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Monday, August 21, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am? - The Lifter Up of Mine Head

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. - Psalm 3:3

What a beautiful verse!  It's so poetic and weaves such an elaborate picture in my mind, especially that last phrase:  "the lifter up of mine head."  I don't know about you, but sometimes life gets me down.  There are some days where I just can't shake the blues no matter how hard I try.  This downcast spirit is often a result of a trying situation or circumstance that creeps (and sometimes elbows) its way into my life.  But sometimes, all it takes to get me down is to look around at my life and say, "Is this it?  Is this as good as it gets?  This isn't quite what I had in mind?"

Don't get me wrong.  I have a good life.  I've been blessed with a wonderful husband,  a precious pup, a loving family and a Bible-believing church.  I live in relatively good health with food to eat and a place to sleep.  I have truly been blessed.  But there are still things I would change if I could.  For starters, I would boost my writing career and promote myself out of the "starving artist" phase.  This change alone would allow my husband to leave his job and seek employment that he truly enjoys, no matter the pay.  This dream job of mine would come complete with the perfect salary to meet our needs and still have a little money left over for a rainy day, vacation, savings, and/or emergency fund.  Sounds nice, doesn't it?  I'm sure you have some dreams of your own.  And it can be disappointing and discouraging to look around and see that those dreams still seem so far away.

When I'm truly down and discouraged, I'm prone to hang my head.  Why?  Because I know if I make eye contact with anyone, I'm going to cry, and I don't mean trickle a few tears.  I mean CRY!  You know sobs and snot everywhere cry!  (Pretty picture, huh?)  But you see, Jason knows my little secret.  He knows why I won't look at him, but he also knows that I won't feel right again until I release all those negative emotions.  And the best way for me to do that is to have a good cry.  So, in the most loving way, he places his hand under my chin and lifts my head until I'm looking him in the eye.  The look of love I see in his face brings me to tears, and within minutes, my burden is lifted and my spirit is renewed.

As I read the phrase "the lifter up of mine head", this is the picture that comes to mind.  I imagine God reaching down to me in my saddened state and lovingly placing His hand under my chin.  His lifts my face to His and whispers, "It's okay, child.  I'm here.  Go ahead and cry.  You can even use my shoulder if you need to.  Just don't look away.  Look at me.  I can bring back your joy."  What a picture!  What a blessing!  What a privilege to be the child of such a loving Father.

Does life have you down today?  Are you feeling discouraged or disappointed?  Is your head hanging low in sorrow and sadness?  If so, allow Jesus to be the lifter up of your head.  Look to Him, and find peace in His loving embrace.  He'll dry your tears and remind you of the many reasons you have to smile.  Remember, weeping may endure for a night, but joy WILL come in the morning!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am? - Our Glory

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. - Psalm 3:3

Yesterday, we talked about the Lord being our shield and protection.  Today, let's talk about Him as our glory.  I think many times we read this passage without stopping to think about what we're reading.  What does it mean that God is our glory?  How does that help us?  What is the significance of that term?

Ironically enough, the significance is in the definition of the Hebrew word here translated "glory."  Yes, the word means weight or significance.  Where do we place our identity?  Is it in our belongings, our family or our friends?  Are we defined by our jobs, our titles or our education?  What makes us stand out from the crowd?  Yep, you got it—God!

In this passage, David is talking about being surrounded by his enemies, including his own son.  He's weary, afraid and confused.  He's being hunted down like a wild animal, and his first instinct is to complain.  But just as he's getting started with his "poor pitiful me" rant, he remembers something.  It's not about him.  God is in control, and He can and will do what He pleases. His hope is in God.  His life is in God's hands.  His entire being would be nothing without God.  The only reason David was the man he was was because of God.  His identity and reason for being rested in the Lord.  And beyond that, he knew God was on his side.

How would our lives be different if we walked in the confidence that God is on our side and our identity can only be found in Him?  Would we walk more humbly?  More boldly?  Without fear of the enemy?  This reminder was a turning point for David, and I believe it can be for us too if we'll only take it to heart.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? - Psalm 118:6

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am? - Our Shield

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. - Psalm 3:3

There are three titles of the Lord tucked into this one verse, and we will cover each one in turn.  Today, I want to focus on the Lord as our shield.  Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word "shield," but the most relevant ones are these: (1) one that protects or defends; (2) a device or part that serves as a protective cover or barrier. gives the most literal and well-known definition of a shield: a broad piece of armor, varying widely in form and size, carried apart from the body, usually on the left arm, as a defense against swords, lances, arrows, etc.  Our Lord fulfills all of these and more.

He protects and defends.

He is our knight in shining armor (I know that sounds a little weird for you guys, but hey, it is what it is).  He protects us from the enemy, the harsh storms and even ourselves.  He defends us against those who would harm or destroy us.  And while it seems that He sometimes allows the enemy to have their way with us, He is the One in control, and He will only let them go so far.  If He is giving them "free rein" to come against us, then there is a reason, and that reason is for our good.  Just like Joseph who suffered many years before reaching the place God had in store for him.  Or David.  Or many others in the Bible.  God will protect and defend us, and trust me, He is very protective of His children.

He is a cover or barrier.

I love this definition because it reminds me that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can get to me unless God allows it.  He covers me with His wings.  He is a barrier against anything and everything that seeks to do me harm.  Nothing can get through.  We call Superman "the man of steel," but even he had his weakness:  Kryptonite.  God has no such weakness, and nothing is getting past Him.

He is a defense against swords, lances, arrows, etc.

Fiery darts of the wicked?  God's got it covered.  Harsh winds and violent storms?  God can handle it.  Words that cut and actions that can destroy? God can defend me from those as well.  I'm reminded of Ephesians 6:12 which says, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Yes, God can defend us against flesh and blood, but He is also a defense against the enemies unseen.  After all, how can we possibly fight what we cannot see?  We can't, but God can because He sees all.

Some days it seems like the whole world is against us.  Our jobs wear us down.  Our families make us weary.  Our health refuses to cooperate.  Our dreams go unmet.  It's as if each disappointment is another fiery arrow that pierces our soul.  Like David in this third chapter of Psalms, we mutter, "There is no hope!"  But on the heels of his proclamation, David said this:  But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me.

Life is tough, but God is a shield for us.

The days are long, but God offers a defense.

The tears won't stop falling, but God has us covered. . . literally.

We can spend our days dwelling on the negative "buts," or we can focus on this positive statement:  "But God is a shield for me," and trust that nothing will come our way outside of God's will.  He is between us and our enemies, and He is will guard us with His life!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am? - Our King

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. - Psalm 2:6

What a fitting situation that the first title of the Lord we come across in the book of Psalms is "King."  The online dictionary defines the word "king" like this:  the male ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position by right of birth.

