Fix My Eyes

Have you ever come across a verse in the Bible that makes your eyes pop open, because it is so relevant to you in that instant that it’s as though GOD Himself just spoke it out loud to you? I love it when it happens to me!

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my Light.” – Micah 7:8 NIV

BOOM. Take THAT, Satan! So much of the time, we are so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in that we become totally focused on putting one foot in front of the other. As we are trying desperately to see the next step, and hoping it is solid enough to hold us, we forget to lift our eyes enough to see the hand stretched out to assist us. We act like we’re blind, feeling our way through the flood or fire or rain of our situation, tap tap tapping the path, hoping for a clear way. Why are we so determined that we have to do it on our own – like a 2 year old, “I do it!”; that we have to assert our independence, when the LORD of the Universe is waiting right beside us, ready to help??? Is it such a bad thing to accept help?

Miss Independence. If I were in a pageant, that would be me. I can do it. I grew up trying hard to be accepted by my big brother, and I knew I had to be strong and not a “girly-girl” to be one of the guys. When I went into the workforce, I found a job in a builder’s supply, the heart of ‘man-world’. If I couldn’t prove my independence, my ‘I can do it’ attitude, I wouldn’t survive in that atmosphere….. so that’s what I did. The men learned that if I was told I couldn’t do something (implied was ‘because you’re a girl‘), then I would do everything in my power to do that thing. Whether it was determining the difference between a framing hammer and a finish hammer, or stocking 50# boxes of nails and screws; learning to drive a forklift and unloading (and loading) trucks, I did it. Presented with a challenge, my attitude became “I will do it …. on my own, and I don’t want your help.” Those years, and all of those jobs would have been so much easier, so much more pleasant, with someone at my side helping. After years of the struggle, I met and married a man who was truly a partner to me. He didn’t challenge me; he worked alongside me and we learned from each other.

That’s the relationship we can have with JESUS! He doesn’t dominate the relationship, He doesn’t ‘boss’ us, He is there, beside us, to carry our burdens so that we aren’t staggering under them. We may still stumble and fall, and the enemy will still come at us with his arrows and throw obstacles in our path, but with JESUS at our side, we have the help we need to go on. Keeping our eyes fixed on JESUS, we aren’t focused on the ugliness of the enemy….. and trust me, he is UUUUG-LY. Worry, anxiety, frustrations, hurts and hatefulness, bullying, gossip – these are ways the enemy gets us to gradually look away from JESUS, until we are immersed in them and we’ve completely lost sight of the LORD. That’s his goal! Don’t let him win.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with GOD’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with CHRIST JESUS Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the LORD. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which GOD lives by His SPIRIT.” – Ephesians 2:19‭-‬22 NIV

I pray today that my eyes will stay fixed on my LORD, and off of the frustrating circumstances. I’ve read the back of the Book, devil, and you LOSE, dude.

Listen to Fix My Eyes by King and Country ☝️

WHAT? Me, Worry??

I grew up hearing my parents and grandparents say different derivative of this phrase, usually in the form of not to ‘borrow trouble’ or to ‘bring tomorrow’s troubles to today’. According to Wikipedia, the phrase debuted in 1954 in Mad Magazine as a slogan for the character Alfred E. Neumann. Although Mad used it as sarcasm and in derision, the source is actually from scriptures. JESUS taught the crowds who followed Him, saying to them:

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? …. So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear? ’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly FATHER knows that you need them. But seek first the Kingdom of GOD and HIS Righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬31‭-‬34 HCSB

Worry comes so easily to us. I was having a conversation with my sister about circumstances we are facing, and she said that whenever she starts to worry how the situation will work out, she hears this little voice reminding her that GOD is in control of the situation. I hear that same voice whenever I begin to worry about my own situation. GOD isn’t telling us to just lie back and let the world run over us, or that we should expect to be taken care of without doing any of the work. Contrary to popular belief, He also doesn’t say anywhere in scripture that He ‘takes care of those who take care of themselves.’ I’ve found that when I’m ‘taking care of myself,’ I’m not leaning on Him!

I read the most inane comment on Twitter this morning. Avery Edison @aedison tweeted this “Remember babes, there’s nothing moral about work, and you are have {sic} basic human rights to food, water, shelter, health care (among other things) whether or not you work.” (Emphasis mine.) Now, I also read that she’s a comedian, and I suppose the comment could have been made solely for the purpose of getting people to respond – which it definitely achieved – but…… really? Someone has to work to build shelter, someone has to raise (or hunt) food and find a good water source, and someone has to acquire the knowledge to care for people. Sounds like ‘work’ to me. I’m also guessing that ‘among other things’ she’s including clothing, which also requires work. The truly sad thing about this tweet is that even if it is, indeed, made tongue-in-cheek, there are so many people today who assume that it is a truth; that they can coast along and expect society to take care of them.

