Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012 - Something to Say . . . And Mean

    When I began learning French, learning to detect the difference between "real" words and "filler" words (and sounds) challenged my comprehension.   Thank goodness the French, like the rest of us, sprinkle their conversations with lovely French equivalents to "er," "ah," "so," "but," "good," and "hmm."  Eventually, these words that once threw me off track became life savers when it was my turn to speak. Mastering the "stay-with-me-I'm-still-part-of-this-conversation" filler words allowed me time to process what I heard and form my responses.
     Sarah Young, in "Jesus Calling" suggests a phrase we should slip into our everyday thought life and conversations: "I trust You, Jesus."  When we don't know how to respond, "I trust You, Jesus."  When someone shares bad news, "I trust You, Jesus."  When I'm overwhelmed and uncertain, "I trust You, Jesus."  When the bottom falls out or people blow their tops, "I trust You, Jesus."  On Mondays and on Fridays, "I trust You, Jesus." 
Thank You, Lord, for being trustworthy in every scenario.  Our speechlessness gives You time to speak. Our paralysis allows us to watch You work.  May "I trust You, Jesus" be our interjection into every troubling conversation.
In the Name of Jesus, in Whom we trust

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - Sticky Offerings; Free Refills

"But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, 
I am glad and rejoice with all of you."  
Philippians 2:17

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my Pampered Chef dry/liquid measuring cup.  The inner white cup slides into a measuring sleeve from either direction, and has liquid measurements on one side and dry/solid measurements on the other (and they are different!).  The liquid measuring side works like any other measuring cup, but measuring  dry, solid or sticky ingredients means:
*pulling the inner cup out of the sleeve so its bottom aligns with the desired measurement, 
*filling the space with the ingredient, 
*holding the cup over the mixing bowl, and 
*pushing the contents out with the inner cup. 
      Using a traditional measuring cup and a spoon means scraping peanut butter or molasses and still leaving remnants, but I know I'll get the full measure of the sticky stuff with the well-designed tool pictured to your right. 
     Have you noticed we tend to offer God sticky offerings?  We intend to give Him our time first thing in the morning, but either sleep sticks our eyes shut or the day's urgency clings like flypaper to our minds when we try to focus.  We say we'll sacrifice to help hungry people, hurting people, but then laziness or forgetfulness keep us stuck in inactivity. We truly want God to use us to make a difference, but our desire screeches to a halt somewhere between fear, little faith and lack of commitment.  It's time to stop pampering ourselves with excuses and start scraping out the sacrifices God's Love compels us to make.
     Lord, thank You for pouring out one blessing after another on us. Our cups run over with Your goodness and mercy, with all the ways Your Presence comforts us. Please, don't let us stagnate in blessings, but make us open-ended rivers who carry and pour out what You've done and Who You are back to You and into other people's lives. We trust You to use it all for Your Glory and we know You give free refills without measure.
In the Name of Jesus, Giver of Good Gifts

"Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. 
Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts. 
“See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure."
Malachi 3:10

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - Mending the Mind

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,  
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--
-- this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2
    Sometimes I wonder if Jedi mind tricks or hypnosis would work on me. I've questioned whether I could end up drinking the Kool-Aid or dying in a burning compound due to brainwashing.  I'm terrified of being weak-minded and of losing control of my faculties.  I'm uncomfortable when I don't understand what's happening around me or of being at the mercy of other people.  I hope that if I lose my mind it goes quickly, with no glimpses of reality to trouble me. 
   In spite of these concerns, I also recognize my vulnerability to other kinds of mind control: I'm more pliable when flattered; I trust what I read too much; I'm lazy about researching, so I tend to believe "experts" and scholars; I'm enough of a pleaser that I have difficulty living out what I say I believe in hostile territory, and, I'm prone to be guided by guilt. 
   God's answer to these double-minded dilemmas? No cunning, no flattery, no puppetry, no brainwashing: He says outright, "Give Me your mind completely and I'll mold it into a mind that knows My good, pleasing and perfect will. I'll give you peace."

