The Christmas Blessing

It was a cold, blustery day and only a few days until Christmas. I was feeling so overwhelmed with all the hustle and bustle of holiday activities. How was I ever going to finish everything I needed to do before Christmas Day? I had to clean the house, buy the groceries, start the baking and finish my shopping for Christmas gifts.

In this busyness the church we attended had also signed up to sing every Sunday in December at the nursing home. I wasn’t exactly chipper about that and thought to myself, “Half of them can’t hear and the other half just sleep in their chairs while we sing so why are we there?” I scolded myself for thinking such a terrible thing and dutifully pasted on a smile before heading out to the church parking lot so I could drive and meet everyone else at the nursing home. Pulling into the parking lot I thought, “Maybe, just maybe, we could get finished in time for me to hit the mall and finish getting the last few presents needed to go under my Christmas tree.”

The cold wind whipped the hem of my long coat around my legs as I hurried into the recreation room. Helping to pass out the worn blue hymnals to everyone I found myself thinking, “Let’s get this show on the road people!” Once we started to sing I noticed the Christmas tree lights seem to be extra bright and the star at the top was even brighter . Then it hit me like a ton of bricks and I almost dropped my hymnal. The bright star represented Jesus and the little lights represented us. These little lights were smaller but great in number and received their ability to shine from the larger light. A verse swept through my mind ….let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt 5:16). Our good deeds are for the purpose of glorifying God not out own image!

He is Christ which means the anointed one and his anointing and we are Christians which means little anointed ones. He wants his anointing to be in us and light up the world! That light-the one from Him- is where our good deeds are to originate from, not from religious duty. That is the kind of light that glorifies Him. He is the light of the world! People might see us doing stuff but they can’t see the light without us allowing Him to shine through us. It isn’t about doing more but about “being” or becoming more like Him so His light can shine through us. Also, in Matthew chapter 5 Jesus is talkimg about the Beatitudes and the attributes he wants us to have or “be” like: merciful, peacemakers, pure of heart, hungering & thirsting for righteousness, and meek.

The more I sang the happier my heart became and the more I felt like “Christmas”. Baking Christmas cookies had never made me feel like this! I began to understand that Christmas isn’t about trying to make it seem like Christmas by doing all the things we think we must, like decorating and gift wrapping but it is really allowing His light and love to flow out of us and touch people. That is what happened the first Christmas. He was born and a great light came into this dark world. Wise men (and women) were and still are guided by it.

That day I learned that being Christmas is so much different and better than doing Christmas. The folks at the nursing home had given me far more than I had given them. My heart was filled with joy and I felt so relaxed and less stressed. I guess that is why Jesus said, “ If you’ve given to the least of these then you have given to me.” It felt like I had been given back a little piece of heaven!

His yoke really is easy. We make Christianity hard by trying to do it in our own power and being miserable. May we all this Christmas season become the “little lights” of his anointing and His vessels that illuminate the darkness. Then our good works won’t be duty and rather than praising what we have done they will see His power in and through us. He gets all the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Good Life

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” – John Wesley

Ahh……… the good life.  What is it and better yet how do we obtain it?   Most people envision themselves lounging on a tropical beach, curling their toes into soft, white sand as they sip from a cool drink with a funny, little umbrella peeking from the top. Yet, the truth is we can be in such a beautiful setting and still be miserable, relaxed maybe, but still miserable.  I have been there and “bought the t-shirt”, as some like to say.  Were you abused as an innocent child? Did your best friend die in a automobile accident?  Maybe your spouse cheated on you or perhaps, you are fighting to survive a terrible disease.  There is still a way to have the good life.   I know, for all these tragedies have crossed my path and during them I felt like life would never be good again.   

Everyone knows the golden rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you, but to have the “good life” the rule must be taken a step further. I have found that the good life is more like a boomerang. If you throw it out, then it will return to you.
It doesn’t matter if life has thrown us a series of curve balls; we can still hit a home run if we swing just right. It takes a strong desire, a never give up attitude and a lot of “batting practice” but the good life is worth the effort. I am not going to say it is easy. It is easier to just lay in bed with the covers over our head but if we do not play then we will definitely lose the ball game. Everyday won’t be “sunshine and roses” but if we do something good for someone else it not only revives us but can inspire others to do good as well. That is how evil in this world is overcome and the good life becomes a reality.
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

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Fear.
It is a little word with big connotations. A powerful emotion that can paralyze us, make us put up our fists or throw in the towel.

Sometimes, I picture the devil’s toolshed and I see his shovel of discouragement he uses to cover us with piles of, “You can’t do that”, his hammer of inferiority he uses to beat us down with, “Who do you think you are?”, and his swing blade of fear that cuts us down to our knees and leaves us shaking in our boots. We must stop letting him use these tools to mow us down and instead rise up and become the man or woman God has called us to be. How do we do that? We do it by fighting our flesh that tries to hold us back. It tells us to run the other direction. Instead, we must catch it by the shirttail and make it turn around and say, “Oh, no you don’t! You’ve got a job to do!”

