Tag Archives: God

Stiff Neck

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stiff-neck-womanHave you ever hurt your neck and you aren’t sure how it happened? I experienced that firsthand a couple of weeks ago. I was minding my business, backing out of an ordinary parking space, and a searing pain shot through my neck.  It penetrated deep into the tissue and bone. Immediately, my neck was so stiff, I couldn’t turn to the right or left. As I drove home, I had to reposition my entire body in order to make safe right and left turns. For several days, I could only look straight ahead. Driving, sleeping, and working was difficult. Thank goodness it only lasted a few days.

While my stiff neck was healing, I thought about God’s description of His own people. In Exodus 32, Israel  had sinned big time when they built a golden calf to worship. Their idolatry caused God’s anger to burn against them and He said to Moses, (v. 9) “I have seen this people and behold they are a stiff-necked people.”

God describing His people as stiff-necked was not a compliment.  This word is defined: obstinate, stubborn, willful, rebellious, unruly, and ornery. It means a person has a major attitude problem and an unwillingness to be led. Over and over in scripturestubborn goat God describes His disobedient nation in this unbecoming, uncomplimentary way. In my imagination, I think of a stubborn old goat that refuses his masters leading when I hear this term.

I never want another stiff neck physically but more than that, I don’t want the Lord to describe me in this way. A stiff neck happens when we become hardened to the master’s leading and so certain of self, that we are not easily guided back on the path of spiritual wholeness and wellness.

A spiritual stiff neck is a result of pride.  So what’s the remedy for this? It’s simple,  give your situation over to the Lord. Ask Him to work the kinks out of your life.  It might be painful for a time but, He is a gentle healer.

Don’t Miss the Signs

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tsa agentA friend of mine has several children and each year she takes one of them on a special trip with just her. This year it was her teenaged daughter’s turn and it was going to be her first plane trip. As they arrived at the airport, she used the time to teach her teenager the ins and outs of flying. She walked her through the check in process and everything was going well.

As they approached the security area, she explained in detail what to do. She told her daughter to watch her and do what she did and it would all go smoothly. They took off their shoes, jackets, and backpacks and placed them in the bins. Then, my friend went through the metal detector. No problem, no noise, no nothing. Right on her heels was her daughter, following her mother’s lead.

When the teenager tried to enter the machine, the TSA agent held up his hand to stop the daughter from entering the detector until high fiveher mother had cleared the scanner. Instead of stopping, she thought he was giving her a high-five. What did she do? She gave him a high-five back!

No kidding! She did! Did you know you aren’t supposed to touch a TSA agent? The gentleman proceeded to scold her, humiliating her in public.  Of course, my friend politely set him straight about her daughter misinterpreting his sign. It all ended well, but her daughter learned a valuable lesson that day. It’s important to interpret the signs correctly. 

haltSigns are a part of our everyday lives. They are everywhere. Even the Bible speaks of signs. In the Old Testament God used signs and wonders to reveal Himself to mankind. In Daniel 4:3, the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar finally interpreted what he saw correctly. He acknowledged the Most High God because he recognized God’s signs. Nebuchadnezzar declared, “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders!…”

Today, I say to you, “Halt! Open your eyes. Don’t miss the miraculous signs and wonders of the Lord.” They are everywhere and they are awesome. Join me in prayerfully giving God a “Holy High Five.” His wonderous signs deserve it.

Rainbow Shooters

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rainbowA couple of years ago a friend of mine was going through a particularly difficult time. She had weathered numerous storms in her life but this time, there were several stressful things happening all at once. Trials with her health, difficulties with her children, and even family issues were taking a toll on her. She was suffering spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She said to preserve her sanity she had pulled away from a lot of relationships. This young woman who was always an outgoing, sanguine personality had to set distinct boundaries in her life in order to survive during this time.