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 26:3
Lord, we allow ourselves to be pinned by opinions when Your Voice is all we need to hear and follow.  Protect our minds with Your salvation.  Keep Satan's darts of doubt from penetrating our hearts and minds.  Steady us in Your Word.  May we delight ourselves in Your Hands shaping our thoughts and wills.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012 - Count to Ten

Our bright-eyed, sharp-as-a-tack West Highland-Maltese mix dog, Little Mac, knows a few tricks.  His favorites are:
     anticipating where the treat I throw for him will go and chasing it down; 
     shutting open doors on command;
     standing on his hind legs and turning in a circle;
     and, when it's time to go for a walk, carrying his leash outside.   
There's one trick he detests and that's counting to ten.  First he sits on command and then, as I hold a treat up above him, I count to ten and he's allowed to have it when I get to ten, IF he sat still on 1-9.  It's a lot to ask of a waggly little dog, but I know he can do it and patience IS a virtue, right?
     I find myself challenged by my Master in this same discipline of waiting:  
     "Lord, just show me what to DO and I'll do it."
     "Father, show me the way, and I'll walk in it. Tell me what to SAY and I'll say it."
     "God, Almighty, please, DO something!"
     "Just give me the treat, Lord!"
When His answer is, "Wait," my face falls as surely as Little Mac's ears drop when I start counting. We prefer action, even if we're spinning our wheels, but God's Word promises: 

"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:25-26

"But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:11
May we keep our eyes on the promise fulfilled, take a deep breath and count . . . on HIm. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012 - A Sunday Prayer

Father, we praise You fully today as we count the blessings You've put in our hands and hearts. 
You're wonderful and powerful.  Your Love lights the darkest places in us, exceeding our highest hopes and protecting us from foolish, dangerous attitudes and beliefs. Your Grace has taken away everything standing between us.  Give us courage to look into Your eyes and hear what You have to say to us.  
"because, although they knew God, 

they did not glorify Him as God, 
nor were thankful, 
but became futile in their thoughts,
and their foolish hearts were darkened."  
Romans 1:21
     Empty us of empty pride and fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  Pour into us the medicine we need, as difficult as it may be to take. Forgive us for fighting You at so many turns with our whining, grumbling, and assumed martyrdom.  May we sit forward to hear what You want from us today. Burst through any walls we put between ourselves Your other children.  We want to live up to the Name You've given us, but we can't without Your complete and constant intervention.  

     Let this be the day You revive Your people.  Let this be the first of many days Your people want to be revived.
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 
to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful."  
Colossians 3:15
In the Name of Jesus Who died to give us Life

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012 - Change Ahead

For most people the word "change" causes anxiety since it's been used to  preface bad news, as in:
 * "We're changing the way we do things around here" indicates frustration ahead.
* "We're making some personnel changes" meant "You no longer have a job." 
* "I need a change" has led to insecurity as someone close to us changes positions, locations, etc.
* "You've (I've) changed; you're (I'm) not the same person I (you) married" leads to separation and often divorce. 
* "He'll (She'll) never change," rarely means the person is a delightful person.

A few restless people become addicted to change, but most of us spend a great deal of mental energy convincing ourselves that: 
"Change is good."
"Change is in the air."
"This will be a welcome change."
"The change will do me good."

And for us, there's One, and only One, we can depend on never to change.  
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
 Hebrews 13:8

To be partnered with the unchanging, incorruptible Christ anchors our security in the One Person Who never changes but Who expends Love and energy changing (sanctifying) us from within the core of our being - spirit, soul, and body.
"God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, 
and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:9

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; 
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless 
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

     Jesus never changes because He is perfect and holy.  Refusing to let Him change me, however, means I'll never get any closer to being like Him. 
Lord, my heart cries out to You, "Change me!" while also praising You for never changing!  
You're love-outpouring, joy-giving, peace-providing, patience-times-infinity, kindness multiplied, goodness personified, unfailingly faithful, gently guiding, and always in control. Help me be like You so people will be drawn to You.  Fill me up like a hand fills a glove and never let me change hands.
In the Name of Jesus, Who never fails and is always faithful!

Inspired by Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - A Shout Out to God

"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
 let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song."
Psalm 95:2
The psalmist suggests a variety of ways to express our praise to the Lord: 
sing for joy, 
  shout aloud, 
       thank Him, 
          extol Him with music and song.
     Joy rises in the soul and can't be faked like a smile or a laugh.  It shines from the peaceful place behind our eyes or in the exhausted peace we experience after we wrestle with God and faith wins. Trust (faith), peace, and joy are inextricably tied together because when we trust God, we know peace.  Nothing brings joy like the peace of knowing we serve a God we trust to be the immoveable, unshakeable Rock when we're shaking with fear, grief or rage. One of my favorite church billboards reads:
No God. No peace.
Know God. Know peace.

