Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Face Mask


I know there has been much talk about the mandate to wear face masks in public places.  Some people are 100% behind this safety measure while others are equally against it.   

 

For me, there are definitely some pros besides the health and safety benefits of wearing a mask.  

 

I love the privacy I feel when my mask is in place.  It's like I'm completely hidden away.  I don't have to wear makeup.  I can talk to myself and no one sees my lips moving.  

 

At church, I can belt out all the wrong words to the songs and no one can see that my lips don't match the words on the screen.  

 

Of course, I'd never do this, but someone else might even make faces behind their mask showing delight or disgust for any given situation.   

 

The best thing about a face mask is that you know when you have bad breath...and if you do, that's another reason that I'm thankful for the mask.

 

Masks or veils aren't always good though.  When it comes to the gospel being veiled, that's a tragedy. 

 

In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 it says this, 

 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

 

We know that our enemy Satan is a deceiver and a master at obscuring the truth.  He is an expert at providing masks and veils to hide behind.  

 

The master deceiver Satan will take any opportunity to veil, mask, or hide Jesus.   

 

When the gospel is hidden behind a mask, the unbeliever thinks Christ isn't able to give them what they need, they choose to accept the veil that Satan provides.  Their eyes are blinded, veiled and masked to the best representation of God we’ll ever see.  That beautiful picture is found in the likeness of Jesus.

 

Sometimes a mask can be a good thing and sometimes it can mean death.

 

My prayer, Lord, unmask their eyes that they will see you in all your glory and believe.

 



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Cross

The Cross

 

A few years ago, when my eldest granddaughter celebrated her first communion, my husband and I went to Nebraska to be with her, and we wanted to buy her a special gift that fit the occasion. 

 

Unlike the church I was brought up in, she prepared for this event with two years of classes and a public confession of her faith before taking communion at the age of 14.


The gift we selected for her was a silver infinity cross necklace.  (See picture.)  We set a high budget for the gift because we valued the decision she was making; both in her heart to follow the Lord and His commandment to take communion in remembrance of what Christ did for us.


I know many people wear cross jewelry without any understanding of the meaning of the cross, nor do they have any desire to follow God’s commandments. 

 

For me, the cross is more than a piece of ornamental jewelry.  The message of the cross to the believer is the death of the innocent for the redemption of the guilty.  


I look at a cross and am reminded of what Christ did for me.  The cross sends a message of hope.  

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 NET, it says this...

“For the message about the cross 

is foolishness to those who are perishing, 

but to us who are being saved 

it is the power of God."

 
While Jesus provided a way for our salvation through His death on the cross and resurrection, He also told us that we would need to die daily.  We would need to take up our cross and follow Him.
 
Some people may think the cross and those who look to it are foolish, but when I see the Cross, I see...

    • FORGIVENESS 
    • REDEEMTION 
    • SALVATION
    • RESURRECTION
    • ETERNITY 


What do you see?

 

 
 
 
  
 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Easy Way



I like to keep things uncomplicated.  If there is an easy way to do something, write something or say something, why would someone choose to make it difficult?  This is one of my pet peeves.

 

I remember when my husband was doing masters-level work, and he handed me his textbook and said, "Read that first page out loud."

 

I took the book and began reading.  About two paragraphs in, I tossed the book on the sofa and said, "Why?  Why would anyone write like this?  They are purposefully making it more complicated than it needs to be.  It's wordy for no reason with complicated sentence structure.  I simply don't get it.  Don't they want to help their students soar?"  

 

In the Bible, there is a verse that I love because it's uncomplicated with no hoops to jump through, nor steps to follow to perfection, and no endless list of does or don'ts.  This verse says what it means and means what it says.

 

 

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 10:13

 

And there you have it.  Plainly said and simple to understand.   It really takes all the ABC's and repeat-after-me out of the salvation message.  


 

The price was high for our Lord and Savior, but He gives everyone an Easy Way in…Call On Him!

 



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Act of Devotion



In the 1980s, a movie was released called Grease.  In that movie, there was a song that was sung by the two leading characters and a phase in that song had these words, I'm hopelessly devoted to you.  

 

The act of devotion should be a thoughtful act but the word devotion can also be carelessly tossed around.  


True devotion is a powerful thing when it comes to our relationship with the Lord, acts of service to our church, and in relation to our spouse and family.  

 

The word devotion can also be used in less passionate ways like I'm devoted to a certain television show and would never, ever miss it.  I’m devoted to eating ice cream every day.  I’m devoted to going to Disneyworld at least once a year.  

