More and Now

2 Sheep outside a barn in New York State
For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but hose who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:5 AMP)

So how do you tell the flesh from the Holy Spirit?  There are two demands of the flesh that are in conflict with God.  First, the flesh always wants MORE.  It is never satisfied.

A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.”  Three things are never satisfied, no, there are four that never say, “That’s enough, thank you!” – Hell, a barren womb, a parched land, a forest fire. (Proverbs 30:15-17 MSG)

I don’t know about you, but when I think about what is described here, I want nothing to do with any of them.  But these are really just imagery and synonyms for what our flesh is like.  It is like a barren womb, a forest fire.  It constantly demands more.

But God wants us to be satisfied.  His Holy Spirit longs to take away our thirst and hunger for righteousness.  He wants us to have joy and fulfillment.  The flesh demands fulfillment, but it can never find it.

The only way to overcome the flesh’s demands is to deny it.  From the start, with no compromise, it must be refused.  If you give in just a little bit, just this one time – you’ll find that it is only the beginning. The flesh will always demand more.

He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)

In order for His Spirit to increase in our lives, our own desires and importance must decrease.  The only way that this is possible is through denying the flesh.

But what other demand does the flesh have?  NOW! The flesh wants what it wants right now, and will not wait for it!

But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

God tells us to wait upon Him over and over in the Bible.  He tells us not to be weary in waiting.  He instructs us to be prepared and watch for Him.  And He promises that He will not be late.

The flesh is full of impatience and demands more, now.  But God wants to give us fulfillment if we will wait for Him.  So what is the flesh demanding that you give it today?  If it’s asking for more and wants it now, don’t give in!  Instead find a way to wait upon the Lord, through prayer so that you can live according to His Spirit.


Yesterday my dog was kicked by a horse, and presently one of his legs is paralyzed (that's a pic of him).  I have a friend who has a knee injury that’s been bugging her for a long time.  And one of the pastors at my church fell off a ladder three weeks ago and is still suffering through rehab. 
As I have been praying for healing for all of these, it’s gotten me beyond the route prayers that you kind of just say without really thinking about it.  And instead I’ve been thinking about the miraculous process of healing.
Jeremiah 32:17 – Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You.
The process of creation must be more difficult than the process of healing.  In creation, God makes something from nothing.  Whereas with healing, God takes the things that have already been created and changes them miraculously through the rebuild process.
Job 10:11 – You have clothed me with skin and flesh and have knit me together with bones and sinews.
God takes those parts that we are made of and “sews” them together.  He restores.  He heals. He makes all things new again.  All miracles come from God.
In this world, everything is in a state of atrophy.  Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, death and decay have entered the world.  In my opinion, a miracle is anything that is the opposite of decay – the opposite of atrophy.  When things that should be falling apart start coming together – that is a miracle from God.
So all healing is miraculous.  God’s handiwork is evident in the birth and growth of a child.  When we pray for God’s healing each and every time, it’s a miracle we ask for.  So today I am asking for miraculous things.  But nothing is impossible for my God.

The Source

Weigh In Wednesday – Start: 266 Last Week: 254 This Week: 255
So I gained a pound.  Overall this week, I’ve been stressed, but I didn’t get into stress eating.  I’ve been not unfaithful, but half-hearted.  I’ve said before that God does not reward half-hearted faith, and here I am: evidence of that fact.
I have been having a bout with depression this week.  Some of it I can blame on the miscarriage I had earlier this year, just like I can blame some of this extra weight that I’m carrying as a part of the fact that I was so recently pregnant.  But the thing that I most need to realize is that I cannot truly blame anything or anyone more than pointing the finger at myself.
I’m the one that let my focus slip off of Jesus and started looking at the tangible ground.  I am the one who listened to Satan’s suggestion that I think about the past, and lament for my future.  You see, I was honestly born to be a mother.  I know it in my heart, and it comes so naturally to me.  My son is 11 years old, and so far I have no regrets in my parenting. I’ve not reached those crucial teen years yet, but I hope that the relationship that I’ve developed with my son will stand firm.
I didn’t want an only child.  I wanted a few children, two or three, spaced out about five years or so apart.  We ended up waiting ten.  And when we were finally pregnant last fall, I was elated.  Then when we miscarried in March, I was floored.  I still mourn the loss. 
So I know that I’ve opened this foothold for Satan.  I’ve been depressed all week because I’m not pregnant.  I’ve been berating myself for my past loss, and Satan has been whispering in my ear about how I’ll never get the chance to mother another child.  So I’ve been worrying about tomorrow.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.( Matthew 6:34)
The source of my depression has been in my worry.  My faith has been wavering over this one point, and it has affected every other point in my life.  I have been making wrong choices today, in my daily walk, because I have been letting myself become focused on a negative future: One that may never come to fruition.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life, or a single cubit to his height? (Matthew 6:27)
Will my worrying make me pregnant, or change God’s mind about whether I will have another child?  What am I doing with this self-focus?  Don’t I trust Him?  Don’t I believe that He will always do what’s best for me?
I can really relate to the barren women of the bible who wanted children –and I keep forgetting that God has already blessed me with one.  Why am I so selfish and self-centered?  Ugh.
So Satan foretells a barren future.  I believe him and become selfish.  Then I berate myself for my self-centeredness.  And so goes my cycle of depression.  I thank God for this blog, because it helps me to at least be reminded once per day while I’m writing where my focus should be.  And remembering God helps me to think about what He is already doing in my life.
God gives us grace for today.  He tells us to trust Him about the rest.  He tells us to believe Him for the best.  So get thee behind me, Satan.  Today I commit to God, and stop worrying about anything else.

