Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: He Leaves the Ninety Nine

Sanctuary of Tranquility: He Leaves the Ninety Nine: As this year draws to a close, I can't help reflect on my current situation and the circumstances of countless of others in this world...

He Leaves the Ninety Nine

As this year draws to a close, I can't help reflect on my current situation and the circumstances of countless of others in this world who are struggling, yet have something in common... a tremendous faith and love for God. 

I have traveled a rough and ragged road in the past year, as have so many others that I know. There have been days when I have been angry with God for putting me through such a season; a season that has been trying, and some days has even felt like a punishment. 

What is this all been about? 

It may not appear from the outside that my season, or yours, is tough, but Jesus knows your truth, he is with you through all of it.  

One thing I know for sure is that because I am here, writing this, even though it has been difficult, it has been a season of blessings. For there are Always Blessings. Always things to give thanks for. 

Those blessings can be something as simple as the fact that God woke us up this morning, he gave us a breath, a drink of water, a roof over our head, a warm place to sleep and on and up from there. It doesn't matter what we have or don't have...the Bible says when we have God, we have all we need. 

That being said; Our Father God is one tough customer, he has expectations of us which can be difficult, almost too difficult sometimes. 

He expects us to get through situations we are certain we haven't the strength to accomplish; hard things that make us want to give up, quit and move on. 

I can't tell you how many times I have felt like my giving up day is drawing very near and I have even told him so. I have given him deadlines, making pretend alternative plans so in case things don't change soon, or in case his promises don't pan out, I will have something to fall back on. Something, quicker and easier so that I can pretend I never heard his voice.

I bet he thinks I’m really funny, I know he thinks I am impatient! Perhaps when he says "soon" I don't envision months or years. But the Bible says that God is not a liar and he always comes through! He has a keen sense of humor and loves to be praised. He knows us each very well, and he is always one jump ahead of any foolish, stubborn plans we make on our own.

I can not lie and say that I have never doubted God. I must be honest and say that I have foolishly doubted him and he has shown me time and time again that He is not like a human who will lie and use and abuse us for his own gain and then walk away. 

So if I l were to be the one to up and walk away; call it quits (which I could never do because that would mean I would be failing him), it would be about me, not Him. And that right there is what keeps me going. You see, although I am no saint,  I do want to be a tough customer just like him. 

It's true what they say, there  is no turning back. Once you love him and feel his mighty love for you, turning back is not an option, and there is only one way...

His way.

So the best thing to do is rest in that and be as patient as you possibly can be. 

am blessed to wake up many mornings with some truly great music playing in my head. I know it is Jesus who provides that very music, for the songs I am hearing reflect his great love for me.        Sometimes  when I am sad, mad, frightened or  frustrated and I cry out to him and when I wake up   I just know he has been right there by me all night and I feel blessed and very content.

Good Good Father" from Chris Tomlin is one of his favorites, he plays it frequently.  Other mornings I hear Steffany Gretzinger telling me that Jesus is and should be The King of my Heart.                            When  a song pops into my head during the day, I know he is reassuring me, especially when I am having a rough day and I am exhausted or frightened. It is his way of telling me to keep going, and not to give up. He whispers, "I know I'm making you fight a tough fight, walk a tough walk but you can do it. You have this, this is cake." And I know then that I do have it. I can do it. I can deal with any and all personal or financial struggles, get up before dawn and drive through any storm, deal with the most difficult of situations and be kind to the most difficult of people. I know I can overcome whatever I have to... because He Loves me. 

He loves music and is aware of the music we like. One of his favorite songs  is Reckless Love. Its such an amazing song that explains his mighty love for us in a way our tired, worn out brains can understand.  When I hear the song and feel his great love, I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! 

Read these words and listen to the song....

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me. You have been so, so Good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me. You have been so, so Kind to me.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, Still You give yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
When I was your foe, still Your love fought for me, You have been so, so Good to me. 

When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me. You have been so, so Kind to me 

Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. 
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. 
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away. 
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

There's no shadow You won't light up, Mountain You won't climb up, Coming after me.
There's no wall You won't kick down, No lie You won't tear down, Coming after me.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. 
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. 
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away. 
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

The lyrics to this song reference the Parable of the Lost Sheep which is told by Jesus, and recorded twice in Scripture, first in Matthew 18:12-14 and again in Luke 15:1-7

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable
4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Source: Bible Gateway

That says it all right there... 
it doesn't matter who you are, what you've been through, or what you've done. 

