Life is Like a Colander; What Are You Washing With?

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I was getting some vegetables ready to cook for a potluck the other day.  I placed them in a colander and rinsed them off.  A crazy thought came into my mind.  Life is like sitting in a colander sometimes.

I look at my life and realize that I’m covered in dirt from my living.  When I make bad choices I end up dirty, in a state I’d rather not be in.  I know this plight very well, we’re old friends in fact.  I end up here when I make hasty decisions or ones that I wanted to make because I thought this is what would make me happy.  There’s nothing more sobering than making a decision based on wants and later finding yourself miserable.

Another place quite familiar is the one of carrying around my burdens.  Why is it so easy to throw all the things that are bothering me into my backpack and sling that sucker up onto my back?  That backpack has felt like it weighed hundreds of pounds at times throughout my life.  Those burdens, the things that just won’t seem to go away because I’m hurt or someone I love is going through something or countless other mishaps that can occur in our lives, hop right onto me, causing me to feel overwhelmed by the bugs in my garden, threatening to consume all I’ve worked so hard to produce in the first place.

I don’t like it much that sometimes it’s way too easy to further complicate my soiled condition.  I can whine about it; that only compounds my condition and it will last that much longer.  I can go to a friend and try to blame my current spot on someone else; that is so not the way through!  My blaming others now has resulted in me taking my eyes off of what Jesus meant as an area for me to grow in and instead fall into a very ugly place – judgment.  No, God says if we judge others, then we will be judged in the same way.  This only causes me to sit in the colander of my life, motionless, wilting, and still covered in dirt.

As I rinsed my vegetables, I thought about God, the running water of my life.  Clear, cool, refreshing water rinsing through my life.  His cleansing truths rush over me, taking the rocks that have bruised, the dirt that has soiled and the bugs that threatened to devour cleanly out of my life.  I must choose to remain there and allow myself to be cleansed.  My Lord is happy to oblige me for He knows the restrictions I’ve allowed into my life are only serving to impede my progress.

You see, God’s plans are perfect.  He knows the way through the trials, decisions, and heartaches.  But, you see, He is also a gentleman and He will not force me to enter into His cleansing.  No, that decision rests with me.  Completely.  I must initiate the process, I must call out to Him and ask for His help.  I must desire to be rid of the things that are weighing me down, the many things of this world that are retarding my progress.

Just for today I’m making a choice to simply stop.  Yep, the dirt of life is everywhere and I must choose wisely to avoid it.  Instead, I’m going to allow my Papa in heaven to rinse His cleansing love over me.  I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but today I’m just going to stop and get cleansed. This simple action allows me to get clean and climb on out of that colander because of the price my Savior paid…for me!  Thank you Jesus.

 

When God Uses Dreams

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Part Two of my post “Forgiveness – God’s Mighty Tool.”

The morning after the women’s conference, my husband and I had breakfast with my friend, Jennifer, who not only conceived of the conference, but she also graciously invited me to be a speaker.  As we talked about the weekend, Jen voiced her feelings: “without a doubt, the pivotal point of the entire conference was the forgiveness piece with the banner!”  We chewed on that for quite a few minutes, recounting the beauty of what transpired through that unplanned God-moment.

Eventually we moved on to other matters in our lives since Jen and I only get to see each other occasionally.  At one point I suddenly remembered something I wanted to share with her, a curious dream from a few nights before; my husband and I had been on the Oregon coast on vacation prior to coming inland to the conference where I would speak.

Some of you may be aware there have been many predictions lately of a very large and potentially devastating earthquake that has been labelled “imminent” by many in the scientific community for the entire coastline, from California to Alaska.  While I don’t want to linger there, I must tattle on myself concerning this prediction.  Impending calamities, real or predicted, have been known to cause me concern, some to the point of allowing fear to rise up inside me.  I’ve learned fear is the opposite of faith and this is a lesson my Daddy in heaven is currently working with me on, helping me to learn to trust Him and Him only.

On May 20, 2013 we were in Branson, Missouri when an EF5 tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma with peak winds estimated at 210 mph, killing 24 people and injuring 377 others.  We’d never been in “tornado alley” before and when the tornado warnings reached clear to Branson, fear rose in my heart.  All this to say, I have to work at not allowing fear to take over when confronted with natural disaster type warnings.  Obviously, we were fine (God showed up there too).

