Sunday, August 21, 2011

Time Keeps on Ticking

Well, Smiley Boy is 5 and counting and SAM-BO is 3, and they are BOTH going to their first days of school tomorrow.


I have very fond memories of Kindergarten, but school has changed a lot since then.  They actually TEACH stuff now.  I don't think that I got grades or anything like them.  It was more like: "He participated well." or "He didn't eat glue today."

But now it's different.  Now my premie boy is going to school and learning to read and count and . . . .

And my 3-year-old, who is proud of showing everyone his muscles, is going to school too.

I thought that I would be more excited about this, but now that Smiley Boy is in his bed, too excited to sleep, I feel kind of numb.  I'm really not sure why.  I'm glad they are growing up and glad that they have the opportunity to go to a Christian school, but. . . I just don't know.

One thing that I have learned about having kids is that as prepared for each "phase" or stage in their lives as you think you are, it will probably not happen the way you think.  Even if everything goes according to plan, you may find yourself sitting up at 10 P.M. typing about how great "it is?"

As with everything else in life, I'll see how it pans out tomorrow.

God is still God, and I'm still His.

Just thought I'd share.  :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

You Don't Know What You Can Handle. . .

Until God handles it for you.

Feb 2006

Feb 2006

Feb 2006

Feb 2006


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Okay. . . so what does that have to do with. . . ?

So I was thinking again about when Jesus told his disciples that certain kinds of spirits can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.  And, I think I have a pretty good idea why fasting is important for us--as a lifestyle and self-discipline, but. . . .

What does it have to do with having authority over a spirit?

I have a thought about that.  This is only my current working theory, so I am open to constructive criticism.

If you are hungry, what do you do?  You eat. Right?
If you are thirsty, what do you do?  You drink.

These are things that are real and we respond without debate or discussion.  We don't stop and ask ourselves (as a rule) "Am I really hungry?" or "Am I really thirsty?"  We have a need, desire, or urge and we meet that impulse in a real and tangible way.  It is REAL to us.

I have heard this phrase many times in the past few years and it bears repeating: "You cannot consistently act in a manner that is contrary to what you believe."  After a while, you either act differently or you believe differently.

So, if you are fasting and you get hungry. . . you want to eat.  Your body tells you that you need  to eat.  You choose not to eat.  You do this because it is supposed to be good for you spiritually.  It is supposed to help you get closer to God.  It is supposed to help you get in touch with God's authority in matters of spiritual conflict.  After a day of fasting.  You either believe that all of this is true, or you don't do it again, because. . . . fasting is NOT fun.

"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."

I believe that you can fast with enough faith to do it once, and that by continuing to do so, it invites God to grow your faith.  Eventually, you believe that the spiritual things are as real as the physical things (like hunger and thirst).  Until we reach this point of realization, the physical evidence in front of us is too real to be overcome by the spiritual truth that we think we believe in.

Again, these are my first thoughts on the topic.  Feel free to comment.

God bless.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back in the saddle

Well, I decided to take my own advice and started my first day of a "fasting lifestyle."  My plan is to fast at least two meals every Monday.

I normally listen to audio books during the day.  I have decided that on my fasting days, I will only listen to my audio Bible and/or a Christian book, whether a teaching or Christian fiction.  I will listen to my Bible first.

Today I listened to the entire book of Ezekiel.  That's heavy stuff all at once.  Next time I think I'll mix it up a bit.  :)  I also listened to C.S. Lewis's book: The Four Loves. 

The thing that stood out the most to me today is simply this: I REALLY don't like to be hungry.  I haven't fasted food in a very long time, and today was the best proof I could have gotten to show me how much I needed to get back into it.

Anyway.  That's it for today.  After the fasting comes the feasting!

Talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Mimosa Tree

We have a Mimosa tree in our back yard.  It started out small (as they all do) and has been growing for the last few years.  My wife really likes them so we let it grow.  It is right outside our back door and has gotten remarkably large.

We also have a back porch.  Maybe you can see where this is going.

Mimosa trees have a tap root.  the root frequently travels horizontally just under the surface of the ground.  In the case of trees near houses, the root has been known to damage foundations.  In the case of our house and tree, the root went under the outside edge of the back porch.  At some point in the past, before we owned the house, someone had extended the foundation under the porch.  Well, now you can clearly see where they did that because the root has pushed the newest part up leaving a very noticeable ledge.

The point I'm after is this: sometimes we let things into our lives, things that we like, enjoy, or just don't think about, and those things seem harmless at the moment.  But we must be constantly searching, allowing the Holy Spirit to examine all things in all areas in our lives, so that those things do not begin to develop entrenching roots.  These roots (as harmless as the tree may seem) can grow strong at foundation level and cause damage that is not easily repaired.