You see God didn’t bring us through stuff just so we would set on the sidelines and not play in the game. We might get tackled or even hurt again out there, but we also might throw or catch a pass for God’s team. How will we know if we just stand there?

That really is what it is, you know. God’s team vs the devil’s team. You are either on one or the other. The devil will always have discouragement, inferiority and fear in his playbook, but God has a playbook too. It is called the Holy Bible filled with stories of players who overcame the enemy’s taunts, schemes and attacks. It shows us we can too!

I’ve let fear bench me too many times in life but that was because I thought I had to do it alone and didn’t realize that there were more for me than against me. Scripture tell us, “He that’s in me is greater than he that is in the world”. Do we believe that? Is our life showing that? There is a dark part of the world that God wants all of us to bring light to. It’s time to put on those combat boots and march out to do that. Remember our weapons are not carnal but mighty for the pulling down of strongholds and Jesus said we would overcome snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy.

I like what I heard T.D. Jakes say once, “Don’t let the devil put a question mark where God wants to put an exclamation point!” God has a toolshed full of tools He lets us use too. They were bought and paid for by His son! So, let’s overcome fear by opening the Door. Let’s read and apply His word to our circumstances today!
The truth will set you free. Free from fear or any of the devil’s tools he may have used to try and stop you.



It Takes Three Baby

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We’ve been through more twists and turns in our 37 years of marriage than the roller coasters at Six Flag. Yet, God has held us and brought us through it all.

This is a message received right after I awoke from surgery and saw my sweet husband, Tim, was by my side. It made me thankful for sticking out the bad times and I wanted to help others know it was possible for them as well.

We don’t just love a person but we love a person WITH their problems. If folks married with this knowledge then they would not get so upset when the hormones and honeymoon came to an end. Unfortunately, since most do not understand it they get discouraged and feel trapped in something they think they never signed up for. Yet, if you marry you DID “sign up” for it.

This doesn’t mean the problems of our mates are alright. Marriage draws out the stuff that needs to be worked on in our lives. A spouse must see that they CAN love their spouse without loving their problems! Together we can pull up the problem by the roots and finally not see them as a final indicator of how our marriage will be but as a stepping stone to the wonderful experience a marriage should be.

Marriage is a ministry and probably one of the most important ministries we will ever experience in our lives. It touches for generations to come. Children usually emulate what they see their parents do.

It isn’t an easy calling in life to be married but God will bless what we give to Him even when it is our weaknesses. He will take those and show us how to strengthen one another in love.

That love that comes from the source of love can move any mountain out of the way.

May we all, with God’s help and goodness, leave a legacy of love and grace that our children and grandchildren will talk about. Showing others that, with God, the impossible is possible.

CHOOSING to Praise the Goodness of the Lord

You are GOOD!

You are wonderful!

You are amazing!

You are my breath!

Without YOU I cannot make it!

I don’t always understand why you allow the things you do but I know you are SOVEREIGN

Then You remind me that challenges are allowed in our lives because it will make us into WHO we need to be. If we overcome large adversities then when smaller ones come along they will not be as hard. We wouldn’t want to go through pain or abuse but it creates the potential to form us into people WHO know our God. We learn He is the rope that holds us as we climb and even though we might lose our footing we do not fall off the mountain because he is there holding us. He may not take away the mountain but he does provide the safety equipment we need in order to climb it.

There is a song:

YOU RAISE ME UP WHERE I CAN STAND ON MOUNTAINS

YOU RAISE ME UP TO WALK ON STORMY SEAS

I AM STRONG WHEN I AM ON YOUR SHOULDERS

YOU RAISE ME UP TO MORE THAN I CAN BE!

Adversities make us who we NEED to be if we allow God to use them to our benefit and not allow the devil to use them to destroy us.

The other day, I was waiting for my car to be worked on and the reading material was very limited. I scrounged through the magazines bypassing the hunting and mechanicing issues and deciding on one called Essence. God put an article in my path I wouldn’t have normally read. It was an amazing interview with two of the most influential people on the planet at this moment: Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey. I don’t believe everything they say or do is godly or inspirational; but in this article they were talking about the abuse they both had suffered in their lives and even though they don’t think anyone should have had to endure such things they realize without it they probably would not be where they are right now. They have become people who could endure hardships better than most people and people with more compassion for the hurting than most people. God has been able to lift them to a position with power because they will not abuse that power but use it for good in this world to help others who are struggling instead of using it to tear people down. They have a voice because of their right response to the abuse they suffered. The abuse, inadvertently, has been their stepping stone to success while others have let it be a slippery slope into things that destroy them and others. It all boils down to choices!!!

Everything is based on choices! We can make EXCUSES all day long but that wil never help us overcome adversity or sin, for that matter, in our lives. Jesus died for us to MASTER it. If we do not let him help us to do so then we are saying his death was in vain! God never gave us excuses! He says ” This is the WAY walk in it”!

