The never-ending sausage

Matthew 14:15-20 – “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.”

My niece (1st grade) and two nephews ( 3rd & 4th grade) were visiting us yesterday. And as we sat at the table having lunch, somehow the discussion turned to a never ending piece of sausage. Yes, I promise, we were talking about a never-ending sausage link. 

And that opened the door for me to say something about Jesus feeding the 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. My one nephew said, “I always thought He just gave them a tiny little bite,” as he held his fingers super close together. And I reminded him, “Nope. The Bible tells us that they were all filled up AND had 12 baskets of food leftover!” He had never really stopped to think about that before. 

These are Bible stories that we have heard all of our life and sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnificence in them. Jesus showed Himself as God that day. Nothing could contain His power. Nothing could stop His provision in these people’s life. 

And the cool thing is, He is still wanting to do that very thing in our life – He wants to provide and love and care for us. We just have to let Him. 

So the next time the discussion at the dinner table turns to a never-ending piece of sausage, remember – there’s a Bible story for that too! Always look for any and all opportunities to teach someone about Who He is!

Get off the porch!

Exodus 32:1 – “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

I read a quote yesterday. “If I only trust what I can see with my eyes, I commit idolatry.” Simple, yet profound.

The children of Israel had just finished committing themselves to God. They had agreed to follow His instruction and guidance. They had committed themselves to Him. Moses goes up on the mount to chat some more with God. While he is gone, the people give up. They don’t know what has happened to Moses and they aren’t waiting around to find out. So they go over, grab Aaron by the arm and say, “hey, make us a graven image. We know what God said about idols but this guy, Moses, is gone and we need something to worship. Something we can see. I can’t believe in this God without Moses around.” (Melissa paraphrase, of course)

What about you? Is your faith in God tied to someone or something? Do you follow Him only when you can SEE Him working in your life? Does it need to be a minute by minute conformation? Can you only have faith because your grandparent is around? What happens when they are gone? Do you only believe in the power of God only when the pastor is around? If you were blind, would you still believe – even though you can’t see the works of God around you?

If you only trust when you can see, do you really trust? If you only believe when the one that teaches you is around, do you really believe? If your not at church, do you think God can speak to you?

As followers of Christ, we want to believe that we have this idol thing under control. “We don’t have idols set up at church or in our home. We know that worshipping something made with our hands is wrong.” But what if our faith is tied to someone or something?

We are approaching perilous times. We need to affirm our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There are people around the globe, right now, that are being killed for their profession of faith in Jesus. There are people being persecuted by their neighbors because they refuse to deny Christ. If someone came in today and took away your Bible and took away your right to go to church, would you still believe? Would you still pray? Would you still have to courage to share Him with others? What if your family was threatened?

My point today, princess, is that we need to make sure that our faith in Jesus does not hinge upon someone or something – that our faith lies solely in Jesus. If everything was taken away – our Bible, our church, our family – and we were put in a cell with only the walls to keep us company, would we praise God for giving us life that day? Or does our trust and our faith rely upon our eyes?

This is a hard subject. But it is time to step off the porch and run with the big dogs. We need to stop with the warm, squishy feelings and hit home. God doesn’t want robots that go to church and routinely worship and serve Him. He wants people to be tough, be ready and be willing to show others a faith that is solely in Him and not dependent upon anyone or anything else.

The Armor and the tricky little booger

Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Back in the day of hand to hand combat, the soldier had to wear a significant amount of protection – armor. If worn correctly, the armor left little room for injury. Obviously there were chinks in the armor where an enemy could injury or take the life of the soldier. But the armor was designed to give the warrior maximum protection.

So, what does this have to do with the armor mentioned in the Bible? The armor that God issues to us is designed to protect us spiritually. But just like anything else, it doesn’t work if you don’t use it. That is why in this verse, Paul encourages us to “put on the whole armor of God”. He doesn’t say “just make sure to grab your helmet on the way out the door”. No, he tells us to put the whole thing on, start to finish, head to toe.

Why? Why isn’t just grabbing the helmet good enough? Things aren’t really that bad, are they? My pastor made the statement one time that if we could see the spiritual warfare that was actually going on around us, that it would probably scare us out of our mind. Yes, spiritual warfare is everywhere. It is in our hearts, in our minds – everywhere.

But just what are the “wiles of the devil”? Sounds like something from an old Saturday morning cartoon, doesn’t it? The word in the Greek looks like “method”. It actually means “travelling over, i.e. travesty or trickery”. So, the “wiles of the devil” means the “trickery of the deceiver” (remember, devil also means “deceiver”).