"Those who know Your Name will trust in You,
for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You."
Psalm 9:10
     Lord God, I will sing You a love song today because You have never forsaken me even though I can't say the same for myself.  You've led me along the right paths and cared for me. You express Your Love to me daily.  Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for using every circumstance to chip away at the burdens I don't need to carry.  My highest praises are for You as the all-knowing, good God of the universe.  My heart is singing right now as I think of how You've blessed me over and over.  Help us praise and adore, extol and magnify You by:

singing for joy, 
     shouting aloud, 
          thanking You, 
               and extolling You with music and song.
In the Name of Jesus Who said the rocks will cry out 
to the Rock of our salvation if we don't!
Inspired by Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - More Than We Bargain For

     Sonny the cat got more than he bargained for this morning.  The red mylar "I Love You" balloon Tom gave me for Valentine's Day is finally drifting low enough to waggle its ribbon in front of our cat's weak eyes and he can't resist that skinny, limp strand dangling in mid-air just waiting to be attacked.  So he pounces, slapping and trapping the thin strip between his claws and trying to hang on to it.  All he can see is the ribbon while the balloon hovers silently above him.  However, on one or two attacks the string wrapped around Sonny's claw and when the cat ran, something big and noisy chased him and it didn't stop until Sonny let go.
     Satan dangles harmless looking ribbons in front of us every day.  We see the ribbon and think we're seeing everything there is so we pounce. Maybe it's all fun and games for a little while, but at some point we get more than we bargained for and we're running terrified at what we've brought down on ourselves.  Or, maybe we enjoy living on the edge and just haven't decided to let go yet.
     "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, 
and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." 
1 Timothy 6:9

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; 
but God is faithful, 
Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, 
but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, 
that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

"When a man's folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD."
Proverbs 19:3

Lord, You know what ribbons Satan will dangle in front of us today.  You know our weaknesses better than we do. Strengthen us to pass the temptations, knowing there's always a hidden cost. Pour Your Word and Wisdom into us. Forgive us when we ignore You then blaming You for allowing consequences of our decisions to fall in place. 
     You bring Joy and You'll provide all the thrills we can handle. Your Goodness and Mercy follow us.  Lord, satisfy our hearts with Your love and thank You for spiritual armor and power to fight off or escape from every temptation and trap Satan sets.  We put our hands in Yours today and wherever You lead, we'll go.
In the Name of Jesus Who told His disciples to 
"Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”  Matthew 26:41

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012 - Getting Back On Course

    Not only is it "not about me" - it's not at all about me. How have we drifted so far off-course from Jesus' teachings that we have to remind ourselves "It's not about us" when Jesus clearly commanded us to be and act differently from the rest of the world by: 

*forgiving each brother or sister 70x7 times (For many of us, one or two offenses is sufficient to cut the relationship off completely, depending on how badly our pride is hurt.);
Then Peter came to Him and said, 
“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22

*worshiping the One True God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength (Not the place, the music, the leaders, the programs, the fellowship: NOthing and NOone else but God.);
Jesus said to her, 
“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, 
nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 
You worship what you do not know; 
we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 
But the hour is coming, and now is, 
when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; 
for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 
John 4:21-24

*humbling ourselves to bend over backwards and go the extra mile so the rude, demanding, lost people in our lives will see Christ in us;  

"If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 
And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 
Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away."
Matthew 5:40-42

*praying for our persecutors;
“You have heard that it was said, 
‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, 
do good to those who hate you, 
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;" 
 Matthew 5:43-45a

*serving instead of demanding to be served or lazily allowing ourselves to be served:
 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, 

you also ought to wash one another’s feet."  
John 13:14

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 

But I tell you not to resist an evil person. 
But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." 
Matthew 5:38-39

*caring for people:
"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind."
Luke 14:13
*conflicting wills: 
"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. 
Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, 
for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5

Imagine a church in line with Jesus' teachings instead of online to study everyone else's ideas of success.

Father, forgive me for making even the smallest act in Your kingdom work, Your church,  Your people in any way about me.  You measure success by our obedience to what You've already told us to do. Lord, help us do them but more importantly, help us be them. Bring us back on course and in line with Your commands. May we stand out as different from the rest of the world because You stand out in us.
In the Name of Jesus Who stands above all others in pointing people to You!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012 - What's Wrong with Everybody (Else)?!?

"All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord."
Proverbs 16:2
"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, 
and a man of understanding is even-tempered." 
Proverbs 17:27
     Last night I watched the first two episodes of "Lie to Me," on Netflix. This television series follows a scientist (Dr. Lightman) who's obsessed with what body language reveals. He examines and compares facial expressions, twitches, hand gestures, body temperature and posture to help the "good guys" get the "liars." 

