Monday, December 11, 2006

One day a while back, a man, his heart heavy with grief, was walking in the woods. As he thought about his life this day, he knew many things were not right. He remembered those who had lied about him back when he had a job. About those who had stolen his things and cheated him. He remembered family that had passed on. His mind turned to the illness he had that no one could cure. His very soul was filled with anger, resentment and frustration.

Standing there this day, searching for answers he could not find, knowing all else had failed him, he knelt at the base of an old oak tree to seek the One he knew would always be there. And with tears in his eyes, he prayed:

"Lord, You have done wonderful things for me in this life. You have told me to do many things for You, and I happily obeyed. Today, You have told me to forgive. I am sad, Lord, because I cannot. I don't know how. It is not fair, Lord. I didn't deserve these wrongs that were done against me and I shouldn't have to forgive. As perfect as Your way is Lord, this one thing I cannot do, for I don't know how to forgive. My anger is so deep, Lord, I fear I may not hear You, but I pray that You teach me to do this one thing I cannot do. Teach me to forgive."

As he knelt there in the quiet shade of that old oak tree, he felt something fall onto his shoulder. He opened his eyes. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw something red on his shirt.

He could not turn to see what it was because where the oak tree had been was a large square piece of wood in the ground. He raised his head and saw two feet held to the wood with a large spike through them.

He raised his head more, and tears came to his eyes as he saw Jesus hanging on a cross. He saw spikes in His hands, a gash in His side, a torn and battered body, deep thorns sunk into His head. Finally he saw the suffering and pain on His precious face. As their eyes met, the man's tears turned to sobbing, and Jesus began to speak.

"Have you ever told a lie?" He asked.
The man answered, "Yes, Lord."

"Have you ever been given too much change and kept it?"
The man answered, "Yes. Lord." And the man sobbed more and more.

"Have you ever taken something from work that wasn't yours?" Jesus
And the man answered, "Yes, Lord."

"Have you ever sworn, using my Father's name in vain?"
The man, crying harder, answered, "Yes, Lord."

As Jesus asked many more times, "Have you ever…?" The man's crying became uncontrollable, for he could only answer, "Yes, Lord."

Then Jesus turned His head from one side to the other, and the man felt something fall on his other shoulder. He looked and saw that it was the blood of Jesus. When he looked back up, his eyes met those of Jesus, and there was a look of love the man had never seen or known before.

Jesus said, "I didn't deserve this either, but I forgive you."

I do not know who the author of the above was, but it illustrates what I'm about to say.

Matthew 6:14-15
"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

Forgiveness isn't primarily for the person who sinned against you. It is for YOU. Bitter roots will spring up when we harbor unforgivenss. The rot of such is a stink in our Savior's nostrils and a slap on His bleeding face as He stares down at us from the Cross. How can we, who have given nothing for the grace which we received, dare to tell the One Who died such a horrid death, that WE won't forgive someone?? Christ didn't die to cover just the sins of those who accept Him. He died for ALL sin. Everything. It's our choice as to whether we acknowledge and embrace that forgiveness. It's still there, whether people accept it or not.

Mark 11:25
"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions."

WHENEVER...any time you come before the throne of God you should be making sure your heart is pure, without malice or anger or slander or envy or any of those things He's trying to take from our lives. There is NOTHING He wants more than pure lives from us. But we have to rid ourselves of those hateful ways we cling to. Otherwise, the enemy lives through us and causes immeasurable damage.

Luke 17:3-4
"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, "I repent,' forgive him."

I've had people use this Scripture to tell me they don't have to forgive unless the person asks for it and repents. Who made you God? Last time I looked, it was Christ on the Cross saying, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." He didn't ask for repentance before He died. Otherwise, all of us who live today would be up the creek! We couldn't ask anything 2000+ years ago as He hung on the tree. If Christ is our example, then we have to follow ALL He says and does. He forgave for HIS HEART'S purity. Not because we asked for it.

