Can We PLEASE Begin To Look At It This Way?

Bad behavior, unlawful acts, criminal intent, and actions taken to obtain things that do not belong to you, or cause fear, intimidation, suffering, pain, loss, injury, or death SHOULD NOT be over-looked and/or mishandled because of race, ethnic origin, religion or creed. You can complicate this if you want, but that only adds to the problem. RESPECT YOURSELF. Carry yourself in a respectable manner, and show respect towards others.

Galatians 5:19-23 (CompleteJewishBible)
And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does. It expresses itself in sexual immorality, impurity and indecency; involvement with the occult and with drugs; in feuding, fighting, becoming jealous and getting angry; in selfish ambition, factionalism, intrigue and envy; in drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you now as I have warned you before: those who do such things will have no share in the Kingdom of God!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the {Law} Torah stands against such things.

1 Peter 3:13 – 17 CJB
For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good? But even if you do suffer for being righteous, you are blessed! Moreover, don’t fear what they fear or be disturbed, but treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you — yet with humility and fear, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are spoken against, those who abuse the good behavior flowing from your union with the Messiah may be put to shame. For if God has in fact willed that you should suffer, IT IS BETTER THAT YOU SUFFER FOR DOING WHAT IS GOOD THAN FOR DOING WHAT IS EVIL.

It’s Only Words

When the Lord sets a theme in action, the best thing to do is listen and learn. It is the difference between life without borders and death confined….

A few weeks ago as we were leaving a place we saw someone that caused my husband to have immediate negative reactions in his head and probably in his heart. He didn’t know I saw her and so followed me out the door without passing by her and exchanging words as he said he wanted to. I did see her and I chose to walk a different way to avoid any contact. Thank goodness, that day my reaction was a good one! But we talked about how I have had even more obvious reaction in the past with a different person.

I do not like conflict and will avoid it at all cost. I also do not put on faces well — whatever I am feeling you can read like a book in my entire body language. And I do not dare open my mouth when I am face to face with someone who has angered or hurt me because what is going through my mind will at some point spill out of my mouth. So I do my best to avoid.

Of course, this brings up points of its own: 1. Oh look, she must be guilty since she can’t bear to face that person; 2. I knew she hasn’t forgiven _____________! If she had, she wouldn’t avoid that person. 3. Wow! I thought she was a Christian? She just shunned that person.

The morning after this incident, even before my eyes were fully opened, the Lord reminded me about my positive reaction to the one who causes such strong emotions in me earlier in the week. I was caught off-guard yet, I gave a look of recognition, a quick smile and small wave. I did not wait for nor do I know if any of it was acknowledged. I am simply happy that I’ve made a positive break-through where that person is concerned.

Then I opened FaceBook that morning, here was the first thing I read:
A person who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
Yes, that is where I want to be at all times!

Abba surely had an important message for me because these are the rest of the statuses I read that morning:

Joyce Meyers: I will let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of my mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. — Ephesians 4:29 AMP

Hebrew for Christians: The sages link tzaraat (i.e., spiritual affliction that affects the flesh)with lashon hara (לָשׁוֹן הָרָה), which is defined as saying something bad about another person *even if* it happens to be true. The sages regard this sin as particularly offensive: “Lashon hara is worse than murder. One who murders, murders but one; however, one who speaks lashon hara kills three: the one who speaks it (motzi shem ra), the one who hears it, and the one of whom it is spoken.” This is similar to the sin of “emotional homicide” caused by publicly shaming another.  According to the Talmud, the shamed person’s face is drained of blood and turns white, and therefore humiliation is called halbanat panim, “whitening the face.” Therefore the sages stress shemirat ha-lashon (שְׁמִירַת הַלָּשׁוֹן), the “guarding of the tongue,” as a central virtue of the righteous.

