Monthly Archives: September 2016

He’s Still There.

I love hummingbirds.  In the almost three years since I’ve been in East Tennessee, I haven’t seen many of them.  I think they’re having trouble keeping up with me since I’ve moved so much.

When hard times hit I stopped everything including putting feeders out.  I was so caught up in my circumstances and the fear that came with them, I wasn’t myself in every respect of the word.  This spring I put out feeders and have seen a few hummingbirds from time to time but not like I used to.  Where I live now is pretty heavily populated with quite a bit of traffic.  Yet every once in a while when I go outside and look for them, occasionally I will see one or two.

That happened this morning and it hit me – I wondered if I thought they weren’t there if they really were and I missed them because I wasn’t looking.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place feeling totally alone and we think because no one else is there God isn’t either.  Then you feel a “tweak” in your spirit, hear a song on the radio that contains the perfect words or hear a word from an unlikely place or person that lets you know He knows exactly where you are, exactly how you feel and He is right there with you.

The hummers flittered by chirping.  God does the same – something reminds us He’s still there, wherever there is.  In the darkness, sickness, even when you may want to be alone…He’s still there. Look and listen.  You’ll find Him.

What’s Your Jezebel?

Jezebel:  Noun.  Wife of Baal; Unchaste (relating or engaging in sexual activity especially of an illicit nature).

Allow me a little expanded thought on “Jezebel”.  There is something in every life that throws us off, gets our attention.  It may not be a person of the opposite sex, but there is something that entices us to stray.  Money?  Power?  Fear? Attention?  Depression? Illness? Let’s be honest.  What’s the thing you think about most, the thing you want the most or the secret thing you wouldn’t want anyone to know?

Revelation 2:20 says, “But I have this against you that you TOLERATE the woman Jezebel…” (emphasis mine).  It wasn’t that the church indulged in Jezebel’s sin, her immorality and false teaching…they TOLERATED her.  They knew who and what she was, yet they didn’t deal with her.  They let her stay and keep on doing her Jezebel thing uninterrupted.

Thus, my question.  What do we tolerate?  What holds us back?  We know it’s there, we know it’s a nemesis, yet we do nothing.  We think it’s not a problem, we justify, “well that’s just who I am, God knows my heart…” We’ve gotten numb to it and when it flares or rears its ugliness, we find that normal and push it back down.  Maybe we think it’s not a big deal – it only happens once in a while and then it’s not an issue anymore…until the next time…and the next.  At least we don’t “go there” all the time; it could be worse.  At some point, we have to decide who and what we want to be and if our Jezebel prevents that (if it doesn’t now it eventually will) then it’s time to call her what she is and make a committed choice to root her out.

Let’s deal with our Jezebel, once and for all.  Let’s call out our ugly and not let it snatch us anymore. One thing’s for sure…if we don’t eventually God will.

Please. Do Not Repeat.

I’m sure like me you’re remembering this very dark day in American history, 9/11/2001.  Do you remember how divided we were back then?  Just like now, it was almost brother against brother…race against race.  Although I don’t recall it being as bad as it is now, I do recall how bad it was.

Then the first plane hit WTC…and in a second, right before our eyes, our world changed forever.  We saw a play by play a huge American tragedy unfold right in front of us. Not a single person who was alive that day was untouched.  We saw evil up close and personal like we never have before.

From the moment the first plane hit, it seemed the horror brought us back together as a country.  We saw acts of courage, kindness and consideration like we never had before.  Because of our optimistic nature, we saw lines and lines of people ready to give blood for the survivors.  The faces of the fireman shown on TV preparing themselves to go in those buildings and the Pentagon are forever etched in our memory.  We witnessed Congress and Senate – going at each other then as they are now – come together and sing “God Bless America”.  Churches unlocked their doors for days for people to come to pray.  Many were saved.

With broken hearts, church attendance went through the roof.  People by the droves got saved.  We became one country…one nation under God.  We were solidly united in those days.  Remember?

Now think about today and how divided and angry this nation is.  Social media fuels the frenzy.  We are right back – farther back I would venture to say – than we ever have been.  I cringe to think what it will take to unify us again, to make us remember what is really important.  So many have fallen away from God, there is so much hate and vileness in our country right now.  What will it take for us to turn around again?

My prayer is that it doesn’t take another event like 9/11.  We don’t want to ever go through anything like that ever again.  As you remember what happened 15 years ago, pray for your country.  Pray for God’s mercy to invade us, His mighty hand to protect us.  Show a little love and consideration today and every day after.  Please Lord.  Do Not Repeat.

 

Fear Will Fail You.

