Who gets the Victory in your Life?

One of the first things I remember being a preacher’s daughter was my mom telling me, I couldn’t bring my baby doll to church with me on Sunday nights anymore. I was probably in kindergarten or first grade and being that services typically went long on Sunday nights. I always enjoyed  bringing my baby doll with me. I am sure it kept me occupied during the long night and I probably ended up cuddling with it and falling asleep at some point. I really don’t remember, but one thing I do remember is sitting next to the daughter of the deacon that night who had told my daddy I couldn’t bring my baby doll anymore to church. I sat there and watched as she played with her doll, wondering why the rules were different for her than me.

 

That would not be the last time I would be singled out as the preachers daughter and be expected to keep a standard higher than others around me,  but it will forever be embedded in my memory. I still deal with fighting bitterness and anger from that incident. Especially since I still have contact with the daughter and see how she now gets to care for her parents. I am not going to lie, I have wondered, why would God allow someone that was so mean to my father,  still get to live and why would a God that loves me take my daddy instead, and at such a young age. My daddy has been gone since I was 23 years old. He hasn’t gotten to be a part of my kids lives nor see his great grandchildren or see what kind of a woman I have grown into. My husband has missed the mentoring that my father could of provided to his ministry that would of been so useful especially in the early years.

 

But one thing is not different about me, I am still expected by God to forgive. Just like anyone else in this world. You may ask “Well what is expected of us”.  The bible says If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20) Then Matthew reminds us “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

 

Oh! That isn’t the only hurt in the church that has happened to me, in fact I am pretty certain satan has instigated many opportunities for me to be bitter and angry at God’s people. It’s not important I share all the details of the opportunities for offence I have had. See,  I am not alone in this. Satan has been using these tricks to discourage believers since the beginning of time. Just look at the story of Job in the bible. We are told that satan and God are having a conversation. When God says “Have you considered my friend Job” In the conversation God basically tells satan, you can do anything you want to Job except take his life, and he will not turn his back on me”. So satan goes after Job, he ends up taking everything Job has expect his complaining and nagging wife, which if you read the story you realize, she was probably working for satan. Even in all that Job lost, his children, his home, Job refused to turn away from God. Job tells us that even if he dies, he will not stop trusting in God. I guess that is what I would have to say too.

 

See, my family has failed me, my friends has failed me, my church has failed me, my denomination has failed me, but one thing I can say is my God has never failed me. Oh! I lived in a season of my life in bitterness and anger and all it did was hurt me and the people around me.  And you know what? The people that hurt me so much and who I was so angry at continued on with their lives as if, nothing had happened. I was the only one hurt. I was letting my bitterness and anger hold me captive while the one that I wanted so badly to hurt went on with their lives.

 

I was a prisoner in my own world, a world I had created of bitterness, isolation and anger. I didn’t realize that I was angry at the wrong people. I, like all of us, needs to focus on the real enemy and that is satan. I,  like all of us also, needs to realize that with every opportunity for bitterness,unforgiveness and anger that comes my way, I need to remember that this also, like Job, maybe a test, Perhaps God has put so much faith and trust in me, He has told satan, “Go ahead, see what you can do to her”. Like a coach who puts his best player out in the time of the game that is critical to the team, he is depending on you to make that finial point for the team to win the game.

 

When we come to look at every opportunity for offence as an opportunity to rise above and be the shining star on God’s team. We will then let Christ’s love in us shine through and overshadow any root of bitterness. When we realize every opportunity of unforgiveness is just a trick from the enemy. We will begin to see a whole lot less opportunities for unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. Because satan soon leaves stops using tricks that don’t work. It is important that we realize we are not a war against people but satan, its just that satan often uses people as his ploys. We can see from the beginning of time, satan as only used those things to slip us up and keep us from the life that God has called us. But Jesus died for us to live.

 

Christ doesn’t desire for us to just have life here on this earth but He desires for us to live an abundant life John 10:10 tells us that satan comes to steal our joy, kill our hope  and destroy our faith in God. But Christ came that we would have that abundant life, not just an ordinary life but an abundant life that is full of joy and peace, that is a comfort for those who are in need and a peace to those who are troubled. One of the ways we can receive that abundant life is the choice we make when we are tempted to refuse to forgive and live in unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment.

 

Make no mistake we always have a choice how we respond and that choice either glorifies God, or glorifies satan. So the question is, who are you living for? Who do you want your life to glorify? It isn’t the people that hurt us or our families we need to be angry out, it is satan himself and the sooner we realize that,  the best defense to his skeem is to not play in his hand. Because as long as we live in unforgiveness and bitterness satan wins and I for one refuse to allow him to have any victory in my life. What about you?

