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My First Blog Post

All things: good, bad, ugly, and in between, are for our good and His glory. We are not required to understand this, just have faith in the One Who does.

Even sunsets bear witness to His Name.

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

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Go Ahead And Shout

We’ve all experienced those moments during worship service where the most amazing events take place that were not planned; this was such a Sunday.  The voice of a young child is one of the sweetest sounds to my ears.  Eighteen month old, Maverick, was quietly sitting with his family.  Our worship service turned their hearts and minds in preparation of the Lord’s Supper.  Our “new normal” is to take a small cup of the bread and then a small cup of the fruit of the vine.  After each member of the church partook of their portion respectively, the cups were collected and disposed of by a single servant.  The collector of cups was Duane, Maverick’s grandfather.  I am guessing Maverick realized his grandfather was no longer sitting near him. He looked around the room and as soon as Maverick spotted him he called out Papa, Papa!!  Maverick continued to call out Papa, until Papa returned to him. 

My immediate thought races to scripture where example after example of the writer instructing the people to shout out to God. Psalm 47:1, 66:1, 81:1, 95:1, and 98:4 are just a few. In Psalm 47:1 God’s Word says, “Clap your hands, all you peoples; Shout to God with the voice of a triumphant sound”.  In the original Hebrew language, the word “shout” means to “split the ear with sound”.  This is not a typical call to God.  This is a sound that drowns out all other sounds and your entire being is focused on the One you are shouting to.  Some versions say “Sing aloud” or “make a joyful noise”.  Both are invitations to sing, praise, and shout to God with such enthusiasm and joy it comes out in an ear splitting sound. 

Wouldn’t the union of all the voices, who recognize their Father, be the most beautiful piece of music ever heard?  I can just hear His children shout out Abba Abba… Sovereign Lord… Jehovah… and of course, Father, with joy and excitement!  My human limitations cannot fathom the response of God our Father to hear His name shouted out with glee and great joy. 

I didn’t see Mavericks grandfathers face, but I could feel his heart swell.  I could feel every heart in attendance expand with joy and soft loving laughter.  Maverick recognized his Papa and shouted his name with gleeful excitement and exuberant happiness.  No, it was not ear splitting, but it was heart piercing.  Sometimes we need to follow Mavericks example and shout out in abounding praise, exciting glee, and ear splitting joy to our Father who would love to have His heart swell too.

Psalm 95:1 “Come, let us sing for joy to Jehovah; Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”
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Do You Hear A Rooster?

We recently moved across town to a small community called Oakland.  It’s a little town inside the big city.  It’s quieter and definitely more relaxed here.  There is a small local grocer, a pizza parlor, gas station, and several church buildings around the town.  There is a simpler atmosphere here. We hadn’t been here but just a few days when I heard from inside our home the strange but distinguished sound of a rooster crowing.  It is the middle of the day and slightly unexpected.  Sure enough, I looked out our kitchen window and our neighbors across the street have chickens and a rooster.  My thoughts quickly went to Jesus’ words to Peter. Maybe because the next Sunday was Easter Sunday.

In the Bible, the book of Luke, in the 22nd chapter, Jesus is preparing His disciples for the next few days of events.  Jesus explains His Body and His Cup, His betrayer, and His position.  Jesus conveys in order to be great; one must serve as He does.  Jesus seems to commend them for remaining with Him throughout His trials thus far.  There were many at this point who did not count the costs to follow Jesus and left Him.  Then Jesus informs His apostles He is appointing or ”put apart” for them a kingdom/realm.  

