Sunday, December 29, 2013

Out of Egypt



"For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves."  Leviticus 25:42


Sometimes slavery is a comfort zone. Being bound to someone or something toxic is comfortable. It's all we've ever known and we don't even dream of anything else. To be released from slavery into something we do not know---freedom---is foreign. We are afraid to wander in the wilderness though we are free. The wilderness of freedom is a foreign land and slavery to pharaoh is familiar.

"Then Moses reached his hand out over the Red Sea. All that night the Lord pushed the sea back with a strong east wind. He turned the sea into dry land. The waters were parted. The people of Israel went through the sea on dry ground. There was a wall of water on their right side and on their left." - Exodus 14:21-22

The path from the slavery that binds you may seem impossible to walk, but God will make a way. Just as He performed a miracle and allowed Moses to part the red sea, He will make a dry path to walk on out of our own form of slavery.

Living in slavery is not always living as a physical slave. Slavery is living as a bondservant to sin, or allowing a toxic persons sin to permeate our lives. Cars, houses, computers, materialism, old unhealthy ways of thought and old habits are all things we can be in bondage too when they are out of balance. They become comforts of sorts and pretty soon many years have past living with this sin as our god. 

Sometimes God is seen as a weakling, unable to conquer or help us out of toxic relationships or defeat the sins in our lives. Our view of God and our own unbelief begins to permeate our life. The same God who led the Israelite's out of slavery is the same God who lives today. This same God wants to deliver us from our sin and part the red sea so we clearly see His power and His way out of sin.

Don't count on others to help lead you out of your fog, count on God. Other's may not have the discernment to help you, they do not know or see your heart and your daily struggles. Often the sins and toxic relationships are only known to God and ourselves. Sometimes we are blind to it and need the Holy Spirit to illuminate and shed His truth.

Christ shed His blood, with nails driven in His hands and feet so that we may know what freedom is. God's freedom is greater than we can imagine. We are not in bondage to sin, we are not bound to death, we are bound to Christ and His eternal life. Death and sin are conquered. He died to lead us out of the dry, barren desert of slavery to our own sin.

Yet we refuse so often---stubbornly---to let go of that which we know is sin in our life. What would life be without it? The unknown is scary. To let go of an old pattern of thought, old habits and behaviors will take hard work and dedication. The freedom of letting this all go and laying it at the foot of the cross is unimaginable to us because it requires surrender. A lifetime of living in surrender and the freedom of Christ.

Jaws are clenched and hands are holding tightly to the familiar, struggling to surrender sin. Surrendering to God and what He asks of us when we can't see what the next day holds, this is walking in freedom. We are no longer controlling what we think will be in our future---those familiar sins. Instead we are saying, "God I am here and YOU know what the future holds and I will trust, I will walk the path to the cross and I will trust you."

 God stands outside of time, the future is an easy task for Him. He holds it in His hands. He is in control, not us. The sins or toxic people we live in bondage too should not control our future or cause us to be afraid to walk out of Egypt into freedom. The Lord is already fighting for us, we don't fight against our sin alone.

Our freedom is in front of us, already bought at a price. The promised land is a few steps away, will we choose to live in it or go back to Egypt?

 "And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Soul Bankruptcy: A Modern Day Plague



 "Know well the face of your flocks; and pay attention to your herds." Proverbs 27:23

Many people seem to live fine, healthy, normal lives. Outwardly successful, their possessions speak that they have done well for themselves. They are praised and asked how they achieved such success. Seeming to have a happy family life filled with fun, vacations and activities and they seem to have achieved their American dream. Paying attention to the outer life, they don't seemingly suffer from want or neglect. No one calls them out and asks the deeper questions. They are left in quiet to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The children and parents seem fine. The children well cared for, well dressed, attending great schools. All the while they are not bankrupt outwardly, but the inner heart and soul are becoming neglected, lonely, longing for something that is unfulfilled. Their soul is declaring it's own form of bankruptcy.

"As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve." Ezekial 34:8

But beneath all of that---the outward success, is the inner life of the man successful? Think of how many times you are asked "how is your inner life with God going?" That is a rare question that is almost never asked. God sees our hearts, and the growth and success He sees is different than what we see as success. He does not count our possessions, our raises, our bonuses as His sole form of success for us.

