YES!

as-343456_1280Take a good look at this picture.  What does it say to you?  Does it seem silly, perhaps even a little bit trite?  I hope you will pause and really look at this picture for a moment before reading on.  Ask the Lord to reveal to you some truth about this photograph.  Go ahead, it just might be the exercise you need to do right now!

I read a post from someone today that put my mind to remembering.  I’m not sure where it all began, perhaps in the story I wrote about in Step Over the Fence.  In what I want to share with you today the context is different from that example, but the theory is much the same.

There came that point in my life, somewhere in my 20’s, that I wanted to do something but my thought pattern automatically went to, “I can’t do that!”  It was the moment when I dreamed a little and wanted something I currently didn’t have or hadn’t experienced yet.  Why exactly my censor/flesh/thoughts seemed to automatically go to the place of can’t I’m not sure.  But this was a thought pattern that was very, very familiar to me.

OK here’s where the above photograph comes in.  See the opening way back there, the space where the arm has entered?  I’m going to liken the thinking process of what I just described as that place, the spot where the idea first occurs to us.  Now imagine with me that you leaned down and looked into that hole, wondering where it led.  All kinds of thoughts might come into your mind:  eeuuww, that’s a dark hole, or I wonder where that hole goes, or I’m not putting my arm in there because there might be spiders/snakes/scorpions in there (humor me, I live in the high desert!).  Can you relate?

I have a cousin who, when we were kids, might have looked at this hole and it would have immediately represented the makings of an adventure, something that had to be conquered.  I never looked at things quite like he did, but I’ll tell you something; when he decided to go on an adventure and his sister and I were invited along, we indeed found adventures galore.  There were sometimes scary adventures (the time we were following the creek behind their rural property on a hiking adventure and kids on the other side decided to bombard us with rocks) and there were also exquisite quests that left us breathless from the daring thing we just pulled off (the time we dug a tunnel more than just a few feet and it didn’t cave in on us)!

Back to the hole in the photo above.  Life is kind of like that hole.  We look at something in our surrounding lives and make all kinds of assumptions, without much thinking about what we’re really saying about the situation.  To a risk-taker like my cousin, this hole may provide a sense of adventure.  If this hole is the only opening in an otherwise solid wall, the risk-taker sees a question:  what lies on the other side and can I see it through this hole?  My cousin would have stuck his arm right into that hole and I can imagine him giving that thumbs up signal once his hand reached the other side.  To me, the wall appeared a barrier and the hole seemed a taunt, nothing more.

There came the day in my life that something shifted. I was working at a struggling-to-survive alcoholism treatment center.  I was the bookkeeper and well aware of the financial state of the place.  I knew we needed a rabbit pulled out of a hat.  I was a brand new Christian, and Jesus Christ was wooing me to conquer fears; I didn’t know how to do this risk thing, but He was about to show me.

I thought one day, “we need a big name person to come and put on a benefit fundraiser for us.  But who?”  I labored over that until one night as I lay in bed reading a book by a well-known author, it came to me.  Why can’t I ask this man, the author of the book, to come and do a benefit for us?  My censor told me, “no way girl!  You can’t do that.  It’s impossible, and he will think you’re nuts if you ask.”  But then something very foreign, a timid form of wisdom spoke through my thick wall of objections and the place at the other end of the tube, called to me in a whisper, ever so softly:  “You can certainly ask because you know what?  What’s the worst thing that can happen?”  And I had to answer that question.  The worst thing that might happen?  He might say no.  And then I had to ask the question, “if he says no, will my world end?”  Of course it wouldn’t.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  And that was the point it all changed.  That was in 1977 and I still have a copy of the letter I sent to this famous author.  (By the way, he said no!)

I’ve applied that truth to oh so many seeming obstacles in my life and do you know what I’ve found?  In most instances, I experienced the surprising success that I thought impossible!  I came away from so many situations, shaking my head in disbelief at the ease in which the solid wall of the impossible came tumbling down, right before my eyes.  I got jobs I never thought I’d qualify for.  I was able to try things that my experience certainly didn’t add up to.  My husband and I held a rock concert we thought impossible with a well-known performer.  Successes went on and on but I always had to go through the process of asking.  It was absolutely a case of stick-your-arm-into-the-hole and WA-LAA!  There was a freedom waiting on the other side of no way — YES!

