Poison Apples


Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Scientific studies have concluded that women speak on average about 20,000 words a day. Our male counterparts are believed to only speak about 7,000 words in the same amount of time. Research has also proven typically girls learn to speak earlier and more quickly than boys. Is this a blessing or a curse? It depends on what is coming out of our mouth, I suppose. I remember hearing somewhere that our words must be evaluated for worth. The worth of our words is this – are they kind, necessary and true? Imagine if before uttering a single sentence it was measured against these three qualities. Not only would our words be the tree of life that God intended them to be, but our relationships would thrive as well.

Not to add to the pressure ladies, but we will be judged for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Who says? Jesus! A tree is identified by its fruit. A good tree produces good fruit. What is in our heart determines what we say? The words we speak are to be a tree of life to those who they fall upon. What is the fruit of your lips today? I am evaluating mine. A good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart. What’s in your basket of conversation today? What is the product of your words? Is there life? Do they feed and nourish those around you or are you giving away poison apples?

Have you noticed how expensive fresh fruit is these days? Four or five fresh Honeycrisp apples (our favorite) is about $5.00. Given the high price, I take my time going through the bin to select that apples that are ripe and colorful. I check them for bruising or signs of rotting. It is important to me that I choose well because they are for my family. I wonder what life might be like if we chose our words as carefully as selecting expensive items at the grocery store? What is the worth of our words?

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

I have changed a lot over the last five years. It used be all about being right. Voicing my opinion, and steamrolling through. I was full of pride. If I was right, it really didn’t matter what I said or how I said it. I had a coworker at my previous job who created a sign for me. On one side, it said, “Stop!” and on the other side “Go Right Ahead!” She would use it when she could tell I was becoming agitated as a warning system. She was like a mini-Holy Spirit if you will. When a conversation was escalating, she would hold up the sign. Thinking back, I wonder if the Lord was using her to send a message to me.

It doesn’t matter if I am right. Jesus gives me grace and mercy for when I am not. What matters to the Lord is the intention of my heart. Do I intend to love and honor Him with my life? In doing so, do I love and honor others in every conversation? The power of life and death is in our tongue. Every conversation has an accountability factor whether heard by many or simply with our self. Every idle word produces judgment in our life. Today I must evaluate the fruit of my life by examining my conversation. Are my words true? Are they necessary? Are they kind?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I used to think my opinion mattered. I also believed that everyone should know the truth even it was harsh reality. I believe that the Word of God is Truth and the only thing that really matters. When I take my feelings, emotions and opinions out of my conversation, it adds worth to my words. God loves us. He is good to us. He loves others. He has given us a message of love, faith and hope to be shared with others. If the words of my mouth do not line up with the meditation of my heart, I am sending mixed messages which are invalid. How can I know if my words are coming from a pure heart? Well let’s see…

In Proverbs, there are several verses that allow us to determine if our words hold life or death. Proverbs 10:11-12 tells us that the words of the godly should be a life-giving fountain. Do your words speak life to relationships or poison them? Godly words are valuable. (10:20) They offer encouragement. (10:21) Godly words are helpful. (10:32) They bring satisfaction to the giver and receiver. (18:20) Our words have the power to save lives. (12:6)

Proverbs also instructs us on the value of wise words. They will bring benefit. (12:14) Wisdom brings healing. (12:18) Wisdom is winning. (13:12) They cause us to dwell in safety. (14:3) Jesus told the Pharisees that their religious actions (what went in their mouth) did not defile them but rather what was coming out of their mouths. (Matthew 15) What are my words doing in the lives of those I share them with? Do my words feed others? Do my words attract them to Jesus? Do I spread life? Do I encourage? Do I build up? What am I spreading around for others to pick up? Our daily conversation allows us the opportunity to examine the contents of our heart. What are we looking for? Kind words. Necessary words. Truthful words. Godly words full of His Wisdom not our own.

James 3:17-18 (NLT)  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The words of James come at the end of his discourse concerning the power of our tongue. I know that when my emotions get all riled up, it feels like I am pulling back on the reins of ten stampeding horses trying to rein them in and not react. We must learn to respond to the unexpected rather than react. The more I know the Lord – the less my opinion about people and things really matter. He decided everyone was worth it when Jesus died for us on the Cross. No one is righteous (right) outside of the love, grace and mercy of our Savior. One sin is enough sin to condemn us. Should we include our words in such considerations? When I speak harsh words against another, I am saying that Jesus died for nothing. My insults and frustrations invalidate my belief that His Grace is enough for me when I decide that it is okay to malign another with harsh words and accusations. It brings judgment on me.

Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds. Our words are seeds planted in the lives of others. What will they grow into? Love. Peace. Joy. Kindness. Or any other fruit of the Holy Spirit? Or do my words drive a wedge between Jesus and His Beloved. Lord, give me wise words and a discerning heart today to pluck away all the bad apples in my communication and rotting seeds of bad words.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NLT) Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

There is a “bless your heart” mentality in the church that makes it okay to gossip, malign and slander others. Sharing their secrets, exposing the truth and spreading gossip is covered in the heavy veil of religion because we are going to pray for them. The discourse is usually covered by a “we need to pray for them” or “bless their heart.” However, I believe this brings sorrow to the Holy Spirit. We are to cover each other. We are to pray for one another in love. Believers must get rid of all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” to yield fruit fit for the Kingdom. Parents – our conversation in the home dictates the pattern of speech our children will adopt. To tear down people around our dinner table only teaches them it is okay to do so in the lunchroom. It is up to us as Children of the Living God to share a life of tenderheartedness, compassion and forgiveness even when we want to give others a piece of our mind. It doesn’t really matter what people say about me. My life is dependent on what I say about others and to them. I cannot change the heart and mind of another person. I am only responsible for my own.

My words belong to me. They are produced in my heart. I love Jesus. I want to have a heart and mind in alignment with Him. I must remain in Him and He lives in me. His Words must live in me, too. His Word bears the Fruit of His Spirit which is the only thing of worth I have to offer in this life. Do my words hold power? Do they emit light? Do they feed a hungry soul or deal the death blow? Are they fruit of His Spirit or nothing more than poison apples? Lord, when I open my mouth today to speak some of those 20,000 words that I am known to use in any given day, please Lord help me to remember to evaluate them carefully and inspect them thoroughly. Holy Spirit make sure they are kind, necessary and true – beneficial to the Kingdom. Thank you Lord for this reminder.

I Peter 3:9-11 (NLT) Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.


Found My Joy


James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Our family has a very odd way of dealing with discomfort. When trouble comes, it seems to produce laughter in us. At the hospital the night our son was diagnosed with cancer, the nurse came down the hall to see what all the commotion was as the Lord turned our sorrow and immediate devastation to gut wrenching, overflowing laughter. The tears of sorrow were somehow exchanged for those produced by joy. When my mom went in for open heart surgery a few weeks ago, at 6:30 AM in the morning, the surgery waiting area erupted with laughter while our family took selfies in matching tees that said, “God is good, y’all!” After surgery, while mom was resting in ICU, since the militant nurse would not allow us stay with her, my sister and I created Dubsmash videos and reconnected after many years apart in an empty waiting room all night long. Joy. Just joy. Not the kind of joy that the world has but the kind that comes from knowing that God works everything out for the good of those who love Him.

There is a great exchange made when gathering our hopes, dreams and expectations and dumping them at the feet of Jesus Christ. It is the moment that our tears created by sorrow can be turned into joy. It is in that decision that a challenge, hardship or trouble goes from a struggle to an opportunity. When our faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow. Yay, patience?! It is not the growing pains that are funny but the inexpressible love and peace found in the refuge of Christ offered to those that bring their hurts for healing, disappointments for hope and brokenness for beauty. We decide when joy makes its way to us because it is always streaming down from the Heart of Jesus to His Beloved People.

