Just a thought: Is it yours?

 

 The earth is the lord’s and the fullness of it, the world and they who live in it. Psalm 24:1

What would life be like if we believed this statement?

Notice it talks about both things and people. What we believe in regard to the earth, its fullness, the world and earthlings is pretty important.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Good for you God. Nice concept,  but I want  to possess…something.” Maybe you can relate.

Possessing people has never been an issue I’ve had to struggle with much. Never had to deal with slaves or servants…. Family posessiveness crops up in my mind from time to time though. For example: “my son/daughter, our family”.

Possessing people is not as difficult for me as it used to be only because I have trained  myself over a long period of time to say things like, “Well, God, they aren’t my servants…deep sigh… they belong to you…” or “I am nothing without You, LORD.” or “What do you want me to do with this LORD?”

The blatant truth is that I do not own a single shred of anything I can touch, feel, think or make either.  My thoughts and ideas… creative content… are not mine. The house I have decorated and made into our home is not technically mine –nor does it belong to my family. The skills I have acquired over time are not mine to claim. The funds that pass through my fingers are not “mine” before, during or after they touch my hands.

Think about all the items or people to which you attach the word “mine”. Now question that possession.

If we keep going, logically Psalm 24:1 calls into question our very existence and it  gets kind of weird. The resulting emotion is to feel slave-like, insignificant, helpless, lost. There is something inside us that rebels against such conditions, right?

James says that  our behavior is incredibly linked to our beliefs about possession but then he gives us the solution.

What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?

You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you  become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. James 4:1-2 (AMP)

The solution, says James, is to ask. Not to ask your government or king, your neighbor, your friend, or your family. The solution is to ask God. The apostle Paul agrees:

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([a]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [b]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [c]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP)

How would life change if we believed God’s word in Psalm 24 and put it into daily practice?Beloved, it’s not mine. It’s not yours either. Whatever, “IT” is, everything belongs to God.

What impact would this have on our relationships? The realization that the true owner is the LORD, our maker, is an essential step in properly aligning our attitudes. Attitudes have huge turning power in our relationships.

Discord and feuds, quarrels and fightings, jealousy and coveting, unfulfilled desires and the sense of having to make those desires a reality, and though they are often destructive, these behaviors play a big  part in our sensual human existence.

So does relaxing about life and its contents. A sense of peace whether active or stationary is a proper alignment.

If the earth is the LORD’s then we don’t have to grab to possess it or wear ourselves out trying to make it full.  All the inhabitants are the LORD’s and it is not our job to micro manage their existence for good or harm.

When it feels like your world is falling apart, pause and consider the world was never yours to begin with. It is, has been and always will belong to the LORD.

God’s got this. That’s relaxing.

May the peace that exceeds all understanding be yours in Christ Jesus… that peace that mounts guard over your hearts and minds. Amen.

___

“Just a thought” began on a trip to visit family in California last week. Praise the LORD! Everyone, family of origin, extended family, and immediate family are the LORD’s no matter what’s going on with them or with us at any given time.  ~ Christine

On a Wing and a Prayer: Trust in the LORD

“Drive safely…”

My immediate thought was, ‘O you  know me… always on a wing and a prayer…” 

Did you know that there is a specific prayer for traveling? Yes, there is, and for me there are two; one is a prayer for peace and safety before one begins a journey (always nice) and then the  other is acknowledgement of God’s miracles along the way (humbling).

That one says:

Upon seeing a place where you had experienced a life-saving miracle, you should say:

Blessed are you, Adonoy our God, King of the Universe, who performed a miracle for me at this place.

What I actually say is something like,  “… Father God, thank you for saving me on the road… then add any of these variants, “ right here…back then… right now.”

The devout practitioner is to duly note each time and place when mishaps occur and their personal peril avoided. Every time the saved person passes that exact spot (on the road)he or she should pray this prayer.

Come to think of it, this is an awesome opportunity to share the works of God out loud with anyone in your company at the time. When I shared this with one of my girlfriends she laughed, “You must be in constant prayer wherever you go!”

She’s pretty close to right.  I feel God’s active involvement whenever I start the car and head off to wherever I’m going and at each traffic light along the way.

It’s a trust thing.

