FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS

The Light of Life… I like the sound of that!  Most of us take light for granted, don’t we?  We just flip a switch and Voila‘!  Instant light!  You know, light not only aids us in seeing what we’re trying to do, but it provides warmth too.  October in Kansas means that we won’t turn down a little warmth with our light, that’s for sure!  Our Lord is not only the light on our path, but He is also the wrap we wear on our shoulders as we walk.  He keeps us safe and warm!

May the blessing of Light be on you, light without and light within… ~Irish blessing

Light and warmth are welcoming to us.  You might even say we’re drawn to them.  You know, the other night I was walking up my driveway toward the front door and caught a glimpse of my green banker’s lamp glowing through the office window.  The green shade made the light particularly soft and more alluring.  I thought, “If I didn’t live here, I’d want to visit because this looks like a house where friendly people live!”   I was drawn to the soft green light!

When I think of this Scripture, a song comes to mind that I heard Aretha Franklin sing:

Walk in the LIGHT… beautiful LIGHT.  We’re goin’ the distance!  Jesus, the LIGHT of the world, will guide us through and provide warmth when our hearts are tempted to grow cold.  It’s a cold and harsh world we live in, but we are called to carry HIS light and warmth to others.

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space.  It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe.  It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.  ~Michael Strassfeld

What a wonderful analogy to describe Christ as the Light of the world!  He gave His all for us; became sin in our place even though He lived a sinless life.  Praise His name for He is worthy!

When our hearts are heavy and our bank accounts are anorexic, we find joy, peace, love, strength, courage, grace, mercy, and hope in the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, our personal Savior.  He loves us like no other.  Even if the world turns its collective back on you, He never will!  

He never changes.  His laws are the same and His love is everlasting.  Lean on Him for answers to life’s toughest questions.  He is LIGHT and WARMTH.  🙂

A SUMMER OF PSALMS

I will never be perfect in this life, and guess what – neither will you.  We are all a work in progress, but at least it is progress which indicates we continue to learn lessons and grow stronger in our faith.  My 50 something mind does not resemble my 20 something mind.  I’ve matured and I see everything so much differently than I did 30 years ago.  Why?  Because I’ve finally allowed the Lord to work in my life.  In my 20’s I was not very good clay.  I was stubborn clay!  Nobody could tell me what to do, and they certainly could not tell me I was wrong about anything!

These days it’s different.  Yes, I could be wrong about most anything.  I want to do my best for the Lord and now my motives and actions are in sync.  It’s amazing how things change once you hand your whole life over to the Father’s hands.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the only light that leads to eternal life in Heaven.  Once you hand it all over, you receive His joy and peace, which is better than anything this world has to offer.

I grew up in a church that believes in eternal security – once saved, always saved.  As an adult I attended other churches that taught that salvation can be lost.  I never argued the point one way or the other, but always thought if a person was to backslide that far, perhaps their experience with Christ was less than genuine to begin with.  Just a thought.  I’m not judging that person, just discussing a possibility.  I pray that salvation from the Lord is not so easily lost.  How awful to feel so insecure, wondering if your name is still written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  I don’t think there’s an eraser on God’s pen.

Human beings mess up.  We do.  It’s not an excuse to keep messing up… but it’s not a reason to beat yourself up for mistakes made decades ago either.  Put your mistakes – sins – under the blood of Christ, then do better!  You have a choice to be a bitter person or a better person.  Be better – do better.  Be the person you wish you would have been to begin with!  Let God help you.  He’s faithful and He will not fail you.  Let Him be the strength of your heart – even if your heart is less than strong.  He will be your strength and your song.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING INTO ACTION

 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  – Ephesians 4:32

It’s a calling from our LORD…  be light, salt, kind, loving, forgiving and tenderhearted.  Nobody wants to be tenderhearted because that means you are also vulnerable.  It hurts to make yourself vulnerable because to open yourself up to others has no guarantee of success associated with it.  God never said that being obedient to Him would result in automatic joy or happiness.  Does that mean it’s not worth doing?  No.  Does it mean that we won’t need to walk away from the ones who hurt and disappoint us sometimes?  No.  Is it a sin to walk away?  No.  It’s probably a sin to give up and not try again.  The sin is to quit trying.

