GOD Blesses Those….

“GOD Blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the Crown of Life that GOD has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12 NLT

I don’t like this verse. “Patiently endure….” GOD knows I want His Blessings, and I know that He hears my prayers for deliverance from the physical and financial issues I face. He also knows I have ZERO patience! I get really angry at the LORD when He doesn’t give me the answer I want, and when He makes me wait for His answer, well, let’s just say that I’m not always very gracious about it. In spite of the countless Blessings He has bestowed upon me, I want more Blessings and fewer tests and temptations! As a former pastor would put it to me : “And how’s that working out for you?” Not so great, if I’m honest with myself and don’t sink into denial. Ever since our ancestors were booted out of the Garden because of their original and extraordinary poor choice to ignore the one rule the LORD gave them, all of humanity has followed their lead, heaping bad decision upon bad decision, ad infinitum! Due to that one incredibly bad decision, we live in a society and a world that is full of trials and temptations. (Thank you, Satan, and Adam and Eve for listening to you …… and yes, that is sarcasm ….. )

Despite the history of bad decisions and the onus of sin that is upon us, the Creator GOD has given us the solution to our sinful humanity in the form of JESUS. He took on Himself a human form so that He could become the ultimate sacrifice; to be tortured and to die in order to cover our sins with His blood, and then to conquer death When He rose from the grave! He did this so that we could be freed from the endless cycle of sin and death that was bestowed on us by the enemy. As long as our earthly bodies live; until JESUS returns, we still have to dwell in this corrupt and imperfect body and earth.

How much longer, LORD?

Because I know the Truth, and because I have surrendered my life to Him, I know I’m free from death and hell ….. but how much longer before Isaiah’s propecy is realized? I’m ready, are you?

“Sing for JOY, O heavens! REJOICE, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.” – Isaiah 49:13 NLT

To My Dad

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for YOU are close beside me. Your Rod and Your Staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely Your Goodness and Unfailing LOVE will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” – Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NLT

My Mom gave me the ultimate compliment. She said I sound like (write like) my Dad. I am so unworthy of that statement! My Dad was one of the strongest Christians I have ever known, and he and my Mom are forever my heroes. Through adversity that would have felled a lesser man, he persisted in preaching the Gospel and telling everyone he came in contact with about his Saviour, JESUS. He wasn’t afraid to talk about our LORD, and he delivered many scathing sermons – not always in the pulpit, either. I have been the direct recipient of a few of those sermons, and I can say without any hesitation that he went straight to the point (or you could say, the jugular) so that there was no chance of misunderstanding. He believed so strongly in spreading GOD’s Love that he walked away from a lucrative family business, and alienated his own Dad in the process. He was an incredible teacher, making a tremendous effort to ensure that everyone, without regard to age, education, or station understood what JESUS and the scriptures meant.

Was he perfect? Oh no, far from it. He was often an absent parent, because he would be at someone’s house or hospital room, ministering to their needs. He didn’t made a decent wage for most of our childhoods, but we somehow always had food and a roof over our heads (GOD provides, always!). He let my Mom juggle housework and 6 kids and school and shopping and church-work, because he was gone so much. He could be rigid in his ways, and we (all) butted heads over things. I never doubted that he loved us or Mom, but it was evident he loved his LORD even more, and he made sure that we all knew about JESUS and Salvation. I would’t trade the way I was raised, although I would have given quite a lot if he would have gotten me the pony I wanted 😎 …..

He ensured that all 6 of his children understood what it meant to partake of the Living Water of JESUS CHRIST, and he had the privilege to lead us to the LORD. He mellowed quite a bit as he got older, but his focus stayed on his LORD. Although most of us rebeled and strayed from what we knew what was the Truth (thus leading to those scathing sermons….. ), most of us have returned to the LORD as we have matured. My parents lived this proverb:

“Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 NIRV

We may turn away from GOD, but when we have a strong Foundation, one reinforced by JESUS, we will eventually return to the Living Water. Even though my Dad has been with his JESUS for a number of years, the legacy of his life lives on in countless souls who found Salvation in JESUS and partook of the Living Water of His Salvation. There will be a tremendous celebration in heaven when we all get there! Will you partake of the Living Water of GOD and join us?

Listen to Mercy Me sing ‘Greater’ …..