Little chats with friends to catch up with each others' lives are alright, but if they go unchecked they can lead to a little bit of gossip, which can lead to a lot of gossip, which can lead to rumors and betrayals of confidence.  I realize that that example may seem a little extreme, but that is how the beast works.  It doesn't happen all at once.  It happens an inch at a time, day by day, foot by foot.  You don't see the real problem until it has caused damage.

We have had this tree for years and have been noticing problems with our porch for a while now.  We only just realized that the Mimosa was the cause.  This could have been avoided by transplanting the tree when it first started growing, or by reading up on Mimosas when we first noticed it growing so close to the house. We just saw a "baby tree" and thought that it was neat.

Check your life.  Look for things while they are new in your life and check them out in the word and in prayer.

Don't let a new video game become a lifestyle that ruins your sense of time management.  Don't let a love for reading do the same.  Or a new desire to write.  :)

I did not post yesterday because I had begun to let things slide around the house.  I was determined to
not miss a day, which is a good goal in itself, but when it took the place of more important things, I had to make choices.  Writing, reading, and other hobbies are okay, but only if they are kept in their proper place in our list of priorities.

God bless you all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I've Decided Not to Be Compulsive About this

I went from zero posts in nearly a year to 17 posts in 17 days.  I'm pretty excited about that, but I don't want to do it just to keep a personal record.  So, tonight I'm just saying "Good night, and God bless!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sometimes It's Time to Be Quiet

I remember (several years ago) when a group of my friends from church were all invited to go to a meeting for a bunch of pastors who look to our pastor.  It was quite an honor and I was very excited to go.

I had only just begun to recognize when I was actually hearing God, so I wasn't very confident in it.  I was looking forward to hearing all of these pastors talking to each other about GOD.

and.  I was hoping to hear God too.

So.  We got to the meeting and the pastors were very friendly and informal.  They set up chairs in a circle and just started sharing with each other about what God was doing in their lives and churches.  Many of the pastors had included members of their churches as well, so it was a decent sized crowd.  The floor was open, so anyone who had something to share was invited to do so.

After a short while, as I listened to the pastors share, I heard them ask questions about what God was doing and why.  I was shocked when I realized that I KNEW what God was doing and why.  There I was, a nineteen-ish year old kid,  in this group of PASTORS (I italicized the word in my head at the time, so I'm doing it here too), and I was hearing God answer their questions.  And I knew, with CERTAINTY, that it really was God.  I was so excited that I was getting ready to raise my hand to share (a miracle in itself at the time) when I heard God say "Wait."  Okay.  How long?

God didn't say.

"When do I get to tell them?"

"You don't," God stated.

". . .what?"

"You. Don't."

"You mean I'm supposed to keep listening to all of this stuff You're saying and I'm just supposed to keep quiet?"  I was having a hard time with this.

"Yes." and that was all God said on that topic.

It wasn't easy, but through that silence, I kept hearing more and more of what God was saying and didn't have to try to translate it, or say it just right.

I actually learned more about speaking for God by being silent than I had on what few occasions I had spoken before.

So, for those of you who are learning to hear and speak for God:  Sometimes the word from God is "Hush."

Don't worry.  It's just as good.

Be blessed and press on.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Not about Forgiveness, It's about Heart

What I am about to say may rub some people the wrong way (doctrinally).  That is not my purpose.  All I ask is that you read it all and look at the heart of the message.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about forgiveness and grace.  My friend, we'll call him "Jacob," had been speaking to someone else, we'll call that one "Zeke."  Zeke had been talking about the idea that since Jesus paid the price for sin--past, present, and future--that all sin was already forgiven and therefore did not require one to ask for forgiveness.  Jacob was worried about this because that attitude could easily lead someone to a place of pride (or, at least, a place of no humility).  Jacob was worried that such attitude would lure someone away from anything like repentance.

We ARE forgiven.  The price IS paid.  BUT.  There is a difference between being forgiven and being repentant.  Repentance means to "Change your thinking/reasoning/mind from wrong-doing to righteousness."

There can be two different kinds of attitudes with this idea about forgiveness.

The first says "I'm forgiven so I can mess up and not worry about it.  I won't even let it bother me because it doesn't matter.  I don't need to talk about this with God or anything else."

The second says "I'm forgiven so I don't have to be a slave to this.  I don't have to beg God to forgive me because He already has.  I do need to talk with Him about this because I need His wisdom on how to avoid this failure in the future.  God is so good."

The biggest difference is the heart of the person who is exploring his or her forgiveness.  If he or she is seeking God, then that relationship will bear the fruit of humility and repentance.  If that person does NOT seek God's heart, then the "grace" becomes a trap to lead one into license (permission to do whatever).