Suddenly in verse 28, Jesus seems to shift gears and inform Peter that Satan has demanded to sift or riddle him like grain.  That had to be a harsh blow and somewhat fearful.  I   envision before this statement, Peter felt pretty comfortable and safe in Jesus’ company and now it is all ripped away.  Peter must feel threatened, confused, and bewildered. Before Peter can react Jesus softens the impact of His words with an assurance that He has petitioned “begged” on his behalf that his faith, his reliance upon Christ for salvation would not fail, cease, or die. Then Jesus lets Peter know he will be redeemed, “once you have turned again”, when you revert back to fully being Mine.  With this renewed relationship Peter is to establish, set fast, turn his brothers resolutely in a certain direction.  Peter is to set fast or establish the brotherhood, which is the church. (Acts 2)

Peters emotions come back in defense and makes his stance with Jesus in verse 33 as if to say,” Jesus You are wrong about me!  I will prove it to You!  I will not only go with You to prison, but I will die with You!  I will not be one of those who leave You even if it cost me my life!” 

I can see our loving Savior’s face ever so gently smile and utter with a soft compassionate voice to Peter, you will deny Me, “deny utterly and disown” Me.  You, Peter, will speak as if you never knew Me.  In fact, you will disown me three times.  Upon the third time Peter, a rooster will crow.

Jesus’ petition for Peter also makes another statement, one of confidence in Peter by letting him know he will make it through this.  Peter I know you’re going to mess up, but I also know you are going to be better, stronger, and deeper in faith when you return to Me. 

Peter’s quick denial causes me to think about the inadvertent denying of Jesus we are in danger of.  Do I always defend Him?  Do I always reflect Him?  Do I always share Him?  When I am backed into a corner at work or in opposition territory, do I refer to a passage of scripture as the reason I don’t participate in office banter or worldly activities?  When I’m at the grocery store do I offer His Words when confronted by a stranger?  When I’m driving, do I act and sound like the world or do I extend compassion and mercy or do I offer the swift sword of my horn?  Do I play inappropriate video games and pretend Jesus doesn’t know or care what things I think on?  Do I speak ill of a church family member thinking it will never get back to them?  Do I act like the world but defend it in the name of Jesus?  Do I read inappropriate novels that contain language and situations God clearly speaks against?  Do I sell Jesus for a quarter when I receive more change back than owed? 

My dear friends, when we follow in any other footsteps than Jesus, whose sandals are we trying to fill?  If we are not reflecting Jesus to all others, then who are we reflecting? If we are not joyously proclaiming our faith, our reliance upon Christ for salvation, then are we following Jesus?

It only took 3 denials for Peter to hear his rooster crow.  Can you imagine the total disbelief in Peter’s heart when he locked eyes with Jesus after the rooster crowed? Peter truly believed he was different than the others, stronger than the others, committed more than the others, and loved more than the others.  Luke says Peter wept a violent, sobbing, and loud wail when he measured the depth and severity of his sin.  Are we in Peter’s comfort zone? 

How many times do we need to hear the rooster crow before we realize we are denying Jesus?

Paul writes repeatedly about speaking boldly in the name of Jesus.  I see no where in God’s Word where Paul states to speak boldly unless…

…you are at work    …you are at the store     …you are at a funeral  …you are at a salon  …you are in a doctor’s office                …you are at the gym, etc.

We know that rooster’s crow at different intervals of time during the day; early morning, noon, early evening, and late night.  They have different but purposeful reasons to crow each time.  Don’t let a rooster crow in your life, at any time of the day.  Denying Jesus isn’t as hard as you might think.

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Planting and Watering

Having a garden of any kind is hard work if you are truly committed to a fruitful harvest. The care and consideration involved in preparing the perfect soil and surroundings are paramount to bringing forth blooms and vegetation abundantly. I want such a garden. My mind is already creating the plans, the perimeters, and the purpose.

As I was reading in 1 Corinthians 3:5-8, I felt myself re-reading it over and over again until I came away with yet another answer to my human question about God’s people.

