Abandonment

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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I had the honor of visiting and sitting with someone at the hospital on Friday.  She was a young lady of 80 years old, turning 81 this month.  She told me she had surgery scheduled to fix two leaky heart valves.  Once I arrived and talked with a family member I discovered that what she thought was going to be surgery to fix the problem turned into two procedures to investigate the heart and valves to see what surgery would work best.  The family member said she was disappointed, however her smile and words were no indication of disappointment.

She was scheduled for the first procedure at 11:30 and had been bumped several times, getting in the operating room around 2.  She was in ICU from 2:30 to almost 5:00 waiting for an open operating room for the second procedure.  Smiles and kinds words continued to drip from her mouth to all of those who came in contact with her.  No frustration, fear or anger for being bumped and the long wait.

As I sat with this lady she talked about God non-stop.  All his blessings in her life.  She talked about her marriage of almost 60 years, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her spiritual journey.  She talked about the many times she could have died but didn’t because God choose to keep her around.  She talked about how she loves to go to church because she loves God and wants to be there every time she can to worship Him, to praise Him, to sing to Him and to be with other Christians. She said how hard it was to get up to go to church on Sundays and how she longed for the days when she could go Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights.  She spoke of week long revivals, events the church held throughout the year and how she used to volunteer to work at the church as often as the church would have her.  Most of all she talked about how people today don’t feel this way and how it made her sad.

As we sat waiting on the second procedure, I shared with her how I admired her, her faith and her love of God.  She called me close and whispered that in her lifetime she had voice God speak clearly and directly to her and today was one of those times.  She stated as they were putting her to sleep she heard God tell her that He did not want her to be afraid because He would be with to the very end.  She held my hand, looked me directly in the eyes and said “you know JoAnne, God will never abandon me. Never.  AND I KNOW that that was God talking to me.”

What faith.  What a witness.  What a great woman of God.  After the second procedure the doctors told the family that her heart was not strong enough to withstand the surgery.  They said they would prescribe medication that might help but at this point there was nothing they could do.  She was not disappointed, not angry not afraid.  She simply repeated God’s promise “to be with her to the end.”  That made everything alright with her. Sunday morning, she was in the church.  She was worshiping God, praising God and fellowshipping with other Christians with a smile and joy that only God can give.

I don’t know who on this post is struggling with abandonment issues.  Maybe you feel abandoned by a mother or father.  Maybe you feel abandoned by a friend, a boss, someone you were in a serious relationship with, your spouse or a child.  Who knows, maybe you feel abandoned by God.

I want to encourage you today.  Today’s scripture is a promise and God keeps his promises.  People may leave you but God never will.  If you are going through a trial it doesn’t mean God has left you. We are promised in this world we will have troubles.  God told us that so we could expect it, not like, but know it was coming.  He tells us we don’t have to worry about those trials because He will be with us and help us to overcome the trials.

I love what this wonderful woman of God said to me and I believe it with all that I am.  GOD WILL BE WITH YOU TO THE END!! My family used old southern saying which would be appropriate with her words, “Now you can put that in your pipe and smoke it”.  The phrase was used after stating something surprising or undesired, to emphasize its truth. This 80 year old woman spoke the word with TRUTH.

 

Hooked, Caught and Captured

James 3:3-12 (ESV)  If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

My husband, children and grandchild all love to fish.  My father taught all the kids in my family how to fish, including all the details of which bait to use, which hook to choose, what strength line was needed, how to choose a fishing pole, and how to fish for the different types of fish.

As I read the scripture above I was reminded of fishing and the hook you use to catch the fish.  The official description of a fish hook is as follows: A device which goes at the end of a fishing line that actually catches fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish.  The barb is shaped so that after the hook goes into the fishes mouth, it won’t easily come back out. A basic fishing hook is shaped like the letter J.  Funny how Jesus starts with a J right?

 

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I think the devil uses different bait, just like a fisherman to catch us on his hook.  It could be anger at another person, gossip, jealously, hate, pain, the list goes on.  I think we open our mouth, take the bait and then we are hooked.  Some open their mouths so wide they completely swallow the hook while others are simply hooked on the mouth, the lip or even the body.  Once we are hooked, just like a regular fish hook, it is hard to get loose because of the barb, we have already committed with our words.

