Chasing Fantasies

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread,
     But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!” ~Proverbs 28:19

What kind of friends do we keep? Do they lift us up or drag us down? Do we interpret lifting up as making one happy and encouraging a continual party? Or do our friends encourage us to strive for the best in ourselves and develop Godly goals? The friends we keep help develop our character and our future. The words that fill our ears affect our thought patterns. When we follow friends who are frivolous and live in a continual party mode, we begin to slip into those same patterns. After all, how hard is it to work a full week while receiving continual message requests to skip off to the mall, salon, or the beach? We put our job, as well as any advancement, at risk of collapse. We find ourselves in poverty.

I like how the NIV puts the second half; “But the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” This version is a great analogy of the get rich schemes of today. Advertisers take advantage of lazy people (who in their greed want something for nothing) by promising high returns for very little input, whereas the scheme rarely brings profit for the participant. Many marriages have been wrecked from a spouse who secretly spent savings on get rich Money Trading and Wall Street ventures. Anything hidden from your spouse is not of God, for God is light. If you don’t trust the Lord to be your provider, your faith is in the temporal. If you believe your worth is established in wealth, you will end up chasing fantasies.

“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
     Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” ~Proverbs 28:6

Money in and of itself is not the enemy. However, the love of the world’s money for our own pleasure is where destruction lies. To prosper in earthly wealth is not the satisfying prosperity God has to offer. As with everything else, God looks at the heart. If your heart is clouded with unforgiveness and selfishness, you will not have the peace and joy of His prosperity. God desires his children to have all he has to offer. Wealth is already his. He created the earth! But how we obtain our material possessions and the friends we keep determines the quality of our heart. When we promote ourselves by befriending the rich, or that popular friend, for our own benefit, we are living in self-centeredness without integrity. James 2:5-6 says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?” Are these the kind of friends you want? But, to have friends of integrity, you must have integrity. The best way to check your heart is to look at how you treat others on your way up that ladder. What kind of prosperity do you desire? Do you desire the world’s wealth or to prosper in all that God has for you?

“Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing,
    but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.” ~Proverbs 28:27

The concept of giving to others so God can give to us is all too foreign. Acts 20:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  To be rich with God’s wealth is a blessing, to be rich with that which we did not earn righteously is a curse. An old saying that is proven trusted and true: “If you take care of the things of God, He will take care of you.” This comes from Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Do you trust Him to provide? Will you be satisfied with the Lord’s provision? In His hand is the only place true contentment is found.

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**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…check out my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles journal which can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. The above is an excerpt from Day 28 of Proverbs!

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I Have Ancestors! Part II

Well, it’s been a little over a month since I last posted. I’ve had soooo many things running through my head, but just couldn’t bring myself to write it all out. And then, last night, I received the results from my DNA test. Oh me, oh my… Oh my…

Let’s just say…we’re definitely ALL related!

I promise to write more as my little brain processes a couple of the “shockers” in my results. But, for now, just know that I am convinced more than ever that the life of Jesus gave more healing than any other…ever! To be born of a race that was considered “chosen” yet so horribly persecuted out of jealousy, and yet to still love ALL of mankind, is phenomenal and supernatural.

You know what is the most ironic? How true were the words which Jesus spoke in Mark 4:22: “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”

I’m so glad now, even though utterly embarrassing, that my life has not been portrayed as perfect by any means! That my sins have been “out there” and that I have a redemption story…one that shows if God can save someone like me…He can, and will, save anyone who wants Him. Just simply ask…

“My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

~Psalm 139:15

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I Have Ancestors!

It’s funny…until the past few years I thought my ancestors were non-existent. I had to come from somewhere, didn’t I?

After hearing little snippets here and there, I finally took the DNA plunge. I know…it’s a trendy thing right now. My dad won’t even consider it. He thinks the government will steal his biological history and use it to create a look-alike robot, or capture him and put him a Chinese torture chamber! 😉 But, if I had his military/war history, I would have those fears too. I think most people already know that the “powers that be” already know more about us than we do!

I’ll find out in a few weeks just where I came from! Most American’s have no clue due to the constant revolving door. When I was living in Ukraine, a lady told me that she was of the “pure” race. Well, she was basically putting me down for being a mixed-breed-mongrel. LOL. **Sigh**

Oh if only she knew that we were all created by God…and he loved each of us no less than the other! I wonder how many relationships would heal if we all looked at each other through the loving eyes of our Creator…and loved each other the way he loves us…

 

Scriptures for Hope:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16-17

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~1 John 4:10

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:37-40

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:5

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

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The Iris of the Eye

Have you ever studied the anatomy of the eye? The iris is the ring of color which determines the size of the pupil that regulates the amount of light filtering into the retina which transmits the images to our brains. Our eye color is determined by the pigments in the iris. The name “iris” is derived from the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of the many colors in the iris. While I don’t follow Greek myths much, it is interesting that our colors admittedly are derived from God’s rainbow. The iris of the human eye is quite a mystery. While the common colors consist of brown, blue, green, hazel, or grey, occasionally people are born with a mixture of all colors, creating new eye colors!

We are all created unique. People have a hard time seeing outside the box of what mankind has deemed acceptable. So why, oh why, do we try so hard to fit into someone else’s box? I want her hair. I want his muscles. We tend to feel disliked if we don’t look like supermodels. Think about it…what really is normal? Is your normal…normal? Is mine? The world’s greatest accomplishment will never surpass the beauty of God’s creation!

The ugliest person ever born is completely loved by the one who created the world. Don’t listen to the lies of those who only seek to control and destroy. For, the ugliest person to the world is especially loved and beautiful in the colorful eyes of God.

You are enough.

You are beautiful.

You. Are. Loved.

The Iris of the eye
Filters light to the soul
Painted by God himself
In colors of His rainbow
Trust in Him, and believe,
For you truly are
Fearfully and wonderfully made!

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:13-16

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A Christian Hates Carols and Trees?

Why would any Christian hate Christmas trees or Christmas carols?

Back when my kids were younger our Christmas season was so stressful with all the grandparent gift competition and squabbling over where we were spending the day, I was so disgusted with it all that I simply quit. I actually stopped putting up a tree for quite a few years! We all needed to focus on the joy and not the gift. Consequently, I was called a Scrooge by quite a few so-called Christians! Because I didn’t decorate the way they thought I should? I was a Scrooge. Hmmm… Since Christmas is supposed to be about the birth and not the tree, I ignored those comments because they showed the position of their heart.

When I did some research, I found the word “Christmas” is short for “Christ’s Mass” given from the Catholic Church. Christ’s actual Birth was (according to the Roman census) in early September, not the end of December. As with most holidays, they evolve. The church wanted to coincide with the pagan holidays and this one fell on winter solstice. (Just Bing search it!) I don’t believe for one second that Jesus cares one iota if we celebrate his birthday. I do believe he does care that we celebrate his life! I do believe he cares that we honor his death and the sacrifice he made for all mankind. And I do believe he gives us the joy of celebrations, whenever they are, because he loves us! After all, his first miracle was at a party!

But Christmas Carols in November?? I think I finally figured out why Christmas Carols make me change the radio station faster than Frosty snowboarding with Clark Griswald! All songs have a subject. Originally, these songs were written to bring light to the birth of the Christ, the Savior of the World. It’s all about the “fluff”. Momma’s, don’t we all know how messy birthing babies can be? Yet, even through the pain and the mess, we find love looking in that little baby’s face, then we turn around and do it all over again! We smile at the goodness while ignoring the ugly. That’s what a Christmas Carol is all about. Sweet and beautiful.

So why the sink in my soul every time I hear a carol? The same sink that made me put away the tree. The meaning and joy has been zapped right out of it! Let me ask you this, do you hear a song about the life of Jesus in a major retail store any other time of the year? No. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, right? But during the Holidays, carols are promoted because studies prove that people buy more “stuff” when they are played over the intercom. Our society has evolved the Christmas Holiday into commercialism. I get depressed just thinking about all the junk I’m subliminally made to feel I should buy, and the ungrateful people who could care less about their gifts, and all the money wasted.

I have to always remember the enemy has been trying to thwart Christianity for over 6,000 years. He is pretty good at taking the good things God created and using them for evil. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” People and things are not our enemy…attitudes are. We can’t throw out the baby with the bath water!

Eventually, I began to focus on things that will matter a hundred years from now. People not presents. I’m not worried about who can come to Christmas dinner and who can’t or won’t. We can always get together another weekend. I don’t stress about the perfect gift. Personally, I treasure homemade gifts. Yesterday, my dad gave me a present of a handpicked perfect mix of nuts, full of Brazilians!! That two pound can he wrapped up is by far the best present I’ve had in years!

Yes, we still exchange gifts, and I still decorate my house, but I focused on nativity sets, which represents the purpose for the season. We stopped putting our gifts under the tree (yes, I do have a tree these days), though now our new tradition is to put them under the large nativity, the reason for the season. The kids began focusing on giving and not receiving, and I stopped feeling guilty for not buying them everything society said I should. Win.

Amazingly enough, the Joy came back! And…every once in a while…I’ll even sing a carol or two.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” ~John 3:16-17

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Comfort & Healing Journal

Do you or someone you know need a little encouragement today? Are you or someone you know, experiencing the pain of loss? The holiday season can be very tough for those of us who are grieving. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or the loss of a marriage, we all grieve. Journaling through that process helps us to grow and not get stuck. Here is my latest endeavor with Thinking Tree Publishing Company. This journal helps give encouragement from others in the same situation, and helps point to the hope God gives.

Don’t give up on hope. Don’t give up on life. You are loved!

Click here: Creative Journal & Coloring Book for Comfort & Healing

Here is an excerpt:

A Letter From Nora :

When Sarah asked if I would put this book together, I thought to myself, “Sure! This one will be a piece of cake!” And then life hit…and death hit…

About three quarters of the way into this project, a close family friend committed suicide. Her death was a shock to most people because of the way she lived her life. She lived as a committed Christian, always the first to help others, and at almost 70 years of age she was a devoted grandmother. And yet, she suffered from devastating depression most of her life.

Consequently, we are all left with nothing but the “why” questions. Some things in life are unexplainable. Why would an innocent baby die? Why would I lose that perfect job? Why would my husband decide he didn’t want to be married anymore? Why did my dad leave? Why did my adult child reject me? Why would a natural disaster wipe out a lifetime of memories? Why didn’t I notice my friend was suffering before committing suicide? And the resounding question of all time: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Book written by my good friend, Mark Tabb

And…we grieve.

I have all the head knowledge, but still, I grieve. I know all the pat answers, but still, I grieve. Grief is messy. Each of us grieves differently, for we are all unique. Some people cry outwardly, others internalize. Some will hide from life, while some will busy themselves with every activity available. Experts say we experience at least two of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. In my own grief, I simply could not pick up this book on grief. Every time I wrote a sentence, the words sounded dry. I shut down my social media. I wouldn’t talk about it. I wouldn’t cry. I felt paralyzed. I just needed time. I needed time to process our loss. God allows us that time to grieve. He allowed the Israelites to grieve for 30 days after Moses died. Then he instructed Joshua to tell them to pull up their boot straps and move on into the Promise Land. God allowed Job to ask all the “why” questions when he endured suffering upon suffering, and did not count it against him.

In my processing, I remembered that as long as we live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people, bad things will happen to both the good and bad. But…good things will also happen to both the good and bad. In those times, both good and bad, I remembered that God is always good. It’s ok to be mad at God, as our children are mad at us when things don’t go their way. His grace allows us to grieve. I don’t believe God causes the bad things to happen in life, it’s simply the consequences of life in an imperfect world. Though we may never understand why /he allows bad things to happen, He always works everything out for our good. (See Romans 8:28) Though we may feel all alone in our grief, we have a creator who understands our pain and loss more than anyone.

Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He will calm His child in the middle of the storm.

When did I start functioning again? When I got out of bed in the morning. When I put one foot in front of the other. When I took a walk with my camera, forcing myself to see God’s beauty through a different lens. When I smiled at the check-out lady because she was stressed and watched her smile back. When I took dinner to a friend who was suffering their own loss.

I was able to begin functioning again when I found that in life’s changes, I still have purpose. We are needed. We all have value and worth. We are loved by the One who created us.

In His Love,
Nora

A Grief Observed By: CS Lewis 

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Example of Journal Pages

** If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you read with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; the above excerpt from Comfort & Healing in Times of Loss can be found on Amazon here: Journal for Comfort & Healing: also, my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles Journal can be found on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.

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Are we near the end?

Since people hate over the silliest of things, yes, I believe we are at the end. How much worse can it get? Jesus said when asked about the end of the age: “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” ~Matthew 24:10

Are you ready for eternity? Do you live in forgiveness or bitterness? Will that thing you harbor anger and bitterness over really matter a thousand years from now?

We have to forgive, and forgive, and forgive again no matter how much it hurts, or how much the offender continues their attack, even if they never admit to their offense. It’s hard. I have to continually remind myself of this all the time. For, I’m not perfect, just forgiven. Forgiveness is the only way to find freedom for our soul. Forgiveness does not mean the offender is not guilty of the sin, for we all give an account for every little thing we do; it just means we release to God our right for revenge. (God’s vengeance is always much better anyway.) We are then free to live in God’s peace and joy, which usually makes the offender angry because we aren’t letting them cripple us. We are free. We are ready to “meet our maker” with a clean heart. We are forgiven. Because, yes; no matter how slighted we feel, if we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us. If we aren’t forgiven, we spend eternity without freedom, without light, without God…in hell.

