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C2C Church Christian Blog

Sense of Worth

According to Robert McGee there are four false beliefs that Satan uses to undermine a person's sense of worth. 1) The Performance Trap: "I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself." 2) Approval Addiction: "I must be approved and accepted by others to feel good about myself." 3) The Blame Game: "Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished." 4) Shame: "I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless." We need to connect to Christ. In doing so, let's now replace those lies with the truth of God's Word: 1) "I bear Christ's righteousness and am, therefore fully pleasing to the Father" (Romans 5:1). 2) "Although I was...alienated from God, I am now forgiven and totally accepted by God through Christ" (Colossians 1:21-22). 3) "Christ satisfied God's wrath against sin by His death...therefore, I am deeply loved by God (1 John 4:9-11). 4) "I am a new creation in Christ (John 3:3-6). Feeling better now? Take a minute and say, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Palm Sunday: The Arrival of the Savior

Faith Connections with Pastor Mary...

As many Christians celebrate Palm Sunday—the arrival of Jesus (the Light of Truth who illuminates the way to live a vibrant life in connection with God)—let's prepare our hearts by reflecting on some challenging questions.  For example, "Do I really want to know the Truth of God's love?  When I can see my level of love is deficient in certain areas (dark and selfish before God), will I trust Christ to enlarge my understanding and ability to love in a way that pleases God?  To accept and know Christ and to follow his ways will lead us to victory (death to selfishness and eternal life in God's love).  

"I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust me me will no longer remain in the dark." John 12:46

 

 

 

 

A Change in Thinking

 

God created the heavens and the earth, and placed creative humanity in a position to govern it under divine authority.  We have allowed ourselves to leave the ways of God to follow the false standard of culture because we love our own "THINKING"…and our natural thinking without God's influence is basically selfish and therefore, distorted.  And, the sad thing is when our thinking is distorted all of our attitudes and behaviors keep leaning in that direction.

Albert Einstein said, "The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.

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A Spirit of Thanksgiving

We serve a gracious and generous God.  Our response to God's grace and generosity should be a spirit of great thanksgiving and a passion to look like our Creator as we encounter people each day. 

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God Horizons: Prayer of Courage

Peter and John had been very bold in their witness of what Christ had done in their lives; how their lives had become whole and Christ's love had filled them.  God took these ordinary men and inspired them to "connect" with a man who had been lame for forty years.  This man was healed, in the name of Jesus, by the power of God's love through these two men.  Naturally, the church council and the religious leaders were not happy about this love and energy that was permeating "their" religious camp.  But, these religious leaders could not deny the courage and boldness that had come over these two men to speak the truth about how their lives had changed since meeting Jesus.  Peter and John were acting on what they could now see from God's horizon.  Peter and John were more concerned about what God desired to do through them, than how these people around them listening might react to what they might do and say.  This is an example of a stand of courageous love for God and people.  It is that courage for which we, as Christ followers, must seek to "connect." The Holy Spirit is the Giver and Initiator of such courage.  Following this story, the healing of the lame man, we see the early Church (followers of Christ) ramping up their prayer for courage...

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God Horizons: Priorities

"Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai:  "Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?  This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies says:  Look at what's happening to you!  You have planted much but harvest little.  You eat but are not satisfied.  You drink but are still thirsy.  You put on clothes but cannot keep warm.  Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes."  Haggai 1:1-8

Haggai talks about "Pockets with holes;" that provides a very good visual for us doesn't it? 

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God Horizons: A View of Problems

"If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth.  But I won't do it, because I don't want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God.  So, to keep me from being proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud." 2 Corinthians 6-12

The Apostle Paul knew all about issues and problems; yet, God trusted and empowered him to write a great portion of the New Testament.  Many Christians feel if they face intense problems, it is because God is displeased with them.  Punishment must be the reason; that's a human perspective.  

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God Horizons: Restoring Worship

Have you ever been caught up in deep worship--true oneness with God that filled and overwhelmed you with awe, wonder, praise, and thanksgiving?  The Apostle John did.  His spirit was translated from a physical location (more than likely the Island of Patmos) to the throne room of heaven where he witnessed the glory of God's presence (Revelation 4:1-11).

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God Horizons: I Strain

"If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me.  For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me.  I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark."  John 12:44-47 

A picture is most beautiful when the lighting is just right.  The eyes of our understanding are beautifully lit when we are trusting Christ.  When it comes to "seeing things clearly" for what they are in this world and your life, has it ever dawned on you that you may not really have the "lighted" picture?  In other words, do you ever admit that you might not be seeing things from a "Lighted" perspective?  

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God Horizons: Your True Identity

"When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.  You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said."  Luke 1:44

I want to take you back, over 2000 years ago, to a small town with a teenage girl, Mary.  She is entrusted with a Promise that has been delivered by an angel.  God places that promise within Mary; she is to give birth to Christ. It defies all logic; all reason.  It seems out of context; it looks like she is dishonored.  She ponders the word given by the angel; the message that she is highly favored and loved by God. She chooses to believe.  No one really knows for awhile about the Promise in Mary.  The ones that do, find it impossible to believe.  It's a huge gift, but carrying and explaining such a Gift is difficult.  Staying among the people who have known her and viewed her as a child with nothing significant yet to offer, makes it impossible for her to have the right perspective of herself--seeing herself from God's horizon.  How will she gain that proper vantage point?

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God Horizons: Holding Creation Together

Sunrise"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through him and for him.  He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together."  Colossians 1:15-17

The beauty of that which only our Supreme Creator can achieve.  Did you catch the sunrise this morning? Through Christ and for Christ you have been welcomed into another beautiful day!  Enjoy it, because the Most High is the Host who holds it altogether.  Rest in God's love for you!

The Spirit of Creativity

Creativity is not simply an artistic piece; it sends an image or message to our brain.  The Most High God is the Source of all creativity--the Spirit gives life to it as seen in Creation (Genesis 1).  God called for creativity when He began to fashion his House (Exodus 31:1-6).  Certainly, we need to make sure our goal is to bring glory to God with the creative works of our hands.  Did you know that at different times the Church--the people of God--set a standard for creative expression?

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JESUS Written on the Heart

I had an amazing experience last week on my way to Orlando.  Driving along on Interstate 4 approaching the Apopka area, I looked up in the sky and saw an airplane doing skywriting. There it was in the sky; the letter "J." It was clear as could be.  Now, that is something I do not see often, so I was wondering what letters would come next.  As I continued to watch I noticed an "E" and an "S."  I thought to myself, I wonder... 

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Hospitality Jesus Style

What comes to your mind when you think about the word, Hospitality?  Jesus always seemed to know how to treat others by making them feel welcomed and valued.  He understood hospitality.  Let's look at an example from Luke 19. 

Jesus is looking to teach more about the kingdom of God.  He runs into a man name, Zacchaeus, who has climbed up in a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus.  What is the first thing Jesus does upon seeing this man in the tree?  He calls the man by name.  Then, he says, "Zacchaeus...come down!  I must be a guest in your home today" (Luke 19:5).  Isn't it just like the Savior to not only make us feel valued, but want to spend time with us?

The Master wants to spend time with you, too.  Take time, today, to enjoy the love of God found in Jesus Christ.  Find a quiet place and call the name of Jesus.

Living in God's Presence

"Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need."  Ephesians 6:18


How do I live in God's presence?  How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? ...How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God?  Here are a few ideas:

Give God your waking thoughts.  Before you face the day, face the Father.  Before you step out of bed, step into his presence.

Give God your waiting thoughts.  Spend time with him in silence.

Give God your whispering thoughts.  Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God.

Give God your waning thoughts.  At the end of the day, let your mind settle on him.  Conclude the day as you began it:  talking to God.

 

Reading from Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

God Horizons: Vibrant Relationships

"You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?  Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."  Matthew 5:13-16

 

God created us for relationships.  Within those relationships, we are called to be salt and light--the flavor and illumination of God's love that has been extended to us.  When we respond to the love of God found in Jesus, we become partakers in the Common Story.  We share and tell our part of the Story, as well as advance God's kingdom in this world through the cultivating of other vibrant relationships.  This is the context in which God has called his Church--the people of God--to grow in connection to Christ.

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Word Power: The Mind of Christ

Our words matter to God; we need to align our words with the Word of God.  Jesus came to earth that we might know the Father through the Word--the mind of Christ.  If we do not spend time getting to know the Word, we cannot know God.  If we do not know God, we cannot be victorious in this world.  Have you been speaking the Word?  Have you been faithful to repeat what the Word says about you?  The enemy works through deception and if you do not know the Word, you will struggle to see yourself properly.  If you have not been speaking Truth about yourself, boldly declare today...

NEVER AGAIN
John 15:7  Jesus taught us, "But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted.

John 17:17-18  Jesus prayed to the Father for us, "Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.  Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world."

I Corinthians 2:12-16 The Apostle Paul received Christ's teaching and then taught us, "And we have received God's Spirit, so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.  When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom.  Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths.  But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit.  It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.  Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.  For '"Who can know the Lord's thoughts?  Who knows enough to teach him?'  But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ."'
 