When we left for the coast, I must admit I was battling quietly inside.  Thoughts of the predictions roared in a few times, but I took control of the fiery darts, told them to stand down and we enjoyed our time at the coast.  We spent a week at one town, and left for another town further south on Monday, planning to leave Friday morning for the women’s conference beginning later that night.

Tuesday night I had a disturbing dream.  My in-laws, both gone home to Jesus now, were in my dream.  I’d gone to their house to deliver something and we were standing outside their house talking.  Suddenly my in-laws saw someone they knew on the road in front of their house and they told me to wave him down, they needed to talk with him.  So with arms flailing we all ran toward the road.  The friend saw us and he stopped his car.  Just as we walked up to his waiting car, his eyes got huge and he yelled, “LOOK!” pointing behind us.  When we turned around to look, we saw devastation (although I don’t know what the force was).  There where my in-laws’ house should have been was nothing but the foundation; the house was completely gone.  My car was gone and my dog with it.  Nothing was left.  As we walked to empty spot, the total shock and weight of the devastation settled in; no memorabilia, no possessions, nothing was left.  As I looked at my in-laws, and we felt the impact of the loss, I suddenly woke up.

Don’t much care for those kinds of dreams, a strange one for me.  As I laid there coming fully awake, I prayed, “what does that mean Lord?  Does this have something to do with the predictions?  Are you trying to tell me something.  And what’s the meaning behind my in-laws in this dream?”  I lay there a couple of minutes waiting but hearing nothing I got up.  My husband got up also and I immediately told him about the dream.  He looked at me with a strange look.  “What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Well, listen to this.  At 4 a.m. I was awakened out of a dead sleep.  My mind was raging with thoughts about the earthquake predictions.  At first I thought this might be an attack, so I prayed, asking the Lord to quiet the arrows of the enemy.  The thoughts of doom kept up for quite a few minutes.  Finally, I felt like I could rest again, so I turned over to go back to sleep.  It was then that I heard very clearly, “I want you to leave now!”  At this point, I kind of had an argument with God: “It’s 4 a.m. Lord!  This seems just weird.  We’d have to get up, put the trailer back together, probably bothering the people around us in the RV park.  Lord, if this is you, I need a confirmation that we are to leave.  I don’t know, something like when we wake up Linda will have something of a confirmation to this.  Father, I’m going back to sleep; please confirm this or I’m chalking it up to listening to too many disaster reports.”  And with that, he went back to sleep.  For him to get out of bed and have me immediately launch into my dream was a bit much; we looked at each other.  Was this the confirmation?

“OK, I think we each need to spend a few minutes with the Lord to see what we should do,” he stated.  So we did.  And we decided, due to his request of a confirmation from God, that we should leave.  A couple of hours later we were headed out of town.  As we drove away, we prayed for the people who live on the coast, for their safety and futures.

“So, we’re going to have some extra time now before the conference begins.  What shall we do?” I asked my husband, Butch.  Almost immediately we thought about friends who travel up and down the I-5 corridor for work and wondered if they might possibly be in town.  I texted Brenda and we were delighted to find they were staying at their daughter’s home near to where we were going to be for the conference.  We immediately made plans to meet on Thursday morning, the men to play golf and Brenda and I to have coffee and a leisurely visit.  As we visited I remembered my banners, that Brenda had actually made for me, left behind at home.  “Would it be possible to borrow some of your banners?” I inquired.  Brenda was more than willing and we then made plans for getting them back to her at a later date.

Back to breakfast with Jen the day after the conference.  When Jen said she felt the pivot spot of the conference revolved around the forgiveness banner and the work God did in each woman in attendance, the light bulb went off.  Oh my goodness!  The dream, the banners, the conference!  God had been orchestrating in the background amazing “coincidences”!

