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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Conflicting Voices

You're driving your vehicle to a destination you've never been to. Your passenger, who has taken the trip a thousand times before, is giving you step-by-step instructions on how to get there. But just in case, you keep your GPS running. You reach a fork in the road and your passenger is telling you to go right. But the voice of the GPS is telling you to go left. What sudden confusion this creates! What do you do in that moment? Which voice will you trust - the one sitting next to you, who has never failed to get you anywhere, or the voice of the GPS who comes across as the expert?

This is similar to the conflicting messages we get between a religious spirit and the Spirit of God. One will tell you one thing while the other tells you something else. What confusion this creates for God's sheep! This is why God warns us about false teaching and the "yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees"! Their teaching will worm their way into our thinking and rob us of our clarity and freedom.

There is only one Voice worth tuning in to and we must keep our ears sensitive to it. The Voice of God often comes in whispers and will always be consistent with His Word. The voice of Religion can be loud, like a GPS volume turned up on high. It is often the voice that is most popular with the general population who do not have a personal relationship with God, Himself, and will sound highly spiritual.

And Beware! Our enemy disguises himself as 'an angel of light' (2 Corinthians 11:14) and will try to deceive even the elect in these last days. He will make the lies seem true and even good! If we are not careful, we will start listening and believing the wrong voice because it 'sounds right'.

But God is faithful to us. If we keep ourselves close to the Shepherd, He will make sure we don't miss His Voice. He will keep us on course and bring clarity, no matter how loud the other voices get.


You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:7-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:5-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.
In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:12-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger;
they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

"The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
‭‭John‬ ‭10:1-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Friday, August 25, 2017

I See You

It's so important that they are watching. There could be a hundred parents watching the baseball game, but that doesn't matter much to Johnny. He's only concerned with two sets of eyes watching the game - his mom and dad. He'll look over his shoulder multiple times just to check to see if they are looking at him or distracted with other things. The game means that much more when the most important people are there to witness it and watch him do something special.

Little four year old Jennifer feels the same way when she's dancing and singing in the living room. She's looking to see if her parents are watching her every move and listening to every note. And if they are not a captive audience, she'll do what she needs to do to get their attention, like sing a little louder or stand in front of the TV screen that they are watching. It's not just about dancing and singing. It's about being noticed and feeling loved.

Many of us understand, on a spiritual level, where Johnny and Jennifer are coming from. Deep in our hearts we want to know that we are not going unnoticed in this life. We want to know that we aren't just a number in a sea of people here on earth. We want to know that we are not alone and that Someone sees us. Someone understands. Someone is watching us as we 'throw the ball' or 'sing a high note'. Someone who is present in our brightest moments, as well as in our darkest days. Someone who will validate us.

But we don't just want any Someone. We want Daddy. And not just any daddy. We want our Daddy. The One that made us. The One that breathed life into us. We recognize that there is only One Person we need watching us. There is only one set of eyes that matter - His alone.

And we certainly don't need to strain ourselves to gain His attention. We already have it because He is completely infatuated with us. He actually can't take His eyes off of us for even a second. We are always in His mind and always in His sight. We are never considered a 'number'. To Him, we are His Child, His Beloved. We are the apple of His eye!

And He will be there. He'll be at every 'baseball game' of our life. He will be the Dad in the stands yelling, "You can do it!" as He waves a souvenir flag in the air with our name on it. He'll be the Dad that shuts the TV off so we know that we have His undivided attention. He'll be the Dad that lets us know that we don't have to strain ourselves to get noticed. There's no need to sing louder or dance harder. He'll be the Dad that says,

"I see you. I Am with you. I love you. You have my attention."

And that is all we are looking for.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Keep What Matters Most

Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief...I am coming soon. 
Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:3, 11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Over the years, I have cleaned out my house several times. It's amazing how many unwanted or unnecessary items build up. Toys. Clothes. Books. I have to sort through things at least once a year to keep things from getting overly cluttered. But, no matter how many times I clean out the house, there are some things I will never consider tossing. Things like birth certificates, social security cards, my wedding photos, and videos of the kids, always make the cut. Though I want to be clutter free, I don't lose all my common sense. I continue to hold on to what is most important. 

