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Don’t see the stain

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭KJV – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

My husband went to a meeting last week and came home with a new saying (thank you Greg!).

“Don’t see the stain.”

I know I have written over and over again about perspective but this saying brought the importance of perspective to my mind again.

It is so easy to get caught up in the negative. We are going through our hunky, dory day and wham! Problem – in come the negative thoughts and opportunity to see the stain. It is a choice that you have to make to not see the stain. For example, I was having a good day yesterday when a problem arose at work of a lost item that I need for a patient. Now, I didn’t lose the item – someone delivered it to the wrong patient. I had two choices: 1) I could get mad and lose my ever-loving mind or 2) I could calmly call the representative and request kindly that they do their job and locate the item. Praise God, I chose #2. I am still trying to not see the stain in this situation. I am trying so hard to have a good attitude while I “patiently” wait for it to be located.

It is about choosing to think on other things. It is about deciding on a perspective that sees the opportunity and not the negativity of the situation. It is hard. Don’t get me wrong. So many times I feel like it would be easier to just blow up and deal with the aftermath. But that’s not how Christ wants us to behave and think. He gave us the good things in life to keep our perspective in line with His.

So today, when life comes at you hard and ugly, remember the things that are honest and pure and just and lovely and are of a good report. Think on these things. Don’t see the stain.

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All of me

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
We were challenged this weekend to love God with all that we are. Easy concept, right? Umm, no. Not so much. Not when you really take a good hard look at yourself. And that, my friend, is no fun. 

The challenge began with “Who is #1 in your life?” Well, I’m at church, on a Sunday night. The Sunday school answer is “God”, right? But when the question was asked again at the end of the challenge…the answer wasn’t God, if I was being honest with myself. And that is tough stuff right there. 

Love God with all my heart. What does that mean? As I have thought about it, I see it as loving God with all my emotion. Our heart is the center of our emotional state. When I love God with all my emotion, I make everything about Him. I choose to see His hand at work in my life. I allow Him to change and mold my attitude. Now, does that mean that I go around gushing and acting all cheesy? No. I believe that you can love God with all your heart by acknowledging Him every opportunity you get. You are deferring your emotion to Him. You are choosing to allow Him to guard and guide how you feel and respond. Loving God with all my heart.

Love God with all my soul. I think about this in this way – loving God with my eternity. My soul is something I can’t see; I can’t touch; but it is something I can give. I can give my soul back to it’s Creator by choosing Jesus as my Savior. I can allow God to have control over my eternity. Loving God with all my soul.

Love God with all my mind. Some days, I do okay with this and others days, it’s just plain ugly. In my way of thinking, this is loving God with thoughts. This is allowing God to control my thoughts. This is choosing to see things in the scope of eternity. “What would Jesus do?” It’s not wearing your heart on your shirt sleeve but rather seeing all things in the light of the love of Christ. Letting Jesus control my thoughts. Loving God with all my mind.

Love God with all my strength. To me, this is my actions. These are the things that I do or don’t do on a daily basis. This is reading my Bible. This is going to church when the doors are open. This is preparing for VBS. This is the physical action of the group. This is loving God with all my strength.

There are times when I get parts of this challenge spot on and there are times when I fail miserably. But you know what, God wants me to try my hardest. He wants me to make the choices to do things right and to seek Him daily. He knows when I am doing the best I can and when I am doing just enough to get by. This is where grace and mercy come into play. This is where I really need grace and mercy. And praise God, they never run out.

So this week, ask yourself “Who is #1 in my life?” And don’t just give the Sunday school answer. Really look hard at yourself. Ponder where your priorities really are. Happy Tuesday. 

There is a time…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I don’t know about you, but I get impatient sometimes. I like for things to happen when I want them to happen. I want things and events to follow my schedule. And when they don’t, it frustrates me. I feel that I am so busy in my life that my calendar becomes the all controlling factor in my life. If it isn’t on my calendar, then it will not happen, or so I think. Rarely do I give myself the opportunity to be spontaneous. But every now and again, I will clear the day and let happen what may. Those days are fun.

In this passage, Solomon is trying to teach us that there is a time for every thing. And he doesn’t just state the fact and move on, no, he has to elaborate and leave no thought untouched. The items listed here pretty much sum up a life in general. A time for every thing. 

In my line of work, I have the opportunity to speak with people often about different chapters in their life. It is the only way I know to get across to them that it is okay to be scared and frustrated and mad. They are writing a new chapter of their life. They don’t know how to write it. They don’t understand why they have to write it. They don’t comprehend why their chapter had to change. And they don’t like where this chapter is leading. They don’t like that they are in a different time. 

But if I can ever get them to understand that it is okay to be mad and frustrated and confused about the why, I can help them to write this chapter beautifully. I can’t write it for them but I can show them how to write it more efficiently and more safely. A time for every thing.

I don’t know what chapter you are writing in your life. I have no idea what problems or issues or celebrations you have going on right now. But I can tell you this, you do not walk or write this chapter alone. Every event listed above is an opportunity to love and trust God. It is a time in your life to show others that He is the Author and Perfector of your faith. He is the One who brought you to it, and He is the One who will bring you through it. Happy Monday.