"The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered." Jeremiah 10:21

God sees the heart and soul first of His children first. He longs for us to place Him first and demolish any idols that have taken His place. Our thought life, our hearts--- are they bankrupt to God? Or does He see treasures being stored up inside ourselves---the riches of His desires for us? He sees if we are storing away riches in our soul to take with us to His kingdom.

"That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep." Luke 2:8

We can be successful and gain a lot of self esteem and define ourselves by the outer success. We need to know the state of our flocks. How are our children's hearts? Our spouses? Other special people God has placed in our lives? Do they know God, and do they know us? Do we invest in the riches that are our children and families? Children, teen and adult depression and loneliness are at all time highs. This is often amongst those that seem to "have everything." Affluent children are often the most neglected and lonely.  Amongst the gadgets, nice cars and the image of perfection is a deep soul longing for something more. Parents take their children to all sorts of therapy wondering why their children are in this state. Yet these parents neglected to truly pay attention to the state of their flock, they did not run after the sheep that started to run astray or make sure their flock stayed together. They were not truly the shepherd who watched over their flocks by night.

“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord." Jeremiah 23:1

Running on the hamster wheel pursuing the next level of success thinking it is for our families good, however well intentioned it may be, but all the while they sit at home lonely---is not success.

"Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!" Jeremiah 23:4

It is not true happiness to run after outer success only. The quiet inner success of ourselves and our families should be a priority. Often as we run after the wrong things our flock is neglected. We are also called to pursue our flocks success, to be with them and to watch over our flock even more than we watch over the outer success. May we remember to store up riches in the soul bank account, the only one we truly take with us---so that we or our families will never have to suffer from inner bankruptcy.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep." John 10:11

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Extending Freely


"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." Proverbs 11:24-25

When we extend God's grace freely to others in spite of their imperfect behaviors we are truly showing a heart overflowing with the understanding of the gifts we have been given. If we hold back until behavior is as we think it should be, we will never give of ourselves in the way God is asking. 

Grace and love are not given in perfect circumstances or when another person acts as we think they should. Grace and love overflowing are to be given as a sign of your heart and behavior--not another's. Grace, love, extending ones self is a lifestyle choice. It doesn't come and go. It becomes a state of the heart, a virtue that we put on daily.

Grace, mercy and love are not dependent on anothers behavior. If they were, no one would ever receive them. We would never have received God's grace. God's grace and blessings are not only given when we have perfect behavior. He is generous to us and our cup runneth over.

The world teaches to hold back when we are treated wrongly, when the other persons behavior is less than stellar, even hurtful. But we can extend the love we have been given and taught freely without reservation. This heals and restores. Holding back only hurts others and ourselves.

It is a sign of our heart growth when we extend freely. A sign of our growing maturity in Christ to give whole heartedly. Our giving may not come back perfectly to us in this life but we feel freedom and peace in our hearts by being obedient. God asks us not to be "stingy" with our love but to give it in abundance.

So much conflict is avoided when we give freely, without concern for ourselves. When the concern creeps in for ourselves is where the selfishness resides in our hearts and we begin to hold back. It is a blindness to ourselves and our own sin. If our eyes see how God has blessed us we begin to have no room for selfishness. We will suffer want ourselves when we do not give and then we wonder why our heart feels lacking. We begin to blame the other person when the problem resides within us.

By giving we also enter into God's freedom. If we do not freely give, what are we hanging onto? What resentments cause us to be childishly "budgeted" with our love? Let us ask God to heal this selfish hardness of heart so that our heart is warm to God and others. In our heart lies the treasure that is Christ and this treasure is to be given away freely to others. In giving freely the chains are broken off of our own hearts.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6

"They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." 1 Timothy 6:18-19 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Mercies


"You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you." Psalm 86:5



God abounds in his love for us. His love has no end. It is His very character and His character does not change. He never tires of loving us, pouring out His mercy on us, and caring for us. He knows the depths of our hearts, the hairs on our head are numbered to Him. Every beat of our heart and every breath is known. This is an amazing, unfathomable love.

His mercies are new every day, the sun rises and His mercies begin again. He pours them out on us and He never tires. So often we think that God will not pour out any more mercy and that the well is empty. God's well of mercies will never be dry. He cannot tire or giving mercy, He IS mercy.

