Archive | August 2016

Root rot

Proverbs 4:20-27 – “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

My job, now, is in home health. That means that I get to go out into the community and meet all kinds of interesting people. 

One of my patients was a citrus farmer. He was telling me about a disease that sometimes hits orange groves. It starts at the roots. By the time you take note of the disease, the tree is a goner. The first indication of a problem is that the top of the tree begins to die. And that happens 2 years after the tree is infected! Two years!

Problems are everywhere and in everyone’s life. It is how we identify and address the problems that is important. You can’t let something sit and fester for a while before you tend to it. No, when a problem arises, you have to hit it head on. Putting it off will only cause things to get worse and worse. 

Some people frown at disciplining a small child. “They are little. They don’t know any better.” Exactly. That’s why we need to teach them when they are young!

Some people will notice something odd in a relationship and just sweep it under the rug. They don’t address the abnormality until it becomes normal and a problem. That’s when relationships fall apart – friends and marriages. 

Someone will detect a slight change in their body and brush it off because they are too busy. And before you know it, you have a full blown medical incident on your hands that could have been avoided if you had just paid attention. 

Big problems rarely begin as an explosion. Usually, there are little rumbles here and there that get overlooked or pushed aside. We are too busy to address them. 

Solomon warned his son in these verses against this very thing. He instructed him that he had to keep the Word of God with him always. He needed to keep it in the front of his thoughts always to guard his heart against problems that will surely come. 

Things are going to be happening all around us. Temptations will be at every turn. Problems will arise. Evil will try to pull us away from what we know is right. But we need to keep our eyes fixed. We can’t let root rot happen.

Satan wants to get in at the root and destroy us from the bottom up. If he can get us away from God, he can win. It starts with neglecting your Bible. And then church becomes an option. And then activities at church just happen on the wrong days. And before you know it, root rot. The top of your tree gets brown and things begin to taste bitter. 

Guard your heart, my friend.  Allow the Holy  Spirit to reside in your heart to hold you close to the One who can carry you through it all. Don’t let root rot take ahold of you. 

Make some noise, cheerleader

Acts 18:9-10 – “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”

I find comfort in knowing that Bible “greats”, such as Paul, got a little scared sometimes about spreading the Gospel. I don’t think that we truly appreciate the danger these guys would sometimes find themselves in. There are missionaries around the world that put their life on the line each and every day to tell someone about Jesus Christ. And I get nervous talking to someone at the gas pump. Not my best moment. 

Yet, here we find Jesus speaking to Paul in a vision saying, “Be not afraid”. Paul was afraid. He was afraid of rejection. But this rejection from the ones he was telling could very well lead to the end of his life. My fear of rejection is just that – rejection. Chances are that no one is going to kill me because I tell them about Jesus at the grocery store. I don’t like to think that people are mad at me, even if I don’t know them. I like to be liked. But I don’t like to be afraid. 

Moses wanted us to learn to number our days (Psalm 90:12). In that learning, we understand that we really don’t have that much time. And for someone like me who is a stickler for time management, I do a pretty crummy job when it comes to managing my spiritual time for the Lord and telling others about Him. I am the BIGGEST procrastinator EVER in regards to that! And I hate that. And it’s due mostly to fear. I need to “Be not afraid”.

I’m not a shy person. I can talk to pretty much anyone about anything when it comes to my work. For lands sake, I go in on a first meeting and ask that person about their ability to go to the bathroom by themself. And yet I can’t talk to someone about Jesus. 

I have this Light inside of me that needs to be let out. I need to plug in and let it go! 

My daughter is a cheerleader. It is her job at football games to encourage the crowd to encourage the team. She is the one down by the field shouting and waving and jumping around trying to get the crowd’s attention and the football players motivated to score a touchdown. She can’t do it for them, but she can encourage everyone else, and them, to make some noise and get the job done. 

That’s what we need to do. That’s what God was telling Paul to do here. We need to make some noise. We can’t save the people. But we can encourage them to seek out the One who can. And we need to encourage the crowd. We need to reach out to those around us and encourage them to share with others. We need to make some noise. We have to get over being afraid. 

Being a cheerleader requires a lack of fear. You can’t be afraid of what others think about your cheering. You can’t be afraid to complete some of the stunts they do to get everyone’s attention. You can’t be afraid to do the cheer wrong. You can’t be afraid to make some noise. 

