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!  🙂

 

 

 

 

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

A couple of things happen once you accept the living water that Jesus offers…  first, you no longer feel thirsty – the void has been filled and second, you just have this overwhelming need to go tell somebody about what you’ve found!  That’s just what happens.

Mrs. Clopp was the sweetest little lady and the wife of our pastor at the time.  I have no idea why my dad had his camera in church that day – but I love that I have this picture.  This reminds me of the time when the Lord washed my sins away and I started a new life with Him.  That Sunday evening I was baptized…  I know – again with the WATER!  Our salvation and baptism only happens because of God’s grace through Christ – and the blood that Christ shed on the cross at Calvary.  What a great thought to ponder on this Good Friday!  God loves us so much – I hope you know Him too.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I think my love of rain stems from this experience.  It usually rains on my birthday, and I’ve been known to go outside and dance in it.  Water is so cleansing and everything smells so clean, fresh and new after a gentle rain.  I know that the water is symbolism, but it represents a very real work that happens inside.

No matter what happens in my life, how much I fall or fail or get into sticky situations…  I have this time to revisit.  God was there – I was there.  Life gets messy sometimes and I am so far from perfect, believe me, but I know there is forgiveness waiting from the Lord as I move forward.  I could have let things make me bitter in life, but I chose to learn the lessons and let them make me better.

Dance in the Living Water that comes from God.  Remember that you may fall or fail or get into sticky situations…  but your GOD will never fail you – ever!  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Yesterday we talked a bit about faith.  Today I want to continue with this portions of Scripture and talk about baptism, which is an outward expression of an inward work done by God’s Holy Spirit when we’re saved.  My baptism was sort of funny – my pastor was a sweetheart, but he was even shorter than me when I was 13 years old – and I’m short!  I remember having some fear that he wasn’t going to be able to get me back up out of the water.

Now…  you have to understand – I have a horrible fear of water.  I know it’s irrational – but when I was about 7 years old, my dad decided that I was going to learn to swim – and he got tired of trying to teach me – so one afternoon he threw me in the deep end and thought I was going to figure it out.  I didn’t.  I sunk like a stone!

So, knowing that this slight built, short man was going to be in charge of keeping me from drowning…  well – it left me less than confident.  I know Brother Clopp (yes, that’s his real name) had probably done hundreds of baptisms – and I wasn’t going to back out because I knew that if I did drown, I’d be okay – I mean…  I was saved, so…

I know some would recommend that I just skip it – saying that God would understand.  I just felt like I had to be baptized.  It must be an important step because even Christ felt He should be baptized.  It must matter – and most  people understand the significance – when you go under the water you are symbolically ridding yourself of your old life – your old self is gone – and as you come out of the water, you are a new person – and I can’t explain it – but that’s really how it feels!  It’s like you are clean and forgiven and life will never be the same.

I’m so very thankful that whosoever means me too!  Believe on the name of Christ and you’ll be saved.

We’re washed and covered with Christ – then there’s water baptism…  an outward symbol representing the inward work.  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.  – Psalm 101:3

Have you taken a look at the shows that are to première tonight?  The only one that piqued my interest was one called “Quantico”, which I’m thinking is a spin-off the popular show “Criminal Minds”.  Then I thought of how often that program upset me and got me scared just before bedtime – which – hello – that’s helpful.  I’m sure “Quantico” is going to be cranked up a notch – it surely will be.  Do I really need to set that before my eyes?  I may be watching DVD’s tonight.  Yes, they’re old and I’ve watched them a gazillion times – but they don’t give me nightmares!

Most of the new titles are either sexually suggestive or look uninteresting to me.  Yes, I’m getting old – I admit it.  Give me “Murder, She Wrote” DVD’s and a bowl of veggie dip and fresh veggies to snack on!

The shows of today and the techno-babble music…  it’s lost me.  I’m out.  I was working out the other day to a song where the girl kept singing YOU DON’T MAKE ME HIGH ANYMORE.  I try not to listen closely…  but seriously – it was impossible to tune that out – it was repeated over and over and…  OVER!  You can put down the repeating of the choruses in church all you want – but in my humble opinion…  they got that brilliant idea from the world.

When I’d finally heard the last annoying complaint that YOU DON’T MAKE ME HIGH ANYMORE…  I said to myself…  “Then let me tell ya, girlfriend…  you are NOT ready to get married to one man for the rest of your life!”  Just sayin’…

What an immature statement to make in a song – so-called song.  A very long…  redundant, repetitive song.  Ugh. 

A wicked plan or purpose is thus represented as having a tendency to fasten itself on a man, or to “stick to him”—as pitch, or wax, or a burr does.  – Albert Barnes.

We have to be so careful about not only what we say and do, but what we take in.  How many women listen to that song, that statement – and then decide that they should probably move on?  You don’t know what action may be triggered in another person.

As you look for new TV shows to watch and new music to listen to, keep in mind this simple Bible verse.  Don’t waste your time with anything worthless.  Don’t let anything stick to you that does not feed your soul.  Find something that makes your brain work a little bit.  There’s something about helping a detective (or a mystery book writer) solve crimes…  I get wrapped up in it and help Jessica Fletcher – even after all these years!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (13)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!  – 2 Corinthians 5:17

In 2017, let’s be NEW!!!  Let’s be renewed creations in Christ.  Much like the yearly closet cleaning we do in our homes, let’s do some cleaning of our attitudes and actions.  Have you slipped on doing daily devotions?  there’s no time like NOW to start up again?

