Lent day 17
Lupins are a beautiful flower that resides in many parts of… well…everywhere it seems. Once you know to look for them you find them rather often in scenes of nature. I even found a bunch by accident while exploring with my dog this past summer. Lupins are distinctive in the way that they look like wolves sitting back and Howling up at the Moon. They come in several varieties of color, and seem to be much loved by many gardeners. Which raises the question, why do people love the flower namesake after a wolf so much when people dislike wolves so much? Wolves get a bad reputation, flowers do not. Simple answer. Wolves get a bad reputation because they’re misrepresented a lot of the time. Wolves are actually essential to our ecosystem, they are great family members to each other, and opposed to popular belief they very rarely go after people. But ever since Little Red Riding Hood people believe that wolves are big bad Grandma eating animals. The wrong people were telling their story. The same can now be said of the Christians. In many cases we seem to have gotten a bad reputation. Movies, TV shows, even some books play a part in this. Christians are often represented as the bad guy, even to the place of documentaries about the Church that were against us and proven not to be accurate accounts have had lasting effects on the people who watched them, because you still can’t get the image out of people’s head even if the image is fake. Think about Jaws. The book came out, people read it,, the man who wrote it even said it wasn’t an accurate representation of sharks, and yet people went nuts and started fishing the oceans dry, killing as many sharks as they could out of ignorance and Terror because of one silly book. Sometimes sharks do attack. Sometimes wolves do attack. Sometimes people who claim themselves to be Christians don’t act like Christ. But when the movies come out and only show the one side of the story it gives a bad account for all who fall under the same label. I have had personal contact with Wolves. I’ve even shared my lunch with one. They aren’t out to get you. I’ve also had personal contact with other Christians. I’ve shared many lunches with them. They aren’t out to get you either. When the facts are distorted, and the story is told by people who are prejudice, the wrong image is set forth and people can be hated simply for something someone saw on TV. Doesn’t matter if it was true or not, people believe what they see and are easily fooled by a clever soundtrack and a well-paid cast of actors. So what do we do when other people tell our story and we are misrepresented? We keep going. We stand up and keep on being the True Body of Christ, showing what real Christians are like. We live a life that tells our own story, so people can see that the fake facts on TV are just that, fake. Don’t be afraid. Show what Jesus is really like through your lifestyle and ignore the haters that try and tell your story for you, making you the bad guy, cuz in the end you’re doing the right thing and it doesn’t matter how people who don’t know you paint you, because Jesus knows the true you and He sees you and loves you for who you are.
Lent day 17
Sitting still, standing up, running hard
I have heard pastors speak on not bringing your lists to God. If you come with an agenda then you aren’t giving God room to move. Okay, so let’s go from there. Is it truly wrong to bring a list of things you need to pray about to God? No. God wants us to talk with Him about what’s going on. If a list, even a written helps you focus on things that you want to speak with God about, go for it. I would call that a standing up prayer. You’re standing in the gap about things that trouble you, you are thanking God for answering or moving in these things, and if you are writing them down then you can look back on them to recall what God has done- all of this is good.
Does this way of praying block the moving of God’s Spirit because your time has a specific focus? Sometimes. We should always be willing throughout our day to stop for a moment and pray or worship when God taps our shoulder and wants a moment. Not having a list every single day but also having days where instead you wait silently, or in praise and listen for God’s voice or His moving you to a specific prayer or maybe action, or even a thought or problem that you hadn’t considered talking to Him about. This is what I would call a sitting still prayer. Taking a cup of tea and a cookie and spending some quality time with the person of Jesus.
Then you have the desperate needs, the times when you bang on the doors of Heaven and weep on Jesus’s feet because the need is so great. Begging God, calling out in the Spirit, crying, hoping, leaving it all at the altar. This is what I would call a running hard prayer. You knew what’s at stake and you know only God can fix it, so you run with everything in you to the foot of the Cross and claw into the wood as you seek God’s face.
