Candy, Anyone?

Be soft … not fluffy … not squishy … not not brittle … not chewy … and not hard. 

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Cotton candy is fluffy. It really has no substance, no depth, no strength of taste. It’s just super sweet and evaporates rather quickly. Marshmallows are squishy. They are great in hot chocolate or melted in s’mores, but they are so squishy and weak on flavor, it’s hard to eat more than one or two. 

Now, peanut brittle can be rather tasty, but it’s so brittle (pun intended), breakable and cracks so easily, it can leave behind an incredible mess. On the other hand, caramel can be rather chewy and filling, except it’s so sticky, if you’re not careful, it might just remove a filling! Once it’s stuck to something, it can be very hard to remove. 

Hard candies can be tasty, yet they can be so unbendable, unyielding that they can damage your teeth, and once hard candy is broken, the edges can be sharp and pointed, having dangerous edges, almost like glass. Some even like licorice, but it seems a little lacking in flavor and is so leathery and tough, there’s not much point in pondering long with it. 

However, chocolate seems to be a universal delight. Some of the most expensive “candies” are listed as chocolate. Chocolate is smooth, soft, and pliable. It is known to be the “candy” that brings about good feelings and will uplift a mood. 

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Chocolate can be both diverse and traditional. It is incredibly tasty and can have an endless number of things added to it to even enhance its flavor. Chocolate can be thick and powerful, or it can be creamy and comforting. It can be consumed in large quantities or tiny little bites, either way, the feelings of warmth and happiness remains the same. Chocolate has been said to be a taste that can touch the very soul of a person. Simply put, chocolate is very hard for most to live without. 

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Have you ever looked at a piece of candy and compared yourself? If you were to choose a piece of candy from this list, which might you choose? If you had to compare one of these to your own personality, your attitude and your life story, which might it be? 

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Let us always seek to be soft in words rather than hard, smooth in action rather rough and leatherlike. May our lives be known as smooth and delightful, comforting and strong, making a powerful impact wherever we go, such an impact that those around would pay a high price just to have one moment with us. 

Let us always seek to touch the soul instead of the heart, because the soul is the depth of the sea, but the heart can change like the tide. For, Jeremiah reminds us, “Deceptive above all things is the human heart.” May we always seek to be the one thing which it’s hard to live without. 

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What Will You Choose?

What are you choosing today? Are you choosing life, or are you choosing death? Are you choosing joy, or are you choosing sorrow? Are you choosing peace, or are you choosing chaos?

You might say, “Well, you don’t know my circumstances. I can’t choose anything! I am a victim.” Yet, I have to disagree. You may not have control of your circumstances, but you do have control of YOU! You can choose how you handle those circumstances, and you can choose how you react to whatever you are facing.

Just as you cannot control or change the wind and the storms that come, you may not be able to control or change bad things from happening around you or even to you. However, you have complete control over your emotions and your actions. You can decide, right now, how you will react to those bad things. Will you “flip out,” refusing to be consoled or comforted? Will you become angry, lashing out in anger? Or will you take a deep breath, step back and assess the damages, and approach the situation with peace and wisdom? Will you handle the chaos with the kind of strength and grace that helps someone else along the way?

You have the ability to choose today. Choose life. Choose peace. Choose joy. Your choices not only impact those in that present situation, but they can impact others for generations to come.

What will your choices leave behind?

What Is Your Tone?

Speaking truth bathed in love and grace is so important. Sometimes, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” If we speak truth, but it’s covered with bitter tones, hateful actions, and looks of disgust; then, our love is so covered up with mud that it’s surely hard to see.

speak-life2Some today would say, if I disagree with you then I am sending a message of hatred and disgust; however, I have to adamantly disagree with this premise. If my child is playing in the street and a car is barreling down his path, I disagree with him being in that street and will speak out against it to save his life. Even though, I disagree with the position in which he is standing, it is not because I hate him. Even so, in that moment, if I simply look at him with eyes of disgust and scream hateful things at him about being in the road, he might become very confused as to why I desire him to move. This is to what I am referring.