"The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made." Psalm 145:9

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy..." Ephesians 2:4

“The Lord's mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.” -Charles Spurgeon

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Hebrews 4:16

"For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:13

“Whether our days trip along like the angels mounting on Jacob's ladder to heaven or grind along like the wagons that Joseph sent for Jacob, they are in each case ordered by God's mercy.”-Charles Spurgeon

"But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the more weak and despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pursuing Our Children's Hearts


 "Mother and Child Reading" -Frederick Warren Freer

"May our sons flourish in their youth
    like well-nurtured plants.
May our daughters be like graceful pillars,
    carved to beautify a palace." Psalm 144:12

As parents we teach our children many things, spoken and unspoken. We want them to learn about the universe, to learn about God, and fill their minds and hearts with God's truth. We we think the hours of pouring ourselves into them the activities, and the money and time poured into their education is going to make them successful. The Bible verses memorized---we think that surely this will lead to a favorable outcome.

There is something more important than all the facts and activities-- pursuing and capturing our children's hearts. Not only to have a good relationship with them for selfish purposes---but that their heart is held captive to Christ.

Children must see their parents walking with Christ. In joy, in mistakes and sorrows. He must overflow from our hearts and minds to our lips. He must be spoken of with such a love and passion that children see that Christ is all and He is life.

Speaking of what Christ has done for us frequently is often mocked and laughed at. But it is what we are called to do, especially for our children. They must hear of what God has done for them, and why it is so important. Leading them to a personal relationship with Christ beyond just facts is our duty as parents. Each child is different, so praying about the heart of that child is of the utmost importance. Praying that God gives us wisdom as parents to know how to best lead each child into relationship with Christ and how to capture their heart is more important than anything else we do.

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 6:7

More children raised in Christian homes than ever before are falling away from their faith. Children involved in the most church activities, the most seemingly stable homes do not truly know Christ. They walk away and embrace the world when their parents "gave" them everything. They gave them things, facts, activities, but they did not give themselves. Christ in their hearts did not overflow in abundance to their children. Most of us come to know Christ in the most intimate and meaningful way because we come to know that He gave Himself for us!

Our children must be allowed to come to us. They must see us stop for them. Their hearts are led to Christ through our example. Did we show them their worth and their importance to us? That the board meeting, the extra paycheck, the next social engagement was more important than them, or do we show them that we have stopped to sit and spend time with them? As adults we find this hard to do.  But learning how to do this with our children means we must also stop to spend time in the presence of God. We get to know God's heart and who He is when we are still in His presence. We get to know our children and capture their hearts when we engage with them fully and show them their worth in our eyes. This is only a small reflection of their worth in their heavenly father's eyes.

 God never stops pursuing our hearts. He never gives up on knowing His children.Our worth to God is greater than we can imagine.

"One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:13-14

If we are quick to scold our children for bothering us, and we do not stop to pray for them, to pursue their hearts, what do we think the outcome will be? The little children saw that Christ welcomed them, he laid hands on them, stopped His more important work to show them they were the most important of all. He won their hearts by His patience, love, and by letting them come to Him.

Prayer: "God, in this rushed and hasty world show me how to be your hands and feet to my children. Show me how to minister to them and capture their hearts for you God so that they walk in your truth and freedom all of their days." Amen.

"You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you." Psalm 8:2

"Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord." Psalm 22:30

"Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord." Psalm 34:11

"so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children." Psalm 78:6

"The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him." Psalm 103:13
 "I see more and more that I must be myself what I want my children to be and that I cannot make myself over even for their sakes. This must be His work, and I wonder that it goes on so slowly; that all the disappointments, sorrows, sicknesses I have passed through have left me still selfish, still full of imperfections!" Elizabeth Prentiss "Stepping Heavenward"


Thankful In All Things


"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God." Philippians 4:5-6

At many Thanksgiving tables words and prayers of thanks will be uttered. Our words and prayers are almost always for the many good things God has given us and blessed us with. Abundant food, health, a warm home, children and many other blessings.

It's easy to be thankful when we have all we think we need and the ride of life seems smooth. Often it is in those times that we thank God for all He has given us and done for us or even whisper a half hearted prayer of thanks to God. It is easy to be thankful when things are going our way.

When things are tough and we don't understand a trial we are going through, we often become anxious. The anxiety of the unknown (to us) outcome overwhelms us. The opposite of true thanksgiving is anxiety. Our attachment to the outcome is greater at that time than our attachment to God. Instead of hanging on to God and a quiet heart filled with His peace, we hang on to the outcome of the situation being exactly as we would like. Any other possibility fills our hearts with angst. 

