One writer defined “the spirit of poverty” as a “constant inability to focus on God’s ability and abundance; our faith being limited by our own background and status.” Since more of us than not have come from varying degrees of meager backgrounds, this may well be something for all of us to ponder. This spirit of poverty can cause us to view God as on our own level, restricted to our own limitations. It can affect our faith, depress our spirit, dampen our enthusiasm, and handicap our future. Continue reading “The Spirit of Poverty”
It was one of “those” days. I was sick, nearly dropping in my tracks with a bad cold. We were on a tight schedule. The weekend had been over-crowded and I had left my Bible with the notes for an upcoming conference locked in the church with no way of retrieving them before we had to leave the motel at 6:45 am the next morning. All this combined with a nagging apprehension of several coming responsibilities made me very vulnerable to the ever-lurking enemy of fear. Once my armor was cracked, he slipped into my mind and a good case of the “what if’s” set in. Continue reading “The Prescription”
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” –Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV
Between the two extremities of a time to be born and a time die there is a lot of living, learning, loving, losing, being, and becoming. Life is made up of seasons, spiritual and emotional seasons as real and opposing as the budding springs and the bleak winters of nature. In the natural world the two preferred seasons – the “perfect” seasons – are spring and autumn. Both are bright with exciting color and expectancy. Absent are extremities. Everything is “just right.” But God broke into these “just right” seasons with the scorching heat of summer and the bone-chilling cold winds of winter. The extremities, the positives and the negatives, temper God’s creation. Continue reading “Sensitive to Seasons”
Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the negative side of a truth we almost forget the possibility of the positive. A glass may be half empty – or is it half full?
The dreaded truth of reaping what we sow often stirs our minds to nothing but negative thoughts. But the same law of sowing and reaping is true in a positive sense. For example: If you withhold judgment and condemnation and sow a good crop of forgiveness, you will reap a good harvest (Luke 6:37-38).
What do you do about those bad seeds you have already deposited in life? We know that eternal consequences can be changed, but often earthly consequences cannot. This can be a fearful outlook. An old farmer once sat in a class I was teaching when this subject was being discussed. Continue reading “Rotate the Crop”
Where is the line between a self-centered lifestyle and a self-giving one? Jesus taught, “If they take your coat in court, give them your cloak also. If they compel you to go the extent of one mile, go two. Give to those who ask and don’t ignore that that would borrow” (Matthew 5:40-42). The world is full of people who would abuse a disciplined Christian sincerely trying to live this to the letter. Continue reading “Plus or Plush”
Someone asks, “How are you doing?” Convinced they don’t really want to know the truth, we say, “Fine!” or “Fabulous!” or “Great!”
These expressions concerning our circumstances, events or feelings are sometimes somewhat true. Sometimes they are spoken in an almost desperate attempt at speaking faith. Sometimes, seeking acceptance and approval, we mask up and hide our vulnerable selves and tell the modified truth. Continue reading “Honesty”
It has been observed that there are at least 365 “fear not” scriptures in the Bible. One would have been enough, should have been enough. However, He said it to us over and over again hoping that in whatever circumstance of life we find ourselves, we would hear and know the “fear not” falling from His voice over us.
Fear is a common experience for all of us. It has a paralyzing effect on creativity, sensitivity, and accomplishment. The prophet Elijah had seen prophets slain, fire fall, and had prayed down a storm. Yet, when fear took dominion of his inner kingdom, he panicked, became depressed, went into seclusion, lost control of his thinking and became defensive in his praying. Fear resulted in His misdirection. Continue reading “Fear Not”
I was exhausted in every way. For days my time had been so fragmented, the demands almost more than I could meet. My time of private devotion to spiritual matters had been affected by a divided mind. For this, guilt was taking its toll. But faithfulness is always a winner. As usual, I went into my study early that morning. Mentally harassed, soul hungry, emotions disturbed, spiritually desperate, physically tired but willfully determined, I reached for my Bible and the comfort and consolation of David’s Psalms. Continue reading “Faithfulness Wins”
Life, with its varying seasons, brings floods as surely as it brings sunshine. Sometimes we watch as the pressure slowly builds – a rising tide – accompanied by an inner dread – and we find ourselves overwhelmed. At other times, it is the sound of a cell phone buzzing – the ding noting an incoming text message – that brings us from peaceful and calm to storm-tossed with a single sentence. A flash flood of emotion can easily overwhelm us.
As my husband says, we are both “north of eighty” years of age. In my life’s experience I have weathered more than my share of floods and want to share some simple things I’ve learned. Continue reading “Faith at Floodstage”
While watching an old Gaither Homecoming video recently, an old Patriotic song brought my thoughts to the cost that was paid for my liberty. It sent me on a word study, where I discovered that the word liberty is used some 27 times, in the 66 books of the King James Bible. There are 10 different Hebrew and Greek definitions for the word that is translated “liberty.” Most of them are very similar and some derivatives of the same root word. There are repeated phrases like “set at liberty” and “proclaim liberty” and “your liberty” and “my liberty.” The meanings range from “broad, large, roomy, wide” to “freedom/pardon/forgiveness” to “relieve” and “release” and “rest.” Liberty.
This month of July in America starts off with a celebration of who we are – the crafters and proclaimers of the Declaration of Independence, victors in the Revolutionary War, the ones who are truly the free and the brave. That’s us!
Sometimes, amidst the fireworks and the barbecue dinners, time with family and friends, and maybe even on a campground for an old fashioned Camp Meeting, we forget that the freedom we celebrate was not free. It came only after hard-won battles. Lives were lost. Families were fractured. Freedom was not free. Maintaining that freedom for ourselves and others continues to come, even today, at a high price.
As we look then, to our spiritual freedoms, we have to also ever remember the price that was paid for our spiritual liberty. Sin bound us all. Yet, from the foundation, there was a Lamb slain. There was precious blood spent to purchase you and me.
The flag of the United States is a thing of beauty with it’s red and white stripes and blue background with stars. The Statue of Liberty, with her lighted torch, and the plea of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” is awe-inspiring.
On the other hand, there it is a beautiful terrible cross where Jesus Christ died to purchase our salvation. Healing was in the stripes He suffered but it was gruesome not gorgeous. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Yet, it was the price He paid for us for our liberty.
How grateful we should be for the men and women who protect and serve our country and maintain freedom for us and others. How much more grateful must we be to the God who robed Himself in flesh to walk among us to suffer and die on Golgatha’s hill that we might be free.
I close with the lyrics of the song that got this thought process started. I am proud to be called an American . . . glad to be called a Christian. I will honor our flag and the statue of liberty. And I will cling to the old rugged cross . . . where He purchased my liberty.
In New York stands a lady
With her torch raised to the sky
And all who see her
Know she stands for liberty for you and me.
I’m so proud to be called an American
To be named with the brave and the free
I will honor our flag and our trust in God
And the statue of liberty.
On lonely Golgatha stood a cross
With my Lord raised to the sky
And all who kneel there
As all the saved can testify
I’m so glad to be called a Christian
To be named with the ransomed and whole
As the statue liberates the citizen
So the cross liberates the soul.
The cross is my statue of liberty
It was there that my soul was set free
Unashamed I’ll proclaim that the rugged cross
Is my statue of liberty.