Placing my trust in other drivers…experience says that’s not a brilliant idea. God agrees:

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

Psalm 118:8-9 (AMP)

Misplaced trust has gotten me into far more trouble relationally than any traveling situation you can name. Trust belongs squarely on the Lord’s shoulders…in the Lord’s lap…in his court. However you want to say it, just turn it all over to his capable hands.

I have even learned not to place trust in myself. While I am truly confident of my driving skills and abilities and capable of increasing my personal road savvy, being on autopilot doesn’t work for me. There are always those times when close attention to detail would have been such a better option.

Iam/We are so blessed that our God and Savior is detail oriented. He pays close attention even when we don’t. He orchestrates events and smiles on us. Those are huge blessings.

When we place our trust in the LORD, it is properly and most beneficially placed.

When the storms of life happen, when changes exceed our resilience or out run our desired processing schedules, when viruses like Ebola run rampant and wars devastate entire communities, trust in the LORD. When life is ordinary and you find yourself just driving from one place to the other, trust in the LORD. When relationships are not turning out the way you thought they would, trust in the LORD.

He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler. Psalm 91:1-4 (AMP)

 

So there you have it.

I drive my car and my relationships on a wing. (God sends a personal escort every time)

…and a prayer (Sometimes it’s “Aaaaa!!”, then sometimes it’s “Grrrrrrrrr…..”, sometimes even ,  “Help” and if I am fortunate enough to be thinking clearly, that call for help has a humble and respect filled ‘please’ attached.

 

The Nose Knows

Anger stinks. It is every bit as offensive as a poopy diaper.  I find myself wrinkling my nose at both.

Children express their anger simply. They do it just like they digest food… it comes out the other end somewhat altered and hazardous. They explore it like they explore what it’s like to stick their finger up their nose or what it feels like to their tongue afterwards.

How do we train children to stop pitching a fit? We potty train the heart. We establish habitual cleanliness of the nose… uh…soul.

Let’s begin with two versions of the same verse. The strong’s definitions of three key words are bracketed.

 

The discretion [7922- wisdom, knowledge, understanding] of a man deferreth [748- to become long, lengthen, to have a long life] his anger [639- hot of nose]; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. Proverbs 19:11 KJV

 

 

11 Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense. Proverbs 19:11 (AMP)

This passage is so important. Wisdom and knowledge slows the heat.  So what I get here is that processing the cause and processing the reaction are beneficial. Solomon agrees:

 

 

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger[3708-general uneasiness and anxiety, inwardly focused: anguish, grief; focused toward an object: anger, resentment]  resteth in the bosom of fools [3684- foolish stupid, insolent]. Ecclesiastes 7:9 KJV

 

 

Do not be quick in spirit to be angry or vexed, for anger and vexation lodge in the bosom of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9 (AMP)

 

But can we expect children to slow down and process angry emotions? Yes. They do this somewhat intuitively also like excreting waste or clearing mucus. Only with emotions, what comes out has first entered their brains because they see, hear and imitate it being done around them.

(Hey! Wait a minute! Didn’t God say something about seeing, hearing, understanding and turning being accomplished before he would heal his people?! Hmmmm)

OK , back to our noses.

The lengthening of one’s nose, the longer it takes to get red, the degree of calm with which we approach situations not to our liking… this sets adults apart from children.

Here’s one way adults should experience anger:

26 When angry[ 3710- to be angry , enraged, to feel and express strong displeasure and hostility/ range: petty human anger to righteous anger of God], do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Ephesians 4:26 (AMP)

 

Could it be that the ‘sin’ mentioned is the holding on to anger. There are many negative actions and thoughts that festering anger opens the door to, none of which strengthen our existence.

Got to get angry. Get angry. Then get un-angry.  The more practice we get, the less time it takes to effectively deal with it.

If our nose is long, i.e. it takes a long time for us to get hot in the nostrils and once angered we allow ourselves to process anger’s heat, those malicious germs from toxic emotional snot become less of a problem.

It is this long-of-nose processing of hostility and vexation that we must model in front of our children when we are dealing with others.  Anger happens. Make no mistake; children are watching every move. They are listening to each inflection and tone in our voices.

By modeling correct behaviors we teach our children, even from infancy, what to do with anger.

Later infancy months) (7-12)

Emotional expressivity

During the last half of the first year, infants begin expressing fear, disgust, and anger because of the maturation of cognitive abilities. Anger, often expressed by crying, is a frequent emotion expressed by infants. As is the case with all emotional expressions, anger serves an adaptive function, signaling to caregivers of the infant’s discomfort or displeasure, letting them know that something needs to be changed or altered. Although some infants respond to distressing events with sadness, anger is more common.