1.  Never again  will I confess "I can't" for if God sends me "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Phil. 4:13

2.  Never again will I confess unmet needs or poverty for "My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory."  Phil. 4:19

3.  Never again will I confess fear for "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  II Tim. 1:7

4.  Never again will I confess doubt or lack of faith for "God has given to every person a measure of faith."  Romans 12:3 

5.  Never again will I confess weakness for "The Lord is the strength of my life." Psalm 27:1

6.  Never again will I confess supremacy of Satan over my life for "...the Spirit who lives in me is greater than the spirit who lives in the world."  I John 4:4

7.  Never again will I confess defeat for "God always causes me to triumph in Christ Jesus."  II Corinthians 2:14

8.  Never again will I confess sickness for "With his stripes I am healed."  Isaiah 53:5  "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."  Matt 8:17

9.  Never again will I confess lack of wisdom for "Christ is made unto me wisdom from God."  I Cor. 1:30

10. Never again will I confess worries and frustrations for I am "Casting all my cares upon him who cares for me."  I  Peter 5:7

11. Never again will I confess bondage "For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."  II Cor. 3:17

12. Never again will I confess condemnation for "there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."  Romans 8:1 

Word Power: Connect 2 Christ

We connect with God and people through words; in this way we are simply acting like Jesus.  Our words are powerful and, therefore, must be purposeful. God created the universe through the Word, breath of God, and the Spirit manifested material substance.  We can create environments with our words, as well.  We can inspire by sharing our hopes and dreams or we can be a negative voice that brings everyone's spirit down. 

Satan can use words, too.  Eve was persuaded by Satan's lies to disobey God; causing a spiritual disconnection (Gen 3).  We must be careful to listen to the voice of our Shepherd, otherwise we can be deceived by Satan whose goal is to cause us to stop using our words for prayer and praise of God.  Follow the good Shepherd and stay connected.

Jesus said, "I am the good Shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father." John 10:14-15  

 

 

Word Power: Submit to God

Did you know that humbling ourselves or submitting to God is the best way to gain power when the enemy is trying to come against us?  James tells us it should be our first defense when we find ourselves under spiritual attack. 

"So, humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God and God will come close to you."  James 4:7-8  God does not like a prideful spirit; one that judges and does not have mercy for others. Therefore, when the enemy is ramping up in a spiritual attack against us, we need to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ; we need God on our side.  Second, we need to resist the devil; the devil has no authority over us unless we give him power.  Do not give Satan any way to infiltrate your thoughts or actions.  Resist his temptations by staying close to God; a picture of friendship.

"Never forget that God has given us authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power that the enemy possesses; and nothing shall in any way harm us."  Luke 10:19

Beatitudes: Persecuted

The word "persecuted" is just not one of those words that make us stand up and dance when we hear it, is it?  I mean can you really say that you love it when you are persecuted?  And, don't you find it odd that Jesus connects persecution with being one of his followers who are blessed?

Can you imagine telling people, "Hey, come and join in a relationship with me and you will be saved and blessed!  Oh yeah, by the Way, you need to expect persecution; so hang on."   Here's the great part about our connection with God through our Bridge--Jesus; life is sweet in Christ.  I would rather face persecution with Christ in my life than a smooth sail on the waters of life without Him.

In this Beatitude passage Jesus goes on to say, "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way." (Matthew 5:10-12).  People will lie about you and falsely accuse you; I can testify to having suffered in this way, can you?  We must understand that following Jesus comes with a cost.  Why?  Because Jesus gave His life for us at a great cost to Himself.  Our goal must be to stay close to our Rabbi and follow.  When you feel yourself being persecuted for choosing to follow Jesus in all things--making Christ the authority in your life; rejoice!  That is just another way for you to know that your eternal home in heaven is secure.  Grab hold of the people around you who also want to follow Jesus and lock arms in great celebration; we are One in Christ for all eternity! 

 

Beatitudes: Peacemakers

Do you value peace?  The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which means wholeness--nothing missing and nothing broken.  Jesus said, "God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God." (Matt. 5:9).  This Scripture tells me that peace does not just happen in this world; we must labor to make peace or bring a needed wholeness.

 I am certainly glad that I have accepted Jesus as my Savior so I can have eternal peace with God.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could enjoy peace with people, too?  One look at the newspaper and it becomes very clear we need an abundance of God's peace.  For the disciple of Christ, the supernatural peace of God is available.  It's true.  Jesus told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.   I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  (John 14:27).   The reason we can hold onto our peace is because Jesus gave us the Spirit; a Helper. 

 The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are to live in peace, as well as be messengers of the gospel of peace.  It certainly sounds like we are to partner with Christ to bring a kind of restorative wholeness in this world; to release God's peace into the lives of others.  People can become very confused apart from the love of Christ. Has Christ led you to bring clarity and release the power of peace to places of confusion?   God blesses the person who seeks to bring this loving wholeness to others.  In fact, he calls them His children. 

Beatitudes: Pure in heart

I have missed sharing in this blog with you; it is time to get back to our Beatitude lessons.  What do you think of when you hear the words "pure in heart?" I think of clean motives; righteous actions.  Jesus said, "God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God." (Matt. 5:8)  I, Mary, want to "see" God! I want to be able to discern his righteousness at work in me.  As well, I want to be able to identify the Spirit of Christ--the Risen Savior--in and through others.  I think that is what God meant; so I need to know how to keep my heart pure.

Transparency and cleanliness before God is something we learn with the help of the Spirit.  It is not something that comes natural to our flesh.  Like our lessons from Adam and Eve, we like to blame others and cover ourselves; our wrong actions...sin.  We want to use our distorted, biased, and self-preserving mindsets and perspectives about ourselves and call them pure. We are not "that" bad, after all, right? It is what we want to believe as truth.  Likewise, we want to use our distorted, biased, and self-preserving mindsets about the motives of others and call them impure.  Again, we want to believe our perspective is truth.  But, I don't think that process of keeping a pure heart is quite what God had in mind.  In fact, I believe God desires for us to place our motives and perspectives before the Lord and wait for the Spirit to tell us whether or not they are pure; Truth--Jesus--speaks and bears witness with our spirit.  Once we decide that we don't always know ourselves or others as well as God does, then we are ready for the next level.

Creation is a beautiful place to start looking for God; do you see the work of the Spirit of God in nature?  Here's another level of seeing.  Because our God is so totally other-focused, keeping my eyes on others is a good place to start looking for God.  When I see people in selfless acts of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and self-control with others...I am seeing the Spirit of God at work.   Voices of the heart like love, forgiveness, mercy, and joy are evidences of God in a person's life.  Are you "seeing" the presence of the Spirit of God when you look at others? How about "seeing" the work of God in you?  Is your renewed spirit growing in the power of the Spirit into the mature image of Christ?  Or, is Jesus still a babe in the manger of your heart?  If we do not "see" the work of the Spirit helping us grow up, we may need to bow our hearts down before God so He can purify and clean them up.

Remember one thing, only God--Truth--knows the heart.  Stay transparent and clean before the Lord and get ready to watch the Spirit in action before your very eyes!  God will bless you!

"But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord--who is the Spirit--makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."
                                                                                                                            
2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Beatitudes: Merciful

The Beatitudes are very helpful for the Christ follower; they teach the character and lifestyle we should emulate.  Christ said, "God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7).  Mercy is a compassionate and forgiving response that a person gives even when he or she has been wronged. 

God's ways are interesting.  If we want to receive mercy from others, we must give it away first.  Why?  Because God, in Christ Jesus, already gave mercy to each one of us for salvation.  Now, God is watching to see if we, as grace recipients, will be merciful to one another.  We have been recipients of great forgiveness and that makes us now responsible to forgive others.   Remember the Lord's prayer?  "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us" (Matthew 6:12).  Those who are unwilling to forgive have simply failed to perceive the mercy of God in their own lives.

Have you ever read the parable of the Unforgiving debtor?  Get your Bible and turn to Matthew 18:21-35; read it carefully.  Judgment awaits us when we are unmerciful. Jesus expects his disciples to have a limitless readiness to forgive others.  When we show mercy, God blesses us!  Choose mercy.

 

Beatitudes: Hunger for Righteousness

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded his disciples and others that a person who hungered and thirsted for righteousness would be blessed.  The New Living Translation uses the word "justice" for the word "righteousness."  Let's explore this verse from both meanings; keeping in mind this is just one way to look at it.  I believe Jesus was pointing to the fact that when we choose to live moral lives--right by God's standard--we are called blessed.  In a world that calls everything right--anything goes--what does that really mean?