Two things about that definition strike me.  First off, the word "ruler" gives way to the idea that the king is the One who is in charge.  Everyone under His authority answers to Him whether they want to or not.  He is the big boss.  There is none greater.  He makes the decisions.  He enforces the laws.  He is the final judge of all things.  He rules.  He is in control.

I don't know about you, but I already feel better.  Why?  Because God is not only the king of man, but He is king over all situations and circumstances.  He controls it all.  The laws of nature.  The laws of physics.  The heart of man.  The behavior of beasts.  Not a single thing happens on this earth that He is unaware of.  He knows, and He allows things according to His will.  Though things may be out of our hands or beyond our abilities to cope with, they are never beyond His.  Hallelujah!

Second, in the definition of a king, I notice the phrase, "who inherits the position by right of birth."  Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.  He was born to be King, and believe it or not, one day, those of us who are saved will get to reign with Him, as kings and priests (Revelation 1:6, 5:10).  We are royalty by birth.  We were born again into the family of God the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior.  We entered into the royal line.

The old saying goes "It pays to know someone in high places."  So true!  And I know the Highest of them all.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and I can rest in Him knowing that He is good, just, fair, right and attentive.  He is my King!  Is He yours?

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. - John 18:37

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Who Do You Think I Am: A New Series

Who do you think I am?  This is the question Jesus asked the disciples during one of their learning sessions.  Most people weren't sure what to make of Jesus.  Some thought He was John the Baptist.  Others believed He was Elijah reincarnated.  Many believed Him to be Jeremiah or one of the other prophets of long ago.  But Jesus' question to the disciples here was directed to them alone.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (Matthew 16:15)

Fortunately, Peter had the right answer:  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)

It seems that the Lord has been asking me the same question of late.  Through my various studies, lessons and readings about faith and building up our four walls of protection around our heart, a single theme has been present.  Could it be that I don't trust God like I should because I don't know Him as I should?  If I truly understood and believed His character, would I still be plagued by doubt, confusion and fear?  I think not.  I think faith is trusting in the nature of God, believing with all our heart that He is good and kind and faithful.

That being said, the Lord has laid on my heart a new series.  We've dealt before with the names of God, but I want to dig even deeper into the true character of God.  And more than that, I want to make it personal.  Who is God to me?  What is God to me?  In what ways can I best relate to God?

To accomplish this goal, we will be looking at the various titles given to God in the book of Psalms.  Covering one title per day, it will take us several months to get through, but I feel this is something the Lord would have us look at.  After all, how can we trust someone we don't fully know?  I'll probably be scattering some unrelated posts in here and there as the Lord directs, but other than that, I'm embarking on a mission to know God more, and I pray you'll join me for this exciting new series.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Everybody Says So

Do you ever sell yourself short and believe others are doing the same?  You think you're disorganized or scatterbrained, so surely, everyone else thinks the same thing.  You believe you don't have what it takes to accomplish a goal, and one glance around tells you that everyone else feels the same about you.  But you know what?  We're usually wrong—not only in what we believe but also in what we think others believe, just like the children of Israel.

And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:32-33)

This is a familiar account in the story of the Exodus.  After about two years of journeying in the wilderness, the children of Israel finally arrived at the Promised Land.  The land of which they had been dreaming all their lives.  The land God had promised to give them.  As soon as they arrived at the border, Moses sent in twelve spies to see what the land was like and what they were up against.  Forty days later, the spies came back with their report.  The land flowing with milk and honey was far better than they had expected, but it was occupied by mean, BIG enemies.  According to ten of the spies, there was no way they could take the land, but Caleb and Joshua had a different story to tell.  They understood that it wasn't up to them to "take" the land, for God had already promised to give it to them.  All they had to do was act in faith and accept what God was giving.

But the other ten spies were adamant about what they had seen.  Notice the last phrase of verse 33:  we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.  Well, that's an interesting statement, isn't it?  Not so much the first part.  I can see where that would be an appropriate response, but the last part:  so we were in their sight.  How did they know what the enemy thought of them?  They were supposed to be spying, which means hiding or, at the very least, not drawing attention to themselves.  If they did that, the enemy would have never noticed them let alone told the Israelites what they thought of them.  This reaction was nothing more than fear.  Yep, anxiety had them believing that the enemy thought the children of Israel were as insignificant and powerless as they believed themselves to be.  They had the attitude, "We're weak and no match for the trials ahead.  Everybody says so."  But everybody didn't say so.  Only they did, and I can prove it.

If we jump over to the story of Jericho, we'll see what the inhabitants of the Promised Land thought of the children of Israel.  Let's look at Joshua 2:9-11 and see what Rahab told the two spies who searched out the land at that time.

And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

Terror has fallen on us.

Our hearts melted.

No more courage.

Hmm, it sounds like the people of Canaan were more scared of Israel than the other way around.  They were terrified, waiting for the day when this great host would come and destroy them.  So, how is it that the enemy was so frightened while, at the same time, Israel felt they didn't have a chance?  It's easy to "see."  Notice the statement from the children of Israel again.

The people that we saw.

We saw giants.

We were in our own sight.

So we were in their sight.

What were they looking at?  The enemy and themselves.  No wonder they were afraid.  The enemy looked so big and bad, and the situation seemed impossible.  But now, look back with me at Rahab's statement.

The Lord hath given you the land.

The Lord dried up the water for you.

The Lord is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Interestingly enough, while God's people were looking to themselves and the enemy, the enemy was watching God.  They saw what God was doing, and it scared them senseless.  If the people had believed Caleb and Joshua, the Israelites could have marched into the Promised Land and said, "Boo!" and sent half the crowd running.  That was how much faith and fear of the Lord the enemy had.  Unfortunately, the children of Israel had more faith in what they thought the enemy believed about them, and it cost them the Promised Land.

Don't lose your Promised Land because you're convinced you have the enemy figured out.  Who knows?  They may be more scared of you than you are of them.  You'll never know unless you press on, looking to God, not the enemy or the circumstances.  Look at what God is doing and what He has done for you in the past.  Have more faith in the God who slays giants than in the grasshopper mentality that says you're not good enough.  Only then will you reach your Promised Land.

*Here's one of my favorite songs that really drives home the point of today's lesson*

Friday, August 11, 2017

Going Back for Seconds

I don't like bugs. They're creepy and crawly. They have no concept of personal space, and they're forever wandering in uninvited. That being said, sometimes I enjoy watching the busy little creatures. After all, if God tells us to be more like the ant, it stands to reason that bugs can teach us something. And I had just such a lesson the other day.