Don’t believe me? Or, maybe you don’t believe me because you feel like I shouldn’t be forgiven because I have offended you in some way and you don’t like me. Then I say don’t. What do I know? All I am is the messenger. Here in the States, there is a bible (taken from ancient scrolls) in every corner. Look it up on the internet. All I am doing is relaying what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

What of this life will you take with you into eternity?

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22

 

“And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” ~Revelation 21:6-8

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Irma Destroyed Our Barns!

With all the images coming out of the islands decimated by hurricane Irma, one resounding word keeps popping up in my mind: barns. In just one day, the “fun” was washed away…

washed away…

We moved off our farm in spring of 2015 and became city-dwellers. My husband’s family farmed that land for around 150 years. You would not believe the old equipment lying around…continually replaced by the new.

Needless to say, it took us more than two months to clear our junk out of the barns! We sold, gave away, and threw away…and still found more and more…stuff. :/

Though our intention was to downsize…our new house…you guessed it…bigger.

Do we ever learn??

Tearing down the old storage shed and chicken coop…

 

Parable of the Rich Fool

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

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Pondering Thoughts on Death Today…

Just thinking…

If someone has been turned against you because of the lies of another and that person is dying, do you…

  1. Leave it lie so they can die in peace.
  2. Attempt to shed truth to the situation (without defending yourself) so they will not go to the grave hating you.

I guess the bigger question is….what will they have to answer to when they face God? Aren’t God’s children supposed to seek Truth? Does God hold us accountable if we believe negative things about a person, gossip, lies, without asking for verification?

Are there not two sides to every story?

Do I want the best for that person, or justification for myself?

Did Jesus not say to be forgiven, we have to forgive?

Is it more merciful to let someone die believing lies so as not to upset them, or to expose truth so they will at least have a chance at reconciliation before leaving this earth?

 

But, rock the boat, we don’t.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” ~James 4:17

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~ Matthew 6:14-15

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” ~Matthew 18:18

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Keep the Dogs Out! Proverbs 19

Day 19 ~ Proverbs 19*

“Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
   but a prudent wife is from the Lord.” ~Proverbs 19:14

Does our world respect the marriage union? An antonym for prudent is reckless, which is a lack of self-control based in self-centeredness. To be prudent is to be careful, cautious, and wise.

God said in Genesis 2:24 “the two shall be one.” How can a couple be “one” unit if their Love Tanks are being filled outside the marriage? Love is to want the best for the other person and leave our desires aside. Paul said in Ephesians 5:25 (NLT)For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.” Now, I don’t believe he meant for husbands to physically die, but rather to give up his desires, dreams, and wants; to replace his personal (self) desires with a desire for his marriage as a unit. And, yes, that’s easier said than done…especially in our world. It’s no different for women. Our first priority is to God, then our family…our immediate family. (God also said to leave our parents!)

How can we identify a lack of respect for the marriage union? When interacting with your married friends, are you showing the most attention to your friend’s husband? Do you seek private conversation with him? Do you call your friends’ husband to plan events? Do you seek out married men on social media? Do you continually come up with things which we need “the husband’s help” (i.e. change a light bulb)? Do you show up at your friend’s house when she’s not home and end up spending time with her husband? Are you confiding in a married man and sharing your heart with him? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then I would highly question what’s happening in your heart. In today’s world, more than half of marriages will suffer through an affair. Most affairs begin with friendship, a counseling situation, or a work relationship. The most likely person to be an affair partner is a close friend of the opposite sex. But, isn’t our spouse supposed to be our best friend?

Affairs begin with dissatisfaction in the mind. Too many marriages have been destroyed by men who transfer their desires to a young air-brushed fantasy on-line, in a magazine, or in sleazy movies. When a mind is focused on physical perfection, will an aging bride ever satisfy? Too many marriages have also been destroyed by a woman who is not satisfied with her position in the home, expecting her husband to give in to her control. Decisions become one-sided. When respect is lost for a husband who cannot fill a need for satisfaction that only God can fill, she turns her focus outside the relationship. The illusion is that the grass is always greener on the other side; the truth is that the grass is only green on the side that is watered.

We need to water our side of the fence. Your marriage is like a garden to water, protect, nurture, and cherish. Keep the weeds and the dogs out! Guard the sanctity of your marriage. Too many of us live with the destruction of divorce. Before we become reckless, shall we be prudent? If God gives you someone, why would you not cherish them?

Be wise. Be careful. Be prudent.

“The foolishness of a man twists his way,
And his heart frets against the Lord.” ~Proverbs 19:3

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

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Unfaithful Lovers, Family, and Friends

Do any of us know what unfaithfulness really is? Is unfaithfulness relegated to marriage only? What actually constitutes adultery? What is the root cause? Just how truly faithful are we…and can we find forgiveness and restoration? (See my blog on forgiveness here: Unconfessed Sin ~ My Thoughts on Forgiveness)

Proverbs Devotional Day 5

“That you may preserve discretion
   and your lips may keep knowledge.” ~Proverbs 5:2

The fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Proverbs primarily deal with the subject of adultery. I’m sure a lot of readers tuned out right here. But, being physically unfaithful to your mate is not the only form of adultery, for God looks upon the heart. How faithful are we in all our relationships? Are we a faithful friend, employee, or neighbor? Do any of us know what unfaithfulness really is? What actually constitutes stepping out? What is the root cause? And just how truly faithful are we…? God is a faithful God, yet we continually fall into our old self absorbed nature. Oh how thankful I am that He is also a God of grace, continually ready to forgive our unfaithfulness!

Adultery is a symptom of a much deeper problem; it’s a matter of the heart. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Adultery begins with an ungrateful heart, long before the physical act. Ungratefulness leads to dissatisfaction, which leads to unfaithfulness. When we fail to keep our hearts satisfied with that which God provides, we fall into a host of sins: envy, covetousness, jealousy, etc. Paul says in Romans 13 the Ten Commandments “are all summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love wants the best for others, and lives in gratitude for that which God has given us.

“lest strangers feast on your wealth
  and your toil enrich another man’s house.” ~Proverbs 5:10 (NIV)

Consequences always follow a wandering heart. When one or both in a relationship begin to lust for something outside of God’s shelter, trust is broken and the relationship is fractured. Does the wandering always have to be physical? No. Pornography is an epidemic across the globe, destroying marriages and families, for it creates a dissatisfied heart.  That aging mother with all those stretch marks, varicose veins, and sagging breasts can never compete with the airbrushed young perfection on the screen. When divorce follows, so does the division of entire families, friends, and your finances.

“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets? Your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, Never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always; May you ever be captivated by her love.” ~Proverbs 5:15-19 (NIV)

Our selfish nature has us believing the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Yet, in reality, the grass is only greener on the side that is watered. Do you feel dry and disconnected from those close to you? First, water your soul with God’s Word, for His Spirit will bring peace to the deepest holes in your heart. While we have no control over the other person’s decision to water the relationship, we are responsible for our own heart’s faithfulness.

When we seek wisdom in every thought and action, the Holy Spirit is faithful to keep our thoughts pure and our hearts satisfied with His love. No matter what the temptation, be it sexual, chemical, or even shopping, pray for His Spirit to protect your heart. Gratefulness negates selfishness.

“He will die for lack of discipline,
    Led astray by his own great folly.” ~Proverbs 5:23 (NIV)

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

 

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Proverbs Procrastination Day 3

The Proverbs. Day 3. Chapter 3. It’s packed full of great little nuggets! Several verses have been popularly quoted throughout the millennia, especially the 5th verse…the one about leaning on our own understanding. It always amazes me when we do that since we obviously don’t know everything. But, after all, we are control freaky humans!

Two verses on this day seem to be tossed in the background:

At first glance, the verses are saying to be sure and pay our debts. Don’t be stingy. When we are diligent to pay everything we owe, not only do we show our good character, but we show honor to God in our trusting Him to meet our needs. Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-35 that worrying is for the birds, “…Are you not of more valuable than they?” Figuratively: He loves us so much more than we tend to believe, so why do we hold onto our finances and not trust God to provide?

Yet, these verses also bring up another underlying thought. Procrastination is an all too common enemy. A definition of procrastination is to put off or to delay. Why do we put off that which we are capable of accomplishing today? Sometimes, we procrastinate out of pure laziness. Most often, we put others off out of our desire to control our situations. We believe our schedule, our money, etc. is more important than anyone else. Both procrastination and laziness are rooted in self-centeredness and pride. Most of us never thought of procrastination as a sin. We excuse ourselves with our good “intent” of giving, but only when it is convenient for us. One of the first companies I worked for had a saying, “Five minutes now will save five hours of cleanup tomorrow.” That concept is not only true in the business world; it is true in our relationships.

Gardening…Lots of hard work!

Do you have unresolved conflict with anyone? Time is not the healer; God is our healer. Ephesians 4:25-27 says to not let the sun go down on our anger, followed by saying not to give the devil a foothold. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Taking that step toward reconciliation doesn’t always mean the other person will respond, but it’s our responsibility to do our part.

We need to take an honest look at ourselves. Are we withholding money, forgiveness, or restoration from anyone? Let’s give where the giving is due, and trust the Lord to take care of the rest.

The hard stuff of discipline, forgiveness, and restoration only lasts for a moment…the rewards last an eternity.

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” ~Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

 

What are you procrastinating today?

 

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

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Sunday Morning Thoughts

We are not defined by our past. Yet, we do not forget our past unless of course we want to make the same mistakes over and over again. Learn from our past, trust God for our future, and live in today!
1900 Frantz Family
An Earnest Appeal for Guidance and Deliverance: A Psalm of David…

“Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.

For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.

I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah

Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.

Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
To You I flee.
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!
For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant.”  ~Psalm 143 (NKJV)

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Top Three Leadership Qualifications: Proverbs 31

Have you followed any of the many “Leadership Guru” forums? Believe it or not, I believe all those forums can be condensed into just three points, the three taught in Proverbs 31. If we get these three points right, every step will fall into place.

Since this is the 31st day of the month…below is an excerpt from the 31st day of the Proverbs devotional I wrote while living in Ukraine. Since this chapter is such a favorite, and the last in the book, it is twice the length as the previous 30 chapters. I guess I just felt wordy on that last day! 😉 Honestly, the 31st chapter is packed full of great little nuggets!

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Day 31 ~ Proverbs 31

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:” ~Proverbs 31:1

When most people refer to Proverbs 31, the Noble Wife is the usual commentary, describing what is commonly known as The Virtuous Woman. This section of the Proverbs is an interesting study as verses 10-31 are an alphabetic acrostic in Hebrew, comparable to Psalm 119.

The first 9 verses, however, are an isolated oracle written by a mother to her son, with the counsel given by a father listed in chapter 4. History shows the name Lemuel (meaning Devoted to God) to possibly be a name of endearment given to King Solomon by his mother, Bathsheba. Only in more modern times has the identity of the subject been questioned. Unfortunately, seeing as specific names were not given, their true origins may have been lost unto historical nonexistence.

The oracle was written as a prophetic admonition, possibly out of a mother’s desire for her son’s success. Most mothers’ counsel is derived from past experience and a desire for their children to avoid the same mistakes made from their own life. Ironically, the three pieces of advice this mother gave were the very actions that eventually brought King Solomon to his ruin: flippant relationships, self-indulgence, and a slothful attitude toward injustice. Bathsheba would have been well equipped to warn of the consequences of these sins; the very sins of which she and King David, Solomon’s father, were mercifully forgiven and restored. Centuries later, our leaders continue to embellish the same sins. We are still human. Her advice to her son, the King, could most certainly be applied not only to our government leaders of today, but to anyone in a leadership position, especially the family father.

The influential role of the mother has been greatly diminished in modern times. While the role of the father has become known for absenteeism, most people do not realize the correlation to the diminishing role of the mother. With more than a third of American households being raised by a single parent, mostly by the mother, great concern is growing over the moral decline in our society. Our children are raised without the stability of the security in a family unit, resulting in higher poverty, crime, drug usage, and lack of education. The issue is not whether the home is run by a single dad or a single mom, the issue is that neither parent is a constant in the home. Unfortunately, in modern society, most two-parent homes have two-parent incomes. The children are left to raise themselves through babysitters and day-care.

I find the addition of a woman’s instruction in a man’s world to be very comforting. Solomon was attributed the wisest man of all time therefore his mother’s penned words must have been very influential to be included in the ancient scrolls. Never underestimate the hand that rocks the cradle. Most of scripture was written by men and toward men. Yet this passage contains the words of a woman giving instruction to her son, a man, a King. With such high importance placed on one oracle, it is disheartening that her words fall on deaf ears to most of our leaders today. Corruption in high places has been at work since the beginning of mankind.