God is love and Jesus was sent into this world to be the Son of love.  Christ told his disciples the greatest commandment was to wholly love God and others (Matt. 22:37-40). Righteousness is the love standard.  When we lay our lives before God and say, "I want whatever You desire for my life" that is righteous love for the Most High.  With that heart motive and act of obedience, we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness--what God has planned and purposed for us.  Unfortunately, if what God desires for us doesn't line up with what we want to do in a moment, righteousness gets slapped to the corner, doesn't it?  When we act to protect our way in spite of how it affects others, we are not submitting to the righteousness of God; we are not blessed or satisfied. 

How about justice?  Again, when we seek to take care of ourselves and "avoid" really caring for the welfare of others, we have resisted righteousness.  How is it that we can feel good about ourselves, when others are run over by our actions?  How is it that we can amass great wealth for ourselves, lay our heads on the pillow at night and sleep in peace knowing that others are going hungry at that very moment and we have done nothing to help?  No righteousness there, either.  There is always something God's kids can do in his or her area of influence to release justice; even little offerings from a heart that hungers to do good is seen as righteous.  God calls us to be the righteousness of Christ; because of Jesus we posses within us a gift of being and doing right.  If we commit our lives to Christ, that righteousness will compel us to worship the God of love by doing the things we can do for others.  

I guess the best way to hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice) is to simply get ourselves and our agendas off our minds and surrender to the will and purposes of a God who loves and knows us better than we know ourselves.  A pure expression of love is supernatural.  God has given us the ability to manifest this kind of love on earth; but it requires sacrifice.  If you feel the love of God tugging at your heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, today, simply choose to express a heart full of love by blessing others who need to experience and receive a touch that is out-of-this-world.  The Spirit leads the Way.

"God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied." (Matt. 5:6). 

 

Beatitudes: Meekness

What does the word "meekness" mean to you?  We don't hear that word often, anymore.  It is rarely modeled by people.  A meek person is gentle and humble; Jesus Christ was described as being meek.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).  In other words, blessed or happy with enviable joy are the gentle and humble people in this world.

In a world that functions primarily through selfish ambition and power-hungry actions, meekness is an odd response from the Christian.  Of course, God's Kingdom functions much differently than the world's system, anyway, so we really shouldn't be surprised when God calls us to respond in a meek manner to injustice or the prideful authority of others.   If we look at Christ, meekness is the Kingdom response to worldly abusive power.  I really think this means that rather than us using our power to deliver ourselves, we are to submit to God's power by putting our hope in Christ to save and deliver us from our enemies in this world.  The reward for this "meek" attitude is that some day we will inherit the earth and reign for eternity in Christ.  For those people who pridefully demand to have power and authority now by stepping on the lives of others; they aren't given power in God's future Kingdom.   Pride and meekness cannot occupy the same space.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Psalm 37:8-9  

Beatitudes: Mourn

Jesus is always bringing comfort and, today, is no different.  My father's health has once again taken a turn for the worst.  Today, he stopped breathing for a few minutes and then started up, again.  It is like an emotional roller coaster.  We thought we may need to say goodbye; that may be the case.  It has been a long and difficult journey to make with Dad these past three years.  It would have been more difficult without the loving care of Hospice and our amazing spiritual family.  But, it has also been a time of great comfort as we have been given the promise of the Comforter; the Spirit of Christ. Today, I was reminded that I do not need to go forward in my own strength.  Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  Matt 5:4 

Wherever you find yourself, today, Jesus stands ready to love you in that place.  Whether we are enjoying times of great happiness (everything going well and smoothly; a place of fulfillment), or difficult times and sadness (a place that challenges and tries to shake our faith), God is with us.  That is a promise from God.  As God's children, our Father never told us that now that we belong to Him we will never have to face injustice or sorrow.  Our promise is that God will never leave us or forsake us.  His presence is our Comforter.  Today, I intend to let the Comforter hold my heart, how about you?  Will you invite God to do the same for you?  God is for you, not against you!

Beatitudes: Poor in Spirit

I love the many lessons we can share from the Sermon on the Mount in which Christ gave the Beatitudes.  Can you picture it?  Jesus is sitting on the side of a mountain and as people began to draw near him, he started to teach them how to live in God's favor.  "God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." Matthew 5:3 (NLT)

Blessed means happy and to be envied are those in God's Kingdom; they receive God's favor.  Jesus is referring to the physically poor in this verse, but he reminds them that their trust in God is what makes them blessed.  That certainly is a contradiction in the world's terms, but the Kingdom does tend to turn things upside down. In the Kingdom, wealth, power, and authority are unimportant, because Jesus is the Ruler who gives generously to all.  The Bible reminds us God's ways are not our ways.  God has created His children to be generous in all things, too.  When you and I give love even when others mistreat us, God says we are blessed.  When we choose to help others even when they use us; God says we are blessed.  When we forgo something for ourselves in order to give to those who have nothing; God says we are blessed.  Certainly, following Jesus is going to call for sacrifice when it comes to some earthly pleasures, but the results are eternal rewards in God's favor. 

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.  Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

 

Need Some Light: Faith

God is always ready to help; of course we have to use our faith in order to please him.  I believe it is our faith that moves the hand of God; not really our needs, although He cares greatly.   Faith believes God is real, loving, and good.  We all must choose how we will respond to God's invitation to a life of faith.  It will stretch your natural understanding of God if you choose to exercise your faith.  God's ways and thoughts are higher.  He delights in revealing His love in new and fresh ways.

We need to make a choice to believe that God is our Creator and that He is overseeing our lives.  He desires to bring the light of truth into our darkness when we use our faith.  Do you believe God loves you and has your highest and best in His mind?  Max Lucado tells us, "God says that the more hopeless your circumstances, the more likely, your salvation."  Certainly, when it is really, really dark; we have a great need for some light!  Seek the help of God by using your faith.  Faith works by hearing the Word of God; it is our instruction book.  The book of Light and Life when it comes to our faith. 

"Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it."  Hebrews 11:1    

Need Some Light: Fear

The storms of life, those times when we feel alone and helpless to battle our circumstances, toss our faith around don't they?  They can cause us to experience escalating fear.  Scriptures tell us the disciples experienced fear in the storms, too.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear."  But straightway Jesus spoke unto them, saying, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid"  (Matthew 14:26-27).  What made fear arise in the disciples?

The disciples were pretty confident when they were with Jesus, but this time Jesus had sent them on ahead of him.  It was in the absence of Christ the disciples grew fearful.  Our storms may be a part of God's plan for us.  God desires to strengthen our faith and he does that in stages.  Remember how Jesus was in the boat, with the disciples, sleeping during one of the storms and all they had to do was awaken him?  This time Jesus was nowhere in sight when the storm hit.  Christ removed himself for awhile to see how they handled their faith.  God had a purpose; the disciples were to cross the lake and Jesus would meet them there.  Sometimes, God allows the storms to come into our lives to see if we are going to be obedient.  God already knows the answer, but we need to reveal it to ourselves.  We never know the real strength and resolve within us until after the storm.  

Our storms may intensify without prayerful intercession.  Although the Bible tells us Jesus went to pray for the disciples, it does not mention the disciples took time to pray for their trip.  Prayer gives us direction and brings inner strength.  Always take time to pray for God's will and the power of the Spirit to lead you each day.  Then, you will be ready for the storms when they hit.

Today's Reading:  Matthew 14:22-33

Need Some Light: Anxiety

If we really pay attention, we can sense the darkness of anxiety trying to have dominion in our daily lives.  We wrestle anxiety in our minds and our emotions; anxiety affects our faith.  Jacob testified to that "wrestling" thing!  "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day" (Gen. 32:24).   Anxiety is a thief; it robs us of our strength.  Why do we give anxiety any power in our lives?  This lesson about Jacob reveals his reasons for anxiety; the power of loneliness, past sin and guilt, judgment, and fear of the unknown.

Loneliness keeps us isolated and makes it much easier to develop or even intensify self-pity.  We are to be confident in Christ and remain in a community of loving believers.  Don't let yourself remain lonely; get into a fellowship where others can love and appreciate you.  They will help guard your peace.

Guilt will bring anxiety.  Poor Jacob never forgot what he did to his brother, Esau, whom he was to love.  He robbed him; mistreated him.  Therefore, he saw everything else in the light of his own guilt.  When you and I are guilty of sinning against another by not following the love instruction from God, we set ourselves up to think everyone is going to treat us like we treated others; we fear exposure.  Take the initiative and expose your sin to the Savior and receive forgiveness.  As well, if you have not walked in the love of Christ with someone whom God gave you to love, tell them you are sorry.  God will restore your peace.

The threat of judgment will cause us to have anxiety.  When Jacob heard that Esau was coming towards him with four hundred men, he knew he deserved whatever judgment came for his grievous actions against his brother.   He would be overpowered.  When you and I live right before God, we do not have to fear the judgment of others.  We need to trust that God forgives us and will soften the hearts of those whom we have mistreated. We cannot live in the fear of the past.  Choose to stay in peace.

The unknown is a tough place and can cause great anxiety in most people.  It is a time for faith.  Jacob wrestled all night, because he worried about what would happen in the morning.  You and I should not fear the past or the future; we should pray instead and leave it with God.  Our focus must be to learn from the past, make the decisions that make for a healthy present (today), and know that is our part.  Trust and guard your peace.