I was watching a particular insect crawl across the window sill when suddenly, it ran into a spider web. (Don't judge me! You probably have a few spider webs in your house too, right?) Anyhow, as his front feet encountered the sticky web, he immediately backed up, turned around and hurried the other way.

I wanted to applaud him for his effort and good sense, but before I could, he did a 180 and headed back toward the web again. "What are you doing?" I cried. "You know that's dangerous. You were lucky to get away last time. Don't do it!" (Yes, I was getting emotional. What can I say? I'm wired that way.) So, Mr. Bug waddled his way back to the web and once again got his front feet stuck. In a panic, he fought until he was free and hurried off in the other direction.

Unfortunately, he didn't go very far before he turned around again and went right back to the danger zone, only this time, he wandered in a little too far and got himself stuck permanently. In a way, I felt sorry for him, but a part of me argued, "You dumb bug! You knew it was dangerous. You almost got stuck twice. Why, oh why did you have to go back again?"

I believe God often asks us the same question. Why do we return to sin? Why do we turn back to the people who have hurt us? Why do we turn away from the good and right and run to danger? I guess we're no smarter than the bug. We fail to realize that while there is pleasure in sin for a season, there are always consequences. Sure, it may seem like we're getting away with something or perhaps like our sin is just a "little sin" and no big issue. But I remind you that Jesus died for all sin, even those we label as little. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. Danger is danger.

Over the past several months, I've been working hard on my health, and one of the biggest changes I've made where my diet is concerned is to stop going back for seconds. I don't need seconds. If I give my food time to digest properly, I soon realize that I've had enough. I don't need more. Now God is teaching me the same when it comes to sin and temptation. Once I've seen the danger, I need to retreat and never turn back. Seconds are not an option.

In what areas are you struggling? Do you return to sin or maybe to people who are toxic to your
Christian walk? I pray you'll heed the lesson of the bug. Stop going back for more. God has a better way, a better life, and better opportunities in store for you, but you'll never reach them if you're too busy going back. Press forward. That is where your future lies.

Now, if you would please join me in a moment of silent prayer for the dumb bug which gave his life so we might learn this lesson.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. - II Peter 2:20-22

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Am I the Same Person I Was Yesterday?

While on this journey to overcome anxiety and depression, I discovered that not only did I need to watch out for comparing myself to others, but I also needed to make sure that I didn’t compare myself to myself. Huh? I’ll explain. Have you ever caught yourself making comments like “I used to be able to do this,” or “When I was younger, I could. . .” When we do this, we’re breaking two of our “eye rules.” First, we’re looking at the past. And second, we’re comparing ourselves to someone else—a previous self.

You know what? I’m not twenty years old anymore, so it stands to reason that I can’t do some of the things that I could when I was twenty. It doesn’t do me any good to whine about it or to dwell on the “good ole’ days. Press on. Move forward. I am a new me. You are a new you. Don’t compare yourself to the you of ten years ago or even ten months ago. Each day is an opportunity to grow and improve, so each day, we’ll be a different person than we were the day before. 

Remember, it’s not about what we see. It’s what God sees, and if we’re living according to His will and doing all things for His glory, then what He sees is wonderful indeed!

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. - II Peter 3:18

***Excerpt from Rise Up and Build:  A Biblical Approach To Dealing With Anxiety and Depression  -- Now available in Paperback and Kindle

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hold Your Tongue

Today we'll wrap up our series on Four Things To Do When Facing Your Red Sea. For those of you who may have missed the previous posts, here's a quick summary. The first thing we should do is be brave. God does not want us to fear, no matter how treacherous the circumstances may seem. Secondly, He wants us to be still and let Him do His thing. Thirdly, we are to watch what He's doing. We need to keep our eyes on Him and not on the troubles we're facing.  Lastly, we need to be quiet. 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. (Exodus 14:13-14) 

Hold your peace. Be quiet. Don't whine, moan or complain. I'll tell you what, the Lord has been beating me over the head with this one lately. Ever since He began dealing with me about writing the Rise Up and Build books, one of the biggest lessons He's been teaching me is to stop complaining. It's amazing how easily I slip into whines and complaints without even realizing it.

For example, last Sunday, I was giving a prayer request in our Sunday School class. I meant for it to be a request, but before I knew it, it had turned into a "poor pitiful me" sob fest. And you know what? One of our sweet ladies called me on it and asked, "Are you still doing your fasting from fussing?" At first, I was embarrassed. But then, I was thankful. Pleased that someone loved me enough to keep me on track and point out a blind spot. It was eye-opening, and I have thanked and commended the lady for what she did.

For whatever reason, it's our nature to whine and complain. When things don't go our way, we fuss. When we're tired, hungry or achy, we fuss. When we've had a bad day or a bad night's rest, we fuss. As I've worked over the past few months to become more in tune with my speech so I could stop my complaints in their tracks, I've also become more attuned to everyone else's speech. Wow! Complaints are everywhere. As I stand in line at the grocery store, two cashiers complain about another employee. As I wait at the chiropractor's office, people complain about the weather. As I do my daily prayer walk, bicyclists and joggers complain about work problems, family members and so much more. Yikes!

When we're facing difficult situations, it's tempting to complain. For curious types like me, it also seems like the ideal time to ask questions.

What are you doing, God?

How are you going to work this out, Lord?

Are you going to follow my plan this time or do your own thing? 

Why am I going through this?

When will this situation be over? 

We go to God like an inquisitive child and pepper Him with a dozen questions instead of trusting that He is doing what is best.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is just to stand still and be quiet. Don't gripe. Don't ask questions. Don't even try to explain the situation to someone else. Just be quiet. Let God work. Let God speak. Give Him the opportunity to fill the silence with His awesome power and glory. Yes, when it comes to talking, sometimes less is more!

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction. - Proverbs 13:3

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Are You Watching the Storm or the God of the Storm?

We are continuing our series, Four Things To Do When Facing Your Red Sea. We have already established that we should not be fearful of the obstacle we're facing, and instead of plowing ahead and trying to do things our own way, we need to be patient and wait on God. Today, we'll cover step #3: Watch carefully. 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. - Exodus 14:13-14 

See the salvation of the Lord. Notice Moses told them to look to God. Don't focus on the sea before you or the enemy behind you. Don't worry about what your friends are doing. Don't focus your attention on what you don't have or can't do. Look to God and watch Him work. It sounds simple enough, but if we stop and think about it, we realize it's not simple at all.