As she poured out her heart to me, she explained the hurtful conversations she had with others when she tried to maintain relationships with her friends and family. Through her tears, she told me that being around people with seemingly perfect lives made her angry and sad. She said, as she was looking for hope and mercy just to survive each day, those people complained about everything. To make matters worse, she said they offered her meaningless advice and empty platitudes, to try to help. I asked her how that made her feel and I will never forget how she described those people. Her voice broke as she cried, “They are nothing but a bunch of rainbow shooters!” At that moment, I totally understood. 

Later I spent a lot of time pondering her description. I decided you could take the term “rainbow shooters” a couple of ways. Did she mean they offer a shot of something to make her feel better, like the “rainbow shooter” drinks that are served in a bar? Maybe a quick, “you will feel better soon” or “this too shall pass.” rainbow shot A small shot of mercy that might deaden her pain for a while.

Or did she mean, while she was looking to the Lord for hope and mercy (like the Biblical promise in the rainbow)  they took aim at her heart and shot down her rainbow? Were they shattering  the Lord’s promises which was all she had to hold onto during this time?

To this day, I am not sure what the meaning is but there is one thing I know for sure, I don’t want to be a “rainbow shooter” to my rainbow gunfriends and family. It is always hard to watch someone struggle in their lives as they face things beyond their control. But, I am learning to be slow to speak and quick to lavish others with my love and prayers.

God gave the rainbow in Genesis 9 as sign to Noah and to us, so we will remember God, His promises, His mercy, His hope and His everlasting covenant. Genesis 9:16, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” The question for us is this, will we point others to God’s promises or will we be “rainbow shooters?”

  

Young Moms Are Important (Answering the Everyday Question Everyday)

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Many of you who read this blog are young mothers. I thought of you this afternoon and I knew what I wanted to write about this week.

Today I had the privilege of playing with a not quite twenty-two month old little girl and a three-year old little boy. We jabbered kidspeak to each other, played with cars, nibbled on treats, and bounced on an ottoman during a women’s ministry brunch. I love it when the kids get to come to meetings. They bring such joy and teach me so many lessons. Thanks Emma and Luke.

My children are grown and my grandsons are growing up quickly and sometimes, if I am honest, I miss my little ones. Those were the best of days and the most tiring of times.   

I read something this week that I hope you will find encouraging. It will be worth your time to go to this link (below). This is a profound pensee…it also parallels the recent blog post I wrote “Pour Out Your Life.” Enjoy and send me your comments and thoughts as you joyfully pour out your life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of your children?

Heavenly Father, Please encourage each young mother today. Give them Your eyes to see the beauty of these simple days. In Jesus Name, Amen

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=94431c7fc1ffa54485d1c84fe&id=990c0d8c80

The Great Escape

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Last summer we were watching our son’s labrador retriever puppy while he and his wife went out-of-town for a couple of days. Sadie was a typical lab puppy. She was a curious, clumsy, chewing ball of fluff . She enjoyed the large fenced yard and being outside with their other two dogs.

Because Sadie was a puppy, we checked on her several times a day to make sure she had plenty to eat and drink. Each time, she was thrilled to see human beings and she craved our hugs, rubs, dog treats, and kind words. But, one time, things weren’t right with her. She didn’t come running to see my husband, Mark. But, he could hear her crying and barking.

When Mark found her, the other two dogs were standing over her and she was on the ground struggling, totally bound by a long  tv cable. In her attempts to pull the cable to chew it, she became so ensnared and entangled  that she was trapped and struggling  to breathe. It took Mark a long time to untangle the cable  and to  free Sadie. When she finally escaped, she ran far away from the danger. Sadie was grateful to Mark. She seems to have great affection for her rescuer and even though Mark won’t admit it, he loves her, too! We still wonder how that little puppy got into such a dangerous trap in such a short amount of time?

As Christ-followers we can get into trouble pretty fast ourselves. We go through life and something distracts and gets our attention. Then we are drawn to the distraction. We move from looking to exploring and if we are not careful, we become trapped in a dangerous situation. We become a tangled mess and we can’t free ourselves. There is no way out and we need a helper.

