jesus, too." Although that was not very much comfort when I was being made fun of, it helps as I look back and see that I allowed those people to have power over my life. Power they didn't deserve. Today I see things a little differently. Today I see things through a different set of eyes. God tells us to love all people regardless of their appearance, their walk in life or their beliefs. If you remember, Jesus hung out with the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He walked with the sinners.
I am one who has been given grace. Are you???
Monday, August 18, 2014
In an instant, Jesus was conceived miraculously for the sins of man. In that instant, God kept his promise and scripture was fulfilled. Our salvation was realized.
We wander through this life waiting for signs. Is this the right decision? "Give me a sign." Should I do this or not? "Give me a sign." All the "signs" we need are in the Bible. All the tools we need to lead a life pleasing to God are also in the Bible. They don't come from anywhere else. They aren't written in the doctrines of different religions - that is theology. What is written is the Word of God, not an interpretation subject to additions or deletions.
Take the words in this book as fact, not fiction. Take them literally - they do not change with the times and the evolution of society. They are as true today as they were the day they were written. Read and study them often, they are the words that will give you direction in your life and a promise of life after death...
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Sometimes, even without realizing it, we may begin to believe that we are more important in this world than we really are. The thought that a job can't be done by anyone but us, the belief that things will fall apart without our intervention, the patting of ourselves on the back because we accomplished some minor challenge - all characteristics of being human - can not only be harmful to our self esteem, especially if we fail at a task on any given occasion, but can be extremely dangerous in our walk with Christ.
We are not perfect. We were perfectly created, but we are not perfect. We make mistakes. Plain and simple. There are those who believe so strongly in what they have been taught that there is no room for argument. They tend to take the view that if the rest of Christianity does not believe and function within their belief system, they are inferior. Not so. We are all children of God with the same opportunity for salvation as anyone else. When we start to think that our "denomination" is the right one, that every other walk of the Christian faith is second to what we've been taught to believe, we become arrogant and egotistical...not humble.
It's not unusual for us to worry about our "position and status". We often desire that recognition that goes with doing a good job. Peter reminds us to remember that God's recognition counts more than human praise and accolades. God blesses us in his own way and his own time. If we obey God regardless of our circumstances, and the circumstances surrounding us, he will, in his good time, either in this life or the next, lift us up.
Be humble, remain teachable and seek his crowns, not those of men.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
God gives each of us certain talents to use and develop for the greater good. There are those who choose to use those talents in a manner that was probably not their intended use, but that is not for us to judge. The law, as described in the Bible, is that which God commands.
He commands us to live a life pleasing to him, yet in our attempt to please, we are not to judge those who choose to live theirs outside of his law - we are commanded to LOVE! He commands us to use our gifts for the greater good. There are those who choose to use them to design methods of mass destruction, but that is not for us to judge. He commands us to spread the good news of Jesus to all people. There are those who refuse to accept or acknowledge the existence of God or the saving grace of Jesus Christ, but that is not for us to judge.
Being a Christian is not free pass to be exempt for the law. It holds us to a higher level of responsibility, a higher standard simply because we know the law. We are not above it because we believe. It is in that standard that we are to remain humble, teachable and giving. We are not more blessed simply because we've accepted Christ. He loves us all the same, regardless of the path we choose.
Opposing what is against God is one thing. Causing harm to others because of that belief is not what we are commanded to do. Shunning children of God because of their sexual orientation, it's not what we are commanded to do. Condemning children of God because they worship another god, it's not what we are commanded to do. Killing those who kill others, it's not what we are commanded to do. We are commanded to love...period.
Don't let the EGO of being a Christian overshadow the love we are commanded to show. EGO..Easing God Out. Don't let the Enemy Get Over...let his love be your guide...
Friday, August 15, 2014
Being first in most things is preferable to being second, third or last. When you are the first - there is a certain respect that comes with that distinction.
The resurrection (Christ is "firstborn from the dead") shows us that Jesus is ruler over all things in the material world. If we trust and believe in Jesus, we, too, will rise again and live with him in eternity. His death raises him to the status that is rightfully his. He is spiritually supreme (preeminent). He deserves to be first in our thoughts and our hearts. He deserves to be first in all that we do.
