Don’t Worry, Be Happy

“Don’t worry, be happy!” 

Really?

What’s your favorite television show? Favorite author or book genre? How about your radio station? Are you quick to turn it off or put the book away if someone comes by unexpectedly? I have been in the situation of not wanting anyone to know what I was seeing/reading…. and it’s not a good feeling! If I feel like I need to hide what I’m doing, it seems to me that I am probably doing something that God would be sorry to see. If I’m hiding my deeds, isn’t it because they are wrong, and if I know they are wrong in God’s eyes, then it must be something the enemy wants me to do.

It’s all around us, permeating our surroundings and our very souls. Too ‘heavy’ for you? If you are new to my blog/fb page, let me reiterate my motto for you: “If I were to remain silent, I would be guilty of complicity.” There are so many people, so many LEADERS, out there, who want to pull us away from God’s Will, even so-called preachers. Take the 70’s slogan, “Don’t worry, be happy.” On the surface, it sounds great, even almost spiritual. I’m not saying God wants us to mope around all day and always be serious and never smile. On the contrary, I believe it makes Him happy to see us genuinely smiling and happy. In the 60’s and 70’s, a number of musicians including Pete Steger and The Byrds, whom I would not consider spiritual musicians, recorded the song “Turn, Turn,” which is almost verbatim to the KJV Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  

There is nothing wrong with watching TV or movies, or reading books, or listening to the radio. There is nothing wrong with playing games. The problem is that we let these things overwhelm our thoughts until there is no room for God. Just remember, you will always have the choice of who to serve, and we are ALWAYS serving …. the question is, who? There are only two choices, and every decision you make boils down to one of those choices. Is it for GOD, or is it for the enemy? 

  “A final word: Be strong in the LORD and in His Mighty Power. Put on all of GOD’S Armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:10‭-‬12 NLT

(Scriptures from  http://bible.com)

Language 

Language 

Language is an interesting tool that has been defined and refined over the centuries. We have spoken languages, written languages, and signed languages, all in uncountable dialects. Even within one country, even one city, we can find it difficult to understand another person’s way of speaking. We have coded languages for computers… that may well be the most universally used language of all! 

Jesus warns us about our language on several occasions. “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’  But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” – Matthew 5:21‭-‬22 NLT

And again, James talks about how damaging our words can be: “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” – James 3:5‭-‬6 NLT

Many, if not all, of us know firsthand how hurtful words can be. We may have grown up hearing how stupid or ugly or worthless we were. We may use sarcasm as a mechanism to hurt others. If you are in a relationship where words are used in a hurtful manner, you may need to rethink WHY you are with that person. For much of my life I used sarcasm as my “second” language to deflect how worthless I felt. Think about how you say things. I struggle constantly with my mouth to combat the biting tone and disrespectful words I use as a defense mechanism. When we speak, the goal should be to uplift someone, not to cut them down. Mom used to tell us ” If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything.” Someday, I will stand in front of God on His Judgment Throne and be chastised for all of my words that were far from good. 

Here’s the thing: we have to submit our tongues to the LORD. He alone can tame our mouths, and we don’t have forever to ask for His help and forgiveness. I do know this: “The LORD isn’t really being slow about His Promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” – 2 Peter 3:9 NLT

I’m really thankful He was (and is) patient with me. 

(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com)

Hope In Hard Times

The following is by Dr. Larry Crabb. Even though it is addressed to couples, this something every one of us can use in our lives. I hope that anyone who reads it will take his words and truly ponder them.

“Hope in Hard Times – I suppose there has never been a marriage between two honest, self-examining people that at some time has not reached a seemingly irredeemable low point. There have been moments in my own marriage when the wall between my wife and me seemed too high to hurdle, too thick to break. We found it hard to muster hope. It was not easy to be confident that somehow the barriers blocking our oneness could be removed. . . . Too many unhappy spouses claim promises that God never made as their foundation of hope. They trust that if they do all they can, God will change their spouses into the loving Christians they should be. But a reason to live never consists of a guarantee that “Things will get better” or that “God will save your husband and help him stop drinking.” The hope of the Christian is far deeper than a mere change in someone else. The hope of the Christian is inescapably bound up in the grace of God.

It would be easy to quote a few verses from Hebrews (especially 6:18–19), and speak glowingly about the sure hope in Christ that serves as an anchor for our souls. But if you are plagued by chronic despair that results in a “Why bother” attitude, then prayerfully consider the following.

The Lord has not promised to put your marriage together for you. The hope of the Christian is not that one’s spouse will change or that one’s health will improve or that one’s financial situation will become good. God does not promise or rearrange our worlds to suit our longings. He does promise to permit only those events that will further his purpose in our lives. Our responsibility is to respond to life’s events in a manner that pleases the Lord, not to change our spouses into what we want. Even if we respond biblically, we have no guarantee that our spouses will respond in kind. Though they file for divorce or continue to drink or nag all the more, there is reason for us to persevere in obedience.

