A Red Motor Bike Moment

Red motor Bike

Psalm 121:8 “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

A red motor bike!!!! Merry Christmas!! At 13 years old, he couldn’t wait to try out his new gift. But there are rules: don’t do this, and be sure to do that. Sure enough, the young teen breaks the first rule on the first day and tries a risky stunt that his daddy specifically told him NOT to do.

Ya see, he had reasoned it all out in his own mind. In his mind, it would work. But soon: instant regret, right along with instant pain.  His first thought was to hide the pain so he wouldn’t get caught.

So far-so good, he thinks. No one has come rushing out of the house. No yelling or screaming. The conclusion….. no one saw it. He felt like he was in the clear. All he had to do was hide his pain. That pain could give him away.

That little boy, was my husband Mike. He didn’t know it at the time, but his daddy had been watching from the window the entire time. His father had watched to ensure his son’s safety: ready to run to his rescue should he need it. Mike hid his pain for nothing!

“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8)

Remember how Mike’s dad was watching him through the window?  We can see from God’s Word that our Heavenly Father is doing the same. He loves you and wants the best for you. No need to hide your pain, shame or guilt anymore. We all have mess ups. Thank God that He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)

Then we can rely on this, “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds.” Jeremiah 30:17. If you’ve had a red motor bike moment in your life, God already knows, and He wants to restore you! Oh how great the Father’s love is toward us!

 

 

 

When I’m in the Valley, He Points To The Mountain Top

I went through one of the darkest most difficult times in my life over a decade ago. I was deep in the Valley, suffering grief, loss, and  financial hardships. I literally could not see my way out: no light at the end of the tunnel. My ship was sinking, and I was desperate!

What I learned was….I was desperate for God! Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I got on my face before my loving and compassionate Father. He held my hand through every challenge; through every pain; through every shed tear; through every fear; through every attack; through my grief, anger, resentment,un-forgiveness, and isolation. He held my hand while I experienced every hard emotion of my rock bottom.

He taught me how to pray; how to find contentment and joy in the smallest of things. He taught me how to read His Word, and the Holy Spirit gave me understanding. He would encourage me every day to not give up. His grace taught me how to brush myself off as I made mistake after mistake. He taught me how to forgive, how to love Him, others and myself.  NO, my situation did not change right away, but my outlook did. He turned my focus from the valley toward the mountain where He was taking me.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

God held my hand in the valley, all the while lifting my head toward the mountain top. I want to encourage you today.  If you are walking in the valley, you are not alone! Your Father is with you! I can assure you that this” valley season” will not last. Hold fast to hope! Hope fast to your faith! There is a mountain top waiting with your name on it!!!

“God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not,  I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” Hebrews 13:5 ampc

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 msg

Check That Filter

My husband changed the air filter to our HVAC system yesterday. He stepped in the kitchen, and held up the black dirty filter in disgust! It had been way too long since he changed it last. That’s not the only filter we have to change in our home. Since we live on well water, we installed a filtration system. Once, we were very low…….very low on water pressure. Why? You guessed it…the water filter beneath the house had caked up so bad with clay like silt, that it restricted the water flow.

Not changing the filters to your home can restrict air flow and water flow. My son Josh works for an HVAC company. His company understands that you don’t wait until there is a problem on the unit…..you try to stave off problems with proper upkeep. So currently, his main job is to provide routine maintenance for their clients.  I asked my son, what type of maintenance you do to help avoid unit issues. Boy oh boy he sent me a long list. You can thank me later that I shortened it for you:

  • Change filters
  • Check capacitors & contactors
  • Wash coils
  • Tighten wire connections & fuses

What’s the point to all of this, you’re wondering? The point is, that without changing our spiritual filter, keeping our spirit man in check, washing and renewing our minds, and tightening our connections to God……we might find ourselves experiencing malfunction.

Do you find yourself ‘breaking down’ every time somebody says something to you? Is your thinking ‘damaged,’ and you’re thoughts are negative? Have you discovered some ‘friction,’ along with difficultly forgiving wrongs or hurts?  Is your love ‘flow restricted’? Are you ‘sputtering’ things out of your mouth you feel you can’t control? Is your anger management system in ‘disrepair’? In general, are feeling that spiritual ‘wear and tear’?

Let’s get back to the basics: check your filter, we all have one. It affects our perspective in life. What’s collecting on your filter: hurts, anger, insecurities, and resentments? Time to change the filter. Here’s how:  “Above all else guard your heart because everything you do ‘flows’ from it” Proverbs 4:23.  Wow-there we have it folks. If we let our filter collect garbage, that garbage will restrict the ‘flow’ of God in our lives.

 “Let me explain further. Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants” Galatians 5:16 gw. What a good picture of what the filter does for us as Christians: separates the spirit from our flesh. Let’s not be led by our clogged up filter (the flesh), and let’s be led by the Holy Spirit.

Each of us has spiritual maintenance that we must do!