Being forgiven of sin means that we are free to pursue a relationship with God.

Bless you all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Sword of the Lord and Gideon

Tonight, my wife and I were invited to a meeting of the local Gideons.  It was very interesting. For one thing, we were the only people under the age of 60.

They were great people.  I recently heard one of them speak at our church, and was interested in the organization.

My dad was one of the biggest Bible enthusiasts I've ever known.  He love the Word, and, largely because of his influence, I do too.  The Gideons are volunteers that raise money and go out and place Bibles all over the place.  They speak at churches and give testimonies.  Everything they do is out of their own pockets.

Needless to say, I had already filled out an application to join, and tonight I turned in the application.  There were not many members in the local "camp."

It reminded me of the verse that says "The harvest is great; the workers are few.  Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers." (Matthew 9:36-38)

I realize that this is not a very "spiritual" post today, but it seemed in keeping with the current trend of the Importance of the Bible.

God Bless!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rosetta Stone

Have you ever wondered why the Bible was written over such a long period of time, by so many different authors?  True, God inspired every word, by why through so many people.

I have a theory on that.  (Yes. I know.  That astounds you. )

I mentioned before that God doesn't speak English.  Or any language in particular.  Let's face it.  Language is limited.  We have to condense loaded concepts into a few sounds and syllables or, in the case of the written word, a few letters.  For example: if I say chair, I have in my mind a specific chair, BUT, the odds that you are thinking of the same chair (or even one CLOSE to the same) are extremely slim.  I have to go into detail.  I'm thinking of a red, leather, High-Backed arm chair.

Even this only gets you close to what I'm picturing.  . . .  I digress.  Language is limited and I don't believe that God is limited to it.

So.  That means that He must speak through concepts and character.  The problem with that is that each person that speaks or writes God's word, inevitably "flavors" it with part of his or her own character, in expressions of the concept as it best makes sense to him or her, in his or her own time period.

So, if God wants to express that He is about to send relief for a situation in the life of a poor farmer in the sixteenth century, He might give a vision of a group of people brining oxen to meet him.  This vision would only confuse you or me.  However, He might give a vision of Habitat for Humanity workers, or remind us of a clip of a Home Makeover episode, or even remind us of a time when someone helped us with something.  Whatever He did, it would be specific to us and could be expressed with the heart of God's intent.

So how do you teach people how to recognize the "voice" of God if He doesn't speak in language.

 *Big Smile*

Spend thousands of years talking to all kinds of different people so that there are enough different kinds of messages and communications that the common thread can be recognized.

Do you have a favorite painter, poet, singer, etc. . . ?  Have you experienced enough of your favorite artist's work to recognize his or her particular style in an unfamiliar work?

The Bible is a HUGE collection of God's work.  If you will spend time reading it or listening to it, you will begin to recognize the "common thread."  That is "sound" of God's Voice.  And He is still speaking today, to you.

That is why it is SO important to spend time in the Word!
It is our "Rosetta Stone" to learn how to recognize and understand when God speaks to us.

****shhhh.  listen.  God just said He loves you!   ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

God Doesn't Speak English

If you ask most people: "What language does God speak?"  they will usually answer whatever their native language is.  Some, if they think a little harder, might say Hebrew, because the Jews are His chosen people.

Well, here's a thought.  What if the original Hebrew and Greek versions of the Bible were actually the first translation.

God doesn't speak English; He speaks "God."

Here's what happens:  God speaks a concept.  The Christian receives the concept, and his or her mind immediately explains (as best as can be) the concept to him or her.  Or, as often happens for me, God sends an image/vision. God is wise and knows us well.  So, the concept or image is one that will mean something to us in a way that is beneficial to the person who is to receive the word--whether that be another person, or the Christian receiving.

This can sometimes produce interesting results.  Sometimes we get carried away with our interpretations.  Sometimes we get excited about all a certain metaphor could mean and then stretch it beyond what was intended.

We are often referred to as "Earthen Vessels" or "Jars of Clay."  That description is good for this as well.  Imagine that God wants someone to know that He knows that they are thirsty and that He can provide for their needs.  He finds a willing vessel and imparts H and O atoms to the vessel.  The vessel understands that 2 H's and 1 O makes water and then water is in the vessel.  But then the vessel gets excited and agitates the water until, by the time the water is poured out, it has a lot of clay particles in it and doesn't look as clear or as clean as it started. It is still water (unless the vessel is more interested in making God's Word "fancy") and it still meets the need, it just has a funny taste to it.  Kind of like THIS metaphor.  :)  But, like I said, God is wise and He speaks through people whose particular "Flavor" of words is acceptable to the receivers.

