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

How Do You Pray?

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, Who sees everything, will reward you.

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” – Matthew 6:5‭-‬8 NLT

Did you grow up in a house where prayer was the norm, or was cursing at God the only ‘prayer’ you heard? I was taught that the ‘correct’ way to pray was to sit with head bowed and hands clasped in front of me, or on my knees with eyes closed and hands clasped; praying out loud, beginning with ‘Dear Heavenly Father’ and always ending with ‘Amen’. This definitely helped with my focus as a child, but do you think this is the only way to pray? We want to be reverent and humble when we pray, but I submit that we can pray anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. Prayer is simply having a conversation with the LORD. Prayer can happen while we are driving or working, in the classroom, or in any social setting, and I’m not talking about the ‘OH. MY. GOD.’ we frequently hear today.

Prayer; praying out loud, has its place, whether in church or out, but my focus here is really about conversing with GOD. Just talking. As I grow in faith, I realize that talking to GOD doesn’t need to be formal. I don’t need anyone else saying prayers for me in lieu of my own prayers (but I’m always happy to know that people are praying for me!) I just need to be having conversations with my LORD. Before getting out of bed in the morning, a quick “Thank You LORD for another day, Your Will be done today” helps my day start in the right direction. I whisper inaudible prayers all day – “LORD, I believe; help my unbelief” is one that I pray when faced things that are out of my control…. which is frequently! “Keep me safe on the roads.” “Bless [insert name]” ….. I actually try to pray this whenever my mind strays to someone who has hurt me. God knows quite well that what my human side really wants is to hurt that person back, but by asking Him to bless that person, I can receive God’s forgiveness and Grace.

Prayer shouldn’t be any more difficult than talking with your best friend. It shouldn’t stress us out, but thinking that we can only approach Him in a formal way, or through a priest or pastor, keeps us from knowing GOD and His will for us/me. Just talk to Him. I’ve started many conversations with Him by admitting I don’t know what to pray, that I don’t have any words. I know that’s okay, though, because even when we don’t have words, the Holy Spirit carries our groans, our needs to the Father. To teach us how to pray, JESUS gave us this, and we call it ‘The LORD’S Prayer.”

“Pray like this: Our FATHER in heaven, may Your Name be kept Holy. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly FATHER will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your FATHER will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:9‭-‬10‭, ‬12‭-‬15 NLT

There is tremendous power in prayer, whether it is you, alone by yourself, or together with fellow Christians, and regardless of whether words are spoken out loud or silently. Remember what JESUS said to His followers: “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, My Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:19‭-‬20 NLT

My prayer is that my words today can help ease us all as we struggle through this life, because old or young or in between, prayer works. Don’t let selfish pride get in your way, thinking you’ll somehow do it wrong or embarrass yourself in your praying. That’s just the enemy trying to separate you from GOD! Amen.

Continue reading “How Do You Pray?”

What Is Your Cross?

“Then He {JESUS} said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23 NLT

What is your cross? I feel like mine changes with the seasons of my life. For now, it seems to be a combination of things. Not having a companion, lack of financial stability, physical issues. Looking at my life, though, I know that these things that feel so heavy to me are really minor in view of the world. I know that these are more “crosses” because of my wants, not because of any real needs. I may not have a spouse to share my life with, but I have wonderful friends and family who love me (in spite of me!). My financial state is somewhat precarious, but in spite of my lack of preparation in life, I have a house – a warm, secure home – and somehow, I have enough to live, day by day. The physical issues are being addressed, and I understand that even though the pain and discomfort may never go away, nothing is life-threatening. So then, what is my cross?

My cross is insecurity and fear of the unknown of life here on earth; my cross is giving up the control I think I have over my life. News flash to self : there is NO control when I am in charge of things! Giving up control is at the heart of what JESUS said. “…. you must give up your own way ….”

But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard [for those who trust in riches] to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” – Mark 10:24‭b-‬25 NLT

That’s pretty clear, but we humans are hard-headed. We want, if not millions, then enough money and things to be comfortable on our terms, not God’s. Like the Apostle Paul, I have had plenty, and I have had nothing. Unlike Paul, I have not been very thankful in my circumstances! Followers of Christ need to recognize that our lives may be, probably will be, less than comfortable in this life, even difficult and painful to the end.

JESUS said “…. I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for My sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have Eternal Life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” – Mark 10:29‭-‬31 NLT

Listen to “Gracefully Broken” by Matt Redman