Scripture tells us we have a way to escape the snares in life. We have a helper to free us from dangerous traps. Psalm 124:7-8, “Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper. The snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Our helper is the Lord. He broke the snare of sin and death and we have escaped the danger of eternal judgment.

In what dangerous situation(s) do you find yourself? To whom will you go for help? How will you thank the Lord for freeing you?

Heavenly Father, You are our Helper, who  is also the Maker of heaven and earth. Thank you for not leaving us in the trap of sin and death.  Teach us through your Word how to live in total freedom and warn us of the dangers of sin. In Your Son Jesus’ Name, Amen

Don’t Hang Up Your Harp

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My pastor, Dr. Rod MacIlvaine has been teaching in the Psalms for the past few weeks. This week he will speak about, Praise- a Powerful but Neglected Discipline. (available online next week at gccbartlesville.org) He explained during this series, that the book of Psalms begins with an invitation to love God and it ends with a command to praise God.

God’s people are known for their praise. In the Old Testament the Israelites sang, danced, played tambourines and harps to worship the Lord. In the New Testament there are numerous examples of praise. But did you know there was a season when the music of God’s people ceased?

Psalm 137 tells us when the Israelites were taken captive by the Babylonians, the people missed Jerusalem so much, they hung their harps in the willow trees and wept. Psalm 137:1-3, “By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”  They mourned the loss of their land, their freedom, their old life, and the way things were. Verse 4 says, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

Look around, do you feel like you live in a foreign land? America has changed a lot in the past few years. Our country is not the nation it used to be. A few short years ago, we were a Christian nation of integrity. The economy was in check and there was prosperity. We were not under the threat of terrorist and there was security. But now, if you look around, it looks like we are living in a foreign land.  

What’s robbing you of your song? Do you ever feel like sitting down and weeping because you miss America? Do feel tormented by others who mock your Lord? Do you feel like hanging up your harp?

Well don’t hang up your harp yet!  We are commanded to praise the Lord. Psalm 150 is a six verse praise of God, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”

So get your harp out that tree, find your tambourine and cymbals, and  put on your dancing shoes. It is time to praise the Lord!

Heavenly Father, take our eyes off our situation and put them on you. Fill our minds, hearts, and mouths with praise. When we are tempted to be silent, nudge us toward obedience. In Jesus Name, Amen

archived devotionals available also at circleofsavings.com

 

5.6, 10:53, 11/5 (All Shook Up)

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No, the title of this post in not an error and no, it is not my Dancing With the Stars cumulative score and it’s certainly not part of some marathon I ran! But if you live in Oklahoma, it won’t take you long to figure it out.

On Saturday night, November 5, I was studying and preparing to lead a Precept Class. The passage I was studying was Isaiah 24-25. The study material was weighty and yet, full of rich teaching. Isaiah 24 deals with the judgment of the Earth. God is specific in telling us how this will happen. Isaiah 24:18c-20, “…the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken asunder, The earth is split through, The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard and it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again.”

After I finished the preparation to teach, I closed my Bible and went to bed about 10:30. But before I could shut my eyes, I thought I was living Isaiah 24! I heard a low rumble and roar but it wasn’t thunder, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. As the seconds ticked it became louder and not only did I hear it, I felt beneath me what I was already hearing. The roar become louder and stronger. The ceiling fan shook, the mirrors shook and I SHOOK!

I immediately thought it would be just like God to let me in on Isaiah 24 and then give me a living illustration. As scary as it was, it was awesome, too! An earthquake in Oklahoma, REALLY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME, LORD? To witness another of the Lord’s displays of power was incredible. I have been in hurricanes, I have seen tornadoes, but this was so different. There was no way to get away from it or to prepare for it. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usb0006klz.php

The good news, no one was injured and our home was fine. We escaped with a crack in the bathroom floor. The next day or two we had minor aftershocks but the next time, I knew how to recognize the earthquake.

