Archive | August 2017

In and Out

Matthew 12:34,35 – “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”

Garbage in, garbage out. 

You are what you eat.

These are good sayings. They remind us that what we put inside us, whether physical or mental, will eventually make us into who we are. It touches all facets of our life – our physical health, our mental health and our spiritual health. 

If you go around putting candy and fast food and chips and fried food into your body on a consistent and daily basis, what is going to happen? You will, more than likely, end up with heart disease and, maybe even, diabetes. Instead of being able to live a life that is fulfilling and enjoyable, you will spend many hours at the doctor and/or in the hospital attending to the results of the choices that you made many moons ago to eat all that junk.

If you listen to the negativity of the society around us, it can bring you down. Bad news is all around us. The gloom and doom that fills our social media and books can quickly lead you down a path of perpetual sadness and, maybe even, depression. There is so much death and violence and cruelty that is portrayed in our music, our movies and our books. If we expose ourself to this on a regular basis, we begin to think that this is the norm, this is how life truly is. “Reality” shows become what we think should be our reality and who needs that?

Yet, if you make the choice to fuel your body with food that is healthy and limit those foods that are unhealthy, your opportunity for disease decreases tremendously. Notice that I didn’t promise you a life of full health and happiness. I know that our genetic makeup sometimes predisposes us to certain diseases. I know that sometimes you just end up with some strange illness. But does that mean that you must have put something improper into you body to cause this to happen? No, sometimes things just happen so that you draw closer to God because of it. 

When you focus your life on Jesus and choose to make Him the One that fills your heart completely, life will look differently. All the negativity and the bad news will still be there, but you see them through the Light of His Word. You know the end of the book. 

Walking with God and making good choices doesn’t necessarily mean a life full of gumdrops, rainbows and unicorns. But it does mean that when you choose Him and His will for your life, you are never walking through all of this alone. You put the Good One in, the results of the Good One will come out.

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Transforming vs. Conforming

Romans 12:2- “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy taking parts and pieces and creating something that my family and friends can enjoy. There is a sense of satisfaction in hearing your loved ones make those yummy noises. 

I also enjoy sewing, when I get the chance. Creating something wonderful out of essentially nothing is very fulfilling. Not too long ago, I took several feet of fabric and made gigantic bean bags for the teen room at church. I love walking by the room and seeing our young people lounging in their room, just enjoying the peace.

So what does sewing and cooking have to do with Romans 12:2? When one cooks and/or sews, they are transforming something. They are taking a raw material and making it into something new and useable. Now, the alternative to cooking and sewing is going out and buying it. That’s what the rest of the world does, right? Those bean bags I made would have cost several hundreds of dollars to purchase.  I made two for approximately $200. Going out to eat is fun sometimes, but man, it is expensive for a family of four! Right now, my husband is making beef jerky. He is transforming ground beef into jerky for us all to enjoy. And trust me, it is way cheaper than the stuff you get at the store, and much better tasting too.

When you transform raw materials into something different, it takes work and effort. It takes time and dedication. Going out and buying it would be a lot easier. But you save money by doing it yourself and you get a real sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

Our spiritual life is no different. We are called to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” on a daily basis. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes time. It takes dedication. But we don’t have to be concerned with transforming ourself. No, God is the One who does all the transforming. We just need to be willing subjects to His transformation.

The other option is conforming. Everyday there are people who wake up and live like everyone else around them – and they “went to church yesterday.” Some people are afraid of transformation. It might make them different. People might think they are weird. It is much easier to be like everyone else.

The transformed individual is unique. This person is ready and willing to make the necessary choices to follow Christ. They know the path will be a challenge. They know the way will be hard. But they know that transformation to being more and more like Christ is within His “good, and acceptable, and perfect will”.

So today, you have a choice to make – will you allow God to transform you or will you just be conformed to the world one more day? No time like the present. Make the change today.

Write your story

Psalm 143:8 – “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

I evaluated a new client this week. When I evaluate someone, I always like to ask them about their past. I think it helps me to better understand their present. This man was a fashion designer in Paris after World War II. Crazy! And what was even crazier was that when he was 60, he took a class at a community college and learned oil painting. Now, his apartment is filled with these giant, museum-quality paintings that are absolutely stunning!