Jesus tells His Church, His Bride, to do the same. We can over complicate things in this Christian life and make it harder than it really is. We fill our 'house' with various teachings and doctrines and allow it to accumulate within us. We get so 'in our head' over stuff that we start losing our grasp on our Basic Foundation - Him. When this happens, we need to go back and reassess what we've put in our 'house'. We need to pull out the things we've allowed to live in our 'home', and throw off all that hinders - keeping only what is most important. 

Things like the Cross and forgiveness through His Blood should never leave our 'house'. It is our Firm Foundation. Our First Love for Him should not only stay, but be a centerpiece in our 'home'. And loving others and doing Good should never be put out on the curb for trash. The things that are important to God, stay important to us. 

So, no matter what comes and goes, we must be sure to never toss that which means the most and what is actually holding our 'house' together: Jesus, Himself.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Whistle While You Work!

Mary Poppins had it right. "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap! The job's a game!" She had a way of showing those kids that anything on their to-do list can either be seen as a job or a game. We can either have fun with our tasks or reluctantly push ourselves through it.

Many of us could benefit from listening to her words of encouragement. We have trouble coupling the words FUN and WORK together. Now, I don't mean we don't take our work seriously. I don't want my dentist to think that he doesn't have to focus on his job as he's drilling into my tooth. What I mean is, we can be joyful in our hearts even as we go about our serious work.

I think God loves putting words like FUN, LAUGHTER, SMILES, and HUMOR with words like WORK, JOB, and PRODUCTIVITY. Don't you think God has fun as He works? I do! I mean, how can the source of all JOY not be JOYFUL in all He does? I can only imagine the excitement in His heart when He made Creation! I bet the Godhead had a blast as they made the sky and the sea and the galaxies and all the cool animals and especially Adam and Eve! They did it and had FUN! Imagine that?? It was definitely not just 'another day at the office'! They were Days that were probably filled with Laughter and Joy!

Some of us have forgotten how to 'whistle while we work' and smile throughout the day. Everything is a chore. Everything is laborious. Everything is work, work, work and a 'let's just get to Friday, already' outlook. But life does not have to be lived like that. And God would love to change that outlook if you let Him!

See, because of Sin coming into the world, work has become a joyless pit for many. Maybe that's why we call it a JOB. Just change the O to a long vowel and you're describing a man that went through a miserable season! But because of Jesus, we can have a completely renewed outlook! It's no longer just 'another day, another dollar'. Now, with Him, we have eternal purpose as we step foot into any place of employment. It can be a high paying or low paying job. It doesn't matter. We no longer work for a paycheck. We work for the King and with the King. On earth, they may call you a cashier, but in Heaven they call you a Child of God. Your job description on earth may be checking out groceries, but your job description in Heaven is being the Aroma of Christ. I like to see us as being like superheroes. We are average people in this world, but our true identities are out of this world!

If your life has been reduced to 9 to 5 living with everyday being a joyless struggle, then it's time for you to start asking God to change your perspective. God wants to make everyday for you exciting because when we walk with Jesus He makes things exciting! He can turn your monotonous job into a joyful task - not because the task changed, but because you have changed. And look out, because Joy is more contagious than the common cold. Because you are welcoming Joy, your workplace atmosphere will start to change. Your co-workers will start to wonder why in the world you are so chipper. They may even find themselves hungry and thirsty for what you have and will want to 'taste and see that the Lord is Good' too!

So go! Do your job! And take Jesus (and all of His JOY, FUN, LAUGHTER, SMILES AND HUMOR) with you and

ENJOY your day!!


Friday, August 18, 2017

Symptoms Of Something Bigger

I've heard that one of the first things to know in counseling other people is that the true problem is not usually the one that is first presented by the client(s). A couple may seek counseling for their marriage struggles, for example. They present their frustrations over communication, money, sex…but by the 3rd session, it comes out that the real problem is the husband's history with other women and the wife's nonexistent relationship with her father. The presenting problem was just a symptom of something bigger and deeper in both of them. In order to really bring healing, they would need to address those deeper issues and then the symptoms would be easier to address. 

I think this is also true on a larger scale. We turn on the news and see many not so feel-good stories: Crime, riots, abuse, terrorism, drug overdoses... terrible stories. We shake our heads and say, "What is this world coming to?" 