Scott L. Boatner: “Hold my Tongue”

“Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.”(Job 6:24)

Job directed this question at his judgmental, self-righteous friends and they, of course, couldn’t offer a spiritually sound answer. There is not a thing on earth that upsets the self-righteous more than getting a question as an answer to a question. If you read the stories of Jesus you will notice that He used this method to bring light to the subject at hand thus unveiling Truth. God is the only one that can answer Job’s question, which actually should be a prayer to our Heavenly Father, not a question that is really an expression of our own spiritual frustration. If we would be so bold as to use this verse as a cry to our loving Savior, our lives would change. I’m praying this short pray because its the desire of my heart to walk with God. At the risk of sounding juvenile, “I double dog dare you to pray this prayer”. Let the Holy Spirit change us so we, by the power of Jesus, can change the world!!! 
Father, Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred, in Jesus Name, Amen!!

Pastor Rick Warren: God gave us mouths that close, and ears that don’t. What does that tell us? “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 If you do the first two, the third is automatic.

After pondering on these things for awhile, I decided I would share them with you. Maybe you are going through something similar and need encouragement to properly deal with the negative emotions you are feeling towards someone. I hope this helps you today.

Order and Design

April 12, 2014

God is the God of order, not chaos. This is made obvious in so many Bible stories like Creation,  in Joseph’s life,  the Exodus, in Ester life, in Temple worship, and in the life of Jesus.

Animals and mankind could not be sustained had God not orchestrated the 6 days of Creation as He did. So you can go through the entire Word of God and see the same sort of order…and that order brings life.
So why do we say we accept these stories, then balk at the order He gave to the church? Don’t you understand that if we keep the order of the church, that life is breathed into her?

There’s not much activity in a cemetery. No! People are drawn to where LIFE is. But a church out of order is chaos, and chaos is not of your Father in heaven but comes from the evil one to deceive and to destroy you. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” –Eph 5:17-21

Likewise is the order of the family. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church….Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”–Eph 5:23-24. So why is a husband who is the head of his wife called a male-chauvinist? Or the wife who is submissive called weak? Aren’t they both doing the will of their Father? And if they are, shouldn’t you be calling them “obedient” and “righteous”?

Your Father in heaven designed you and He knows the hopes, dreams, desires which are in your heart (the ones He put there and the ones you’ve allowed the world to dump there). He knows what it takes to make you grow and mature and he has placed an order in your life that will bring about the best for you and for those around you. But if you cannot learn to submit to one another in Christian fellowship and if you cannot submit to your husband as your head, both of which you can see, how will you ever be able to submit to your heavenly Father whom you do not see?

What is Our “Duty” Towards the World

The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.
Are we indifferent to the spiritual state of the people we come in contact with each day? Someone cared about us enough as human beings to tell us that life doesn’t end with the death of these bodies. They honored and respected us enough as creatures made in the image of God to tell us about His salvation plan through His Son. Is God real to us? Are His judgments and statutes real to us? Are Heaven and Hell and eternity really  real to us?
As a very young kid I remember hearing a preacher say that Hell was so unbearable he would not want one person he knew to experience it, let alone someone he cared about.
We are commissioned by Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Good News to ALL people. Hating a particular group of people, turning a blind eye, turning up our noses, or simply walking on by indifferently are obvious indications to the world about our heart condition. If they are aware that we call ourselves “Christians”…oh man! We’ve just given them reason to curse God. But we are instructed by Jesus in Matthew 5:16 to let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see our good works and glorify our Father. 1 Peter 2:12 says for us to be careful to live properly among our unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse us of doing wrong, they will see our honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.
We (Believers) do not have the right to be indifferent towards a lost and dying world because of John 3:16 — for if God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, we, too, should care for, honor and respect the world enough as His Creation that we share His Good News with them — so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.

Through The Fire

A song has been requested by a church member. I am very familiar with the song because my Pastor sang it a lot when it first became popular. But I’ve never done it myself so I am putting in some extra hours to get comfortable with it.

“It’s through the fire my weakness is made strong… and He will take you through the fire again.”

As I was reading the song lyrics and committing them to memory it struck me that the writer did not say that God would carry you, push you, throw you, drag you, or even lead you through the fire. As I was contemplating the artist’s wording, God gave me a very vivid picture example.