Now, I’m not saying we should all grab some pompoms and go down the nearest corner and cheer for Jesus. No, that might  be a bit weird, but we can apply the same principles to our life. 

Don’t be afraid of what others may think. Chances are your life isn’t in danger. Don’t be afraid to do what God asks you to do. He will give you what you need. Don’t be afraid about doing it wrong. God’s word never returns void. Don’t be afraid to make some noise. God is ready to stir things up – He just needs us to be the spoon. 

Stuff

Luke 12:15 – “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

We all like our stuff. We have so much, yet we want more. We work all day for stuff. We save and scrounge just so that we can have a certain kind of stuff. We want our stuff to look nice. We want our stuff to be new. We want our stuff to be full and ready at a moments notice.  We like our stuff. 

But this verse warns us about “stuff”. Stuff can overtake our thoughts and desires. Stuff can actually become a god to us. We look after it and focus on it more than we do our Heavenly Father. That’s where the problem comes in. 

Anything we put before God is an idol. We have idols in our family, in our job, in our stuff – oh yeah, it’s there! Our love of stuff is the part of the problem. Our desire to have more goes right along with it. 

You see, stuff, in and of itself, is not bad. Stuff can sometimes be good. But it is our attitude toward it that is important. 

“I just need to work during a few church services and then I can pay off that new thing I got.” “That movie kept me up so late, I’m just too tired to get up and read my Bible this morning.” Sound familiar? 

I’m just as guilty as the next person about putting other stuff in front of God. It’s a challenge. I know. 

Our greatest possession should not be something we have worked for – it should be our relationship with Jesus Christ. “Stuff” will not get you to Heaven. Only Jesus Christ can do that. He’s the One you need to get to know better. He is the One we need to invest our time in. He’s the One we need to make a priority in our life. 

So as you enjoy all your stuff this weekend, make sure that your attitude toward them is correct. You could wake up one morning and it could all be gone. But you will never wake up and find Jesus gone once you have accepted Him as your Savior. That’s a possession you will never lose. That’s the “stuff” life is made of!

Looking at the other side

Genesis 22:1-3 – “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”

So today, I want to look at who is not in these verses – Sarah. 

Sarah was a beautiful woman but she could be a handful at times, especially when it came to Isaac. She was a momma bear when it came to him. But she was beautiful and Abraham loved her dearly. 

Let me just set up for you something that has been going on in my head in regards to this portion of history – Abraham has told Sarah that he and Isaac have to go make a sacrifice to God. They are going to go to the place He tells them to go to complete the sacrifice. Now, to some that would be strange, but to Sarah, well, she has heard that before and it all turned out okay. So Isaac and Abraham take off for a journey. The shepherds are whispering around two days after they leave. Sarah notices this. She asks them what they are being so secretive about – they tell her Abraham and Isaac did not take a lamb for the sacrifice. 

Now, think for a minute about all the scenarios that are going through your head right now. How would you feel? Would you think that your husband has just ran off with your son? I mean, he did just get rid of Ishmael and his mother. But when he left, he left behind many items that if he had been leaving for good, he would have taken.  No, he only took the things they would need for a sacrifice. And Abraham is not easily swayed to run after pagan gods. So, what would he sacrifice? He was looking at Isaac in a strange way….no, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Would he?

It took three days for Abraham and Isaac to get where they were going. So it stands to reason that it would take that long to get back home. Six days – it was at least that long that Sarah waited without knowing if her son was still alive or not. Can you imagine what was going through her head? Can you imagine how she prayed and begged and pleaded to God? She had waited her whole, long life for that child. 

What I want to think about here is trust. Sarah trusted Abraham with her son. Abraham trusted that God would provide and fulfill His promise to him. Sarah learned that she had to trust God as well. 

There are so many times in our life that we have no clue what’s going on. Things are as clear as mud. These are the times that God uses to teach us to trust Him. Trusting means that you don’t need to know all the details or be privy to what all is going on – you just know that somehow, someway it will all happen and  work out. 

And that’s ok. You don’t need to know everything, you just need to trust the One that has everything under control. 

Keep going

2 Timothy 3:14,15 – “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior the summer before my fourth grade year. So, basically, I don’t remember life without Christ. I have gone to church my whole life. I have attended Sunday school since before I was born. Jesus has always been a part of my life. 

And for all that time, I have learned and heard that Jesus is coming back soon. “It can’t be too much longer with the way things are going!” 