Where does my help come from?

photo by Kate Pedley
This week I have been struggling with depression.  I’ve been really down on myself and every little thing is setting me off on an emotional rollercoaster.  I’ve been finding that I cry at the littlest things.  Usually I consider myself to be fairly tough skinned, but this week, I feel like my skin is made of paper.

Because I thought I was fine in this area, Satan has decided to prove me wrong.  Satan has been having a field day giving me a battle with the spirit of depression.  I don’t much feel like doing anything except clinging to God who is the only one who loves me unconditionally.

I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let (my) foot slip – He who watches over (me) will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over (me) will not slumber nor sleep. 

The Lord watches over (me) – the Lord is (my) shade at (my) right hand; the sun will not harm (me) by day nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep (me) from all harm – He will watch over my life; the Lord will watch over (my) coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121 NIV)

Remember when I said that depression is a ME focus?  It is only when I lift my eyes up to God that I can recover where my focus should be.  I need to remember again that this battle is not mine.  I cannot deliver myself from the enemy – he is too strong for me.  But he is not too strong for my Lord.  Oh Lord how I praise you and thank you that you don’t forget me and know what I am going through.  Thank you.

Fear Hides Talent

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
After a long time, the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
So he who had received five talents came and brought the other five talents saying, “Lord you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents beside them.”
His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.”
He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.”
His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.”
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.  Look, there you have what is yours.”
But his lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not gathered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30)
God gives us many talents, some we are given at birth and others when we come to know Him.  Either way, He expects us to use them and to multiply them.  All of us are called to teach.  In one form or another we are called to do it.  Song Lyrics teach, poetry, writing fiction, teaching our own children, volunteering in the nursery - wherever our calling and talent lies, we’ll be teaching. 
So what is this story about?  I’ve meditated on it and this is what God has shown me.  It’s all about fear.   The bible admonishes us to be courageous, and counsels us to have no fear over and over in many ways.  The exact phrase, “Do not fear” appears fifty-one times and “Fear Not” appears eleven times in the NKJV.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)
Whenever we are afraid, that feeling does not come from God.  He gives us Peace, not Fear.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Who has ever prayed for fear?  But we pray and need to pray constantly for our fear to be removed.  Additionally we need to act in spite of our fear at times.
In this parable, there are three servants of the lord.  The first two servants are given more and greater talents because their lord knew them to already be trustworthy of them.  Likely they had already proven themselves to work hard for their lord and had already not let fear overcome them.  These two are like those who work in the mission field or at least in positions that are in front of others, like preaching.
They worked diligently and brought in a bounty of other talents by encouraging others to use their talents for God as well.  They were faithful and brought God a multiplied harvest.  So they were trusted with more responsibility.
The third servant was given a talent, and hid it because he was afraid.  He feared that he would lose his talent.  He may have feared public speaking, making a spectacle of himself, or maybe even going to foreign lands because of airplanes, disease, or needing to learn a new language.  He may have believed that he was not smart enough, or that God didn’t give him enough talents.  Regardless, he let his fear keep him from moving.
When his lord returned and said – “at least you could have left your talent with the banker so I could have received interest,” the lord was telling the servant that there were little things that he could have done.  He could have been faithful in small ways.  If foreign fields were the source of his fear, he should have served in the church.  If public speaking, then he could have mowed the church’s grass and passed out bulletins.  But the point is that he could have done something, whatever it was that God called him to do.
I don’t believe that passing out bulletins is enough work for God’s kingdom.  What I do believe is, if this servant had been faithful here, out of his comfort zone, then he would overcome his fear and found himself stepping even further out.  He would learn what pleasure there is in serving the Lord outside of our house or even our church.
The point in this parable is to not allow fear to keep us from serving.  God expects us to DO something.  We can’t do everything, but we can do something.  And each little thing that we do will have an impact for God’s kingdom, even if it only makes us trust Him further and become more willing to have new faith in ourselves and in what God can do.  So what small thing can I do for Him today?  I pray that I will do it.

Feeling Surrounded?

