Friend, Brother 

​I have two brothers. I’m very close to the older one in age, but we are not close. While growing up, it was almost as if my younger brother and sister were in a world apart from mine, so we weren’t close, either. I was almost desperate to have my older brother’s acceptance and friendship, but it has proved elusive. For a few months, years ago, it seemed we had reached that point, but it didn’t last as he cut me out of his life, again. In spite of his disdain, I continued to search for a way to connect on more than a superficial level, offering all that I had, only to be ultimately rejected. Again, recently, I reached out – and this time the rejection cut deep into my being. Instead, though, my younger brother reached out and picked me up. This proverb touches on that need to be loved by your siblings, and especially by a brother.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17:17 NLT

How does family treat each other with such disdain that it causes deep wounds? Why do we cause our blood such pain and turmoil? I’m far from perfect; a case I’ve made many times. My decisions and actions have caused much pain to people I know and love… why do we do it? My sisters are more flexible. For the most part, they have loved me and refrained from passing such strict judgment on me. They have been available when I’ve been in need. Oh, that we could each of us, brother, sister, cousin, and friend, follow God’s example of love. No matter what I do, I doubt that I will ever hear my brother tell me thank you for what I’ve done – even to the point of sacrifice, at times – or that he will tell me he loves me. I’m pretty sure he does, but it would be nice to hear it.

Regardless of where you come from, and whether your family accepts you with love, it is incredibly freeing to know that the Love of the God of the Universe doesn’t change. He loves us with an unfailing Love. 


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8 NLT

Thank You, Jesus, for being my Breath and my Sustenance. 

(http://bible.com/116/NLT)

Never Alone 

​  “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

Peter gives us instructions for living a Christian life, and sometimes I want to graphics him by the lapels  (or robe??), and ask him how am I supposed to do this? Give God all of my worries. Don’t worry about anything. Be thankful for everything. Really? I read the words, I memorize the words, and I repeat the words, hoping that somehow the means to do these things seeps into my being. God doesn’t expect me to do it on my own. He knows I don’t know how, and He knows I can’t do it alone. He doesn’t expect me to do it alone, either. Jesus said:

  “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will NEVER leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all Truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” – John 14:16‭-‬17 NLT 

Even though we/I want Him to stay with us, Jesus tells us: “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send Him to you.” – John 16:7 NLT

It is through the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that we are able to achieve the freedom God offers us. When He says to give Him all of our worries, He is offering us a freedom that is impossible to have without Him. Paul says:

  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

He (Paul) is giving us instructions in living the freedom God has offered us. It’s critical that we first accept Jesus Christ as Savior, because only Jesus can give us the eternal life and companionship we crave. Unfortunately, so many of us accept His salvation, but don’t follow through in opening our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit and the absolute freedom He offers from the worry of the world. 

Never alone. That is God’s promise. The complete salvation and total freedom that Jesus offers comes in two parts. First, salvation through Jesus Christ, which is freedom from death and the promise of eternal life. Second, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, Who lives in us and guides us through life. Live, love, and laugh at full life, through God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

(All scriptures quoted are from the Bible app –  http://bible.com/116/1th.5.18.NLT)

Everything is Lost

​Imagine, everything is gone. You lost your job, and your house. Your family and your pets have died. You have no savings, your checking account is empty; your friends want nothing to do with you. 

For some, there’s no need to imagine this because they have lived it. We have many people who are living it today. The question is not whether it will (or has) happened, but rather, how do I deal with it when it does? I never lost my family, although I turned my back on them and deserted them, and was adrift without any familial support. I lost my job, my child, my house, my money. Did I reach for the LORD  for His comfort and compassion? No, instead I reached out to the world, and became sucked into a maelstrom of hurt and sorrow. The hole I dug was so deep there was no escaping it on my own. Still, I couldn’t let myself reach for help. 

Have you been there? Hopefully not as drastically as me, but there is much in this verse that applies to each of us. It may be cancer, or death; divorce, losing your job… each individual has their own challenges. Who am I to judge?

  “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the GOD of my Salvation! The SOVEREIGN LORD is my Strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)” – Habakkuk 3:17‭-‬19 NLT (http://bible.com/116/hab.3.17-19.NLT)

After sharing my testimony one night at my church, I was approached afterward by a person who knew several members of my family said “I didn’t know you were that sister…” and they apologized for judging me before knowing my story. Are we guilty of judging people before we know them? I know I am. 