You are one of those 100 sheep and if you get lost, even for a minute, He is coming after you. He is only a call away; "Jesus, please help me. I need you!" 

I have been like Peter on the lake;  I looked away for a split second and lost sight of him and found myself calling, "Please help me! I can't make it without you my dear, sweet, Father." 

He always knows where we are and what we're enduring and he always has his eyes on us. 

So please, keep your focus on Him and try not to take your eyes off of Him, but if and when you do; and it does happen just like it happened to Peter, Jesus will find you and he will rejoice and never let you go.

So remember...

There's no shadow You won't light up, Mountain You won't climb up coming after me.  There's no wall You won't kick down, No lie You won't tear down coming after me  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, Oh, it chases me down, fights  'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn't earn it . I don't deserve it. 

 Still You give yourself away...

We might not be able to see the end of our current situation, or understand why he is allowing it, but he can and does. Remember always that His ways are nothing like our ways, and His thoughts are nothing like ours...we tend to forget that, and it's a good thing to remember. Don't try to put him in a box, because first of all, there are none like him and secondly, there aren't any boxes that can hold him. No matter what your circumstance or situation is...know this, if you keep your eyes on him and make him your number one will see the blessings, even if they are invisible to those around you. 

Blessings for a Joy filled New Year...
    Keep your eyes on Him, His are on you! 

Jeremiah 23:3-4 
"But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where 
I have driven them and bring them back to their folds and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking." says the LORD

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Paul to the Corinthians 

About a month ago I picked up a counted cross stitch kit while out shopping and began working on it. I thought it would be something fun to revisit as the weather cools off, plus as it is a great passtime.      The kit I selected is based upon 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 to be specific. A message from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians                                                                                                                        What a wonderful opportunity it has been to revisit those words spoken by Paul to the people of Corin and to truly reflect on their meaning. This scripture is most frequently associated with wedding vows, however, Pauls thoughts were far from weddings or ceremonial vows. It was Paul’s intent, to teach the people of Corin how to treat one another...with charity.                                                               Charity is defined as goodwill, compassion, consideration, concern, kindness, kindheartedness, tenderness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, indulgence, tolerance, leniency, and caritas which is Latin for Christian love of human kind, ‘charity’
In todays world when we hear the word charity most, clutch their wallets tightly as their brains immediately go to the poor, broken, unfortunate, helpless, diseased, aborted, beaten, abused and on and on.
The true meaning is totally eluded.                                                                                                  Charity is in fact, the voluntary giving of help and isn’t that what we all deeply desire from the people in our lives? Our parents, spouses or significent others, children and friends?
Although I am uncertain which Bible version my cross stich is, I have chosen to use the King James; where the Apostle Paul refered to love as ‘charity’ in his original writings and the Message, which is quite contemporary and has a lovely and interesting view and flow.
The Way of Love.                                                                                                                            Though I speak with human eloquence; the tongue of men and angelic ecstasy, but have not ‘charity’,    I am as sounding brass or a tingling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy (I speak Gods words with power, revealing his mysteries and knowledge) and though I have faith that I can say to a mountain, “move” and it moves, without charity (love), I am nothing.                                                             If I give everything I own to help the poor, and even give my body to be burned at the stake like a martyr, if I don’t love, it has been of no profit to me.                                                                             So no matter what I say, what I believe and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.                                     Charity suffereth long (never gives up), is always kind (never me first) nor does it want what it does not have (never jealous)                                                                                                                       Charity never behaves irritably (flys off the handle)  It doesn’t ever keep score, it puts up with everything, (endures all things). Is always honest (speaks truth in all things) and fair, (never rejoicing in wrong but always rejoicing in right) Love Trusts God Always and Always looks for the best and never looks back but keeps on going to the end (love never ends)

A good excercise that only takes a few minutes is to read this again and replace the words love or charity with “I” See how that feels. God will test your heart, (he’s really good at that) and it will serve as a good starting place for all of us when we ask God to help us be more like him.

                   Blessings for a truly wonderful Holiday Season.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What you allow, defines you.

We've all heard this expression; "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car". Most of us pretty much just giggle at it and decide it applies to someone else, right?
The truth is harsh.
It has everything to do with us, especially when we tell people, including ourselves, that we belong to Christ thus making us Christians.
What does that mean, anyway?
If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he rose from the dead and is seated in heaven at the right hand of his father that should be enough, right?
The only way to the Father is through the son, right? There is a little more to it than that.
Titus 1:16 tells us that if we profess to know God, but deny him by our works (actions), we are detestable, disobedient and unfit for any good work.
There's that harshness again.
So what can we do that will show our good works?
We can start with our behavior. God is watching us, he misses nothing.
1 Peter 2:9 says we are to be a peculiar people, right? That means we’re different. How are we different? We don’t behave like pagans, that's how. That means when those around us are behaving like pagans we don't join in  We  behave differently, we  are no longer led away by anyone by heathen thinking. We are new in Christ. We need to stand up for ourselves.We are also described as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. We are to show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness. into the marvelous light. We are to be representatives of Jesus and conduct ourselves accordingly.
God will be there for us, and that is a promise.
A few months ago, I was working part time processing clothing at a department store. I really enjoyed the work, although I needed more hours. My community was preparing for the annual motorcycle rally and i came across a job for a part time cook for one of the vendors who would serve as a food provider. at our local Harley Davidson Store. I applied, was hired and was given a schedule. The next day, the person who interviewed me called me and asked me if I would be interested in something more permanent. It seemed her daughter was the GM at a local hotel and she needed a breakfast cook. It all happened so fast I felt like I just fell into the job. It was kind of odd.
I accepted the position and began questioning my decision soon after as I worked with someone who was prone to temper tantrums; during which he would say some very unkind things to me and behave very childish. The executive chef at the time excused the behavior saying chefs act like that. Maybe some chefs do, I don't. The turnover at the motel was pretty crazy and before too long that executive chef was gone as well, but before he left, he hired a chef with a very impressive degree from the Cordon Blue. I am always excited to work with people like that so I was thrilled.
The Saturday before she started the Holy Spirit told me that I would not be there much  longer. His words provided me with much food for thought and I began guessing what was going to happen.
Silly me. We can never, ever out think God!
The new chef started and she was great! A week later the hotel brought on yet another executive chef. This one from the east coast. His love for himself left very little room for anyone else to grow fond of him and his very first day he insulted the new chef so severely she went home and never came back.
He was prone to angry outbursts complete with some of the most foul language I have ever endured. He claimed that foul language, fits of rage and occasional flying objects were all par for the course in restaurant land.
Once those words came out of his mouth, it was as if the staff took it as license to go crazy. When one of the wait staff called me the filthiest of names, this executive chef stood there as if nothing had been said. When I mentioned it to him later he laughed in my face.
I knew then why my papa God didn't want me there to deal with it.

The next morning I was pushing the same char grill out of the way that I do every morning, but on this particular occasion, for some crazy reason, it tipped over. What?? Yes, it tipped over.
The chef began yelling and screaming obscenities, grabbed his phone and began.  as he called it, "document the incident". It all seemed so surreal. I knew exactly what was going to happen next and it did. So when I received a message to come in on my day off, I went and was directed to his office where I was asked to sign a document admitting to pushing the grill over in anger and frustration, which makes me giggle just thinking about it.  Needless to say I not only refused, but I resigned my position.
God is so good. The word that he gave me not only prepared me mentally for something to happen that would end my job, but it also provided me with a peace that surpassed all understanding and the knowledge that I have a father in heaven who loves me so much that he doesn't want me to be subjected to the heathen behavior and language that was going on at that workplace.

We are a peculiar people. In this world of filthy language, lies and trickery He defends us and allows us to show that we are different, we are indeed peculiar. We don't take part in pagan behavior. We are His. So do not be afraid to be different! Don't be afraid to be Godly and worthy of the seat in Heaven next to Ashua. We ARE different and our works show it, or at least they should. We are a cut above because we belong to Him.