He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy (Lamentations 3:7)
When you are boxed in by your circumstances, even the most fearless person will feel claustrophobic.  Once you are surrounded by money troubles, relationship troubles, stress at work, deadlines, health problems, surgeries, death of a loved one, or any number of “momentary troubles” – you can feel overwhelmed to the point of wishing you would die.  
Trouble overwhelms you greatly so that you know that you are not God, and cannot possibly take care of everything that comes your way.  Sometimes we are reaping what we have sown – we can’t rack up credit card debt and think it will never catch up to us.  But other times, we are getting what we do not deserve – a co-worker spreading lies about you to your boss.  Or someone could be picking on us because of the way that we were born in the form of bullying.
It seems unfair.  Life is unfair.  You can even start to understand what Job meant when he says it would have been better that he’d never been born.
But when life seems to be pressing in on you from every side:  it comes from the right, left, front and back.  Realize now that there are two openings – up and down.  We may not be responsible for our circumstances, but we are responsible for how we respond to them.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
I used to wonder what kind of choice this was.  Who wouldn’t choose life?  Then I realized the results of my “boxed in” analogy.  When you have the choice to look up or down, it’s so much easier to look down.  The ground is so much closer and more tangible than heaven.   It seems more real and realistic to curse the “one” who boxed you in, than to praise Him.
So that is our choice.  Do you look up to the one who allowed you to be boxed in, or do you curse Him?  That has always been our choice all along.  When things are going perfectly our way, we get easily distracted.  We start to feel like we have all kinds of choices and can go all kinds of ways.  We can give an appreciative nod toward heaven, and forget about the ground.
But when we are hedged in and surrounded by our troubles, we can either get depressed and hateful – some even decide that this must mean there is no God.  Or we can look up and praise Him, and call upon his promises.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not over flow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:2)
He has promised that no matter how much we feel the pressures that surround us will kill us – He will make sure they do not.  The fires of anger that burn around us - will not scorch us.  The deluge of troubles that threaten to drown us in despair - will not overcome us.
Do you trust Him?  Do you believe Him?  If you do, then look up! You have hope, and you have help.  If you hold His hand through the troubles that surround you, then you can say like Paul:
We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

A Parable in Patience

Three teenage boys came to their mother while she cleaned house and asked her to take them to the mall so they could go shopping.  Standing up from scrubbing the floor, she stretched out her aching back and said “Later, when I’m done cleaning the house, I’ll take you to the mall.”
The three boys gave each other high fives.  Then they went on with their day, while the mother continued scrubbing the floor. 
The oldest of the boys, Cory, ran a hand through the four hair stubble that grew on his fifteen-year- old chin, and grabbed the phone to tell his girlfriend that she’d have to wait until later.  He daydreamed about the earrings he’d buy to impress her.
Brian, the middle child, started on the X-box - like any other red blooded, American, fourteen-year- old boy.  But he grew bored soon enough, and couldn’t wait to buy a new game when he got to the mall.
James, the youngest, got excited and went to his room to collect his savings for the model airplane he planned to buy.  He almost had enough.  He was just five dollars short.
A half hour later, the mother finished scrubbing the floor. So she wiped the sweat from her brow and started in on the bathroom. Cory came, angrily passing by the bathroom, mumbling under his breath, but loud enough for the mother to hear, “Mom’s never taking me to the store, why did I bother asking her?”
The mother shook her head, but continued cleaning the toilet.  Soon Brian walked in, looked at his mother and sighed, saying, “Mom, you look busy, I don’t know if you’ll have time later to take me to the mall. Can you take me now?”
Blinking her eyes in disbelief, the mother replied without looking up from her toilet, “Later.”
With a bigger sigh, Brian walked away.  Suddenly the mother heard the vacuum being turned on.  The mother, now finished with the toilet, took off her gloves, and looked over the banister curiously.  Below, James vacuumed the living room.   With a smile, the mother went back to spraying Lime Remover on the shower curtain.
Another half hour passed, and with the bathroom finished, the mother headed to the laundry room to fold clothes.  Cory walked by while on the phone with his girlfriend.  He spoke loudly, in the hopes that the mother would overhear him saying, “I wished I called Greg to take me to the mall, I don’t think my mother is ever going to bring me.”
Swallowing down her anger, the mother picked up another pair of plaid boxers and folded them violently.  Brian peeked around the corner, chewing his nails and asked, “Really, Mom, later might be too late.  I think you should take me now, I don’t believe you’ll have time to take me later if you don’t take me now.”
“Later.” The mother said through clenched teeth, making it seem as though the word had more syllables than two.
Huffing, Brian stomped away. Now finished with the laundry, the mother headed to the boys bedrooms to put it away.  The first was James room, where she found the boy finishing making his bed.  James turned around and said, “Thanks Mom, I’ll take those.  And have I told you how much I love you, and thank you for agreeing to take us to the mall later.  I know you’ve been busy all day.” 
And with a smile he started putting away his laundry.  The next bedroom belonged to Brian, where she found the boy laying on an unmade bed, X-box controller in his hand, lamenting his boredom.  “If only you’d take me to the mall now,” The boy said as the mother started to put away his laundry in the drawers, “then I wouldn’t be so bored waiting for you to take me - which you probably won’t, anyway.”
Shaking her head and rolling her eyes she headed out of the middle child’s bedroom.  And into Cory, the eldest’s she entered.  As she opened his door, she was struck by a horrid smell.  Cory sat, busy typing away at the computer.
 “What is that smell?” She asked.
With a shrug of the shoulders, Cory kept typing. 
On the bedside table sat a half eaten Cheese-whiz and canned pineapple sandwich.  The corner of Cory’s pillow laid in the molding mess.  With a gag, the mother placed his laundry down on top of the dresser, moving hair care products and CDs out of the way.  She picked up the plate and the pillow and started out of the room.  As she headed out she peeked at the computer and saw her son’s status update: “Mom’s giving me grief again - She’s never taking me to the mall. :(”
Shaking her head she couldn’t decide whether to head to the laundry or kitchen first with her new charges.  Since the laundry room was on the way, she stopped there for the pillow case.  Then headed to the kitchen sink with the plate.  Looking over the kitchen sink and out the window, she saw James washing her mini-van.  Taken aback, all she could do was stare for a minute. 
“Unbelievable,” she smiled.
The only thing left to do was to make dinner.  As she finished peeling potatoes, the two older boys plopped down on the stools at kitchen bar.  James came in and gave his mother a hug saying, “You’re the best mom ever.  You’ve never broken a promise to me, and I can’t wait until you’re ready to take me to the mall.”
Brian snickered at his little brother and said, “Yeah, right.  She’s never taking us to the mall.”
Cory shook his head and answered, “I know, right.  I wished I’d asked someone else before they all left to go.”
The mother hugged the youngest boy, and kissed him on the forehead.  She then turned to the other boys and said, “I’m done, and ready to go to the mall.  However, each of you have decided your own fate.  Brian, I am not taking you to the mall now or later.  Cory, you should have asked someone else, because I’m not taking you.  And James, because you knew that I would take you, grab my keys, let’s go.”
The two older boys sat slack-jawed on their kitchen stools.  James had already decided that he’d try to get a cheaper model airplane, since he couldn’t afford the one he wanted. But as he told his mother, she gave him the money he needed for the better plane and extra to buy red paint.
When we ask God to give us what we want, do we believe he’ll give it to us?  Do we walk by faith: patiently waiting in obedience to what we know God would want us to do, even if He didn’t ask?  Do we murmur and complain or do we thank Him for His faithfulness?  Do we believe that when we ask for bread He’ll give us a stone, or do we believe He’ll give us more and better than we ask?  Think on it!