So go through the process today and see what happens!  Go ahead and ask.  The worst they can say is no.  And your world will go on.  I promise!

He Has a Lot of Provision!

Linda Wallenius:

I came across this from my blog awhile back and it spoke so LOUDLY to me tonite, I just had to re-post it. I hope you get as much out of it as I did again.

Originally posted on Just Encourage:

Haven’t had a cell phone for 6 days now. It’s interesting. I am missing a few people, but I don’t miss the intrusion that being connected brings. At this moment, I’m sitting in a screened porch and the only sound I can hear is that of the wind blowing through the trees. Ahhhh. Longed for silence.

I’m taken to Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV):
“Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”

I like the Amplified version: Psalm 62:1-2 FOR GOD alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be greatly moved.

I go to my concordance and look up the various words; this becomes my interpretation: Truly I myself wait…

View original 323 more words

And Then There Was That Tree

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A few days ago I wrote about Extravagant Dad.  In it I remembered what it’s like to walk in nature and explore God’s amazing creation.  There is just so much to savor when you are outside.  Today I took a walk with my dog, taking advantage of a bit of warmer weather here in the northwest.  The dog ran forward and back, dashing among the standing tumbleweeds and brush, attempting to stick her nose under the neighbor’s electric fence so she could get a better look at those confounded cows.  Curious of each others presence a yearling came running close to the fence as well and they had a good long look at each other.  Had I not called Sophie back, I’m sure she would have wriggled under the wire and joined in the yearling’s frolics out there in the dairy fields.

Walking made me remember I had mentioned that our extravagant Dad gave us access to all He gave Adam and Eve.  He created us for relationship and so, in giving us our adoption papers upon salvation, we are redeemed into the inheritance of God’s wonder and grace, and Papa God wants nothing more than to spend some time with us.

I allowed my mind to take a walk in what I imagine the garden may have looked like.  I see something a bit like the photograph above.  Wandering through lush vegetation I could almost see God strolling along through masses of green, chatting with His beloved children.  Perhaps they decided to name certain bushes and trees along their walk, asking Papa what he thought of it all.  Do you suppose God, Adam and Eve might have played hide and seek together?  Now that thought makes me giggle at the fun of it.

I imagine that one evening though when, as they strolled along, they came upon a site.  There, as the brush fell away and the sun began to set on the day, they rounded a curve in the path, and came upon it.  The tree.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord spoke to them., “Of this tree, you shall not eat.”  Have you ever spent much time thinking about why the Lord would give such instruction in this lush place?  I didn’t, I just knew what Adam and Eve were told.  “You can eat everything here, all the fruit of the trees and bushes, but of this particular tree you cannot eat.”
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I’m no Bible scholar but I’ll tell you what I think.  I believe that the children of God were told not to eat of this tree, so that there might be a choice.  This was the defining moment between God and His creation, these two new children of His that He loved so dearly.  If He simply placed them in the garden and told them they could eat anything there, then there was no choice involved.  They would simply be His little darlings, kept in a wonderful place, provided with everything they needed to exist.

No, I believe this was the choosing point.  This was the difference between having children who would come to Him, purposefully to have a relationship with Him and those who only lived off His provision.  We, as children of God, have to make a choice in order to make this relationship work.  It must be our heart’s desire to follow after Him.  Anything else results in a dictatorship.  No, God knew He had to turn His children free in the garden and see what they would do with this freedom they possessed.  The results are self-evident.

I’ve pondered that one a few times.  While I wished in the earlier days of my life the choice were not so, so final, I have come to understand the great wisdom in His act.  I didn’t really want to come to Christ in my early twenties because I saw this relationship as one I would be required to give up a lot of things I quite frankly didn’t want to give up.  By the time I reached my late twenties, all had changed.  I had lived according to my desires, learning that I wasn’t a very good steward of my life and I cried out to Him to come and be my Lord.  As the days rolled into years, and the years into decades, I’ve come to understand the value in choosing between what I want and what He wants.  There is value in His precepts because oh my, He’s God!  What I wanted was plain and simply the lusts of my flesh.

