Do Whatever He Tells You

Have you ever considered the life of Mary, the girl whom the Almighty Creator, GOD of the Universe chose to be the mother of His Son on earth? This girl, probably a teenager, who believed and followed Him without question? The angel of the LORD came to her – not in a dream, but while she was awake and she knew it was real!

“And he [the angel of the LORD] came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The LORD is with you.” ” – Luke 1:28 NRSV

I would have fainted, straight out! Not Mary. She listened to the message, and thought about it before answering – that’s not my strong suit, to ponder a thing before reacting or responding. She did wonder at the message, even asking the angel, “How can this be…?” That’s more like me – I want to know the What, the Why, the How?

Because she believed, and accepted GOD’s Will in her life – even though it looked impossible to her – she knew the Truth about her son, JESUS, from the moment of His conception, and steadfastly believed in Him throughout His life. When others scoffed, she praised. When He was tortured and killed, she cried for His pain. She supported everything He did with His life. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”
John 2:5 NRSV

Oh, to have faith like Mary, and to be able to say to myself, without reservation, “I will do whatever He tells me.” Easy to say; difficult to put into action for me, because I’m a ‘bottom line” kind of person. I want to see the whole picture before I commit. How does it affect me personally? Our GOD doesn’t work that way…. or maybe He does, and in our human-ness we just can’t see it? What I forget is that He is watching out for me, not sometimes, but all of the time. He knows the bottom line, and He knows the turmoil, the frustration, and the sorrow we are dealing with. I forget that I am not alone, ever. He is with me to catch me when I fall, steady me when I stumble, and pick me up when I can no longer walk.

Is today a bad day? Are you frustrated, almost to tears? Are you worried to the point of being sick? Lately, I’ve had several of those days. Besides having a running conversation with GOD, what can we do? I recite the first couple of lines from the 23rd Psalm, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” and sing with Hillary Scott and the Scott family “Thy Will Be Done.” The anxiety may still be there, but I find a wonderful Peace when I let GOD take the fear. “What A Friend We Have In JESUS,” sung by Matt Maher – great reminder!!

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My Steadfast LOVE shall not depart from you, and My Covenant of Peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, Who has Compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10 NRSV

Forever and ever, AMEN.

Image from http://www.fanpop.com

Every Thing, Every Moment, Every Thought

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The LORD is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to GOD. And the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:4‭-‬8 NRSV

Lauren Dagle sings a song called “Trust In You.” It reminds me that GOD is with me, no matter what I face, no matter where I am, no matter who I am with. He may not move the mountain or part the waters for me the way I ask, but He knows what I am going through because He has already been there. He is right beside me through every challenge and situation, and lifting me when I can’t do it on my own. Perhaps part of the motivation for the letter to the Philippians was to remind them and to reassure them that they are not alone, even while telling them to submit their prayers, their requests, to the Father – with thanksgiving. If we do this, when we pray and worship Him with thanksgiving, then He promises us that He will cover us with His Peace. Do not worry about anything. Any thing.

Like Abraham, GOD has made promises to us. Remember that although he and his wife were well past the ages of creating a child of their bodies (99 and 90, respectively!), GOD had promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son and that he, Abraham, through that son, would be the father of many nations. Abraham believed, and he and Sarah were blessed with their son Issac. So GOD hasn’t given you the perfect job, or the perfect house, or the perfect spouse ….. did He promise you would have them? I think not. Does that mean we need to go out on our own, without GOD’s guidance, and acquire them ourselves? Lke Abraham, are we reaching and not waiting? Look at how his not being patient worked out for him, because we are still dealing with the result in the continuous conflicts and wars between the descendants of Issac and Ishmael.

Every Thing, Every Moment, Every Thought – that’s exactly where we need to be looking for GOD; extending our thanksgiving away from we want and into every thing we see of GOD’s Creation; in every moment we are given to breathe on this earth, and with every thought focused on GOD’s Will, rather than on our agenda. I end today with this prayer for you:

And may the Peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS. Amen.

Photo image credit: http://www.open.edu

Are You Ready?

Are you ready, prepared for disaster and break-ins and violence? We frequently hear about being prepared; being safe, through the media. We put burglar bars on our doors and windows, we have alarm systems and safe rooms, we have our emergency stash of food and water. We know to evacuate in certain circumstances, and to barricade ourselves in others. Not knowing when a burglar is coming, we attempt to thwart them before the act. I am a firm believer in having a plan, and a back-up plan. My late husband and I taught a personal safety course alongside a firearms safety course, focusing on being ready for danger so that our students wouldn’t be caught unaware. I still offer private lessons, because I want people, and specifically women, to understand what to do in an emergency and the best form of defense for each individual.