     At some point in the first episode, an accused person angrily asks Dr. Lightman, his interrogator, "Are you calling me a liar?" The surprising answer? "If you're a homo sapien, then, yes, you're a liar."  Lightman backs his statement with a statistic: "The average person lies three times for every ten minutes of conversation." 
     We do, you know. 
*We deliver words without meaning to other people and to God. 
*We make promises to ourselves, God and other people that we don't keep.  
*We declare things will happen a certain way when, in reality, we have no control.
*We give compliments to cover jealousy.  
*We pretend to be more humble than we are.  
*We claim values we don't flesh out on a daily basis.  
*We bluff, use reverse-psychology, wheedle, and manipulate facts to say what we want to say.  
*We push other people's buttons with wording or tone, but claim innocence or that the hearer misunderstood or is over-sensitive. 
     In the opening scene of the first episode, Dr. Lightman "interrogates" a prisoner to find the location of a bomb, but tells the prisoner to say nothing. Lightman proceeds to ask him questions, saying "Most of what we say isn't with words." In fact, experts in the field claim anywhere from 60 to 93% of what we "say" is without words.  Ouch, but Scripture supports this idea:

He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity;
he who purses his lips is bent on evil."
Proverbs 16:30"

For example,
*Smiling: tight, forced, open, warm, sad, 
*Giving the cold shoulder
*Folding arms
*Staring blandly
*Making eye contact
*Avoiding eye contact
*Rolling eyes, etc., etc. 
     No wonder we have trouble communicating: We spend exorbitant amounts of energy battening down the hatches to hide what we harbor in our hearts.  The goal isn't to be better liars, but to let God swing the doors of our hearts open to begin spring cleaning in there.  
"A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction." 
Proverbs 16:23
Can you imagine the kind of freedom that allows us to relax because we don't have anything to hide?   
"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." 
Proverbs 14:30

"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,
but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."
Proverbs 15:4

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit."
Proverbs 15:13

Lord, God, forgive us for sinning against You by allowing negative emotions to fill and poison us. We can only hide what's wrong from each other, but You know the issues of our heart. Deal with each emotion or notion before it takes root.  Keep us from harboring what isn't lovely, pure or noble.  Flood us with Your Love and, as You wash through us, wash out every unChristlike habit or attitude.  Maybe part of what makes heaven heavenly will be the peace that comes from having pure hearts. May Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In the Name of Jesus Who prayed this prayer and always dealt with the motive and intent of people's hearts instead of their words

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012 - Boomerang

As the day for me to start working 8:00 - 5:00 drew near, I remembered how much money our family spent eating out the last time I worked full time.  I had been too brain-dead to think about what to eat after a long day and too busy catching up on laundry and housework on the weekends to figure out meal plans and shopping.  Not wanting to spend all our new income on food, I searched and prayed for how we could eat well and cheaply with our new schedule.  Julie put me onto ( recommended by Dave Ramsey.  Her sister-in-law Sarah, a working mom with a baby and a two year old, found the site to be immensely helpful and I love it!  No, we love it - the recipes are delicious and we usually have them on the table by 6:00 p.m.  For a nominal fee the site provides the recipes for the entrees, suggested side dishes, and best of all, the complete shopping list and estimated cost for the store where you shop.  I know I sound like a commercial, but so far, soooo good.
    When I received this week's 7-day menu plan, there, on Day 5, was an original recipe by an acquaintance who passed away 12-14 years ago.  Jerry Overton, from Vina, AL, was an excellent cook who created recipes left and right. He hand wrote three of his original recipes for me when Tom and I were at his church for revival. His "Upside Down Pizza" is one of our favorites: so much so that I've included it in every personal cookbook I've made and given to friends and young brides. Jerry's recipe left a tiny town in north Alabama and now finds itself online to a wide audience and back to my kitchen. Boomerang effect. Whatever blessings we throw out there come back to bless us; whatever we dish out to others eventually comes back to our plates.

"It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, 
but those who are stingy will lose everything." 

"The generous prosper and are satisfied; 
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed." 

People curse those who hold their grain for higher prices,
but they bless the one who sells to them in their time of need.

If you search for good, you will find favor;
but if you search for evil, it will find you!"