“What, my son?                                                       
     And what, son of my womb?
          And what, son of my vows?” ~Proverbs 31:2

In older translations, the chapter begins with his mother asking the question, “What?” What are you doing? Are you paying attention? Listen! Since the time-frame is not given as to when in Solomon’s life the oracle was written, it is possible his mother saw in his youth warning signs of potential problems. We all have tendencies toward certain temptations. Some temptations are more common in higher positions or stations in society. This mother wished to get her son’s attention to bring a warning for pitfalls of someone of his status. This mother very wisely was teaching him that the responsibility of a King is not to be taken lightly. In James 3, we are told that teachers will receive a stricter judgment. How much more for a King? In 2nd Peter 2, a description is given of the consequences of false teachers who lead people to destruction. Her desire was for her son to lead responsibly.

“Do not give your strength to women,
Nor your ways to that which destroys kings.” ~Proverbs 31:3

The passage gives three separate pieces of advice for successful leadership; relationship, sobriety, and advocate. The first piece of advice has been ignored by politicians and pastors alike all throughout history. Many a mighty man has fallen from the public eye due to sexual indiscretions. With the introduction of the Internet, pornography is the number one ‘secret’ sin of today’s clergy. The temptation can be overwhelming. Bathsheba knew this first hand. Bathsheba and King David’s indiscretion resulted in two deaths, a divided family, and a lost kingdom. While their hearts were forgiven and restored in relationship with God, the consequences can be felt to this day. We need to be very careful and selective with whom we are in relationship.

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
     It is not for kings to drink wine,
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
     Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
     Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to those who are bitter of heart.
     Let him drink and forget his poverty,
And remember his misery no more.” ~Proverbs 31:4-7

The second admonition is in mind altering substances. This piece of advice should be simple common sense. But even in our society today, drunken parties for politicians are the norm. Will a people put trust in a leader who is not clear minded while they are issuing judgments, decrees, and laws? Without morality we have only chaos. Alcoholism and self-medicating are rampant. She points out that those who are perishing or are in anguish drink to forget their troubles, though her urging to give strong drink is not for a King. Her son has a greater responsibility than to be self-focused. A good King, Ruler, or Teacher, a good Parent, is focused on those whom the Lord has put under their care. From the President/King all the way down to the parent in the poorest family, the quality of leadership is destroyed when alcohol or drugs control the mind. Just as a King is responsible for the condition of the Kingdom, Dad and Mom are responsible for the condition of the family.

“Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
  Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” ~Proverbs 31:8-9

The final plea this wise mother instructs her son is simply to do good. I believe she knew from experience within her own family how imperative righteous ruling is. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Do we sit by idly, being more concerned about our own skin, watching those under us get trampled? Do we use our position to aid those less fortunate? Most Kings and leaders throughout history succumbed to the influence of power followed by arrogance. Self-serving leaders support only those who are able to give back to their establishment or campaign. But to the little people, the poor and needy, or the unjustly charged, these leaders are mute and turn a deaf ear. Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. If we are in a place of position, God honors the humble in heart and giving in spirit.

Whether we are the ruler of a nation, or a stay-at-home mom, leadership comes with great responsibility. Lemuel’s mother very wisely conveyed the three most important aspects of righteous leadership: stay away from physical indulgence, keep a clear head, and use the position to benefit others.

“Learn to do good;
     Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
        Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.”
~Isaiah 1:17

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**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

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17th day Devotional…

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, below is an excerpt of the 17th devotional of my book I wrote about in my last post. I love Saint Patrick’s Day! Not just because I am of Irish descent, but because of the heart of the holiday. While most here in America use the holiday to drink whiskey and green beer with the intention of getting plastered, the holiday actually began with a slave from Wales, England, whose parents were from Rome, to bring good deeds and hope to a pagan bound culture. I hope you like today’s devotional…

Day 17 ~ Proverbs 17

“Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1

At least six verses of Proverbs 17 speak directly to the family. King David is my hero! I love reading in 1st and 2nd Samuel the account of David’s life. My spirit is lifted and heightened every time I read David’s Psalms. More than anyone who ever lived, David was attributed as a man after God’s own heart. Yet, because of King David’s own sins (2 Samuel 12:10), the sword never left his house. His was one of the most dysfunctional families in history. His wives were…well, he had way too many cooks in the same kitchen. His children lied, cheated, stole, raped, and murdered…each other! Absalom, his oldest son, conspired to overthrow the kingdom and kill his own father. If Hollywood were to film the actual events of David’s life the movie would be released with an “R” rating or worse! His children grew up in wealth, yet had more drama than a soap-opera!

“A foolish son is a grief to his father,
And bitterness to her who bore him.” ~Proverbs 17:25

Though King David saw his children make horrible decisions, even unto death, he grieved for his children. David recognized in 2nd Samuel 16:5-14 that the calamity he experienced was due to his own sin; calamity prophesied by the Prophet Nathan in chapter 12. The Apostle Paul admonishes fathers in Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Children learn as the example they are given, not the words spoken. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states: “The fathers are specified as being the fountains of domestic authority. Fathers are more prone to passion in relation to their children then mothers, whose fault is rather over-indulgence.” Fathers, do you project anger or ridicule your children? Then you can’t be upset if they show outbursts of anger. Mothers, do you belittle or lie to or about your children? Then you can’t be upset when they despise you. Do we project indifference to our children? Then we can’t be upset if they show indifference to our beliefs. This is what King David experienced. He was busy elsewhere. He showed his children contradiction. As a result, they rebelled, bringing humiliation and destruction to their own family.

“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,
And the father of a fool has no joy.” ~Proverbs 17:21

The dictionary describes scoffer as; someone who expresses mockery, derision, doubt, or derisive scorn; to jeer. We all occasionally fail. Do you fall into that category? Out of your own insecurity, do you make fun of others in hopes to elevate yourself? When your derogatory jabs are questioned, do you laughingly claim the recipient of your mockery is too sensitive and you were only joking? I don’t believe people realize their own divisiveness. When a family falls into the habit of squabbling, no meal is joyful. Sometimes, the test of Christian love is greater within our own families. Oh to love with the love of 1st Corinthians 13; “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” What would happen in our families if we took just one of these attributes? Kindness? Hope? Love?

“Children’s children are the crown of old men,
And the glory of children is their father.” ~Proverbs 17:6

**The above is an excerpt from the devotional book I wrote while living in Ukraine on mission for nearly a year in 2016. If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you study God’s word, with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my devotional journal can be found on Amazon here: A Proverb A Day ~ Devotional & Doodles Journal.

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My first book!

So I wrote a book…a devotional…and actually published it! My writings usually sit hidden in a drawer, but while living in Ukraine last year, my friend, Sarah, encouraged me to join her in her publishing company, The Thinking Tree Publishing Company, LLC, and put some of them in print. Sarah is a fabulous illustrator! Oh how I wish I had Sarah’s artistic talent…but then again, God gave me my own talents to use. The difference is…she has used hers greatly while mine have sat hidden in a drawer. But is that what God wants for us? According to Matthew 25 he doesn’t…

So, in my free time, I dusted off my notes and we teamed up to create a devotional that can be doodled!

Since this is the 14th day of the month, here is an excerpt of the 14th devotional. First though, read the actual Proverb from the bible before reading the devotional. Then, if you have a copy of the book (link below), you will enjoy doodling on Sarah’s illustrations! I hope you like it…

Day 14 ~ Proverbs 14

“The heart knows its own bitterness,
And a stranger does not share its joy.” ~Proverbs 14:10

How can we truly know another person, except by what we see and hear? Sometimes it’s easy to assess what is in a person’s heart by their countenance. We can assume a person is joyful at that given second by the belly laugh filling the air. We can assume a person is sad, hurt, or bitter when we see buckets of tears flowing down their cheeks. But, can we presume to know the reasons or the source? All too common, seemingly happy people (such as actor Robin Williams) take their own life out of deep depression. We are often too quick to make assumptions about a person or situation before we see all sides of a matter (see Proverbs 18:17 & 25:8). Yet, in our pride, it’s so very easy to assume we know what another person is thinking or feeling. Most of the time, our pride prevents us from simply asking, and therefore our reactions to that person will be unfitting.

“A faithful witness does not lie,
But a false witness will utter lies.” ~Proverbs 14:5

What happens when we assume to know the heart of another and treat them accordingly? If I see someone come through the door with a scowl across their forehead, should I assume they are angry with someone? And then, to top that off, they complain about the blue skies. Should I assume they are bitter or nit-picking? How do we not know that they simply woke up with a migraine headache or have recently suffered great loss? In our humanness, we are all occasionally guilty of these kinds of assumptions. When we fail to seek truth, we are uttering lies. The old Indian Proverb holds true: “Just walk a mile in his moccasins, before you abuse, criticize and accuse.” (taken from the poem Judge Softly, written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895). Yet, if we walk the same path, even then, do we deeply understand the heart of another?

“A sound heart is life to the body,
but envy is rottenness to the bones.” ~Proverbs 14:30

On the flip side, making assumptions on another person’s joy is just as harmful. How often do we reject people because we believe their lives to be ideal? We become envious of their happiness while not being concerned with knowing the road they traveled to live in their joy. Often times, we are shocked upon hearing a mild-mannered sweet Christian’s testimony to find she has a shockingly checkered past. Jesus says in Luke 7:47, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (NIV) Do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Or do we allow our own self-centeredness to prevent us from being genuinely happy for other people’s success and joy.

Our heart knows our own bitterness. We deeply feel emotion when we have loved another. People are fallible beings. When we place expectations on another based on our own desires, we will be hurt. People will always at one time or another let us down. But we are not alone in our bitterness, or our joy. Jesus says in Matthew 6:8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Why expect strangers, or even those we know, to share in our joys and/or sorrows when we have a God who knows every deep hurt, feeling, and thought we’ve ever had? A sound heart comes when we let go of our expectations of others and place our hope and trust in God, the one who most knows our heart.

“Those who fear the Lord are secure;   
 he will be a refuge for their children.” ~Proverbs 14:26

**If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you read with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles Journal can be found on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.

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Holiday Grace

Thanksgiving & Christmas Thankfulness…My little Speech? Statement? Declaration? My final breath? 😉

I’m so thankful for a faith rooted in love not terror; in life not death. I’m so thankful God allowed me to see him through His Spirit…and not in the examples or interpretations of earthly fallible men. I’m so thankful God gave us his Holy Spirit and his Word for guidance, strength, and comfort, and for the remaining churches that love the outcast like Jesus did (John 4).

I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow anyone older than the millennial generation in worship band/choir, but rather exonerates all walks of life (1 Kings 12:13). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that doesn’t allow newer, timeless, music for fear of letting go of traditions or just plain being stuck in the 80’s (Job 32:8-9). I’m so thankful I don’t attend a church that clings to suit & tie & stocking hosiery instead of acknowledging that man looks at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart and wants our worship to be a place where people can be real, be accepted, and loved in ordinary jeans (1 Samuel 16:7: Matt 23:27).

I’m so thankful that even though I will never live up to the expectations of people who are so quick to believe the worst, I am forgiven and accepted by a God who loves me just as I was created (John 3:16-17). I’m so thankful for the friends God has placed in my life, people who would not listen to negativity, realizing that to believe hearsay without verification is the same as the original telling of the lie, for lies are only for enemies (Eph 4).

I’m so thankful for my husband and the restoration God has worked through our lives. We are not perfect, but we choose not to control each other, but rather to let God be in control; we choose to respect instead of belittle; we choose to love in spite of our baggage.

Finally, I’m so very thankful for the children God allowed me to birth, even thru the distance, disagreements, and miss-communications, they all know their Momma’s love will never end. My prayer for you is that your road will wind its way to the Lord; that you will always seek Truth; that your faith will be your own, and to know that… “our struggle is not against flesh and blood {people}, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12).

Most of all, never ever forget…”nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

That is all. (This is about as mushy as I’ll ever get….)


~Nora, Daughter of Abba God, Wife, Mom, Friend.

Jesus is the Light

Your Daily Proverb ~ 6:16-19

To those with an understanding heart…this scripture needs no explanation:

There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

~Proverbs 6:16-19

Destruction

…destruction…

 

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Piano Man 5

Music is subjective, just like food. I absolutely hate peas. My husband feels the same about onions. I absolutely love onions. My husband loves peas. Different likes and dislikes…neither one of us is in the wrong. We were created diverse creatures by the same loving God.

But lyrics…

When the lyrics are seasoned with God’s word (and not taken out of context), the music is immortal, just as His word is immortal. “Redeemed” is one such song.

The definition of Redeemed is an exchange: to free, liberate, rescue, save, to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.

In the second verse he writes:

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret

This song relates more to my life than most. For years I struggled to be the perfect little Christian so God would actually want me. After spending most of my childhood feeling used up and worthless and spending most of my adult life relating to the rejection and outcast of the woman at the well, my name; my identity was bound in shame and regret. Even after accepting Christ, I was still haunted by those ugly ghosts that lived in my past. I was bound up in shackles of all my failures, as the song so eloquently writes. I knew God is love. I knew God loves everyone. But because of my shame and regret, I believed God’s love was for everyone else.

I then read the words of King David, my hero, the chief of sinners whom God loved most, in Psalm 27:10 which says, “Though even my father and mother reject me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.”

The antonym for redeemed is abandon. God in His mercy did not abandon me. No, not even me. Like the unloved woman at the well, he gave me a new life, a new name, and a hope that will carry me home. No. I’m not perfect. I’m not liked by everyone. But I’m not the same and I shook off those heavy chains of shame and regret ‘cause He’s not done with me yet!