But they are all just symptoms of something Bigger. Ultimately, the heart of all of mankind's problem is the result of Sin coming into the world. There wasn't a negative thing to report in the Garden until Adam and Eve decided to taste test that forbidden fruit. It was all uphill after that as they became the world's first dysfunctional family -  even to the extent of murder in their own household when Cain killed Abel!

On top of that huge problem, we have an enemy, Lucifer, who is out to kill, steal, and destroy us. Encouraging, right? Ha! Yeah, he certainly doesn't help. Whether we believe it or not, we are fighting an invisible war that is bigger than us. The awful things we see in the natural are often a symptom of the unseen battle taking place around us. 

But then even beyond that, the heart of our symptoms are rooted in man's own choices. We have a choice every day to either include or exclude Jesus in everything we do - on an individual level, as well as a regional, national, and worldwide level. When we include Him, there is Life, Favor, and Blessing. But when we exclude Him, we are left to our own demise. Like the earth refusing to accept the sun's rays, we become a people who grope around in the dark, trying to figure out which way is True North. 

Every evil thing in this world is a symptom of something spiritually bigger, deeper. The question is, will we put Band-Aids on the symptoms, or will we recognize the real problem? And will we come to the Great, Wonderful Counselor and find the deeper healing that we need to receive and that He is so willing to give?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Making Allowance

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. 
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We make lots of allowances in life. If we're going on a trip, we might make allowance for the heavy traffic that we know we're going to face on the way. We give ourselves extra time because we expect we're going to run into it. Many of us also make allowances in our budget/spending. We've come to realize that unexpected things come up in life that aren't part of our thought-out spending plan. The freezer dies, the car breaks down, the kids have a growth spurt and need new clothes. We make allowance for these things by maybe setting aside some funds in a 'miscellaneous' category. Because we are expecting it, we're able to deal with it a whole lot better when it happens.

But there's one area of life that many of us do not give any allowance to: people's offenses against us. We don't anticipate people potentially disappointing us or rubbing us the wrong way. We don't consider in advance that we live in a fallen world and the chances of us getting offended by another person are pretty high. We don't make allowance and so we aren't ready to respond properly when it happens. 

Now, making allowance for people's faults against us doesn't excuse or justify them. What it does do, though, is cushion us in the process. It helps us be patient and select our words wisely in that moment. It guards us from getting bitter toward them and helps us forgive faster. And it reminds us that God has made MUCH allowance toward us as He forgives us all day long. If He remembers that we are dust and imperfect and forgives us, then we should do the same for others - and hope that they will do the same for us when we offend them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Well Watered

My house plants are wonderful. They bring beauty to my home and help filter the air in my house. They are both useful and beautiful. But they are also dependent. If it weren't for me, they would be, well, in house plant heaven, I suppose. ;) I love watching the soil drink the water when I feed my them - especially if it's been awhile since I've watered them. I can almost hear them thanking me as they gulp it down. (OK, not really. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind to that extent, yet.) But I'm sure they love it as the water travels up their stems and revives their drooping leaves. I've never had to talk them into taking a drink. They naturally know what to do when the water hits them - they receive. They were created to receive. When they are dry and thirsty, they don't resist the water, they welcome it.

I'd like to say I'm the same way. But I'm not. It's actually hard for me to receive. Maybe it's the way I was raised, or my schooling, or the religion I was brought up under, but I have a hard time receiving - on several levels. It can be hard for me to receive a compliment. It can be hard for me to receive someone's help. But it can be especially hard for me to receive from God. Only He knows how much patience He has been with me over the years as He's tried to 'water' me, only to have me push back on His Love. I can tend to struggle in His Arms as He washes me with His Word. It can be hard for me to receive words like, "You are loved. You are worth much. You are precious. I LOVE YOU." I can't tell you how many times I have probably talked God out of having feelings for me. 

But God knows that some 'soil' is just harder to penetrate than others. And He's sooo patient as He gently continues to give, even in our resistance. He knows that it's not that the 'plant' doesn't want to drink, it's that it hasn't understood how to. So, He'll let His Faucet continue to run over us until one day we finally give in. And oh what a moment that is! The moment we finally say "YES!" to the Water of His Presence and let Him in and let Him love us. It's a sweet surrender. And we finally see that the One we were so afraid to open up to, is the One that was there to save us all along!