Sometimes, we can be screaming to this world the truth about Jesus and His love for every person, but we fail to give them His love and grace as well. We tell them all about hell and the torture and destruction they will find there, but we forget to share the promise of heaven and the glorious eternity we will encounter. We speak of all the sin and degradation in which they live, but we neglect to give away the hope we have found and how there is a better way survive these days on earth.

Let us shout TRUTH from the rooftops, but let us do it with arms of love spread wide. Let us speak words of life into the hears of those desperately needing a change, and let us snatch lost souls from hell while we embrace them and wipe their tears.

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“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ” Prov. 18:21

Shovel or Spoon?

Do you have a shovel or spoon today?

We hold love, grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, patience, joy, and so many more virtues within our hands each and every day. How do we measure these out to those around us? Do we give these away like candy? Do we use a shovel to measure how much we give to others?

Or do we use a teaspoon, carefully divulging our treasures to those we encounter? Do they have to work hard to earn our love? Do they have to shed blood, sweat and tears to receive our forgiveness and kindness when there’s been a transgression?

The Word says, “It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” His mercies are new for us each and every day. He has a great big “shovel” to measure our mercies when the day is new.

Are we following His example today?

Please understand, this is not to bring condemnation, nor is it to approve of violence, abuse or sin. I am simply referring to how we treat one another in common arenas. It seems so many Christians are fighting with each other over petty opinions and haughty points of view. Too many have become so offended by the differences of, what I will call, “first degree” judgments that we ruin our witness with the very ones who so desperately need Him.

I read recently about the largest “bucket” machine every built. It was called the “Big Muskie.” It had a bucket capacity of 220 cubic yards and could hold two Greyhound buses side by side. God’s measuring devices are even bigger than that!

What if we tried using His measuring portions today?

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Where Are You Leading Them?

millstoneLet us never lead a little one to stumble. I have found that this Scripture can be interpreted in so many different scenarios. Literally, it can mean leading small children away in their faith (or in other things, for that matter). It can, also, mean distracting new converts from their new commitment to God’s calling, and it can even be mature Christians being directed down the wrong path by prideful, egotistical or ambitious fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

As Christians, we must be so careful not to lead “little ones” astray from the Word of God and from what He has in store for their lives. The Bible says it is better for a millstone to be wrapped around your neck and you thrown into the depths of the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble! In case, you don’t know what a millstone is, it was one of the large circular stones used to grind grain in grist mills years ago.

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When we are called into leadership, when we are called into teaching capacities, and even when we are placed in situations by God to help someone learn more about Him, our number one goal should be to lead them closer to Him not away from Him! We can only do this as we seek His face and listen for His answers to their questions and wonderings.

Whether we are a parent, a mentor, a teacher, or simply a friend, we should never take lightly a position of influence in someone else’s life. We should boldly walk in the authority He gives us but never because of our own wisdom, strength or abilities. We should approach it with buckets full of humility and grace, lest we get filled with pride and lead one of His precious ones away from what He has in store for them.

Let us be ever prayerful and ever mindful when it concerns someone who is impacted by our words and deeds. Let us always be humble and full of grace, and never let us take lightly the positions of leadership and influence He gives us in someone else’s life.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42

 

The Little Things

I know last week was Valentine’s Day, and we celebrated “love” and all that ‘mushy stuff’ then, but I was thinking about my marriage today, about our 20th anniversary coming up in a few months, and I’d like to share a little secret with you…

It’s not always the big stuff that will make you fall in love with your spouse every day. It’s not the dozen roses that he might bring or the expensive ring he might buy. It’s not the extravagant dinner or the fancy theater on which he splurges. It’s not even the great big words used to describe his love or the great big card on which he wrote them. 

Yeah, all those things are beautiful, fun and exciting. They make celebrations special, memorable and great posts for social media. But the things that make me fall in love each and every day are the little things…

The placing of reservations in the nice hotel the night before he speaks at the State Capitol; so, we don’t have to fight the traffic at 6am…because I’m just not a morning person.

The patience he has to wait beside me in the coffee line before we leave the hotel…when he doesn’t even drink coffee.

The phone call he makes to see where I am, because I dropped off our son a half hour ago and decided to drop by the grocery store before coming back home.

The walk down the hall and around the corner to ‘drop by’ my office just to see what I think about a new idea.

The excitement he brings our boys by taking them on an adventure while I have a meeting or other obligation to attend.

