No More Resolutions

No More Resolutions

2 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

Renew. Restore. Revive. Radical. Reckless. To respond. The “R”’s of my rambling for 2018. Tonight at sundown or a little after, our family will begin our annual fast for the New Year. For eleven days, through fasting and prayer, as a body of believers (yes, just the four of us), we will seek the Face of God for many areas of our life. To focus our family and life in one direction. The Way. To turn away from the worthless things that so easily captivate our attention and rob us of time. As I began to write in my journal today, I found these words forming from the ink of the pen. I am asking the Lord to renew me from the inside out. To restore me after a month of minor illness and inconvenience. To revive my passion and desire to pursue Him wholeheartedly leaving behind the distractions from 2017. To make my love for others radical in recognition of His Love for me. To be reckless in my pursuit of Christ making faith seem the only option. To respond to all of God’s Promises. To believe that God is doing exactly what He said and to let His Spirit fortify my fickle heart. I can make a list of habits to change, budgets to follow, and schedules to keep but if Christ is not the priority in all of them – what’s the point?

No more resolutions. The power to change is the Christ in me. It is not something I do but what He does in me. I am giving up on resolutions and instead this year I choose to respond to God’s Promises instead. Why? Because of His Glory and Excellence, He has given (me) great and precious promises. These promises enable (me) to share in His Divine Nature. A resolution is a firm decision on my part to do or not to do something any longer. It is the action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter. It is me. A resolution is self-resolve to fix something that appears to be broken or dysfunctional. Well…I have come to the conclusion after fifty-one years of life – I can’t fix it. I cannot make “me” a better person. I am going to fail. I will mess up. I will fall short. I will give up, give in and give out depending on the situation. The only good thing in me is Jesus Christ. The Power of Christ is manifested in my weakness. So this year, I no longer resolve to make me a better person but let Christ transform me into a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

Jesus Christ revealed God’s Kindness and Love for us. When He saved us, it was finished. The process of redemption complete. The renewal process made available to all mankind. He washed our sin away. Gave us a new birth and new life through His Spirit. Generously His Spirit is on us identifying us as God’s Precious Children. It is said that you do not pick your parents which is absolutely true. In this case specifically, God chose you. He chose me. God, the Father, decided that He loved us and wanted us. His Reckless Love would stop at nothing to have us. I wonder what would happen if for just a moment, a single solitary second, we could completely wrap our head around the Truth that the entire process of salvation and redemption is a direct result of the Love of God. He had no other intention but to pour out unfailing love and unfathomable goodness on His Beloved. Would we respond differently? Absolutely. Religion would be crushed beneath the heaviness of unconditional love in the church and “whosoever come” would be plastered over the doors and altars while those who want to be loved would come pouring in.

Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Grace is the reason that God loves me and is for me. It is the essence of relationship that if we could just wrap our heads tightly around it – faith would not be so hard and confident hope the common sense of our life. We can go into the world and try to share the love of Jesus Christ but until we understand that His Love, Grace and Kindness are for us and there is nothing further that we can do but receive it – our message is in vain. Perfect love casts out all fear. Fearless faith comes from a heart that comes to know God’s Unfailing Love and accepts it as a way of life. This will enable us to “respond” to God’s Promises rather than trying to earn them or deserve them which cannot be done.

Proverbs 3:3-4 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

This year it is my deepest desire to live in God’s Steadfast Love and Faithfulness to the fullest. I must bind His Promises around my neck and continually inscribe them on my heart. My love is imperfect. It tends to be conditional. It has flaws and faults that the Lord continually works on. I will never love like Jesus unless I love through Jesus. The Christ in me must be given wide open space. The Spirit in me must be the ruler of my heart, mind, soul and body at all times. The Favor of God and Good Success that I believe God has promised us is not in my ability to do everything right this year, but to continually seek the Lord wholeheartedly. I must decrease so that He can increase.

I wonder what would happen in our natural life if we lived as though supernatural promises were inevitable. What if we decided that God is good, His Love unfailing, His Grace enough, and His Faithfulness forever? Would it change the potential of our life? Would it change us? We must invest our mind, soul, body and spirit into obtaining the promises of God which begins by believing that they actually exist and are obtainable rather than living a diversified life with one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom. It is impossible to establish dual residency with God. He is not a wishy washy – halfhearted God. You love Him or you hate Him. There is no coexistence in the Kingdom. You embrace Christ or idols. See we live in a world of moving lines and shifting sand – it makes a completely constant God who is always good and always loving and always kind very hard to believe so we must not lean on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

Responding to the Promises of God. This is my resolve for this New Year. This is the year that I will allow God to be God and simply cling to Him. I must supplement faith with qualities and characteristics produced by God’s Spirit inside of me. I must embrace and acknowledge the Holy Spirit as He is my teacher, guide, counselor and even comforter in the process of becoming a new creation. Transformation is not comfortable. It is inconvenient. It is uncontrollable. It takes time that I don’t think I have. Yet, in the end, it will all be worth it. Forever is the past, present and future wrapped neatly into a package called life. God knows the beginning from the end. It is His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness that has brought you this far and will carry you through. You have done nothing to facilitate the process other than present your worthless life to Jesus Christ. Rather than making any more resolutions. This year I am changing my resolve. I want all that God has for me. I must submit my life to Christ all over again. All of it. Holding nothing back, making the decision that this life is not about me – nevertheless Christ is for me. His Promises are real. His Love is true. His Word lasts forever. He is faithful. To this I will respond…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


Sticks and Stones


Proverbs 18:20-21 (NLT) Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is one of the greatest lies ever told yet recounted time and time again to overcome the hurtful, thoughtless or careless words of others. The original context is from an English children’s rhyme in 1872 which is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.”  Rubbish. Hogwash. Words do cause great harm when not considered fully and carefully before delivery. Many people will take the words of others to the heart. Many word walls surround fragile hearts enshrouding them in darkness and never allowing the Light of God’s Love to reach inside.

As a self-professed and often labeled talker, I am at great risk when it comes to conversation. It has taken a whole lot of Jesus to gain even the slightest control over my wayward tongue and rambling thoughts that come tumbling out of my mouth. There are some days when I stop talking altogether in fear of allowing those harmful words to come rolling out undeterred. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth. We must examine our heart and consider each word in every conversation comparing them to Christ to be sure that they nourish souls and bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life. As believers, let’s take a moment today to evaluate the contents of conversation.

I Samuel 17:40-47 (NLT) He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Bear with me. I know this is not the common text concerning wise words and godly conversation but it is relevant. David didn’t come to the battlefield looking for a fight that day. He was directed to bring his brothers lunch and return with a report of their well-being. When the shepherd boy arrived on the scene, he was an unsuspecting hero who was about to be discovered. He went to battle with five smooth stones selected from a nearby stream and his staff. Goliath approached ready to fight but David came ready to win. His faith spoke from a confident heart, “But I come in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you…” With one well-directed stone, the giant in all his bravado died that day. The whole world did see the Hand of God work on behalf of his people. It is one of the most renowned stories of the Bible taught to even the smallest of children.

There are many teachings on the stones that David chose that day. I believe there is significance in his choice as well for many reasons. David went to battle with stones, a slingshot and a staff. What if the stones represented our words, testimony and offering to others? The slingshot our mouth or tongue. The staff represents direction. Our words should always be washed in God’s Word and sent in His Direction according to His Instruction. David wrote in Psalm 23 that God’s Rod (Discipline) and Staff (Direction) were a comfort to him. The smooth stones of the stream were once sharp-edged rocks. Time and testing had tempered them as the water rushed over them and around them season after season preparing them for the day of the giant. The stones are evidence of precise preparation at the Hand of God. He tumbled them in that stream until the moment they were to be released. Our words should be the same. They are not for killing sheep but killing giants.

