The Trojan Horse

Posted by on June 11, 2013 with 2 Comments

Finally!  A tremendous victory had been won! Old-Jerusalem-003

Jerusalem’s walls were rebuilt.

Yet…

The walls could not protect themselves.

Walls without live watchmen were still poor defences for a city. A relentless enemy will find a way to breach the walls once again, if there is no one watching for him.

Recognizing the importance of protecting the rebuilt walls, gates and homes, Nehemiah appointed watchmen. To the head of each family, he assigned the task of protecting the section of wall in front of their own house (Nehemiah 7:3).

Their God-appointed responsibility?

To continue to protect and take care of what God had entrusted to them.

As leaders of our homes, that duty has not changed for us in 2013.

What is a guardian? romannsoldier

A guardian is one who protects; one who guards over and against.

In our homes, we may have successfully surveyed the walls, recognized the damage, removed the rubble, and rebuilt on the cornerstone of Jesus and prayer.

However, have we neglected to take up our posts as guardians?

If we have neglected to post a guard, harmful influences may have been allowed into our homes. Media is one Trojan horse through which the enemy can craftily pass through our gates.

The rising statistics show us the harsh truth that we desensitize our children with the things we allow them to listen to and watch.

A recent survey produced these results:

By the time a child graduates from high school, they will have seen over 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the troublesome lyrics of some teen music:

  • Advocate and glamorize the abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Present suicide as a “solution”
  • Display graphic violence (Music Videos)
  • Describe harmful sexual practices, incest, and a devaluing of women

At one time, pornography could only be found in magazine form, geared to men. But now, it is easily found in store catalogues, fashion magazines, on the internet and in TV commercials. Media uses the bodies of our young girls to sell anything from a soda to a car! It has brought pornography into our homes, causing damage to our girls and especially to our boys.

With the way the “acceptability line” of society and media continues to move, it would seem that line is drawn in chalk. On the flip side, we need to also recognize the slippery nature of the slope of controlling media content. We do not want to open the door of censorship, for that too would lead us down a very ugly road.

Not all media is evil or wrong.

In fact, we can use media for moral and spiritual teaching moments. As parents, we must be intentional about teaching our kids how to make right media choices.

We are responsible for what is allowed through the gates. And not just the physical gates of my front door, but also through the “eye” gates, “ear” gates, and “mouth” gates of each family member. (1 John 2:16)

What is the litmus test for things allowed through the gates of our homes and individual lives?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”   Philippians 4:8 (ESV).

Nothing should pass through our gate that doesn’t first pass the Philippians 4:8 test.

Does that become more and more challenging as media pushes the envelope?

Does it become more challenging as our kids grow?

Is it overwhelming with today’s technology, where cell phones can access the internet as easily as a home computer, making it difficult for parents to post a guard?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean I stop guarding nor does it mean I stop doing the work.

parenting-sharingAs parents, we need to know, to the best of our ability, who our children’s friends are,the books they are reading, the lyrics of the music they are listening to, what sites they are visiting on the internet (including their FB, Snapchat & Tumblr friends), and what they are watching on TV. Granted, this lessens as our children mature and as we pass the baton of responsibility for their choices to them. This “baton passing” must gradually take place, if we are to raise, healthy adult children. However, until the day they take the baton and run with it, it is our God-given responsibility to guard against wrong influences being let into our home and into the lives of our children.

That takes work.

Will it be met with resistance?

Of course!

Thinking of my own teenage years, at seventeen I often was not allowed to participate in some of my friends’ activities, or listen to the same music, or watch the things they watched. Admittedly, there were times I didn’t exactly “like” my parents when they stood their ground as guardians.

However, in retrospect (especially once I became a parent!) I appreciate that my parents acted as proper guardians. I am who I am today, because my parents took seriously their role as protectors of their home.

Know Your Enemy.

Contrary to popular belief, the devil isn’t red with pointy ears, tail and pitch fork.

He is a fallen angel. He is very beautiful. He is also a crafty liar. He doesn’t attack in ways that are obviously evil.

Satan didn’t tempt Eve with rotten, unappealing fruit! Neither will he tempt us or our children with things that aren’t appealing. He even adds a tiny thread of truth to his beautiful package so that we can justify allowing the Trojan horse through our gates.

What is a Trojan horse?

Something that appears desirable and innocent but actually contains something harmful. Something used to subvert from within. (Today we use the term for computer viruses.)

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War lasted many years, as the Greeks could not penetrate the heavily barricaded city of Troy. That is…until Greece came up with a crafty plan.

The Greek soldiers brought the people of Troy a large wooden horse and tricked them into thinking it was just a peace offering. The Trojans accepted it and moved it inside the city walls. Once inside the walls and under the cover of darkness, the enemy emerged from hiding inside the horse. They opened the gates for the rest of the Greek armies to swarm into the city, slaughtered all the Trojan men, forced the women and children into slavery, and destroyed the “impenetrable” city of Troy.

The moral of the story?trojan-horse2

 BEWARE OF A TROJAN HORSE!

Let one slip past your gates and you will find your home destroyed and your family bound in slavery.

As parents, our God-appointed job is to provide guidance, protection and care for our children (teens included!) until they move out from the walls of our home. (Proverbs 29:15)

Is it time to reclaim your post?

“The character of your children tomorrow depend on what you put into their hearts today” Daily Bread, 2003

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Stink Stinks!

Posted by on May 13, 2013 with 0 Comments

I swallowed and took a deep breath.Stink1

I had to go in.

This stench stood between my financial freedom and me.

After all, sixteen was the year of independence, wasn’t it?

With your first REAL paying job came new clothes, your own car (eventually), and all the junk food you could buy!  Right?

What teen didn’t long for that first job?

Well, I’ll tell you…

A teen growing up in a small fishing community, with no MacDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, or mall; and whose only place of gainful employment was a fish plant!

Yes, you read that correctly.

A FISH PLANT!

Rubber boots, sharp knives, hairnets and clothes that you had to peel off at the front door BEFORE you went into the house after a day working, are not part of the picture one envisions for their first job. Neither was slicing off the heads and tails of fish, filleting them and checking them for worms!

My paychecks certainly were not a drawback. Neither was working alongside some of the hardest working people I have ever known. But it was the rancid, pungent smell of fish that made my first ever job… STINK.

Even after discarding my funky clothes (not funky in the cool way), scrubbing and scrubbing my skin with my Dad’s Old Spice soap-on-a-rope, repeatedly shampooing my hair, I worried that I still sported my piscine perfume. I was ever mindful that, no matter what I did, it hovered over me like Pigpen’s dirt cloud in the Charlie Brown cartoons.

Where is that stench coming from?

Smell is one of the most powerful senses God has given us. Sometimes, all it takes is a certain smell and we are immediately taken back to a specific memory.

There are good smells, like bread fresh out of the oven or Mayflowers and lilacs. Then there are ones powerfully repugnantsuch as the fish plant or rotting flesh.

Arriving at Lazarus’s tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance, Jesus said “Roll the stone aside.”image010

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” John 11:38-39 NLT

Four days of a decaying body lying in a hot, humid tomb. I think Martha pointed out the obvious and was more than ready to run back home and get her can of OT Febreze! If I had of been there, I would have agreed with her and started digging for my purse size can of Lysol.

Like Lazarus, we are not only dead in our sins, but we stink before God. (Romans 3:23, 6:23).

Our sin stink stinks!

No matter how we try to disguise our stench with the perfume of good performance, or deodorize ourselves with the deodorant of religion, we still smell and stinking is the pits!

In the beginning, the stench of sin had to be covered by the shedding of blood.

Leviticus tells us that as an animal sacrifice is consumed in the fire on the altar, the smoke that rises is a sweet, pleasing aroma to God.  Three times in the first chapters of Leviticus, it talks of the smoke being a pleasing aroma.

The Old Testament sacrificial system was a sign looking ahead to the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, which opened the way of life for us (Ephesians 5:1,2). Just as we are attracted by pleasant smells, so the smell of Christ’s sacrifice makes us appealing to God.

But there is more:

In the same way, our offering of ourselves up to God is also a pleasing aroma, a fragrance; the fragrance of Christ Himself found in us (2 Cor 2:14-16).

Are we a sweet smell or a stinky odor?

Solomon warns: “Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor” (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

fly

We refer to it as “a fly in the ointment,” meaning, a small but irritating flaw that spoils the whole thing.

It may be a small fly, but it can:

ruin something very costly

render something essential as useless

corrupt something used for healing into something that is putrefying

Just as we may say, “Oh, what harm can one little fly do?” we ask, “Oh, what harm can one little sin do?”

It only takes one rotten apple to decay a whole bag or basket.

It takes only one fly to spoil a lovely bowl of soup or a whole night’s sleep.

It took only one bite of a forbidden fruit for sin to enter mankind (Genesis 3).

It took only one glance for David to fall into adultery and murder (II Samuel 11).

One kiss betrayed our Savior (Mark 14:44).

Small does not mean insignificant.

What dead flies are putrefying your perfume?

Bitterness…

Resentment…

Jealousy…

Strife…

Lying….