The future is a place God already is because He stands outside of time. It's in His control. He clothes the flowers in beauty; all the more we are cared for.  “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? Matthew 6:28-30

Letting go of the bondage of anxiety in all things releases us to live in God's peace. God doesn't want us to lose sleep and make ourselves sick with worry. He wants us to live in His peace! This doesn't mean we don't feel sorrow or stress but that we feel a deep calm in the heart that comes from a deeper trust in God. Giving thanks to God in death, in life, in sickness, in health, in abundance and in poverty is what God wants of us. Our thanks, our grateful hearts.

Paul tells us: "What you have learned and received and heard in me---practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9) Paul is clear that it takes practice to achieve this peace. We must dwell on God's truth and keep that at the forefront of our minds. Like strengthening a muscle takes lots of exercise, spiritual strength to beat anxiety takes practice. We can't let the lies of our minds and emotions run wild. We can't walk in the lie of anxiety. Anxiety is just that--- a great, big lie.  "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused." Romans 1:21

God is not a God of chaos and anxiety.  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7  Anxiety is not from God and it is a weapon used against us to distract from and never know His peace. We have to fix our minds on God's truth and dwell on it. Dwelling on the unknown, the lies, the what if's is putting the outcome under our control and not God's. Knowing that God holds us in the palm of His hand, that He is the author of time, that this life is temporary and He is in control---what is there to be anxious about?

Before Jesus went to the cross, what did He do? “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24  Just hours away from a painful death---Jesus gave thanks! We have so much to be thankful for, but not only in material wealth. God loved us so much, that Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life. If we do not have all we need this Thanksgiving, or we are facing the worst trial, let us remember that we have ALL we need in Christ, and give thanks.

May we be known by our peace and not our anxiety. 

“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.” -Ann Voskamp 

 Prayer: "Lord, it is so hard in this world's trials to find your peace. I am marked by my fear of the unknown and not turning it over to you who knows. Show me the miracle, the treasure of your peace. Make it wash over me and help me to practice and learn until your peace is what I live in. Mark me with your peace Lord. Amen." 

Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, Charis.  But, it also hold the derivative, the Greek word, chara, meaning ‘joy’… A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.  A threefold cord that might hold a life?  Offer a way up into the fullest life?  Grace, thanksgiving, joy, Eucharisteo.  A Greek word… that might make meaning of everything?” Ann Voskamp ("One Thousand Gifts")

The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air." Isaiah 51:3 

"Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted." John 6:11 

They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:12

"This is the testimony of all the good books, sermons, hymns, and memoirs I read- that God's ways are infinitely perfect; that we are to love Him for what He is and therefore equally as much when He afflicts as when He prospers us; that there is no real happiness but in doing and suffering His will; and that this life is but a scene of probation through which we pass to the real life above." Elizabeth Prentiss, "Stepping Heavenward"


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Decluttering to See God


"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Amongst so many things to do, so much stuff, and so much on our to do lists, we forget what matters most. So many layers are piled onto each day that it's hard to dig out of. God is first---let's start with Him then add what is necessary. Technology and so much connectedness, easy access to shopping and more and more stuff and we are more cluttered inside and out than ever. Amongst all we have to do each day, let us take time to strip away everything and remember that it is God we need to seek first. Our days cannot fall into the perfect order God has if we do not stop to seek the One who matters most.

Seek first the kingdom and God reveals what is really important and it fills us up. The clutter only covers what will really fulfill us. It is falsely gratifying with an immediate fix of feeling we are part of the loop and "keeping up." The things we are keeping up with in this life will pass away. We need to keep up with God and find His peace.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Augustine of Hippo

We keep up with so much out of a "fear of missing out" syndrome. We think we will miss something great if we don't keep up here, there and everywhere. But we are missing out on God. Can you remember all the things you feared missing out on from last week? The truth is probably not.  Don't live a whole life with a fear of missing out on the world, and miss out on God. Strip everything else away and start with God. He will help us to rebuild with what is important. Our hearts, our minds, our families and our peace.

Missing real moments of the life God has given us because we are posting pictures on instagram and facebook to our virtual life, is it really important or do we just want to be seen and heard? We are more exhausted than ever and we think it's just the way it is. When we stop to look objectively can we see how much are we doing to perfection that God hasn't even asked us to take on? God doesn't want us to live our life in our own self induced exhaustion. Maybe we need to have a "stop doing" list instead of a "to do" list? There will always be more to be done. We can't constantly live the frantic pace of running in the hamster wheel. It's important to stop somewhere and reevaluate---to ask God what it is He has for us, what He desires for our days to look like.