JESUS is our ultimate teacher of self-defense. He teaches us throughout the scriptures how and why we need to prepare for His return, and also, for the death of our physical bodies.

“Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the SON of MAN [JESUS] will come when least expected.” – Luke 12:39‭-‬40 NLT

It’s very different to be prepared (or think we are prepared) for a physical attack as opposed to a spiritual attack. We should prepare for physical attacks, but that doesn’t need to be our focus. We have to be ready for the constant, incessant, spiritual sneak-attack from the enemy, whose desire is to keep us off balance and unprepared for our LORD’s return. We have the WORD of GOD to instruct us on keeping us ready, but we ae constantly ignoring it and doing our own thing – but “our thing,” as opposed to GOD’s “thing,” isn’t our thing at all. It is the enemy, putting those thoughts in our heads.

Rather than letting down our spiritual defenses, JESUS is all about keeping the devil in his place. He came to do battle with the enemy for our souls, and He will return to claim those souls as His own. Jesus is not a peacekeeper; He knows that the only way to defeat the enemy is through warfare. We see it in our physical world, too. People who consider themselves peace ‘keepers’ want to negotiate and make concessions to avoid conflict, while true peace makers know that the only way to peace is through battle. Whether spiritual or mental or physical, we who are followers of CHRIST are locked into the battle!

“And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. 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. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!” – Luke 12:47‭-‬48‭, ‬51 NLT

Do you yearn for peace? Are you a pacifist and your stated goal in life is to “give peace a chance;” to do away with conflict; is it “peace on earth?” Those who choose pacifism over JESUS are like the servants in verse 47. I’m sorry to burst your pacifist bubble, but your “peace on earth” is not gonna happen as long as Satan has his foot on this earth. We are fighting the Good Fight, preparing for JESUS to return, whenever that might be; maybe while you are reading this, maybe in an hour or a decade or an eon, but rest assured, JESUS will return!

Are you ready?


Revelations 19:11-16

The LORD Is RIGHTEOUS

A Psalm (poem) of King David of Israel and Judah:

“For Your Kingdom is an EVERLASTING Kingdom. You rule throughout all generations.

The LORD always keeps His promises; He is Gracious in all He does. The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

The eyes of all look to You in Hope; You give them their food as they need it.

When You open Your Hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The LORD is Righteous in everything He does; He is filled with Kindness.

The LORD is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in Truth.

I will praise the LORD, and may everyone on earth bless His Holy Name Forever and EVER.” – Psalms 145:13-18, 21 NLT

Of course David, the king of Israel, who owned a staggering amount of wealth and who had a multitude of beautiful wives would write this! But was David always so blessed? I don’t think so…

You can (should) read David’s story, starting with I Samuel 16:1 and ending in I Kings 2. David was the youngest of seven brothers, and spent his formative years as a shepherd, protecting his flocks from dangerous predators with only a slingshot as a weapon. He was beloved by King Saul for killing the mighty Philistine warrior and champion, Goliath, effectively and singlehandedly ending the war with the Philistines. David loved Saul’s daughter Michal, who was given to him to be his wife. His best friend was Jonathan, who was Saul’s son. David became despised by Saul because of David’s popularity with the people, to the point where Saul and his army came after David to kill him. David became king after King Saul died, and he spent much of his life in battle. He had eight documented wives, plus concubines, and he had 19 sons and one daughter (documented). After he had an adulterous night with Bathsheba and she became pregnant, David had Uriah the Hittite murdered so that he could marry Bathsheba. Their first child, a son, died as GOD’s punishment for their sin. David’s only daughter, Tamar, was raped by her brother Amnon, and later, David’s son Absalom rebelled against him, instigating a bloody, violent civil war. Yes, David was a man with much to be thankful for – talented, handsome, popular, a great warrior – but he was also a sinful man who made many bad choices in his life, causing disastrous consequences, both for himself and for his family.

Lust, adultery, murder, violence. He sinned, grievous sins. When we are honest with ourselves (and others), we admit our sinfulness. David was forgiven by the LORD because of his remorse and confession, and perhaps the greatest reward he received from GOD was that he would become part of the lineage leading to JESUS, our LORD – GOD become man, transcending time and space to live in our world for a time. David loved GOD beyond measure, but he still sinned against Him. David knew when he did wrong and repented, even though he continued in his sins. We are so much like David in this! Whether you have ( or are currently ) coveted, lusted, were disrespectful of your parents ( and haven’t we ALL been, at one time or another? ) lied, or put other people, places, or things in front of the LORD ( this includes OU, OSU, and professional football and sports! ) – whatever commandment(s) you have broken, you/we have sinned against God.