 

In my life, I have had seasons of devotion for some of the things listed above, but I did not remain truly devoted to them. There are only a few things in my life that I am absolutely devoted to. They are constant and unwavering. 

 

In the book of Acts 2:42 (NET) it says, They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


I wonder why the writer of the book of Acts chose these four things for the early church to focus their devotion on.  


Acts 2:42 says, they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.  The only way this small group of believers was going to fulfill the words of Acts 1:8 to go into all the world and preach the gospel was to devote themselves to the teaching of those who had been with Christ. 


The early church was also devoted to fellowship.  This word had a slightly different meaning in the book of Acts then we may interpret fellowship today.   The meaning in the New Testament was 'sharing something in common' which could include spiritual conversations, personal needs, and hope for the future. 


The third thing on the list of devotion was Breaking of Bread.  This term was also used in reference to the Lord’s Supper (communion).  Luke, the author of Acts, also used this term to describe the sharing of meals together which was also part of the communion experience in the early church.  


Luke closed out the list of things one should devote themselves to with Prayer.  At the time of the writing of Acts, prayers were offered three times a day. (morning, afternoon, evening).


These four things certainly give us something to consider when looking at our own lives today.  (The Apostles' Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread, and Prayer)


When you take a close look at your life, what would you say you are truly devoted to?

  

Everyone is devoted to something and that devotion is forming you.  

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Pointing is Okay



When I was growing up, it was considered impolite to point at someone.  The crime of pointing could prompt a parental slap to the offender's hand. 

 

Pointing can draw attention to someone or something and usually, this type of attention is unwelcomed.   


In the Philippines, where we served as missionaries for 14 years, pointing was done with your lips and was an acceptable means of giving direction or drawing attention to a person or object.  Lip pointing is nearly effortless and far more discreet compared to lifting your arm and pointing your finger.  


In the New Testament book of John, we have a person doing some definite finger-pointing, but this kind of pointing is okay.   In John 1:29, John the Baptist is pointing people to Jesus.


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”


John was a pointer.  

  • He was pointing people to the one and only way to redemption.   
  • He was pointing people to the truth.
  • He was pointing people to eternal life through the Lamb of God.


How long has it been since you pointed someone to Christ?


Pointing is Okay.

 




Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Words, Words, Words


When I was in high school, there were times I had to give speeches on topics that did not interest me, but when I'm asked to speak about something dear to me like; my family, the Lord, my books, I have no problem rambling on and on.  I could talk all day about this kid or that kid or this grandchild or that grandchild, how and where I wrote my books or the amazing God of Love I serve.


I could take as much of your time as you're willing to give me to let my heart bubble over with words, words, words about the things that are near and dear to me.

Why?

Because these are things that I treasure in my heart.

However, I've learned that my heart is a very big place.  There is room for tons of stuff in there. 

In my many years of life, I've tried to keep a tight reign on the words that spill out of my mouth, but there have been plenty of occasions where I've spoken, and I know my words revealed more about the real me than I wanted others to know.

There is a scripture in Luke 6:45 that speaks to this very thing.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Our words have a way of revealing the very things that are in our hearts.  With the 24-hour news availability and social media scrolling, it doesn't take long to fill one's heart with a whole bunch of sour garbage.  


Then we in turn allow that negativity to fester and ferment in our hearts.  That's when the words, words, words can spill out and the mouth will speak what the heart is full of.


Even those who are the best secret keepers won't be able to hide the Words, Words, Words that are in their hearts.  


Once you let evil into your heart, it's gonna spill out.  It's best not to let the garbage in at all.


Proverbs 4:23 says it best;  Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

 

Like; Words, Words, Words

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Spiritual Cruisers


I love to cruise.  I think I've been on at least 10 different cruises.  If you've never been on a cruise, I'd love to tell you all about it.  

People are waiting to serve you all day long.  It's amazing!

Your bed is made, your bathroom is cleaned, your garbage is removed from your room, your supplies are replenished, your food is prepared, the whole cruise ship is maintained and kept clean just for you, even your bed is turned down each night.  They even provide entertainment and learning opportunities.

It's a good life.

Cruising is the average person's opportunity to be served and pampered while you sit back and enjoy the ride.  

It's a lifestyle that this girl adjusts to flawlessly while cruising.  

The idea that the whole world is here to serve me is obviously crazy, but when I'm on a cruise, it certainly seems that way.

When Believers move that cruise mentality into the church and get the idea that others are here only to serve us, that's where the problem lies.  

You may be a "Spiritual Cruiser" if you've had some of these thoughts.

