What? Me Worry?

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God knows I like things in 3s…especially confirmations of His voice.  Lately I’ve been asking Him to let me know what I should do about a worrisome situation that’s been heavy on my heart.  Today, I saw a Facebook post by “Time Warp Wife” of Miss Clara, the prayer warrior in the film War Room.

“You need to plead with God to do what only He can do, and then you need to get out of the way and let Him do it.”

Confirmation #1.

Then, my friend Audrey posted a meme with these appropriate words:

“Lord, if it’s not Your will let it slip through my grasp and give me the peace not to worry about it.”

That was confirmation #2!

Finally, because God knows I need to either be hit over the head with a board or encounter something three times to know it’s His voice and not my own thoughts, I opened my Bible, hoping I would randomly turn to a page that had a third confirming verse.  I turned to the book of Ezra.  I don’t remember ever reading Ezra!  I scanned the page that included the end of Chapter 4 and most of Chapter 5.  It contained letters to kings.  Nothing stood out to me until I decided to look where my finger naturally (or perhaps in this case supernaturally) rested on the page.  And there it was!  The verse I needed to see:

“Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.” (Ezra 4:21)

Yay!  I get it now, God!  I’ve been trying to come up with the perfect course of action on the matter weighing me down. I considered leaving the situation alone, but I always try to fix things myself.  Some things cannot be fixed by our best efforts.  Sometimes, only God can set the wheels into motion.

So, going forward, here is my new action plan:

— I will PRAY and then move out of God’s way

— I will RELEASE worry and not take responsibility for fixing everyone and everything

— I will STOP working on the situation and wait for God to do what He will

We humans forget how small we are and how great God is!  Our Father is the powerful almighty One, who knows all things–past, present, and future.  He understands the game of life:  the players, their strategies, and exactly where the chips will fall.  Our mere mortal minds cannot perceive this.  We think in the now, plus a few years.  He thinks eternally.  Knowing that, it’s ridiculous to think we can change things outside our control, or worry about them.  However, to Him we can pray.  We can pause.  We can praise.

Stress and worry are exhausting.  Go on vacation from it.  Let God refresh you by allowing Him to carry your burdens.  And the next time a difficult situation occurs, you can truly say, “What? Me worry?  No!”

Asking for Miracles

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“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”
(Job 5:8-9) 

If you have a seemingly impossible situation–debt you can’t imagine ever getting out of, a health condition your doctor can’t figure out, a relationship that seems cannot be repaired–ASK FOR A MIRACLE! Make your request not to “The Universe”, but to GOD! I think most people don’t think to ask specifically for a miracle in their lives. They might pray that they will feel a little better or that they can pay the bills just this month, but that’s not asking for a miracle. Go whole hog! Ask for God to fix it all. Believe that He can. Then, thank Him when it comes.
 
All through the Bible, we see examples of God’s miracles. Often, only the New Testament miracles of Jesus come to mind (turning water into wine, the raising of Lazarus from the dead). After Jesus’ death and resurrection, His apostles were given miraculous healing powers. Even Paul, former Christian Killer, was able to heal and raise people from the dead! All this was possible only by proclaiming the name of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Also, when reading the Old Testament, God performed miracle after miracle. How else could the Red Sea part or manna come from heaven, or the sun stand still for Joshua…because he asked for a miracle.
 
“There was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”  (Joshua 10:14)
 
Do you have a need that seems impossible? Do be afraid to ask for a miracle for yourself! Pray to the One who can make it happen. Have faith. Believe. God loves you!
 

You Are…

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I just got back from dropping my son off at school, so you know what that means–prayer time!  Today was another one of those mornings when I tried to pray, but I was sounding completely inarticulate and distracted.  This was probably due to the conversation about college options on the way to his school!  Gulp!

As I pulled away, I just couldn’t think.  I was at a loss for words, which is very unusual!  I looked ahead as I drove eastward and just squinted in awe at the big yellow ball in the sky.  It was a gorgeous sunrise earlier.  Pinks and blues filled the morning atmosphere.  I couldn’t help but say, “Wow, Lord!  You are amazing!”  Then, “You are such an artist!”

You are.  That became the basis of my prayer time with God.  I started to think of all the attributes and functions of our Father.  They just kept flowing like a river:

You are amazing.

You are strong.

You are merciful.

You are loving.

You are our leader.

You are a disciplinarian.

You are an architect.

You are our hope.

I continued saying, “You are,” more times than Lionel Richie on tour back in the 80s!  I had ten straight minutes of declaring the possessive adjectives and nouns of God! (Sorry!  That was the nerdy homeschool mom in me who used to love diagramming sentences and analyzing the seven sentence structures with her kids coming out!)