And just like a house plant, we don't just drink Him in once. We are ever dependent on a God that has made us to be dependent on Him. He gives and we drink. He gives and we drink...we "are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do." (Psalm 1:3 NLT)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Any Wall!

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬


There's nothing like hitting that proverbial Wall. It's the Wall we stare at in the journey when we question if we can even go on. We've poured ourselves out and given it our all and now find ourselves running on empty. We literally are not even sure if we can put one more foot in front of the other. Even the thought of it is exhausting. We know in our minds we can't just throw in the towel. We say, "How can I abandon ship now? I've come too far." As we simultaneously say, "But, I have nothing left to give." It's a Wall that is bigger than what we've ever encountered. 

But the Wall may just be a reminder to us. We look down at our hands and remember again that we are human. Our own strength and determination is earthly and limited and there is only so much we can do in and of ourselves. We tire out, we grow weary. We aren't endless running machines.

But then we remember! We have a God living inside of us that never tires! We quickly go from looking at our hands to lifting our eyes toward Heaven, and say, "I can't, but He can!" And immediately we are energized! I don't mean re-inspired in our own strength. I mean physically, emotionally, mentally, and in every way ENERGIZED by Him! His Spirit rises up in us like Living Water and begins to flush out the exhaustion and despair and replaces them with renewed Strength! We remember that God in us is a Resource of Endless Joy - a Joy that translates as STRENGTH in the human body! 

The Wall, then, is no longer an impossible point in the Journey. Instead, it becomes an Opportunity to see just how strong God is and how powerful His Joy can really be! We stop saying "impossible" and start agreeing with Psalm 18 and declare,

"With my God I can scale ANY Wall!"

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Feeling Like A Meatball?

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed...

Poor little meatball. 

What did he ever do to anyone anyway? Sittin' on the top of his world, minding his own meatball and spaghetti business when suddenly... 

He's completely blindsided by a nasty blast of someone's sneeze! 

And, if that's not enough, he gets knocked off his horse, (well, pasta platter) and rolls right out of his comfort zone. First the table, then the floor and - who knows why nobody stopped and helped the poor fellow - but he rolls right out the door! How much more vulnerable and out of your element can you get?!

What downward momentum he must have had because he didn't stop there. His humbling journey continues as he rolls into the garden and, of all places, under a bush where no one can see him and he can very well be forgotten about altogether. What a personal dilemma and place of humiliation for the confused guy. I can imagine after a moment of lying there as a pile of mush, that he may have been tempted to despair and give up on all hope of anything good coming from such a terrible thing.  

But, to his amazement, this was not the end of his story! 

Surprisingly, we are told that the 'mush was as tasty as tasty can be!' His trial made him even more pleasing! Imagine that! And, after a year of hiding, the season changed and what was once a pile of mush became its own growing tree! And, that tree grew amazing 'fruit' - more meatballs and tomato sauce! 

So, if you're a meatball all covered in cheese, on top of your bowl of spaghetti.  Remember the journey of our poor little fellow and the good that came out of that sneeze!

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Breaking A Wild Horse


Horses are beautiful and strong animals that can be the most useful creatures on the planet.  But a horse is only useful when it learns how to submit to its master. Until it learns how to listen and obey, it can not be placed in situations where it can be of use to its owner. The owner must first 'break' the horse before it can ever accomplish anything with it.

Some of the most broken people on the earth need to be broken. I don't mean they need to be further harmed. I mean they need the Master to come in and teach them how to follow. They are like wounded wild horses. Though they are very needy, they are also very strong-willed. They are used to calling the shots in their life and maybe not afraid to call the shots in other people's lives. They have the potential to do great things, but they have no Master.

God is the Great Trainer.  No horse is too hard for Him to train and no case is too impossible for Him. The article above describes some approaches to breaking a horse. As I read it, I can't help comparing parts of it with how our Master 'breaks' us.

It's opening statement reads:  "In general, a horse's loyalty greatly depends on the type of training or breaking that it receives. Horses that are broken to follow their leader out of respect are much more enjoyable than those that follow out of fear." 

This is an extremely important note. Our Shepherd does NOT use fear to train us. He does not use intimidation, threats, or bullying to teach us. If someone thinks God is using fear to train them, they should question the voice they're listening to. It could very well be the devil's condemning, lying voice, not God's. God's Voice is one of Love. Even in His correction, He is gentle with our hearts.  He earns our respect through His patient, yet steady, firm Hand.