I am so grateful to my Lord for giving me a choice.  Have you considered the results of your choices lately?  Is there something you’ve continued to choose but the results are a bit confounding?  Or perhaps you simply don’t want to budge on a certain point in your life.  All I can ask is, “how is that working out for you?”  Are you getting the results you want?  If not, it might be time to either choose or to change.  Either way, the Lord is waiting for you.  He loves you no less than He loved His original children, Adam and Eve.  He simply had to leave you to choose.

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If you’ve reached that point in your life where you are unhappy with the results of your own choosing and you want to come into relationship with God, you can make that decision here and now.  All you need do is ask Him into your life by saying this prayer:

Lord, I want to make a change today.  I realize I’m a sinner and I’ve made wrong choices.  I don’t want to walk the rest of my days without you.  I know now that you, Jesus, are my Savior.  I know you went to the cross to pay the price of my sins and you were raised again — all for me.  Lord, I ask you to come to me today, come live in my heart.  I believe in you and I need you to be the Lord of my life.  I ask this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Welcome friend!  I encourage you now to seek out another believer and tell them about your decision.  Don’t keep this a secret!  It’s wonderful news.  I also encourage you to find a strong, Bible-based church and join in.  It might be difficult at first, but you’ll catch on.  I pray the peace of God, which passes all understanding, to enfold you now so that you know you have made the right choice.  It’s a glorious choice you’ve made!

Like Chickens with Their Heads Cut Off

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The last two days have felt like something I witnessed as a child at my grandmother’s farm.  We were going to have fresh fried chicken for dinner this day and so of course, the chickens had to be butchered!  I followed my grandma out to the chicken coop where she quickly grabbed a couple of those plump chickens, methodically walked over to a tree stump there for just such moments, and with one skillful blow of the hatchet, chopped off a head and slammed the now headless chicken between a table in the yard and the back of the garage.  Pinned between the table and the building, their now headless bodies wriggled and flinched, legs scrambling in a useless attempt to get away.  As a child I was grossed out but fascinated at the same time; I finally understood where the saying, “like a chicken with its head cut off,” came from as the lesson wriggled there right in front of me.  The last two days I felt like those chickens.  Flailing mercilessly at an unseen opponent, not knowing whether to turn to the right or the left and, if I actually turned, I still wouldn’t know which way to go.

What do we do as Christians, when life changes and we find ourselves thrust into a situation that is foreign and uncomfortable, perhaps even seeming almost dangerous at the first? We do what our entire lives of listening to our pastors has taught us – run to Jesus! While I’m not going to give you a specific account of what my past two days contained, I’d like to share my process in the hopes you will gain a new strategy when you next find yourself in a “headless” state.

The news hit. My initial reaction was one of total dismay and almost simultaneously, emotions. OK, I get it, I’m a woman and I was made with emotions. A man might react differently, as my husband in fact did. While he remained calm, I fell apart. My mind catastrophized the incident; I went to every single negative place my mind could imagine as a result of this news. My husband, well I can’t rightly say where his mind went because he didn’t share much with me initially. I guess he was chewing, trying to get his logical mind around the situation.

Funny thing was that in spite of what I saw as very disturbing information, I was aware that I wanted, more than anything, for Jesus to show up in the mess. “What do you want me to do Lord? Where do I begin to unravel this mess?” I pleaded with God. I heard nothing. Coincidentally (I’m only using this word because it fits the moment, but not for even one second do I truly believe that when I cry out to Jesus, the things which follow are a coincidence), this day I received two phone calls. One from a Christian brother in our body, offering a “word from the Lord” for me. The word? It was a truly uplifting and wonderful word from the Lord, a true prophetic word of encouragement. The second call was from a Christian sister, also from our body, telling much the same as the first. As uplifting as both these calls were, they almost seemed like nonsense under the weight of what my husband and I were dealing with.

