Warning…

Paul gets pretty down and dirty with his letters to the churches…. Honesty and truth can be difficult to hear.

 “(3b) Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (16) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (19) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.” ” – Romans 12:3‭b,16‭,‬19 NLT

I’ve studied these verses before, but they are never easy to read when I consider how I have lived most of my life. Being the third child, I struggled with following a “perfect” older sister who did everything right (my perception – sorry, Lu!), and an older brother. Instead of being obedient and compliant, he rebelled, leaving me in a limbo of achievement (to gain approval) and rebellion, because I wanted to be accepted by him, too. It’s a weird place to be. Now, I realize that my sister had more expectations to live with as the oldest sibling than we did, but we couldn’t see it while growing up. Then to that, add the perceptions and expectations that were added on to us since we were the “pk’s” (preacher’s kids). A lot of those pressures came from outside the family, both in the church and the community. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not making excuses or placing blame. My parents did the best they could, and we always knew we were loved. Despite their best efforts, I – as well as several of my siblings – responded very differently than was expected. Rebellion became a big part of my life once I left home for college. A good Christian girl goes off to a respected Christian college (hmm, could be the title for a book!) and was immersed in a society that this small town, naive girl had  never really imagined. Something like going in the deep end before you learn to swim! It didn’t take long for the seduction and temptations of the the enemy swept me into the rapids of life where I was rather quickly caught up, spun out of control, and unable to escape. 

It’s human nature to try to control our situations and surroundings. When our lives spin out of control, oftentimes we react by focusing, almost with tunnel vision, on the things we do have power over. I couldn’t be honest with myself or my family, because to do so would shed light on things in my life that I couldn’t stand to see. My self worth had already been beaten up pretty well by my brother. According to him, I was ugly and stupid…. and regardless of how many times I was told the opposite by others, his comments hit me the hardest. How did I cope? Attitude, baby, pretentious attitude! I quickly discovered that men wanted me. Not only any permanent basis, but they could make me feel beautiful and desirable for a few minutes. I took advantage of this, and married the first one that asked… and egotistical, completely self-absorbed misogynist. I lost the little bit of myself that was left under his “reign.” After years of his abuse, I managed to get away, where I took on the attitudes he taught me. My hard protective shell was one of being better than others. I discovered that if I acted as though I knew the answers, people believed me. I was a snob, a know-it-all, and quick to plot revenge on anyone who did me wrong – real or perceived. 

In short, I was miserable, so I maintained a near constant “party” so I didn’t have to feel. I married my best friend, a good man who actually treated me well, and lost him because of my attitudes and inability to believe he could truly love me. It was messed up. Sadly,  after that I spiraled deeper. I was mad at God for allowing all of the abuse and garbage into my life, and determined to lay ALL the blame on Him. To prove it, I looked for another man to save me. I found another one who loved me and married me, and we continued to party together. Long story…..

Eventually, after losing him to drug addiction and death, I set out to rescue lost souls, because you know I was so healthy myself. It took two more abusive husbands to get it. Humility can be a harsh lesson to learn. As I slowly began to learn it (progress, not perfection), I also realized that over all those years of searching for Mr. Right, He was standing right next to me! Jesus provides me with all that I need. He doesn’t denigrate me or abuse me. He loves me as I am, uncompromising and unconditionally. That’s AMAZING!! Not only did Paul point out the attitudes we don’t need to carry as Christians, but John says it perfectly for me:

  “Such Love has no fear, because Perfect Love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His Perfect Love.” – 1 John 4:18 NLT

I spent years in fear, hiding behind ego and perfectionism and plotting revenge. I hurt others, and I especially hurt myself. We create these prisons in our hearts for other people, but the truth is that we are locking ourselves up instead. As Peter saysYou have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” – 1 Peter 4:3 NLT 

Jesus made sure that we will never be alone if we accept His gift of eternal life. He has sent the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us as a constant. We are never alone. 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 

The Advocate lives with me. Thank You, Jesus!


