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!

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.”

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?

One day

Have you heard Jeremy Camp sing “There Will Be A Day”? It begins like this:

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end…..”

There are days when my head and body ache, and my eyes are gritty like they are full of sand. I’m tired. My mind wants to shut down and sleep, but instead of rest, the instant my head hits the pillow my brain is caught up in a maelstrom and swirls around in an avalanche of random thoughts. I want to get up and go and do things, but the wind sucks away all of my strength. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. My desire is to fight, but life weighs so heavily on me.

“Fight the good fight for the True Faith. Hold tightly to the Eternal Life to which GOD has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

Am I alone in feeling this way?

All I have to do is open a social media site, or turn on the TV or radio, or pick up a paper to see the misery and anguish that permeates society. We are surrounded by complaining, grasping, whiny people, who often drown out the muffled cries of the ones dealing with real suffering and tragedy. No, I don’t count myself as someone who has real cause to cry. Most of my issues, physical and emotional, can be attributed to decisions I’ve made without waiting for GOD’s answer.

The song goes on to say But I hold on to this HOPE and the Promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering…”

I pray that when things, when life, looks and feels hopeless, you will raise your eyes and look to JESUS. He walks beside us, and He will carry us when we need it. He will take our burdens if we’ll just let go of them – picture this: your hand is gripping the handle of your baggage, then loosen your fingers and move your hand away from it…. Flex your fingers. It feels so good, not having to lug that heavy load!

I long for the day when JESUS returns and the enemy is conquered, because then we will have a new heaven and a new earth; a place where GOD Himself willwipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:4 ESV

Conclusion? Life sucks sometimes. I can blame others, I can claim victim status and vie for sympathy, or I can lay myself and my burdens at the foot of the cross of JESUS, and carry on with His help. What will it be for you? What a friend we have in JESUS! Amen!

Lies, Deceits, Untruths

“Rescue me, O LORD, from liars and from all deceitful people.” – Psalms 120:2 NLT

I’m angry.

Nope. Try again.

I’m ANGRY!!

Better…..

One lie I’ve heard over and over is that we are where we are by our own choices. NO. I did NOT choose for my late husband to spiral into a pain-filled opioid addiction, exacerbated by VA doctors, which led to increasingly irrational, irresponsible, erratic, and dangerous thinking, and ultimately his death. I did NOT choose to lose our business as a result of his illness. I’m angry because he left me here alone, to deal with life on my own. I’m angry because he lied to me when he said he wouldn’t leave me, that we would face the world together. Even 20 years later, the hurt sometimes tries to overwhelm me.

Nope, it’s just not right. How can we pledge “to have and to hold … for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part,” never knowing when sickness will strike? When death will take our partner? We did them all, but death? Death is too final. When we say those vows, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority don’t even register the ‘death’ part. I didn’t, because I knew he wouldn’t leave me alone. He pledged all those things to me, but it wasn’t true. He did leave me. I guess I lied to him, too, because I put my physical safety over him and left him to face his last year on this earth, alone. I’m angry about that, too. I deserted him when he needed me most.

Most of all, I’m angry at the serpent, the belly-dragging, dirt- eating deceitful creature we know as the enemy. The father of lies, the false accuser, adversary…. I won’t even give him the satisfaction of saying his name here. This lowest of the low, this creature introduced lies and deceits, trickery and untruths, ugliness and evil, into our world. He resorts to these tactics to pull us away from GOD. I’m angry at the illnesses, the evil, the creature has introduced into our beautiful world. The Liar has perfected his methods over the millennium to the point where he knows what to do to cause us to doubt GOD; to doubt the TRUTH that JESUS is LORD, and that the HOLY SPIRIT will carry us out the muck of lies, deceitfulness, and untruths…. IF we allow Him to.

I find the strength to forgive Ron through the work of the LORD in my life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Sometimes, like today, as I reflect on my life, I remember the anger and sorrow and the feeling of being deserted, even before he died, because of the illness and addiction. I miss him and the things we shared; the laughter and the adventurous spirit, the incredible talents he had. I miss his willingness (and patience!) to work with me, to answer my questions, and teach me. I miss his strength, and I miss his presence. I don’t miss the frustrations of his illness and addictions.

Jesus said, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me….” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

Thank You, JESUS, for putting the deceiver behind me! Listen to “Point to You by” sung by We Are Messengers at https://g.co/kgs/eJqUCB

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)

My Happy Place

The ocean calls to me with the rhythm of the tides as they ebb and flow. It’s something inexplicable; a feeling deep in my being. The sound of the surf breaking, the distinct smell of saltwater, the wind blowing in from the water, the incessant sound of seagulls….. it all serves to ground me; it’s my Happy Place. I’ve heard many people express their dislike of the sea, saying that it’s humid, noisy, dirty. Oh, the sea can be those things, but it is so much more. There’s a primal quality with the tides; a siren song as they call to our innermost beings. I’ve read that the sea is a harsh mistress, and I can understand that, but it can be a gentle lover, too, caressing and soothing. When I am at the ocean, and I experience the tide continuing it’s course, inexorably constant, the outgoing tide washes away my stress and worries while the incoming tide brings peace and contentment.

The tide is an apt analogy for how GOD works. When we accept Him, He washes us and caresses us with the gentlest tides. He washes away my cares when I rest in Him, while bringing serenity and peace into my life. The enemy throws storms at us, sending huge tides and monstrous waves at us, trying to wash us away – our LORD is our Anchor in the riptides and the maelstroms of life; without Him, we become like the wrecks at the bottom of the sea. Jesus said,

“I tell you the Truth, those who listen to My Message and believe in GOD who sent Me have Eternal Life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 NLT

“This Hope is a strong and trustworthy Anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into GOD’s Inner Sanctuary.” – Hebrews 6:19 NLT