… Many studies have been conducted to assess the type and quality of emotional communication between caregivers and infants. Parents are one of the primary sources that socialize children to communicate emotional experience in culturally specific ways. That is, through such processes as modeling, direct instruction, and imitation, parents teach their children which emotional expressions are appropriate to express within their specific sub-culture and the broader social context.

At least that’s what Janice Zeman says

What does God say?

 

Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (AMP)

 

I supposed, at first, that this meant as a mother, I had to figure out God’s purpose and the ways he’d gifted my children so that I wouldn’t screw them up.

Problematic. None of my four children chose the academic or skilled careers I’d expected or encouraged. Even so, I still believe paying attention to their interests is good advice.

Perhaps, though, if we see this passage as expecting parents to model “God’s way”  so that from infancy ‘the way they should go’ is imprinted in our children so deeply it might well be said to be integrated into their DNA as emerging adults, we’d be closer to what the author was communicating.

We know from reading Deuteronomy, that God agrees with this approach to raising children.

What would happen to our parenting if we modeled God’s nose when anger flares up?

He is slow to get angry. He is specific about what gets him riled. He is quick to deal out appropriate consequences which are well thought out with the long term in view. When the punishment is over it’s over – period. Love is never taken away but the offense and its stench have been thoroughly removed. (The garbage bin outside is the only place for and poopy diapers and snot rags smeared with germ laden, slimy boogers…and health-risk emotional waste.)

His and everyone else’s nose is now free to enjoy breathing again.

When something gets you, the child’s primary caregiver, upset or angry or really ticked off, how do you respond? Better yet, how does your child understand you to respond?

The answer can be found in your child as you watch attentively to the patterns of behavior they engage when rage is in their nose. They will do as you do.

May your noses be long and your households blessed with emotional hygiene…in word and deed. Amen

 

Who is a Friend?

Every once in a while a situation arises that appears to be out of line with what I thought I knew. At these times I always go hunting for definitions … often of the most common words… and begin a quest for truth.

The most recent is “friendship”. Two times directly referenced (once about temper and once about haphazard alliance) and each was a warning. So I looked up “friend”. Seven words taught me about who a friend should be and should not be. (Strong’s numbers – 157,441, 3045, 3588, 4828, 4962, 7453)

As I watch my grandson peacefully taking his nap, I am reminded that friendships are so very important. I want wonderful, lifetime friends for him.

Why do parents and grandparents want to influence who children have as friends? Isn’t encouraging them to be a friend, to make any friend or lots of friends enough?

Who a child’s friends are will impact that child for a lifetime. Those relationships will augment or destroy our loved ones. I’d say that’s pretty powerful motivation to keep a close watch and maybe take a turn at the friend-ship steering wheel.

Friends are more than companions they become influential in pivotal moments. Friends are advisors. Friends are supportive in times of crisis. Friends show genuine concern and caring. Friends shepherd each other.  Those are good friends.

Others we count as friends gossip, betray, lead astray, ignore, divide, and desert us. Bad friends. Agreed?

Aside from the obvious that friends are people with whom we spend time and share common experiences, friends can be books (authors or characters) or celebrity athletes (that’s scary), or experts in a particular field of interest – music, science, entertainment —  or pets, or cartoon super heroes. Friends are sometimes invented by our children.  To the glory of God they can even learn to make friends of family members.

Alliances. Everyone needs them. Gamers need them. Politicians need them. The rich, and the poor need them. The successful and the outcast need them.

I guess the common thing there is strategy. Who will help you?

Although friendships are not exactly the same as alliances the same concept is true when determining who to include and who to avoid. Sorting true friend from foe includes knowledge of trust and acquaintance levels, appropriate boundaries, making the most of each one’s strengths, and bolstering each area of weakness.

These things we should teach our children early on. Early because they are exposed to friend concepts early and need us to guide them. “Sink or swim” teaching carries a high price in this training category and the risk far outweighs the gain.

Who will advise you? On whom could you depend in a crisis? Who will speak well of you? Whose company do you enjoy? Whose ways do you want to emulate and whose ways would cause you harm?

God has something to say about that so that neither child nor adult has to navigate friendships alone.