  • Why didn't anyone greet me today?  This isn't a very friendly church.  
  • Or when we see the children's pastor approaching with a smile, and think she better not ask me to help in the nursery.  My kids are all grown.  I've had my turn.
  • Or the youth pastor is always an easy target when our children are struggling spiritually.  He's the first person to blame when they don't want to go to church.  He should have shown more interest in them.  
  • Or when we're stuck at home during a pandemic and say, "No one has called me to check on me.  I don't think they care about me on this cruise.  I mean at this church."  (That's a lot of 'ME's'.) 

Spiritual cruiser beware!  

An air of church entitlement will rob you of spiritual blessings.

In Mark 10:45 (LEB), Jesus gives us His take on spiritual entitlement.

"For even the Son of Man did not come 
to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Don't be a spiritual cruiser, expecting to be served by others, but be like Christ and serve others.  

I have heard my husband say many times, "We are never more like Christ than when we are serving others."   


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

...and FIRE!



My salvation testimony isn't the kind that causes people to shake their head in amazement at how far in the depths of sin I was lost, then Jesus found me, rescued me, set my feet on firm ground, and from that point on I followed a straight path.
Nope!  My testimony is of a different nature.  I was seven years old when I bowed my knees at an altar on a Wednesday night at kid’s camp.  When I think of my salvation story, this is my go-to place.   

Do you remember your salvation day?

After that day, I didn't want any other life.  I was firm in my faith to follow Christ even at the young age of seven.  I'm not saying I never sinned again, because if you know me at all, then you know that's not true, yet I reached up and placed my hand on the plow, and I didn't look back.

Then when I was 14, there was another big event in my life, I made the decision to be baptized in water.  It seemed the natural step to make this public announcement that I was a Christ Follower.  

It was a Sunday night service at my home church in front of a crowd of supporting and loving people, but when I stepped into that water, I was scared.   I was making a public statement to the universe.  I wasn't afraid of my decision, but to be in front of people was daunting.   

My childhood pastor prayed over me, down I went, and up I came out of the water.  The relief was real.  I had followed the commandment of the Lord, and I was glad I did.  

Have you followed the Lord's command to be baptized in water?

My next step was taking communion.  In my family, this was held in high esteem.  It was not allowed until after water baptism.  I felt the seriousness of my decision when I took communion for the first time at fourteen.  I prayed and examined my heart.  I didn't want to eat that bread or drink from that cup with sin in my heart towards anyone.

It seemed at the young age of fourteen, I had met the spiritual expectations of my family.  Except, I was missing one thing--the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. 

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit was a distinctive part of my upbringing.  I was taught, and I believed it was a gift that God made available to me. If God intended it for me, I wanted it.    

After praying on a few different occasions, it happened.  It was real. I freely accepted this gift given by the Lord.  

What happened to me was a promise foretold by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1 (NET).  

“I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am—I am not worthy to carry his sandals! He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

There was a question asked in the book of Acts (19:2) following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost that said, "Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?"

Have you?

If you haven't received it, it's for you.  

...And Fire!




Wednesday, July 29, 2020

My Treasured Possession

The Christmas of 1999, I received the best Christmas gift of my life.  It may not have been special to anyone else, but to me, it was and is my treasured possession.
This is the story leading up to the Christmas of 1999.  
My uncle was a missionary in Sri Lanka in the 1950s.  While he was there, he purchased a large yellow-colored jewel and gave it to my grandma as a gift on one of his trips back to the United States.  The jewel was unset and stored in a black velvet bag.  
My grandma tucked her cherished gift away in her dresser drawer, and there it stayed until 1973 when she died.
While sorting through my grandma's things following her death, my mother found the black velvet bag with the jewel.  She took it home and put it in her jewelry box.  I remember taking it out on a few occasions to hold it in my hand.  It was beautiful and felt good resting in the palm of my hand.   
Then in 1975, my mother died, I was 18.  When we went through her jewelry box, I saw that yellow-colored jewel, and I wanted it.  I was born in November, and it was the color of my birthstone and there were no objections to me having that stone.  I loved that it had been my grandma’s and my mother’s before me.
The jewel stayed with me for the next four years.  Then during some lean years early in our ministry, my husband and I decided to sell it.  We had a buyer lined up who was willing to pay $25 which would have been more than a week's worth of groceries for us at that time.
In passing, we mentioned to my in-laws that we were going to sell the jewel that had been my grandma’s and mother’s, and they quickly said, we'll buy it.  We sold it to my husband's parents, and I never thought of that stone again until the Christmas of 1999.   Over twenty years had passed.
The Christmas of 1999, my father-in-law was in the ICU.  He would never leave the hospital again.  He died in March of 2000.  Before he went into the hospital for surgery, he and my mother-in-law decided to have that jewel set into a neckless for me for Christmas.
That Christmas morning, neither of my in-laws were with me, when I opened that dear gift.  When I saw that jewel encased in gold with a chain of gold, I knew they had lovingly cared for my treasured possession all those years.  They redeemed that precious stone and then gifted it back to me.  
When I wear that neckless today, I know it has passed through the hands of so many people in my life, people that I loved dearly and who dearly loved me.  That stone was redeemed, protected, given purposes, and has become my treasured possession.
My treasured possession story sounds a bit like another.
In Malachi 3:16-18, there is another story about those who honor and fear the Lord.
Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 

“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.


