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Delight*Abide*Love For People in Pursuit of God

Lily-livered Behavior More Concerned with Showers and Coffee Circus Sideshows The enemy’s Hit List And much more…

January 2013

Dear Reader: Happy New Year! Woohoo! We are starting this year off right as the magazine is on time!!! My husband should be so proud. I actually started writing these at the beginning of December instead of waiting until the last minute (though I will admit that I finished the last one today, January 1, 2013). As we dive into this New Year with all our resolutions (more readily labeled: lies) perhaps we can reconsider our reasons for making them. What is it that we really want this year? What goal have we set for ourselves? How will we achieve it and will it make a lasting impact on eternity or will it be temporal like so many of the things we do? I told my best friend recently that the Father was messing with me and I hope that doesn’t come across as sacrilege to you, but have you ever felt like He was trying to tell you to do something that you just really did not want to do? Well, that’s where I am as I begin this New Year and new season of life. So, I’d just ask you to pray that He’d make Himself abundantly clear to me and that He’d give me the strength to do what I’m told. Oh Father, we lift this year up to You and ask that You keep Your hand on it and us. Father, we ask that You empower us through Your Spirit to delight in, abide in and love You more than ever before. Abba, we ask that You show us mercy, grace and love in abundance and that through Your Word we be infused with a deeper desire to seek You, and obey You this year. Thank You, Daddy for all that You have done and will do this year. May we be better servants, in Jesus’ name; amen. Peace and blessings, Ginny Mink

Why are we so weak? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV) Contextually, Jesus is speaking to the apostles whom He had chosen (v. 2) and perhaps for some of us that nullifies what He’s saying because we just attribute it to them and them alone. However, if we do that we miss out on something amazing. I suspect that this contributes to a good deal of fragility within the Body. While the concept of being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria might not be readily applicable to the modern day believer, we are expected to witness and proclaim His glory within our own spheres. This is not, though, the something amazing I’m referring to. First of all, let’s make sure we can agree on one specific aspect of what I’ll deem Truth. Thusly, is the Holy Spirit immutable, unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? My answer is a resounding, “yes!” and if yours coincides, then we can move into the amazing aspect of this declaration straight from Christ’s mouth. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” Power is evidently a gift presented to us via the Holy Spirit’s entrance into our lives. Why are we so weak then? It is my opinion, and I’m sure you’ve heard a vast number of idioms about those, that believers are scared of the Holy Spirit. The world has capitalized on the concept of crazy Pentecostals and whacko snake handlers. It’s taught us to disbelieve in the power to call down fire from heaven, yet, that power is indeed ours via the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. I think we members of the more conservative denominations need to do some serious investigation and study on His Spirit. Why miss out on His power simply because the world’s presentation has freaked us out?

Commune any one? “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:44 (ESV) If you read on you’ll discover that they started selling all their stuff and using the proceeds to support one another. Also, if you backtrack, you’ll discover that there were more than 3,000 of them! I think we read verse 44 and think of those small cult-like communes where everyone lives on the same property and home schools their children, but there’s only like 10-20 of them. I guess maybe that kind of imagery really doesn’t move us to meditate on this concept, but when you realize we’re talking about 3000+ people doing this, then the wow-factor hits. I’ve discussed the commune concept with some other believers and while I consider it to be a wholly viable and mutually beneficial mode of living in this economy, there’s still much reticence within me. I mean, can you imagine sharing your property with 2999+ of your closest friends? What about selling all you have and moving into acres of duplexes? For me there’s the distinct issue of not really liking people; I’m not sure I’d handle such close proximity very well. Then of course there’s the trust issue. I mean how many Ananias’ and Sapphira’s are there out there? I guess I kind of got off track here. What I really wanted to do was commend this idealism rather than rationalize my own preference for solitude and selfishness. The Truth is though, we have difficulty getting along with one another on Sundays and Wednesdays. What if we started to live like those believers? I suspect the world around us would be radically changed because we would definitely appear to be the aliens Scripture says we are.

Annihilate Them “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIV) I want to point out that Jesus died for all. I’ve gotten some questions lately that deal with predestination (no, I won’t get into a theological debate here) and therefore I want to make it abundantly clear that Christ gave Himself for all people. Sadly, not all people are interested in His salvation. That said, I’ll move on to the real point herein, eliminating self so that we can live for our Savior. This concept is infinitely hard, at least it is for me. You see, our hearts are deceitful above all things and even when our heart doesn’t condemn us that doesn’t mean our motives are pure, only God knows. I’ll give you a personal example. It is December 10th as I write this (though you’re reading it in January). I want a Christmas tree, my husband is against the concept. I believe my reasons are pure – I want to create a family tradition that invokes fond memories for my children and my husband because I have such memories from my own childhood (my husband does not). I couldn’t care less about a fat man flying around with reindeer, nor am I worshipping a dead tree. This is how I see it, but…what if I’m just falling victim to the world’s insinuation that I’m supposed to decorate my house at this time of year, buy presents and waste brain matter on Christmas movies that don’t focus on His Truth? Do you see what I mean? Obviously I feel justified in my internal purposes, but we have to be careful to check ourselves and not so readily trust our hearts. In addition, when we recognize those selfish motivations we need to annihilate them! *By the way, we got a Christmas tree.*

