Saturday, December 17, 2016

IF YOU DON'T HAVE SOMETHING GOOD TO SAY..........

You know... those of us who are "in" Christ Jesus have been given the gift of living a guilt-free life.  Our acceptance by and from God has everything to do with the perfection of Jesus and little to do with our behavior.  We are not living under Old Testament Law but rejoicing in New Testament Grace... And here comes the line:  HAVING SAID THAT....

The whole BIBLE is God's Word.  And we can learn about God and His Ways from the WHOLE BIBLE.  So....while we are hidden in Christ.. while there is nothing to fear about God's disapproval... while our perfection comes from JESUS ALONE and HIS BLOOD... 

I was reading the Bible this morning and discovered there are things God hates.  Despises.  Horrendous.  An ABOMINATION.. Yes.. Old Testament words.. but still a way to see the heart of our Father.  I know He isn't waiting to hit me on the head with a holy whack... but still... I was interested to learn about the things God hates.  Not at all the things I would think matter to Him.  But they do.

In Proverbs, Chapter Six, verses 16-19, there is a list which could be titled, "Seven Things God Hates."   So I studied the words.  Looked up their meaning.  First of all the word "HATE" means.. well..HATE.  He doesn't like it. He gets annoyed at people who are this way and do these things.  These things are an ABOMINATION TO HIM.. Really?  Really. I will let you read the whole list yourself.. but.. 

AS THE CHRISTMAS SEASON DAWNS UPON US.. it might be good to know that #7 of God's Top Seven Things To Hate is...

"he who sows discord among brethren"

Other translations put it like this:

"a person who sows discord in a family."  (NLT)

"one who spreads discord and rumors among brethren" (AMP)

Did you know that was in the Bible?
Did you know that it is something GOD DESPISES?
Are you aware that as you whisper little whispers against family members.. God's family and YOUR family... you are displeasing Him?

AND.. if you choose to leave your church.. find another family of believers to worship with... make SURE YOU DO IT WITHOUT DIVIDING THE FAMILY YOU ARE ALREADY IN.  God hates when a person sows discord in His Family. Yes. He does.  You may be correct in all the reasons you have for being discontent in your church, with your pastor...BUT... sowing discord.. dividing that family... is something God hates.

Over the years I have discovered that a divisive person is often difficult to recognize because they are sowing discord.. sowing it one little seed at a time.  They don't look divisive.  They look like one of us.  That's why Paul instructs the New Testament Churches to "MARK" a divisive person. Point them out.   They act like they love you even as they whisper in to the ears of others  a sentence here, a roll-of-the-eye there... and before long.. a great big divide has appeared.  They change others opinions of family members... one whisper at a time.

GOD DESPISES THIS.

God wants families to get along.
God wants peace in every family.
The family of God.
And YOUR family.

Be careful about how you deal with your family members. 
Bridle your words during the holiday season.
Don't be the one who introduces division, hostility or fighting.
Don't be the one who says something that might cause hurt feelings and eventually division.

It may seem harmless to us - to say negative things - about your mother-in-law, your mother, sister, brother-in-law, father, cousin, aunt or uncle...
but to God

It is the way satan divides.  And He considers it despicable.

The solution?
Don't do it.

Love you and Merry Christmas.




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THE CONFUSION OF COMPASSION

There's more to the story of Jonah and The Whale than simply being a story kids love in Sunday School.  Oh, no, it's very relevant to every adult who claims to be a child of God. God told Jonah to go to Ninevah.  The ancient city of Ninevah was located in what is now Iraq.  Back then they were enemies of Israel. Bent on destroying Israel.  They were hateful and sinful people.  So God is about to destroy them. That fact makes sense. To us.  We are human. 

What does NOT make sense - to Jonah and to some of us -  is that He decides to WARN them and give them a chance to REPENT.  If Jonah were alive today God might phrase it this way, "Jonah, I want you to go to those terrorists and tell them that what they are doing is wrong.  I want you to warn them that I will destroy them for their sin if they don't change their wicked ways."  Jonah thinks..."Yes, God.  They deserve to be destroyed.  Do it, God. Do it now!"