I don't know about you, but I'm not the type of person who can sit back and do nothing while someone else is busy at work. If Jason is working in the kitchen, it feels wrong for me to sit down in the living room and read a book or watch television. I ought to be helping or maybe even performing a different task (Heaven knows there are always plenty of things to do).  I realize this doesn't bother some people. For example, when the roles are reversed, Jason has no problem sitting on the couch reading a magazine while I fix dinner or do dishes. It doesn't phase him at all. That's fine, but it drives me crazy. I don't like feeling unproductive, especially when those around me are busy accomplishing something.

But just as we said in the previous post, we can get so busy trying to help ourselves out of our situation that we get in God's way and mess with His plans. But more than that, we miss out on an opportunity to witness the miraculous. We're so busy looking at what we're doing that we miss what God is doing. And, God is not the type to shout, "Over here! Look at me! I'm about to do something amazing!" No, He's already told us where our eyes should be, so if we're not paying attention, that's our fault.

I don't want to miss out on God's blessings for my life because I'm not paying attention. I would hate to think that my troubles have me so distracted that I lose sight of who God is and all that He has done and is doing in my life.

I'm reminded of an episode of Doctor Who where these creepy angel statues would come to life whenever you weren't looking at them. In a warning video about the statues, Doctor Who commented, "Don't turn your back.  Don't look away.  And don't blink!" I think that's how we need to be with God. Don't blink. Don't take your eyes off of Him. Don't be distracted by the good or bad things of this world. Just watch God. 

Watch carefully. You don't want to miss what He will do next!

I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. - Psalm 16:8-9

Monday, August 7, 2017

Time To Let God Do His Thing

We've been discussing Four Things To Do When Facing Your Red Sea. Yesterday, we discussed step one, which was "Fear Not." No matter how difficult the situation, we must have faith that God will see us through. Today, I want to discuss the next step, which is "Be Still."

Wow! That goes against the grain, doesn't it? When facing a stressful situation, the last thing we want to do is be still. Nope, we want to pace. We feel the need to fidget. We want to get in there and fix things. We tend to take the approach that Sarah did when she grew weary of waiting on God. "Fine, if God won't do something, I'll just do it myself." That worked out well for all involved, didn't it? Not so much. And it doesn't work out well for us either.

Being still doesn't mean we're lazy. It means we're getting out of God's way and allowing Him to do what He wants to do in our lives. When we get out of God's way, He can perform that which is best instead of the "good enough" we're trying to work out. 

Imagine if the Lord had instructed the children of Israel to figure out their own way across the Red Sea. What would they have come up with? Go around? Not really an option with the enemy surrounding them. Build a boat? It would have to be an enormous boat or make several trips back and forth across the sea to get all two million Israelites across. How about a bridge? Unlikely since it would take years to construct, and with the enemy bearing down on them, they didn't have that long. Could they have come up with a solution? Possibly. But more than likely they would have ended up in a bigger mess.

The same can be said of us when we try to work things out on our own. We make a mess of it. God doesn't expect us to do the impossible. That's His job. He expects us to do what He's called us to do, then trust Him to do the rest. We trust. He provides. We wait. He works. We are still, and in the process, we open ourselves up to a new level of intimacy with our Lord and Savior. When we're not so distracted trying to solve the problem, we have the opportunity to watch God work (which we'll talk about a little more in the next post, Lord willing).

Be still. I know, the words make us cringe. Who has time to be still? Who has the mental discipline to be still? If we want to successfully navigate our Red Sea, we need to. Just like the phrase "Do not fear," this is not a suggestion or request. It's a command. There is a time for us to work, but there's also a time for us to be still and let God do His thing.

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. - Psalm 4:4

Here's a song to go along with today's lessons.  This is one of my favorites (though I admit, I have a lot of favorites!)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ain't Skeered

Yesterday, we began a series entitled Four Things To Do When Facing Your Red Sea. In case you missed the first post, you can read it here. Today, we'll be discussing the first step in the process: Fear not. 

That's quite a mouthful for two short words. Fear not. How can we not be afraid when our enemies are bearing down on us? Is it possible to be fearless when we're stuck between a rock and a hard place? When facing the impossible, isn't fear the natural response?

Yes and no. Fear is the natural reaction of the flesh, but it should not be the natural response of the spirit. Second Timothy 1:7 tells us, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. So, if God didn't give us fear, where is it coming from? Nowhere good, I'll tell you that.

I've heard it said the phrase "fear not" appears 365 times in the Bible. Honestly, I can't say I've counted them, so I don't know if that's true. I do know, however, that there are many verses where God emphasizes the importance of not being afraid. No matter the wording, the message is the same, "Fear not." If He said it once, it was important. If He said it twice, it was critical. How imperative do you think this commandment is if God issued it hundreds of times? And yes, I said "commandment" because that's what it is. It isn't a request or suggestion. God says, "Do not be afraid."

So, I return to my initial question: How? How is it possible to walk through the dark shadows and lonely places and not be afraid? It all boils down to one word: Faith. Where there is faith, there is no fear. Faith is more than belief. It is trusting God in such a powerful and complete way that you know He's got your back and nothing will happen to you that He does not allow. It is an unwavering certainty that God is in control and that He will do what He has said He will do. Fear looks at life's uncertainties and whispers, "But I don't understand how. . ." Faith looks at the same situation and says, "I don't understand how, but I know Who is working." Faith focuses on what is known rather than what isn't. 

As you stare at the Red Sea in front of you, I encourage you to follow God's command: fear not. He is with you. He will never leave you. Nothing is impossible for Him, and He has promised to work all things together for your good. Will you trust Him? Will you turn your eyes away from the choppy waves and look instead into the calm face of the Savior?

Have faith, dear one. God can be trusted!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Four Things To Do When Facing Your Red Sea

I think everyone is familiar with the Biblical account of the crossing of the Red Sea. I'm sure it's been told in every Sunday School class, Christian school classroom, church auditorium and more. It's such a compelling picture of God's power and faithfulness, but what we often forget is that the Red Sea experience was not a one-time thing. In fact, I can guarantee that some of you are staring at a "Red Sea" right now.

In today's terminology, a "Red Sea" signifies any situation that looks impossible or hopeless. When we're facing a circumstance that seems impassible and are surrounded by the enemies named fear, worry and discouragement, we're confronted with a "Red Sea." And just like the children of Israel, we grow weary, confused and downright afraid.

What can we do? 

How can we possibly make it through? 

What's the point of even trying? 

Yes, those are Red Sea thoughts. Those ideas do not come from God but from fear and uncertainty. They are born in our hour of darkness, and in the blackness of the night, it's difficult to identify them for what they truly are—lies!

That's why it's a good idea to have a plan. The old saying goes, "To fail to plan is to plan to fail." Without truth to cling to in the dark times, we'll find it difficult to hold fast to what we know. We need a plan, and that's what we'll be discussing over the next few posts. I want to give you a list of four things to do when facing a "Red Sea," but first, let's look at our Scripture verses:

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. - Exodus 14:13-14 

We'll talk about our four-step plan over the next few days, but for now, I want to show you something about Moses' response to the people. First off, he wasn't harsh or rude even though they were complaining and acting like a bunch of babies (guilty!). No, he was calm and addressed their immediate need, which was to attend to their fear.

But what I love most about Moses' answer is his confidence. God had not explained to Moses how He would get them across the sea. Moses had no more information than the people had. He was as clueless about the escape plan as they were. So, how could he be so calm when everyone else erupted in chaos? What was the difference between his mindset and theirs? In short, he had a plan. Moses had seen and heard enough to know God could be trusted even in the darkest hour. So, he constructed a four-step plan to get him through when he was tempted to doubt, and it's the same plan he outlines here for the children of Israel.

Step one: Fear not. 

Step two: Be still. 

Step three: Watch carefully. 

Step four: Be quiet. 

Lord willing, we'll discuss each of these in detail over the next few posts. For now, allow me to offer you a word of encouragement. The Red Sea was not the end of the road for the children of Israel; it was merely a speed bump in their path. Your "Red Sea" is the same. Difficult? Yes. Terrifying? No doubt. Impossible? Not with God on your side, for with Him, anything is possible. Just ask Moses!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Godly Giggles

Have you ever laughed in church? I'm not talking about before or after the service or when the preacher told a joke. I'm talking about right smack dab in the middle of the message—when no one else was laughing. No? Just me?

I've told you before, my mind seems to operate on its own wavelength, and it often catches me by surprise. Take, for example, several months ago when our pastor was preaching. For the life of me, I can't remember what he was preaching about, but I remember him saying "Shame on you. Shame on your whole family." Immediately, Jason and I turned to one another and laughed while mouthing the words, "Dishonor on you. Dishonor on your cow. Dishonor on your whole family" (which, for those of you who are more mature than we are, is a line from the Disney movie, Mulan). Anyway, we both had the same thought and got so tickled we couldn't quit laughing. The awful part is that I couldn't even get myself under control while playing the invitation. Good grief!

This past Sunday, I had a similar situation. I blame it on the long work week and exhaustion. I don't know what happened. The pastor was preaching a beautiful sermon on realizing exactly what took place when we got saved. He was using sentences like, "Not only did God save your soul from Hell, but He promised you a home in Heaven" and "Not only did He make you an heir, but He made you a joint heir with Christ." It was a good message. It really was, but as he continued to make these comparisons, I turned to Jason and in my best infomercial voice whispered, "But wait! There's more!"

Evidently, I caught him off guard because he lost it. It's been a while since I've seen him laugh so hard. His reaction made me laugh that much more. I had no idea I was so funny! Each time we would compose ourselves, one (or both) of us would giggle again. (Seriously, I get that way when I'm tired.)

After church, we had to explain to our pastor what we were laughing at. All I could say was, "I'm sorry. It was me!" And honestly, I am sorry if we disrupted the service (which I don't think we did because we sit in the sound booth in the back of the church). The pastor was probably the only one who saw us giggling, but still, I'm sure it was a distraction to him. And, for that, I apologized. However, I do not regret that both of us enjoyed such a good laugh. We need more of that these days. 

We live in dark times, and life is hard. It's easy to become discouraged, and Heaven knows, there's plenty to complain about. But sometimes we need to stop taking everything so seriously and take time out to laugh. Laugh at the crazy things our minds come up with. Laugh at the kitten chasing his tail. Laugh at the sign that reads "I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned myself around." Look around. There's always something to laugh at. Notice, I said something, not someone. Laughing at other people's expense is just rude and ugly. But laughing at the funny things in life, that's why God gave us a sense of humor. He intends for us to use it. After all, A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. (Proverbs 17:22) 

Give yourself a break, today. Laugh. Smile. Giggle like a child. And be sure to share that happiness with others. Laughter is just as contagious as complaining, so let's start an epidemic. After all, the cure is the same as the cause!

*Need some laughs?  Check out my clean comedy playlist on YouTube.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Ultimate Remedy for Stiff-necked People

As many of you know, I suffer from severe joint issues and am currently working with my chiropractor to correct these problems. What we have discovered is that my joints are not stabilized because the muscles around those joints are—well, how should I put it—lazy! Yep, there you have it. My muscles are lazy. So, with that diagnosis, the prescription is muscle-building exercise. At this point, I am doing full-body isometric strength training three times each week. On the days I don't do those, I perform flexibility stretches and exercises as well as movements to improve posture and joint stabilization. Every day I'm working on the problem by putting my muscles and joints through rigorous workouts that feel bad in the short term but should produce promising results in the long term.

Besides all the workouts, I've been studying, seeking more and more information on anything and everything I can do to speed up the healing process. Throughout all this research, I've discovered some interesting things, one of which I want to share with you today.

Do you know why so many people suffer from pain in the neck? Because we never look up. Think about it for a minute. Throughout the day, we look out to drive, work, cook, etc. We look down to tie our shoes, mess with our cell phones and so on. But how often do we look up? Not often, and because of that, the muscles involved in looking up are some of the weakest ones in the body. This results in stiff-necked people.

As soon as I heard that, my mind went to the spiritual application. How many spiritually stiff-necked people are that way because they seldom look up? Their lives are gloom and doom. Everything is a sob story. Even when things are going their way, they adopt the attitude of "Well, better enjoy it because it won't last long."

Jason and I had an encounter with one of these stiff-necked people the other week. We were popping into Walmart on our way home from church, and just outside the store, we met a member of our church who is currently inactive. In fact, she has been inactive for quite a while. As soon as I spotted her, I opened my mouth to tell her how much we've missed her and invite her to join us again. But before I could say anything, she said, "Let me tell you, 2017 hasn't been good to me." Then she listed out the many ways life had treated her poorly. Honestly, by the time she finished talking, I was so ready to get away from the rain cloud that had formed all around us that I don't even remember if I invited her to church or not. I felt the need to escape before I found myself in a pity party.

I bring up this example not to condemn the lady but rather to drive home the point. It's obvious she was going through a difficult time, but she was allowing those troubles to drive her away from God and His people rather than to them. The church is an excellent place to "look up" and see the glory of the Lord. But she's not going to church. She's sitting at home, with her head down and her eyes filled with tears. And in the process, she's becoming a stiff-necked person.

The question you may have is, how do I look up when so many things are getting me down? That's certainly a valid question. Looking up spiritually is much like looking up physically. It doesn't happen as often as it should, so when we first start out, it feels awkward and unnatural. That's okay. Do it anyway! It may also seem uncomfortable at first, but that, too, will soon pass.

Four Ways to "Look Up" Spiritually: 

1) Pray. - You don't need any special equipment or skills. Simply lift your head, speak to God and allow Him to speak to you. Set aside some quiet time for communication between you and your Lord.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. (Proverbs 15:8) 

2) Read the Bible. - One sure-fire way to lift my spirits and have me looking to God rather than at my circumstances is to read His Word. There are so many verses that bring comfort to my hurting heart. The stories of victory, redemption, deliverance and more bring a smile to my face and hope to my thoughts.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) 

3) Praise. - This one gets a little tricky when we're feeling down and out. Let's face it, in the midst of a pity party, who wants to offer praise. At such times, whether we're willing to say it or not, we don't feel like God deserves our praise. It feels phony. We're hurting, and all we can do is focus on that pain. But if we'll determine to praise God—even it's only for being Who He is—things will turn around. Our attitudes will shift, and our heads will lift.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 150:6) 

4) Sing. - This is optional because I know some people are not musical, and your attempts might be offensive to those around you. But music is a powerful way to snap out of a "deep pit mindset." Listen to some powerful, uplifting music, or better yet, sing it. Let Satan and everyone around you hear the positive message coming from your lips. Even if you don't necessarily "feel it" when you start, you probably will by the time you're done.

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2) 

We don't have to be stiff-necked or downcast. There is a remedy, and it's simple: Look up! Look to Heaven and exercise those neck muscles. How else are we supposed to hold our heads up high?

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Unspoken Compliment

When we put time and effort into something, we expect our men to notice. Is that too much to ask? The task was a big deal to us, so we assume that it will be a big deal to them. After all, remember, men like to receive praise and acknowledgment for their accomplishments, so why should we be any different?

This is where that Golden Rule principle comes back into play. We would think that they would treat us the same way they would want to be treated. If they had spent all day on a task, they would want us to notice and praise them for it, right? But there seems to be a disconnect when the roles are reversed.

As for us, remember that we have issues with setting expectations. When we don't get the reaction we are hoping for, we feel slighted, disappointed, and even angry. What we fail to take into consideration, however, is that even though our husbands often fail to take notice of our efforts and achievements, they don't usually take note of our lack of achievement either.

Ladies, instead of focusing on all the times our men don't say what we want them to say, let's try focusing on all the times they don't say anything negative—especially those times when it would be appropriate and well-deserved. Let's take their silence as an unspoken compliment, and leave it at that.

First Peter 4:8 tells us, And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Are you allowing your love for your husband to cover his mistakes?

Love overlooks faults and forgives when mistakes are made. Keep that in mind the next time your husband fails to offer a compliment.

***Excerpt from What Happened to Prince Charming? - Ten Tips To Achieve a Happy Marriage Life and Live Happily Ever After

Friday, July 28, 2017

God's Unconditional Guarantee

Last week, I purchased a program I had hoped would help in my current battle for better health. I was impressed by the pitch, the testimonials, and the 60-Day-No-Questions-Asked Money-Back Guarantee. So, I bit the bullet and dug into the information. What a ripoff! I was highly disappointed. This program of "secrets and unique formulas" was nothing but a short report of information anyone could find within five minutes with a quick Google search.

As you would expect, I sent a request to the email provided asking for my money back. The email was immediately returned and marked "No such address." Why wasn't I surprised? So, I went back to the main company page, found another email address and requested my money back. I still haven't heard from them. My next course of action is to contact PayPal's complaint department. They've always been great about dealing with these types of issues. I want my money back! That's what I was promised. That's what I depended on. And to be honest, it was the extra incentive that prompted me to buy the program in the first place.

In this day and age, it seems we can't trust anyone. Gimmicks and scams are everywhere. It seems many people have no morals and can't think of anything better to do than to cheat good people out of their hard-earned money.

Fortunately, God has given us an unconditional guarantee we can count on. He didn't promise stress-free living. He never said we wouldn't have troubles or heartache. No covenant in the Scriptures guarantees we'll never face the sting of death or the frustrations of life. But, God has given us a promise that doesn't hinge on our circumstances. No matter what we're facing, this guarantee holds fast. And while it doesn't offer us money (since we didn't pay for it anyway), it certainly offers us peace.

What is this unconditional guarantee? God is good! That's it. Those three words sum it up. God is good.

When the rain is pouring, God is good. 
When we're happy and walking on sunshine, God is good. 
When the one we love the most is taken from us, God is good.
When we hold our new baby for the first time, God is good. 
When the doctor shakes his head and walks away, God is good.
When the new job for which you've been praying finally arrives, God is good. 
When the bank account is empty, and the bills are due, God is good.
When you've finally overcome that obstacle, God is good.
When you've done all you can do, and you feel like giving up, God is good.

No matter the condition. No matter the circumstances. No matter our feelings, thoughts or moods. In the good times and the bad, we can remember this one simple—yet profound—truth: God is good! We can count on it. We can access it. We can trust that God will always be God, and God will always be good. It's in His nature. It's who He is. He couldn't be anything different if He tried. It's not that He acts good or that He feels good or even that He tries to be good. He simply is good, just as He told Moses, "I Am That I Am."

Whatever you're facing today, whether good or bad, cling to this powerful truth: God is good! Let it ring through your mind and reverberate through your thoughts. Allow it to consume you and to overflow into all that you are and all that you do. Meditate on it. Find comfort in it. Share it. But most of all, live like you believe it!

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. - Psalm 145:9

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stop Peeing in My Cornflakes!

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I don't know who came up with that phrase, but they definitely weren't from this planet. Or this universe even. Nope, around here, words hurt a lot! And while they may not break bones, they certainly break hearts, hopes and spirits. Just ask Hannah.

Hannah was the wife of a man named Elkanah. From what the Bible tells us, Elkanah was a good and kind person. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his other wife, Peninnah (which, guys, if you're taking notes, is another good reason to have only one wife). Peninnah, from her description, was the queen of cruel. While she had everything she could want—a good husband, lots of children, a home—that wasn't enough. Rather than bask in her good fortune, she had to rub Hannah's nose in it. 

But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. - I Samuel 1:5-7 

Well, that's mature, isn't it? We have words for people like Peninnah, but the Bible cautions us against uttering such things, so let's use the same word the Scripture uses—adversary. Enemy. We could even go so far as to call her a bully.  What is it about the adversaries in our lives that they feel it's necessary to kick us while we're down? Hannah felt bad enough about being barren. She didn't need Peninnah's cruel words and improper jests. She didn't need to be provoked to where she couldn't eat or sleep. What is wrong with people?

