You are so beautiful

Peeling back the layers from me of dedicated mother, doting grandmother, sister, cousin and niece, you will find that underneath all those things there is still a fragment of a girl left deep down inside of me. When I was young I read all the magazines and tried all the make-up tricks trying to look beautiful. As the years passed and the styles changed I kept up pretty good and I still use all the eye make-up, liquid eye-liner and all that I got so fond of back in the sixties, I don’t like lipstick also a throw back to those days, and I can’t lose my “teasing brush” as hard as I might try. Our society is obsessed with our appearance and the way people perceive us has everything to do with how we present ourselves. People get face-lifts, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, Botox in all possible cracks and crevices in our face and neck; diet to lose fat, gain muscle, look younger, or simply to wear a smaller size jeans.

What is all the falderal about? What possible difference does it make in the larger picture of life?

I look at photos of children starving, every bone in their body showing through a layer of skin that has no cushion of fat in it. They are worried about where their next meal will come from not counting calories. I have seen a woman who was so scarred on her face and neck from being burned she was beyond any recognition of her former self, yet when she looked at you with her kind eyes and sweet spirit, her loving attitude so soothing to her loved ones that you forgot her scars and only saw her soul. There have been both women and men that had a pleasant outward appearance and you thought them attractive until they opened their mouth and their sour, self absorbed attitude so prevailed that you no longer saw them as attractive but as the hateful human being they really were. My mother always answered my question of how I looked with, “Pretty is as pretty does!”

1 Samuel 16:7 But GOD told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face GOD looks into the heart.”  The forty-nine times in the Bible that “beauty” is referenced, it is most often speaking of the “beauty of holiness“. Psalm 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. What I love most is to hear the honest, joyful laugh of a child, or the sudden tears that spring from happy eyes, and I love to be the one that caused that laugh or did something that brought those happy tears. If I can do that I will consider myself beautiful by anyone’s measure. God loves beauty, you can see it when the trees are changing colors, in the graceful Magnolia tree with her giant glossy leaves and soft white flowers, or in the eyes of a baby where you see the eternal God looking back at you.

From Psalm 8, “Oh Lord, my Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth, what is man that you are mindful of him” I agree!

 

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What’s next?

When a big event is over, whether it is a big wedding, finally getting your degree, or just a big summer party we begin looking for the next “big thing”!  We look forward to the Braves ballgames and pray we can get to the World Series again and then start thinking about the Falcons and hoping they can put a good season together. The next big thing we look forward to are the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and when the last of the New Years Eve parties are over and the mess is all cleaned up from our parties, we begin to think about the things we need to get done in this coming year, some call these things resolutions!

Having done that we sit back and depression begins to wind its way into our mind like the kudzu vine, which takes over when it is left untended. If we don’t check the depression and the let down that happens it starts a process in us that can become, what I refer to as a broken mind. It can happen when you let yourself become so stressed over things at hand that you begin to block out the things that hurt too bad to try to resolve.

We should observe 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care on Him for He cares for you.” I have heard of people who had a “broken heart”, I have even heard it said that a person “died of a broken heart”, that must be a terrible sadness. We “give our heart to the Lord”, the “heart of the King is in the hand of the Lord”, it is said that the “heart is desperately wicked who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9, the Psalmist said, “Try my reigns (heart) and see if there be any wicked way in me” Psalm 139:24, you get a “heart ache”.

How closely does this relate to the mind?

The heart of a matter is our emotional reaction, the mind, however, is the calculator, the part of us that thinks and decides whether we will or will not serve the Lord, if we will try to do His perfect will.  It is said that if you give a person an inch, they will take a mile. Whoever said that must have been referring to Satan himself. 1Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Proverbs 23:7 “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

We know that our heart doesn’t think, so we are talking about the mind. You have to keep your mind fresh, washed in the Word! Whether you have a broken heart or a broken mind, we know that He is the great physician and can make us brand new!
Summer unofficially starts with the Memorial Day holiday and you will be doing a lot of things all summer long, just remember to take time to have a “Sabbath”; even God took a day to rest! The most important thing to remember is you need to wash your mind in the Word!

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Do you have a dream?