The article continues on with giving practical steps...

Gain the trust of your horse.  Always be sure that there is a connection/bond with your horse. If your horse is afraid of you or doesn't fully trust you, then there is hardly any point training him. Talk to him, groom him (grooming helps connect you with the horse and forms a bond between the two of you) and reassure him if he is spooked by something.

Remember, first and foremost, God is interested in a relationship with us. He doesn't train us just so we can be used. His first priority is to be close to us and bond with us. He understands that if He's going to get anywhere with us, He must first gain our trust. (And let me say this: He does not take our trust lightly. He realizes how precious it is because trust is the highest expression of our faith in Him.) He 'grooms' us with His care over us. He heals us. He reassures us of our worth to Him. He chases out our fears. He pours His great Love into us. Our response to Him is then shear gratefulness and the result is loyalty toward Him and trust in Him.

Train the horse from the ground. Before attempting to mount the animal, it is important to gain its trust with ground breaking.
  • Attach a lunge line to the horse's halter. Train the horse to follow your commands as it moves in a large circle around you. Introduce the horse to the words: "halt", "walk" and "back".
  • Teach the horse to properly walk beside you while leading it with a lead rope. It should learn to stop, start, turn and respect your space as its leader. Try not to let your horse boss you around as he/she will think they can do what they want.
Here's the thing wild horses need to learn the most: THEY are not the boss nor can they boss the Master. The Bible says a master is always greater than the servant. We are not in charge. He is. He is our Friend, but He is also Lord. And He is also the King of ALL Kings. 

Introduce the riding equipment that you will use while breaking a horse.  In the beginning, the animal may be afraid or timid with the unfamiliar sights and sounds of riding tack.
  • The horse must become accustomed to having a bit in its mouth. Begin by placing the bit in the horse's mouth for short intervals of time and work up to longer periods. You can also buy a breaking bit. Lead the horse while it is wearing the bridle.
Here's where things are a little different with God. He trains us not so that He can control us, but so that we will WILLINGLY submit to His Spirit and follow Him. He actually doesn't want to put a bit in our mouths so that we feel forced to obey. He wants to get us to a place where our hearts are so saturated with His Love that we want to always be where He is and follow His Voice - simply because we are in Love with Him and we trust that He is Good and is guiding us.

Psalm 32:8-9 tells us: The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."

Here's the amazing part of it all: He 'breaks' the wild horse only to lead it into the very best!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Stick A Toothbrush In My Mouth And Call Me In The Morning

I had some choice words to say, for sure. While my patience was slipping, my thoughts were forming. But, all that came out of my mouth was nonsense. What a predicament to have so much to say and have a toothbrush wedged inside my mouth! I aimed and fired but all that came out was foam. Looking back now, I'm thankful for it. Within minutes, my temper calmed down, and by the time I rinsed my mouth out, I was thinking more clearly and had a much better response than my first reaction. 

Sometimes, the first things that come to our mind in a potentially heated situation are not the best ones. They are part of our reaction in the situation instead of a thought-out response. They are charged up with emotion and most likely unfiltered. In that moment, we probably aren't thinking about the ramifications of our words or if we even sincerely mean them.

In every scenario, we have a choice. Will we be the boss of our tongue, or will our tongue be the boss of us? Will we grab the reins of that creature or will we surrender to him? Will we hold him submissive or let him take the wheel and potentially send us flying down a dangerous course with no license to drive? He is a ruthless thing that takes a mile if you give him an inch. And once he's out of his cage, it's like trying to lasso a wild animal to get him controlled again.

If you want a happy home, one of the first places to start is with that creature inside your mouth. Nothing starts a fire faster than a spark coming from your lips. And nothing quenches a fire like words that bring peace. A happy, peaceful home is the fruit of a lassoed tongue. The question is, who's the boss? You or him? Just remember, though, it's through His Strength and a yielding to His Spirit that we are successful at anything that is Righteous. 

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? 
No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
‭‭James‬ ‭3:2-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Out With The Bad

Detoxing is tough but necessary. Whether it's drugs, or food, or alcohol, the first step toward wellness is to get rid of the thing that is waging war against you. We usually only think of the body when we think about detoxing, but many of us need a spiritual detox, too.  