Jacob wrestled with the angel; a picture of persistent faith. The future is in the hands of Hope--Jesus.  Put your confidence in Christ and allow His peace to guard your thoughts and ways.  Allow me to share some words from Charles Albert Tindley;

If the world from you withhold

Of its silver and gold,

And you have to get along with meager fare,

Just remember, in His Word,

How He feeds the little bird--

Take your burden to the Lord

And leave it there.

If your body suffers pain

And your health you can't regain,

And your soul is almost sinking in despair,

Jesus knows the pain you feel,

He can save and He can heal--

Take your burden to the Lord

And leave it there.

When your enemies assail

And your heart begins to fail,

Don't forget that God in heaven answers prayer;

He will make a way for you

And will lead you safely through;

Take your burden to the Lord

And leave it there.

When your youthful days are gone

And old age is stealing on,

And your body bends beneath the weight of care,

He will never leave you then,

He'll go with you to the end--

Take your burden to the Lord

And leave it there.

Today's reading:  Genesis 32:24-30 

Need Some Light: Eternal Darkness

I love talking about happy places, times, and endings.  You know; abundant living in connection to Christ.   But, God's Word reminds us that around the Light of His love, darkness can be found.  We are so used to the sunlight that follows the nighttime that we forget God's Word talks about a darkness that is eternal.  The life of Judas can tell us about the darkness.  Picture the story.  Jesus is sharing a final meal with his disciples.  Judas, who is choosing to remain in the darkness, acts like he really cares about Jesus.  Oh, he might care about him, but make no mistake, Judas cares more about himself than anyone else.  It's a dark process of thinking; selfishness.  The pressure of being near the Christ (the selfless One) is putting too much pressure on poor Judas.  He has to leave the presence of Love; "So Judas left at once, going out into the night" (John 13:30).  Yes, it is much more comfortable in the darkness when you're selfish.  

Judas progressed into the darkness; one selfish step at a time.   His next move would be a deeper level of darkness; total resistance and betrayal of True Life.  Jesus came to teach us how to live as humans; to be our role model. He is the Rabbi and we are the disciples.  Christ longs to bring conviction and warn us of dark places so we will avoid them.  We need to heed his warnings.  You and I know when we do wrong things.  Those things condemn us; our conscience bears witness.  Those are little steps into darkness.  Judas' life warns us that Christ can be with us and we can still choose the darkness; even eternal darkness.

Every day we must choose to dwell in the power of the Spirit to love and light the lives of others.  That's the heart of Christ, isn't it?  God has given us a life with a certain number of days.  Will we invite the light of Christ to help us connect in love to others each day?  We must make the choice. If we are honest, we know our selfish ambitions are empty and dark wells.  Or, will we sneak into the darkness like Judas, dwell on self, and loose our many opportunities to serve the King with our lives.  Here's a poem for you to ponder:

The clock of life is wound but once

and no man has the power

To tell just where the hands will stop

At late or early hour.

To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,

To lose one's health is more,

To lose one's soul is such a loss

As no man can restore.

So do not wait until tomorrow

To do His blessed will,

The clock of life may then be stopped---

The hands may then be still.

--Author Unknown--

Need Some Light: Nicodemus

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.  After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus.  "Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us.  Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."  (John 3:1-3).  Nicodemus pursued Jesus as he just had to know more about the mystery of salvation; the mystery of God's love that offered "new life."  His finite rational mind wanted to know the infinite work of God and gain some Light.  Nicodemus was a very knowledgeable man, a ruler of the Jews, who understood sin and separation from God meant death.  Jesus told him that salvation was for everyone because all of us have sinned (1 John 1:8). No one has ever lived a sinless life apart from Christ.  Since we are accountable to God, we need a way to be free from the penalty of sin. 

Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at night?  Was it pride; because he didn't want others to see?  Was it fear?  Maybe Jesus was leaving town the next day; certainly Christ moved from place to place.  Regardless of the reason, here is an example of a learned man in Greek, Roman, and Hebrew cultures who was compelled to find a greater truth.   Each one of the cultures, in which he lived, brought a piece of truth.  For the Greeks, truth could be found in the arts and philosophy.  In Roman culture, the government enforced their version of truth.  The Hebrews sought to fulfill truth with rituals and laws.  But all of these ways, left people empty, frustrated, and needs unmet; even Nicodemus. 

Only God can provide what we need through grace--to be spiritually born anew.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that this new life is experiential; so don't try to grab hold of salvation with your rational mind.  God's love for humans is truly a mystery; can you understand the love that would come from heaven, take on human form, and die on the cross for the sins of others?  We really don't love that way, but God does.  When you and I accept the love of God found in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can enjoy a "new life" connection that lasts for eternity.  The Light of Christ is not a one time experience; it's much, much more.  Actually, Truth's (Jesus) invitation is to be spiritually renewed in God's power and to live in the Light of love every day. Do you need some Light?  Connect to Christ and live for the glory of God. 

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one can come to the Father except through me."  John 14:6       

Grateful Hearts: Optimism

The world is full of potential and grateful hearts know the power of a positive attitude.  With so much negativity around us each day via the TV, radio, and newspaper, it is a challenge to keep that optimistic attitude up.  In those times, we must respond by dwelling on "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable" (Philippians 4:8).  To dwell on these things is to dwell with God.

If we remain optimistic and look carefully as we go throughout our day, we will experience the miracles that God has provided for us along the way.  We can miss them if we are not paying attention with a positive attitude; to see the beauty of a sunrise, to hear the songs of the birds, to smell the fragrant flowers, to taste the food that nourishes and comforts, and to feel the embrace of a loved one.  Yes, we serve a God who longs to interact with us, not only in our spirits, but through our senses.  Please don't miss the miracles God has for you, today; stay positively focused.

"I could go through this day oblivious to the miracles all around me, or I could tune in and enjoy." Gloria Gaither

Grateful Hearts: Joy

Do you feel like you live each day to the fullest?  A day lived for the glory of God?  If you do, I imagine your day is filled with joy.  Joy is great, because it is not based on our circumstances.  Joy is a positive inward attitude; fruit of the Spirit and a gift from God.  People who live with this attitude live life with a capital L.  If you are a joy-filled person you have a grateful heart.  According to Bill Bright,"The joy of the Holy Spirit is experienced by giving thanks in all situations."

Everyday brings a blend of blessings and challenges.  If we are going to live each day to the fullest, we will need to find joy regardless of the challenges.  Our attitude will be our sustainer when we feel the pressure or stress of a day closing in; we need to send Joy to the rescue.  Joy involves the recognition of the abiding presence of God in us; we focus on our connection to Christ.  If God is with us we can handle anything!  So, call for the Joy of the Lord and begin looking at each day differently.  If the invitation from God is to experience more of His love and presence when things get tough, then what have we to fear?  Don't bow down to negativity; lift up Joy instead!

"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"  Nehemiah 8:10

 

Grateful Hearts: Kindness

A spirit of kindness is a great gift; a fruit of God's Spirit.  Do you value kindness and make it a goal to share some everyday?  Barbara Johnson reminds us, "the attitude of kindness is everyday stuff like a great pair of sneakers.  Not frilly.  Not fancy.  Just plain and comfortable."  We need to put on kindness each day and get comfortable sharing it. 

Grateful hearts know the value of kindness; therefore, they are generous with their time and praise.  Smiles and thoughtful deeds are a part of each day.  It is important that we realize our relationships suffer when we do not use kindness.  Making others feel important is a great step towards making strong connections; sincere appreciation can move relational mountains.  Christ is our "kindness" role model; kindness is an expression of love.  So, let's imitate the kindness of Christ and touch some lives, today.

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all."  I Thessalonians 3:12

    

Grateful Hearts: Laughter

I love to laugh; I believe our laughter pleases God.  God, afterall, created laughter, right?  Some folks are pretty serious; and there are times to be serious. We don't always feel like laughing.  Yet, laughter is good for the soul.  Think of it as exercise.  Is that a stretch?  alt

Barbara Johnson said, "Laughter is jogging for the insides.  It increases heart rate and circulation, stimulates the immune system, and improves the muscle tone of the abdomen."  Sounds like exercise to me.  

 

A boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible. He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God. "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!" he yelled without worrying whether anyone heard him or not.
      
      Shortly after, along came a man who had recently completed some studies at a local university. Feeling himself very enlightened in the ways of truth and very eager to show this enlightenment, he asked the boy about the source of his joy.
      
      "Hey" asked the boy in return with a bright laugh, "Don't you have any idea what God is able to do? I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle."
      
      The enlightened man laughed lightly, sat down next to the boy and began to try to open his eyes to the "realities" of the miracles of the Bible. "That can all be very easily explained. Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10-inches deep at that time. It was no problem for the Israelites to wade across."
      
      The boy was stumped. His eyes wandered from the man back to the Bible laying open in his lap. The man, content that he had enlightened a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight, turned to go. Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise louder than before. The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.
      