Okay, now the GOOD NEWS: When we love GOD, and we accept that JESUS, His Son, is our LORD and SAVIOUR; when we show remorse and ask for forgiveness, He will forgive us! Hallelujah; David’s words become ours:

“The LORD is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. Surely Your Goodness and UNFAILING LOVE [Mercy and Grace] will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the House of the LORD FOREVER.” – Psalms 23:1‭, ‬6 NLT

AMEN!

Photo credit: “King David playing the Harp” by Gerard von Honthorst (Google art project)

#TheLORDalwayskeepsHispromises,#TheLORDisRighteousineverythingHedoes,#PraisetheLORDForeverandEver,#MercyandGrace

I Declare The LORD’S Ministry

“…..[I] declare to you what [I] have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the FATHER and with His SON JESUS CHRIST. [I am] writing these things so that [my] joy may be complete. This is the Message [I] have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that GOD is LIGHTg and in Him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:3‭-‬5 NRSV

Lived it. Been there. As JESUS experienced life and was tempted by the enemy, so have I been tempted. Unfortunately, my humanity kept me in the darkness, succumbing to temptation after temptation – the complete opposite of my LORD and SAVIOUR. I tried to hide His Light in my life, because I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I didn’t want to stop. I was living the life …. but in reality, was I even living? For years, I ignored right from wrong and let the enemy rule my life. I was having so much ‘fun’, I could (sort of) forget (i.e. ignore) how absolutely miserable I really was. I lived the definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yep, absolutely, I was living the life ….. the life of insanity. Even when my late husband and I got involved back with a church, we partied on Friday and Saturday nights, then get up Sunday morning to attend services. It’s difficult to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground when they are in two different worlds! Eventually we figured that out and became involved with our church families. It was a much more peaceful way of life, even as busy as we were. When my husband became very ill, he became addicted to his pain medication and dropped out of church. At the same time, he became increasingly paranoid and verbally abusive. Satan had regained control of him and successfully turned him against everyone who cared about him. JESUS warned us about this happening in the scriptures:

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest. But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.” – Luke 11:24‭-‬26 NLT

It’s true! I ran away from the situation and became angry at GOD because He allowed it to happen, shattering my dreams. I determined not to be overcome that way ever again, and set about finding people I could ‘fix’. How’d that work out for me? Not well! Those people became my focus instead of GOD. I left the fellowship and closeness of my church family so that I could focus on my friends – i.e. projects! – and fix them. I tried fixing both women and men, but especially men. I ended up bouncing between unhealthy relationships, and ultimately, not fixing anything. What I did, though, caused emotional harm to myself and ‘my’ people. Smart? NO! Painful and damaging? YES! There was so much ugliness back in my life, until one of my ‘projects’ lead me to a recovery program at church. I went to support him (no, to FIX him) and ended up staying in the program for myself. He left left the program to pursue his passions – lies, drugs, alcohol, sexual encounters, and more lies. Now he is permanently out of my life, and I am concentrating on keeping my heart focused my LORD. It’s the only way to go from mere survival to living.

Listen to Casting Crowns. Their song “Only JESUS” really sums up what my life was all about before complete surrender to JESUS instead of the world, and I hope you’ll take a minute to go to their website and listen to it.

Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourself
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the lie that it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But JESUS is the only Name to
remember

Depression. It’s ALL In Your Head!

Depression is a real thing, and NO, it isn’t something most people can just ‘get over’. It often manifests in very real physical pain, and it can be the basis for or the result of many other illnesses. It is not a ‘punishment’ from GOD, although I have heard pastors and teachers use these verses from Luke when talking about anyone suffering from depression:

JESUS said, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.” – Luke 11:33‭-‬36 NRSV

Christians are not exempt from depression any more than we are exempt from any disease or illness. It is absolutely possible to love JESUS and still be depressed. There are people who can work through their depression without the aid of counseling or medication. Those people are not the norm. For most of us, it requires one or the other, and I believe it often takes both counseling and medication to break out of the depression. There’s nothing shameful about seeking help – if you have cancer, or a broken leg, or the flu, you go to the doctor, right? It’s no different when suffering from depression. My LORD won’t turn anyone away who reaches out to Him, whether they are in the blackest place it’s possible to be, or they are a ‘good’ person who has never been depressed (although I personally suspect that anyone who claims they have never been depressed a day in their life is probably lying to themselves).