John 8:4-11 (NLT) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

The woman was caught in flagrant and obvious sin. The religious folks including teachers and Pharisees brought her to Jesus – she was caught in the act. They put her in front of the crowd. They each had stones in hand ready to exact the Law of Moses. They asked Jesus, “What do you say?” His response, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” It did not take long to empty the place. Jesus turned to the woman and asked, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? “No, Lord,” she replied. Jesus set her free. “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

We are so quick to condemn others with our words. I don’t think it is an overt act but one that is covered by religion and self-righteousness that smacks of the Law rather than God’s Love. A relationship with Jesus Christ does not condemn us but frees us. We are given the grace to know Him more. We are given unconditional love that knows our faults and failures from before we meet Jesus on the earth until the time we meet Him face to face. I hate the statement that someone has one foot in Christ and one in the world. It is not possible. We live in this world but are not of this world. To be in Christ is not a religious or judgmental possible but to become so clothed in His Love and wrapped tightly in the Robe of His Righteousness that Light breaks through darkness setting others free. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glorious Standard God set forth. Many Christians are still doing it today without even knowing it.

What if we considered a word like a stone in our hand? What if we became intention about only throwing rocks at the Goliath rather than pummeling our sheep in the head? If we throw rocks at sheep they will scatter, running for cover, looking for refuge in other things, and hidden in the darkness just to survive. David went into the battle with faith in God. God who fights for us. The Lord was His Victory. His voice projected faith and confidence in God alone. Not his skill or ability to kill the giant, but God’s Promise that the big man was going down. He entered with a staff. The staff was used to guide the sheep. The hooked used to pull them out of their mess, or deliver them from trouble. What are we using our staff for today?

The woman was caught in her sin. The church set out to make an example of her. How quickly we forget what the Lord has done for us? His Grace is sufficient for me, but does not give me the right to throw careless words about. Our words hold power. They can do way more than break bones. Do not be deceived. Your hidden conversation is not as private as you think. There are days when I must shut my mouth completely as not to let an idle word slip out. Careless conversation is like stoning someone to death without even knowing it.

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.

The words of our mouth are a direct reflection of the contents of our heart. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What do your words reveal? It matters less what you say to their face, then what you say about others in private. The Word of God gives us clear direction on the contents of godly conversation including the following:

The Words of the Godly are:

Life (Proverbs 10:11)

Knowledge (Proverbs 10:13) Reveal our understanding of Christ and His Way

Valuable (Proverbs 10:20; 20:15)

Encouraging (Proverbs 10:21)

Wise Advice (Proverbs 10:31)

Helpful (Proverbs 10:32)

A Benefit (Proverbs 12:14)

Healing (Proverbs 12:18)

Truth (Proverbs 12:19) Withstanding the test of time

Favorable (Proverbs 13:2)

Nourishment for the Soul (Proverbs 18:20)

Instruction with Kindness (Proverbs 31:26)

God has set a standard for godly communication that the church must pay close attention to or they will kill their sheep. Your words should welcome other into the fold. Express the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. We must examine the stones in our hand, heart and mouth to determine their direction in each conversation.

Romans 14:10-13 (NLT) So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

Some say that the truth hurts, maybe the truth you choose to live in. My Truth came wrapped in flesh to set me free. He died on a Cross to save me, heal me and deliver me. His Love so thick it wrapped itself around my heart and is the life and breath that I breathe. His Grace so sufficient that even when I fall it picks me right back up. The Truth in my life is Light that gives me hope. He has given my life new purpose to have all that He has promised according to His Word. My faith is not in my ability to live a perfect life but that He is and always be enough. He is the Word that came inside me and is changing my heart. His Language is Love. Always love. Never condemnation. When I use the words I am given to throw at another rather than pulling them close and loving them like Jesus loves me, I am no longer a giant killer but a Pharisee in the making.

My mouth was made to give the Lord praise and adoration. It is to declare my allegiance to Jesus Christ which is always wrapped in His Love and full of His Grace. I must make sure that my attitude and actions right down to every single word I speak draws people closer to the Lord rather than causing them to stumble and fall. Even if I am misunderstood, it is my humble position to apologize and continue to love them no matter what they do or say. Pride can never be my motivation again. I must live to love others with every breath in my body. Jesus help me to examine the contents of my heart and every word of conversation so the context remains in Your Truth according to Your Word, following Your Way which always leads to love, forgiveness and freedom.

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life.

Can you imagine your words like the stones in the stream before David? He selected them carefully. We must do the same. Our words hold power once released. We must be sure of their trajectory. Aimed at giants produce victory. Carelessly hurled at sheep only lead to death and defeat. Have some wandered? Stop talking about them and go get them. Jesus never forced His Love on anyone. He met their need in their current condition. His Love drew them in. His Grace pulled their heart strings. His Kindness lead them to repentance. Faith is born of love not hate. Hope is confidence that in spite of me – He has a Purpose, Plan and Promise for my life that is worth having. What is the Gospel shared? Love. It should always be love. Drop the rocks, people. Shut the death door. Consider carefully the contents of every conversation. Does it lead to life? Is it Light in the darkness? Is it freedom to others? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it useful? Is it even true? I am pondering these thoughts and ideas today. I challenge you to do the same. Sticks and stones do harm people including us even more than we think. Lord, please take a coal from your altar and touch my lips so I may worthy to praise you again.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NLT) Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Mercy Triumphs


Lamentations 3:22-26 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

“You delight in showing mercy…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Mercy by Bethel Music has been set on replay the last few days. God delights in showing us mercy so much so that He gives us new mercy and a fresh start every day without fail. The next verse yields the secret to God’s Mercy. “My past embraced…My sin forgiven.” The certainty of God’s Grace is full acceptance of His Mercy. To wake each morning believing that His Grace is enough for you releases everyone and everything from your expectation. It means that all the wrongs, hurts, offenses and failures of the day before fall off in waves of grace as His New Mercy covers us. “I’m blameless in Your Sight…My history rewritten.” Do you believe that God’s Grace is enough for you today? I am challenged daily with pride that tells me I deserve better than how I am treated and that I have earned more than I have. Faith must overcome such rebellious thoughts to be reminded with each new day and His Gift of Mercy that Jesus is all that I need to share His Mercy with others.

Do you delight in showing mercy? What is your response to hurt, rejection, or offense? Is it immediate forgiveness? Yeah, me either. If you feel left out, slighted or ignored? Do you press in or move away? If you become angry, do you lash out? Do you fight for what is yours? Does love mean more than being right? See God is love and He is filled with unfailing love and compassion for people. Are you? Am I? God’s Faithfulness is enough to complete our life and bring us into full completion and absolute satisfaction. This requires putting all of our expectation in Christ alone. Releasing others from fulfilling our wants, needs and desires. Placing our complete and absolute total trust in Jesus Christ believing that His Grace is sufficient for me.

What is mercy? Mercy is compassionate and kind forbearance shown toward an offender or enemy. It is to maintain a disposition of loving forgiveness. It is also the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone. God’s Mercy is kindness, compassion and favor. The very qualities that people desire but are often reluctant to give. Feelings and emotions are powerful driving forces in people that will take years of learning to lean on, trust in and depend on the Lord to overcome. The human heart is held together by soul ties. Connections that must be cut and grafted into Jesus Christ (the Vine) in order to overcome to be free to love and be loved. God’s Love is unconditional. To live in His Love our love must reflect His Love. This is full acceptance of Grace when it is enough so we can give it to others..

Lamentations 3:17-21 (NLT) Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…

Many who read this will immediately have an image in their head of the event or trauma in life that left a mark so deep that a scar has formed on your heart. For some, there is only a festering wound. Constantly poked and prodded by the enemy who uses people as his pawns, whispering lies like “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” to cause division, strife, and bitterness. Has your peace been stripped away? Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Have you been in living in a “barren, dry” land? Nothing is going right, nobody can help, and misery accompanies you day and night? He is our Provider. He is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Living Water for thirsty souls. Do you feel like everything you hoped for is lost and every dream dead in a valley of dry bones? Hope is the anchor for our soul. It keeps us trusting and believing when everything falls apart in our life. Without hope, there is nothing to have faith in anymore. Have you decided that you will “never” forget this awful time? Does it feel that your life will be forever marked by sadness, grief and sorrow? “Yet I dare to hope when I remember this…” Mercy triumphs over judgement. Those things that you have ordained as dead, gone and impossible – hope says that His Mercy is new each morning. His Grace is sufficient for us. We must learn to live in grace that allows us to live, breathe and hope in His Mercy for us.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Mercy triumphed over judgment when Jesus Christ came to this world. He died to pay the price for our sins giving us our freedom to enter right-standing with God the Father again. We can do nothing to regain righteousness except accept His Gift of Amazing Grace. Jesus came to give us mercy not judgment. This is so important to know and understand to grow in our relationship with the Lord. You cannot have mercy and judgment at the same time. They are opposites. If I accept God’s Grace, I am giving up my right to judge other people. This includes the “right” to be offended, mad, bitter, jealous, retaliate or reject others due to their actions or attitude. Forgiveness is not option to those who desire to be redeemed by God.