      "Wow!" exclaimed the boy happily, "God is greater than I thought! Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in 10 inches of water!"

I have noticed that learning to laugh at ourselves takes a little longer than learning to laugh with others.  Maybe that is an indication that we are taking ourselves too serious.  Let laughter lift your heart.  Be grateful for God's gift and give yourself a workout; laugh!

"It is often just as sacred to laugh as it is to pray." Charles Swindoll

 

Grateful Hearts: Prayer

Have you ever had one of those days when you just had to have a nice long talk with God or you wouldn't make it?  Well, God would like you to have one of those "talks" everyday.  In fact, it is a perfect way to start the day. Mornings with God...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated, "Wasted time of which we are later ashamed, temptations we yield to, weaknesses, lethargy in our work, disorder and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our interaction with others--all these frequently have their root in neglecting prayer in the morning."  We serve a God of order; our God desires that we order our lives.  The best way to get things in order is to spend time in the morning with God; gain a vision for your day that includes the love and provision of God.  Our vision is limited; God sees eternity.  Our understanding is finite; God in omniscient.  Jesus brings us the ability to connect with heaven; so, express your gratitude and make a connection by starting your day with prayer.  And while you are at it, thank God for the people who rise in the morning and pray for you!

"Rejoice always! Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  (I Thes. 5:16-18)

Grateful Hearts: Life Lessons

Life is just packed with lessons; some of those lessons are whoppers, aren't they?  "Life is simply hard.  That 's all there is to it.  Thank goodness, the intensity of difficulty rises and falls.  Some seasons are far more bearable than others, but none is without challenge."   Beth Moore

We need to pay attention to these life lessons; times when Jesus calls us to use our faith and ascend the Mount of God for help.  Wisdom is gained and developed in the difficult places.  We need to invite the Holy Spirit to bring revelation and understanding so we can grab hold of that wisdom and apply it to the next season of our lives.  As we each go around, over, or tunnel through life's many mountains, let's make sure we are learning some valuable lessons and principles in the midst. That wisdom will continue to bring deliverance into our lives and the lives of those around us.  Thank God for the Wisdom He makes available to us by His grace.

"Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts."  Psalm 90:12

Grateful Hearts: Truth

Everyone would like to think he or she have a corner on truth, but that is only possible when we connect with Jesus because truth is a person.  The way we gain truth is through a personal and loving relationship with Christ, as well as in community with others who have a connection to Christ.  Truth is revealed and shared in the love of Christ.  Do you know the truth?  Do you know someone whose life testifies to the truth?  People who know the truth are great examples of love.

We all bring a biased filter to our thinking, so it is difficult to remain free in our perception of the truth.  That is why it is so important to spend time in the Scriptures, because it helps us remove that biased filter to find the loving reality of God.  Remember the Word of God is alive; living and revealing truth.  I want you to really think for a minute about the people around you.  Does someone come to mind who models "selfless" love? These folks are not perfect by any stretch--we all need grace--but, the motive of these folks is to apply the Word to every day life and give the love of God to others.  Truth is love that is "other" focused. Christ came to connect and save others not himself.  Take time, today, to thank the people around you who seek to live in the truth of God's love.  He or she are role models of the truth and, therefore, treasures in your life.  Pick up the phone, drop them an email, or send them a note and tell them how grateful you are for the truth he or she models for you.

Anne Graham Lotz said it this way, "Only Jesus Christ is the truth for everyone who has ever been born into the human race, regardless of culture, age, nationality, generation, heritage, gender, color, or language."  Truth--Jesus--is love that is universal.  Live and proclaim the truth of God's love in Christ! 

A Courageous Spirit: A Praiser

A recent reading in the book of Psalm was a great reminder to me of the importance of praise.  I am not talking about the praise of mankind that we share building up one another.  Rather, I am talking about the expressions of our lips that should bubble over and articulate the amazing goodness of God in every moment.  What are your lips saying?

We chat with others about many things every day; but let's not allow that chatter to replace the praise of God that should continually spring forth from our lips.  God is good; our faces should reflect that glorious truth operating in our lives.  We are loved, healed, and restored through our connection to Christ. Our words should be filled with thanksgiving; the world needs to know our immense gratitude.  It takes courage to tell others about our Source from whom all blessings flow; the Living Hope and focus of our eternal praise. 

The advice of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a famous preacher and theologian, to all Christians was to "Wash your face every morning in a bath of praise."  Share your praise of God with others.  Our faces--countenance--and our words must be bathed everyday in the praise of God.  We were created to bring glory and honor to the Most High.  Christians, courageous ones, are praisers.  Did you wash your face this morning? 

"Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.  Let the whole world know what he has done.  Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.  Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.  Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord."   Psalm 105:1-3   

A Courageous Spirit: Owned by God

John Wesley, a courageous and famous 18th century preacher and theologian, was passionate "fiery" for God.  Sometimes he turned religious people off with his passion for God; he wasn't allowed to preach in some organized churches because of that passion.  Wesley believed that Christians should give themselves wholly to God; God should "own" us.  Are you owned by God?

If God is our source and delight, His love will permeate our being.  That passion cannot be shut up within us; it must be released.  Have you ever watched a pressure cooker?  That little weight on the top just dances with excitement from the building energy and power within the pot. That's the excitement we should have as containers of God's love.  We will be passionately looking for ways to love and serve God (by loving others) when He possesses all of us.  May our prayer be to yield more and more of ourselves each day to the holy work of Christ--Anointed love--in us.  Courageous spirits know our goal is to become more like Jesus; live for God's glory.  Give yourself over to God's love; allow Him to "own" you.  Here is a famous Wesley prayer for you to ponder:

Lord, I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will.  Let be employed by You or laid aside for You, exalted for you or brought low by You.  Let me have all things, let me have nothing, I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.  And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father Son, and Holy Spirit, You are mine and I am Yours. So be it.  Amen.

 

A Courageous Spirit: No Compromising

Did you know that Jesus offended people?  He offended the religious leaders, his neighbors, his family, and friends.  Oh, and get this, He did it without apology. The reason Jesus offended others is because he was unwilling to compromise the truth of God's heart.   Jesus says, "Blessed is he who is not offended because of me" (Luke 7:23).

Did you know as a follower of Jesus, if you seek to obey the Spirit of God you will offend people?  We better pull out that courageous spirit!   If we are committed to the will of God; we will not be able to fulfill the agendas of humans.  A tension is created.  It is why Jesus suffered; because he would not compromise.  Unfortunately, some people feel they have an "in" with God; religious people like the Pharisees Jesus encountered.   He loved the religious leaders enough to tell them the truth when they were wrong; they crucified him.  Offended.  When the truth of Christ in us pops out, the real motives of others start surfacing.  People don't like to look bad; but Jesus sets them up by the power of truth, anyway.  He wants to save them.  I guess we need to ask ourselves, "Are we no compromising disciples?"  Don't be afraid of speaking the truth Christ places within you and sends you to say.  Take a deep breath and obey; don't grieve the Spirit.  It's not worth the compromise. 

A Courageous Spirit: Good Moves

Jesus modeled a courageous spirit; He was always moving forward in His ministry of doing "good."  As followers of Jesus, we are seeds of "good" potential.  Sometimes God will take us out of a certain location, because the soil is not conducive for our "good" potential.  In other words, we may not be able to fulfill the "good" God has placed within us in that location; location and spiritual temperature matters when it comes to the work of Christ. Everything needs to be aligned with God for the seeds to produce.  It may be necessary to leave some comforts in order to follow Jesus in doing "good." If you spend time in the Word of God, you will notice Jesus was seemingly always moving locations; coming and going.  The Master was making good moves...

Jesus was moving from place to place and meeting new people as He flourished in His purpose to do good; salvation is change and if we want to be instruments in the hands of a holy God we will need to move to influence and bring change. It may be necessary for us to go to others to do good as they may not come to us.  It is really a picture of outreach; reaching out to people in other environments to do good.  As we follow Jesus, this might mean a change in attitudes, jobs, friends, geographic locations, ministry, etc.  God desires for us to flourish in Christ; burst forth with much fruit of "good" (John 15).  Only God knows what is needed in our lives for us, as seeds, to produce the good that Jesus desires to do through us in the power of the Spirit.  If we are not moving forward, chances are we are not in step with the "good" moves of the Master.  It is better if we don't get too settled in life; otherwise the Spirit might come and unsettle us to encourage the production of every "good" thing.  When Jesus calls you to make some "good" moves what will be your answer?

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me." Isaiah 6:8

 

A Courageous Spirit: Worshiper

What comes to your mind when I say the word "worship?"  Do you picture a gathering of people in a religious building?  Perhaps you think of a style of service or maybe your thoughts move to music?  Just what does the word "worship" conjure up for you?