‘Friend’ is mentioned 120 times in the amplified version of Scripture. Who is a friend according to the LORD? Let’s just look at what God shares with us in the Proverbs.

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.

 

Teaching Point: Bid farewell to fair-weather friends. Appreciate and invest in those who stay with you through good times and bad.

 

Proverbs 14:20

The poor is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich has many friends.

Proverbs 19:7

All the brothers of a poor man detest him—how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.

 

Teaching Point: If money is the motivator for the friendship, be on your guard.  The friendship will not last.

Proverbs 16:28

A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Proverbs 17:9

He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.

 

Teaching Point: Close friends can be separated by gossip and perversity. Stay away from both. Do not allow offenses to rule relationships.

 

Proverbs 18:24

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

Teaching Point: Relax. There is less stress and better friendship when you invest your time and effort in a few key people. Friendship is a time commitment. Know your limits.

 

Proverbs 22:24

Make no friendships with a man given to anger, and with a wrathful man do not associate,

 

Teaching Point: Drama is drama, not friendship. Stay away in order to protect  your heart.

 

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose].

Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.

 

Teaching Point: Honesty, though painful at times is beneficial. Welcome honesty in friendships no matter how intense or difficult when presented.

 

Proverbs 22:11

He who loves purity and the pure in heart and who is gracious in speech—because of the grace of his lips will he have the king for his friend.

 

Teaching Point: What you say and how you say it are extremely important.

 

Proverbs 27:9

Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart.

Proverbs 7:4

Say to skillful and godly Wisdom, You are my sister, and regard understanding or insight as your intimate friend—

 

Teaching Point: Information exchange builds friendship. Make certain your advice is honest, knowledgeable and heartfelt.

 

Proverbs 27:10

Your own friend and your father’s friend, forsake them not; neither go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near [in spirit] than a brother who is far off [in heart].

 

Teaching Point: When investing in new friends, pay attention to those who’ve invested in you AND your family.

 

Well, that’s a lot to map out. How would these teaching points realign your relation-ships? … or those of your loved ones?

The Widow’s Green Lights

At each green light, I would praise God, thanking him for it. Out loud. With joy. My excitement was building with each intersection we entered and exited.

One morning this past week I forgot my Widow Lady’s insulin.  We needed her insulin with us because we were going to a special luncheon with one of her friends. Going back to the house to get it would make us late but I, her driver, had to admit my fault, turn the car around, drive safely and retrieve her medicine before going anywhere.  (Don’t miss the realignment formula here; admit, turn, make it right …the right way.)

I hate that I messed up. So did my widow lady. It distressed her not to be on time for her visit with her friend.

There was her insulin all packed up and ready to go just as I had intended. God had something more spectacular in mind and went ahead with his plan not mine.

Once more in the car  with her insulin pack right beside me and on our way out to the Harbor, I prayed while driving (yes, I had my eyes open).  Father God, please go before us. Clear the way.  Help us to get there in time for lunch. Please help everything to go smoothly.

Widow:  Are you talking to me?

Me: No. I was just asking God to help us to get there in time and for everything to go smoothly.

Widow: Oh

Friend, we got green lights all the way into the Harbor and that doesn’t happen very often. At each green light, I would praise God, thanking him for it. Out loud. With joy. (That actually is a habit I began when my children were very young and I just keep thanking God for green lights.)  My excitement was building with each intersection we entered and exited.

As we round the last two curves, the speedometer reads a few notches more than my passenger is comfortable with.

Me: Hang on

Widow:  I am

Last street . Turn made calmly.

Widow: Go on up there [through the breezeway to the front door] and let me off, then you go park.

Me: Yes Mam. I can do that.

We arrived safely and the best parking place was open.  Praise God!

Lunch went well. We got there in plenty of time and enjoyed a nice visit. I got to share with my lady’s friend how wonderful God had been to us.  He agreed, green lights all the way was a red letter day.

As we are getting ready to leave there for a shopping trip, I get this text from my husband:

 

Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but [[a]with me] take your share of the suffering [to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God.

[For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace (unmerited favor) which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago].  2 Timothy 1:8-9(AMP)

 

The rest of the day there was a markedly positive difference in my passenger’s mood. … A 180 degree turn from the previous day’s mood. (Praise be to God! Thank You, Jesus.) During our time in the car, I would hum the old hymns I could recall. One of them might strike a chord in her memory of childhood church days and prompt more positive God-thoughts.  Oh God, please let it be so!

