Tuesday, December 11, 2018

SAYING "OUCH" IS NOT A SIN

A friend of mine recently went through a harrowing couple of weeks when her adult son needed emergency heart surgery.  The surgery went well.  Surgeons were pleased.  End of story? Nope. A week or two after the surgery he was rushed back to the hospital. The doctors determined that he had an infection as a result of the surgery.  They gave him medicine.  He was allergic to the medicine.   So many people were praying. God intervened and he is healing and doing well.

Nice story. 
So what does it have to do with you? With me?

The story begins because someone had a "broken heart" and knew he needed help.
How did he know?
He felt the pain.  

What if someone had convinced this young man that nobody cared about his pain? 
What if he felt like he would be bothering the surgeons with his pain? 
What if he was embarrassed that something was wrong with him? 
What if someone had convinced him that saying "ouch" was wrong?
How sad the end of this story would have been.

Saying "ouch" is not a sin.  Even if you love and follow Jesus, things come our way that HURT. That WOUND.  That robs the BREATH from our lungs and depletes every TEAR we have.  

Who told us we had to be robotic spiritual soldiers?   
Not God. Never God. 

I can go to my Father in heaven, with my tears, with my broken heart, with my confusion and simply say, "This hurts. This REALLY, REALLY hurts."  Or... with a covered over wound... and admit to Him, "When that happened, Father, it really really hurt me. It wounded me. They wounded me."

I am not sitting in judgment. 
I am not asking for vengeance.
I. Am. In. Pain.  

I am a child, with a wound, showing it to my Father because I know He cares about it.  He cares when someone hurts me. He cares when someone rejects me. He cares when I am afraid. He cares when my own sinfulness has brought me pain.   He cares. He cares. He cares. He does. 

Are you in pain?  Did you bring it on yourself? Bring the pain to God.
Are you in pain? Did someone else cause it? Bring the pain to God.

I am writing here about saying "Ouch" to a Father who loves you.  At some point in time, He will heal what needs to be healed, He will cleanse whatever infection has gotten in and around our hearts because of the wound, and His love is the only medicine that will heal.  All other medicine will not heal a broken heart.  

Read that again: His love is the only medicine that will truly heal us.  We were never meant to get through life with bandages on a broken heart. He wants to give us NEW and HEALED and WHOLE hearts. 

Only the Great Physician can heal our destroyed hearts.  And only when we humble ourselves enough to admit how broken we really are.  Because we really are very, very broken. Most of us? No. All of us. 
Today... say this and believe this:

"He. Cares. About. My. Pain."

In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears.2 Samuel 22:7


  


Friday, November 30, 2018

SUNGLASSES

I haven't had to wear my sunglasses in quite a few days.  Thing is, the weather here in Tennessee has been rainy, or overcast for a million months... give or take a couple of million.   I love wearing my sunglasses... 

But it's not the sunglasses I love - it's the sun that is flooding my face with its  warm light that I love.  

I prefer sunny days. Blue skies, with puffy clouds.  Fresh breezes under a warm sun. Don't you? Who doesn't?

Today it rained again.  The forecast for tomorrow is more rain. I don't have to be a genius to figure out that I won't be using my sunglasses anytime soon.

I guess I should throw my sunglasses away. Right?

I don't know anyone who decides to throw away their sunglasses just because they face a couple of rainy days? Do you?

We all have know that the day will come when the sun will shine. Brightly and in our eyes. 
As we drive. And walk.
It will shine for days and days on end.

We will wear our sunglasses again. We know this even on rainy days.

AND...I don't throw away my faith when I have a couple of days of rainy weather.   

I have faith in the One who made the sun.


"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Jeremiah 31:25



Saturday, November 3, 2018

HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL


I love that quote by Francis Chan because he sums up exactly what the Enemy of Humanity does in order to distract us:  he makes us change our idea of what success means.

Distraction is his diabolical device. Here's how he distracts us:

The first step is changing our audience.  Our audience becomes other people rather than God. We want people to applaud us, we want people to know our name, we want people to think we have succeeded..............and when they do, we convince ourselves we have succeeded -- when --  from eternal perspective... we have failed. 

The second step is to change the location of where we want to succeed.  Jesus always spoke to His disciples about "The Kingdom of God" (email me and I'll email you all the verses).... another Kingdom.. an Eternal Kingdom.  "If you want to be great in THAT Kingdom", He said, "become a servant of all."   In the first chapter of Acts, after His Resurrection, the Bible says He spent many weeks speaking to them about The Kingdom of God, but these people STILL focused on the Kingdom of Israel... "are you going to kick those Romans out now, Lord?"  It comes naturally to us to focus on here rather than there.. that's why the Holy Spirit HAS to come and live in us... to teach us, lead us, convict us, comfort us.. Succeeding here brings some satisfaction.. but can never compare to the glory that awaits us.  We need to choose to succeed there more than here.  Sadly, most of us cannot "see" that far.

The third step is forgetting the real story.
If we say we believe the Bible, then we know that it is the story of the fall of man. It's tragic, really.  There is sure death waiting for every soul. Every soul will have to pay for every sin.  BUT God has provided a way.  We believe that every person can be delivered from Death, given new Life, be restored to our Father in Heaven and live again.. live forever.  There is no song, no sermon, no story, no funny personality, no clever turn of words- NOTHING - that can change the story but JESUS.  What He did, what He is doing and what He will do.   The story is Jesus. 

Good for you if you have succeeded in your career or ministry. Enjoy the moment.  Trust me...it will pass.

Just take a moment to consider if heaven is applauding you.

Or if you are applauding yourself. 
 
 






 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

HOW TO BE HAPPY

So, o.k., here are my suggestions for living a happy life. Ready?

1) Stop trying to "be happy" and focus on being thankful. Be thankful for things you have no control over that are falling in your favor today: you can see, you can walk, you have a job, you aren't starving, you aren't living in a gulag in a third-world nation.  It is an undisputable fact that happiness and contentment rise when your thankfulness does.

2) Accept your utter lack of control over most everything you are trying to control.
You cannot avoid rainy days but you can be thankful you have an umbrella.
You cannot make everyone love you but you can be thankful for the people who do.  
You will not succeed at everything, but you can be thankful that at least you tried.
You cannot avoid losing things and people you love, but you can be thankful for them while you have them,
We are ALL living life on the borrowed mercy of God. 
We are ALL under His control whether we acknowledge it or not.
ONLY GOD IS IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS.
Accept that and trust His love for you,

3) Stop talking negatively about other people. 
No. No. Seriously. Don't talk about the annoying co-worker, your in-laws, people at church. Everyone on earth has the self-control it takes to NOT SAY WORDS.  You will not believe the effect your gossip is having on your inner being until you make the effort to STOP.  STOP assuming you know why someone is doing what someone is doing, or what his/her motive is, or what they are thinking.  
ONLY GOD KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT IS GOING ON IN SOMEONE'S HEART and life, 

4) Expect from others what you expect others to expect from you.
We have such high standards and high expectations of others, but expect others to give us a break when we don't meet the standards we expect from others.  We expect people to be polite, yet want them to excuse our rudeness; we expect people to have love that covers a multitude of our sins, but won't let anyone off the hook when they show signs of being weak and human. 

"Merciless Christian" is the epitome of an oxymoron. 
You cannot be one if you are the other.


Have compassion on other people in the same way you'd like other people to have compassion on you - and you'd be surprised at how happy your everyday life will become,

OK.. well for today let's focus on these four and try them for a week or two.. and check your happiness status.


"Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."Matthew 5:7


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Thanks




Saturday, October 6, 2018

COMPROMISE AND THE WONDERFUL CHRISTIANS WHO DO

(This blog was accidentally deleted.. so I'm posting it again..)



Compromise.  Seems like a word we all need to embrace or we are going to destroy ourselves and the world.  

Compromise.  One definition is: 

"a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions; settle a dispute by mutual concession."

Compromise.  In our destructive, hate-filled society, it seems like the answer.  We all agree to disagree and just get on with our lives.  Seems. Like. The Solution. 

Unless you continue to search the definition of the word. 
It also means: 

"accept standards that are lower than is desirable.


as in - "we were not prepared to compromise on safety"



Compromise ALSO means:  "to weaken (a reputation or principle) by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable."



You have to change your mind - and lower your standards - in order to compromise.



It's easier to change your mind and just get along with everyone.  Getting along with everyone seems like such a loving, enlightened thing to do.  And it is.  



But getting along with God seems...uhhh... more important.   To me it does.

All of a sudden, I see posts on Social Media by those wonderful compromising Christians. They seem so loving to frown at those archaic standards in the Bible.  

But if they want to compromise, that's their choice. Compromisers are always about CHOICE.

It isn't the compromise that surprises me. 
It's the venom of the compromisers.  

It isn't like they calmly say, "Oh, I've decided to change my mind about what I believe God's standard is" and then go about their daily lives. 
OH NO... they INSIST you agree with them.
They INSIST you compromise with their compromise.
They turn on anyone who will not agree with them.
Especially other Christians.  They rant..and dare I say.. RAVE against anyone who has the nerve to not want to compromise.

I mean.. I want people to like me.. I don't want to upset anyone. I am aware that I have no right to cast a stone at anyone about anything.. EVER... still..

God is merciful, but He does not compromise.  
This concept seems confusing to so many.  Why is that?

God is merciful, loving, forgiving and full of compassion toward humans. He knows we are weak. He knows we will sin. He LONGS TO FORGIVE.

God has mercy...but He doesn't COMPROMISE.  

God doesn't say, "Oh, you know what? Now that it's 2018, I'm thinking that maybe I've been a little hard-nosed about all those silly little laws about sex, and murder, and lying and jealousy. WHY DON'T I JUST COMPROMISE AND LET SIN RULE AND REIGN IN THE UNIVERSE?" 

HE LOVES US TOO MUCH TO COMPROMISE ON THE REASON FOR ALL THE PAIN AND SUFFERING IN THE WORLD - SIN.

He is willing to forgive you for it. He is longing to take away that guilt that is crushing you because of it...BUT...

He doesn't compromise His standards. He still has something He calls sin. And He still insists on telling us that it will separate us from Him. Now. And forever. 

My enlightened fellow Christians are vitriolic (filled with bitter criticism or malice) toward anyone who has the nerve to say something like, "I choose to believe what I've always believed." 

I have noticed that people who compromise are people who have compromised.  And rather than fall on the mercy of God,they decide God isn't relevant anymore.

Whether you've have an abortion, or your brother is a homosexual, or your son is committing adultery, or your daughter is sleeping with her boyfriend, or you allow yourself to hate someone, or you refuse to forgive someone who has asked for forgiveness, or you are jealous... DOES GOD STILL LOVE THEM? LOVE YOU? LOVE THOSE OF US WHO ARE WEAK IN OUR FLESH? ABSOLUTELY!!

HOWEVER...God doesn't compromise by telling you not to worry about it.  He doesn't say it isn't sin - He says "I sent my Son to completely pay for that sin.  I sent my Son to cleanse you of the guilt and anxiety that sin brings."

If someone is ill, we don't "compromise" and convince them they aren't sick. How is that LOVE? Would you tell a child with a fever, "Don't worry about it. You aren't sick. You are merely expressing yourself."

Are you JUDGING that child by wanting to have their illness cured?
Are you being narrow minded for refusing to go along with the crowd who is insisting that the fever is not caused by an illness?
Are you loving that kid by overlooking their disease?

NO.. we would get that child MEDICINE so that they can be healed.  

Real LOVE doesn't overlook the sickness. Real LOVE admits it is there, and finds the cure.

Real LOVE is what God has. He expects us to ADMIT we have the sickness called "sin" and ask Him for the cure:  The Blood of Jesus.

If you have decided that God didn't mean what God said, and you have decided that what was formerly an abomination to God is now acceptable behavior - you are allowed to believe that.

If I don't want to lower, change, or reinterpret what I believe about God, that is my right.

Right? Right.

My whole point is to state this fact and ask the question that follows it:

The compromisers always have such venom toward those who refuse to compromise.  Why is that?

"For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold."

2 Timothy 4:3
(AMP)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

FOLD SOMEONE'S SWEATER TODAY

She was a cup of water to my spirit.
She was a light to my weary eyes.
She lifted my eyes and head.
She erased, for a moment, all the rejection I was feeling.
She had no idea that twenty years after being in her presence for less than five minutes, she would be a woman who taught me a great big lesson.
She? 
She was an assistant in a doctor's office.  
Me?
I was there for a routine appointment.
She?
Picked up my sweater that I'd tossed on to the seat and folded it neatly for me. 