The Other Face of Pride

The Oxford Dictionary defines pride as: “Consciousness of one’s own dignity; the quality of having an excessively high opinion of one’s self or for one’s importance.”  Some of pride’s synonyms give us an even wider picture: Conceit - an exaggerated opinion of self; Egotism - to have an excessive preoccupation with self; Self-centeredness.
So many of us see this scripture and don’t think it applies to us:
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
You think that because you have debased yourself or have a lower opinion of yourself, that you have no pride.  But today I was awakened to the other face of pride – self-loathing and depression. 
Whenever you start to think of yourself as either too great or too awful, you are being self-centered.  When you think that you are a horrible person not worthy of anything – you have an exaggerated opinion of yourself as lower than you are.   When you allow yourself to become focused on your importance or unimportance, you are becoming excessively preoccupied with yourself.
The Bible backs this up if you look at it in this light:
When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also... (Proverbs 11:2)
A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
Any time you are focused on self instead of on God, you are being prideful.  It doesn’t matter whether you are telling yourself you are awesome or that you are hideous, it’s still a self focus.  Insulting yourself is not humility - it is false humility, and it is pride.
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)
Humility is seeing yourself as God sees you.  It is not what you do or what you look like that matters to God – so these things shouldn’t be your focus.  Anything that can be seen by people at all (giving to the poor, prophesying, doing good deeds) is not what God looks at.  He looks at what is done in secret so that He can reward you openly.
So what do you do in secret?  Do you debase yourself and insult yourself, thinking “well, one thing that is not my problem is pride.”  Today, God has this message for you.  The pride of depression and self-debasement will leave you empty, condemned, and feeling shame.  It brings you low.
Low is not where God wants you to be.  How many times does He say He wants to lift you up?  When you start to feel down in the dumps, stop your train of thought, count your blessings and tell Satan to get behind you.  Look at the inward things and stop looking at the outward.
Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
So if what you are looking at is something that is temporary and fleeting, then it is vanity (another sort of pride).  This is when it is time to re-focus on what is eternal and everlasting.  This is humility.  And everyone knows that the opposite of pride is humility.
My prayer for myself and for you today is that we check our pride the minute it rears its ugly head.  I pray that we do not allow ourselves to focus on our successes or our failures to the point of elation or depression.  I pray that instead that we focus on our God who values us at our worth, not below or above it.

His Strength & My Weakness

I stepped on the scale today fully expecting to have gained weight, but instead I’d lost 2 lbs.  This week has not been the most obedient week but I lost 2 lbs.  The three weeks before this, where I’d been trying harder, I lost one pound over the 3 weeks!  How on earth did this happen, and why?
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
If I went into this blog and was a soaring success the whole time, based upon my stellar self control – then you might think that I lost weight based upon my own power, and not by the grace of God.  Instead you are seeing my weakness.  I am displaying it openly to you even though my personal demon wants me to hide it.  I lay it bare for all of you to see that I am weak, and cannot do this on my own.
God chooses on purpose people who cannot do what He asks them to do.  He does this so that there is no question as to Who has accomplished this task.  Again I say that He specializes in making people the opposite of what they used to be.  In God, a coward becomes a general, a persecutor becomes an encourager, and a man with a stutter becomes the most prolific speaker for God ever. 
As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God concerning that He has done through Christ for the salvation of men in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom; For I resolved to know nothing, to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing and to be conscious of nothing among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. 
And I was passed into a state of weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling after I had come among you.  And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power a proof by the spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
I did not come to you using human philosophy and wisdom – saying that I know how to lose weight and have secret knowledge of diets and exercise.  In fact, I purposely resolved that I would not diet nor would I exercise at all, so that by faith and prayer alone would I restrict my overeating habits.  But when I started this with you, reader, I feared failure and showed little results.  But instead of lying or only showing you the best of my self - you saw my stagnation and my failures.  Through all of this, God is using me to show you that though I am weak but He is strong.
So this week I didn’t deserve to lose weight, but I did.  I didn’t deserve God’s salvation either, but He gave me Jesus anyway.  There are so many things that I don’t deserve in my life that God grants me through His grace.  I thank Him for them and remember that He loves me.

