If I haven’t offended you lately….

​”Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23‭-‬24 NIV (http://bible.com/111/psa.139.23-24.NIV)

I believe in God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son. I believe in the Holy Scriptures as the inspired Word of God. For most of my adult life, I turned my back on the Truth of God’s Word and spent my time having all the “fun” I could in order to cover up how miserable I was. There were times when I would have a temporary “awakening” of sorts, and turn back to God, but I wasn’t wholly committed. I wasn’t ready to deny all of the “fun”! I wasn’t tired of being tired, or fed up with being fed up. Until I became sick and tired of being sick and tired, I wasn’t willing to open my eyes to the real problem. It wasn’t the alcoholic I was in a relationship with. It wasn’t the boss or my coworkers. It wasn’t the waiter or waitress or banker or car mechanic. It wasn’t my parents or siblings. (I could go on and on!)

The problem was me. That is a hard pill to swallow.

I have family members who are currently in that cycle, and friends and acquaintances. It makes my heart hurt, knowing the cure but not being able to apply it. Everyone has to recognize and accept the cure of their own free will. 

Test me, Lord, for the impatient thoughts I have. Search me for the irritations, and wash them from my heart. The only cure for my shortcomings is through the complete acceptance of your Son, Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit overcome me so that I may relinquish my will to Yours. 

David has written a beautiful psalm of acceptance and forgiveness:

“You have searched me, Lord , and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord , and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:1‭-‬24 NIV (http://bible.com/111/psa.139.1-24.NIV)

And all I can say is Amen.

GOD is the Potter; We are the Clay

I’ve had a series of serious, spiritual conversations recently with assorted family members and friends. It scares me that so many believe in God, but they don’t recognize Jesus as Lord.​ As I read the following scripture, it is so obvious that just believing in God isn’t enough.

“You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember Your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, You were angry. How then can we be saved?  All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  No one calls on Your Name or strives to lay hold of You; for You have hidden Your Face from us and have given us over to our sins.  Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your Hand.” – Isaiah 64:5-8

ALL our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Nothing we can do is good enough to redeem us. Nothing. I can’t do enough good deeds to redeem myself in God’s eyes. I absolutely love that He has provided our redemption for us, and He doesn’t want anything from us except for our acceptance of His Son as Savior! Listen to this Good News:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s One and Only Son.” – John 3:16‭-‬18 NIV (http://bible.com)

Can you believe how simple it is? “…that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NIV 

Whoever… You, me, siblings, parents, children, friends. Anyone. Everyone. Just have to keep on spreading the Word. 

Loving the way Jesus teaches – Is it even possible? 

​”Love must be sincere. 

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 

Be devoted to one another in love. 

Honor one another above yourselves. 

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. 

Practice hospitality.  

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 

Live in harmony with one another. 

Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. 

Do not be conceited.  

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”   

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:9‭-‬21 NIV (http://bible.com/111/rom.12.9-21.NIV)

Really??? Does God expect us to be all that? Well, the short answer is yes. The human answer has to be no, because we are flawed and fallen beings who are incapable of having the sincere, loving existence God originally planned for us. (Thank you, Adam and Eve!) 

God gave us each free will so that we all individually responsible for our decisions, good, bad, and ugly. I could go line by line and point out every verse that I have ignored or broken in order to have my own way. As I move through life and it’s myriad of interactions, I am discovering that there actually is some wisdom in these words. What a shocker!

While I was growing up, my Grandma and Mom would say things like “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Not my thing. I preferred sarcasm and barbed words to kindness. Judging people. Revenge…. oh, yes. Gossip was the rule instead of the exception, and you know what?  Being all that didn’t bring me any peace or satisfaction, ever. Smiling and thanking someone who is being hateful or in your face really throws them off. 

I find that the more I strive to emulate Paul’s words and Jesus’ commands, the more peaceful and stress less  (is that even a word??? 😎) my life becomes. I still don’t get everything I want, and people are still rude and thoughtless, and sometimes just plain mean. It’s always my choice on whether I react, or respond, just as it is yours. We don’t know what is going on in that person’s life when they do things we don’t want to deal with, just as they have no idea what is going on in ours. 

Choice. It can be incredibly freeing, or you can tie yourself up in your misery and take it out on everyone else. Blessings come when we are thankful!

I Will Trust In You

​”Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! 

    How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! 

    For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give Him advice? 

    And who has given Him so much that He needs to pay it back? 

    For EVERYTHING comes from Him and exists by His Power and is intended for His Glory. 

    ALL Glory to Him forever! Amen.”  

    Romans 11:33-36 NLT (http://bible.com/116/rom.11.33-36.NLT)

I’m sitting outside in the backyard, contemplating God’s beautiful creation. He is so good to me! I was reading a post from a friend who’s ex is refusing to bring her children home after his visitation. I am blessed in not having that drama in my life, but there have been plenty of other dramas to deal with. There will be more, I’m sure, because the enemy has temporary control over the earth (just until Jesus returns!!). I remember during a particularly difficult period as I was driving home, I was crying from frustration and exhaustion, when I felt the physical presence of the Holy Spirit in the car with me as He touched my shoulder and said “I am with you.” There’s a song that Lauren Daigle sings and the chorus goes like this:

“When You don’t move the mountains

I’m needing You to move

When You don’t part the waters

I wish I could walk through

When You don’t give the answers

As I cry out to You

I will trust, I will trust

I will trust in You”

The enemy makes it REALLY difficult to rest in the trust we have in Jesus. When we can’t do anything else, we pray. We can’t see God’s plan and it is incredibly frustrating to keep finding ourselves in the dark valleys. I have to watch myself and remember that no matter how bad it gets, God is still in control. My heart hurts for all the pain being suffered today by so many. Prayer is always the BEST thing we can do for those hurting! Can I get an Amen!!

Here Come the Judge 

​“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” – Matthew 7:1-2 NLT (http://bible.com/116/mat.7.1-2.NLT)

Man, this is HARD. I think I know right from wrong, and then, just when I think I am making strides towards being the person God wants me to be; just when I feel like l’m actually beginning to reflect Christ in my life, I see or hear something and I jump to judge. Ugh

Terrorists – “Shoot them all and let GOD sort them out.”

Rudeness, disrespect (includes people who use inappropriate gestures and foul language) – “Oh no you didn’t!” Just let me crawl up in their face and teach them a lesson in kindness.

Flat out meanness, criminals, and cruelty – Put them in stocks on the village square for a week without shelter or food, and allow bystanders to throw rotten fruits and veggies at them.

Fat people; trash (white, black, red, yellow… trash is trash) – Get a job! Quit being lazy and get off your a**. Clean up your house and yard. Do something productive. 

I’m not opinionated, right? (Okay, you can stop laughing now!) Judging others is natural. Normal – but just because it’s normal does not make it right. I want to point out all of the issues of others so I don’t have to look at mine. Now that is normal and natural to our human nature! 

LORD of my life, Savior. You are Awesomeness personified. Beautiful, perfect Father. I ask for forgiveness for my judgmental attitudes, and pray for Your contentment within my life and thoughts. I am not judge and jury over any human, including my own thoughts and actions. You alone are GOD. Bless my neighbors and friends and family today, O LORD. I lift up those people who are reeling from the tragic events that seem to be popping up more and more frequently. You promised that by accepting Jesus as Savior, we would never be alone again. Thank You for keeping that promise, and for covering us with Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Going All Political 

I’ve been staying off of social media for the past few days because of all the negative news and posts. I know there are a lot of positive posts and people are coming together, too, but even within many of the “positive” messages there seems to be an underlying hatred. Our beautiful country is being destroyed in a systematic fashion by both those in power and in radical fringe groups. God – not Mohammed, not Buddha nor Mother Earth or any other god – God the Almighty, Creator, was at the center of the founding of our nation, and He is being pushed aside for all other gods. Professional athletes and musicians are treated with more respect than we give almighty God.

People sit in lines and even camp out in parking lots in order to be first in line for the best deals and the best tickets…. Have you EVER seen anyone waiting in line for the church doors to open? America, without God, we are nothing. This nation is heading for an EPIC fail. Our so-called leaders, from small town mayors to the White House continually undermine the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We the people are having to go into survival mode. 

It is so easy to fall into the hatefulness and prejudice that is being preached from Washington, but we as Christians MUST overcome those emotions and attitudes. Yes, I know how easy it is to say, and what a difficult challenge to do. It can only happen when we follow the Words of Jesus. Love the ones who want to hurt us, and PRAY for them. That is NOT what I want to do!

Father God, LORD of ALL, have Mercy on me. You are The Almighty; The  Forgiving and Merciful GOD. Help me to leave Judgment to You, and with Your help, I will forgive and pray for those who would do me and this great nation harm. I pray for clarity and for a contented spirit. It is only with You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that I can have peace in this world. It is only through You, LORD Jesus,  that this nation, and our world, will ever have peace. Thank You, Father God, for Your continued presence in my life. Amen.

Are you willing to pray this prayer, too?

ALL Lives Matter

​Black lives. Blue lives. Red lives. Brown lives. Yellow lives. White lives…..

ALL lives matter to God! 

April 4, 1968 – Robert Kennedy gave this speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, after he received word of Martin Luther King’s death. The words are so appropriate for us regarding the events of the past weeks and years.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some — some very sad news for all of you — Could you lower those signs, please? — I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.”