As a fisherman, we had to choose if we were going to catch and then release the fish or if we would keep them for dinner.  I assure you the devil has no plans to catch and release us.  Each time we took the fish off the hook the fish would fight and wiggle to try to get away.  Sometimes, they would escape from our hands and fall back in the lake.  They could either fight for their life or fry in the pan. They had been caught but they were not truly captured until they were in the ice chest or in the frying pan. Then there was no hope.

The devil may have caught you with his bait I mentioned earlier.  You may feel caught, you may feel trapped, captured, backed into a corner.  Maybe you have started something and you don’t know how to get out of it. You don’t have to live there.  Start fighting the devil and the desire to use your words against others.  Fight, wiggle, jump, do whatever you can to get away from the devil.  Stop and go apologize for the one you have wronged.  Go back and repair the damage you mouth has made.  Make amends.

Maybe you are the one that is suffering from someone else’s words.  God does not approve of us tearing each other down as the scriptures says above.  Pray for the person who is trying to hurt you.  They have been hooked.  They have been caught.  Pray for their freedom.  Pray for them to see a way out.  Pray for you to forgive them.  Don’t stop praying until they are freed.  Ask others to pray with you for them. Ask God to give you wisdom on how to release the hurt you may feel and to love your enemies.  In other words, do what is right, no matter how hard it is.  God will honor and bless you if you do.

Discipline Your Mind

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.
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Watch your thoughts because they can turn from thoughts to words you speak.  The words you speak can quickly turn into actions that before you now it have become habits and soon you have become what was at one time just a thought.

When thoughts of yesterday’s failures begin to play in your mind, change the channel.  When I was a child, my grandmother would always say get rid of stinking thinking.  I think many of us are watching reruns of our past over and over again.

Some are focused on the “What if’s” of the future.  Focused so much, that we can’t focus on anything else.  With worry and anxiety we replay over and over in our mind “what could happen.”  That scenario also plays over and over, occasionally having a different bad outcome.

Some people have become so familiar with the replay of the past or future failures that each day you pull out the folding chair, pop yourself some pop corn and settle in for the full feature film called “What if, Maybe and If Only”

Paul said putting off what is behind to focus on what’s ahead.  He said we should keep our thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.

When your movie of the past or future failures begin to play and they create fear, anxiety or worry you need to turn it off and remind yourself of a few things:

Your future is greater than your past.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself.

Stop mourning over what was lost.

God always has another plan. Start expecting Gods goodness. He had a plan for you before you were even born.

If God takes care of the birds in the air, how much more will He take care of you?

God forgives all your sins and throws them far, far away, and so should you.

Your past does not define your future.  You do.

You are created in God’s image.  How awesome is that?!?!

Turn the movie off and get a little sunshine today.  Better yet, get rid of the movie that is holding you back, read and meditate on God’s word and spend some time chatting with God instead.  You will be more inspired, motivated and stress free if you do.

 

Financial Infidelity

Enjoy today’s blog by guest writer, Kelly Bivins, CPA and Associate Pastors Wife of The Body Church, A Church For Anybody.

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“Two in Five Americans Confess to Financial Infidelity against Their Partner” according to the national endowment for financial education. Financial infidelity is when couples with combined finances lie to each other about money. Example: one spouse may hide a debt from the other spouse or one spouse makes large purchases without the input of the other.

Jesus said the following in relation to an inheritance: Luke 12:13-15- Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” I believe we can also apply this to married couples with combined money. What would cause one spouse to lie to the other about money? Does it boil down to wanting an abundance of possessions?

Money issues can lead to stress and divorce. Spouses should be willing to share with each other and discuss money openly. Genesis 2:24 – For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become of flesh. Married people are life partners. Money does not belong to her or to him. The money belongs to them together.