Who Will You Serve?

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15 NKJV)
Some may skip over the first part of this passage feeling that it doesn’t apply to them, and will love the last sentence, declaring it as a mantra, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
But God’s word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  This passage is not as archaic as it seems.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord…
To whom would the Lord seem evil?  Because of our short-sighted vision, and the fact that His ways are not our ways, we will sometimes feel that He is unjust in His decisions and actions.  If we don’t trust that His intentions are good, then we might feel He is evil and not be willing to trust and serve Him.
This is especially true when we think that a “good” person in our estimation can go to hell, while a murderer can gain heaven if he repents.  This appears to be an unfair, unjust system to those who want to “earn” heaven based on merit. (Ezekial 18:21-32)  I once had an atheist tell me that he rejected the idea that God is Love if God kills babies.  What seems unfair and unjust to us with our limited scope of vision may be perfectly understandable if we knew everything that God knows.
It seems evil to serve the Lord when we don’t want to give up our sin.  We want to continue doing what we’re doing because we are still gaining rewards from it in the form of momentary pleasures.  It makes no difference to us what the far-off repercussions of the sin are.  As long as we want to continue doing whatever it is that we are doing, than we will not want to serve Him.
…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.
What we don’t understand is that by rejecting God, we will still serve someone.  We were created to be servants and slaves to something.  Either we will find freedom by serving God, or we will remain in chains and be slaves to something else.  The choice is ours.
The gods that our father’s served refers to the problems of our past.  We can live in the past and dwell on the negative parts.  By doing that, we refuse to go forward, refuse to let go of our baggage.  If child abuse is a stigma of our past, we might see ourselves as damaged goods.  This plays havoc on our self image and our ability to see ourselves as worth anything.
Or if our past shined in comparison with our present, we will be bitter to what our lives have become.  We will be pining for the past, grasping at shadows of memories.  Often this person blames God for his misfortune, finding God to be an unfair steward of his present.
Either way we serve the past, and can’t see the future because we’re too busy looking backwards.
or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. 
We move to the present, where you are living now.  If you are serving the gods of the land you now dwell, then you would be a people pleaser.  You would be running with the crowd.  Doing as the majority does.  Sometimes this includes going to church for the purpose of social event.  Sometimes this is going golfing or watching football.  Sometimes this is shopping and surfing the internet.  Sometimes it’s drugs and alcohol.  And sometimes it’s watching T.V. or overeating.
Whatever your present addiction is, if it’s controlling you and occupying your every thought, then it is your god and you are serving it.  It is the god of the land you now dwell.  The god of now.  This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but if it occupies more of your time than the time you spend with Jesus, then it is your lord.
Think about what you spend most of your time doing.  What are you willing to spend most of your money on?  If it’s not God, helping other, or your own spiritual growth, then whatever it is: you’ve become a servant to it.  So what will you serve?
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord
Be honest with yourself if you want to post this as a plaque on your wall.  Is it true?  Do you serve Him?  Have you given up your past to Him?  Do you spend most of your day in His service? 
You will find no more loving Master.  God wants all of you, all your time, all your money, all your commitments.  If you are not giving Him your all, then you are not serving Him.  This is not as difficult a burden as it sounds.  God is the GIVER of good things.  He is not the TAKER.
When you give Him your time, suddenly you will find you have more of it.  When you give Him your money, you will find you need less.  When you give Him your commitments, you will find the help that you so desperately need.  He is your Helper, your Supporter, your Strength.  Without Him you can do nothing except worry, complain, and find emptiness in the parts of your life you haven’t given to Him.
Giving Him your all does not mean that you need to find a monastery or nunnery to join.  It does not mean that you should live on the street and give all your money to the poor.  It could mean this, but it doesn’t have to.  If you will place every decision in His hands, that is giving it to Him.   Honestly talk to Him about where to spend your money, your time, and your energy.  If someone asks you for help, take it to the Lord before you say yes or no. 
Do you trust Him?  Or do you find it evil to serve the Lord?  You will serve somebody, so who’s it going to be?