God didn't do it all in one day.  What makes me think I can?  ~Author Unknown

While there are trying times of life, and seasons that are more tiring and difficult than others, God doesn't desire His children to live a frenzied pace of life. He knows when we live like that it's hard for us to listen to Him. He provides our shelter and our peace and His living water is enough. He is a God who set up His order for us because it is for our good. "Seek first the kingdom..." is not a suggestion, but a command so that our life will have greater peace and our days are lived with meaning and purposeful intent. God knows what is best, and His paths lead to life. Let us trust enough to say no to the paths that lead to clutter and frustration, even if everyone else seems to be walking it.

The world's yoke is heavy and it's burdens hard. If in our daily life we have piled too much onto ourselves that is not from God and we feel like we are always spinning out of control then this is not the burden God has laid on us. Trust God that when He lays out His plans for you you will feel His peace and rest in your soul.  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29

Prayer: Lord, I've put too much on my shoulders that you never asked me to carry. It seems I can't dig out most days and that I am stuck. But show me what stays and what goes God, show me what path I should walk each day and that it is enough. Show me that your peace is normal and that a frenzied pace is not of you. thank you for being a God who will show me how to live my life according to your plan that will be satisfied and filled with you. Amen. 

"And He said to them, Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while. For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat." Mark 

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27

And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cheap Christianity


“There is a common, worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough-a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice-which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.”  

- JC Ryle

Beware of today's modern version of Christianity. One that accepts all sin, one that does not offend the sin or the sinner.

Lest we offend someone and the sin that is their idol. We would not be accepting enough, we would not be loving enough. We love them, not their sin. This is what Christ died for. He loves us, but redeems us from our sin.

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just. Such a God is an idol of your own.”  JC Ryle

Lest we offend someone that the media and Hollywood and the latest fads do not dictate our lifestyle. The word of God dictates our lifestyle.

“Be very sure of this,-people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it only too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment.”  JC Ryle

Lest we offend someone that materialism does not drive us. Our house remodels, our cars, our latest smart phone does not determine our days. It's not what drives us. The love of Christ is.

Lest we offend someone that we teach our children the word of God. We desire for them to walk God's path, not the deceiving one laid out so appealing by the enemy.

“Better to confess Christ 1000 times now and be despised by men, than be disowned by Christ before God on the day of Judgment.” JC Ryle
Lest we offend someone we want to spend time with our family, that we love our children and our spouse and that God gave them to us to love on.

Lest we offend someone that we do not put things in our hearts and minds that are deceitful and wicked. We carefully determine what is taken in and what is shut out. We determine what we participate in and what we do not. We don't need to say "yes" to everything this world tries to offer.

“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God's judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.” JC Ryle

Lest we seem to offend by taking the path less traveled and by not being mainstream, popular, or becoming gluttons of this world
Do not be concerned with "offending" this world. It will pass away.
“Laughter, ridicule, opposition and persecution are often the only reward which Christ’s followers get from the world.”  JC Ryle
Lest we be concerned with offending God, not man. He is eternal. He is the great "I AM."
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! Matthew 7:21-23
"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." Matthew 25:21


A House That Wisdom Built


"A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious rubies and valuables." Proverbs 24: 3-4

A house built by wisdom. Through knowledge it is filled with valuables. These valuables are not material things. Rather they are something of eternal value. Godliness, character, wisdom and knowing the peace and love of God. These valuables will not rot or rust. Building a strong home based on virtue, learning and digging into the deeper things of life is lasting.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 

A home is not built up by the fact that it is custom made or how many electronic devices and tv's reside there. The cars and gadgets and toys within the walls of our home hold no value. The home is built up by the people in it seeking God and the love of family. Many homes today are built upon money and materialism. The goal in the home is to have it look as nice as possible while everyone is separated into their own world's on their own gadgets and devices. No one spends real, deep and true time together. Words of life, God, love and encouragement are not spoken. The devices and gadgets and facebook likes and time spent online do not take the place of the loving family unit and the loving interaction God designed us for. 

Our home has lasting impact. Though children may grow and leave and change happens, the memories and lessons learned have built them up inside. They take from their home environment and it spreads out into the world. This is why home is so important, the lessons of home ripple out into the world.