So many of us have ingested polluted or poisoned teaching. We've listened to spiritual ideas that are laced with Religion. The preachers/priests who fed us may have used the Bible, but they imposed their own ideas and twisted the scriptures to defend those ideas. They took scripture out of context or completely removed certain scriptures that didn't support their teaching. They preached a different kind of gospel that is not Spirit led, accurate, or even remotely close to God's Heart. They filled our cups with bad water and told us to drink it. They baked up their own concoctions and told us to eat it. This has left them feeling spiritually superior, and us sick to our stomachs.  

I think there is nothing that makes God more infuriated than seeing His kids poisoned. And what makes Him even more upset is when they are told this toxic food is from HIM! Can you imagine seeing someone give your kid a piece of bread that is laced with poison and they think you gave it to them? How misrepresented would you be?! Then when your kid ends up sick, they would wonder what kind of parent they really have!

Friends, many of us need to ask God, our Father, if we have ingested bad food and water. We may not even be aware of it because it's been camouflaged or we have grown used to the taste and the resulting sour stomachs.

Jesus is the Bread of LIFE. Pure, Unlaced, Bread will bring Healing and Wellness at the first bite. Fresh Water from His River will bring immediate relief to our parched lips and make us never thirst for anything else again. Good Food and Water will flush out the Toxins and bring clarity of mind. It will always satisfy and never leave us suffering. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Relayed Messages

The right words will be there. 
The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:12‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Sometimes I'll relay a message to my daughter through my other daughter. I'll say, "Tell your sister she needs to clean her room." When she goes to relay the message, it's understood between the two of them that though it's coming out of her mouth, it's really a message from me. There is authority in her message, not because she said it, but because I am saying it through her.  

God uses the same method to speak to people. He will give someone a message to relay to someone else. Though it is their voice speaking, it is really God's message through them. In the Old Testament, for example, God used the prophet, Nathan, to speak to David. He also used Moses (well, more his brother, Aaron) to speak to Pharaoh. And in the New Testament, God still speaks this way...through the voice of His People. We have the amazing privilege of walking on this earth with God inside of us. As believers we have the Holy Spirit literally dwelling in us. We are a house of God. And believe it or not, God has a lot to say - to us and through us! 

But the Messages we relay are not our own words. They are His. As people of God we can't try making up messages from God and then slapping His Name on it as if He said it. We would be lying. And we know who the father of all lies is... (Ok, I'll tell you. The devil.) 

When God does speak through us, we will know it because the Holy Spirit will give us the words. How important is it, then, for us to get familiar with His Voice! How can we say what He wants us to say if we don't know what His Voice sounds like?

Here are a couple simple points:
1) God's Voice will never contradict His Word, the Bible. Reading the Bible is the best place to learn God's Voice.
2) God's Voice does not have even a drop of condemnation or guilt in it. He will never ask you to speak condemnation over someone or make them feel guilty. 

God is sending out personal Messages on a daily basis to His People so we can relay it to the world. Are you listening and ready to relay?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Among The Undergarments

You just never know when and where the Miracle of Life is ready to take place. I don't mean natural birth. I mean the kind of birth Jesus talked about when He said "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) It can happen in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times. Today, it happened to be in a lingerie store. Was I consciously thinking about the Gospel as I sorted through the drawer of merchandise? Can't really say I was. But I was about to.

An employee of the store started stocking more merchandise next to me and we struck up a friendly conversation about the assortment to choose from. We both laughed about the merchandise, when the conversation suddenly went from undergarments to Salvation. She made a reference about God and I said, "Oh, are you a Christian?" And to my surprise, she answered, "I'm right on the edge of becoming one. I'm trying to decide." My eyes must have gotten big in that moment. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I knew then that I was in that store for more than just some 'girl shopping'. This gal needed some encouragement to step into the Light! She explained to me that she was trying to decide whether she wanted to stay with her religion or become a Christian. So I told her, "All religion is people trying to get to God. Christianity is God already coming to us and inviting us to get close to Him." Because of the religion she was in, she already knew about the sacrifice of Jesus. So I told her, just take what you know and make it personal. Ask God to forgive YOUR sins. Give Him YOUR heart. But she wondered if it was too late for her to come to Him. I said, "Absolutely not! It's only too late if when you die, you haven't repented of your sins."  She was so relieved to hear that.