If there is one thing I’ve learned on my weight loss journey, it is…  if you mess up, don’t beat yourself up about it – just do better tomorrow!  Eat what you should, move when you should and do the right things.  It’ll be okay – it really will.

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Feeling guilty or shameful is counter productive.  Move forward and do better.  Yesterday is gone.  There’s not a thing you can do about yesterday.  Move toward tomorrow.  The future is waiting – and your Bible sets on the coffee table.  Just go pick it up and read a passage today.  Keep a journal if you want to.  You know, there are now journaling Bibles available.  I keep a notebook journal, but I think journaling is a helpful tool.5

If there are things you need to throw away, throw them away.  Attitudes, actions, chocolate.  Whatever it is – God knows and that’s good enough.  It’s sure none of my business.  Toss what you need to toss to get right with the Lord again.  Ask Him to forgive the sin and ask Him to help you stay away from it in the future.  We all mess up, but God is faithful to help us when we humbly ask for it.7

Once you’ve handed all of the old to God…  turn and walk away.  Put your hope and trust in God’s ability to clean up your act.  You’ll assuredly be tempted again because the enemy is still busy, but God is stronger and with His help you can resist temptation.6

A new year…  that’s great, but how much greater it is when we pair it with a renewed relationship with the LORD!  I pray God’s richest blessings on your life this year!  🙂

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL FROG MONTH

TL APRIL IS NATIONAL FROG MONTHAccording to fairy tales, these rather slimy creatures turn into a prince when you kiss them…  um…  I don’t know that to be a fact, but I do know that they sing out loud and strong after it rains here in Wichita!  Sometimes we refer to a heavy rain here in Kansas as a toad strangler…  but it doesn’t really hurt the frogs.  They still croak in sweet harmony when the rain is over.YOU MATTERIt’s so easy to take the sounds of nature for granted.  We hear the frogs croak, the birds chirp and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees – but do we stop to thank God for any of it?  I admit I don’t always…  but once in a while I sit outside and just take it all in, and I have to close my eyes and say a little prayer of thanks to God – I thank Him for my sense of hearing and for the familiar sounds that let me know that everything is okay in my world.Linda - Quote - Frog Jumping Day-screenshot

I’m so thankful that I grew up in the country…  we didn’t have a pond close by, but we had very deep ditches, and every year I got to watch the little tadpoles swimming around.  It seems like a simple childhood activity, but those are some of the happiest memories I hold dear today.children-767034_1920tadpoles-338627_1920It was really great to visit my grandparents on the farm in the spring…  the frogs and tiny tadpoles in their pond were fun to watch – and there were more of them.  sunbeam-292987_1920

I love to watch the little baby animals in the springtime, don’t you?  New life…  new experiences…  new hope!

Of course, we know the acronym for F.R.O.G. – it is FULLY RELY ON GOD!    Let’s keep that in mind today as we appreciate His creation – frogs! FULLY RELY ON GODBABIES IN THE SPRINGTIME

If you have children, make sure they get to see something other than the screen of their new phone.  Show them the babies of springtime…  show them the tadpoles swimming around in the pond.  The wonders of nature and the way God set things up – are amazing for kids of all ages!  I hope that today you will slow down and sit down outside…  close your eyes and take it all in.  🙂

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

TL 1-1 HAPPY NEW YEARI’m the only one in my family that eats black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  It’s a tradition that began when I was just a little girl.  Today I’ll eat a bowl all by myself, but I’ll be thinking of my parents, who put enough butter and black pepper on their peas to drown out the natural flavor.

Whether you eat black-eyed peas or not, this day represents the dawn of a free slate – a fresh start – a new beginning!  There are no mistakes in this day yet.  Well, unless you count that I forgot to put the cap on the toothpaste this morning – okay that was a goof.

But the point is, we have the choice to begin from here and LET GO of all our past transgressions and missteps.  Honestly, to hang on to that stuff – especially the things you will never EVER have the power to change – well, that can just make you bitter and angry and very cranky toward others.  Is that what you really want?  It’s not what I want! 

So today I want to encourage you to literally let the past go…  release it into the vastness of space where it can rise up so far that it eventually breaks into millions of tiny pieces and evaporates completely.  Life is too short to huddle up with past hurts and tons of regret that serve absolutely NO purpose in your life today.

Focus on this day – this present moment – this is what you have, and tomorrow it will be part of the past as well.  The older I get, the less I hang on to.  I just closely filter the things I choose to get my knickers in a knot over – and it’s never over anything that I cannot change.  I cannot waste my time and my energy trying to re-write history.  What’s done is done and it can’t be replayed with a different outcome – so why leave the tape in your head?  Get it out of there – and refocus your mind on the things of today – the new challenges and the new adventures that lie ahead in this new, fresh exciting year!

We have important choices to make in the future – we have to choose a president for our country!  We have new jobs to learn, new skills to hone, new paths to tread – and right beside us is our constant companion, God!  He will see us through anything He brings us to in life.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  God’s got this!  🙂