Seeking God's wisdom and knowledge takes time, work and diligence. It takes a conscious decision to build up your home. The easiest thing to do is to acquire material things and allow that to fill the home. It's easy to go out and buy the latest and greatest technology has to offer. That takes investment of money. To fill our home with good books, good music, the word of God, and breathe love and life into our homes takes daily work and it takes time. Setting the atmosphere of  peace, learning and life takes real work in today's world.

Does the atmosphere in our home reflect worldliness, materialism, humanism, entertainment media, or does the atmosphere smell of the fragrance of Christ? 

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ." 2 Corinthians 2:15-17

Investing in those we love takes being fully present with them. It's easier when we are tired and weary to "escape" into our computers and devices and tv. It takes being present in the moment with those we love to make memories and spend time with each other. Making the effort to make times of connection, times that are technology and media free is so important. We are able to slow down and make these memories and speak these words of love and life when we are fully present and disconnected from distraction.

"Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16

The people make up the home. Not the money, possessions, or perfect decor. The home is built on the memories and God's love. God gave us our family to invest in. May we make wise use of the time and the home He has blessed us with and may the presence of Christ in it go out into the world.

“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go." Sarah Dessen

“Home is the nicest word there is.”  Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” Robin Hobb

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” George Augustus Moore

 "As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home." Luke 10:38

"When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home." Mark 2:1

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cast Off All Darkness


"The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." Romans 13:12



This time of year we should be especially aware and spiritually sensitive to casting off the darkness of the halloween culture. 

Purposefully not surrounding ourselves with books, movies and various media with witches, vampires and the occult year round makes us sensitive when these things are suddenly more prevalent.

Because the Prince of Peace and Light reigns in us, we should be seriously concerned if we become deadened to the occult symbols, decorations and practices around us. Our hearts would begin to become deadened to Christ. We should not become immune to these things even though they surround us more and more. We should do the opposite---becoming more and more aware of them and keeping them out of our homes and casting them out.

Jesus died and conquered the grave. His resurrection is cause for celebration and victory. As Christians we celebrate that we have been given eternal life.

"But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57

When we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we should not hold the door open even a crack to evil. Evil is repulsive to God as He sent His son to conquer evil and death. We do not celebrate death as it holds no power over us.

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." Ephesians 5:11

We expose evil the more we are spiritually sensitive and aware with God's leading our hearts. We expose it by rebuking it! We rebuke evil more and more as we shut the door on it, take no part in it, and do not invite it to dine with us. We need to keep our homes air tight to evil. 

"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons." I Corinthians 10:21

There is no combining the Lord and evil. Evil is opposite to God's character of love. The Lord casts out all evil from Him forever, and we are called to this in the Lord's name. If there are things that are not reflecting God's light in our lives, even the smallest things we try to justify as harmless, let us cast them out.

Evil is made very cute in our society. It comes in in every form of media, costumes, books and is marketed to children. It is all the rage and is popular. Satan is very clever and subtle in his ways. We say it's ok because it is cute. Slowly and steadily it creeps it's way into our mindsets and our eyes and hearts become hardened to evil, witchcraft and the occult. We say "so and so does it, reads it, watches it, so it's fine." Death, demons, and evil should not even have the smallest portion of our time, vision or hearts.

"Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God of Heaven's Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people. " Amos 5:15

Jesus dwelt among the heathen and ministered to them. He did not participate in their practices. He never had a good laugh or chuckle at any evil, nor did He ever call any of it cute. He rebuked it, cast it off and took no part in it.

“You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!" Acts 7:51

May we be able to witness quietly and lovingly or boldly and with grace---with love for God's people however He calls us today as children of light.

"Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." Matthew 9:37

"Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God." 3 John 1:11

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons..."1 Timothy 4:1

"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14




Saturday, October 26, 2013

It Is Enough---Breaking the Bonds of the More Trap


"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



 Looking out of the window away from our lives, casting our vision outside instead of inside makes us feel that the life we have is not enough. We look out and our heart jumps over the life placed in front of us onto some imaginary life we think we should be living. This perfection we have embedded into our hearts and minds, is it attainable? Is it from God or have we given ourselves this task? Visions of some life that will make us happy or wishfully more fulfilled.

Always striving for something more. A better car, a better house, more money, more vacations. Yet we miss the life placed in front of us. We skip over those meant to be the apple of our eyes and hearts. The people in front of us were not given to us from our striving, from our promotions, from our bonus money. They are gifts from God for us to love and minister to. Yet we so often say without anything spoken, "you are not enough." And God hears this from us too "God, you are not enough."

