Stormy weather

stormy-weatherIf you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I write a lot about the storms of life. I have moments when my heart hurts and I think that surely my life has been stormier than most, but I know that it has not. Most of us keep our storms hidden… or at least we find a way to mitigate their appearance.

But however well we hide them, the storms come to us all. Some of us cry in public, others in private. Some of us rage while others medicate. But the common denominator in each of these responses is pain.

The storms of life are painful, even devastating, but every phase is covered in God’s Word. For every moment, there is a promise that He made to us that we can stand on and believe in and draw strength from.

He bore our griefs. (Isaiah 53:4) He healed our broken hearts. (Psalm 147:3) He brings new life and joy. (Psalm 30:11) He fights our battles. (2 Chronicles 20:17) He closes the mouths of the lions. (Daniel 6:22) He restores our souls. (Psalm 23:2)

Whatever we’re facing, we serve a God who is faithful in the storm if we humble ourselves and run to Him. His salvation does not come to those who stand with arms folded. His salvation comes to the heart that is flayed open before Him, the heart that says, “Oh God, please help me. I need you. I cannot do this in my own strength. Save me.” God responds to the softened heart that comes to Him in humility. He responds to the prayer of faith and expectancy. He responds to His children who run to Him, not from Him.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. Psalm 23:4 AMP

Run to Him. Drop your baggage and run to Him. He is waiting for you.

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Change your spots

leopardAre you a leopard who desperately needs to change your spots? Is your life in the toilet? Do you need a miracle?

In this day and age, you’d be hard pressed to find any believer who doesn’t need a miracle in one way or another.

How do you get what you need from God? ASK HIM. He is ready to help but most times we are so goofed up in our heads that we don’t even know we need it. Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG

Take the mercy, accept the help!

Leopards CAN change their spots with the help of the Word of God. Renewing your mind daily with His Word changes your spots. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

Get out of the toilet. Go to God and ask for help. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 NLT If we ever needed wisdom from God, it’s now.

Jailbreak

img_0710Isaiah 45:2 says, I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.

Some of us are in a cage and we need to break out. What is holding you back? What is stealing your life from you? God wants you free. God sent Jesus to the cross to accomplish this end. The devil is a liar, a thief, a tyrant, and a killer.

God brings life, peace, fulfillment, purpose, and joy. Even during the dark times.

Seek Him out; find Him. He can rescue you, cut your bars of iron, and set you free. His Word is life to those who find it and health to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:22)

Go find it.

Don’t sit and quit

dogtreatsDon’t sit and quit. Stay engaged. Stay in the game. Stay in the fight. Press on toward the mark. Philippians 3:14 says in a lofty and strangely religious way, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

It’s a mouthful. But it just means we’re trying, we’re not quitting, we’re staying engaged in the fight to make this life of faith work and serve God with our whole heart.

The Message translation says it this way: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

As for me, I’m not turning back. I’ve come way too far to ditch it all now.

The state of your union

Hot and coldWhat’s the state of your union? I’m not talking about your relationships, I mean what’s the state of your insides? Is there peace? War? Personally, mine have recently been engaged in a skirmish. On one side there is faith… on the other, fear. Only one of them can win.

The Bible says a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25), so there has to be a winner. There will be a winner; whether I like it or not.

So, how do I tip the scale in favor of faith?

The Word of God in my mouth is the only way. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The Message translation says it this way: “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”

Every loose thought and emotion and impulse… How many of those do I have in a day?

The power lies in recognizing them when they come, and then forcing them to align with a life shaped by Christ. In other words, forcing my thoughts, emotions, and impulses to line up with the Word of God… the Word of God that is hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against Him. (Psalm 119:11)

It’s a battle, make no mistake. The very fact that I’m human and I was born on planet Earth, a sin-filled, fallen world means that there are forces working against me, against my peace, against my fulfillment and my destiny. But I know how to overcome them. God’s Word and His Holy Spirit have given me the power and the tools to calm the state of my union, and declare a winner.

 

Mind control

Mind control“I hate it when he does that.” “Oh, she irritates me so bad.” “Why am I the one who always has to do it?” Have you ever asked those questions?