Let it grow. I believe that joy is evidence that there is another root has made its way into His Foundation, that our lives have transitioned a little more to the Kingdom, and that our faith is a little stronger than before. (Colossians 2:7) The Lord has a plan. It is that you and I will be perfect and complete needing nothing. Is that you today? Are you perfect? Do you feel complete? Are you needing nothing? Yeah, me either. So now what?

James 1:5-8 (NLT) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

What did people do before Google, YouTube, and Pinterest? No, really. How did we find information without the world’s largest search engine? How did we fix things before YouTube came along? My cooking skills were developed spending hours on Pinterest expanding the menu. In fact, my daughter’s wedding was made completely possible by Pinterest as well. See there is an information highway out there and media that floods our hearts and minds. It is driven by supply and demand as every website and television show is sponsored by a company trying to “sell” us something. It may be a product, service, or idea. When I need true wisdom, there really only is one credible source.

The Word of God is written, spoken and imparted to people. If we do not have joy, it represents a need for faith and trust in the Lord. This is not developed the way it is achieved in the world. Yes, there are resources on the Internet, television, podcasts, and in churches, but the most credible resource that is given to the believer is the Holy Spirit. Do you spend time in the Word of God each day? Do you listen for His Voice? Do you exercise the knowledge that you have attained turning it into wisdom? Only faith and trust in a God who cannot be seen produces the kind of joy that gushes past the troubles of life making its way into the atmosphere. We must know the Word of God and recognize His Voice to have the kind of faith that endures tests and temptations.

James 1:9-11 (NLT) Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God doesn’t really care about your bank account, investments or portfolio. He gave it all to you anyway. It all belongs to Him. The treasure that He is after and desires most is our heart. The love born of commitment, devotion, desire, passion and pursuit. When our life is worthless outside of Christ is when a believer finally invests all their resources including time, talent and treasure into knowing Him more. This kind of life is marked by humility. This is the downfall of the modern day church and the rising of the remnant church all at the same time. The religious congregation says come here let me fix you. You need to look like us, talk like us, act like us and be like us to see Heaven. Then there is the opposite extreme that tells you grace is free so trample it as you may. Do what you want when you want and it really doesn’t matter because God is all about free love. Well that’s not the truth either. Jesus paid the ultimate price to set us free. It was not free but cost Him everything. He freely gave His Life as a sacrifice. This is humbling.

I believe that the Lord is rising up a church that is recounting the cost paid for them and realizing its incredible worth. They are embracing “whosoever come” and “meet this man”. It is filled with imperfect people passionately pursuing a perfect God together. Laying down their life for the Lord and one another. It’s called a remnant because it’s small. God is looking for humble people with heart’s intent on finding Him. Committed to knowing Him. Devoted to following Jesus all the way to the Father. Giving up their life to have Eternity. Is that you? Oh Lord, I want to be that kind of church.

James 1:12-15 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

Having a large family and five children, you think that you will always have a houseful until they begin to grow up and fly away. Our fourth child will be a senior in high school next year – ugh! She brought home her class ring information which made my husband decide to look for his own class ring. I don’t know if he found it or not but he did manage to produce the sappiest love letter I have ever read from a clearly smitten woman – me. How embarrassing! As I read it, I realized that after all these years – I still feel the same way. We have been through many ups and downs. We are blended family which only adds to the commotion. We have had great times, good times and devastating times and the glue of our family has held tightly.

God blesses those who patiently endure the testing and temptation. Life is full of tests. There will always be temptations and easy ways out. At the end of this life will we find our first love? God never tempts us so when a trial comes or hardship arises – we can find refuge in the Lord. Do we? Or do we give into the temptation to react to our circumstances, situation and discomfort? When I am faced with difficulties, I have learned that I can trust the Lord. How did I learn that? Brokenness that lead to complete submission. Absolute loss of control which has been my undoing. It is the trials and temptations of life that drive our faith in the ground like a well-positioned post so as it gets harder the believer gets stronger. The process can be painful. It is hard. But it is always worth it.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

There is a song that I love by Bethel Music called “I Have Found My Joy.” It says, “there’s a line and we’ve crossed it. Some would say that we’ve lost it. But we’ve found our joy, we’ve found our joy, it’s all in knowing You.” Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. The joy in our life is discovered in our relationship of faith and trust in Jesus. We are His Most Prized Possession but how can we know that if we do not come to Him, communicate with Him, and commune with the Lord. It is our relationship with Jesus that allows all the good and perfect things that the Father has for us to make their way to us. This is why when hard times come, true believers laugh through their tears. We can trade every sorrow for joy at His Feet and in His Presence.

Have you found joy today? Do you know what its like to laugh in pain? Find humor in hardship? Jesus wants that for you today. He is calling you to it. There is inexpressible joy in Jesus Christ. I cannot explain it but to say that when I should be crying – I am laughing. Some people may think that I have lost it but I really don’t care what they think – I have found my joy. In every season there will be rain, but He is the Light of my Salvation that reminds me that this season will end producing new seeds to plant, some that are growing and there will be fruit on my vine if I just stay close to Jesus.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Are you in the middle of one of “these trials”? Yeah, me too. The good news is that the Lord will reveal if you have genuine faith. The bad news…well, I can’t seem to find any because where faith is revealed joy is released. The more faith produced in us when we go through trials, overcome temptations and move just a little bit closer to the Lord, the more blessed we become even if we have less in this life – it is abundant life that makes us completely needing nothing. Don’t give up. Trust the Lord. No matter what you are going through He is fighting Your Battle, making a Way, and there is purpose and meaning in our life far beyond human comprehension. Just stand right where you are and He will fight for you. Jesus loves you. You are His Prized Possession. In exchange for your small investment of faith under fire, the Lord will give you glorious, inexpressible joy. This is the reward of trusting Him and it will be the salvation our soul!

I have found my joy!

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Heart Failure


Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Really? Forgive as I forgave you. Come on Lord, you know what they did! Forgive as I have forgiven you…Okay fine. The conversation in my mind continues to go in circles. What happens when you want to forgive but can’t seem to find it in your heart? Or when the offender doesn’t have any remorse and continues in their plight? What then? We must forgive them anyway. I know not as easy as it sounds even to the “best” Christian. There are many perceived enemies and threats all around you in any given day but people are not one of them. We may call them our enemy but really they are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Sibling rivalry is raising a ruckus in the Kingdom and will continue to cause division as long as we don’t really dig down in our heart and find the faith to forgive others as God has forgiven us through Jesus Christ. I am guilty of unforgiveness. Clothing myself as a Child of the Living God includes compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, of course, but without forgiveness I exempt myself from God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. We cannot withhold that which God so graciously gives us and think to become one of His Kingdom. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately it just doesn’t work that way.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

In Matthew 18, Jesus shares a parable with Peter concerning forgiveness to reinforce the importance of forgiveness. A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. A servant was brought to him that owed him a significant amount of gold. The servant begged and pleaded with the kind promising that if he would patient with him that the servant would pay it all back. The king let him go. The servant was wicked and grabbed one of his fellow servants who owed him less than what he owed the king demanding immediate repayment. But when this servant begged to be allowed time to pay it back, the wicked servant refused to do to his peer what the kind had done for him throwing the man in prison. When the king heard the news, he had the wicked servant apprehended, thrown in jail and tortured until the debt was repaid in full. The parable concludes with this verse – “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. It has nothing to do with being right or being wrong. It is not contingent on the repentance or repayment of the offender but rather a release of real estate in our heart for the Lord to fill with more of His Grace, Mercy and Love. It is uncomfortable to learn that when you think you have it all together in God that He allows us to be shaken a bit so that voids may be discovered in our life. I am a forgiving person when it comes to me. Maybe it is because I know who I am and what I have done and how much I need God’s Grace. However, there is always more that I need to learn and the Lord is faithful to teach me those things. I share this with you from the bottom of my heart which clearly needs just a little more love.