All that lead you closer to the real Jesus who is God, is right in it’s own way. Prayer and Bible reading, serving and giving, kneeling, standing, sitting. As long as you are seeking Him, you’re on the right track. Your relationship with God and someone else’s may look different, that doesn’t mean they are right and you are wrong. Are you seeking God’s face? Are you searching the Bible and trying your best to be a deciple? Then why would you question yourself? You are God’s chosen child. He loves you. Don’t measure yourself by others, measure yourself by you. You always stand in your own court and only you know how much you have or haven’t grown. God loves every moment you spend trying to serve Him, no matter what other people say about how you seek, serve and love God.
Lent day 16
Run back to the Bible
Even people who heard Paul preach the gospel of Jesus had enough wisdom to go back to the texts and see if they jived with what Paul was saying. We hear so many speakers these days that we can get caught up in religous theory and forget what the Bible says. In fact when you think of it, that was the big issue with the Pharisees. They had drifted away from God’s word and what was written, and had wound up in the pit of their own beliefs that they spoke as though it were gospel. Not all did this mind you, but many did. Jesus said Himself that He didn’t come to change the law of Moses, the rules given by God in what we call the Old Testement, He came so that we might have life instead of death. Our speakers these days can be great and sent by God, some may even be prophets, but if what they are saying doesn’t run parallel with the Bible, then what they are saying is an opinion and needs to be ignored. Also, do some research and find what Bible is the most accurate translation so you can have one to read, there are many odd versions out there that have twisted the scriptures to sound pretty but have hurt their original meaning, a good NIV study Bible is always a good friend to have. In the last days there will rise up many who will try to deceive while hiding behind a Jesus saves T-shirt, if we don’t know the scripture for ourselves we can easily be pulled away from the truth. So, if you hear something, even from a pastor, that sounds like God wouldn’t have said that, go and check your Bible, see what it says and then go from there. Because people can be deceived, but the word of God is always true.
Lent day 15
What defeats you? Is it the chaos of the world? The sleepless nights because of finances? The car alarm going off at 5am? Losing your keys? If we’re honest, we realize that we can be defeated by the big sorrows and the little ones. Without God and with God we can have days and even years of feeling defeated. But there comes the difference. Without God you are defeated before you begin, with God you are never truly defeated because He is still fighting for you. I saw a thing that said, “when the world has you down on the mat, praise God from the mat.”
Praise is a crazy thing. It can shake you to tears of joy and sorrow, it can make you feel stronger when you feel weak, it can make you remember that God’s got this; because praise draws you closer to God. I sometimes wonder if praise draws us closer to God than even prayer? Because when we pray, most of the time it’s about us- but when we praise it’s always about God. Just a thought.
The devil hates praise, he knows it strengthens us and pleases God. So he destracts us, or makes us feel like it isn’t important, but we know that it is. Look for things to praise God for throughout your day and watch your feeling of defeat start to lift a little. Praise doesn’t have to be song, it can be a thought or even a feeling, maybe just a ” wow God!” Statement. He loves you. The three in one Trinity is fighting on your behalf. He will never let you down, even when you are on your back on the mat He is there keeping you going. You can and will get back up, if only you will look for His hand.
Lent day 14
Are we willing to make a fool out of ourselves for Jesus?
Keith Green’s testimony on 100 Huntly Street in the late 70s spoke of how he suddenly was okay with looking like a radical when he spoke of Jesus to people. He was no longer afraid of saying ‘do you know Jesus?’ And looking crazy, because he fully believed. I’m not good at that. The cruel words and horrible blasphamies that people respond with get to you after a time, and now I find myself very hesitant to talk to strangers, about anything, let alone about something as important as Jesus. It’s hard to know when the timing is right, should you simply talk to some random person you stand behind in the mall? Is that okay? When I asked my evangalist grandfather how you became a good witness he said, and I quote, “practice.”
