A SUMMER OF PSALMS

I challenge you to name one thing in this world that never changes.  Time’s up!  Did you think of anything?  No, you didn’t – neither did I.  Everything changes…  EVERYTHING!  The foal in the photograph above is now a beautiful full-grown mare.  Living beings are born, they thrive and do what God intended, then they die and go back to God.  It’s the way God planned it.  The Bible tells us that our time is in HIS hand.  So you see, we don’t need to worry because God has us in His hand all the time.

God never changes.  His laws don’t change.  His justice doesn’t change.  His unending love never changes.  His peace is real.  The joy and happiness He bestows on our lives can only be described as dependable.  It’s honest and there’s no hidden agenda.  If He puts a rug on the floor in front of me, then asks me to stand on it, I know without a doubt He will not pull it out from under me, causing me to fall.  Can you say that about any person on this earth?  Get real – of course, you can’t!  

This body of mine has changed from the time I was in my twenties.  Anyone who is honest will say a great big AMEN to that!  These chan.ges are a huge challenge – but God’s got me, so I’ve got this!  

Changes are inevitable in this life, but it gets dangerous when we as people try to “overrule” God.  Do we rely on our wisdom more than we seek God’s laws?  We simply cannot say that some behaviors are not sinful when God has already said they are.

When pastors are motivational speakers instead of providing instruction and direction according to God’s Word, it’s not a favor to us poor sinners – any of us.  We all need to hear and know God’s truth – all of it.  I don’t hate anyone and care for everyone’s eternal soul.  For Pete’s sake, I’m not perfect and I don’t judge anyone.  God offers redemption for ALL through His Son’s death on Calvary’s cross.  He offers forgiveness for sin – any sin – take your pick.  They’re all alike in God’s eyes.  

Change.  God causes the seasons to change.  He helps sinners to change.  We find Christ, learn what He wants for us, and turn from whatever is not pleasing in His sight.  He patiently helps us to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  Our lives can be so rich and full of Christ when He’s in the center of it.  🙂

 

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A Summer of Psalms

If I read one more article or series of articles about how to be happy, I’ll go cross-eyed permanently.  Every writer on planet earth thinks they know the “secret” of happiness.  Here’s my take on all that…  first, it is not a secret!  It’s in the Bible for all to see, if they’ll take a moment to read it.  Second, it’s not a mystery, this thing called happiness.  God wants to help us be happy.  So, relax in the LORD and you most certainly can be happy.  It’s not difficult – it’s not as complicated as people want to make it.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the conduit, the go-between, the bridge, between fallen man and perfect God.  Through Christ, we can have a wonderful relationship with Almighty God (isn’t that a humbling thought?)  Believe it because it’s absolutely true!  Accept the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved and your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life forever.  It’s not written with disappearing ink.

There is joy in this life and real happiness, hope, and peace of mind and spirit.  Having said all that, I should add that this does not guarantee a life that is free of trials and tribulations.  This happiness the Bible speaks of is not magical.  In this life, we all have a set of challenges.  The great advantage Christians have is the Lord Himself!  He is in our corner as we’re fighting in the ring.  He has everything we need to fight the good fight!

There are some really tough circumstances in this journey called life, aren’t there?  I watched my mother accept a folded flag at my father’s funeral and didn’t think I’d ever seen a lower point in life; however, I could find joy and peace even in that situation because I knew my father was safe in the arms of Jesus and not in pain anymore.  I also knew that my mother was leaning on those same strong arms for her solace.  We hurt – oh, for sure; but, we knew that God through His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit would be with us while we mourned.

I clung to the Lord when my mother passed away fifteen years later.  There are people who say that my faith is nothing but a crutch, but guess what?  I could name some real crutches in this world, and my faith is not one of them.  To trust a loving and forgiving God Who will never change His mind about anything – a God on Whom I can depend brings me comfort!  Things change at a rapid pace in this ol’ world (and it seems they change faster as we get older) – but my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I love that about Him! 

I find great assurance and stability in the notion that I don’t have to chase after the latest fad or gadget that the rest of the world has to have.  I’m less than impressed with the rich and famous, and in fact, I usually feel sorry for them.  To have your entire being wrapped up in things is very sad.  I know that happiness has nothing to do with owning the biggest and best toy.  Everything in this world is going to decay and turn to dust.  Everybody in this world will die and do the same.  Your relationship with Jesus Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit is the only path to true happiness.  It is no secret what God can do!  Oh, that should be the title of a really great song!  Wink – I know, it already is!  Silly me.  🙂

 

 

 

A SUMMER OF PSALMS

We used to sing that chorus every Sunday of the world!  I remember looking out at the congregation as we sang – and people were smiling!  It’s very difficult to sing that chorus and not feel joy!  Have you thanked God for this day?  Will you rejoice and be glad in it?