The next day was about the same. Same foreboding thoughts, same emotional response. That evening, yet another message from God from a very unsuspecting and kind man, who really had no idea what his message brought in the way of encouragement and comfort. The odd thing about all three of these contacts was they literally came out of left field. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had someone in my church come up to me with a prophetic word! It’s probably been almost eight years ago when I was dealing with cancer and loving brothers and sisters in the Lord were interceding for me in that journey. It is with this in mind that I refute the coincidental nature of these words. I have walked with the Lord too long; whatever follows any cry to my Savior, has turned out to be His divine process in action and it is all to be savored.

So, three days into this the fog has lifted. Is it still disturbing? Yes. Is it still confounding? Yes. Do I have any inkling as to the outcome? No, not yet. But here’s where I land in the midst of this thing. I am to continue walking. I cannot guarantee it will be in a straight line because I don’t know what is waiting just around the corner in this unfolding drama. What I’ve come back to is that, in part because my sweet, sweet Lord saw fit to deliver three messages to me from people who have no idea what it’s all about, there is a way through. My job is to get my wits out of the drama of it and decide what the best course of action is – at this particular moment in time. Whatever comes from walking through this, I know He’s walking with me.

So, the line of defense is this:

1) Cry out to Jesus. Don’t wait. Don’t try to be strong. Just go to Him and tell Him what’s on your heart.
2) Allow yourself to settle in the process. Waiting two days was a torture of sorts, but I truly didn’t know what to do. So I went on with life as usual and continued praying about the situation.
3) Look for the Lord in the midst of the problem. In this case, it was the delivery of three distinct messages, sent from people in my life. I wasn’t absolutely sure of their meaning, so I continued on.
4) Determine the next logical step. For my husband and I, the next step was to go to our covering (our pastor) for his input.
5) Get into the Bible. We are searching through the Word for His truths. Our pastor gave us some really good advice on what to look for. Sometimes the relevance of the Word might look difficult to grasp but it really does address our needs in all areas of our lives. If you need help with this aspect, do not hesitate to go to your pastor or someone who is well versed in the Word for help.
6) Walk. We recognize this one is going to be a journey; it cannot be resolved today. So, we must continue on with our life as usual and we must trust that He is guiding us to what we need in this situation. We will continue to touch base with our pastor as we go.

If need be, go back to step one and start all over again!

I hope this might help you in your walk with Jesus. I may need to come back to this in a few days and remind myself of what I just said. But here’s the good news: I don’t feel like the headless chicken anymore. My peace is back. God wants me to have victory through this because He’s on my side. Hallelujah, His victories are coming!

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 (NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Extravagant Dad

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We are told a story in Genesis, chapter two. God made Adam and then the Garden and finally He made Eve. When Adam and Eve were formed, they were given the Garden to live in, to tend and care for. They were given responsibility by God about this place. God told them to name every animal, bird and all the creatures. What the Lord did was give Adam and Eve the authority they needed to take care of everything in this place of beauty. Then God would come every day in the cool of the evening to spend time with His two favorite caretakers.  Can you imagine what this might have looked like?

The Lord, the God of the entire universe, came each evening and spent it with Adam and Eve. When you read the biblical account, it doesn’t go into much detail because well, I imagine that God knew He had a lot of territory to cover in this book for the ages, and He knew He couldn’t tarry with details. But it is in our pondering that I believe we receive clues as to what the heart of God is for you and I concerning our lives. I don’t believe He meant for us to read the Bible straight through like one reading a novel. Yes, it is full of fascinating stories and accounts of many different people’s lives but it is in the pauses that we learn about God’s intent for us from this most important book we call the Bible.

Adam and Eve were given the most productive, beautiful and flourishing place on earth. It was full of life and vegetation of all kinds. Therein we are told were rivers, four of them to be exact. Rivers bring water and water brings life. So I can make the leap to the fact that there were probably waterfalls as well as ponds and/or lakes.

