His Promise

We are powerless over our lives, past and present, and our lives are unmanageable on our own. We recognize that we need something more than ourselves; a “Higher Power ” (AA), or as we know, GOD. Only He can be trusted to bring sanity, wholeness, and healing to us.

This is a paraphrase of the First and Second Steps of AA and Celebrate Recovery, to be embraced by anyone* who realizes that they are not in control of their lives. *That means everyone. No matter how together and in control you think you are, with God, you are spiraling out of control. It may be a really slow spiral, or it may be twisting and turning so quickly that you can’t get a breath.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASB

“But he promised me….. ” Something men do, and don’t follow through on. That’s what we have to go on; what our experiences teach us. Even though I know this to be true, every time it happens, a little piece of my heart dies. We see betrayal every day, and yet we are supposed to believe that some higher being is going to be different?

I do. I believe that a higher being, the Higher Being, the LORD, is different. I know He is different. He has listened to me for years, letting me rant and rave, yell and curse, and still He stayed with me.

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Isaiah 35:3 NASB

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms 34:17‭-‬18 NASB

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13 NASB

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1‭-‬2 NASB

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NASB

Until you can admit that your life is not yours to control, and that, in fact, you are out of control, you are lost. The LORD seeks us. He seeks you.

Step One: Admit you are powerless.

Of Love and Justice

A Psalm of David.

“I will sing of Your Love and Justice, LORD. I will praise You with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life— when will You come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the LORD from their grip.” – Psalms 101:1‭-‬8 NLT

Sounds pretty harsh, right? There aren’t any people today who could honestly say that they are blameless, and we know that David was far from being blameless himself. He was a murderer and an adulterer…. I wonder how many people younger than the Baby Boomer generation even know what being an adulterer means.

Reading these verses, it’s difficult to imagine many business people can say that they apply these principles to their business. In corporate offices, even in Christian-led companies, I can bear witness to to all of those things that David was against occurring on a constant basis. Coworkers and management alike using gossip and slander to get ahead; dishonestly taking credit for someone else’s work, and accepting rewards and kudos for it. “In my own home …” Whether in my house or my vehicle or my office or my cubicle; at the movie theatre or amusement park …. it is a struggle to live these words.

In my time, I have acted in all of those ways. In my last job, I was in a close working relationship with people claiming to be Christian, yet seeming to take delight from gossiping and spreading lies in order to promote themselves over their coworkers, and who were full of conceit. Again, I must emphasize that I have also been full of conceit and lies in my past. I am far from perfect; I am guilty of many sins. It is difficult to miss the vulgarity in today’s society with billboards and signs proclaiming it in large format, and with television and radio, social media and the movies rampant with it. Clothing styles shout out perversions and prejudice and lack of modesty, and we just follow the crowd – instead of the cross.

Yes, I’m preaching again!

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:10 NLT

This verse from Paul’s letters to the Galatian church is how I struggle to live. I say “struggle” because it isn’t easy for me. I am a people pleaser from my childhood; a classic codependent whose life revolved around whoever I was with. A few years ago, I began to understand this about myself through a church program called Celebrate Recovery. Many people think/assume that because it’s a 12-step program, you must be an alcoholic or drug addict if you participate. Not true. In fact, one of the leaders said this: “There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who are in recovery, and those who need to be in recovery.” I absolutely agree! Being a codependent isn’t something you just shake off, any more than you can shake off any other addiction, and there are lots of addictions. Shopping, eating, sports, work, animals, and even our children can all be addictions.

It’s something for us to think about.

WORK : A Four-Letter Word

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 NASB

God created Man to rule over the earth; to care for it (everything in and on it) and to cultivate it; to subdue the earth – we are a contractor for God the Creator. In other words, we are to work the earth. The LORD God is all about work, and He created us in imitation of Him, in His image: the Bible opens with God working. From Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NKJV) to the end of Revelations, God is working. Creator Potter Shepherd Builder Judge ….. we are created in the image of God, therefore we are created to work.

“Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number.” Job 9:10 NASB

“For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon, To do His task, His unusual task, And to work His work, His extraordinary work.” Isaiah 28:21 NASB

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15 NASB

Work is an integral part of our lives, and all work is included, from the CEO to the janitor, to the “housewife” to the farmer, to the homeless person picking up cans to sell. No work is better or worse than any other. If the CEO thinks he/she is too good to clean up a spill, or to clean their bathroom or pick up trash, then they have the wrong concept of work. The concept goes far beyond our paid workplace, individually and collectively, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop to pickup that piece of trash to dispose of it properly, or do you step over it (I’m not getting my hands dirty!)? Are you careful to make the most of our resources, reducing waste, and not being wasteful with food?

We are under a mandate of work – it is a calling, and should never be considered a curse. As our pastor said, “Before Jesus was known as the Christ, He was known as ‘the carpenter’.” From Genesis, we know that work was present before the fall.

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it….. Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.” Genesis 2:15, 3:17 NASB

The work is not cursed, but it falls under the curse, making it more difficult, as “marked by thorns”. It’s interesting to note that the Greek word for “to cultivate” can be used for work, worship, and service. We are coworkers with God. It’s not for Him to do everything, and not for us to do by ourselves, but to work together in partnership. He wants us integrated with Him and His Will: everything we do is important to God, not just ministry or church work. All work is equally valuable and pleasing to God. There is no sacred/secular or blue/white collar division; in fact, it has been said that a Sacred Place is wherever God has placed us, and according to William Tyndale, all work is sacred.
“Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him… Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything, should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history.” – Os Guinness

I like this, too: “Divine service is done here three times a day” hanging over the kitchen sink of Ruth Bell Graham.

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

Afflicted, But NOT Broken

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NASB

Listen to Hillsong UNITED Good Grace:

Don’t let your heart be troubled

Hold your head up high

Don’t fear no evil

Fix your eyes on this one truth

God is madly in love with you

Take courage

Hold on

Be strong

Remember where our help comes from

Jesus

Our redemption

Our salvation

Is in His blood

Jesus

Light of heaven

Friend forever

His kingdom come

We are never alone. No matter what we are are currently struggling with. Who we are struggling to get along with. Circumstance, people, things, any outside influence – there will always be something working against us. That’s just the way of this broken world. Every day we make choices, and one of those choices is how deeply we will allow the enemy to afflict us. We don’t get to choose the type of affliction, or even how much effect it will have on us physically. Our choice is much deeper, soul deep. On the outside, I may be broken, afflicted by a physical illness or other limitation; I might be homesick, or homeless, broke, financially ruined, separated from loved ones. Inside, in my soul, that’s what counts.

Anything we face, everything we endure in this life is truly “momentary, light affliction“. As Paul says,

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, …..” 2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬17 NASB

I’m not making light of any affliction or anyone’s struggles. God alone knows what you (and I) are dealing with. The one thing we need to focus on is this: no matter what it is we face now on this earth, the eternity we face as believers in the LORD Jesus Christ will more than make up for it. I can’t even imagine the agony awaiting those who reject Him. That is our choice, people. The single biggest choice that anyone, anywhere, anytime will face. Either you are for Him, or you are against Him.

Where do you stand?

Faithful Suffering

Faithful suffering. First Jesus, then Paul; actually, all of the Apostles served as our examples of this.

“Blessed be the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by GOD.” 2 Corinthians 1:3‭-‬4 NASB

“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” [Psalms 116: 1-10] we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He Who raised the LORD JESUS will raise us also with JESUS and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the Grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the Glory of GOD.” 2 Corinthians 4:13‭-‬15 NASB

I don’t suffer faithfully, or gracefully. Do you? Does it make you mad when bad things happen to you or your loved ones? I spent a large part of my life mad at God because of all the bad in my life…. I didn’t want anything to do with Him since He let all of it happen. At the same time, I ignored or denied that any of the good came from Him. My Faith was nonexistent. It took some major disasters to get my attention off me and my faithless suffering, and back into the LORD and my childhood Faith.