Tips for managing money in marriage:

  • Pray together for God’s guidance in handling finances
  • Learn what God’s word says about handling finances
  • Enroll in a personal finance class
  • Compile a budget together
  • Think of our spouse first before spending

Forgotten

When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me. Psalm 27:10

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Forgetfulness hurts. We’ve all been forgotten and know the pain of expecting someone to remember — to show up, call, write, ask, make time — and coming up empty and alone.

One of the common things seniors deal with is forgetfulness.  I have always been a forgetful person to some degree.  I think my forgetfulness comes from being too busy.  I forget where I leave my phone, put my keys and sometimes, you will be shocked, where I put my last cup of coffee.  Oddly though, I am great at remembering conversations and details of things I write.  I remember the location in my notebooks of where I write things.  I can give you details of where in a notebook something was written, how far in the notebook it is, whether it is on the right or left page, top, middle or bottom of the page. The one thing that I try not to forget is people, especially those I love and call a friend or family.

Everyone reading this has probably felt forgotten at one time or another.  Maybe you were not invited to a special event, you were not included in something special or not informed of something that you wish you had known about.  I think it hurts us most when it is a family member or close friend whom you feel has left you out.

Our schedules are so busy that often these things happen, not out of spite or hatefulness but out of busyness.  I do believe that they dynamics of family has changed over the years.  Checking in on my mom, even dropping by each day was a daily event for me.  No matter how far away I lived, I called my parents every day just to check in, stay up on their lives and I never missed a holiday family get together. Now before you make excuses that this is because I am woman, my brothers did the same thing.  I think this still represents some families today, but even in my own family, I have seen a shift of how families interact with each other.

Maybe your family doesn’t “hang” with you like you wish they would.  Maybe you feel alone.  Maybe you feel like no one remembers you and you feel like you don’t matter.  God never forgets His children.  He doesn’t need a memory on Facebook to remind Him of you.  He doesn’t need to scan his box of old photos to remember you.  He doesn’t need to keep a picture of you hanging on the wall to remember you. He NEVER forget His children and that means you.

Though you may feel forgotten today, your Father will never forget you nor forsake you.  You can rest in the Lord today knowing that not only does He remember you but he loves you.

Agree to Disagree

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

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The Bible is the infallible word of God, right? To believe in God means believing everything in the Bible, doesn’t it? Then who can there be so much confusion on what people believe the Bible says?  Do we just agree to disagree or is there only one truth?

The phrase “agree to disagree” does not appear anywhere in the Bible. God’s word teaches that we are to agree. Paul wrote in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” To the Corinthians he wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Almost a year later he wrote to remind them, “be of one mind” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

Paul did not “agree to disagree” with those who taught a different gospel message. John did not “agree to disagree” with false prophets. Peter did not “agree to disagree” with false teachers. Jude did not “agree to disagree” with ungodly men.

Learn how to speak the truth in love. The obvious issue being what if my understanding of the truth is not your understanding of the truth?

Is that what Paul was getting at when he wrote, Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion. Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables. People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people. Romans 14:1-3

If you’ve read a lot of Paul’s writings you know that he was not encouraging us overlook important biblical issues just to get along or to avoid a quarrel.  We are to stand firm on topics like the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ or Jesus was not just a great man but He was God in the flesh to just get along. He was telling us to get along with those who thought differently than us regarding non-salvational issues such as holy days and food. In these cases, Paul, Jesus, and other New Testament writers were quite clear. Additionally, agreeing to disagree is not equivalent to passively overlooking injustice or obvious moral wrongs.

The key to religious unity and agreement is for all to stay true to the scriptures. Time and time again the Bible tells us not to “add to” or “take away” from God’s word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19). The various opinions of men will not provide unity. The Bible must be the sole basis for achieving true agreement. We must allow the scriptures to have the final say and we must be ready to abandon anything we believe which does not agree with God’s word. We cannot simply “agree to disagree” when it comes to matters of faith. We must “agree to agree” with the Bible.

It is also possible to love God and love people even while disagreeing.

D.I.S.R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

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I receive a daily email from a site called Mamapedia.  I am not sure WHY I get it, since I do not have small children.  The daily digest  mainly has a list of questions that struggling parents are asking.  One of the questions was from a desperate dad reached out to the audience for help and reassurance.  He had a 4 year old that was very disrespectful to him.  She consistently said mean things, such as “I don’t want people to see me with you”, called him names, hid from him when he was taking her to dance or school, and often stuck her tongue out at him.  He had tried timeout but she would not even stay in the time-out chair.