Recently my mother had open heart surgery, I have spent time with her as she recovered. A home health nurse indicated on a visit that she could hear a slight rattle in mom’s right lower lung. This is of note in a patient especially a heart patient because that could indicate fluid in their chest which can lead to congestive heart failure. If fluid builds up around your heart, it can keep the heart from pumping blood through the body sufficiently. As the pumping power is affected, the body will begin to show symptoms of distress such as shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue which will worsen over time until there is irregular heartbeat and chest pain, etc. The next day I took my mother to get an x-ray. Walking into the clinic, she indicated that she felt weak, tired and a bit short of breath. This would not be alarming if it was part of her continued recovery but up until that day she was slowly increasing her activity so I became alarmed. The radiologist showed her some fluid built up in her chest. The nurse called that evening but did not address the fluid so I asked her about it including running down the symptoms that I was seeing as mom lay in her chair becoming weaker throughout the day. Within minutes, she called back with a whole list of doctor’s orders to address what now appeared to be the early stages of pneumonia. God is so good! Within 24 hours mom was recovering quite nicely.

I share this to story with you today because we must pay careful attention to the signs and symptoms of unforgiveness in our life. It will begin to manifest things in us that are not Christ like. To forgive another person from our heart opens our life up to harm again so it is human nature to forgive but never forget. This impacts our heart and ability to love others as the Lord has instructed us to. I am guilty. During the time with my mom, there was a situation with our daughter that has caused great heartache and division between us and people who we love. Now a week or so later, I am struggling to find forgiveness in my heart. I can forgive and pretend to move on but I must forgive as Jesus has forgiven me to insure that my heart stays healthy and in tune with Him. It’s funny how I can forgive people for hurting me but mess with my kids and mama bear comes out. Well, I cannot live in unforgiveness and in the Kingdom of God as well.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NIV) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Half of the Lord’s Prayer is about forgiveness. This tells me two things – it is a high priority to God and it is probably one of the number one temptations to His People. Forgiveness is an act of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience because if fully demonstrates the love, grace and mercy demonstrated on the Cross. We are to love one another. More importantly, we are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) The world loves its family and friends. It chooses to hate those who are perceived as enemies. Jesus has commanded, not suggested, us to love other people as He has loved us. How are you doing with that? Our heart must grasp the power of loving those who are unlovable and even those who cause hurt, offense, and brokenness just as much as our friends and family. It begins with forgiveness. Who do you ignore? Who have you written off? Who has real estate in your heart today that belongs to Jesus? Just as fluid will cause the heart to stop functioning properly and lead to death, so will unforgiveness if we do not deal with it properly.

Luke 6:37-38 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I need, want and desire all of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in full operation in my life. Now that my mom has had her heart “fixed”, she must observe a heart smart diet. She must change certain habits and modify what she eats to keep her heart healthy. We are the same when it comes to love, grace and mercy in our life. If mom goes back to eating a high sodium and high fat diet, she will likely end up in the same condition as before as her heart will not be properly cared for. It is up to my mom to make life changes to accommodate her heart. We must do the same. The world will justify hurt and unforgiveness. After all doesn’t the saying go, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”? How many times must I forgive seventy times seven? Really God? Absolutely. The Lord will give me the same amount of love, grace and mercy that I give to others not based on their offenses but compared to His Great Affection for me. I am to love others as He has loved me.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (NIV) If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Has someone caused you grief? Are you offended? Are you done? The closer a person is to you the deeper the cut when they come against you. I understand this completely. Several years ago, I was struggling with unforgiveness toward someone. I wanted to just become indifferent about them. You know act like they did not exist. As I prayed for the Lord to calm my heart and forgive me for my attitude, a question popped into my head. “What if you are the only person praying for them?” Think about that. Could it be that the scheme of the enemy is to get us to write people off in our heart and mind so that we will not pray for them much less love them? The Lord’s Prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation…” The enemy wants to cause bitterness, strife and division in every relationship where a Christian believer is present. It sabotages the Kingdom work and stops revival when relationship are interrupted in such a way. We must live in a surrendered state of forgiveness because it allows His Grace to be sufficient for me. Unforgiveness implies that Christ’s Work on the Cross was not enough to cover every offense. It was enough for me. I must extend to others. All others. I need the overflowing love and mercy of God in my life every single day. I will not allow the enemy to stop it with unforgiveness which always leads to heart failure.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The Contender


Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

“Every great champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” (Rocky Balboa) Even though the legendary wrestler is just a fictional character, these words ring true in life. To be a champion requires overcoming opposition. You cannot win if you do not participate. You cannot overcome if you do not contend. We must be strong in the Lord and His Mighty Power. After serving the Lord for more than a decade, it is still a struggle sometimes to stay the course and fight the good fight. To contend means to compete for the prize, to strive and draw tough. It is to stretch and be stretched. We wrestle in life with our flesh and an unseen adversary every single day. The good fight of faith is truly nothing more than a wrestling match. The enemy cannot harm God’s People. There is never a punch or death blow. It is all about submission. Wrestling is the assertion of power where the goal is submission. In a fight, there are punches thrown but in wrestling it is all about grappling. To grapple is to hold fast to something. It means to seize one another in a close encounter trying to overcome the other. It is to come to grips with. It means to secure. We are in the process of finding and securing our faith in the Lord. It is a daily process that is wrestled. We are contenders pursing a champion.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

For most of the night, I tossed and turned wrestling throughout the night. It is not so much important what the situation is but only to say that I am right there with you. Life as a Christian is not boring, that’s for sure. Every day there are choices. Life and death are achieved moment by moment, day by day, and season by season. One gives way to another and so on and so on. There are days that I cannot catch my breath. We are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses to this life we live. We must strip off the weight that slows us down and the sin that trips us up without falling. We must run with endurance even when breathless and tired with a broken or hurting heart. Our only hope is to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ the Champion who initiated and perfected our faith on the Cross. He did it for the joy that awaited Him. He finds joy in us. We must consider the hostility that the Lord endured to understand that it is not uncommon to the faithful and should be expected along the way. We must not grow weary. We can never give up.

Genesis 32:22-32 (NLT) During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. (Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)

Jacob had taken family across the Jabbok River. He had also taken all of his possessions. Everything he owned and loved was on the other side. He had sent a gift to his brother, Esau, in the hope that his brother would forgive him and accept his family into his homeland. Remember Jacob had tricked his brother out of his birthright and stolen his father’s blessing. Jacob had wrestled his whole life to be first. Even in the womb before they were born – Jacob wrestled.

Jacob was alone when the Lord came to him that night and they wrestled. Grappling with God – Jacob would not let go until the Lord blessed Him. His whole life was spent fighting for satisfaction and fulfillment that could only come from His Creator. Up until that moment, this was the God of Abraham not Jacob. In verse 27, the “man” asked Jacob what his name was. Jacob replied. The Lord told him that would no longer be his name but now he would be called “Israel.” Why? Because you fought with God and men and have won. This is very important that we understand the struggle. To know what we are after. The struggle is real and so is the satisfaction to be found.