We as “planters” and “waterers” make the common mistake of believing that we somehow have the right, privilege, or honor of seeing the fruition of our ministries. We conclude, because we have not observed any sprouts, trees, or fruit, that God did not, or is not, giving an increase. Sometimes this leads us to deem ourselves as failures. We are not failures!! It just isn’t our job or responsibility to cause or give growth. Look again at verse 7. Paul says those of us who deem ourselves the planter or the waterer are not considered ANYTHING ! We have no say so, we have no authority, and we are not assigned to the growth department ! That belongs to God and God alone. Does this mean we should stop planting and watering? Absolutely not!!!! Paul is making sure we know Who has the growing power and it is NOT us. Our rewards are according to our deeds or labors, not the growth and fruit that belongs to God. It would be like Ananias and Sapphira keeping or claiming something that didn’t belong to them. We are deceiving ourselves if we believe we deserve it. It is not ours!!

Paul is also reminding us that all is done for the glory of God. If we possessed even a thimble full of growth power, who would we glorify? Did you plant? Did you water? These are the better questions to ask ourselves. Are our motives for sowing and watering to glorify God or ourselves? In verse 8 we are told planters and waterers are one. This shows us both are essential to God’s work here on earth. Paul goes on to tell us in verse 9 that we are workers with God. We are His cultivated fields and His building. Jehovah constructed us!! That means that some where along the way, someone took the time to plant and water on our fields and gave us good materials to build with. How humbling and powerful these few verses are to us who strive to be and teach God’s Word.

I can only imagine the anticipation of our God who patiently waits for His planters and waterers to attend and meet the needs of the soil we did not prepare, the seedlings we didn’t plant, and the thirsty blooms who need water. Carefully consider your task when you have the opportunity to work with God.

Planted, Watered, and blessed by God.

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Paid In Full

God named Him Jesus and we call Him Lord, Sent to earth for His blood to be poured.

Christ journey from birth, to death on the cross, His purpose was to seek and redeem the lost.

From village to countryside as He traveled around, He healed their sicknesses and some He unbound.

Many were freed from their chains of sin, He touched, He spoke, and He mended within.

Jesus taught His twelve what soon must take place, Puzzlement overcame them at what He must face.

The Last Supper is prepared and all around the table, Forsake our Lord? Who among was able?

Christ knew well of Judas’ plan, His selling for silver, betrayal by this man.

Christ broke the bread and passed the cup, He said, My Body, My Blood, for you I give up.

Jesus foretold the sheep would flee, but Peter declared “That will not be me!”.

The walk to the Garden under the moonlit night, Jesus asked His twelve to keep ready their sight.

Heavy is the heart of our Lord divine, Father, hear My prayer, not My will, but Thine.

Exposed with a kiss, defended with a sword, Seized by evil men, was Jesus Christ our Lord.

While Jesus was interrogated about His life, Peter’s promise faded, replaced with strife.

Peter’s denial of our Lord Jesus grows, After three denouncements, the foretold rooster crows.

Pilate could find no crime to judge, But the people cried, “Crucify” and would not budge!

Pilate offered the crowd a guilty thief, but Barrabas was spared in disbelief.

Jesus was mocked, flogged, and led away, A crown of thorns on His head did they lay.

Carrying the cross to Calvary’s Hill, Coming full circle fulfilling God’s will.

The road to Golgotha one step at a time, with Simon beside Him making the climb.

Christ’s hands and feet pierced with nails,  All efforts to tempt Him ultimately fails.

Darkness was upon them in the ninth hour, Jesus is forsaken… the soldiers now cower.

“Father, into Your hands, My spirit”, Jesus cried, He exhaled His last breath, With great grace He died.

Then the earth shook and the temple curtain torn, This Son of God, they knew to mourn.

Christ body was taken and wrapped in a shroud, A proper burial, Joseph vowed.

He was laid in the tomb and sealed with a stone, Awaiting His Father, to ascend to the throne.

On the third day, our Lord AROSE, Forgiving OUR sins, He willingly chose.

The heavens Rejoiced, the full price has been paid, Remember the sacrifice, Remember the trade.

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I Did It My Way

There have been numerous times, events, and critical decisions made in our lives where we did it our way. Very few of those were successful or fruitful. As a young adult, we had a typical view of “parental wisdom”. Our usual perspective could be summed up in these thoughts: “What could my parents possibly know about being a teenager”, “Things are different now”, “That will never happen to me”, and “I know what I am doing”. Any of these sound familiar? This was not a new concept for young adults in my day or present day. In fact, this thought process goes all the way back to Genesis.