I can go into a lot more detail on this topic, if anyone is interested.  Just let me know.  I may do it anyway.

Love in Christ, Blessings to all who hear and receive!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"So. Do you get Words from God a lot?"

For a while now, since I've become more comfortable with the idea that I hear God, I've been waiting for some smart tail to give me a hard time about it.  Something like: "You mean you hear voices?" or "Okay, prove it. What's God saying RIGHT NOW?"  I've been expecting it, but it hasn't happened.

Then, recently, I was with a friend and he stopped all of the sudden and looks at me and asks, "So. Do you get Words from God a lot?"

I was immediately wary.  "Well, yes," thinking, where are you going with this? "I guess so.  It's fairly frequent."

"Okay.  What's God say about me?"

YIKES!  A TOTALLY sincere question!  I told him that it doesn't quite work that way.  I'm not just going to "know" what God thinks about any one person at any given time.  I'll have to ask and listen and then see.  This isn't like some psychic gimmick or magic trick, and I don't take it so lightly that I'll just spout out the first thing that comes to my head.  Even if I think that it's right.

So, we talked about that and I started asking God what He might want to say.  I got something right away, but it was the same thing that I had heard and said not too long ago, and I didn't want my friend to think I was just using canned phrases.  That message, or the feel of it, wouldn't leave me.  Then, while there was a moment where we were both busy, I saw an image of a computer screen and it had a status bar gradually filling up and the word "LOADING" in big letters across the screen.  I immediately knew that God was saying that the promise that my friend had been given was still valid and not to worry at the apparent lack of progress in that area: God says it's there; it's just still loading.

For those of you who have ever dealt with computer programs, you know that "LOADING" implies that the product is IN the machine; it's just taking its own time becoming available.

My friend was very familiar with the concept and was grateful for the word.  It turns out that that was EXACTLY what he had been wondering about and why he had asked the question.

It's like God knew!

Oh, and to those who might be like the ones I was Expecting. . . please.  ask.  I might not hear anything, but then again I might.  It'd be fun.  :)

Blessings!  Listen for God.  You might be pleasantly surprised.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Freedom and Attacks in Disguise

Frequently, when God delivers someone from spiritual bondage, they experience "relapses" or "re-occurrences" of the bondage.

I'll speak of depression and/anxiety specifically.

Say a person has been suffering from depression for a long time.  The depression has robbed him or her of many experiences and daily pleasures that most people think of as commonplace.  He or she can't even go to the grocery store because it brings on panic attacks.  Before very long the person has become a prisoner in his or her own home with only the briefest, unpredictable breaks of normalcy.

This is a pure joy to the devil.  Satan was one of the highest angels in heaven.  His pride was so great that he believed that he could be greater than God. Take a moment and think about how much pride would be necessary for Satan, in the PRESENCE of God, to think that he could be greater.  Then think about how he would feel to be rejected and kicked out.  H. U. M. I. L. I. A. T. I. O. N.

Satan knows his fate.  He knows that there is nothing he can do about it.  He HATES God, and because God loves us, Satan HATES us too.  We are the only avenue of revenge that Satan has.

The Bible tells us that God loves us so much that He sacrificed His Son for us (John 3:16).  It also says that he cares for us so much that He saves our tears (Psalm 56:8 NLT).

So, in revenge, Satan wants us to suffer, to fail, to perish.  He knows he is going to hell and wants to take as many of us with him as he can.

A person suffering from depression is a symbol of hopelessness.  The bondage and suffering is something that the devil delights in.

God can and does break the bondage of this trap. (My wife is one who has walked free of it, and I have another friend who has recently been set free.)

The devil hates this even more because the person who is delivered from depression is suddenly free to be with people again, and, what do you think that person would talk about?  Of course! "God loves me! He heal me!"  If you were trying to lead people away from God, would you want this?  A person that everyone knows has been bound up in depression is now running around free.  And God did this?

The answer to this is to lie to the redeemed.  Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).  He will step into a moment where the person is exploring his or her new freedom.

             "John walks into the store.  He suddenly remembers how he used to panic when he was here.  He has flash-back emotions and believes that he is panicking again.  He leaves and fears that he has NOT be set free.  He is afraid to try again and falls back into the old patterns again."

In this illustration, "John" had a memory and the devil attacked him and disguised the spiritual attack as a panic attack.  He put on the pressure and "John" believed the lie and it became his reality.  "John" was still free, he just didn't know it, so he couldn't benefit from it.