Long ago the Lord decided He wanted a women’s conference at my former church.  He put me into relationship with a new friend two years ago.  He built our relationship, long distance, over many phone calls.  He then took us to a conference together last spring, where He planted the idea of a conference into Jen’s thoughts.  He knew that the women of this church needed some quiet time with Him and He thought (I can only pretend to imagine His thoughts…He’s God after all!) it would be nice to use a banner for this purpose.  So Jen put a conference together and invited me to be one of the speakers.  We planned our vacation around this conference and unfortunately, I forgot my banners.  So He used a disaster scenario we were quite familiar with to get our attention and through the use of a dream and a strong impression, had us leave the coast early (there would not have been enough time to see Brenda if we had stayed with our original plans).  Now enter thoughts of good friends and they are actually in the area at the time.  We have a great visit with old friends and I borrow banners.  The rest of the story can be read in my previous post, “Forgiveness – God’s Mighty Tool“.

I used to believe in coincidences.  Not anymore.  God is, well, GOD!  He is mighty and loving and creative.  He had to find a way to move us from the coast to a position to have the time to spend with friends, one the maker of banners, so that a piece of painted silk could do what He wanted to do within the hearts of women.  Wow!

And that’s the rest of the story!

Forgiveness – God’s Mighty Tool

sorrow-699606_1280It has been a season of rest.  Surprisingly I found myself with no words to share.  To my faithful followers, thank you for checking back every so often even though I’m sure you wondered what happened.  Nothing.  And that was the point; I had nothing to say.  Why try to manufacture words when you feel like there’s nothing to write about?

Now, I have a wonderful thing to share.  I’ve just returned home after speaking at a women’s conference at the church I grew up in; I was a member of this church for almost 26 years prior to my husband and I moving after retirement.  It was good to be home.  Being one of the speakers was both honoring and terrifying at the same time and I spent no small amount of time working on what I would share.  As a last minute thought, I borrowed some 3’x4′ silk declaration banners from a friend to take with me; I have some banners of my own but I had forgotten them at home.  I’ll get to that in Part Two.

Banners being used in churches were new to me until four years ago.  We went to a conference where someone gave a workshop on the use of banners.  They can be used for simply declaring the goodness of God during a worship service, for using as a prayer cloth, for pointedly addressing specific topics (the subject of which is the theme of a banner) and so on.  I wanted banners with me in case.  I didn’t know in case of what, I just wanted them with me as I’ve witnessed their use becoming a powerful change agent.  God shows up sometimes in quite astounding ways.

As we gathered for prayer prior to the conference with the pastor of the church on Friday evening, I had to ask permission to use the banners as not every church is familiar with their use.  After a bit of discussion, this gracious pastor granted permission, asking that I give a brief explanation of what they are (only silk and paint, nothing special), and they hold no special meaning other than being used as an outward expression of an inner adoration or commitment to the Lord.

The theme of the conference was, “A Well Full of Water,” so it seemed fitting to wave a beautiful banner named “Living Waters” during worship that night after a brief explanation.  The night progressed with testimonies from two women, powerful, living examples of what God does best: transform lives.  Both of these women desire to be used in ministry and, after listening to their stories, I have every confidence that God will indeed use them.

Their stories evoked much emotion.  I’ve found it’s almost impossible to listen to someone’s story without causing some level of emotion to rise up as their sharing causes instances of similarity to surface about your own story with God.  He’s quite powerful that way.  As we ended the night, three of us gathered to debrief.  Please keep in mind that I’m recalling all of this in hindsight now; at the time, we had no inkling of what God was going to do.

As we discussed the evening, it was apparent that we each felt God was moving in hearts as only He can do and that there might be something He wanted to address in the women in attendance.  I can’t even remember why we landed on this word, but the word that resonated with us all was forgiveness.  It came up in our discussion a couple of times.  Suddenly I remembered that I had brought my friend’s banner called “forgiveness” with me.  I threw out a suggestion for it’s possible use the next day.  We ended our discussion with the fact we would all sleep on it, praying that Papa God would either open the way for the banners use or not.  Simple.

Early the next morning we came together once again to pray prior to the conference beginning afresh.  “Did anyone get a check on the use of the banner?”  No checks, so we decided quickly we would use it and what we were going to do.  I want you, the reader, to understand we inserted a plan into the agenda that had no prior inclusion or thought.  It was a result of something being “coincidentally” available and hearts open to God.