Think back on the last time you were at a lake, perhaps taking a walk in the evening. Birds sing, talk and dart daringly through the trees. Fish leap out of the water. If you’re lucky you might see a deer walk down to water’s edge and take a deep drink. My last time at a lake was this past fall and while my husband and I were not the only people out there, it was a most peaceful place. It’s not a place we get to savor all that often and so when we go camping there, it is in these evening walks that I am propelled into the presence of my King.

Walking at water’s edge, I am almost instantly aware of God’s amazing creation. I love everything about being there. As we walk, we are mostly quiet. I often talk to the Lord as I go. I love hearing from Him in this place, His place, much unchanged from how it might have been so long ago. It is there that I realize how generous God was for our forebears. He gave them the very best of His creation. He didn’t give it with strings attached, save for instructions about one particular tree (I’ll tell you more about this in a later post). The rest of the Garden was Adam and Eve’s, to enjoy and oversee.

Our God is an extravagant God. He gave to mankind everything He’d created. This translates to the fact that He gives us individually everything as well. At the exact moment we accept His Son, Jesus Christ, into our lives, we are instantaneously brought into the family of God. We are adopted into the family of God, not as an outsider, but one with all the privilege of belonging to this wonderful family. In Ephesians we are told,

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV)

Do you hear this great and wonderful news? Although we were dead in our sins, when we accepted Christ, we were raised up and made to sit in heavenly places with Christ! In this passage is deep, deep mystery; we are given the same authority and responsibility of God as He gave Adam and Eve. When we say yes to Christ, we are brought into the family, given authority and responsibility now to carry on with the family business.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in God’s creation because this is where I hear God most often, and where I receive understanding of His ways. I believe you and I, once saved, receive the authority of God from our heavenly post to disperse His love and ways back here on earth. I’m just getting my head wrapped around this but I believe it is truth, His truth. As I understand more about His intent, my walk gets stronger and stronger and I begin to see evidence of God at work in and through me more and more.

During my childhood my faith was one of fear. I read OT accounts of God’s anger toward His people and somehow that translated into a fear I had of God Himself. In my 60’s now, I understand that God is to be feared yes, out of reverence for who He is, but not fear for my life. No, He’s my dad in heaven and He has nothing but good for me. Does He get frustrated with me? Of course. Does He discipline me? Oh yes He does. But I finally learned that God is for me, not against me and He has so much good waiting for me.  God is extravagant to me and to you.  He willingly gives because we are His kids and He gives good gifts to His children.

This is a truth that we must all learn. I pray my words today will help thrust you right into the lap of Papa God. When He adopted you on the day you said yes to Christ, He gave you the Kingdom, much like He gave the Garden to Adam and Eve. He gave you authority to walk in His ways, but it is up to you to find the path through the Kingdom. The path will be difficult at times because of our own decisions, not His intention. But every time we make a course correction and come running back, He will be waiting there, ready to swoop you up into His loving arms. We are the prodigals come home and our extravagant Dad put his ring on our finger, a robe over our dirty clothes, and new sandals on our feet. He loves me and He loves you.  He wants to walk with you in the cool of the evening and talk all about your day!

The Wonder of Listening at His Gates

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I’ve had some conversations with friends lately that ultimately had to do with listening.  “Listen for the clue of what is really going on here,” I advised one friend.  “What is the underlying thing?  We’re not talking about what is happening, but what’s behind all this behavior?” I asked.  It all had to do with high school girls and their erratic behavior.  So much drama.  I loved that my friend ultimately decided to do nothing for the time, that she would wait on God rather than jump into the fracas of her daughter’s social issues at school.

As I ponder this, I’m reminded of a time as a little girl, going to the beach and looking for shells.  I wanted so much to find one of those shells you could hold up to your ear and hear the ocean within.  I was disappointed that day not to find one and unfortunately, in the area I grew up in, such shells were not to be found.  But I remember hearing one once.  How could it be, such a wondrous thing, listening to the ocean in a shell?  I could have listened all day…

Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors.”  Proverbs 8:34 (NKJV)

I wish listening for God was so mesmerizing!  He desires that we sit quietly at His feet to listen for His voice.  He desires that we sit and just talk with Him, like we do so easily with our friends.  We are told that God walked in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  I don’t think they just walked.  I think they talked at great length about all that was within the Garden, about how the day had gone, about their plans.  Why else would God call out to Adam, when one day they weren’t to be found?  He had created them (and us) for fellowship, for relationship.  Relationship requires talking and listening.