It is so important to keep the Joy of the LORD in us! Whether we are going through the toughest time in our lives, or we’ve just been through it, or we’ve never gone through a tough time, rejoicing in our Salvation is what makes us alive. Share that Joy with LOVE, without judgment, so that the person who is hurting can perhaps see enough of God in us to grasp on to the Hope He can provide. Let’s work more on the Rejoicing, and less on the grumbling! Can I get an Amen on this??

Thankful for EVERYTHING 

​  “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:20 NLT (http://bible.com/116/eph.5.20.NLT)

This verse gives me pause. “…give thanks for everything” …??? Surely God doesn’t expect me to give thanks for the physical pain men have caused me, or the emotional Rollercoaster of hurt and anguish my life has been? Certainly He means for us – for me, to be thankful for the rescues and the good things that have happened, and for all of the blessings I have received, Right? I think; I know differently. God doesn’t stutter, and He doesn’t give Words of confusion in His Book. “And give thanks for everything….” That’s is clear and succinct; no need for confusion or interpretation. “Everything” is all inclusive. 

What do I do with this? It’s so easy to sit here on my back porch with a blanket and a little dog on my lap and be thankful for what I have here. (He was quite insistent that we go outside!) Even though it’s a cool, foggy and misty day, I’m thankful. I have a beautiful home, and a dear partner to share it with. The dogs and cats and my therapy hens (yes, they are my entertainment and a source of joy) are easy to be thankful for. My best friend lives down the street, I have family in the area, I have food and clothing and shelter. I have much to be thankful for! These are the easy things. 

By this command of my LORD, I am to be thankful for everything, not just the easy stuff but the ugly stuff, too. Here goes.

LORD, thank you for the bronchitis I’m dealing with – frustrating as it is to have sick for so long (and I’m especially thankful for my caring doctor who is determined to get me well!). Thank you for releasing me from my job, and for the financial instability that is accompanying that loss. LORD, it’s really difficult to acknowlege bad things as things to be thankful for!! Thank you for the difficult bosses and coworkers I’ve had. I’ve actually learned quite a lot from each of them. Thank you, LORD, for the men who abused and terrorized me. Thank you for the homelessness I have experienced. There is so much more….

As I write this, and think of some of the things I have experienced so far in this life, I’ve come to realize that out of every painful, dark experience, I have learned something and sometimes something good came out of them. At the time, all I could see was the dark, and it’s dense intensity and fear. Through the abuse, I have a testimony that there is hope. God has never left me alone at any point in my life. I couldn’t see Him or feel His presence much of the time, but He never forsake me. Where would I be now, and what would I be, if my life hadn’t progressed the way it did? I’ll never know, and it really doesn’t matter, because without every single one of the pieces, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Who am I? I am the daughter of the Most High King! Can you say with any clarity who you are?

  “But I trust in Your Unfailing LOVE. I will rejoice because You have rescued me.” – Psalms 13:5 NLT (http://bible.com/116/psa.13.5.NLT)

Rescue Me!

​​  “I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles.” – Psalms 34:4‭-‬6 

How many times I have called out to the LORD to rescue me! So many of the plans I have made have ended in disaster – the plans I made. Why is it so difficult to listen to Him in the first place, and heed His answer? Why do we persist in being so stubborn? God created us with a free will to choose for ourselves to love Him and worship Him, and we continually choose the bling of the enemy over the true beauty of the LORD. We let ourselves be blinded by the lurid colors and false delights of the world over the indescribable beauty of our Lord. We choose to believe the enemy’s lies and make our plans without regard to God’s desires. 
  “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the LORD wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” ” – James 4:14‭-‬15 

Over the millenium since God created the heavens and the earth, He has kept His temper remarkably well consider how terribly His creation has mocked Him and reviled Him. When I’m painting or making something, when it doesn’t go my way I want to destroy it – and often have. When training a horse or a dog and they turn on me, I have to watch myself that I don’t hurt them in my anger. That’s just one creature, and God has millions of humans essentially spitting in His face. He has had ample reasons to completely destroy mankind and start over, and He hasn’t, because He loves us with an amazing Love.

  “Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” – Psalms 139:14

God created us for one purpose; to have eternal life in His worship and companionship. Rather than wiping out humanity’s existence, He did something incomprehensible to me. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, a part of the Triune God, as a sacrifice for my sins. Jesus was sacrificed for me, and He was sacrificed for you. Had there been just a single human in the entire earth, if I had been the only living soul, He still would have died just for me or you. Incomprehensible Love. 

How do we become one again with our Creator?