If He gives hope and restoration even to someone like me (and I could tell you stories that would make your head spin), he will and is longing to set you free as well. We can stop fighting on our own, for at the cross he wiped away every stain and the fight’s already been won! I am redeemed and He set me free!

Click here: Official video of Big Daddy Weave – “Redeemed“. 
Writer(s): Michael Weaver, Benji Cowart
Copyright: Word Music Inc., Word Music Inc. O.B.O. Weave Country LLC

Piano Man 4

Saturday…the day in-between…

The space between. That very long Saturday. The day between what Christians call Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This year…a full moon…a blood moon.

Moonrise (4a)

Jesus was a very common name back then. In today’s world, John or Jim or Bill are the names more will answer to when heard…not so much Jesus. Scripture indicates by society’s standards, he was just average, someone who would not stand out in a crowd. Yet, he was the establishment’s biggest threat. So they killed him. The high Judge, Pilot, proclaimed him innocent. And yet, they determined to silence his existence. For such an average man, he sure made an impact on the world. The establishment fears truth. And this man, Jesus, was truth. He was God in human form.

All this drama took place on Friday. There were parties full of dissension, convictions, and death. The day has since transformed into huge Hollywood productions. Even today, Friday seems to be a day of drama. It’s the last day of the typical work week and invariably everything will go wrong at 4:55. It’s date night and invariably we will have nothing to wear and no money to spend. Yes, Friday will forever be a day of drama.

But…what about Saturday? It’s the day in-between. It’s a day of waiting. Most churches have services on Good Friday, and then again on Sunday. But Saturday? No, not Saturday.

Every farmer can relate to a time of waiting. The seed is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. What about summer? No, not summer. In our impatience, we tend to forget about the time in-between. We sow a seed and expect immediate results. In Deuteronomy 7:21-23, God was leading his people into the promise land, but ordered a time of waiting. He could have driven out the heathen nations immediately, but the immediate was not in their best interest. Usually, the immediate is not in our best interest either. As with the farmer’s crops, people also need time to grow. Most of the time, we will not understand the reasons for the wait until we have landed on the other side.

Most people find the perseverance to reach maturity the most difficult. In James 1 we are taught the wait through trials matures and completes our character. As my husband and I are embarking on a new chapter in our lives, we have had a long few months of wait. I have felt my life in complete limbo lately. My Saturday has turned into several Saturdays. This is very aggravating for someone who needs her ducks in a row. But, God always has a purpose for every wait. This past week has been filled with two funerals. Two friends’ lives were snuffed out from cancer. I watched their Saturdays’ wait; waiting for tests, waiting for treatments, waiting for death. But in God’s perfect timing, we were able to be available for our friends, whereas if our move would have occurred on my timing, those opportunities would have been missed and relationships lost.

I can’t even imagine how Jesus’ followers felt on their Saturday. Oh what a day of confusion that must have been. As difficult as our times of waiting has been, I cannot fathom the vast emotions of everyone from the Disciples to the Pharisees. His followers waited in fear of the establishment while the establishment waited in fear of exposure. Neither knew at the time how the story would end. They could only wait.

But after the wait…

Oh yes, Sunday…a breath of fresh air! Although attempts were made to cover the evidence, too many people saw, too many people knew. The grave coughed up the dead. This average man, Jesus, conquered what no one else would attempt. He rose on the first day of the week, on a Sunday. He took on humanities curse and broke through the gates of hell. He came back. He walked with his people. He left his Spirit with us. We can relax. Humanity now has its solution. The drama is complete. We can spend Sunday afternoons in leisure. Everything is finished. God declared a Sabbath, a day of rest, so we reflect on Him in worship. Sundays are for rejuvenation. Yes, Sunday will forever be a day of new beginnings.

Can we trust Him during our wait? Believe that God works everything for our good. Look for your Sunday. For there you will find God’s grace. No matter the trials or persecution, the Lord brings peace…even in death. For in death, we find life.

“Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” ~Luke 24:36

Woodbury Church Steeple

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The comfort Isaiah gave…

If there is one person I could pick to meet in heaven, that would be Isaiah. I’ve often wondered what he looks like. In my obscure mind, my image of our heavenly bodies is of an age of perfection. Mine? Well…if there ever was an age where my body was at its best, it would have to be before kids! For men though, they seem to mature much later than women…in more ways than just the physical. Don’t mock…that’s a proven psychological fact, per the so-called experts! Just look at Hollywood. Women are done by the time they are old enough to attend the R-rated movie they just starred in! Men? Well…I’ll have to save my comments about Sean Connery for another post… 😉

Elihu said in Job 32:9 “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Meaning, even though he gives the impression of being aged, Isaiah could well have been a young man. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Did Isaiah have gray hair? Was he bald? Most women lost their “crowns” when Miss Clairol came to town!

These are just rambling thoughts. We really don’t know. Some days I hate the loss of anonymity with the discovery of digital photography. Centuries from now our offspring will look back at us and say, “Geez, could she wear anything more outdated than that?”

Without knowing the nature of their physical appearance, their words are profound to a much greater degree. We are able to hone in on the message rather than be distracted by crooked noses or dumbo ears. Applying the message to our lives is their ultimate goal. Maybe that is the reason God did not allow our brains to comprehend the technical until this century. Could be?

The message Isaiah conveyed in chapter 54 has been life to my soul for the past 15 years or so.

I am fine without a man around. As a child, my dad was not around much. Although it’s not his fault and I do not blame or hold anything against him, it was just the way life was. He was gone at sea for months or in Nam during the Navy days. When civilian life hit, he always worked two and three jobs, and always second shift, with me in school during the day. I remember most of his time at home on Sunday afternoons taking a nap in his recliner. Through my 20’s, my ex-husband also worked evenings/nights, leaving me alone to care for the kids. Needless to say, I learned early not to physically depend on any man.

Yet, I secretly yearned for that umbrella; that sort of protection that a “man” covering provided. I think every woman does. It’s in our nature, no matter how we fight to be independent. So we seek out people in our lives to provide the kind of emotional security no man has ever been equipped to provide. Men search too…just in different areas. They seek security in their careers or physical escapades. I think we humans tend to seek to fill our holes in places that are temporal or were not created to “complete” or make us whole.

Oh my, the relief when I first read Isaiah 54 and realized I already had that protector! That chapter was an uncanny reflection of my life, written centuries ago! I was that bride who married young, only to be rejected. But God spread my “tents” and filled them with His little blessings. He has proven over and over that He, and He alone, is my provider. He has never failed me. He takes care of me…of me!

A few years ago I finally quit expecting others to fill only that which God is able. My fulfillment is not their responsibility! No, I don’t need a husband, kids, family, friends, job, house, dog, or cat to fulfill my deepest longing, that longing for security. The things of this world are temporal. Only God, our creator, can provide the eternal. Only He is able to flow his Spirit through our soul and bring wholeness!

My life did not follow the path I planned, but God in his mercy restored to me that which the locus had eaten (Joel 25). My faith is in God, my protector, my provider, my promise. He has also restored to me an earthly husband to be my umbrella while here on earth. I now have a beautiful foretaste of the security we will one day experience in our eternal home.

I now have hope.

253b

~Isaiah 54

 

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 27:1 (Do you really know tomorrow?)

I shared this Proverb on my FB last month:

Your Daily Proverb:
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.” 27:1
~Six years ago this am… 😦

I only call it “Daily” for the 31 verses, not because I post one daily. That would be so very irritating…unless, of course, my FB or Blog was solely dedicated to Proverbs. I wonder if I would have fewer followers…or more? I think I’ll just stick to my randomness. 😉

That morning, I didn’t even read past the first verse. I usually don’t on this day of January each year. Next year, I think I’ll leave that book alone. Some anniversaries are simply too painful.

We know the birth of one baby will change the whole dynamics of an entire family, no matter how many down the line. So tell me…why would the death of one child, even more so, change the dynamics of an entire family…even the extended family?

We love. We grow. We build our world. Since you don’t miss what you don’t know, if it is never there, we never love. When we love, and that love is ripped from us, our world is full of empty holes.

But oh, to cherish the memories of love…

It is said the only constant in life is change. I don’t know if change in and of itself is either good or bad. It just is. The insecure and fearful will fight change. The stubborn and controlling will fight change. But sometimes…the very tired will grow weary of change.

Life can crush our spirit. With change, God can refresh our circumstances…and our spirit. Time does heal…along with the strength of God’s word to lean on. With each death a new era is born. With each change a new hope is secured.

Embrace the here and now. Let go of the past. Give God the future. For…we never know what a day may bring…

Oh how I miss that little Sunshine on my Shoulder...

Oh how I miss that little Sunshine on my Shoulder…

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Approval-seekers and Self-pleasers

My husband and I had a little discussion the other day about people-pleasers being one and the same as self-pleasers. We brought up a lot of controversial points in today’s world, so he suggested I put it in a blog.

The people-pleasing theme has run through many of my posts. This may be a reiteration of a post I wrote about people-pleasers: here. I also wrote a post on why people don’t like us: here, so I thought I had it covered. But…can you be a people-pleaser without being a self-pleaser? In my prior posts, I eluded to people-pleasers being self-pleasers. Are they one and the same? My question in my overly analytical mind is; why do we want to please everyone else?

With God, everything is a matter of the heart; even when we are pleasing Him.

We must ask ourselves:

  • Is it possible to please others and/or self and still please God?
  • Do we do our good little deeds for God or to feel good about ourselves?
  • Do we want to puff up others, or do we want to puff up ourselves?
  • When caving to the will of others; is our desire to bring them fulfillment or are we seeking their approval?
  • When seeking the approval of others; is not the seeking for our own satisfaction?

Approval-seekers are self-pleasers.

We have begun to wonder if some sort of revival is beginning to break out over our country. Fence riders are beginning to fall off. Eventually, everyone will have to choose one side or the other so we might as well start now!

One of those fences is full of people-pleasers. I know of at least two churches where the preachers taught on the subject just this last Sunday. Lately, I’ve seen several articles, posts, blogs, etc. on this subject. Hordes of books have been written on people pleasing; approval addiction; and boundaries in the past few years. Some of the hype could be the psychological-money-making-bandwagon. But when the phenomenon reaches several pulpits, we need to take notice.

When revival and/or trials hit, God calls his people to step up to the spiritual (not religious) plate. He said we are not able to live by double-standards. God is not only love, not only grace, but God is truth. Where do we get our screwed up lives from? Lies. Deceit. Lies. Hypocrisy is rooted in lies. Double standards are rooted in lies. And believe it or not, people-pleasers are rooted in lies…for by pleasing one, another must suffer.

Maybe God is fed up with our fence riding and is finally pushing us to stand for integrity. Maybe he is building character in his children to enable us to survive the hard times most are predicting. I don’t believe for one second the martyred Christians in Egypt were seeking the approval of man. How will we react when evil hits our doorstep? You’ve heard the line in the old Aaron Tippin country song, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Maybe God just wants our yes to be yes and our no to be no (even in the little things!) so we will have the character needed to withstand anything the enemy throws at us! Jesus said in John 5:41, “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me.” Maybe we should follow his example.

God’s approval is all we need. Yet, we tend to have an unhealthy fear of man instead of a spirit of love and respect for God.

Isaiah 51.12

Lord, forgive us for our apathy. Help us to follow truth, no matter who it hurts. Because following truth is following you. Help us to stand for that which is right. Because in standing for that which is right, we are standing in love for all.

Isaiah 1.17 Seek Justice

 

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Obsessing the setting sun…

Why are we attracted to the beauty of the setting sun? Or, for those who can stomach opening your eyes before a couple pots of coffee, the rising sun?

Painted by God in 2009

Painted by God in 2009

God’s creation. It’s what we are. God put the beauty of His creation in our eyes…in us.

I love taking pictures of sunsets. Just a thought…but how many different ways can one photograph a sunset? If you’ve seen one…you’ve seen them all…

No…just like you and me…each is unique. Each sunset is written with the breath of God’s beauty. Just as we never tire of hearing our spouse say “I love you” we never tire of hearing God say “I love you” with each sunset he sends…

Sunset painted today...

Sunset painted today…

 

God’s love never changes…

 

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(These are my pictures…you are welcome to share because I love to spread smiles!)

Your Daily Proverb ~ 25:4 (Burned by the Silversmith!)

“Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel”

Silver necklace & wooden rose

Have you ever watched a silversmith work his magic? It’s quite intriguing to see the excruciatingly hot furnace burn everything to ash, leaving only the purest of the metals. The leftover is the only useful element of the whole product. The process to meliorate a perfect piece of jewelry is through intense fire. The higher quality my silver pendant, the more money the jeweler will siphon from my bank account. The saying, you get what you pay for, is true on so many levels. A silver pendant at a dime store may look nice the first few days, but eventually, the outside coating will wear off exposing the pendant’s true nature…fake junk.

