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Chocolate cake

‭‭James‬ ‭4:13-17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
It is a problem that we all are guilty of participating in at some time or another – choosing not to do what is right when we know better. Yes, I know, it is also known as sin – intentional sin, at that. 

Let me set up the situation.

Let’s say that you know that you have a few pounds you need to lose. It is not drastic, you just know that if you lost them (and never found them again) that you would feel better physically and emotionally. But you are at an event and they are serving chocolate cake – your all time favorite dessert. You know that you should not eat that cake. You know that it will show up on the scale tomorrow morning. You know that it is too late at night and eating that cake will result in a restless night of sleep. You know all these things. You have rationalized it over and over again in your mind. Yet…you still eat it. You really, really, really want that chocolate cake. You know the consequences and yet you do it anyway. Sin has caught you with a fork!

I tell you this to say intentional sin is tough. We can push unintentional sin under the blanket of a forgiveness prayer. But when it comes to the sins we commit knowingly, well, that requires more effort to get rid of. Yes, I know, I’m stepping on your toes, but guess what, mine are paining too!

The problem is that it is these sins that are keeping us from a closer walk with Christ. These sins will build a wall between you and Him that if left unchecked will cause serious problems down the road. That is why it is so incredibly vital that we keep that wall destroyed. It’s like letting weeds grow in a garden. If you don’t stay on top of them and get rid of them when they pop up, before you know it, the garden is overtaken with weeds and you have to spend an enormous amount of time locating what it is that you planted one day, way back when. 

So my challenge to you, and to me, is to keep those intentional sins in check. Or better yet, when you hear that still, small voice saying “don’t do it…don’t do it”, then…don’t do it. God wants you listen to Him. He wants to guide you on the path of righteousness but He won’t make you make the right decision. He wants you to do that on your own. Gotta love free will. 

But it can be done. You can say “no” to that chocolate cake. You can walk away knowing that tonight there will be no consequences because you made the right choice! 

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Breaking through

Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “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.”‭‭

It has been a while. Sorry. I have had some things on my mind – things that have been a bit troubling and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. 

I had some time this last week to think on them and pray about them. And here is what I determined – the devil is trying to keep me from doing what I know that God would have me to do.

We get like that from time to time, don’t we? We are plugging along, doing what we think and feel that God wants us to do, and then we hit some sort of invisible wall that all of the sudden this thing that you have been doing just doesn’t seem doable anymore. You start coming up with excuses and find reasons not to fulfill what you know that God wants you to do. Things begin to happen that make you question your reason, your purpose and your safety in completing what you know that God has laid on your heart to do. 

It happens to everyone – the pastor, the missionary, the teacher, the casual blogger. You have to find a way to break through. 

This last week, my husband was at a conference that I was blessed to be able to attend with him. There were several motivational speakers there that he heard. On the last day, he was asked to be a part of one of the seminars as a helper. Well, I had to see what this “helper” was going to help with – it was breaking a board with one’s hand. Sounds very ninja-like, right? Well, I saw people of all ages, sizes and abilities breaking an untampered board with their bear hand. The whole purpose of the activity was to write what it was that was holding you back from moving forward in your life on this board and then break through it – metaphorically and literally. 

We all need to break through something. Often times, that thing is fear. It is fear of failure, fear of starting, fear of change and sometimes, just plain old, flat out fear. It permeates us from time to time. It holds us back. It keeps us from moving forward. It keeps us from the blessings of God. Fear is one of the great tools of the devil. He uses it to control us, to keep us from serving God in such a way that could change the world. And we let him use that tool. We choose to see fear as something that protects us from the bad we perceive. Truth be told, that “bad” isn’t really “bad” at all. We should, instead, chose to see it as a challenge that forces us to move in a different direction. God put it there for a reason.

So this week, what is holding you back? What do you need to break through? What is it that is hindering your blessings from God? What is keeping you from serving Him like you know He is calling you to do? Together, let’s break through this thing!

Sleeping through the storm

Luke 8:22-25 – “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.”

We just went through a hurricane. Not my idea of a good time, I’ll tell you. As we laid in the closet under the stairs while the front and back of the eye of the storm went over our house, my kids slept. The electricity had gone out which caused the fan to go off which woke me up to the raging wind. It howled and screamed and thrashed against the front of our house. I’m laying in the closet praying, “Please God, keep the roof on my house and my friends and family safe” while my children are sleeping. Sleeping! I was glad though. I was in a state enough without having to deal with them freaking out.

