Come Alongside

You wouldn’t think that you’d have to be on your guard with those you love, would you?

You wouldn’t think you’d have to walk so lightly.

You wouldn’t think you’d have to parse out every word in careful sentences, so that offense could be avoided and peace maintained.

You wouldn’t think you’d have to pray so hard to avoid problem areas when actively involved in ministry, but you’d be wrong.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is simple.  It is not easy.

Anyone who has ever tried to serve Jesus first, last, and always has run up against a brick wall at some point. The world is full of people who don’t serve Jesus. In fact, truth be told, there are many more of them than there are us, and sometimes we share the same living space with them.

That’s where problems are born.  But…

…we know something those others don’t know.  The born again understand that the air we all breathe, the hope any of us has, the love any of us feels, and the reality any of us experiences is due to one thing–One King–and His name is Jesus. He is first, last, and always with us; guiding us,

encouraging us

strengthening us

equipping us

instructing us

rebuking us, and…

…moving us back onto the path of His will for our lives when we wander off.

This work Jesus does without fail, every day, week after week, for as many years as walk on this earth and beyond.

He is a refining fire that is with us, in us, around us, and working through us at all times.

So then, what shall we fear?

Today, pray for those who are stepping out in faith with the Lord.

Pray for those who are struggling to keep in step with him and bring balance to their lives.

Pray for those who have slipped in their footing and fallen.

Help them up if you can. Move to their side.

Listen. Pray. Avoid giving advice, but be present.

When you speak, speak to them the words of Life that renew spirits and rebuild confidences, but not from a point of personal advantage.

Hasten their understanding through your own dedication to prayer and meditation; studying, showing yourself approved and rightly handling spiritual truth, seasoned with grace–always seasoned with grace.

Be ready and armed with all you need to bring life to another living in darkness, and KNOW that God has chosen YOU to be his hands, his feet, and his mouthpiece in this world.

Pray, then do, and watch as the miracle happens.

Love DOES!

 

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Chasing the Fog

…he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth… 2 Samuel 23:4

Encourage one another… 1 Thess 5:11

In my devotions this morning, I found this:

“Fog in one’s spiritual life need be no more lasting than that in nature. ‘It will burn off before long.’” Maltbie Davenport Babcock, Thoughts for Everyday Living.

This quote reminded me of a conversation I had recently with some of my fellows. We were talking about the assurance of salvation, when I shared my experience that time and maturity had helped me set aside fears that I might be disqualified for “the race” at the end of my days. I was talking, of course, about my fears that I might somehow lose my ability to feel secure in Christ before I came to the end of my time on earth.  We’d been discussing Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, and the strong reference he makes to “reprobate” in the King James version of the Bible when closing out his letter. Oddly enough, Paul was directing the saints at Corinth to encourage one another in their faith (and particularly in their distress), when he penned those words. Paul knew the church at Corinth had false teachers–wolves in sheep clothing–among them, and that those false teachers were stirring up confusion, doubt, speculation about the validity of the gospel Paul preached, and fear concerning the spiritual journey of anyone who didn’t think they way they thought.

Note: They thought wrong.

Wolves always breed fear in the hearts of grazing sheep.

Today, if you’re working out your salvation with fear and trembling, and wondering whether you have what it takes to make it over that finish line without being disqualified, know, you’re in good company. Paul voiced the same concerns for himself in his epistle writings. Fears have a tendency to drift in like thick fog over our path, and there’s not much we can do about that, but like fog that is lifted when the sun comes out, God’s only Son calms our fears.

When we lean into Jesus and trust him wholly our fears begin to melt away, like morning fog over the river banks. Soon, we see clearly once more.

Are you worried today about the fog that has drifted into your life? Do you question whether you’re thinking right, or making the right decisions?  Are you wondering whether you’re doing enough for God, or hitting the right notes in your relationships with others?  I have found that prayer and meditation helps me to consciously connect with God in my own life, and opens me to the power of a clear sky.  Ask Jesus to shine on you today, so as to bring clarity, assurance, understanding and confidence your way.

Ask Him to dry your tears and erase all fear.

Most of all, praise Him for the work he’s doing in your life right now, and the lives of those you love.

Salvation comes of relationship with Jesus, so stay close, stay open, stay teachable and grow in the love of the Lord, as much as it is in you to do these things.  Salvation remains with those who remain with Jesus through the ups and downs of live.

Remember:  Our God is full of compassion and long on mercy, and salvation is found in Him alone. Praise Him for clearing on the foggy days.  He’s good, all the time!