I have had many people hurt me in my life. Most of them have no idea I'm aware of some of what they've done. As a youth leader, I can't tell you the pain some of my kids inflicted on me. I cried mroe times in those six years than I think I ever have. But you know what? Not one of those kids, now adults and having kids of their own, knows I forgave them. They never asked me to. But CHRIST did. I still have relationships with them. Who would it hurt if I didn't forgive them? Me, mostly. Them? Sure! They know they can come to me any time without judgment or me throwing back in their faces all the times they were wrong. How would THAT show them Christ lived out in my life?

Luke 17:4
"And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, "I repent,' forgive him."

Again, what is Christ's example? Forgiveness without question. It's for our sakes, and for our relationship with Him, that we forgive. The side benefit of obeying His words to "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Hard to do if you're harboring unforgiveness in your heart.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11
"But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes."

Why would anyone want to give the enemy an advantage??? For those who, like me, are on the front lines of spiritual warfare, our very souls cry out for the enemy to be vanquished. Why would we allow anything in our lives to be used for the other side?? Especially when we have control over it???

There are some who will take this and go looking through the Scriptures to find counter quotes. At least it will get you in the Word. The time is short. We are to be living as if His return is any moment. I refuse to allow the enemy to steal any of the reward Christ has in store for me, by walking in disobedience and getting rid of those things in my life which are not of Him. Those things which shackle me, bind me, hold me back. They make my heart heavy and my days burdensome. Nothing like the easy yoke He calls me to.

Are you weighed down? Do you find the joy is gone? Are you constantly finding the faults in others? Do you tend to be someone others want to be around because you exude the joy of the Lord and His grace? If not, search your heart and allow Christ to renew it.

Galatians 5:22-6:9
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Against such things there is NO law. Live in them and be one who shows who Christ is in how you live. Be different from the world. It takes work like no other, but the rewards are so unbelievably sweet.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's been a hard month. Actually, it started in the middle of June, but we'll get to that later. :-)

Two weeks ago we got a call that a dear friend had died, suddenly, of a heart attack. Mel was only 57, and as one person described at his funeral, a sparkplug. Appropriate. The man lived life to it's fullest and didn't stop. He never wanted to miss an experience making family along the way. The funeral last week was packed. I've never been to one before where they had to put chairs in the church foyer to accomodate all the people. But Mel went home leaving his wife and daughter to grieve and struggle through the "why".

One day after that funeral we got the call that my husband's grandfather passed away. A blessing, though we grieve. Granddaddy was suffering from many different things, but primarily an amputation done in April from which the doctors didn't expect him to survive. He was in great pain for a long time and blessedly went Home in his sleep. That funeral was Friday.

On Monday of this week my dad called letting me know he was on the way to the hospital with my mom being taken in an ambulance. She had had another stroke more severe than the first one. We didn't know what the results were going to be, but I called out the prayer warriors. :-) God is good and Mom should be coming home today with little residual damage.

Three weeks ago we made a difficult decision to follow God in obedience and leave our church of six years. This is just as much like the grief of death as there are many there whom we love dearly. But we have a choice in what God calls us to do in obedience or face the consequences. We're not real keen on the consequences so we obeyed.

Now, for what started back in June. Many of you don't know yet, and I'll find out who reads the blog and who doesn't :-), but I'm 14 weeks pregnant with our third little surprise bundle. Yes, for those who know me well, it was another surprise. I DO know how these things work, but I've always said God is the One in charge of all of this. If He wants me to have another it won't matter what I do to prevent it. I'm getting to the okay point. Past the shock and numbness. Well into the sickness and tiredness. :-)

The hard part about this? Many reasons really, but I got news yesterday from the OB that they are going to consider the pregnancy high risk due to a fibroid tumor attatched to my uterus. NO panic necessary. :-) The tumor is non-cancerous. It's the size of a large orange and makes me look/feel more preggo than I actually am. Clothes don't fit so I'm in the between stages of looking fat, but not quite pregnant. :-) Gotta love it.