Oh, Give Me Back My JOY Again

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of GOD’s Armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of Truth and the body armor of GOD’s Righteousness. For shoes, put on the Peace that comes from the GOOD NEWS so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of Faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on Salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD of GOD. Pray in the SPIRIT at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” – Ephesians 6:12‭-‬18 NLT

“Oh, give me back my JOY again; You have broken me – now let me rejoice. Create in me a clean heart, O GOD. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” – Psalms 51:8‭, ‬10 NLT

I have to share this devotional from the NIV Ragamuffin Bible:

“A profound mystery: GOD becomes a SLAVE. This implies very specifically that God wants to be known through servanthood. Such is GOD’s own self-disclosure.
Thus, when Jesus describes His return in Glory at the end of the world, He says, “It will be good for those servants whose Master finds them watching when He comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress Himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Luke 12:37).

Jesus remains LORD by being a servant.

The beloved disciple presents a mind-bending image of God, blowing away all previous conceptions of who the Messiah is and what discipleship is all about.
What a scandalous and unprecedented reversal of the world’s values! To prefer to be the servant rather than the lord of the household is the path of downward mobility in an upwardly mobile culture.
To taunt the idols of prestige, honor and recognition, to refuse to take oneself seriously or to take seriously others who take themselves seriously, to dance to the tune of a different drummer and to freely embrace the servant lifestyle — these are the attitudes that bear the stamp of authentic discipleship.”

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your FATHER already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of GOD above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” – Luke 12:29‭-‬31 NLT

Can I get an Amen? These are POWERFUL words!

Royal Military College of Canada memorial window Sir Lancelot wearing the whole Armour of God

Authentic

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” – Luke 9:25 NLT

Are you looking for something to complete and fulfill yourself? A man or woman, the right job? Are you at the top of your profession, proud of your accomplishments, bragging to your peers? Are you a phony, acting out like a proud peacock, ostentatious, or are you authentic? I like to think that I am authentic, real, not faking or pretending, but I know that in reality, I fake it a lot. I know lots of overachievers, people who have lived their lives with focus and with their faces to the future. My focus is easily fractured, leaving me going in many directions…. I know a little about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things. See, I can’t even seem to keep to my train of thought on one track today!

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” – Matthew 25:29 NLT

Growing up, our piano teacher pushed me because I had ‘pianist’ hands and a good ‘ear’ for the music. Well, piano didn’t work for me – it required too much practice (short attention span + easily bored don’t equal good practice time!) My art teachers pushed me to develop my drawing and painting and plastic arts. The art came easy, only it frustrated me that my hands wouldn’t – and still won’t – accurately depict what my eyes / brain sees. I love music. Choir was great fun, both in school and church, but I became discouraged that my physical voice didn’t match what I heard in my head. Then there were all of the English classes. J’aime l’anglais! (Heehee!) I got to read every book in the library! There were grammar and punctuation and spelling tests….. no problem.

Like the third servant in the parable JESUS tells us about in Matthew 25:14-30, I buried my musical talent for years, and consequently lost whatever good sounds I could make while singing. Of course I still sing, but it’s more like mak8ng a joyfull noise 😂 . I have continued to dabble in the arts by applying the things I have learned in different disciplines, including practicing my drawing by designing houses and kitchens. Had I focused on just that, there’s really no way of knowing how far it might have gone. Instead, I let myself be disillusioned by any perceived (or real) criticism, and bounced around to many other distractions. I became the Jack (or Jill 😁 ) of all trades, master of none. Obviously, I haven’t gained the whole world, and I’ve lost more financially than I’ve gained, although I am incredibly blessed in what I now have. I know these Words from Jesus are pure Truth:

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” – Luke 9:25 NLT

I will probably continue to struggle financially, and I may struggle physically and mentally, but I KNOW the Truth. The Truth of JESUS CHRIST and His Love for me, and the Truth of my Salvation. The authentic JESUS. I know this world is not my home because my home is with Him, my Saviour. Are you authentic in JESUS?

Nobody Knows…..

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” – James 1:2‭-‬4 NLT

There’s an old Negro Spiritual from the 1800’s that fits here:

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory, Hallelujah

Sometimes I’m up
And sometimes I’m down
Yes, Lord, you know sometimes I’m almost to the ground
Oh, yes, Lord, still

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus

We – all of humanity – love to judge people. You can deny it, but denial doesn’t make it untrue. I know I struggle with it, even after a lifetime of being judged by others, sometimes rightly, but more often they were wrong. To judge someone fairly, you need to know their bsckground and their situations intimately. Think you know me well enough to judge me and my actions? No, no more than I know you well enough to judge you. Our pasts, our troubles, may be known in generalities to those who are close to us, but nobody truly knows the troubles, the trials, you or I have endured. Like the psalmist says, “My eyes are straining to see Your Promises come true. When will You Comfort me? I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke, but I have not forgotten to obey Your Decrees. How long must I wait? When will You punish those who persecute me?” – Psalms 119:82‭-‬84 NLT