Sowing and reaping includes our actions and attitudes toward others. If we sow love in our life, it will be our harvest. If we sow judgment which means demanding what is deserved, it will be the dismal future of our next season. What you give – you will receive because what you plant you also harvest? With this in mind…

John 8:15 (NLT) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.

Jesus judges no one. He said it right here. God judges people. Those who are covered in the Blood of Jesus accepting His Grace will have mercy. Jesus is our example. I cannot judge others and be one with Christ. So now when given the opportunity to be hurt, mad, resentful and bitter…these words rise up in me…”mercy triumphs over judgment.” “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16)

James 2:12-14 (NLT) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

The “Law” that sets us free is God’s Grace. To fully accept God’s Grace is to let go of our right to judge other people. I could not and still cannot keep all of the rules and regulations of God’s Law, therefore; His Grace must be sufficient for me. The minute that I choose to judge another person as unworthy of mercy is the very moment that I exempt myself from it as well. I need God’s Grace to make it into forever with the Lord. I cannot imagine this being all there is to life. My faith is investing in faith. Faith though small it is mighty. It allows me to plant things in others that they are not willing to give me because they are not the source of my life or satisfaction. When I put my full expectation in Jesus – it really doesn’t matter what others think of me or how they treat me because if I will just give them the mercy that I have God’s Promises are mine. I will be complete lacking no good thing. I will have the Mind of Christ and peace that goes with it. I will remain free indeed because I will be one with Jesus. No man or woman can do for you what Jesus did for you and continue to does for you each day. His Love is perfect. His Grace is flawless. His Favor is abundant. Why settle for less by being unforgiving, unrelenting and unmerciful when you already have more than enough and full sufficiency in His Grace! Jesus will satisfy the soul that cuts the ties to human emotions and rights to be right or revered.

Faith is not only the acceptance of God’s Grace but administration of mercy, love, compassion and favor to others as you have received from the Lord. Judgment is to withhold any of these because you feel the other unworthy. Submission to Jesus means surrendering our mind, will and emotions to a God who is greater than our feelings. He is giving us new mercy today! Mercy triumphs, wins, overcomes and removes judgement from our life. What will you do to preserve God’s Grace and give mercy in your life today? What are you willing to give up? Forget? Forgive? His Mercy will meet you the moment you let go!

Mercy (Bethel Music)

I will wake and spent my days…Loving the One who has raised me up…From death to life, from wrong to right…You’re making all things beautiful. You delight in showing mercy…mercy triumphs over judgment.

2 John 3 (NLT) Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

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.


Intentional Kindness


Two arms reaching together with sun.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT) 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.

Random acts of kindness is not a Biblical principle. It is a humanitarian effort. The golden rule only goes so far in this life but it is the Truth in I Corinthians 13 that governs our life. God is love. (I John 4:8) If God’s Holy Spirit lives in us, we will produce love, joy, peace, patience and kindness…among His Other Fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is patient and kind. It “is” not it may be, could be or should be. To be a Child of the Living God, filled with the Holy Spirit, means that we are to live a life of love that begins with these two attributes.

Spontaneous or random acts of kindness are given on a whim. Gestures that do not really cost us anything at all because what we offer to another did not require a sacrifice. However, God desires us to show intentional kindness to everyone we meet, at any given moment, each and every day. The Lord provides opportunities every day for His People to extend His Loving Kindness to others. Are we taking full advantage of these moments to share the Love of God unconditionally based on kindness and compassion rather than human judgment. I am challenged today by to examine my heart for kindness. To see if I am measuring up to God’s Standard of Love by living to be intentionally kind not relishing in those moments I mess up and do the right thing offering kindness to others.

Kindness is not a natural response. It is a learned behavior. Why? People do not trust. It is not human nature to open ourselves up to vulnerability. Fearing others will take advantage of our giving or yielding to others, we judge those who are worthy of our grace rather than understanding it is not ours to evaluate only to communicate in every interaction.

Ephesians 1:4-8 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God loved us before He created the world. He chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault providing the grace that we needed to do so. God decided in advance. His Love is intentional. He decided to do it and did. It is what He wanted to do. It was His Pleasure. It is in these statements that we can identify God’s Intentional Nature. When God decides to do something – He does it. He doesn’t change His Mind. To be like God our Father and follow the example of Jesus, our love must be intentional and marked by kindness.

Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We have a little dog named Izzy. She is a tiny 4-pound monster. She makes a lot of mistakes. Barks all the time. Yet, she is very loving and loyal. The thing about dogs that we love so much is their loyalty. I can fall over her. Yell at her. Even put her in the crate when she does not behave, she still loves me and wants to be with me the moment that I let her out. Her love for us is relentless. What is it in dogs that make them so loyal? They must have very big hearts. People can learn a thing or two from dogs. We are to be clothed in “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Clothed meaning covered in it. It should be what people see and experience when we are with them at all times not just when we feel like it or think they are worthy of it. But with the same loyalty as our furry friends, give it freely and willingly to those around us.

Psalm 145:16-17 (NLT) When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.

What is kindness? Desiring to help others, indulgence, consideration, helpfulness, mildness, gentleness, generosity, tenderness and compassion all underlined by love. We love others because He first loved us. When the Lord opens His Hand, He satisfies. When I open my hand, mouth and heart to others are they satisfied or do I leave them lacking because I once again have failed to be intentionally kind as Jesus has been to me.

The Word of God promises that kindness will be a reward. (Proverbs 11:17) Kind words are like honey that is sweet to the soul and healing to the body. (Proverbs 16:24) It doesn’t say who it will sweeten and soothe. To be a wise woman, I must give instructions with kindness as I work within my family, life and world to be the Proverbs 31 kind of girl I long to become. (Proverbs 31:26) God defines a lack of kindness in our life as judgment. (Romans 2:3-4) Who am I to decide another unworthy of the kindness that I have found in the Lord? Not sure, yet I somehow manage to do it every day.

Matthew 5:46-48 (NLT) 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, how 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 offer kindness to those who we trust. Plain and simple. It is fear that our kindness may be rejected or taken advantage of that keeps us from giving it freely and without condition. We offer random acts of kindness like pennies in a fountain. No real loss if we do not see our wish come true because we don’t really put a true value on a single cent. However, remove all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” means that we must “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” now this puts a whole new spin on things. We must live with intentional kindness to walk with Jesus. It is His Way. It is the Truth. It is how we find new life in the giving of ourselves to other people.

Through trial, tribulation, problems, hardships and brokenness, there is a small opening in my heart and soul that has developed some patience. This is by far the hardest fruit of God’s Spirit to cultivate in me. To be intentionally kind requires patience makes us slow down and become acutely aware of those around us. Busyness is no longer an excuse. No one is undeserving of our kindness. We are called to love one another and there is no specification that I can find of any person who excused or eliminated from this group. I must live in kindness. I must walk in kindness. I must be clothed in kindness. I must speak words filled with kindness. I must give in kindness. I must love with kindness.

There is an old saying, “I am going to do it but I don’t have to like it.” It is a lie when it comes to loving others and being kind. Obedience to God is love. Anything else will not be accepted. I think that is why so many churches fail and ministries fold. They come together with the best intentions but forget what they are brought together to do. A commitment to Jesus Christ will always be marked by love and kindness. It is who He is. Our character is no different if we say all the right words, do all the right things yet fail to love every person who we come in contact with. If we will become intentional about our kindness, I believe we will begin to walk in love. Lord, examine each word before I speak it, every gesture before I do it, every action before I commit it, and every act I do in Your Name. Jesus make sure it is based on the unconditional love and amazing grace that I have found in You.