And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
YES!
There truly is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. 

We have been chosen and set apart!
We were redeemed, but not with money.  We were purchased with the blood of Jesus! 
Our lives were complicated messes.  We weren't polished, kept in velvet bags, or set in gold.  
We were lumps of dirt and full of sin, yet He still looks at us and said, 
"My Treasured Possession.”  






Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Righteous Indignation


I have been known at times to have this little problem called righteous indignation.  It’s where you hear something and become enraged over the injustice another person has suffered unfairly.  
I have verbally railed again such things in the past.  I was quick to speak and slow to listen.  I shared the stories of others, who I felt had been treated incorrectly, to let anyone who would listen know, I felt this behavior was wrong.  
I’m sure at this point you may be thinking, and what’s wrong with that.  Sounds perfectly reasonable.  
Well, it does, and it is if you have all the facts correct.  I sometimes don’t get all the necessary information correct before I ranted, then later, I would find out I responded to quickly or incorrectly with the limited or wrong information I had received.  
The facts have a way of setting things straight.  We may not always like the facts, but facts never-the-less speak the truth.
Here are some interesting facts from Zechariah 7:8-10.
Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.

It’s not easy when our righteous indignation is flaming hot over a current event, but the facts are the facts.  God wants us ALL to judge fairly, show mercy to each other, show kindness to one another, don’t oppress people, and don’t scheme against each other.

Maybe you’re thinking, well who does she think she is to be telling me how I should feel and react to…blah, blah, blah...

You don’t have to listen to me, just listen to the facts.  Here are the verses that follow in Zechariah 7:11-12.

“Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them."

When the Lord of Heaven’s Armies gets upset with us—lookout, now you’re about to see some righteous indignation.

I guess we’d better stick to the facts and judge fairly, show mercy, show kindness to one another, don’t oppress people, and don’t scheme against each other.




Wednesday, July 15, 2020

An Unsatisfactory Outcome



Some people want to do everything for themselves.  They refuse help when it’s offered and whatever their motivation was, this usually results in an unsatisfactory outcome. 

I’ve had this happen to me before.  I offer my help.  I can see exactly what needs to be done, but I’ve had to step back and watch someone struggle unnecessarily.   

There are two verses in Haggai (1:5-6) that when I read these, I’m sure God must be standing back and saying if you would only let me help.   

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: 
"GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS. 
You have planted much but have harvested little. 
You eat, but never have enough. 
You drink, but never have your fill. 
You put on clothes but are not warm. 
You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

In Matthew 14, there is a young boy who brings his lunch to the disciple called Andrew.  Andrew then takes the boy and the lunch to Jesus and you know the rest of the story.    

Had the young lad tried to handle the food shortage on his own by distributing his fish and bread without involving Jesus, he wouldn’t have gotten far.  But put that same lunch in the hands of Jesus and a multitude is fed with more food left than they started with.  

Doing what YOU THINK is the right thing without bringing God into partnership with you will produce an unsatisfactory outcome.  
  • Have you ever spoke your feelings to someone before praying about it resulting in another being hurt by your words?   
  • Have you ever pushed your agenda on someone before seeking the Lord first to see if this was what He wanted for them and you?
  • Have you ever said, ‘no-can-do’ to a ministry opportunity before asking the Lord if He wanted to use you to do that very thing?  Maybe He wanted to stretch and grow you.
Okay, enough about me.

Even when we seemly do everything correctly in our own eyes, in the end, we will not be satisfied with the outcome unless we move into partnership with God.  

The above scripture from Haggai tells us that the people of that day worked hard, yet without involving the Lord, they were spiritually and emotionally hungry, thirsty, naked, cold, and poor.  This is an unsatisfactory outcome.

God will take the fruit of our labors (big or small) and use them for His glory when our motives are right, and we put everything in His hands. 

When we partner with God, our outcome will be Excellent.  

The Face Mask

I know there has been much talk about the mandate to wear face masks in public places.  Some people are 100% behind this safety measure whil...