As I was sharing this story with the staff in our office, one of the staff said, “Man, I need to start living! When I’m old, I won’t have any cool stories to tell anyone.”

And that caused me to think, how am I writing my story? What adventures am I having? What beauty am I seeing? What kind of an impact am I making on the world around me?

A friend of ours lost his sister this week. She was in her early 40s and had 3 children ages 4-12. It is heartbreaking. Her story was way too short.

We never know if we will live a novel or a short story. We never know when it will be time to go home. But what I do know is that each and every day is an opportunity to write my story. Each day is an opportunity to weave the love of Christ into the fabric of my life. Each day is an opportunity to see His beauty all around me in the people I meet, the scenery I see and the incredible creations of man. Each day is an opportunity to show the world around me more and more of Jesus – whether it be through my life, in my speech, through my blog or teaching my children to know Him better. 

We have a choice every morning of whether or not we are going to listen to God on that day. We have a choice to accept His loving kindness. We have a choice to trust Him. And when we do, we learn to see His hand guiding our path and showing where He wants us to go. This gives us the opportunity to lift up our heart and soul to Him. We desire and find the need to praise His name when we choose to be obedient.

So this weekend, write your story. Write your story while you spend time with your family. Write your story while you worship Him with your brothers and sisters at church. Write your story while you work around the house. Write your story while you pay your bills. Write your story while you sit outside and enjoy the beauty around you. Happy Friday. 

Live like you are loved

Jeremiah 31:3 – “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Think back with me for a moment to the time when the love you have with your spouse or significant other was new. Remember how wonderful it felt? Do you remember thinking that if you two stayed together that it felt like there was nothing that you couldn’t overcome? Do you remember your every thought was consumed by him/her? When you weren’t together, you wondered where they were and what they were doing. You could spend hours on the phone with them just talking about the day. Do you remember how the tiniest gesture of love sent you into a tailspin and you felt like one of those cartoon characters with hearts in your eyes? Yep, those were the good old days.

Now then, when was the last time you felt that way about the True Love of your life, Jesus Christ? Because, you know, that without Him, you would have no idea what that feeling was in your heart toward your spouse or significant other. You wouldn’t know how to love him/her. Jesus is the One that showed you what real love is. He is the One that keeps showing you how to love.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want us to look at living like we are loved. I heard that phrase in a song yesterday and it has stuck with me and made me think – do I live like I’m loved or do I live like I’m not? 

When I first entered into my relationship with my husband, everything was bright and new and wonderful and fascinating. We could talk for hours on the phone when we were apart. We asked questions of one another and really got to know one another. Now, we have been married for 22 years. There’s not too much that I don’t know about him. Every now and again, I might learn something new, but for the most part, we are an open book to one another. Yet still, everything is still bright and new and wonderful and fascinating – but in a whole new way. We are learning to live each part of our life in love that is sustained because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some people have a tendency to live life defeated or downcast. They fail to see the newness of each and every day and they choose to turn their eyes from the promises of God. I’m not sure why or how they do this. But they live their life like they have no real love. And these are people who proclaim to be followers of God. Actually, I question the truth in that statement. 

So what does it mean to live like you are loved? 1) I think that it means you have a desire to grow your relationship with Jesus. You have the desire to get into His word and learn more and more about Him – even through the challenging and seemingly redundant parts – there is still something there for you to learn about Him. 2) I think that it means that you have the desire to spend more time with His people. You want to attend services. You want to have friends that believe like you do. 3) I think that it means that you want to talk to Him. You want that ongoing dialogue. It brings you peace and comfort. 4) I think that it means that you want to do as much for Him as you can. You want to show Him that you love Him too by serving Him and His people. 

Living like you are loved brings peace and real joy to your life. It lets you know that you are exactly where you need to be despite what may be going on around you. Life isn’t always going to cooperate. Dark days are going to come and the devil will throw darts at your heart. But living like you are loved makes those challenging days more bearable because you know that you don’t face them alone.

A Process

Philippians 2:12,13 – “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Yesterday was homecoming at my church. We celebrated 128 years of service and dedication to our little community. It was a great day. We heard great singing and great preaching. We had several feet of amazing food and enjoyed a great time of fellowship.

