TRUST and OBEY

TRUST and OBEY. Difficult words. Trust defined: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust is faith, and faith, well, faith is tough when you have had (or have) pain and betrayal in your life. Then there’s ‘Obey’. The word leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you have no trust, no faith, in the person or persons you are supposed to obey. Parents, siblings, classmates, friends, bosses, the list of people who might require us to obey them is long and varied. I have been betrayed countless times, and I know I have betrayed trust that was placed in me. Betrayal doesn’t have to be deliberate, but the hurt runs deep, making it difficult to trust again. We become guarded in offering our trust and faith, and that impacts every aspect of our lives. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live on this earth – from the first man, Adam, to the newest baby born – will experience betrayal. Even GOD the FATHER, our CREATOR, and JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, have experienced it!

How do we get past it? I submit that there is only one way to escape the unending treadmill of no trust, and that is to look at the perfect record of our LORD. Throughout the recorded history of the thousands of years of earth’s and man’s existence, GOD has never betrayed us. Even in the worst betrayals of man against Him, the FATHER stood with those who chose Him (remember, He gave man Free Will when He created him). He stood beside us even when we persecuted and tortured and murdered His Son, and He allowed it as the Sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He has used the Blood of JESUS to cover and cleanse our sins… past, present, and future, of those who make that choice to Trust in the LORD.

It’s a choice. Making the choice is simple, and it can be difficult for many of us, but it’s still a choice! Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we have to choose between the one who currently rules world or the ONE Who CREATED of the world. The enemy makes the way of world look all glam and glittery and enticing and easy, but it’s all window dressing. Once he gets you and you begin to see how truly ugly it is, it’s really hard to escape from his grasp.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS! It’s never to late to escape! All we have to do is look up, away from the enemy, to see JESUS and realize He has been right there all along, just waiting for you to ask Him for help.

“The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him,and He helps me. My heart leaps for Joy, and with my song I praise Him.” – Psalm 28:7 NIV

Have you looked at JESUS and chosen to trust HIM over the enemy? Listen to the words of the old hymn Trust and Obey, and the way Big Daddy Weave sings it. Verse 2 says:
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey

Make the Plans

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the Purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21 ESV

As one of my pastors says, “Make the plans; don’t plan the results.” That’s really hard to do! Our plans lead to a conclusion, the ‘results’. How do we make plans without planning the results? It’s easy to say, but difficult to implement. We plan our lives: as children, we look at people around us, and plan how our lives are going to be. I was going to be a movie star cowboy and marry a prince. 😁 (In case you wonder, I’m not a movie star, but I love horses and have owned several. Does that make me a cowboy? As for the prince, well, no prince, but more the one TOAD…. )

in high school; we are asked to make a plan for our future. College, Vo-tech, or a job? In college or Vo-tech, we have to plan our majors and focus of study. To advance in our jobs, we need an action plan. We plan weddings and birthdays. It’s hard to live without making plans, and it’s good to plan. Planning helps us to see what direction we need to head; planning shows us where we are doing well and where we need improvement; and it shows us what we have accomplished. Planning is a good thing! We hit the wall, though, when we want our plans to turn out exactly the way we want them to, intead of leaving the plan in GOD’s Hands. Yes, I am speaking from experience! I want what I want when I want and how I want …. my plan, my results. Life is so much better when I make the plan, and then I take my hands away and let GOD do as He wills with my plan. Is it easy to do? Not at all! I don’t claim to be good at letting go of my planned results, because I’m not.

I still want what I want when I want it, and that’s not how GOD works. His timing, and His answers, are often out of sync with my timing and the answer I want, but I’m learning. Scriptures tell us over and over to wait on the LORD. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” and Isaiah 40:31 “…. but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint;” and many, many more. Wait. Wait. Wait; frustrated, anxious, wanting that answer, that thing, now. When I stop trying to control the results, they may not be what I want or when I want, but by letting GOD control the results I have peace. It’s absolutely amazing! We each have a choice. Let our controlling, OCD self rule our mind and body, or let the Almighty, our FATHER, do what He does best – take care of us and provide the best for us. It isn’t a one-time thing. Every day, every plan, every decision has to be given to Him, and it’s really easy to think GOD is too busy to deal with every little thing for us. Nothing is too small for our LORD! JESUS said “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:6‭-‬7 ESV

Photo credit leesbirds.com

Courageous

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22 NIV

And just what, exactly, does courage have to do with a cheerful heart? I am asking myself that same question…. All I can do is follow the prompting in my heart and explore what it is that GOD is trying to say to me (I’m notorious for tuning HIM out so that I can hear ME better….)

The definition of courageous is “not detered by danger or pain; brave.” I am emphatically NOT courageous by definition! What I have found in my own life is that when I listen to my GOD, and follow through with what He is telling me, it requires some courage on my part. When I accomplish the objective, and even if it’s not accomplished but I know I gave my best effort, my heart is cheerful. If I don’t even try, my spirit is crushed and my attitude spirals. Danger is often subjective. Obviously I don’t mean physical dangers you can see: a chasm in the roadway, snakes …. and other wild animals lke bears – and skunks! …. someone breaking into your home. Less obvious dangers can be the person you can’t see on the other end of your computer (stalkers, people wanting to make you a victim), a gas leak, having a blowout. There are individual dangers, too, that no one else can perceive. Fears of the dark, heights, meeting new people, driving, having to ask for help, even the danger of physical pain can prevent us from stepping out courageously, to do GOD’s work.