A barn catches fire and is rapidly blazing out of control. The owner runs into the burning barn to save his beloved horse. They’ve been together for years and have been through many good and bad times. But the horse is paralyzed by fear of the flames round about him. No amount of coaxing or urgent tugging on the horse’s bridle will make him move forward. His fear is causing him to panic, rare up and fight against his owner. The owner is unable to lead the frightened animal to safety, and he is too large for the owner to carry out. Pushing against him will only result in both of them getting hurt. So, for the good of the horse the owner throws a blanket across his face and takes him through the fire.

Nothing has changed. The barn is still on fire and there is still danger on every side. The horse can still smell the smoke, hear the crackle and feel the heat. But because he cannot see, he submits to the tugging of his bridle and is taken to safety.

And so it is with us. Believe me, God knows what He’s doing. Nothing takes Him by surprise. It is perfectly OK to have the blanket thrown over our face and to submit to the tugs as He takes us “through the fire again”.

 

 

A Personal Journey — Part 2

March 18, 2013

From a Women’s Retreat at Lakeview Baptist Assembly

It has been a few days since my day-trip to Prayer Mountain. God has really been opening up the experience for me, solidifying some things in my heart.

Let’s begin with a firm foundation. I had not seen the grounds in 30 years and there have been many changes. The reality that my recollection of the place was not completely accurate must also be considered. You may recall that I did not remember Lake O’ The Pines being such a prominent part of the facilities. Buildings have come and gone and features were added  that may or may not have added to the functionality of the place. But the foundation that facility was built upon, the iron ore and clay hard scape, regardless of how I remember it, has remained the same.

God has laid a foundation on which every Christian is continually building. Some structures we build only last a short time because we outgrow them. Some structures must be torn down because we built them using faulty materials. If we’ve been a Christian for a long time, we have probably forgotten some important things we learned back in the beginning or we remember them incorrectly, and when we try to build upon that sort of shaky structure, the buildings are weak. Important truths are lost — maybe for years, unless we are reminded of what is missing. Yet, God’s foundation has not changed! No matter how much we try to change it to suit ourselves or make it more comfortable, God just simply does not, can not change, and His foundation will still be solid long after all our ‘improvements’ have rotted away. Let’s be completely honest with ourselves: how many needless changes have we made to the Word of God to make it more appealing? How many changes have we added to His Work to make it more comfortable? How many important details have we forgotten, turned a blind eye to or just flat over-looked? It is time to clear the foundation that God laid of all our own little building projects — Psalm 127:1. His creation is so much prettier and lasts for eternity anyway.

Do you remember my having to ask where Prayer Mountain was even though I’d been there 30 years ago? Well, most of us in this neck of the woods have some experience with religion. Someone may have sent us or taken us to church as a kid or had a relative that always went on about their religion or faith while we were growing up. But after so many years have passed we have forgotten where to begin and what it takes to start the journey. None of us began this journey alone, someone pointed us in the right direction. All too often, however, we end up trying to read and comprehend the Word and muddling through this thing by ourselves. Do you remember that Jesus did not send His disciples out singly but in pairs? I believe the reason for this is so they could encourage each other along the way.

Once at the base of Prayer Mountain, I saw a highly traveled, well-maintained wide trail. Although there was an incline, it was a gentle upward climb for a while and there were plenty of places to sit and rest if needed. I remember thinking that this path was going to curve up and around the mountain, thereby making it so much easier to reach the summit than the way we climbed up as kids. When I came upon the Challenge Course to my right and saw the warning signs of how difficult it was and not to be taken unsupervised, it only took me a second to decide that this course was not for me! I intended to stay on the easy path. After all, I couldn’t risk getting hurt –Luke 17:33. Walking on a little farther, I came upon that very daunting, man-made obstacle course. This area was very well-groomed and some of that stuff looked like fun, but do you know there was not one warning sign on any of that equipment? Yes, I am serious, and now I regret not taking a picture of it so that you could see for yourselves the level of extreme difficulty this course really is. That is when I realized the well-maintained path did not continue up and around. It actually began to descend the other side of the mountain — Proverbs 14:12. I noticed what once was a path but had become overgrown and a good-sized tree had fallen across it. Without the proper hiking attire it was really not safe to try to negotiate that trail. I had no choice but to turn and go back the way I came. Standing there in a place I had not intended to go and confronted with the possibility of not reaching my goal frustration, fear and disappointment set in. Something else set in as well. Condemnation — Romans 8:1.

None of us sets out to make our lives more difficult. This is why we end up on a course that is heavily traveled with a maintained appearance and plenty of opportunities to rest. If so many others are taking this path it must be a good road to follow. Hey we are going in the general direction to get us to our destination with little resistance, so it’s all good! Why take such a difficult route when there is an easy one laid out right in front of us? Besides, we don’t need supervision; we got this!

Well, all of life’s roads have obstacle courses…we call them consequences. You know the saying, ‘for every action there is a reaction’ — yes, a natural consequence. Natural consequences are usually manageable and not always negative. For instance, the natural consequence of planting flower seeds is that flowers will grow. We tend to sail past anything that looks too difficult, just like I did the natural trail with the warning signs that recommended supervision. Yet, I walked straight into an obstacle course that I could not even attempt to navigate! That course had not naturally grown there. It was intentionally put there and made to be difficult. So many unnatural consequences that we have had to deal with in life could have been avoided if we had chosen the less traveled path. Yes, the way is difficult but it is not insurmountable. But we barrel through with our hard-hearted, willful mind-set and find ourselves dealing with obstacle courses that we were NEVER meant to deal with — some with lifelong unpleasant consequences. You know, it could be all downhill from there if we are not willing to stop, admit that we have made poor choices, humble ourselves and turn back in order to find the right path — Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 16:3.

Do you realize that if I had not caught a glimpse of that cross through the trees that I would not have stopped to reconsider that warning-marked trail? It was that sight that gave me back the hope of being able to reach the summit. I knew I wasn’t completely equipped to make the climb, but with my destination so close, I had a renewed determination to finish my course — Isaiah 40:31, Philippians 3:13

Going up that steep, rocky, slippery hill I had to take extra care of where I put my feet and I had to pay close attention to my surroundings. The path was nearly non-existent at times but I knew that my goal was in reach, so I continued to slowly move upward — Philippians 3:14. Finally and suddenly my desire was achieved! And all that hard work made the prize that much more sweet — 1 Corinthians 9:24.

In the next couple of days I’ll open up the rest of the experience for us. I truly enjoy how God uses the simplest things in my life to open up the Scriptures for me, and I enjoy sharing them with you.

A Personal Journey

A Personal Journey

I wrote this on March 17, 2013 about a Women’s Retreat I was invited to. For the next couple of days I want to tell you about my personal journey that occurred on March 16, 2013

One month ago yesterday I turned 48 years old.

The last time I was in Lone Star, TX for a stay was 30 years ago when I drove a local church van stuffed with several kids to meet up with the rest of the group and its Pastor, along with several other youth groups, for a long weekend at this facility about this same time of year.

I love Lakeview Baptist Assembly but not because of fond childhood memories, although I have some; not because I particularly love the great outdoors or camp food, however, it is stunningly beautiful there and the staff always served good meals (aside from those powdered eggs); and not necessarily because of the “God-moments” I remember having, even though of the 3 times I went as a teen some amazing things did happen on those grounds. I love Lakeview Baptist Assembly because of a certain place within its perimeters.