Sounds like trouble, doesn’t it? So, why wouldn’t you put on he whole armor? Forget? Don’t have time? Really don’t care? Don’t believe?

Have you ever been on a diet? You swear off sweets and bread. You go to work the next day and what is there, bagels and blueberry cream cheese! What! How hard is it to stand under that pressure? It takes a big, hard choice to make that one go away. Trust me, I’ve been there.

But the same principle applies in the spiritual world. You decide that you are going to get up and read your Bible every morning before breakfast. And what happens on about day 2 or 3? You had to stay up really late the night before finishing some work and you think you need the extra sleep to get through the next day. So you skip it. And then the next morning your alarm doesn’t go off. And after that, your decision to get up and read becomes a distant memory, just another promise forgotten. Spiritual warfare. Think that work was an accident? It was the first shot fired.

If we hope to stand against the devil’s tricks, we have to be prepared. And the only way to prepare is to suit up. And you can’t just put on the pieces that are flattering or easy to put on. No, you have to put the whole thing on. Remember, the devil is a tricky little booger that wants to destroy you. You have to be ready.

So, today princess, make sure that you have all the armor. We are going to steadily dive into it over the next several days, but you have to have all the tools to prepare. So, read Ephesians 6:10-20 and start now. And remember, all those promises made and broken can be healed by the Great Physician. You just have to ask.

The Armor – Power of His might

Ephesians 6:10 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”

I want to do a series on the armor of God. I think that as a princess, we need to know how to arm ourself and where to find our protection.

So the first thing I want to encourage you with is this – don’t get hung up on the “brethren” thing. When the Bible was written, it was customary to write it in the masculine form. That does not mean that the Bible does not apply to His princesses as well. It just means you have to put “sister” in there at times. And that doesn’t change the meaning, unless of course, in the context of the subject He is speaking to men. Just be careful and pay attention to what is being said.

Moving on.

“Be strong” – There has been a recent campaign by the sports world to “live strong”. We need strength for all kinds of things – picking up kids, bringing in cat litter, yanking out trees, etc. But the kind of strength being referred to here is identified in the next phrase.

“In the Lord” – If there is one thing to say on this subject matter, it is this – you may be able to lift a truck. But if you don’t have Jesus in your corner, that truck will crush you. Physical strength is important for health. But spiritual strength is important for life. True strength can only be found in Jesus and His power.

“In the power of his might” – Believing in Jesus for salvation is the most important step. And then, the fun begins – living your life with Him. In everything you do, in every step that you take, in every decision you are faced with, you go at it with the One who can move mountains. Just think on that for a moment. Mt. Everest is an ant hill to Him! The Rocky Mountains are nothing more than rocks stacked in a row. He can move these mighty mountains! Just think of what He can do in your life!

So as we begin this journey on checking out the armor of God, let’s begin by realizing the coolest thing – I have the power of the Mountain Mover on my side. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

No Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Have you ever experienced real fear? I’m not talking about being spooked. I’m talking about real, long lasting fear. Fear that makes you worry. Fear that consumes your thoughts. Fear that can cripple you if not tended to. Fear.

I think at some point or another we have all had this fear. It may manifest itself in different ways and at different times, but it is the same.

Fear is a tool of the devil. He uses it to control us. He uses it to keep us from thinking about what is good, true and righteous. He uses it to make us doubt. He knows that as long as we are trusting in Jesus to care for us that he can’t touch us. So if he can get us to think that maybe Jesus doesn’t have it all, then he can worm his way in.

The devil also uses superstition as a way to invoke fear. Black cats, things happening in 3s, walking under a ladder, broken mirrors – I’m sure you could name a hundred more. But these are vices for distrust. They are vices for fear. They are what can create a near panic moment. Are they true? No. I don’t believe in luck either. Don’t get me started.

Anyway, fear is very real. It is a battle to keep it at bay. When fear begins to rear it’s ugly head, just remember where it did not come from – Jesus.

God has given us power, love and self-discipline. Power to do what we need to do. Love to do it properly and with respect. And self-discipline to not let anything get in the way of what needs to be done.

Confidence. It is the opposite of fear. Now, I’m not talking about pride. That is sin. I’m talking about confidence. Believing you can do something. That something might be something big. Or it might be riding a bicycle. Confidence is believing that God can take care of it. That there is no need to fear. God is right there with you whispering in your heart that “you got this!”

Every situation we face, every challenge that comes our way, is an opportunity to show the world that we are a follower of Christ. That our confidence is not in ourself or our ability but rather in our Savior.