While I was out and about yesterday working, I heard the same thing from many of my clients – they slept through the hurricane! What?! How can that be? They went to bed Sunday night and knew nothing had happened until they woke up Monday morning. 

My grandma always said, “The Good Lord’s gonna gitcha when He wants ya whether you’re hidin’ or not.” Faith. Faith that He is in control and we have nothing to fear. I experienced a great deal of fear last week, especially Friday. Friday was tough for me. I believe the majority of it was the uncertainty. We had no idea where the hurricane would hit and how bad it would be. The Holy Spirit had to keep whispering to me – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) He had to say it multiple times because I was having a hard time getting my heart and mind to listen. Faith.  Faith that He is in control.

Now, I’m not certain that all of my clients have that sort of faith in their lives. I’m working on that. But I do know that God used their…faith, or lack of hearing, to remind me that I have nothing to fear, even in a hurricane. It is about letting go and letting God. And that, my friend, is tough. I like to be in control of things going on in my life. I like to know when, where and how things are going to go before I step into it. But faith reminds me that sometimes I won’t know all the details. Faith reminds me that sometimes I need to sleep during the storm. I can’t control it. I can’t affect the outcome of it. I can only prepare and pray. 

Prepare and pray. Maybe that should be my new motto. Isn’t that all God really wants us to do? Second Timothy says He gave us a “sound mind” – the ability to know when to prepare and how to prepare. We know that “power” is from God alone. And we know that “love” should cover everything we do. And when we have that power, love and sound mind, we can sleep through the storm. Isn’t that why Jesus slept in the boat during the storm? He had all those things in abundance. 

So the next time you find yourself in a storm, whether figuratively or literally, have faith. Prepare and pray. Allow God to take the fear the devil attempts to plant in your heart and turn it into power, love and a sound mind. And sleep through the storm.

Church family

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

When my family and I started going to our church, we were a bit puzzled. Everyone was identified as aunt or uncle so-and-so. How could all these people possibly be related? True, it has been around for 120+ years and dating someone in our church requires a careful analysis of both people’s family tree, but still..all of them related?

We quickly learned that these were terms of endearment. 

My church is far from perfect. We have problems. We have challenges. But above it all, we have love. 

And there is no better place to see love than at a funeral. Now, I know, that seems weird. But hear me out. 

One of our ladies passed away this week. She had fought long and hard against an illness that rarely gives up – cancer. It was sad. And it was a blessing. She had been ill for so long and endured so much. She was ready to see Jesus. 

And as we sat and listened to the pastor give his words of encouragement, the common theme was “amen”. He talked about her faith; her dedication when she was ill; her love for her family and her Jesus. Amen. She isn’t hurting. Amen. She wants her family to share in her joy. Amen. Her family was not only flesh and blood but also the blood of Jesus Christ. 

I have a plaque in my home that was given to us by one of our church family. It says “Friends are the family you choose.” 

And no truer words can be spoken when I think about my church family. 

I love my family dearly, blood of my relatives and blood of my Jesus. They are all precious to me. And yesterday, as we laid to rest one of our own, my heart was sad for the ones left behind but happy for her. It was bittersweet. 

So I would encourage you to go home to your church family this weekend. They would love to see you. They would love to hug you. They would love to tell you how much they have missed you, because they have. Don’t let the devil steal away the family that God has given you. Treasure it and thrive within it. 

A “re”newed view

Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

I teach the teenagers on Wednesday night at church. These last few weeks we have been going through the student version of “A Case for Christ”. And let me tell you, tonight’s lesson is going to be tough. I debated skipping it but I feel that as tough as it will be, my kids need to hear it. All of it. So instead of trying to determine a witty presentation of the subject matter, I’m just going to read it. 

I have to. There is nothing witty or clever about the transgressions committed against my Jesus. 

In our society, we are okay with watching movies that are gruesome and horrible. We read books that give us nightmares. We watch videos on social media that terrify us. But to careful consider the torment and brutality of what Jesus went through for us, well, that’s another story. We can’t take it. It hurts too much. 

I think that when we stop and look into history about the torture methods and ways  a death sentence was carried out in the Roman culture, we can’t help but feel burdened and grateful and incredibly sad. We hear periodically about Jesus being “wounded” for our transgressions. I don’t think that begins to scratch the surface. 