On one side of Lakeview is the beautiful Lake O’ The Pines. Cabins, assembly buildings, and caretakers’ houses dot the heavily wooded area. In the middle of this facility is a natural, very steep, iron ore hill called Prayer Mountain. The first time I went to camp there, I was pulled, along with several others during free time, up this hill. I felt so lost and disoriented–sort of like not being able to see the forest for the trees. Yes, there were foot paths but they were obscure because of saplings, fallen limbs, leaves and pine needles. It was easy to get off course, especially since I didn’t know where we were going or what we were looking for. I don’t remember really but knowing me, I imagine I was more concerned about bugs, wasps, snakes, slipping on those slick leaves that blanketed the top of that iron ore and clay, or really getting lost in those woods. I remember hearing one of the girls say that she thought we had missed ‘it’, while one of the boys was positive it was just ‘right up there, past that rock’.

Sure enough, as we came around that stone outcropping we stopped climbing as the trail opened up into a wide, flat hard scape, void of trees or underbrush. Stones were stacked on top of each other, gently curving, creating a beautiful amphitheater. Once on top of this steeply sloped hill it was obvious there was a lot of foot traffic up here. There was a little trash where some had not been careful to pick up after themselves and there was some graffiti on that one stone, making it obvious that people spent time here. Looking around you could see four distinct paths that led to and from the place causing me to wonder why it was so difficult to see these paths while we were trekking up here. But there was no indication from below of what we would find at the top. The other side of this open area dropped off  abruptly and right there, just as you came to the end of this level area, someone had erected a rugged wooden cross. Someone explained that many services had been held on that hilltop, although I was never part of one.

All three of my youth trips to Lakeview involved going up to Prayer Mountain, yet I never went alone, nor did I go more than once per trip. You see, my group was not really into that sort of thing, and once per trip was enough for them. I wanted to spend a lot of time up there once I found it, but I was afraid to go up there all by myself, so I always stayed with the crowd while pining to be ‘up there’.

I didn’t know how much free time we would have yesterday, especially since we were only going to be there for the day. I wasn’t able to attend last year’s retreat and I couldn’t spend the entire weekend this time so I felt like I needed to be with our ladies as much as possible. I did not expect to have the amount of time after the morning service and lunch that we were given. The hosting church set up a relaxing ‘spa day’ and “queen for the day” dress up and photo shoot. Of course, I was not prepared for this! I was only going for the day so I didn’t bring makeup and hair stuff! Some of our ladies opted to nap after lunch and some chose to do the cardio-workout of trekking up that hill….Me? Well, I chose to go shopping with our fearless leader and four other ladies before we were all going to meet back up for the photo shoot! Seriously spiritual, huh?

We weren’t gone long and when we got back the women I was with wanted to take advantage of the spa time and the women who had ventured up the hill were back. Now was the perfect opportunity for me if I planned on going up Prayer Mountain at all.

From the moment we drove into the Assembly, everything looked different — I was looking at 30 years of changes that I had not been part of. I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you I didn’t even remember the Lake being such a prominent part of the grounds — but how in the world do you miss something that large, never mind the NAME of the camp? So I was rewinding my memory banks and trying to get my bearings, but there must be some buildings that have been replaced and relocated, along with all the added ones and features. I had to ask where Prayer Mountain was because the cabins and small hotel changed the entire look of that side of the drive for me. Once I was pointed in the right direction and I saw the trail marker, I was on my way….

Walking from the main areas and cabins is all straight up. Once you set out on the path it is a steady incline that this body with all its issues over the last couple years was not really ready for! I was concerned with my heavy breathing and burning thighs and how stupid I was for doing this alone, but I just could not stop. I was paying close attention to the scene above me, looking for any out-cropping of stones that would indicate the old amphitheater, to no avail. There were several overgrown paths, a couple I even started up, but thought better of because this is springtime in Texas and snakes are coming out of hibernation. I came upon resting benches that were not there in the early 80’s and there was an area that was marked with caution signs warning not to use this challenge course without supervision. I submitted to the warning, but am still wondering if a group (maybe Boy Scouts) use this as a training facility. Walking on a little farther only caused more questions as I came upon a really intense looking obstacle course and climbing wall…but no summit sanctuary. In fact, had I kept walking I would have been descending instead of ascending.