What's the point of all this? People keep saying, "You poor thing!" about any one of these issues. When they hear about ALL of them I think they expect me to be a puddle on the floor. I'm not. I'm tired, as a dear friend told me God's been laying on her heart, but emotionally I'm fine. I'm not worried about my mom, nor fretting over my loses so dear. Nor am I worried about being classified as high risk with the baby. Why not? Because this is where the faith rubber hits the road.

Either I truly believe that this life is NOT my own to control or even fret about or I don't. I either believe God is truly in control, with all the details at His disposal for making the decisions, or I don't. From my daughter's surgery (which went fantastically well, thanks for the prayers) to my newest bundle's safety, I have NO control over any of it. And I'm FINE with that. :-) I feel like I'm passing the test somehow. I'm at peace with all that's going on around me because I'm at peace with HIM.

Phillippeans 4:11 became one of my theme verses a few years ago. I'm not going to print it here because you should read it for yourself. If you know anything about Paul's life you know mine is CAKE in comparison. But when he can say these words with a joy in his heart...who am I to be otherwise?

One lesson out of this past month or two. Life is short. There is NO time for grudges or unforgiveness to be allowed to fester. You have NO idea when your last breath will be and are not guaranteed another. How do you want to face Christ when you are taken Home? I don't want to be explaining any of that mess being harbored in my heart. Do you?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Current mood: Reflective
Category: Religion and Philosophy

I don't have a lot of trust issues. I'm a realist when it comes to people. People will let you down. It's just how we're wired. We're not God and, therefore, are going to do dumb things, even hurtful things sometimes. That's not what I want to focus on today, though.

Trusting God. Trusting that He really does have the best in mind for me and mine.

See, this Friday (July 21st) we are going to watch as our little girl is put under anesthesia for dental work. She has four cavities that we know of and tried to bite the doc when he did the initial exam. I was pretty sure we'd have to do it with her under in order to make all our lives a little less stressed, but it's still a scary thing when your little one goes limp in your arms.

Last summer we went through a similar experience, but it was the first time. I can honestly say I thought I was prepared. God has laid it on my heart from the moment our children were born to pray over them in a certain way. It's a reminder that these precious ones are gifts from Him for a time. I don't know how much or how little time I'll have with them. The prayer asks for His watchful care over them and if He takes them home before they wake, that He be with me in the grief. I thought the years of praying this prepared me for watching my baby go to "sleep" before her MRI. Oh, little did I know.

Getting the IV into her arm wasn't a lot of fun. She's very strong for someone so little and it took all three of us (hubby, me and nurse) to hold her still enough. She looked at us with such hurt in her little eyes it broke my heart. But, as mommies around the world can tell you, we have to do what's best even if we don't like it. :-/ My husband carried her into the outer room of the MRI area where we both held her for the injection of the anesthesia. I watched as our little daughter went from crying to limp in a matter of seconds and my heart nearly stopped. It was as close as I pray I ever have to come to seeing the life drain out of her and it hurt my heart.

My husband and I stumbled to the waiting room where I sat praying like I've never prayed before. This was really a nothing procedure in the grand scheme of things which others undergo, but this was my baby. I prayed for strength. I prayed for peace. I prayed that I'd be okay with whatever the outcome turned out to be. I prayed for His arms to be wrapped around me as never before so I could get through this time. I couldn't read. I couldn't look around. All I had to cling to was my Daddy and He sustained me.

Trust. It all comes back to that. How much do we trust Him? With our very lives? Seems easy. With our daily existence? Maybe a little tougher. With each and every moment we draw breath? To tell us how we are to live each of those breaths? To guide us when it comes to decisions for our children? To show us what to say and do every moment?

I'm learning more and more as I walk down this path of life with Him. He's holding my hand and walking along most of the time. But on days like this coming Friday I know He will be carrying me. I won't have the strength to walk, but I trust Him to take me where I need to go.