Proverbs 11:24-25

Lord, you know how immature we are and that we need motivation to do the right things. Please help us become more selfless so we do what You do just because You do it and it pleases You.  For now, though, while we're like little children, thank You for this boomerang effect that helps us learn to stay in Your will and love the truths in Your Word.  Guide us to be gentle, loving and giving. Thank You for Your generosity to us.
In the Name of Jesus, our Good Shepherd Who taught us to dish out godly character

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012 - Uncaged

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things He did and the children shouting in the temple courts,
 "Hosanna to the Son of David," 
they were indignant.
"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked Him.
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,"
'From the lips of children and infants 
You, Lord, have called forth Your praise'?"
And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

    Julie told me Tuesday night she heard Addy's first sentence.  That sweet baby girl raised her hands over her head and with a twinkle in her eyes she said "Praise Jesus!" (although I imagine it sounded more like "aaaai e-uh"). Before this spectacular moment when I'm sure heaven applauded, Addy had responded to hearing the prompt by raising her hands, but at 10 months, she's adding words.  
     I can hear someone thinking, "She's only parroting what she's heard. She doesn't know what it means.  A parrot can be taught to lift his wings and say those words."  True, but Polly Parrot will never learn to follow up the words with meaningful responses and my sweet granddaughter will.  While Polly's brain only develops to the level of a three-year-old, Addy will pass that level all too quickly and she'll know why she's saying what she's saying and to Whom she's saying it.

    For the first few weeks of my new job, I find I'm parroting what others tell me to say to callers and visitors. It's going to take a while to get a handle on the process and terminology, but eventually these legal phrases and titles and what they mean will be second nature to me. 
    We learn to praise God first with our words, but we live caged lives if we don't pass the parrot and respond from the heart and head.  Jesus said,
"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." 
Matthew 5:20.  
Repetitious words and superficial actions cage us when Jesus came to free us. Lord, help us spread our wings to respond in true obedience, praise and worship. Don't let our praise stop with words or dutiful obligations. Empower us to praise You with lives broken and spilled out at Your Feet. Make praising You our natural response.

In the Name of Jesus Who praised You perfectly   

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - He Flows through the Flaws

Long before Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" began ministering to my heart, Frances J. Roberts'  "Come Away My Beloved" and her other sequels filled with God's side of our prayer conversations helped me understand God's Grace and His love for imperfect people.  Like Young, Roberts penned what God revealed to her using His Voice and principles from His Word. The following excerpt, "To Feel Need Is to Receive Grace" from Make Haste My Beloved, reminds us He's with us before we call on Him and He's answering prayers we've yet to voice.

     "No obstacles within yourself can restrict My grace.  
I love you when you cannot love yourself. 
I forgive you while you are still repenting.  
I am blessing you while you are still pleading for mercy.  
I am not thwarted by your unperfected expression. 
I use many vessels while they are struggling with their failures; for in their conscious sense of need, they are more yielded to me than they who think themselves to be without flaw. 
In truth, nothing restricts the Spirit's work more than the smug satisfaction of the spiritually proud who sense no lack and who neither are repenting nor calling for aid.
     To feel need is to receive grace.

"Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, 
and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not." 
Jeremiah 33:3
Yes, the mighty things which you do not comprehend are the miraculous things which I do for you and through you in your acknowledged times of need, and they are beyond your understanding and greater than your ability; for I act in and through you according to My grace and My own ability."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012 - Buff Enough

     There's a long streak of harmless aggravation on my dad's side of the family. He himself loved to tell us kids on Christmas Eve that he was going to sit up all night to keep anyone from breaking into our house. He had a twinkle in his eye when he woke non-morning family members with cheerful greetings like "Good morning, Sunshine! Rise and Shine! Time to start a new day!" It's part of my dad I wouldn't trade for the world. Good memories.  
    As good as my dad was, my uncle Ronnie was the king of aggravation. He stirred the pot and laughed, called us goofy names, made fun of us, mimicked us, or simply held us in headlocks while we fought helplessly to get loose. We loved it all and begged for more.
   Strangely enough, it was never as funny or harmless when we kids (and it was usually me) aggravated each other. Things quickly turned serious; an adult was called to step in and review the situation. Invariably, as we worked our way back through the chain of events, someone (again, usually me) was pronounced as the one who "started it." Yesterday's blog addressed not being the instigator, but how are we to respond when someone else "yanks our chain?"
   "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, 
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 
Bear with each other and forgive one another 
if any of you has a grievance against someone. 
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, 
since as members of one body you were called to peace. 
And be thankful."  
Colossians 3:12-15
     Father, before the stirrers stir or we're surprised by a headlock, help us anchor ourselves in Your Peace to the point of being imperturbable. Show us how to wrap ourselves in Your garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and still be thankful when someone gets our goat. Train us to be buff enough to bear with each other and big enough to forgive. Out of our spiritual wardrobes, wrap us in Your overcoat of Love so we do and say what leads to "perfect unity."  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012 - Final Product

"Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, 
to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, 
showing every consideration for all men. 
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another." 
Titus 3:1-3

Our tongues distribute the final product created in the
thought and heart departments.  Do we need to issue any recalls?
WHAT IF:  We wrestle the insults coming from our hearts into prayers before they escape our lips? 
WHAT IF:  We reshape curses into blessings?
WHAT IF:  We volunteer to forgive before we're asked?
WHAT IF:  We sacrifice something for the sake of another person to keep unity and peace in the community of believers? 
WHAT IF:  We talk about what we as believers have in common instead of highlighting our differences?
WHAT IF:  We stop laughing at people and start praying for them?
WHAT IF:  We use a gentle tone to explain instead of an arrogant one? 
WHAT IF:  We graciously overlook other people's mistakes instead of using them as ammunition to remove or shame them?
WHAT IF:  We turn fretting, stewing, and mulling into time we're busy doing the good deeds God has prepared for us?
WHAT IF:  We worship today and rejoice that others are worshiping as well?

Lord, God, How majestic is Your Name in all the earth. The earth echoes Your blessings and mighty works. May we do the same. Help us fill the air with Your Worship and Praise, instead of polluting it with petty complaints, self-pitying thoughts, and even hateful words.  Forgive us and help us get in step with You as we obey Your command to live in submission to each other and to the authorities over us. 
In the Name of Jesus, Who taught us to walk the extra mile and give more than asked   

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012 - "Hello, My Name Is . . . "

"And so, since God in His mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up.  
We reject all shameful and underhanded methods.  
We do not try to trick anyone, and we do not distort the word of God. 
We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know that. . .
"We don't go around preaching about ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus, the Lord.  
All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants 
because of what Jesus has done for us."
2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5
     Saul once did everything he did because of the law, but once he saw the Light of Jesus, everything Paul did was because of what Jesus had done for him.  
"I once thought all these things 
(circumcision, being a circumcised, pure-blooded Jew of Benjamin's tribe and a strict, zealous Pharisee of good standing - from vv. 4-6) 
were so very important, but now I consider them worthless 
because of what Christ has done." 
Philippians 3:7

     Saul had been spiritually blind to the Truth because of centuries of the way things were, but the new Paul, whom God allowed to be physically blinded for a time, saw and accepted Truth.  Saul administered the Law, but the new Paul ministered in Power.  Saul focused more on the self-glory of his accomplishments, but the new Paul called himself a slave to Christ Who transformed him.   
     What were our names before Christ transformed us? (Professor Prideful; Senora Self-Centered; Dr. Dishonest; Miss Manipulative; Mr. Malcontent) 
    And more importantly, how well does my character, does your character, match our new names? Here are a few to consider: 
"Jesus Christ's Slave" (Rom. 1:1); 
"Called" (Rom. 1:6); 
"Loved" and "His Own" (Rom. 1:7);
"Appointed" (2 Cor. 1:1)
"Comforted" (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
"Freed" (Gal. 5:1)
"God's Holy People" (Eph. 1:1)
"Faithful Followers" (Eph. 1:1)
"Adopted into God's Family" (Eph. 1:5)
"Forgiven" (Eph. 1:7)
"Heirs with Christ" (Eph. 1:11)
"Dear Brothers and Sisters" (Eph. 6:23)
"Partners in Spreading the Good News about Christ" (Phil. 1:5
"Citizens of Heaven" (Phil. 1:27)
"Children of God" (Phil. 2:15)

Father, thank you - praise You, for living up to Your Name and Character, for being faithful to the Glory of Your Name.  Thank You for giving us new names and help us live up to them. We're lazy when it comes to the discipline of becoming who You tell us we are, Lord.  It's easier to default to who we were, but don't let us get away with it. You freed us from the power of sin and the burden of keeping the old covenant, now live freely in us. Your blood covered our sin so give us the courage to live in rebellion to the rule of sin. We're called to work together to spread the Good News so lead us to let go of our differences and start spreading the Word.  Show us how to live as Citizens of Heaven instead of chasing mirages of success on earth.
In the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names