Jonah hated those people.  And they hated Jonah. Jonah WANTS them destroyed for their sin and rebellion against God.  And He knows that IF THEY REPENT, GOD WILL SHOW MERCY.  IF THEY REPENT, GOD WILL HAVE COMPASSION.  

Jonah decides that if he has anything to do about it.. there is no way they are NOT PAYING FOR THEIR SIN. So Jonah disobeys God, jumps on a boat headed in the opposite direction. And then The Storm. And thrown overboard. And The Whale. And The Rescue by God. 

Jonah goes to Ninevah, speaks to the King and the King sees the error of his ways, repents, and God changes His plans to destroy them.  Imagine terrorists all over the world seeing the error of their ways, repenting and turning toward God, putting their faith in Jesus, and God forgiving them... What? What? What?  They get away with their sin?  What? He has COMPASSION on them??? What? What?

Jonah -- recently rescued from certain death in the belly of a whale --  seems to forget that he is only alive because God had mercy and compassion on him.  

He accuses God, “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! 
I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people."  (Jonah 4:2)

Evidently, Jonah KNEW God, KNEW His character and KNEW God is longing to forgive.  JONAH'S HATRED of these people was so INTENSE and so INGRAINED that he was unwilling to say a word that might cause them to be recipients of God's mercy.

JONAH LONGED FOR JUDGMENT.
GOD LONGED TO SHOW MERCY.

JONAH IS SO ANNOYED AND ANGRY at God's compassion that he demands his own death, "Kill me now Lord.  I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen!" (Jonah 4:3)

Jonah would rather die if God is not going to destroy the people who want to destroy him..
Jonah doesn't have compassion on people who hate him.
But God does.

This compassion is confusing to Jonah.  And to some of us at times.

So.. here's the deal.
God doesn't OVERLOOK SIN. 
He warns us about it. 
And we are free to do what we want with the warning.

God didn't change HIS MIND about the consequences of the sins of the people of Ninevah - the people of Ninevah changed their ways. 

God doesn't LONG to destroy the adulteress, or the homosexual, or the thief, or the pornography addicted, or the drug addicted.  He longs to show mercy.  

God doesn't LONG to destroy the liars, the jealous, the envious, the covetous, the unforgiving and hypocritical. He longs to show mercy. He longs to pour out His compassion.

God doesn't LONG to destroy the person who has betrayed us, hurt us, abused us or destroyed us..

The confusion of compassion is that God still loves - AND LONGS TO SHOW MERCY ON - the person who no longer loves you.  He sent His Son for THAT person.  He wants a relationship with the people who do not want a relationship with you. 

Really?  Really.  God's compassion confuses us.  That He would show compassion on people who have hated Him.. hated us... hated Jesus.. and hated anyone who follows Him.

His system is that ...
Anyone who says the simplest prayer of confession.. 
Anyone who asks for God's mercy.. RECEIVES IT. 
PEOPLE WHO DON'T DESERVE MERCY.. GET IT?

(Yup... Go find a mirror and take a long, long look at the undeserving sinner looking back at you)

God's justice is not like ours.  He will repay sin in His time. 
Until then He is calling for everyone to come home.
It is not God's wrath that surprises us. 
It is His love. Toward you. And me. And to those who hate us.

"Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?"   
Romans 2:4





Saturday, November 12, 2016

PICKLE JARS AND OTHER SIGNS OF WEAKNESS

I believe the Packaging Industry has had a closed-door meeting - somewhere in the world - in which they have secretly decided to make things impossible for the average person to open. Yes. Impossible.  We shop in stores, and take things off shelves and put them in our carts with the naive assumption that we will be able to open those things when we get home.  

Which things?  Every thing.  For example, I believe, though I have no confirmed sources at the moment, that The Cheese Slices People stood up at this clandestine meeting and said, "We hereby agree to make our zip lock bags virtually impossible to pry apart. No one will ever be aware that we are, in reality, glueing them shut. People will have to use scissors to open the bag. They will take a few slices of cheese, put it on their sandwiches, and put the remaining cheese back in the refrigerator.  Air will get in, the cheese will get hard, and they will have to purchase yet another plastic package. Sales will increase by five million percent."