I wrote about the Refiner a year ago here: Refined Restoration. I love the analogy Solomon uses in this verse to describe the process by which God clears out our flaws. It hurts to realize we have issues. When the “Silversmith” exposes our imperfections, the process of cleaning out our hearts is without a doubt downright humiliating. Recently, a lady sat across the table from me stating how she could write novels about others who did such-n-such to her. But then, stated that she never did such-n-such to anyone else. As I respectfully kept quiet, my mind was recalling several instances where she had done such-n-such to me! Do I only see the flaws of others and not of myself? Lord, burn me in that fire…

Ouch!!

But, the second half of the verse gives us hope. Most of us wonder if we have purpose in life. His word says we were created with purpose. The problem with us humans…we are too fearful of pain, too full of pride, to allow Him to mold us into a creation of usefulness, a useful vessel. Because of the inherited sin nature, we are full of flaws, personality defects, and death. Are we letting God grow and mature us? When we allow God to run us through the “fire” to take away our dross (flaws), we cool into pure creatures full of God’s love.

Are we fake junk…

  • Are we full of impatience, unkindness, envy, boastfulness, arrogance, and rudeness?
  • Do we insist on our own way?
  • Are we irritable or resentful of others?
  • Do we hold grudges?
  • Do we relish or laugh at bad behavior?
  • Do we celebrate when truth is exposed…or do we even seek truth?

Have we been burned by the Silversmith…

  • Love.
  • It tolerates all things.
  • Love is loyal.
  • Love believes there is value in everyone.
  • Love does not give up on hope.
  • Love prevails.

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 20:10 (Do we show partiality?)

“Differing weights and differing measures—
the Lord detests them both.” 20:10
~Not only applicable to business practices…but to relationships as well. Do we have one standard for one person, but not the same expectation for another? Do we love others based on their ability to live up to our standards? We tend to view others based on our personal perspective derived from our own world. When we quit expecting others to love based on our standards, and quit trying to seek love based on another person’s standards, we recognize the Lord is the only entity who loves us unconditionally. The Lord is the only one who shows NO partiality in whom he loves. He is the only one who truthfully sees our heart. He loves me. He loves you! Rest.

Beautiful Differing Feet!

Beautiful Differing Feet!

 

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 10:7 (Are you a blessing??)

I have at least three things I really need to be doing right now…

  • Clean this pig-sty house for my mom-in-law is coming to town…tomorrow!
  • Laundry…because sometimes we need clean underwear!
  • Fix dinner…because my man usually needs to eat…maybe…

But…here I sit…writing. I had a brainstorm. **Sigh**

I picked a Daily Proverb this morning for my Facebook that had not been posted in the past, 10:1. A couple of hours ago, I received word from a good friend that a former co-worker just passed away. After hearing of her death, the 7th verse, one I have used often, is all that runs through my mind.

“…but the name of the wicked will rot.”

Oh yes…I remember my old co-worker. All I can say is I hope & pray after they found the cancer that she took the time to make amends with whomever she was continually infuriated with. Even more so, I pray she made amends with Jesus. I pray she found forgiveness, for herself and others. The sad thing is, even though I have no right to judge her or where she is now, my memories of her character are so negative, my hope for a positive afterlife is not very…hopeful. Then again, do we really know? I can imagine the office atmosphere now is, how shall we say tactfully, lighter? I myself have been accused at times of being a grump at work. We all have bad days now and then. Usually, we get over ourselves and bounce right back to our usual cheerfulness. And then there’s that one…

That grump. Day in and day out. Always irritated at nearly everything. The one co-worker, friend, or relative who ravishes peace…thrives on hate.

How will the future hold our memory?

  • Will they remember our laughter?
  • Will they remember our rage?
  • Will our Love be known?

The only thing that will matter a hundred years from now, the only thing is the character we leave behind. Not a physical thing. Only character.

Will our memory be a blessing??

Will all this drama really matter a hundred years from now?

Will all this drama really matter a hundred years from now?

 

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 4:10 (Whose advice??)

“Dear friend, take my advice;
it will add years to your life.” Proverbs 4:10

I love old Indian Proverbs and Irish Proverbs. But I especially love the Proverbs after the Psalms. Most of the quotes are principles, not rules. I wonder how much better off we would be if they were actually approved by Congress and converted into law. I know, crazy, right?!!

Today’s Proverb, the 4th chapter, presents reasons to adhere to wisdom. A while back, I received an e-mail with a series of pictures depicting the crazy, risky, and down-right stupid things men do; like climbing a metal ladder in a flooded garage to change a light bulb. The caption was Why Women Live Longer Than Men! Oh yes, it was so true! Not a lot of wisdom there! In the Proverb, wisdom is described as a form of person using the female gender. I love that. Not just because I am female, although it is flattering 😉 , but because by using the female gender God is saying that wisdom should be treated as a Lady. A lady who is cherished, cared for, and loved. To put it in today’s terms, wisdom should become your basic soul-mate.

We are also warned to be VERY careful of the advice you receive. The only way to know wisdom is to keep His word in your heart (verse 21). The Proverb speaks of adhering to his fatherly advice. Whose advice?? I don’t believe he is talking about our earthly father, but our heavenly father. What man can give infallible advice? No one I know! Most men (and women, of course) will screw it up. The chapter reiterates any advice must be backed in truth or destruction will follow. I think we have all, at one time or another, taken or given well intentioned advice which ended up in disaster.

I wrote a piece about Job’s Three Friends highlighting the destructive force stemming from advice based on a self-centered viewpoint, along with a lack of or inaccurate and/or false information. Do you pray for wisdom? Do you pray you receive advice based on Godly wisdom? Do you pray you give advice based on Godly wisdom? Wisdom is based on truth. God’s truth. Do you seek truth?

Do you seek truth??

Have you had relationships turn sour due to someone listening to bad advice? It hurts. The kicker is, unless the person who accepted the bad advice (subsequently causing the fraction) is the one to correct the fallacious perception others received, there is nothing you can do. Just sit back and wait. In the end, God will correct all wrongs in His time. That’s better said than done if you are a justice-minded person! **Sigh**

The Proverbs contain a mountain of common sense. I’m sure there is a study out there somewhere, and I would not be surprised if the biblical Proverbs are the most quoted of all idioms. They get into your soul. Small quotes are easy to remember…and small candid quotes have the power to guide us to better lives.

Shine bright!

Shine bright!

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People Pleasers and Brownie Points

Are you a people pleaser or a people lover? Are you a God pleaser or a God lover?

I may get some flak for saying this, but people pleasers are very self-centered individuals. When you run across those who simply cannot say no to anyone, do you think to yourself, “My, what a nice person.”? Unfortunately, most do. Or, what do you think of the person who can’t stand anyone to be mad at them? Do you automatically think, “Oh, they are such peace-loving people.”? Unfortunately, again, most do.

If we cannot say no to people, we are in essence saying no to God. What if God did not want that for that person, or for us? We cannot please both man and God, can we?

In our devotions this morning, the question was posed, “Is it better to please God or to trust God?” Now, obviously, by the way it is worded, anyone can figure out the correct answer is to trust. Yet, without the comparison of trust, most people with a works-based mentality will typically fall under the belief (of which I have had thrown at me way too many times) that as Christians we are to live to please God. We need to be good little boys and girls. On the surface, it sounds good. But God cares more about our hearts than our actions.

Why do we please? Why do we behave properly? When we teach our toddler not to touch that hot stove, they will obey for fear of pain. Very rarely will you find a toddler who will leave hot appliances alone without instruction, especially boys! How many mothers can attest to the continual question, “But why??” Because I said so. 😉 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Oh, to come to the place where we long to do good out of love…not fear.

We are carnal people. We are selfish people. Do we want God to be pleased with us for our own benefit? Or for His? Do we please (or go around doing “good” to others) out of fear of reprisals?

We want our world to be soft. We want our “Brownie Points” as I used to tease my kids. We want to please others because it feels good…to us. We want to please God because we are under the impression He will love us more. We want to please God because we are under the impression we will have greater reward in heaven one day. We want to please Mommy so we can have an extra helping of ice cream on top of those brownies!

Are you following what I am saying yet? I believe it all boils down to the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:35-40 that we are to love God and Man. To Love. All the commandments are inconsequential after the command to love, for the rest will naturally fall into place.

We love because God first loved us: 1 John 4:18-20. That means we did not love first. He did. He set the example. We are to follow suit. Do we love others, even when we are not loved in return? No, that’s too hard. Sometimes, I just really want to smack people. And I guess maybe God really just wants to smack me…

No, he loves…without expecting anything in return. He loves without expecting us to please him. He just loves. We are to love (do for) others as He loved us, without expectation.

He says wait. He says yes. He says no. Although God wants good things for his children, he never tries to please us. He gives us that which is in our best interest. Giving us that which is not in our best interest is not love. Pleasing us for our happiness is not love. Giving us that which is in our best interest, even that with which we are not pleased is love.

What is our motive behind pleasing others? Do we think God doesn’t know our motives behind our wanting to please Him?

Contributing to the happiness of others in order to fluff our own happiness is not love. Contributing to the best interest of others for their sake, without expecting them to even so much as like us…is love.

What does trusting God look like? Do we trust God for our best interest? Do we really believe he loves us? If we trust in His love, we won’t expect anything in return. We will know He has our back. We will not feel the need to please Him to be accepted. We will want to be the person he created. Typically, we want to be like those we love. We want to be like Jesus.

Pleasure, pure pleasure, only comes when we fully trust in His love.

We cant do anything to make God love us less. So stop trying.

Your Daily Proverb ~ 20:14 (Inadvertent theft?)

“’It is worthless, it is worthless!’ says the buyer; but when he goes his way, then he boasts about his bargain.” ~Proverbs 20:14 

My husband hates to negotiate. Some of it is sheer personality, but mostly, negotiating is an indication that one of the parties is attempting to get something for nothing. Either the seller has inflated the price to portray something more than it is worth, or the buyer (as in the Proverb) is casting doubt on the quality in order to pay less than the actual worth. Inadvertent theft.

Does God do that with us? He could have. He had every right to cast full light on our sin and expose our worthlessness. Jesus could have called down all the Angels in heaven to keep from paying the price asked for our sins.

But he didn’t.

He paid a price we were unable to pay. He willingly sacrificed an inflated price for our worthlessness. And yet, as he walked away, arose to heaven, instead of proclaiming our worthlessness…he proclaimed nothing but love.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 

Grandma's Relics

Grandma’s Relics

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Your Daily Proverb ~ 18:17 (Did you hear the other side?)

“Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.” ~Proverbs 18:17 

~A wise one is never gullible. As the saying goes…don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see…no matter who it’s from.

When you hear a sob story, are you listening to an opinion or an account of actual events? How many relationships have been destroyed by gullible good people not verifying statements from trusted sources? We hear the hurt in their voices as they recount events that describe injustices done and we want to defend our loved ones & friends against the evil that has been inflicted on them. Why would we question their side of the issues? After all, they are our best friend, our teacher, our pastor, our mentor, our parent. Why would we question?

We question because we live in a fallible world. We are all one-sided human beings. We react and feel based on OUR own experiences. And just maybe, just maybe, they themselves do not know the other side.

We woke up to a bang outside our bedroom window a few weeks back. Big bangs are never a peaceful way to start the morning. It always means my coffee will be delayed. Not good. 😦 My husband went out to see if everyone was safe. The teenage boy who crossed the middle line on his way to school was a fairly new driver. I felt sorry and glad for him at the same time. While it’s never good to be in any accident, sometimes, especially for boys, having a non-injury accident early on teaches hard lessons in humility.

The first-hand account from the second vehicle following the youth claimed the youth was trying to pass another vehicle and he did not have enough room to return to his lane before hitting the oncoming truck, spinning both the youth’s car and the truck off into the cornfield. Of this, he was certain of what he witnessed.

The problem is…there was no vehicle in front of the youth for him to pass…in all actuality, he was reaching in the passenger’s seat for his brush. I guess he forgot to look in the mirror before leaving home. When mom arrived, taking pictures on her cell phone, he was definitely red-faced!

This is why law enforcement are trained to take all statements before writing up a report. They look at all angles before making any conclusions.

Basically…they unknowingly adhere to the **gasp** Bible… “He who states his case first seems right, until his rival comes and cross-examines him.” ~Proverbs 18:17 .

Why can’t we do that with our relationships? Do we really…really…know what it is we think we know??

Maybe…just maybe…we should at least ask??

Maybe…just maybe…that is what you would want others to do for you??

cornfield crash

IT IS FINISHED! (part 1)

I love this!! …
“Therefore, we as believers are to lay down the things that hinder. Why pick up the burden of condemnation when Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED!” Why pick up the sorrows of hopelessness when Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED!” Why pick up the guilt of past and present mistakes when Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED!” ”

Thanks Lionel!!

(Go to original site & comment!)

Lionel Sneed Ministries

20110525-032602John 19:28-30 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished (ended), said in fulfillment of the Scripture, I thirst.

29 A vessel (jar) full of sour wine (vinegar) was placed there, so they put a sponge soaked in the sour wine on [a stalk, reed of] hyssop, and held it to [His] mouth.

30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, It is finished! And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.


In this passage of scripture we see Jesus is about to die. Before Jesus takes his last breath, He proclaims in resounding victory that “IT IS FINISHED!”

Now I would imagine that those standing around the cross did not grasp the significance of Jesus’ last words. Let’s take into account that the last words you speak before you die are considered very important. The last words Jesus spoke before He died ushered in more…

View original post 781 more words

Your Daily Proverb ~ 15:17 (Better peace with veggies?)