(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com )

My Heart’s Desire

​  “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” – Psalms 37:4 NLT

Oh, people, how often this verse is pulled out of context! There are many preachers who preach the gospel of prosperity based on just this one verse. “… He will give you your heart’s desires… ” God isn’t saying He will make us wealthy in man’s eyes and in man’s money. As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now, the REST of the story…”

  “Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.” – Psalms 37:3‭-‬8 NLT

Key words: TRUST, COMMIT, TRUST (must be important; it’s in here twice), BE STILL…. Don’t worry, stop being angry, hold your temper…. God never promised us financial wealth. He hasn’t promised perfect health in this world. His Promise is to walk with us and to carry us when we can no longer walk on our own through our struggles. To receive the full benefits of God’s blessings, we must first do what He commands: Trust HIM, Commit to HIM. I can dream of the benefits here on earth of financial wealth and stability, but the truth is that it is highly doubtful that I will ever have it in this world. I may struggle financially in this life, but I have heaven and spending time with my LORD to look forward to! I sincerely pray that you have that to look forward to, as well.

(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com)

Just Not Feelin’ It….

​  “For the LORD is good. His Unfailing Love continues forever, and His Faithfulness continues to each generation…. Praise the LORD; praise GOD our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms.” – Psalms 100:5; Psalm 68:19 NLT 

This is true. The psalmist says it all: God IS Good. God IS Faithful. His Mercy extends to anyone who wants it. His LOVE never fails; it goes from parent to child, and so on through generations, from the first man and woman to the child being born at this very moment. He carries us when we are so tired we can’t walk or think or function. 

Does that mean that I am always grateful for Him, or that I always acknowledge Him? I’m sorry to say, no. Not only do I not praise Him and thank Him, I am ungrateful and spiteful and let anger rule my thoughts. I know – KNOW – that I am not alone in this. Sometimes I just don’t feel it. Maybe because I figured out a way to numb feelings through an addiction, or maybe because I am just tired. Scared. Scarred. Just not feelin’ it…. 

God knows we get this way. Sometimes there is something physiologically exacerbating the issues, and sometimes it is outside forces and influence that are creating the environment of despair. Sometimes, only God knows; other times, well, that’s why He has equipped doctors and counselors and psychologists and psychiatrists with the knowledge to help us. There is NO shame in seeking help!!! I know so many people who hold to their belief that they can do it on their own, and I know from personal experience that it is not possible… ON OUR OWN. We need each other, and more importantly, we NEED God. It’s that simple. 

Just because I may go through a period of not feeling His Presence doesn’t mean He isn’t with me. In Psalm 16:8-11, “King David said this about Him: ‘I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts His praises! My body rests in Hope. For You will not leave my soul among the dead or allow Your Holy One to rot in the grave. You have shown me the way of Life, and You will fill me with the Joy of Your Presence.’ ” – Acts of the Apostles 2:25‭-‬28 NLT

God never intended for us to walk alone. He created us to be companions and friends.

  “In His Kindness GOD called you to share in His Eternal Glory by means of CHRIST JESUS Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will Restore, Support, and Strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. All Power to Him FOREVER! Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:10‭-‬11 NLT

Even when we aren’t feeln’ it, God is with us. Amen.

Change the World….Me?

But I CAN’T change the world! It’s too much to ask me to, God!

  “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness {gentleness}, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15

Beautiful. If we would only follow these words, think how much better our lives would be! And not just ours, but our families, and our coworkers, and our classmates; our friends and our neighbors. We could change the WORLD!

I need to forgive ALL of the men who wronged me, not just the ones I find it easy to forgive. 

I should shun gossip – saying it OR speaking it.

To the people who are upset or angry or hurt by me…. I am the one who needs to mend the relationship. It isn’t up to them; it’s up to me.

I guess it really is up to me to change the world……

  “So the LORD must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His Love and Compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.” Isaiah 30:18 And Jesus said: “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Isn’t the news amazing? The LORD, the Master of the Universe, waits on US to come to Him. Free will. When we choose Him, we receive His Love and His Mercy. He will NEVER leave us. He will never leave me. Hallelujah!