We have to rely on God to help us forgive – and forgive as quickly as possible.  Forget?  Well…  not really.  It’s like you sort of tuck it in the back of your mind.  You don’t want to dwell on it, but you don’t want to forget completely so you aren’t that stupid again.  I don’t need to keep hitting my head against the same post over and over.  That’s just an insane thing to do!  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.  I refuse to do anything remotely insane ever again.

Does that mean I don’t forgive past wrongs?  No.  I need for others to forgive me – and frankly, I need God to forgive me – so I will absolutely forgive others when I feel I’ve been wronged.  This ol’ world needs more kindness and less anger-driven violence, to be sure.  If you allow hurt feelings to fester and get infected, it affects all aspects of your life.

How can we shine for God and serve Him if there’s a cloud of hurt hanging over our heads?  We just have to ask God to help us through those hurtful times and be what He wants us to be!  I want to be light, salt, kind, loving, and yes…  even tenderhearted.  It doesn’t mean we are door mats.  It doesn’t mean we are stupid enough to walk back and take more.  We’re not.

We can conquer the hurt we encounter in this life with help from God.  We can conquer the hate we encounter in this life with help from God!

Are you ready to spring into action – and throw kindness into this wicked world like it’s confetti???  Instead of deciding to merely DEAL with the hurt in our lives, let’s trust God to help us HEAL from church hurt and other disappointments along life’s way so we can effectively SHINE for Him!  When we live in the complete freedom that Christ bought for us, it makes Him smile and it makes us whole!  🙂

 

 

 

God Bless You

What IS a blessing?  Well, the kind of blessings we’re talking about today are the invoking of God’s favor upon a person.  While I’m not big on the luck of the Irish, I love Irish blessings!  No country invokes God’s favor upon others quite like the Irish!

Since it’s just one day past St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to invoke God’s favor upon you!  Fasten your seat belt…  here we go!

28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.  – Genesis 27:28-29

Isn’t that a beautiful photograph?  It was taken by our friend and fellow poet, David Catherwood.

Is there a wedding in your future?  Here’s a beautiful marriage blessing:

OH…  written in the key of E…  ugh.  Good for a guitar player – difficult for a piano player.  LOL!  I could play it…  but I wouldn’t LIKE it.

Here’s a beautiful poem by Lucinda Berry Hill:

We are blessed by God and in turn we bless others.

Near Powerscourt Castle in Ireland

And last, but certainly not least – this beautiful Irish prayer.  I pray this for each of you!

I hope and pray you have a wonderful, blessed week!  🙂

Fresh Start

What if I invited you to my house for lunch and decided to serve a salad.  I have every imaginable kind of dressing available to choose from.  I have wonderful homemade lemonade to drink.  I covered the dining room table with nice clean linens and set it with my best silverware and dishes.  I have cloth napkins beside each place setting.  You walk in and stagger back a bit because you are so impressed!

Then after we say the blessing over our little lunch, I bring the big bowl of salad to the table.  You are expecting to see a beautiful green salad with vine-ripened tomatoes and crispy rings of red onion.  Everything else has been so clean and fresh, why wouldn’t the salad live up to expectations?

As I’m walking toward the table with the huge bowl, I start to apologize and explain that I had to use the lettuce and spinach that I bought a few months ago, and the tomatoes had some signs of spoilage, but I peeled all the white stuff off, so they should be just fine.  If the onion rings look a bit slimy, don’t worry about it.  😉  

Once you got over the shock and confusion, I’m betting the excuses to leave would be flowing like water!  Um…  I forgot to feed my pet gazelle – I really need to GO!  My house would be cleared out before you know it!

Everything was so right – but the salad was not FRESH!

As we entered into 2018, did we do so as the same spoiled and stale people we were in 2017?  Did we ask the LORD to make us new and give us a fresh start? 

Let’s break this quote down a bit.  A key word in the first part of the quote is APPEAR.  Some circumstances do seem insurmountable.  They seem irreversible.  Absolutely true!  Some really are, such as divorce, addiction, and loss through death.  I’m here to remind you that even the WORST circumstances can be made better through a relationship with Christ.  He can take anything and make it better.  The pain is not going to leave, but if you will give it to Him, it’ll surprise you because He will help you cope so much better.

And, let’s be honest.  Some circumstances that were not pleasant are brought back to our minds by the enemy of our souls.  Those are the ones we need to give to God and ask Him to take the pain away.  Thinking about them over and over will not change the outcome.  Putting them under the blood and telling the enemy of our soul that he will not win – that will set us free!