“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is Right, to love Mercy, and to walk Humbly with your GOD.” – Micah 6:8 NLT

There’s this thing that happens inside of us when we take that first, courageous, step past our fears and our perceived dangers. Our hearts open up and we become susceptible to GOD’s Mercy and His Blessings in our own lives. When we don’t take that step, our spirit begins to die, figuratively. It becomes crushed. A friend told me once that if I refused her help, I was stealing a blessing away from her – did I really want to do that? A crushed, dried up life doesn’t know courage or recognize blessings, and it misses out on GOD’s Mercies. Being courageous doesn’t mean bragging and boasting of our accomplishments. It means walking humbly in the shadow of the LORD, doing, to the best of our abilities, whatever He should ask of us. Remember what JESUS said:

“…. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” – Luke 12:48b NLT

Listen to Casting Crowns sing this scripture in their song “Courageous”!

Photo by Horsley Lab – Harvard

The Way

“You have done many good things for me, LORD, just as You promised. I believe in Your Commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge. I used to wander off until You disciplined me; but now I closely follow Your Word. You are Good and do only good; teach me Your Decrees. You Made me; You Created me. Now give me the sense to follow Your Commands.” – Psalms 119:65‭-‬68‭, ‬73 NLT

Come worship with me this morning! Listening to Pat Barrett singing “The Way.” The refrain goes like this:
I believe You are
The Way, the Truth, the Life
I believe You are
The Way, the Truth, the Life
I believe You are
Oh, You are
Oh, You are

“Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23 NIV

I am now officially an ordained minister. I have the lawful ability to perform marriages and baptisms, funerals and memorial services. I got the ordination in order to be His disciple and to share the Love of our LORD JESUS CHRIST whenever I can, and I am excited for the possibilities. God alone knows the mistakes and hardships I have faced to get to this point, and He alone knows what I will face in the future. That last part is probably a good thing; if I could foresee the future, I’d probably run screaming in the opposite direction!

I think that humans, as a whole, are searching for the blessings, the Joy, and the fulfillment of our lives. That search opens our hearts and souls to influence and suggestion, and unfortunately, the enemy Satan is standing close by with his legions to pull us away from GOD. The really sad thing is that no matter what we do, what dreams we have, without JESUS, we will never know true happiness and fulfillment. So many people I know believe that they are ‘Christian’ because, overall, they are a ‘good person’. That’s not how it works. They claim the name, but don’t understand the Truth, the Way, and so they aren’t able to find real contentment – the contentment that comes only through JESUS CHRIST.

Heavenly Father, CREATOR and LORD of the Universe, my prayer today is that you will open opportunities for me to minister through my ordination, and that I will recognize the opportunities, and embrace them, when confronted with them. Guide me, too, LORD, to stay on the straight and narrow road, no matter how enticing (or how scarey!) the distractions from the enemy. Amen.

Photo credit Twenty20.com

American, My Home

“If at any time I [the LORD] announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” – Jeremiah 18:7‭-‬10 NIV

From history, we know the country we now call the United States of America was founded by early settlers who crossed the ocean, fleeing religious persecution, bigotry, and poverty. Yes, I am aware that there were already native people here, and yes, I will stipulate that the new settlers brought their own forms of bigotry with them, but that I don’t want that to be the focus here. Founded as a Christian nation, with Christian values written into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we have strayed far from the Founder’s vision of a united, free nation. It seems as though anything and everything is acceptable today – that is, anything except following JESUS CHRIST and proclaiming that He is LORD. I’m afraid that GOD was speaking directly to the U.S. in verses 9-10, and in these next verses, too:

“….. ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’ ” – Jeremiah 18:11‭-‬12 NIV

Why do we do that? Telling GOD, our Creator, no??? Here He is, telling us plainly what is going to happen to us, to our nation, if we don’t make some major changes, now. I can’t change the world, or the state I live in, by myself. Individually we aren’t very powerful, but together, especially when we allow GOD to work with us and within us, we can do anything. That’s what he tells us in 2 Chronicles, giving us hope of salvation for our nation, and even for our world.

“…. if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

I Shot The Law and The Law Shot Me

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers….. ” – 1 Timothy 1:8‭-‬9 NIV

Life lessons taught when I was a child: Obey the law. Respect the office of those charged with making and enforcing the laws, regardless of what you may think of the person in the position. As American’s, whether by birth or immigration status or naturalized, we have unprecedented freedoms and riches in this world. We have laws designed to lift up and protect us, and each one of us gets to choose the who, what, how, and when we obey them. By our choices, we get the consequences of our decisions and actions.

Whatever country we occupy, there are laws to be obeyed and officials to be respectful of. For every human law, GOD’S Law supersedes it with a divine directive. As Paul wrote to Timothy, the laws aren’t made for the people who obey the law, GOD’S Law. Laws are made for the lawbreakers. Here on earth, the thought of having to live in prison is enough to keep me (for the most part!) on the right side of the law. Our choices with GOD’S Law, the consequences of breaking His Law, determines our eternity, and I certainly don’t want to spend eternity in the prison of hell! Living the Ten Commandments is a good thing, but just doing that still isn’t enough to keep me out of there. GOD provided us with a way to be with Him, and it is a simple decision; a choice that should be easy but often isn’t.

I wonder about that, but then again, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me. Looking around at the overcrowded jails and prisons and the crammed full court dockets, it becomes apparent that many people have made the choice to disobey the laws of the land. There are millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age with no funds to live on, because we were immersed in living for the present. If it is so easy to choose to take a chance for a future that is imminent, then I suppose it is even easier to ignore a future that you can’t imagine. I hope that my writing will encourage you to take a closer look at your future, immediate and long term.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of GOD! How unsearchable His Judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” – Romans 11:33 NIV

Choose CHRIST today and assure your future, immediate, long-term, and for eternity!

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 ….. )