The big thing is listening for the Holy Spirit. If God wants you to talk to someone He will tell you if their hearts are ready. We need to practice listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and saying to people what the Spirit tells us to. I know this is something I need to work on. Are we willing to be fools for Jesus?
Lent day 13
For such a time
In the movie The Fellowship of the Ring, it is not until the oppressive dark of the mines of Moria that Frodo regrets having the ring. (Why ot deviated from the book here I will never understand.) In the book however, it is in his safe and happy home in the Shire where he first feels this dread. I find this important. As soon as he knew that the Ring was evil he wanted rid of it, he wanted to have no part in it, he wished it had never come to him, while safe in his home and fire blazing in the harth and a full stocked cupboard.
If only we as Christians would have the sense of Frodo. If only we would hate evil long before we ever truly saw it’s face. To find a device of it in our hearts and throw it away quickly. Instead we feel like we are part of something by keeping bits of evil around, by supporting things that are clearly sins or groups that disclaim the Bible and destort scripture to serve their own purpose. We let these things in and feel like we are smart, powerful, or even accepting by drawing close to sin. Then when the darkness is so great that we finally see it for what it is, it is too late. We need to flee from sin while we are still safe in our houses, not wait until we are face to face with the true evil, the puppetmaster if you will. Because in the end, all sin is of the devil, no matter how pretty the package. Letting even a little in and thinking well of yourself because of it will lead to greater sin until you are consumed, and all sin leads to hell, unless you bring it before Jesus and repent. Ask Him to deliver you and forgive you. He can do it even after the sin has grown and the bare face of evil stands before you, or within you, yet it’s easier on you if you turn to Him while the sin is still small and you are still safe at home, with a blazing fire and a full cupboard, long before you wander into the cold and dark.
Lent day 12
Which stream should I choose in life? With which path should I go? I say ‘why should I be stuck in a stream at all! Forced to go with the constant flow.’ If all streams lead to the ocean, then someday won’t I be free? But along the pushing path that others forge, will I forget to be me?
If God reaches down His hand from Heaven and traces a small path away from the crowd for me, then shouldn’t I follow that path with eagerness? Then shouldn’t I go willingly? The path has only room enough for one person, and I fear to travel alone. Yet if Jesus is with me, then I do not go alone. The hero often stands by herself, when the true battle begins to wage, but with the Spirit as my sword, Faith as my shield, I will not be afraid. I will follow my path to a greater ocean. Away from the pushing crowd, I will swim this special causway, I will not be drowned. If God has a path just for me, then why would I swim to the same sea, as every other fish in the stream and lose who am and sacrifice my dream? I will follow this path alone, with the cross before me and Jesus leading me home. – LVB
From the time we hit first grade we are being pushed toward a path. People say that each of our paths are unique, but if you are following along with the rest of the world then you are just another part of the crowd. Only Jesus gives us uniqe and individual paths, but they often lead us to be on our own. The path to Heaven is narrow and hard, the path to hell is wide and easy. Which path are you on? If you see the narrow path open up before you will you follow it? In my mind I see the narrow gate like a hidden entry that only reveals itself to the few who choose to look for it. If you aren’t seeking Jesus then you won’t find the path to Heaven. Which path are you walking? Would you like to switch and find the narrow gate? Then ask Jesus into your heart. You don’t need the sinner’s prayer specifically, you can come to Him with your own words and your heart open to find Him. Maybe you’ve lost the path and have been wandering in a fog. That’s not hard either, you can get back to the right path by asking for Jesus to help you. The answer is always Jesus. It doesn’t matter what the question was. If you talk to Him and look for Him you will find Him, because He wants to be found.
