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.

 

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.

When I Was Helpless

Romans 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

I love the read the bible.  I read at various times during the day just because I love to read it.  Today I was reading Romans and I read this verse.  I have read it many times before but something resinated with me.  The first part of the scripture is something that all of us have either faced or may even be facing now, a feeling of utter helplessness.  I read that part and just kept on reading AND then part two of the verse hit me like a ton of bricks.

Two things really stood out for me in the last part of this verse.

  1. It says that Christ came at just the right time.  Isn’t that our God?!?!?  He did not show up early, he did not show up late, he showed up at just the right time.  Maybe in your struggles you are wondering where God is, why He is not on top of the situation.  I am hear to tell you that He is there at just the right time.
  2. The last part of that verse says he showed up TO DIE for us.  Let me say that again.  He showed up at just the right to die for us.  Wow.  I have had someone show up to help me in times of needs but never to die for me.  Other than Jesus, my husband is the only one who I believe would actually die for me.

Everyone at some point in their life is going to feel utterly helpless, even Christians.  The Bible says as long as we are alive and in this world we will have troubles.  Today it could be me and tomorrow it could be you feeling utterly helpless.  Write this scripture down and put it somewhere so it can be a reminder to you.  If Christ came at the just the right to die for us in our utter helplessness, he will surely be here to help us at just the right time today.

Are you feeling utterly helpless now?  Do you have someone in your life who would die for you?  If you have ask Jesus to come into your heart you at least one person who has already done it, even before you loved Him.  Jesus.

 

The Quick Change

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

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The Bible says that in this world we will have trouble.  Trials will come our way even though we are Christians.  So why is that when trials come our way we want to hide them, keep them to ourselves and pretend that all is well?  My husband is a pastor and he often talks about the “Sunday morning get ready trials”.  We stress, yell, argue all the way to church, then the moment we pull into the parking lot we turn on our smiles and pretend life is grand. In other words, Christians like to quick change from a life with burdens to a life that is full of rainbows and unicorns.  We want everyone to think our life is just grand.

If God gives us a command to share each others burdens then two things are for sure.  One is that we will have burdens and two is that we should share them.  I grew up in a good home with loving parents, however we grew up being told that “what happens in this house, stays in this house.”  In other words, keep your burdens to yourself.  Some of you reading this know what I mean.

Today families are dealing with burdens such as, a child cutting, a teenager trying to commit suicide, a family member addicted to porn, a loved one struggling with homosexuality, a couple considering divorce, a spouse is having an affair, a child is stealing, alcoholism or drugs or both are ruining a family members life, a child has to take care of a sick parent, and the list goes on.

The thing they all in common is that in some cases no one knows.  In other cases a friend may know but is sworn to secrecy.  WHY?  Pride.  The devil has convinced us that people will judge us, we will be deemed a failure, others will talk about us, feel sorry for us or worse yet will not have anything to do with us.  If God wanted us to bear our own burdens he would have never given us this command he gave us in todays scripture.

I do not know what burden you are bearing today but I challenge you to share it with other Christians, good strong mature ones, and ask them to help you bear your burdens.  They will help you by listening, praying for you and imparting wisdom.  Don’t hide your burdens anymore.  Stop your quick change routine and be real.  Be real with your burdens. Start by sharing them today and begin to heal.