My sources tell me that The Pickle Jar People were in attendance and loudly applauded the idea. The Pickle People don't actually want anyone to eat pickles. They like to make pickles, put them in jars, sell them and laugh as they imagine people like me spending 7 minutes banging the top of the jar on the kitchen counter... in an impossible attempt to open the jar just so I can eat a pickle with the sandwich which has the cheese that was in the package that I just used a jackhammer to pry open.

Thankfully, the Lord has provided me an answer to my inability to open anything.  It is my husband, Phil, who seems to have the same strength he had when we were teenagers. I simply say, "HON!! Help!  I can't open this."  And he lovingly rescues me from sure and imminent starvation and opens stuff up.  

It is MY WEAKNESS that reminds me of HIS STRENGTH.   At the very moment I see how weak I am.. is the moment I am so awed by my husband's constant strength 
When I am weak, then he is strong.  I don't go around crying and bemoaning my weakness (well.. if you don't count this blog.)  I simply rejoice that my husband is a strong AND patient man   And what's the point of having a champion living with me if I continue to feel ashamed of being weak?  I am weak.  He is strong.  

How difficult life would be if I kept overlooking the good news that:
Someone Strong is in love with me.

I think it's obvious where I'm going with this... 

In spite of all my knowledge of my true identity as God's child..
more often than I can admit I come face to face with my human weakness.   
If I focus on my weakness I am soon overwhelmed by how scary life actually is.  I don't know if I can do what I need to do.. and be who I need to be...

AND THEN THE HOLY SPIRIT REMINDS ME:
My hope and joy is found in remembering how strong HE IS and not in focusing on how weak I am. 
On my own... I  am weak. 
When I am weak... when I feel inadequate to handle what I have to handle.. when I see how powerless I actually am against the things Life flings my way.. I find hope in remembering...


SOMEONE STRONG IS IN LOVE ME. 

SOMEONE STRONGER THAN STRONG IS IN LOVE WITH ME
.
SOMEONE WHO HAS ALL STRENGTH, ALL POWER, ALL DOMINION, ALL AUTHORITY, ALL EXCELLENCE
IS
IN
LOVE 
WITH
ME

My hope is that today you will remember once again that 
Someone Strong is in love with you. 

He lives with you.  Right there. Right now. You can keep trying to do things in your own strength... OR.. you can simply cry out, "Help!  I'm not strong enough to do this.".

Our weakness does not surprise Him. 

 Our weakness surprises us.

Finding it difficult to see yourself as an Overcomer today?
Someone Strong is in love with you.
Someone Strong gave His life for you.
Someone Strong defeated whatever it is you are sure is going to defeat you. 
Relax.

When you give Him your weakness, then He gives you His Strength.


"He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  2 Corinthians 12:9














Friday, November 4, 2016

FEARLESSNESS

What does it mean to be fearless?  


The dictionary tells me it means:
  1. "lacking fear"...  Duh. 
It also uses words like "bold, brave, courageous, heroic and daring" to describe a person who is fearless. 
Sometimes... I feel like that woman in the picture.  I feel bold and brave and I lack any fear.  
Sometimes...I feel like she looks.  
BUT....

.....Sometimes I am afraid. 
I beat myself up for being afraid.  
I remind myself that "fear is the opposite of faith." 
I scold myself for having fear.

Do you?

I think we've given ourselves an impossible goal to achieve on our own when our goal is to live without fear.  

God did not call us to fake a fearlessness we do not have.  Just because we say we are not afraid doesn't mean we are not afraid. We are living in a world of terror.  Therefore the world is terrifying. The media reminds us of this every minute of every hour of every day.  FEAR. FEAR. FEAR.   We have nuclear weapons, we have terrorists, we have viruses that can kill us.   We have people we love who can be taken from us - without warning - at any minute.  We hear doctor's reports that predict our demise.  

TRUTH? The world is TERRIFYING.  Even the most fearless among us have moments when fear grips our hearts.