  • Change that spiritual filter (Proverbs 4:23)
  • Keep our spirit man in check (Galatians 5:16)
  • Wash and renew our minds (Romans 12:2)
  • Tighten our connections to God (Psalm 16:8, James 4:8)

On The Way To The Trashcan

“I’m all done,” said three year old Stella, referring to the partially eaten school lunch in her hand. She stands up to leave the table. Grabbing her plate, she starts walking over to the trash can but does something odd…..she continues to eat food from her plate. All the while she slowly walks to the trashcan.  “But I thought you were done,” I laughed to myself. That’s when it hit me.

Don’t WE do the same thing? We say, “I’m all done” what that bad habit….that addiction…..that negative talk……that unhealthy lifestyle.  “I’m all done” with fear and insecurities. “I’m all done!!!”  All the while we continue to partake or participate or engage in the very thing we are trying to dispose of from our lives.

Oh that we should be patient with one another as those around us make attempts to turn over a new leaf: saying I’m all done, yet succumbing to it one more time. Even more, we should be patient with ourselves.

We need to forgive the failed attempts, and encourage that long slow walk to the trash can! Hebrews 12:1 tells us “. . . We must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us, and run the race that lies ahead of us and NEVER GIVE UP!”

Making life changes can be immediate for some, but most of the time it’s a process. In other words, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! Don’t be quick to judge yourself or others. Mom & Dad, don’t be so harsh on your children as they struggle to make the right choices. God has equipped us to turn over a new leaf…….as many times as it takes us to get it right.

We can do all things through Christ because He gives us strength, because he wants us to succeed, and because He has good plans for our lives.  He is patient and kind to forgive our failed attempts, and He extends to us the power of His grace. Furthermore, He says to you…..NEVER GIVE UP!

I Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage & build each other up

Ephesians 4:29  Don’t say hurtful things to each other. Find something good to say & help when you can

Galatians 6:2 Share each other’s troubles & burdens

Hebrews 10:24-25  Come up with ideas to stir up love & do good things; be encouraging

I Peter 4:8-10 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults. . . God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

 

No Need to Get Worked Up Over Old News

Me: (My 18year old daughter calls my cell phone while I’m at work) Hello?

Daughter: Hey, are you okay? Breaking news just interrupted my show; there’s a shooting near your work.

Me: Really? I’ve not heard anything, and we normally do (I work downtown).

Daughter: Yup, it’s on right now, and says it’s near your work. I just wanted to call and make sure you were okay. Love you.

Me: Love you too.

I go next door and mention this to my co-worker, who promptly begins searching the news for more information. I work at a child care center located downtown: if there is an active shooter in the area, our school goes on lock down. My coworker’s concerned look became puzzled when she couldn’t find any news about it. Once I got home, I asked my daughter if there were any updates on the shooting.

Daughter: Yeah……about that…..Breaking news DID interrupt my show today, but then I realized I was watching an old recording of Dr. Phil.

We had a good laugh, and I couldn’t wait to get back to tell my coworker. I loved, and appreciated the concern my daughter had for me, but the truth was: she had gotten worked up over something that happened weeks ago, if not a couple of months ago. The emergency was long over. The immediate crisis had been handled, and was now under control.

We’ve all experienced hurts in our life, right? Well, some impact us more than others. There was one particular hurt that cut me deep, and I wept and grieved over it. Days passed, and it was all I could think about. Weeks passed, and it was all I could think about. Months passed, and this situation would randomly stab my thoughts, causing a twinge of pain. Though the matter had been dealt with, prayed over and forgiveness given, those hurtful moments were still camping out in my mind. It was old news!! Yet, the recording of my hurt would replay MY breaking news over and over.

This continued to happen on and off for months. It begin to make me mad: to have my thoughts invaded with old news as if it had just happened. Every time I thought I had moved on: BOOM! Replay! And the truth is, sometimes I would entertain the flash back of “breaking news,” even though it ripped the bandage right off my wounded heart. Re-living those moments made my anger and hurt fresh, even though it was old news that had already been dealt with.

One day, after another unauthorized replay of old news: I heard something in my spirit that even *I* thought was odd. It was something I’d never heard before: only a dog goes back to his vomit. Wait, what?? Is that a scripture? I looked it up, and much to my surprise…..I found it was a scripture that appears only twice in the entire Bible.

Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

2 Peter 2:22 “They prove the truth of this proverb: A dog returns to its vomit. And another says, A washed pig returns to the mud.”

The light bulb finally clicked on: if my hurt didn’t go down good the first time, why would I keep returning to it over and over the same way a dog returns to his vomit? God was showing me that replaying those hurtful events that were already dealt with, was foolish! A waste of His time and mine.

I had washed my mind in forgiveness and prayer only to make it dirty again with unhealthy thoughts about those that hurt me. God wanted me to stop responding to old news!!! It was over! I needed to let it go.

This wasn’t the first significant hurt I had experienced, and it may not be the last. But I have learned a valuable lesson. “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise” Philippians: 4:8 .

Wildfire Part II: The Cause

CLICK HERE TO READ   Wildfire Part I: The Condition

CLICK HERE TO READ Wildfire Part III: The Countermeasure

“Your Forest-Your Fault –Your Loss.”

“Forest Fires Aid the Enemy,”

“Our Carelessness, Their Secret Weapon.”

