Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Today I want to share a bit of what God is doing in my own heart in hopes that it will resonate in your heart. I am only sharing ‘a bit’ because I’m pretty sure that God is nowhere near finished with this particular work. If you have walked with Jesus more than a pair of days, you might just have experienced something similar. I feel like periodically God does an assessment of my heart, very much like a homeowner looks at their home. He opens doors and cabinets. He pushes back stuff and junk. He swings doors back and forth to see if they squeak. He wipes away the cobwebs so He can get a clear view of the rafters. Once He has assessed the situation, He begins moving in the demolition equipment. Suddenly, a renovation of the entire east wing of my heart is underway, and it feels like the jackhammers and crowbars are going full speed. Just as with a home renovation, there is dust and shaking and pulling down. Things need to be in order for light and truth to take up residence. AND IT IS PAINFUL! THAT is where I find myself currently.       There are two tools that God is using in my heart reno. Two verses of Scripture. Let me share them with you. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (ESV) And the second one: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we...

Are You Serious About Prayer?

Does God ever ‘pester’ you? He does me, although I suppose it’s not fair to call it ‘pestering.’ Perhaps I should say He nags me. Hmmm, no, that does not sound quite right either. Ah, I know. He is insistent. That’s it. Insistent that I pay attention to something important. That’s what has been going on in my heart recently. God has been all up in my business about PRAYER.       Now, let me start off by saying that I pray…every day. The fact of a prayer life is not what He has been speaking to me about. Instead, He has been reminding me of the POWER of prayer. It all began a few months ago, when a friend told me he was going to do something that he and I both knew was outside of God’s will. Yet, he was bound and determined to do it. My heart was broken over it. Broken so much that I wept on the spot when he told me about his plans. Being the controller that I am, over the next few days I tried to figure out a way I could change his mind. There was not a way. As I agonized over the situation (and that is what I did because I knew my friend’s decision would bring grave and painful consequences), the Holy Spirit reminded me that there was something I could do to change the situation. I could pray. In fact, when my friend told me about his intentions, I rather boldly, but in love, told him two things: first, God cannot bless what you are...

Discerning Right from Almost Right

If you were to come visit me at my home, I would send you directions. I’m a pretty darned good direction giver. I would give you a starting location and tell you about landmarks along the way. I would give you the street name and number for my home. I would even tell you which fork in my driveway to take to get you to my front door. So, let’s assume I gave you those directions to my home, but I made one teeny, tiny error. I left one number out of my street address. Oh, not on purpose, but let’s blame it on auto-correct!! Danged auto-correct!!! Suppose my street number is 7639, but I give you 639. Every other word of the directions is correct, except the street number. How difficult will it be for you to find me? Probably pretty hard. But, but, I was almost right. What’s a little number between friends? Well, friend, you just found out that there is a big difference between being right and almost right. Theologian Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” We live in a culture that has blurred the line between right and almost right so much that the two are nearly indistinguishable. It would be wise for us to step back a few paces and ask this question: “How do we discern between right and almost right?” I believe there are three things we need to understand to do this. God’s Word is Right and...

An Invitation to Hop Off the Merry-Go-Round

I don’t know about you, but all too often I find myself trapped on the merry-go-round of life, seeing the world as a spinning blur. You, too?     Good morning! Today I want to take a few moments and encourage us all to bring the merry-go-round to a halt for a moment and look around us. But first, let me tell you what brought me to this point. I am currently reading a book entitled Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy. In Roots & Sky, Purifoy chronicles the first year of the life of her family in a new-to-them home. There have been several passages from the book that have spoken intensely to my heart, and today I want to share one of them. “We fool ourselves if we believe that life is the tedium of our to-do lists broken up by occasional highs, like a baby’s homecoming, and occasional lows, like that baby’s first terrifying trip to the emergency room. Everyday life is utterly extravagant. It is morning glories we did not plant. It is four children we did nothing to deserve. It is moonlight and starlight, rainbow-colored leaves and autumn rains. It is the shelter of trees, the songs of birds, and the enduring sight of a farmhouse on a hill. It is more beautiful than it needs to be. It is more meaningful than we can begin to comprehend.” I will confess that quote hit me like a ton of bricks because I have a tendency to look at life as the tedium of my to-do list…everything running together,...

Are You In The Shredder?

As I prayed about what to share with you today, my thoughts turned to a bit of work I did last weekend. About once a month, I sit down on the floor of my home office and spend time shredding bills and other documents that are too sensitive for just tossing into the regular garbage. Saturday was the day I did that, and it offered a vivid object lesson that I want to share with you. You see, I had already spent time earlier in the day with Jesus. Part of that sweet time is spent in prayer….praying for others, as well as myself. Recently, my prayer list seems especially heavy with hurting hearts and lives. Cancer and other life threatening diagnoses, marriages ripped apart, upcoming medical tests, financial difficulties, confusion, anxiety and so much more. It seems that  lives and hearts are shredded at a faster and more vicious rate than ever before. Dreams and hearts torn to shreds, unrecognizable and without hope of ever experiencing the normal of their previous life. A verse came to mind as I thought about the viciousness of life here on this fallen, spinning orb. You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8 (ESV) God sees the pain that each person experiences. He not only sees it, He experiences it. His heart is moved by it so much so that He collects our tears and places them in a bottle. Imagine it! He also records them in His book. He is intimately involved in what is going on with...

Is Defeat Eating Your Lunch?