Jacob could have walked away just knowing who he was in God and God’s Plan but that was not enough for him. He asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you want to know my name?” And then the Lord blessed Jacob there. Jacob named the place “Peniel” which means “face of God.” It is not enough to know who we are in Christ. We must contend, grapple and wrestle with our self, mankind and even God until we know who He is. Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face…”

Have you seen God face to face? Do you know who you are in Christ? Do you know the Living God? It is not enough to know of Him but to contend until He is our Champion. If you feel alone, do not fret it is by design. If your resources are dwindling, it is not the case. The Lord is providing us with an opportunity during times of isolation and restriction to wrestle with, contend for and grapple which means to hold fast to something. What about faith? It is so small but must become the foundation of our life. How is this achieved other than removing all that could hinder us, distract us or dissuade us from grabbing hold of the Lord and hanging on until His Word comes to pass in our life. God has a new name for you today. One that cannot be attained by anyone but you. It is for you. Are you willing to hang on until He blesses you with it? We must contend to obtain the championship. Our Champion is Jesus.

One thing to note before moving on is that Jacob now Israel would never be the same. In the battle, his hip was touched and he walked with a limp. I wonder sometimes if this was a blessing to the man so that his pride would remain in check. No longer could he depend on his flesh but now relied solely on the Lord. Once we wrestle with the Lord and are blessed, it should be understood that we will never ever be the same from that day.

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

I believe this passage describes the real struggle for Christians. It is believing. Throughout the New Testament it is noted that there were disciples who did not believe. Jesus asked the disciples, who do the people say that I am? Then He asked the disciples who do you say that I am. It was one man who stepped up and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” It was to that one man that Jesus gave His Blessing. What about the other eleven? Peter submitted his life to Jesus Christ and Jesus gave him His Blessing and His Name along with all the power and authority it held.

When I woke up this morning, it felt as though I had been fighting all night. Not physically but emotionally and spiritually. Perhaps, I had. I believe in Jesus Christ. I trust His Word. I have experienced His Goodness and Glory in my life. Yet daily I must grapple and wrestle with His Presence in my life. What happened with Jacob and then Peter is submission. They each submitted their life to Christ and each was given a new name. Our new name comes with divine purpose and power shared only with those who seek to know God through His Son, Jesus Christ. To know God requires submission. We must submit and leave our pride behind. Jacob’s pride including his wives, children and resources were on the other side. God had blessed Jacob already but that was not enough. Jacob had to know Him more. Peter would still struggle. The rooster would still crow three times broadcasting Peter’s denial and defeat. However, his declaration on that day would create a bond with the Lord that did not allow Jesus to leave his disciple as he was but come to him on the beach after His Resurrection. (John 21) The man who walked briefly with Jesus on the water didn’t care about a miracle or sign but just wanted the Lord diving into the water and he swam to shore. Later as they were talking Jesus reminded Peter who he was. Peter believed. He changed history because of his belief in Jesus Christ. Will you? Will I?

Revelation 2:17 (NLT) “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

God’s Plan and Purpose for our life is personal. It comes through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. We must know Him. We must believe. We will wrestle to do so most of our natural life. It says in Hosea 12:3-6 that Jacob’s wrestling began in the womb. It will continue throughout our existence as life offers us an easier way. I would rather wrestle with God and receive His Blessing than spend the rest of my life as I am. I don’t want to just contend but live life as a champion. God offers this to us as His Children. We must accept our new name and strive to know Him in every possible way. If you feel lonely today, do not resist. Seek His Face. If you are struggling, it is really just grappling so hang on to His Promise it is coming to pass. We do not wrestle with people or problems, but each time it is the opportunity to know Him more overcoming unseen adversaries and staying strong in His Mighty Power. Struggling, wrestling, and grappling with our faith in God creates opportunities to be blessed and know Him more.

“No one understands except the one who receives it.” This is vital in our understanding of God and His Ways. His Pursuit of us is personal. He wants to get us alone. When I give in to God, my soul is satisfied which means that He must first remove all substitutions and counterfeits that I have chosen for comfort. Tossing and turning shakes up the stuff and causes us to inspect the contents of our life. If it is Jesus Christ we want and the One who we truly desire – then to meet Him face to face means we must be ready to contend – after all He is our Champion.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

This Day


Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

This day snuck up on me this year. It usually doesn’t as every other year I carefully watch for its approach not to be taken off guard but to revel in the Goodness of the Living God. This year it was shadowed by my mom’s open heart surgery and subsequent recovery with multiple days away from home. It is also trumped by new faces and laughter of a little boy who has brought sunshine into our life as our family gets to know two new people. After three weeks of carefully watching and praying for my mom, then a weekend of pumpkin patches and painting with family – when the social media notification came I couldn’t believe it was this day all over again.

“We have a diagnosis. Brenan Flint has nasopharyngeal cancer. We do not know what stage it is BUT we do know that god is not surprised. Jesus is our Healer and His Spirit is with us! We have to walk it out! Standing on His Promises!” (Facebook post on 10/24/2011) I will never forget this day nor do I think that I should. I made this declaration on social media not knowing that it would literally consume more than three years of my life. So many times it is easy to profess Christ and faith in Him but then when it is put to the test anything lasting more than a day is unthinkable. Yet in that moment on that day, there was no other choice…or so I thought. Over the next couple of years, it would go from bad to worse. I thought I was broken and emptied in that moment but I wasn’t. I am a strong person full of pride and stubbornness that kept me from truly believing without seeing. God changed that on this day. It was the beginning of the end of me. I am okay with that…now.

The Lord is my Light and My Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? The person who wrote the post back then and the one who blogs today are very different. The change that began on that day took literal years to complete. I know that by the time the end of the journey was reached my proclamation in life was different. It became this:

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV) One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

I was recently sucked into watching a portion of the movie, “The Shallows” with a young friend who I at first thought was watching “Cinderella”. By the time I tuned in, the heroine had been attacked by a great white shark surfing and was tuck on a rock with a seagull. I will not ruin the movie for you so feel free to continue. She was on a rock in the middle of the ocean completely along trying to survive. She could not swim to shore or the shark would attack her. She was stranded on the rock in the middle of the ocean. She cared for the wound using her past experiences. But now to live, she must rely on something new. She was in a hopeless situation. In such as state, she had to draw from experience and inner strength to devise a plan for her rescue.

While she was out there, a man wandered onto the beach. She shouted to get his attention and asked for him to call for help. Instead, in his drunken stupor, he robs the young lady. However, at some point, he wanders in the ocean and well I will leave the rest to your imagination, but it was not good. She watched from the rock. Now I wonder what might have happened if she had been on the shore…would she have been in danger of being robbed and harmed herself. See when we think that all hell is breaking loose in our life or our hope is gone – I believe it is the moment that our faith is exposed and allowed to grow a little more in who we know God is rather than what we make Him to be.

When our son’s cancer went into remission the first time, I gave God all the glory for the wonderful miracle that He had performed. He relapsed not once but a few more times before more drastic measures were clearly required. Each battle seemed harder than the first draining my time, energy and resources but what was the choice? To quit, give up, or give in. Absolutely not. So like the girl stranded on the rock, I had to cling to Him – Jesus – My Rock.

The reality of life is that it is uncertain and difficult. Jesus told us it would be like that but yet we become overwhelmed and surprised when trials and hardship come. Faith is perfected and refined in fiery times and difficult struggles so when we pray for such a thing – these things should be expected. Yet even now, in the midst of our current challenge, it caught me off guard and clearly by surprise just as this day did so many years ago.

