War of Words

As I turn off the morning newscast, I feel like shouting, “Wake Up America!”  Grown adults carelessly, endlessly, exhaustingly talking!  It’s shocking how careless people are becoming with their words; especially on social media. Living in a country with freedom of speech seems to be crossing the line into sheer foolishness, where disrespect, dogmatic opinions, and just plain selfishness reigns. I’d like to take a moment today to remind everyone about the power of your words.

1) Your mouth gives you away!

When you begin to speak, people get a glimpse at what is really in your heart. Come to think of it, YOU get a glimpse at what’s in your heart. Listen to yourself. Re-read your texts, Twitter and Facebook posts. What fruit is your heart producing?

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45

Even a fool appears to be wise when he keeps his mouth shut. Proverbs 17:28

2) Your words can hurt or help.

Every time you open your mouth to speak, you have a choice to make. Will my words help or hurt? Will my words pour water or fuel on a fire? Will my words bring life & encouragement? Or, will my words kill and destroy? It’s your choice! Make it wisely.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” – everyone’s Mama

3) Beware of “mouth” disease.

Don’t fall into the foolish habits of the world. Instead of a war OF words, let’s declare a war ON our words. Gossiping, exaggerating, lying, flattery, bragging — not to mention blatantly hateful, mean words — are all curable diseases.

A war of words is really a war of hearts. And, God is the perfect One to go to for a heart transplant. Imagine a world ( a workplace, a church, a home) where people are using their words to encourage one another; honor one another; respect one another; love one another? Sounds like heaven on earth to me!

As you go about your life today, remember words really matter! .

• Think before you speak.  Learn to tame your tongue.

• Speak the truth in love.

• Speak less; listen more.

• Ask God for wisdom. The Bible has a lot of wise advice to give you as you declare war ON your words — I encourage you to start with James 3:1-12; Ephesians 4:29 & 5:4 ; Colossians 4:6; Psalm 141:3.

Come on America, we are better than this.  Let’s turn the tide of of our culture and once again show respect, honor, love, and wisdom with our words.  We can do this!!  YOU can do this!

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Reaching for Jesus

She had come to her wits end. Her hope was gone; her money was spent; her doctors baffled. Desperate for help, she digs deep into her soul for one last ounce of strength. Ignoring the pain & the crowd that stood between her and the “Anointed One”, she drops to hands and knees. Crawling. Pushing. Reaching for Jesus.

In Luke 8:43-48, we learn of this woman, who’s sickness led her searching for the Healer. With dogged determination, she presses in to touch the hem of His garment. His power is released. She is healed instantly and completely!

I am challenged to my core to live life like this woman. Nothing could keep her from reaching for Jesus. No crowd. No sickness. Not even the hopelessness of her heart could stop her from pressing in. Her eyes were set on Him. He was ALL she needed.

Unfortunately, it was sickness that brought her to this wonderful moment. But, it doesn’t have to be that way for you and I. Here’s how we can cultivate a hunger for Him even when the sun is shining.

  • Refuse to be a “lukewarm”, casual Christian… one who stands in the crowd watching Jesus pass by.  Go all in. Determine to reach; strain for; press into His presence every single day.  Come to Him hungry for more.
  • Seek Him first! Make Him the Center of your life. He alone sits on the throne of your heart. No more negotiating with my foolish self. He is #1. (Matthew 6:33)
  • Taste and see that the Lord is good. The more you know Jesus, the more you won’t want to do life without Him. (Psalm 34:8)
  • When tough times come (and they will), stay focused on Him…the Author and Perfecter of your faith. Keep your eyes on Him. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Like a compass searching for due north, set your heart on Him today. Let nothing stand in your way. If necessary, drop to your knees and crawl. REACH!

Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will open to you. Matthew 7:7

 

Bitter Sweet

My dear freind, Shay, stepped in heaven yesterday morning. Escorted by the angels, Shay was led to King Jesus. All her tiredness, anxiety, and sickness left her once and for all.  As Jesus embraced her, she received her new name, her new body, her new home. Today she stands strong, full of joy and new life.  She’s reunited with loved ones.  In light of a greater revelation of God,  I can almost hear her calling to us still on earth — “Our God IS a God of miracles.  How great!  How perfect! How wonderful is He.”

I woke up sad this morning…not sad for Shay, but sad for life without her.  Sad for her kids who will no longer have their mother.  It’s truly bitter sweet.  When we reach for God’s perspective, we understand that “the death of saint is precious in the sight of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).  No words can begin to describe how much better our lives will be when we take that wonderful step into eternity.  We are but foreigners on earth…our true home sweet home is heaven, in the presence of our God.

Have you lost a loved one and felt that “bitter sweet” pain in your heart?  How do we keep on living by faith when God answered our prayers for healing, by taking our loved one home to heaven?  How do we grieve and celebrate life simultaneously?