So, when a Sunday School teacher is late getting to church because her curling iron accidentally melted her hair clip and she had to find a replacement at the Dollar Tree on the way to church, and she feels all bummed and stressed out and knows she won’t have time to set her classroom up the way she planned to, does that mean she is not rejoicing and being glad?  Well…  yes.  Yes, it does.  And yes, that really happened.  You can’t make that up!

How about those times when you’re sitting in church service trying to concentrate on the sermon, but you keep thinking about all the paperwork that is waiting for you at work on Monday morning?  Oh, don’t tell me that’s never happened to you.

This verse does not tell us to dwell on anything that happened last week.  It doesn’t tell us to think about things that haven’t even happened yet – but will next week.  This verse is saying THIS is the day the LORD has made.  Today.  Now.  Present.  Live in this moment and rejoice in it.  Yesterday is over and tomorrow isn’t promised.  Leave all the rest of the days where they belong and rejoice.  Praise God because He inhabits our praise.  He delights in our praise.

We rejoice because of the blessings of grace, peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation.  None of these things have anything to do with us, and everything to do with God.  He gives us His grace.  He is our peace.  He offers us pardon.  He is the root of righteousness.  He alone is the path to salvation.

This is the day the LORD has made.  Here.  Now.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  Look in the mirror and know that you’re seeing salvation from the hand of God.  You have to feel joy when you realize that truth!  🙂

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.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Father May I?

Prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father.  It’s not as complicated as some folks want to make it.  We speak, God listens, He speaks, we hopefully listen.  Prayer is a way we reinforce truth in our hearts and souls.  It’s how we practice our faith…  we put feet – actionreinforcement, to our faith.  What if we had parents, but we were never allowed to interact with them?  Never allowed to talk, laugh, even argue with them?  That would not be much of a relationship, would it?

The best way to give Satan a black eye is to start praying to God in Jesus’ name!  Satan cannot read your mind – remember that when you pray.  If you can possibly think your prayers, it’s best.  Satan can’t get a foothold on a prayer that is from your mind to God’s heart.  He could possibly get a foothold on one said aloud.  If the devil doesn’t know what you’re thinking – he can’t possibly come up with a counter measure!  Spiritual warfare is a real thing – and it starts with humility before the Lord, with sincere heartfelt prayers.

This portion of Scripture tells us to pray in Jesus’ name.  That’s why we always tag our prayers with that phrase.  I remember being asked to pray aloud once in teen group – and I forgot to say “In Jesus’ name” at the end of my prayer.  I was given a tongue lashing by the teen leader afterward.  I still get scared when someone asks me to pray aloud – and if it happens to be a pastor asking me to pray – it’s worse yet and I probably won’t do it.  We really must be careful when dealing with young people as we teach them.  They are so vulnerable and the smallest thing can affect them for the rest of their lives.  Encourage young people…  they’re doing their best and we should love them for that.  Correct them in private – not in front of the rest of the class.

If we ask anything in Jesus’ name He will do it so it will glorify the Father.  So, asking God to give me a dozen donuts in Jesus’ name is probably a bad idea.  I can’t imagine that it would glorify the Father for that prayer to be answered.  God already knows what we want, but more importantly, He knows what we need!  He knows best, but He still wants us to ask.  He wants to hear from us because He loves us so much!  Remember that prayer isn’t about getting what we want.  Prayer is about getting to know God.

When I started writing the Heart Hunger Blog, I weighed a whopping 220 pounds and had a horrible food addiction.  A friend in my group, “A Second Helping of Wellness… with a Dash of Humor & a Pinch of Faith”, told me about how her husband lost 100 pounds when he embraced a low-carb lifestyle.  So many people ask me why I called this blog HEART HUNGER and the answer is really pretty simple.  There’s a God-shaped place in every heart, and nothing but GOD fits there.  We try to put all sorts of things in that place, but they don’t fit!  God is the piece that fits in the God-shaped place.

During the month of May, as we ask “Father, May I?”, I want to imagine we are baking a batch of spiritual cookies.  We already know that cookies are little carb bombs, so eating real ones would not be a good idea if we want to watch our weight, right?  So – these spiritual cookies we bake need not only special ingredients, but they need to be made with special utensils from God.

I want to use a good brand of flour for my spiritual cookies because it’s the flour that holds everything together.  I also want to use a Holy Ghost sifter to discern the words I hear and know truth from lies in this life.