Proverbs 3:3 (NLT) Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.





Psalm 51:10-12 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.


My husband has been traveling for more than a week now. He arrives home today. This is not a new thing. Over the years, he has been away on business many times. I am not sure why this time was a little different. Perhaps, it was a little longer than usual. Things were a busier, chaotic and more hectic. Our routine disturbed for more than a day or two. We talk and text every day. If I need him, he is available. What is missing? His presence is missing in our home. Our daughters each have indicated that they are ready for Dad to come home. When he is here, they don’t seem to pay attention. As teenagers, self-gratification generally keeps them from human appreciation for as long as there is data on the cellphone, Wi-Fi in the house, and food in the pantry – life is good and it happens that we are overlooked or ignored. On the phone with my husband even knowing that he would arrive home today, I still became a little teary. This is not my nature. He instantly could hear the catch in my voice. I know my husband loves me. I know that he misses me. Even though we communicate every day, it is not the same as communion together. I desire his presence in my life. I have come to appreciate it. I need it. We are life partners. We live in covenant. If his presence is gone, I long for it which leads me to wonder about the Lord.


This morning when I woke up rather than arguing with the alarm, I felt urgency to get into the Presence of the Lord. Not just a quiet time with prayer and Bible study, but to sit in His Presence and feel His Closeness. I want to hear His Voice. I want to know His Comfort and abiding peace today. I wonder if sometimes our time with the Lord becomes as practiced as our worship in church. Are there times that we take for granted that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords chooses to live in us and abide in our life? Could it be that we feel entitled to the new life because we forget about the undeserved grace that we have been given? In some cases, it is not entirely God’s People’s fault. Preachers from perfect pulpits teach of a love that comes without a price for there is no sacrifice, no blood, no cross and free grace. Without repentance or a change of heart, I cannot live in the Presence of God. The Lord will not live in my sin. It is in the separation from the world and stepping out of the darkness into the Light of His Love that I have this profound privilege of Presence in my life.


Ephesians 2:10-12 (NLT) God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.


The promise of His Presence was completed when Jesus died on the Cross and released His Spirit to live among us and more importantly inside of us. This would be the moment that all things became possible to those who believe. Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. The day we celebrate the impartation of God’s Spirit to all mankind. This was the moment everything changed for us. The Spirit of God that lives in us seals the promise of redemption. He makes every promise possible and probable to those who choose to believe. He is our guide and teacher. The Holy Spirit gives knowledge, understanding, discernment, wisdom and conviction that allows us to live above our means according to the riches of His Glory. Because of Jesus Christ and our faith invested in Him, not just verbally but actively, we have been given the privilege to come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence. I can walk right in without knocking demanding an audience with the Lord and it is perfectly acceptable.


In the Old Testament, people desired the Presence of God but when He arrived they scattered. Moses knew the importance and relevance of God’s Presence. He considered it an absolute necessity. (Exodus 33:15-18) Moses was required to “go into” the Lord’s Presence. The Israelites had the Lord’s Presence and undivided attention yet chose to ignore Him and consistently rebelled against the One True God. (Numbers 14:21-23) The entire book of Leviticus is about preparing a place for the Presence of God and maintaining it. It is instructions on entertaining the God’s Presence in their midst. Finally, Deuteronomy 29:15 is clear that God’s Presence was not just for them, but for us too as the future generations expressed in this text. God desires an ongoing audience with His People. The only difference from the Old Testament to the New is that the Presence of God moved from external to internal. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 it is duly noted that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Everything changes now for those who allow the Holy Spirit to live and breathe inside of them.


Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT) I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.


Our oldest son was the kind of kid who from the earliest age was going to grow up, move away and conquer the world. From the age of probably eight or nine, his sense of adventure made him express a constant desire to be free of the boundaries set forth by his parents. Just after high school, he deployed for a year to Kuwait. Once he returned for a few years, he followed his wanderlust. Venturing out on his own, he decided to move to Texas to pursue a job opportunity. During that time, we didn’t hear from him much. From the time this young man was born until today at 26 years of age, he is my precious first born child. I love him fiercely. I still long to protect him though he is grown and a master at arms. The love of a parent reaches beyond touching and doing to a deep sense of longing that keeps our heart and mind set on our children when they are with us and even when they grow up and move away. God instills this in us because it is the way He sees us.


When God created us inside our mother’s womb, His Full Intent was for us to be His Children. So when we are born into natural living, He begins to pursue us relentlessly with His Goodness and Unfailing Love. (Psalm 23:6) But just as quickly as our birth is noted by the Lord, the enemy notices it too. In the wild, predators will wait for pregnant animals to give birth to either attack in their weakness or eat the young. Think about that for a moment. Is God birthing a promise in your life? Are you laboring in purpose on the verge of breakthrough? The pressure you feel are forces colliding as the enemy tries to take when the Lord intended for you. Stay in the Presence of the Lord and He will protect you, your promise, and every bit of your newfound potential. God’s Presence in our life does not exempt us from heartache or hard times. It is the Presence of God that sees us through until the trial or test has past and God’s Glory is poured out in our life. (Job 1)


God’s Presence surrounds us long before we choose to accept Him as our Savior and Lord. It is not a matter of entering the Presence of God but allowing His Presence to live in us by creating a life that is conducive to Him. We can walk in the Presence of the Lord each day. (Psalm 56:13) It was His Longing for it to be that way all the way back to the first two people in the Garden of Eden. The promise of presence fills our life with joy no matter what circumstance or situation we are in. (Psalm 16:9-11) His Presence is our shelter and safety in the midst of the storm or any other day that we see fit to remain there. (Psalm 16:19-20) Without His Presence, church is just a building. (2 Chronicles 7:1-3) God’s Presence interrupts religion to produce a relationship with Jesus in our heart and mind. (I Kings 8:10-11) The invitation of presence allows us to live in His Righteousness rather than rebelling in wrongdoing. (2 Chronicles 29:10-11) To those who choose righteousness will find that their religious duties are replaced by radical obedience in the areas of love, faith and hope. All things will be possible for those who decide to live in the Presence of God each day.


Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”


My relationship with Jesus Christ has produced a desire to avoid sin at all costs. Yet, still thanks to my flesh, I sin every day more than once, of course. When I come to the Lord and repent of my sin even the hidden ones, He swings wide the door of His Presence and my life is better because of it. Presence is intimacy with God. When we repent and the Blood of Jesus covers our sin, we also can clothe ourselves in Christ just as God covered Adam and Eve in the Garden. (Romans 13:13-14) It is yielding our entire being to the Great I Am and inviting Him to live inside of us as a welcomed guest not a tolerated intruder. I can be myself. In fact, the Lord desires our honesty. He knows everything already so why lie? Repentance makes way for refreshment in our life. (Acts 3:19-21) It is to humble ourselves to a greater power at work in us. (I Corinthians 1:28-30) When my husband arrives home tonight, we will all be overjoyed. Yet today just knowing He is coming home is enough! Is it enough for us to love the Lord and seek His Presence just knowing that He is coming back? To allow His Presence to work in us and through us today means that we must put on Christ. When we desire His Presence enough to seek it, it is to achieve a new direction and excellent destination compared to our own way. The Lord promises to make good of every detail of a true believers life who has answered His Call. (Romans 8:28) I desire this to be a reality in my life but can only achieve it living, breathing, walking and staying in the Presence of God today so that He can have His Way in me.


Psalm 89:14-18 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong. Yes, our protection comes from the Lord, and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.


Today as I stand in the Presence of God, I must repent. Many times, I make more of this thing called righteousness and justice by adding the components that I feel are necessary to get there. Jesus just says, “Come.” God is pursing us today with unfailing love and truth…nothing more or less. To accept these two things means taking hold of the grace we have been given, putting our faith in it and holding tight to the anchor of hope enduring until the end. What have we made of it? Where is the Presence of God? Why is not in our churches? Why has He left our homes? Can we get Him back? Of course, we can. Mercy is new every morning so that we can be refilled, refueled, restored and renewed by this Gift that yields a heavenly supply. Do not allow the enemy to trick you into thinking you have to change a thing…Jesus will do it for anyone who gives their life to Him. He will make us strong when we finally succumb to and admit our weakness thereby accepting fully His Grace as enough.