When you were a child, what did you “pretend” to be? Did you become the thing you aspired to be?

I had wanted to be a school teacher, it didn’t happened, but I encouraged my children to take up education that didn’t happen either, however my son is a Chiropractor and his wife is an elementary school teacher, my daughter is an amazing wife and mother of two, married to a wonderful man who works for a law firm. When her son, 16, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes she became acquainted with every facet of the disease and keeps him adjusted so well that he is in excellent health, and her daughter is a beautiful, hard working 24 year old who works as a dental assistant. So, I’m not a teacher in a school but I must have done something or taught something right to have raised two such wonderful children. I envisioned being a wife with a husband that came through the front door, like Ricky and Lucy, or Warren and June Cleaver, and said “Honey I’m home, what’s for dinner?” That dream ended in divorce. Then there’s the part of me that wants to feed the world, to teach an amazing, eye opening, revelation revealing Bible study, or lead a prayer group that can change the world, yes you are right, I had a lot of lofty dreams. The biggest one through everything else was that I wanted to write a book full of wonderful stories or maybe one great epic novel. Maybe it’s just that I never settled on one subject that was important enough to me to explore and make it come to pass.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Now, what about you? What are the dreams and visions for your future? Have they come to pass, or have they flushed along with all the other waste in your life?

Don’t give up on your dreams, they can still come true!

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Peaceful easy feeling, yeah

I was talking with someone who is of “my generation” and the line from this old song came up, “I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling and I know you won’t let me down“. The words before and after that don’t matter in this context, the point was that those words caught at my heart. How many times do you go to bed and wake up un-easy, worried and sometimes you don’t even really know “what” you are worried about? A psychiatrist would say that is called “floating anxiety” or being anxious without knowing why. Philippians 4:6 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Read this verse and digest it, let it nourish your soul and spirit the way your body digests the food you eat. Your body assimilates the food using the vitamins and minerals that are in it for its benefit. Did you digest that? Ok, now read this: 1Peter 5:7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

Now, what were you worried about? I bet you can’t even remember! Nehemiah 8:10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” 

I just realized something; you know how people use the “Bible” to prove anything they want? Well, now I can prove that we are instructed to “celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks!” Rejoice! Be happy and don’t worry!

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Pull up those Armored drawers

What happens when you feel that you have done everything you are supposed to do, like paying your tithe and giving offerings, volunteering to feed the poor and take meals on wheels, work in the nursery on Sunday morning when you would rather be sitting in the service, and then you pray and feel that you have hit the wall, no answer? I talked with someone today to which that scenario applies. This person is kind and gentle and good, gives generously of their income and volunteers to help the “old folk” and anyone that is down on their luck, it is at times like that I would give everything in me to be rich enough to solve the problem at hand. What do you say? The truth is so simple that it sounds cliché’, it is that “when you are doing good it is the devil’s job to try you at every level, to see if you will turn aside from your faith so that he can devour you, soul and body”.

When Job was tried, he suffered the loss of his family and his properties, plus he was covered with boils! He sat on a dung heap and scraped them with a broken piece of pottery, just trying to make himself feel better, but he went from bad to worse when his wife capped it all off by asking him why he didn’t just “curse God and die”!

Job was faithful in the face of losing everything and endured all his well meaning friends, commonly referred to as “Job’s comforters”, telling him that he must have lived in sin or displeased God in some way or this would not be happening to him. It wasn’t until Job, feeling lower than a snake’s belly, began to pray for those “friends” and that is when God put a halt to all that Satan had brought on him. From that point his fortune began to rebuild, he had more children, he regained all of his properties, and seven times more! Satan had thrown it up to God that He had protected Job, and said “Does Job serve God for nothing? You have put a hedge around him!” That is when God gave Satan permission to try Job in whatever way he wanted, except he could not take his life.

I am sure there have been times that you, like Job, have wished you could just die to get out of all your troubles. But consider this, have you armed yourself against this enemy of your soul? Read Ephesians 6: 12-13  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand

Are YOU having a hard time? Does it feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling and falling back in your face? Arm yourself then pull up those armed drawers and fight!

 

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Had an AHA moment?