I may never know.

Near the end of our day quite out of the blue she speaks.

Widow: I’m sorry I’m such … a… pain in the butt. I just get so agitated.

The truth is she can be very cranky at times. Instead of agreeing with her or expressing forgiveness protocol, my first thought was to blow that off with an, “Oh, you’re not a pain in the butt.” None of that came out of my mouth.

Me: Well, I’m praying that God would grant you peace, [Widow Lady].

Widow: Looks away and half laughs in a ‘yeah right’ kind of grunt.

Me: [Widow Lady], He granted us green lights all the way today. We’ll just have to see what he says.

A pleased grin took the place of her distrustful contempt.

Finally it dawned on me.  The night before I’d left a note on her freshly hung note pad for visitors which read, “Good night, [Widow Lady] May God bless you and guard you and grant you peace.    ♥ Christine”

Yes, God cares about traffic lights. He cares about the obedience of writing a small note. He cares what comes out of our mouths …and is able to control that tongue of ours. I’m so glad He remembers what we often forget. God’s agenda is better than ours.

26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). James 1:26 (AMP)

Father God, we desperately need to be fruitful. Please grant us a worthwhile harvest. Amen.

 

God and the Widow

I have never been more religious in my life!! I’ve gone to church since I was a child. I’ve been active in church programs for years and tomorrow I will be able to sing with our worship team as my husband leads us all  to the throne of God musically. Some would say I’m very religious. But would God? Why is this part of life any different ?

I am care-giving for a non-believing widow (James1:27)  and I truly need the LORD every minute. This is a new adventure. The learning curve is rather steep. Skills are coming directly from my Savior as I work with the family to tailor make a care plan, to negotiate my pay, to navigate tough issues involved with helping their aging loved one….

God has a special concern for widows. He mentions them 85 times in Scripture with a focus on giving widows help. It is never a suggestion.

Which widow(s) should I give to? Answer: The one the LORD leads me to…just like Elijah was led to one lady in a foreign place. It is a great miracle story. I hope you will read it. 1 Kings 17:9-24; Luke 4:24-26 

There is no doubt in my mind that the LORD has led me to this job opportunity. I was wondering though, what limits, if any, he has set for this often overwhelming, draining endeavor.

He does prioritize who. Not that every widow I give care to must be in my congregation or family but they absolutely must depend on and have relationship with the LORD.

No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband,10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 1 Timothy 5:9, 10

Does God care about the “what”? Absolutely.

What should I – a non relative – do for them? Feed, clothe, and render impartial judgments. Deuteronomy 10:18; 14:29; 16:11,14;  24:19-21; 26:12,13; 27:19

Why? I am God’s representative. They depend on God for everything.  1 Timothy 5:5

 

What should I – a relative, child, or grandchild of theirs do for them? Bring them relief, not let the church be burdened with them.

Why? It is the religious duty that pleases God.  1 Timothy 5:4; James 1:27

 

The boundaries: Those who live for God get help. Those that live for themselves are on their own.

Whereas she who lives in pleasure and self-gratification [giving herself up to luxury and self-indulgence] is dead even while she [still] lives.

1 Timothy 5:6(AMP)

 

And some become idlers and gossips which apparently leads them away from the LORD and out of his provision.

15 For already some [widows] have turned aside after Satan.

1 Timothy 5:15 (AMP)

Well, that’s a dog gone shame!  Would a timely word bring them about to a proper alignment with God?

Just like Elijah, I think I am sent to this widow so that she will know the Word of the LORD is true.  God needs to be the one to make that happen. My time with her is almost done. I’m never sure if she listens to me or if I say the right thing. Her needs are quickly exceeding my abilities and others more equipped will be brought in to help her.

Whatever she decides about God, I know whom I have believed   and am persuaded that he is able….

He Judges Us

Does God judge? Of Course he does. …At the end of time, right? Yes he does.

He judges us during our lives here on earth too. Certain things matter so much that he just steps in with a point of action; for example, mistreatment of the poor and afflicted, a king’s poor choice .  I’m sure if we looked longer we could find other examples. If you do,  please share them with us in the comment section below.

Dear Friends, lest you think the God of Christians is only concerned with judging his own people,  the truth is that he judges non-Christians and Christians. That means all of us. He does so with justice and righteousness and he is absolutely true to his word no matter who you are. (Kinda cool there is only One Real Judge for everybody.)

