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.

 

Coke and Peanuts

Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

I was born and raised in the south. I love the South, Southern traditions and Southerners. I love our lingo, how we talk slow, how we wave at people we see on the road, even if we don’t know them. I love how we say yes salty and no sir, no matter if they are older or younger than us. I love iced tea, pecan pie and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Small country stores were a Southern thing I remember too. As kids, we would ride our bikes to Greene’s Country Store. On our way to the store we would check the ditches for glass Coke bottles. Mr. Greene would give you .05 for every bottle we turned in. By the time we got to Greene’s Country Store we would have enough money to buy a Coke and a pack of peanuts or a candy bar. My favorite candy bar was Zero!!

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We would pull a glass bottle of Coke from the chest-style vending machine that’d wouldn’t accept change anymore and grab a pack of Lance’s Spanish-Roasted Peanuts from the rack on the wall. The ritual, a sweet Southern tradition, was simple: Open the bottle of Coke and take a couple of swigs. Tear off the corner of the cellophane sleeve–one of those single serving-size packages that contain no more than a handful of peanuts, the ones with the rusty skins still attached–and shake some nuts into the bottle. Then drink. The first few sips were the best, when the Coke was at its coldest and the peanuts at their salty crunchiest. If you lingered, the Coke got warm, the peanuts turned soggy, and the whole thing was about as appealing as drinking from an old bottle that’s been dredged from the bottom of a pond. Sweet and salty. That’s what made the drink so good.

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In the South, best friends were siblings, cousins and your closet neighbors. We learned everything together, including how to fight, love and forgive. After I married, my husband joined the navy and we moved from SC to Florida, which was the beginning of our travels. I missed the Southern traditions, my family and my friends. Through the years, I had a lot of friends, but none that compared to what I had left behind.

I met some amazing women. Grew up with them, cried with them and did life with them. BUT, through all those years and all the traveling, I did not find that Southern kind of friend that I missed so much from my childhood. UNTIL about 12 years ago.

My husband became a pastor after leaving the military. We were back to moving around. People would come and go in our lives, so it made it difficult to become close to anyone.

About 14 years ago we moved to a small town about 45 minutes away from family. I really did not want to go, but knew we had to go where God led us. For the first few years, I meet a lot of people who were nice and kind but not my childhood type of friend that I wanted and missed so much.  God was about to bless me with two of those kind of friends.  Today, I want to honor one of those friends.

Best Friends

One day, I met a neighbor, Sheila. She would bring her children and drop them off at our church then go home so she could get a break from her kids. Her husband was an over the road truck driver, so she was kind of like a single mom. She was not interested in church and definitely not interested in being friends with the pastor’s wife. Before long, I forced my way into her life and literally into her house. I guess since she couldn’t get rid of me, she gave in and decided to become friends.

In the last 12 years, we have lived life together. She and her entire family got saved and baptized. We have celebrated the birth of new grandkids, mourned death together, her husband and my dad, we have fought and made up, we have started businesses together and closed businesses together. She has been my best friend in the best of times and in the worst of times. She has told me to pull up my big girl panties more times than I can count, yet she has stood on the fighting line with me when I was wronged. I like to think we work because I am the sweet and she is the salty in our relationship. I am the Coke and she is the peanuts.  She might disagree. Whatever we are, we work!

This week, one of my best friends moved to another city for a fresh start. I am so happy for her! Of all the people in the world she deserves happiness. She says she will visit because her kids are in the area, and I know she will. Like memories from my childhood, I will miss her very much, but she will never be forgotten. If you don’t have this kind of friend in your life, you are missing out on a lot. Proverbs 18:24 says, one who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I am here to tell you that this kind of friend is rare, but they do exist. I am fortunate enough to have another best friend here in the town where I live, Kelly.  She and I have been friends as long as Sheila and I been friends and our friendship is just as special but different.  She is the sweet and I am the salty in that relationship.  Pray that God will send this type of friend into your life and when he does cherish your friendship with them forever.

Besties

This blog is dedicated to my sweet and salty friends who make life more interesting and fun. May you find your sweet to your salty or vice versa, at least one or twice in your lifetime.  I will miss you my friend!