Surely not. Surely it’s just me who ever sinks that low. Surely the rest of you always think sweet and kind thoughts toward your family and friends.

Or maybe not.

The Bible talks a lot about this so that makes me think it’s kind of important. Let me break it down with some scripture to back up my hypothesis.

Philippians 4:8 NKJV says this: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Focus on their good qualities? You mean I have to control my thoughts? Whaa? How do I do that?

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV

Every thought? You mean, don’t let my mind run wild? And just how long exactly do I have to do that?

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. Galatians 6:9 AMP

Oh, so that’s a while. I guess I’ve got some work to do.

Open your Holly Bibble

The holly bibbleHow easy is it to scroll through social media for hours, binge on Netflix, or watch a mindless reality TV marathon? It’s so easy it’s scary. Why is that so easy, but making time for the Word of God is so hard?

The Bible. The Word. The Book. The Scriptures. The Holly Bibble. Whatever you call it, for Pete’s sake, open it! It’s life and health and peace and joy to those who find it (Proverbs 4). It cannot help you just sitting on the night stand or occupying space on your home screen. What good is medicine if you don’t take it? What good is food if you don’t eat it?

The Word of God is alive. It is sharp and powerful. It pierces the darkness. It opens your eyes. It fills the emptiness. It clears the cobwebs. It sparks the heart.

Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. What exactly is a wile? It’s trickery! It’s the nasty, evil, backwards, underhanded, sneaky, hateful way of Satan. He doesn’t play nice and he doesn’t play fair. And there’s only one way to beat him… with God’s Word. Jesus demonstrated that repeatedly by telling Satan, “It is written, ” over and over again.

Read it on paper, read it on your phone or tablet, journal through it with markers and colored pencils, devo through it with Joyce Meyer. I don’t care how you do it, just do it.

Zip your lip

Zip your lipJust because you know something doesn’t mean you have to share it. There are many a circumstances where a closed mouth is way more powerful than an open one.

The Book of Proverbs, which shows me the error of my ways on a regular basis, teaches us that a soft answer turns away wrath. I’ll take that one better and submit to you that at times, no answer at all can save you a migraine.

Here is a churchy version:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. (Proverbs 15:1-2 NKJV)

Here is a modern version:

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise; fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense. (Proverbs 15:1-2 Message)

Either way, sometimes we need to zip it.

He made me this way

Juli baby pics4 (2)Let’s skip over the fact that I haven’t written in ages and focus on the fact that I’m writing now, okay?

Last night my bible app led me to a simple scripture, one I’ve read a thousand times and heard a thousand times sung in an old Sunday School song. It’s amazing how you can hear something in a song over and over but not really hear it. A song from the past, like Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya, kind of memory. (Lynn thought that “Montserrat mystique” was “mounds of rotten steak, ha.”)

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

Hallelujah, glory hallelujah. Can you hear it?

He made me. That means He made my mind and the way it operates. He made my emotions and the way they operate. He designed my goofy personality. He made my body, my face. He made my hair. He made my teeth. He made my bones. He even made my hips. And then He made them spread in childbirth and not go all the way back. He did that. Not me.

I am the way I am because He made me that way. And He made everybody different. He made all kinds. Thinkers and dreamers and planners and list-makers and risk-takers and everything in between.

When we get upset that someone doesn’t do things like we would, whose fault is that? They don’t do things the way we would because they’re not made like us. And they didn’t make themselves… God did.

You don’t like that? Take it up with Him!

Take it with you

imageIt’s easy to find peace sitting on a balcony in Maui overlooking the ocean and hearing the soft waves and humming doves. Anyone can do that. But I go home tomorrow. I go home to bills and decisions and stressors… I go home to real life. What do I do?

I take this peace with me.

Jesus gave this peace to me. He tells me so in John 14:27. And He didn’t say I’d only have it on Maui. He gave it to me wholesale… no caveats. He gave it to you just the same.

Here it is four different ways. Pick one.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (NKJV)

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] (AMP)

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (NLT)

That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (MSG)

They all say Jesus gave me peace and no matter where my feet step, I’m taking it with me.