Father,  I pray that we will hand our difficult circumstances to You right now so You can give us a FRESH start.  We know that pain will not go away completely, but we know that You make all things new, and You specialize in making our lives better.  As we turn our hearts and lives over to You, I pray You will touch us and begin to do miraculous things, and as You do, we will be careful to give You the praise and glory!  We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,  Amen.

Do whatever YOU gotta do to get through.  Yes, Lord!  We need to say that prayer every day, don’t we?

Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did.  Let it GO!  – Chonda Pierce

So true!  In my life, 99% of the stuff I drive myself crazy trying to understand is stuff that the devil has tempted me to think about – again.  It’s always stuff that can’t be changed no matter how often it comes to mind.  I’m convinced that it doesn’t just come to mind – it’s put there by the devil to drag me down.  We’ve got to learn how to take those thoughts captive and say:

ENOUGH, DEVIL!  I’ve put this under the precious blood of Christ – and you need to quit putting it back in my mind.  Go sit on a tack and leave me alone!

We can do that, you know.  There is a reference in the book of Luke, but also one in Matthew where Christ is talking to Peter:

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  – Matthew 16:23

As earnest as Peter was trying to be, Christ knew that he was going to betray Him!  He knew that the devil was being a stumbling block to Him.  In this same way, we are to hold thoughts captive and hand them to God – let them go, saying,

“Get thee behind me, satan, in the name of Christ Jesus my Lord and Savior.”

It’s okay to call him on the bad thoughts he dumps in your mind.

Then invite the light of Christ in to your mind.  Sing songs of praise to Him and pray with a smile on your face!  Make your day all about Him!

Ask Him for a fresh start – each and every day!  🙂

 

 

 

 

MOTHER’S DAY

When this photo was taken in June, 1979, I remember how I felt.  I was on top of the world because I had graduated high school (which was an answer to prayer – trust me).  I was working my first job on campus at WSU and had so many big dreams.  Now, looking back at this photo, I don’t feel the same way.  The things that seemed so very important to me in 1979 no longer mean much.

Today I’m thankful for these memories.  I’m so thankful to have this photo and that the Kansas wind wasn’t making a mess of my hair.  LOL!  How precious little things become when we can no longer make new memories.  This picture reminds me of where I came from and what really matters in life.  This was a Sunday mornin’ in June…  and where were we headin’???  Surprise surprise…  we were headin’ for church.

I was raised a hard-nosed Southern Baptist – if the church doors were unlocked, we were there.  We had Sunday School, Church, dinner on the grounds, choir practice and Training Union.  My mama was in WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) and my daddy did a lot of carpentry around the church.  One time he made a whole set of little people furniture for the Primary classroom.  He didn’t talk much, but actions speak louder than words.

What do mothers do for us?  Well, when we’re very small – they do everything for us.  I was thankful for a few things my mom taught me – there were many things, of course, but some just come to mind quicker than others.

I am ever so grateful to my mother for showing me which utensil to use at a formal dinner – and the whole napkin in the lap thing.  Why?  As it happens, I was invited to a very fancy formal dinner given by the President of WSU.  There were courses…  so many courses.  I felt as though we were being timed as we ate – because guess what?  If we were not quite finished…  our plates were taken from us!  The purpose of a dinner like that is not to eat but to socialize.

When we’re learning things from mom, it’s a natural reaction to roll eyes or wonder why we will ever need to know certain rules of society.  I’ll tell you a secret…  moms know why they are showing you this stuff.  I wish now I had not rolled my eyes so much or had teenage attitude with my mom.

My mother was a beacon – a light.  She gave me everything I needed to do what I had to do in life.  God of course guided her to teach me, and she was obedient and was the mom she needed to be.  I’m so thankful.

I want to share a Scripture with you that means so much to me.

Mothers are teachers and examples for their children.  This Scripture reminds us that we are all to be a light.  Whether we are parents or brothers or sisters – or just friends…  we have influence on others wherever we go.

Let God’s light shine through you today.  Happy Mother’s Day – to mothers everywhere.  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

I love this!  If you belong to the Lord and you know He hears and answers your prayers, why would we see God in the shadow of our problems instead of seeing our problems in the light of God’s power???  Today’s post will hopefully serve as a faith booster.  Just as we need boosters for some vaccines, we need faith boosters along the way.