 

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Chad’s Southern Draw! (Who do you sound like)

Chad’s Southern Draw! (Who do you sound like)

If you have spent anytime around my 2 guys Jeff and Chad, you may have noticed a couple of similarities. Besides the fact they are both large in stature and have the biggest hearts anyone could ask for. Once they open their mouths it is suddenly revealed. They both have a southern draw. Jeff was born and raised in Mobile Alabama. “The Heart of Dixie and the Port City of the South”, as he likes to call it. Jeff didn’t leave Mobile till after he graduated from High School and then went into the United States Air Force.

 

Chad was born and raised in Kansas and has only been down south a handful of times. So, you may ask “Why does Chad often sound like he was born and raised in the south? And to that  question I would respond “Because he lived around his father for 21 years.” He has practically been in his father’s back pocket most of his life. He admires his dad and wants to pretty much be exactly like him.

 

Now I am not gonna lie, I have heard Chad embellish his southern accent a few times and like any other southerner he can draw it out more sometimes than others. But Chad legitimately sounds like a southerner most days. Especially, when he is responding respectively to his elders as he as been taught to do so by saying “Yes, Ma’am and No Sir”.

 

All this got me thinking….. Isn’t that the way we should all talk? Oh! I don’t mean we need to have a southern draw, but we need to talk and act like our Heavenly Father.  All to often in my husband and I’s line of work, we see people, accept Jesus as their Savior or claim they have in the past but yet we see no reflection of that from their lifestyle.  They don’t talk like Him, They don’t act like Him and they never or rarely visit His house. But yet they say “Oh! I love God” or “Oh! God has been so good to me” they have even called us up and said “I just wanted to call you and tell you what God did for me today”.

 

Which, don’t get me wrong it is great that they are acknowledging where the good in their life comes from, and the fact they admit and realize there even is a God is a good thing too. But I often have to wonder and have actually been tempted to respond to them “ I don’t think God gave you that job, I think the devil did, because it is gonna keep your out of God’s house on Sunday” or “ Keep you so busy you don’t have anytime for God” Oh! And I love this one “ I have just been praying and asking God but I haven’t had an answer yet, and I don’t know why God hasn’t answered my prayer?” To which I really want to say “ Well if you want God to answer your prayers, the bible says you first have to follow Him”.

 

I often feel like, if we could see some people with spiritual eyes, they would look like those orphan children in the foreign countries, you know the ones, that are on the TV commercials, with their bellies swollen and flies swarming around their little faces, almost like they are just waiting from them to die. Because on the outside these people, look normal, but spiritually on the inside they are suffering from malnutrition.  

 

God warned us about a society like this in the bible, in 2 Timothy  (NIV)

“1….in the last days.2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. “

 

Did you hear that? “Having a form of godliness but denying its power” They have just enough salvation to get to heaven but not enough to live a victorious life. They have accepted Christ but they have refused to deny themselves and they are lovers of pleasure and wants their desires more than they love God. They aren’t willing to give up their will and their way, or they made it to a point in their spiritual walk after accepting Christ where, they came to a challenge and God didn’t answer their prayer the way they wanted.

So, they have a dilemma a crossroads as such, they have to ask themselves, do they continue to trust this God, that didn’t give them what they wanted or do they go back to their old lifestyle? For many they get stuck at a crossroads as such.They have what Henry Blackaby, in the book Experiencing God, calls a Crisis of Belief.  With a little bit of Jesus in them, but a whole lot of the world still lingering. And I tell you from what I have seen, the longer a person, stays stuck, the further backwards they go.

They don’t understand that the reality is to truly to have an intimate, growing relationship with God. James tell us to2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV

And in Romans 5 we find, 3.but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

Then when I hear that word hope, it reminds me that God said “Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things not seen”  Hebrews 11:1 NIV. We cannot give up when things get bad in life, when life doesn’t go our way. God warned us all those years ago that  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 (NIV)

See the beauty of all this, is that we aren’t at the end of our story. We aren’t at the end of our life, even when we take our last breath on this earth, there is another life to come. So we have to hang on and trust in the Creator of the Universe, knowing that in HIs wisdom God will reveal His plan in time and the truth is, His plan is always better then what we could hope for. Opps! There is that word again! Hope! Don’t lose, it! Don’t let satan take it from you! Don’t give up!