I think about the story in Mark 4 of Jesus being asleep in a boat while the disciples, who were seasoned fisherman, were TERRIFIED that they were going to die.  
The Bible tells us that the waves were crashing over the boat so much that it was "nearly swamped." It was about to sink. These men were used to being on the sea. They were used to enduring storms. But THIS storm on THIS day was the one, they were sure, that was going to end their lives.   And we know that Jesus got up and calmed the sea with three words, "Quiet. Be still."

And THEN "He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (v. 40).

I think about my life. What about those moments when I am SURE that THIS storm at THIS time is the one that is going to put me under?  Is Jesus saying to me, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

A closer study of this story shows the heart of the story.  The disciples said to themselves... after the storm had ended, 

"Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (v. 41)

Jesus point was not about their fear of the fearful storm.. but of their lack of knowledge of.. and faith in.. HIM.  They had no idea who Jesus is.  It wasn't their fear of the storm that Jesus was questioning only... it was also their lack of knowledge of Who He is. It's like He was saying, "If you truly knew who I am... you would fear nothing!"

If you are going through a storm and the waves are about to sink your boat and it seems like Jesus is asleep in the boat...it's o.k. Be afraid. Be human.  Be real before God because He can read your heart.  

ALSO... remember one VERY IMPORTANT FACT:   The disciples were wrong about THAT storm on THAT day. It did not sink them and did not end their lives. Oh, no.  
Just because they were convinced there was no hope didn't mean there was no hope.  
Just because you are convinced there is no hope doesn't mean there is no hope.
HOPE IN THE LORD.
No one who puts their HOPE.. IN THE LORD.. is EVER DISAPPOINTED. (Isaiah 49:3)

If you are afraid of something right now..you are just like King David - a man God described as being a man after His heart. David wrote about many, many moments that he was afraid. He knew what to do in those moments of fear. 
He said,
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
Psalm 56:3

David DID NOT SAY:

"I put my trust in You so I am NEVER afraid."

No. He said,  "WHEN I am afraid... I will make the choice to remember Who You are... what You've done, what You will do, what you can do..."

You may be thinking that your storm at the present time is about to pull you under. Hopelessness has canceled your fearlessness.
It's o.k.
God is not afraid of the storm, you are.
God is not powerless to calm the storm, you are.
God is not surprised by this storm, you are.

The disciples boat DID NOT sink.. and neither will yours.

The first step in your path toward fearlessness is to admit you are afraid. God will NOT be disappointed if you admit to Him that fear is gripping you. If you don't admit that you have fear, then how can you give it to God?
Talk to Him.  Tell Him the truth.  He can handle it. 

The second step is to ask the Holy Spirit to give you the power to give the fear to God.  You cannot, by simple willpower, change your inner heart.  You have no power to erase and eradicate fear. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. 

Third... although fear may be an understandable and natural response in your circumstance at the moment.. 
IT DOES NOT COME FROM GOD
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7). 
God has given all His children POWER... LOVE... and A SOUND MIND.  A sound mind = a mind that thinks wisely, calmly and soberly.  Fear is not from your Heavenly Father.  He wants you to give it to Him.


It isn't lack of fear that proves we have faith.

It's having faith when we have fear. 


When you give God your fear,
He gives you His peace.

"You, Lord, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you."

Isaiah 26:3








Monday, October 10, 2016

TRAPS


LET'S TALK ABOUT TRAPS

1 - In order for a trap to be effective it cannot appear to be a trap to the creature it is trying to trap.  It has to appear innocuous, not harmful or offensive.  It goes without saying that if the creature could immediately identify the device as something someone put there to take away its freedom so as to kill and destroy it, it would avoid it at all costs.  So the #1 reality for those who wish to trap something is to make sure the trap does not reveal itself as a weapon of destruction to the creature you are trying to destroy.

2- In order for a trap to be effective it also has to be covered with something that appeals to the creature it is trying to trap.   It has to have something the creature wants and craves so that the craving and lust for what is ON the trap blinds the creature to the fact that he is seconds away from losing his very life. 

