Set Apart From the World

“You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for Himself. The LORD will answer when I call to Him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.

Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD. Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”

Let Your Face smile on us, LORD. You have given me greater Joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.

In Peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” – Psalms 4:3‭-‬8 NLT

I know, and have known, many angry, bitter people. It controls them, and it eats away at them inside. I know this, because I was one of those people. Being angry and bitter put me on medications to stop my stomach from hurting, and heavy doses of pain killers for my migraines. Who did I hurt with my anger? Me! It kept me from being content, and caused upheaval in relationships and in work environments. I have a friend who is very angry and bitter. Trouble and discontent follow him. He claims to be a Christian, but he has no peace. He is unhappy, and ‘hate’ is one of his most used words. That was me, too, until I finally – FINALLY – figured out how much I was hurting myself, and that JESUS was patiently waiting for me to let Him have all that mess. It’s absolutely amazing how much better I am when I’m not carrying all that junk inside. Do I still get upset? Of course; I’m human, and I am very flawed and broken. I have found that when I let other’s attitudes flow around me i stead of into me, life is so much more pleasant. Your anger and your bitterness may hurt me or disappoint me, but I don’t have to take it on myself and react to it in a negative or hateful way. Sometimes I struggle, but I know that with the help and support of the Holy Spirit, I can move past it. The ‘crazy’ driver who cuts me off, the person who is rude to me, the one who calls me a ‘b**’ or other unflattering names…. It’s their problem, not mine. I can react, or I can take a breath and respond. It’s my choice, and as long as I let the LORD take the issue, it’s an easy choice. No one can make me angry without permission. Satan no longer has that hold over me! I give thanks daily to my Saviour for releasing me from my bondage of hate and bitterness, and all the ugly that goes with it.

As Christians, we are supposed to be set apart from the world. The greed and possession-hungry ‘ME’ attitude, the anger and hatred that seems to permeate the world…. it’s not for us. I admit that I enjoy my home, and having the kinds of food I like to eat; I am happy to have a vehicle that I picked out. I have done with much less, and I could again, although I would like to stay where I am. I acknowledge that I am blessed beyond measure. My prayer is to be thankful for having enough and not to be greedy, and that I not be like a stranger, a foreigner in my LORD’S eyes. I am His child, the daughter of the Most High. Don’t be like the lepers who were healed by JESUS. When He heals us of our brokenness, give Him ALL the GLORY. When I come face-to-face with my LORD, I surely don’t want Him to deny me because I refused to recognise His Power and Mercy in my life.

“Has no one returned to give Glory to GOD except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:18 NLT

Listen to Chris Tomlin sing Amazing Grace. My chains are gone; it’s right where I love to be, in the Amazing Grace of my LORD. I know I am Forever His! AMEN.

Reserve, Retreat, Regret

I’ve done that most of my life – reserving myself, staying behind the wall I constructed around my heart to keep from getting hurt. Oh, by the way, it doesn’t work. When I retreat behind my wall, all it does is keep me stuck, resentful, and angry. While I simmer in my reserve, regret for what I imagine coulda-shoulda-woulda happen overwhelms me. I am the prisoner, not whoever or whatever I happen to be upset about. I still get caught up in the cycle, too, but it’s not how I want to live my life. Billy Graham wrote a story about Bill Borden. Mr. Borden was a very wealthy man who went to China as a missionary for Christ, in spite of the opposition of friends & family. After just a few years he died of an oriental disease. While he was dying, he wrote this: “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.”

“Then He [JESUS] called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.’ ” – Mark 8:34 NIV

How many of us as Christians can say the same? “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:25‭-‬26 NIV

Easier said, than done! Can we live without reserve, retreat, regret? I don’t believe it’s humanly possible to do on our own. Listen to what JESUS says about living without reserve, retreat, or regret.

“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to GOD. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:2‭, ‬33 NIV

Without JESUS, and without the SPIRIT, we are hopeless and helpless againt the world. With JESUS, and the SPIRIT, we can conquer. For as long as we are on this earth, our lives as Christians will never be comfortable or pain free. If they are, then I would say that we are not living the Way. As long as we have JESUS in our hearts and the Holy Spirit over us, we will at least know where we are going. I am no perfect. In fact, I am completely flawed and broken. With Christ in my life, I can’t afford to be invisible. Can we be more like Bill Borden? “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.” Amen.

So Good To Me

“…. [For] “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from Me,” declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17 NIV

It is such a joy to get up in the morning to contemporary Christian music! Growing up, we listened to records (yep, real vinyl LP’s, with the occassional 45rpm), of mostly classical music. It gave me a love for the rich, complex sounds of an orchestra, and I find that fullness and beauty in many of the bands today. Combine that with the words of scripture, add in the real life struggles we all face, then put the reality of CHRIST in it – it gives me a constant reminder of how good my LORD is to me; to how much He LOVES me. The struggles of our lives are real, and the songs don’t negate that. They enhance the Power of GOD, and provide respite from pain and worry. I could refer you to so many artists and their songs! I am reminded of His Love, His Power, His Omnipotence. How GOOD is God to me? Let me count the ways! He has rescued me from countless (really; I’ve lost track) life-threatening situations. He has always provided ‘enough.’ He has opened His Arms to receive me back home through all of my rebellion. He has carried me through sickness and heartache and sorrow. He knows me better than any person, and He Loves me enough that in spite of me, He sent JESUS to be my personal Redeemer and Saviour. Amazing!

He is so GOOD to me!

Listen to No One Like Our God by Lincoln Brewster.

You Make Me Blush

Compliments, commendations, awards…. who doesn’t like getting them? When my boss gives me ‘atta-boys,’ my response is to blush and pour more energy into my job. Getting a compliment on my appearance or the way I’ve arranged and decorated my home causes me to blush with pleasure – and with embarrassment, because my own opinion of myself and my work never measures up to my standards. Why is that? What cause us to determine that whatever we do isn’t ‘good’ enough? Can’t I just take a compliment without trying to minimize it?

Part of it goes to my childhood, part to my placement as a middle child, and part to my own personality. I’m an introverted extrovert – while I love being the center of attention, it also makes me blush, and want to run and hide. I like to imagine that I am very talented, but nothing I do is ‘perfect,’ and I abhore weakness in myself! Quite the dichotomy. I would like to be perfect, but I think I need to be more like Paul:

“But [the LORD] said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that CHRIST’s Power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

It’s okay to blush a little at a compliment. It shows that you aren’t egocentric or a perfectionist. I think it shows humility. Just don’t beat yourself up over not being perfect, and don’t listen to the Father of Lies (i.e. Satan) when he tries to convince you that you are worthless. No one, other than the LORD, is perfect…. or ever will be. Be glad for the failures. Each time you mess up shows that you are trying, and there’s no reason to be embarrassed about that!

Patiently Waiting

Patience my ass, I want to kill something…

In my more bohemian days, that was something I think I said quite often. Then, my patience was very short – nonexistent, much of the time. Later, I was talking with a pastor and he said something quite profound to me. He said not to pray for patience, because when we do, GOD will provide us with plenty of opportunities to learn it. I realized I’d been going about it all wrong. Instead of praying for patience, I began to pray for strength and perseverance, and make it a point to ask GOD to please don’t send me any more ‘opportunities’ to learn patience! Even the great leaders in the Bible, Old and New Testament, felt persecuted and in desperate need of patience. Look at David. Both before he was king and after he became king, David needed patience. I love how his poetry shows his reach for the LORD, and how the LORD sustains him with willingness to wait in GOD’S Strength – patiently waiting….

“I love You, LORD, my Strength. The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my GOD is my Rock, in Whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold. You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my GOD turns my darkness into Light. As for GOD, His Way is perfect: The LORD’S Word is flawless; He Shields all who take refuge in Him. For who is GOD besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our GOD? The LORD Lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be GOD my Savior!” – Psalm 18:1‭-‬2‭, ‬28‭, ‬30‭-‬31‭, ‬46 NIV

If you do a word search for the words ‘patient’ and ‘patience’ in the Bible, you will find many references. James, especially, spent a lot of time talking about it. He only has 5 chapters, but check out how he begins:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds….. ” – James 1:2 NIV

Really? Pure joy for an abusive relationship? Pure joy for financial difficulties? Pure joy for losing a loved one? Patiently waiting my a**. No, I am so far from being patient, it can’t even be measured. The thing I hold on to is GOD’S Patience. Without Him, I am incapable of doing or saying anything good. I cannot fathom patience without His Hand guiding and holding me, and by Him carrying me when I simply cannot go on. The LORD is the epitomy of this scripture:

“LOVE is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails….” – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭, ‬7a NIV

Thank You, LORD, for never giving up on me, for being patient with me, and for perservering with me. AMEN.