Do you put Jesus first in your life? Do you give him the attention he deserves?
Thursday, August 14, 2014
We all want to make "a good impression" on those we work for, live with and meet. It's human nature. When we start a new job, we show up early, extremely well groomed and ready to face the day. For some, that lasts about a week, maybe two, before they begin showing up just in time to clock in, followed by the late arrivals and then in infamous call outs. They look often like they've rolled out of bed and into their clothes - some even appear to have slept in them. They make excuses for why they didn't complete assignments and begin to lay blame on their co-workers and you, as their supervisor, begin to wonder what happened to the individual you met when you interviewed them and subsequently hired them. They are the "phonies". They make you wonder what they are like in other areas of their lives. They don't seem to have any purpose (other than to collect a pay check at the end of the day).
People can fool other people, but generally not for a very long time. There are those who are extremely talented at deception, and when they are found out, we tend to be stunned that this person was capable of such a feat. "How could I have not seen that coming?" There is one who is never amazed and knows our hearts.
Remember that everything you have is a gift from God. When you put forth extra effort, do it for His glory, not your own. Strive to be the individual that makes an impression for the right reason. The reward you receive will be greater than any bonus you could possibly attain here on earth!
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
There are a list of do's and don't written in the word of God. We call them the commandments. They are what the Jews were commanded to do while they waited for the Messiah. They are part of our lives still today.
We are told to keep these in our hearts - to "write them" in our hearts - to live them in our daily lives. No, we can't live up to these words 100% of the time, but we can certainly make the effort. As I have said before, Jesus gave us two additional commandments - that we love others as we love ourselves and as He has loved us. If you think about it, it's really only one command. We are commanded to love. No just those who make us smile, not just those we have something in common with, not just those we "feel like" loving -- we are to love one another!
Yes, people aggravate us and make us shake our heads - but we are still to love them. As perfect as each of us thinks we are, there are those we aggravate as well -- they are commanded to love us - why shouldn't that apply to us as well?
Take a minute today to think about why it is that someone annoys you. What can you do for yourself to make they less annoying?
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
|Robin Williams (1951-2014)|
The theological arguments that surround suicide are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Some believe and teach that it's an unforgivable sin; some believe that if one is truly saved, suicide would not enter the mind; and some even believe that it is the desperate act of a troubled and tortured soul. Having known several people who have succeeded in bringing about their own deaths, and having attempted it myself, I, for obvious reasons, believe that it is the desperate act of a troubled and tortured soul. It was not my time to go.
God's mercy and grace is endless as well. He generously forgives those who ask. He allows each individual to have the opportunity to accept Jesus right up to the time of death. There are no exceptions. Some people believe in the "death bed" acceptance. In my opinion, it all comes down to an individual's relationship with Jesus.
Every day, an average of 105 people in the US take their lives. Yesterday, we focused on one. He is not the first celebrity to leave this world on his own terms, nor will he be the last. He made us laugh, he made us cry. He gave back to the world in so many different ways. He earned the respect of his peers, of his fans and communities throughout the country. We will remember him as many different faces and voices. His characters will become legendary (if they aren't already). The question still remains...was he, at the moment of his death, one who was known to Jesus? Did he fear the Lord? That now is between him and God. No prayers at this point can or will change that. We can, however, pray for comfort and strength to his family.
Each of us is a child of God. We each have the same opportunity to choose to walk with Jesus. Don't leave it till your death bed...there may not be one!
Monday, August 11, 2014
God is constantly watching over His people. It was been written throughout the Bible and throughout the history of the world. It's not something that I question. To me, it is fact - to others, it is luck, it is "reaching", it is coincidence.
My faith in God tells me that He will not desert those who believe. He never has. From the time Noah and his family stepped into the ark, He has not left his faithful followers to fend for themselves. He will not do it now, either. As I read the headlines of newspapers carrying the stories of the fighting in Israel, I cannot help but smile, knowing that He continues to protect His people and that the words written by Peter and others, still ring true.
