SOMETIMES IT STINKS TO BE A SHEEP

Week 4, 23rd Psalm

Who says, when asked what animal they would like to be or see themselves as, “I want to be a sheep.”  I am not sure anyone, ever on the planet has had that response?

“I want to be a Lion!”

“I want to be a Tiger!”

“I want to be a Leopard!”

“I want to be a Bear!”

Some may even declare, “I want to be an Elephant or a Gorilla.” 

However I doubt most of us would say, “I want to be a sheep!”

We may even stretch our imaginations far enough and want to be a cuddly, soft little lamb, but not a SHEEP!

Sheep are vulnerable, they need care and they are prone to stray. These are not the top 10 characteristics of ourselves that we would love to share, post or brag about.

The TRUTH is, they are however, the traits that we possess. 

How can I say that with confidence? Because the One who knows us best, inside and out, down to our innermost parts, says it!

All of us are like sheep who have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way…”    

Isaiah 53:6

And when we do wander, forget our way, and get lost, what do we tend to do? Just like David the shepherd, we cry out to our Good Shepherd to come rescue us!

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.”   Psalm 119:176

God knows us better than anyone. God knows us inside and out. He created us and he knows our tendencies. When we are hurting, when we are sad, when we are frightened, when we are confused and frustrated and do not know which way to turn, we are like sheep! God knew that what we needed was a GOOD SHEPHERD! And because He loves us so much, HE GAVE US ONE!

JESUS IS OUR GOOD SHEPHERD BECAUSE AND WE ARE HIS SHEEP!

There is no place for guilt in this! There is no place for shame in this! God did not tell us to be a lion, or a bear, or an elephant, or an alligator. God knows that we are sheep! And that is not a put down, it should give us comfort in knowing and understanding how God understands us!

And because He understands us and knows us like none other, He sent us not just a shepherd, but THE GOOD SHEPHERD!

Think about it?

What is your tendency when life gets tough? When it throws you for a loop or knocks you off your feet. Or even sometimes, flat on your back!

My go to is to become a lion! I don’t even think about it, it is just my natural tendency. I have done too many personality tests to count. And regardless of the labeling… Numbers, letters, or even animals, I come out as a lion!

Before you go into a thought process that this is in anyway bragging or a strength, it is not! Doubt it? Let me show you!

I have shared with you before that I am currently facing one of, if not the hardest life challenges I have ever faced. My mom has Alzheimer’s and grieving the loss of her through it and finding the best care for her has been nothing less than excruciating. My tendency to be the lion, to protect and rescue all those I love has landed me not just off my feet but flat on my face before our Good Shepherd! 

Being the lion has brought feelings of failure, guilt and letting down those I love most of all. Only when I realized that I truly am a sheep and that I can cast my cares on my Good Shepherd, did I realize that only He can care for me and the other sheep that I love desperately!

He is our Good Shepherd! 

I am valuable to the Good Shepherd! He sees me as worthy, so worthy that he will leave the ninety-nine to come after me! 

Friends, there is nothing too horrible that we can do, and nothing too awful that we’ve done to keep the Good Shepherd from coming after us!

He will search high and low to find us. His desire is to bring us back to a place of security and safety! 

The question is, do we want to be found?

Are you willing to be vulnerable enough to be a sheep? 

Ask yourself that question and then pause for a moment. 

Listen to your hearts answer. 

Until we are vulnerable enough to be a sheep, we will not experience all that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, can be for us and wants to be for us!

Read 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you.

TRUTH BOMB

WHETHER YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A LION, TIGER OR BEAR, THE TRUTH IS WE ARE ALL SHEEP WHO NEED TO CAST OUR CARES ON OUR GOOD SHEPHERD!

We then need to act on 1 Peter and do what it says!

Number One: BELIEVE WHAT IT SAYS!

He cares for you!-Believe it!

He cares for you as an individual, not just part of a flock or group! -Believe it!

Number Two: DO WHAT IT SAYS!

If you are still trying to be the lion, the one that can handle it all, then you have not learned to be a sheep, trust the Good Shepherd, and give Him your cares! 

Believe me, it takes practice. It is natural for us to want to be strong and take care of ourselves and others! But we must first humble ourselves and be like sheep. Realizing, that it is God‘s strength that makes us strong! He will make us lions when we need to be lions.

It does take practice. We can practice taking one care at a time and giving it to our Good Shepherd! See what He will do with it. You will be amazed!