This Is Not My Home

Heaven – What a GLORIOUS home we are headed to!

This old earth is filled with breathtaking beauty, and I have enjoyed the views – and I look forward to many more years of viewing them. Spending time in the high mountains of Colorado and New Mexico, the Alps in Austria; visiting the Grand Canyon and viewing the canyons and valleys of the U.S. Playing in the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, from sandy beaches with warm water to rocks and cold ocean water (the ocean is my happy place 🏖 ) ….. from the high desserts of sage and chamisa to the eery other-worldlyness of the Saquaro “forests” of the Sonoran Desert. BUT, this earth is not my home. I’m just here temporarily, until my LORD sees fit to bring me Home.

Do you ever wonder what happens when we die? Is it just nothing? Are we reborn, as the Hindu teach, or do we ‘become one with the universe,’ as some would have us believe? Do you scoff at the idea of a heaven filled with cherubs floating around on fluffy clouds playing harps, presided over by a grouchy old man with a long white beard?

I tell you plainly, those are all FALSE.

Heaven is definitely a place, and so is hell. We call it by many names: Sheol, Hades, Abaddon, Gehenna; but eternal damnation is the same regardless of the name. I don’t know what it will be like, and if you are really curious, there are quite a few resources to help you describe it. John calls it a place of fire and agony. After the New Testament, look at ‘The Many Names of Hell’ by Dr. Elmer Towns, on BibleSprout. I just know that I don’t ever want to see it. What we call Paradise, or Heaven, that’s what I am looking forward to! Despite our continual sin, the CREATOR, the LORD GOD of the Universe, wants us to spend eternity with Him – He doesn’t want us in Hell, but it is always and forever our choice. Who would choose forever anguish over eternal paradise? Apparently, millions and billions of people would rather live their lives without Christ than with Him, and that choice is their death sentence. Listen to this conversation by a known criminal when he met Jesus on the cross:

But the other criminal rebuked [the first criminal]. “Don’t you fear GOD,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” – Luke 23:40‭-‬43 NIV

What will Heaven be like? I don’t know, except that it will be glorious. The Apostle John was shown glimpses of Heaven, and he tried to put it into words that we can understand – but how do you describe the unbelievable, the indescribable, the unimaginable? I’m pretty excited to get to see it, and to experience it. I pray that you be there, too.

Fear Is A Liar

Going through life with fear is not a way to live. Fear takes away hope and joy, and living in fear prevents contentment. Being fearful can ruin us; it can keep us from any fulfillment, and from enjoying what we have. When we spend our time being afraid, it affects our entire lives. We worry, because fear fosters worry. It can lead to ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems. We can be plagued with headaches, insomnia, and depression. Phobias are born out of fear. Heights, the dark, water, driving, closed-in places, meeting new people…. even going outside. Some are organic, but I believe these fears can almost always be traced back to some event in our lives.

“But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” – Proverbs 1:33 NLT

Are you ready to break the cycle of fear? There is an answer!

“Each time He said, “My GRACE is all you need. My Power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the Power of CHRIST can work through me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

The LORD doesn’t promise nothing bad will ever happen to us after we accept His Son, JESUS the CHRIST, as our Saviour. He does promise us Peace. It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced the Peace that GOD offers, but once you have, it’s amazing. In my life, I have a number of struggles facing me, financially and physically, even emotionally. I desire the finances to live comfortably, and not to wonder how the mortage and utilities will be paid each month. I would like for my shoulder not to be so messed up, or my my head not to hurt, and to be able to breathe normally. I wish for a companion who loves the LORD more than he loves me, someone who would be a partner. There have been many hours spent worrying and crying over these worries and fears. Hours that have become days and rolled into years. Now, rather than wallowing in that fear and worry, I strive instead to give it all to my Saviour and to let His Peace wash over me. It is possible to have peace in the midst of the junk! To paraphrase a popular saying – Know fear, no Peace; Know JESUS, no fear! All true and abiding Peace comes from the LORD. Accept Him and banish the liar from your life.

Listen to “Fear Is A Liar” by Zach Williams.