This was another form of worship that God revealed to me.  It’s not just about singing.  It’s about recognizing who He is and how great He is.  In my last blog post, “Praying in My Little Red Corvette… Actually, My White Hyundai!” I came to realize worship can be recognizing God’s gifts to others.  Today, I worshiped Him by declaring all of the things that make Him him!  Don’t we feel good when our friends and family tell us something great they see in us?  I imagine it’s the same with God since we were created in His image and likeness.

Worship God every single day.  Worship God in every way!
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Is there a unique way you like to worship God?  Please comment! 

 

 

Praying in My Little Red Corvette… Actually, My White Hyundai!

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Every morning after dropping Paulo off at school, I immediately start saying my prayers…out loud…in the car! Today, I was feeling a little weary from a mentally-exhausting day yesterday. I said, “Lord, I am so sorry, but I just want to listen to some good music right now to decompress. Please accept what I normally say as my prayers, as my prayers today.”
 
Then, Prince came on the XM 80s channel and I thanked God for the creativity He gave Prince, so I could enjoy his music. He was blessed with so much talent. God gifts. Then, I started thanking God for giving each and every one of us different gifts–gifts we can share with others! It could be the gift of playing musical instruments, accounting abilities, acting as a good coach, or just being the go-to person when someone needs a meal during a trying time. Can any one person possess all of these talents? NO WAY!!! We all need each other, even if we don’t know each other.
 
This “laziness” in prayer I experienced was actually a good thing–it led me to WORSHIP Him! And to THANK Him! And to PRAISE Him! Isn’t that what we are supposed to do when we pray? That, Folks, is how the Holy Spirit works. Always inspiring us, even when we don’t have the energy to put words together for prayer. Oh, and that thing I said about our different talents? It reminded me of a very popular scripture:

“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.” John 15:1 (NIV)

So, my friends, “Let’s Go Crazy” recognizing and appreciating the God-given talents of everyone we encounter! Next time you hear “I Would Die 4U,” think on the face of Jesus–and worship Him, thank Him, and praise Him.

Who? Me? Read the Bible?

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Inspired by Matthew 11

“I don’t get it.  I read the words, but they don’t make sense.  I’ll never be a Bible scholar!”

Frustration can easily set in for a Bible newbie.  Often we start out reading the good book in order, beginning with Genesis.  Not too bad.  We understand creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah.  Then, we start getting into Abraham sacrificing his only son Isaac on the altar and start questioning:  Why would God ask him to do such a thing?  We eventually find out it was a test of faith for Isaac.  As we get deeper and further into the Bible, it can all seem like a lot to process.  It’s hard to get over the “thees” and “thys” if we’re reading the King James version.  Often, we just give up.  We don’t feel like we were God’s intended audience or maybe He wrote it for smarter people to interpret for us.

Nothing could be further from the truth!  Look at Matthew chapter 11.

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” (Matthew 11:25-26)

See, Jesus explained that God has made things clear to regular people–not just those with a Divinity degree.  Sometimes, when we have that “childlike faith”, we simply understand.  If it still feels as clear as mud, try another version of the Bible for a while; or, cross-reference versions.  You don’t have to buy all of them–at least buy one hard-copy version that you love.  Then, mark it up!  Underline, write in the margins, make your own notes.  You can go to websites like Bible Gateway to see verses in all versions.

The Bible version I use in my blog is the NIV or New International Version.  Some people say the King James Bible is the most accurate, but I don’t have time to have to work through the Old English.  Other readers favor the Amplified Bible or The Message.  These versions include expanded text and easier language.  Just to give you an example of how those Bibles present the above verse, Matthew 11:25-26:

King James Version
“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

Amplified Bible
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth[I openly and joyfully acknowledge Your great wisdom], that You have hidden these things [these spiritual truths] from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants [to new believers, to those seeking God’s will and purpose].  Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”

The Message
“Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

When you keep reading through the Bible, you will see connections and words echoed in the Old Testament and New.  Remember that story about Abraham and Isaac?  When Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb was for the burnt offering, “Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8)  Doesn’t that sound like what God did for us?  He provided Jesus, the lamb of God, as a sacrifice, to save us from death. That sentiment is echoed many times throughout the Bible.  Every time you come upon it, you will feel like you are “getting it”.

God will make His meaning clear to you.  Keep reading the Bible! The more you do, the more He’ll reveal to you.  The Bible is spiritual milk.  It will feed you and help you grow as a believer.  Don’t be intimidated.