That's it. That's the end of the interaction.  The end of the story. Before she took my temperature and blood pressure, she saw my sweater in a lump on the chair and picked it up and folded it. Then she left. 

She didn't know that I was going through a season of sadness and brokenness. Rejection.  Confusion. Pastor's wife. Pastor. Trouble at the church. People rejecting us. 

She just knew I was a woman whose sweater would be wrinkled if someone didn't fold it neatly.  She didn't ask me why I didn't fold my sweater. She didn't tell me how nice she was for folding it for me.  She didn't give me a speech about people who don't value their things and don't fold their sweaters.

She just folded my sweater because a folded sweater is better than a wrinkled one.  I mean, seriously, who writes blogs about a sweater folding woman???
I do.

And maybe it's because I was so broken at the time.
And maybe it's because I felt so attacked.
And maybe it's because I was in a raw emotional season.
Or maybe it's because I hadn't felt kindness from another human being in so long... '

BUT... her kindness.. small as it was... revived something inside.

Yes.. seems silly to write about it.
Except it isn't. 

I learned a big lesson from that sweater folding woman

We may never know how one act of caring, no matter how small, may be the thing that waters a dry and broken heart..and....gives it just enough hope to try another day.

It isn't easy to be kind in such an angry world.
If it was easy, everyone would be.

Fold someone's sweater today.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

FATHER, FORGIVE US..... WE KNOW NOT WHAT WE DO.

And so..life as I knew it.. has changed for me... since 2015... a book about Mom coming out just as a movie she prayed for came out... and.. a clip of her with one of the producers on every DVD... millions of people looking for this powerful woman of prayer.. who is home with her SAVIOR... they look for her.. and find me.  And.. people want to know about her.. hear about her..learn from her...  

I have been overwhelmed.  Completely overwhelmed with emotion.
You might think my emotion is due to watching the clip of my mom's interview with Stephen Kendrick that is a special feature on every War Room DVD.  It isn't easy to see my mother.,,. full of life... ten feet tall in front of a church on a church screen...full of Jesus... full of love... with me sitting next to her at her kitchen table....unaware that months later I would not be able to sit next to her.. ever again...  You'd think my emotions would spill over.  NOPE.  I have watched her beautiful face hundreds of times..,.and feel just thankfulness to have had her..

I am overwhelmed by the people in the pews. 
I am overwhelmed by the people in the pews.
The children God loves... His children.
I am overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed by...

Their hunger for MORE of God.. their desire to know how to speak to Him... their longing to hear Him... wanting to find God's heart...and their inability to find it.. though they attend church regularly, memorizing Bible verses, volunteering... working hard for Jesus... 

And yet... 
Their questioning faces -
"Did someone like your mother really exist?"
"Does God really answer prayer?"
"Did she truly love Jesus THAT MUCH?"
"Was she serious when she said, 'When you have Jesus you have everything?'"
"Please teach us how to pray."


What?  What? What?  Why is someone who had a childlike faith, embraced God's Word as utter truth, prayed with authority, saw God answer prayer, LOVED PEOPLE WITH THE LOVE OF JESUS... 
someone unusual to other followers of Jesus?

Why isn't she the norm - rather than the exception?

It's true that not everyone is supposed to be like Molly Bruno (as a friend recently reminded me)....

But... 

God has certainly decided to raise her up... in my small circle... as an example. (1 Cor.11:1)

How is it possible in this country... that with all our efforts
All our books
All our music
All our evangelism
All our media
All our self-promotion of our "ministries"

THAT 

the people in the pew don't really pray?
the people in the pew don't really trust God?
the people in the pew are choking on despair?

We're doing something.  But is it feeding the flock?
We are promoting something.. but is it prayer?
We are doing lots of talking... but is it about Jesus?

I am overwhelmed by the hunger in God's children... Who knew how hungry they are?

I am surprised at their surprise to discover that the secret to Mom's life was childlike faith. That's it.  Believing that God's Word is true.. that.. His love is real... and living each moment speaking to a real and living Man in Heaven... Jesus.

What are we doing - those of us up in front of God's children?

I am overwhelmed by the overwhelming hunger in God's people.
I am.



Father, forgive us.  We know not what we do.