I flipped on the Voices of Lee and listened to them sing, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place and I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord“, I said, “God, I am broken, I need help.” He spoke to my heart, “Everyone is broken in one way or another, and you only see your own chips and cracks. Your favorite coffee mug has a bad chip in it yet you continue to use it every day. Quit feeling sorry for yourself!” As I thought on that thought, the Voices of Lee began to sing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.” Oh thank you God for speaking to me, then I had an AHA moment! I’m not talking about suddenly realizing that Smart Balance taste as good as butter, even if it doesn’t cook as well, or the Chick Fil A chicken sandwich is better than the Martin’s, or you’d rather drive a Van than a sports car, I am talking about real life changing AHA moments here. Adam and Eve had one in the Garden when, after eating the fruit, they heard God, out for His evening stroll, calling them and realizing they were naked, tried to cover themselves. This changed life for them, and us. Look at Isaac: Genesis 27:33 Isaac started to tremble, shaking violently. He said, “Then who hunted game and brought it to me? I finished the meal just now, before you walked in. And I blessed him—he’s blessed for good!” He had blessed the wrong son and now could do nothing to change it, too late. Samson’s moment: Judges 16:20-21 Then she said, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that God had abandoned him! The Philistines grabbed him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. David’s moment: 2 Samuel 12:11-13 This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you…Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Judas betrayed Jesus, and when he had his Aha moment, he couldn’t bear his sin, he hanged himself. What about the Apostle Peter? He denied Jesus three times, but the Lord knew his heart and asks him; John 21:17-19 “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I have had Aha moments about myself that shook me down to my repentant knees, and some that ended relationships. It’s like being in a completely dark room, hands outstretched trying to find the wall or piece of furniture, when the light suddenly turns on, The light may then go out, but the image of what you have seen in the room is burned in your mind and you can find your way out. God gives us these revelations so that we can make positive changes in our lives. Heed these Aha moments; know that God helps us if we only ask! Psalms 139:23 “Search me, O God,and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

May you have peace and productive AHA moments yourself!

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Throw out the garbage!

Every day we make decisions that affect our whole life, you may not realize it but I think of seeing a large design of dominoes all standing like little soldiers in a row until the first one in the row falls over and then the little tiles tumble one at a time until they are all laying down with the little white dots facing the ceiling. Can you think of an action that has caused a string of reactions? Yeah and so can I. Sometimes it is just a word that can change the course of everything and try as you might you can never take it back. We might try to get rid of the garbage from our lives and we think it is safely disposed of and (as an old friend of mine used to say) “Up pops the devil!”  It’s seems the temptation hunts you down and runs you over and when you think you have it conquered there is always a willing “friend” to help you find your way back into it! In my world that would amount to being so good and strict on a diet and my kids bringing in a chocolate cheesecake or pistachio almond fudge ice cream for me!

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

Yesterday I looked in the refrigerator and saw I needed to clean out the old food to make way for groceries so I set the casserole dish with the left over broccoli casserole in it out on the cabinet to be dealt with when I finished doing some other chores. I came back into the kitchen before long, the dish was gone but when I opened the fridge door there it was back on the shelf. I didn’t think much about it and just set it out again but again it got put back in its place in the fridge. Last night I set it out again and again was deterred in disposing of it in a way that wouldn’t attract all the possums, raccoons and possible coyote that my yard and porch attract. I forgot about it in getting ready for bed. Fast-forward to this morning and see me talking on the phone to my son and opening the refrigerator door for my eggs and when I opened that door there it was the BROCCOLI CASSEROLE back in the refrigerator! I thought of all the times that something gets thrown away that I meant to keep and here this was something I was trying to get rid of that someone was taking the time to put back in the fridge thinking it was a mistake that it was sitting out!

Next time just go ahead and throw the garbage and that temptation out instead of leaving it on the cabinet, which is an open invitation to just put it right back in the fridge!

