Defender

You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a few weeks. For a moment, I let the worries of the world overtake me. For many people, and for many reasons, this most beautiful season is also the most difficult. Could be that a loved one isn’t present for a variety of reasons. It can be because of a lack of funds or other inability to serve people we love. Depression hits hard. Despondency is widespread.
Psalm‬ ‭42:11‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ declares, “Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

Francesca Battistelli and Steffany Gretzinger were singing “Defender” on the radio as I read this verse this morning:
When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart

Then I heard “Casting Cares” by Finding Favor:
When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away
When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

God’s Word answers my fears, our fears, and His musicians sing the words I/we need to hear. HE is the Defender, our Strength and our Deliverer. HE takes care of the weak, the frightened, the lonely. HE is always here with us, if we just open our eyes, our hands, and our hearts to Him.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28‭-‬31 NASB

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Thanksgiving 2019

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord , for he is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:31‭-‬34 NLT

Are You Thankful?

“The old advice of always spending less than you earn is kind of worthless when you hardly have an income….”

I don’t know who said this, but they have a valid point. It’s a problem I have struggled with, and the interesting thing I have realized is that it has been true regardless of my income. Americans are spoiled. We live in a country where poverty level is higher than many countries highest earners. I don’t deny that there are thousands here who really are living in horrible conditions. It would be amazing to be able to change, but the reality is just as Jesus said.

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Matthew 26:11 NLT

Search for the words “the poor” in scripture. They are referred to dozens of times. There are many people who believe that we should divide everything up among the entire population – I disagree, because it only encourages the lazy to become,more so, and it discourages those with ambition. Why should I work so that someone else can sit around?

My point is this: we should help those we can, especially family, the orphans and widows, and I have to add, our veterans. Give thanks for what you have, be it a little or a lot. Thank God for your blessings. A roof over your head, food to eat, transportation…. indoor toilets, heat when it’s cold. Family, friends, FAITH.

To me, this describes how Thanksgiving should be:

“This festival will be a happy time of celebrating with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows from your towns.” Deuteronomy 16:14 NLT

His Promise

We are powerless over our lives, past and present, and our lives are unmanageable on our own. We recognize that we need something more than ourselves; a “Higher Power ” (AA), or as we know, GOD. Only He can be trusted to bring sanity, wholeness, and healing to us.

This is a paraphrase of the First and Second Steps of AA and Celebrate Recovery, to be embraced by anyone* who realizes that they are not in control of their lives. *That means everyone. No matter how together and in control you think you are, with God, you are spiraling out of control. It may be a really slow spiral, or it may be twisting and turning so quickly that you can’t get a breath.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASB

“But he promised me….. ” Something men do, and don’t follow through on. That’s what we have to go on; what our experiences teach us. Even though I know this to be true, every time it happens, a little piece of my heart dies. We see betrayal every day, and yet we are supposed to believe that some higher being is going to be different?

I do. I believe that a higher being, the Higher Being, the LORD, is different. I know He is different. He has listened to me for years, letting me rant and rave, yell and curse, and still He stayed with me.

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Isaiah 35:3 NASB

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms 34:17‭-‬18 NASB

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13 NASB

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1‭-‬2 NASB

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NASB

Until you can admit that your life is not yours to control, and that, in fact, you are out of control, you are lost. The LORD seeks us. He seeks you.

Step One: Admit you are powerless.

All Men Are Liars

“I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?” Psalms 116:11‭-‬12 NASB

I didn’t say it first, but I have to agree. All men are liars. Before you men get all up in arms, know this: all women are liars, too. There’s only one man, one human, who has or ever will walk this earth who isn’t a liar, and that man is Jesus, Son of God.

Argue all you want; you know that’s a true statement.

Oh, we are capable of being truthful, and I believe that most most people want to be honest, at least for the most part. Some people can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. I look for the good in people. I want to believe you when you tell me something. I want you to be believe me when I say a thing. Mostly, you can. Like everyone else, I am fallible. I don’t usually mean to say untruths – lie – although, like most people, I do occassionally. Sometimes to spare your feelings, sometimes it’s to spare my feelings, and sometimes it’s just because I don’t have the energy to deal with it – and yes, that’s a cop-out that every single person has done at one time or another.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Is really so difficult to follow through; to say what you mean and do what you say you will do? I offer my heart too easily, and I take people at their word. I would like to live in a world where a man’s word truly was his bond. No written contracts necessary. This world, our reality, requires us to have promises in writing and witnessed, and even then the promises are broken. The courts are full of broken contracts and promises.

