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.

Turning Tears into Shouts of Joy

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joyPsalms 126:5 (NLT)

A friend sent me this scripture this morning.  As most of you know I am a pastors wife.  Being a leader can be very rewarding, however, at times it can be very hard and discouraging.  I have managed/led people in large and small corporations, for profit and non-profit and managed/led people in churches, for over 20 years.  The difference is that one is full of Christians and the other a mixture of saved and lost.

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What I can tell you is that people are people and sin is sin.  No matter whether it is church or business, the way people behave is not very different.  Sad but true.  I have watched our country change so much over the last 10 years.  Respect for the flag, respect for God, respect for pastors, respect for teachers, respect for parents and respect for each other is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  Bullying is now cool, even with adults, and gone are the days of treating your neighbor as yourself.

I am beginning to sound like a old person right? I hope not.  This is not a post to talk about the state of our country nor our young people but a post to encourage you.  Yes our world is different, the kids look and act different and even churches are not what they used to be, however our God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He has not changed and He loves us.  God knew exactly where this world was headed.  He knew exactly what the world and people would like in 2018.  And that is why, Christian you are here.

This world needs Christians who are trying to live out God’s word every day.  He wants us to trust Him and to stand firm times of trial and tribulations.  He wants us to see what the world can be, He wants us to be light in a darkened world and He wants us to live out share the good news of Jesus Christ.  God knows it is not always easy.  He knows we may take abuse, feel hopeless and even feel tired and alone.  Remember Jesus walked the earth as a human so He understands what we go through.  God knows your struggles are real.  Think about it.  He gave us this scripture to let us know that there will be times when we are trying to do what we are called to do and we need a minute to just cry.  It is ok to cry for a minute but don’t stay there.  God says that after our tears, our hard times, we will have shouts of joy.

I can tell you that in my time of ministry I have had both tears and shouts of joy.  I think the thing that has always hurt me the most was when Christians act like the world instead of Christians.  In those times, I cling to God’s promises in scripture, focus on the mission which is to share the share the gospel with the lost and trust God for the victory of the battle I am in.  Be of good faith.  Be encouraged.  Our Daddy is bigger than the demons daddy and our Daddy always wins.

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.

 

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.

What’s In A Name?

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

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Names in the Bible often have significance, telling us something about the person’s attributes or circumstances. Several people in the Bible were given new names, usually after they or their situations changed.

Jesus was born into a culture in which names were filled with hopes and expectations. God deliberately placed more than 100 names in the Bible that tell us about Jesus. They allow us to know Him more fully. Only Jesus can simultaneously be the timid, submissive Lamb and the mighty, conquering Lion. This dual identity is the reason Jesus was able to put death to death by sacrificing himself. The mission of Jesus is communicated through the names given Him in Scripture.

Names, whether they belong to people, bands or companies, have the power to communicate something significant. Perhaps this is why so few people name their children Dorcas and Nimrod these days, biblical though those names are. This advent season and beyond, I hope that you’re able to experience the beauty of Jesus in new ways through worshiping Him by name.

6 Reasons Why Names are Important in the Bible

  1. A biblical name could record some aspects of a person’s birth.
  2. Biblical names sometimes expressed the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child.
  3. Biblical names were sometimes used to secure the solidarity of family ties.
  4. Biblical names could be used to communicate God’s message.
  5. Biblical names were also used to establish an affiliation with God.
  6. Biblical names are given to establish authority over another, or to indicate a new beginning or new direction in a person’s life.

Naming is one of the great privileges given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, the power to define the world in certain terms, to label reality and determine people’s perceptions of it. To ask what your own name is, is really to ask: ‘Who am I?,’ or indeed: ‘Who will I become?’

Many Christian parents name their children with biblical names, perhaps as a sign of the spiritual heritage in which they hope their children to grow up. Some Christians today take naming very seriously, and may have their name legally changed in adulthood as a symbol of a particular moment of transformation or represent a new identity.

If God were to choose to change your name, what would it be?  If you could name yourself, searching out a name that represents who you are as a Christian, what name would you choose?  Do you know the biblical explanation of your current name?  Does it accurately represent your spiritual life?  WHAT’S IN YOUR NAME?

 

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Titus 3:2 urges us “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

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I am a visual person.  When I read scripture or a book, I actually visualize what I am reading.  When I read about Jesus, in the new testament, I can see him walking, talking, healing and hurting.  It’s almost as if I am walking along with him, side by side.  As I journey with Jesus, visually, I also feel a variety of emotions.

I think this generation has become less sensitive, intolerant if you will, of those who are not like them. Instead of realizing that we are all different and trying to understand each other, we seem to hate anyone who is not like us.  As a teenager raised in the church, I remember Christians were accused of this behavior.   Now, it seems like it is an attitude that is running rampant regardless of age, nationality or background.

I think unless we have walked a mile in someone’s shoes, we do not have the knowledge or authority to talk about them?  I have never been a president so how can I truly talk bad about him.  I may not like decisions that he makes, but because I do not live in the white house and I do not have the whole knowledge of the situation, how can I really know why he chose to do something.  Isn’t he the president and doesn’t he have the responsibility to look after the US as best as he can.  Doesn’t he live here too and wouldn’t everything that he does effect him, his wife and his family also?  If he loves them and himself, wouldn’t he do things that would be positive for them also.  He isn’t going to be the white house forever right?

This attitude goes beyond Jesus and the president.  If you have never been a pastor, the owner of a company, a manager, a mom, a dad, an addict, an abused woman, abandoned, mentally ill, the list goes on. Unless you have walked in any of those shoes you are simply talking about what you see. What we see is very rarely the whole story.  There was a reason why Jesus came, why He healed, why He ask men to become His disciples, why He went to the cross, why He died and rose again and the list goes on.  If you just look at Jesus without understanding the whole story, He could appear to just be a mad man.  But when you understand all those things you see what an amazing thing He did for us.

If Christians, would think of ways to encourage and understand those who are different from them, walk a mile in their shoes, our world be a better place.  There would be less quarreling, we would be gentler to others, and we would show perfect courtesy toward all people.  Today, take time to ask questions of someone who is not like us, someone who has made a decision you do not like, talk to someone living a lifestyle different than yours, who believes different than you and so one.  You just may walk away understanding that person more, talking about them less and being kinder to them.  After doing this a couple of times, I think you will begin to talk about others less because you will try to walk a mile in their shoes before making judgements of others based solely on what you see.