Condemnation vs. Conviction

Condemnation vs. Conviction
Yesterday I had an all day sinning fest.  I binged big.  I didn’t stop eating, didn’t stop satisfying my flesh all day long.  I’m lucky that I wrote the weekend devotional on Saturday, because my Sunday was not right with the Lord.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  (James 5:16)
So here I am on Monday, confessing to you, and I hope you’ll pray for me. 
My Sunday yesterday is just further evidence that church attendance alone cannot help you overcome your sin.  I left Church yesterday and almost immediately hopped into my car and ran to Panera for a healthy meal while I used their Wi-Fi.  Then an hour and a half later on my way home, I stopped at KFC.  Then a few hours later, I ordered some beef brisket from the BBQ place across the street. 
I felt conviction before I ate these things.  The Holy Spirit convicted me and the still small voice inside me told me not to do it, but pray instead.  But I shoved that helping hand aside and did what I wanted to do.  I sinned.  And when my belly was overflowingly full, I regretted it.
Then my personal demon came laughing and condemning me.  He told me that I should give up.  He declared that I was stupid for ever starting this blog for accountability. He told me that I was a hypocrite and a liar, and everything I’d written was a lie.  He said: come weigh-in Wednesday I’m going to have to lie about my weight.
 He said to me that God was disappointed with me, and didn’t want to hear from me.  He told me that I’d driven a wedge (my big fat belly) between us, and God would never want a relationship with a person who would push Him away like that.  So this depressed me last night, and I went to bed not knowing what I would do to repair what I started to believe was irreparable. 
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
God is so unbelievably awesome.  This morning, I prayed but just like that demon had said: I felt like my prayers weren’t reaching God.  While I was out cleaning horse’s stalls, I listened to good preaching – Joyce Meyer – and she had a word of the Lord for me:   “I am in right standing with God.”
That’s all she said.  And suddenly I realized that it was true.  I did not drive a wedge between us.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I am in right standing with God.  He doesn’t reject me.  Nothing that I can do will drive Him away from me.
While I was doing one of my Bible Studies this morning “Flowers over the Wall,” Kelli Grim pointed out a scripture that also backed this up:
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
By believing in Jesus, and accepting His sacrifice, I have already overcome the world.  Jesus has already put me in right standing with God, and nothing that I do in this life will separate me from Him.  Does this mean that I should just go right on binging? Of course not! 
Conviction is what God uses to keep us from sin.  Conviction is the gentle reminder that the action and choice we are about to make is going to make us feel separated from Him.  That’s what sin is – it’s a temporary separation from God that we choose to make.  Sin does harm us and the relationship that we have with God, but God has promised the relationship can be restored.  If I ignore the conviction that God places on my heart, then I give Satan the right to come in and condemn me.
Condemnation is what Satan does to us to make us feel like we can’t return to God and ask for forgiveness.  Condemnation is what Satan uses to try to keep us from repentance.  Condemnation drives us further from God, and tries to make the separation that we have chosen when we sinned, permanent.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)
When we walk according to the Spirit, we will not have condemnation, because Satan cannot condemn us.  But if we try to walk in the flesh (in sin) then Satan has the right to condemn us.  So this is why we don’t want to allow sin in our lives.  This is why it is so important to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and walk in the spirit so that we don’t fulfill the desires of the Flesh. 
Today I am renewed.  God has reminded me that nothing can separate me from His love, and I am taking hold of that.  I believe that though Satan had wanted to use this choice to sin for my harm, but God has used it for my good.  I have a greater understanding today of what it means to be condemned and how to avoid it.  And though I still wish I’d never sinned, I am thankful that God has taught me a new thing.

The Marathon

Losing weight and dedicating your life to follow Jesus is like running a marathon.  We all want a short sprint.  We want something that is efficient and over quickly.  The faster we reach the finish line, the better.  Sometimes we forget that life is a journey and a training ground.  It takes an incredible amount of training miles and time just to make it to the starting line of the marathon, and many quit before even getting to this point.
I returned and saw under the sun that – the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
This race doesn’t go to the fastest.  Our battle is not won by the strongest, or the wise.  Time happens to us all.  This is a marathon.  We need to pace ourselves, realize that we do not win or overcome by our own strength.  Nor can we believe that we’ll be able to “think” our way out of the sin we’re in.
That’s the one that I’m most guilty of.  I try my best to “think” my way out of things – but usually I over “think” my way into doing what I know I shouldn’t do.  But the riches of His grace are not given to me because of my own understanding.  I need to forsake my constant search for loopholes, and instead trust the designer of this way of grace.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right and of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Run with endurance.  Like a physical marathon, our ultimate goal is to finish well, to remain injury-free, and be changed in the end.  We want to finish stronger, wiser, and having the accomplishment of success so that we hear those words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
Even so, there are many who battle against their training, and never make it to the starting line.  There are more of us who get excited by the start of the race – when we get those tingles and can’t wait to begin – but by mile ten or twelve, we wish we’d never gotten into this mess.  It’s easier to start the race than it is to stay the course.   We forget about what awaits us at the finish line and start to think about how hungry we are, how thirsty, how much our feet hurt, and how many more miles are left to go.
We take our eyes off our God and we start to lose hope.  And we fear we’ll never make it.  Fear is when we take our eyes of Jesus and start seeing all the obstacles in our way. 
Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.”
And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out saying, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:28-29)
Peter was already walking on water!  He was halfway there.  Then he took his eyes off Jesus, looked at all the obstacles, and became afraid.  That is what we do.  We get halfway there and stop looking at Jesus.  We forget that we are running this race, walking on water by His power, alone. 
We start to feel like we’re the strong ones and that we’re doing this amazing thing ourselves.  That is until we see the obstacles and realize that we can’t do this.  We can’t finish.  We can’t be walking on water. We become afraid and we start to sink.
This is where that training comes in.  We need to continue:  One foot in front of the other, eyes back on Jesus.  Cry out to Him and realize that this race is not our own.  Endure and Finish, that is my prayer for today.  That I may run this race well and keep me eyes focused on the one who makes me strong enough and wise enough to keep running.