Reflect Him “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) Today, as I pushed my wee one, Hazel (who will be two in April), in the shopping cart, out of Publix, there was a homeless man forlornly sitting on the sidewalk leading into the store. I’d noticed him sitting at the entrance of the parking lot with a sign when we’d first arrived. Obviously he’d changed positions. Currently Hazel is dealing with double ear infections and so she’s not her normal jovial self. Anyway, she too saw the man sitting there and I watched as her face lit up, her eyes gleamed and she began emphatically and enthusiastically waving at him. He was so down-trodden he didn’t notice, so I spoke, “She’s waving at you,” I told him and smiled. He looked up then and his face changed too. He had very blue eyes and though he didn’t speak, those eyes smiled back at Hazel and I’ll admit, I teared up. Here’s the thing, we’ve so much to learn from our wee-ones whom haven’t been tainted by the world’s judgmentalism. How many people walked right by that guy not even offering him so much as a nod and here was my sick little girl doing all she could to cheer him up. He wasn’t a homeless guy to her; he was a man who needed a smile and an acknowledgement of his humanity. “Love each other deeply…” the Word says and if we could all just wave and smile at each other like my sweet Hazel does, that would be a step in the right direction. I pray that today we’ll take the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day and take a lesson from our children (their angels always see the face of God, maybe that’s why they reflect Him better than we do).

You’ve been Redeemed “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10 (NIV) I saw this verse and decided it would be a useful one in addressing an issue that was recently brought to my attention. Someone who is a frequent reader of this magazine told me he thought I was too hard on myself herein. Thusly, “each heart knows its own bitterness…” I explained to him, as I’d like you to know as well (in case you’ve thought the same thing), I make a point of reminding myself of that bitterness, that depravity, for the sake of battling that ever-present evil, pride. Pride is a huge problem for me, I get haughty in my own mind and heart way too frequently for any Light to shine. Therefore, I have to pound myself into submission via frequent reminders of just how wretched I’m truly capable of being. This brings me to the second half of that verse, “and no one else can share its joy.” This kind gentleman was concerned that I was missing out on the fullness of His Grace because I appeared to still be “beating” myself up. Ah, dear friends the joy within me over the fact that, Jesus paid it all, is more than you can fathom. The relief and peace I’ve been blessed with thanks to His salvation and righteousness is more that I could ever describe. I am hugely aware of the cleansing blood shed on Calvary and I have embraced the purity He is creating in me. Yet, I know, that the holier-than-thou pride demon lurks at every corner so I do battle with him. I pray you never forget whence you came, but that you fully understand that you’ve been redeemed!

More Concerned with Showers and Coffee “Oh Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” Isaiah 33:2 (NIV) According to the notes in my study Bible, Isaiah is praying for the destruction of Assyria. Since I’m no Biblical scholar, nor history buff, I can neither refute nor attest to the accuracy therein. What I can say though is, what an awesome prayer! I’d kind of like to spend some time considering it. First of all, Isaiah asks that God be kind to His people. Listen, if the foolishness of God is greater than man’s wisdom and if His weakness is greater than man’s strength, imagine how surpassing-comprehension His kindness must be. Sounds like a great thing to ask for. Then we hit the second half of that sentence, “we long for You.” I trust that Isaiah meant what he said, but I have to wonder if we could pray that part in honesty. Maybe we should start by asking Him to help us desire Him more. It’s terribly pitiful that we don’t whole-heartedly long for our Savior, but I suspect that this is the truth for many of us. So, let’s just own up to it and ask Him to enable us to love Him more, to want Him more. I’m going to group the last two bits together for the sake of space, but wouldn’t it be amazing if every day we woke up, asked our Father to shower us with kindness because we so desperately wanted His presence, and then, what if we daily asked Him to be our strength and our salvation? What kind of effect would that have on our day? I think it’d be huge since most of us are more concerned with showers and coffee every morning than we are with communing with the Most High.

He Didn’t Say Please “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass,” Isaiah 51:12 (NIV) I was just talking to my husband about the fact that I see Jesus being sarcastic and hardcore sometimes (we were reading Luke 10 and 11, in case you’re wondering where that came from). Obviously, since I can see those traits in the Messiah I also take note of them in the voice of God. I get so tired of the namby pamby visual portrayals of our King. You’d be amazed at the negative affects they’ve had on our understanding of the Most High. He’s tough! He can carve rock with His fingers, guys! He’s not all froo-froo like those feminine pictures of Christ with a lamb or children. This is the Most High, He took a whip and scattered the money changers; He didn’t say please. Maybe you’re wondering what all this has to do with this verse and my answer is, everything! God tells His people, I AM He who comforts you, I stretched out the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth (v. 13), I churn up the sea and make the waves roar (v. 15), I set the heavens in place (v. 16) and yet you’re scared of men? I can almost visualize Him rolling His eyes at them in an, “Are you kidding?” manner. No wonder there’s a place in Scripture where Christ contemplates how long He has to put up with us. How can we forget our Maker (v. 13) and tremble before something He’s made? It seems pretty asinine, but if we’ve got that wuss image the world’s created in our minds then it makes perfect sense that we’re chickens. Listen, Dear Ones, “Our God’s not dead, He’s surely alive, He’s living on the inside roaring like a lion…” (Newsboys). Don’t just sing it, believe it!