We are God’s chosen and He will hear and answer our prayers.  The Lord’s people will not be ignored.  David was king by divine decree, and we are the Lord’s elect in the same manner.  Never be afraid to ask God to defend you when enemies threaten to overthrow your soul.  There is power from God that He gives us when we pray and seek His face.  When we are on our knees and at our weakest, that’s when God’s strength takes over and we become inspired and filled with faith.

The way we look at our problems matters to God.  He wants us to consider His awesome power and the magnitude of it first – and see the LIGHT of God’s power before we look at our problem.  So many times, we look at our problems and of course they seem so huge – and we doubt God’s ability to fix it, so the problem seems to overshadow the power of God.  We all know that a problem can cast a large shadow, but we need to practice seeing the larger light of God’s power through our eyes of faith.

Problems make shadows.  Shadows are dark and creepy, not to mention depressing.  It takes zero faith to focus on problems.  Everyone has them, but only those who are set apart for God know that they don’t have to make their problems the main thought in their mind.  We have faith that God’s light and power are working in our lives.  When we hand our problems to Him – we know that God is working it all out.  Does that sound like something that is depressing?  Nope – it’s the opposite – that would be the JOY of the Lord…  the joy that the world doesn’t understand.  I’m so glad I know it – and I hope you do too.  Love, peace, mercy, grace and JOY from God.  I’ll take it!  🙂

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR DAY

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 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  – John 17:20-26

Our Lord prayed for His believers to be as ONE.  He wants us to be united as He and His Father in Heaven are ONE.  It’s no secret that America is more divisive now than it’s ever been.  If you can imagine a way to divide us – we’re divided.  Age, race, weight, height, religion, and on and on it goes.  God’s not pleased and Christians should lead the way in healing the scars.  The healing begins with prayer and studying God’s Word.

Read your Bible and pray.  That’s what it takes to be a true Christian.  – Harold McKay

My friend Harold also told me another “secret” to success as a Christian.  He said as long as you’re sincerely praying for someone, there’s no way you can hate or even dislike them.  In life, if we could just learn to pray for those who irk us in life instead of fighting back – it’d be wonderful.

Of all the famous quotes from Dr. King, this is my favorite:

mlk-quoteIn this world, we are “beholden” to one another.  We’re fools if we think we’re not.

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We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is also devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I vote for LOVE and FORGIVENESS as a Christian nation in 2017!  May we strive for unity in America this year.  Let’s make God smile.  🙂

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

TL 1-1 HAPPY NEW YEARHAPPY NEW YEAR!!!photofunia-calendar-large-2017-01-01-01-11-44

As usual, I’ve seen the advertisements for fitness equipment, diet fads and all sorts of quick ways to lose tons of weight for the new year.  It’s a cycle, isn’t it?  We give ourselves permission to eat anything we want from Halloween to New Years – then BOOM – we’re supposed to be on this track toward nutritional nirvana or something.  It’s crazy!

I’m not going to give you more hype about how having a better body will magically improve your life.  It will make you more healthy – that’s all.  There’s more to having an improved life than a new diet and exercise routine.

For me, in 2017 it’s less about what I want to be and more about what I do NOT want to be.  I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone else this year.  What IS a stumbling block?  There are several portions of Scripture that explain.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  – Romans 14:13

It’s a decision – a choice – a will of the heart and mind… not to put any stumbling block or OBSTACLE in the way of a brother or sister.  Think and count to ten before you spew criticism out of your mouth to anyone.  You do realize that once those words are spoken, you can’t reel them back in, right?

That OBSTACLE can be verbal, it can be put in their way through actions or inactions on your part.  Your attitude or behavior could be considered a stumbling block to someone.  We have to be so very careful with each other because everyone is fighting a battle in life and we all come from different backgrounds.  We need to try to show more understanding.  I want to do that this year.

God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.”  – Isaiah 57:14

Instead of throwing rocks and stones at others, I want to help them clear them away.  I want to help others have a smooth path to walk.  I want to pray for them and let God do the work in their lives.