"Hey, you know, I would be happy to pray for you right now if you want to become a Christian right here." I said.

"Would you?" she said with the sound of relief in her voice. It was as if she was just waiting for someone to take her hand and walk her to where Jesus could be found. I was thrilled and honored to do so.

We walked toward the back of the dressing rooms and there in that quiet moment, in that small hallway, on August 6, 2017, she gave her heart to the Lord. She said, "I believe in you Jesus. Forgive me of my sins. Thank you for forgiving me. Come into my heart. I want you to live in me and I want to live my life with you and for you. And thank you that one day I will be in heaven!"

I was so filled with Joy after we prayed that I couldn't stop jumping up and down and hugging her like she had been my friend for years.

She said, "Wow! I can't believe how I feel. I feel like all this weight just fell off of me!  Thank you so much! It's like you were sent here to talk to me. You have no idea what has been going on in my life and how perfect this timing is!"

"I believe it!" I said. "God has done amazing things in my life, too!"

I gave her my name and phone number and the name of the church I attend.  I encouraged her to read the Bible and start understanding the Word of God. All of Heaven was exploding in celebration as she went back to work and I went back to shopping. Oh, to see the unseen at that moment!

Today was a reminder to me that God is always on the move and always drawing hearts. And the harvest is certainly plentiful! More people are looking for Him than we may realize. But they may not want to walk through our church doors or even know what door to walk through to find the Answer, the Truth. But thankfully, the Church can walk into their world and deliver the Message they are just waiting to hear - even if it's among the undergarments. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

In Plain Sight

It's so funny playing hide and seek with a young child. You want to make it fun for them, but your goal is not to make it impossible for them to discover you. Their objective is to find you, and your objective is to be easily found. So you 'hide' yourself in plain sight. You may  stand behind a curtain with your feet showing at the bottom. You may sit on the sofa and cover your face with a pillow. You may go inside their open toybox, which is a common place for them to look for things. And if the child is having difficulty finding you, you might even give them hints. Maybe you'll start to hum underneath the curtain, or rattle a toy inside the toy box. You 'hide', but you're never really hidden. For you, it's not about hiding, it's all about being easily found.

God says, "Seek and you will find". I can't help but hear Him say it in a playful Voice, like we would to a young child when we invite them to find us in a fun game of hide and seek. But just like we would with young children, He 'hides' Himself in plain sight. He makes Himself so obvious in our day, that the more we play with Him, the easier it is for us to see Him absolutely everywhere and we begin to realize that He's not hiding Himself at all!

To name a few places...we find Him in nature as He uses everything He has created to show us His Beauty and Power, often using them as metaphors about Himself and His Kingdom. All of creation declares the glory and goodness of God. We also find Him as we talk to our sisters and brothers in the Faith. It might be their voice that we hear, but we know it is Him speaking through them. And of course, there is a go-to place where He is always found: the Bible.

'Seek and you will find' is not meant to be a complicated statement and one for us to stress ourselves over, thinking we have to strenuously look for Him. It's an invitation to simply look and see that He is right there in plain sight everywhere we go. He's saying, "If you look, you'll see me!" For Him, it is not about hiding Himself, it's about letting Himself be found.

"...Seek, and you will find..."
Matthew 7:7 NKJV

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Man, The Barn, and The Animals

There was once a man who owned a very large barn. It was so huge that he was able to fill it with hundreds of animals. The barn was impressively spectacular and grew quite a reputation. Many who heard about the barn came to see the impressive sight and always left a generous donation.

This barn was, to say the least, the man's pride and joy as he had put all his investment into buying and maintaining it. All his attention, energy, and money went into its upkeep. He'd never admit it, but the truth was, he wasn't in the animal business because he cared about animals. He was in it so he could say he owned a big barn. He cared more about the barn, itself, than he did the animals that lived in it. 

One night, when all the animals were asleep, intruders broke into the barn and stole all the animals. Later that morning, the intruders contacted the man who owned the barn. 

"We are holding your animals ransom," the thieves told the man. "But we will let your animals live if you give us that beautiful barn of yours."

The man was forced to make a choice. Was he willing to sacrifice his animals or sacrifice his precious, beautiful barn that he worked so hard for? 

After a moment to think, the man concluded that he was not willing to risk losing the barn because he had too much invested in it. It would be too great a loss. 