Quit Settling “in truthful speech and in the power of God, with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left” 2 Corinthians 6:7 (NIV) I read this chapter of Corinthians to my son tonight and I’d like to suggest that you read 6:3-10 for yourselves. Paul’s illuminating not only those things he’s endured but also how he’s successfully represented the Savior in all things. I had a friend recently admit that Paul’s a little intimidating. Oft times it appears (though he admits his shortcomings) that once he got saved he lived an impeccable life. She joked, “Maybe if I’d been struck blind and heard the voice of the Lord…” and while we might laugh at such things, none of us are looking for scales (if you know what I mean). Anyway, Paul’s seeming perfection is just that, seeming, he was a man, a human being, flawed. Here’s what makes him different, he understood: 1. his own propensity for sin, he admitted doing stuff he didn’t want to do and not doing the stuff he wanted to do; 2. the importance of honesty at all times; 3. living in the power of God; and the big one, 4. utilizing the weapons of righteousness in both hands. It’s that fourth thing that caught my attention tonight, namely because I think I can pretty readily grasp the first three, but am I always dually armed? I don’t think so. Obviously Paul thought that righteousness needed to be doubly intense in his life so that he could endure the beatings (v. 9) and false accusations (v.8). Maybe that’s where we need some assistance; we need to strive for righteousness with both hands instead of settling for a handful here and there. This concept of the weapons of righteousness is an interesting one that begs further consideration but suffice it to say, if we live righteous lives, no charges laid against us can stick, no accusations will be credible. Our righteousness (through Christ) will defeat them all.

Converts Should have Emerged “But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, ‘Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” Judges 6:31 (NIV) Let me give you a little background here, Gideon has met the angel of the Lord who referred to him as a mighty warrior (v. 12). Ironically, Gideon believes himself to be from a small and weak clan of whom he’s the weakest (v. 15). I find it quite amusing that this mighty warrior, when instructed to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and its Asherah pole (v. 25b), does so at night because he’s afraid of the townsmen. It always amazes me the caliber of people God deems useful (just look at me – not that I’m a mighty warrior or anything remotely close). Anyway, when I reread the verses tonight and arrived at verse 31, I was instantly struck by thoughts of muslims. Their suicide bombers feel like allah, their god, has been insulted and should therefore be avenged. I wonder what Joash’s retort would do to them? It seems logical enough to me. I mean if someone or something is claiming to be, or is labeled, a god, then it should have sufficient power to defend itself. Right? Yes, I understand that our God, our King, uses people to represent Him, but I also know full well that He does mighty wonders on His own, He’s no need for us. To conclude, the people can’t refute Joash’s reply and so they decide they’ll curse Gideon by giving him the name Jerub-Baal which means, “let Baal contend with him” (v. 32). If you follow the story further you’ll discover that Baal doesn’t do jack to Gideon and thusly tons of converts should have emerged. I truly wonder if the same could happen to the muslims today?

Aslan is not Tash “And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 1 Kings 18:27 (ESV) If you read this magazine regularly you’ll recall that last month there was a devotion entitled, Toilet Humor. Initially I’d desired to include this verse in it but since I couldn’t recall its address, I left it out. Interestingly enough, I happened upon it this month after writing the piece on Gideon which also brought back memories of this verse. Now, some of you may be completely unfamiliar with this translation but I think it’s hysterical! Contextually this happens when Elijah shames the nearly 800 prophets of Baal and Asherah. Basically he insinuates that their god has some very human occupations and is ignoring them. Of course, as the story goes, our Father sends fire from heaven that consumes all of Elijah’s offering including the rocks and the water in the trenches. You’ll also note that the impotent Baal does nothing though his devotees call out to him all day and cut themselves on his behalf. I love how God disses every other god. He makes fun of the people who cut down a tree, make an image out of it and then use the rest of the wood to cook their dinner with. I love that He makes it abundantly clear that these idols and gods have no breath, voice, or thought, let alone power. He disproves their credibility over and over again in His Word and yet people still latch onto the various other religions. The greatest deceit though is that somehow we’re all worshipping the same god just by different names. NO! Aslan is not Tash* and buddah isn’t Jesus, plain and simple!

*This is a reference to the Chronicles of Narnia – you should read it!*

Equally Deceived “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Mark 12:28 (NIV) Obviously this is a familiar piece of the Gospel stories. Maybe then you’re wondering why I’d choose it. Well, I’m going through an old Bible, looking at verses I underlined all the way back in ’95, when I came upon verses 28-31, also underlined, but these are dated 2005 and as was my habit, the initials of the church I was attending when these were presented to me is also there. Now, perhaps you’re familiar with my background, but if you’re not, in 2005 I was a full-on, out of the closet lesbian, still in a relationship with the woman my son, Jaidyn, was planned with. Thusly, we were attending the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), I’ll call it a gay church but politically I think it’s labeled a LGBT church. No doubt some of you are wondering why I’m telling you this. Well, this selection of readings is a prime example of how that community is being kept in the dark, shackled. They are fed parts of Scripture that encourage them to be kind and loving people. They are reassured that as long as they’re good to their neighbors then they’ve obeyed the most important commandments and since everyone is a sinner, their sexual immorality will be overlooked. I think the first issue I should have had in attending the church was its woman preacher – the Bible has specific positions for women and preaching isn’t one of them (a theological debate for some I know, but a red flag nonetheless). I guess I’m telling you this because there are many LGBT people who claim the Faith and may very well be saved (I was) and yet they’ve been so deceived that they miss the rest of the Word, the enemy keeps them out of that Book for sure. Pray for them instead of judging them. Their leaders are false prophets and equally deceived.