In Genesis 4: 1-15 is the unfortunate story of Adam and Eve’s son, Cain. God’s Word says Cain was a “tiller of the ground”. Shortly after Cain was born, his parents had another son, Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep. Now fast forward to Cain presenting his “offering of the ground” to Jehovah. Upon reading this, there is no immediate indication that anything is amiss. Abel also brought from the “firstlings of his flock” an offering before Jehovah and God’s Word says Jehovah had regard/respect for Abel’s offering and for him. In verse 5, God conveyed to Cain He had NO regard/respect for his offering or for him. Moses does not offer a reason for the determination and distinction made by Jehovah in this passage. God’s Word will tell us in Hebrews 11:4 that Abel offered his in faith. This could be where Cain lacked in sincerity with his offering. We could ascertain that Cain performed the duties of providing an offering, but maybe missed the mark with the heart of his offering. How many times will David write that sacrificing the blood of bulls and goats means nothing without faith; without the heart of an obedient servant? (Psalm 51:17) In the 6th verse of Hebrews chapter 11 the writer states it is IMPOSSIBLE to be well pleasing to Him/God without faith; a faith that diligently seeks Gods. Not just once, twice, or three times, but continually seeks God. We can NEVER completely know who God is during our allotted days on this earth, so to believe once we know OF Him, is the same as knowing Him completely, is a huge misconception. Please don’t fall into that trap!!! Cain made the sacrifice, but it wasn’t enough. He may have gone through the motions and obeyed the law, but Cain’s heart, faith, and soul were absent in his offering to Jehovah.

How did Cain react to the dismissal of his offering? Cain allowed his countenance to fall. What is “countenance”? According to the Hebrew language, it is the face. Cain’s face fell. We’ve all witnessed someone who suddenly and unexpectedly glow with the warmth of anger and watched it grow vehemently into rage. This is the literal picture the Hebrew language depicted when God asked Cain why his face fell. I don’t believe for two seconds that God didn’t know. I do, however, know that God asks questions for our good, not His. God is reaching out to Cain and giving him time to think about his intentions towards Abel. God is warning Cain of the irreversible consequences of the premeditated harm Cain is about to carry out on his brother. God tries to convey, “Cain, you know that anger and rage you are feeling? That is sin, that is the evil one, that is the devil’s desire for you, and you MUST overcome him.” God says so much when he tells Cain to overcome sin. Not only is Jehovah saying to overcome, but He is also saying, You, Cain, have the power to overcome THIS!! I believe God’s Word tells us every day that WE HAVE THE POWER TO OVERCOME SIN TOO! We must choose to listen to our Father in heaven and heed His warnings to overcome the sins of this world and NOT do it our way. Cain did what he was supposed to do, but he did it his way, not God’s. So many times God’s people chose to do what is “right” in their own eyes. (Judges 17:6, 19:17, 21:25) They truly believed their way is better, provides bigger blessings, or produces immediate gratification.

Cain was told by Jehovah to master, reign over, and have dominion over the sinful intentions he had in his heart. This sin, this anger, this rage is an open door to the evil one who desires Cain to follow him. When we let these linger in our minds, they race for our hearts, and then out of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 15:18) Our sacrifice to God is a daily decision to give Him all that we are and ever will be. (Romans 12:1) Our willingness to bring Him who we are, as we are, and allow Him to transform us into the image of His Son is fulfilling Psalm 51:17. Our wisdom, at any age, will never supersede that of God’s. In our lives here on earth, we may think doing it our way is acceptable to God, but it is not. We are not helping Him, we are not glorifying Him, and we are not in obedience to Him, when we insist to endeavor in doing things our way. God’s Word is perfect and His ways are perfect too! Tap into the power that is in you through Christ Jesus and defeat sin and it’s schemes.