Fear is very real, princess. But so it Jesus. He is the One that wipes out fear. He is the One that is cheering us on to victory. Don’t let fear overtake you. Don’t let a lack of confidence keep you from what God is calling you to do. Be brave, sister. And get out there and make it happen!

The Lioness

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Courage. The Hebrew word used in this passage means: “fortify, harden, increase, prevail, strengthen (self), make strong”. Courage is something we oftentimes lack in life. We are content to just roll with it. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes you do need to just roll with the punches. But sometimes, you need to punch back. If you don’t, fear takes over – and ain’t nobody got time for that!

The devil likes to keep us down. He has been hammering me lately. You know, I posted on Friday that blog about joy and I had trouble all weekend remembering that joy. I had to keep reminding myself. My husband even had to step in and bring my self pity to a halt.

Why do I let fear step in? Why do I let self pity have its hay day?

When I read this verse this morning, it spoke to me. Know what it said? You are afraid of failing. You are afraid of failing as a mom, as a wife and as a follower of Christ. So, I try to do it all. I drive myself crazy trying to succeed in everything. I volunteer at school. I do everything around the house. I volunteer at church. I want to help out in the community. I want my house to be pristine. I want my kids to be successful in everything – school, dance, soccer, golf. I don’t want to fail.

The problem with all that is pride. I don’t want to fail. What I do fail at doing is allowing God to direct all of it. I try to do it all. I, I, I. See the problem pattern here?

In the verse above, Moses was encouraging Joshua to be courageous as he went into the Promised Land. He was going to face some ugly things as he conquered through. But Moses reminded Joshua that God would never fail him nor forsake him. God wasn’t going to leave Joshua in the dust.

And He won’t leave me either. He won’t let me fail. If I fail, it is because I didn’t do things His way. So, I have decided – it is time to put on my big girl pants and face it like a lioness. I choose from this day forward not to be afraid of failure. I don’t want to be a cowardly lioness. I want to be able to do it all and do it God’s way. I don’t want to be afraid any more. This week is going to be a braver week.

Princess, when I write these blogs, I write them from my heart. I am a real woman, a real princess, that faces demons and dragons every day – just like you. We are in this fight together. We are children of the One True King. We need to live fearlessly every day. Take heart. Be courageous. Don’t ever give up.

Mighty Men of Valor

Joshua 1:14 – “Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valor, and help them”(KJV)

Mighty men of valor. Where have you gone? Those men who would go out before their family and fight for what was right.

What is valor? It is a term that we don’t often hear these days. Probably because not many are worthy of the title. It means “strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a man to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; intrepidity; prowess”. I got that definition from an 1828 Webster’s dictionary.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are still mighty men of valor. But what does it take in today’s world to earn that title? Oh, the first thing that comes to my mind is a Navy Seal or someone like that. People that don’t even think twice about danger. Those people are rare. They are certainly worthy of honor and respect. I know I couldn’t do that task.

But let’s think in our own homes. Men, and I know I have male readers, let me encourage you to be one of these “mighty men of valor”. As a wife, I want to depend upon my husband to make the tough calls. I want him to lead me with “strong hands”, to “stand up when I can’t”. I want him to face the dangers. I want him to lead me spiritually. He has a tough job, being my husband. Poor guy. I feel sorry for him. I can be a handful. And I admit it. But yet, I see him as a “mighty man of valor”. Oh, he’s not perfect. He makes me mad. But I know it is reciprocated. We don’t have the perfect marriage. But we are determined to try, with God’s hand around us.

The reason I’m writing this is because we need more “mighty men of valor”. We need them in our homes, in our churches, in our community, in our government. Look at David’s mighty men in 1 Chronicles 11:10-47. These men were TOUGH! They are out there defending Israel like it is nobody’s business. They are doing things that made Samson look like he needed a lesson. And they did it out of loyalty and love. Loyalty to their king and their brothers. And love for their family and their nation. These men were ready to take on the world – or at least a 7 1/2 ft tall man(vs. 23).

So my princess blog today is for you fellas. We princesses need a knight in shining armor. You may not win our heart, for our heart may belong to another, but you will certainly win our respect. We need to see you choose to stand up for what is right, even when it is hard and you don’t necessarily like it. Make the choice to love your wife. To honor her by choosing to work through it. Show your sons what it means to be a “mighty man of valor”. Show him how to make those tough choices. Show him how to love. Show him how to face danger. And please, whatever you do, don’t give up. God has called you to a very important task. One that can make or break the future. Make the choice to follow after David’s men or Joshua’s men. Whatever you do, just be God’s man to use.