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.”
 v15:17

Family. You’ve heard the saying, “You can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them either.” … Well, yes, I can live without them. They say blood is thicker than water…but I don’t believe that is true for humans. We are fallible beings. I do believe that is true for God’s people, who are connected through the perfect blood of Jesus…not the blood of a fallible man.

Do you remember family dinners? Are they even in existence anymore? When disharmony is the dish of the day…a TV tray is much more peaceful. Sadly, we miss out on family time. But, when the conflict, back-biting, ridiculing, and the put-down’s flow, I’d much rather sit by myself with a bowl of…dare I say…broccoli *gasp* than to sit at a full table with people who cause one to have to come up fighting just to breathe. Yep…you can keep your fattened calf.

The family God brings into my life is where the love flows…

Fattened calf...actually, this was probably a bull at one time... ;)

Fattened calf…actually, this was probably a bull at one time… 😉

 

The Vertical Proverbs…

A proverb a day. Does it really work? I believe so. Sometimes those short daily “reminders” keep us jolted into the right direction. I once read an interview with Billy Graham who said he reads a Psalm a day to improve his vertical relationships, and a Proverb a day to improve his horizontal relationships. (Vertical meaning with God, horizontal meaning with Man) I’ve found his words to be true. While simply reading the bible won’t fix all our problems (it has to be applied), it sure does give us tools to cope.

A while back, I started posting “Your Daily Proverb” on my Facebook page…which has been a humorous hit. Mostly because I find a ton of humor, along with a lot of good old fashioned common sense, in the Proverbs. Plus, I tend to see things others might miss. Today though, I posted one that is a little more on the serious side…because it hit home. (And maybe because today I am fighting the proverbial sinusitis and my head makes me just want to slap people!) Maybe I might just start a page on my blog with all my Daily Proverbs…we’ll see. I hope you find today’s pick insightful:

 

Your Daily Proverb:
“The simpleton believes every word he hears, but the prudent man looks and considers well where he is going.” v14:15
~Simpleton. Such a cool word for a simple person! I like that word. Simpleton. How many relationships do you know have been destroyed because someone believed the negative, even from a trusted source, without even verifying if the negative words spoken (your basic gossip) were even close to the truth? Simpletons have no desire to seek truth. That which is right is found in the prudent.

 

Maybe tomorrow…when the fog clears…I’ll post my normal humor…  :/

Praying Mantis in the Mums

(I’m not sure what this picture of a Praying Mantis hiding in my Mums have to do with this post…but there you go…)

 

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…Is Thanksgiving simply forgiveness??

It’s such an irritating holiday. I guess since in most gatherings, the one we want to hang with doesn’t show up, but that one person who will inevitably wreck the day will never leave…hence why Black Friday has crept into Boring Thursday.

And the root of the problem…I mean…holiday?? Forgiveness. Something which very few of us have mastered.

We hear about being thankful…and eyeballs roll when some old aunt or sappy grandma makes that proverbial request for the “wave” and round the room we go with statements of that which we are thankful for this past year. Inevitably, someone always picks my quote first, you know, trying to come up with the biggest “awe” effect, forcing me to instantly come up with something else to avoid the copy-cat syndrome. But how original can anyone be? Yep. We’re all thankful for grandma’s mincemeat pie! (She says with a sarcastic grin!) Hokey-dokey.

But, as Mary-Lou curiously questioned the Grinch, just what is the real meaning?

My prayer…

Forgive me my complacency
Release my life from apathy
To you I come on bended knee
Lord consecrate my soul to thee

Forgive the heart that aches for you
Your mercy left my soul brand new
I lift the heart you cleansed from sin
Restore to me the joy within

I cry, My God, I long for you
Your spirit come as morning dew
Lord cover me with endless grace
I find my strength in your embrace

Forgive me my complacency
Your burning fire embrace in me
In your pure love I will enjoy
Your promised hope and perfect joy

nma

Psalm 139.14

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Football or Sunrises? Hard choice…

I’m in nostalgia tonight. Weird…after last night’s “serious” post. 😉 Our sunset had some color, but not many clouds to make it spectacular.

It’s getting colder out…beach. Ahhh…the beach. It’s been way too long.

Believe it or not, I actually caught a sunrise a few weeks ago. I know, strange. The world does not turn before my second pot of coffee. But with the days getting shorter, the sun rose one day during the roasting…giving just enough time for my half opened eyes to grab my camera.

I just thought I would share…while watching Eli getting hit by Freeman. Love the great acting in his commercial. 🙂

Red sky in the morning,

     Sailors take warning…

Sunrise (1)

Sunrise (3)

Sunrise (4)

Sunrise (7)

“…to give knowledge of salvation to his people
           in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
      whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
           to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

~Luke 1:77-79

 

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Is Your Memory a Blessing…Or Curse?

Great Aunt Mildred was a cantankerous old soul, quite stern in all her mannerisms. Every family has at least one sinister relative. And yet, there was something rather comforting about my old aunt. As a child, we visited the orphanage she helped run deep in the back hills of Eastern Kentucky. And, of course, being young and trusting, I believed the stories I heard from another close relative: Aunt Mildred was terribly unpleasant. Yet, when I talked to her, I had a distinct suspicion otherwise…

Years after her death while talking to my Grandma about family history, she gave some interesting insight about the life of my Great Aunt Mildred. We talked about her years of ministry and service to the indigent deep within the Kentucky hills. Not only was she a school teacher, but also a nurse who was responsible for traveling by donkey deep in those hills to deliver 267 babies throughout her lifetime, all without the aid of a doctor. There was no child she turned away. There was no call for help left unanswered. What a wonderful heritage to leave our family!

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot.”

~Proverbs 10:7

In God’s faithfulness, he made sure the memory of my aunt became a blessing, in spite of the hearsay from one who only sought to destroy. The tables were turned! King David often asked the Lord, “How long Lord?” The Lord’s timing is not our timing, but His plan is always perfect…even if that plan does not come to fruition until long after we are gone.

Don’t fret your reputation…Rest in the Lord’s faithfulness today.

EPSON scanner image

Pictures are Memories to Remember

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Unconfessed Sin ~ My Thoughts on Forgiveness…

YES! When no one else will…the Lord gives forgiveness, grace, and mercy! He loves us!

And yet, most people do not think about an unforgiving God. He is a forgiving God, a loving God, a just God…and yes, an unforgiving God. Even though that thought should scare most people, it doesn’t. The most direct indication of times when God does not forgive is in the words of Jesus during his sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:5-15). God says we are to forgive…so that we can be forgiven. Otherwise, he will not forgive us. Why will he not forgive us if we do not forgive others? Because, God cannot look upon sin. And unforgiveness…is sin.

God is a God of reconciliation and restoration. But true relationship is built on trust. Since we live in a fallen world, with a carnal nature, no human is perfect. Our relationship with the Lord begins with a confession of our own sin. Without an admission of our faults, we cannot begin the restoration process. This is true with any relationship. Jesus said to Ask, Seek, Knock. Then we will find. (Matthew 7:7) Forgiveness works the same whether it be man or God. If I have wronged someone, or they have wronged me, without confession and repentance first, then reconciliation, and finally restoration, we will always have broken relationship.

We’ve all heard the quote to addicts that the first step to recovery is in admitting to the problem. If we do not admit to our guilt in the relationship, any relationship, we hide behind lies. For no one is without guilt. A relationship based on lies is no relationship at all. 1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Yes, it all begins with our own humility. Then and only then will the relationship be open for restoration.

Confession (or ‘fessing up to our wrongs) is that which makes us humble and gives us a pride reduction. How often do we (speaking for myself as well) hide, or justify, or blame-shift our sins? Not only is it humbling to admit when we have messed up…it’s embarrassing! We even throw the “you just can’t take anything, I was only joking” card because we have too much pride to admit our own wrong. We want to ignore and excuse our own sin by throwing it under the rug. At the same time we expect everyone else to forget our offense, forgive and go on, without repentance, as if no wrong was done. We even claim the person we hurt is unforgiving and self-centered if the pain we inflicted is not simply ignored. That, my friend, is blame-shifting and making excuses to justify our actions. I think we have all done that a time or two. Throwing the responsibility of the relationship rift onto the other person, while ignoring our own wrongs, simply negates reconciliation.

 

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forgive

/fəˈɡɪv/

verb -gives, -giving, -gave, -given

  1. to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)

Word Origin

Old English forgiefan ; see for-, give

The modern sense of “to give up desire or power to punish” is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare.

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The best way to keep in close relationship with God is to be at peace with others, even those whom I have wronged. Sometimes, that means I may have to humble myself and admit I really messed up…which seems to happen pretty often. But to keep any hard feelings or resentment out of my relationships, I need to let them know that I know I messed up…and apologize. And then, their forgiveness is their responsibility, not ours. My responsibility is to admit my wrongs, ask forgiveness, and attempt to make amends. The rest is up to them. But, remember, we have no right to be concerned with the other person’s heart until we have cleared our own first.

What if others do not forgive us? What if they always harbor resentment? Then, I still need to do my part. Their heart, their forgiveness, is their responsibility.

What if I am the one who is hurt, and the offender never admits or repents for the hurt and pain they inflicted? What if they move away or die before the relationship can be reconciled? It is essential for us to be willing and ready to forgive others to have freedom in our own hearts and to keep bitterness from creeping in. We do not negate the sin, but we continue to treat them with kindness while we wait for the Lord to open their hearts to repentance. The sin is still there, but we need to release to God our right for punishment and/or revenge. The relationship may always be broken and the trust shattered, but our hearts need to be free of vengeance and always be ready to forgive, just as we have assurance of God’s forgiveness for our own sins.

So, we must forgive to be forgiven. Don’t misunderstand, forgiveness does not negate or dismiss the sin. Sin is still sin. The other person is still responsible to God for their sin. For us to forgive means to release to God our right for punishment and/or revenge for the wrongs done to us. We free ourselves of the responsibility of judgment against another. Why must we forgive others in order to be forgiven ourselves? Because, when we hold bitterness, anger, or hatred in our hearts, we are essentially playing God. In our pride, we forget our own sin as we focus on the sins of others. When we release others of recompense and repent of our own sin, God’s forgiveness flows through our hearts and His Joy floods our souls!

If we have unforgiving hearts, we have sinful hearts. Let’s let God deal with the hearts of others. Release them and let it go. Then, when we admit to our own faults and ask God for forgiveness, He is always eager to forgive, just as a loving father forgives his child. We have but to ask. Even though God is just, he is also love. “You do not have to get cleaned up to take a bath!” He is not asking for our perfection…that’s why he sent Jesus to die for us…he is only asking for our hearts so he can pour in his love.

Repentance must go with Forgiveness

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Scriptures to ponder:

~ Psalm 32:5
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

~ Matthew 5:23-24
“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and suddenly remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late…” (He doesn’t say, “Only if your realities line up do you apologize.” He said be reconciled. Admit. Apologize.)

~ Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

~ Romans 12:9-21
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 

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**Yes, the pictures are mine! 😉

Job’s Three Friends

What kind of friend are you?

My Three Friends!

My Three Friends!

“Listen to advice and accept instruction,
that you may gain wisdom in the future.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21

I have a couple of close friends who are not afraid to tell me when I am going down the wrong path. Sometimes, I just want to smack ’em for telling me what I don’t want to hear…but I love them for speaking truth in my life. I know they are not speaking from their own selfish desires, but from God’s word. They are not speaking from conventional etiquette…they are speaking from God’s heart. (You my friends know who you are…)

The book of Job shows God’s perspective. Not everything we experience is of our own doing. Not every situation can be explained by man. Not everything we go through will even be explained by God. If you notice at the end of the story, God does not give Job a reason for his affliction. Yet, God explains to Job man is small and finite, compared to the infinite and all-knowing God. God is omnipotent and omniscient. He made the Behemoth and the Leviathan (40:15 & 41:1). God asked Job if he was present when God laid the earth’s foundation (38:4). God reminds us that everything under heaven belongs to him (41:11). Job and his three friends tried unsuccessfully to explain his plight though they did not understand anything beyond their own reasoning (42:3)…a reasoning which came from a limited world view. God says in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Therefore, unless God himself reveals wisdom, how can we assume to have insight to difficulties others are experiencing? How can we give or receive proper advice?

When Job spoke, he was in a pity-party mode. His discourse sought self-justification, to which God replied in 40:8, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Job tried to put God in his little box. How often do we blame-shift on others to explain the troubles in our lives? “Well, I wouldn’t be going through this or that if they wouldn’t have done this or that!” Even more so, how often do we blame-shift on God? We all do. Or sometimes we feel God is punishing us for some unknown sin. Generally speaking, the saying, “what goes around comes around” is true. Yes, God will bring justice. But not everything that happens in life is the result of anything we or someone else did. Jesus pointed this out in John 9:1-7 to the disciples who attributed the man’s blindness on him or his parents. Before healing the man, Jesus said “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” It was the same with Job, “So that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

“By pride comes nothing but strife,
But with the well-advised is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10

The problem with Job’s three friends is they spoke from man’s wisdom. They spoke from a works based mentality. Their assessment of the situation came from their own experience, traditions, and self-centered view. How many times do we advise someone they are required to do this or that due to church standards? How often do we give advice based on our own background or station in life, or to please others? Oh, “but it’s for the sake of the kids!” Or, “you can’t disappoint your momma!” As with the case of Job, we also are unaware of events in the heavenly realms that affect mankind (Job 1:6-7). Do we heed the advice of friends who ignore that God may have plans that go against man’s conventional wisdom? Against our traditions…no matter who it affects?