In a side note, when I went in to pick up my final paycheck, the front desk associate informed me that the new executive chef had been fired.
Gods a busy man!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: As Christians, Are We Allowing Fear of the Truth t...

Sanctuary of Tranquility: As Christians, Are We Allowing Fear of the Truth t...: For I want you to know  how great a  struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,  2  t...

As Christians, Are We Allowing Fear of the Truth to Divide Us?

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3

Because I was on a small vacation, I attended church this past Sunday with a friend in her hometown. The church we attended was one I had previously attended for several years. It has become one of many churches that are struggling to capture and keep a steady congregation.
It started small and then moved into a huge venue with all the bells and whistles; coffee in the lobby, trendy flooring, a very cool paint job and steampunk decor. Sadly, all of those things weren't enough to keep people coming and they have now gone back to a small venue.
What are people seeking?
Whatever it is, it was obviously not found there.
During the sermon, an associate pastor was teaching that Jesus should always be first and foremost in our minds, hearts, and lips, except in places like our jobs, as we don't want to mention his name, annoy someone, and run the risk of losing said job, right?
That offended me.
My mind went immediately to John the Baptist and I felt as though this pastor was advising people to deny Christ. No! As Christians, we can't ever do that! There's no turning back, remember?
O.K., so granted, our jobs are important. No one is asking you to jump up on a break room table and deliver a sermon; (unless it's in your heart and Holy Spirit led), and then if you want to do that, it would be great! Living in fear of annoying someone because of your adoration of Jesus Christ is no way to live, no one to show that adoration.

Matthew 10:30-31  But even the hairs on your head are numbered. 31. Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven. 

Fairtrade is it not? 
Remember, God always has contingencies. 
If you value and honor Him, 
He will never forsake you...not ever.

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:4-7

I understood what that young pastor was saying. ...honoring Jesus before others can present a risk. However, sugar coating the Bible is's misinforming and that presents an even bigger risk.
When we are reluctant to be a teacher of the truth we are misinforming the flock.
Advising people that it is ok to deny Christ to keep your job is first and foremost a lie.
Put God first and he will see that and you will always be taken care of.

Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that comes from the spiritual powers of this world rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8

Before I left for vacation I had coffee with a friend who has a twenty-seven-year-old son who is a homosexual, in an active relationship. This scenario was making his mom a tad bit uncomfortable so she set up an appointment with one of the pastors from their church; which is a huge, very popular church in my home town, and discussed her son with him. The pastor gave her a book to read which defends homosexual behavior, stating that as long as both parties have good relationships with Jesus not to worry about them. 
The look on my face when she said that made her quite defensive. I am sorry if that is the case, but read your Bibles, my friends. Don't seek the truth from some paper back book that someone gives you that will support your version of that truth. 
Don't read books about the book, read the book!!
Discover what it says for yourself and then believe it. Don't run from the truth, you are only fooling yourself. Face the truth, even if it makes you squirm in your seat. Even if it causes you to deal with your family and friends differently and harder yet, even if some of them walk away. 
Choose Christ. Choose the truth. 

 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:9

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Our Walk With God is Unequally Ours

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Our Walk With God is Unequally Ours: In one of my way too many recent emails, I read the fictional account of two women who had both passed on to heaven.  As the first woman ap...

Our Walk With God is Unequally Our Own

In one of my way too many recent emails, I read the fictional account of two women who had both passed onto heaven. As the first woman approached the throne of the Lord and knelt before him, he commended her for all of her earthly accomplishments. She had opened and operated an orphanage, financially sponsored countless children from all over the world and had been an inspirational speaker reaching countless people. The next woman who had been patiently waiting, lowered her eyes as she knelt before the King and wept silently. When He asked her why she was weeping, she asked him to please forgive her for not accomplishing more during her own lifetime. After hearing of all the wonderful things the woman before her had accomplished she was certain she was a huge disappointment. The Lord studied her for a moment before reaching out and wrapping his arms around her. "What are you talking about?" he asked, "Why you are a wonderful wife and a beautiful mother. You raised four remarkable young men who each went through very difficult periods, yet are excellent, hardworking grown men who honor my word and laws. That, my daughter, is an accomplishment few can master." 