The Fear of the Lord

Job 28:28 – “Behold, the fear of the Lord; that is wisdom. . .”
Psalm 19:9 – “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. . .”
Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. . .”
Proverbs 10: 27 – “The fear of the Lord prolongs days. . .”
Proverbs 14:26 – “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence. . .”
Proverbs 14:27 – “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life. . .”
Proverbs 16:6 – “. . .by fear of the lord one departs from evil.
Proverbs 19:23 – “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction. . .”
I don’t know about you, but these scriptures and the pictures they put in my mind have always been a confusing mess.  I was confused because if God loves me, and I could not lose His love, then what do I have to fear? 
Then one day I heard that the other meaning for “fear” in these cases is “respect.”  That did okay for a little while, but it made no sense to me that if this fear is just another way of saying respect, then why in the newest Bible versions did the word remain unchanged?  Would it diminish the meaning?
So I prayed on it, and God showed me a new thing.  He asked me to imagine what a person would be like who has no fear.
If a teenager grows up to have no fear, no reverential respect for, his parents, how does this child behave?  Is he not stiff-necked and hard hearted, just like how God describes Israel?  Does he really care what his mom or dad thinks of him?
Recently I heard a saying that really stuck with me.  Rules without Relationship equals Rebellion.  Fear of the Lord comes from that Relationship.
Because we LOVE God, and want nothing to hinder our relationship, we fear Him.  Isn’t it amazing how the same rebellious teen doesn’t care what his parents think, but often cares tremendously what his friends think?  He FEARS his friends.  He worries what will hinder their relationship.
Too many times a teenager thinks of his parents as overbearing with a set of rules. It makes you wonder if many even believe that they love their parents, or that their parents love them?  When a child loves his parents, he’s afraid to disappoint them, even if he knows he’ll be forgiven.
If we start to feel like God is an overbearing parent, then we need to check our relationship with Him.  Remember that Jesus promised that His yoke would be easy and His burden light.
Think back to when you had your first crush in school.  You thought so much of the object of your affection, that if he/she’d asked you to carry all his/her books or sports equipment, you’d find the load to be light, I’m sure.  If they asked you to help push their car out of the mud, you’d find joy in the work.
Everything that you do for the one you love becomes easy and light.  That’s because to please them and have them think positively of you brings on happiness.  Conversely, if you did something to make them have negative thoughts of you, or that hurt them, it would break your heart.  So you feared them.
 Are we afraid to disappoint God?  Do we fear a hindrance in our relationship with Him?  Or do we fear His wrath coming upon us, like an overbearing parent with too many rules? 
The first and greatest commandment is the one that we should remember.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27).  If we love Him, then we will fear Him, as well.

If I only touch Him, I'll be Healed

Hi Everybody,
I don't know about you, but I've always felt a certain kinship to the woman in Luke 8 who had the issue of blood and wanted to touch the hem of His garment for healing.  I felt as though I could almost get inside her head.  Today I am sharing a short story I wrote that does just that, as I really need to keep pressing forward in faith for my own personal healing.  I am sharing it today, hope you feel blessed through it!

“Jesus is coming,” and with those three simple words, my hope swelled.
“He’s a fraud and a charlatan! He makes lofty claims only to attract followers and no doubt their wealth,” and just like that my hopes were dashed.
I really didn’t think that I could take another disappointment.   Tired, so tired of doctors bleeding me more, giving me medicines and herbal remedies – restricting my diet , telling me to eat this or don’t eat that.  Some looked at me with confidence, others with uncertainty, but they all had the same result – failure and no problem taking my money.
The money of a merchant’s widow is supposed to last the rest of her life.  But now it was gone along with the medicines.  What remains are salutations of “get well” and promises of prayer.  Pain, aches, tiredness and the never ending flow of blood were all that I was left with.
Some days were good - the flow would be light and the abdominal cramps minimal.  But then there were days like today, where I could hardly stand up straight for the pain in my back and left side.  And the blood flow so heavy I could hardly be out of doors for more than an hour.
So now I knelt in the place of prayer, my doubt overwhelming my faith that I could ever be healed and I heard the name of Jesus.  It wouldn’t be the first I’d heard of him.  The stories of him healing the blind and sick were so prevalent and numerous that they could scarcely be believed.  And my doubt gnawed at my sides again.
What difference did it make, anyway?  My time of prayer came to an end and the time to change my pad had come.
As I stood up I felt the blood rush downwards.  I stood still for a moment with my eyes closed.  When the moment passed, I continued down to the door of the temple my back bent like a much older woman.  The prospect of the walk before me seemed like a million miles, even though I only needed to walk two.  My son’s house became my home when I lost all the money I had to the doctors and now the money I make from dying cloth goes to them so that no one would consider me a complete burden.
“Hey, watch where you’re going, grandma!” I didn’t realize that I had stopped shuffling along until the person behind ran into me.
I couldn’t help but stop, an enormous crowd stood before me, each person trying to look over another’s head.  My arms wrapped around my waist, and the realization sunk that I’d never make it home in time to change.  Imagining the blood leaking down my leg gave me the courage to try to press through the crowd so that I could make it home.
“What’s going on?” I asked the young couple in front of me.  The man lifted a toddler up to his shoulder.
“Jesus is right up the road. He’s heading toward Jarius’ house, but he’s too late, the girl is already dead,” The mother told me.
                At the sound of his name, my heart leapt, then sunk as the reality came that even if I wanted to see him, it would be impossible to make it through the crowd.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and tried to go around the crowd, closer to the buildings, but the crowed packed together so tightly that I couldn’t make it through.  I considered trying to go down the side street to another road, but there I was met with another crowd pressing to the main street.
                Impossible!  I wanted to cry, but just hung my head and remained standing on the spot, jostled right or left occasionally by the crowd.  I closed my eyes and prayed “Oh God, please help me.”
                A simple prayer, to be sure, but as I opened my eyes, I saw a small gap in the crowd, just big enough for my hunched body to fit through.  Taking advantage of the breach in the horde I scooted through the opening.  Finding myself at the front of the crowd, I could scarcely believe that the middle of the road was so barren of people.  It was completely empty.  I started along the edge of the crowd in the direction of home.  Finding that clear way made me thankful to God, and I couldn’t help but look up for a moment to the sky.  I took a deep breath and crept along, but the crowd grew thicker again.
                When I found I could walk no further, I finally noticed the crowd buzzing around me like locusts.  Young men skipped backwards, their eyes locked on the person walking beyond them.  One of the men knocked into me gently, then grabbed my elbow and apologized.
                “It’s okay,” I answered. 