  “And this is The Way to have ETERNAL Life—to know You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” – John 17:3 

  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:34 
When we accept Jesus into our lives, and we acknowledge that He is LORD, we should not longer be worried about the future. That statement is MUCH easier said than that put into practice! Matthew isn’t saying that we should just float along in life believing that God won’t let us starve or let anything bad happen. We are responsible for doing our part. What Matthew is saying is to not worry. Ask God for His guidance in everything, listen for His answer, and follow Him. He always answers prayers, and often I don’t like the answer. Then, when I do my own thing….. 
BOOM!

……. and there’s that disaster I knew was coming. Remember what Paul says:

  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 

AMEN.

(All scriptures are from http://bible.com/116/.NLT)

Worth

​How much am I worth? According to a DataGenetics blog (April 1, 2011), “a human body is worth about $160 for the elements it is made up of.” On the other hand, from an article in Wired magazine, “a body could be worth up to $45 million, calculated by selling the bone marrow, DNA, lungs, kidneys, and heart as components.” (I wonder if I could pre-sell my body now for the money….) Sure, $46M sounds like I am worth a lot, but the monetary value of my physical body does not make up my worth. 

I have a lot of friends on social media (a LOT)…. does that determine my worth? I know I have a really few great friends- you know, the kind you can call at 2 am and say “Meet me ASAP and bring a shovel” – and they’ll be there. Some of my family loves me, and some tolerate me, and some use me. Does that determine my worth? In my past, I have been abused, physically and emotionally by people who supposedly loved me. I have shot at,and beaten up; I have been stripped of honor and decency and self-esteem. Does that determine my worth?  

THANK GOD, NO!

  “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.  But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, Who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear. “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man [JESUS] will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.  But anyone who denies Me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.  Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man [JESUS] can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” – Luke 12:4‭-‬10 

Verse 6b (in bold) is an incredible statement by Jesus, telling me just how much I am worth to my heavenly Father. My true worth can be measured by this alone:

 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” – Luke 19:10. I was lost, and now I am found; Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound!

  “But to ALL who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” – “For Everyone who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” – John 1:12, and Romans 10:13 

How do I determine my worth? By looking to Jesus and the incomprehensible decision He made to suffer and die and rise from the grave after 3 days – and to know without a shadow of a doubt that He did it for me.

He did it for you, too. Have you determined your worth?

(All scriptures quoted are from the Bible app,  http://bible.com.NLT)

Fear to Joy

​  “I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles.” – Psalms 34:4‭-‬6 

How many times I have called out to the LORD to rescue me! So many of the plans I have made have ended in disaster – the plans I made. Why is it so difficult to listen to Him in the first place, and heed His answer? Why do we persist in being so stubborn? God created us with a free will to choose for ourselves to love Him and worship Him, and we continually choose the bling of the enemy over the true beauty of the LORD. We let ourselves be blinded by the lurid colors and false delights of the world over the indescribable beauty of our Lord. We choose to believe the enemy’s lies and make our plans without regard to God’s desires. 

  “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the LORD wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” ” – James 4:14‭-‬15 

Over the millenium since God created the heavens and the earth, He has kept His temper remarkably well consider how terribly His creation has mocked Him and reviled Him. When I’m painting or making something, when it doesn’t go my way I want to destroy it – and often have. When training a horse or a dog and they turn on me, I have to watch myself that I don’t hurt them in my anger. That’s just one creature, and God has millions of humans essentially spitting in His face. He has had ample reasons to completely destroy mankind and start over, and He hasn’t, because He loves us with an amazing Love.

  “Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” – Psalms 139:14

God created us for one purpose; to have eternal life in His worship and companionship. Rather than wiping out humanity’s existence, He did something incomprehensible to me. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, a part of the Triune God, as a sacrifice for my sins. Jesus was sacrificed for me, and He was sacrificed for you. Had there been just a single human in the entire earth, if I had been the only living soul, He still would have died just for me or you. Incomprehensible Love. 

How do we become one again with our Creator?

  “And this is The Way to have ETERNAL Life—to know You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” – John 17:3 

  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:34 

When we accept Jesus into our lives, and we acknowledge that He is LORD, we should not longer be worried about the future. That statement is MUCH easier said than that put into practice! Matthew isn’t saying that we should just float along in life believing that God won’t let us starve or let anything bad happen. We are responsible for doing our part. What Matthew is saying is to not worry. Ask God for His guidance in everything, listen for His answer, and follow Him. He always answers prayers, and often I don’t like the answer. Then, when I do my own thing….. 

BOOM!

……. and there’s that disaster I knew was coming. Remember what Paul says:

  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 

AMEN.

(All scriptures are from http://bible.com/116/.NLT)