What an apt analogy for socialism and the state our world is in today. While GOD doesn’t want us to waste our time in worry, neither does he intend for us to sit around and expect to be waited on. Look at Proverbs 12:24, 19:15, and 26:15, and Hosea 12:12. These are just a few examples of hundreds of scriptures referring to work and lifestyles, and especially in Psalms 107:

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His Faithful Love and His wonderful works for all humanity. They saw the LORD’s works, His wonderful works in the deep.” – Psalms 107:21‭, ‬24 HCSB

Even the ALMIGHTY, the LORD GOD works! He spoke the universe into existence, but then He put His Hands in the dirt to create the clay and mold Adam, the first man, and He reached into Adam’s side to take the rib to create the Eve, the first woman, always to be at man’s side. Who are we to expect that we can do any less than the LORD?

(Photo credit to Vocations Journey – WordPress.com)

Making My Plans

“(1-3) We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.

(8-9) Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

(16) How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!

(19) Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.

(33) We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.” – Proverbs 16:1‭-‬3‭3 NLT

I see a pattern here. My plan was to marry a man who would take care of me, who would cherish me and provide for me and our children. My plan was for a White Knight, a Prince on his charger to sweep me off my feet, and we would live happily ever after. Ha. Then reality set in. My ‘Knight’, turned out to be controlling, abusive, and unfaithful. Some ‘Prince’. To prove just how stubborn I could be, and because I didn’t believe in divorce, I stayed with him for most of 8 years. When I finally had enough, I left him, and promptly fell for another ‘Prince’. He made so many promises, only to break them all, and my broken heart was just collateral damage to him. Still thinking I could make better decisions than GOD, I married my best friend. He had a daughter, and was still emotionally tied to her mother. Not the way to start a marriage, but a good way to end one.

A couple of years passed, and a good friend from my past contacted me. Ron was divorced, too, and our friendship thrived and became a deep love. We were involved in the local church, we had adventures and loved life together. GOD was important to us, but He wasn’t number One all of the time. With Ron, I knew I was loved, and I was confident he wouldn’t leave me. He was far from perfect, but then, so am I. We had a number of good years, then an injury brought in drugs and addiction. I had to leave for my physical safety, and it broke my heart. Of course, I blamed GOD for not keeping him – and me – safe.

I became entangled in another relationship, and another, and another. I was searching so hard for another ‘Prince’ of this world, I was neglecting the True Prince, the Prince of heaven, JESUS. Even though I was attending church, I felt judged and condemned by my peers, and eventually left that church because of it. Another broken relationship. I was batting 1000 with my plans and decisions! There was a recovery program at my sister’s church, and I began to attend it. Not for me, of course, but for my new husband …. another one of my plans, to redeem him. He couldn’t handle the program, because he would have to stop using drugs and alcohol and sex outside of our marriage. He bounced back in and out of my life for almost three years. I found out that the program was for me, and I began to rely on my LORD, my JESUS, rather than my husband – who was completely unreliable. My pastor told me several times that once I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, I would do something about it …… and until I reached that point, I shouldn’t complain. Harsh? Perhaps, but it was – and is – the truth. My husband was arrested and was tried for a horrific crime, and my breaking point was when he confessed to me that it was true. He went to prison (for life, I pray), and I immersed myself in recovery.

I’m very cautious now about making plans. Everything gets prayed about, and although I don’t always get the answer I want, I’m working on accepting them. Yes, no, or wait ….. it’s not an easy thing to wait on the LORD, and I’m sure I don’t always hear Him correctly. I think that when I don’t get a clear yes or no, the answer is to wait, and I am not very good at waiting! Sometimes I find myself feeling anger at Ron for falling into his addiction and allowing it to tear apart our life together, and then dying on me. We were supposed to grow old together! No matter what we plan, or how well we plan, things – and people – go wrong. In the Scottish poem “To A Mouse,” Robert Burns writes:

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Yep, the best plans go awry….. It’s certainly been proved right in my life! Whatever the plan, no matter how small or how big, it will go better if we let GOD have the reins. We may think we’ve got it handled, but I know from experience that whatever we do, it’s always better when we include GOD in the process!

(from TV Tropes ….. )

If Your Heart Turns Away

“The LORD your GOD will delight in you if you obey His Voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the LORD your GOD with all your heart and soul……. Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your GOD and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your GOD will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your GOD, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” – Deuteronomy 30:10‭, ‬15‭-‬20 NLT

Even though the LORD gave these words to Moses and the rest of the Old Testament for His chosen people, the Israelites, He intended for successive generations of both Israel and the rest of the world to heed them. He created all people, and He wants us all to know Him, regardless of race or nationality or gender. He expects nothing less than total devotion to Him, and that looks putting Him first in our lives….. over family, over our jobs, over OU / OSU football ( or whatever sports team sucks you in…. ) This means putting Him first financially. Do you spend at least as much on Him as you do eating out, shopping, buying tickets to sports events, pampering yourself? Do you resent the time spent in church? I’ve known so many people who complained about going to spend time in God’s house for a few hours a week, but had no problem spending 3 or 4 times more hours in a bar. “….. if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed.”