So he told the thieves, "You're bluffing!"

But the thieves were not. And they said to him again, "We will let your animals live if you give us that beautiful barn of yours."

But the man refused to give in. The thought of losing everything was too much for him. He could never let go of his precious barn, even if it meant losing every single animal. 

That night, the thieves followed through with their threat and slaughtered every animal. 

"How unfortunate," the man thought when he heard the news about the animals. "But at least they didn't take my pride and joy, the precious barn."

But the man soon found out just how important the animals really were. Because there were no animals, people stopped coming to see the barn. And because people stopped coming to see the barn, he no longer received large donations. And because he no longer received large donations, he could no longer keep the barn looking spectacular. And because he could no longer keep the barn looking spectacular, the barn eventually lost all reputation until finally all the man had left was a hollow structure and a broken pride.

The man wept for days over his barn. He could not eat or sleep as he mourned the death of his barn. Finally, after much thought and many tears, the man lifted his head and said to himself, "I see, now. Oh what a foolish man I have been! If I had my priorities straight and cared for what was most important, I would have made the choice to save the animals. Then even if I lost the barn, I could have rebuilt it and in the end both would have been saved!"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Junk Mail

It's amazing the amount of mail I rip up and throw away every day. Some of it, I don't even have to open to know that it's trash. I can tell immediately by the envelope. Credit card offers, business advertisements, flyers I have no interest in. I've come to realize over the years that just because it has made its way into my mailbox, doesn't mean I have to keep it or welcome it into my life. 

There are many other things that come into my life every day that I can choose to keep or trash. People's advice, for example. Seems everyone has an opinion about everything and are always happy to offer their two cents worth. It's important in those moments to listen for Wisdom speaking. Choose to only keep what is worth keeping and trash the "junk mail". Good advice will always line up with the Heart of God/Word of God. 

Spiritual guidance is also another big 'keep or trash' in life. Just like my junk mail, it's amazing the sheer volume of it that finds its way into my 'mailbox'. And none of it is worth keeping. I go to a community festival, and a girl is reading tarot cards. I go on social media and see advertisements for daily horoscopes. I talk to people throughout my day, and hear them promote mystical ideas, things based on human wisdom, not God's. They all seem so inviting and draw you in, much like my junk mail tries to do. But all of it is lifeless and a trap for anyone who welcomes such 'mail' into their lives. 

There is actually only one Letter that is worth keeping in life. The Love Letter of God, our Father: the Bible. It's our great Compass. It tells us who God is, who we are, and how we can know Him. It gives perfect advice and spot on spiritual guidance. It's the only Letter we need and the only Letter worth opening. All the rest is just a bunch of junk mail.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

All Charged Up

My cell phone is amazing. I can text and make phone calls. I can take pictures with it. I can search for recipes. I can access directions on GPS to get me places. I can book concerts, take notes, keep track of my family's calendar, check the weather, google how to get stains out of my carpet or change the oil in my car. The list goes on and on! There is practically nothing I can't do with it! It's a fascinating device right there in my pocket. But as complex and amazing as my cell phone is, it is still a dependent device. It can only do what it does when it has power. Without it, it's nothing but a piece of plastic in my hand. That's why we all hate seeing that dreaded alert come up on our screens: 'LOW BATTERY'. We know then that the countdown is on and we'd better get it plugged into a power source or it won't be good for anything.

In the same way, Believers in Christ are amazing. We can do great things in this world. We are Light. We are Salt. We are Bright and Shining Stars. But we are only those things with His Power in us.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NIV

We only are what we are because of Him. Without Him, we are empty clay jars. Or like a cell phone, we are powerless pieces of plastic. It is with this Power that God does what He does through us. He saved us and filled us with this Power so that we can love on the world, not with our own power and strength, but with His. He is the electricity that runs through us.

We would be kidding ourselves, then, to think that we somehow can do God's will in and of ourselves. For us to do that would be like asking our cell phones to do what they do without a charge in them. Impossible.

God has never asked us to lean on our own strength and He never will. He knows it would be fruitless for us to do so. What He does tell us to do is abide in Him (John 15), stay plugged into Him, and remain fully charged. My friends, if God is going to get anything accomplished through us, it's not going to be in our strength, it's going to be by His Spirit.

'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.
Zech. 4:6 NKJV

For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 AMP

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV