Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Putting Choices Into Perspective

Jeans, boots, sweatshirt and jacket and still I shiver in the crisp early morning air. But the beauty is undeniable as I watch the mist hover over the pond and the geese swim unaware that I evade their territory. I rub my eyes which are still swollen from the crying that I did yesterday. Lifting my camera I snap the photo so serene and reflect on the past few weeks.

My sons are 19 and 18 are pursuing their own life; they don't need their mom very much any more. And last week I found out that my four legged friend died. And then there is the fact that I am forty years old and still single and not wanting to be. And herein enters my work dilemma.

Working in the aviation industry has never been easy. Sometimes I wonder how much of the stuff I put up with is the same stuff that others put up with in other career fields. In fact, I am saddened by the way people treat others because I guess I am na├»ve in feeling that people really aren’t as bad as what they eventually reveal themselves to be.

The past few weeks my chest has been hurting, my head has been splitting from headaches, rest escapes me even though I sleep and I have been more short tempered and irritable. For a company to work people thirteen days on with only one day off (ten hour days) before the schedule repeats itself for six months or longer is a recipe for disaster.

Then you add in the work environment – the cursing, the sexual innuendoes, the feeling of never measuring up to invisible standards – and you become an outcast if you did not participate in this kind of behavior. I don’t mind being an outcast; I have felt this way for almost all of my life.

But what I want to challenge people on is what good is it to bully people just because of their choice of lifestyle. I choose to not curse; I choose not to flirt or accept flirtation from other people in the work environment who is married or who is attached to someone. But in this field of aviation where I choose to have honor and respect for others it comes across as coldness and creates separateness. I work in a team environment but at the same time try to avoid those who like and create drama. But I found that those people went behind my back anyway and invented drama and told lies.

One person in particular, who was my team lead, was going to go to my church with his girlfriend and their two kids. The very next day he was the one who sent me to the office to be fired.  Why? If you are going to be my enemy, why pretend to be my friend? Lies were told and expounded on but the fact remained that I couldn’t stop this form of bullying from occurring nor the results of these lies. It wasn’t enough for these certain people for me to come to my job, mind my own business and do my job as well as I could. Some have told me they thought others were threatened by me – but I don’t understand that. I know I am not the smartest person when it comes to troubleshooting or the work we are doing but I do know that I am a quick learner.
 
There are some people, though, that truly became my friends within this company. And on Halloween night, while others were having good times with their friends and family, costumes and candy; I was surrounded by some of those friends as well. We talked, we laughed, they let me cry and by the end of the night one conclusion came: Only one day would I allow myself to dwell in the negativity of self pity and the injustice that had been done.

Oh, what a difference a day can make. I took a walk this morning and I had no headache, no chest pains, and I felt stress being lifted. It came clear to me that I had been missing from life was those moments to reflect on what truly was important. I know what is important in life but it got lost in the schedule of a business that is out to use people to keep the bottom line in the billions, regardless of the impact on the individuals.

I had been praying and had others praying about my job situation and the reality is, I wanted the prayers to be answered in the form of a direct hire position; instead those prayers were answered by getting me fired.

How do you view this? As a blessing or a trial?

Me? Well, I am okay with this really. It is a bit scary because for the first time in fourteen years I am unemployed, and my bank account is slim; but as I took my walk this morning and had my talk with Jesus I thought about everything that I had been through in my past and realized this problem really is minute compared to going through a miscarriage, a two year divorce proceeding, ten years of dealing with a difficult ex and raising my two sons.

One good thing about the aviation industry is that the jobs are out there; unfortunately that means moving again which I don’t really want to do because I have a church home that I adore and friends that I am getting to know and to love.

Choosing perspective can make or break your day; sometimes it makes or breaks your moment. Last night I was broken because I was choosing a self destructive perspective. This morning, I am choosing a perspective that has long been in practice by many persons before me: trusting that God knows where I am at and loves me more than I will ever know. Because I choose to believe that God is love and God is truth and He shall honor my stand for honor and truth. Not because of who I am but because of who HE is.

The people who schemed to get me fired, whatever their underlying motives or intentions were, they have their reward today as they laugh, joke and make me the gossip of the day; but me, I just look towards the heavens and say Thank You God for getting me out of there and Here I am, send me on to wherever you want me. And to go a bit further in perspective, I choose to pray blessings for those people; I pray that they are able to prosper in their work and in their family life. I choose to pray for an eye opening event that will let them know about Grace. Because what I am talking about right now is Grace and that if I hadn’t been shown grace, then I am not able to extend grace. And because they have done what they have done, then I make the assumption that they haven’t EVER been extended grace in their life. And that is saddening.

What good is it if you only extend grace and love and mercy to those whom you love? For that is the easy part. I challenge you to practice extending grace, love and mercy to those who hate and persecute you for who you choose to be. And it has to be practiced because it does not come naturally.

My circumstances haven’t changed. I am still single. I am still dealing with the empty nest and the recent death of my four legged critter. I am still out of a job. But what puts this smile on my face today and joy in my heart is my choice to have a different perspective.

What about you? What are you dealing with right now? What are your choices in the situation? What is your perspective?

Choose for yourself on this day whom you are going to serve. For me, I choose to serve the Lord…regardless of what may or may not come in form of tribulations or in blessings.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Adjustment

As time flies by I am left catching my breath...do you know what I am talking about? I am sure you do because in this fast pace world that we live in it seems to get faster the older we get and I feel as if I have to schedule time just to breathe. 
And in saying this, I find myself in a new time of adjustment for me…the empty nest. My older son is 19 and my younger one is turning 18 in a few weeks. Both are graduated from high school, both are employed and my younger son is seriously contemplating a career in the military. They need me less and less as they get older and that is only natural as is the empty nest syndrome I find myself adjusting to.
So my time which was once filled with football games and skateboard parks is now filled with a sixty hour work week, two Bibles studies per week, volunteering at the Salvation Army and writing. In fact, I fill my life so full that I am left breathless chasing the moment just to avoid the ache that fills my heart with my sons apart from me. And I find an emptiness in my heart too that is a direct reflection of lack of quality time with my Father.
And then I stop to think and to reflect and to know…that even in the good things that I fill my life with I need to learn to slow down so that I can meditate on God’s Words more and focus on my relationship with Him. To sit in His lap and listen to Him speak.
In studying  His Word tonight I came to  Matthew 11:25 (NLT) At that time Jesus prayed this prayer “Oh Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever and for revealing them to the childlike.”
It is my prayer that I don’t become wise and clever in my own eyes or in the eyes of others…I pray for a constant humbleness that when I am not spending devoted time with my Father I find that I am lacking. And I am thankful for His grace that brings me back into the shadow of the Cross and the revelation of the need to be obedient to His Truths. 
Oswald Chambers wrote in his devotional, My Utmost for the Highest the following:
All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truths work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already.

But you can’t obey if you don’t know the Truth. You can’t know the Truth without devoting quality time to studying, to praying, to spend time in His Presence So my challenge for you and more, for me, is this: Is life taking you in a direction of too much activity - leaving you exhausted and out of touch with the One who loves you more than anything or anyone else here on earth? Or has the Creator of life given you your life back by slowing you down?

Friday, August 12, 2011

For A Moment Like This


The Word of God is likened to a two edge sword. And it is His job to bring conviction and judgement and not mine.

I have had 2 people in my life that have been a consistent enemy; intentionally causing much pain through words and deeds. For the pasts 13 years, I have been praying for them and had others praying.

Tonight I received a text from one of them, apologizing to me for all the bad things they ever said or done to me. If you are in the same situation, be encouraged and do not stop doing good. Lean not on your own understanding when God tells you to do something that goes against your natural instinct. Because in all honesty, what really matters lies in the eternal realm and not this immediate moment. Sharing God's love with others - no matter how hard it can be - is more important than being comfortable or being "in the right for the moment".

Sometimes sharing God's Word is not verbal but in how you act and react to situations that occur and your response is done with dignity, integrity and truth. You see, God is working through you at all times - even when you don't see it happening. Even when you are crying out to God about the situation, He is already working on all of the hearts involved. For the believer, it is trusting Him to bring the right outcome; For the one offending, it is getting their heart prepared to bring them to God or to bring them back into the circle of His love that they had known at one time and then walked away from. This particular person fit into the last category. And heaven is rejoicing when one recognizes their behavior and tries to make it right before God first and then to the people they have hurt. Although this person is now in their seventies, this person is still a child of God - the prodigal child returning to His circle of love.

Have you ever wondered how you would respond when someone who you consider your enemy comes and ask for forgiveness? Well, I have, a lot actually. And I have found that it is an overwhelming feeling of God's love and grace that fills my heart with compassion for them and gives me the strength to say the most powerful words on earth: You are forgiven.

And in your own life, when this time comes, be ready in your heart with forgiveness when your enemy does come to you and asks for forgiveness. Because if your heart isn't ready to truly forgive that person, you can do more harm than good - so work out forgiveness in your heart before you are ever asked to forgive and you will find your heart prepared for a moment like this.

Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Know Him

Once upon a time I did not know God and I chose to walk my own way without concern about anyone except for myself and my wants and needs. But God still chose to love me while I was yet His enemy. 

Choices were made that made me question what was going on in my life. And through the boldness of a preacher’s wife, I found the courage to face who I was in light of who my Lord is. On that day, I became a child of God.

Choosing to become a child of God changed everything and yet it changed nothing. In the spiritual realm I became an adopted daughter, a high priest, a bride, a sister, and the knowledge that forever I shall be in companionship with God in Heaven. In the physical, I still had to deal with the consequences of the decisions I had made while not walking God’s path for me.

It was a time of life that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; hardships and stresses unfolded daily upon me. And yet, through it all, there was the redeeming presence of my Jesus.  

Taking the time to getting to know Him and to understand Him, He started changing me from the inside out. Guiding, directing, leading and transforming me into the person that I am today. He gave and continues to give me grace, wisdom and strength to endure trials and persecution that I brought on myself for decisions that I made when I did not know Him and for being a Christian.

He extended forgiveness to me when I didn’t deserve it. He extended friendship to me when I thought I was alone. He extended grace to me when I deserved punishment. He taught me to forgive others and then taught me to forgive myself. And as I grew in Him I found that I was taking on His characteristics.

Now on the other side of a twelve year consequence, I have been asked: “Was it worth standing for God when you were persecuted so much?” And my answer: “What I have done is nothing compared to what He has done for me.”

Am I perfect? Not at all; far from it. Do I stumble? I try not to, but I do. Which leads me to this point: As believers we are faced with temptations that are not of God. Our response to these temptations is our own with its own consequences to pay – whether the consequence is good or bad. It is my belief that our response to temptation is directly in proportion with how close our relationship is with our Father.  How close our relationship is to our Father is in direct proportion to how much time we invest in getting to know Him.

At work, I am found to be on the outside of the team I am on when I do not participate in the foul language, the sexual innuendoes and the getting drunk talk. Out of a 10 hour work day I find myself feeling alone while surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who are watching me speak, interact and display my character but the real question is whose character am I displaying? Mine or God’s? How are they seeing me – a devoted woman of God or a hypocrite when I fall below their unspoken expectations? Herein lies the principle of the confliction of the two natures that resides in all believers. Many examples are shown in the Bible where great men and women of God have battled with this same principle. Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand, for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but am doing the very thing I hate.

At this moment, my coworkers in whom I am around 10 hours a day four days a week, are walking in their life as an enemy of God - - as I did for 24 years and 50 weeks of my life.  God loves them just as He loved me. God’s will’s for them is that they come to know Him just as it is His will for me to know Him. But what does it really mean to know Him?

Knowing God means experiencing God. And to be able to experience God means that we need to slow our life down enough to read His Words and to gain an understanding of Him. Also, through our adversity in this life we grow in knowledge of Him because we are searching for answers as to why some things happen in life. God gives answers. He gives direction, conviction, wisdom, counsel, spiritual gifts and assurance of faith. To know Him consists of having a better understanding of who God is and a deeper insight to His will for each of our lives.

Even after we come to know our Lord, sometimes decisions are made that are against what He wants for us. He gives us that freedom to choose. I believe it breaks His heart when we go against His instructions. His instructions are not there to hinder you but to save you from pain because He loves you. His instructions are there to make you holy. It is never too late to make right your relationship with Him.

Colossians 1:21-23 (MSG)
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message. 


It is my prayer that you get to know Him intimately and passionately and allow Him to revel Himself to you in His wonderful, marvelous, unique ways that He does.

The beauty of the gracious Cross overcomes all the evil in this world. And I pray for you – that through your own trial that you may get to know Him and in knowing Him, you will love Him.

Isaiah 30:18-22 MSG
But God is not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right – everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find its grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: "This is the right road. Walk down this road." You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good Riddance!”



Friday, June 3, 2011

The Unexpected Twists

How many of us actually live the life we thought we would have we were young? My own aspirations were to have a family, a house with the white picket fence, the dog and the cat and six kids. Well, God had other plans for my life up until now and He still has plans for my future. And He does for you too. 

Some of the “twists” that we experience in life are painful. In fact, in a world full of anger and death, where does God fit in? Where is God when life isn’t going well…when it is so painful that you don’t think you could endure a day more?

Please tell me that there are more people out there than me that have felt this way - - the person who had to bury their child too early, the person who endured divorce, the person who endured abuse or the person who endured addictions.

For those that don’t know God these events can inspire two reactions: 1) either draw them to God or (2) push them away from God.

For the sake of the rest of this thought process let us take a look at the persons who know Christ as their Savior and have an established relationship with Him. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not exempt to hard times; however, their response to hard times should be different than those who do not know Christ. The key word being “should”. I know in my own experiences there have been times I have excelled in that process and others times I have failed but in both I have learned the character of God in a more intimate form.

And that brings me to the question, “How can I praise God when life doesn’t go well?”

Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
  • Make a list of blessings God has bestowed upon you
  • Tell someone about your salvation experience. Retelling the moment when God lovingly adopted you into His family helps you recall the beauty of His matchless grace
  • Read a Psalm each day.
  • Try to imagine how God can use negative circumstances to glorify Himself.

Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethrens.
  • Remember your purpose in life is to be molded into the likeness of Christ so that you can have an intimate relationship with Him and glorify Him. 
  • Ask Him to change your perspective so that you will see your life circumstances as He does.
  • When we see things as He does, we begin to see truth and in that truth, we shall find ourselves praising God.
  •  By exercising your will, you can make a conscious choice to praise Him – in spite of how you feel at the moment.

Life may not always be what you may think it should be but knowing that God is the same – for the past, the present and the future – will bring about a peace to your soul. God does not favor one over another either. He wants to know each of us on an intimate fashion and He is on each of ours sides regardless of what may be going on in your life now. Trials last only but a season but His joy lasts forever!



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dare to Live Free

It is hard. I want to quit. This is too difficult. It really isn’t worth the effort because no one notices anyway. I wish things were different. I have been a failure my whole life, why is that going to change now? Success is for other people not me.

Many of us have had these thoughts at one time or another in our life. In fact, I would dare say that many people live in an attitude of defeat. But Jesus doesn’t want us to see our lives as a disappointment or as worthless or as unworthy of His sacrifice.

Some of us are deceived into thinking that “other” people have it “all together” when reality may be just the opposite and that the image of the person that you are seeing is barely “holding it together”.

This is your time and I challenge you to dare to live free. Free from stereotypes, free from prejudices, free from guilt, shame, doubts and past failures. I dare you to live your life viewing others and yourself from the eyes of Christ……….as He hung on the Cross, there were the ones He loved spitting on Him, cursing Him, gambling for His shredded clothes and mocking Him and then there were others who were weeping for Him because they loved Him during their time. In every generation there are the two groups of people. Which one are you in?

But I digress a bit….back on point….Let us look at some of the scriptures so we can see others and ourselves as He is cheering each of us onward towards our goals:
  1. Isaiah 50:7 The Lord God helps me, so I will not be ashamed. I will be determined and I will not be disgraced.
  2. Ephesians 3:18-19 And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God.
  3. Zechariah 4:6 Then he told me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘You will not succeed by your own strength or power, buy by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful.”

Reading, Reciting and Remembering the Words of Christ allows us to defeat, maim and destroy our enemy because we are not acting in and of ourselves but in the name and might of the mighty One who lives within us.

As you go through your daily moments remember that this is building who you are moment by moment and ask yourself, Would your actions be pleasing to our Father? The very Father who is in cheering you on in your pursuits?

If the answer was yes, then great; however, if the answer is no – do not worry. You see, the grace of God is big enough to cover all mistakes, any mess ups and His love extends to places you can’t even see. It is an Agape type of love.

So if you are off track, what does it take to get you back on track? Refocus. In a world full of noise, renew your mind daily. Allow your heart to hear and to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He speaks love, joy, peace, encouragement and guidance to you. Search yourself and accept chastisement towards yourself gently. Allow yourself to dare to live freely from everything that has been holding you back from becoming the man or woman that God intends and expects you to be.

As Pastor Todd Nelson from Christian Faith Center in San Angelo Texas has stated often, “The only reason for failure in whatever you pursue is broken focus.” Renew your mind in the Words of Christ at this very moment in time and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you in whatever you are pursuing today. And may the race that you are running be a testament to the Living and Holy God and when your race is finished, may it leave a heavenly legacy. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Path

Do you often wonder which direction you are headed in this life? If you are to follow the path of least resistance or if you are to follow the path of your heart even though it may be more difficult?

Only you know what is in your heart. God has put a direction in it and you have the obligation of finding out what that is and following His lead. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 states that He knows the plans for you, for good and not for evil.

God may lead you in a path that is totally different than anyone else that you know of - - and in doing so He will bring you into a ministry that your friends have no part. And He shall enrich you with new friends to add to the former ones that you had before. Therefore, you receive double the blessings of the old and the new coming together.

Recently, I left a company that I was with for almost seven years to move closer to my family in Central Texas. In this process, I met many wonderful people who became prayer warriors for difficult events going on in my life at that time. And opportunity after opportunity was presented for the one that I loved who was and is choosing to go his own path instead of the path God has called him to. When that season of difficulty came to a conclusion, I still had them as my friends and I was able to pray for them as they did for me. It was then that I felt led to move again which resulted in the furthest distance I have ever been from my family in Texas. In each place I have met and made beautiful friendships with people that are instantly reignited when we see or talk to each other again. I have been blessed to be able to lead others to Christ and watch them grow. I have experienced the presence of the Lord during prayer time with my friends and have given and received support, encouragement and love. I have taught as well as been taught the Word of God. In conclusion, I have experienced true friendships, in a world that is hard to find true friendships --- connecting with them in thought, in heart and in spirit. And as I leave them in the physical realm, I know that they are with me in thought, in heart and in spirit.

But some may not want to follow the path that God has laid out for them due to being afraid or being alone or being lonely? Of course we shouldn’t let these feelings overrule our final decision on which path to take, but sometimes we allow them to. Keep in mind that: God goes before you. God is on your side. God leads you. God directs you. God goes before you. God loves you.

Jesus takes pleasure in the person who takes the time to be intimate with Him. Once we choose to get intimate with Him, loneliness is negated and compassion and understanding is always close at hand. It is my prayer that you learn this intimacy and watch as this intimacy changes your life from the inside out as it has mine.
(From: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)
The Christian who is truly intimate with Jesus will never draw attention to himself but will only show the evidence of a life where Jesus is completely in control. This is the outcome of allowing Jesus to satisfy every area of life to its depths. The picture resulting from such a life is that of a strong, calm balance that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

Only you know what is in your heart from Him. So it is at this time, I encourage you to not become overwhelmed with fear or doubts when this time of going and serving in His will become a reality. I encourage you to not let others dissuade you from what you know is true in your heart. I encourage you to grow close to Him through prayer, through study of His Word, His people and through being still.  And as He displays His will for your life, take courage and take His path.

Isaiah 30:21 If you go the wrong way – either to the right or to the left - you will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the right way. You should go this way.”

If you find yourself off track of what you know God desires from you; it only takes one step to get back on track with Him.

In everything we do we should be imitators of Christ and keep the goal of sharing the gospel with those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Mark 16:15 And He said unto them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Remember someone’s eternal destiny relies on your willingness to obey Him. Follow His path for you and you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baruch - whose name means blessed

Do you wonder if God remembers you? If some way, somehow you have been lost in the midst of these busy days? That somehow what you do from day to day doesn’t impact the world? My friend, cast these doubts aside because God loves you, He knows exactly where you are every moment, and you, because of Him, have the power to effect eternity. Wow….take a moment and breathe that into the depths of your soul. You – because of Him – have the power to effect eternity.

I encourage you to remember that God has a distinct plan for each of us and it is always His very best for us. Sometimes it seems that there is no end to the struggles that are in our life – whether these struggles are ones we brought on ourselves or these struggles are due to other people’s decisions that affect us.

Often it is easy to give up hope and not to go on when we are in this state; however, we have many examples to turn to in the Bible who have been where we may be at this season of life. And because of this we can see how they handled their predicament and learn from them. 

In Jeremiah 45, we find Baruch who is being threatened by the King for writing and reading Jeremiah’s preaching to him – in fact the King burns the documents. He finds himself accused of stirring up hostility and then, when he is anxious and overwhelmed and into himself….God steps in speaking truth through Jeremiah, his friend.

Let us join Baruch and see how to overcome when overcome…..

Baruch, whose name means blessed, had his share of troubles -
1.       He was the son of Neriah and served as Jeremiah’s scribe and friend. He wrote down Jeremiah’s preaching and read it to the king’s counselors who took it to the king. Jehoiakim burned it but Jeremiah dictated it again (Jer 36).
a.       Young believers are often discouraged with little difficulties that they meet at first in the service of God. 
                                                                           i.      Proverbs 24:10 If you are slack in the day of distress your strength is limited.
b.      Baruch’ s approach to this situation was instead of counting it worthy to suffer in such a way and with such good company, he was reflecting upon god as the God who had dealt with him harshly.
                                                                           i.      Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be reveal in us.
2.       Jeremiah was accused of being a mere instrument of Baruch’s enmity (Jer 43:3).
a.       Jer 43:3 But Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to give us over into the hand of the Chaldeans, so they will put us to death or exile us to Babylon.
3.       Jeremiah counseled Baruch to place his confidence wholly in the Lord and not seek great things for himself (Jer 45)
a.       It is our over fondness for the good things of this present time that makes us impatient under its evil things.
b.      God gave him hope that he would be safe though there was destruction all around him. 

Sometimes it seems that our struggles will not cease but on the contrary, they will. God is using you right now to be a testimony to His grace, His love, His strength, His courage, His wisdom – For when you get to know God in His completeness - and not just pick and choose the feel good scriptures - then a whole new level of looking at the world appears!

My friend, wherever you are, you are not alone on this journey as we are all learning and growing every day we are on this earth. My prayer is to keep my face lifted toward heaven with my feet planted on this soil and my tongue speaking eternal life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Where do you go?

Where do you go when your life gets tough and the harder you try, the rougher life becomes; sometimes those who claim to love you are the ones who hurt you the most leaving you feeling abandoned and alone, afraid and uncomforted, with no hugs, no ‘I love you’, no laughter, no smiles, no joy – the most loneliest of places to be.

And yet - those special words of love, of joy, of pleasure, of peace, of smiles, of hugs and most of all acceptance – are all within your reach. His name is Jesus and He poured Himself out so you can have all; He paid the price regardless if you believe. He wants you to but He won’t force you to. He has known you from the moment He created you in the womb and He watches over you as you sleep. He does not cause pain; in contrast, He has the best laid plans made just for you. Do life His way and you shall receive more abundantly than ever the love and acceptance you are searching diligently for and loneliness will no longer be an issue.

In this relationship there is cooperation between you and God. He gave us His Words in order that we may know Him and know how to live life according to Him. Put away what others may say and open His Words and pray. And believe. His promises are there for everyone not just for a select some. And so are His commandments which are not put there to harm you but to help you fulfill your life more abundantly.

You may be wondering if God is so good, why are there so many hardships in life – the more important pondering is this: Jesus came to earth in order to dwell with us – His creation. He lived a perfect life while experiencing hardships. Because of this fact alone, He can walk along side of you nodding His head and saying to us: I understand. I have been there. I remember the pain. I get angry too. I count your tears as you cry. OR Yes, let us laugh because I remember joy. I love you even though others may not. I am proud of who you are – so much that I call you my prince or my princess, my son or my daughter. What a sweet aroma is the song that comes from your lips! Yes, creation is beautiful and I made it just for you. I will never leave you my child. You have a future, because this world is not the end.

And just like two old friends, you link arms together as you stroll down the valley and dance through the pastures and struggle to climb that mountain – which is as we know it – LIFE.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Naci and T'naci

I wish that I could take credit for this story but alas I cannot…it is a story that carries wisdom and it is my opinion that every person should share this with the people in their lives be them adults or children. The book in which this story is given is called Choices by Shad Helmstetter. This book is on loan to me and I looked to buy it and it has been discontinued. So without further ado…..Naci and T’naci

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There were, in ancient times two twins, orphaned from birth.
The two infants, who were twin boys, were left on the steps of the royal palace by their mother, who was wise beyond her years. One of the orphans was named Naci and the other was named T’naci. The two were identical in every way.
The orphaned twins were beautiful children. It was clear to the palace guards, even when they first found them, that these two infants possessed unusual qualities. When the king and queen – who were without children themselves – first saw the twins, they too knew that the infants were gifted. And so they took them into the palace and agreed to raise the orphan children as their own.
The only legacy left to each twin was a most unusual deck of twelve cards. And these unusual cards which each of them carried were also identical in every way.
The king and queen were overjoyed with the blessing of receiving the two infants and they raised them with all of the love and attention that they would have given to their own children.
The new parents decided to wait before revealing to the twins that they were a blessing that the king and queen had long prayed for. When the time was right they would tell them. And when Naci and T’naci became old enough at the age of twenty the king and queen brought their sons to them and told them of their birth.
It was then that they gave each of their sons the special cards that had been carefully wrapped close to them when they were first found, twenty years before.
“Your first mother must have loved you very much,” the queen told them. “When she brought you to us, she also left two identical and most unusual decks of cards. On these cards are written, front and back, the choices you will have to make in the life that is in front of you.”
And then she said, in the most loving way, “These simple cards will guide you now more than the King or I could ever guide you through the life that awaits you. Take them, use them and always remember that we have always loved you and we have always wanted the best for you.”
And so Naci and T’naci left the comfort of their home to seek their fortunes.
In the years that followed, Naci learned to read the cards his mother had left with him, but T’naci put them aside and went his way without seeking their counsel. And while Naci prospered, increased his knowledge and always seemed to do well, his brother T’naci floundered. From time to time they would meet and talk but there was a growing difference between them.               
“Why is it you do so well when I struggle and fail?” T’naci would ask.
“Perhaps it is because you have not listened to our mother,” Naci would reply. “Perhaps it is because you do not use the cards. I have learned to read each of them, each morning of every day and when I do, things seem to go better for me. Why don’t you read our mother’s cards for yourself? If you do, perhaps things will go better with you.”
But T’naci did not. In time, Naci became well known and successful in his own right. But T’naci refused to follow the ideas that his mother’s cards inspired and his fortune fell to failure. While Naci prospered, T’naci fought to succeed and only failed worse.
Within a few short years, it was time for the two brothers to return home to the palace of their parents. It was time for a new ruler to be named and one of them was to be the chosen one.
Both of them returned home at the appointed time and both were met with kind and loving joy from the king and queen. Both of them had always been thought to be special and they were received with all the affection that any parent could give.
But there was a difference now. Naci had somehow succeeded in his life where T’naci had not. And T’naci could not understand why.
The day finally came for the king and queen to declare that there would be a new wise ruler in the land. It was a difficult day for all of them. After all, both sons had been raised in the same way. Both of them had been given the same education. And both of them had been given every possible chance to succeed.
The question that weighed heavily on the minds of the king and the queen and all of the royal advisors was, “Why has one son succeeded while the other son has not?”
It was not until they all gathered together at Royal Announcement Ball that they were to learn the answer. As you might suspect, in their most caring way, the king and queen announced that Naci was named heir to the throne.
“Why,” T’naci asked, “Why did my brother gain the throne when in every way we are the same? What did he do that was so different from me?” And it was at the same Royal announcement Ball that Naci gave the answer.
Naci spoke to the gathered council in a firm, strong voice. He said, “Many years ago my mother, for good reason, left me on the steps of this palace. And in the basket that held me, she left me a gift. The gift was wrapped in a small cloth and written on the cloth were the words, “This is the only gift, beyond my love for you, that I can give you. Take it and when it is time, use this gift to create the life that I would have wished for you.”
“Wrapped in that cloth was a deck of cards that my mother had written in her own hand. On each card was a challenge, and on the other side of each of those precious cards was a choice. I am here today because of those simple cards and the choices they present to me.”
And then in the same clear, strong voice, young Naci read what his mother had written on the cards many long years before.
“On the first card are written the words, CHOOSE YOUR STRENGTH. On the other side of the same card is the words I am strong and then the words I am not strong.
“On the second card is written the challenge, CHOOSE YOUR HONESTY. On the other side of that card are the words I am honest and then the words I am not honest.
“The third card says, CHOOSE YOUR BELIEF IN YOURSELF. The other side of the card says, I believe in myself and I do not believe in myself.
“The fourth card says, CHOOSE YOUR GOAL AND DIRECTION. On the back of the card it says, I have chosen my goal and direction and I know what it is. It also says, I have not chosen my goal and direction.
“On the fifth card are written the words CHOOSE TO ACCEPT OTHERS AS THEY ARE. On the back it says, I accept others as they are and then the words I do not accept others as they are.
“The sixth card says CHOOSE TO MAKE YOUR DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF. The other side of this most special card says, I choose to make my decision for myself, and it also adds the words, I do not choose to make my decisions for myself.
“On the seventh card the words say, CHOOSE TO ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS. On the other side of the seventh card is written. I am responsible for my own actions and the words, I am not responsible for my own actions.
“On the eighth card is written the challenge CHOOSE RIGHT FROM WRONG and it is followed by the words on the second side of the card I always do my best to choose right from wrong and that is followed by the second phrase, I do not choose to choose right from wrong.
“The ninth card says, CHOOSE TO WORK FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN and on the other side of this card are the words, I always choose to work for what I believe in and then the words, I do not make the choice to work for what I believe in.
“The tenth card reads, CHOOSE TO LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES and on the back of the card are the phrases, I choose to learn from my mistakes and I choose not to learn from my mistakes.
“On the eleventh card are the words, CHOOSE TO LOVE AND BE LOVED and on the back of the card it says I choose to love and be loved followed by a second choice, I choose not to love and be loved.
“The twelfth card is perhaps the most important of these simple cards. It says, CHOOSE IN EVERY DETAIL OF YOUR LIFE. The other side of this card says, I choose to choose and that is followed by the words, I do not choose to choose.”
And then young Naci said, “These are the words which my mother left me. These are the words which I have chosen to live by. These twelve simple choices have served me well. With them, as your servant, I hope to serve you well.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spiritual Growth - The Ultimate Goal

(NLLT) 2 Peter 1:2-12
2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

Growing in Faith
   3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
   5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
   8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
   10 So, dear brothers and sisters,[a] work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Paying Attention to Scripture
12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 

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Do you know how to grow in your relationship with our Lord? When I received Christ I was already an adult. I did not know how to follow the music minister leading the songs – this is when we actually used hymnals. I knew people gave to the church but I didn’t know why. All I knew was of this saving grace that came upon me and I stumbled along for quite a time afterwards trying to figure out how to grow in my relationship with Christ. Since then I have gone through cycles of growth, of stagnation, and then growth again and I realized that it is my ultimate responsibility to take action to learn and to grow in the Lord. What we have already received should feed our desire to know more! Those who will make any progress in their relationship must be industrious in their effort. Why put forth the effort? If you do not you will be aware of this world but unaware of the one to come! Those that are growing in grace and abounding in the work of the Lord shall have an abundant entrance into the joy of their Lord and they shall reign with him forever.
(MSG) 2 Peter 1:3
Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes!

(MSG) 2 Peter 1:5-7
So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

(NAS) 2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

1. We are responsible for renewing our mind
            (MSG) Romans 12:1-2
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going- to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
               
(NLT) 1 Cor 2:16
For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?”  But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
2. We must be ready to admit our failures and assume responsibility for them
(MSG) 1 John 1:8-10
If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradicts God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.

3. After step 2 comes repentance
(MSG) Acts 26:19-20
"What could I do, King Agrippa? I couldn't just walk away from a vision like that! I became an obedient believer on the spot. I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world. 
            (MSG) Galatians 5:22-23
But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

This is my challenge to you:
I challenge you to cooperate with God by developing yourself and by being diligent. I challenge you to put your mind on what you already know to prevent you from forgetting. I challenge you to improve your knowledge and reduce this to a daily practice. I challenge you to be established in beliefs of the truth, that you may not be shaken by every wind of doctrine. I challenge you to lead, exhort and present the truth as it is and to be bold while doing so.  I challenge you to remember that your body is a tabernacle of the soul and that your time in this tabernacle is short. I challenge you not to give up but remember that this is a process much like a seed – the seed is planted and although it is entirely present, it is very small and as it grows, it becomes large and helpful. I challenge you to remember that God has planted within us all we need, but these resources require time and growth before they become visible to others. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Obedience - The Adventure Part 2

How many times a day are you able to choose? From the clothes you wear, the color of your hair, the food you eat, the blessings you bring, the blessing you don’t bring, the drama you create, the drama you don’t create....in all you have the right to choose. All through the day many small choices are made with little to no thought. But did you realize that those small choices made throughout the day can lead to a life of obedience to God? Acts of obedience in the small decisions will lead to acts of obedience in the larger decisions.

But what about those times, and we all have had them, where we wonder what we should do? Should I take that new job? Should I date this person? How many kids to have? Should I buy the house? Should I tithe? Should I give of my time? Should I use my gifts to further the kingdom of God? Are we ready for kids? Am I following God’s will? Am I listening to God? How do I know?

The Word of God directs us in all our paths – the way to go and the way to stay away from. How much you understand God’s Word is directly proportionate to you knowing and obeying His Word. For if you do not know God’s Words then how is it that you expect to be able to journey down the road of adventure in obedience.

In reflecting on my past, I made some really bad choices which were a result of not knowing, not caring, and not thinking that the Word of God was important enough to heed. After I accepted Jesus in my life, I still had to pay the consequences of these choices. However, along the pathway of right choices and new found obedience to the Word I found joy, peace, love, strength, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, wisdom and most of all mercy. As far as my sin took me, grace caught me and delivered me into the hands of the one who loves me.

In reflecting on my present, I have found that through the years that I have become His daughter I have made choices regarding Him and have prospered. When I have made choices that are neutral I have neither decreased nor increased in prosperity. When I have chosen consciously not to do as God’s Word says then I feel a withdrawal from Him and the intimacy of my relationship with Him suffers. Notice I did not say that my prosperity is decreased during this time. It could and sometimes does but not always.

In addition, I have found that God is on your side, God is not the enemy in life, God does not hope for you to fail but God has put in place a direction of success for you! God is the one cheering you on when the rest of the world has walked away from you! God is the one, when no one is around to see your insecurities, whispers in your ear: You can do it!

Wow! I tear up with gratitude at His love and provision as I write this today and it has been 13 years since accepting Christ into my life. So let us start and keep on in our daily adventure in obedience!

1.  Attitude towards Obedience can be either:
     Positive --  Blessing        OR         Negative -- Burden
               
2.   Expressions of Obedience
      Loving/Trusting God    AND  Our acceptance and unavoidance of negative consequences

3.   Choices lead to Obedience
                Be active in choosing to choose obedience
                Be active in listening for His voice to direct you

4.  Focus on Obedience
                Be active in His knowledge – study the Word
                When directed, obey even when you don’t understand

5.  Results of Obedience
                Spiritual Insight
                Building Faith
                Worshipping authentically
    Imitating God in holiness, humility and love
                Motivating Obedience
                Lack of fear
                Wisdom
                Receiving Grace
                Expressing Spiritual Freedom
                Deeper love for God
                Relationships quality increases

If you have read through this far, don’t stop, the best is yet to come!

(NLT) Romans 6:17
Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 

(NLT) Genesis 22:18
And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

(NLT) Exodus 19:5
Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.

(MSG) Deuteronomy 27:9-10
Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel: Quiet. Listen obediently, Israel. This very day you have become the people of God, your God. Listen to the Voice of God, your God. Keep His commandments and regulations that I'm commanding you today
  
(MSG) 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors. Because you said No to God's command, he says No to your kingship. 

(MSG) Romans 16:25-26
All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. 
  
     There is no greater love than the love that God directs towards you! Obedience is a path full of blessings awaiting to be discovered and cherished. You may be in a time of testing right now but take a moment and think, is this challenging time a result of obedience or a lack of obedience to God's Word?

     If you will choose to choose God’s way daily, you will be blessed because He loves you more than you know and He will provide for all your needs as you obey Him. He will also take your obedience to the generations that come after you. Just think about that! You have the power, right now, to affect those that will come after you in your family. Wow! God is faithful!!

     So I leave you with this my friend:
The only reason for failure is broken focus. Stay in the Word to keep your focus.