Proverbs 3:5-8 - "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones."

You can read a little bit more about my little ones (not really so little, actually :-)) on where I've been a guest blogger twice. I'm going to submit this particular blog there as well for sometime this week.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

It's been a while. We're going through some remodeling on our master bathroom and BOY what a mess of dust! Got me thinking, though. How much "dust" is covering our hearts? What about our Bibles? Hm.

My hubby and I went to a FANTASTIC marriage conference put on by Family Life called, "A Weekend to Remember". I can't say enough about the experience. We aren't on any shaky ground, which is a huge praise to God for His provision. We are actually stronger now than we've ever been. Again, all to God's glory and not our own.

I took a few things away from the weekend which I've already shared with others. The main one is so powerful, and yet so simple. I've talked about the armor of God in a previous blog. (Suit Up!) One particular Scripture is what the speaker focused on. Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." NASU

He had us reach over and take our spouse's hand. He said, "Squeeze that hand. What's it made of? Flesh and blood. Now, turn to your spouse and say 'You are NOT my enemy'."

Whether you want to admit it or not, according to the Word of God, this is truth. There is NO human being on this earth who is your enemy. I'm not saying people don't do horrible things and deserve to have justice brought on them. I'm a firm believer in justice. I'm talking about those people we are in contact with everyday in our life. Our family members in the same house. Our co-workers. Those who serve us at restaurants. Those we speak to on the phone. Those we see in the same pews each Sunday. Those we are on committees with in church. These people are NOT our enemies and yet we tend to treat them as such at times. WHY???

There is an enemy who longs to destroy us. He longs to destroy relationships which will glorify God. He longs to have anything which is good and right and perfect be messed up so someone will blaim God for it and therefore break fellowship with Him or another believer.

I don't tend to have unbelievers come into my life for counsel. It's mainly Christians who are seeking to find God's leading in their life. And, it's not anyone who's faint of heart. :-) You see, pulling punches isn't my style. I've gotten better in the mercy catagory, but up two from zero isn't saying much. :-) SO, what I'm talking about here is to Christians who are in a relationship with Christ.

How are you treating those around you? Are you a fault finder or are you an encourager? Do you tear them down or build them up? Do those who AREN'T believers see how you treat those people and see Christ or a fallen human being?

I've made a concerted effort to be an encourager. I want those who see me to ask what's different about her? Why is she happy? Why is she treating me so well? Why is she looking out for others and telling me I can do it when I don't think I can? Why isn't she berating me when I've made a mistake?

People will know us by our love or lack thereof.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

For those who prayed for me two weeks ago, I thank you. God gave me the strength to get through the song, though I can't say it was my best, and to speak the words He gave me for our congregation. I have since received thank you cards and many hugs from those who heard what was said and took it to heart as well as those who have been praying the same things for our church. My prayer is for all who were there to hear from God as to what they should do with the words He spoke.

This week is a very special one for me. I love Christmas. The beginning is very important to remember. But for me Resurrection weekend is the highlight of my year. It's the time when we corporately celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I don't call it "Easter" because it has nothing to do with eggs, rabbits, and a goddess from a pagan religion. Don't get me wrong. I like seeing all the cute decorations and our kiddos have been to many egg hunts. I'm certainly not fanatical about it. I DO want our kids to know the REAL meaning of this weekend and not the world's version.

It's about the death of the Passover Lamb. He was spotless, had no sin. He healed sick and blind people while always teaching a way of peace which made little sense to those around Him. It's about power. Those who had it did NOT want to relinquish a moment of it. So they killed Him thinking death would end it all. They did not realize they were still carrying out the perfect plan of the Father God. His will prevailed and on the third day Christ Jesus rose from the dead.