  • Remember the good.  Grief mingles with joy when we glance back to celebrate life.  It will help heal your soul by laughing & crying as you recall the good times shared with your loved one.
  • Live with eternity in your heart. (Eccl. 3:11).  Our lives on earth are but a moment in light of what’s to come.  Live to know Jesus more & more & more….
  • Highly value relationships every day.  Life can change on a dime.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to embrace those God has placed in your life.  Tell them you love them often.
  •  Keep living by faith.  Our God’s ways are higher than ours. While we may never understand why He heals some on earth and others with a new life in heaven, we keep trusting Him. We keep asking for miracles. We keep standing on the truth of Ephesians 3:20. “Our God will do above and beyond what we ask or think.”

So, today is bitter sweet. I already miss my sweet friend.  And, if you have a moment today, please pray with me for her son and daughter.

The Power of a Pout

Do you know what stops me in my tracks?  A pout on one of my grandkids faces.  When they’ve unsuccessfully got what they want from Mama, they come pouting to Grandma.  They know I’m an easy target.  They know I have such a hard time saying “no” to my kids (especially grandkids).  And it doesn’t stop with my family, I love blessing friends, family, total strangers, the dog…  Don’t we all enjoy making others happy?

One of the toughest lessons in life is learning to accept the fact we cannot ever make everyone happy all of the time.   First of all, we are all sinners. Try as we may, we all make many mistakes every single day.  We say the wrong things; do (or not do) the wrong things.  If it wasn’t for God’s amazing grace, many of us would crawl into a corner of shame and cry.  Thank God, Jesus loves us and gives countless chances to learn and grow.  If you are beating yourself today for failing once again, turn and fall into God’s arms.  He will dust you off; stand you back up on your feet; graciously give you a fresh start, free from shame.

Secondly,  even though we love making others happy, we need to live to please God and God alone.  That means, we won’t always live up to others expectations.  On many occasions Jesus said “no” to the needs & desires of others.  “No, Mom, I can’t stop what I’m doing and come outside to chat with you and my brothers.  No, Mary and Martha, I can’t come right this minute to heal Lazuras.”  When the crowds pulled and prodded on Jesus to meet “their” needs and wants, He remained focused on His Father.   Pleasing God steered His days.   May the same be said of our lives.  Dear friends, it is a deeply satisfying feeling to lay your head on your pillow at the end of the day and know you have made God smile.

So in the wise words of Taylor Swift (LOL), shake it off.  When others pout because you let them down, shake it off.  When shame and regret hang over you like a dark cloud, shake it off.  Set your gaze on Jesus.  Live to please Him!

 

For the sake of the children!

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About 7 years ago, I stepped back into the field of education and immediately recognized a radical change in this generation of children.  Many sound like  “little adults” speaking the jargon of  Oprah philosophy…sorting through deep emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and fear.   They are tech savvy, extremely busy, and exhausted in this fast paced world.   In a word, they are so SERIOUS.

As a parent, grandparent, and educator, I implore you to guard your child’s innocence.

  • Keep life simple.
  • Lavish them with praise, encouragement, and love.
  • Guide them through struggles by taking the extra time to help them learn empathy, respect, honesty, honor,…
  • Take them to church on a regular basis.
  • Don’t rescue them from challenges and hard work — but be present to advise, aid, and encourage them along when times get tough.
  • Pray for them AND with them.
  • Laugh & play together.
  • Set boundaries – learn to say “no” and mean it.
  • Be their parent, not their friend.

I’m not saying anything new — but these truths need to be shouted from the rooftops.  Our children have been born at a difficult, yet privledged time in history.   We can stop the trend of raising a generation of emotional & spiritual anemics.  Slow down and make the most of every day opportunities.  LOVE your children the way God (not the world) intends you to.

What Your Husband Needs Most

Kevin jokes that he’s like a cactus. He only needs a little water and care.  Funny guy!  Truth is…he’s more like a succulent plant that needs gentle misting and constant care.  He’s worth it though. After all, he’s God’s boy and deserves all the love and help I have to share.  He’s my #1 ministry – above kids, church, work.

Well, this morning I woke up with an urgency to pray more FOR Kevin, not just WITH Kevin.  God reminding me how I can get so busy doing things for Kevin, that I neglect what will help him most.  And, so, I prayed that he would…

  • Grow in his love and revelation for Jesus
  • Live in God’s plan – full of faith, obedient.
  • Cooperate with the Holy Spirit – humble, teachable, discerning.
  • Lead with wisdom, grace, integrity.
  • Be fruitful in all his labor
  • Trust God enough to dream bigger dreams.
  • Be healthy, strong, youthful, and energitic.
  • Enjoy fulfilling relationships – marriage, family, friends.
  • Have fun!  Laugh. Be happy.

If you aren’t praying for your husband, who will?  Cover him with God’s presence.  Speak God’s word over his life.  Fight the good fight of faith with the prophetic words God has given him.   Your prayers will have a huge impact on your man.  God will move his insurmountable mountains.  And, God will answer the smallest needs with pin point accuracy.