Certainly if both partners build on the foundation of hope and strive earnestly to live biblically, even the worst marriage can be turned around. Either way, there is reason to hope. This reason is bound up in the grace of God.

In God’s presence, there is never cause for despair. Our spouses may not do what they should to restore our marriage to happy, fulfilling relationships. But if we remain faithful to God, pouring out our emotions before him, renewing our commitment to seek him, trusting him to guide us in our responses, then he will sustain us through our trials and provide rich fellowship with him. There is reason to go on. There is hope. God’s grace is sufficient.” — Dr. Larry Crabb

(Taken from the NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible)

Blessed…. and Blessed Some More.

Jesus loved to teach. The following verses are commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, because He was teaching the crowds of people while atop a hill. He used whatever venue He found Himself and used it as a classroom, just talking to His followers. We could take that as an example to follow. 

  “GOD Blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. GOD Blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. GOD Blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. GOD Blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. GOD Blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. GOD Blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see GOD. GOD Blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of GOD. GOD Blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. GOD Blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are My followers.” – Matthew 5:3‭-‬11 NLT

Have I mentioned lately that I am Blessed? It isn’t intended as bragging. Instead, when I take the time to look at my blessings, I am almost blown away by just how truly blessed I am. I could spend my time being upset and jealous that I’m unable to travel or shop whenever I please because of lack of funds, but isn’t it more rewarding to look at what I AM able to do? Looking at others my age, and older, I see so many who who are struggle much more than I do, physically and financially and emotionally. Shoot, I see so many people of ALL ages who are struggling through life, and I know that there, but for the Grace of GOD, go I. 

Why does He allow me such blessings? I certainly don’t think I am anything more special thanks any other person on earth. In fact, should I receive what I DESERVE, well, I really can’t imagine how bad it would be. When I hear someone say “I deserve better….” No, we don’t deserve better. If I had gotten what I deserved, I would have be dead and in hell a very long time ago. Think about it. There is no one who doesn’t sin, and if you think you don’t, then you need to take a long, hard look at your life and attitude. 

I found this song online and it is so appropriate to our lives. (Source: http://www.sing365.com )

I Am Blessed – All-4-One

“Sometimes I stop, Take a look at myself, And realize just what I’ve done.  It’s not that ‘I’m better than’, It’s just that I thought “I can.” I played the odds and I won, 

So I have no right to complain Or feel sorry for myself, When so many more have less. I look around, And I realize,

 I am so blessed, Yes I am blessed. I am so blessed, Yes I am blessed.”

Consider YOUR blessings. You might be surprised with the abundance of blessings in your life! 

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com )

God’s Plan

  ” “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” ” – Jeremiah 29:11‭-‬13 NLT

What are God’s plans for our lives, and how, exactly, do we determine what they are? I’m reading the “Chop Chop” series by L.N. Cronk. It’s written about people living their lives and searching for God’s wisdom and guidance throughout. These are written like real people, who have emotional and physical issues; who struggle with the “WHY?” do bad things keep happening to us. It’s both entertaining and thought provoking, happy and tearful. It’s about getting out of the way and letting our God have control. It’s about how difficult it can be to relinquish our grip on a situation, thinking that WE can control it better than God is able to. It’s about hearts and desires and human fragility, and it’s about how our LORD is truly the Great Physician. It’s about struggling to figure out God’s plan for our lives.

I relate on so many levels with some of the characters. I have never been very good about putting my God first in my life. I have a serious problem understanding what it is He really wants of me. (And I’m SURE that failure to understand has absolutely nothing to do with my fierce stubbornness!!)

Look at the people around you, even within your household. Do you really know what struggles they might be facing?  Are you quick to make a judgement call on someone, and to pass off their issue as no big deal? I realize that there is a LOT of angst out there that I don’t understand – that I CAN’T understand, because I haven’t experienced whatever that person has experienced. Christians need to be cognizant of that, and empathize or sympathize or sometimes, just be quiet. And PRAY. Always pray, whether it is out loud or in a whisper or silently. In our places of employment, it’s often difficult to know what’s going on with someone to understand why he is habitually late, or she misses a lot of work. Your boss maybe decides you should know how to solve an issue or fix it without any help, but really you are so frustrated you cannot even think.

Guilty. Yes, I’m guilty, and I have been both “hired hand” and “boss”……. And I still don’t have a handle on what God has planned for me. Are YOU in His plan today? It’s certainly something to think and to pray about today.

(All scriptures are from  http://bible.com.NLT)

SHOUT!