Number Three: Pray It!

Speak it out loud or write it out! Send a prayer to your Good Shepherd speaking it out loud or writing it out. Ask Him to show you how He cares for you!

My friends, it is good to be a sheep, because we have a GOOD GOOD SHEPHERD!

He knows our needs, wants, desires, strengths and weaknesses, and He cares for us!

Speak Truth Love

GOD UNDERSTANDS EVERY ASPECT OF US!

Understanding the Character of a Shepherd: The 23rd Psalm , Week 3

It is so easy to say, “I just don’t relate to him/her, they are just different than I am.”

Or, “I have never been a…I can not relate to them.”
Or even, “I just don’t understand where that person is coming from, that is not my personality.” 

I may have this issue in my life making it difficult to truly understand and relate to others. You may have this issue as well.

Jesus however, does not have this problem. He never struggles to understand a personality, quirk, flaw, strength, weakness or character! 

He is our Good Shepherd and He relates to every part of our character.

The Good Shepherd that David is writing about here in the 23rd Psalm is something that he clearly understands himself. David had been a Shepherd. He had stayed out watching over his sheep through the long nights, cold weather, and scorching heat. He had killed a lion and a bear to protect his sheep. David protected his sheep even at the risk of his own life! 

David knew what it took to be a “good Shepherd.” David got up early to open up the sheep pen and led the flock out from the fold, even when he would have preferred to sleep in. He put their best interest first as he led them past the not so great grass, to the lush green pastures where they could eat their fill. He spent all day watching over them, regardless of the weather or surroundings instead of reading a book, taking a nap or scrolling up and down on his social media. His eyes would have been intently focused on his sheep to ensure that no sheep wandered off and that each sheep was safe and secure!

Then through the pouring rain or the blistering sun, he would lead his sheep to water. And interestingly, he would lead them to “still waters!” Sound familiar?

Every good Shepherd knows that sheep will not drink from waters that move too fast!

GOD IS SO AMAZING, isn’t He?

Friends, this shouts loudly to us that Jesus, as our Good Shepherd, knows exactly what we need and He leads us to it, if we follow Him!

Just like the sheep must follow the shepherd to still waters to get a needed drink of fresh water, so too must we as God’s sheep, follow Him where He leads us! We must trust our Good Shepherd, as the sheep trust their good shepherd, to lead us to what is good for us.

Too much of the time we waste time and energy fighting for our own way, when that only leads to rancid waters that distract, discourage and disappoint! 

JESUS, our Good Shepherd is beckoning us to follow Him. He will lead us to good places.

TRUTH BOMB

Following our Good Shepherd will always refresh, replenish and restore!

At night, when the sheep are fully fed and hydrated, the shepherd leads his sheep safely home. He carefully counts each one and makes sure they are safe and sound back in the sheepfold. 

Psalm 23:2-3

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.

As you read the comforting words of Psalm 23 today, remind yourself that you are reading the words about a shepherd, written by a shepherd.

HE GETS IT!

He knows what it takes to be a GOOD SHEPHERD!

I love the passage in John 10:1-15 that makes it crystal clear that Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

Read John 10:1-15 out loud this week along with reading Psalm 23. Let the TRUTH of it sink into your heart and soul!

YOU ARE KNOWN AND LOVED BY THE GOOD SHEPHERD HIMSELF, JESUS!

“….The sheep hear His voice and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes before them, and the sheep FOLLOW Him for they know His voice.”

“I Am The Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

John 10:3,4 and 11

The Good Shepherd names us, leads us, protects us, knows us and above all, gives His life for us!

Friends, we are the sheep of the Good Shepherd, Jesus! Jesus loves us like none other! He leads you, provides for you, protects you, and ultimately gives His life for you!

Rest and be comforted in this incredible truth today my friend.

Speak Truth Love

“MINE, MINE, MINE!”

A baby’s first words may be “DA DA,” or “MA MA,” but the majority of the time, their most frequent word is, “MINE!”  They want what they want, when they want it, how they want it and basically, do not want to share it! Much of a parents’ time in the child’s formative years is spent hearing this word, and teaching the child to share.

Are we any different? We typically want what we want, when we want it, how we want it and would prefer not to have to share it!  God knows and understands this deep rooted nature within us. That is why much of His Love Letter to us, The Bible, focus on the word, “MY!”