An old fear tried to sprout from long dormant roots that if I kept going I was going to get lost in these woods. I have a fairly good internal direction keeper, so I quickly dispelled that fear. I started up several trails, but they were so overgrown that I just couldn’t come to peace about trying them out. At one point I was paralyzed in my tracks by the fear of going forward and the thought of returning not fulfilling such a simple goal I’d set for myself. With tears rolling down my face I headed back the way I’d come, defeated but still looking up to the hilltop. Then I saw it through the over-growth of trees and limbs. A wooden cross! It was so easily missed among the trees if you were not looking for it, and I had not been. I’d been searching for the out-cropping of rock or stacked stones. There was a glimmer of hope in my heart that I still had an opportunity to make it to the summit. I ended up back at the yellow caution signs warning me that this trail was difficult and should only be taken under supervision. Again I hesitated, looking straight up, considering my shoulder/neck/head issues and that I still had a long afternoon and evening ahead of me, then I started climbing. My athletic shoes were slick so foot placement had to be thought out. The path was still overgrown and at one point, it was lost altogether and I just took a chance to go to the right. The difference was I had seen my desire. Although I could not see it at that moment, my faith was in the fact that I had been up there three times before and that I’d had a glimpse of that cross through the trees this time. And so I continued on. The next thing I know I had come upon the backside of that cross; the drop-off side of that level summit! But I was there! Thirty years had not changed the location of Prayer Mountain! The amphitheater was still there, although I don’t remember seeing the rock with the graffiti on it and park benches have been added (I believe that has taken away from the natural beauty of the place).

As I stood in the center of this outdoor sanctuary I turned slowly in all directions and I noticed that there are still four distinct paths leading to and from Prayer Mountain, which still confuses me since those same paths are so obscure when you are climbing up that hill. But it was as I was coming down from my time at the foot of the cross that I may have learned the most important lesson. You see, years and years ago whoever decided to make that natural retreat also decided the best path to go up to Prayer Mountain, complete with natural stone out-cropping steps. That path is very steep, but the steps help you navigate from the bottom to the top. There is a fork in the path and if you take the other path, it is just as steep but no way to get your footing if you begin to slip. I want to reiterate here that the path is straight up and some of the steps are set too high for me to just step down like a staircase. I had to scoot down in two places but there was solid rock rather than clay covered in leaves and pine needles. I stopped and turned back to look up the trail I’d just come down and it was just as difficult to see the path back up to the top! A few minutes later I heard a woman’s voice, but saw nothing at first. A few steps more and I saw some benches, and as I looked past them I realized where I was. I saw the sign that read “Prayer Mountain” and the cabin where our ladies where staying.

I turned and looked back again and that is when I realized it: I had taken the wide, well-traveled trail. I had followed it to a very demanding obstacle course, but that did not lead me to my desired destination. I ended up having to turn around and come back. I did find a path to the top, but it wasn’t well marked, it was slick, over-grown and was more difficult and steeper than it really needed to be to get to my destination. And going the way I did took me 45 minutes to reach the summit, not to mention the fear I experienced and real possibility of giving up. Had I not seen that cross through the trees I would not have bothered going on and I would not have reached my destination at all. But if I had not chosen the wide path to begin with, if I just taken the path that looked so daunting that was directly in front of me at the base of Prayer Mountain, I would have been up on top of it within about 10 minutes!

A glimmer of hope

A glimmer of hope

Coming up the back side

Coming up the back side

Finally on level ground

Finally on level ground

Heading back down.

Heading back down.

The original path which was laid to get to the summit.

The original path which was laid to get to the summit.

The left fork. A 45 degree turn to the right and a very steep incline.

The left fork. A 45 degree turn to the right and a very steep incline.

The right fork, with stone steps to help with the ascent and descent.

The right fork, with stone steps to help with the ascent and descent.

The path I thought was a washout which would have put me at the summit in about 10 minutes rather than the 45 minutes it took me.

The path I thought was a washout which would have put me at the summit in about 10 minutes rather than the 45 minutes it took me.