Circus Sideshows “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 (N IV) We get so excited about the peripheral things, the minute stuff that, while it’s cool, truly has no bearing on eternity. Here are the disciples, having returned from their two by two, purseless adventures and they’re all thrilled by having had the ability to drive out demons. I’m sure it was pretty cool to use Jesus’ name to send an evil spirit packing, but Jesus had some important words for them. In verse 19 He tells them that He’s given them power over the enemy and all his minions, that nothing can hurt them because they’ve been gifted with the ability and authority to trample all these things. No doubt the proclamation was an exhilarating one, but they were missing the point big time. This makes me think of the verses that tell us that if we can prophesy or heal or serve, but we are without love, then we’re useless. It also brings to mind the concept of gaining the world but losing your soul. Look, if all the apostles could do was drive out demons then they were little more than circus sideshows and Jesus made their misconception and misguided enthusiasm blatantly clear. “Get happy that your names are in the Book!” That’s what matters. I guess I apply it to my own life too. I mean, I can write these Scriptural commentaries for the next twenty years and even if I became a well-known author, if I haven’t sealed my soul with the blood of the Lamb and had the guarantee of His Spirit, it’s little more than interesting prose (if that even). We need to get excited, thrilled and overwhelmed by salvation, not the gifts and powers that come with it.

Deceit knows no Bounds “If a person turns to mediums and wizards, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” Leviticus 20:6 (ESV) I’ve a friend, someone I went to high school with, who follows the ways of wicca and therefore calls herself a witch. I hadn’t been in touch with her for years but about two years before I returned to my Faith she popped back into my life (though not like Samantha on Bewitched or anything). Under her tutelage I also became involved in the occult. Perhaps this will shock you, but I tried to blend my new interest with my old Faith calling myself a Christian wiccan, just as a woman I taught with labeled herself. Listen, the level of the enemy’s deceit knows no bounds and at this point in my life I realize that no lie he can tell is shocking, he’s really good at what he does. I tell you this because I need you to understand that witchcraft, astrology, tarot cards and psychics and the like aren’t to be played with. This stuff isn’t a game and I can assure you that it isn’t harmless. The wiccan mantra is do what you will but harm none and they believe that they are participating in good or white magic. This is a lie from the pit because our King has nothing to do with magic and anytime you are partnered with demons you’re hurting everyone you come in contact with due to exposure. I’ll tell you, that when I returned to my Faith, this old high school friend drew further and further away. She doesn’t invite me to her Halloween parties anymore. By the way, feel free to pray for her salvation, her name’s Tonya.

The enemy’s Hit List “But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.” Esther 3:6 (ESV) Perhaps this seems an odd verse to choose and maybe it is, but the fact that Haman (who really only had an issue with Mordecai, who refused to pay him homage and bow down to him), hated the idea of only going after one captured my attention. If you are aware, our enemy hasn’t stopped hunting us, even though our Savior is no longer visibly walking the earth. We didn’t do anything to lucifer, our Father cast him out and by the nature of our relationship to Him we are now all on the enemy’s hit list. At least that’s how I saw this verse. Haman could have sought vengeance on Mordecai, maybe gone after Esther for good measure, instead he decided to attempt to annihilate an entire people group. Why? Because he desired honor and worship that is only due God – sound familiar? The truth is, if we refuse to bow to the enemy, not only will he desire to destroy us, but our families too. That includes, dear ones, our Spiritual siblings as well. Ya know, the Scriptures tell us that we’re not ignorant to his schemes but I often wonder about that. It seems to me that if we understood, not only the magnitude of his hatred toward us, but also the wiliness of his methodical yet repetitive tricks, we’d be a lot less likely to fall for them. Sadly, we’re readily tripped up and captured and trust me, he doesn’t just want to imprison us, he desires to build the gallows and hang us on it, just like Haman. We’re not alone in the battle though, praise God. He’s got Esther right where He wants her.

Can you feel me? “Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him.” Genesis 17:3 (ESV) I chuckled when I read this just now. Our preacher discussed walking with God today and so I decided to look at the supposedly over 400 walk references. This selection happens two verses after the second reference listed in Strong’s. I tell you this to refer you back to those previous verses. Verse one tells us that God appeared to Abram when he was ninety-nine and He told Abram to walk blamelessly before Him so that, according to verse two, He could make a covenant with Abram and greatly multiply him. That’s when Abram falls on his face, and that’s when I chuckled. Maybe you’re still slightly confused, why am I laughing at Abram’s humility, you’re wondering. Well, it’s not so much that I’m laughing at Abram, rather, the concept of falling on his face after the Father tells him to walk blamelessly before Him creates a visual in my mind that is wholly conceivable. Let me try this explanation from a different angle. I think we need to assess our own walks, our own hearts, before the King and I find that the results of such personal assessment leaves me flat on my face because I’m not coming anywhere near blameless strides before my Master. There is within me this terrific desire to be wholly devoted, to be a woman of God whose face shines His light, someone that radiates His awesome Grace and Glory. However, I spend more time flat on my face than shining much of anything. I have to wonder why complete devotion and absolute abandon to my Savior is so challenging to me. Can you feel me?

Strangle-hold “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4 (ESV) I read the first few verses of this chapter and I must admit that they seem to apply to the whole second coming prophesy. I was a bit shocked by it, but we’re told that in the end times a false prophet will arise and perform signs and wonders that will deceive many. Verses one and two tell us that if one shows up and performs such things successfully, but instructs us to go after other gods then (v. 3) don’t listen to him, God’s testing you. Pretty interesting, huh? Anyway, there were two aspects of this verse that were especially powerful to me. The first is the concept of walking after the King. This is significant because too many times in this life we try to be the leaders, the authors of our own destinies. We’re not supposed to trust GPS or mapquest when it comes to life’s directions, no internal compasses; no, we’re simply to follow the King, let Him lead in every faction of our lives. The second thing was actually the last part of the verse. We’re told to hold fast to Him. I read that and think, wrap your arms and legs around Him, do all you can not to let go. Unfortunately, we don’t make it a priority to latch onto the King, to put a strangle-hold so to speak on our relationship with Him. We let ourselves slip away from Him and then we find we’re trying to drag Him along with us rather than letting Him lead. I’m not sure when we’ll realize that we don’t know jack about living life properly, but I hope I get it soon.

We can’t Impress God “And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, ‘Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” Genesis 29:32 (ESV) You might find this as amusing, and sad, as I do. Here’s the thing, I’m trying to find the first time God mentions His love for us and I happened upon this verse (simply because the word love is used herein). That said, upon reading it I was reminded of Solomon’s writings that tell us there’s nothing new under the sun, that what is, has been. Are you getting the insinuation? If not, let me make it blatantly clear to you, Leah thought she could win the love of her husband by bearing him a child. How many women do the same thing today? We hear all the time about people having children in an attempt to save their marriages. Sadly, as in Leah’s case as well, this doesn’t work. Jacob only ever really wanted Rachel, he’d gotten duped by Laban and thusly stuck with Leah, she would never be able to make him love her, that’s the really sad part. I hate the idea of people being in relationships that are loveless and the world would happily tell us to pack our bags and move on, but that’s definitely not what our King tells us. I guess maybe one depressing aspect of humanity is its reluctance, if not complete inability, to love without condition, without a catch. Everyone seems to wonder, “What’s in it for me?” and those desiring another’s love are left wondering, “How can I make him/her love me?” Praise God that He loves us without prerequisite or expectations. He loves us simply because He made us. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more or less than He already does. Unfortunately, too many of us live like that’s a concept that’s too good to be true. Believe me, we don’t have to, and we can’t impress God. He loves us regardless.

Inept Weaklings “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” Psalm 3:6 (ESV) What do you think when you read that? How does David’s confidence and strength magnify your own inadequacies? David’s complete Faith and dependence on the King as both Provider and Protector is hugely admirable and yet for most of us it all seems so far-fetched. I mean, just look at David’s entrance on the scene, he’s a teenager with some pebbles who in one fell swoop takes out a giant; pretty unimaginable. This is of course not to mention the 100’s of foreskins he captured to win a bride. In this particular situation, David’s own son has betrayed him and is trying to take the throne. David and all in his household fled yet, David claims to be unafraid. The next verse explains his crutch, his confidence, his hope. He cries out for the Lord to arise, save, strike and break his enemies. See, what David understood better than any of us do, is that in and of himself he was nothing, he was an inept weakling but His God was powerful and mighty to save. David didn’t depend on his own aim or strength rather he trusted that the Father would hear him and come to his aid. While many of us strive to imitate Paul, we’ve much more to learn from David than we even comprehend. I think we admire David’s humanity and we relate to the rollercoaster emotions he reveals in the psalms. What we fail to grab onto is his Faith in his Redeemer. Perhaps we should study that in depth.

We’re Likely No Better “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (ESV) I quote, or paraphrase this verse quite frequently; it is a verse I utilized even at the height of my immoral, rebellious behavior. I used it to point out the judgmentalism of those Christians who frequently told me I was going to hell for being gay. It was a great jab at them and surely we know that the enemy is quite adept at using our King’s Word against us. Anyway, the point here is a little more personal than that. Romans tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought and Jesus informed us of our own huge imperfections so why then do we find ourselves looking down our noses at other people? Ok, maybe you’re a better believer than I am but I recognize my own tendency to be Spiritually appalled by other believers’ poor choices. I hope that makes sense. Here’s an example: I know someone who claims Faith (I’m not God so I’ve no idea the true nature of this individual’s heart) and yet, recently divorced her husband while having an affair (she was the guilty party), moved the boyfriend in, stayed with him for a year, he went to jail so she moved in another man and now he’s in jail. I found myself shaking my head in disgust and then I woke up. Really?! I had to say to myself, really, you of all people, are going to look down on her? Your vile scum self certainly shouldn’t be thinking so highly of your own wretched personage. It was a wake up call because while you might truly have a log in your eye, mine’s the size of an ancient redwood. I’ve no right to judge anyone. Now, let me clarify, obviously we should never condone such behavior on the part of a Spiritual sibling, but we need to check our pride at the door because we’re likely no better.