According to Jesus, the enemy of our souls comes "ONLY to steal, kill and destroy."  (John 10:10)

God has not given us a spirit of fear.  We are not afraid of him. But we are also told to be wise as serpents.  

Do you think satan will show you the destruction you have just stepped in to?

It feels GOOD to leave your wife and be FREE. 
IT'S A TRAP.

It feels good to give up caring what God thinks and just do what you want to do just because you want to do it.
IT'S A TRAP.

It feels WISE to undo your family and leave your husband because he never understood you.
IT'S A  TRAP

You feel JUSTIFIED to spew hatred toward other Christians because of your political views. 
IT'S A TRAP.

It seems UNNECESSARY to repent for resentments and jealousies you have toward other Christians.  
IT'S A TRAP.

It seems perfectly fine to hold racial resentments toward other Christians, holding your race and its importance higher than unity in the Body of Christ.
IT'S A TRAP.

When we think those things are less important, when we find more pleasure in winning an argument than winning the lost... 
we have stepped in to a trap.   You don't think so?  You don't agree?  That's fine.  But remember


A trap never looks like a trap to the creature it's intending to trap.






Saturday, October 1, 2016

WARRIOR CHILD



I am traveling to speak at women's events a great, great, GREAT deal more than I ever have because of the attention my mother, Molly Bruno, has been receiving because of her friendship with The Kendrick Brothers, who made the movie, "War Room." They refer to her as the "modern day Miss Clara" and have included a short clip of her interview with Stephen Kendrick on the DVD that is being sold everywhere and being translated in to many languages.  Because of their kindness to focus on and honor my mother's life of prayer, and because she is no longer living on earth, but living in the Presence of Jesus, people are asking ME to come and tell them about HOW SHE PRAYED.

PEOPLE KNOW THAT PRAYER IS IMPORTANT TO GOD AND TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO CONNECT WITH HIM.


SO THEY WONDER....WHO IS THIS WOMAN WHO PRAYED AND GOD ANSWERED HER?  

Who is this woman who seemed to hear God's voice in a way few people do? 

So they come, and they sit and they HOPE to find her SECRET.  


HER SECRET?
LOOK AT THE PICTURE.
REALLY LOOK AT THAT PICTURE.
That's how my mother prayed. 
That's how my mother was before GOD.
Like a little girl.

WHEN I SPEAK AT THESE VARIOUS EVENTS I say, "If you are here to learn how to pray like a prayer warrior prays, then you must be willing to BECOME LIKE A CHILD BEFORE THE LORD.

You cannot become a warrior unless you are willing to become like a child.


A child knows she is a child.  


She knows she cannot take care of all her own needs. She knows that there is someone bigger than she is.  She knows that there is someone who knows way more than she knows.  A child knows that she is dependent on someone else to protect her, provide for her and guide her.  A child believes what that someone tells her and expects that someone to keep his promises.  A child doesn't try to be anything but real.  A child hasn't learned yet, how to hide herself and who she is.


A child doesn't waste time trying to figure things out for herself. She is at peace knowing that someone else is figuring it all out for her. 


My mother taught me to love Jesus because Jesus loves me.

She taught me to trust Jesus because Jesus can be trusted.
She taught me to never doubt what He promised because He never breaks a promise.
She taught me to be myself in front of Him because He created me and knows everything about me.  So why try to be fake in front of Truth Himself?

I pray that the picture above is also a picture of me.  I pray to be like that picture in my worship and prayer and praise.  I pray to follow my mother's example as she followed the example of Christ. 

  
Today.. if you are trying to learn how to pray...if you are wondering why your prayers don't seem to have any real power... remember these words Jesus spoke and ask HIM to send the Holy Spirit to help you do what He says.  The verse tells us that it is up to us to choose to change and become... like little children.  ASK HIM to HELP YOU to become as dependent on Him and His promises to you.  ASK HIM to HELP YOU change.  ASK HIM to help you trust Him more. He sees our hearts. There's nothing we can tell Him that He doesn't ALREADY KNOW. 
HE LOVES YOU.  He is waiting for you.  Talk to Him.  He is REAL. 