We may have grown up and matured past the primitive form of this word, “MINE,” but we still long for the “MY,” in our lives, that which we personally possess.

I hope that you have been reading through Psalm 23 with me this week. I truly hope that you were able to put your own personal name into it and understand that God is speaking to you personally through it!

Need more proof?

We cannot get more than four words in on the 23rd Psalm without seeing the word MY!

The Lord is MY Shepherd…”

It does not say, a shepherd, or the shepherd, it says, “MY SHEPHERD!”

David is talking about God here in a very personal way. The text indicates that David is speaking about someone he has a safe, comfortable, intimate, and even permanent relationship with. He is not referring to some great and mighty being out there in the cosmos! He is talking about his God in a loving, close and confident way. He is not speaking about someone he has an acquaintance with, he is speaking about someone he belongs to!

There is such great comfort in BELONGING! It brings security, knowledge, comfort and love in its connotations. David is talking about someone he knows, someone he trusts, and someone he can rely on. He is talking about MY God! Is he talking about your God? If so, than I hope you will join me in continuing to read through the 23rd Psalm daily, and this week not only put your name into it, but look up other passages in the Bible where it begins with, “THE LORD IS MY…” 

I think you will be amazed at just how personal our God truly is!

I will start you off…

“Behold, God is MY helper, The Lord is the upholder of MY life.”  Psalm 54:4

TRUTH BOMB

MY LORD IS MY GOOD SHEPHERD!

Speak Truth Love

WHEN I AM DESPERATE FOR COMFORT GOD BRINGS HOPE

I know Psalm 23 by heart!

 It is a constant source of comfort for me. When I feel weak and weary, it truly does “restore my soul.

I especially love the picture that comes to my mind immediately of the shepherd carrying a lamb over his shoulders. My heart is immediately soothed, and I feel calm, as I picture Jesus carrying me, his weary lamb, safe in His arms!

Read these words and picture yourself as the lamb that Jesus, The Good Shepherd, is carrying…

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord FOREVER!

As I read through these words that are so familiar to me, I feel Jesus pick me up and carry me when I have no more strength.

I feel comforted and loved! 

But this beautiful song, sung by a shepherd, David, also begins to breathe new life into my tired, worn out, limp and weary body! It is a wonderful Psalm of comfort, but it is also a Psalm of strength and confidence and life! Through this beautiful Psalm, I receive HOPE!

This Psalm makes clear that compassionate care is mine through my Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. It is clearly a comfort, but it is also a promise, it provides us with HOPE!

As I walk this difficult path of Alzheimer’s with my mom and sisters, I face challenges and fears that I have never faced before. Decisions must be made, crises must be attended to, wisdom is needed beyond my ability and demands are pressing in nonstop. But through it all my hope remains! When we are stressed, grieving and weak we tend to go back to what we know, what we are familiar with.

Psalm 23 is familiar to most of us. For me, my grandma taught it to me, it was in a frame in my grandparents house and the picture with it was Jesus carrying a lamb over his shoulders. I memorized it and quote it whenever I felt weak, sad or lonely. It has always served as a comfort to me! 

This week as I leaned in to the 23rd Psalm, God revealed to me that while it is a comfort it is also a promise! It provides us with HOPE!

I need comfort, but I also need HOPE!

I need to know that when things are difficult, sad and out of my control that God has still got this.

I am committing to four weeks of focusing on the 23rd Psalm! I have been challenged to read Psalm 23 over and over and to focus on it with intent and purpose. 

I would love for you to join me here each week and leave your comments, prayers and insights as Jesus, The Good Shepherd speaks to us through the 23rd Psalm. 

For this week, week one, let’s personalize it! Write it out and put your name in each verse. Then read it out loud with your name inserted and feel God speaking directly to you as you do.

Write down your feelings and insights as you do this and share them with us in the comments below. 

As you go through your week remember what you have written. Jesus is your Good Shepherd and your name is written on His heart! He’s got you, you are not alone! He is the Good Shepherd, your Comforter, Sustainer and HOPE!

Be hope-filled today Friends! The Good Shepherd is there to carry you through!

TRUTH BOMB

COMFORT AND HOPE COME TO US SIMULTANEOUSLY THROUGH OUR GOOD SHEPHERD!

Speak Truth Love

MOUNTAIN TOP LIVING

I am a mountaintop girl! I’ve shared that with you before! I love to be on the mountaintop! 