We are so busy looking to our next dreamed up life and crossing the mundane off our to do lists we can't stop to be filled by the God of the universe. The very God who breathed life into us. We don't even stop to hear His voice and be filled by Him. To dwell in God's presence and be filled overflowing with grace, God wants this from us. 

"You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Psalm 27:8

Here is something counter cultural---God requires that we spend TIME with Him! Seeking God's face does not happen in the thirty to sixty seconds we feel we can so generously give God every day. It takes blocking out intentional time and saying no to some things, even seemingly good things. Seeking God and His word and hiding His word deep in the corners of our heart takes time. It might mean we can't watch a tv show we "need" to watch or spend our time on some other thing we feel is pressing.

Soak in the life you have now. The people you have to love now. Can you see the gifts God has given? Stop long enough to see them. What if our looking outside dreams, turn to looking inside dreams? Can we possibly stop to see the dreams already fulfilled and come true? If we look back and realize we were so busy looking out to our self fulfilling dreams, we missed what was already in front of us, the God dreams---what a sad tale that will be. Do we want to honestly miss the life God has for us because we're too busy dreaming up the one we have for ourselves?

 To love those God placed in the sphere of my world well, is enough. To live a simpler life, uncomplicated by the webs the world wants to entangle me in, God tells me this is enough. To spend time with God alone each day listening to His voice, to purposely live a different pace of life than those around me, is what God requires of me. I don't have to pile more, more, more on my plate. I don't have to think that my simpler life of living for others isn't enough and I better do something else to feel more fulfilled. It won't fulfill me more, it will just add busyness and chaos and trick me into thinking now it's enough. Now I am doing what the world requires of me---so that I justify to them doing what Christ requires.

"Oh, you're just a stay at home mom?" "Yes,  I reply, but I do this and this and this other thing too." How many times have I answered like this, when God tells me it is enough. Trying to justify walking with God to those of this world who don't understand. I don't need to justify myself when behind closed doors that the world can't see beyond my family is loved well and I strive to love them better every day.

And so I am removing the "this and this and this" other things off of my plate, to do more of what Christ requires of me. It is enough, and my dreams are pointing inward to God instead of out to the world.

God is so simple and direct with us. Do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Let's focus on doing these well where God places us, it is enough. May it wash over us and seep into our hearts.

"God gives us time. And who has time for God? It makes no sense. " - Author Ann Voskamp from her book "One Thousand Gifts"

"Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

"Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way." Psalm 25:5-9

"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." Psalm 37:5-6


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let the Soul Be Satisfied


"For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Psalm 107:9



A small salad with feta cheese, sliced almonds and your favorite dressing. A dinner of sweet potatoes, vegetables and some grilled lemon chicken. Small portions on your plate, you feel full after your meal. The perfect amount of food. You don't feel the heaviness in your stomach of overeating and you know you ate a nutritious meal. Your stomach satisfied, your body healthy. You know you could have eaten a few more bites, even another plate---but the overly full stomach would have left you feeling poorly. Having learned your lesson, you know the satisfied, full feeling and you know when to stop eating. The meal was perfect, and it was enough. 

What if we satisfied our desire for more from this meal---a second plate, a third plate, dessert, a snack-- it's so good, maybe just one more plate? It won't hurt. Let feeling sluggish, exhausted, and with an overly full stomach we regret the seconds. We think of all the calories and the exercise we have to do the next day to burn it off. We feel uneasy, unsatisfied, we partook of too much food. Again the next night, we do the same thing. We ignore the satisfied feeling, push past it and eat more. Shouldn't all this food leave us feeling satisfied? Instead the "more" bug has bitten. The satisfied feeling is ignored, the more bug has it's grip. It's become a habit now and it's hard to break. Night after night we repeat this dinner routine.

God has put things on each of our "life plates." The things He wants us to focus our attention to---perfectly portioned by Him. Maybe it is our work, our children, outside ministry or focusing on a talent God has called us too, keeping up our home for our family, friends and relatives. Our plates will vary with our seasons of life. Instead of leaving our plate with these portions given by God, we feel we need seconds, thirds, fourths. Pretty soon the plate is piled so high with this unnecessary food, we can't even remember what the original meal was. We get used to this overly full feeling. We accept it and become numb to it.