Yesterday, we had a prospective buyer come to look at our house for a second time. They are making a decision between two houses before writing a sales contract for one. I got a call at work for a last minute showing. I was telling our oldest daughter good-bye as she would soon be heading back to New Hampshire. Work was a bit overwhelming. Not to mention, I am volunteering and coordinating a Grand Opening for our church that is this weekend. On top of all this, I need my husband to come home. Rushing home to prepare, I just needed Jesus to come and cover me. I have prayed over our house before showings. I have walked the perimeter of our property anointing it also and praying. I have scrubbed, cleaned and organized to be sure our house shows well. On my way out, I laid my hand on the doorpost ready to pray like every other time. Nothing. Seriously…I bowed my head begging my spirit girl to rise up. Nothing again. Finally, I heard a still small whisper and the words, “Let Your Will be done…” So I spoke the same adding only – “In Jesus Name, Amen.” I think that we have to run out of reserves, become a bit overwhelmed, and even highly emotional so that the Lord can move us out of the way and penetrate our life with more of His Presence. After all, it is His Unfailing Love and Kindness that makes Him want to move in closer. Our flesh will not allow it but in the stillness of brokenness – we wait for Him. (Psalm 37:7) I need His Presence to take over my life. I get in the way. He allows me to run dry so that He can fill me again. Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder. Lord, I miss your presence and long for more of it today. Thank you Jesus for Your Presence.


Psalm 26:8 (NLT) I love your sanctuary, Lord, the place where your glorious presence dwells.

Law of Kindness

Law of Kindness

Proverbs 31:25-26 (NKJV)

Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.


I love the Proverbs 31 woman. (Proverbs 31:10-31) For many years, I have completely identified with her due diligence. This woman sounds driven, motivated and hard working. Fiercely attentive to her family and a dedicated friend. She is socially minded and given to goodwill. She sounds like a Martha kind of gal who works from dawn until dusk caring for her family, maintaining her household and providing financial support. I think it is strangely ironic that as the passage progresses at verse 25 something begins to change. Like in life, it seems that with age she begins to mellow. She has knit a garment of strength and honor in the course of life and now she can rejoice in the rest that comes with such confidence. She opens her mouth that is now filled with wisdom. Experience can do that to a person. It takes all the ideas and notions that a person once had and wraps in the truth of reality and hopefully genuine faith. As I read about the virtuous wife today, I stopped at this quality “on her tongue is the law of kindness.” I hear my grandmother’s voice when my brother and I would argue and fuss. She would say, “Lori, you must be kind to your brother.”


Be kind to your brother…and sister. Is the Law of Kindness on the tip of my tongue today? I am challenged by this character trait as I desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Truth is kind when one is referring to Jesus. He is always kind. Am I? It has taken a great deal in life to slow me down my Martha-mentality. I desire to have a heart that is soft like Mary’s who would sit at the feet of Jesus even when life is crazy and chaotic. A co-worker came into the office obviously distraught. Her pain deep and raw with an unruly rebellious teenager. She had exhausted all efforts and now must lean toward drastic measures to insure the safety and well-being of her child. Sitting at her desk, her heart broke and I was there to listen. But as she began to release the built up sorrow and strong emotions, her words were filled with harsh profanity. As she continued, my heart absolutely broke for this young woman. She has overcome many challenges in life. She believes in God but does not know Jesus. I was that girl at one time. I knew of God but had not experienced His Love and Kindness so when my mouth opened – it was not the Law of Kindness that came tumbling out either. My heart is broken for this young woman and I know that there is a reason she is in my midst. I do not judge her for her words, but have become more aware of the change and sudden shift that Jesus has made in me. I am aware that many times I have lacked kindness and therefore withheld love in my vain attempts at right-standing with God. Choosing to do the right thing and say the right words, I missed it. Lord, take a coal from your altar today and touch my tongue. Holy Spirit, fill my heart with kindness so it reaches the tip of my tongue.


Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.


It is my firm belief that if it falls within the Fruit of the Holy Spirit that is not a naturally occurring product of life. We think that there is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control but humanly manufactured it fails quickly. To be completely satisfied in Jesus Christ, we must live a life of prosperity. Our prosperity is not financial but fruitful. Kindness is on the list. Therefore, I can be a good person and try to be kind but without the Lord it will not be a law that governs my life. I will choose who to love and have compassion for but that is not what Jesus asked us to do. He said to, “love one another.” It is not defined or specified even reaching as far as our enemies. How can we show loving kindness to the people we do not like when we cannot love the ones who we are with?


2 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Godliness produces kindness and kindness produces love. Without kindness in our heart and life, there is no love. Oh, I know what you are thinking…the truth hurts. No sin hurts and destroys. But love changes all that. It says that love covers a multitude of sins. “Covers” think of Noah when he became drunk and “uncovered” in the field. (Genesis 9) What did his sons do? They took a garment and walking backward him up. Their faces turned away so that they would not see their father’s nakedness. This is how the Lord covers us with His Love. He doesn’t come and remind us of our sin but covers it in compassion, kindness and love. Do we keep our head turned from those who sin and wander from the Lord? Do we “bless their heart” as a means to share their shortcomings and indiscretions with others? Or do we take the opportunity to “cover” them as Christ has covered us? Though our sins were once as scarlet, they are now as white as snow. I am challenged today by this law of kindness. I want to love others like Jesus. Kindness is an important part of my pursuit of a godly life.


Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.


I have forgotten many times that the work of salvation and promise of change in me is nothing that I have facilitated. In fact, it was in complete brokenness that I discovered that only in my weaknesses do I find strength in Christ. The realization that I can do nothing apart from Him and that I cannot even love without His Spirit helps me to recognize that I am made alive in Jesus Christ. All my hard work, motivation and even all those good intentions did nothing to establish the righteousness that I live in and faith I have found. It is Jesus who raised me up. Not to look down at others but to share His Loving Kindness so they will be lifted up as well.


Titus 3:3-7 (NKJV)

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:23-24) As I read the verse in Titus 3, this passage in James came flooding into my thoughts. This happens even to the strongest Christians sometimes. We forget. Plain and simple. I do not think it begins with maliciousness but certainly ends up there quickly. We see the masterpiece that the Lord is making of our life. The chains of bondage like fear, doubt, regret, shame and remorse fall off but if we are not careful the ugly face of pride will consume our humility. We speak the Word from our mouth but do not love others with our heart. It doesn’t matter what I say or do if it is not with kindness and love like Jesus loves me. We were “once” foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving lusts and worldly worthless pleasures like pride and conceit, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But God… but Jesus… but the Holy Spirit covered me in love and kindness, saving me by His Grace. He is renewing me, restoring me and regenerating life through me or is He? Have I forgotten? Did I look in the mirror and somehow go back to the person who I used to be? The world establishes a hierarchy of sin that is simply not so. One sin nailed Jesus to the Cross and demanded every ounce of His Precious Blood. Just one. The one you committed and the one I committed even if done in the name of being right.


Jonah learned a hard lesson about kindness in the belly of the whale. Mad about the sins of others, he did not want to go and tell them of its destruction because he knew in his heart that the Lord would show them grace, mercy, love and kindness just as he had been given. It made him mad. (Jonah4:1-3) Do you get upset when you work so hard but others don’t yet still are blessed? Do you envy your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you watch others sin and feel like they do not deserve the same grace because you try hard not to? Friends, it is because of the love and kindness that we have experienced in Jesus Christ that we choose not to offend our First Love with sin and betrayal. It has nothing to do with anyone else. The enemy wants us to fall back into the sin of unforgiveness and disregard for the state of others so He can rob us of the rich and satisfying life Jesus is giving us. Do not fall victim to his lies and deception. Allow the Lord to produce loving kindness in you today!


Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.


I am the elect of God. I am holy and beloved because Jesus showed me tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering with total and complete forgiveness. I must show these same qualities to others if my goal is to show them His Love and be His Light to the world. Have we forgotten just what the Lord has done for us? We have if we approach another human being with anything less than absolute love and kindness. If the words of our mouth do not come with the conviction in our heart that God’s Love can only be responded to in like kind. I have to give what I have been given to maintain it. To whom much is given much is required. Jesus died for me.


2 Corinthians 6:3 says, “we give no offense to anything, that our ministry will not be blamed.” You and I are ministers of the loving kindness that Jesus Christ has given us. When you look at the long list of violations against the early church, it is quite humbling considering we as believers have not undergone such volatile attacks. It gives a long list of “marks of ministry”. Tucked within these verses is the reminder that “by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the Word of Truth, by the Power of God… and the list goes. We have been given so much. We must give it back in equal measure. I must not give offense to the Cause of Christ but bear the mark of ministry called kindness in each interaction. God has promised that His Kindness will be mine forever. (Isaiah 54:9-10) Whenever I turn to the Lord, I am always met with His Loving Kindness and nothing less than Unfailing and Relentless Love. What about those who come in contact with you? What is the offering of your life today? When people come to you, what is the gift that is given? Is there any sacrifice at all? We cannot slay others with truth because that is not what we have been given. Our patience cannot run out without questioning our own forgiveness in Christ. His Grace is enough… is ours for other people. Truth about God cannot be spoken without love and kindness or it is not the truth but a lie. Forgive me for all those times that I tried to deliver it outside of its intent to love and embrace others. Thank you Lord for reminding me today the important of kindness. Loving kindness is essential to be like you. Let the law of kindness be on my tongue, in my heart and radiate from my life today in Jesus Name.


Isaiah 54:9-10 (NKJV)

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.  For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Good Deeds

Good Deeds

Matthew 5:15-16 (NLT)
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

There is a saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It means that people can try to do good things and still end up in a mess because quite frankly life is not fair. What we do and how we act is influenced by two factors: our flesh and the Holy Spirit. The outcome of our good deed is not always manifested in the earth and in fact can turn around and bite us. Hence there is a reluctance of people to get involved anymore. Several years ago, our home was invaded by thieves who helped themselves to whatever they wanted. The police officers began knocking on doors and speaking to all or our neighbors. One particular woman who lives across the street is a homemaker. My hopes that she had seen something during the robbery was immediately dashed when the officer indicated that she had not. Later, her husband arrived home and escorted his wife to our home where law enforcement was still investigating. She had witnessed the robbery and gave a description for the report. I can remember being aggravated with her for not coming forward before. She didn’t want to get involved. How many times does this happen in life simply because people believe that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. To understand the role of good deeds in our life is to first understand that they are important. The Fruit of the Spirit include kindness and goodness. How do we, as believers, effectively let (our) good deeds shine out for all to see SO THAT everyone will praise (our) Heavenly Father? Read it again. Let your good deeds shine out for all to see SO THAT everyone will praise your Heavenly Father. I love to do good things for other people. Even when I am warned by the people around me not to get involved or it’s no use, I still have to try. We all should do good deeds with it in mind that everything good comes from the Father (James 1:17) and apart from Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us (Romans 7:18).

Psalm 112:1-4 (NLT)
Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

We all start out with good intentions. True joy and delight come from respecting the Lord and demonstrating such regard through obedience. This allows the blessing of God to flow to us, through us and overflow from our life. We become successful as do our children. Generations will be blessed. Wealth will come and we will be rich without sorrow added to it. (Proverbs 10:22) Their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly and they are generous, compassionate and righteous.

Everything we do for the Lord should be wrapped in His Love and Grace. It must be born of generosity, compassion and according to our right relationship with the Lord. It is nothing we do but the goodness and favor released to us that improves our life. This does not mean that our good deeds will go unpunished as the saying goes for as we read further in Psalm 112, the truth is revealed. Those who fear the Lord and are obedient will still get bad news. (vs. 7) However, they do not have to fear it. They will still face frightening situations but they can remain fearless expecting victory. (vs. 8) The enemy and evildoers around us will be infuriated at the blessing of God in our life so we can expect opposition but know that nothing will come of them. (vs. 10) My life should reflect the goodness that I have found in the Lord – I can only do that effectively by living a life of respect before the Lord and obeying His Every Word to the best of my ability with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT)
Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

There is a Turkish tradition that became a rule of etiquette that says to never return an empty plate. When someone gives you a cake, pie or any other full plate – it should be returned in the same manner. This tradition resonates in the south and my grandmother shared it with me long ago. While this is an act of courtesy, it is also reciprocal in nature. Some people hate to feel like they owe something to someone or have been one up by another. When someone blesses us, we immediately desire to do the same for them either out of kindness or reciprocation. The truth is we can never reciprocate the love found in the Father and received through the Son. Our good deeds affect only humans. (Job 35:7-8) Every good deed is born of intent. What is your intentions today? It matters.

Do I want my good deeds to bring attention to me or to Jesus? We all must take the time to examine our heart throughout our Christian walk. If there is anything that we decide that God needs us to do or that Christ depends on us for, we have made a tragic mistake and our good deeds will not last forever. They will only reap earthy attention and worldly rewards because pride has taken over where faith once had been. This is the difference between the Martha’s and Mary’s in life. We can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. He is our strength. His Spirit produces the goodness and kindness that shines out as generosity in our life. Give your gifts in private. When we serve the Lord in our homes, jobs and churches, it is important to inspect these acts of kindness for authenticity. If we seek public attention, praise or affirmation, we have fallen from grace and now operate in fear and pride. Every deed done outside of Christ is of no value or use in our life. It is just another worthless attempt to gain grace already given and love already obtained. When I try to reciprocate God’s Love, it is not what I do but what I allow Him to do through me. It is my offering.

Matthew 19:16-22 (NLT)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Almost two years ago, my birth mother died. As many others in today’s world, I have a birth mother and God-given mom. I had just returned from caring for our son during his transplant and just a week before my daughter’s wedding. It was a crazy time. My aunt called to tell me my mother had passed away. We had been estranged for more than a decade. I lost my mother to addiction. Alcohol devastated our relationship and ultimately took her life. At that time, I really didn’t have time to think about it just went through the motions which was pretty much how I lived during that time. I was empty. Completely poured out. Lately though, I have been thinking about her. I decided at a very young age that I would be nothing like my mother. I would devote my whole life to my children. Sounds noble, yes. It is not what the Lord calls us to do as believers. Yet, it is a good thing… a good deed if you will. Well, when death came calling for our son, I could not do anything in my power to overtake it. I could not make cancer go away. I could not take away his suffering and pain. I could not heal his body. I failed. My good deeds were not enough to save my dying son…but Jesus was.

It was never my intent to disobey the Lord in raising my children or allow them to take His Place. But sometimes our best intentions unravel when this world comes into play. The young man came to Jesus with good intentions. He wanted to do something to have eternal life. Jesus offered him religion and he gladly scooped it up. He could do that. When Jesus told him how to be perfect, it required a total sacrifice – the man went away sad. I spent my whole life trying to be different from my mom. It was not until I decided to be like Jesus that it changed. Life hands us a plate. How we return it is up to us? God gives us grace. Will we give it away? He gives us goodness. Can we reciprocate? My mom was human. She did her best and fell short. I do the same every single day. My life cannot be about undoing wrongs and changing my heritage. My life must be a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ for anything I do to be worthy of His Kingdom.

Matthew 26:6-13 (NLT)
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

There is a profound difference between obedience and sacrifice. Obedience is the tithing of our life by giving God what He requires. However, an offering is sacrificial giving above and beyond that which is required. The woman came to Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. It represented her worth and value on the earth. She poured it over his head. The disciples were mad because they saw the worth of the offering in earthly terms, but Jesus saw beyond her offering inside her heart. She poured out everything to Jesus. She did not do it publicly but in a private home. She did not say anything that is noted. Her action would speak for itself.