God warns us about what is going to happen in the future. His prophetic Word informs us of the things which are to come. He lets His children in on His future plans not to scare us but to prepare us. Do you know God’s Word well enough to recognize the coming events that are promised? Are you scared or prepared when it comes to the future?

Heavenly Father, Open our eyes to ALL Your Word including Your prophetic promises. Shake us up and out of our complacency. Use the Truth to create a sense of urgency in reaching others with the Truth. In Jesus Name, Amen

She Looks Like One, Talks Like One, Acts Like One but…

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If you walked into my kitchen and looked around, you would see a five burner stainless steel name brand gas cooktop, a stainless steel range hood and a nice French style (freezer on the bottom, two doors at the top) stainless refrigerator. If you glanced in my cabinets, you would see shiny Williams and Sonoma All-Clad cookware with a matching stock pot, pasta pot and colander. On my countertop there are Hinckel knives from Germany.  I have cool small appliances like grinders, choppers, graters, rice steamer, two crock pots, electric skillet, wok, three kinds of mixers, and a roasting oven, (that will roast two chickens at a time) just to name a few.

If you talked to me about food preparation, ingredients and terminology, I can talk a good talk. My favorite spices are herb de Provence (a yummy combination of rich spices and a little hint  of lavender) and fresh ground nutmeg. I know the difference between braise, broil, and bake. I know how to marinate, mascerate, and infuse.

But…even though I have the equipment of a chef, the vocabulary of a chef, and I can cook, I AM NOT A CHEF. I am only an average cook and I can honestly say I don’t enjoy cooking very much.

If you saw my kitchen equipment and talked to me about food,  you would probably mistake me for a chef (at the very least a great cook) based on how I look, how I talk, and how I act.

I am GUILTY of this kind of mistake so often. Because I am in full-time ministry at a church, I come in contact with numerous people in our church, other churches, and in  para-church organizations. If I am not careful, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of jumping to quick conclusions about other people. 

If someone is well-groomed, well dressed, and smells good, then I decide she must be a Christian. If she uses nice words and even drops the occasional Christianease (Christian speak), I decide she must be a Christian because she has the vocabulary down pat. If she goes to church, Bible Study in middle of the week, and serves often, then she must be a Christian. 

But, what if I met someone  who didn’t exactly have the nice wardrobe and the right hair style and make up? What if I met someone who had a  potty mouth and  used profanity and questionable slang terms? What if her life was in so much turmoil  that she barely made it to church every Sunday? Would I assume, based on what I saw and heard, that she might not be a Christian?

If we are honest with ourselves and each other, we will admit that we are quick to jump to conclusions about others based on what we see and what we hear. As humans, we assume a lot about people everyday.  As believers, we assume a lot about who is a Christ-follower and who is not.

It gives me great comfort and freedom to know that it is not my responsibility to decide what’s inside another man or woman. In 1 Samuel 16:7 the Lord gave Samuel a command and then gave him a reason for the command, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his (Saul, my emphasis)stature, because I have rejected him(Saul); for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

What do you notice first about another person? How quick are you to come to a conclusion based on what you see and hear from someone? How will you temper judgement with grace this week?

Heavenly Father, Forgive us for jumping to our own conclusions and assumptions about others. Give us eyes of love so we might view others rightly. In Jesus Name, Amen

Archived devotionals at circleofsavings.com

The Spittin’ Image of Her Daddy

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In the South, when we see a child who looks like her father, we say, “She’s the spittin’ image of her daddy” which really means,  “She looks just like her daddy.” I think as parents, if we are honest, we all secretly hope our children will come into this world and look like us. Before our own babies are born, the thought of “little spittin’ images” of ourselves makes us smile. Neither of my children look very much like me and I’m sorry to say my twin grandsons don’t look like me either.

