Assumption Will Get You NO-Where

When we are little, we make the assumption that our parents and grandparents and family will always love us and protect us. As a young woman, I made the assumption that I would be loved and cherished and provided for by my [first] husband…. and each successive relationship after that. Oh, what a severely flawed assumption! We assume that our babies will outlive us. My parents had assumed that I would finish college… (I didn’t). Especially when we are young, we assume that we will marry the right person and get the right job, the right raises and the right house, and that as a result, life will be good.

How’s that working out for you?

You’ve probably head the phrase, “To Assume make an ass of u (you) and me.” The only safe assumption is the one that is based on reality, and the Truth as found in the Words the Creator:

“I will be Your GOD throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal? …. Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am GOD! I am GOD, and there is none like Me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. … Listen to Me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now!” (Isaiah 46:4‭-‬5‭, ‬8‭-‬10‭, ‬12‭-‬13a NLT)

“For the Grace of GOD has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to GOD, …. (Titus 2:11‭-‬12 NLT)

We can’t rely on assumptions to be accurate or to become reality. The ONE thing, the ONLY thing that we can assume and get right is this: Our sins are forgiven when we accept JESUS as our LORD and SAVIOUR; this is a singular TRUTH! We will continue to sin and get things wrong because we are flawed humans…. but when we are covered in His Grace and His Mercy we can know with certainty that we will get to see JESUS face-to-face, and that’s no assumption!

Without Love

Listen to ‘I Just Need U.’ sung by Toby Mac.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showing me (showing me)
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough….”

Every day, every night, every hour, every second, I just need You, LORD. Without Your Love, I am nothing, but with it, I am everything. We search all over the world, looking for love in mankind, and if we ever think we have found it, we will be disappointed. We (all of humankind) seem to think that we can do what we want, with whom we want, wherever and whenever we choose, and we do it with impunity. When I’m searching for love on earth, and ignoring the only Love that will never let me down, I am living for me rather than GOD. We mock the LORD of the Universe when we decide that our decisions about love and justice are better than His. We often act with impunity, and to what end?

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of GOD. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” – Galatians 6:7‭-‬8‭, ‬15 NLT

Without love we are nothing. Paul wrote about love, true, unselfish LOVE, to the church at Corinth. As followers of JESUS CHRIST, we really should take this to heart.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭, ‬7 NLT

While we search for love, GOD, through the sacrifice of the LORD JESUS, and the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT in our lives, He is waiting patiently for each of us to let Him in so that we can experience real Love, lasting Love, never-failing and never-ending LOVE. Without LOVE, I am nothing. With the LOVE of the LORD, I am everything.

Guilt Is An UGLY Thing

Guilt is built into us from the moment we begin life. From a two-celled zygote (I remember my high school science!), to a fully-formed baby, to a 100+ year old person, we are guilty of sin. It’s in our DNA, thanks to the decision made millenia ago by the first man and first woman, and it is furthered by our upbringing. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself!’ ‘I can’t believe you would do such a thing.’ Even, ‘You’ll never amount to anything.’ There are hundreds of variations on this theme. Even David, the great and renowned king of Israel, had guilt about his actions. Only one man has ever lived a guilt-free life on this earth, and that man is called Jesus.

“Have Mercy on me, O GOD, because of Your Unfailing Love. Because of Your Great Compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your Judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But You desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O GOD. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your Presence, and don’t take Your HOLY SPIRIT from me.” – Psalms 51:1‭-‬11 NLT

There is a release from guilt that can only come when we surrender it to the LORD. It’s an incredible release to be free from that burden! My prayer today is that whatever guilt you are hanging on to, no matter what it is, you will let it go. It’s never easy, because we are taught guilt from an early age – but it can be done! Sometimes, too, guilt is caught up in unforgiveness, which makes it doubly difficult to shed. We need to remember that forgivess, or asking for forgiveness, is what we have to do in order to gain freedom ftom guilt. Read David’s song as your prayer today.

Listen to Natalie Grant sing “More Than Anything.”

Morning Has Broken….