We are not kids anymore, but sin is just as ferocious, relentless, and active all around us. I know who crouches at the door, waiting for an innocent opening, hoping to intensify and multiply the desire to overcome me. My parents knew I could not make mature decisions when I insisted o doing it my way. In the same way, our loving Father knows we need HIs wisdom to overcome all obstacles thrown in our paths. We need His guidance to steer clear of trouble. We need His strength to fight the evil one. Most of all, we need His Son to redeem us.

1 John 4:4-5
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
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Never Out Of Sight

Have you ever felt as if you were in a distant land and out of the reach of God?

Have you ever experienced an invisible wall stationed between your prayers and God’s ear?

Have you ever been aware of the darkness, when it stands over you like a bully?

Have you ever experienced the sensation of your feet buried in hardened cement leaving you vulnerable?

Have you ever existed on a deserted island in the midst of a thousand people?

Have you ever been in plain sight and yet unseen?

Have you ever been a falling tree, in a forest with no one to hear your fall?

Have you buried your heart so deep, so packed down, so covered in sorrow, even you couldn’t find it?

Have you ever suffered a loss that threatened to engulf your every thought and keep you captive indefinitely?

Have you ever equated yourself as an outcast and felt scattered?

In Deuteronomy 29:There is a conversation going on between Moses and the those who are left to enter the promised land.  Moses is conveying once again how incredible their lives will and can be in this new land God has prepared and will deliver into their hands.  Moses speaks of magnificent promises full of life, goodness, prosperity, and provision.  Moses speaks to the children of Israel of this great God who has brought them forth to this very point and only asks for their devotion, loyalty, love, worship, and reverence for Him only.  No other god has provided for or loved them before now.  There are “ifs” with this pouring out of promises.  If the people decide to walk away from and break covenant with God, His provisions go away too.

Now comes the first 4 verses in chapter 30, which I can’t help but camp on for a while. “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you,  and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,  that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you AGAIN from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you.  If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.

When His people return to Him, heart, soul, and mind, not just lip service, then, He, God, will gather them from all the nations where God has scattered them.  The New American Standard version says “If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back.”

This brings me great assurance and hope.  No matter what becomes of me, here on earth, or what principalities threaten my known way of life, IF, I will continue to call out to God, our Father, in all things, with all sincerity, all heart, mind, and soul: no matter where I am, He will bring me home.  God knows His people are going to be scattered due to their disobedience and covenant breaking, but even before they turn their backs on Him, He gives them a promise of gathering, a promise of compassion, a promise of multiplying them even beyond their forefathers, and a promise of a dwelling place. 

We have ALL of this too!!  God is guiding them to see this is a spiritual gathering.  God said He is going to circumcise their hearts.  God is going to cut their hearts down to exactly what is needed to love Him and Him only with every fiber of their being.  Doesn’t He do this with us today? 

We are a blessed people!!!  We have, and serve, an Amazing and Awesome God who loves us enough to gather us from wherever we are and bring us back to Him, as long as we are seeking to be where He is.  God will never force your obedience, your loyalty, your devotion, or your love for Him.  He wants us to choose Him just like He invited the Israelites to choose Him.  God promises, not only will He “find” you, but I guarantee you He already knows where you are; even if you think you are out of reach, invisible, running from the darkness, shielding yourself, deaf to others, unseen, in captivity, or thrown in various random directions.  Nothing escapes His loving kindness or His watchful eye.

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One Gave All

We’ve all met someone who exceeds the parameters of being a servant. Ms. Curtis was born in December of 1918, at home, during a blizzard, in the small panhandle town of Goldston, Texas. Twenty years later she met and married J.C. Scruggs of Shamrock, Texas in 1938 and raised their three children in Olton, Texas. Ms. Curtis worked all of her life, until in 1989, at the age of 70, she became a mother again to two of her young grandchildren, after the loss of their parents. Ms. Curtis was a widow, had no money, a run down house, and no family to assist her with the costs of raising her grandchildren. Ms. Curtis performed the role of both mother and father, attending sporting events, school functions, hosting birthday parties, and providing unconditional love. This alone is enough to make someone’s life remarkable, but such an act was not remarkable in Ms. Curtis’ life. She practiced kindness each and every day through simple acts such as listening without hurry, taking care of others, and offering words of strength when she had very little herself. She survived the dust bowl years, the Great Depression, her husband’s WWII deployment, the deaths of her husband, siblings and the death of all of her children, but one would never know it, to speak to her.