"He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 18:3



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, THANK YOU THAT THE BLUE CHEESE CRUMBLES DIDN'T SPILL ALL OVER THE FLOOR


Sitting on the shelf in our refrigerator is a plastic container filled with Crumbled Blue Cheese.  Personally speaking, I think the smell of Blue Cheese is what the inner sanctum of Hell Itself must smell like. I have serious doubts about the mental stability of a person who smells Blue Cheese and says, "YUM"... really.. what ARE you THINKING?  

My blue cheese conundrum has a complicated twist:  my husband LOVES blue cheese crumbles.  He puts them in his salad, on his burgers.  This reality rocks me to my core.  I have no explanation. I just buy the stuff, holding it carefully as I put away the groceries.  I have decided that living with a Blue Cheese lover is my cross in life.  

Today, we had the grandkids over and they ate lunch with us. We had a huge salad bar experience.  We had lots of salad add ons - nuts, craisins, cheddar cheese, and blue cheese crumbles.

After lunch, when they were already back at home with mom and dad, I was cleaning up the kitchen and DROPPED THE CONTAINER WITH BLUE CHEESE CRUMBLES ON THE FLOOR.   Time stopped.  I watched it falling as if in slow motion. When it landed on the floor upside down, the cover stayed on, and the BLUE CHEESE DID NOT FLY ALL OVER MY KITCHEN FLOOR.  HALLELUJAH!!

 I started thanking the Lord for His immense kindness to me.  I would have smelled that blue cheese for the next twelve decades and would have put the house up for sale because of it.

BUT THE BLUE CHEESE CONTAINER STAYED CLOSE.

It got me thinking and thanking.
Thinking and thanking.

Thinking about all the things that DO NOT HAPPEN that I don't take time to thank Him for.

I didn't starve today.  
I didn't find out anyone in my family has a terminal illness today.
I didn't run out of water today.
I am not dying of thirst.
I didn't have an auto wreck today.
I didn't have to hide from bombs falling from the sky.
I didn't have to hide from an invading army.
I didn't have to sleep outside.


The list goes on. And on.
Sometimes, I (we) can look at our lives and see nothing happening that we can thank God about. 

Sometimes, we need to take a moment to thank God for all the things that DIDN'T HAPPEN today... this is also His grace and mercy and kindness to us all. 

Today I am thankful that a container filled with a disgusting, horrendous smell did not open all over my floor..

I am thankful for all the things that did NOT HAPPEN today.
And I'm not just talking about those disgustingly stinky blue cheese crumbles.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lordlet us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:1-2

Monday, September 26, 2016

THEY TOOK THE MONEY AND LIED.

SOOOOOOoooo then you're a nice Italian guy who grew up in Italy. You were drafted in to the Roman Army and you've been walking all over the map conquering nations. The Roman Empire? You're helping to create it. Right now you're living in the country of Israel. You are unfamiliar with the Jewish people, their teachings... AND.... their reasons for asking for a tomb to be guarded.

There you sit.  Guarding a tomb.  You're a man's man, a conqueror of nations. What kind of people decide to use the vast and mighty power of the Roman Empire to GUARD A TOMB???

What an insult!  But you do what you're told and find yourself sleeping on the hard dirt outside the city.  Maybe you're dreaming of your Italian home, and your Italian family and the bed you used to sleep in.   And then:

"Early on Sunday morning,as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint." (Matthew 28:1-4 NLB)

Who fails at such a no-brainer job as guarding a tomb?  You did. 
How will you explain this to your superiors? 

"...some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.” So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today." (v 11-15)

They took the money and lied. Why did they go to the leading priests instead of to their own superiors?  To save their own skin.  To come up with a way to not be punished for their failure.  They were SO FOCUSED ON THEIR FAILURE THAT THEY COULD NOT SEE THE VICTORY GOD HAD JUST GIVEN TO HUMANITY.  