This little story made me stop and think of all the times when I feel like I have fallen short and have done things all wrong, or not done what I was supposed to do at all. 
It filled my heart with a deeper love for the one I pray to and adore.
A God who is loving, kind and fair.  A God who created us each to be beautifully unique in every way, including our walk with Him. 
We each have our own journey with assignments and instructions to fulfill that lead us to our own destiny. The first woman may have had access to a great fortune and multiple connections at her fingertips. She may have also battled alcoholism or lost a child. Yet she may have known just the right people to ensure that everything she wanted to accomplish would flow smoothly. 
Her stumbling blocks were unique to her, and her path her own. 
The second woman, whose accomplishments may have seemed more mundane had her very own struggles as well. Perhaps difficulties giving birth, or raising and nurturing her boys. She may have had to make many personal sacrifices along the way that no one was even aware of... except Jesus. 
Both women completed the assignments given, and pleased God and that is all that mattered. For anyone to try and compare one with another is foolish. 

When my children were growing up, they asked me why certain classes; that didn't really make sense, were required to graduate from high school or college, There were times when I didn't fully understand those reasons myself. I did, however, understand that often times what we were taking or studying isn't nearly as important as that we were following directions and completing the required material.
Following directions that are given to us by the Holy Spirit is much the same; it is not up to us to determine if those instructions make sense, or if we agree with them or even want to carry them out. It is simply our job to do what we have been asked to do without too much whining. 

Certainly, some of the things he has asked me to do didn't make sense nor did it seem like they really mattered, and sometimes I even thought to myself, this is really silly or he must be joking, right? 
But in retrospect, I am certain that they were all important, for even if they seemed silly, or inconsequential at the time to me, they were requests from my Lord, Jesus Christ, and he wanted to see if I was listening, being obedient and having faith. 

As Christians, we have each had our own experiences with the Holy Spirit and we have heard testimony from others concerning their experiences as well. I have met people who have made great sacrifices to be obedient. People who have been asked to move to destinations that make no sense to them or their family and friends and I have met people who have been asked to give up things or do things that our earthly minds feel are crazy or even wrong. In some cases, their livelihood and finances were jeopardized and in extreme cases, they were arrested and placed in jail or prisonBut because they believed they were being obedient to God, it didn't really matter what other people thought or what the consequences were.  

Meeting and sharing with these various people has shown me that we have no business ever doubting any one's personal testimony concerning the Holy Spirit. Most of the time, what we think we know about someone else's life is not even close to the truth. It is never a good idea to second-guess or doubt someone's testimony unless it is evil or against the scriptures. Doing so is calling the Holy Spirit a liar and we all know that nothing could be further from the truth. 

Numbers 23:19(KJV) God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Telling someone that God doesn't speak like that, or that he wouldn't ask them to do something which may seem far-fetched to them such as giving up their job or home or lifestyle, indicates a huge lack of understanding of Our Lord. Advising someone that the things prophesied over their lives are not possible or are unlikely is wrong as well, doing this is not an assumption we are not qualified to make. It creates an unnecessary division among Christians, which is getting to be all too common.  When someone offers us their testimony it is good to listen, have faith and offer prayers and support. Never ridicule or judge. 

We may have made up our minds that we have it all together and that our life is cake until God asks us to turn that all upside down to do the things for our own good or things he knows we were born to do. He knows all things. and He is nothing like us.   

                      "His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. 
      For as the heavens  are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts."

Believing anything less indicates a lack of faith and trust in him. For he is God Almighty and if he wants to throw diamonds down from heaven or sprinkle us with gold dust when he is pleased with us, who's going to stop him? Believing anything less than that about him is putting him in a box and you can't put God Almighty, the maker of the Universe in a box.
It's time we all press in closer to Our Father instead of second-guessing or judging what he is telling someone else to do. Allow their walk to be theirs and yours your very own. Busy ourselves listening for his voice, his instruction in our own lives. Be alert and without one single worry or concern about the things he asks us to do. So what if we are inconvenienced or our lives get tossed around for a season. His plans for our lives are exactly what we need to transform us into who He wants us to be. They are for our own good and the good of the kingdom. 