Gossiping…

Flirting with sexual sin….

Bad attitudes…

Selfishness…

We are recognized by our smell!

Scientist say that even our sweat/perspiration aroma is unique from person to person. I tend to agree with them!

Blindfold me and bring my two teens to identify by their sent and I could do it! My daughter smells like lavender and lilies. My son smells like AXE (anyone with teen boys know what this is). Blindfold me and take me to a few homes belonging to friends and family and I could probably identify where I am by the scent. I can smell two t-shirts that are similar in color and size and know which belongs to my husband and which belongs to my son, all because of the fragrance…or odor!

Jesus is to be a sweet-smelling scent overflowing in our lives.  We need to take care of the flies that may putrefy His precious perfume, for our world is in a stinky mess. It needs fresh, unique, life-giving bursts of the sweet scent of the Spirit that draws people to Christ.

So, at the risk of being too personal… how do you smell?

stinky stickmen

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Nose Down or Nose Up?

Posted by on April 29, 2013 with 1 Comments

airplaneDid you know that an airplane has an instrument called an attitude indicator?

No, I did not misspell altitude.

Seriously!

Google or Wikipedia it and see!

What is an attitude indicator?

An attitude indicator informs the pilot of the aircraft’s real position relative to the horizon and the earth. Let me explain how it works:

attitudeindicator

The center part tells the pilot the pitch of his plane. The centerline is the horizon and represents the true skyline. It separates the upper blue colored portion, representing the sky, from the bottom brown section, which represents the earth. In the center is a dot that represents the aircraft.

If the dot moves up above the horizon line (blue background), the aircraft’s pitch is nose up. If the symbolic aircraft dot moves below the horizon line (brown background), the pitch is nose down. However, if the dot sits in the center of the horizon, the airliner is in level flight. The outside circle with its lines and numbers shows the bank of the plane or the title of the wings. This instrument gives an instantaneous indication of even the smallest changes in altitude.

The ideal place is to either be nose up in the blue or to be sitting level. Going nose down and not correcting it could lead to serious consequences, like crashing into the earth!

Just like a plane, our attitude is what makes us soar, or brings us crashing down.

What is attitude?

An attitude is a favorable or an unfavorable evaluation of something. Simply put, it is our inward feelings revealed by our outward behavior.

guard your heart

Attitudes first take root in our hearts. They then spread to our thoughts and minds and eventually will reveal themselves through our words and actions. To put it another way, your attitude is your thought life turned inside out.

Although attitude is certainly not everything, it does affect every part of your life and is the difference maker in whether your life is a positive one, or negative one.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  Winston Churchill

Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.  ~Author Unknown

 “It’s not your problem that is the problem.  It is your attitude toward your problem that is the problem!” Joyce Myers

Negative attitudes will pull the nose of our planes downward, putting us at risk of crashing; possibly taking innocent bystanders with us. Bad attitudes spread quickly, influencing the attitudes of others along the way. Sometimes, if we do not adjust our bad attitudes, people will start to approach us with caution and eventually avoid us all together!  It is very difficult to share Christ and make disciples when our prickly, poor attitudes repel others.

A good attitude, on the other hand, keeps us in the blue sky or in level flight. And, it helps those around us to maintain their own level, successful flights.  Our good attitude will bring the best out in others. It will attract others.

Thankfully, because we choose our attitude, we can change our attitude.

As every good co-pilot knows (or, I sure hope they do!), when the pilot points to your attitude indicator and you are pointing in the brown, you’d better adjust, or else!

HidingIf my spouse, kids or co-workers are running for cover whenever I approach, then maybe I need to check my attitude indicator with my Pilot.

If self-pity is driving me, rather than Holy Spirit power, then maybe I’d better seek my Pilot’s help before I nose-dive, taking others down with me.

If I find it easy to pick out the speck in the eyes of others but am blind to my own “planks of wood,” my attitude indicator may be pointing to a rough ride ahead, unless I allow my Pilot to adjust.

If I take my eyes off the horizon and instead focus on the storm I am in, I may begin to blame my Pilot for leading me here. I may allow the fog of bitterness to roll in, and my attitude indicator will pull my plane down, down, down.

Scripture tips for keeping your attitude level:

Philippians 2:14-15

Colossians 3:23

I John 1:9

Philippians 2:4-5

attitude

There is a reason why a plane needs an Attitude Indicator Instrument. It keeps the plane flying on course, through all kinds of weather and clouds.

We believers need to be just as mindful of our own Attitude Indicator Instrument.

Nose up or nose down?  Which way is your attitude indicator pointing?