Pray about everything.  With grateful hearts, offer up your prayers and requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

Not a Care in the World

Have you ever been unfairly mistreated, misunderstood, or misjudged?  When this happens, it can really take the wind out of your sail.  The Bible gives us a number of examples to help us rise above the hurt and live healed & free.  Take Joseph — who after a life of mistreatment by family, friends, and bosses — reached his destiny free from bitterness and regret.  His father, Jacob described Joseph in Genesis 49:23-24. “Archers attacked him savagely; they shot at him and harassed him. Yet (through it all),  Joseph kept his bow taut and his arms strengthened by the hands of God.”

David, too, had lots of experience being misjudged & mistreated by those closest to him.  Though innocent, David was on the run like a fugitive when he penned Psalm 26.  In that Psalm, he makes an number of wise resolutions that helped him remain calm through it all.  In the closing verse 12, I can almost hear David take big breath, sigh and announce,  “I now stand on solid ground!  I will publicly praise the Lord.”  “Solid ground” comes from a Hebrew word mishore.  The term conveys the idea of a place where one has a high, commanding view.  Because David chose to look at his circumstances through God’s broad perspective, he was able to remain as calm as a cucumber.  Not a care in the world!

The majority of people on planet earth, when hurt unfairly, view life from a deep gorge where they are shut in on all sides.  Many live with ulcers, anxiety, sleepless nights, and inner turmoil.  If that describes you, dear friend, try doing what David, Joseph, and even, Jesus did when they were mistreated.  Step up to God’s level place and take a gander at the bigger picture.  Prayerfully hand over the hurt to Him and let His peace flood your soul today.

I’ll be like a tree…

How could anyone say the Bible is an old, out-of-date, boring book?  From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is chock-a-block full of adventure, love stories, poems, mystery, history, and real life wisdom.  I still sit on the edge of my seat in suspense when I read how the Israelites got trapped between the sea and the the Egyptian army.  My heart sings when I read David’s songs.  I cry reading how Jesus, the Darling of heaven, prayed alone in the garden on the eve of His death.  I laugh at how God used a little boy to kill a big giant.  I could go one all day because the Bible is simply that amazing!

I trace my love for God’s word back to when I was little girl, when I observed my Nana’s life.  It wasn’t a religious thing for her — it was a relationship. She talked about God’s word every chance I gave her.  And, even though it wasn’t until years later, in my early 20’s, the seeds Nana planted in my heart remained and produced fruit.   From the moment I gave my life to Jesus, God’s word came alive to me.   It changes me; challenges me; comforts me.   There is but 1 thing it doesn’t do — bore me.  Never!

How blessed is the man who delights in God’s Word, meditating on it day & night. He will be like a tree planted by the waters, producing fruit in every season. His leaves never wither and he prospers in all he does.  Psalm 1:2-3

If you are having a difficult time understanding God’s word,  I recommend getting a new “readable” translation and attending a lively local church Bible study.  Start by reading a Bible story, then pondering it’s meaning for your life.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and help you understand God’s truth.  While it may take a little effort to open up the pages and get started — you will never be disappointed.  I believe, that you too, will fall in love with it’s words and it’s Author.

Strong as a Lion

When I was in college, I got the crazy idea to join a long bicycle trip across eastern Oklahoma.  Being in the best physical shape of my life, I started out with loads of confidence.  But, by day 2, in the cold, freezing rain, I began to question the sanity of my decision.  Falling to the back of the pack, I started crying (frozen tears), “God, help me.”  To my utter surprise, I immediately felt a boost of energy and strength.  It felt like someone had grabbed the back of my bike and pushed me up the longest hill ever known to man.  Really!  This was my first of what would be countless moments of infusions of God’s power in my life.

No feeling begins to compare to the moment when I come to end of my striving, and lean on Him for the power to keep going.  His strength is most notable when I am at my weakest.  His strength thrusts my life forward —  like taking a giant step in a game of Simeon Says.   His strength is liberating  — I don’t have to get the job done in MY puny strength.  His strength is exhilarating — like a gust of wind into my sails on a motionless day.

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Phil 4:13

Whether you are struggling in your marriage; your health; your job; your finances; your relationships – you name the need & God’s strength is available to help you.  Just ask Him.

Only God Can Help!

Today’s news headline really pierced my heart – “Four Teens Torture Disabled Boy”.  To top it off, they did this heynis act on the internet live!  Really?  Where does such hate come from?  How can any human inflict such harm on another person?  It’s more than my heart can bear.

In the last days, there will come times of great difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying it’s power.  II Timothy 3:1-17

The world is in cardiac arrest.  So many hearts have become callous toward God — Who is our One & only solution for all that ails us.  Parents do the best they can.  Police bravely serve our communities. Teachers work tirelessly to help this generation.  Unfortunately, all our efforts will never be enough.  Sin has led this world spiraling  downward for centuries.  The Bible tells us that as time ticks on, the problems will continue to increase in frequency and size, much like woman in labor. (I Thes. 5:2-3)

So, instead of watching more depressing news on TV tonight, will you join me in praying for our land?  (II Chronicles 7:14). These four teens in the news (and countless others like them) need a new heart, that only God, their Creator, can provide.  I know prayer can seem like your throwing a frisbee up in the air and watching it drop right back to the ground.  But, the truth is — GOD does hear our prayers.  And, God is faithful to respond.