Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth (Ps. 58:1-2 NKJV).
My ears began to ache at the incredible news, “starting Sunday, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. will begin allowing their clergy to perform same-sex marriages”. After getting over the need to vent my frustration and disappointment I simply prayed in righteous indignation at the direction many are trying to take us in.
What will your message be as you stand behind your pulpit and bless what God has called an abomination? Why have you turned your back to the Great I AM? “Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear. Which will not heed the voice of charmers, charming ever so skillfully” (Ps. 58:4-5). Whose message are you spreading, you children of Satan? You have closed your ears to the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit. Have you not read Christ’s messages to the church?
Have you lifted your eyes, O’ Lot, have you lifted your eyes to greener pastures and the abundance of water? Have you turned your gaze away from God and inclined your heart to the wisdom of man? Why do you corrupt the altar with your abominable practices and corrupt the Word of God? Where will you turn for your message? The word of God is replete with the warnings of such perversions.
Why, O’ man, do you usher in a new Sodom and Gomorrah? Have you forgotten the swift judgement of God on that city? Have you forgotten the words Christ spoke to Peter? “On this Rock, I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Have you closed your ears to the warning not to add to or take away from the word of God? “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in the this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).
My heart aches as I bow before God, in reverence, to plead for a revival in the hearts of those who lead his flock astray, for those you are being led astray, and for those who watch silently while this is happening. Some say it is an outspoken minority that is leading the way, still others say it is an attempt to destroy the family. I say it is all the above and more; these are all part of the devil’s schemes to destroy the body of Christ. Let us not just focus on the apparent issue, but realizing that this is a deep and ongoing spiritual warfare and we need to always be dressed for battle. So stand fast and put on the whole armor of God. For those of you who have compromised your faith, remember that Christ is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). So confess your sins to God and get back on the path of life. Do not bless what God has cursed nor curse what God has blessed. Do not be a modern-day Balaam.
An appreciation for ones talent and hard work is often overlooked by those who benefit from them the most. Strength and resilience through prayer will help you find the resolve to overcome. Being a manager does not necessarily make a person an effective leader and the most effective leader may be a horrible bosses. Regardless of where you are in the hierarchy, know that hard work is always noticed; even if those who should be looking are distracted. May the perception of an unjust situation be just that, a perception! Place value on yourself without adding a price tag, take stock of your skills and apply them to what you love, forgive those who look down on you, and inspire those who admire you. Never let ignorance drag you down; simply being above pettiness can create positive change. Finish the story in your own way, those who feel they have the power to write it for you will be left powerless.
Don’t let the perspective of others determine your sense of worth and confidence. Too often we bury our efforts with the draining sense of hypocrisy that surrounds us. The hatred and criticism spewed from those who hide behind the idea of free speech is often a sign of fear; fear that you will overcome the obstacles they place before you. We are children of an everlasting God, who, through faith will clear any obstacle. This should be the only motivation that drives you, the fuel you need to keep the intensity of your fire burning. Allowing someone else to determine your destiny is embracing their imagined sense of control; don’t let the enemy trick you into failing to be who you are called to be. Folding under pressure and giving up at each barrier only work against your abilities and gives others the satisfaction of watching you fail. Give everything you do all that you can, because you can; not to prove to the world that you have the ability to surpass expectations. Proving a point, while worth the effort sometimes, takes the focus away from the real issues and often work to the benefit of the undeserved, if you over-do it. Instead prove your point by being you and continuing to do your best at what you do while making an assertive effort to learn something new each day, remaining in prayer each step of the way. Remember too, that pride is your enemy. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend during those trying times and never turn your back on someone deserving of your assistance. No one person has all the answers nor the abilities to take on everything this world throws at us; if you know one let me know! But I know a God that does. Seek Him first; seek His righteousness and the other “things” will be added unto you.
Why do you beat your chest and speak with such veracity? Why is ego your platform and pride your microphone? Why do you speak into what you have no power to do and speculate about what you do not know? Why are you controlled by your imagination? Is your word able to create what you imagine? Does the mirror reveal what is not there or respond when you speak to it? Is fire void of heat or are clouds without vapor?
It is easy to point the finger at the fault in an aftermath and to imagine what we would do differently after a disaster has occurred. It is even easier to criticize those we oppose but that which is easy, is not always right and right living is not always easy. We waste time and effort when we stay on the road of criticism. Let your voice be heard but move on to finding ways to correct and recover. Yes, this may require working with someone you oppose but Christ teaches us to pray for those who persecute us; to love those who hate us.
This is possibly a stretch for you but the rewards are much greater and the fruits much more enjoyable. Speaking peace with a violent tongue is as effective as opening a door with a wrecking ball. The voice of knowledge says a “soft answer turns away wrath” yet we tend to lean on natural intellect and human instinct.