He took on the sins of the world. ALL of them whether we accept it or not. He was separted from the Father. I believe this is the real hell. To have no contact with my Daddy...I cannot fathom the despair. He took on the pain, shame and debt of my sins so that I might be made holy and blameless before my Daddy. He cried out, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing," and knew it was not only for those right that minute who tormented Him, but for ALL of us who go against what He's asked of us. He didn't need us to ask for the forgiveness in order to want to give it. He wanted us to be at peace with Him and with each other.

We read in Romans 12:18 "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." And then in Ephesians 6:12 we read, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

When we fight with one another, not being rooted in Christ's love and peace, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We are CALLED to be at peace with ALL men. We tend to find disputable matters to argue about which truly have nothing to do with the reality that we are supposed to turn angry words away with gentle ones according to Proverbs 15:1. Yet, too often we go on the attack and say things which wound deeply and the enemy WINS. He divides and hurts and causes bitterness to separate those who are Christ's. We decide that someone else isn't being the Christian they should be and we turn a cold shoulder to them. Is that what CHRIST, the Savior Who, while writhing in abject PAIN on a cross begged His Father to forgive those causing His torment, would do? Who then are we to do it to others when we claim we want to be conformed to His perfect image?

The time is coming soon when our Lord will come back with a shout and take all of His bride home. He will currently find backbiting, anger, bitterness and wrath. All those things which Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us, EXPRESSLY, to get rid of..."Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

And yes, I've heard the argument that we are only supposed to forgive those who have asked for it. I tell you to re-read Christ's words on the cross. NOWHERE do those who punished Him ask for forgiveness and yet He did not withold it. THAT is our example. NOT what the enemy would have us do which is holding onto the very things we are CALLED to get rid of so we can live righteously for Christ. Scripture tells us that those who are not yet believers will know us by our love, one for another. I look at my own family and don't see it. There's more bitterness and wrath swirling than a tornado in some cases. Yet they feel justified because they've been hurt. And satan wins. My heart breaks as I watch the patterns being played out over and over. Honestly, none of us want to hear that the forgiveness isn't actually FOR the other person. It's for US. It's so that WE are in a right relationship with Christ. If there's any of that mess in our hearts, then that's less of HIM in our heart. How sad!

During this time of Passover week and Resurrection weekend my prayer is for reconciliation, for my family who desperately need it from one end to the other, and for yours. For the body of Christ to rise up and BE what Christ calls us to be! United in HIM. Loving each other as Christ loved His church and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER. We don't love others that way, do we? Why not? Who's helping to keep us in the misery that is bitterness, anger, wrath and malice? Think about who's side you are on and Who's side you WANT to be on.

May the peace of Christ reign in your life and may this mean a radical change in how you deal with others. Remembering our struggle is NOT against the people, but against a common enemy who longs for us to be destroyed.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

For the last six weeks or so God has had a very heavy burden on my heart. A particular song repeats itself in my brain. It's by Third Day called, "Cry Out to Jesus". The lyrics are pretty simple, yet hold such power.

Two weeks ago I found out I was scheduled to sing during our morning worship at church. I knew without a doubt which song to do. It's a fairly new song so I was concerned I wouldn't be able to find the performance track for it. I prayed about it and knew if I was to do this song, God would provide. He did.

I'm almost shaking with emotion right now. While practicing for Sunday I have cried through the song more times than not. I've had to have such a tight control on my voice that I wonder how in the world I'll make it through without completely breaking down.

You see, the words say this:

Cry Out To Jesus - Third Day (2005)

To everyone who's lost someone they love
long before it was their time.
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye.

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
keepin' you back from your life.
You believe that there's nothing
and there is no one who can make it right.

There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus.

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
have lost all of their faith in love.
and they've done all they can to make it right again
still it's not enough.

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
you try to give up but you come back again.
Just remember that you're not alone
in your shame and your suffering.

There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus.

When you're lonely and it feels like the whole world is falling on you
you just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus

Cry to Jesus.