Dear Lord, We’re asking “Father, May I?” this month.  We want to bake the best batch of spiritual cookies we can.  Please bless our hearts and minds with Your flour of strength so everything will hold together when it seems to be crumbling.  When we experience doubt or confusion, help us to send everything we hear through Your special sifter of discernment and read the ultimate cook book, Your Holy Word, The Bible, to make sure what we are hearing in the world is in line with what You want for us.  When we ask for anything in Your name, we know if it’s within Your will, You want us to have good things.  As we sift the flour, may we please hear from You?  We need to hear from You!  It’s in Jesus’ precious and Holy name we pray, Amen.

I love spiritual cookies.  There are no calories, no carbs, no weight gain and no guilt.  There is happiness, joy, love, freedom and peace.  🙂

 

Spring Into God’s Word

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.  – 2 Timothy 2:15

I’m not one to voice righteous indignation very often.  I do my best to be a peace-loving, joyful child of God.  But sometimes I think silence is not golden, but plain yellow with cowardice.  I must speak to something that has bothered me for some months now.  This is a taping of The View from last February:

I’m livid.  Absolutely livid.  I know the Vice President does not read my humble little blog (yeah, right) – but I want him to know that there are MILLIONS of Christian folk in America and probably around the world praying for him.  Believers support fellow believers and lift them up in prayer, Joy!  Let’s call it a PERK!  It’s actually proved to be a great blessing in my life.

It’s often through the Words of Scripture that God speaks to His children (yes, Joy – God SPEAKS to us and we’re perfectly sane, thank you very much).  I pray that one day Joy, like the Apostle Paul, will see the light!  Literally.  Paul, I’m sure you recall, experienced a very, shall we say – dramatic conversion that left him blinded by the light (Acts 9:1-31).  You’ll also recall that he killed Christians before his conversion.  What a conversion that was, eh?  If God was to convert Joy, can you imagine how great that would be for Christianity?  She could do so much good in this world with God on her side.  Now she’s just making money.  Will she take it with her to eternity?  Um…  I don’t think so.

So, Christians, it’s not a far stretch to conclude that if we do not carve out the time to read the Bible, we will not hear from our Father.  If He’s not speaking to us, how will we hear?  The answer is…  we won’t.  Of course, prayer is the other way the Lord speaks to our hearts, but the combination of Scripture reading and prayer is the winning way to know exactly what God wants you to know.

It’s a faith thing, Joy…  I really pray that one day you’ll “get” it.  It’s very sad that you get paid well to make a mockery of my faith.  If you don’t understand it, the least you can do is RESPECT it and stop putting it down.  Mental illness is a serious accusation – not to be mocked and certainly not to be used in the same sentence with Christianity.  Stop it!  Shame on ABC for letting this continue!  I refuse to watch that network – I’m done with them until they pull “The View”.  

So let’s spring into God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  We rely on our Heavenly Father to direct our paths, and there are so many verses to help us!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  – Proverbs 3:5-6   

Our own understanding of things is often more of a misunderstanding.  If we will trust God, lean on Him and submit to Him, then He will make a way for us to walk that is straight and He will keep us in His peace and protection.  God can be trusted and His promises never fail.  He will never let you down.  If you want to reap a bounty of beauty – this is where to begin!  Our Lord wants us to be discerning and wise in everything.  He wants us to search His Word for ourselves and discover truths, then apply them to our life.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  – James 1:5

Ask God – that means we PRAY to God.  But see, it’s not a one-way conversation.  HE GIVES GENEROUSLY to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you!  Now, that’s not to say that God is a bubblegum machine.  We don’t insert a quarter and get a gumball.  Sometimes the gumball is not the color we may have wanted.  Sometimes it’s not the flavor we hoped for.  Sometimes it feels as though the gumball got stuck in the machine somewhere – but when God doesn’t answer a prayer just the way we think He should, it doesn’t mean that His ways are not the best ways.  It means that I need to trust that His way is better than my way.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it imperative that I learn to do that?  Yes.  He knows which gumball I need and when I need it.  

So, you see, the insane thing to do is talk to God and not stop talking long enough to let Him speak in return!  Who asks a question and just keeps talking, not waiting for the answer?  In faith, we receive answers from God’s precious Holy Spirit.  Faith… it’s better felt than telt.

We ask for wisdom, then trust that God hears our prayer and is working on our behalf the second we get finished praying!  Actually – He already knows what we need help with, and I think He starts the work before we even ask for help, but He still wants us to ask.  No parent wants their child to just assume things will be done for them.  They want to be asked and kept in the loop.  We are God’s children and it’s the same concept.  He wants to be kept in the loop.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  – John 10:27

We need The Bible – not just to keep on the coffee table gathering dust.  Open it every day and see what God has to say through it, to your heart.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!  🙂