Let me ask you something. Do you feel unappreciated? Do you think no one notices all your hard work? Are you waiting on a “thank you”? If we expect such things, it is not the kind of good deed that plants seeds in Heaven because we are doing it for earthly recognition and reward. The attention of others should make us uncomfortable because we want our good deeds to shine before men but make them praise Jesus. I am challenged today to inspect my intentions and examine my heart. Do I want men to notice? Or do I want Jesus to? Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) The woman who anointed Jesus could see with her heart what His own disciples could not see with their eyes or hear with human ears. Jesus was going to die and become a sacrifice.

It says in the word of God that Abraham was found righteous because he believed. His good deeds got him nowhere only faith allowed him to regain right standing with God. To have confident hope means we see beyond today into forever and can live for that place even when it yields no earthly benefit. Obedience is not the offering of our life in sacrifice, but to do so expecting only Jesus makes it so. Abraham had nothing to boast about yet the entire Jewish nation still calls his name. Our boast can only be Jesus Christ. Nothing we do or say can add make us more worthy of God’s Love.

Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Do not grow weary in well doing my friend! (Galatians 6:9) Weariness and resentment come with misplaced expectation. The enemy wants nothing more than to discourage God’s People and persuade them to stop doing good deeds for the Kingdom. God gives seed to the sower. So if you are doing and doing but feel drained and empty, it is probably because somewhere along the way it became your efforts and not Christ’s sufficiency that was carrying you. In 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 it talks about God providing for those who are generous. It also gives us two good things that should come of our efforts for Christ. The needs of believers should be met. They will joyfully express thanks to you…no wait that’s not what it says, but rather “and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.”

The grace of God is revealed to us as we are given the gift of salvation. No we can live in right standing with the Father as sons and daughters of God. We must evaluate each step that we take to make sure we stay in alignment with Jesus because the enemy will try to lie and deceive us. Pride rises up to preserve our flesh. No one wants to die for Christ but it is the death of our flesh giving way to the Spirit that allows us to see that it’s really not about me anymore. For me die is to live in Christ. When I do good deeds, it should be as seed sown in Heaven. To desire earthly reward and attention is to pluck that seed from God’s Hand and put it into someone else’s. I don’t want that. I want to endure to the end and be saved. I don’t want my children to think I am a great mom anymore and nothing like my biological mom, but see the attributes of my Heavenly Father as should everyone I run into in every day. Good deeds can be a tree of life. It just depends on where you plant them.

James 2:17-20 (NLT)
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

Well, Shut My Mouth

Well, Shut My Mouth

Shut My Mouth

March 31, 2016


Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 


Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Grumble. Complaining. Arguing. Backbiting. Gossip. All these things are faith stealers and joy killers yet we get sucked in day by day as the dissatisfaction of the surrounding world seeps into our lives, churches, homes and hearts. There are days when I ask the Holy Spirit to put His Hand over my mouth as I feel words not worthy of my salvation and the grace that I have received rising up within me. I was not necessarily born with a filter. I usually speak what is on my mind. It has taken fifty years of growth to mature to the point that most of the time I actually think about my words and the power that they hold before I speak them rather than casting them carelessly around with total disregard. So today…forgive me. The Lord and I are dealing with my words so bear with me. My boast is in the Lord and when my words reflect anything other than the love, faith, hope, joy and peace that I have in Jesus – it is time to find to shut my mouth.


Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Unwholesome talk. We cannot a lot it. Every single word that we speak releases something in the atmosphere. Every word even whispered is heard by the enemy who knows our heart at that moment because from the abundance of our heart words come tumbling out. Sometimes I think the Holy Spirit intentionally allows us to say what’s on our mind so we can see what He is dealing with. Perhaps then and only then, we can rip out the roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, anxiety, fear and stress that keep us from accomplishing Kingdom Goals and fulfilling God’s Perfect Plan for our redeemed life.


Get rid of ALL rage, anger, brawling, slander, and every other form of malice. What about righteous anger? Who are we “allowed” to be mad at? To be angry with someone and sin not is a tall order. Our nature is retaliation but to rid ourselves of all malice means that we must be kind and compassionate applying grace to all human situations and every person that we meet. So who are we going to be mad at now? The enemy. Do you really think the team who wins the Super Bowl, Word Series or Grand Prix gives a second thought to the team who loses or comes in second? No, they are celebrating victory. Celebrating together, praising their sponsors (who in our case is Jesus). They are not concerned with anything except the fact that they won! We win. Jesus overcame the world. Now if we can just overcome our doubt…


Complete confidence in Jesus Christ will change our heart and mind, as well as our attitude and actions. But here is the thing that cuts to my core today, religion changes our actions a lot of times but only a relationship with Jesus will change our attitude. As a reminder, we tend to be a hardhearted and stiff-necked generation. No matter how strong and victorious we are living in the Favor of God – there is that one Jezebel that sends us running to the cave like Elijah. No weapon formed against us can prosper. Christ is victorious. I heard a verse in a song say that “He borrowed the tomb for three days.” Our words can build walls around our heart and introduce things to our mind not of God. These things take root and become prisons keeping us from walking fully and freely in the Favor of God that is given to His Children. If the Lord can speak through a donkey and shut the mouths of lions, He can shut my mouth, too.


Matthew 15:10-14 (NIV)

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”


Jesus listens when we speak. He knows our heart condition already yet still listens because each word will be placed before us for accountability. Of course, God looks for Truth. Truth covered in love that is. Isn’t that what He did for us? He took the truth about us and covered it in His Blood and Grace. There are many doctrines and religions that tell us what to do and how to live. However churches are often the breeding ground of contempt. Why? We know better. If our mission in this world is for Heaven to come down and touch the earth sparking a revival and if our goal is true discipleship, there is no place for our opinion. It is all about God’s Love and the Truth – Jesus Christ.


Does every single word I speak point to Jesus Christ? Does it turn on an indescribable light that leads others to His Love? As I lay my words on the altar, I am sad to say that not every one of them is worthy of His Name. As I pick through each sacrifice of breath, I realize the very Breath of His Spirit is grieved by some of them and now so am I. I don’t want to be a Pharisee with a mouth that is nothing more than a whitewashed tomb or a cup clean on the outside but filthy on the inside. The Word of God cuts bone from marrow and now in me, too. Bitterness is a root that comes from a seed. The Holy Spirit weeds the heart of the willing but it is done at the sacrifice of pride. To have any root other than Jesus Christ as the foundation of our thoughts at the center of one’s heart and mind is to invite death and devastation. Faith killers, joy stealers, dream crushers, and satisfaction enders are the words left unfiltered by washing them in the Word, inspected by His Spirit and smothered in His Love.


James 3:3-6 (NIV)

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.


Proverbs 18:21 tell us that “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The words released from our mouth have the absolute power to change the atmosphere. It is not in our own understanding or wisdom but each delivery that comes from a heart filled with love and Spirit produced fruit. I have lived most of my life with my foot in my mouth. I have released horrible words that I wish I could take back. I have learned through many trials that what I say can spark a fire of devastating force. Until I have absolute control of my words and are brave enough to measure them up to God’s Standard of Communication with the absence of all malice. His Word for us is Jesus. He came in the flesh and died for my sins so I could live victoriously. Why do I get caught up in this world? Why do I allow ungodly communication to proceed from my mouth? Why? Life is a process. As the Lord uses His Love and Grace to reveal the areas of our heart still under construction. He will forgive me for my rotten fruit not fit for His People. It is up to me if I will produce a good crop.


James 3:9-12 (NIV)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.


Today I making a concentrated effort to taste each word before I release it. So many times we credit the enemy for his tactics and skillful attacks that leave us devastated and hurting. We applaud him for ruining our day. We give him kudos for knowing just what to do to push our buttons. Is he really that good? Or was just listening to the words that we were speaking? Did he get a hint in our complaining? Did he find an open door in our grumbling? Did he sneak in through bitterness, unforgiveness or malice planting weeds in the Fruit of our Spirit? The Holy Spirit seals us to the Day of Redemption but we still must master this thing called free will. It is the part of us that chooses to love the Lord in all things rather remaining subject just to do’s and don’ts. Our heart must be so full of Jesus that when anything contrary to His Word, Will or Way comes to mind it is quickly and completely taken captive and our complaints will die in our mouth rather than spreading toxin in our life.