Psalm 27:7-11 (NIV) Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

The trial of cancer and the illness of our child taught me a valuable lesson to live by. I must seek Him first in all things or risk being destroyed. I live, breath and exist in Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of our trials that all the meaningless and worthless things are stripped away to expose the Light and Glory hidden inside of us when we trust the Lord even just a little. Faith is a mustard seed it is not a mighty oak. The “mighty oak” is the righteousness that is afforded us by the smallest investment of faith. When things don’t make sense, the enemy rushes in, the boat begins to wobble, the waves rise up, the storm winds blow, and the tempest threatens my meager existence – I find that I would rather swim to the rock then risk heading for the shore. I need the Rock of my Salvation to assure me, refine me, restore me and redeem me. When my heart is challenge, it reminds me – “Seek His Face!”

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Fast forward through this day as I relive it in my mind, the day when everything changed. The moment my heart was completely shattered on the cement floor of a hospital. The time when my faith was tested by a fiery trial burning it down to its source. Those days were hard. The challenge overwhelming. I would relive this day of an awful diagnoses not once but a total of five times. Five times that God told me our son would live but the enemy whispered that he would die. Well, that wasn’t acceptable for me when God told me personally that “He would live and not die” if I trusted Him. At the end of this day, I finally believed and remain confident today that “I will see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. So I will…”wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart” oh and yes, I will “wait for the Lord”.

Reading this you may be facing a single trial or what seems like a firing line. Faith can be found in the midst of it all when you decide rather than escaping this thing or fighting back in your own strength that you learn to lean on Jesus and trust Him. Great aspiration until someone’s life is on the line, then you wonder is it enough. His Grace is always sufficient for you and me. We just give it lip service rather than life service most of the time. Maybe you are thinking – my trial or test is nothing like the one you went through – and I hope that you never do – but if you do, it will be the teeny, tiniest bit of faith that will get you through. Trouble is that what we call faith in God most of the time is not that at all.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

To walk by faith and not by sight as believers are instructed (2 Corinthians 5:7) means to believe when you do not see. When everything is falling apart, trusting that God is catching all the falling pieces of worth to make the masterpiece that He promised. (Ephesians 2:10) The Lord has taken note of every single tear that has fallen from your eyes. (Psalm 56:8) He is not afraid of the enemy and neither should you be. Jesus overcame the world and has given you the victory. With all this encouragement comes this expectation, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see. Everything you see and all the things that you can do are not the product that produces faith. It is those times that you see no way out, no one is there to help you, and when it seems like there is no hope that faith is revealed in our life.

Those times when the only hope and help that we have left is Jesus Christ. It is in that moment on this day that your heart decides to seek Him and that the Lord is worth finding. Are you struggling today? Your heart is pressing you to seek Him but your head is recanting “what’s the point?” Is this the day? The one that will go down in history when you decided to put all your love, faith and trust in Jesus Christ? The moment when nothing else matters but crawling on the Rock of your salvation and waiting for the Lord to come to your rescue. The first couple of times that our son was diagnosed with cancer – the doctors were optimistic. But the third diagnosis and it severity – transitioned us all into the realm called hope. Oh Lord, let us live there and never wander out. The place where You are our Refuge and Strength. The Strong Tower where your people live, breathe and exist. I will never forget this day in history. I will relive it in my heart. This is the day that You, Jesus, became my one thing.

Psalm 118:15-21 (NIV) Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.


To Know God


Acts 17:28 (NLT) For in him we live and move and exist.

It is strange not to go to church on Sunday. We have done it for so long that when there is a lapse – it can throw off the whole week. Staying home, resting, and recuperating is not always a bad thing. If church is just a building visited weekly and not the lifestyle lived it is just a waste of time anyway. I need the Lord to move me today. Not physically, but spiritually. It is in Jesus Christ that we live, move and exist. I have come to the realization that I cannot live without Jesus. I can move but cannot be moved without the Lord. I can exist but in no way thrive without Him right by my side.

I do not doubt or discredit the fact that there is an enemy seeking who he may devour, roaring like a lion, stalking his prey. But I also know that there is an enemy inside of me that wars against the spirit, too. My flesh cannot be ignored so every attack and assault against my faith and stand for Christ is not always an external problem but sometimes rises from within. It is when believers become convinced that they have attained a level of faith and spirituality that they cannot be moved when I believe a fall is coming. We come to know God through brokenness. When our hearts are torn and He is allowed to penetrate us even more. Pride holds up a wall, stubbornness is the mortar for it brick, and insecurities cause us to allow strongholds to rise up rather seeking the refuge of Presence. If I do not allow the Lord to live in me, move me, and be my existence – I will never know Him as I should.

Paul and Silas were traveling from city to city preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:2 says “As was Paul’s custom”. I believe that Paul being of a very strong religious background had a method to his ministry. He would visit the synagogue. Teach for three days. There was a pattern in his persistence. Though frequently met with resistance, his commitment to Christ kept him moving right along. On a trip to Athens in Acts 17:16, Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. He was troubled to find idols and shrines throughout the city. He continued his usual routine going to the synagogue. Paul even spoke daily in the public square. They brought him before the high council. Paul addressed them as follows:

Acts 17:22-23 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

The altar had this inscription on it: “To an Unknown God.” Could this be the inscription on our heart today? To know God is to live, move and exist. It is to have life and become life to others. Why then are there so many dead churches and lifeless Christians? Because He remains the Unknown God. Although these people worshipped God and served Him, they did not know Him or make a connection with Him through Jesus Christ so they remained distanced and disconnected from Him. A shrine is a building that is to house the “remains” of a patriarch, saint or deity. It can also be structure devoted to a holy person. There are churches today that are nothing more than shrines with a cross on them. I do not mean any disrespect. Truly, I do not. But if we do not know the living, breathing God and become His Temple – there is no future or hope for us.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Paul told the council members that “Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples…” This is important to note. Until believers come to the end of self, one cannot move into the Presence of God or be filled with His Spirit to the uttermost. God doesn’t come in and clean house but waits for us to provide the space for His Holy Inhabitation. He will never force His Way into our life but gives us the freedom to choose how we live, if we will move or even exist. God fills the structure of the church quite nicely with well-written doctrine, clearly displayed vision, well-dressed Christian, well-versed pastors, but if He never lives in us, moves us or exists in us- we will go down with every other manmade structure when He comes. No one can evaluate our spirituality or proximity to Christ. The deeper water waded in by faith provides no guarantee just an opportunity to trust and believe beyond human comprehension. The tests get harder. The trials seem longer. The reward is not always readily at hand. So we wait and watch for our God rather than setting for an Unknown God who allows us to come and go as we please. To remain ignorant in God allows our pride to remain intact keeping us from the pain of brokenness and the isolation of pursuit. However, those who decide they want to know the Living God have been given an opportunity to live, move and exist in His Glory forever. We are the Body. We are His Temple. We can know the Unknown God.

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17) So many times, Jesus was rejected by the Jews because He wrecked their religion and did not fit the bill of the Messiah that they wanted although He measured up exactly to what God had prescribed. Could it be that the Lord remains the Unknown God because we desire the comfort, complacency, and conformity of religion? Human pride prefers grace earned by faithful service and religious acts. It is nice to find a doctrine or group of Christians who meet our needs but allow us to remain comfortable. It is okay when religiosity produces uniformity even if it is exclusive.

Should a church try to qualify people? No. Should a church accept people where they are and as who they are? Yes. Do we? No. We don’t even accept God like that most days. We take our beliefs and convictions molding an image of God that is not authentic or relevant. God is not an unknown God. All of creation points to His Existence and Omnipotence. Yet there are many manmade God-boxes that people shove God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit into that defines Him by our doctrine, limits Him in our ignorance, and stifles Him in our structures. We are the Body. We are the church. When we restrict the life-giving, faith-moving, and choose to limit our existence in Christ, we stop the move of God in our buildings. Though we cry out for a “move of God” – our hearts and minds will not allow us to be moved by Him. Revival will not come without the Body of Christ being fully involved and totally existing in Jesus Christ. He is our Revival.