A courageous spirit understands worship to be ascribing worth and value to the Most High God.  In fact, the word "worth" is the root of worship.  That means worship calls for us to make a decision, with our lives, as to God's worth.  God gave His Son's life; so that we could give our lives back to Him. One for all; all for One.  In this one act of love, God was saying "you are worth my life; am I worth yours?"  

It takes courage to worship God with our lives.  We would rather worship by singing a few songs, reading some Scripture, listening to a sermon, and praying; than to actually turn our lives over to God by making Jesus, Lord.  God is always changing and shaking things up inviting us to make a stronger "connection to Christ," and it would take a courageous spirit to surrender in true worship.  But, that is exactly what Jesus is calling us to do; courageously connect in worship.  He wants all of us; He wants us to give Him every nook and cranny of our being. God calls it worship!  If we are going to be courageous worshipers, we need the power of the Spirit and a surrendered heart that is willing to bow to the Word of the Lord.

"Because He is your Lord, worship Him."  Psalm 45:11

A Courageous Spirit: Unfair Situations

I love it when things are fair, don't you?  I mean I seem to be "wired" for things to go right all the time. alt Jesus said, however, as long as we live in the world we can expect difficulties; a certain amount of persecution.  As courageous Christians, how will we respond to the unfair situations and circumstances in life?  It certainly will take us leaving our human perspective and reaching for a divine perspective, because just accepting the unfair things in life seems to go against our created "soul grain."

During difficult and unfair times, we need to remember that we serve an all-knowing God; He knows what is going on in our lives.  We serve a God of justice.  Our call is to live honestly before the Lord and our "neighbors."  When we honor that call we probably limit many difficulties right there.  What about the other times, however, when we are seeking to live righteously in Christ and situations still get very unfair?  We then need to maintain a courageous spirit when responding to the trial.  Let's look at some valuable insight from God's Word for times such as these (I Peter 3:14-17):

1.  I know it's hard, but God wants us to look at ourselves as being blessed at these times.  "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed" (I Peter 3:14a).

2.  Our response is to be filled with faith; cast down fear.  "And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled" (I Peter 3:14b).

3.  We must claim the blood of Jesus and make Christ Lord over the situation.  "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts" (I Peter 3:15a).

4.  Witness to our hope in Christ's salvation. "Always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (I Peter 3:15b).

5.  Make sure we have a clear conscience.  "And keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (I Peter 3:16).

Peter goes on to say that it is "...better if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong (I Peter 3:17).  We were created to live courageously for the glory of God.  Let's press on no matter what tries to come against us. 

A Courageous Spirit: No Worries

Do you have a tendency to worry about things?  Many people use the word "worry" as a descriptive in conversations.  A friend might say, "I'm just worried about such and such..."  Do your thoughts venture toward concerns for things still ahead?  If so, Jesus has an answer for you.

"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes.  Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?  Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."  Matthew 6:25, 32-33

A courageous spirit does not spend a lot of time worrying about things that are still ahead; worry robs our energy.  It isn't a fruitful use of our time; it's passive and keeps us from accomplishing things that really need our attention.  Besides, worry can make us physically ill and that translate in my practical thinking that if I don't worry I will probably live longer.  We try to control and take on too much.  God cares about the details of our days.  Oswald Chambers said it this way, "It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us."  I wonder if the reason we worry is because we have left God and His wisdom out of the picture.  Hmmm...

We need to be good stewards of our resources and plan for the future; plan wisely.  Carelessness in our stewardship can be avoided.  God has placed people all around us with wisdom and resources who can help us prepare for the days ahead.  So, do your part and plan for tomorrow, but don't worry.  Make a wise choice to have a courageous spirit; choose not to worry and live a full life, today.  Today is a gift from God, so rejoice and be exceedingly glad!

A Courageous Spirit: Live Big

Our level of courage will determine whether or not we "live big."  Most people say they want to courageously walk through new doors of opportunity and embrace change, but few will ever make the decision to do so.  Change is frightening.  Safety calls to us and tries to keep us from the bigger and deeper life God has prepared for those who love Him.  God rewards our faith-filled lives; a desire for safety tries to stand in the way of our faith.

God has big plans for us; those dreams fill our hearts and thoughts.  It's all God-breathed and it comes with our Hope--Jesus.  Our faith must be confidently placed in God's love and character.  We have to apply our faith in courageous ways in order to live out these big plans from God.  Don't allow fear or the desire for safety to stand in your way.  When you know God is leading you to step out to embrace the new; use your faith and "live big" in Christ.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11  "And it is impossible to please God without faith.  Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him."  Hebrews 11:6

 

 

A Courageous Spirit: It's Contagious

Billy Graham once said, "Courage is contagious!  When a brave man (woman) takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."  As we get around other people who are busy listening to God and living for the truth of His love, our backbones grow in strength.  Truth, God's Spirit, flowing courageously from others is inspiring.  I guess each of us better ask ourselves, "Is my courage contagious?"

If we are not courageously thinking and acting upon our convictions about God's love and principles, then we may be stifling or even grieving the inspiration of the Spirit. Our spirits were created to be fueled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, our spirits must be producing the Holy fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and self-control...Galatians 5:22) that spills forth and reveals courageous and confident living in God's love for all.   It takes great courage to release the fruit of the Spirit in this world.  You know what I'm talking about.  It takes great courage to choose to love some folks.  It takes great courage to remain peaceful when all hell is coming against our lives.  Our courage is not based upon our strength; it is based upon the powerful truth of the Spirit. That makes us responsible to get into agreement with the Spirit, doesn't it?  So, let's stiffen our backbones and be courageous and contagious in this world.  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."  2 Timothy 1:7 

A Courageous Spirit: A Battle

It takes a courageous spirit to live among the challenges of our days, doesn't it?  The spirit of the world intends to lead and expects us to obediently follow; demands our worship.  Courageous decisions are in demand if we are going to be Christ followers.  If Christ calls us to take a courageous stand for Him, we need to get ready for war.  Expect it.  The battle with fear is just around the corner and it is a doozy!

People sometimes get the idea that courage is the absence of fear.  On the contrary, courage is making a decision and taking action in spite of fear.  Many times Jesus said, "Fear not."  That tells me that although fear was present, Christ followers were not to act on that fear.  Instead he or she was to "be" courageous.  Fear comes to stop us; Christ comes to lead us past it.  When we identify that Christ is calling for us to act courageous in the midst of a situation, he is expecting to rise up in us and bring His strength on our behalf.  Oh, and Christ intends to win; he has overcome the world. So, use your faith, cast down the fear, and connect with Jesus.  It's how we follow and worship the Most High.

"So be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you."  Deuteronomy 31:6   

God's timing

Yesterday was just one of those days.  One of my students had an episode, very violent, and many of the other students were afraid.  The student, we will call him "J" has had these outbursts for about a year, off and on.  I have the blessing of having him in my class this year.  I believe God intended that to happen.  "J" and I have been talking over his actions, and trying to come up with some ways to react to situations that are better. 

However, it will be a long process.  Yesterday was a step backward.  He did settle quickly, and we talked a while.  Just as we were finished. my son came to my classroom.  He had decided to come and see if any student needed any help, or if I needed help.  Well, that was God sending him.  Matt, my son, and "J" bonded immediately, and what could have been a tense afternoon turned into a gift from God.  Thank you, God, for sending me someone to help my student. 

Creativity in the Inner Circle

Creativity is the activity of our God; Creator of all things.  Therefore, our "inner circle" needs to have creative influencers.  In other words, you need to include highly creative people in your circle.  These folks will bring a wonderful portion of God's creative Genius--Christ--to your inspired visions and efforts; expanding a good vision to a great reality!

I love surrounding myself with creative people; the sky is the limit with these folks.  Their motto is: pull out the stops and dream BIG in Christ!  Personally, I can be somewhat creative.  That is not good enough when it comes to manifesting a creative vision or project from our God.  Why?  God loves the "family" context; enjoys when His family works together. The Spirit brings inspiration and power as we connect to Christ in one another. Therefore, we need to include creative people in our inner circle who will add and build to our ideas and plans.  If you are not especially creative, don't worry.  Simply invite creative people to join your efforts.  It is exciting to work together in manifesting the inspired work of God in this world.  The Church--the Creator's family--ought to be the most creative people around. So connect!

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can't see...everything was created through him and for him."  1 Colossians 1:15-16 

The Inner Circle: A Mentor

I have been seeking to encourage you to understand the value and importance of the people within your "inner circle."  Carefully choose the people you allow to influence you.  Within that circle you need a great mentor.  Christ wants to be your Ultimate Mentor; one on one times with Jesus cannot be replaced.   However, God also brings mentors who will help to bring growth and development to you and your life dream.  Let's look at an example from the Bible.