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13

So why not start right this very moment by encouraging to others and focus on the prize...remember that our rewards are in heaven and that God knows every little detail of our lives. and we never know what he might have for us right here, right now if we only just listen and obey. It might just blow your mind. God is that good!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: A Little Blog About How We Grow & Change

Sanctuary of Tranquility: A Little Blog About How We Grow & Change: O nce, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water ...

A Little Blog About How We Grow & Change

nce, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles.
They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad. He was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided he must take a nap. 
As he slept, his body changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying. 
So, fly he did! 
And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never known existed.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now that he was dead. 
He wanted to go back to tell them and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. 
Then he understood that perhaps their time would come, when they, too, would know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!

— Author Unknown And Greatly Appreciated!

This is a very powerful prayer we sing at my church...

Change Me, Lord, 
Change Me, Lord, 
Don't Let Me Stay the Same, Lord, I want to be just like you. 
Take My Heart, Make My Heart, Just What You Want it to be
Lord, Please Change Me, Change Me, Dear Lord.... 

If we spend enough time with Him, God will change us just like He changed the little water beetle. We become a new person in Christ. 
We become the person He intended for us to be before all of the religious training we engaged in messed up our thinking and before all of the ideas and values were dispensed by friends and even family members.

I can honestly say that although I often wish I had known God sooner, I am thankful for the fact that I never experienced very much of that other stuff in my life. Not ever learning it certainly simplified my transition from Gentile to Christian. I seldom wonder where the old me went, I am just very thankful for the changes.

Thinking about this brought to mind the little story of the water beetle. 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

If only we could each grasp the concept that we are all much like that little water beetle. All capable of changing into something as beautiful as the blue-tailed dragonfly. Capable because of the great love of Our Father, God.

We may not be water beetles living underneath lily pads, but we are all characters in the Book of Life, and our story has already been beautifully written by Our Father; who wants nothing more than to bless us and fill us with joy.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come. 

Each and every moment of our lives, both the good and the not so good were conceived by the author and the finisher Himself to draw us closer to Him, and turn us into human versions of the beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly. 

I hope this little dragonfly story blesses you as much as it did me. 
We should always be seeking ways to be more like God and asking Him to change us and make us more like Him. He will introduce us all of the things we have been missing and show each of us that new world to explore so that we too can be fulfilled.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Sins We Take For Granted

Sanctuary of Tranquility: Sins We Take For Granted: My church was reading in 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 last Sunday about the reminder from Paul of the sins the people were committing as Moses...

Sins We Take For Granted

My church was reading in 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 last Sunday about the reminder from Paul of the sins the people were committing as Moses lead them out of the wilderness.
Verses 1-4 remind us of how they were all under the cloud, they all passed through the sea, they were all baptized unto Moses, and they all survived forty years in the dessert eating only mana; (John 6:49-50) and drinking only from the Spiritual Rock of Christ.
In verse 5 Paul reminds us of the things they did that were displeasing to God as a reminder that we should not commit those same sins ourselves. He let the reader know that many were struck down (some versions say overthrown) because of their sins. Verse 6 lets us know that these things should serve as an example to us and also as a reminder for us to not desire evil as they did. 

In verse 7, we are warned "Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." I wasn't totally clear on the whole idolatry thing so I did some research and discovered that most idolatry in our world today is our self.
The core is in the three elements of lust found in 1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world." 

The more I researched, the more disillusioned I became. Although I already had some idea, I was disturbed by the fact that millions of people, mostly women work sixty to ninety hours per week so they have more money for stuff. Self-worship propels some to work weekends as well as vacation time so they can buy; to name a few things; newer cars, more expensive toys, luxurious vacations and nicer homes. In the meantime, children are shoved into daycare and are starving for attention and love. We fool ourselves into believing that we are doing it for others when in fact it is to feed our own self-esteem. 

We fancy ourselves to be more clever than our creator by rejecting God's word and his description of how he created the heavens and earth and believe instead what scientists tell us. We convince ourselves that we can preserve the earth as it is for perpetuity when God has made it very clear that the earth and everything on it will be laid bare (2 Peter 3:10-13).
And last but not least, we are so obsessed with fulfilling our own selfishness that we overlook the needs and desires of those around us, including the people we love. We have become a world filled with self-indulgent people who take advantage of unlimited amounts of drugs, alcohol, and food to make us happy. We expose our children to those same addictions and wonder why they are obese, suicidal, and have the addiction, and attitude problems that they have. 
We are making every effort to be the God of our own lives.