2 Corinthians 6:15-17 (NLT) What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

As we gather in to worship God in the building called church, I wonder if we have taken time beforehand to know Him more? Or are we coming to a place looking for someone who isn’t there? God does live in church buildings and structures. He lives in you and me if we give Him room to. It is up to us as believers to spend every day living, moving and existing in Jesus Christ. Such a life means laying down our own desires and selfish ambition day by day. It’s tough.

There are so many obstacles beginning with flesh, pride, people and religion not to mention the enemy. I do not give the enemy a whole lot of credit because I believe that greater is He who lives in me. I will not blame the enemy for those attacks that make it to my heart but rather claim Romans 8:28 believing that God is doing something good in me. I wonder about people who always claim that enemy is attacking them because of their pursuit of Christ. Why not say, “look what the Lord has done?” Jesus doesn’t need a cheerleader. He doesn’t need me to exaggerate the results. All I need to do is share the love and grace that He has given me. Others will want to know the source. They will get to know Jesus and He will change their hearts and minds. I don’t need to produce a fan club and call it a small group. If I can just shed some light on what Christ has done for me.

I cannot introduce anyone else to someone I don’t know. To know Him is to love Him. To know the Lord is to live, move and exist in Him alone. Where are you today? Working for grace that cannot be earned. Serving for favor that you already have. Following the letter of a law that you cannot uphold. Fighting battles you are not called to fight for victories already won. Hyping up a God who is already the Greatest of All. Maybe if the church would seek to become the Body and Temple of Christ, we would know Him. Maybe just maybe then He would live in us. He would move through us. We would find a new existence in Him and His Spirit would come into our buildings with us.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Exact Change


Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

When I was in college, I traveled a highway with a toll booth to get to campus each day. There was an alternate route to take but it was much farther. The only problem was that in order to use the toll booth, I had to remember to keep change in my car to pay the toll. In my haste as I am time challenged, there were days I was in a panic scrambling under the seats and checking every compartment to get through. I will admit over 30 years later with complete repentance that there were days I pretended to toss the right amount of change in the bucket and drove right through. I felt really guilty but at that point didn’t know what to do.

Around that time, I spent a summer in Africa as I was considering becoming a missionary. We would drive to different schools and prisons for the ministry and there better the condition of the road the more toll booths. There was no honor system but officers at each booth to collect the toll to pass. However, sitting behind the booth was an armed guard with a loaded assault weapon ready to shoot out the tires, if one was lucky, of those who didn’t pay the appropriate toll. Harsh. The prison system in Africa is very different than the one in America. Overcrowding is not a problem. The maximum sentence is three years. The return rate of repeat offenders is quite low. They believe in the death penalty and execute those who are menaces to society if street justice does not take care of the problem. Now this was more than 30 years ago, things may have changed. When a woman went to prison, her children went with her. The only time children were returned to family members would be in the event of untimely death or execution. It seems harsh. Where is social reform? Where is the care and concern for all humanity? The lack of consideration for each individual may seem harsh. God does not consider us as individuals when giving us grace. It is predestined and predetermined because God does not change.

To truly understand the Way of God and His Will, we must understand His Supremacy and Sovereignty. We live in a world shaped and fashioned by man in the form of society. Normalcy is by the current trend or majority rather than based on the truth. Our justice system is skewed because it based on humanity. Bad things happen to good people and nothing is done. Innocent people are herded through the system and sit in jail unfairly as precious moments of their life drift away. I am not calling for a political agenda. America is in deep trouble with God and the world. I cannot stomach another presidential debate. We have lost our way. But as a believer that does not have to impact or influence my life or its outcome. I have a better way. It is God’s Way. He has a plan. It includes a future hope. It requires exact change.

Numbers 23:19 (NLT) God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Titus 1:1-2 (NLT) This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.

God is not a man. He does not lie. He is not human. He does not change His Mind. If He said it, He meant it. If He said don’t, He wasn’t joking or kidding. He cannot and will not accept sin ever in any form. There is no hierarchy of sin that makes one more foul than the next. Man made up doctrine and religion to suit their own purposes. While I believe in the beginning, it was with good intentions – tradition has taken over making Christians who sit on high horses and pride-made thrones. The truth of the matter is that at every give opportunity the altars of every church should be full with. Every person in every congregation should be face down on the floor asking God to forgive them and make them new. I include myself in the pious bunch who have stood up looking around waiting for someone else to go when in all honesty we all need Jesus more and more each day. Offense builds walls that forgiveness cannot overcome. Rather than freely given the love and grace given to us by Christ, it is hoarded for ourselves or those who make the appropriate changes. Blessing their hearts to their face – a knife is plunged in their back by secretly discussing sin and not praying for all sinners. My heart is overwhelmed today by a God who does not change. He does not lie or change His Mind. This works for me most days but today it convicts my heart.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

John 10:6-10 (NLT) Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

His Grace is sufficient for me. This does not mean that I can abuse God’s Grace or use it as I please. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Most of us probably readily agree with this statement. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. When it comes to His Unfailing Love and Unending Grace, this can only be a bonus for those us who are weak and wandering. Jesus is the Gate for His Sheep. I think I get it. No, I really don’t.

Jesus is the Gate for His Sheep. His Purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life. The enemy and his thieves will attempt to carry sheep away with misguided truth, unconfessed sin, and lack of love into a pasture that may look like the one Jesus has given us but is a substitution. If you are not living a satisfied life – you may have gone through the wrong gate. The gate that is God’s Way is narrow. It does not let just anyone in, it is a heart matter. We must surrender our heart to Jesus Christ which means yielding our way, believing the Truth and living a new life. The life that Jesus commanded us to live is love. We make it about all these other things according to worldly standards but it doesn’t really matter how I look, what I wear, or what I do as long as I have given all of my heart to Jesus Christ. Like or not – God does not change and Jesus remains the same. They are constant in their insistence that love leads the way.

John 3:5-8 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 3:8-10 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.

Jesus told Nicodemus that to enter the Kingdom of God – you must be born again. Birth is new life. It is not easy but a long and difficult process that requires hard work, discomfort and pain along the way. When a baby is in the birthing process, sometimes complications arise. My second son had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times so tightly that it had to be cut before he was actually born to free him. It was a very tense moment as I was not in a hospital. The midwife told the nurse and I the plan – I was worried but determined to get help my baby live. The timing had to be impeccable. The contraction would come. At the peak, she would cut the cord and immediately would push and not stop until he was born. This may not sound like a big deal but any woman who has given birth knows it doesn’t always go as planned. Well, it worked and though he was battered and bruised – he was a healthy baby boy.

There is only one way for a baby to arrive naturally. If anything happens, there must be medical intervention. Only the Holy Spirit can birth spiritual life. Unlike the world and things in the natural which are given to change, new life in the Spirit can only come one way because God is Sovereign. If Jesus is the Giver of Grace (which He is) than His Way cannot change either. We cannot add to or take away from the Truth and God’s Grace is enough. Nothing I do, say or become will ever allow me to earn it.

We should live in the Glory of God every day. If the Glory of God is not emanating from our life, we are doing something wrong. I am doing something wrong. If the condition of my heart, not my life, but my heart is not glorious – I have no one to blame. God is perfect. His Way is, too. Maybe I need to exact change in my own life and line up with His Way to make into the right pasture.

I John 2:7-12 (NLT) Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.