I still don’t want any suffering or bad stuff; however, now I can recognize where it really comes from. I know that no matter what the enemy throws at me, my LORD is with me, beside me, supporting me, carrying me when I need it. I still worry, and I still get angry, but I’m learning through Faith that I am not alone. You aren’t alone either, if you’ll allow Jesus to walk with you.

All Who Are In High Positions….

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬4 ESV

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13‭-‬14 NASB

To be honest, this suggestion, especially the part about giving thanksgivings for all who are in high positions makes me choke just a bit (sometimes quite a lot!). From the people who are in “high positions” in the local schools, the “high positions” in every business, landlords, bankers, and one and on, to city government, up to county, state, and federal. From clerks who think they are in control, judges, peacekeepers of all kinds, politicians….. there’s really no end to the people who consider what they are doing to be a higher position, where they are somehow better than the people they are supposed to serve….. but I digress.

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…..

We like to imagine that life was simpler when Paul wrote these letters, but I think that those high positions haven’t changed that much in the way those holding them think and act. As much as I would like to have many of the people in those positions removed and replaced, I need to keep this passage in the front of my mind. We don’t really know the minds and hearts of those people. There are many in high positions that are very blatant in their disregard for the people they supposedly care for, but Paul is explicit in asking us to pray for them, and to be thankful.

It’s difficult to be thankful when I perceive that their goals and actions are to bring harm to me and those I care about; when they abuse their power.

My Dad would tell me “If you can’t respect the man, respect the office.”

Easier said than done.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

There are too many to count in those high positions that I have absolutely no respect for. There are so many who are only out for their own benefit; who couldn’t care less about the people they represent.

Regardless of my feelings, it’s important to pray for those people. Maybe it’s most important to pray for the ones I despise.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from GOD, and those that exist have been instituted by GOD. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Romans 13:1‭, ‬5 ESV

Do you struggle with this? Conservative or liberal, business owner or newest employed, in a mansion or homeless, whatever the situation, do you lift up those you despise? We can work on this together, because this is a tough assignment!

Heavenly Father, Lord of the Universe, you know my heart. When I’m honest with You and with myself, You know I’d rather do almost anything rather than to give thanks for many of our country’s so called leaders. Your Words says that they are set in place by You. I confess that I struggle with that concept! However, since You have said it in Your inspired Word, I must accept it, and thank You for the governments You have put in place, from our city to our nation. Bless those men and women, Lord, and I pray that they will bow their heads, and knees, to You. Bless our country. Bring us, as a nation, back to the Truth. Amen.

Treasure Hunting

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; …..Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬16 NASB

It occurs to me that the majority of humans, me included, spent our lives searching for treasure. Monetary treasure, relational treasure, the treasure of children. We think these things will complete us, and bring us satisfaction. It’s so sad when we realize that none of these, nothing that we can do or obtain on this earth, will bring real, heart-filling satisfaction. There’s only one way to reach that. It isn’t politically correct, or socially acceptable, to say this. In many parts of the world, you can lose your life for telling others this truth….. but that doesn’t make it any less true.

One way to reach the real treasure, satisfaction, completion, in our lives. One way. The real “Golden Ticket”.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4‭-‬5 NASB

Through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, through His Blood that was shed in His torture and ultimately in His hanging on the cross, we receive our satisfaction and our completion. It is the only way. Even when we don’t think we are broken, we are. The saddest thing in life, to me, is to see people who are “above” it all. Those people who believe in their power, that it is through their efforts that they will find their treasures. Believe me, I am not in a position to judge anyone, because I am the most guilty of all.

God loves us most when we recognize our brokenness; when we finally realize that there is nothing we can do the fix ourselves. No matter how talented or smart or wealthy. We are totally dependent on Him. I’m working on switching my focus from the treasure hunting of this world to the anticipation of the treasures of heaven, where our hearts are full of the Glory of the LORD! I’d like to have an easier life, and I’d rather be with a companion, a partner, than to continue to be alone, but I’m trying to focus on the right things, the God things, instead of the earth things.

God turns our brokenness in a beautiful treasure!