I have met people who scoff at my belief that He will return soon. Most people don’t know what to say when I say, “I hope the Lord comes back before my children have to face that!” I’m not sure if it scares them or they are just avoiding the conversation, but it seems that whomever I am speaking with quickly changes the course of the conversation. 

I have been taught to love others in all things. I have been taught to speak the truth at all costs. I have been taught to fear God and keep His commandments. I have been taught to respect others and respect myself. I have been taught that it is okay to be different when the world calls you a Jesus freak. 

But there have been times in my life that I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to be like my friends. I wanted to go to the parties. I wanted to have all the cool things everyone else had. I wanted to know what it was like to be the first to know what had gone on the night before because I was there. 

Those times are gone. 

Now, I just want my children to see their mom serving and loving God. I want others to see something different in my actions and in my words. I want to have a light in my eyes that is genuine. 

In order to accomplish all of this, I have to keep going in the way that I was taught. I have had Sunday school teachers and family and pastors and loved ones who have impacted my life in ways that they may never know. I have been encouraged by them, instructed by them, disciplined by them and most importantly, loved by them. They tell me to keep going. 

And now, I tell you – keep going. No matter the length of your testimony, keep going. When life is laying down on you like a dump truck emptying it’s contents, keep going. When you are soaring on the mountain top, keep going. When you are so confused that you don’t know if you are scratching your watch or winding your behind, keep going. 

There is a purpose in all of this. Jesus doesn’t just set us down here and say, “Go at it!”  No, He has a purpose and plan in each and every action and thought. Just keep going. 

Proclaiming on purposeĀ 

Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

It has been revival week this week. And man, have we been challenged! 

In my heart and mind, our speaker has been really focusing on sharing the Gospel with others. God is really wanting to get that ball rolling. 

I fail at this. I try to live my life so that others will see Him. I read my Bible trying to listen to what He says. I pray and talk to Him about so many things. But I don’t share Him with others like I’m supposed to. And I’ve touched on this before – it is because of fear. I know that if I would just share Him one time, the next time would be easier. It’s just taking that first step. 

I don’t know what I’m afraid of – God said that His word would not return void. He can use all of my bumbling and fear and turn it into something marvelous if I would just take the first step. 

Look at moving day – you plan for it, you prepare for it, you psyche yourself up for it and then you have to do it. There is no choice when the van arrives – you have to do it. 

Sometimes I wish sharing the Gospel was like that – when the opportunity arises, you just have to do it, there’s no way to get out of it. But it’s not. You have to chose to proclaim Him. You have to do it on purpose. 

We have been encouraged this week to talk to the person at the gas pump about Jesus. Holy man! That scares me like nothing else! There can be some creepy people at the gas pump. And we hear all about weirdos that say and do things that are questionable. Want more excuses? I have a bucket full of them. But being “creepy” and a “weirdo” is my perception of them. God sees someone who needs Him. And God sees me needing to be obedient. 

Like everything else, it is a choice. It is a choice to be obedient. It is a choice to take that first scary step. It is a choice to proclaim on purpose. It is a choice to see others like Jesus sees them. 

Proclaiming on purpose. It is a challenge we all need to accept in our life. This world has loads of people needing to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. They are hurting and scared and needing Someone to hold onto. They need Jesus. They need me to proclaim Him on purpose. 

Praying on purposeĀ 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.”

Short verse. You’re welcome. 

So very much can be said of this short little verse. It truly speaks volumes. 

Do you pray without ceasing? Are you in constant and continual communication with the Creator of the universe? Do you have His ear in all manners?

If you’re like me, probably not. Sometimes I just go and that’s usually the time I get myself in trouble. Sometimes I think that the issue is too small – “God doesn’t have time for that. I can do it myself. Just this one time.” And before I know it, I’m plugging away, doing my own thing and stepping farther and farther away from Him. 

Pray without ceasing.

So how does this go along with doing things on purpose? To be in constant pray requires purpose. You have to decide you are going to do it and then it takes a massive amount of effort to carry through. Just try it for an hour. See how well you do. It is tough. It requires purpose. 

But there are so many blessings and benefits. You may find yourself in a perpetual mode of praise. You may find yourself thinking about someone you hadn’t seen in years. You may find yourself dissecting a relationship that has been festering for some time. You never know what the Lord is going to do when you submit yourself to His desires and His will. 

Today, start the process of beginning to pray on purpose and pray continually. It is a journey, but never has God sent us on a journey that He did not bless and sanction in the first place. Trust me, He want you and I both down this path!