The hard part of listening for God’s voice is that he doesn’t usually talk to me like I talk with friends.  There is no back and forth.  It is usually more to do with waiting and then wondering if I’m hearing correctly.  That makes me laugh for some reason!

I was reading recently about how God talks with us.  I came across a lovely explanation from Graham Cooke in his book, “Approaching the Heart of Prophecy”.  He said, “An impression is a finger touch from God.  It is an inkling, a notion, a tiny idea in the back of our mind or the forefront of our heart.  It is a rabbit trail that leads to a goat track which becomes a pathway leading to a street, then a road which develops into a highway which becomes a freeway and the interstate right into His throne room.”

I loved this although at first I didn’t get it.  But the more I re-read this part, I got the ah-ha!  Yes, God speaks to us differently than our human experience.  And it is my job to take time to be able to feel the delicate touch of His voice that is barely perceptible.  It’s so easy to miss it at this point of the transmission.  But if I will take the time to notice and ponder it, waiting to see if it’s truly Him, it often develops into that beautiful conversation that has come straight from His throne room right into my heart.  Listening to God is a progression of thought as I notice the nuances of His voice and where it is He wants to take me.  It is seldom a straight line and it seldom ends where I thought it would.  Pure loveliness.  Heavenly.  Full of wisdom and grace.  Nothing like me.  But oh so like this magnificent God we serve.  And I know it is He.

Let’s spend some time at His gate today, shall we?

And I Must Give Account

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I just walked outside with the dog.  As she romped around looking for just the right spot this night, I looked up.  In my part of the world it’s very dark out at night and the view of the heavenly places is quite stunning.  I could see galaxies and constellations.  Breathtaking!

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  Heb. 4:13

This scripture came across my viewing earlier today.  When you take the time to really read His word, sometimes you get a spiritual “smack” from God.  For some reason, this was one of those scriptures.  I’m attempting to lose weight (oh the holidays were fun, too much fun!) and just at the moment I got up to go out with the dog, I realized I’m hungry.  Suddenly food started tempting me.  “What can I find in the refrigerator?  Oh, how about some popcorn?  Yes, popcorn would do the trick.”  The truth is this kind of thinking is what got me into the mode of having to work on losing weight again in the first place.

Why do we find ourselves rationalizing in such moments?  It would be so easy to just give up and state, “tomorrow I’ll start”.  The enemy’s taunting is so easy to fall into.  And yet, something in looking up at the night sky caught my attention and steered me toward thinking about how small I am and how big He is.  How can He keep all of us straight?  He’s there watching over me, and you, in all this expanse and yet we matter!

I can attempt to fool myself into thinking that having some popcorn tonight won’t be the end of the world.  I’d be right in that assumption, it wouldn’t be.  But me trying to fool myself into believing that fudging on the food tonite won’t be any big deal is based on the fact that I’m pretending that God doesn’t know.  Not three days ago, I asked Him to help me lose the weight, that I needed Him to help me get past the urges and fudges.  I can pretend He doesn’t see my indiscretions but He does.  And He cares.

Part of my growing in Christ is dependent on how I treat such times.  I can pretend that the Lord is just one of the good ‘ol boys and it doesn’t much matter to Him if I’m heavy or thin.  There is probably some truth in that.  However He cares about every little thing under the heavens.  For me, in this particular moment, eating indiscriminately is sin.  And how I handle this has a bearing on what He will trust me with in other areas of my walk and ministry.

So, tonite I’m not having popcorn.  Instead, I think I’ll go out and look again at the stars and try to get my head wrapped around the fact that even though I’m so, so small, I still matter.  And that’s the truth!  Care to join me in savoring that one?