There’s a lost dog in my neighborhood and the other day I saw her.  When I approached her she ran into the woods.  She didn’t know me so afraid, she ran.  The remainder of the week I went back to that spot time and time again, sometimes staying and calling her name for hours to no avail.  She’s a house dog, she hasn’t been outside very much so I imagine she is terrified, in addition to being hungry and totally out of her comfort zone.  Yet even when her owners come for her she won’t come to them.

It doesn’t make any sense!  She hears the voices, especially the familiar ones, she’s hot, hungry, and knows she would be safe with those who love her, yet she still refuses to come!  Fear has gripped her and instead of doing what she knows she should do she does completely the opposite.  I’m afraid she will die of starvation and the elements to which she is unaccustomed all because she is scared. It seems she would rather stay where she is than take a chance to come out and be loved and cared for.

That’s precisely what fear does.  I know.  I’ve lived with it all my life.

When fear grips it changes the ability to think rationally and we find ourselves reacting instead of acting.  We do things and say things we would never do with a clear mind. Sometimes we freeze, deciding to stay in the mess we’re in because we are just too afraid to take a chance on trying to change things.

Perhaps we’ve been hurt – or really hurt someone else – when we’ve conjured up the courage go attempt to go beyond ourselves and we’re just too afraid to take the chance again.  Although legitimate, living that way robs us of the experience of trusting God (and ourselves) and perhaps the countless blessings He had for us.

So we stay…even knowing it’s not right, it’s painful, yet, we stay.  At least we’re familiar with how it is, there are no surprises, there is nothing expected.  We surrender to fear and decide to survive.

Fear takes our faith.  When we live based on what we are afraid of, we can’t function in faith.  They simply cannot coexist.  We must choose one or the other.  If we choose fear before long, our hearts and minds are infiltrated and we’ve convinced ourselves it is the way we think it is, and hope fades.  We someday will realize that living in fear has totally failed us and robbed us.  Soon we’ll find ourselves in an ocean of regret, pruning and nourishing our bitterness and despair.

Let’s decide today that we’ll no longer be our own prisoner.  Let’s take a tiny step forward to the safe hands and presence of the One who loves us the most.  The first step is the hardest, the next will be a little easier.  Let’s trust as we walk straight into His arms.  He will never fail us.  He’ll comfort us and help us through whatever we’re afraid of.

Unlike that little dog (who is still in the woods by the way), when you hear His voice, take a chance and step out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Luke 21:34:  “Be on guard so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;”

Do You Stink?

The Dead Sea lives its name.  Water goes in, nothing goes out.  The water becomes stagnant.  You’ve seen water pool – it turns all shades of ugly, breeds dastardly varmints like mosquitos seemingly to serve no good purpose at all.
It’s the same way with stale, stagnant Christians.  We go to church for years, always taking in but never pouring out.  Before long we become hardened and seemingly useless because we’ve never poured out what we’ve taken in.  We rarely smile, find something wrong with pretty much everything and everyone.  We “stink” of unuse.

God gives us knowledge and blessings so that we can pay it forward.  If we’re not using what we’re given to bless someone else what good are we, really?

Someone needs to be encouraged by what you’ve been through and how God got you through.  Tell them!

Someone needs to know you’ve been where they are and you survived.  You need to reassure them they will too.  Bless them!

Someone needs the love living in your heart to be spread to them…even the tiniest gesture on your behalf can be the one thing they need to keep going.  Love them!

Even if we stink right now, we can choose to stir the staleness in our souls.  Let’s decide to “smell” good today.

BE The Church.

 

Dear Church,

WE are the church.  YOU and ME.  The building we congregate in is a provision to assemble together united with one goal in mind:  WORSHIP GOD.

Look around you while you’re there – really look at people.  They’re our brothers and sisters.  All of them have wounds and are fighting battles we couldn’t possibly know unless they’ve shared them.  We’re a part of each other and our common thread is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nothing else matters.

Take care of each other.  We’re part of a body and we need each other.  Some in that congregation have no one but us – we are their family.  They simply have no one else.  There are orphans among us who, by God’s great design, have become one with the body because He knew He could trust us with them.  Some have lost not only those closest to them, but everything else as well.  Some are struggling to put food on their tables and keep roofs over their heads.  Some are broken and wounded and they’ve come to heal so they can help others who will face – or are facing – similar circumstances.  There are those among us who have no one else to love and support them.  They need us desperately and we need them.

There’s a grander plan going on here.  We’re not just there to get what we need, check the church box off and go on with our lives not thinking about those we encountered Sunday until next Sunday.  We’re to be a family.  We’re to love, support and take care of each other.  What if we all believed we were strategically planted in the churches where we are and acted upon it? If we can’t show our love in a single building then how in the world can we impact the outside world for God?!

Church, be the church.  In other words, love.  Pray.  Bless if you have the means to.  Be the church God intended you to be.  Someone needs your touch in their life.  Search for who that is and act accordingly.

“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10.