In training elephants, when the elephant is a baby, they chain it to a tree or a large post.  Over time, as the elephant consistently tries and fails to pull loose, the elephant becomes convinced that the collar and line mean the boundary of what is possible.  By the time the elephant is grown, the trainer has reduced the chain to a cord and the post to a small stake.  The trainer will even have the elephant pick up the stake and move it, but the elephant will still not move beyond the reach of the cord.  He believes that he cannot go beyond that point, so, he no longer tries.

Like the elephant, "John" believed the lie and did not push beyond the limit of his experience.  Because of this, he did not exercise his strength nor did he realize his freedom.

For those who may say that this is all well and good for me to say, but . . .

I recently went with a "John" to the grocery store and he experienced the panic.  I helped him deal with it and he pushed through.  We talked recently and I asked him, "If that had really been like it was before, would it have mattered if I had helped?"
 He responded, "NO.  I would have just walked out the door and waited in the car."

This particular "John" went back to that store the next day without me and was successful.

Anyone can be successful. Just push through the lies and march into the truth.  And DON'T give up if you aren't always successful.  That doesn't mean that you haven't been set free; it means that you haven't learned HOW to be free yet.  Look at the Israelites.  The book of Exodus starts off getting them out of slavery and then the rest of Exodus and the following three books are dedicated to teaching them how to BE free.  Like us, they too tried to slip back into their old lives/lifestyles.

God LOVES you.  Satan HATES you.
Push through to the promises!

Be blessed; Be FREE, Know the Father!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't Forsake the Fellowship

I just came home from a Men's Meeting.  It was great.  I was the speaker tonight, but the part that was great was the interaction with and from everyone.

If you are ever in a group of believers, who all want to hear God and know Him, who are all talking about God, listen closely to what they are all saying.  Most of the time, when I do this, I can see (hear) the common thread and I see how God is using different people's personalities and sensitivities to address an idea in a much more "three dimensional" way than could probably be done by a single speaker.

This is one more reason why we are supposed to fellowship with other believers.

If five people stand at different places on or near a mountain, and each is asked to describe the mountain, you will get five completely different descriptions.  If you ask them at the same time in the same room, you may start an argument about what the mountain is really like.


If you listen to them all, assuming that they really are talking about the same mountain, you will get a more detailed image of the thing than you could get other wise.  One person can only see so much without help.

If this is true about a mountain. . . . How much bigger IS God anyway?  :)

Just a thought.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who do Men Say that I Am?

Matthew 16:   13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
 14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
 15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus asked a simple question with a loaded answer.  The first question is "Who do PEOPLE say that I am?"  This question is about how he appeared to others.  The answers made it clear that those who did not know Him personally could only guess wildly based on what they knew about OTHER people that they didn't know.

The next question was "Who do YOU say I am?"  And they got it right.  

I think that the point here was not that Jesus was(is) the Messiah, but that a personal relationship with Him is necessary if we are to really know who He is.  This ought to be a "no-brainer," but how often do we settle for what we have heard about Jesus and neglect to seek Him for ourselves?

If you answer the question "Who do you say I am?" with "The Christ" or "The Messiah" and you are only quoting what you have heard, then you (we) are no better than the ones who thought that he was John the Baptist or Jeremiah.  

Peter's answer was right because he had a relationship with Jesus and, through that relationship, he heard God.

Luke 13:
22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
   He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’

God WANTS a relationship with us and EVERYTHING points to that and warns against shallow, uncommitted people.

All you have to do is truly SEEK, God will do the rest.

God bless you all. Be at peace, know truth, and settle for nothing less than what you have been promised.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Facebook Games

Anyone who has been following this blog, or who has noticed the blog activity can tell that I recently increased my "blog output" significantly.  Several things contributed to this.  The first is that I have decided to focus more on my writing skills.  I feel that God has given me a gift in this area and I need to develop it better than I have in the past.  The second is that God has done a LOT in my life lately and I have learned things about who He is and what His purpose for my life is and I desperately want to share this.  The thing that has REALLY made the difference in the actual writing of the blogs is that I recently quit playing Facebook games.  (Farmville, Frontierville, CafeWorld, Backyard Monsters. . . the list goes on)

I had NO IDEA how much of my time was being spent on these things.  I only got on and fiddled with them for a couple of minutes at a time, or so I thought.  I felt like I needed to give them up for more productive things and have found myself sitting at my computer trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do.  IT'S SAD!!!!!

So now, I write.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fruits of the Spirit

 Galations 5: 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Have you ever wondered why the fruits of the Spirit are called fruits?

A fruit is something that is produced by a plant as a result of its biology.  Simply put, if the seed grows and the plant draws in nourishment, fruit happens.

So why are we constantly trying to achieve them?  Have you ever seen a tree struggle to bear fruit?  Or try to be a better tree to make more fruit?

The Bible states over and over that our faith is based on GRACE and not on works, yet we constantly try to become "better behaved" or be good, or to do the right things.

How often  do we try to counsel people and tell them how to feel better about themselves or that they need to forgive and more and more behavioral stuff?

Fruit is a byproduct of something.  In the case of a tree, the fruit bears witness to what the tree has been taking in.  Is it planted in good soil? Does it take in enough water?

The fruit in a person's life bears witness as well.

Matthew 7:20 (New Living Translation)

20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

 So here is the simple truth.  Quit trying to "DO" all of the right things.  If we could "do" it right, we would not have needed Jesus!  So LOOK at Jesus and see what HE thought about it all.  Everytime: look to the Father.  The WHOLE reason the Jesus even came was to re-establish the relationship between mankind and God the Father.

For those who have ears to hear it: This re-established relationship with God, the one lost in the Garden of Eden, is the soil and water in which we are to find our nourishment.  If we focus on our relationship with God and knowing Him better, PERSONALLY, then the fruits of the Spirit will happen on their own.

This relationship with God is what Jesus referred to when He said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all of these things will be added unto you."  In Matthew, the specific topic was of physical provision, but when God says "all," I suggest that you take it seriously.

This is not just a theory that I am spouting out.  This is real in my life and I have tried it both ways.

Blessing to all.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If God is LOVE. . .

A couple of years ago, I started back to school.  I had never attended college and so I had to take all of the General Education courses to start with.  I managed to CLEP English 1101 (Communication Skills 1), but I still had to take the second part.  This turned out to be one of the best things to happen in my adult life.

One of the things that I dreaded most was all of the "nonsense" about poetry reading and such.  Most of the poetry that I had seen was (in my opinion) ranting and drivel.  I liked the stuff that had a compelling rhythm and that rhymed.  Edgar Allen Poe's poems as well as those of Louis Carrol and (yes!) Dr. Seuss.  If it didn't rhyme and have rhythm, I thought it was _______.   So of course I got to class on the first day and the teacher, Ms. M., said, "We're going to start with poetry, because that's what freaks everyone out."  She then asked what our opinions were. . .  so I told her mine.  To her credit, she didn't let it stop her.  It wasn't the first time she'd heard that someone didn't like poetry.  :)

So she split the class up and gave each group a poem to discuss, telling us to look for certain things to see what we see in the poems.  I took one look at the poem she gave us ( I can't remember what it was) and thought, "Great, this is stupid."  But, I had paid to take the class, and I had taken off from work to come to it, so I was going to at least give it a shot.

I looked around at my group and asked if any of them had ANY idea what the teacher was looking for.  They were as clueless as I was.

So, naturally, Ms. M. came to us first.
"What does this group see in their poem?"  For some reason my group looked at me. So I figured it was better to say something than to sit there looking dumb.  So I looked down at the poem and said the first thing I noticed, something about a pattern of repetition.  To my surprise, Ms. M. said "Yes! what do you think that could mean?"

I was dumbfounded. My bluff was called, so I ran with it.  I looked again at the poem and said the first thing that seemed to fit.
"Right!" she said. "Great! What else did you see?"
I said a couple more things about color and numbers with the same results and she moved on.  The guy in front of me looked back at me and said, "You. Are a beast."  (I'm still not sure if being a Poetry Beast is something I should be proud of, but I have to admit . . . as silly as it may seem, I'm STILL pretty flattered by that one.)
I denied it, of course, telling him that I just made all of that stuff up.  The thing is, I kept doing it.  Before long I realized that I was intuitively picking out important details in not only poetry, but also short stories and other prose.  And then I began to understand how I was seeing what I was seeing.  It came easier and easier, and I began to show others how to do it as well.

It changed the way that I read books or watched movies.  I began to like (and even love) some poems that I used to think were garbage.  The most important change though, came when I started realizing that what I was seeing was legitimate and consistently on target.  I realized that one really could read something and find things that were hidden by the author for a purpose, and sometimes things that the author didn't even realize that they had done.  I decided that if I had this ability, it had to be a gift from God (like a talent for music or art etc.).  And, if that was the case, it must be useful for something other than getting A's in English. Then, I heard someone say the old expression: "You can wring blood out of the pages of the Old Testament."  This was followed by some discussion about the Old Testament Wrathful God vs. the New Testament Loving God.

Now, the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.(Hebrews 13:8)  It also says that God is love. (1 John 4:8)
So.  If that is true, then you SHOULD be able to go through all of those "bloody" stories and see a loving God.

You Can.  I have been doing Sunday School lessons for the past few years based solely on the Loving nature of God as seen in the Old Testament.  It is blatant in the story of the fall, judgement, and expulsion of man from the garden, and it is just as plain in His dealings with Cain, the first murderer.

If you believe that God is who He says He is, and if you believe that the Bible is true, then you owe it to yourself to read the Old Testament looking for examples of God's love in every story.  It will change your world.

Ms. M. was only trying to teach us how to get more out of literature.  God used her to show me how to get more out of life: a  relationship with my God that is day-to-day, personal, and REAL.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Prayer and Fasting

A word of warning:  Some parts of this blog may not be suitable for all audiences--you may think part of this is gross.  It'll be worth it, but it is kind of gross.

I'm not really sure how, when, or where, but at some point today, I picked up a tick.  It latched onto my side, under my shirt and I only noticed an odd itch for most of the afternoon.  I did not realize that it was a tick until bedtime.

I once again felt an itch and went to scratch and (skip the unnecessary details) ended up with a dead tick stuck to me.  I tried to just pull it off, but I didn't want the head to come off under my skin, so I didn't pull very hard.

So there I was, looking at this thing and thinking something like "What Would Jesus Do?"

Well, I thought about it and decided that a blood sucking parasite fell rather well into the same category as a demonic manifestation, so, I prayed over it and rebuked it in Jesus's name.

It didn't fall off.

I take a certain, small amount of pride in myself for actually being surprised that it DIDN'T.  I really believed that it would. . . . But it was still there.

So, I pulled again.  I figured that I would have to any way, so why put it off?  It didn't want to come, but eventually it popped loose.  With its head intact.

And I thought: "Why didn't it come out when I prayed?"  and I immediately heard: "This kind only comes out with prayer and fasting." (Mark 9:28-29)

And then it hit me.

We frequently want God to deliver us from things right away and to do all of the "hard stuff" for us. Especially in the case of habitual sins.  We pray and we rebuke and we "cast out," and we keep dealing with stuff.

As with the tick, God releases the "head" of the problem so that it can come out, but we still have some things to do as well.  Some problems/issues are not only spiritual, but physical/mental as well.

Smoking for example.  There can be a spiritual stronghold involved with a smoking addiction.  This is easily broken.  God gave us the authority over all things to overcome obstacles that leave us outside of His will.  We can claim God's promises in Jesus's name, and be free from spiritual bondage.  The trick is that, while we are spiritually free, we still have thought patterns and lifestyles and habits to overcome.

This is where prayer and fasting come in.  Prayer is communication with God.  This communication is TWO-WAY (even if you don't realize it).  This communication is good for you because the presence of God, in ANY way, in your life is powerful and life changing.  It allows you to speak to God (maybe get things off your chest) and to confess true things about God (praise and worship) and profess God's point of view about things in your life.

Fasting is a double-hitting tool.  First, let me explain that fasting is NOT simply not eating.  The idea is that you give up food and replace the eating time with devotion time.  At breakfast time, instead of Wheaties you read your Bible and pray.  Same thing at lunch and dinner.  In fact, you let each physical reminder of food be a signal to direct your thoughts toward God.  This is an EXCELLENT way to get your mind on things of God rather than being wrapped up in things of this world.
The second part is a self-discipline issue.  Most of the problems that we face in this life are because our spirits are willing, but our flesh is weak--weak to the will of God, that is.  The flesh is STRONG where satisfying its desires are concerned.  Fasting is a way to train yourself to put your physical desires and motivations in a lower priority than the spiritual desires.

In the story in Mark 9, Jesus did not stop to pray and fast.  He already had that lifestyle.  We cannot pray and/or fast once and expect to be ready whenever there is a need.  This must become a lifestyle.  We must train ourselves to put our thoughts in line with God's thoughts and our bodies in submission to our spirits.

God DID do the hard part.  He made it possible for any of this to succeed, then He made sure to live the example to show how to proceed.

As a side note: I realize that skipping food or meals is complicated for some people.  My suggestion is to pick something that you do regularly/habitually/compulsively (like watching T.V. or *gasp* facebook time) and give that up for a time and replace it with devotional time.  This is just my suggestion.  Pray about it and do what God leads you to do.

As always, Be Blessed!

Friday, April 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

I was reading in Isaiah on accident the other day. . . yes, on accident.  I was actually listening to my audio Bible and hit the wrong file.  When I realized (very quickly) that I was not listening to Romans (LOL), I decided that Isaiah was still Bible, so I figured I'd just listen to it instead.

All went well until I got to the fourth chapter and read this:

Isaiah 4

 1 In that day so few men will be left that seven women will fight for each man, saying, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us take your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.”

It goes on, but as soon as I heard this, I felt like God wanted me to go back and listen again. So I did, and paid close attention.

That's when I noticed that this concept represented a trend in modern Christianity.  That is not to say every Christian, or even most, but there is a mentality among some that resembles this verse.

The seven women could represent different denominational backgrounds or branches of faith or what ever; mostly it represents the diversity of people who fall into this category.

They say "Let us all marry you!"  They DON'T say "Marry us."  I'm not sure if the distinction is significant, but it seems to fit with the rest.

They also say that they "will provide [their] own food and clothing." -- meaning that they don't need his provision or input--possibly any form of relationship at all.

All they want out of the relationship is reputation and a legal title.

How many of us fall into the same trap?  How many of us are content being "Christians" and never seek to truly meet and KNOW our God?  How many of us want the benefits of being "saved," but don't want to have to rely on, or be responsible to God?

Again, I'm not saying everybody, but I think it's important to consider so that we don't fall into this trap.

So, have you hugged your God today?

God loves us and WANTS a real, day-to-day RELATIONSHIP with us.

Blessings to all.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eye Exam Revisited

Alright, I went to the eye doctor and found out that I don't see as well as I thought I did.  So, I ordered new glasses and when they came in, I went to get them.


The difference in prescription for the lens for my left eye is so drastic that it has distorted my vision.  The tech that fitted the glasses for me warned me that the change would likely cause some disorientation for a little while.  He was right.  I have had a constant feeling of near dizziness and depth perception "strangeness."  I am finally getting used to the change after nearly a week, but it was very strange there for a while.

Here's the thing: once again there is a parallel.  I mentioned before that we can easily think that we "see" things the way we should spiritually, but when we are confronted (by God's Word or His people) we find that we do not "see" as well as we thought.  Well, it is also true that when we begin to see things God's way again, the difference can be disorienting.  It is important to realize that God does not see things the way the world does.  So, perceptions will differ.  "Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear."

So if you find that you have recently discovered something new about God, don't be discouraged if it feels weird for a little while.  As with my eyes, your mind will adjust to the difference and you will eventually become much more comfortable with it.  In the end you have two choices:  you can avoid the temporary discomfort and settle for unclear vision, or you can accept a short adjustment period and see more clearly the things, ways, and character of God.

The choice is ours, and it is a daily one.

P.S.  Don't be too surprised if God's way of seeing things is different.  After all, we call gold a precious metal; God calls it pavement.  Just sayin'.  :)

God Bless you all!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eye Exam

Well, it's been about 5 years since my last eye exam.  So, I decided that since my night time vision is not so great lately, and since my glasses seem to be slowly disintegrating, it was probably time to get my eyes checked.

The thing is that I thought my vision might be a little off, but when I got to the exam, I found that my left eye was much worse.  It had developed a noticeable astigmatism.  I didn't realized how bad my vision was until I saw what it was supposed to be.

As I thought about this, I realized that this is part of the reason that God tells us that we are not to "forsake the fellowship of the brethren."  I thought I was doing pretty well, all things considered, but when I asked about what I was seeing, I found that it was a little off.  The same can happen with Christians who don't spend time with other believers: they can start to feel like they are "doing all right," but in truth, they are a little off.  We can get caught up on tangents and lose sight (pun intended) of what really matters if we don't check ourselves first with the Word of God, and then with the people of God.

Self-sufficiency is good; we are not supposed to be needy, or codependent people. But one of the first things God said about mankind was this: "It is not good for man to be alone."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yesterday's Mana

I was reading in Exodus recently and something struck me.  The mana that God provided for His people was something that had to be gathered each day.  It could not be kept for the next day or stored for future use.  ( with the exception of the sabbath, which was the day that was supposed to be set apart for time with God exclusively)  Also, God led His people each day with a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire, whether by day or night respectively.  Both of these acts of provision--nourishment or direction--were intended as training for the day-to-day reliance on God.  It also set a  precedent for us.

How often have we gained a new revelation about God, or gained some insight into His character and then rested in that "new" thing indefinitely?  I have been thinking about how the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I believe that God did what He did with the Israelites because it was what they needed in order to be His people, and because it set up examples for us to follow (like road signs, not blueprints) to better know how to walk in relationship with God.

We have to seek God EVERY day to find out what He is doing in our sphere of influence (our family, job, friends, church, and personal growth).  If we do not seek it each day, then what we have runs the risk of becoming stale or, like the mana, it may rot and become unpalatable to us.

If we look through God's eyes at the mana situation, then we see that the  mana was just a tool: it was God that nourished them.  In the same frame of thought, it is not the individual revelations of the character of God that makes ours lives full and fulfilled, but the actual contact with God at the moment of revelation that was the true inspiration.

We all need to try to stop looking at the modes of provision and learn to rely on the Provider and the relationship that His methods of provision imply that He desires with us.