I love to be on the mountaintop both physically, I’m a mountain gal, and emotionally! . Besides reading the word of God, skiing down a snow covered mountain is my favorite place to be. I see God there, I feel God there and I worship God there!

I also love being on the emotional mountain top! I mean seriously, who doesn’t? You know what I’m talking about right? It’s that “fireworks in the sky,” shrill in your voice, happy beyond measure experience, that send you straight to the top of the mountain! you stand there, tall and straight, looking down at all of your problems. They seem so small and inconsequential now. After all, you’re on a mountain top high!

Your spirit is soaring, and you are elated! You have an excitement over some thing that just happened or over some wonderful experience that you’ve just been a part of! You are truly feeling like you are on top of the world! YOU ARE ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP and life is grand!

Then it happens…you have a feeling inside of you that is so hard to describe.

It’s a nebulous feeling that you can not quite put your finger on. Your excitement has become hazy, vague, indistinct, You have some how walked in to a cloudy fog.

You may know why this down cast feeling has taken you over or you may not even have a clue. However, there is one thing that is crystal clear…You are not on the mountaintop anymore!

If and when you find yourself here, you are not alone! One of the most famous songwriters, in all of the Bible, David, finds himself here often.

Why so downcast Oh my soul?” He writes crying out for an answer.

David felt this as a shepherd and he also felt this as a king. David did not eliminate his moments of nebulous(that cloudy, foggy feeling that you can’t explain), because he got a new job, moved to a different town or even joined a new Bible study. Whether David was sitting on the side of a mountain tending sheep, or sitting on a throne ruling the country, he went from mountain top experiences to soul wrenching nebulous experiences just like we do! 

I am so thankful that during his mountaintop experiences and during his down cast, nebulous experiences, David showed us how to cry out to God for both!

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:1-6b

Friends, the truth is we would all rather live on the mountaintop! It is the place where God encourages us, builds us up, and strengthens our soul! But, the reality is, we will all come down from the mountaintop. We will feel times when our spirit is down cast and in a fog. And in those times, God will take care of us, and perfect us, and make us who He wants us to be!

TRUTH BOMB

GOD MEETS US ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP BUT DOES HIS WORK IN US AND THROUGH US IN THE VALLEY BELOW!

When we reach out to God like David did in his down cast nebulous times, we can sing out to God like David did after he puts us back up on the mountain top!

Psalm 40:9-11 says,

“I have told you the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation. behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know O Lord; I have not hidden your deliverance in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation! as for you O Lord; you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness Will ever preserve me.

So whether you find yourself on the mountain top or in the valley below, SING OUT TO GOD! He knows how you are feeling.

PRAISE HIM ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP AND CRY OUT TO HIM IN THE VALLEY! 

After all, He does His best work when He turns our downcast souls upward!

Speak Truth Love

IN JESUS WE HAVE JOY

When you hear the word JOY, does it make you jump for it?  You know the saying….”jump for JOY!” Maybe you hear the word JOY and you roll your eyes. You are convinced that people who have JOY are simply out of control people who walk around with their heads in the clouds. Or maybe at the sound of the word, you cringe? You think to yourself…”Joy is something some people have, but not me! 

FRIEND, I have good news for you!  

JOY is for everyone!

JOY is defined in the dictionary as:

“An emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure or elation.”

And;

“A state of happiness or felicity.”

First of all, these definitions tell us that JOY is an emotion. Like it or not friends, we all have emotions! Some of us display them fervently on the outside of our beings clearly for everyone to see. While some of us hold them close to ourselves on the inside of our beings, revealing them only when we chose to and whom we chose to show them to.

Regardless, we all have them!

Secondly, these definitions describe that JOY is displayed in delight or happiness. You can have a demure response and coyly demonstrate your JOY. Or you can have an exuberant response and no one within a five mile radius would miss your JOY!

Finally, these definitions make clear that the emotions and displays of JOY have a cause.

You know, that old “cause and effect” rule we all learned about in school.  Something exceptionally good or satisfying happens to us, hence the cause, and we have an emotion of great delight or happiness, equalling the effect!

The cause and effect together create JOY!

Our “CAUSE” for JOY is JESUS!

By this we know love, that HE laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for each other.”   I John 3:16

This CAUSE should create the EFFECT of JOY in our lives!

Because of what JESUS did for us on the cross, we have eternal life with Him forever!

If this “cause” does not bring on the “effect” of JOY in your life, you may need to check your pulse. Are you alive?