 

 

 

Walk This Way

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.

I think everybody loves Winnie The Poo, so I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from him,  “I Always Get To Where I Am Going By Walking Away From Where I Have Been ~ Winnie The Poo.”  This fictional character is giving us good advise, sort of even biblical I would say.

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A lot of women I know are either walking in circles, standing still or pacing back and forth from the present to the past and from the past back to the present, just to keep repeating the process.  It could be a relationship, a death, a divorce, a hurt or a past decision that they keep going back to.  Day in and day out the past is impacting their present and their future.  I have always heard insanity is the doing same over and over expecting different results.

God tells us in the scripture today that we need to forget what lies behind us and strain forward to lies ahead.  Now I agree that saying it can be easier than actually doing it.  If we are Christians, trusting The Lord is the way to move forward. We can have confidence that God is faithful to His promises.  Today’s scripture says we are to press on for the prize.  Not just any prize but a prize that God has for us.

Here are a few ways to put one step in front of the other to get to the prize:

  1.  Focus on reading the word of God.  It is amazing how God’s word can be the best medicine for what ales you.  I encourage you to read a chapter in Psalm and a chapter in Proverbs every day.  These books of the Bible are encouraging and packed with much wisdom about life.
  2.   Seek out someone who has been a Christian for a long time.  Not one who just goes to church, but one who studies the word of God and can advise you on the what God says about what you are going through.
  3.   Understand and believe that when you are weak, God is strong for you.  How do you believe this?  Through prayer.  The more you pray, the more God will reveal His strength to you.  You will begin to see that you are stronger than you ever imagined.
  4.   Set baby goals and an action plan on how achieve them.  Maybe your goal is to stop talking about……  Your action plan could be to find a positive scripture that you can memorize and recite or read when you begin to talk about ……..  You could write it down in a journal instead of talking about it and end with writing something positive.  As you begin to focus on the future and you can check off items on your action plan you will begin to see the future more.
  5.   Lastly, seek counseling.  Too many people let pride or money stop them from seeking out help to move forward.  I do not understand why church people do not take advantage of the wise counsel in their churches.  The pastor and his wife are two free resources that are not often used.  I have actually heard people say they would never go to their pastor because they did not want him to know they had issues.  REALLY!?!  That is why he is there.  He wants to serve you and so does his wife.

What is holding you back from running straight toward the goal to win the prize that God has for you?  I am praying for you and believe in you.  With Jesus YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE!!

Two Things Every Dream Needs

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Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” 

Psalms 37:23-24“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand” 

Have you ever known in your heart that the Lord was directing to you do something bigger than you thought you were capable to do?  I have.  Actually I am in the mist of that BIG THING right now.  I went through so many emotions before I said yes.  You see I am a bit of a perfectionist.  Those reading this who know me said, “yes you are” as soon as they read that.  I am also impatient.  Once I commit to something I want to get it done NOW.  I am also a planner.

All of these can be good qualities, however they can also be roadblocks. You see if God has directed you to do something you should allow Him to direct your steps.  When we fall, and we may, we won’t stay down because the scripture says he holds us in his hands. You see He has given us the keys to completing the goal, dream, vision, whatever you may call it, in todays scripture.

In pursing every dream you need two things to successfully allow God to direct your steps and to help you with the fear of falling:  Prayer and Patience.  Ok, so number one comes easy for me because I LOVE TO PRAY.  Maybe it is easy for you too.

The second one is the hardest for me.  Patience.  That’s why I need to pray a lot, to pray that God gives me more patience as WE work towards the prize.  I am not sure how confident you are regarding your dream or calling.  If God has ask you do something, then I suggest that you begin every day with prayer, asking Him to direct your every step, every process, every idea as you move forward.

Don’t give up on your dreams if they don’t happen right away or even if you fall.  If you know in your heart that God has called you to do something then just know that He will get you through to it.  Don’t be afraid.  God has great things for you and I know one thing, He is faithful and just.  Go after your dreams and do it right now.  Take that first step right now.  Comment below and share what your dream is and what you are doing to move forward towards it.