Right here, right now, my mind struggles to believe my heart and my Faith in my LORD. My mind is screaming “How will things work out? What am I to do?” My heart is saying “Trust in the LORD, for He is in control. There’s no need to worry.” I KNOW this to be true, but I often have a difficult time believing it. My puny little human brain wants to grab my circumstance and situation away from the Almighty GOD, the One Who created us and Who Loves us beyond understanding….. can I solve anything that GOD can’t? No. No. And NO.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘CHRIST JESUS came into the world to save sinners’ – and I am the worst of them all.” – 1 Timothy 1:15 NLT

As long as I worry, I’m telling people through my words and actions that I don’t fully trust in JESUS. I am the worst of sinners, yet He Loved me so much He left heaven to cover my sins with His sacrificial blood, to save me (ME!), once and for all time. I am Forgiven, and not to be judged. Who am I to judge anyone else?

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LetsSingIt – The Internet Lyrics Database}

Wait. What??? I Have Questions!!!

I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is. Albert Camus

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation – so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my Fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” – Psalms 27:1, 14
“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. May GOD, Who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.” – Romans 15:4‭-‬5 NLT

I ran into a brick wall this week. The rug was pulled out from under me. (Figuratively, not literally.)

A month ago, after 2 long years of seaching and interviewing, I had a job offer – which I accepted – with the understanding that I was having shoulder surgery and would be unable to start work for several weeks. I was told to take the time I needed to heal, and the job would be there waiting for me whenever I could start. It seemed like a perfect fit; I was looking forward to the opportunity. When I called to let them know I was ready to begin at the first of this week, I was told they hired someone else, but – ‘nothing personal’. (There was no mention of this when I had called the previous 2 weeks….).

What? Whoa.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around this setback. What does GOD want from me? He knows my situation, financial and physical, how stretched I am, so why would he remove this from me? A Christian business; one where the staff hold the same values and principles as me. A place where I fit.

Obviously, GOD has something else in mind for me. “…. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” GOD says Wait.” Wait? Again? Still? Really? What gives, LORD? Why? I know that my GOD “gives patience and encouragement….” but, why? Could You send me an email or a fax, LORD? Maybe some sky-writing? As I ask these questions, I remember He has sent me the information I need. The Bible has it all. His Word. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E.).

I don’t know how this will all work out, but I trust the One Who does. With all the chaos and mess in your life, where do you put your trust? Is it in the One Who offers Light and Protection from danger, or do you put your trust in yourself, giving the enemy control? To paraphrase Alfred Camus, I’d rather live my life anticipating eternity with my LORD, than spend eternity finding out I was wrong.

Listen to Tauren Wells “When We Pray.” Powerful!

No Worries

I find myself fretting about the future. My future. According to society, I should be at a place in my life where I could retire and just enjoy life. That’s not happening. Many years filled with poor decisions have kept my coffers empty, and as a result I fret and worry about how I will afford to live as I grow older. I’m not alone, either. There are hundreds of thousands of baby boomers in the same situation. Does knowing this, and fretting about this, improve the situation any? Sadly, no. Wishing it were different doesn’t make the worry go away, and the stress of the continual fretting and worry shows in our words and our actions. Paul reminds us that as followers of CHRIST, in everything we say or do, we need to remain aware of the people watching us.

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the LORD JESUS, giving thanks through Him to GOD the FATHER.” – Colossians 3:17 NLT

If I say that I am a Christian, a follower of JESUS CHRIST, yet I fret and worry about my circumstance – what message does that send to the people around me? If I curse because something or someone has opposed me or offended me – how does this behavior reflect on my LORD? Growing up as preacher’s kids, my siblings and I had many restrictions on where we could go and what we could do because the congregation was always watching. No movies, no dances, no parties outside of the church ‘crowd’. Of course we felt terribly restricted and put-upon at the time, but as I matured I came to understand my Dad’s reasoning. Anything, everything, we said or did reflected on him as a pastor, and he was the representative of CHRIST for our immediate family – and the church family; even the community.

That’s a heavy burden!

I think this verse today really reflects the way my Dad tried to live. It needs to be a touchstone for all professing Christians, not just our church leaders. Can I honestly say today that everything I say and do is a good reflection on my Saviour? No, but regardless, it is all said and done as a representative of CHRIST. More time needs to be spent giving thanks, and less time fretting or worrying. When I catch myself beginning to fret, I need to look at this reminder….

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the LORD JESUS, giving thanks through Him to GOD the FATHER.” – Colossians 3:17 NLT

…. and say Thank You, LORD. Amen.