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A Grateful Heart Reflects on Freedom

freedomToday is the eve of another national holiday here in America. Tomorrow we celebrate our national independence from the oppressor’s heavy hand. Tomorrow will also be a celebration of our strength, our resilience, our independent spirit and our calling to be one nation under God. Tomorrow, we will remind one another what it was to once be economic slaves, if not physically bound, and what it feels like to toss off that cloak of oppression and be FREE.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

As you party hardy on July 4th, celebrating your freedom with gladness, don’t forget that even as you claim independence from human rulers, you are called to be a slave and servant for Christ. This slave status born again believers have with their Savior was not thrust upon them, though. No, it was us who asked to be counted among those who live their lives and surrender their freedoms for Christ’s purpose. We asked, neigh, pleaded with Christ to include us in the ranks of those who gladly bow, for we understood, if not completely then, better now, that the salvation of mankind was dependent upon Christ being able to bleed and die for lost men and women everywhere. And this is not such a strange notion, for American men and women have been dying on national and foreign soils for millennia for the chance to win their freedoms and escape tyranny’s hold.  We do it for ourselves, on a battlefield, while Christ did it for all men everywhere, and made his sacrifice on a wooden cross.  Our sacrifice was for our generation.  His, once for all time.

Knowing that on our own we are utterly and totally confused and lost in sin, we still turn away from the darkness and begin journeys toward the light–journeys that have brought us greater satisfaction, purpose in living, and passion than we ever thought possible.

Praise God, He rescues the captives in every generation!

Today, let’s remind each other to thank God for granting us the opportunity to serve Him first, our fellows next, and our selves last. Salvation is a free gift, but it cost Jesus everything. Thank Him, and bow low with a grateful heart to receive his blessing, His love, His guidance, and His peace for you and yours during this upcoming holiday weekend. Pray, also, that those still caught in sin’s web of destruction will find salvation on this weekend full of potential. Pray and watch, for many will come in this generation seeking the freedom only Christ can provide. Be ready for them when they come to you.  Be ready to share, lead, and rejoice with all who come.

Jesus brings true freedom, now and forever more.   Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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Prayers for Healing

Well done, though good and faithful servant. Matthew 25:23

Have you ever wondered how long you ought to pray for someone to be healed by God when the healing doesn’t come? Should you continue to pray for a week, a month, several months, longer?

What if that person is elderly and at the end of days anyway, should you pray then?

What if medical science says there is no hope–should you pray for healing then?

What if you’ve prayed, and prayed, and PRAYED with no sign of recovery, should prayers for healing continue even then?

Does God really approve stubborn prayers, and will he really say “well done” when the prayers for healing are ended?

What do you think?

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The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

To my way of thinking, a truer statement was never spoken, especially in light of divine healing and those times when the healing refuses to come. So what are we, the faithful, to do?

We continue to pray for God’s glorious will to be done.

Prayers for divine healing are never wrong and they should continue up to the point when God’s Spirit whispers to our spirit that a physical healing in this realm is not the Divine Father’s will. When that whisper becomes a clarion call in our hearts it is time to shift our prayer emphasis. At that time our prayers change to urgent intercessions for peace, comfort, rest, surrender and strength to surround those we love, and we ask that they might be delivered to Jesus’ side as painlessly and quickly as possible.

Today, if you know someone who is struggling with a disease that does not seem to respond to prayer, pray anyway. You never know when their miracle might happen.

If, however, God’s Spirit has spoken to your spirit loud and clear that it is time for this loved one to return to Him, release them, and ask God to bless their passage from this world to the next for your sake. It’s not wrong to pray this way.

Today, pray for those who will be healed, and for those who won’t. It may be the greatest gift you have to give–so give it freely and often.

Your prayers most assuredly pave a smoother path for every person you bring to the Father in prayer, whether they are sick or not. Every person benefits when someone else is praying for them.

Glory Hallelujah!  Thank you for praying for others.

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What is our Purpose?

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance… 2 Timothy 3:10

Encourage one another… 1 Thess 5:11

What is your purpose in this place?

Have you asked yourself that question?

I know I have. I know others who have. Everyone asks that question of themselves or others at one time or another.

We have inquiring minds–we want to know.

I find it interesting that as Paul writes to his friend and companion in the faith, he takes it for granted that Timothy knows all about his way of life, and his purpose.

How does he know?

He knows because Paul demonstrates his purpose every day by the choices he makes and the truths he holds dear. These truths…

…that God is not dead.

…that Jesus rose again.

…that Paul’s life is about spreading the gospel.

…and that it was not going to be an easy mission…

…these were fuel to Paul’s fire.

Add to these truths the understanding the Apostle had that his time was short, and we see in Paul one highly motivated individual who moves through the world with purpose.

The Apostle Paul was driven by a compulsion to tell the truth whenever he could, to whomever he could, for as long as he could.

Today, as you wonder about your purpose, would you take a minute to pray? Prayer is just talking to God, letting Him in on what you’re thinking, and/or starting a dialogue with Him. As we pray, let’s ask the Lord to reveal to us what needs to go, what needs to stay, and what needs to change in our lives for us to have a better understanding of our purpose in His world.

One thing is for sure: YOU are here for a reason.

And I suspect You are incredibly valuable to the turning of God’s page in His Book of Life.

You matter!

Don’t miss out on what He has for you to do just because you’ve never asked Him what you can do for him, for others, for yourself to get you a little closer to serenity.