You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD.  – Leviticus 19:14

It’s possible that not everyone has heard the gospel of Christ.  Certainly there are those in our world who are blind to the truth of it.  I can’t believe in the place of anyone else.  It’s my job to share – not to beat anyone over the head with a Bible.  This year I want to pray for the deaf and the blind – and make sure my life is the way it needs to be.  Any prayers said for me are appreciated, to be sure.  I’m not perfect, but I sure do want to be the person God wants me to be.

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty.  – Malachi 2:7-8

Preachers and teachers should be especially careful.  What you’re preaching and teaching should not cause folks to stumble.  Sometimes the truth can hurt, but it should never be delivered in such a way that it causes anyone to throw their hands up in defeat and give up. Pray before you preach and lean on God’s Holy Spirit to guide you.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”  – Matthew 16:23

So now we know where these stumbling blocks come from, don’t we?  Big surprise – a stumbling block is one tool in satan’s tool box.  He gets someone to put the obstacle in front of us, which in turn gets us discouraged and ready to give up – and if we quit – split-hoof wins the battle.  He doesn’t win the war – he’ll never win the war – but he can win small battles.

Don’t be angry at the person putting the stumbling block before you – be wise and look beyond what you can see.  Only our Lord can actually call His disciple out on it – but we can essentially do the same thing – take the stumbling block to your prayer closet with you – and show it to Jesus – and say “Get thee behind me, satan, in the mighty name of Christ Jesus, my Lord and King.”

It hurts when obstacles get thrown at us – the enemy of our soul knows it will – that’s why it happens.  If we’ll just lean strong on God and His Word, nothing that is thrown at us will make us give up and quit for good.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  – 1 Corinthians 8:9

Let me ask you a question.  If you have a RIGHT to do something, but it infringes on another person’s BELIEFS, do your rights mean more than their beliefs?

HOW SELFISH if you answered yes.  We live in a country based on a Constitution and I’m so thankful for it; however, let me share a basic truth my parents instilled in me:

MY RIGHTS STOP AT THE END OF YOUR NOSE.   I’m a big fan of personal space, so my rights end a little further than the end of my nose – give me a couple of inches of personal space.

The right to swing my arms in any direction ends where your nose begins.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I’ve lived by that simple truth – and it is the truth.  Nobody’s rights mean more than another person’s beliefs.  Rights and beliefs can and should live in harmony.

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.  – 1 John 2:10

Ah-ha!  Did you read that?  I want that…  I want to live in LIGHT and LOVE with others and have nothing in me that makes me stumble – and …  nothing in me that will make anyone else stumble!

I wouldn’t call it a New Year’s resolution exactly…  but I sure would call it a goal.

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Oh Lord break my heart for what breaks yours. Let me love others as you have loved me.

Happy New Year!  Have a blessed 2017 in which you encourage and iron-sharpen to your heart’s content!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

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“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  – Luke 2:14

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is based on the 1863 poem Christmas Bells by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It talks of despair upon hearing Christmas bells – declaring that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Even though it begins on a negative thought, it ends declaring that the bells carry renewed hope for peace among men.

We all know that Christmas can be a depressing time for many people – actually more than will admit it.  But the Christian has the greatest hope – our Hope is in Christ and His promise of everlasting life!

This time of year, many catch what can be referred to as a “Christmas cold.”  The shorter days and lack of sunshine can sometimes trigger this type of cold.  Symptoms vary but include being down in the dumps, sadness, and lethargy.  During this illness they may ache for days gone by and for loved ones who they’d like to be near to help them through.  No one is immune.  It can strike any given year out of nowhere.  There are things caregivers can do in order to help ease pain and shorten how long the cold lasts, such as:  Love, acknowledge, nurture, understand and pray, remembering that this cold is quite contagious.  Protect yourself and help others by sharing your faith, joy, light, hope, peace, merriment, wonder, and most of all – LOVE.  ‘Tis the season to believe!  – Vicki La Fleur Lazrine

What is your reaction when you hear Christmas bells?  Do you feel the peace of God, or do you begin to feel the chill of a Christmas cold?

Where do we go when it’s cold outside and we feel a Christmas cold coming on?

15420982_1857268731184255_355262171039274170_n-2We run to Jesus – just as fast as we can.  God’s love can warm up YOU.  And…  in closing, let me share the last verse of this great carol:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Please take care of your physical health by taking care of your emotional health – and let God cradle you in HIS loving arms this Christmas!  He will take care of you.  He made you – He knows just what you need and when you need it – just trust Him for answers.  🙂