Today I want us to ponder something that all of us experience, yet many never find a way to crawl out of. But I know there is a way. Is there an area of your life in which you constantly feel defeated? A portion of your walk where you cannot seem to consistently walk in victory? If you answered ‘NO’, I’m here to give you a HIGH FIVE. But if you, like me, answered with a resounding ‘YES’, I want to share with you what the Lord spoke to me recently about this matter. I have an area where I just cannot seem to consistently walk in victory. I want to BADLY, yet it seems, more often than not, I default to defeat. The Lord showed me that I must begin the battle for victory in my mind. That is where it all begins. I must take seriously Psalm 19:14 and let the words of my mouth and the MEDITATIONS OF MY HEART be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. He made sure I understood that those meditations, those thoughts that lead to defeat, must be confessed before Him and repented of to Him. Then, I must ask Him to help me replace those thoughts with godly, Christ-like thoughts. In my case, as I confessed my thoughts, He showed me that I was defaulting to selfish and self-centered thoughts, rather than humble, others-first ones. Oops! That bites! Because really, who likes to think of themselves as selfish and self-centered? Will I immediately walk in victory over this area of defeat? Maybe, but not likely. Satan does not want...

How Strong is Your Core?

In my early 20s I began exercising, walking at least 30 – 50 minutes each day. This pattern continued into my 30s and 40s. My walking path included several very long and steep hills, giving me a great cardio workout. In my late 40s I developed bursitis in both of my hips and was forced to decrease my walking and find other ways to get the exercise I needed. I began swimming at the local gym. For several years I walked 2-3 days per week and swam laps 2-3 days per week, giving me a nice variety of exercise that satisfied my inner Richard Simmons!! Then, along came January 22, 2016 ~~ the day that will live in infamy, at least as far as I am concerned. It was on that day as I was innocently walking through my office that sacro-iliac joint inflammation hit me like a wrecking ball. I wrote about it in THIS post, entitled I’ve Reached My Limit. Needless to say, SI Joint Inflammation has stopped me in my tracks and given me a new view of life. My physical therapy is concentrating on strengthening my core, which includes doing planks. Sounds harmless enough, huh? Do not be fooled. These exercises are straight out of some evil dictator’s torture manual for prisoners! Core? What am I, an apple? What’s the big deal about my core? Glad you asked.     Our core consists of all the muscles in the abdominal area of our bodies. If you were a tree, your core would be the trunk which allows you to rise to the sky and stand...

Encouragement for When Life Hits Hard

As I prayed into today’s post, the Lord brought to mind one of the quotes from Bob Goff’s book, Love Does. “When Jesus invites us on an adventure, He shapes who we become with what happens along the way.” I am a fan of political thriller novels, which always involve a main character that perseveres through deception and danger to emerge the hero of the story. This type of novel is packed with hold-your-breath moments where you are not sure if the hero will make it out alive (of course, they will because they are the HERO of the story). If we were to interview the main character in the middle of the storyline when they are being shot at or tortured, ‘adventure’ would probably not be the word they would use to describe their current circumstance. They might say that life is painful and hard, and they would probably want to quit. Ultimately, though, they persevere, and who they are at the end of the novel is the sum total of what they have experienced in the preceding pages. Without exception, life for humans can be hard, and it does not always feel like an adventure. There are times of joy and pleasure, as well as times of pain and trial. Some days flow over us like a gentle breeze, while others twist us like a tornado. But, there is hope.     For the Christ-follower, there will be a day that you will look back on our lives and become fully aware of what God was doing in the tough times. Until that day, however, you may...

4 Things Jesus Wants You to Know About Hell

Last year I wrote a post about HELL entitled What About Hell?: 4 Things Satan Does Not Want You to Understand About Hell. It was the most read and pinned post that I have ever offered. Although we do not hear many sermons on the topic of hell, people are apparently very interested in it. As Christians who have the answer and antidote to hell, it is our responsibility to tell those who are not yet believers about heaven and about hell. Jesus spoke frequently of hell in the Scriptures, so I believe we are wise to consider His perspective. Today, I want us to do just that. There are 4 things that Jesus wants you to understand about hell.     Hell is a real place In Revelation 1:18 Jesus appears to John on the Isle of Patmos and declares that He holds the keys to death and hell, or Hades. While there is debate over whether Jesus actually descended into hell in the three days between his death and resurrection, the Revelation passage makes it abundantly clear that Jesus has personal experience with hell. It may be simply because He was part of creating it, or because He has been there. Either way, He holds the keys. When you purchase a car or home and receive the keys that will open or start your purchase, you also receive a title that proclaims you to be the owner. Jesus has the keys to hell. Clearly, He owns it. Hell was never created for man. It was created to be the place where Satan and his demons would suffer...

Learning to Embrace My 2016 Word

Sometimes you pray and ask God for something that you think you really want. Then, when He answers your prayers, you discover that perhaps you are a just a little bit miffed at the answer He gave. So it is with my One Word for 2016. For the past several years I have asked the Lord for a word that would define the coming year. A word that I could lean into. A word that He would use and bring to pass in my life that year. Each year He has been faithful to give me a word, or two. Each year that word has impacted my life in ways that I cannot even begin to recount. 2012 ………………. TRUST 2013 ………………. JESUS ……………… FOCUS 2014 ……………… LOSS……………….OTHERS 2015 ……………… RENEW I’ll just tell you, though, I do not like my word for 2016 one little bit. I’ve told Him that. This word will require something of me. Not that the other words and years did not. Oh, boy did they! This one, however, is different. If you know me at all, you know that I am a Type A controller. I have little patience for laziness or shirking one’s responsibilities. My motto has always been ‘if I want something done right, I just need to do it myself’. I go like a crazy woman from the time my feet hit the floor until I drop in bed. I feel guilty if I am not productive, and lists are my very best friend. Oh, I would love to just plop in a chair and read for a few hours,...