The Lord has lovingly and graciously placed three ladies in my life who I love with all my heart. They are all believers. If you met them they may seem life like ordinary people, but what I have discovered getting to know them is that they are extraordinary lovers. They love Jesus with their whole heart. Each one is in a different place in life but their love is the commonality that I see. They all serve in church but only one stands on the platform week after week. They are the iron who sharpen my iron. When I get aggravated, they smother me with grace. When I am stubborn, they wash me in the Word. When I get discouraged, they work to haul me back up and get me moving again. The circle is small. Their influence in my life is great. Church can become a society. Church people can become more harsh and critical than the world. The cuts of Christians may even draw blood a little quicker because we expect people to be like Jesus. Well, they are not. They are just people.

Today, my heart is heavy. There has been a strike to my foundation and blow to my flesh. The Lord is quickening me to overcome. To overcome means that I must allow the Holy Spirit to work on my hard heart even if no one else feels the need to submit, surrender and be transformed. I must give my life to the birth process to become a new creation. Somebody who loves like Jesus. One who avoids sin but runs to help sinners. Not to change, but to encounter God’s Love through me. Our time is drawing to an end. Jesus is coming soon. What will we have to show for it… We need exact change. Not religion or tradition but new hearts and new minds that only Jesus can produce in us. We must give Him what we have and let Him have His Way. We must have the exact change to make it through the narrow gate to His Kingdom today.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

Days Like This


Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

There have been many crossroads in my spiritual life when the edge of Heaven and reality of life come so close it causes goosebumps to rise on my arm and neck hair to stand at attention but today is one of those days. In a month given to the slightly spooky, sometimes the spiritual realm can be a bit scary though it shouldn’t be. In all fairness, sometimes it can be made into something that it is not. Overly emotional and exaggerated stories make people avoid it altogether. The truth is that God wants to communicate with us. The Lord lives in us to commune and communicate with us. He will speak to others to confirm what He is doing in our life. This has happened many times in the course of my spiritual life. Sometimes it is for the immediate situation, but most often it is for a future time and makes little sense.

A well-respected and dedicated Christian man had a dream about my husband and I not too long ago. It was of a spiritual nature and his heart would not relent until he shared it with us. I wrote it down and prayed that the Lord would have His Way. Well, the dream has come to pass. Not exactly as detailed but specifically as recorded. The dream was about the narrow road. Although we were on it, my husband and I would be “bitten” along the way by the enemy. It has happened. The good news is that in the end – we win and make a full recovery. I wish that I could say this is comforting but who welcomes trials or pain for that matter? No one really. The better news that fills me with hope is that it indicated us to be on the “narrow road” going in the right direction.

Sometimes in our Christian life, though we are trying to “do” all the right things, it is sometimes unclear if we are going through the right gate and on the narrow road. Wrapped up in church, religion, doctrine and spiritual social acceptability, it is difficult to see the forest for the trees, the gate for the fences, and the road in the midst of pavement. The Word of God is clearly defined. The Holy Spirit will lead us in all truth. We must become dedicated to the narrow road and finding the gate – Jesus Christ. Religion must give way to relationship because this path to the Kingdom of God is not the popular way but a very particular lifestyle.

Psalm 100:3-5 (NIV) Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Today I know that the Lord is God. Do I believe it? If so, I must trust Him enough that when I am not sure where He is leading that I will still go. When the road gets so small and not so clearly defined that I am willing to stand on faith. I must enter His Gates with thanksgiving and His Courts with praise even when the next step seems overwhelming. The farther I go in my Christian walk the less I understand and the more trust is required. I know that God is good. I know that His Love endures. I believe that His Faithfulness continues even when mine is a bit weak.

Psalm 107:15-16 (NIV) Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.

Reading this today, I am reminded that when I enter His Gates with thanksgiving and praise not dependent on my condition or circumstances that the Lord will break down the natural barriers, gates and bars of life. He will fight for me if I fight to maintain my faith in Him. It is all about faith. It will always be about faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Gate. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Him.

John 10:7-10 (NIV) Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The road is narrow. The gate is small. There are not a variety of ways to the Kingdom or even into the Presence of God. Jesus Christ is the Only Way. He is our Righteousness. It is His Faithfulness that allows us to have faith. Everything in our life must be channeled through Him. Especially our wait times, chaotic episodes and those days when nothing makes sense.

It’s funny that I believe this may be for a lot of people today because I have been stopped from continuing about thirty times. So I hope if you are where I am today, on the narrow road at a definite standstill and trying to pass through the gate that just seems too small to pass that you will be encouraged to keep trying. Keep pressing. Keep pushing. You cannot give up because what is on the other side of the gate and the end of this road is worth it. Jesus is totally worth every pain, hardship, trial and trouble endured to be with Him.

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NIV) Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Mama said that there would be days like this…okay maybe it is our Father who said it too! On those days when you have done all to stand and are standing, it is our belief that God is good and He is faithful that will keep us on the right track until the gate swings open allowing us to pass to the next pasture or the next step in the road rises up to meet our feet. The Lord is fighting for us. He is with us. He will never let the righteous fall. Those who choose the narrow path will not be forsaken even when they fall. The ones who decide the Highway of Holiness is for them will never lose their way. Be strong, friend. Do not fear. We win. Our victory has a name – Jesus. It is for an appointed time which means that it will come. Sometimes dreams seem like nightmares until the hero comes. We have a hero. His Name is Jesus.

Isaiah 35: 8-10 (NIV) And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Restore Me Lord


Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” – Eldridge Cleaver

It has been a long and exhausting week. My mom had open heart surgery a couple of weeks ago. Our state was deluged in rain and wind by a hurricane. After working for a week, I came to help care for her and assist my parents during the recovery process. My routine is disrupted. My schedule out of order. I am not really sure what day it is or what it will hold. A trip to the radiologist confirmed that my sweet mama had the beginnings of pneumonia. I had the best of intentions and expected to work but this task had taken more time and nights are long when your patient cannot sleep. The couch is comfortable but I am a little older than before. In the midst of exhaustion and concern for my ailing parent, my daughter called crushed by a friend. It was just too much. I called one parent and then another attempting to put out the fire before it turned into a firestorm. It didn’t work. Falling asleep last night after turning off an embarrassing debate with two candidates clearly not fit to be our country’s next president, far from home, missing my family, concerned for my people, staring in the dark – I just began to talk to Jesus. Our time has been limited. I have tried multiple times. We get brief and quick conversations but hardly the hours that are usually set aside of us. I believe there are seasons when that happens. It is during those times that we live on what His Word for yesterday was because He never lies or changes His Mind. So what He told me yesterday I can trust for today and build on for tomorrow! Thank you Lord for being constant.

One thing I know in the midst of all the chaos. God is constant. He is the One who I can fully trust and lean on when all hell breaks loose as the conditions around me currently indicate. When I opened my eyes this morning ready to meet the day, I heard my heart say, “Restore me, Lord.” I need restoration. I need to be refilled. So many details have added to this emptiness as my life has been poured out over the last few weeks. This is a test. I know that it is only a test. One thing I have learned if I do not what to do, where to go or how to do something it usually is a call to wait and watch for the Lord. So here I am. I am shifting my weight from foot to foot because the faith that we stand on as believers is not always a wide base. What do you do when nothing adds up? In the world – it is time to refigure and regroup. In the realm of hope, it is time to ask for renewal and restoration. This is not the process that we have made it. It is not opening our hands asking God to pour in us just as we are. It is surrendering ourselves to be restored, renewed and recreated by the Lord. Something has to be given in order to receive. We must make room for the Lord. New wine will never be given to old wineskins.