Though we try to engage judgment, settling disputes is a rough go for us as a society and personally  but not for him.

Jesus is the True Judge and judgment belongs to Him because the One who exists and causes all things to exist has handed judgment over to him.   Yet he constantly gives his Father that title, that place of honor as the ultimate judge.

 

30 I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me. John 5:30 (AMP)

 

I’m so glad that judgment is his responsibility.

In fact, when it comes to judging, I have followed the example of Jesus when people expect a decision, a pardon, or an indictment from me. This takes the form of apologizing for swearing in my presence, laughing at course jokes while I am in the room then backpedaling because I’m there, sharing stories of how an individual has been wronged severely or slightly, being pressed to take sides between others who have disputes of various kinds with other people. Though I’m still not quite sure what elicits these conversations, I try to convey the concept very clearly that I have not been appointed as a legal judge in their case but that judgment belongs to Jesus. When I communicate this effectively, I realign my relationships perfectly and enjoy a lot less stress.

Jesus, though all judgment has been given to him, had no desire to intervene when presented with the same opportunity of judging a legal earthly matter saying, “Who made me  your judge?”

Because we humans are hardwired with a sense of right, wrong, and justice, we must train ourselves to release ourselves from the burden of judging and place it exactly where it belongs – on the shoulders of Jesus.  We do this through repentance and prayer.

Take a moment and think about Jesus’ shoulders. Picture that long arduous trudge to Golgotha bloody step after bloody step. The One to whom all judgment was given bore all God’s wrath against us. Yet ever since God raised him from the dead, he lives to intercede   on our behalf.

Amazing! Freeing. True.

He will Lift You Up

25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Matthew 5:25 AMP)

 

Sometimes bad stuff happens. I’d like to think that bad stuff only happens to bad people. Or at least, bad stuff only happens to other people. Both concepts are about as false as false can get. Sometimes God wants us, the ‘good’ people, to experience difficulty. It might just be that how we handle the difficulty will bring about a much better outcome.

I started a new job this week care-giving and driving for an elderly lady. I had such high dreams of being able to pay for all the things I needed. Fix the dishwasher, replace the bathroom fan, pay down some debt. God had other plans.

My morning devotional was all about humility. Humble yourself in the sight of the LORD. No problem, I thought. I am quick to recognize God’s supreme kingship. In fact, I take comfort in his high position because the reality of his awesomeness helps me to trust him. I’m safe. That’s what I thought anyway.

Here are the verses I was reading:

12 Haughtiness comes before disaster, but humility before honor. Proverbs 18:12 (AMP)

 

When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.  Proverbs 11:2 (AMP)

 

34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners, yet He gives His undeserved favor to the low [in rank], the humble, and the afflicted. Proverbs 3:34 (AMP)

 

Honestly I didn’t pay much attention. I just read them and moved on with my day.

 

Well, then it happened.

I was driving my new employer’s car and …OH NO! Now I think I’ll have to spend my pay check or several paychecks investing in its repair. I will because it’s the right thing to do.  It sure will make my work week different.

All the work with the insurance and auto body shop fall to me. The shame of it weighs me down, how could I have been SOOO careless!?! They’ll never forget. They’ll always think of THIS event when they think about me. The inconvenience, the trouble…it’s so hard to find good help these days….I want to be good help. I want to do this job excellently because it reflects on me, my family and my God. I was a mess on the inside while trying to keep up the strength to carry on through the day.

I thought I could do this but I can’t do it very well. I am weak in ways I thought I was strong.

God is encouraging though.

For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He goes on living by the power of God. And though we too are weak in Him [as He was humanly weak], yet in dealing with you [we shall show ourselves] alive and strong in [fellowship with] Him by the power of God.
2 Corinthians 13:4(AMP)

 

For me, after the minor accident, there was no choice but to be humble before both God and everyone else.  I can’t do anything on my own but by God’s power I can live with him in my dealings with everyone.

Later that same day my husband says to me, “Lift up your head. I love you. God loves you. God lifts up your head.”

Yes, even when I feel like I’m worthless…like I am of no account whatsoever, God is there walking with me through my dealings and my interactions with people. He loves me and I do not have to hang my head. I can walk tall through real life—mistakes, accidents, extra work, dashed dreams, horrible first impressions — because of who he is and his amazing love for me.

God has called us to walk with him through real life; To shine in the midst of darkness; To lift up our heads with faces of imperfection and revel in the warmth of his face, his love, his joy, his strength, His glorious absolute perfection.

Different things bother different people. Stresses may be caused by insignificant things or truly catastrophic ones. Troubles range in severity and in longevity. But the solution is the same. Jesus is the lifter of our heads. By God’s power we too can live…really live real lives with real people and real events.

If you know this song, sing it with me. If not, click the link and just listen…

“Cry In My Heart”

There’s a cry in my heart
For Your glory to fall
For Your presence to fill up my senses
There’s a yearning again
A thirst for discipline
A hunger for things that are deeper

Could You take me beyond?
Could You carry me through?
If I open my heart?
Could I go there with You?
(For I’ve been here before
But I know there’s still more
Oh, Lord, I need to know You)

For what do I have
If I don’t have You, Jesus?
What in this life
Could mean any more?
You are my rock
You are my glory
You are the lifter
Of my head
Lifter of this head

 

Father, God, I can’t do this without you…live this life, care for this difficult person, work this job, love my family and tend my own home  My every breath comes from you and is sustained  by you. I am truly nothing without you . By faith I trust that you are the lifter of my head and cause me to shine brilliantly. I believe you will use my circumstances to benefit your glory and your kingdom. I need you so much! I need you each moment. Thank you for loving me and meeting my needs without finding fault.

Here is the LORD’s response to me

10 Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. James 4:10 (AMP)

Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you,
1 Peter 5:6(AMP)

I confess, I do not know right now how this will bring about positive change. By faith I accept that God’s ways are higher than anything I can think of and HE can make this life experience significant in the best way possible.

Friend, may your lives and mine be significant to the Lord Jesus Christ…no matter what. Amen.

Parenting from the Word of God

 

18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Proverbs 19:18 King James Version (KJV)

I found it helpful to define a few terms. You might also.

Chasten: 3256 – yasar – to correct, discipline; to accept correction, be warned, be disciplined; to punish, correct, discipline; to instruct, train, to strengthen; to catch; to let oneself take warning

Hope: 8615 – tiqwa—hope, expectation, cord

Spare: 5375 –nasa—to bear, carry, lift up, forgive; to be forgiven, honored carried; to be carried off lifted up; to elevate, carry along; to cause to carry, to bring; to exalt oneself, lift up oneself; from the base meaning of ‘to rise in elevation’ come the extensions, to exalt, honor as the lifting up of a person in status, and ‘to forgive’ as the removal of guilt and its penalties. ‘to lift up the eyes’ means to look up.

Parenting is tough. I’m so glad that God gives us instructions along the way. ..this passage in Proverbs for example. God’s word teaches us a lot. Think on these translations.

The NIV

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.

The Amplified

Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not [indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and] set yourself to his ruin.

The NASB

Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire [a]his death.

Now the passage as I would translate it might sound a bit different. Here’s what I get from it already….

  • Make the most of every opportunity while your child still feels bound in affection towards you. If you hold back, it’s your loss. That awesome invisible cord tying parent and child together does not last forever and you will KNOW when it breaks. Don’t go cutting it off prematurely… that’s setting your child up for a difficult life not to mention a perilous relationship with you (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).
  • Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you’re a bad parent because you correct your child. Allowing yourself to become downhearted about the right choice is counterproductive. Correction does not make you a more important person either; it is simply the right choice.  Both the parent and the child must give account to God on the final day for what they do and will be judged by the same God with the same standards for both of them.

Friends, journalists, psychologists, doctors, and grandparents … everybody has their own idea about good and bad parenting. Some are more vocal than others.  The single most important voice in the way you parent is the voice of the child’s Maker…GOD.  Be alert to God’s training, content and methods. Fix your eyes on them. Hold your course.

  • Do not give into the trap that tells you it is better to lift the penalty for a transgression. That’s a lie. Let them feel the consequences. Besides, it’s not a parent’s job anyway. Judgments (passing sentence or handing out pardons) are ALWAYS God’s job. A parent is responsible before God to make the child aware of and enforce the boundaries set by God regardless of personal feeling or the prevailing popular choices.