Jesus was brutally tortured for my sin. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition for my sin. Jesus was humiliated on the cross for my sin. Jesus felt the weight of His own body through the nails piercing His hands/wrists for my sin. Jesus endured what can only be described as suffocation and His organs shutting down very slowly for my sin. And I know that if I was the only person in history that would ever accept His sacrifice, He would still have done it – for me. 

And that is powerful. 

With each touch of the whip, He thought of all those through time that would choose Him as their Savior. With each agonizing moment on that cross, He thought about each life that would be drastically changed because of His act of selfless love. 

Do you think about that? Do you consider that when work piles up? Do you think about that while your folding laundry for the ump-teenth time this week? Do you consider His sacrifice and love for each and every one of us when that nut monkey cuts you off in traffic?

Probably not. I know I don’t. But I should. I believe that if we would live our life redeemed and grateful for His sacrifice, our world would change. Fear would leave. Doubt would run and hide. Compassion would be as common place as anything you can think of. 

But it’s so much easier to turn our thoughts away from Him. It’s so much easier to forget. 

I want to encourage you today to take a moment and read about His suffering. I want you to think about His sacrifice. I want you to say “thank you” and mean it from a place in your heart that is torn and burdened. 

Good Monday morning

Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Good Monday morning. 

I just returned home from visiting family this last week. We had a long drive yesterday and I really didn’t get much sleep while traveling. So, this morning I was stumbling around my kitchen trying to remember how to make coffee and put away a few things, when I dropped a can of root beer. It goes to spewing all over their floor. I tried to put my finger over the hole enough to get it to the sink. This worked somewhat but not enough to save me from having to spot mop the floor. 

Good Monday morning. 

What does this have to do with walking through the shadow of death you might ask? Perspective and attitude. Surprisingly, I handled the situation quite well. No harsh words uttered. No bad thoughts passing through my brain. Just “well, I have to clean this up.” Maybe it’s because I’m so tired that I can’t muster up the energy to get mad. Maybe though, God used this moment to remind me that it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is how I choose to respond to it. And I feel like I chose well. “Very good, young patawon!” (I told you I’m not quite all here this morning!)

Good Monday morning. 

Let me encourage you today to let it roll. Let perspective and attitude be what keeps you afloat today. Don’t let Satan drag you down with mishaps and upsets. Show him that God is on your side by choosing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear. 

Mighty Man of Valour

Joshua 10:7-10 – “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.”

Happy Memorial Day from Kauai!

I just finished my morning perusal of Facebook and was admiring all the posts relating to this day. All the pictures of the soldiers. All the pictures of the families crying next to their loved one’s tombstone. It makes me so sad. I think about all those families who have lost loved ones and who have loved ones on the front lines. I appreciate all those people who willingly put their lives on the line for me every single day. Their sacrifice amazes and encourages me. 

And I know this day is a day we set aside to remember our military and their sacrifice, but I also want to remember the military of the past – the long ago past, say, Biblical times. 

Joshua was a warrior. He was devoted to the Lord and he was devoted to Moses. He was one of the scouts to the Promised Land that said, “Come boys! We got this!” when all the others said “No way!”. He was a “mighty man of valour”. 

I want you to take a close look at this passage. You see, Joshua went up to fight these guys. But I want you to look at Who went up before them – the LORD. Now, when you see “LORD”, the writer is talking about Yaweh. This is the Most Holy Name of God. This name is not used frequently. When the writer wrote it, they had a very specific ritual they had to go through just to write it. 

But my point is this – Joshua was not a mighty man of valour on his own. What made him so was his firm belief and confidence in God. He knew that God + him equals more than any one person or army could conquer. He knew that with God on his side that nothing was impossible. He diligently asked God what He wanted him to do. He determined in his heart to follow after God no matter how crazy or ridiculous the plan sounded (remember Jericho?).  This was a true mighty man of valour. 

So to all our military personnel and their families, I salute you and I encourage you to seek out the One who makes you a true hero – Jesus Christ. He is the one who can make you mighty man of valour as well. And remember, you don’t have to be in the military to be this mighty man of valour. You can be a mighty princess of valour too! All it takes is a firm determination to seek out Christ in all that you do and follow Him no matter what.