…. to a misty, watery sunlight with intermittent rain showers. The mockingbird on the neighbor’s roof is amplified and sounds like it is broadcasting to the world. It rained a bit last night; just enough to get the ground wet and cool us off to a more spring-like temperature. It’s the kind of morning that makes me wish for a screened sleeping porch, so we could just laze and enjoy. Indoors, work beckons, but for now, I am resisting. The pups are finally okay with coming outside after the thundering of last nights storm.

A few years ago, a lightning strike and the gigantic corresponding clap of thunder right next to us made it feel as though the house jumped in surprise. It blew out the power, and a small ball of fire burst out of the fireplace. Since then, the little one hides whenever there is thunder, even when it is barely discernable to me. He refuses to go outside, preferring to cower under something inside ….. which leads to another problem. Little dogs, no matter the pedigree or background, have to go out more frequently than the bigger ones. Consequently, I got up this morning to several puddles on my newly cleaned kitchen floor. 🤔 Just like having a 2 year old without a diaper ….. Good thing they are so (stinkin’) cute. 😜

As pleasant as my morning is (except the pee-puddles!), there are hundreds of thousands who wake to a really broken morning. A home missing a parent – or both parents. Dealing with a recent loss of a loved one, especially losing a child. Homeless, hungry. Forsaken by a spouse, or worse, beaten and abused. Devastation from wildfires or floods or volcanos. Hopeless, desperate, depressed. I’ve known some of these, and I am grateful for my home and my place in this world. I count myself among the blessed because I have friends and family who care.

Most of all, I am Blessed because I know JESUS. He is the Morning Star, the Hope that gets me up in the morning. I’ve tried life without Him, and it can be passable, but it is lacking. How did I make it without the Hope, the Grace, and above all, the Mercy of my LORD? How? I’d have to say, very poorly. Because of Him, I have the pedigree of a princess. From commoner to royalty, I have been lifted up into the bloodline of the KING of kings, LORD of Lords, Creator and Ruler of the universe. What bloodline or pedigree can compare to that?

Tolerance, Diversity, Forgiving

What a wild, wacky world we inhabit. Tolerance and diversity seem to be the catch phrases in the U.S. today, but what I see most is in-tolerance and un-forgivess. By definition, ‘tolerance’ means “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

‘Diversity’ is defined as “the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness: diversity of opinion. … the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” (Dictionary.com)

Finally, forgiveness. Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. … Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. (Greater Good magazine)

And this is how Paul explains it to the church in Ephesus:

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as GOD through CHRIST has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Being intolerant and unforgiving became a part of the human experience all the way back to the first man and the first woman and their children – our ancestors; the father and mother of the entire human race. Look at Cain and Abel in Genesis, chapter 4. Jealousy, anger, intolerance and unforgivess…. just because Able was different from his brother, Cain killed him. If we stick to the dictionary for answers, whenever we announce that we are tolerant, or liberal-minded, then we should be living the these things: Acceptance, open-mindedness, broad-mindedness; forbearance, patience, charity, indulgence, understanding.

Instead, we have redefined liberalty to mean tolerance of all views except our own. We offer charity and indulgence to people who agree with us, and woe to anyone who opposes us! Christians and non-Christians alike, man and woman, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, old or young; Baptist, Catholic, atheist….. it doesn’t matter what group or demographic you look at, you will find plenty of intolerance and unforgivess.

All of this begs the question, what can we – what can I do to break the chain of ugliness? I don’t know that we can anything, but each of us, individually, can stop it within ourselves. By proclaiming that I am a follower of CHRIST and that I was raised a Baptist (AND a Preacher’s kid!), many people assume that I am a goody-two-shoes, with a holier-than-thou judgemental attitude. People who really know me and my family would scoff at that label! I’ve done my judging, but it’s been aimed more at the ‘church’ than the world. I’m a hypocrite. I’ve done my share of causing pain to others. I am so far from perfect, I’m not sure it could even be measured.