He’s the Way “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14 (ESV) First of all, perhaps we should take some time, right now, to praise God for opening our eyes and letting us be part of the few who do find the Way. If you’re not sure that you’ve found it, then understand now that Christ is the Way; ask Him to open your eyes so you can join us in the great jubilation that is salvation. That said, I need us to see something here, the part that says the way is hard. I know we’ve probably heard this verse numerous times and I’m sure we’ve heard the verses that tell us we’ll have struggles and that we need to pick up our crosses, daily, but how many times have Christ’s words, the way is hard, resounded in our own thoughts? Maybe it’s all the ear tickling preachers, all the blind guides, all the prosperity and name it claim it nonsense that we’ve been fed that makes us wonder, makes us doubt our salvation when things go wrong. The enemy has so convinced us that if the way is hard it’s because we’re doing something incorrectly and then, if we can’t pinpoint some infraction we begin to question our Redeemer. I find great comfort then in Christ’s words here. I told my husband last night that Jesus warned us the Christian life wouldn’t be cheese (a word I use interchangeably for easy), he took me literally though (demanded to see where that was in Scripture), so I had to explain my meaning. Maybe some of you are questioning my use of comfort as it applies to something being hard. So, no, hard work, trials, and tribulations are not comforting or comfortable, but the fact that Christ let me know I’d endure such things allows me not to vacillate so easily between works and Faith. Instead, I can just lean on Him and trust Him to get me down the path and through the gate! After all, He’s the Way.

Pretty Prose “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” Jude 1:2 (ESV) Is that a verse that makes you scratch your head? Are you wondering why in the world I’d pick such an introduction and not use it at the intro? Maybe this truth hasn’t hit you yet but guess what? Even if you don’t like me; even if you find my tattoos distracting or my past off-putting, we’re Spiritual siblings; we get to spend eternity together; we are forever united by the precious blood of the Lamb. Why do I say such things? Well, first of all because it’s true but more importantly because I’m aware of its truth. What I mean to say is, even if you’ve given me dirty looks, or talked smack about my blunt honesty, I desire mercy, peace and love to be multiplied to you. Why? Quite simply, because we are One, if you are blessed by mercy, peace and love then ultimately I am too. Look, even if I’m the sphincter of the Body and you’re the brain or the heart or some other admirable appendage, we are mutually encouraged and supported by one another’s existence. I wish all believers would grasp the import of each other, that we’d put aside theological differences (those that have no bearing on salvation), denominational disagreements and physical judgments and embrace each other. Ya know, part of the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself is that when you love your Spiritual siblings, you’re actually loving yourself because we are One. What an incredible and overwhelming concept! I’ll admit that it’s a lot easier to write my desires for your well-being than to extend my actual heart to you, but step by step my King will make me more like Himself and so one day my embraces will not just be pretty prose.

He’s the Potter “The Lord has made everything [to accommodate itself and contribute] to its own end AND His own purpose – even the wicked [are fitted for their role] for the day of calamity AND evil.” Proverbs 16:4 (AMP) This is one of those, let-me-stir-them-up verses, so consider yourself forewarned. I wanted to utilize various translations in this edition and while I’ve chosen to quote the Amplified Bible, my true preference is the ESV. However, I’ll work with what I’ve given you. Take a look at these incredible words of wisdom from Solomon. I hope this potentially disturbing truth has captured your attention; God has created all things, even the wicked, for His own purpose. Maybe you’re not disturbed by this concept that really bothers non-believers and some younger (less mature) believers as well. No one seems to want to accept that the Father purposed some for the day of calamity and evil. Yet, if we’ve read the Word carefully, with Spiritual understanding, no doubt we’ve seen the verses about Him being the Potter who creates some vessels for honorable use and some for destruction. I had a new-one-in-the-Faith grasp this concept by saying that, “you can’t have light without darkness.” So here’s what I’ll add: How can our Father demonstrate His power without conquering? How can He shine His Light if there’s no absence of it? How can His glory be demonstrated if there was no need? Listen, our Father does all things for His own pleasure and while that might be troublesome to our very finite human comprehension, He’s the true Master of the Universe and who are we to question Him?

Deny the Media Hype For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11 (ESV) Perhaps you’re aware of the fact that verse eleven and twelve are some of the verses the enemy quotes while tempting Christ during that forty days of isolation. He tried to convince Jesus to throw Himself down from the heights because the angels would keep Him from harm. Our Savior reminds the enemy that testing the King is definitely not advisable. Now, while that’s quite intriguing information, it’s not the focus here. Truly, my desire is to discuss this concept of angels with you. First of all, I absolutely believe that angels exist, both good and fallen ones (commonly known as demons). Sadly, people have been so enamored by angelic imagery and folklore that they’ve mistakenly elevated them to idolatrous positions much as the Catholics have their saints. The truth is, we’re to put no one and no thing, in any high and lifted up position. No created being deserves that status, no matter how miraculous those beings may appear to us, indeed even their mystical countenances, as portrayed by artists and other media venues, have been destined to be judged by us, by believers. Therefore there is no logical explanation for elevating the creation. Angels are His servants and they’re here to protect us and minister to us, unless of course they’re fallen ones and then they’re here for our harm and destruction. Whatever their position, they’re pawns in the hand of Almighty God who controls all. Let us trust Him to utilize them for our well-being and quit feeding into the media hype that portrays them as greater than they are.