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Some Assembly Required

Posted by on April 15, 2013 with 0 Comments

One of the most feared phrases in the English language is:
someassembly

If you disagree with me, then most likely, you have never tried to assemble a play kitchen on Christmas Eve, or some other toy whose package bears that ominous phrase. Nor have you tried to assemble furniture that arrived in pieces in a box, with picture instructions only, or, the most feared … a barbeque!

Be assured, anything that requires “some assembly” will never be done quickly, and the instructions will never be simple!

Life is often like that, is it not?

Never simple.

Complicated.

Filled with missing instructions and lost pieces.

How many times do we ask, “God, what is Your will for my life?”

The good news is God’s instruction manual, the Bible, makes the assembly of one’s life simple. It gives us clear and concise instructions for how we are to live; none more straightforward than Micah 6:8:

Micah6-8

Most of us think that all God requires of us is to go to church on Sunday, read our Bibles, be kind to the elderly, and make sure to avoid the BIG sins. Yet, if these were God’s requirements, then we would be just like the Pharisees. They went to church, read the Pentateuch and avoided all the BIG sins. All one has to do is read Matt 23, Mark 7 and Luke 11 to see that the Pharisees’ way was not God’s way.

What does God ask of you and I as His children?

Speaking through His prophet Micah, God told His people (and us), who had forgotten His ways and were doing their own things, what HE requires:

Micah 6;8

We are to act justly

This means in all our dealings at home, at work, in the church, and in our schools we are doing justice.  Simply put, this means to treat others fairly or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Practically, this means:

Do not cheat people in business.

Do not bully people at school or on the Internet.

Defend the defenseless.

Treat your siblings and parents with respect.

We are often faced with moments when we must battle sin; sometimes moment-by-moment. However, to find occasions to “do good” or “act justly,” we may have to leave the comfort of our homes. We may have to open our eyes to the ugliness going on around us. We have to realize the refusal to do something, no matter how small that task is, and despite how insignificant that act is in the whole scheme of things,  is refusing to do what God asked….to act justly.

Our responsibility is to obey. God will take care of the results.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. “  Mother Teresa

We are to love tenderly.

Other translations have “to love mercy.”  Notice, we aren’t told to have mercy but to love mercy!

Does that make a difference?

yes2

It is easy to do acts of kindness out of obligation and obedience. It is quite another to do them out of love.

The whole concept takes on a new tone when you understand that the word Micah uses here for “mercy” is the same word often used in reference to God’s mercy and grace. It refers to an “unexpected” kindness.

Jesus’ teaching emphasized the importance of “unexpected” kindness.

The parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates unexpected kindness.

The account of the woman caught in adultery, the return of the Prodigal son, and Jesus’ actions toward the thief on the cross all demonstrate the result of unexpected kindness.

Yet, none grip my heart more than the story of a young, abused, and broken girl who was without hope until her Savior reached down and granted her an “unexpected kindness.”

How can I not love mercy when such mercy was poured out on me?

Oh, it isn’t always easy to show mercy; especially to those we might not like, or when to love tenderly takes us to places and people that are out of our comfort zone. It may ask us to sacrifice our time and money. But, it is what God requires of us (Matthew 5:7, I Peter 3:8).

We can love tenderly by:

Sponsoring children in Developing Countries.

Giving clean drinking water to those without.

Volunteering at a soup kitchen.

Helping to shelter the homeless.

Shovelling the driveway of your grumpy neighbour.

Don’t just show mercy, but love to show mercy!

We are to walk humbly with our God.

If you are born again, then your life is not your own, for you were bought with a price (Ephesians 2:8-9). You belong to God. Everything you do and everything you accomplish is not because of you, but because of God’s power working in and THROUGH you.

“Humility must be in the heart, and then it will come out spontaneously as the outflow of life in every act that a man performs.” (Spurgeon)

To walk humbly with God is never an easy task. My pride and arrogance can sometimes get in the way.

Do you know what I mean?

Sometimes, we think that God’s role is to serve us and to answer our prayers. Rather, we should see

some aseembly 3ourselves as His humble bondservants whose role it is to glorify Him and Him alone.

To walk humbly with God, our desire must be the same as John the Baptist’s: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” In order for that to happen, I must walk with Him, commune with Him and spend time with Him. The results of this will be reflected in my conversations, my actions and attitudes.

“Some Assembly Required.”

Yes, our life in Christ requires it.

But, if we read and follow His simple, concise instructions, as given in Micah 6:8, our lives will be beautiful constructions of his grace, mercy and love to a dark and hopeless world!

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Jesus is Risen…Now What?