Every Christ follower is also required to be a leader or mentor of others; it is how the Good News is spread throughout the world.  Elijah was the mentor of Elisha (1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 2)).  It was God's plan to spiritually groom Elisha through this strong prophet, Elijah. What types of things did Elisha learn through this connection?  Elisha began to understand his leadership call in life, how to wait patiently for the right leadership timing, and the necessity for surrender to divine Lordship.  It is the way we grow and develop into all God is calling us to be as His people.  A mentor is someone who takes a great interest in you and is willing to share and release things in his/her realm of spiritual influence to allow you to grow in character and develop as a leader. Be careful when choosing your mentor; choose someone who really models the love and grace of God. An immature and self-serving mentor is of little value in your inner circle, because he/she will halt your spiritual progress. 

When Elijah had completed everything God had intended him to do on earth, he said to Elisha, "Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away." Elisha said to Elijah, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor." (2 Kings 2:9)  In the will and purposes of God, Elijah's spirit rested upon Elisha as he continued living a powerful life in connection with God.

A Diverse Inner Circle

The Holy Spirit gives every believer amazing spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:4).  These gifts are unique and diverse.  I like to think of them as complementary gifts.  You might ask, "Complementary to what, Mary?"

The gifts God places within the people around you are to be complementary in their relationship to you.  As well, your gifts are to be complementary in relationship to others.  God works in different ways; the gifts we each have also work in different ways.  We need to make sure we bring people with diverse gifts into our inner circle.  Warning!  The enemy is very crafty; great as a Liar.  Many times the enemy will stir up your soul by getting you to second guess the intentions and motives of the people around you; to get you to be jealous of the spiritual gifts of others. People who can offer you pros and cons to your thinking are valuable to you.  Celebrate them; avoid feeling threatened.   Don't buy in to the work of the enemy; he's divisive and doesn't want God's gifts to unite.  Why?  Because there is great power in that place.  So, be excited about the gifts people around you have and find a way to allow them to personally help you to grow and develop.  Your life is about "your" journey.  No one can take or rob you of your value and place in God's kingdom.

God views us as many pieces of love that should fit together to make one in Christ. The Bible says it this way, "A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other." 1 Cor 12:7 

A Passionate Inner Circle

Agape--the pure and passionate love of God--seeks to heal everyone who pursues our Maker.  This love has been given to those who believe in the human manifestation of Love--Jesus.  Jesus lived the passion and now teaches us how to love.  We, too, must live to release the passion.  It is essential, therefore, that we spend time with passionate people; people who love God, as well as love and value other people.

Frankly, when we say we love and belong to God and we cannot even love the people around us with whom we disagree, we are babies in agape.  We need to learn from people who better understand God's love.  Let's look closely at the people around us. If we choose to spend time with some who are more mature in living agape, we will grow and flourish.

"All who love me will do what I say.  My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them." John 14:23 

God, Jesus and me

Sally jumped up as soon as she saw the Surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: "How is my little boy? Is he going to be O.K.? When can I see him?"

The Surgeon said, "I’m sorry, we did all we could." Sally said, "Why do little children get cancer? Doesn’t GOD care any more? GOD, where were you when my son needed you?"

The Surgeon said, "One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes to let you spend time with your son’s remains before it’s transported to the university." Sally asked that the nurse stay with her while she said good-bye to her son.

Sally ran her fingers through his thick red curly hair. The nurse said, "Would you like a lock of his hair?" Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of his hair and put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally. Sally said, "It was Jimmy’s idea to give his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else," and that is what he wanted.

I said no at first, but Jimmy said, "Mom I won’t be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy to be able to spend one more day with his mother." Sally said, "My Jimmy had a heart of gold, always thinking of someone else and always wanting to help others if he could."

Sally walked out of the Children’s Hospital for the last time now after spending most of the last 6 months there. She sat the bag with Jimmy’s things in it on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was hard and it was even harder to go into an empty house.

She took the bag to Jimmy’s room and started placing the model cars and things back in his room exactly where he always kept them. She laid down across his bed and cried herself to sleep holding his pillow.

Sally woke up about midnight, and laying beside her on the bed was a letter folded up. She opened the letter and it said:

Dear Mom,

I know your going to miss me, but don’t think that I will ever forget you or stop loving you because I’m not around to say I LOVE YOU. I’ll think of you every day mom, and I’ll love you even more each day. Some day we will see each other again.

If you want to adopt a little boy so you won’t be so lonely, he can have my room and my old stuff to play with. If you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn’t like the same things as us boys do, so you will have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like.

Don’t be sad when you think about me. This is really a great place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything here. The angels are so friendly and I love to watch them fly.

Jesus doesn’t look like any of the pictures I saw of Him, but I knew it was Him as soon as I saw Him. He took me to see GOD! And guess what mom? I got to sit on GOD’S knee and talk to Him like I was somebody important. I told GOD that I wanted to write you a letter and tell you good-bye and everything, but I knew that wasn’t allowed.

God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter with. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel that is going to drop this letter off to you.

God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him about — where was He when I needed him? God said, "The same place He was when Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children. "

Oh, by the way Mom, nobody else can see what is written on this paper but you. To everyone else, it looks like a blank piece of paper.

I have to give God His pen back now. He has some more names to write in the Book Of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for Supper. I’m sure the food will be great.

I almost forgot to let you know — Now I don’t hurt anymore and the cancer is all gone. I’m glad because I couldn’t stand that pain anymore. And God couldn’t stand to see me suffer the pain either, so He sent The Angel of Mercy to get me. The Angel said I was Special Delivery!

Signed with love from:

God, Jesus and Me

A Solid Inner Circle

Acquaintances are nice.  Friends are better.  We all need to surround ourselves with people who really care for us and want us to succeed in life.  The people in your "inner circle" need to be chosen carefully.  As we recently discussed, bringing folks in who have experience to share will make your circle powerful. The people who will make your circle solid are those who have a heart for God; people who are built on the Rock.

God desires to be first in our lives; life came from God.  Therefore, when you invite people into your inner circle, make sure he or she is a person who has placed God first in his or her life. They will serve as role models in their relationship with God.  Remember, your inner circle is made up of people who are going to help you become all that you were created to be; they celebrate your potential and are willing to make the journey with you.

So, be very selective with whom you allow to influence your life.  You need people who place God first and uphold His values.  These people will ignite your faith and hold you accountable to the necessary spiritual growth and development.  If you surround yourself with people who have no passion for God; your dream will dwindle.

Personal Credibility: Choices

People watch people; others are always watching us.  It is a little scary if you think about it long enough.  That makes us influential regardless of our position or job.  Certainly, this knowledge puts a great deal of personal responsibility for our choices on the line, doesn't it?

If we are calling ourselves Christ followers, people will be looking for Jesus to show up in our choices and decisions. Our choices make us credible Christians.  Jesus was all about making choices that were other-focused;  making decisions based on how they benefited the people around him. He went from one "life moment" to another thinking about how he could bless others with God's love.  You might say, "Mary, come on that was Jesus.  He was the God-man. That was his purpose."  Yes, but if Christ lives in us, do we really think his ways and desires to touch lives has changed?  I believe Christ in us still wants to stop along the way of our days to touch lives.  You and I will need to make the necessary choices that allow Jesus those moments.

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." Matthew 9:35  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8

Personal Credibility: Consistency

We are influential whether we realize it or not; others around us are watching. We can be influential in good ways, or poor ways! We must choose; make a decision.  It is a personal responsiblity. We are called by God to be a credible people; our life needs to match our words and our motive should be to add value to others.  As Christ followers, are we soaring in credibility?

To answer this question, it might be good to examine our "consistency" meter.  God calls us to "be" authentic people; the same person no matter who's with us. It is human nature to want to impress some folks; we can compromise our testimony when we seek to be a people pleaser.  Be consistent no matter who you are with and live right before God.

"Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right."  Proverbs 20:11

A Powerful Inner Circle

We have been discussing how to "connect" with difficult personalities; people who are a challenge to love.  God's grace is always available to give us the strength to be loving to others.  Now, whether we respond and receive that grace is another thing, isn't it?  As important as it is to learn how to positively influence and minister to everyone around us, it is essential that we pay attention to the people we invite into our relational inner circle of connection because they will influence us.

A challenge for you today:  Do you bring people into your inner circle who have positive and rich life experience?  These folks have been down the road a piece and contain great wisdom and tools for your life.  Set yourself up to learn and gain essential understanding from them; invite them in and connect.  Tap into Christ in others and you will find a great treasure.  "In him lie hid all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge."

Difficult People: The Downer

God is the Creator and he has made many kinds of people; many different personality types.  Some people can be a challenge when it comes to making relational connections.  These challenges can be good as they cause us to work toward unity.  God calls us to be One in Christ Jesus.  Well, that certainly will take some work!  Because we are more powerful together than in isolation, we need to press through the difficulties to find a way to "connect" with one another.  Today's difficult personality is a drag to the emotions: The Downer.

No matter how full the glass seems to you, The Downer will not be able to see it.  This person struggles to entertain a positive thought; negativity is the benchmark.  Life's challenges have robbed his/her ability to grab hold of the greater Hope. Sadly, although this person might have great potential to be a leader, no one will allow him/her to lead because they would drag everyone around them down.