We began once again with worship, only this time I gave instruction regarding the use of the “Forgiveness” banner.  I quoted Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT): “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

I instructed the women that perhaps there were some who needed to take a step toward forgiving those in their lives, not that the wrongs done did not hurt or harm, but that we are to follow Christ’s ways concerning forgiveness.  “If anyone desires to do business with God this morning, I ask you to make a move — step out of your seat, come forward, and simply walk under the banner of Forgiveness.”  It was most definitely a God-moment, so I don’t completely remember the exact words, but you get the idea.

It began slowly with a couple of women coming forward.  Another leader and I held opposite ends of the banner and simply moved it gently above each woman.   We prayed.  My instructions weren’t specific enough; instead of walking under and through, each woman came under the banner and stood, some remaining for many minutes.  Some held their arms high, some stood with head down, others collapsed to the floor in sobs.  Something powerful and amazing occurred that morning as women humbled themselves under a simple banner and took care of business with Daddy, some forgiving for the very first time, others reminded of a long-forgotten piece of forgiveness that needed to occur.

95% of the women in attendance went under that banner.  Watching them transform before our eyes gave us witness to miracles taking place.  They would walk under in full control.  As they stood under the banner, changes began.  There might be a quiver of the lips or tears would begin to roll gently down their cheeks.  It was a mighty move of God through the group as woman after woman took a step of submission before our God and He met them there at the front of the sanctuary.  Breathtaking.  Wondrous.  Powerful.  And there was not a dry eye in the place.

In the hours following, a number of women shared with me the transforming power of forgiveness and I learned a strong lesson from God about being part of such gatherings.  I went to that conference all conflicted about the word I had to share.  I prayed.  I waited.  I pondered.  I wanted to make sure that I knew that I knew that God wanted that message to be shared.  Yet, what I learned was that the power and glory of our God in heaven, the God of the universe, didn’t need me and the word I shared, anyone’s word for that matter.  Yes, the shared words over the entire conference were fine but they weren’t the most important things.  The most important thing was we invited Him into our space, made room in a full agenda, unknowingly, and through something quite as simple as a painted piece of silk, the power and might of a loving and gracious God came down from heaven — and spent a little time with His daughters, freeing them in a new way.

Priceless.

5 Ways You Can Rest in Peace!

waterfall-620313_1280Rest in peace?  What am I talking about here?  No I’m not talking about dying.  I’m talking about how to rest in the peace of Christ in spite of what’s going on around you.

I just love God’s sense of humor.  Why is it that we can pray and ask, ask and pray for something for years sometimes and then when He answers the cry of our heart we freak out?  This is happening to me right now.  There’s this opportunity I’ve been waiting for, praying for, for many years now.  I decided that I wasn’t going to make this thing happen.  I can be quite persuasive and determined when I want something.  Eventually I learned that when I make things happen, they aren’t always in His timing and so the outcome isn’t always what I hoped for.  No, I’d be better off waiting patiently for Him to bring a thing around if it’s meant to be. 

So I took my hope and left it at His throne.  “Good,” I stated as I wiped my hands clean of it’s influence.  Every once in awhile I’d look longingly at that thing, lying there at His feet, wondering if it would ever come to pass.  I never forgot about it for the reach of that desire is entwined deeply inside of me.  I made up my mind; if it was going to happen, it was going to come through God’s hands, not mine.

Three weeks ago the opportunity came knocking.  What?  “Now God?  It’s been laying there so long with You I almost gave up on it,” I lamented.  Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I really wanted to do it anymore.  But there it was, an opportunity to do the very thing I’ve dreamed of for a very long time.

The point of all this rests in a scripture I ran across the other day.  “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you.  The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” John 14:25-27 (MSG).

I love how the Message Bible says it:  I’m giving you My peace, leaving you well and whole.  You don’t have to feel abandoned and grieving, upset and distraught.  No, I’m leaving you my gift of peace.  So how come I don’t always feel so peaceful?

Here is what He showed me, five ways to move into His peace:

1)  Receive.  In this day and culture, it’s not easy to receive.  We’re all pretty good at giving, but that receiving thing, um, not so much.  In my case, I must now reach out my hands and receive this answer to prayer.  My Father has determined that the time is right for this.  He’s given me a gift, something He knows I’m ready for now.  It’s time for me to receive it to myself.

2) Rest.  See the photo at the top of this blog?  That’s my place!  Oh how I wish it were in my backyard.  Sitting at the side of rivers or streams is my particular piece of heaven on earth.  I love to sit by rivers and just rest.  When I’m particularly bothered with something, sitting by a stream or river is the quickest way I know to give it up to Him and get my perspective back in alignment.  Sitting in my special corner of the world is one way I can get myself gathered so I can proceed to the next step.

3) Reply.  This is where I now have to talk things over with God.  This is the time for “I’m scared God, how on earth am I going to be able to pull this off?  You’ve let me sit without this for so long, I’m not even sure I want it anymore.  And yet, this is the exact time you’ve decided I’m to do this thing?  Really?”  This is your chance to really have a heart-to-heart with God.  Tell Him everything.  It’s ok.  He desires to have fellowship with us and He can take our human frailties and persnicketys!  Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The Word tells us they walked in the cool of the evening with God.  That’s almost as good a picture as my river above.  Well, I’m sure there were moments of bewilderment and confusion as Adam and Eve learned from God how exactly there were to take care of this burgeoning garden.  God is big; He can handle our questions.  He can even handle our balks!

4) Re-engage.  Now I get to get on with it.  I have work to do.  I have to re-engage with this dream of mine and go to work to pull this off.  God thinks I can do it.  In those moments when I don’t have much peace about this prospect, I may have to go back to step 1 and start all over.  No matter.  God says I can do this and so, in spite of my misgivings at this moment, I have to work at this.  I’ll continue to talk this over with Him, to get His help, to ask for His input.  After all, it’s my dream!

5) Rejoice.  When it’s all said and done, I will need to rest again in Him and rejoice that He helped me through it.  I don’t know the outcome of this yet.  That old negative side of me, the one God says is dead (my old nature who died with Jesus on the cross!), wants to raise up her head and chatter nonsense to me.  No, I get to tell that old me to sit down and be quiet.  I am rejoicing that my Father thinks I can do this.  After all, it will be the Holy Spirit in me that is really responsible for the outcome of this thing.  I get to be the willing participant and if Papa thinks I can do it, then I believe I can too.

What do you think?  Can you receive His peace in the midst of the circumstances of your life?  Try these five steps and see if they help.  Right now I have to get on with following them myself; there’s work to be done.  Blessings my friends.

Moving As We Wait

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I’ve been questioning recently my ministry focus. Perhaps you’ve faced similar dilemmas. You think you know what you are called to do in God’s kingdom and then something happens that causes you to question the soundness of this purpose.

I believe I know where I am called and I’ve been quite busy in my little corner of the world. Until recently. Someone close to me challenged me. Am I going out to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and sharing the Good News of the Bible with those who do not know?

Let me explain, as a reminder, in Acts 1, we learn of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The faithful remnant were gathered together in Jerusalem for fear of persecution by the Romans for being followers of Christ. Jesus returned after his death and appeared a number of times over the next 40 days to some of them and proved that it was He in a resurrected body.

Finally, He gave them a command in verses 4-8: “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;  for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.  And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8 (NASB77).

So, once again, the question was, “am I being His witness in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?” For those of you who might not yet have learned what this means, the above scripture has been cited as one of the main purposes for our being: we are to witness or share the truths about Jesus Christ to others in “our town, state, region, and throughout the rest of the world” so that none might be excluded from hearing the Good News of the Bible, that Jesus Christ is the only way into everlasting life.

Yes, this was a quandary for me. I chewed on this for days. I fretted. I stewed. And I wondered if God was in all I do. I asked Him if I was to get involved in another ministry like going to a prison, working at our local schools, perhaps volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center. You see, I am quite active in my local church, I’ve been on short-term missions, and the Lord is my focus in writing. But by and large, my ministry focus is within the church. I cried out to Him, “Lord, am I not doing enough outside my church, am I to take on something outside my current focus?”  And God remained mysteriously quiet.

I finally wrote to a trusted friend and mentor, a woman I greatly respect and one whom I knew would speak truth to me. I laid out the dilemma and asked for her opinion. About the time I wondered if my request had been lost in cyberspace, she replied. Her words settled over me like a warm blanket on a very cold night. She felt that often we get caught up in wanting to “work” our way into all God has planned for us. She shared a word from the Lord to her at one time: “If you work, I will rest and if you will rest, I will work on your behalf.” Truth!

I pondered her wise words. I chewed on them. I considered all she said and all I felt I knew to be true. And the days passed. Finally, I knew what God was saying to me: “Open your ears and eyes to My Presence. I will guide you as you go. You are often in too much of a hurry. Slow down and make time for Me to speak or show you the way.”

The other day I was in the grocery store, oblivious to Him, just getting it done so I could move on to the next thing. As I wheeled my cart out the door, I was suddenly impressed with His Presence. I actually stopped dead in my tracks and asked, “Lord, is there someone or something You need me to see or do right now?” I waited perhaps 15 seconds as I looked around the parking lot. I was willing to be used by Him if He were to say so. I didn’t see or hear anything. I came to understand that this was an exercise for me, that He wanted me to be aware of Him and to await His instruction. And as quickly as I felt Him near I then felt released to move on.

My friend’s word from the Lord became my word from the Lord. “If you work, I will rest but if you rest, I will work on your behalf.” I am to be aware always, in the church and out, of His Presence. When I’m tuned into His Presence, He will bring opportunities for me to speak of Him. All I need to do is wait (rest) on Him. He will do the rest; He always has, He always will. It is, therefore, so important that we be moving as we wait for His Presence!

As Timothy shared, we are “…to preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not…” 2 Timothy 4:2a (TLB)

This is dedicated to a wonderful and wise woman of God, who I am blessed to call my friend; you know who you are.  Thank you for helping me learn who I am in Him!

Seven Reasons to be Joyful

person-690112_1280Writing hasn’t been coming easy the last couple of weeks.  Not sure what that’s all about since things in my spirit are soaring.  So, just for today, I’m going to part from my normal format and tell you why I’m excited, looking forward to the days ahead and feeling joy at all the prospects.

1)  I know that my God loves me beyond all I can hope, think or imagine.

2)  In spite of the fact that there are issues going on in my life in which I can’t see the end, I know that God is working them all out to have a good outcome.

3)  I just learned (or better, just realized) that I walk in an open heaven all the time!  By open heaven, I mean that I have access to all things heavenly, my Father hears my cries, and He is willing to help me in every situation if I will lean into His understanding and be patient for Him to work it all out.  Additionally, I am a favored child of God, so when I ask Him how He wants me to respond to any situation, He will answer me.  My job is to listen and take risks.

4)  I am living during the time period I am best suited for.  God could have had me be born into any other time period in history — but He didn’t.  So that means I’m here for this time, in this place, to act on His behalf.  In other words, I am here for such a time as this in spite of my own doubts about that truth!

5)  I have lived long enough to witness the “coincidences” of life and to realize there are no such things as coincidences.  Each and every coincidence was orchestrated by my Father in heaven, often for reasons I have not seen the answers to yet.  It makes life a mystery and yet satisfying because He promises to work out all the mysteries to my good!

6)  I am alive, have a sound mind, a relatively healthy body, and a promising future.  I have been blessed with a wonderful husband, and an incredible son.  My son in turn chose an amazing wife and together they have pursued God all the way through their lives and are now sharing Him with their three beautiful children, my grands.  What more can I ask for?

7)  Is my life perfect?  Far from it.  I’ve had to give up and repent of many sins and mistakes through most of my life.  It’s taken me far too long to mature into the ways of Christ, but thankfully I think I’m getting it now (I hope that’s not being presumptuous Lord!).  I’ve tripped and fallen flat on my face so many times, I cannot number them.  But, through it all, I’ve been able to get back up, dust myself off (often with the help of loving members of the body of Christ) and keep on walking with my Lord.  No, not so perfect, but I’m amazed at what He’s doing in and through my life.