Posted by on April 1, 2013 with 0 Comments

Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” ~ Watchman Nee, Christian Author & Church Leader

May the worship we feel on Easter not end on Monday, but may we live daily lives of worship because of Easter morning!

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Who Has Your Back?

Posted by on March 11, 2013 with 3 Comments

eyesinbackofheadHave you ever heard the expression “I have eyes in the back of my head?”

Have you wondered what that expression means?

It means to have the ability to see what is going on around you at all times, even outside your field of vision.

Parents often display this ability, especially parents of toddlers. Some teachers seem to have this ability, knowing exactly what is going on in their classroom even when their backs are turned.

Though a noble quality indeed, we all know God gave us only one set of eyes and they aren’t in the back of our heads! Therefore, our vision is limited. We only see the things that are in our actual range of vision. Thus, our backs are left vulnerable.

So, who has your back?

In military strategy, an army assigns a group of soldiers who lead the way, making the path safe for those following. Meanwhile, another group brings up the rear, protecting the army or group from surprise enemy attacks from behind (Numbers 10:25, Josh 6:9).

Have you ever been struck from behind with a serious situation or blind-sided by yet another attack from the enemy? Do you have days where you feel like you’re dealing with one situation after another?  You feel like you’re stuck in a horrible never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole, hitting one problematic mole only to have another pop up!

“For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” Isaiah 52:12.

When the children of Israel fled Egypt, a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day was their guide. The fire and the cloud, however, were much more than just a global positioning system. They were signs of God’s presence.

Any man, woman or child who felt scared or overwhelmed by the journey they were on could step outside their tent door and see the pillar of fire or the cloud. Seeing it, they would be assured that Almighty God was with them!

At the Red Sea, though, God’s presence seemed to have disappeared, as the cloud was suddenly nowhere in sight. God was asking the Israelites to step into the sea by faith alone. He had already instructed them to do so through Moses, and now they had to choose whether or not to obey. They did, and found themselves trapped in the middle of a sea-walled path with a fearsome army in pursuit!

They could hear the chariots.

They could feel the thunder of the horses’ feet.

I am sure their hearts were crying out, “God, where are you?” as they searched the distant shore for the cloud.

Did God forget His people during the time they didn’t see or sense His presence?

No!

Scripture says the cloud went and stood behind them (Exodus 14: 19-20).

RedSeaPartingGod’s mighty forces took up the rear, bringing the sea wall down and destroying the pursuing enemy!

You see, sometimes God has already told us what to do. Therefore, He is not shedding light on our path because He is at the rear fighting enemies we didn’t know were there!

Oh, how glad I am that the presence of God is not measured by my awareness!

He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us.

He keeps His Word despite how I feel.

Although I may not always see Him, may I be like Hagar who cried, “You, God, see me.”

A coincidence?

During their trek through the wilderness, not once does Scripture tell us that the children of Israel were attacked during the night. Yet, it does tell us that the twelve tribes were to surround the Tabernacle with their front door facing the structure. That left their backs exposed to the enemy; for not even a roaming guard was placed on duty at night.

Everyone knows, even those of us with no military background, that you never leave your back open to your enemy. So, was Israel just being foolish in their military strategy?

No, they were doing what God told them to do.  He was saying, “Focus on Me and where I am leading and leave Me to take care of your back. I will not only lead you and protect you on every side, but I will be your Rear Guard” (Psalm 91 & Proverbs 2:7-9).

How many times do I question?

How much time do I waste worrying about what could happen next or how I am going to do everything that has to be done?

No wonder Paul says: “…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…” Philippians 3:13.  Paul knew his Rear Guard had his back.

Does it seem God’s presence has left you?

Does God seem silent?

Maybe it is because you are already doing what He asked, even if you think you are accomplishing nothing! Remember guideline number two?  “Stop Striving!”   This guideline number three gives us a reason to “be still.”

If God seems silent, maybe you need to go back to the last thing He instructed you to do and make sure you are doing it.

Elizabeth Elliot said it best, “Do the next thing.”

The path may be rough and obscure and the enemy may be closing in, but just “do the next thing.”

You may have doubts, fears and questions about God’s instructions, but just “do the next thing.”

Maybe you are still trying to get past the seeming impossibility of the task God is asking you to do, but just “do the next thing.”

Maybe the next thing is filling out that application for school or a new job.

Maybe it is making a phone call to restore a relationship.

Maybe the next step is just getting out of bed, despite your depression.

Maybe it is persevering in the little tasks of your ministry despite all the closed doors and apparent lack of advancement.

Keep praying.

Keep spending time in the Word.

Just “do the next thing!”