When I think of God going against man’s conventional wisdom, I am reminded of how God must have had fun giving the traditional family “Blessing” to the younger child rather than the older, a tradition which God himself set up. Jacob and Esau were the most popular siblings whose “Blessing” was reversed. So who are we to question? Is not the creator allowed to create as he sees fit? Several times in my life, I have been given advice from very well meaning Christian people that seemed right, and may have been full of love to not hurt anyone, only to find out later events were going on behind the scenes which I was unaware that put a completely different spin on the situation. Because a way seems right to us, does not mean that God does not have a better plan. Nor do we pick and choose what God speaks according to our own agenda. Either God says everything or he says nothing. When we trust the Holy Spirit to guide, even in decisions which may initially hurt some, God will always work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). When we give or receive advice which comes from self-centeredness, advice that is man-pleasing, or advice based on one-sided information, God cannot do the work in our lives that will bring about our ultimate good.

Are we never to listen to advice? No. But we sift the words from trusted friends and relatives with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, no matter how contrary God’s voice is to common traditions. We must have God as our ultimate priority…over everyone. Everyone. Even if what God tells us goes contrary to those closest to us. For Jesus said if we put anyone, even mother, father, son, or daughter above all else, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:32-39). We need to consider the source. From what viewpoint is the advice coming from? The one person who gave acceptable advice was Elihu. He is not mentioned as one of Job’s friends…or as a relative. Elihu is not deemed as one to be heeded due to his age. He is young. Yet, 32:8 says, “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives understanding.” God’s spirit; not age, not having a PHD behind your name, not worldly learning, or learning from theological seminaries, not even eloquence; but it is God’s Holy Spirit which gives wisdom and understanding. When we seek or give advice, do we seek through prayer for wisdom through God’s spirit, or do we seek advice through our friends/relatives wisdom?

What is amazing about Job’s whole story is the statement Elihu made in Job 34:21, “His eyes are on the ways of men, he sees their every step.” God is shown to be more majestic than we can comprehend, yet he loves us enough to know our every step. At the end of the book, God restores. Love only wants that which is in our best interest, not their interest, even though we may go through times of great pain. The horrible affliction Job experienced was not only for his own good, but for ours as well. To learn lessons of God’s majesty, loyalty, love. In the end, Job was restored twice over for that which was forfeited.

That’s love.

 

we_is_friends

Hell…a place.

Hell.  Fire man

A foul word.

A very real place.

Can you smell it?

Can you feel it?

Life is a vapor.

Yes, there is always life: Eternal life. We simply walk through the door to the other side. Do we choose the red pill or the blue pill? We will live on. The quote, “Once you’re dead, you’re dead.” only applies to our chance at life. Death is final. Physical death is very final. Yet we live on. Our spirit will endure…Forever…But where? The one tested, tried, and true theory is a place called Heaven, conversing with our Creator on streets of gold. But most ignore the inverse. The same entity which foretold Heaven…foretold the fires of Hell: A torrid place: A very real place: A place for all liars: The root of bad drama. Have you lied to the Creator? He knows your heart. He knows the evil we spew. Yet, He still loves us. He loves us so much that He poured out grace. We will never be able to overcome the consequences of our sin nature…so He died in our place. He paid our debt. And yet, He is patient. He lets us dwell in the midst of our evil, giving us chance after chance to choose…to choose life or death. To choose between truth…or lies. Heaven or Hell. A very real place. Can you smell it? Can you feel it? Life is a vapor…

Fire mishap

Choose…

Woman at the Well

Is it a lack of faith to “bug” God?

Big question of the day: Do we bug him or sit and wait? Isn’t he all knowing? But what if he is busy?

In reading the parable of the persistent widow, it would seem that Jesus was saying we need to be persistent, bugging God continually with our requests. In his scenario, the unjust Judge grants her request because he is bothered by her constant badgering. The point of his parable though is to let us know that God will do even more for his children than an unjust Judge.

So where is faith? Wouldn’t it seem that bugging God is showing a lack of faith on our part, like he won’t or can’t take care of us? No, the faith is to where we take our requests. God wants us to rely on Him, not because he is co-dependent or controlling, but because we cannot follow two masters. We humans are so easily led down the fun path…to destruction. So by clinging on God’s shirttail, we cling to safety. By continually seeking Him for our needs, through prayer, we are totally focused on His will and not our own desires.

But we must have faith…faith in His ability…faith in His will. Trust.

Faith & Trust.

God works for the good of those that love Him.

Why? Because we are His children.

 

“Even though my mother or father rejected me, the Lord will accept me and adopt me as his own.” ~Psalm 27:10 (MSB)

Romans 8.28

The Parable of the Persistent Widow~ Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

What is unconditional??

Someone once told me that because I did not trust him that I did not possess unconditional love.

Another once told me that because I did not ignore the wrongs they inflicted on me that I had an unforgiving heart.

Both said I was not biblical. Yet, could they back up their position on actual scripture??

Just what are “biblical” love, trust, and forgiveness? Does anyone really know for sure? Depending on the situation, I’ve had some of the most asinine excuses. Some were quite laughable. Unfortunately, even seasoned Christians sometimes use these guilt tactics to further their own cause. I think we are all guilty at times.

Ask yourself a few quick questions and check to see in what context they are using scripture in their accusations: Do they pull out the words that would enhance their point of view while ignoring the full context? Are they pulling the “Love” card to shift the topic? Do they pull the “forgiveness” card because there is something they do not want to admit?

So, let’s refer back to the bible… Yes, Jesus said to turn the other cheek. He also said to brush the dust off your feet and leave town if they do not believe truth. Jesus said to go the extra mile and give until it hurts. But he also overturned the money-changers in the temple…very angrily I might add. (Luke 6:29-31 & Matt 10:14 & John 2:13-17) So which is it? Are we to be doormats or angry at sin?

I know it all sounds contradictory…hypocritical…two-faced. But really, it’s not. It’s both. You see, there is great strength in Love. There are boundaries in forgiveness. And God in his awesomeness gives us the Holy Spirit…for some good ole fashioned common sense!!

I am reminded of what is called “The Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13. The middle of the chapter gives the definition of Love:

Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Do you see that? The two highlighted lines? Most of the description is about simply being “nice”, a character trait which I agree most in our society has totally forgotten. But the two highlighted lines are simply ignored by people with an agenda. Love puts others best interests above themselves. That also means we sometimes need to say things that make us very unpopular, an act that is almost impossible for non-confrontational people. Love will not ignore, excuse, or gloss over truth in the name of grace. Love is grace in truth.

And trust? Trust and love are not synonymous. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men.” Doesn’t sound too trusting to me! And then God says in Jeremiah 17:5 “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength.” Wow! So much for trust! Oh, but then, He goes on to say, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord.” So, there you go. We do trust. But we are to be selective as to where we put that trust. Why? So we are not led astray into the abyss of someone else’s control. Because…that’s not love. We trust men…only when they are saturated in God’s truth…in God’s Love. In essence, we are trusting God through men.

And yes, we all need to forgive, but Love will not accuse another of unforgiveness to cover up their own sin. A wrong against another is still wrong. Forgiveness frees up the anger in our own soul. Forgiveness does not negate the wrong, forgiveness negates revenge. God will take care of judgment. When we hold unforgiveness, we are in essence playing God. But we are never to gloss over sin in the name of forgiveness. God will still hold them accountable, we only need to be concerned with our own hearts.

How do we see love? Watch their actions. Do they serve others? Do they expect anything in return? Do they expect credit for their deeds? Are they critical of others? Are they kind? Do they stand for the truth…no matter who gets upset? Do they defend the “little” guy? Do they always give second chances (without negating the wrongs)? We always knew Aunt Bee (The Andy Griffith Show) loved everyone, why? Because she was always doing for others….but without expecting anything in return. Because she wanted to, not because she felt forced. We could see her heart. And yet, God does not even care about the actions…he cares about the heart.

Love does not promote itself, but will stand firm. Love is unselfish. Love is strength in truth.

Renee in Grapevine Tunnel at Pebble Hill Plantation Nov 2007

From Dumb & Dumber to Loved & Lovely

We watched the 90’s flick…

 Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber

last night. It’s one of those movies…well, let’s just say the name fits. It’s so dumb it’s hilarious!

In the last scene, the two friends are walking aimlessly along a sparse highway when stops a tour bus full of bikini beauty contestants. The boys are “dumb-founded” by their beauty. The girls sheepishly say they are looking for a couple of good looking guys to accompany them across the country simply to oil all the girls before each pageant. Every boy’s dream, right?! But, true to the name of the movie, they are ever so grateful to help the girls by directing them to the next town instead of hopping on the bus. So the dumb-founded girls hop back on the bus and head off into the sunset. The movie ends with Lloyd and Harry talking about how two guys in the next town will be very lucky fellows!

Missed opportunities. Misunderstood opportunities. How often do we overlook opportunities because we have such a low self-value we couldn’t possibly believe anything that good could be right for us?

Psalm 139 says we are wonderfully made, that God was there when we were woven together in the secret places, and He knew everything about us before we were born. And he still loves us. How awesome is that? Psalm 27:10 says he has adopted us as his own. Romans 8:38-39 says absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Jeremiah 29:11 says he has wonderful plans for our lives. Jesus says in John 10:10 he came to give us life…life to the full!

So, why is it so easy to believe the lie that we are just not worth it? Satan is the father of all lies. And we believed him. We believed we were worthless in God’s eyes. We believed we would never measure up to His “rules”. Those rules that show us just how utterly sinful we really are. For God looks at the heart (Psalm 51). That little white lie we told is still a lie. No matter how good we are in the world’s eyes, we are still little heathens in God’s law. So we deserve nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why try for that promotion at work? Our co-worker has a better chance. Why try to befriend anyone or fix that broken relationship? They won’t like us anyway. Why would we see anything good come our way? We believe the lie…

But then…there’s this thing called grace.

That five letter word. Grace. God’s grace. Jesus. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. We were given mercy. Another five letter word. Mercy. He gently restores us, washing us clean. We are worthy! But…we know. We know the scriptures. We understand the power of sin was busted when Jesus died for us…and rose. We know.

But do we believe? Truly believe?

Did we let His love sink into the depths of our hearts?

We will never be perfect. We will let others down. And others will let us down. Others will believe lies about us, and spread lies. We will hurt for the sin in the world which we live. We are still human. But our mistakes do not define us in God’s eyes. Philippians 3:12-13 says we are not perfect, but we press on. We are not there yet, but we forget (let go of) what is behind…and look ahead.

So we screwed up. So…repent. Admit. Let go of our pride. Repent. Why?

Because God forgives. God redeems. God restores.

Though the world may never accept us…God already did. Our condemnation has been eradicated. Satan spread the lies. Jesus brought the truth. Through repentance and forgiveness, we are His. But, we also need to forgive. Matthew 6:14-15 says God forgives as we forgive. OK…we want to go to heaven…so we forgive those who offended, hurt, and even destroyed us. Though there may be consequences to our sins, God will give us the grace needed to build a new life. Forgiveness from us is a releasing of our right for payment for the offense to God. We release the offender. God will vindicate. Hate is poison. Release them to God in forgiveness. But is that enough?

I must forgive me.

Forgive myself? But isn’t that arrogant? No. Any time we withhold forgiveness, we are playing God. Holding grudges is control. Not accepting God’s forgiveness for our repentant sins only leads to self-destruction. We must not only ask forgiveness, we must accept, and give forgiveness, even for ourselves. Only then will the power of love wash us through and through. Clean.

And we are worth it. God’s love says we are worth it.

And all those scriptures? All those opportunities? Yes…they are for me…they are for you!

Psalm 139

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

 004a

Understanding Life’s Navigation

Have you ever downloaded a new computer program that was not user-friendly without an instruction booklet? We spend countless hours surfing and clicking in an attempt to master the unreachable. After screaming in frustration, we search for an instructor to show us how to comprehend and navigate before we can benefit from the program. Finally, with no instruction book, and no instructor, in frustration we succumb to defeat and toss the whole computer out the window.

God’s Word and Christianity are much the same. How many times do we fervently read scripture only for the words to fall flat? How many times do we come upon a situation which seems unreasonable?

Morning Work

We need the Holy Spirit to help the Word come alive, not only in our hearts, but also in our minds. In Acts 28:26-27, Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused…” Opening our hearts to God’s Holy Spirit will soften the callouses of our lives and enable us to understand the deep meanings within the scriptures. Seeking mentors who are grounded in the Word will help us navigate through the Word to apply it to our lives.

Taking the occasional inventory will help keep us moving forward:

1)      Do we pray before/during/after reading scripture?
2)      Does our close circle of friends/relatives pull us to God or away from God?
3)      Does our local church (pastor, elders, and teachers) point us first to God’s precepts (His Word) or to their own theology?