Eldridge Cleaver is a controversial figure who offered infinite wisdom. “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” If the common goal of Christianity is to share the Good News of God’s Love and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ – it will never be about me. It was always be about others. Every attitude and action must be given to changing hearts and minds so they are able to experience the Love of God. There is no neutrality in the world. I am certain that he did not mean this as I hear it today, but I believe that there is no neutrality in this world. God designed the world we live in definitively. There are those who love Him and many who don’t. There are those who serve the Lord – and those who don’t. The Kingdom of God is clearly defined with no median. You are for Him or against Him. We are love. Or we are not.

This idea leads to the next part of this vital revelation…” You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” Am I part of the solution? Or am I part of the problem? I have previously misquoted this a bit but the concept is the same. When I decide that there is nothing I can do to provide a solution, then I am immediately part of the problem. Change is absolutely essential to problem solving. To do the same thing over and over expecting a change is labeled insanity. We have been faced with a situation with one of our children. Searching for a solution, communicating with all involved, even choosing not to explain or defend ourselves in the midst of lies and accusations – it only got worse. We removed ourselves from the situation. This eliminated a part of the problem so hopefully there will be a solution now.

Create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restoration begins with me. It begins by emptying my heart before the Lord and carefully examining the contents. It means taking out those things that clutter the space reserved for Jesus. Repentance is a daily process. It is an unavoidable me thing. God is not going to take my sin but will gladly wash away anything given freely. Do not cast me from your Presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. I need Jesus all the time. Every single day. He must be the lead in all things concerning me and my life. He is my existence. Restore to me the joy of “YOUR” salvation. Wait a minute. I thought this was about me… My joy is contingent on my salvation. The grace I have is from Jesus – I get new mercy from the Lord every day when I make my heart, mind and soul available. And finally, grant me a willing spirit. I must be willing to allow the Lord to restore me and put my expectation in Him alone. So here I sit asking the Lord to restore me…

I Peter 5:8-11(NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is ready to restore you. He longs to renew us day by day. During times like this when our life is chaotic and things out of sort. We must come to the Lord as an active participant. To be restored means letting go of that which burdens us. Restoration is only possible through release. I must let go of my sin so my heart is soft. I must let go of my pride and stubbornness so I will be humble and steadfast. I must position myself in His Presence and push through each prayer. I think what is interesting is that it says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…” We have salvation through our relationship with Jesus Christ. However, it is the joy that is often missing because it is overshadowed by sin and mess that builds up. My joy is and always will be Jesus. I lose my joy when I expect it from any other source than my salvation. My willingness to walk by faith not by sight and trust the Lord makes all the difference. We have joy provided in our salvation. It is up to us to surrender all for Him to fill us with it.

Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.



Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT) Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Companionship is important. Relationship is key in life. With the popularity of social media, there is the perception of these two vital accomplishments when in reality there is really no connection between people anymore. Facebook is one of the many social sites that allow us to “friend” one another, “unfriend” those who are no longer wanted in our life and to conveniently “unfollow” those who post things that are not interesting or inappropriate. Relationship in a box if you will how wonderful. So clean and safe, people can manage “friendships” without the messiness of companionship. It satisfies our need to connect with the imposition or discomfort of true involvement. However, is it enough? Is it the kind of relationship that Jesus Christ called us to when He said to “love one another”? Probably not.

Love is a commitment. It is the call of every Christian, believer, and true follower of Jesus Christ. In a world that has made “relationships” computerized, how does the church reconnect according to the Word of God and develop the friendships that the Lord ordained for us to have with one another. The Body of Christ cannot become the Bride of Christ without companionship and relationships that extend from lip service to life commitment. Ecclesiastes touches on this in Chapter 4 when companionship is addressed in detail with its benefits. Two people are much better than one. You may think you do not need or want other people but we all do. We were created to be relational but hurt and betrayal builds tall walls that must be overcome by love and grace to produce trust once again. We need one another to succeed in life. People will always need someone to offer hands to help up and shoulders to cry on. We need to remain close. A person standing alone is more likely to be overcome in an attack physically and spiritually. There is a reason why God created more than one person. God is all about relationships. To be like the Lord, we must build relationships, become companions and learn to be friends all over again.

John 16:31-33 (NLT) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is awesome! He tried diligently to send of clues and messages into the future of what to expect as His Return grew eminent. One of those things is the assault on friendship and relationships that is happening today. First, the family began to fall apart as one generation gave way to another with a staggering divorce rate. Suddenly, relationships became soluble and what God has joined together can be legally torn apart. The time is coming. Well, I believe it is here now. You will be scattered. Each one going his own way. Jesus told us all of this so that we could have peace in us. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. There is no question that there will be hurts and heartaches on this earth trials and sorrows just as the Jesus said. Take heart. I have overcome the world. Jesus overcame the world. I believe that while the latter of these verses are heeded with caution that there is missed significance in the beginning…you will be scattered. A kingdom is a gathering not a scattering. We must come together as the Body of Christ and Kingdom of God again. The Kingdom is built on relationship. Our relationship with the Father through the Son as adopted Children of God. This should not and cannot stop here or the Kingdom is only a partnership. The Spirit of God is the connection that ordinary people have as Christ lives in us. This connection must be distributed among other people to form the allegiance that we are to have with the family of God as His Children.

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

This world is not our permanent home. Everything should be building for the future. The future given to us through Jesus Christ. Why? It lasts forever. We are to look forever to this home yet to come. Preparations for family reunions and even high school reunions often include self-preparation as it is important to us to show others the significance and success of our past years spent apart. Many opt not to attend based on situations and circumstances they were unable to overcome. Reunions are about relationships and reconnecting but in our minds it can be made it to something else completely. We must prepare for our reunion with Jesus Christ. Repentance is the first step. Relationship is the next. It is fun to attend a reunion when the relationships have remained active. It becomes uncomfortable if it is the first contact in a long time. Each day celebrating Jesus Christ and actively engaged in a relationship with Jesus creates confidence in His Acceptance when we are finally reunited. However, the Kingdom is not just one person and a triune God. It is a Body of Believers. It is time to reconnect.

Allegiance to Christ is a commitment to His Kingdom that is demonstrated in our willingness to do “good” and share our lives with those in need. Recently, our ladies ministry had a meeting at church. Newly reorganized, it was the first time in a long time. Forming a large circle, everyone began to express their needs as women. Every response and comment went back to relationship. Women feel isolated and alone in rooms full of people and homes full of family. Why? There is no connection or companionship so therefore there is no confidence in others. We must sacrifice to please God. Sacrifice our pride. Sacrifice our self. Sacrifice our insecurity and yes, even our pride sometimes. Allegiance to God’s Kingdom is demonstrated by loving and living relationships among all of God’s People.

Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT) “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We are to love our enemies. How is the possible if I am unable to love my friends? Loving my friends is not commenting on their posts, putting little heart “likes” on their pictures, or following them on social media. Love is a relationship. Love is a connection. It is to reach out and pull together. It is conversation. Communication is important. Listening is loving. Being present is not enough, it is presence that creates strong unity and bonds. Our allegiance to Jesus Christ is exemplified by our commitment and willingness to bond with others in relationship. This empowers the Kingdom and our relationships draw those who were scattered back together again. I challenge each of you today as I am myself to look at my “friends” list on social media and choose some people to call and talk to. Have lunch with or make an effort to connect with. Rather than texting learn to call and talk more. When the Holy Spirit moves on my heart to contact someone, to be sensitive enough to do it right then. Relationships are not maintained passively and must to be promoted passionately. They are one of the things that the enemy wants to “steal, kill and destroy” every single relationship and bond in the Body of Christ as it is an attack against His Kingdom. When we connect with others, it creates unity and harmony in the Body and that is the desire of our Father’s Heart!

Romans 12:16 (NLT) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.