This memory came to me as I was reading about the widow in Mark 12 starting in verse 41.  Jesus is in the temple teaching and He plants Himself directly opposite of the treasury, which is a court in the temple for collection boxes.  He is watching the crowd cast their copper into the temple treasury.  Of all the by-passers and the donating patrons, one widow woman catches the eye of Jesus.  Jesus had no recognition for all those who came before her and offered their copper gifts from their surplus, but her two copper coins, of the least of all roman copper coins, caught His attention. 

Anyone else would see a beggar dressed elderly woman waiting in line to offer her copper coins to the temple treasury.  Jesus called her a widow, but saw so much more.  According to Paul, in I Timothy 5, he describes what a true widow looks like.  She must be desolate (no family), trust in God, earnestly and continually petitions and prays night and day, wife of one man, be of good works, well reported of by others, brought up children or cared for orphans, lodged strangers, humble enough to wash feet, and sees to the need of the sick, discouraged, and hungry.

This woman, this widow, is carrying out all of the ministries of the church before it was even established or Jesus would not have been able to know her as a widow.  The first attribute He sees in her is her heart.  Only a dedicated, trusting heart of God could so willingly and joyfully give her entire livelihood to the temple treasury.  This is not a tithing.  It is not required.  This is a free will offering.  I see a faithful servant of God who deems the workings of the temple more important than providing food and comfort for herself.  I see a trust in her God like no other.  She knows He is going to provide for her necessities.  She understands His promises.  I see a confident woman who does not hesitate to offer all she has when those before her are offering more copper than she will see in her lifetime, but she is not discouraged.  I see a woman who is thrilled and excited with the fact she has something to offer.  She has anticipated this trip to the temple treasury, she has prayed over her decision to give everything, and she does not hesitate to hand over all. 

God has always protected and provided for the desolate as recorded in Deuteronomy 10:18, 14:29, 24:17, Psalm 94:6, and Malachi 3:5.  This widow woman knew this about the God she served.  God invited her to bring Him her all.  God invites us to bring Him our all.  I can see why this widow woman caught the eye of Jesus.  It had nothing to do with the amount of copper she cast into the treasury; it was the ALL she gave before she got there.

Ms. Curtis handled all of life’s adversities with unmatched grace and an unwavering faith in God. To know her was inspiring. Her sweetness, sense of humor, and joy of life will be greatly missed.  Ms. Curtis gave freely to others without any thought of receiving in return and she never hesitated giving her all in serving Him.

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Making Up The Difference

Countless times I can remember walking up to a retail counter as a preteen and wondering if I brought enough change to buy whatever it was, I couldn’t live without. It was embarrassing to check and recheck each pocket for what I truly believed was there. Unfortunately, the cashier wasn’t amused or helpful with my situation. Over the years, I’ve watched others, of all ages, frantically counting all the coins in their pockets and digging down deep one more time in hopes of coming up with a stray coin to make up the difference.

In 2 Kings 4:42-44 God’s Word records such an event. A faithful servant from Baal-sha-lishah brought his offering to God’s prophet Elisha. He brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha acknowledged his offering and told him to give to the people so that they may eat. Then Elisha’s attendant questioned Elisha because he knew it was not enough to feed a hundred men. Elisha assured him that not only will it feed them, but they would have some left over. Elisha also made sure he knew it was Jehovah who said this.
There are countless lessons and truths for us to gain from 3 short verses. I never cease to be amazed or surprised by our Gods generosity and blessings. In this incredible truth, God made up the difference when logic clearly dictates otherwise. Elisha knows the math does NOT add up and his attendant stated the obvious. What is beautiful, awesome, beyond, and above, is Elisha knows and is convicted to the fact of who can, and will, make up the difference!

