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

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