One thing I heard in amongst the messages yesterday was this – Salvation is not an event but rather a process. Now, before you get all in a fuss, hear me out. It makes sense. 

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are saved. We have been rescued from the grips of hell and are on track for an eternity in Heaven with Him. But our experience, our closeness, our budding relationship with Christ should not stop the moment we accept Him as our Savior. It needs to keep growing, keep changing, keep enlarging. It should be a process that moves upward each and every day, closer and closer to Him. 

Sometimes the devil wants to convince us followers of Christ that we have done all that we need to do by accepting Jesus as our Savior. Yes, the devil still whispers in a believer’s ear. He may not be able to have you for his own, but he can trip you up as often as possible. He wants you to sit on your salvation like it is an event – something that happened and now we move on and away from it. Yep, you’re going to Heaven, now sit back and wait for it. 

That’s not what Jesus had in mind. He desires a closer and closer relationship with us. Living for Christ is not a religion, it is a relationship. It is something that takes work. It is something that requires a choice. It is something that insists upon a decision that every moment of every day will be devoted to the One who died for you. 

Salvation is not just an event, it is a process.

Today, and the rest of this week, remember, it is a process of growing closer and closer to Him each and every day. It is a process of choosing to trust Him with everything. It is a process of growing. It is a process of doing the things that you feel He has called you to do – using your gifts that He has bestowed upon you. Go out there today and grow. Grow, change and draw ever closer to the One who is in control of the sun and the moon. 

Revisit :Make some noise, cheerleader

Tonight is the first football game of the year. A new school year has started. For those of us with children, it is an opportunity to begin again – a fresh slate toward the end of the calendar year. This is an opportunity to do things different and to live life louder. I hope you enjoy this revisit. Happy Friday.

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 ┬ábe 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.

Sacrifice

Leviticus 4:32-35 – “And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar: And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”

I am reading a fiction book about the life of Rahab. In my book, Jericho has fallen and she is now living with the children of Israel. She is learning about God and learning the Law. She just witnessed her first sacrifice for sin. She was called forth to put her hands upon the head of the lamb and then it was slain. The author described her reaction, her fear, her confusion, her humbleness before the Lord. 

It made me stop and think about what the sacrifice of the lamb represented – Jesus. I thought about His sacrifice for my sin. And I wondered, do I truly appreciate and understand that act of love? I don’t think I do, at least not like I should.

So, for a moment, put yourself in Rahab’s shoes as she placed her hands upon that lamb’s head. I’m sure she thought of all the sins that she had committed. She probably thought of all the lies she had told, all the men she had been with, all the evil thoughts she had about others. Maybe all those things paraded through her head like a bad slide show. And then, she felt the life go out of the lamb. At that instance, she knew that the innocent lamb had taken her place for the sins she had “given” to the lamb. Sin has a price and the payment was the lamb. 

My sin has a price. All the bad thoughts, judgments, laziness, lack of self control, bad choices – all of them have a price. And that price was paid with the blood of Jesus at Calvary. I can say that all day long, but do I let it seep into my heart? Do I let it flood my soul and appreciate what He truly did for me?

I need to do better. We are a generation of entitlement and don’t really stop and consider the sacrifice that someone else does for us. There is less appreciation for our military who give their lives for our freedom. There is less appreciation for our police who sacrifice to keep us safe. There is less appreciation for our teachers who educate our children. There is less appreciation for our medical personnel who study and sacrifice all kinds of things to keep us healthy. Everywhere you look you can see the failure of someone to appreciate the sacrifice that someone else has willingly done for them. No better place is this seen than in the church houses of our country where the neglect of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is seen vividly by the declining numbers in attendance. And I am guilty, to a point. There are times when I feel like I need to rest and I stay home from a service. The Holy Spirit gets ahold of me and won’t let go. And for that, I am grateful – I know God is working in my life. But I shouldn’t even allow that thought in my head. It doesn’t show appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. 

So let me encourage you, take some time and read back through the requirements for sacrifices in the Old Testament. Read them, study them and compare them to the life of Christ. See His fulfillment of the requirements with His life and His blood. And then, thank Him genuinely for His sacrifice for you.