The evil forces on this earth would have us believe we have nothing to offer God. That is a lie!! When we give whole heartedly, God can turn it into enough. Do not limit what God can do based on the “amount” you give. The amount is NOT the offering. The offering is, and will always be, the intention and purpose of your heart before your offering ever hits the plate. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 the Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lords church. From Genesis to Revelation, the entwining thread of God’s message is of the heart.

We can leave huge checks, we can buy elaborate buildings, we can profess our loyalty, our service, our “fill-in-the-blank”, but until we give ourselves first to God, we have given nothing that matters to Him. 1 Corinthians 13:3 “And if I dole out all my possessions to feed, and if I deliver up my body that I may be burned, but do not love, I profit nothing.”

We see numerous examples in God’s Word where He made up the difference when it didn’t seem logical to man to be enough. Matthew 14:14, Matthew 15:33, Matthew 16:9-10 and John 6:9 and so many more. We are blessed beyond measure. We need to understand and accept we will never give more than Jesus. We will never do enough to fill all the needs. We will never contribute an amount that will please God, unless the first contribution we offer to our Lord and Savior, is us. Think of it as writing a check only Jesus can cash.

God is not the impatient cashier who is only concerned with getting the right amount to cover your purchase. God is always willing to make up the difference for us and for others. God gives abundantly. Ephesians 3:20. What we deem as insignificant or even embarrassing to give, God makes it enough. He doesn’t even need to dig deep to make up the difference.

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Following The Tracks

I’ve been silent for a time now. During this time, my attention was literally entrenched in the Psalms. For weeks now, my focus has been on David’s prayers, psalms, and hymns.

We all have heroes we claim save us in dire times. Within my list of heroes, David is in the top five. David is so real to me. His adventures, his victories, his lamenting, his deep sorrow, his excitement, his commitment, his praise, his anger, his compassion, his defeats, his love, his faith in God, his confidence in God, his loyalty to God, his closeness to God and his desire to know God more, overwhelms me with direction in my steps, in my decisions, and in my prayers. David’s life guides me to my freedom in Christ, my deep desire to draw nearer to God and know Him more and yet I know I lack qualities I need to accomplish Gods will for me like David did.

Listening to David’s conversations with God and then listening, or even watching, God’s answers to David, shows me who God is, not only to David, but to me as well. I often ask God who I am to Him and many times He answers through the Psalms. I sometimes wonder how did David keep his attitude of serving, loyalty, and praise? In Psalm 17 I find answers to all of my questions. Often David begins a psalm asking God to hear him. Hear his cry, his sorrow, or his excitement. This psalm also expresses a call to be heard. David asks for God to hear his cry and his prayer. David’s confidence in his own righteousness before God allows him the ability to state that he speaks without deceit and he knows God has already examined his heart to find everything he is about to say is truth. Then, in the last sentence of verse 3 David’s says, “I have resolved that my mouth will not transgress.” What an intentional attitude to have for oneself.

In verse 5, David states another reason why he is able to remain as one with God. “My steps have held fast to Your tracks; my footsteps have not slipped.” David is very aware of the path he must travel and he is mindful and intentional about where he places his next step. David makes sure that his steps are walking in the tracks that His God has laid down before him. It reminds me of walking in deep snow as a child. I tried to stretch my stride long enough to step into the footprints of the one who paved the way in front of me. I see David looking for and seeking out God footsteps and His only. David expresses this again in Psalm 18:36. This time, God has created a broader footprint for David to fill and he is able to handle the path and not slip, because David followed God’s path. He waited on God to make visible tracks for David to step into. In Psalm 37:31 David is speaking as an old man who has had the privilege of being able to look back on his life and influence those who would follow and he states another reason he is able to stay on the right track and draw closer to God. David says, “The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.”