What makes this even worse is that Peninnah was family. Not by blood, but family nonetheless. If we can't count on family, who can we count on? Family is supposed to be supportive and comfort us when we're heartbroken. They're meant to be on our side—for us, not against us. But, that's not always the way it works.

In fact, I have a friend who is going through a terrible battle with some of her family members. These people, who call themselves Christians, have spouted lies about my friend on social media, addressing her by phrases like "the evil one." This is one of the most loving, caring, Godly women I've ever met. She's not the one talking about others behind their backs. She's not the one calling people names. Yet she's the evil one? (I've got to move on before I get too upset to continue!).

My point is, enemies are real, and sometimes the attacks come from people we would never expect. Yes, it seems there are those out there just waiting for us to fall so they can kick us while we're down or pee in our cornflakes (not sure where that phrase came from either, but it seemed appropriate here). It's painful to be attacked from within. It's shocking! And somehow, it hurts so much more. But before you allow the pain to consume you, take comfort in what the Bible has to say:

Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. - Psalm 112:4-8 

God is keeping the record. He is watching, and I remind you, He is very protective of His children. A light will arise in the darkness. We don't have to be hurt or afraid. Our hearts can be established by fixing our eyes on the Lord. And did you catch that phrase, the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance? Let's go back to Hannah's story for a moment and see that promise come to pass.

And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord. - I Samuel 1:19-20 

Who's laughing now, Peninnah? God kept His promise, and He'll keep His promise to you. I know you're hurting, but God is in control, and He will protect His own. Hang in there. Fix your eyes on Jesus and let Him fix the problem. He hasn't forgotten or forsaken you. He's on your side. Don't lose hope, dear one. God's got this!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Is That All You Can Think To Say?

I waited quietly in the line, reminding myself over and over again to think before I spoke. Yes, this time, I was determined to speak wisely or not speak at all. When I finally arrived at my destination, I shook hands with the man before me, smiled and asked, "How are you doing?"

Immediately, I regretted the words. The man had just lost his wife. How did I think he was doing? What kind of stupid question is that?

I don't know what it is about funerals that turns my mind to mush.  Perhaps it's the body lying there in eerie stillness (although it would probably be eerier if it were moving).  Or maybe it's the whole ambiance of the funeral home.  I just don't know, but it causes a disconnect between my brain and mouth and makes for quite an awkward situation.

As I made my way down the line of the family of the deceased, I inwardly berated myself. Again, I determined to guard my words carefully, but my mouth obviously had other plans. As I neared the end of the line and relief swept over me, a gentleman reached out his hand and said, "Thank you for coming." If I had taken my advice, I would have shaken his hand, smiled sympathetically and nodded my head. But I didn't heed my advice. Instead, I said, "Glad to be here." At that point, I was ready to crawl into the casket with the deceased and close the lid. What in the world is wrong with me?

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. . . A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. (vs. 1,7)  Yes, there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent, and we would do well to recognize which is which. Sometimes it's best to simply keep our mouths closed, especially in situations where we don't know what to say. Even a verse of Scripture can do more harm than good if not delivered with the proper timing and tone. Let's face it, in the midst of a painful trial, the last thing we want is for someone to come up, slap us on the back and say, "Cheer up. Remember, the Bible says this will all work together for good." While the words are true, they lack compassion and tact. And when we're hurting, such advice comes across as flippant and uncaring.

Please understand, I am not saying that we should not share Scripture with one another. I'm merely sending forth caution to do so carefully and with a tender heart. I also want to admonish each of us that sometimes it's better to say nothing at all. A smile or a hug goes a long way toward encouraging others and letting them know how much you care. Don't mess that up by speaking thoughtless words.

Oh, and by the way, if I am ever in attendance at the funeral of one of your loved ones, I apologize in advance for anything stupid I may say. I'm working on it. I promise I am!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Lizard in My Cabinet

You probably think my title is some kind of clever metaphor, but unfortunately, I'm being literal. There is a lizard in my bathroom cabinet. He's dead—has been for quite a while. So now, you're probably wondering why I have allowed a dead lizard to remain in my bathroom cabinet for so long. It's an interesting story.

Several months ago, I walked into the bathroom and noticed a lizard on the floor beside the toilet. He looked at me. I screamed at him. All in all, it was quite the encounter. Evidently terrified by my shrieks, he scurried off under the bathtub and disappeared somewhere. A few days later, when I went into the bathroom again, my little "friend" was back. We exchanged pleasantries as we had done before, then once again, he disappeared into the unknown. This process continued several more times until one day, he seemed to have gone for good (not that I minded).

Fast forward a couple of months, I needed something out of the bathroom cabinet under the sink. Opening the door, I reached my hand in and then immediately drew it back to my chest with a scream. My lizard "friend" had found his way into the bathroom cabinet and died there. I called Jason to come dispose of him, and after verifying that he was dead, Jason walked off, I assumed to get something with which to dispose of the petrified reptile. But I guess my sweet hubby got sidetracked because he never returned, and I certainly wasn't going to touch the lizard, so I did the next best thing—I closed the door on him and left him in there.

The problem with my actions is that I did not take into account what would happen the next time I needed something out of the bathroom cabinet, which happened last week. As I had done before, I opened the door, reached my hand in and pulled it back with a shriek. I had forgotten all about that crazy lizard. He was literally out of sight and out of mind. Unfortunately, Jason was not available then to dispose of him, and I still haven't worked up enough nerve to touch him, so he's still under the bathroom sink. Bless his heart!

Of course, I couldn't let an experience like this pass without gaining some form of spiritual insight. After all, it's not every day (or even every month) you see a lizard in your bathroom cabinet, so surely there is knowledge to be gained here. Sure enough, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I view God the same way I viewed the lizard. Out of sight, out of mind. What I mean by that is it is easy to focus on God when I see Him working in my life, but when He is quiet and my prayers seem to go unanswered, it's as if He isn't even there. And when these dark times prolong, I forget God and turn to my own ways. In essence, I adopt the attitude of "If God won't fix it, I will." 

My reminder for you today is even when we can't see God working, He is still there. For months, I didn't see the lizard, but he was there. For weeks on end, I never gave him any thought, but his presence remained constant. God has promised He will never leave us, and He does not break His promises. It may not feel like He's with us. It may not seem like He's working. It may not look like He's on our side. But God will never fail us or forsake us, and we can trust in that. My prayer for us is that even when God is out of sight, may He never be out of our thoughts.

Now, would anyone like to volunteer to come remove the lizard from my bathroom cabinet? I'm pretty sure he won't bite!