And there you have it.  Seven reasons to be joyful today.  And I am!  Many blessings on your day and may you too find your own seven reasons to be joyful today…and the rest of the week.

Who ARE you listening to?

girl-140571_1280I decided to go with this thought again because I think there is so much we need to consider about this subject.  In a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that our internal self-talk can be so detrimental, and perhaps even downright dangerous, to our growth in Christ.

Many years ago I came across a book by Shad Helmstetter called, “What to say when you talk to yourself.”  It was a very thought-provoking book and it helped me realize for the first time that the chatter going on in my head was having a profound effect on my life.

Currently I’m reading a book by Steve Backlund called, “You’re crazy if you DON’T talk to yourself!”  This too is a great book, not so much about defining the chatter going on in your head, but to make you think about what exactly you’re allowing that chatter to say to you.  Backlund reminds us, “that Jesus didn’t think His way out of the wilderness…  He spoke truth to invisible beings and to the mind-sets that sought to restrict and defeat Him.”

We really owe it to ourselves to get savvy to this concept.  One of the voices in our head is not  a friendly voice; it belongs to the enemy of our soul and he just loves to twist, contort, and otherwise lie to us about the condition of our lives and our relationships.  Backlund contends that we are indeed supposed to talk to ourselves and also to talk to the things in our lives, allowing our relationship with Jesus Christ to blossom and thrive as we proclaim Biblical words and truths into and over our daily circumstances.

Let me give you an example.  I used to have a big problem with speaking negatively.  It wasn’t that I saw myself as a negative person, because I didn’t.  But someone close to me bluntly stated one day, “you are one of the most negative people I’ve ever come across!”  At first I was offended and angry.  But once alone, I started praying about this and asked the Lord to show me what exactly they were referring to.  Over time, I realized they were right.  I totally had a negative viewpoint about life.  I had a hard time trusting others because I feared their motives.  I was suspicious of people instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I found I actually expected negative things to happen to me.  And do you know what?  Negative did follow me and my cozy little life around!  Shocking truth!

I’ve worked at attempting to have more positive expectations about life.  I can still get caught up in the negative (oh, so sad a fact that once caught in this lifestyle, it’s difficult to change that skew), but I try hard to allow for more positive things to happen in my life and, in my head!

One thing I know.  The Word gives us instruction about such things, most of them related to what we say with our mouths.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.  “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19.

I invite you to take a listen to the voices in your head.  Are they life-filled?  Or are they full of negative thoughts?  Very often what is happening inside our head matches up with the words that come out of our mouths; our words have tainted our thinking so much so that our minds have now embraced what the enemy wants us to — that life is hard, and there’s not much hope.

You see, your ears hear what your mouth proclaims.  This is hard to come to grips with in the beginning.  Negative talk equates to negative thoughts and the enemy loves to chime in with his two cents, in total agreement to your conclusions.  And to make matters worse, he then adds his own commentary to the mix.  And the more you agree with those thoughts, the more they rage, the more they come out of your own mouth, no matter your intentions.  Sadly, this is the exact point at which we begin to speak things out loud we truly didn’t mean to.  And therein lies the truth of “death and life are in the power of the tongue!”

But when I practice speaking good things, I’ve noticed there’s a correlation then to what thoughts are running in my head; my thoughts begin to fall in line with what I’m speaking.  I love that the more I speak about good things, the more I come to expect those good things in my life.  And if you’re tracking with me here, you begin to see that your words become contagious to your thinking.

Paul says it best:  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8 (NLT).  Paul was such a loving teacher and his words still ring true today.

Fix your thoughts.  Webster’s defines the word fix as:  to make (something) whole or able to work properly again : to repair (something); to deal with or correct (a problem).  That’s a definition worthy of repeating.  Fix your thoughts, make them whole, able to work properly again.

Do you have issues with negative thoughts in your life?  Do you seem to attract the negative?  Do you struggle with an automatic response of negative?  You’re not alone.  No, far from it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this and invite you to leave a comment on what you’d like to change in that area of your life or, how you have conquered this problem.

Let’s all adjust whose voice we’re listening to, shall we?  And let’s start proclaiming the Light and Truth of the Word and allow it to do it’s transforming power in and through us.