Because “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for” and “Without Faith”,Hebrews 11:6 says “it is impossible to please God”  and you know what the bonus points on this verse is? God says “He rewards those who seek Him” one translations said earnestly seeks Him, another said sincerely seeks Him, and another said “diligently seeks Him”.

Chad has earnestly sought to be like his father to the point he even sounds and often acts like him and yet he has rarely been to Alabama. So, if Chad can sound like his earthly father down here, how much more can we sound and act like our Heavenly Father if we will only seek Him and trust that when we follow Him everything will be okay, even if it doesn’t look like it now. Because we never want to forget, “hope does not disappoint….” Romans 5:5 NASB

Minimalist or Selfishness, That is the Question?

Minimalist or Selfishness, That is the Question?

 As I was unloading the dishwasher the other day I looked at the probably 30 or more forks, knives and spoons I have. I recalled the 4 -9×13 casserole dishes up in my cabinet,  and the 5 or so iron skillets I have on my stove, then I recalled some recent conversations I have had over the last several months.
For some people, they seem to think having 4 plates, 4 sets of silverware and 1 skillet and 1 casserole dish for a family of 4 is enough. I have literately known people who think, if they have more then 1 skillet and one pot it is to much. People like that confuse me.
Maybe it is the fact that, I was raised in a ministers home where we had to always be ready for guest, or maybe it was just the generation but when I was growing up, if we were looking for a home, one of the first things my parents looked for was “is there a guest room” and if there wasn’t how could we make room if company came, so we could entertain. I mean we now are living more in a minimalists society where it is cool to live with less and the smaller the house the better. But, that really has me wondering, is less best?
I mean if you limit the amount of plates you have in your cabinet doesn’t that limit the amount of guest you can have over, and if you only have 1 skillet and 1 pot how many people can you really cook for? If you have a tiny house that can only sleep 2 people how do you have family or over night guest over? When we limit ourselves of the ability to entertain others we begin to isolate ourselves.
I don’t see anywhere in the bible where Christ isolated himself from others on a regular basis. His life was centered around community and fellowship. The feeding of the 5,000 for instance. What would of happened if Christ would of said. Oh! That is way to many people, I don’t want be around that many people. Most theologians believe that He lived with Lazarus and his sisters when He wasn’t on the road ministering. Then, remember the time He left his family to go hang out in the temple and teach. The bible even talks about the fact that He was accused of being a drunkard and glutton because He was always hanging out with people who ate and drank. (Matt 11:19)
The bible talks about hospitality in several different places. It reminds us in Hebrew 13:2, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. It also tells us to “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” in 1 Peter 4:9.
See to me, all this minimalist stuff portrays its self, as a way to gain control and be happier. Now don’t get me wrong. I think you need to live within your means, but having some extra silverware or pots and pans never broke anyone. But limiting yourself on who you can help and give a meal to is just selfishness. I believe that minimalist stuff is simply a mask in most cases for us to be selfish. Now, I am sure this isn’t the case for everyone one and I understand for some this is an opportunity to live debt free so you can do more for others, Which is great if that is really the case. But for many it is simply a curtain to disguises our selfishness of having to entertain others. For some it is a way to try to conform to what everyone else is doing.
But there is another trick that satan likes to use on those of us who are blessed enough to have a big enough house with more than 4  forks & plates for our family of 4.  Satan has us convinced we are to busy to entertain guests in our home and fellowship with others. Often satan wants to distract us by keeping us busy.  We are all to often so focused on our own survival of working so hard to pay our bills we don’t make time to even consider socializing with others.
There is a saying that says “Isolation Brings Devastation” Doctors confirm that ” When a person experiences too much solitude or feels socially isolated from others, he or she may develop feelings of loneliness, social anxiety, helplessness, or depression, among others.” (goodtherapy.com) Proverbs 18:1 tells us “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;..”
So who’s desire are you seeking today? Are you living a life that reflects Christ’s life? Are you entertaining others in your home?  Who is in your sphere of influence? Have you isolated yourself to a select few or worst yet, none at all?
I hope this week you won’t just continue to do the same old thing you have been doing for years.  I hope you will reach out to those around you that, you normally wouldn’t reach out to. So your life, like Christ’s will reflect a since of community and fellowship. Ask yourself today, Who have I shown Christ love to recently? What have I been willing to sacrifice for others, because Christ sacrificed everything for me. Remember we can sacrifice a little (at least) for others because Christ gave His ALL for us. I sure am glad Christ wasn’t a minimalist with His love or else you or I might not be here today. So let’s show His love to all!