Thankful. Bah, Humbug!

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

Do you find it difficult to be thankful for whatever it is you are dealing with in your life? No companion/spouse/helpmate, no retirement, no job; chronic illness, disease, sick child/family member; death of a loved one? No power, no heat/AC, no transportation, no food ….. no home? Infested with fleas, spiders, roaches, snakes? I’m sure I have left something off!

Beginning at the beginning of human history; since Adam and Eve made the fatal decision to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, humans have had to deal with a plethora of hard circumstances. Just a few: Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. David was chased and persecuted by King Saul. Moses had some sort of speech impediment. The Apostles and disciples of JESUS have been beaten, persecuted, flogged, abused, and killed since the beings of their ministries. The persecution of Christians hasn’t stopped. Even in their agony, they have proclaimed JESUS, and thanked GOD for the privilege to be sacrificed for His Glory. There are hundreds, thousands, even millions of examples throughout our history of people giving thanks to God in the midst of depravation and trials. Very few of us today have any real reasons to complain, but we have plenty of reasons to be thankful. This is, to me, the biggest reason to be thankful:

“And I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from GOD’s Love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from GOD’s Love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the Love of GOD that is revealed in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NLT

If there is something big and ugly going on in your life, be Thankful for the little things .…. Remember toilet paper! ….. And remember JESUS!

The Day the Music Cried…

It was with sadness when the first thing I saw on my newsfeed this morning, was the announcement that the Reverend Billy Graham has passed away from earth this morning. Sad for us left here, because for decades, he has been such a godly example for us to see. A man whose life reflected his love of the LORD, who was truly a follower of CHRIST and not the world. Such a dynamic man, one who was not afraid to take a stand for his God. Every Christian alive should take note of that. It is sad that his family has lost his earthly presence, and it is truly difficult for those of us who are left behind.

But, OH! The rejoicing, the singing and dancing and Glorious welcome Mr. Graham is receiving in heaven! He is united at last with his beloved Saviour, JESUS, and with his sweet wife, Ruth. I’m sure my Daddy was standing there, too, waiting to welcome him Home. The hosts of Heaven rejoice, while we on earth grieve the loss of his physical presence. This is a man who was instrumental in leading thousands of people to the Saving Grace of our LORD, Jesus Christ! On earth we cry for the moment, and feel as though the music has died…. but in Heaven, I think the songs, the music, must be loud and alive! I think this verse shows how Mr. Graham lived his life, just as though the LORD was speaking directly to him, just as we fellow Christians should be living:

“This is My Command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NLT

The loss of our earthly fathers is heart-wrenching, because they have left us here on earth without them. I miss my own, but I just can’t get past the image of how incredibly happy and excited he must be right now; now, because he is finally with his JESUS. Where will you be, where will your soul be, when your earthly body dies? Is death something you are afraid of; will you be reunited with loved ones, with you SAVIOR, or will you be lost in eternity with no hope of anything except damnation?

I pray today the even in death, Billy Graham will continue to show people the way to real salvation. Strength and courage belong to those who choose and follow the LORD. HEAR the Words of Jesus:

“I have come as a Light to Shine in this Dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear Me but don’t obey Me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject Me and My Message will be judged on the Day of Judgment by the Truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on My own authority. The Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it. And I know His Commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells Me to say.” – John 12:46‭-‬50 NLT

Thank you, Reverend Graham, for doing and saying what God commanded.

Commitment, Worry, Compromise

“Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you.” – Psalms 37:5 NLT

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

Scriptures are very clear about giving your life, your entire life, to Him, totally committed. We are told to trust God; not to worry, and never to compromise that faith and trust.