The writing in the dirt

John 8:3-11 – “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

It is so easy to judge. We see other people; we think we know them and what do we do? We pass judgment. 

I think it is partly human nature to judge others. We see the negative and automatically make an assumption that they obviously don’t deserve our best because of this or that. We hear things and assume the worst. We have a hard time giving people the benefit of the doubt. 

Notice I’m using “we” because I have a problem with this too. I have to consciously make an effort not to judge. And that’s hard. 

We don’t know what Jesus was writing in the dirt this day but we can guess that whatever it was did not make people want to stick around. They tucked their tunics and took off, one by one, when Jesus started writing. They were ready to stone this woman for her sin. They thought they had it all figured out and were going to involve Jesus in this woman’s death. Little did they understand and appreciate that whatever Jesus was writing in the dirt would expose their judgmental attitude. 

What if Jesus started writing in the dirt every time you began judging and accusing people? Would you want all your dirty laundry aired out for everyone to see? I’m guessing no. We want to keep our dirty little sins tucked away and not discussed. 

What I want to encourage you about is this – be careful. Be careful who you accuse. Be careful who you judge. Be careful how you handle dealing with the past of another. We are none perfect. We all have things we would rather forget. Be kind. Be gentle. Be forgiving. Be cautious. Jesus may be writing in the dirt about you. 

Control

John 10:17,18 – “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Power. We like to think that we have power over our life. We like to think that our date book is our own. We like to think that we have control over when we sleep and when we rise. We like to think that we have control over what the scales say or doesn’t say. We like to think that we have control over how our children are raised and who leads us into the future of our country. 

But do we really have control over any of those things?

I’d venture to say no. No we do not. Oh, our perception may be that we got this. But in reality….we don’t. 

In these verses today, Jesus reminds us of a very important fact – He has control. He has so much control that He has the power to freely give His life and take it back up again. This blew His audience’s mind. How could this possibly be?

We serve an amazingly powerful God. One that has the capability to give His own Son who has the power to willingly sacrifice His own life. One that has the power to raise Himself from the grave because He is all God and all man all at the same time. Did you hear that? Minds being blown all over the place!

What I want to get across today is God is in control. He knows what has been, what is and what will be. And if Jesus can raise Himself from the grave, He won’t forget you when He returns. Sometimes life feels so uncertain, so easily downtrodden, so discouraging. But take heart, God is in control. Truly, we have nothing to worry about. 

Hiding

Psalm 17:5-8 – “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings”

The weather was rough last night. We didn’t know if we would have tornados or not. The wind whipped. The rain poured. The sky rumbled. The lightening dance through the sky. But no tornados that I know of in my area. 

But as we headed to church last night, listening to the radio, we couldn’t hear a full song because of all the warnings that were being issued. We called some friends of ours that we knew were over by our church building to ask about the weather over there. When they told us it was okay for now, we headed that way. 

It reminded me of something my grandma said one time – She was cooking Christmas dinner while a storm was raging outside her house. A tornado actually danced across the field across from her house. She just kept basting the turkey. When we asked her, “Grandma, shouldn’t you have tried to get somewhere safe? The tornado could have come right for your house!” She replied, “If the Lord wants you, He gonna git you whether you’re hidin’ or not!” 

God holds all His children in His hand. He knows our fears. He knows our circumstances. He knows it all. And He cares. He cares more than we could ever comprehend. We are the apple of His eye. We can never hid from God. He knows our every step and every thought. 

So the next time you find fear in your heart or uncertainty in your step, remember that God knows. He knows the tornados threatening you. He knows the rocks in your path. He knows the joy in your heart. He understands the concerns that you may have. Let Him be in control of it all. 

HE IS STILL IN CONTROL

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

Matthew 6:34 – “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”

So for the last few days, everyone has asked me, “What do you think about the election?” My response has been, “God is still in control.” A few people have come back with a “Really?” But yesterday, one lady, who is through her lineage a Jew, said to me, “You really believe He is still in control? I’m not so sure.”

I. Was. Heartbroken. I don’t understand how anyone could question whether or not God is in control. But when someone who professes to be a Jew and knowing their heritage and all that God has done for them says to me “Really?”, I am troubled. 

Whether or not you are happy or sad or burdened or depressed or concerned about the way things are going right now, God is in control. He always has been and He always will be. Crazy people may rule the land. (They have been, right?)   Fanatics may be throwing temper tantrums in the street. Extremist may be marching around trying to intimidate everyone. But GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!  

I think the most troubling thing about some of the discussions where people question whether or not He is still in control is this – where is their hope? I HAVE to believe that He is still in control. Otherwise, I think in would curl up in a ball in the corner and wait out the rapture. He is my hope. Knowing that He is in control gets me out of bed and gets me through dealing with crazy people. It is what puts one foot in front of the other. 

My hope, my trust, my comfort is solely in Jesus Christ my Savior. As the old song goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust a sweeter strain but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”