Sinful Nature. Truth.

“So now there is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the Power of the Life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1‭-‬2 (http://bible.com/116/rom.8.1-2.NLT)

So, WHY do we keep on sinning???

This is a question that really bothers me. I know the answer, and it continues to bug me. We sin because we are human. We are created in God’s image, and we were created to be companions; to worship and fellowship with Him. Our fatal flaw, AND our saving grace, is the free will God gave us. He didn’t create robots to follow Him without question or thought. He made us with the ability and the desire to know Him and to Love Him because we choose to. He gave us bodies so that we can can see the beauty, hear the music, taste the bounty, and feel the creation. He gave us hands to create, and minds to comprehend. We can build incredible buildings and carve things from solid rock that defy imagination. Hearing nature’s music and the music we make with instruments from our hands and our breath can transport us into beautiful places in our minds. And even with all of this incredible talent and ability our God imbued us with, with all of the intellectual ability He created in us, we continue to turn our backs on Him???

We are selfish. We want what we want when we want it. We are snobs to those who don’t meet our standards. We are petty and hold grudges instead of forgiving. We take advantage of the weak and we have little compassion for the hurting. We are cruel when it suits our purpose, and we despise those who threaten us. WE choose the ugly over the beauty, time after time after time. WHY does God allow this to go on? The answer, though simple, is not pretty. He allows it, because we choose it. Free will.

Yep. We CHOOSE the ugliness and the hatred and the despair. We choose the things of the world over God. There’s no one else to blame; it lands squarely on my shoulders and on yours. (Told you it wasn’t pretty.)

“He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand.” #CSLewis | #ScrewtapeLetters

It is up to us…. no, it is up to ME, to choose to walk (stumble, crawl) with God. No one else can choose for me, and no one but you can choose for yourself. We all know how, too:

“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 (http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16.NLT)

Not believe that Jesus is real, but believe IN Him. Even Satan and his demons acknowledge that He is real! Believe IN Jesus Christ as your Savior. Make the RIGHT choice.

Amen.

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

Is It Jerusalem… Or The U.S.A.???

“Hear us, SHEPHERD of ISRAEL, You who lead Joseph like a flock. You Who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken Your might; come and save us.

Restore us, O GOD; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

How long, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, will Your anger smolder against the prayers of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; You have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots as far as the River. Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes? Boars from the forest ravage it, and insects from the fields feed on it.

Return to us, GOD ALMIGHTY! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root Your Right Hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at Your rebuke Your people perish. Let Your Hand rest on the man at Your Right Hand, the son of man You have raised up for Yourself. Then we will not turn away from You; revive us, and we will call on Your Name.

Restore us, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY; make Your Face shine on us, that we may be saved.”

Psalm 80:1‭-‬19 (http://bible.com/111/psa.80.1-19.NIV)

Burn Out

I think I’m burnt out from a lifetime of stress and worry and poor – no, let’s be REAL, here – BAD decisions. My brain is tired, and my body is, too. Sound familiar? I’ve been on an R&R, of sorts, for the past year and a half, since I involuntarily left my last job. I say “of sorts,” because I am blessed to have a partner who is able to supply us financially, although it causes strain to be dependent solely on him, and bills have to wait to be paid sometimes (and that stresses me out). Even with the strain, we’ve been able to make a few trips to visit family, and for me, that is the best R&R there is. I am grateful to be in the relationship I’m in; I’m incredibly thankful that he is so generous and that he loves me.

God loves me, too. His Love puts any earthly love to shame, simply because there is no way that we can possibly match it. I’ve said before that I believe that animals, especially dogs, are made to give us a glimpse of that indefinable, expressive, and limitless love God has for us. Remember, “dog” is “god” spelled backwards! Before you get all crazy, please note: I do not believe that dogs (or any other animal) is equivalent to or somehow worthy of worship. I DO believe that God put them all here for a reason, and that there is a lot to be learned from animals about love. Think about it. Dogs simply adore humans. Take a look at rescue dog who was taken from an abusive situation, and, with few exceptions, they will grovel at your feet, looking for just a little bit of caring on your part….

I think that describes us humans pretty well, too. We absolutely CRAVE a relationship with someone human who will love us as we are, and that is, unfortunately, rare. True abiding love isn’t something that comes easily for us. We are so distracted by “shiny things” (i.e. the temptations of earthly living) in our search for something and/or someone to fill that God-shaped hole in our hearts, we often forget to look up; to acknowledge the One Who stands with us. I believe burn out happens because we forget Who is really Number 1. It isn’t me, or you, or your spouse/significant other. It isn’t your family or your job, and it isn’t our animals. All of these things are important to help define who we are, but without the LORD of the Universe, the General over Heaven’s Armies, the REAL “Boss” of our bodies and souls…. we are nothing. Ooh, did that statement offend you? It did me! I want to be the boss of my body! The reality, however, is that we are NEVER the boss of our bodies or our souls. We aren’t the boss and never have been. The only thing that we are “boss” of is our free will. Every day, every minute, every second, we are free to choice our “boss,” and there are only two to choose from. One of the choices is NOT ourselves.

Just as Adam and Eve chose, we are free to choose, and so much of the time we choose poorly…… leading to more burn out. Choose wisely!