Watch your heart. Spend time talking with the LORD. Listen to the wise counsel of believers. Most importantly, both personally and in business dealings, treat the other person as you want them to treat you. You can’t expect any better than that.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

Motivated Work

Why do we work? What is our motivation?

There are wrong, or distorted, views of why we work: When the only reason we work is to make money, we need more and more to be content. This is disillusioning and leads to dissatisfaction. Working for our own greed, or FIRE = financial independence [to] retire early; purely selfish and self indulgent, only working so that we can quit working and live a life of leasure. Then there is working for self significance, importance, to accumulate power, and identity. None of these is a fulfilling way of life and will leave us empty; never satisfied. Recall in Genesis 11 when the people built the Tower of Babble to make a name for themselves, independent from God? It was a singularly unfulfilled and unfulfilling task that only served to create chaos.

The right reasons: remembering that our primary calling is to God, and our secondary calling is to someone or something beneath Him. We can be unemployed, and we can change our secondary calling, but we can never be uncalled. ALL legitimate work is to Glorify God and is pleasing to Him. These include support (1 Tim 5:8; Proverbs 12:11): making money to provide for self and family, to meet needs, and to bless others. Working for satisfaction and enjoyment: Do you feel God’s pleasure in what you are doing? A poll showed that 70% of Americans are completely dissatisfied at work. What does that say about our culture! (Ecc 2:24; 3:22 NLT; 5:18-19) To serve other people, and to share what we acquire: “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does” – Martin Luther (Mark 12:31; Eph 4:28)

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:8 NASB

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11 NASB

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.” Ecclesiastes 5:18 NASB

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

“So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.” Ecclesiastes 3:22 NLT

“Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.” Ecclesiastes 5:18‭-‬19 NLT

“The second is this, ‘ you shall love your neighbor as yourself .’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 NASB

“If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.” Ephesians 4:28 NLT

Of Love and Justice

A Psalm of David.

“I will sing of Your Love and Justice, LORD. I will praise You with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life— when will You come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the LORD from their grip.” – Psalms 101:1‭-‬8 NLT

Sounds pretty harsh, right? There aren’t any people today who could honestly say that they are blameless, and we know that David was far from being blameless himself. He was a murderer and an adulterer…. I wonder how many people younger than the Baby Boomer generation even know what being an adulterer means.

Reading these verses, it’s difficult to imagine many business people can say that they apply these principles to their business. In corporate offices, even in Christian-led companies, I can bear witness to to all of those things that David was against occurring on a constant basis. Coworkers and management alike using gossip and slander to get ahead; dishonestly taking credit for someone else’s work, and accepting rewards and kudos for it. “In my own home …” Whether in my house or my vehicle or my office or my cubicle; at the movie theatre or amusement park …. it is a struggle to live these words.

In my time, I have acted in all of those ways. In my last job, I was in a close working relationship with people claiming to be Christian, yet seeming to take delight from gossiping and spreading lies in order to promote themselves over their coworkers, and who were full of conceit. Again, I must emphasize that I have also been full of conceit and lies in my past. I am far from perfect; I am guilty of many sins. It is difficult to miss the vulgarity in today’s society with billboards and signs proclaiming it in large format, and with television and radio, social media and the movies rampant with it. Clothing styles shout out perversions and prejudice and lack of modesty, and we just follow the crowd – instead of the cross.

Yes, I’m preaching again!

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:10 NLT

This verse from Paul’s letters to the Galatian church is how I struggle to live. I say “struggle” because it isn’t easy for me. I am a people pleaser from my childhood; a classic codependent whose life revolved around whoever I was with. A few years ago, I began to understand this about myself through a church program called Celebrate Recovery. Many people think/assume that because it’s a 12-step program, you must be an alcoholic or drug addict if you participate. Not true. In fact, one of the leaders said this: “There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who are in recovery, and those who need to be in recovery.” I absolutely agree! Being a codependent isn’t something you just shake off, any more than you can shake off any other addiction, and there are lots of addictions. Shopping, eating, sports, work, animals, and even our children can all be addictions.

It’s something for us to think about.