The Fervency of Desire “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.” Psalm 14:2 (ESV) Have you ever wondered about your own sincerity as it applies to the diligence with which you seek Him? If you go back and read the first and third verse, those that surround this one, you’ll note that (1) fools deny God, (2) they’re corrupt, (3) do abominable deeds, (4) there are none who do good, (5) they’ve all turned aside and, (6) they’ve all become corrupt. While it’s easy to assign the word they to the word fool, it’s even more accurate though to understand that the they includes all who deny God – or even more succinctly, don’t understand and thereby don’t seek Him. I guess I had to include that so you could assess your own Spiritual position with accuracy. Are you a fool, or have you decided to seek Him? Assuming the latter of the two, I’d like to return your thoughts to my first question. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed this about me, or my writings, but I don’t generally ask questions of you that I’m not already asking myself. So, let me attempt to illuminate my personal answers for you. Yes, I question the fervency of my Spirit’s desire to know my King. I find myself living methodically, routinely, even as it pertains to my Faith. I read the Word, not solely for my own devotion and not wholly because I desperately hunger for my Savior. Sometimes I just read it to my son or simply because I’ve got these devotions to write. I want to thirst for Him so intensely and insatiably that I’m never satisfied with my own Scriptural knowledge or comprehension. I want to ceaselessly pray not because it’s what I’m supposed to do but because I can’t bear to be out of contact with my Redeemer. What about you, my dear one? I hope this question’s eye-opening for you and I pray that it will light a fire under your Spiritual journey so that we might both be encouraged by one another’s Faith. Peace to you, dear one!

Worms “But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.” Jonah 4:7 (ESV) I’ve read Jonah multiple times, it’s only two pages and my son enjoys the story so I’m quite familiar with the plot. However, we usually only hear about the giant fish and the repentance of the Ninevites, to Jonah’s chagrin. Maybe, just maybe, we know about the plant and the worm and Jonah’s anger and desire to die. Perhaps we even understand the lesson God was teaching Jonah about how deeply He loves people. But what if, what if there’s something else we should be considering here, another life application beyond the seemingly obvious? It dawned on me that God might be showing us that He gives and takes away and regardless of how desirable the gift was, we’ve no right to get angry with Him when we lose it. Instantly I thought about kids and how angry and hate-filled people get over the loss of them. Yes, children are indeed a gift from Above, as I’m expecting number three I’m well aware of that fact, but if my Father chooses to take my children from me, whether He send a worm (a disease) or a bad guy, or a crazy accident, I will have to accept His choice because they are really His, they’re just on loan to me. That shady plant was His all along and the worm worked for Him too. In the wake of the recent tragedy, I find this revelation quite timely. The thing is, the Word and our Father, only promises us two things, food and clothes. Every other positive aspect of our life is a gift, a joy on loan and as such we need to appreciate those gifts while we have them, but never value them above our King and our relationship with Him. Worms cause pain and it’s ok to hurt, just remember no one comforts better than our Abba, Daddy.

Our Words are Heard “Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” Daniel 10:12 (ESV) Daniel is speaking to an angel whom has come to reveal what will happen to Daniel’s people in the future (v. 14). Obviously we could talk about prophecies and visions since the book of Daniel is full of both. However, I’d rather avert your attention to the angel’s words here. We know that our Father shows no partiality so that whatever He did to and through others He could just as readily do to and through us if He so desired. That said, notice that Daniel’s words started being heard the first day he set his mind on understanding and he humbled himself before God. So, the day we are saved, our words start being heard. I hope you get the magnitude of what I’m saying, our prayers started being heard when we started seeking Him after humble repentance (after all, you don’t get much lower than when you’re admitting how bad you suck). Prayer is such an incredible benefit of salvation, the ability to come before the throne of the Master of the Universe and make our petition known and actually heard is crazy cool! I guess cerebrally I’ve always understood the purpose of prayer but not until relatively recently have I been enlightened about His propensity for answering and responding to our words. I’ve mentioned the moms Bible study I participate in and it’s been this group of women and our persistent prayers for one another that has really exploded my prayer life. Never have I seen prayers answered so consistently and rapidly. Yes, there are things that stay on our prayer lists, but there are others that are answered before we’ve departed one another’s company. So, even if He’s taking twenty-one days to give you an obvious answer, rest assure that He’s heard your words, and that’s all the more reason to watch them.

Why… “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” Jeremiah 23:29 (NASB) If you haven’t read this chapter, it’s a good one because it shows the intensity of our Father’s emotional character. He’s pretty ticked off by verse 29. He’s been raging about the false prophets who claim to have heard His voice and who are leading His people astray via stories of prophetic dreams and visions. He’s mad that people are choosing to listen to one another rather than Him. I suspect He still gets mad about that. In verse 28 He tells them, “Sure, share dreams, but if you hear My Word you better speak its Truth!” (paraphrase mine). Then He goes on to say, “What does straw have in common with grain?” Initially, I was a bit confused by the statement, but here’s what I get now, straw’s good for lighting a fire, but grain will nourish you and since this statement follows the dreams and Words comment I suspect that He’s telling us – false dreams are fire starters from the pit but the Truth of My Word will sustain you. Of course then He says His Word is like fire and like a hammer. I see that meaning it can never be quenched or extinguished and it can break the toughest of us all. While these interpretations might be interesting to you (at least I hope they are) the real focus for me was, why hasn’t His Word spread like fire from me to everyone I know or come in contact with and why hasn’t my knowledge of His Scriptures been so hammered into my soul that I live a righteous and pure, judgment-free, sacrificial, cheerful-giver life? Why am I still so selfish and grouchy and concerned with failure, where’s my Faith? As we walk into this New Year, I pray that our Abba, Daddy, will empower us to put Christ on daily, to live with abandon and in complete service to Him and that we might be good servants who bring much glory to our Master!