Whatever is before us, we can handle it with confidence when we acknowledge the Lord is our Shield, our Strong Tower and also our Rear Guard.

We know nothing will happen to us that hasn’t already been filtered through His love and grace.

BECAUSE….

HE has our back!

god-is-our-rear-guard

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Stop Striving!

Posted by on February 19, 2013 with 2 Comments

Bestill2Let go…

Relax…

Stop striving…

Surrender…

Let yourself become weak…

All are words and phrases that are almost foreign to us in our 2013 culture.

Yet, these are the very words and phrases the author meant when he penned, “Be Still.” (Habakkuk 2:20, Zechariah 2:13)

What Does it mean?

Like many, I thought this verse (Psalm 46:10) was supporting meditative prayer and encouraging stressed people to destress by stopping and being still. These things are good and necessary, but are they the lesson of Psalm 46:10?

This question popped into my head when God gave me this verse as a guideline for entering into a new year. I thought maybe I should take another look. As a Bible teacher, I know Scripture should always be read in the light of its context. But had I done that with this familiar verse, or had I just assumed I knew what it meant?

Here is what I learned:

The Psalmist is talking to a warring nation. Most likely, David penned it after his victories over neighboring countries, but at a time when he still faced the hostility of others.

soldier restingThe Hebrew word from which ‘be still’ is translated pictures a soldier who puts down his weapons, stops fighting, and lets down his defenses because the danger has passed.

It doesn’t mean he is not on his guard or becomes passive. It means that he has ceased his striving because his God is dependable. He realizes that he has done all he can in fighting the battle. He knows that his God is in full charge and has the situation well in hand. He is resting in the truth that nothing escapes God’s notice and nothing is beyond His power.

Most of us would readily admit that in stressful times or difficult circumstances, our first impulse is to strive to fix things ourselves. We struggle to come up with a solution and then work hard to bring it about. Certainly, there are times when we have to make good and righteous but quick and decisive decisions. However, there are also times when we have to decide to cease striving, to let go… to become weak and allow God to work.

“What can you do when you are about to faint physically?  You can’t DO anything!  In your weakness you just fall upon the shoulders of some strong loved one, lean hard, and rest until your strength returns.  The same is true when you are tempted to faint under adversity.  The Lord’s message to us is “Be still, and know that I am God.”  James H. McConkey.

How big is our God?

In Psalm 46, God tells His enemy to stop persecuting His people (Be still).

He is telling them that He is God and He will ultimately win. No matter how extreme their malice against Him and His people, the enemy will lose. God’s people will be raised up.

The lesson for us today?

As His children, we are not to be shaken by our trials. We are not to be looking at the waves around us. We must be still and know who our God is (Psalm 46: 1-3).

He is the God of the impossible!

He is Elohim.

He is in control (Exodus 14:14).

Your God is not just another powerful god.

He is THE Almighty God!

He is the Lord of Hosts and with His presence comes His infinite power.

 He always sides with us and fights for us even when we cannot see him (Psalm 46:11).

He is our covenant-keeping God.

We have nothing and no one to fear!

The call to “be still” is not a plea for an introspective life, but a challenge to depend entirely on God, His sovereignty, His power, His love, and His care.

 

*This is guideline number two from my list going into 2013. (See The Blank Page & Red Letter Day)

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

Red Letter Day

Posted by on February 4, 2013 with 2 Comments

Lamp to my feet

My first guideline (see The Blank Page), as all the others, is not foreign Scriptures to me. I memorized it when I was a child.  That, however, doesn’t mean that I am intentionally living my life in the light of the words penned many, many years ago.

So, as I look ahead to a new year, God gently reminds me that any attempts to write my own story, apart from the guiding light of His Word, may not always lead to a story of discord and tragedy, but certainly, to misspelled words and fragmented sentences!

That is not God’s intention for me … or for you.

Have you ever awoken in the middle of the night and tried, in the dark, to find your way to the kitchen or bathroom?

Yes, this is your home and you know every corner and where every piece of furniture is placed.  Yet, when you refuse to turn on a light and try to make your way through familiar territory, it’s Murphy’s Law that your little toe will find something to stub against!  You will swear your husband or kids moved that table or deliberately left that piece of Lego in your path.

Do you know what I mean?

A Man with a Lantern2

Travelling in the dark is dangerous and hurtful.

God’s Word is a lamp for my feet.

In days gone by, when streetlights were not a common commodity, people who ventured out into the dark of night would carry a lantern with them to help them find their way.

Lamplight exposes what is dangerous, or hiding in the dark (Proverbs 20:27).