Where do you stand when it comes to what God tells us, what Jesus teaches us? What "side" do you fall on? Do you stand with those who condemn, or with those who the eyes of the Lord are over?
Saturday, August 9, 2014
A preacher, an apostle and a teacher...that's our appointment as well. How do the best teachers teach? Well, first they have to know what it is they are teaching. You cannot teach German if you do not know German. In order to successfully pass knowledge of something on to someone, you need to know what you are talking about. So therefore, we must study and learn before we can teach others.
I don't consider myself a teacher - an apostle, most definitely. I do not profess to have all the answers, but I know where they are. They are not in the back of the book - they are all through the book - His book - the Bible. Like anything else, in order to remain "educated" on a subject, you must continue to study it. "Studying" something can be as simple as continuing to perform according to what you are taught. As a student of phlebotomy, I learned many things that I will not necessarily need to do my job, but I was still required to learn them. As I certified phlebotomy technician, I am required to continue my education in the form of short, structured learning modules that apply to my field and the medical laboratory science field. In order for me to be a competent phlebotomy technician, I must continue to practice my skills. The same is true for a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Word of God. We, as children of the King, must continue to study His Word. Doing a Bible Study is a great way to dig deeper into what is written in the Bible. Living the Word is the way we continue to let others see the love of God in each of us.
Take the time to educate yourself. Continue to keep up on His Word. Be a reflection of His love by the way you treat the world around you. Be a preacher, an apostle or a teacher - of Jesus Christ!
Friday, August 8, 2014
It's been an extremely long year for me. I began by healing from exhaustion which was caused by a job. I had put too much effort into my work and not enough into my life's passions...writing, making people laugh and sharing the word of God. Along with the exhaustion came depression, anxiety and fear. Having been down that road once in my life already, there was no way I was going to let it consume me the way it had done in 2001. I was determined to stand up and stand tall, regardless of what it took. I took my time. Little by little, I managed to put one foot in front of the other and learn to walk again. I went back to school. I completed a certificate program in phlebotomy at my local community college and graduated Summa Cum Laude with the highest score in the class, not to mention the highest score on my boards. I've stopped allowing others to walk on me be it at work, at home or anywhere. I've stopped pleasing everyone at my own expense. I'm so worth that!
So, in this past year, I've had time to reflect on what is important and what is not. I've also explored issues that I'd previously deemed "taboo". I've come to realize that the greatest commandment Jesus gives us is to truly, and I do mean TRULY to love one another - regardless of their belief, regardless of their life choices and regardless of their sins. I have my own sins to remember to be repentant of. If I'm pointing the finger at others' sins, how can I possibly say I'm repentant of my own. That, in itself, is a sin! Honesty and truthfulness has been brought to the foreground. The experience of losing a job and it being taken in such a way that causes you to squint in disbelief that people could do something so vicious and are actually evil in nature was a real eye opener. I never want to be in that situation again. I don't allow people to scare me with loss of income anymore, nor do I give 100% to something that is not worth my time. I've learned to move on and take care of myself. No one else on this planet is going to do it. Yes, God will provide, however, I must do the foot work. I must make the changes. I must accept responsibility for my successes and my failures.
So, I begin again. I have faith that God will continue to inspire me, as He has done in the past. With that...
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear..." (1 Peter 3:15)
In all that I do, everything is a blessing and a gift from God. From the ability to get out of bed every morning, to the drive to work, the work I do and the people that cross my path. Some are there to help me grow, some are there for me to share my experiences with, and some are there to just remind me where I once was. God's plan is always better than mine. Anyone who asks, gets an honest, unabridged answer as to how I see my Creator, how I interpret His word, and what my faith teaches me. Jesus is my hope. His word doesn't change. My life will never be sinless, nor will anyone else's while they are on Earth. I know two things to be unequivocally true: Jesus died for my sins and the sins of others. Unless you believe and accept that Jesus is the Messiah, you will not enter into the Kingdom of God.