These slogans predate Smokey Bear, but with foreign and domestic fire threats to our homeland running high, the wartime council began the fire prevention campaign during World War II. The war council had seen firsthand the destruction in our homeland from foreign threats as shells had exploded in an oil field very near a National Forest, but what they feared most was domestic threat. Statistics revealed then and now, that our own people were to blame for destructive wildfires 9 out of 10 times.  Just a few years later in 1950 this was sadly proven true when the wildfire that made Smokey Bear become a living legend, would destroy 17,000 acres and risk the lives of hundreds of men.

The Condition: drought

The Cause: ONE camper. One careless act. One devastating outcome.

The enemy that was most feared was living in our homeland: us! I submit to you the WE are often the cause of our own trials and tribulations: not necessarily purposely, but carelessly. Sometimes we play with matches when we know better.

The WWII slogan reapplied: “Our carelessness, ‘Satan’s’ secret weapon!” Sometimes Satan doesn’t have to “do” anything at all to make our lives miserable because WE are doing good job of it all by ourselves.  Just like the war council saw fit to teach and train people on the importance of acting responsibly, and the dangers of carelessness; God teaches us in His Word to live a life full of purpose, full of abundance, full of power, and free of needless destruction.

I can’t speak for you, but I will tell you that I have made bad decisions, and have suffered the consequences. Ever said, ‘if I could do it all over again, I would do things differently?’ I certainly have. We say this because we know that WE were responsible; WE had the power to make a difference.

Hang in there with me, there IS GOOD NEWS!

Did you know that:

  • Fire is required for the reproduction of some trees. Without a fire, these seeds can lie dormant for decades
  • Fire is required for the long-term survival of 33 native plant species
  • Fire rids the forest of diseased plants and trees

This is a great example of what God does for us. He gives us beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He replaces our mourning with joy. He forgives us and restores us! We will have new growth! New Life!! A Second chance!

Satan would love to sit back and blame us; belittle and condemn us for making mistakes. He would love to see us sit in the dark ruin of our own wildfire: devastated and wasting away. We might be ‘the cause’ sometimes, but with God we are ‘NOT a lost cause.’ He loves us so much that He is willing to make ALL things work for our good! (Romans 8:28)  So even though I may create my own mess, God still turns it around for my good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Grudge Stole Christmas

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” This Charles Dickens quote just about sums up ANY holiday season.  And does this response sound familiar to anyone, “Yeah, everything was great EXCEPT…..”I’ve said it before, and will probably say it again.

I think there will always be exceptions to the perfect holiday. Everything was great except: my kid was sick, my car broke down, my flight was cancelled, my ordered  gift didn’t arrive in time, my bonus wasn’t given this year, my funds were running low, my family  member said some very hurtful things…… my……oh my…… oh my! Surely the worst of times.

There are exceptions or special conditions to nearly everything: contracts, grammar rules, laws, warranties, etc. I’m about to shock some of you with what I’m going to say next, but keep reading all the way through. There are even exceptions or conditions to Salvation: we must repent of our sins, and believe that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross.

But there are a two things in scripture where “no exceptions” apply.

  1. God commands us to love without exception (Mark 12:30-31)
  2. God commands us to forgive without exception (Mark 11:25)

In the words of my friend Scooby-Do, “Ruh-Roh!!” No exceptions! No conditions! No buts! No what ifs! God wants us to love others the same way He loves us. He loved us when we were sinners, when we were not lovable, not nice, not going to church, not living right, not saved, and here’s the big one: He love us when we did not love Him.  Now that’s unconditional love. That’s God NOT holding grudges.

We didn’t do one thing to earn His love OR His forgiveness, yet He freely gives it. Without exceptions. No strings attached. No grudges.  He already loves us, we don’t have to ask for that. But we do need to ask for forgiveness, of which He immediately gives upon request.  1John 1:9 tells us that. And on top of that, He will forgive us over and over again. He is faithful to His love for us. He’s committed. He’s fully invested.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? That love and forgiveness are like a light switch and a light bulb. What’s the point in having one and not the other? We are to love and forgive each other the way He does for us.

About right now, I’m sure some ‘unforgivable person’ pops up in your mind. And you’re convinced that if you could tell me your story that I would understand why you cannot love them or forgive them.

I was once that person. I had the “unforgivable person” in my life that had unfairly and unjustly hurt me purposely for years. Yet God patiently taught me how to forgive the unforgivable person. No buts. No exceptions. No excuses. No grudges.  But, that’s a story for a later time.

Holidays have a way of dredging up those family members and friends that we would rather not see. They challenge our love walk, and the sight of them reminds us of unhealed and unforgiven hurts. We can’t love them until we forgive them. And we can’t forgive them until we love them. Let this holiday season be one of healing, love and forgiveness. Don’t let your grudge steal Christmas. Ask God to help you love and forgive without exceptions. He will supernaturally equip you.

CLICK these passages to learn more about what God has to say about love and forgiveness.

Mathew 6:14-15

Luke 6:27-38   

1 John 4:7-11  

1 Corinthians 13  

John 3:16 

Ephesians 4:30-32

Acts 3:19