The lantern’s light kept them from falling into holes, ditches and open sewers, or walking into piles of garbage or animal feces. The lamp’s light revealed their path only a few steps at a time, but those few safe steps led the journeyer to his destination through the dark, and oft times, dangerous night.

God’s Word (our lamp) reveals things to us that we may not know are there:

Secret sins,
Wrong attitudes,
Sinful desires…

None of these are wonderful to look at or make us feel good about ourselves, but if we do not let the Light reveal what is hidden in the shadows, we will eventually stub our toe. The sad thing is, this is a process that sometimes hurts others as well.

So, we have to seriously ask ourselves, do I really want to change?  Do I really want to be the person God designed me to be?  If so, I must let my Lamp reveal the dirt hiding in the shadows so that I can see clearly and deal with it. What is exposed to the Light no longer has a hold on me!

A lamp also points out a path. It provides enough light for only the next step. I will not see the next tread until I choose to move and let the Light illuminate where my next step should be.

“God gives me just the amount of light I need at just the time I need it!” Stormie Omartian

Because a lamp reveals only my very next step, I need to make sure that each and every day, I am lighting my lamp and looking for the path God wants me to take…. TODAY!

headlights

God’s Word is a light unto my path.

A light reveals more than a lamp. Its light is brighter. This light is more like the headlights on a car; it illuminates further along the path.

Even though I may not know what step I am to take next, or where my life’s journey will take me six months from now, God’s Word offers guiding lights, or principles, that will help me no matter what my path encounters. Our verse today is a guiding light; a principle for me to fasten my decisions and choices to for the next 12 months, or 20 years!

Just as a light illuminated the way into the Holy of Holies, today, a light also keeps the daily path to God well lit. It is the light of God’s Word. It is the Lamp that reveals where to safely put our feet.

Do you stumble through your day?

Are you constantly banging your proverbial toe up against your spouse’s mood or your kid’s bad attitudes?

Do you find each and every day is more challenging than the last?

Do you find you have lost your way?

Then, maybe it is time for you to decide to turn your Lamp and Light on each and every day.

Sadly, so many of us see the Bible as something we open only on Sunday, or read on the powerpoint in church. For others it’s the feel-good Scripture verse we get in our inbox every day or through an app on our smart phones or playbooks and iPads – the one we barely read but makes us feel super-spiritual because we get it EVERY DAY.

Some of us see the Bible as a religious encyclopedia filled with boring facts and who begat who.

Others see it as just a storybook with good moral messages.

Who doesn’t admit that a fiery furnace and a talking donkey  make for an interesting read?

But God’s Word, the Bible, is so much more than that.

His Word is a light for life. It gives new understanding, new insight, renewed hope and reveals what pitfalls to avoid. His Word is a lamp lighting all our “paths” (decisions, plans, courses) in life, and also lighting our feet (our actions in carrying out those plans and decisions) on the trail.

It is only through the practical, everyday use of God’s Light and Lamp, during the day or night, in the desert or palace, and through storm or sun, will a child of God experience a red-letter day.

Oh, I desire more red-letter days in 2013!

How about you?

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

The Blank Page

Posted by on January 21, 2013 with 3 Comments

Have you ever tried to compose a note, an email, or fill in a birthday card and found you had nothing to say, or at least not anything creative to say?

blinking cHave you ever sat and stared at a blank computer screen; the blinking of your cursor ticking off each second you have sat there… wordless?

Some anticipate a new blank page.

Some fear it.

Some rush headlong into spilling out words.

Others are more deliberate; weighing each word, looking for exact meaning and intent.

No matter whether we find ourselves as the rusher or the deliberator… or even somewhere in-between, the simple truth is that each of us is given blank pages upon which our life story is to be written:

A new job.
A new relationship.
A new year.
A new day.
Each new hour….
 

The words of my favorite, fictional, freckle-faced orphan come to mind as I ponder the blank page of 2013:

“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.”

Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

 

WiteOut

The problem is I tend to continue to reread the last chapter, rather than put my pen to fresh paper. Yes, reflection is good, but life’s pages will pass even if we refuse to write a word on them. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have some scribbles and Wited-Out words than no words at all!

Yet, as I ponder the blank page of a new year before me, what are some guidelines I can follow?

What are some guidelines I can use to make sure my story fills up the pages with less Wite-Out marks than last year’s version?

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you the guideline verse God has given me as I start into this new year.

Have you asked God for your guideline for 2013?

Your new job?  New relationship?

Let’s start our new blank page with the Author holding the pen and writing our story, rather than just allowing Him to edit our version. It is the only way we will find hope, healing and reach our fullest version of life!