We live in a two-dimensional world – spiritual and natural – in the popularity contest, the natural world is way ahead but only because it is competing against itself. The spiritual world does not engage in competition, it embraces obedience; it does not take part in popularity contests, it seeks out humility. What is your veracity and chest beating appealing to? Obedience and humility flee from such behavior. Take a moment, lift up your eyes and try to discern the direction you are traveling. There is an intersection ahead, one way leads to life, the other to death but there are no signs to point you in either direction. So slow down, pray, think on all that you have seen, heard, and learned. Consult the only resource that shows the way to life; the written word. Reach out to the only Source of life; Lift up your voice and seek God. Stop beating your chest, step down from your egotistic platform, turn off pride, step away from the mirror, and lend your gifts to a righteous cause.
Consider the results of your efforts when you approach them with a willing heart; a willing spirit that challenges the shortcomings of the body. In your prayers, ask God for a willing spirit to sustain you (Psalms 51:12) because willingness does not recognize barriers, only obstacles. Willingness gives freely; it does not require a contract or a return. Willingness operates with care, love, and concern; it does not move about recklessly, looking only at the finish line and not the beauty of the journey. A willing heart does not suffer regret nor does it heed to challenges. As we press on to do the work God has called us to do, let us altogether finish it so that our eager willingness may be matched by the completion of it (2 Corinthians 8:11). For we act according to God’s will and for his purpose (Philippians 2:13).
Let us prayerfully enter into our work, applying to it a willing spirit and applying the gift God has given us; serving others and faithfully administering God’s grace (1 Peter 4:10). Let us examine our hearts in the matter of giving, sharing, and serving in our church and community. Consider as evidence the outcome of a willing spirit through Christ on the cross; the word of God through the inspiration of willing men; the advent of a new building through vision and willing hands; spiritual guidance through willing leadership.
We now embark on a new journey to root deeper and branch wider both in the church and the community. It is with willing hearts and hands that we must come together to shepherd the flock of God that is among us that we can all be partakers in the glory that is to be revealed (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Remove from all that you do, the fear of repercussion, challenge, failure, or unwanted burden and you may find a need to act out of love. For love is walking in obedience to our Father’s commands (2 John 6), which are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
Remove the blinders of sin that cause us to act with a strong focus on self; for willingness is one step forward but the journey is purposed by obedience, which comes through faith (Romans 1:5) and leads to righteousness (Romans 5:16).
Obedience is not simply acting to achieve a promise or to avoid a penalty; for even Christ, who is our promise, was obedient (Luke 2:51), (Philippians 2:8). Walk away from selfish desires and let the Holy Spirit work in us, so that we can put to purpose, that which Christ has commanded us.
Let our faith guide us, seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33); walking in obedience with his will; not turning to the right or to the left, but in steadfast love and faithfulness and we will receive his Grace.
Obedience may require acting against our desires; obedience is a prayerful journey that is built on trust, hope, faith, and community. Obedience requires courage found in our relationship with God. It is the endurance to walk the narrow and often rocky path of faith and righteousness; a journey of reflexive discoveries and relationship building.
For in our obedience we truly get to know Christ and what he has purposed for us. In our obedience we discover our strengths in Christ; in our obedience we learn to truly love as Christ loves us; in our obedience we learn and are able to share the power of faith.
These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (NKJV).
We too often find peace in tearing down others! A bitter heart motivated by revenge, jealousy, greed, or simply selfishness has little restraint in its quest for satisfaction; a quest that often lead to doing evil. We often look upon our flaws as the results of the beauty contained in others, carefully dismissing responsibility and accepting lust. The faithful and forgiving heart is often at the back of the line, only seen when a selfish need exists. A saint among thieves lay sleepless, thinking of ways to ward off the unseen yet ever-present danger. Those who seek peace also seek trust and are those against who trust becomes a weapon. Messages contained in a meaningless smile echoes the thoughts of ones mind and the feelings of the heart.
The certainty in deception is that it is expected, evident, and revealed to its faithful victims. The rewards received through deception will be lost by deception, making them temporary while those whose rewards are from selfless actions will be rewarded unselfishly. The lavish things we enjoy as a result of deception can also be our demise. Be careful in your quest for stardom; greed and deception is often revealed at the top of your game and the resulting charge is often much greater than our deceptive gain. Be kind and true in your interactions with others because like the saint, thieves are also sleepless among thieves.
Someone standing in the mirror keeps pointing out something in you, something that is trying to claw its way out of a pit of fear and confusion. Reminding you that for most of your life you have searched for signs of what is your destiny; that you have made every effort to help others and doing your best to live right. You have slipped and you have fallen, many times, but somehow have always managed to pick yourself up. Realizing that you are still not walking straight, you spend many unrevealing hours seeking ways to have a positive impact. A stranger tells you that you have to first overcome your own obstacles before you can reach that next level and those words continue to echo through your thoughts. You have been moving forward with little progress, taking the long road hoping to finally get around these obstacles but they somehow seem to find you, or maybe they are apart of you. Your thoughts are sometimes loud and angry; casting a shadow over your soft voice. Your will remains the strongest of your qualities. You share your most precious gifts with others because you find peace in knowing they provide substance and nutrients to a life, a day, or even a moment. This is possibly your moment but the only way to affirm that is to embrace it. This maybe your gift; the gift of God to you for others and through which your blessings will come. So don’t fight it, let God nourish it in you. Find joy in your gifts and peace with the One who gave these gifts to you. Love knowledge, love understanding, love one another, love yourself, and love the Lord.