Exhausted and unhealthy, our stomach tied in knots, we accept that this is life. We don't realize the seconds, thirds and fourths were piled on our plates by ourselves. Did God give this to us to eat, or did we feed it to ourselves? We are eating off the world's plate and not off of God's. The world's plate will leave us starving for more, God's plate will satisfy.

What are these second, third and fourth helpings? Joining things that we were never meant to join, being in this and that and every activity possible thinking it will fill our appetite. Enrolling our children and ourselves in every activity so they and we "stay busy." Planning things for every spare moment of our time. Thinking more of ourselves than we ought, we are "chairman of the board" for every thing we are involved in! Exhausted from our own self importance, we continue participating in this gluttony. Overeating is not the only form of gluttony. Having a schedule that is full of self serving, self important busyness is gluttonous.

Overextending ourselves, we are telling God the plate He has served us is not enough. We try to satisfy ourselves and we become sick and unhealthy by partaking of unnecessary time fillers. We are never satisfied and we wonder why. Our soul stirs and tells us it is not at peace.

We are never satisfied because we are eating the food that is never going to satisfy! It is not the manna given from God, so our stomachs will never be full. We want more, and more and more. We don't stop with what God has laid for us that is enough. Now we are making ourselves into God, and serving ourselves more helpings of the world. 

This world will never satisfy your appetite. We were made and created by God to only have our hunger filled by Him. Filled by God, we long for more of Him. Our longing for Him forces us to focus on Him and the things He fills our plate with. Our appetite for the world causes us to focus on more of the world, more, more, more...pretty soon our soul is heavy and exhausted from the things of this world we were never meant by God to partake in.

"Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away." 1 Samuel 2:5

 Let's take the second, third and fourth portions off of our plates that we have piled on. The exhaustion, the poor health, the anxiety, the unnecessary busyness we have served ourselves on our platter of life. Left with God's perfect portions, the things He wants us to focus on, we are satisfied. "Don't you want to eat more?" our friends ask. "Your plate isn't full enough, here is a second helping, " well meaning friends and relatives will say. "No, we answer, "I am satisfied." We may be some of the only ones eating off the satisfying plate, the plate not piled too high. But our soul is at peace with God, and we are satisfied with His food. 

Our soul is filled with His goodness. It no longer longs for more of this world. It longs for more of God. And we are full.

"They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away." Psalm 107:5

May our lives not be ebbed away by chasing after this world's hunger and thirst, but be satisfied and full filled by God.

Prayer: "Lord, fill me with you. Show me what you want on my plate, and remove the unnecessary. May I see that the plate you have served me is full of your perfect goodness. Fill me with your strength to remove the excess and give me the courage to stand out as one satisfied by you." Amen.

"The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked." Proverbs 10:3

"The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry." Proverbs 13:25

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:12



Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anger Is Poisonous


"Farewell to Anger"-By Leonid Afremov

"Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9


The weather is perfect. The sun shining and a breeze blowing, you set off on a short hike. The views are beautiful and after about an hour of hiking you hit an area where some brush and plants are particularly dense. After a few minutes of walking through, you hear a rattle. Before you know what hit you, you've been bitten by a rattle snake. You need help as soon as possible.

Able to make it to the hospital in time, you recover. But the nice breezes and the beauty of your hike was marred by the snake bite. Etched in your memory of that day was the incident with the snake. From now on, if you choose to hike again, you'll be wary and on guard.

If this hiker goes on a few more hikes and each time is bit by a snake or stung by a scorpion more than likely they will just stop hiking. The views and breezes and great moments of the hike are not worth the risk of being poisoned or injured again.

Anger is similar to this hike. We are living a normal, ordinary day, but one with a measure of peace to it---and the anger monster strikes. Out of nowhere. Stunned, we try to recover. But like the hiker there is now a measure of wariness to us, we tread carefully. There is now fear. Fear of being bitten, stung, bruised by anger. Sure, most of the day was good, but there is now a stain to it and a bitter taste that will be remembered.

This anger could be from someone else, or from within ourselves coming out against others or maybe even only affecting ourselves.  In any case it is toxic and poisonous. Those around it want to recoil and hide away to protect themselves. They don't want to feel the sting anymore.

The anger is like accidentally putting something red in with a load of all white laundry. The red has colored the whole load.

The whites are now stained and the stains may be permanent.

"It is better to cry than be angry, because anger hurts others while tears flow silently through the soul and cleanse the heart." Pope John Paul II

"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Colossians 3:8 12-13