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; - Deuteronomy 7:9

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Non-Superhero's Guide To Saving the Day

Have you ever longed for superpowers? Have you ever dreamed of being a superhero? I've often wondered if I had a power, which power would I want? Super strength? Invisibility? X-ray vision? Lately, I've been fascinated with the idea of being a speedster, like the Flash. Not being much of a fan of comic books, I was always under the impression that the Flash's speed was restricted to his running. So, he could run fast. Big deal! But recently, I've discovered that not only can he run fast, but he can do everything fast. He can read 400-page books in a matter of seconds. Now that's a superpower I'd like to have!

To be honest, though, the idea of constantly saving the day sounds exhausting. Every time someone robs a bank or steals a car, the superhero is called to the rescue. Never able to live a normal life. Never able to make plans or have a routine. Always at the beck and call of law enforcement or bad guys. While I'm all for doing good in this world, I just don't think I have what it takes to be a superhero.

Fortunately, the Bible reveals a way for me to save the day, time and time again, without disrupting my own life. In fact, this method of saving the day will enhance my life and the lives of others. And while this formula may not prevent thefts and other injustices in the physical sense, it will impede the theft of my joy and peace and offer me super strength day in and day out. Would you like me to share with you this non-superhero's guide to saving the day? It can be found in Isaiah 30:15.

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.

Step one: Return to the Lord.Too often in life, we get so busy running this way and that, we run away from the Lord without even realizing it. We cling to our own ways and the opinions of others. We follow the advice of the "experts" instead of seeking God's wisdom on the subject. Sure, we may still have our prayer time and Bible reading, but after that, God is all but forgotten as we go about our day, trying to accomplish a myriad of tasks in our own strength. Therefore, the first step to saving the day is to return our attention to God.

Step two: Rest.After turning our attention back to God, we need to take the time to be still in His presence. I know, I know. There's so much to do and so little time, but what we fail to realize is that our busyness is not accomplishing as much as we think, and it's killing us little by little in the process. We need to be still. We need to rest in God's embrace. We need more than a few minutes of peaceful time with him in the morning.

Step three: Be quiet.In that stillness, we would do well to do something that we often fail to dobe quiet. Unfortunately, most of our prayer time with God involves our talking. We talk about our problems. We talk about our family. We talk about our needs. And sometimes we even talk about our blessings. But how much time do we spend just listening? How much of our quiet time with God is just that–quiet? Saving the day has nothing to do with how many words we can utter during a single prayer time. I don't think that counts as a superpower.

Step four: Have faith.Once we return our attention to the Lord, take the time to rest in His presence and get still before Him, then it's time to have faith that God will do what He has said He will do. We must have confidence in the nature and character of God, knowing that no matter how dark things may seem, God knows and is doing what is best for us. We must trust that even when things don't make sense, His way is perfect. Only then, will we have super strength and be able to save the day.

There it is. We have the formula to make every day a great day. The question is, will we use the formula or will we fall into the category of the last phrase in Isaiah 30:15and ye would not? God will not force us to return to Him. He will not hold us down until we rest in His presence. He will not place His hand over our mouths so we will be quiet and listen for a change. And as for faith, He's already given us that; we only need to activate it. He has given us the guide, step-by-step. We have the information. It's up to us what we do with it.

We may not have superpowers, but we know Someone who does, and He has given us the opportunity to save the day. And the best part of all is we don't even need a mask or cape!

Friday, July 21, 2017

What a Tangled Web!

I walked through a spider web this morning. That, in and of itself, is not unusual. What is unusual is that I wasn't outside at the time. No, this spider web was in my house. And it was not a little web by any means. No, this web had its own zip code. It stretched from my curtains to my mantel and then down to my stereo.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I haven't won any "Housekeeper of the Year" awards. In fact, my housekeeping leaves A LOT to be desired (sorry, Mom). Nevertheless, I do frequently take the time to rid my house of spider webs. The problem is that we live in a very old house which means there are a lot of cracks and crevices for pesky little critters to enter in. And enter in they do. I can be completely rid of spider webs in the morning, but by afternoon, my house resembles the ancient crypts. It's unreal how quickly and elaborately these spiders can spin their webs.

You know who else is good at spinning webs? Satan. He can spin webs of discouragement, discontentment, and doubt better than any spider alive. The tricky part about these webs is that, like the web I walked through this morning, they often show up in unexpected places. Before we realize what's happening, we're tangled in a sticky web for which we were unprepared. 

For this reason, the Bible tells us to always be on guard. "Watch and pray," Jesus said. "Put on the whole armor of God." Over and over again, we are warned to expect the unexpected. When we do, we are less likely to become snared in one of Satan's webs.

As you get ready for the day today, be sure to grab your armor, your sword, and your shield. You may be facing fiery darts, but also be on guard for the unseen webs that may be in your path. They can often be as dangerous (and sometimes more) than the fiery darts. Beware!

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. - Ephesians 6:13

*Excerpt from Rise Up and Build Devotional:  52 Inspirational Thoughts for Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Pit of Voices

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. - Psalm 40:2

I believe all Christians can relate to this verse in one form or another.  How many times has God delivered us from danger?  How many times has He led us where we needed to go?  While there's loads of good meat in this one verse alone, I want to focus on the phrase "an horrible pit."

Have you ever felt like you were in a pit and no matter how hard you struggled, you just couldn't get out?  Maybe it was a pit of despair.  Or perhaps it was a pit of loneliness.  A pit of depression or a pit of fatigue.  I think we would all agree that those are horrible pits to find oneself in.  But the pit to which David is referring here is even worse.  In the Hebrew, the phrase "an horrible pit" is translated as "pit of voices."  Unfortunately, we can relate to that pit as well.

The world cries out to us, "Have it your way!"  Satan whispers in our ears, "Hath God said. . .?"  Even our own flesh calls out, "Life is hard.  I deserve a little happiness, don't I?"  And somewhere amid the cacophony is the still, small voice of the Savior saying, "Child, follow my lead."

We used to play a game with our church youth group that illustrated this pit of voices rather well.  Each team was made up of two players.  One player traversed an obstacle course while blindfolded, and the other gave the teammate directions.  The trick was that every other team was allowed to speak to the obstacle-facing contestant, and of course, they often chose to shout out incorrect directions meant to confuse, overwhelm and lead astray.  The only way the player could be successful was if he/she drowned out all other voices except that of his/her teammate.

Sometimes in life, I feel like I'm a contestant in this game without even realizing it.  Just like the player, friend and foe alike are filling my ears with advice, direction and suggestions.  It's up to me to filter out all other noise and to listen intently for that still, small voice.  Only then will I successfully finish the course.

*Excerpt from Rise Up and Build Devotional:  52 Inspirational Thoughts for Dealing with Anxiety and Depression