Let Him Love You “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3 (KJV) I don’t think our Father speaks any sweeter words than these and though He’s talking to, and about, Israel I know He loves His children with impartiality. So, when I read that my Abba has loved me with an everlasting love, I’m trying to get past my analytical self, the one that says, “Why?” or “How could He?” and instead just allow my being to feel what that means. I want His tidal wave of everlasting love to engulf me and sometimes I think I feel its initial surge but then logic slams the dam and my humanity prevents its entrance. How sad that makes me, I want to feel His love, to swim haphazardly in His sea of Grace. The other day, on my way to church actually, I heard someone on the radio talking about how special we are and I’ll admit, a huge part of me rolled my eyes, but I listened all the same. This individual proceeded to say that God hand-picked each of us as gifts for His Son. Now I bet some of you are rolling your eyes, but let’s think about it a moment. Jesus talks about not losing any that the Father has given Him, we see here that He has drawn us and we know that we didn’t choose Him, He chose us. So, in-depth consideration of the matter would suggest that our Abba did specifically decide that you and I were the people He wanted His Son to spend eternity with. We’re the people He wanted His Son to call friends and ultimately brother and sister. We could quite easily go back to our, “Why?” and “How could He?” nature, but wouldn’t it be nice to just let that tsunami of deeply desired kinship, everlasting love, soak in? I don’t know about you, but allowing myself to feel loved isn’t easy so grasping these concepts takes a concentrated and conscious effort on my part and though the experiences are usually short-lived, they’re so worth it! Let Him love you.

Chosen, Precious and Deeply Desired “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me and at the last day I will raise them up.” John 6:44 (NLT) Jesus is making this statement after people are really upset by His, “I’m the bread of life, the bread from heaven,” comments. They get even madder when He tells them they’re to eat His flesh that they might gain eternal life. Yes, some of us get visions of Hannibal Lecter when we hear such things and maybe they did too but that’s why Jesus says what He does in verse 44. See, we can tell people about His awesome sacrifice, His everlasting love and eternal life ‘til we’re blue in the face, but if our King hasn’t prepared their hearts, if He hasn’t personally called their name we’d do better to just pass out and save ourselves the energy. We’ve talked before about vessels for honorable versus dishonorable use and therefore I just want to reiterate that we don’t know who’s destined for either. That’s part of the don’t-judge and love-your-neighbor concept. It also explains the one-plants-anotherwaters, but no good is accomplished until Daddy gives the growth. So, while it may seem that people make decisions for Christ or that they choose to follow Him, we are all incapable of so doing unless He’s already made that call. Yes, I know I’m skating dangerously close to the predestination theology and so I’ll just breeze past that and tell you why I really picked the verse. I really chose it because it restates Jeremiah 31:3’s lesson, we are chosen and precious and deeply desired by our King. He seriously wanted you and me, fat rolls, wrinkles, tattoos and all. He saw something desirable and useful in each of us and now it would behoove us to seek Him so He can show us His real plans for us as I doubt He chose most of us to fill seats in churches. Rather, He’s got something unique and specific to your interests and abilities and if I happen to find out what it is I’ll tell you and I hope you’d do the same.

Lily-livered Behavior “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1 (ESV) I have to admit that I cling to this verse. I really hold onto it for dear life. Why? Well because I don’t want to teach, I don’t want to be labeled a teacher and I definitely don’t want to be judged with greater strictness. Do you? I’m a big enough screw up, I don’t need a label like that adding to the focus on my inconsistencies and failings. Maybe you’re thinking, “Ok, so don’t teach,” and while that might seem to be perfectly reasonable to you, it’s a huge problem for me. That probably won’t make a lot of sense if you don’t know me personally but if you do, well…I’m undoubtedly stating the obvious. Let me reveal my heart to you here. I told you before that I was dreading having to volunteer in the children’s church and unfortunately, I had to do that this past Sunday. I don’t do little kids and yet I was placed (I almost said stuck) with the k-2nd graders. I will not suggest to you that I was thrilled to be in their presence but when the guy I was working with asked me to write the Books of the Bible on the board as the kids recited them well, that stupid teacher instinct in me came out and I was once again reminded how much I love to educate people (apparently regardless of age) on Scriptural things. The ladies in my moms Bible study will love this but I’m telling you right now (to their chagrin no doubt) that running into James 3:1 again is allowing me to say “NO!” to teaching, still. Maybe I can just write stuff for other people to use as teaching aids. I don’t know, it’s a battle I’m sure I’ll lose if He wants me to. What gift or talent or calling are you trying to wiggle your way out of? Is He going to have to use the hammer of His Word to get your attention, or are you going to be like me and try to use His Word to back your lily-livered behavior?

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