Then I looked up and saw Jesus.  He wasn’t at all what I expected.  He wasn’t handsome, he wasn’t tall, he was nothing extraordinary at all.  But when I looked at him, I knew that it was Jesus.  There was something about the way he smiled at the children, as though they belonged to him.  Even though his eyes looked sad as he followed Jarius to the girl’s bedside, he still had the time to smile at the children.
                All the doubt that lingered within me came quickly to the surface.  There’s nothing extraordinary about him – he’s a small man, probably sickly, how could he possibly have the power to heal the sick?  He’s no doctor, if they couldn’t heal me, how could he possibly.  He’s just a man, not God.
                A small voice inside me reminded me: “Did not Elisha and Elijah heal the sick?  They were men of God, not God, not even doctors, and yet they healed.”
                The crowd pressed in around Jesus, surrounding him, so that I almost lost sight of him.  The realization dawned on me that there was nothing I could do.  Even if he could heal me, there were so many people asking so much of him – even Jarius’ daughter needed Jesus more than I did, if she was still alive.  How could I have the courage to ask anything of him at all?
                As Jesus and the crowd started past me, panic rose to my throat.  Too late, I’m too late.  Then that small voice inside told me one thing: “If you believe that God’s power is running through him, then all you’d need is to touch his cloak, even just the hem.  God’s power could heal you just like that.”
                I wanted to believe.  But it was so hard to trust when I’d been disappointed so many times.  I repeated it to myself, trying to force myself to believe.  “If I only touch his cloak, I’ll be healed.”
                I could feel the liquid leaking down my leg.  The cloth pad no longer contained my blood, the flow was too heavy.  “If I only touch his cloak, I’ll be healed.”
The cramps in my abdomen and back were so great, my vision started to tunnel down.  I shook my head to clear it.  “If I only touch his cloak, I’ll be healed.”
  And there, in the crowd, another small space appeared.  If I ducked under a young man’s arm, I could just reach him.  I could only see the back of his garment.  “If I only touch his cloak, I’ll be healed.”
                A spark of hope kindled within me and I started to believe.  Without further thought I struggled through the gap.  “If I only touch his cloak, I’ll be healed.”
Pushing a little I made my way through and hopped forward, my fingertips reached the edge of his jacket and the pain suddenly ended.
                I gasped and stood upright.  The shock of it hit me like a bucket of cold water.  Even the blood that had been running down my leg was no longer there.  A Miracle. Tears sprung to my eyes and I looked up just as Jesus came to a halt.
                “Who touched me?” He demanded, his eyebrows furrowed as he looked at the crowd around him.
                “Not I, Lord.” The mantra was repeated several times over as those who were crowded around him one moment backed up a step.
                One of the men who were standing close to him said, “Master the multitudes surround you and press on every side!”
                But Jesus said, “Someone did touch me, and I felt the power of healing go forth from me.”
                He looked over the crowd once again, and his gaze settled momentarily on me before moving on again.  My heart rose into my throat, and my head pounded with guilt.  I felt like a thief, and I had stolen from Jesus. I stepped forward, and the crowd parted as though they were afraid to be accused and pushed forward themselves.  When Jesus looked at me again, my leg buckled so fast that I fell to my knees in the dirt.  The tears fell from my face in an embarrassing way, but I didn’t care. 
                In a voice that cracked and quiet, I said, “Forgive me Lord, I touched you and took your power.   For 12 years I’ve been sick, and no doctor could cure me, but I believed that if I could just touch your cloak that I would be healed.  And when I touched it, I was made well.  Forgive me, Lord.”
                I looked up at him, my tears still streaming down.  He looked at me, and in the same way that he smiled at the children before, he looked at me as though I belonged to him and he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”
                And in his eyes I saw so many other things, courage, forgiveness, but most of all love.  Though our eyes met for only a moment, it felt like forever.  And he was called away by Jarius to continue to help his daughter.  And the small faith within me swelled, and I knew that Jesus would be able to help Jarius’ daughter, because she was Jesus’ daughter, too.