The way he looks at me across the room, without saying a word, to tell me he believes in me and knows I can do this thing.

These are just a few of the many little things that make our love so big, and it turned my thoughts toward God and His love for us. He is so much greater, and His love runs so much deeper than anything we could ever imagine. He shows us His love every day in so many big ways; yet, it’s the small ways that often bring me to greater emotion…

The song that comes on the radio to lift my spirits just at the moment I’m feeling a little blue.

The flower that blooms despite the wind and the rain.

The people who just “happen” to be there when my husband and I are meandering through the halls of the wrong building trying to find the office we are looking for.

The snow that falls on the day it wasn’t supposed to, but it falls anyway just to show the weatherman it can.

The peace He brings my heart right as I step up to the podium wondering why in the world I am going to speak on what I chose.

The voice mail left on my phone by a friend who calls just to say how much her pastors mean to her and the difference they make.

It’s the little things, sometimes, that bring the biggest impact…the little words, the smile, the hug, the phone calls. Why don’t we try today to share our love toward others in those little things? Why don’t we make an effort today to share our love in the little things toward our Heavenly Father?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37-40

 

 

 

Life Is So Short…Stop.

Friday, some good friends of ours lost two of their nephews in a tragic car accident. Today, another family will be saying goodbye to their father, grandfather and husband, whom they lost suddenly about a week ago, and yet, another family just laid to rest their family matriarch, yesterday, after her sudden illness in just the last few days. There are several more I could mention who are going through a season of grief or who are just on the verge of it. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours.

Life is so short. It slows down for no one. Stop. Inhale. Breathe. Make the Moments Last. Cherish those you love longer. Treasure those around you, even when you feel like they’ll be there forever. Don’t let those memories be lost, simply, because you haven’t the time to remember. Don’t brush away the tears, simply, because you don’t want them to see. Pause and ponder. Look up and wonder. Gaze into the eyes of a child, and remember what matters most.

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Sometimes, life can be a fierce reminder of what can be lost in an instant. We are never guaranteed tomorrow. We are never promised our next breath. This why it’s so important to savor the dimming light in a sunset, to treasure those last embers around the campfire. We never know what may be around the next bin or beyond the next horizon. How we handle “right now” may determine our regrets and our joys for tomorrow.

We can live our lives letting life happen, or we can choose to make life happen. We can roll on, allowing life to impact us in whatever fashion it comes, or we can choose to make an impact on the life around us. We can be a victim, or we can be the victor. What we do with the time we are given may very well become our anthem or our lament.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share with you what King Solomon said about this in Ecclesiastes 3…

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.    

…(14) I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever.

From the wisest King who ever lived, we are given confirmation that time never stops; there are seasons for everything, and that whatever God does, that is what will last forever. So, I leave you with this question, ” What things or people do you hold so dear, and for whom are you living your life today?”

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Isolated for Purpose

Just thinking about this today, and thought I’d reshare… 

(Originally posted May 7, 2015)

Have you ever been in a crowd and felt so alone? Have you ever been surrounded by family and friends and, yet, still felt as if you’re isolated and no one cares? I have, and it’s not always a fun place to be! 

Sometimes, I’ve done it to myself. I’ve pulled back from relationships, rejected caring hands, or simply stepped away from the fun and festivities, all the while, feeling as if I didn’t  belong. Other times, a certain responsibility has hindered and caused me to feel isolated,  because sometimes, God will ask you to simply obey and follow His directive rather than allow you to “go play.” Then, there have been those times, where like Esther, He allows me to go through a season of isolation to teach me something and to prepare me for what He has planned ahead in my life.  

No matter the reason, no matter the season, I’m not sure I’ve ever found isolation to be an “exciting” or “thrilling” time; however, I’ve always come out on the other side a little wiser and more experienced, having a little more understanding and compassion for the world around me.  As I’ve grown older, I have learn to be patient in these moments and have actually begun to look forward to the end result, knowing that on the other side, I’ll be a better person for it. 

I’ve always emerged from the times of isolation with a deeper awareness of those around me, with a keener sense of confidence that I can make it through the next time and a more intense passion for where I am going. Those times of isolation, especially when they are appointed times to walk closer with God, have always caused me to have a deeper thirst for His presence and a deeper hunger for His grace. These moments have always caused me to realize more fully the Scripture, “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6,8) For it is in those times of isolation, we all find that He “sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24). 