Jesus died for us so that we could live forever with Him!

That is pure JOY my friends, any way you slice it!

So, if JOY is for everyone, how come it is so hard to find at times? 

The answer to this came to me from the lips of a young child!

TRUTH BOMB

IF YOU HAVE JESUS YOU HAVE JOY!

As I was snuggling one night in bed with my oldest granddaughter, we were having our “girl chat time,” as she calls it! We had finished our prayers and were “chatting” about the most important things in life…her birthday party guest list, her detailed plans about her party, (she gets this trait from her mother),her present wish list, (are you catching on that she is a list maker?),and she turns to me, looks at me face to face and says, “MAMMA, I am so full of JOY!” Then she said, “Wait a minute, JOY is putting JESUS First, then others, then yourself! I need to step back from asking for so much stuff!”

I cannot make this up people! She really is ‘one of a kind,’ with a very bright mind and a beautiful heart, but she had just hit the nail on the head with that statement.

I asked her where she learned that and she said her teacher!  Kudos to teachers! There are NEVER enough good ones!

J

Y

“JOY is putting JESUS FIRST, then OTHERS, then YOURSELF!”

J ESUS FIRST

O THERS NEXT

Y OURSELF 

When JOY evades us maybe it is because we are not practicing this formula?  

Afterall, JESUS set it into motion with His CAUSE and EFFECT toward us!

Remember I John 3:16

“By this we know…We do not have to doubt or wander if JOY is for us, WE KNOW!

                                     JESUS FIRST IN OUR LIVES GIVES US JOY!

“that He laid down His life for us…”  The CAUSE for our JOY, the sacrifice of JESUS for 

                                                               us!”

“and we ought to lay down our lives for each other.”  For us to have JOY in our lives 

                                                                                           OTHERS come next!

And the magic to the formula is…When we do this, we have JOY ourselves!

Praying you have a JOY this week as you put

J esus first

O thers next, and then

Y ourself 

Speak Truth Love

RENEWED LIFE THROUGH THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

THIS IS THE MIRACLE OF EASTER, BEING RENEWED DAILY IN CHRIST!

This picture of reNEWal in nature gives proof of God’s reNEWing power! A tree appears lifeless as all it has to offer are a few long stems, frail and barren, protruding from the ground. As it survives winter with no appearance of life, suddenly those few scraggly, scrawny sticks are reNEWed as blossoms pop forth with NEW LIFE! 

This is what I love about Easter! 

The MIRACLE that we are reNEWed daily!

That “old” is reNEWed and made vibrant again through the reNEWing power of Jesus Christ!

I need that touch as my branches feel sparse and scorched. I need that touch as I feel depleted and tired. I need to know that God promises reNEWal of all things as life ruthlessly takes it’s toll!

Easter promises all this and more!

Not only will my earthly state be reNEWed through the touch of Jesus on my life, but greater, Oh so much greater than that, I WILL BE MADE NEW IN ETERNITY WITH HIM FOREVER BY THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION!

Don’t take it from me, listen to His words of true reNEWal…THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, The man said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.”  Luke 24:1-9

No greater or more powerful words have ever been spoken! 

They are TRUE my friend! 

Jesus Christ has risen from the grave! Because of His once and for ALL sacrifice, we now can be reNEWed daily and forever into eternity!

TRUTH BOMB

THE MIRACLE OF EASTER IS RENEWED IN US DAILY AS CHRIST MAKES US NEW!

My prayer this Easter, is that I remember that I am forever reNEWed by His RESURRECTION POWER, and that I thank Him by living a reNEWed life every day!

HAPPY EASTER FRIENDS!

Speak Truth Love

Can Joy survive discouragement , trials, disappointment , troubles, and even darkness?

The answer is…If our JOY is founded in Jesus Christ, then it can not only SURVIVE anything and everything we go through, it can FLOURISH!

Admittedly, I am a Mountain Top Gal! A “cup half full,” is my favorite beverage! 

I lean into positivity like it is a hot fudge sundae or a delicious cupcake! My husband can be quoted as saying, “My wife is so optimistic that she is not always realistic.”

Problem is, I am not being “unrealistic” for me! I believe with all my heart that it can be done! NEVER SAY DIE! NEVER SAY NO! NEVER LIMIT YOURSELF WITH THE B WORD, ‘BOUNDARIES!’ ‘The Little Engine That Could, is my Mantra, “I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN!”