We resolve ourselves to many activities. We set daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals to accomplish. We sometimes make daily “to do” lists. Most times, we set out to put these goals into actions. I want to challenge you, as I challenge myself, to include adding the habits David practiced to your daily list. Let’s resolve to not transgress with our mouths, every day. Let’s be aware and intentional of the steps we take and the tracks we follow, every day. AND, let’s make sure the law that governs our hearts is Gods, every day.

It is easy to get off track and lose sight of the only One who can answer all of our questions, our needs, and our hearts desires. When we resolve ALL that is in us, to truly watch for and then follow the path that God will clearly pave for us, how could we not grow closer, reverence deeper, or praise higher to our God who prepares all things before us.

Psalm 119:101 “I have withheld my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your Word.”

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Give Me A Heart Attack

Many of us have had “extra” time on our hands over the past few months.  It has been an unprecedented experience to say the least.  This “time” is different for all of us.  It may have manifested in working from home for our employers, continuing to work at our places of employment, being confined to our homes, being separated from family, having our daily routines, scheduled appointments, and activities all come to a screeching halt.  In all of this, we’ve had “unallocated time”.  For many of us, this is unfamiliar territory. 

I’ve tried to sit back and listen, watch, and observe what people are doing with their “time”.  I’ve witnessed, as many of you have, gut wrenching events, sorrow on top of sorrow, and unfortunately, very limited scenes of joy filled moments.  These are examples of what others were filling their “time” with.

After several months, I too, fell into the negative “time” track.  My mind chased after the injustices, the blatant lies portrayed as truth, the horrific offenses from those who are not champions of the people, and the negative bantering being cast about without a care of who it judged, condemned, and sentenced.  It is with shame and embarrassment I admit to being vacuumed in and allowing it to influence my heart.  The shape of my heart was changing, shifting, and hardening through all the negative static blazing from every side and from within.

A few days ago, I was talking to God and I caught myself being angry in my words, angry in my attitude, and angry in my petitions.  Then a lightening bolt pierced me with such intensity; all I could do was hold my chest, cry and then wail.  I believe the Holy Spirit was calling me to attention, calling me out, and calling me back.  I was firmly reminded my heart was not hidden from God.  It never was or is.

In Hebrews 4:12-13 the writer clearly explains the transparency of our hearts and its contents. “12 For the word of God is living and operative/active, and sharper than/superior to/more than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and able to discern of the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 Neither is there creature that is not manifest/non-apparent from His sight/in the face of, but ALL things are naked and open/to seize by the throat or neck to the eyes of Him to whom we ARE our account.”

Many times, I believe way too many people, even followers of Christ, think they can hide the true person of themselves, of their heart, from God.  This is a huge lie!!  Not only from the one who believes it, but also from the one who encourages you to believe it.

The writer of Hebrews knows his audience is in grave danger of not remembering who Jesus is and who God is.  They are in danger of forgetting the REST that is promised to them and to us through faith.  He also informs them there are those who have already fallen from grace, because of their hearts.

After pouring out to God the true person of my heart, I realized I needed a heart attack.  I need to always remember the reflection in the mirror and to see it for its true reflection. (James 1:23)  I need not be fooled by false confidence, when I know my heart is angry. (1 John 3:21)  I need to remember not to judge, jury, or sentence those who really need to be rescued with compassion, mercy, and love. (Romans 2:1) I need to remember to forgive from the heart first and not just my lips.  (Matthew 18:35) I need to check and choose my words to see if they are edifying, uplifting, and encouraging.  (Ephesians 4:29 and Matthew 15:18) There is no place for any of these in my heart, our hearts, if we are who we say we are.

We all mess up, which should send us to our knees to fess up.  Allowing God to graciously remove the layers of negative vision, negative thoughts, negative words, and negative actions from the source, the frontline, and the nucleus of our souls, is to truly cleanse our hearts, so we don’t have to carry those burdens anymore.  We are not strong enough, but our Father is so willing, so ready, and so capable to carry whatever we are willing to give to Him. 

Time was not my friend and I needed a heart attack. Praise God, He obliged me.