I think one of them might have said,  "Wait! We just felt an earthquake, saw an angel sitting on the stone he rolled away, witnessed that the tomb was empty.  We KNOW that no one came to steal the body of Jesus. What group of Jews would be strong enough to overcome a band of Roman Soldiers? He's alive."   Focusing on failure keeps our focus from the One who defeated it for us. Nope. They kept their jobs and lost their souls.  

I wonder about those guards.  Over the years, as they watched Christians being persecuted for their faith did they ever secretly whisper to themselves, "But it's true. He did rise from the dead. He IS alive.  I felt the earthquake, I saw the angel with my own eyes. No one stole His body. He is resurrected from the dead!"  They KNEW the Truth.  Inside their hearts, they KNEW what REALLY happened. 

I wonder about those elders and religious leaders, too.  They KNEW that the story they were spreading was NOT true.  They knew the guards weren't making up the story of the angel at the empty tomb.

How did these people sleep at night?  

The guards and their hush money was spent eventually and they were left knowing they were men who knew the Truth but choose the Lie.

Every one of those guards is gone now.  Their hush money disintegrated in to the same dust of the ground.  
Every one of those religious leaders is gone now.  Their hush money disintegrated in to the dust of the ground.  
They chose
money instead of Jesus. 
Their master was Mammon. 
They walked away from God. 

 How much money does it take to deny what you saw, what you felt, what you KNOW is the truth?  



"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"  
Mark 8:36




Friday, August 26, 2016

THE FRUIT OF THE SEASON

My mother had a theory about fruit. She believed that whatever was "the fruit of the season" - the fruit that was naturally growing in that season - contained exactly the nutrients you would need to thrive in that season.  She didn't need to prove her theory.  She just had it. 

God spoke to me so clearly about twenty years ago about seasons.  He showed me that when a new season arrives I have to wear the wardrobe that season requires.  If I wear the wardrobe in the summer that kept me alive in the winter...it will kill me.  And vice versa.  In order to flourish in whatever season I am in - I have to wear the proper wardrobe.  I will get bogged down by insisting on "wearing" what I wore in a former season and "being" who I was in a former season.

We must change when the season does or we will wither away.  

Sometime we don't like the new season.  We find it unacceptable to accept that we have NO CONTROL OVER THE SEASONS and WHEN AND HOW THEY CHANGE. 

The thing about changing seasons is that they bring the life that keeps the earth fruitful.  Any place on earth that does NOT have changing seasons is either a frozen wasteland or a desert. There is no fruit where there are no changing seasons.

This is true for the earth and for the people who live on it. 

I have realized that in a spiritual sense, there is some truth to my mother's theory about the "fruit" of that season being what you need to thrive in that season. 

In our lives, seasons bring the life that keep our lives fruitful. The Lord's purpose is for me to "bear fruit."  I am tempted to include the entire chapter of John 15, but you can read it for yourself.  

Fruit does not appear instantly.  It must be planted in us. It must be watered and endure all the seasons that come our way. The key word is that we endure. A strawberry plant doesn't even know it is a strawberry plant.  It just endures whatever comes its way. And then one day.. we have STRAWBERRIES!!

When we forget that we are beings who are being cultivated to bear fruit then we forget our primary purpose for being on this planet.  

We have no control over the changing seasons and it frustrates us.  Unless we remember that in this season.. in the season you are in at the moment.. God is creating the "fruit" of this season in you.  This season has purpose.  We don't see the fruit of the season today.  We just endure. We just trust Him.  We remember that He is faithful. We believe that He is love.  And then one day we comprehend that God was creating something sweet in us. Without realizing that it was happening inside us.. we see something new.. something delicious..

Where there used to be hatred... now there is love.
Where there used to be despondency.. now there is joy.
Where there used to be confusion... now there is peace.
Where there used to be impatience... now there is patience.
Where there used to be unkindness.. now there is kindness.
Where there used to be evil... now there is goodness.
Where there used to be doubt... now there is faith.

The fruit of the season that you may be enduring right now is God's purpose for the season you are enduring right now. He isn't being mean. He isn't being distant. He is making you fruitful. He is giving you deep resources to help you in the future.  Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't happening.  