I can say this to anyone who deals with depression because I have it, too. Keep a close check on yourself, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Find someone you are close to, to be accountable to. Get counseling from someone appropriate to your situation. Just as medical doctors have specialities, so do counselors. It has to be someone whom you trust, and beware of anyone who doesn’t listen to you – there are no pat answers to depression. If you are considering medication, find a doctor who is interested in listening and helping you find the right medication and the right dosage for you. If someone tells you it’s all in your head, well, agree…. But just because it’s in there doesn’t mean you don’t need help getting it out! When JESUS was speaking in Luke, the darkness He was referring to was not depression. It was about the enemy and the darkness Satan spreads in a futile attempt to extinguish the Light of our LORD.

“And this is the Judgment, that the LIGHT** has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than LIGHT because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the LIGHT and do not come to the LIGHT, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the LIGHT, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in GOD.” ….. But remember this!! “Whoever believes in the SON has Eternal LIFE; whoever disobeys the SON will not see life, but must endure GOD’s wrath.” – John 3:19‭-‬21‭, ‬36 NRSV

**The LIGHT is The SON. JESUS CHRIST. MESSIAH. LORD. AMEN!

B.I.B.L.E.

So you like anagrams? Me, too! Here’s another one I have seen:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. B.I.B.L.E.

For several years, I was a leader in the recovery program at my church. We asserted (and I still do) that 1) Everyone alive has Hurts, Hangups, and Habits, and 2) There are two types of people in the world – those who need recovery, and those who are in recovery. The small groups I led were made up primarily of women who had suffered some form of abuse in the lives; some had been in horrific situations. Why didn’t they just leave, you ask? Oh, it’s not that simple, and it’s a subject I have addressd in previous blogs, so it won’t be dealt with today. In our ‘Basic Instructions’, a very important thing I’ve learned is that any situation we find ourselves in, whether by our choices or someone else’s choices, we don’t have to go through it alone. Read all of Psalm 27. These are a few of the verses I like to share with my ‘girls’ – and also with any man who is struggling. Struggles and hurt are not gender specific!

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. You have said, “Seek My Face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” – Psalms 27:1‭, ‬3‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭, ‬10‭-‬10‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

If you are paying attention, I have used these verses in other blogs. They are very appropriate scripture verses to use every day! In verse 10, the psalmists states that his “father and … mother have forsaken” him. I was blessed beyond measure that mine did not forsake me when I was caught up in the enemy’s traps, although they were hurt beyond imagination by my lifestyle. That, unfortunately, is not always the case. For a number of my girls, the abusive lives they were trapped in was, in fact, perpetrated by their very own parents. It’s frequently on the news as well, when parents, foster parents, relatives, and other authority figures are the sources of abuse. I can’t even imagine how an adult can be that way to a child, or another adult. It is straight from the depths of hell. But read on to verses 13-14!

“I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

We read these verses with incredible Hope. I, too, like the psalmist, believe that “I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! I see it every day. The Goodness of the LORD shines through the changed lives of the women (and men) who have sought the LORD in their lives, and allows others to see how Good He is, for:

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised, and His Greatness is Unsearchable.” – Psalms 145:3 ESV

Do you have the Hope, the Peace, the LIGHT of the LORD in your life? He doesn’t care how ‘bad’, how broken you are. He wants us as we are. He is the Great Physician, the Creator and Craftsman. Ony the LORD can repair us and hold us together. Don’t mistake this to say that once you receive JESUS CHRIST as LORD of your life, everything will become peaches and cream. Au contraire, my friends, when we allow Him to Love us as He longs to, the enemy, that prince of everything dark and evil, known as Satan – our enemy will hit us with anything he can come up with to turn our face away from the LORD. It often works, too. When the abuse doesn’t lessen, when our finances get worse instead of better, when illness seems to loom over us and our loved ones, even death…. we can reach for heaven and the Peace of the Holy Spirit, or we can fall into ugliness and despair. It’s always a choice; one that I confess to messing up quite frequently.

“For from HIS Fullness we have all received, Grace upon Grace. …. For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His Only SON, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the Only SON of GOD.” – John 1:16; 3:16‭-‬18 ESV

AMEN. How will you fare when standing in front of The Judge?