No matter who you are, you are not perfect. The most liberal-minded liberal is intolerant and unforgiving. We all have the same opportunity to rid ourselves of all the negativity and ugliness in our lives, and that opportunity comes through our LORD and Saviour JESUS CHRIST. He doesn’t care about anything that defines you; He only cares about the state of your heart. Listen to the hymn Amazing Grace. No matter what we are dealing with in this life, or what we will go through in the future, JESUS has our backs.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home.

“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. GOD sent His SON into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NLT

Are you a liberal in GOD’s eyes, saved by Grace and following His Son, or are you a Liberal in the eyes of the world, intolerant and unwilling to include Christians in your diversity?

People Laughing….

Laughing. Crying. Stony faces, worried faces, blank faces. Fat people, skinny people. Lackadaisical. Proud. Strutting, shuffling, confident. Glowing, pale, broken, bruised. Lazing around, pushing stridently through the crowds. Sleepy. Jittery. Miserable. Happy.

People watching is an interesting hobby. Trying to guess what is behind each expression, each action is fascinating. So many postures, so many expressions. My favorites are the laughing faces when they connect a couple or a group, and especially when they involve children. Children are the most expressive with their emotions worn on their sleeves. I love watching, and listening, to a child’s laughter. There’s something contagious about a baby or a child as they giggle and laugh. Nothing sweeter.

Sometime, try going to a crowded place and taking a seat on the sidelines (but not a sports event!). Don’t speak, just smile and nod as people glance at you. Pay particular attention to the little ones. Wiggle your fingers in a hello to them, and smile. Most likely you will be rewarded with a wave back, or a least a toothy grin. When we smile at people, it’s difficult for most of them not to smile, or grin, back. If you are having a bad day, however that is defined for you, look in a mirror and smile. For one, smiling takes less muscles than a frown. For another, it takes years off your appearance. When your world is falling apart, regardless of the why, remember David’s prayer:

“Have Mercy on me, O GOD, because of Your Unfailing LOVE. Because of Your Great Compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.” – Psalms 51:1‭-‬2 NLT

“Yours, O LORD, is the Greatness, the Power, the GLORY, the Victory, and the Majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One Who is over all things.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11 NLT

Isn’t that plea, that prayer, enough to bring a smile to your face, and to cause laughter to bubble up inside? From experience, I can say that it is only by GOD’s Mercy and Grace that I can laugh or smile at all. My laughter comes from the LOVE, from His Forgiveness when He washed away my guilt. God loves to hear us laugh in our freedom!

Photo credit: Trudnoco.hr

Overwhelmed By You, LORD

Big Daddy Weave sings,

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

We are faced with problems on a daily basis, some as trivial as what to wear or frustration with our hair, others huge and in our faces like dealing with cancer or another life-threatening issue. (I HATE cancer!) Honestly – and I’m preaching to the choir here – the idea of being diagnosed with cancer is overwhelming. Two of my five siblings are currently living with cancer and one is considered cancer-free at last (that’s three out of six…. what are the odds?) I’ve had several procedures to remove pre-cancerous cells. When you hear the word ‘cancer’, the ‘Big C’, in the same sentence as your name, it is overwhelming, and NOT in a good way! How do we deal with such a diagnosis?

Having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, waking up the loss or paralyzation of limbs; a special needs child with illness, losing your livelihood…. the list goes on and on, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are many overwhelming things in our lives, many without cures or solutions, so how do we deal with them? Natalie Grant sings “Help me want the Healer, not the healing….” I want to be overwhelmed by GOD, not life. Is it even possible? Yes, absolutely. Letting go isn’t easy. Holding tight to the problem, we think we can control the outcome. We think that we can eliminate the problem; we rely on doctors to solve the issue. Only the LORD, the GOD Who created everything, can take away our pain.

“The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.” – Psalms 34:17‭-‬19 NLT

GOD doesn’t always provide an earthly cure to whatever is causing our pain. What He gives us is Peace; something that can’t easily be explained in words. I certainly can’t describe it adequately. Look into the eyes of someone who is at peace in spite of their circumstance, and you see someone who has JESUS in their heart; someone who is overwhelmed by GOD, and in the arms of the Healer. You do know that Jesus is called the Great Physician, right? He can take away our fears and our frustrations, if we allow it.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

(Written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, 2001)