Possible Coping Strategies:  Extend compassion and seek to paint a new picture of life for The Downer.  But for the grace of God, the Lifter of our heads, we could all wind up living life as The Downer. Can you testify that life can rob you if you allow it?  It is only when we set our focus on things above that we have Hope; live for eternity.  If you and I only looked at our circumstances, we would be BLUE...too.  Honesty is really important when dealing with The Downer; he/she may not realize how negative they sound.  It has become a lifestyle; a comfort zone.  Put on the love of Christ, call forth a heart of compassion, and tell those who tend to be negative how that spirit affects you; tell the Truth. Don't cater to the negativity; confront it.  God just might be calling you to be a positive mouthpiece that brings discipline to another of His children.  Will you be God's mouthpiece to lift The Downer?

"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it's painful!  But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Hebrews 12:11.

Making Peace/Moving On

Tonight we talked about forgiveness and how it frees us.  I can personally testify that harboring ill feelings is like a growing cancer.  It sickens you and saddens those around you.  You will find peace in forgiving others, or in taking the steps needed to resolve an issue.  Even if the other person is not responsive, you will be freed of the burden.

Once you have made peace with your past, you are free to become fully engaged in the present.  And when you become fully engaged in the present, you are then free to build a better future for yourself and your loved ones.

Colossians 3:3  Your old life is dead.  Your new life, which is your real life, even though invisible to spectators, is with Christ in God.  He is your Life.

Difficult People: The Dreamer

Our chat about different personality types continues, today, with a focus on The Dreamer.  Oh, how wonderful it is to dream and live in the "way beyond," but this person has difficulty coming down out of the clouds to get something done!  Do you know The Dreamer?

The thing that makes The Dreamer difficult is that although his/her ideas are amazing and they can talk to you about one idea after another, most of the time they do not have the strategy portion thought out.  Now, for those of us who lean on the personality side of "git-r-dun" we really may feel like stringing this person up by their toes.  But, cut them some slack, because many times The Dreamer does not know how to manifest the dream in tangible ways.  This person can be a real challenge to deal with if you are trying to work with him/her on tasks or jobs that have a deadline.  The Dreamer wants to talk and we are frustratingly waiting at the starting gate looking at our watches!

Possible Coping Strategies:  Remember, most of the time this person is not trying to annoy us; that is not the motive.  A visionary--The Dreamer--just needs to connect/partner with a strategist.  It is important to help The Dreamer develop his/her gifts further; to help bring an action skeleton to the ideas.  If we can help him/her see that an idea will work and this is a way, then we can help them begin to think further in how to make the idea happen--stretch the thinking and build excitement.  This will cause The Dreamer to feel valuable.  Don't let The Dreamer stay in the clouds; share God's love by helping him/her grow and learn how to manifest a dream.

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins."  1 Peter 4:8

The Room

17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for a class. The subject was What Heaven Was Like. "I wowed 'em," he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote." It also was the last.

Jesus is Alive | Connect2Christ ChurchBrian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teays Valley High School in Pickaway County. Brian had been dead only hours but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them, notes from classmates and teachers, his homework. Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven.

It makes such an impact that people want to share it. "You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said. Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted. The Moores framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it, “Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I know I'll see him again one day."

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in The Room. There were no distinguishing features, except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order.
These files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I Have Watched," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented. When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts

I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel with." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes

No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then, as I wiped away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, and so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished"I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have Eternal life

Difficult People: The Erupter

People are all different and we need to learn how to appreciate one another.  That is easier said than done when dealing with personality types that are difficult.  Have you ever been around someone who erupts like a volcano when you least expect it?

This personality type is extremely unpredictable.  You find yourself thinking one way and this person reacting another.  In your mind, you play things over and over, because you cannot quite get a grasp on what made him or her snap.  If someone frequently erupts with extreme reactions, you can feel like you are walking on broken glass--you are guessing every step and every word.

Loving this personality type is a trick, but Christ in you can make it possible.  Remember, love never fails.  In this case, love needs to be direct.  If someone unpredictably erupts with you, the best thing to do is to get them into a private conversation; remove them from influencing others.  Then, listen to what is really bothering them.  Many times the erupter is simply over the top with the issues of life and it is a combination of many, many circumstances.  Let Christ in you be understanding, but tell the truth about how that action affects you and give them suggestions for ways of responding in the future.

"Don't just pretend to love others.  Really love them.  Hate what is wrong.  Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other."  Romans 12:9-10

Difficult People: The Taker or User

We have been talking about how different personalities challenge our love walk each day.  Let's get real and honest here.  You know the ones I'm talking about; the folks who press our buttons "just so" making it difficult to give them Jesus!  Some people use us; take advantage of us.  Jesus knows all about it; he took up the cross for the users and takers, too.  Now, he challenges us to do the same.  "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine."  I guess that means sometimes our reactions have to be placed on the cross, so we can follow the agape path with Jesus, right?

Difficult Personality #2:  The Taker/User.  If we stop for a minute and think about it we know people who we feel use us; take advantage of us. This person is busy trying to gather everything for themselves.   For some reason, this personality feels if they do not take the things they need, even if it means using us, they will not be happy or will be in lack.   It takes placing great confidence in the love of God for us to avoid being a taker; we're selfish.  Apart from Grace we can all fall short of living in God's love.

Possible Coping Strategy:  Recognize what is motivating this personality type--fear.  We must offer love by setting boundaries.  There is nothing wrong with protecting your time and energy, as well as helping people remain accountable in loving you. If you don't set boundaries, you risk an equally wrong mindset and become a martyr.  Many times people do not realize they are using us; be honest and help them by setting "love" boundaries.  Believe the best and stand the test!

 

Difficult People: The Tank

In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he said, "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.  They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly."  2 Timothy 3:1-5. Do you ever find yourself facing difficult people in your family, friends, neighborhood, and job?  I would add church to that list, but we all know no one in church work could be difficult, right? ha!

No matter where you go in life, you will find people who can push your "wrong" buttons and start you off toward the negative.  But, God tells us that His grace is available when we need it and that love never fails (Hebrews 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 13:8).   We are called to share the love of Christ.  What does that look like?  Over the next few weeks, I would like to chat about different personality types and some possible coping strategies that might help us.  As well, I would like to invite you to share positive things that have worked for you.

Difficult Personality # 1:  The Tank.  This person runs over the top of everyone in site.  Whether or not he/she means to do so, you feel run down and drained by this personality type.  It's a control issue.

Possible Coping Strategy:  In my experience, drawing power swords with this personality is really futile.  I am trying to listen and pause before responding.  Some days I do that better than others; duct tape would be a good thing on those days.  Speaking the truth in love is important (Ephesians 4:15).  Choose to take a stand with the issues and things that are really important; learn to allow those things that are not important to slip through your emotional fingers. Pray for wisdom to know the difference.

Transformational Living

God calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our own minds; the way we think must change in order for us to be models of transformational living as followers of Christ (Romans 12:2).  We bear personal responsibility for our spiritual maturity; no one else can make the decision for us.

God's Word and Spirit give us the power; the authority for eternal change.  Therefore, if we find ourselves stagnant in our call to discipleship, we have limited the power of grace (according to Spurgeon Grace is the Mother and Nurse of holiness and not the apologist for sin).  Sometimes we resist this Grace-nudging change because it means we need to turn away from certain mindsets and actions--sin; God wants to bring a greater revelation of his love for us by delivering us from the things that hold us back. But the process of change, in Christ, is painful.  Do you find yourself resisting the good things God desires to bring into your life that means change for you?  The battle for change takes place in your thought life first; it's the enemy's stomping ground.  What happens in your thoughts that tries to hinder the Spirit's transformational work in you? 

The Peace of God

I have always felt that one of God's greatest gifts is unconditional love. I call it the peace of God. Everyday God has shown me how greatly He loves me.  He has made me feel special and whole.  It humbles me to know no matter what I do, God's love for me grows stronger everyday.

In the past year I have felt a strong conviction to serve God more than ever before. Through the peace of God, I am being shown what more I can do for God. I feel strongly that God has a further purpose for my life. I never thought I would be the one standing in the fire for God. I felt I was doing enough. God is showing me daily how he is using me and that he isn't done yet. I have given my fears and anxiety over to God, and He has accepted them as His own.

I have prayed through the years for God to use me. I praise God for every moment and the endless blessings now and to come?  God has shared with me lessons of trust, faith and love that I am looking foward to sharing with people in my life. I am thankful for the peace of God working through me.

The Best You

We all desire to offer something worthwhile in life; a way to make a relevant contribution to the well-being of others.  In order to bring that valuable contribution and make powerful connections, it is necessary to know yourself; to offer the best you.

Missions

Missions is a way to love and serve others.  "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life, you will have been all of these."  George Washington Carver

About C2C Church

We are so happy you have chosen to connect with us through our Seminole Church website.  Life is a journey and God has created us for relationships--connections.  Therefore, our goal, on the path of life, is to be in agreement with God's desires by developing and supporting healthy relational connections. Learn More

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