I do not want to lose any followers so I will not give you my advise on HOW to handle this child, but I will tell you that I am a believer of spare the rod, spoil the child.  The Bible is very clear that respect is good and disrespect is bad.  Respect is admiration for a person because of his or her position, abilities, qualities, or achievements. Respect is associated with esteem, regard, high opinion, admiration, reverence, deference, and honor. In the Bible, respect is more specifically the act of acknowledging another person’s worth, especially because of position, honor, or age. Disrespect is the opposite of respect: it is failing to acknowledge another’s worth, withholding the honor that should be given, or actively demeaning someone.

According the Bible, respect should be given to those who are owed respect.  So who are “those who are owed respect?” The Bible gives us four categories of people to whom respect should be given: elders, authority figures, Jesus Christ, and mankind in general. Elders are owed respect because of their age and experience. (Leviticus 19:32, 1 Timothy 5:1). Since the experience that comes with old age to respect your elders is to respect the wisdom they can give.

Authority figures outside the church would be policemen, firemen, teachers, and bosses, to name a few.  Others listed in the Bible who are owed respect, include political leaders such as the President (1 Peter 2:17) and city officials (Mark 15:43).  The Bible continues to list people and positions Christians should show respect to; those in authority at the church (1 Timothy 3:2), spiritual leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12), good fathers who discipline their children (Hebrews 12:9), parents in general (Exodus 20:12; Matthew 15:4), husbands (Ephesians 5:33), and the masters of servants or slaves (bosses). Interestingly, slaves are told to respect their masters not only when their masters are good and gentle, but also when they are harsh and unjust (1 Peter 2:18).

Finally, respect is something that is owed to people in general, from one man to another.  A parable is told about a wicked judge who did not fear God or respect man (Luke 18:2). The judge’s disrespect for people is a feature of his wickedness in the story. Christians are not only to honor their fellow believers (Romans 12:10), but also to respect those who do not believe. We are Christians and should be Christlike.  Christ respected others, even those who He knew were wrong in their thoughts or actions. (1 Peter 3:15).

First Peter 2:17 describes respect, perfectly “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”  Many of you will not like, and may even disagree, with the Bible’s instruction on how to handle disrespect.  The Bible not only gives us instructions on what is good and wise but how to do what is good is wise.  We live in a culture that disagrees with God and the Bible.  The worldly experts tells parents that the way of the Bible is old and outdated instruction.  But the Bible is  timeless. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Many of you deal with grown ups who act just like this 4 year old to their family members, to the waitress, the sales associate, the pastor, the teacher and anyone else who tells them no or doesn’t do what they want. They are mean and nasty to people in authority, will not listen to wise counsel and use the excuse that the people they treat disrespectfully do not deserve their respect.  They have an excuse for everyone they treat badly and they are adamant that they are the victims.

Some of the responses to the father made excuses for the child. Some appeared to say maybe the things the 4 year said were true.  While others explained how to stop the disrespect and emphatically said, stop it now before it gets worse.  If I were going to give advice, I would encourage the parent to seek out the answer in God’s word.  God not only tells us that we should be respectful but He tells us how to handle people who are not, children and adults.  Churches don’t like his answer.  Christians don’t like his answer.  BUT HE GIVE US THE CLEAR ANSWER!

Disrespectful children grow up to be disrespectful adults.  Unfortunately, we have a lot of D.I.S.R.E.S.P.E.C.T going around.  God never said respect had to be earned, man made that up.  I will give respect when I get respect, is not in the Bible.  Again we made that up. If we want to change the world, we need to look at ourselves, look in our own homes, our churches and our schools.  God says there is blessings from obeying His Word.  Are you, your children, your church members, your employees receiving God’s blessings?? If not, you can.  Open the Bible today and make a commitment to live your life as God directs and tune out all the world experts who advice you to be totally contrary to God.  It may be hard, but it will be worth it.