To the widow who suffers from being alone,
wipin' the tears from her eyes.
For the children around the world without a home,
say a prayer tonight.

There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing
that meets you wherever you are.
There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing
that meets you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus.

Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus.

I know SO many people with these exact struggles, pains and burdens. And, though it seems so simple and so hard at the same time, the answer TRULY is just to cry out to Jesus.

On Sunday, April 2nd at around 10:45 or so, I covet your prayers. Not only am I going to sing the song, but God has burdened my heart to address my congregation with a challenge. Now, for anyone who knows me well you know I challenge people on a minutely basis. :-) That's not an issue. I just feel so passionately burdened by this I'm on the verge of crying every time I think about it.

The masks we wear have GOT to come off. We have GOT to start being open and vulnerable enough to let those around us know we struggle. How can God work through us to help others if those people don't KNOW we have the same problems? How can He use our past hurts and troubles, when He's brought us the victory and Himself the glory, if we don't SHARE them?

There are those who have been in adultery in our congregation yet have the shame of thinking they are still covered in that sin even though they've been forgiven and healed. Those who struggle everyday with just believing there IS a God who loves us or with how to have faith in every day life. Same thing with addictions. God has given them the victory yet they hide it for whatever reason. Pride mostly, I think.

How much would satan suffer if we dropped our masks and were real with each other about our lives? I'm not saying I've got this down to a science. There are things I haven't felt God tell me to share with every person I meet. On the other hand, He's used everything in my life to help someone else through their struggles.

I used to wear masks. I tried for a long time to be whatever anyone wanted me to be. It didn't work. In fact, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. But now that I've learned that lesson, I'm FREE. I'm free to be who He made me to be without apology. I'm free to love on people when they are hurting, sad, desperate in their struggles. I'm free to speak the words He gives me knowing I'm in HIS will and that's all that matters.

So, as I share my heart with our congregation, I deeply covet your prayers. I also ask that you be praying for yourself. What masks are you wearing? Are you trying to be something or someone you were not meant to be? Is it working? I doubt it. Take off the mask!!!! BE who God intended you to be when He knit you in your mother's womb. He knows you! He knows every cell in your body and what He wanted for you. Seek His face and He will show you a freedom and peace you cannot imagine.

Colossians 2:1-17

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day -- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

May we all be able to show the face God made to everyone we meet, rather than the mask the enemy would try to make us hide behind.

IN Christ,


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Web Of Lies

I recently finished a book called “Web Of Lies” by one of my favorite authors, Brandilyn Collins. The suspense was great, the writing of high caliber, but the message struck me the most.

Without giving anything away, I can tell you the overall theme of the book has to do with the title, which may seem obvious. Though I believe it all starts with a SINGLE strand of “lie” which the enemy feeds us and then becomes a web in which we get tangled.

Each of us, in whatever stage of our faith walk we might be, are probably buying into some lie from the enemy. What that lie is in your life I could only guess. Being the person I am, I have some ideas for those I know. As a true believer that Scripture is THE ultimate measuring stick for Truth I’m going to tackle a few lies that come to mind and give some verses which dispel that lie for what it is.

Prayerfully ask God to show you what you are hearing from the enemy which is wrong and how it is affecting your life. Again, these are only a few on a long list the devil uses to trip us up. If you would like to contact me personally for some help, I can do my best to find the Scriptural texts for what’s going on.

Some lies:

- God is punishing me for sins I’ve committed in the past. Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

This TRULY means the sin is GONE for those who are in Christ. God doesn’t keep a record of wrong as it says in 1 Corinthians 13. He IS love and therefore all those verses hold to the character of God. Rom 4:7-8 "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT." The capitals are part of my Bible and not my own. The shed blood of Jesus Christ is the covering. It blots out ALL sin. Not just the little ones or the ones you think He can handle.

- There’s a person out there who will make my life complete. Colossians 2:8-10 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;”

I’ve been talking with a few different women lately. All have said the same basic thing. We are raised, in this culture, to believe there’s a fairy tale ending in our future once we meet “the right person” and get married. That person will fulfill every need in our lives and we will live happily ever after. REALITY CHECK. This is NOT how God intended it to be. Yes, the person He has for you is going to balance you, challenge you to be better, and help you along the path (if they are walking as they should) to a deeper relationship with CHRIST Who will fulfill every need you have. NO human being can make you happy. I repeat, NO HUMAN BEING CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY. It’s just not possible. They are human. They are fallible. They are going to fall, hurt you, disappoint you and even rip your heart out sometimes. This will NEVER be the case with Christ. He is the AUTHOR AND PERFECTOR OF OUR FAITH (Hebrews 12:2).

- I have to clean myself up before I can come to Christ and ask for His forgiveness. Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Did you catch that very first word in the verse? CREATE. And Who does the creating? GOD. You have nothing to do with it except a willingness to submit your life to His Lordship. That’s it. You CAN’T make yourself clean. It’s not possible. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” The emphasis is mine, but you understand the point. It’s Christ's blood, the shedding of it, and the washing of our lives in the Word (which is ALSO Christ – see John 1:1) which cleanses us. Nothing we do will ever make us clean. It’s all about Him.

- I’m the only one who struggles with this sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Now whether you TAKE the escape route is something else entirely, but the hatch is there. And I guarantee there are others in the body dealing with the same sin. God says so. There’s NOTHING new under the sun. Nothing. Christ was tempted in every way we are and yet, God, in His mercy, gave the escape hatch and the Savior took it each time. The most well known temptation is in the wilderness by satan himself. What did Christ use to battle the enemy? The WORD. He knew it inside and out. ‘Course He did have some advantages since He IS the Word, but we are called to be imitators of Him, right? Therefore, what do we need to do? Get the Word hidden in our hearts so we can combat the enemy when he throws those temptations our way.

- I do what I don’t want to do.

Yep. That’s the way of life here on this corrupted earth. BUT, we have HOPE. Paul speaks about his “thorn”. A thought just came to me. Perhaps his thorn was some lie he couldn’t shake from satan? Some nagging unworthiness with which the enemy continued to haunt him. He did persecute Christians to the point of death. He held the cloaks of the other Pharisees so they could stone Stephen. And we see the beautiful word picture of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all, STANDING to welcome Stephen into the kingdom. Man, what a dream! But I digress. How do we change this? WE don’t! Only God can change these things in our lives. It’s our obeDIEnce. Yes, I did that on purpose. Ever notice the little word in the very middle of obedience? It’s DIE. We HAVE to die to self and live for Christ. We MUST put aside our wants and longings which aren’t of Him and give ourselves over to the abundant life He has in store for us. Easy? Not hardly! This world is FULL of things which seem to satisfy, but only ever for a time. Then we’re back to what? Feeling like a worm. Feeling like we let Him down. But we didn't! He already knew we were going to do whatever it was. And He’s still THERE!!! He may shake His head and say, “Not the best idea, was it?” Then He’s going to say, “Ready for My way? Come on. Let’s go from here.”

- My success is measured in the world’s standards of fame and fortune. Mark 4:18-19 "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

I am, by NO means, saying those who have been blessed financially should give it all away or you’re not godly. That’s something only Christ can tell you in your life and for His purposes. Those desires and that wealth CAN be something which keeps us from having the relationship He’s desperate for us to know. He DIED for us to have that relationship and yet we chase the almighty dollar which has done NOTHING for us.