The fruit of this season will be evident in the future. In the future you will be thankful that God took the time to prune you, to change you, to IMPROVE YOU.  When you face another season where hatred would have been your natural "fruit"... suddenly you find love where hate used to be.

When you face another season of life being shaken and your natural reaction would have been confusion and fear... suddenly you find peace instead. 

The fruit of the season you are enduring will be good and holy and eternal. Just trust the Gardener.

But the fruit of the season you endure and endured is not just to make you a NICER person. No, it is for others. 

The world is fearful...A peaceful person in times of turmoil has the fruit the world is seeking.
A person filled with love has the fruit the world needs in a time where hate is taking center stage.

THE FRUIT OF THIS SEASON you are in is making you more like Jesus.  That is God's ultimate purpose in your life and mine. Some of us accept this.. and some of us do not. 
Some of us have peace. and some of us do not.

Jesus said:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful..... Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."
John 15

Monday, August 22, 2016

WHEN YOU HAVE A RECORD

"When you have a record" commonly refers to someone who has committed a crime and been incarcerated for it.  Once this crime is on your record, it can follow you for life, affecting your ability to get a job.  After you do your time, the government may forgive you but it never forgets.  Once you have a record, you ALWAYS have a record.  It takes a hero of a person to overcome that kind of mistake. I personally know a hero like that.  He doesn't give up. Keeps trying. He is the bravest soul I know.  

Fortunately for the human race, GOD is not like the government.  Sure, He requires payment for our mistakes but for some divine reason, He has come up with a system where we make the mistakes and, if we ask, He will allow His Only Son to pay for them. Well, more than pay for particular sins, but pay for our state of being sinners.  We sin because we are sinners and not the other way around. This is a kind of love that we cannot, in our human reasoning, even begin to UNDERSTAND.

Furthermore, He promises that once He forgives our sin, HE FORGETS OUR SIN.

WHAT?????  YUP.


The only thing God requires from those of us who have received this gift of LOVE is that we give it back to those around us.  For some unknown reason, many Christians I know don't seem to want to believe that God is serious about this whole LOVE thing.  We kinda brush Him off.. sort of like, "Well, yes, I've read about love.. but I think He really wants me to devote myself to helping to build the gym my church is trying to add on to our building and to sing in the choir." 

The Holy Spirit has tried to describe this kind of love all through The Bible.  God doesn't just hint at it.  Jesus didn't suggest it. He calls LOVE the NEW COMMANDMENT.   1 Corinthians 13 describes LOVE the way GOD DESCRIBES it.   

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

Nice.  Part of the way we can evaluate whether or not God's love is controlling us is whether or not we keep a record of someone else's wrongs against us.    

Remember this...LOVE IS A BIG DEAL TO GOD.

And if GOD is BIG enough to FORGET your sins against HIM...What KIND OF PRIDE DOES IT TAKE TO THINK YOU CAN KEEP A RECORD OF SOMEONE ELSE'S SINS AGAINST YOU????? (big questions require multiple question marks)

WHEN YOU HAVE A RECORD... OF SOMEONE ELSE'S WRONGS AGAINST YOU... you do not have the kind of love that God is desiring to plant in your inner being through the Holy Spirit.   IF.. when that person's name is mentioned.. you IMMEDIATELY remember a long list of offenses against you.. you cannot love that person.  Why? Love keeps no record of being wronged.  

When that happens to me, when someone's name is mentioned and the first thing I remember is how that someone else has hurt me... 

I consider it like a text message from the Holy Spirit,"See that record you are keeping?  It isn't love.  Give it to Me."  I do.  I try.  Sometimes I have to try and try and try again, but I never think it is OK with God that I have that record. Why? Because it isn't o.k. with God.

I "HAVE A RECORD" against God. Yes. I do.  I have sinned against Him and others.  
In His mercy He chooses to forgive AND forget my record against Him... 
I have learned that..

WHEN I HAVE A RECORD of SOMEONE ELSE'S sin against me
I DO NOT HAVE LOVE.

If I don't have love.. I am nothing. 

And....so are you.

"If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."1 Corinthians 13:2