When pressure and persecution come, it is our job to respond rather than react. It doesn’t matter what another person says when we stand before the Lord. It will be every word that proceeded from my mouth under careful and complete examination. Grace does not stop the process just allows us to make it through all those times the filter fell off of our mouth and corrupt communication escaped us. (Matthew 12:36) Hence, life and death is in our tongue. Could it be revival has been buried in our words? Is it possible that chronic complaining, backbiting, or gossip has stopped the signs, wonder and miracles of God around us? Totally possible and highly probable. Have we killed the next great move of God in our expressed dissatisfaction in our Lord? Any complaint we have is against the Lord no matter who we think is the cause? Any grumbling rumbles discord through our life as our faith is challenged by our fears? We must shut our mouths and let the Lord filter our words if our desire is that His Kingdom be manifested on the earth.


Well, my filter fell off. It did. I repent Lord for saying things not representative of the overwhelming grace that I have been given. My river of life is just a bit salty. Cleanse it in your flow today. Wash every word of mine with the Truth of your word. Cover every uncertainty and complaint with the Blood of Jesus. May each word of mind be tied to God’s Great Love for me and carried to another. May the only fire in my words today that spark revival in my heart and soul to start a blaze for Your Glory around the word. It begins with me, Jesus. My words. My communication. No matter what another person says, let my words be always and only reflective of You – Jesus. Just you. Not me. Take the coal of from the altar today – Lord I ask you to cleanse my tongue so I may be used for Your Glory. Amen.


Isaiah 6:5-8 (NIV)

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

To Love a Hedgehog

To Love a Hedgehog

John 15:12-13 (NIV)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For as long as I can remember our son has been fascinated with animals of all kinds. His childhood hero was Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. He would do documentaries on our family as though we were some wild pack in the voice of Jacque Cousteau. When he became an adult, he could finally begin to collect his menagerie. One of these creatures was a hedgehog. I had no experience with the sweet timid little animals when he asked if we could keep him for the weekend. After much begging by our youngest strategically facilitated by her brother, I relented and he came to our house for the weekend. For those unfamiliar with hedgehogs, they are like tiny porcupines covered in sharp quills that are quite painful. When in fear, he simply rolled up in a tiny poky ball of needles. One can imagine this was not the snuggly pet that my daughter thought he would be. We learned how to handle him in a way that he did not resort to his only defense. It took a great deal of patience and overlooking all the jabs to get used to his demeanor and how to hand him safely. Alas, we were sad (okay maybe not that sad) to see him go home.

I woke up this morning with people on my heart who have struggling relationships. Good people, wonderful individuals, and otherwise lovable creatures who somehow have become offended by another now living in discord. An offense can be anything that causes us to be displeased or offended. There is a wide range on the spectrum. It all produces the same result. Division, discord, bitterness and separation. These are hardly the qualities and traits that Jesus demonstrated or commanded us to have but human nature calls the shots sometimes. Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. How can we lay down our very life for another if we are unwilling to put our feelings aside to love them anyway?

Isaiah 44:21-23 (NIV)

“Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.” Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

There are two sides to every offense. The one who is offended. The perpetrator of the offense. It really doesn’t matter which side we are on and quite frankly, knowingly or unknowingly, we all fall short in relationships. I love my husband and children with all of my heart. My greatest desire is to be a good wife and mother. I fall short. Constantly, because I am plagued with being human. The success and failure of my relationships depends solely on Christ. He meets my expectation when others fall short. He forgives me and removes my shame when others are unwilling to do the same. The Lord has swept my offenses away like a cloud removing my sin like the morning midst when the sun comes out. He has redeemed me. Grace is mine. It is given in abundance to not only cover my sins and transgressions against God but to be afforded others with great generosity.

I read a wonderful article on yesterday and shared it on Facebook. It was all about offense and the impact it has on today’s church. Satan is a cunning one. He plays on the emotions of others to suck the life out the modern day church. Until we individually and corporately begin to identify this thing called offense and deal with it directly, it will suffocate the Spirit in us and kill the move of God that we so greatly desire. Revival begins when we lay down our life. We have every reason to rejoice. Acceptance into the Kingdom of God as His Sons and Daughters is really the only affirmation that a person should ever need and enough to draw from for the rest of our natural life.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NIV)

Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Back to our little hedgehog friend with the sharp exterior, the Lord created him as such so that he would have a defense mechanism and means of survival. There are many poky people out there with sharp exteriors and hard hearts where bitter roots have taken hold and as means of self-preservation walls have been built around their heart. On the other side of the coin are those who feel valid in their assault on others, as humility is a sign of weakness. There are many reasons why people develop such an exterior but inside of them is a soft beating heart which has been battered and bruised. Putting our hope and expectation in other people yields nothing but disappointment. Only hope never leads to disappointment and His Name is Jesus.

It doesn’t really matter today if you are the offended or the offender, God loves us just the same. Separation is just as lonely as isolation so it really doesn’t matter what drives us apart. To Jesus the only thing that really matters is getting us back together. He died for every offense and hurt caused by human inability and weakness. Repentance is the solution to offensiveness. It is the only answer to being offended. This is not about anyone else but you and I individually in a relationship with Christ. To allow anyone to hold power over our mind, will and emotions more so than Christ is to completely reject His Love, Grace and Power which is complete. I can choose to not be offended by putting all my expectation in Christ not others because such a stance allows constant forgiveness because I need nothing more. I will not offend others if I walk in love following the example of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. A prickly personality and tough exterior will never welcome people into this amazing love that we have discovered. The Lord is coming closer. He wants to give us a heart and new spirit that will allow us to move deeper in His Presence. To do so requires putting all our faith, hope, trust and expectation in Jesus again AND releasing every offense.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NIV)

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

Is it easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?” It is definitely get up and walk which implies personal power over reliance on God’s Power. We get to participate in walking but the forgiveness of sins solely and completely is the Work of Jesus Christ. I can do nothing but accept it. To live freely and love completely in this life relies on our ability to accept the Love of Jesus as enough to love others without expectation. You cannot get offended if you have no requirement. It would have been absolutely ridiculous for me to get mad at that hedgehog every time he poked me. He was just trying to protect himself. He didn’t know better. How did he know my true intentions? So over the course of his visit, I learned how to handle him gently and lovingly so he knew that we meant no harm. If only we could learn to handle people the same way and with the same respect and compassion as the Lord loves and forgives us.

Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV)

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

When we make the choice to love others unconditionally and decide not to take offense at the actions and attitudes of others, our need for love, affirmation, acceptance and approval will be satisfied in Christ alone. Proverbs 19:11 says that it is to our glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 17:9 tells us that whoever fosters love covers offenses. Lord, help us to get a handle on our selfish need to be right, be first, and be embraced by others to so that we can seek you wholeheartedly and love you completely.

I Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Friends, it is time to suck it up buttercup as the saying goes and bury the hatchets. Not in each other, but throwing them far from us as far as the east is from the west. Bitterness is sin. It takes the place of faith because it is a seed of doubt that we accept when Jesus is not enough to complete our life. To be offended demonstrates a need for more love and acceptance than we have found at the Cross. Ephesians 4:31 encourages us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every other kind of malice. It does on to encourage God’s People to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just like Jesus forgave us. Nowhere does it say to stay mad and go our separate ways which means in doing so we are walking in disobedience. I don’t want to disobey the Lord but walk daily in His Ways. Hebrews 12:15 issues a staunch warning to the Body of Christ that we might do well to heed today. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” We must each examine our own heart today and tear out those bitter roots before they overtake us. We must ask the Lord to forgive us for offending others and if possible ask their forgiveness, too. Humility is not easy or fashionable but rewarded by God every time. To yield our life completely to Christ means putting all of our expectation firmly by faith in Him. This leaves no room for offense only an open door for love!

Proverbs 10:9-12 (NIV)

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Whoever winks maliciously causes grief and a chattering fool comes to ruin. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.