Lent day 10
Like it or not, we are part of the world around us. -Pat Terry
I like the world around us less and less. There is so much evil and sin. Today I saw that a kid’s show meant for six year olds and up has had adults, with clearly nothing else to do with their time, going on the internet and discussing how the two little boys that are the main cheracters are probably gay and if they aren’t, should be. Little kids. Forced by adults to be something they are not. Friendship has been killed by this way of thinking. When I was a kid, not very long ago, two little boys walking down the street holding hands meant nothing, now it is forced to mean something. Caring about your friends is seen as a sexual desire and pure innocence is left hanging for the vultures to pick at. On an add for another show meant for children I saw covens, people being possessed and animal sacrifices used to increase dark magic. This show was intended for eight years old and up.
It’s hearbreaking if not simply outrageous to see what is happening to our minds and the minds of those around us. Sometimes it feels like there is no hope or escape for or from thos darkness as it gains ground over the world. But God. God told us to be not conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our spirits. Our bodies may be stuck in this world, but our souls are from another world, our souls are Heaven bound and belong to Jesus who died for them. The battleground between carnal body and eternal soul is in the mind. The mind can convince you that evil is good and that there is no such thing as sin. That’s not true. The mind can be a safe haven from the darkness if we give it to Jesus and let Him have dominion. It can also be a place of desolation if we let it be beaten down by what goes on around us. Like it or not we are part of the world around us. But we don’t have to be sold out to that world. We are supposed to be strangers to this evil planet and to help show others the way out, the way to Jesus. Thank God that, as Larry Norman once said, we are only visiting this planet. Our home is in Heaven and we aren’t supposed to be comfortable here, we are supposed to long for our eternal home.
Gaurd your mind and fight for it’s sanctity, because it is the final ground to fight on and too many of us forgo that front and let it be taken by the enemy. Take heart and have hope, Jesus has a plan, He has a future, He has not forgotten or forsaken you and someday, if you hold true, you will be with Him in paradise.
Lent day 9
Let a righteous man strike me- that is a kindness; let him rebuke me- that is oil on my head- Psalm 141:8
David was a man after God’s heart. That doesn’t mean he never screwed up, it means that he repented when he did. He was human and made human mistakes, however he truly loved God and wanted to make things right with Him as fast as he could when he sinned. Few true followers of God commit sins on purpose, and when we do sin we try to repent quickly. I like the second half of that verse the best: let him rebuke me-that is oil on my head.
David was a shepherd, so he would have known that oil on the head of the sheep was there to fend off flies. We do this on the bellies of our horses on the farm too. To him being rebuked by a righteous man was the same as having insect repellent placed on his head. It warded off the attacks of evil emotions and desires. He didn’t take being rebuked by someone closer to God than himself as an offense, rather as a kindness. David didn’t shy from a corrective word from the pulpit, he knew that being close to God was greater than his feeling of self importance.
May we all have a spirit that thirsts after righteousness, because we long to know God’s face.
Lent day 8
I rejoice in your word, like one who discovers a great treasure.
I saw this today on facebook. I didn’t look at which passage it was and now can’t find it so forgive me for that.
Treasure. What a strange thing it is. We covet treasure and search for it and cling to it. Treasure is something greatly cared for and longed for. We treasure our family. We treasure our spouse. But do we treasure God? Do we treasure His word? When you think of who you could not live without, where does God fall on that list? We played a game once as a family. If you could only keep three books that you owned which three would they be? My mom immidiately said the Bible, she knew that she needed the word of God above all else. Now imagine a world where the Bible meant death if you carried it, so you hid it under your clothes and shared it with great caution, but you kept it despite it’s dangers because you cherish it. Some people in other countries are forced to do this. People who will have the biggest mansions in Heaven, because they have loved God the most. I don’t know if that’s true, God probably gives the same mansion size to everyone, but I think it would be fair if God gave them more. We are so used to freedom that we don’t cherish it, but I fear a day is coming when we will have to hide our Bibles too. Will we? Do we treasure the word of God? Do we seek after it like a precious Jewel and write it on our hearts? Is God precious to you?