As I said before, these are just a very few of the numerous lies I’ve heard satan tickle ears with to keep people from a deeper relationship with Christ. I could go on and on. I doubt I’ve even hit most of the lies, but God knows and if you are truly seeking His will for your life, He will show you where you’ve been led astray.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Scriptures. Okay, there are a LOT of favorites. This is one I’ve actually committed to memory. Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the path everlasting.” That’s a prayer I try to pray daily. Hard for the enemy to break through when we’re begging God to show us HIS way. Stay on the offensive. The enemy is prowling, seeking someone to kill, steal from and destroy. I pray your armor is on tight (Ephesians 6:10-19) and you are imbedding His Word deeply into your heart daily.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wrestling Match

Good morning! It’s been a while since God’s laid anything particular on my heart to share. A lot has happened in the month or so which has passed. Some of you I’ve spoken with directly and others have gotten emails here and there. Some of you I don’t know personally, but you are loved in Christ nonetheless.

Last time was a little tough. I must have struck a few nerves since I didn’t get much in the way of a response. :-D Honestly, I’m not bothered in the least by the lack of comments. That’s not why I write these blogs. I write them to help others gain a deeper relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Today, though, some may think I’m writing about them specifically. Nope. There is no one person for whom this applies. It applies to my own life as much as anything. Because of our soul’s deep desire to be closer to God we will inevitably find ourselves in this kind of circumstance in life. It’s how we proceed which will make the difference.

Here’s the Scripture which started all this out today – Genesis 32:24-28
“Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When he (the man) saw that he had not prevailed against him (Jacob), he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob's thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him (the man). Then he (the man) said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.’ But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

So he (the man) said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’

He (the man) said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’”

I added the little helps for those, like me, who have problems following the pronouns sometimes. :-)

Jacob wrestled with God. While we don’t see God Himself coming down and physically struggling with Jacob, we know this is true. WHY??? Why did Jacob, after having been given the blessing of God’s own promise to him (Genesis 28:11-15) still wrestle?

How about us? Are we not given the promise from God in Jeremiah 29:11? “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” And yet we struggle against Him when we don’t like how the “plans and future” seem to be turning out. Forget for the moment that WE are probably the main reason why we don’t like the current situation and it’s due to our own poor choices. That’s for another day. :-)

We tell Him He can’t be right in how He’s working things out, though we are told in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” He couldn’t possibly have meant for me to go through this pain, right?

What about Jacob? Did God mean for him to limp for the rest of his life? You BET He did! WHY? In our weakness God is made strong. When we rely on HIM for our strength He can do amazing things in our lives. Want proof? Think back on some trying times you’ve had. Did you draw closer to God or wrestle with Him? What was the outcome? For myself, I’ve wrestled. I’ve yelled and sobbed and wanted to throw things at Him. Did it really make any difference? Nope. He just looked at me and said, “Are you done now? Can we go from here the way I originally intended or do we have to fight more before you’ll realize I love you and have the best in mind for you?” And guess what? The best has ALWAYS, and I truly mean ALWAYS, been better than what I could have gotten on my own. For those who know me, you can see some of the blessings God has given me for my letting Him call the shots.

Now I will start to show a little of the personal without using names. What are you contending with God about today? Giving a child up to His will? Letting go of destructive behaviors which have drug you down for years? Allowing God to heal you in a marriage relationship? Allowing God to HEAL the marriage relationship despite what your flesh feels? Getting out of a destructive relationship? Remembering that we are called to forgive no matter what? Getting rid of a crutch you’ve used to cover up the deeper pains? Holding onto someone who might not be the one God intends for you? Just seeking to be closer to HIM and not some person?

DON’T LET GO! Jacob held onto the man and said he wouldn’t let go until he got the blessing. He clung. He wanted that blessing more than anything, this time legitimately. Cling to the One who gives the blessings. Hold onto Him and tell Him how much you want to see the good in your life. HIS way. Ask Him to be the One to guide your steps today and always. Grab His hand and take this walk in life. The path is rocky at times, but He will be there to help you THROUGH it. Sometimes around, but mostly THROUGH.

I once heard a quote something like this: A life’s story would be pretty boring without the challenges and conflicts as well as the conquests. I can honestly say I’m thankful for the wrestling matches I’ve had with Christ. They have always brought me into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. And that’s priceless.