What turns your heart?

Michelangelo’s Moses

Attention ALL Politicians!

As I was reading today, it strikes me how appropriate these Scriptures are for our governing bodies, from the local PTA and school board to the highest offices in the land – the House, Senate, Supreme Court, and the Presidency. Why is it so difficult for people to maintain reasonable attitudes once they have a taste of power? In 1887, John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, wrote these words:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.

It appears to me that Lord Acton was a scholar of numerous historic documents, but also the Bible. Consider these scriptures, attributed to King Solomon, written several thousand years before Acton.

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” – Proverbs 14:29 NLT

Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” – 1 Kings 3:9 NLT

My prayer today is that these go viral and end up on every politicians desk. They all need to remember why they are where they are; their sole job is to do the best possible for the people they represent, rather than being so focused on being right, even righteous, over others.

“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous – not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking GOD. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “They have no fear of GOD at all.” “They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace.” “They have no fear of GOD at all.” – Romans 3:10‭-‬18 NLT (Psalms 14:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20

Nasty. (But an apt description of too many politicians….)

I am not righteous, even though at times I act as though I am. I am most assuredly not wise. Just look at my life and all of the poor decisions I’ve made. What I am and forever shall be is forgiven. As long as I rely on the LORD, and lean on HIS understanding, I am content. Whenever I try to do life on my own, I fail. This is true for EVERYONE:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His Will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5‭-‬7 NLT

AMEN.

The Essence of Prophecy

‘But wait,’ you say. ‘How do we really know who is a false prophet, and who is True? And what, exactly, do you mean by the essence of prophecy?’

First, we listen to the Word. JESUS warned us: “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” – Matthew 7:15‭-‬16 NLT

Still not clear on what to look for? It’s very simple; that is, it’s simple until the enemy, Satan, the Great Liar, gets involved. He distorts and hides the Truth so that he can take us away from the One Who Loves us, the LORD JESUS. I think you need to look for humilty, and a servant attitude. GOD’s prophets don’t self-aggrandize or boast, unless they are boasting of GOD’S power in their lives. They preach the Gospel; the entire Gospel, no picking and choosing to make the Bible suit their agenda. A True prophet is not after wealth or power or prestige or recognition. A prophet of the One True GOD has only one agenda, and that is to tell the world about JESUS, and how He came to earth to save us for all eternity. See if this passage clears it up.

“Then I [John, the Apostle] fell down at his [the messenger angel] feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of GOD, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in JESUS. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” ” – Revelation 19:10 NLT

Do you still have questions? Pray, use your Bible; go to someone who lives life as a follower of CHRIST. Ask me. I’m not a prophet, and I don’t have all the answers – but I know where to go to get them! Plus, I’ve read the back of the Book, and I promise you that you don’t want to belittle the Creator GOD, YAHWEH, the LIGHT, EL-SHADDAI….. NAME above all names.

Listen to Cornerstone, sung by Hillsong Worship. CHRIST ALONE, Cornerstone!

Grasp. Grasping. Grasped.

We are a grasping people. We want what we can’t, or don’t, have. We grasp from the time we are babies. I couldn’t count the number of times a baby or small child has grasped for my dangling earrings, my necklace, my hair, my glasses…. sometimes obtaining their objective, and sometimes not. We grasp for our toys, and move on to try to grasp the toys of others. We want it, so we should have it, right? In the process of growing, we (should) learn that no matter how badly we desire something, it is wrong to grab it from someone else. We become judgemental when we want what we don’t have; what we haven’t earned or been given. After all, if my neighbor has something better, shouldn’t I have it, too? Does the desire for that thing make it okay to reach out and grasp what’s not mine? We judge those we find wanting. We think (i.e. judge) that if they aren’t smart or assertive (or aggressive) enough to reach out and grab for more than they have, then we must be better than they are. In my experience, that attitude seems most prevalent among the people who have the most, whether it was given, inherited, or earned. I don’t like being judged for what I don’t have, so what gives me the right to judge someone else for what they have or don’t have? I work at my goals, and if I can attain them without grasping after them in a selfish or demeaning (to others) way, I will be content that I have reached them in a fulfilling way. I’m as guilty of judging and envy as anyone, but my intention is to be as fair as humanly possible!

Rather than spending my life grasping for what I don’t have, my prayer is that I will grasp the hand of the LORD and remain committed to Him. Contentment comes not from grasping for things, but from grasping the One Who Loves us.

“The Eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9a NLT