Never surrender until your job is done. If you don’t know what that job is, pray. Ask God for strength to keep moving forward and for wisdom along the path. He will answer, perhaps in amazing ways.

I’m excited for you!

Remember: Together, we get better, so if you want to talk, I’m here. I’d love to hear all about what God is doing in your life.

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Winners and Losers

…your desire [and] craving will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. Genesis 3:16

Encourage one another… 1 Thess 5:11

If you’re a modern woman in this modern world the message found in Genesis 3:16 might not seem all that encouraging to you.  Let me explain why I found it noteworthy.

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The word that is translated “desire” in this verse has a very different connotation in the original text from what we might think; one lost in translation (or so I’m told). At its root, the word is not referring to the woman’s desire to be intimate with her mate, as we know intimacy. Rather, it means that with the curse, women would forever after desire to get the upper hand over their male counterparts, performed through various means:

emotional manipulation

seduction

the silent treatment

the cold shoulder

and…

outright hostility.

It suggests that even as the struggle to be dominant in our parings runs ruby red in the veins of women, men are slated to win that fight.  Yep, the guys have this one.

Side note:  I may be seeing myself in this scenario regarding female wrangling. Not now of course, but earlier, when I was a younger, more immature, less able to hold my sharp tongue.  ;)

The fact is, marriages fail every day, due in part to a curse that lingers and its impact on all those who would enter into relationships that push God away.

Is your marriage on rocky ground today?

Let’s pray.

Do you know anyone who is engaged and about to embark upon a lifetime together with a mate?

We can include them in our prayers.

You are aware that dark forces constantly tempt good-hearted people to usurp one another’s power, position, and place in God’s, right?

Let’s pray that our enemies can’t find a foothold in our lives and marriages today.

Prayer is one of our most important defenses against the onslaught of trouble that comes when weakness leads in our marriages. But thank God, Jesus is with us, so we know we have the help we need to stop destructive behaviors.

Solid marriages depend on us leaning into God and surrendering our wills and our lives to him.

Please, take a few moments out of your day to pray for the men in our churches and those women they have partnered with through marriage—asking Jesus to bless us all and correct any behaviors that might not bring glory to Him or strengthen our mates.

Together, we get better!

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Guthrie Gallop

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I’m not a runner, or really an athlete of any kind, but I recently attended The Guthrie Gallop as a part of the research I am doing to determine if I could organize a successful 5K or 10K race of my own this summer or fall.

Currently, my Sunday school class is studying Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, wherein Paul has a lot to say about the athlete’s life and the similarities between it and the Christian experience. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 he says this:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize…”

and this:

“…I do not run like a man running aimlessly…no, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I, myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Cor 9:25-27

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At the GG, I saw all kinds of runners–all kinds of body types and all kinds of technique. I saw long strides being taken, and I saw short and stuttered gaits.  I saw high-tech gear being worn, and I saw simple shorts and t-shirts. I was amazed by the variety of the runners, and the differences between them, but one thing they shared:  they all worked hard and stayed focused as they ran their race and headed for the finish line!

See that lil guy in the orange shirt. He's TWO years old!

See that lil guy in the orange shirt. He’s TWO years old!

They never forgot why they were running!

Whether they were coming out of the gate, or crossing the distance between that last corner and the finish line, they never let up, never slowed down, and in fact, in some instances gained speed in those last few feet. To them, the prize was sweet–another victory won and another race run.

I was impressed by the show of athleticism I saw at the Gallop.  No matter how hot it was that day (and it was HOT), and no matter how painful the running was, and for some it was painful…no matter what was happening along the route (and it was the same for the blue hairs as for the tikes that day), they did not quit.

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THAT is determination, and THAT is the disciplined life I wish I had.

I’m Jealous!

I don’t mind admitting that I got teary-eyed a few times during the race…

–Watching the mom of a three-month-old triumphantly cross the finish line with her baby girl in tow.

–Observing a seventy-year-old-plus hubby nervously waiting for his equally advanced sweetheart to round that last corner.

–Watching as two lil guys, maybe twins, accompanied in the race by what I took to be their dad and granddad boasted about their love for running and super heroes by donning Captain America and Superman t-shirts for the Fun Run for ages 9 and under. These two appeared to be flying down the course, instead of running.  They were so cute with their chestnut, shoulder length hair waving out behind them.

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I enjoyed being a part of this community for the few hours that they allowed me in, and their acceptance made me want to go again, watch again, take notes again, and maybe try to organize a race myself.  The jury is still out on that, but I’m more and more convinced that with the help of the right people, it could be done.

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One thing I know for sure: while I’m spending a lot of time disciplining my mind and struggling with body issues and health, these folks are spending a lot of time beating their bodies, and making them answer to their minds. They are not running aimlessly, or playing games–they are dead serious about what they do.

I could learn a thing or two from the running community.  Maybe in time, I will.

Do you run?  Did you once run and wish you could get back to it?  What are you doing to keep yourself physically fit at this point in life?

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