 “A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our GOD stands forever.”   ….But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:6‭-‬8‭, ‬31 NLT

Have you looked outside lately? I know that in different areas of the country and the world experience spring in very distinctive ways. Even here, in central Oklahoma, we have vastly unique days for the seasons. One day during the spring months can be sweltering with the heat and humidity, while the next will be cool and breezy. We can have snow, rain, hail, earthquakes, and tornados on the same day – in the same area! (I call it “snowquakenado” season 😉 ) The earth in the north and western hemispheres is experiencing spring now. It is a time of regrowth and renewal in both plants and animals. Being able to go outside and feel the breeze, and to smell the sweet smells of blooming flowers and cut grass, is a privilege I don’t take lightly. I am both blessed and cursed to have a huge quarter acre lot within a housing development. Blessed because of the trees and bushes I’ve planted, with plenty of space for flowers and relaxing without having the next door houses right on top of me; cursed (but in a good way!!) because it’s a lot of work to keep up! Sometimes in the heat of summer or the frozen winter months, I wish for less, but spring reminds me of the blessings. I mean, how many people in suburbia have room for a small orchard and garden and berry bushes out their back door, and still have plenty of room for a large patio and yard? Who gets to enjoy God’s beautiful creatures – Bluebirds and Cardinals and countless other songbirds, along with hawks and geese and rabbits, all in their backyard?  I am reminded daily of my blessings. Do you count your blessings each day? Sometimes I forget to, or maybe I choose to deny just how blessed I am. 

Every day, I should shout praises to the LORD for the blessings He has given me. Can I get an Amen on that?



Warning…

Paul gets pretty down and dirty with his letters to the churches…. Honesty and truth can be difficult to hear.

 “(3b) Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (16) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (19) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.” ” – Romans 12:3‭b,16‭,‬19 NLT

I’ve studied these verses before, but they are never easy to read when I consider how I have lived most of my life. Being the third child, I struggled with following a “perfect” older sister who did everything right (my perception – sorry, Lu!), and an older brother. Instead of being obedient and compliant, he rebelled, leaving me in a limbo of achievement (to gain approval) and rebellion, because I wanted to be accepted by him, too. It’s a weird place to be. Now, I realize that my sister had more expectations to live with as the oldest sibling than we did, but we couldn’t see it while growing up. Then to that, add the perceptions and expectations that were added on to us since we were the “pk’s” (preacher’s kids). A lot of those pressures came from outside the family, both in the church and the community. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not making excuses or placing blame. My parents did the best they could, and we always knew we were loved. Despite their best efforts, I – as well as several of my siblings – responded very differently than was expected. Rebellion became a big part of my life once I left home for college. A good Christian girl goes off to a respected Christian college (hmm, could be the title for a book!) and was immersed in a society that this small town, naive girl had  never really imagined. Something like going in the deep end before you learn to swim! It didn’t take long for the seduction and temptations of the the enemy swept me into the rapids of life where I was rather quickly caught up, spun out of control, and unable to escape. 

It’s human nature to try to control our situations and surroundings. When our lives spin out of control, oftentimes we react by focusing, almost with tunnel vision, on the things we do have power over. I couldn’t be honest with myself or my family, because to do so would shed light on things in my life that I couldn’t stand to see. My self worth had already been beaten up pretty well by my brother. According to him, I was ugly and stupid…. and regardless of how many times I was told the opposite by others, his comments hit me the hardest. How did I cope? Attitude, baby, pretentious attitude! I quickly discovered that men wanted me. Not only any permanent basis, but they could make me feel beautiful and desirable for a few minutes. I took advantage of this, and married the first one that asked… and egotistical, completely self-absorbed misogynist. I lost the little bit of myself that was left under his “reign.” After years of his abuse, I managed to get away, where I took on the attitudes he taught me. My hard protective shell was one of being better than others. I discovered that if I acted as though I knew the answers, people believed me. I was a snob, a know-it-all, and quick to plot revenge on anyone who did me wrong – real or perceived. 

In short, I was miserable, so I maintained a near constant “party” so I didn’t have to feel. I married my best friend, a good man who actually treated me well, and lost him because of my attitudes and inability to believe he could truly love me. It was messed up. Sadly,  after that I spiraled deeper. I was mad at God for allowing all of the abuse and garbage into my life, and determined to lay ALL the blame on Him. To prove it, I looked for another man to save me. I found another one who loved me and married me, and we continued to party together. Long story…..

Eventually, after losing him to drug addiction and death, I set out to rescue lost souls, because you know I was so healthy myself. It took two more abusive husbands to get it. Humility can be a harsh lesson to learn. As I slowly began to learn it (progress, not perfection), I also realized that over all those years of searching for Mr. Right, He was standing right next to me! Jesus provides me with all that I need. He doesn’t denigrate me or abuse me. He loves me as I am, uncompromising and unconditionally. That’s AMAZING!! Not only did Paul point out the attitudes we don’t need to carry as Christians, but John says it perfectly for me:

  “Such Love has no fear, because Perfect Love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His Perfect Love.” – 1 John 4:18 NLT

I spent years in fear, hiding behind ego and perfectionism and plotting revenge. I hurt others, and I especially hurt myself. We create these prisons in our hearts for other people, but the truth is that we are locking ourselves up instead. As Peter saysYou have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” – 1 Peter 4:3 NLT 

Jesus made sure that we will never be alone if we accept His gift of eternal life. He has sent the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us as a constant. We are never alone. Jesus said: And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will NEVER leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” – John 14:16‭-‬17 NLT 

The Advocate lives with me. Thank You, Jesus!


(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com )