God wants some of us to have a VOICE in this world. It is nothing we’ve done. It is something HE did IN us even before we were formed in our Mother”s womb. YES! WE EXISTED EVEN BEFORE WE WERE PLACED INSIDE OUR MOTHER!

The Lord knows you have a voice, but guess what? So does the devil and he will do the best he can to silence that voice which God has given to you. Don’t let that happen!!!! Choose WHO you will serve!! He sits before you blessings and cursings. LIFE or death. Choose LIFE! Choose to be that VOICE!

WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?

“Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I really like this quote by C.S .Lewis. He didn’t say, “You must forgive”, like a lot of people do and make you feel like you are unspiritual if you are having trouble with it. He humanized it and let’s us know that our feelings are very NORMAL. Those feelings are not to be hidden or ashamed of; but rather should be wrestled with so we don’t give CHEAP or false forgiveness (which most people do). 

 Forgiveness without a purpose isn’t really forgiveness. It is fake and selfish. Real forgiveness is a true gift of love and compassion or care for another’s wellbeing birthed from a desire to see people become all God called them to be.  It isn’t this stuff people preach about forgiveness being “a gift you give yourself”. That’s only caring about Y-O-U!

Remember Jesus forgave with a purpose. It was so He could make us like Himself and present us to the Father without spot or blemish.

The Lord has a purpose in everything that has ever happened to us. He is doing something amazing through it. He is doing a heart transplant! He is taking away what we do not need & putting in what we do need because He is the author and finisher of our faith.

Our outcome is not determined by what others have done to us but our response to it. None of us chose our family or origin, or the mindsets we were taught, but with an open heart and open mind we can begin to change the way we think and act.

We must be willing to let the Lord have the defects we identify in ourselves. It can really hurt and feel like tearing off a piece of our physical flesh because we have had them and used them so long. Yet, if we allow Him to circumcise the flesh from our hearts then our true destiny in life can start to be.

We must want God’s plan for our life more than we want man’s plan for it. It isn’t easy. Every devil in hell will pull against us and try to deceive us through all sorts of ways; especially by reminding us over and over about the way other people have treated us.

We must not let the enemy of our souls sidetrack us any longer but allow God to work the real work of forgiveness in our hearts; no matter how long it takes. Then we become more like Him and the bride without spot or blemish He wants to present to His Son.

“Why-ning”

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Just saw James Robinson’s show “Life Today” and he was talking about a book that he and his wife, Betty, have written entitled: Living in Love. He said he and Betty should not still be together, but they have been married for 47 years and have a dynamic relationship. It is not that they are perfect and don’t still have difficulties, but they work through them.

Marriage is a constant effort. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand that and think they have a contract instead of a covenant with their spouse. The devil will do all he can to destroy the commitment and love couples have for each other. It is a constant battle! If one isn’t ready for the battle, then one isn’t ready for marriage. Feelings of love come and go in a relationship, but true love goes beyond those feelings.

The battlefield is the mind and satan waged war on me just last week; feeding me thoughts that made me feel very unloved and neglected. I felt like I had to do everything to keep this relationship alive and that I was very tired of having to do it all. Why couldn’t I be the recipient instead of the initiator for once! I felt like I have been investing a lot of effort, but the returns were not very good for all my effort. It all felt very unfair to me. The negative thoughts built and built until I began to get myself into a pity party. I mean I have been through a lot this year with the cancer and all it encompasses why do I have to be responsible for keeping love alive as well! I went along like this for about three days then I started to see how destructive my thoughts were. Oh, I had been praying but I wasn’t doing much listening.

I finally started listening then started hearing God. One of the first things He did was ask me how loveable I had been lately. I knew it was Him because I wasn’t wanting to talk about me. My honest answer was that I hadn’t been very lovable at all due to my terrible mood. I asked God, “Why couldn’t my husband rise up and be what I needed then my mood would change, and I would be more lovable.” “Why is that I have to do it all.” “Why does my mood determine the family’s mood?” “Why can’t my family do something to help my mood?” I noticed that I was “why-ning” a lot. I was expecting my husband to do things he has no idea how to do. Two broken people trying to fix each other is not possible. One of us must turn to the one who can fix the brokenness in our lives. I cannot change him, but I can change me by getting God’s perspective on things.

So that is what I am trying to do. In fact, I really have all I can handle in regards to my own inadequacies and letting God mold me and make me into his image without worrying about someone else’s reshaping. They’ll have to handle that themselves with God. But amazingly when I start focusing on becoming more of the woman I need to be for God, what others do or don’t do doesn’t bother me as much . Plus others seem to follow suit. If I am mean and crabby then they are mean and crabby. If I am pleasing God and happy they are trying to be as well. It is almost like playing “follow the leader” sometimes and as long as God is the leader we will not trip and fall.