 

20 My son, keep your father’s [God-given] commandment and forsake not the law of [God] your mother [taught you]. Proverbs 6:20(AMP)

 (Look for a personal example   in the comment section below.
Take a minute to share one of your own)

  • DO BE CONFIDENT in what you teach your child. Insecurities about what and how to train children makes the parent act unreliably. Kids can lose respect for their parents quick enough from outside elements, why add fuel to the fire?
  • Know what is inside your control and what is not. That will help you to act confidently when training your child and when allowing him/her to be in the care of others…grandparents, nanny, sitter, daycare or public school. Sometimes it’s just impossible to have the same rules with everyone and everywhere. As long as each entity is consistent, your child will be stronger and better off for it. Not because of who is better or who is more right or less right but because God is trustworthy and ultimately the one in compassionate control of it all.

If I were going to put Proverbs 19:18 into 140 characters or less, I’d say

Inform, warn and punish a child who seeks your affection. Do so responsibly in view of God’s ongoing and final judgments.

As we head into this next school year, I pray that you, dear and treasured parent, are chastening in a confident and timely  manner. May your parent -child relationships be strong while young and into maturity. may you, together with the LORD, parent in proper relationship. Amen

In View of God’s Mercy to Me and You

Inside the Hess Collection Napa several years ago, there stood a pedestal displaying artwork at exactly eye level. From one angle it was a rabbit. As I walked around this sculpture and its perch, the head of a rabbit appeared to morph into the shape of a man. A different viewing angle brought about an entirely different perception.

The sculpture never moved. I did. Totally fascinated, I walked right then left, smiling and changing my view several times.

We have just such a turning about in Romans 11:25-32. Strong’s word for ‘turn’ here is ‘apostrepho’: to turn away from, rebel, mislead; to desert, reject; to return, put back. The Amplified version translates it as “banish”.

Do you think God has banished Israel from fellowship with him…even today… with all the bombings and talk of war?

How do you view Israel? I’m sure with all the news flying about the internet on The Gaza Conflict, sides are being chosen by armchair politicians and patriots everywhere.

Here is Paul’s take on a true viewing of Israel. They are enemies of the Gospel. They are beloved of God.

How can both be true? Walk around the image and change your point of view.

Standing from one angle where I can see the crucifix, the tomb, and the empty grave, my eyes tell my mind Israel’s out of line with the truth of who Jesus is and therefore, counted  enemies. But if I walk ‘round to another vantage point, my eyes take in the larger picture of God’s choice and I must admit, they are totally beloved of God.

The metal of their sculpture has never changed. Their gifts and calling remain the same.

For they are Israelites, and to them belong God’s adoption [as a nation] and the glorious Presence (Shekinah). With them were the special covenants made, to them was the Law given. To them [the temple] worship was revealed and [God’s own] promises announced.

To them belong the patriarchs, and as far as His natural descent was concerned, from them is the Christ, Who is exalted and supreme over all, God, blessed forever! Amen (so let it be). Romans 9:4-5 (AMP)

 

When I walk around this group of people formed and called forth by the Master Artist himself, I have no other choice but to declare they are loved by God.

Further,  both the enemy thing and the irrevocable gifts and calling things are at the same time one solid piece. Amazing!

It does not make sense to me. I cannot wrap my mind around it. I find myself asking, just like I did about the sculpture in the Hess gallery, “How’d he do that!?!”  I also smile because the talent that made it is phenomenal.

Paul doesn’t leave us without an answer.  He is right there with us in the gallery looking at the fine art of God called “Israel”. He calls our attention to God’s mercy and to our own life struggle.  God, it turns out, bound all men over to disobedience t so that he could have mercy on us all.

The answer is God’s mercy now available to Jew and Gentile alike. How absolutely marvel worthy.

30 Just as you were once disobedient and rebellious toward God but now have obtained [His] mercy, through their disobedience,

31 So they also now are being disobedient [when you are receiving mercy], that they in turn may one day, through the mercy you are enjoying, also receive mercy [that they may share the mercy which has been shown to you—through you as messengers of the Gospel to them].

32 For God has consigned (penned up) all men to disobedience, only that He may have mercy on them all [alike].

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor?

35 Or who has first given God anything that he might be paid back or that he could claim a recompense?

36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it). Romans 11:30-36 (AMP)

 

God is merciful to men. He is the one who turns ungodliness away from them and brings them fully around to salvation.

Has God fashioned a Hess gallery rabbit in your life? Two apparently different but equally true things with an unchangeable core?

How has God demonstrated his mercy to you?

Smile today at the Master’s artistry you call, “me”.