Irony

Do you seek God?

 “I have tried hard to find You— don’t let me wander from Your commands.” – Psalms 119:10 NLT
Where’s the irony? Read this verse again. “I have tried hard to find You….” Do you see? The psalmist says he has tried hard to find God. I know the irony, because I’ve seen it. We don’t have to try hard. God is always within arms reach, or even closer. We do need to seek His Will for our lives, but to find Him? Just turn around; look up. He is right beside you.  

  “Teach me Your decrees, O LORD; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey Your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of Your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for Your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me Life through Your Word. Reassure me of Your Promise, made to those who fear You. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for Your regulations are good. I long to obey Your commandments! Renew my life with Your goodness. LORD, give me Your unfailing Love, the salvation that You promised me.” –Psalms 119:33‭-‬41 NLT

I love reading scriptures. I admit that I am spoiled, having my Bible accessible at my fingertips through my tablet and my phone. Every day, I receive encouragement through the verses sent to my inbox, and just opening the Bible app gives me a focus verse. Having this helps me to focus on the positive side of things instead of the huge amount of negative the world throws at me. We are so blessed to have this so easily accessed! Think of the millions and billions of people who don’t have this capability. So many can’t even pick up a printed Bible, or hear the Word. Yes, we are incredibly spoiled and blessed to have been born in America, and nation founded by followers of Christ Jesus. They were flawed, just as we are, but they knew then that they wanted to be able to worship as they pleased.

It is ironic that a Christian nation should have strayed so far from its roots, and can be so intolerant and ungrateful for its very existence. I am thankful for the Christian leader we now have…. and yes, he is flawed, too. There isn’t a human alive (or dead) that is perfect, except Jesus, and He gave His human body for the final sacrifice to save us from our flawed existence. 

  “For this is how GOD Loved the world: He gave His One and ONLY Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NLT 

NO irony there, just an incredible Blessing!

(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com)

Perpetual Spring

As I sit outside in this pleasant morning, I am thinking of heaven and how I imagine it. All around, the most beautiful flowers and plants, bird and angel song sweetly filling the air, crystal clear creeks and bodies of water, with all of God’s creatures arrayed across the garden. No more predators; no more allergies. No sunburn or sore eyes, because instead of the sun as we know it, the all-inclusive Light of our LORD will brighten the skies! 

Perpetual spring – that’s how I see heaven.  

Do you ever think about what awaits you, as we all will eventually die? Is it a paradise without evil influence, or do you see yourself caught up in Dantes Inferno? All that keeps us, me and you, from the worst eternity we can imagine – no, much, much worse that anything our puny minds can contour up – is the pure Love of the Son of God. The One Who gave up everything to show us the extent of His Love; Jesus, Who exemplifies Love.

  “(4-7)Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (13) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7‭,13 NLT

The question of the day is this: do you choose the Love of Jesus Christ, or do you choose the false love of our enemy Satan, the father of lies and deceitfulness? When we choose Jesus, we will live out eternity with Him in a paradise beyond our dreams. I don’t know what heaven is truly like; I just know that it will undoubtedly take my breath away when I get there (pun intended!) On the other side, for those who choose darkness over the Light, they will have an eternity to suffer with no hope of relief, only continual pain and torture. It’s an easy decision for me. I choose Life in Jesus. 

  “(25-26) For GOD presented Jesus as THE sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His Righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus. (30) There is only ONE God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.” – Romans 3:25‭-‬26‭,30 NLT  (All scriptures quoted from http://bible.com)

Today, be thankful for the Gift of Life through our LORD Jesus Christ! Amen.

Mom

 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” – Proverbs 31:30 NLT

I am thankful for my Mom. She is a woman of God; she is gracious and compassionate and merciful. She is forgiving and full of grace. She is greatly praised and loved by her children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She is beautiful, inside and out. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

(http://bible.com/116/pro.31.30.NLT)