This has its origin way back in the Garden of Eden when Satan (I hate using a capital form of the letter 's' for his name) tempted Eve, assuring her that if she ate the apple she would be just like God. (Genesis 3:5) This has been man's desire for all time; to be God. How tragic. 

Verse eight tells us point blank that we must not be involved in sexual immorality of any kind as it says "Many of those people were, and it is told that twenty-three thousand people all died in one day as a result of this kind of behavior." 

I have included the list of the top four excuses people attempt to use for their sin and the scriptures that explain why they are not valid excuses.

1.It's not wrong if we love each other.

Sex within marriage is blessed (Genesis 1:28); sex outside of marriage is “fornication” or “sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 7:2–5)
2. Times have changed, and what was wrong in Biblical times is no longer considered sin today. 
Most of the passages condemning sexual immorality also include evils such as greed, lust, stealing, etc. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10Galatians 5:19–21). We have no problem understanding that these other things are a sin. 
God’s character does not change with culture’s opinion (Malachi 3:6Numbers 23:19Hebrews 13:8).
3. We're married in God's eyes.
This argument implies that God is cross-eyed. 
The fallacy of this idea is that the God who created a marriage in the first place would retract His own command to accommodate what He has called sin. God declared marriage to be one man and one woman united for life (Mark 10:6–9). The Bible often uses the imagery of a wedding and a covenant marriage as a metaphor to teach spiritual truth (Matthew 22:2Revelation 19:9). God takes marriage very seriously, and His “eyes” see immorality for what it is, regardless of how cleverly we have redefined it. 
4. I can still have a good relationship with God because he understands.
Proverbs 28:9 says, “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” We fool ourselves when we think that we can stubbornly choose sin and God does not care.
First John 2:3–4 contains a serious challenge for those who persist in this line of thinking: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”

Verse nine warns us not to test Christ. Testing Christ means to deliberately continue doing something after you have a full understanding that it is wrong. However, verse ten is the one that really opened a few eyes at my church that day and the one that has been following me around all week.

10 Do not grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

It doesn't matter if you whine, snivel, or grumble; it all adds up to the same word, complainer. 
When translated from the Greek, it means one who is discontented with their lot in life for that is certainly not a Fruit of the Spirit.
The first complainer on record was Adam, who was less that pleased with his wife after she ate from the forbidden fruit and went whining to God that it was all Eve's fault because she gave him some of the fruit to eat. (I can envision the entire thing, can't you? Eve sat on him and forced it down his throat.) 
From that moment on, complaining seemed to be a fairly common thing to do. 
Cain was obviously displeased even though there is no record of his saying so. 
Moses was not very happy about the burning bush situation or the trials during the Exodus. 
David complained to God in several Psalms.
The prophets complained about the idolatry of the Jewish nation, and Job, well Job...he complained all the time about everything. Although, despite his complaining, he was able to sanctify his complaints to the Lord, and that took more humility than most people will ever have. 

Philippians 2:14-15 says "Do all things without murmuring or complaining that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine like the lights of the world" 

I must confess that I wasn't the only person in church that day who squirmed in their seat during the discussions, especially those about idolatry and complaining. After church that same day I had lunch with my pastor and his family at their home. My pastor always asks each and every person at his dining-room table what they took from the morning's sermon.
 As we went from person to person, the overwhelming response was our surprise that God was as disenchanted with complaining as he is with the other sins. 

This made me stop and think about how quick we are to put sins on some imaginary list we have developed in our own mind that classifies them from the worst to the least offensive, something very human that we are all guilty of. 
Needless to say, complaining was certainly at the front of my mind all last week. Especially when the traffic was slow and backed up and it inconvenienced poor little me and then there was the day that my job was monotonous and the next day how there was so much to do I couldn't keep up, and sadly I can think of several other times as well.

I knew I was as capable of sin as anyone else, so I have asked for forgiveness and added complaining to the list of traits I need to work towards truly repenting from. 
Praise God for His Mercy & Grace for they are new every morning.