“The Lord will be King over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His Name the ONLY Name.” Zechariah 14:9 (http://bible.com/111/zec.14.9.NIV)

Challenge

I challenge you to study God’s Word! Even though it was started 4000 years ago and finished 2000 years ago, it is as true and applicable today as it was then! Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, but they are also directed to us today:

“…. to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our LORD Jesus Christ—their LORD and ours: Grace and Peace to you from GOD our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ. …. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our LORD Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our LORD. …. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:2‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭-‬9, 17-18 (http://bible.com/111/1co.1.2-18.NIV)

George Orwell nailed it in his statement. As Christians, we must – we MUST – speak truth. I don’t mean we should go stand on the street corner with signs, shouting “the end is near!” No, it’s within our families, among our friends and coworkers, to our neighbors we need to be speaking. These are the people we need to speak God’s truth to. Our freedom is in Jesus Christ, and I will not give up my freedom lightly! I will do all I can to protect yours, too, as I stand with Christ.

Be Still

He [The LORD] says, “Be still, and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (https://psalm.bible/psalm-46-10)

I love how God decides what I’m thinking and writing, sometimes mid-sentence. As I sit outside on the back porch this morning, I was considering how beautiful and unusual it is for the 1st day of August in central Oklahoma. It’s raining; a soft, gentle rain with no wind or lightening, and the temperature is hovering around 70°. More like early March or April, really. Whatever the date, I am grateful for the cooler temps and the rain, and enjoying being outside with the pups. So, gratitude is on my mind…..

As I read and take in the words of Psalms 46, it strikes me again that we humans worry too much. I am all for peace between countries (“Peace on earth!”), and I am adamant about conservation and management of our God-given resources; the plants and animals and the earth itself. It is all here for us to use, not to abuse… and it is critical for us as Christians to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout our neighborhoods and cities and countries.

But be still and read these words from the psalmist:

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our fortress….. He says, “Be still, and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:2‭-‬3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬10‭-‬11 (http://bible.com/111/psa.46.2-11.NIV)

Whatever natural disasters occur, when nation fights nations, He is reminding us again to be still in our hearts, and to take the energy we would spend worrying to instead, worship Him. I really do understand how difficult it can be, and how difficult it IS, to praise God when our lives are in turmoil. I have experienced and witnessed things I couldn’t wish would happen to anyone, but I know that worse things happen to people. There is much evil in this world, and the enemy uses it to try to destroy our faith. It almost worked on me. Years – YEARS – of my life were spent in the enemy’s grasp. It was ugly, at best. Beyond description at the worst, and there are still millions of people caught up by it all. As difficult as it is, I go back to the Psalms to remind myself of God’s power… and to Revelations to see the punishment of evil when God sits on His Judgement Throne. He will reshape the earth and come to dwell with us in the new Jerusalem, the City of God.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” … Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 (http://bible.com/111/rev.21.5.NIV)

LORD, if I am anxious about anything, let me be anxious for Your Return! Amen… He will return like a roaring lion!

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GOD IS NOT DEAD

It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that I am able to survive & thrive here in this world. When I try living life without Jesus, I am a miserable mess. I spent years searching for happiness, as the song says, “Looking for love in all the wrong places…” What about you? Are you searching for that elusive happiness – the perfect man/woman, car, job, clothes, things… acceptance? Having so much ‘fun’ that you can ignore the misery you feel? I can tell you unequivocally, with total assurance, there is only one path to happiness – ONE Way, and it is through Jesus.

“I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling…. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what GOD has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” 1 Corinthians 2:3,9

Think of the best situation, the absolutely, most breathtaking place you can imagine. Have you been to awe-inspiring places? Seen beauty that is beyond words to describe? Well, imagine those places and things, and heaven will be thousands, no, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of times better! I can hardly wait…. I will get to see Jesus, face to face! I’ll see my earthly Daddy, and my Grandma, and other friends and family who have already gone. Will I see YOU there?

Trudge, Plod, Slog

Definition: To walk slowly and with heavy steps, because of exhaustion or harsh conditions.

I love to people watch. At a social gathering, or out in public, I often wish I could be the fly on the wall so that I could observe, uninterrupted. (Of course, another part of me wants to be right in the thick of it all. Quite the dilemma, at times, to see which side of me wins!) One observation that I have made many times is that there are so many people who are trudging through life; heads down and shoulders bowed by the weight of their lives. Only this morning, I caught myself doing the same thing…. trudging, plodding, slogging through the house like the entire weight of the world was on me. (In my defense, I hadn’t had my coffee yet!!) Over and over in scriptures, Jesus says not to worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear….” Luke 12:22 (http://bible.com/111/luk.12.22.NIV)

Look up the word “worry” and you’ll find many references in the Gospels and in Peter’s and Paul’s letters to the churches in the New Testament. As a Christian, I know in my head and my heart that nothing can be gained by worrying. That’s not to say that I should never be concerned, or that I should just sit back complacently and expect God to provide for me. Plodding through life is a widespread disease, fostered and nurtured by the enemy. When we are overcome with fear and guilt and worry, is it any wonder that we are trudging through the day? Keep this in mind as you face the day:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And GOD IS FAITHFUL; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (http://bible.com/111/1co.10.13.NIV)

As Christians, we are NEVER alone. We NEVER have to face the day alone. We NEVER have cause to worry. As for my trudging through the day… that is the enemy trying to beat me down. Day to day life can get pretty rough to deal with, but you know what? Even when the enemy wins a skirmish and life becomes more difficult, I know the ultimate outcome. Satan might THINK he has won in my life, so I just have this reminder for him:

“So the LORD GOD said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” Genesis 3:14 (http://bible.com/111/gen.3.14.NIV)

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the concerns of GOD, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:23 (http://bible.com/111/mat.16.23.NIV)

And finally:

“And the devil*, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10 (http://bible.com/111/rev.20.10.NIV) *Satan, Lucifer, the (fallen) morning star….

FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN! No more trudging through life, because I have Jesus!