When I read Scripture, I see the great heroes of the faith went through many times of isolation and loneliness. Abraham left his family to obey God and move to the land of Canaan. Later, he became the father of nations. Joseph spent years in isolation, while in prison, until he became the second in command to Pharoah. Daniel was isolated in his times of prayer and later in the lions’ den before being valued as a friend of the king. David spent years tending sheep in the pasturelands and then spent years running from Saul before he was crowned king. Esther spent 12 months in isolation while being prepared to meet the king. Paul was isolated in prison before preaching to noblemen and rulers. John was isolated on the Isle of Patmos while writing the Book of Revelation. All of these men and women were isolated, and each one of them did great works for God. They made an impact. They left a legacy. 

Loneliness, when given to God, can bring out the best in us. It can make us strong, more aware, more deliberate in our actions. Isolation, when guided by God, develops within a deeper walk with Him. It causes us to focus on Him. It causes us to hear Him, and it will cause us to have a greater impact for Him. 

So, I leave you with this… How deep is your walk? How far are you willing to go? Will you step into a season of isolation if He leads you there? Can you submit to loneliness in order to grow and be more effective? 

Will you go?

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

Counted Worthy

Acts 5:41-42 “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

…rejoicing because of ridicule and persecution?? Who does that?? I don’t see many in today’s society who get excited over verbal attacks, much less, physical attacks! You can pick up today’s paper or turn on the nightly news and see accounts of those who are angry at any intolerance, any mocking or even the slightest implication of ridicule for their given faith, lifestyle or even choice of words. These men, here in the Scripture, were thrown in prison, mocked, accused, about to receive a death sentence, and ended up simply being flogged (for anyone wondering, that means “to be beat with a whip or stick”), and yet, they left rejoicing, because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 

This Scripture is so challenging to me. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about suffering, and especially, about being beat with a whip or stick. Honestly, that’s not quite my vision of a “fun day!” Yet, these men loved God so much that they were willing to go through all of this just so they could testify of His Name. They rejoiced that the suffering came their way, because it enables them to preach more boldly to others of His glory, and they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news from that day forward!

With the news headlines of all the Christians around the world being killed by ISIS, and so many other happenings in our own nation, this scenario is coming so close to being a reality within our own Land of the Free and The Brave. Growing up, I never thought this could happen here; yet, now, as an adult, I’m not so naive nor idealistic. I know it can happen in the blink of an eye, and to be honest, it does give me pause. 

I read books like Jesus Freak and Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and my faith is challenged by their boldness in the face of persecution. My petty little worries of friendships, light bills and “Are my children doing their homework today?” vanish into thin air in the light of their martyrdom. I pray I can be found this faithful. I pray I can be found this encouraging and this bold to share my testimony with others even if I am staring death in the face. 

It’s so easy to boldly proclaim your allegiance when no one is threatening you. It’s so easy to declare your faithfulness when you don’t have a gun aimed at your head, or your children are lined up at the stake, but as I read Jesus Freaks, I truly wonder if I could keep my bold faith when looking down the barrel of a semi-automatic or my children’s very lives are being threatened.

I pray I am found faithful and true. I pray I can remain steadfast and committed to the One who saved me, forgave me and gave me new life. I pray that, if I am found worthy of suffering disgrace for His sweet Name, I am able to stand, rejoicing, proclaiming His goodness and grace for everyone to see. 

How about you? What do you see? What would you do?

Watching Airplanes

IMG_9574 As I watch the plans fly over, I wonder who might be on it, where they might be from, where they are going, where they’ve been?

Is it a mother, a father, a friend?
Is it brother, sister, next of kin?
Are they going north, south, east or west?
Are they returning home or leaving less?

Is it their first time or last time?
Do they want to be there or is it more a crime?
Is it a business man just making his sum?
Is it a young soldier returning from the war for freedom?

I do wonder who they are and what is their stories. I wonder what kind of person they’ve become. What kind of person they long to be. All the airplanes going to and fro. So many people, so many lives never knowing this one girl watching them from below.

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