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey His Laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.” – Psalms 119:1‭-‬3 NLT

I admit to constantly failing in my walk with the LORD. I am broken, imperfect, flawed. Since the fateful decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden to follow their desires instead of God’s command, all of humanity has struggled with compromise. The enemy, Satan, the serpent, is very persuasive. He has had eons to perfect his wiles and tricks in order to pull us away from the One True Creator God. He has used many hundreds, thousands, of people to lead us away from God. When we aren’t committed to the LORD; when we spend our time worried about our lives, it is easy to compromise and step off of the path the LORD has laid out for us. As a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, Son of the Most High God, it is so very important to know His Word and to follow His commandments. First, to love Him with all of our hearts, and second, to love as He Loves us. (Read Matthew 22: 37-40) This is my prayer today:

“You have charged us to keep Your Commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your Decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with Your Commands. As I learn Your Righteous Regulations, I will thank You by living as I should!” – Psalms 119:4‭-‬7 NLT

No compromise, just obedience.

Everything …. Or Nothing

“We do not wish either to be, or to live among, people who are clean or honest or kind as a matter of duty: we want to be, and associate with, people who like being clean and honest and kind.” – #CSLewis (Emphasis mine)

Whatever I do, and whatever I say, even whatever I think, I want to do because it is my choice, my decision – not because someone tells me. I am very aware of how utterly blessed I am to be born in the U.S.A.; to live in a Republic and not in a Socialist country or in a Dictatorship. Here, I can say whatever pleases me; good, bad, ugly, or indifferent. I can disparage the government without fear of reprisal; I can attend the church of my choice. America is still a land of opportunity for those who are willing to work. (Apparently, there are an awful lot of people who have made living off others and the government their “opportunity.” – but that’s another story!)

I can have the expectation that success and comfort and riches will be handed to me through no effort on my part, but for the vast majority of us, that will never happen. Those things only come through hard work and dedication. I know people who live a certain way as a matter of duty, but that is not me. I hope people who know me see that I am clean-living and honest and kind because it is my choice, my life; because it is how I want to be – not because of any rules or regulations or orders. It is not a duty that compels; it is not the ‘rules’ that require me to be this way. My devotion and my love for my JESUS, my LORD, makes me want to live that way. As the apostle Paul wrote:

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” – Philippians 4:12 NLT

This is not an easy task, but it is not difficult, either. It is not easy, because we have to commit our lives to the Living GOD, and it is never easy as a human to let go of control. It’s not difficult, because through our surrender, we become free. Like the butterfly that struggles to get out of it’s cocoon, or the bird struggling to break of it’s shell, once we shed the confinement of our earthly wants and desires, we are free to fly! To soar with JESUS, above and beyond anything earthly. When we are with Him, it is easy to be content in our hearts, no matter the circumstance. We still need to be present in the world so that we can let JESUS shine His Light through the flaws and cracks in our earthly shell. We need to be present, both to give and to receive blessings.

Where do you stand today? Clean, honest, and kind because you choose, or because it is your duty?

We All Bleed The Same – WARNING. This Is NOT A Politically Correct Post

So much ugly going on in the world! Wars and rumors of wars. Brothers killing brothers. Marriage disdained and disrespected. Unnatural relationships; paedophiles in the news every day, same-sex relationships glorified in the media. School shootings, church shootings, workplace shootings. Mass killings in public places.

Christians are having to dig deep to find the courage to stand today. It is politically incorrect to proclaim Jesus Christ as LORD, but It’s encouraged to worship anything, anyONE, besides our GOD. Is it really courage we lack, as much as it is the desire to be liked and to be a part of the popular scene? I’ve never been very courageous, myself. I was a shrinking violet, a wallflower, in junior high and high school. Once I was at college, I connected with the ‘cool kids’ – the rebels from the restrictive Christian families we came from. Hear these words from Jesus to us!

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t Love Me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your Lampstand from its place among the churches.”