So what happens to the Mountain Top Gal when reality smashes into positivity?

I FALL HARD!

Living on the peak of the mountain, can land you covered in a pile of rock and rubble after the avalanche settles!

It can be something as small as returning from a family celebration and missing my children and grandchildren all over again.

It can be as gigantic as watching my mom slowly fade away as her original self is swallowed up by Alzheimer’s.

Friends, you can fill in the blanks with me… Health turns to illness, wealth turns to poverty, friendship turns to betrayal, freedom turns to captivity…

What is it for you? If you are living on planet earth, then you too are confronted with the ebb and flow of happiness to sorrow.

Friend, what it takes is a MIND SET SHIFT.

Christ followers have a secret, they can have Joy that stays even in times of trouble, trial, discouragement and disappointment. We just have to shift our mindset to that of Jesus Christ!

Jesus sets the example for us. His JOY not only survived, but it flourished in the midst of his trials. 

Jesus told His followers,

Blessed are you when men hate you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for Joy.
Luke 6:22-23

Look at the mindset shift the early followers of Jesus displayed.

James said it like this,

My brothers and sisters, count it all JOY when you fall into various trials.

James1:2

Paul and Silas, even while in jail maintained a mindset of joy,

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Acts 16:25

While in prison, beaten and bloody, not even knowing what the next day held, they had a mindset of a joy in Jesus!

That kind of joy is what I want to express and display to those who are, “watching me pray and sing hymns to God.”

Friends, we live in a culture of instant gratification where we expect constant amusement. It is hard to understand suffering producing joy! But when we shift our mindset to that of our Lord Jesus Christ, we too will learn to stop living for just today, and live in the anticipated joy that comes at the end to all who follow Christ Jesus!

We too, will be able to echo the words of Paul,

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race(my life), with JOY!

Acts 20:24

TRUTH BOMB

JOY IN JESUS IS KNOWING WE ARE IN HIS HANDS FOREVER! LIFE IS TEMPORARY, ETERNITY NEVER ENDS!

Speak Truth Love

When Marriage is a Blessing!

Have you ever received a gift that was so unexpected and so undeserved that it literally blew your mind?

I’m not just talking about the kind of gift you get on Christmas morning that makes you jump up and down because it’s exactly what you wanted! I’m not even talking about a birthday gift that makes your heart swell four times its original size and burst your heart monitor just like the grinch! 

I AM talking about a gift that is so deep, so true, and so profound that it can only be classified as a blessing from God!

Blessing is defined as: the privileged recipient of God’s favor!

Blessings from God come in all different sizes, shapes and packages! We all have them, I just don’t think we always recognize them as God’s favor to us. Much of the time, that’s because we don’t even understand what a true blessing is.

It is not a gift, in the material sense, that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It is also not a gift in the spiritual sense, that is a fruit of the spirit, to be used for God’s glory and purposes! 

A blessing from God is something He gives you simply because He wants to show you how much He loves you!

You are the recipient not because you’ve earned it or deserve it, but simply because God wants to give you the blessing of His favor because He loves you!

A true blessing from God reminds us that no matter what we go through in life, we have a great big God who truly is in control and loves us more than anything else!

I am the privileged recipient of God’s favor in the greatest blessing that he has given me in the gift of my marriage!

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24-25

Now I know that when the “M” word is used, marriage, it’s stirs up all kinds of emotions. Some of us have found God‘s favor and blessing in marriage, but some of us have found God‘s favor and blessings in other areas! God does not weigh or measure how much He loves us by the blessings that He gives us. He loves us all exactly the same…He loves us all so very much that He sacrificed His Son on our behalf so that we could have access and live with Him forever and ever! No greater love has ever been demonstrated! However, while we are here on earth, only for the amount of time known to God alone, I do believe that He gives blessings to all of us! The point of this Blog is to recognize what a true blessing from God is and to give Him the glory and credit for it!

While my greatest blessing from God, my marriage and my husband, are not perfect, my God is! 

TRUTH BOMB

A blessing from God shows His favor and love toward us!

My marriage has had good times and rough times just like everyone else. But the fact that it is a blessing and a gift from God to me is undeniable!

Today, I want to thank God for blessing me with this birthday boy, I get to call my husband!


Taking the time two pause, reflect, and recognize the true blessings God has made you the recipient of, causes us to realize how so very much God truly loves us!