Love is the answer, obedience is your map.
Psalm 25: 1-7
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed. Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, Let no one who waits on you be ashamed. Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindness. For they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions. According to Your mercy, remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord (NKJV).
Some stories are borne from the imagination of those who dream of things outside the ordinary; some are born from actions and the conversations we engage in each day. Ask yourself this, “Are my actions creating the story I would like to have told and the end of my life?” Our personalities are often shaped by the environment in which we spend much of our time, but recognizing a shift in our behavior is necessary for us to continuously reposition ourselves and do what is right. The caring and empathetic heart is often overburdened, longing, and confused. Their stories are often filled with pain and suffering because of what is they see and hear, not necessarily because of a personal experience. As we recklessly navigate through life, stepping on others and paying attention only to our needs, there are those who continue to clean up the mess we leave behind. Sadly, they are often the ones who continue to love and care for us; the ones who have managed to remove the blindfold; whose hearts carry the burden of our actions; whose stories may never be told.
Pretending to care has only the power to destroy; yourself and those to whom you pretend; but God searches the heart and protects his children. False promises and fake notions carry a sentiment unlike that of genuinely conceived thought and action, making you less notable and more skeptical than your selfish motives intended. Try this for a change; love even when you are not loved, smile even when it hurts, care even when others don’t, and give even when things are withheld. A destiny awaits each of us but trying to manipulate our own paths may only be futile; as God searches the heart, so does He direct our paths. Each day we are given is another chance to forgive those who have wronged us and another day to show others that we care. Don’t let your story be an example of what not to do. Rest on your pillow each night knowing that you’ve added the right words to that days’ page and rise with fresh thoughts and a free spirit. Life is short but our stories live on, what will you write today?
Written 3/5/2010, modified 6/5/2014
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and depart from evil (NKJV).
In the search for peace, our troubled hearts often cast shadows of doubt that may seem impenetrable. It’s as if our weaknesses takes form and mockingly follow us through this maze called life. They sit in corners with whispering thoughts, snickering at every move as if to discourage our efforts. They align themselves with the powerful, capturing their attention and influencing their decisions. We often feel powerless against them, giving in to their discrete operations designed to gain trust when trust in not offered. Their smiles are countered by the darkness in their eyes, even as rays of sunlight bounces from them. Their hearts are unaffected by your emotional response, their minds unwavering from their intent, and their words penetrate you one letter at a time. Their presence seems to slow the ticking on the wall as the day drags on with little regard to your immediate needs. They gain strength from your ignorance of their will and end their day well, taking with them your stolen spirit, your will, and hope for a better tomorrow.
Cast aside doubt and you will have won the battle; listen not to the discouraging whispers but to the voice of reason, to the small still voice that says I can and will, through Christ who strengthens me. Stay the course, even when you fall behind, ignoring the snickering and see beyond their deceitful smiles. Create your own influence by proving your worth; demonstrate your abilities in everything you do by doing your best at all times and doing all to the glory of God. Keep your spirit high and they cannot steal it from you; return the smile but with reverence, reflecting the sunlight in its true form. Darkness can only survive where there is no light, be the light and your worst enemy, the one that tries to invade your being, will be no more. For greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Written 3/10/2010, modified 6/3/2014
A solemn expression, lade with images of broken hearts and troubled minds. A message on the cross, accompanied by grief and darkness; yet defeated, giving way to joyful songs and divine light.
A message often misunderstood, dismissed as foolishness to those who are perishing; but accepted as the power of God to those who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18); the provision of new manna for the believer, the new bread of life and cup of victory.
Borne of selflessness, love, and redemption; a divine act purposed for deliverance; the promise and fulfillment of a new day, uplifted hearts and minds.
So too must our sacrifices complement the work that was finished on the cross. Let our prayerful approach to contributing to the body of Christ cause our hearts to dance.
Rejoice in the gift of returning a portion of our blessings to the Provider; the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
In sacrificing, we deny ourselves for greater works of God’s glory. We deny ourselves so that we may glorify Christ. In sacrifice we find love; the love of God who gave his only Son; The love of a Shepherd who laid down his life for his flock; He who said “give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38).
Is our sacrifice too great for Christ, who said, “ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you”? (Matthew 7:7).
Is my sacrifice only for self or for the good works of His Kingdom? What am I sacrificing that hasn’t been given to me?