But according to Genesis 1:27, we are all “little spittin’ images” of someone. As Image Bearers, we are the spittin’ image of our Heavenly Father. The verse says, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” How would the world be different, if we fully grasped this foundational biblical concept? Let’s think about two ways.

First, we would see ourselves based on God’s creative best. Genesis 1:31, says, “God saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good….” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see ourselves that way?  

Second, we would see other believers as God’s creative best but not only His creative best, His redemptive best. If we see Christ-followers as righteous based on the righteousness of Christ, we would no longer judge one another. We would no longer be shocked by a friend’s past when they, with great trust, reveal it to us. We would no longer be surprised by the daily struggles of others. We could look across that chasm that separates people and realize we aren’t who we appear to be…God sees us differently. 

I think it would be great to see others the way God does; as image bearers of the Father, redeemed and righteous because of Jesus (Romans 5:19) and fully indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-10).

When God looks at us He sees us through His perfect lens of grace. He sees His children, who are His spittin’ image. He sees us righteous because of His Son Jesus. He sees us from the inside out by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  For all of this, I am deeply grateful but I find an exhortation to change the way I view others and myself.

I want to put on grace lenses and see others through God’s eyes. Loving them in spite of themselves. Seeing them as redeemed saints in this messy middle part of life. If necessary, I will put on biblical bi-focals and see them from the far away eternal perspective, as well as, up close and personal right here, right now.

How do you view others?  When will you go for a spiritual eye exam? How will God’s Word correct and bring into focus a proper view of yourself and others?

Heavenly Father, forgive us for losing sight of who we really are? Forgive us for our judgmental view of others. Give us eyes that remain wide open to Your Truth. Where our vision is skewed, clarify and sharpen what we see with your lenses of grace.

In Jesus Name, Amen

archived writings at circleofsavings.com

Sometimes Choose Amnesia

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Last week on several of the daytime television shows, the guests were Scott Bolzan and his wife, Joan. Scott has amnesia due to a brain injury. His amnesia is not the temporary kind but the permanent (so far) retrograde type.

Amnesia is medically defined as a defect in memory, especially one resulting from pathological cause, such as brain damage or hysteria [via New Latin from Greek: forgetfulness, probably from amnēstia oblivion] simply defined it is forgetfulness.

After his injury, Scott didn’t remember his wife or children. He also didn’t remember how to do many ordinary things. He and his wife wrote a book that chronicles his recovery and efforts to rebuild his life. It is titled My Life Deleted. While the couple told hysterical stories about their new reality, they also openly communicated their daily trials.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Deleted-Scott-Bolzan/dp/0062025473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318281241&sr=1-1

I listened to the interview and thought to myself, boy there are somethings in my life I wish I could forget. Things like harsh words I can’t take back, stupid mistakes I can’t change, forgiven sins that pop back into my mind, bad memories, hard times, etc…

In Scripture we are told not to forget the Lord, His Word, His work in our lives.  But did you know that forgetting is actually a Biblical concept, a sort of spiritual amnesia? Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) says, “Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” While in this context, God is speaking to Israel. He is reminding them to forget their years in exile due to their sins. The lesson for us is forget your old sins, you live under God’s mercy and grace. This is a new day.

Paul in Philippians 3:13-14 chooses spiritual amnesia for himself and encourages us to do the same. “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

As I age, I find it both encouraging and freeing to learn that sometimes we can have selective memories. God’s Word tells us to remember and forget. The Bible is full of that kind of paradox.

I want to cheer you on today! Forget the former, what’s behind you and press on toward the new thing. Practice spiritual amnesia and win!

What from your past do you need to forget? What sin do you remember that the Lord has already forgotten? What is holding you back as you move toward winning the promised prize?

Heavenly Father,  Show us what we need to forget and reveal at the same time what we need to remember. In Jesus Name, Amen

Archived devotionals available at: http://circleofsavings.com/Devotional.aspx