My husband is the greatest adventurer I know! And he takes me on life‘s greatest adventures with him! We’ve skied the highest mountains, hiked amazing trails, explored distant countries, raised children, loved grandchildren, forged treacherous waters of disappointment, betrayal, and loss. Yet everyday, through the highs and through the lows, we have woken up with the same united purpose, love God, love others and serve God until He calls us home! 

This is why, on this very special day, when my husband celebrates the day he was born, I can clearly say, “thank you God for my marriage, my greatest blessing from you! I love you back!”

Happy birthday to the most incredible man I know! I am privileged, honored, and ever thankful to God for blessing me with you!

Friends, I think my grandma was right. She always used to tell me to sing this song and to remember that each and everyday God loves me and He gives me His blessings!

‘Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done!’

Count your blessings today friend and know that you are immensely loved by God!

Speak Truth Love

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY JUST HATE IT!

Friends, I hope that after you have read my title of this weeks blog that you have kept reading! I realize that the word HATE is not a socially correct word to use. I further realize that it is not a very nice “Christian” word to use either! 

I know that it can be misused, overused and used with little or no thought. I also believe that it can be used quite appropriately and accurately if understood properly!

One of my favorite stories of my sister-in-law and I raising our children together when they were young is the story of my niece, who happens to be the youngest of all five of our children combined. She was sitting down one evening with all of us at the dining room table at my mother-in-law‘s to have dinner. My sister-in-law had “outlawed“ the word HATE with her children. I agreed with her on this, it is a very harsh word and children rarely understand the true meaning of it. My niece sat down quietly and politely at the dining room table with all of us already seated there. She looked at the food in the middle of the table and began to pound her little toddler fists firmly on the table and repeat in a very loud voice,” I really, really, really, really DON’T LOVE this food!”

Now, while she gets incredible points for obedience, her meaning was crystal clear! She HATED The food on the dinner table!

The dictionary definition of HATE is,

“to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for, or extreme hostility toward; DETEST.”  

To put this into terms that we can relate to and swallow, it would be “to hate the enemy.”  And I do, truly do, HATE the enemy of our souls, the devil!  And “to hate bigotry.” And I truly do!

To give hate a biblical definition, the Bible puts it this way: Paul says in Romans, 

Hate what is evil, and cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9. 

Given this definition, we must understand what is truly evil in God’s eyes, and hate it, while also understanding what is truly good, and cling to it!  

In our human nature, this is not easy to do. We allow personal preferences–the way we were raised, our likes, our priorities–to become in our eyes and by our standards what is “good!” And on the flip side of that, we allow our fears and our misunderstandings to become things we actually hate. For example, I hate going to the dentist!  Now while I am sure most people would agree with me, there are some who don’t mind it. But in reality, going to the dentist isn’t something to hate, because it produces a good outcome that is for my benefit. Me not liking going to the dentist is not actually hating it. It is just a very strong dislike for something that is not pleasant, but will produce a good outcome for my life.

I have used the word “hate” about the dentist most of my life. But if I am putting it into biblical terms, I do not actually hate it, because I am grateful for the fact that it ultimately fixes my teeth, makes me healthy, and eventually relieves pain. Those are all good things! 

So back to when my niece used the phrase, “I really really really don’t love it,” was fairly accurate! The food on the table wasn’t to her liking. It wasn’t her preference or what she wanted to eat. She didn’t even know the food was good for her. She just didn’t like the taste. Even though she would have preferred ice cream and cookies, her loving parents knew this would not produce a healthy outcome for her little body. 

This brings us to our spiritual nature and the Holy Spirit of God that we have, as believers, working through us. In His strength this is easier to do. Though God doesn’t always spell out what we are to hate in every detail, through His word we can discern what is evil, and what we are actually to hate. For example, we are to hate child sex trafficking. Why? Because it deeply harms children, exploits them mercilessly, and (at least potentially) ruins their lives. Killing innocent people who are non-combatants is evil. Slandering someone’s character falsely is evil. As Jesus says in Matthew 18, for example, 

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6. 

Here is an example of Jesus hating evil, and calling that person into God’s righteous judgment. 

TRUTH BOMB

IT IS OKAY TO HATE WHAT GOD HATES!

Think about the things that you hate. 

Does God also hate them?  

If He doesn’t hate them, you may have to rethink and rephrase what you “really really really don’t love.”

Speak Truth Love