Before we throw out the computer, disregard the bible, or throw away our lives; seek His guidance for understanding life’s navigation. Asking the Lord beforehand may save us tremendously in the end!

Isaiah 55:8-13

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty
,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace
;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

 

You want to wash MY feet??

I am one who despises religion…I’m more into relationship. I go to church…for relationship. Not the traditional rituals. The bible is clear the traditions held by mankind holds no meaning in God’s eyes. The apostle Paul describes it best in Galatians 3. Rituals, traditions, religions do not save the soul. Yet, we still have them. We still go. To. Church. Maundy Thursday seems to be the new rage these days. Our church held their first Maundy Thursday service this year. Normally, I am not one to get hyped up about these kinds of services. They seem so very…ritualistic.

Jesus taught in parables. He taught by example. Kids learn more by observing their parents than from any textbook. Traditions, festivals, religious holidays, etc. do serve a purpose. They “show” us the event. But save us? No. So then, why do we bother?

I was ever so glad when I was asked to run the media during the Thursday service. Work is always the perfect excuse to avoid participation. I could hide behind the sound booth where no one notices. My husband was asked at the last minute to participate in the live depiction of the Last Supper. So we were both busy. All settled. Foot washing ritual avoided!

During the service I hit play on a couple of videos which showed Ray Vander Laan explaining in detail the purposes behind each ritualistic position. Why they leaned on their right…or was it left…arm. Why they wanted to sit in such and such place at the table. Why Jesus dipped in the bowl of bitter herbs…with Judas. That part of the service, I love. The why’s. We read and hear things about Christianity that makes no absolute sense in today’s world. We have dishwashers and stoves. We drive cars and fly in planes. Why does it matter which arm they sat on? We sit at the table…they…the dirt floor.

Jesus, in his loving and patient way, lived what he spoke. He said serve. So, He Served. He was the leader. The King of the pack. The President. We are to serve those above. Yet, Jesus grabbed the title of the servant…the seat on the other side of the table…and took up the rag. He washed their feet. The King…washed their feet!

wash20feet

So, yeah…we have this “Foot Washing” in the middle of the service. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I love a good foot massage! I am not above having my feet washed…hey go for the whole deal…I’ll even provide the lotions! And for me to wash others…fiddle-sticks, I’ve wiped plenty of babies’ butts! No, the mechanics of the act have no effect on me.

It’s the ritual. The meaning. Lost in today’s world.

A low voice circles around the sound booth door…can I wash your feet?

If there is one person in the whole church who deserves a spa pampering day…it’s the momma of a pre-teen and a very special boy! I believe the parents are just as, if not more, special as the child. Life never quits. She drops in bed exhausted every night. Yet, full of love. Her house is the host of many a gathering…even in the midst of their own chaos. Always working. Always caring. Always giving. And she wanted to wash my feet.

wheelchair

No way…I should be washing hers!

 

Then Peter’s words popped out. And Jesus replied. And the least shall be first…and the first shall be least. So we wash. And be washed. Washed with the Spirit. The spirit of fellowship. The spirit of Love.

 

Ritual? Yes…to show…to remind us to feel…to love.

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*I don’t own the rights to the original wash bowl & wheel chair images, and I’m not making any money on them.

Hurt People…Hurt People

When I started this blog, I had in my mind a progression of blogs that would tell a story. But, alas, life hit and my path took a few forks.

In my first two posts I wrote about the ugliness of divorce and the effect it has on families, and on our society. While the subject can be quite depressing, my intent, if not successful, was to convey God’s redemption and restoration. I know first-hand we can have a great life after divorce. I know a lot of people who live in a much healthier state of mind, emotions, and well-being after healing from divorce. But what is not expressed, especially by main-stream society, is the baggage that will be carried for life, even for those who carry the least amount of fault. I say least, because in divorce, no one is without fault. No one.

Our society has been living on no absolutes for about thirty years now. We are so lost in our own self-preservation we forget how to truly love…unconditionally. For the most part, our society does not understand the concept of love. Love is unselfish. Yet, we love for ourselves. Then we hurt.

The cosmic question of the day: Why do people hurt people? I believe research concludes that people hurt others because they were also hurt by others. Hurt people hurt people. In any relationship, if we understand the root cause of an attitude or conflict, the conflict will become inconsequential. At the root of any conflict lies a sin of some sort, usually pride, or lust. Spoiled people hurt people. “Life is all about me.” These days, people are easily offended, even in words not directed at them. Society loves to play the victim. Society loves to lash out. We are a society of extremes. People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people.

So how do we get past that which has hurt us? How do we tumble out of the rain into the sunshine? Whether your pain is from childhood trauma, physical impairments, death of a loved one, abortion, financial problems, bad relationships, or divorce, etc., you can find healing through forgiveness. I would venture to say only through forgiveness. The famous quote by Gandhi, “Nobody can hurt me without my permission” is intended to shift perspective and give control to ourselves rather than those around us. Gandhi used the quote when he practiced civil disobedience to stay strong against his attackers. While on the outside this quote seems to be the answer to all our pain, the reality is we can only rely on our own will to take care of us physically, but the soul will remain empty. Psalm 32:3 says “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Only when we get to the root of our problem, internal forgiveness, will we be able to walk in true freedom. I know more than anyone the faith it takes to give up control of the pain from wrongs inflicted and let the Lord deal with the injustice. Our nature leans to vengeance. We need justification. But, are our sins any less? Did Jesus not die for us too? God has proven over and over that His vengeance is always just. And sometimes God has a way of “payback” that leaves us shaking our heads knowing only God could pull that off!

And what about those supposed “Christians” or even our “family” who turn on us? Joseph is the perfect example of a man so very hurt by his brothers, friends, and co-workers, yet who refused to seek his own desire for justification. He let God handle every situation. In Genesis 50:19-20 (ESV), he said, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” By releasing his hurt to the Lord’s recompense, he was instrumental in saving two whole nations! Out of jealousy, David was hunted by King Saul. In 1 Samuel 26:10-11 (ESV) David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?”  And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish.” And God did just that. Saul perished…and David was held faultless. Will we be faultless if we seek our own revenge?

Let it go. Love as the Lord loves. Live in freedom.

 

“Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone
and there is none remaining, bond or free.”
~Deuteronomy 32:34-36 (ESV)

 

Let it go

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 
~Romans 12:18-20 (ESV)

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Presumption & Assumption

The sin of presumption. Most of us don’t even consider whether we have a presumptuous attitude. As the root of most sin is pride, a presumptuous person cannot see his own arrogance in the mirror. They travel through life on a bumpy road because they are more interested in their own opinion than to listen to others. They do things without asking permission because they know better; even the little things like reaching into a candy dish on a co-worker’s desk, or eating someone’s leftovers in the fridge because we think they are free-for-all. They are the typical “know-it-all’s” that walk in the beat of their own drum.

You know the type…but is that you? Is that me?

  • What is the desire of my heart?
  • Am I more interested in correcting people than listening?
  • Do I desire the good of others, or my own opinion?
  • How is my heart toward those in authority?
  • Is my first thought one of disrespect and rebellion, or of honor and obedience, even when I disagree?

Love this: “those who walk after the flesh and indulge in the lust of polluting passion and scorn and despise authority. Presumptuous and daring self-willed and self-loving creatures! They scoff at and revile dignitaries (glorious ones) without trembling, whereas even angels, though superior in might and power, do not bring a defaming charge against them before the Lord.” ~ 2 Peter 2:10-11

Presumption & assumption…evils that destroy relationships. Most of us are occasionally guilty of drawing wrong conclusions. Or we often listen to the half-truths of others and form a wrong opinion of an innocent person. How often do we interrupt others because, of course, our opinion is always much better? “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned…” (v4) Why would we expect any less for us? If we are cultivating a life of humility, there is no room for presumption. I pray for wisdom to know when I need to humble myself and contemplate selflessness before becoming guilty of the sin of presumptuous pride, the deadliest of the seven sins.

Do you assume the eye is of a Stallion??

Do you assume the eye is of a Stallion??

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Refined Restoration

 “Remove the dross from the silver,
        and out comes material for the silversmith…” ~Proverbs 25:4

I love the analogy of the Refiner! It took me most of my life, a lot of heartache, and a ton of prayers to begin to see myself the way the Lord sees me. I, like most in this fallen world, grew up with the wrong thinking of what makes a person acceptable. There has been so much talk the past couple of decades about the “blame it on my childhood” syndrome that it’s become a crutch and excuse for everything wrong today. Blame-shifting does not heal. I believe while it is very true your past experiences can determine your outlook today (and need to be dealt with); your past experiences do not dictate who you are in Christ. You are responsible for you…and your worth is based on God’s opinion, not man’s opinion.

“You are our Father.
           We are the clay,
 you are the Potter;
      we are the work of your hand.” ~Isaiah 64:8

When I stopped trying to live up to the world’s (family, church, friends) unattainable standards, and focused only on the things the Lord said about me (born again, new creatureaccepted and restored), only then did I have the peace, security, and comfort only the Lord gives. A refiner will heat the gold or silver to a temperature so hot that all the impurities (past hurts, bitterness selfishness, envy, etc.) are burned away. The refiner only starts the cooling process when he is able to see His own reflection (forgiveness, peace, joy, etc.) in the liquid. You see, when the Lord refines us, he not only burns out the dirt in our life, he also changes our molecules, our core, and our thinking process. When we have been refined, we begin to see ourselves as the Lord does; beautiful, pure, and worthy of the sacrifice He gave long before we were born. I guess it takes being “refined” before we can fully appreciate just how much the Lord really does love us…and we can finally freely love.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~James 1:2-4

Refiner's Restoration

 

 

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False Assumptions

On our Indiana farm, when the snow falls, the fields are but a blanket of white covering the ground. It is absolutely beautiful, and of course I am continually snapping pictures. Our farm is always full of photographic moments.

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However, on the coldest night of the season last year, Elsie, one of our dairy cows, went into labor. The calf was breech so the next night, my husband called the Vet to assist with the birth. Unfortunately, by that time, the calf had died, bloated inside, and Elsie was fading fast. After working on her for a while, the Vet finally said there was no hope, she was not going to make it. He turned to my husband and chastised him for not calling earlier that morning. The Vet let him know just how horrible his farming abilities were. How could any farmer neglect a cow, resulting in the death of both cow and calf? The farmer did not respond. Being a city girl, I could not respond either. This was the first time I had ever witnessed something so ugly, and I was trying to process the magnitude of what just happened. The vet left disgusted.

If only he had known the events of the previous 24 hours…

???????????????????????????????

The snow had been falling all day, and by evening it was pretty much a white-out. Here in this Indiana farm, the wind blows like an Oklahoma prairie. My poor husband was outside in sub-zero temperatures trying to make sure the animals were fed and gathered in protected areas. He noticed Elsie was starting to calve, and proceeded to corral her into the barn where she could give birth in a calmer, more protected environment. She must have been frightened by the fierce snow storm and turned toward the pasture at full speed. He ran after her but the snow was falling so thick it completely covered her trail. He came back for a flashlight and headed out again. As the temperature was already below zero, he was eventually forced to come inside to keep his feet and hands from frost-bite.  If he would have been gone much longer, I would have gone out after him and in the white-out we both might have frozen to death while looking for each other, along with the cow. Early the next morning, he took Salty, the herd dog, and headed out to the fields to find and bring in Elsie. But, she was nowhere to be found. The ground was covered with at least twelve inches of fresh snow, and even Salty was unable to pick up any tracks or scent of the cow. The temperature was so low it was too dangerous for the dog to be out long. My farmer brought the herd in to milk, and then went out to look for Elsie again. Finally, she wandered up to the back of the barn about dusk and he was able to lead her into the barn where he had made a bed for her with hay bales and immediately called the vet. The tracks she left led back to the woods. No farmer ever would have found her in the white-out the night before.

I think you can see by now the point to this little story. How often do we jump to conclusions and pass judgment based on partial information? The vet based his opinion of the farmer on what he saw…not knowing anything about the previous night. Nor did he ask. How would his opinion change if he had been here the night before with my husband outside freezing in the sub-zero snowfall? Instead of leaving in a heap of disgust, he would be crying with the farmer and giving him a hero’s pat on the back for trying so hard to save the cow and calf. What a difference the other side of the story makes in our conclusions. There is always more than one side to every story. How different might we see things when we dig deeper. The sin of assumption…

How many lives have been destroyed from gossip based on the word of one who only knows in part? How often have false accusations based on judgments derived from partial information led to destroyed relationships? How hard is trust to regain? I believe we have all come across those who decided to dislike us based on the biased words of another.

Forgiveness. Wisdom. Prayer. The knowing that the only one to whom we are responsible knows all. The Lord knows the other side of the story. He gives comfort to hurting hearts. The 27th Psalm of David says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” In other words, though every person turns against us, usually based on misleading information, the Lord knows the heart, and will, as Isaiah 54 puts it, “refute every tongue that accuses us.” He will hold us in the palm of His hand and dry every tear. The knowledge of God’s amazing love gives us the power to forgive those offenses and be aware of misleading situations so as to not offend others ourselves. No matter what floats about in the thoughts of others, we can rest in the comforting arms of the Lord, for He is where truth abides.

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