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I was asked about Faith & Hope

Romans 8:24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

The Centurian had great faith, he had seen Jesus work miracles, He understood Jesus’ authority and trusted that Jesus would send the command for his servant to be healed and it was done! Mary and Martha saw their brother Lazarus raised from death to life, they knew Jesus and had seen His mighty works! Let’s go back to a time before Jesus walked the earth as a man of flesh. 2Kings chapter 4 tells of a great lady who helped an old prophet. She wasn’t expecting anything in return, just showing kindness to a good man. She fed him whenever he came by her house and had her husband to build him a special room on their wall so that he could, at anytime, go in and take rest there. He felt compassion for her and knowing that she didn’t have a child told her that she would have a son. Time went on and the boy was born. She was so very happy. One day the boy was out in the field with his dad working and had a sun stroke, he came in to his mother holding his head and crying, he died in her arms. This great woman laid the child on the Prophet’s bed and without even telling his dad that the boy had died she took a mule and went to find the Prophet. She was a mother with a mission. The Prophet, Elisha, saw her coming and sent his servant out to find out what was wrong. He asked her if it was well with her husband, her son, she answered him with, “It is well.  When she reached Elisha she fell in front of him and held onto his feet, she was not going to leave and go home until he went with her. She had faith that if this man of God, the man who had foretold his birth, would go with her, her son would be raised from the dead. The Prophet went and the end of the story is that the boy was raised from the dead! He was alive and well! Her faith was answered.

I think of how many prayers that God has answered for me and wonder if I am grateful enough? Do I thank Him enough? When trouble comes around how do I react? Am I one that gets hysterical and says, “Where is God in this?” Am I one that complains to other people that God has turned His back on me, or let me down? Whether you are facing sickness, death, financial crisis or relationship problems, let me recommend facing the world with a brave “It is well” and then thank God for all the things He has already done for you, your faith will be answered!

Matthew 9:29 says, “According to your faith let it be done to you!”

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Words DO hurt!

People use words so carelessly, never thinking about how a harsh word can become a dagger that hangs up in the muscle of your heart and stays until you die or ask the Holy Spirit to remove it from you. A wrongly placed word can cause a “root of bitterness” to grow in your spirit. Hebrews 12:14-17 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

I looked up the word “fool and there were thirteen definitions, the number one was: a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense. You can find the Bible definition in Psalms 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 

The simple moral fact is that words kill.  When we think of sin it usually involves the big ones, you know what they are, but we let ourselves indulge in the evil of gossip, calling each other names and ruining a person’s good reputation with a careless statement, fact or not. Remember that you can’t erase all the things you have said any more than you could rip open a feather pillow in front of a blowing fan and then find them all and replace them in the pillow casing.

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.

I think it was Mark Twain that said “it is better to be quiet and let your friends think you are a fool than to speak and prove it!”

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Is there any hope?

“Hope is the state which promotes the belief in a good outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Despair is often regarded as the opposite of hope. Hope is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”. Other definitions are “to cherish a desire with anticipation”; “to desire with expectation of obtainment”; or “to expect with confidence”.

I stopped at a red light behind a car that had an interesting bumper sticker, it said “I feel so much better since I gave up hope!” Wow, I wondered, what had happened to them that they had such a dim view of life, or maybe they were just trying to be facetious, thumbing their nose at all of us who hang on to hope by the skin of our teeth.

Proverbs 13:12 Unrelenting disappointment (or hope deferred) leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around. One definition of the word hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

During WWll there was a submarine that sank to the bottom of the ocean after being struck by ammunition. As the sailors were desperately trying to get in touch with a ship that could help, they got word that divers had found them and were trying to rescue them. As they waited, it is told that there was the tapping of Morse code from inside the ship “IS THERE ANY HOPE?”

Let me ask it of you, is there any hope? Hope for our nation, hope for the young men and women fighting on foreign shores for us, hope for the many homeless living under bridges and in alley ways, hope for those so steeped in debt that they are on the verge of losing their homes? Hope for someone stricken with a dread disease, hope for the fallen Christian, who after having known the truth turns his back on God? Are you tapping on the walls of your own prison asking, praying, and hoping for a good outcome?

We let ourselves get so swamped by worry that it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, then our physical body and mental capacities begin to fail us, but no matter what I faced in the past or what I may face tomorrow I refuse to be disheartened, My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Proverbs 31:24 So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!

 

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