“I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the Crown of LIFE.” – Revelation 2:4‭-‬5‭, ‬9‭-‬10 NLT

The LORD knows our suffering, and He is practically begging us to turn to Him; to be FAITHFUL to Him in our despair. When I rely on JESUS and rest in His Arms, He lifts me up and gives me a peace that surpasses and rises above the mess surrounding me. He wants to do the same for you and every person alive. All you have to do is ask Him. He will give you all that you need. JESUS is not about being a Liberal or a Conservative; Republican, Democrat, or Independent. He doesn’t care where you were born, or how much money you have. The color of your hair and skin is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you are the richest man on earth or the poorest of the poor, living in abject poverty. We all bleed the same, we all have one soul, and we all have a choice. JESUS, or the world. JESUS, and an ETERNITY with Him in Love, or Satan, the world, and an ETERNITY in hell and unspeakable, unimaginable suffering. Satan is Fear, and Fear is a Liar. JESUS is Truth. If you choose not to choose, then you have made you choice. You have to ask Jesus into your heart and life. He’ll never force Himself on you.

“But those who drink the Water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them Eternal Life.” – John 4:14 NLT

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the LORD, for you know that nothing you do for the LORD is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT

Maybe our prayer today shoud be for the courage to be politically incorrect, and to let our choice of JESUS CHRIST shine on the world.

Listen to Mandisa’s song “Bleed The Same” (or Google the video!) and Zach Williams’ “Fear Is A Liar.”

I Was A Rube

What is a “rube”? Webster’s says a rube is “an awkward, unsophisticated person: rustic; a naive or innocent person.” Another dictionary added “country bumpkin.” When I graduated high school and prepared to leave my parents home for college, I was all of those things – especially the “naive” part. I had grown up in a restrictive house with very protective parents, and I was convinced that the world would be a piece of cake. They had good reason to fear the world. Between the alcoholism and workaholics in their birth families; because of the war and it’s privations; through their experiences growing up, my parents did everything they could to shield us from life’s ugly side.They did the absolute best they could do with the knowledge and experience they had at the time.

Boy, was I wrong.

I was desperate to impress upon my new college family how sophisticated I was. That didn’t work out so well for me. I tried so hard to be one of the popular kids, the cool kids. The other preacher’s kids just weren’t all that, so I turned to the rule-benders and rebels. Instead of elevating me, I found myself dragged down because of my innocence and naivity, and shunned by the kids there who were walking the righteous path. I am no longer a Rube. Through a hard life, with more bumps and bruises than you could count, I have finally reached a path of contentment. I don’t need to be worldly to be wise, I merely need to submit to GOD’s Will. Hah. “Merely!” Makes it sound so easy, right? I am still an awkward, unsophisticated person, and i am okay with it. One thing I am not any longer is innocent. Once your innocence is gone, there is no way to recall it. I sincerely hope that I don’t come across to people as hard and cynical. Without JESUS CHRIST in my life, I think that is exactly how I would be perceived by tne world.

Most of the time now, I don’t really care if I am seen as a Rube.

“So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6 NLT

A True Friend

As Christi Mary Warner put it, “A true friend is one who knows all about you and likes you anyway.”

Listen to what Jesus said:

(16) “And I will ask the FATHER, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will never leave you. (18) No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” – John 14:16‭, ‬18 NLT

I am so thankful to know that there is one friend who will never leave me, abandon me, hurt me, or disappoint me. Too bad we can’t say the same for our human friends. There aren’t many true friends out there, but there are a lot of “good acquaintances!” I am blessed to think that I have a few true friends, although even the ones we consider true friends can – and will – hurt and disappoint us, just as I will hurt and disappoint them. My actions and my words often don’t reflect true friendship. My mouth doesn’t wait for my brain, and too often I put my needs (okay, my wants) above my friends’ needs. I am not there for them when they need me. I don’t share with my friends about the one TRUE Friend, and that, I believe, is my greatest flaw.

My prayer today is that I grow bolder when it comes to sharing my faith; when it comes to sharing the Truth about our one TRUE Friend. I pray that I will be more attuned to my friends needs, and that I will overcome, throught Christ, my lack of strength in finding a church to attend for the fellowship and friendships I know I need. I pray these things for my friends, too. Jesus Christ gave His life for His friends. He said:

(13) “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13 NLT

I agree, and I am thankful beyond words that He considers me His friend! Are you His friend?