He will take all the chapters, highs and lows, beautiful phrases, along with misspelled words and create HIS best seller for YOU.

So, are you staring at a new blank page? What are you waiting for? Join with me in declaring this page belongs to God.

dedicating 2013

Trust your Author. Put your pen to paper.

Let the adventure begin!

(Jeremiah 29: 11-13)
Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings

The Wonder of Christmas

Posted by on December 23, 2012 with 1 Comments

 

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)                                                   

“It’s your birthday?  How wonderful!”

“You’ve passed your exams!  How wonderful!”

“You just won Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes?  How wonderful!”

Today, this word “wonderful” (that which excites or calls forth wonder) has lost its significance due to the fact we use it so often to describe everyday events.  However, when Isaiah used it to describe the coming Messiah seven hundred years before His birth, it wasn’t so familiar.  It was a momentous word that caught the hearts and hope of a people living in darkness and despair.

The Hebrew word for wonderful that Isaiah penned is “pala.”  “Pala” indicates something uncommon or out of the ordinary; something outside the realm of human explanation.  This “wonderful” is separated from the normal course of human events.

It makes no difference what language we speak, “wonder” means exactly what it says.  It means “filling one with wonder.”

The Child was literally to be a “wonder.” (Matt 21:15Mark 6:51Luke 4:22)

Why is He called Wonderful?

The divine nature of Christ is indeed wonderful.

Christ is the Marvel of marvels, the Miracle of miracles. “His name shall be called Miraculous (Isaiah 9:6c Steph’s translation),” for He is more than a man; He is God’s highest miracle.  He is God manifested in the flesh.( John 1:1)

The power of Christ is indeed wonderful.

In Genesis 18, when Sarah was told that she would have a son at the age of ninety, she laughed.  God then asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”  The Hebrew word translated “hard” in that verse is the same word translated “wonderful” in Isaiah 9.

When the angel told Mary she would conceive and bear a child, she asked, “How can this be since I am a virgin?”  The angel’s response? “For nothing is impossible with God (Lk 1:37).” “Nothing is impossible” is another translation of the Greek word meaning “wonderful.”  Therefore, not only is Jesus wonderful because of His divine nature, but also, He is wonderful because He makes all things possible.  Nothing is too hard for Him!  He enables us to rise above the darkest storm, financial crisis, grief or loneliness because He is “wonderful.”

There is more!

Jesus is wonderful because He knows no limits.

Jesus is wonderful in character.

He is wonderful in love.

He is wonderful in mercy and grace.

Jesus is wonderful in His teachings and His guidance.

When visited by the Angel of the Lord, Manoah asked the angel his name.  The Angel of the Lord replied, “Why do you ask my name?  It is beyond understanding” (wonderful, pala) (Judges 13:18). He is wonderful because He is beyond our human understanding.

Have we become too familiar with Jesus?  Do we no longer look on Him with the wonder and awe He deserves?

Our Messiah should fill us with wonder.  It should be like Christmas morning everyday for those of us who have put our hope and trust in the Lord. (2 Cor 9:15)

Lastly, He is called “Wonderful” because He is our Savior.

“Christmas began in the heart of God.  It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.” Anon

The historical event of Jesus’ coming is incomplete until He has come personally into your heart as Savior and Lord. Christ was born FOR us that He might be born IN us.  Christ does the saving; we do the receiving! (Ephesians 2:8)

Is there room in your heart and life for Jesus this Christmas?

As I ponder over this verse, my mind drifts back to my childhood, where, in a little country church, I learned to sing a chorus called, “His Name is Wonderful.”

It was written one Christmas morning in the 1950s, when a young woman named Audrey Mieir was seated in church, enjoying a children’s performance.  She was so enthralled by the beauty and festivity of the day that she was only half listening when the pastor opened his Bible to Isaiah 9:6 and began to read.  As the pastor’s voice spoke the words, His Name shall be called Wonderful, the Holy Spirit jumped within Audrey’s heart and she began to hear a melody forming in her mind. She quickly wrote down these four lines on the flyleaf of her Bible:

His Name is Wonderful,

His Name is Wonderful, His Name is Wonderful,

Jesus my Lord

Precious ones, as we go into this Christmas season, may we be reminded of Who it is we celebrate!  Let us give Him the awe and the adoration He deserves.

Won’t you come and bow your knee with me today?  Take some time from the Christmas shopping, preparation or even your work and click the link to the video.  Sing this as your praise today!

Let it penetrate into your heart and life, reminding you this Christmas Season why He is called… Wonderful.  May He “fill you with wonder” this day and every day!

His Name Is Wonderful (click to watch video)

Filed Under: Monday Morning Musings