 

 

2 Things We Don’t Speak Of…But Should

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Inspired by Matthew 10

There are two things a person should never speak of:  religion and politics.

Many Christian people subscribe to this personal philosophy.  I don’t.  To find out why, just crack your Bible open to Matthew, chapter 10.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

God wants us to talk about Him (the religion part).  Yes, this is uncomfortable for many to do.  We come up with a lot of excuses:

— “I don’t want to impose my religion or my God on anyone.”
— “What if I’m known as a “Holy Roller” or “Jesus Freak”?
— “That’s personal.”

When we share the gospel, we are not forcing our faith on others.  Instead, we are giving them a chance to hear about our Father.  Next, we testify how He has worked in our lives and the lives of others we know.  Then,  we allow the individual to decide if they would like to learn more.  You are a walking advertisement for God.  You aren’t selling religion–you’re helping to save souls.

Holy Roller.  Jesus Freak.  If someone calls you that, say “Thank you,” and mean it!  We should wear those titles with even more pride than “Packers Fan” or “Stay-At-Home Mom” or “Honor Roll Student”.  Since we are to find our identity in Christ, those titles are fitting!

Sharing religion is personal.  Yes.  When we talk about our experiences with Him, it is.  However, God is not just our own Father.  He is everyone’s Daddy–even the people who don’t know about Him!  We can’t be selfish.  We need to share Him like we shared our earthly fathers with our siblings.

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Elf”.  Believe it or not, Buddy the Elf gives us a good, albeit, awkward, example of a testimony on how he found his father and his love for him.  Remember the part when Buddy’s father asks him perform his singing telegram?  Here’s what he “sang”:

“I’m… I’m here with my dad. And we never met. And he wants me to sing him a song. And, um, I was adopted. But you didn’t know I was born. So I’m here now. I found you, Daddy. And guess what? I love you. I love you. I love you!”
(Elf, 2003)

Christians, God wants us to talk about Him, but it doesn’t have to be in a singing telegram.  He also wants us to talk about politics.  We don’t have to specifically mention political parties or candidates’ names, but we absolutely must express how we feel about issues, especially those pertaining to abortion, marriage, and religious freedom.  Write and call our government representatives regarding their votes on these issues.  Enlighten those running for office how we feel about these hot topics.  Also, we should feel an obligation to inform our fellow Christians of where these candidates stand on the issues, so they can make informed voting decisions.

Talk about religion and politics.  They’re not taboo.  It’s what God commands us to do.  If we recognize Him in this life, He will recognize us in the next!  Wear your “Hello! My Name Is Christian” sticker with honor!


Elf. (2003). [film] Directed by J. Favreau. (USA): New Line Cinema.

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves

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Inspired by Matthew 9

I never thought “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves”, a 1971 hit song by Cher would pop up in my mind while reading the Bible, but here I am writing about it!  The song describes the singer’s colorful family and how they earn a living…and how they are judged by it.

Matthew chapter 9 takes us to an intimate dinner at Matthew the Tax Collector’s house.  You could say these are the “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” of the Jesus Era.  The guest list baffled the Pharisees:

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:10-11)

Jesus responded, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9:12)  Jesus knew His followers, “the healthy”, bought into his message and would go wherever He was preaching.  He wanted to reach the “spiritually sick”.  He met them where they were.  By doing this, He was able to show love, share His message of hope, and encourage them to transform their lives.  If He sent them a dinner invitation, do you think they would consider themselves worthy to dine with Him?  He had to go out there and actively pursuit them.

We, too, as followers of Christ, must go reach the hopeless, right where they are.  There could be church on every corner and yet there could be a junkie or a call girl right across the street from each one.  Just because there is a building doesn’t mean they will enter it…even if they know it would be good for them.  As my friend, Christian author and blogger Rivera Douthit recently taught at a speaking engagement I went to, we must “Take the church to the people.”  We need to stop worrying what other people will think.  Hurting people–whether behind bars at jail, in a strip club dressing room, or on a street corner covered in newspaper–need Jesus.

I am a huge fan of helping people where they are.  When we do this, every time we leave them, we lower the drawbridge to get out.  They might not be ready to leave their situation, but they are ready to hear more about Jesus’ love and redemption and hope for the future.  We must return to them, crossing the drawbridge we left down.  In time, they could be ready to leave their shelter of hopelessness and cross over the drawbridge to freedom.  Without leaving a bridge for them to cross, their only options are a.) stay in their sinful, hopeless life; or, b.) plummet to their demise.

Jesus is life.  We can be the bridge.  We mustn’t avoid the gypsies, tramps, and thieves around us.  We must embrace them with the same love Jesus gives us.

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV)