Road Trip for Forty Days

We are now at the start of our Lent journey. Recently, we experienced Ash Wednesday and we are starting the journey toward Easter. 
I always struggle with what that road looks like for me. Do I fast? Do I give something up? I had a friend, that instead of giving something up, she decided to give something back. What do I give back, what do I give up?
I also know that once I head down that road, there will be roadblocks and detours. Life will get busy and I might have to take a detour or the busyness of life may block the road I am taking. If I am diligent, I can make the journey to Easter with a deeper understanding of what God wants for my life. If I continue down the road, I will end up with a deeper relationship with God. But, I have to be diligent.
One of the things I do know is this: just giving something up, giving back, or fasting is not the avenue to Easter. Doing those things will not get me any closer to having a deeper relationship with Christ. What will allow me to have a deeper understanding of Christ, is what I do while fasting, or giving something up or giving back. I have to take an active role in participating on this road to Easter.
If I fast a meal and don’t read the Bible or pray during the time I am fasting, it becomes nothing more than a quick easy diet. If I decide to give up coffee or chocolate, or sweets or anything else and I don’t replace those things with bible study and pray, then I have lost the meaning of sacrifice. If I choose to give up Starbucks or eating out and I don’t take that money and use it to build God’s kingdom then all I am doing is saving money.
Lent is a time of reflection. God calls us to a time of reflection during Lent. We may not always understand why God calls us to do something, but we can be assured that God calls all of us into ministry. We are here on earth for a reason. When we reflect on why we are here, we can begin to get a better grasp of what we are called to do. Our Pastor recently shared that we are here to be kingdom builders. We all build the kingdom in different ways, but that is our calling when we accept Christ. During Lent, we walk the journey and reflect on what that looks like for us. We reflect on God’s calling for our lives.
For the last two years, I have given something up, but I have also replaced that something with Bible study and prayer time. The problem for me is, I live in the world. The world is not kind to me at times. I know I will be challenged to keep doing what I promised Him I would do. There will be roadblocks that will try and prevent me from taking the journey. I will lose sight of my destination.
I also know that Christ defeated Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. Christ was in the wilderness for forty days. Matthew 4:1-11, Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread. But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands, they will lift you up so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs.” I love it that Lent is the same amount of days as Christ in the wilderness. I think it was an example given to us to say, “Jesus made it, you can too.” Jesus also used scripture to fight off Satan. We must know, read and understand the scripture so when we are tempted, just as Jesus was, we can use scriptures to help defeat our enemies. I am convinced, Jesus spent time talking with His Father during this time. It was a real necessity for him. It will be for me also. If I am going to succeed as Jesus did, I am going to have to talk to God and ask for strength to help me stay strong on this journey.
Jesus was a little bruised and needed the angels to minister to his needs. We will need angels to come alongside us and minister to our needs as we walk this journey. We don’t do this alone. God has given us help in the form of the Holy Spirit to be with us. We are also on this journey with our Christian family. We are all walking this journey together and we can minister to each other as we head for our destination to Easter. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Common English Bible (CEB) When we are walking on this journey with others, God is in our midst. While walking this journey with Christ, it is important to get the encouragement and support of others. We need to have the support of others, as well, as being supportive.
This year, I plan on being more reflective. I plan on taking the time to understand that I do have a calling and that calling is to be a kingdom builder. Then, I will take the next step and begin to understand what that means for my life and what God is calling me to do.
I will know there will be roadblocks and detours, but I will prepare myself for them through prayer and scripture. I will understand doing this for forty days will not be easy, but I will remember, I have a perfect example of one who succeeded.
Finally, I will call upon my church family, my family and my friends to walk with me as I take this journey. I will seek their support and encouragement for the next forty days. As Easter approaches, I will be able to rejoice in all that the Lord has taught me about myself on this journey.
Won’t you join me on this journey? It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You might just be the angel I need and I might be the angel that will need to minister to you along the way. As we approach Easter, together we can begin to sing praises for all the things God has shown us on this journey. We can join together and be kingdom builders for God.
Dear God: You were tempted for forty days. I know during the next forty days, I will be tempted. There will be detours and roadblocks. Help me to navigate around them. As I study your word and pray with you, help me to be ready when Satan comes along to tempt me. Just as the Holy Spirit was with you, remind me I am not taking this journey alone. Help me to understand that I am to be a kingdom builder and give me the wisdom to know what this looks like in my life. Amen

Comparison Trap

Recently, I asked a group of women I am in a group with, what they struggled with the most: guilt, shame or apathy. Some of the answers surprised me. One answered that she struggled with low self-esteem and worry. Another one said shame, guilt, worry, self-doubt (second guessing herself) and hiding her feelings. Another one added to the list poor self-image. The last one added feeling like you don’t belong. 
That afternoon, I was reading from James 1. It says this, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” James 1:19-21
My mind did not stop with just reading James 1. My mind began to race. I picked up on the fact that we are to get rid of all the filth and evil in our lives. What I began to realize is this, when we talk negatively about ourselves or when we think negative thoughts toward ourselves, that is filth. We know it’s filth because in Psalm 139:14 it says, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” God made us into wonderful human beings and we know his works are wonderful. He doesn’t make junk.
It says we are to accept the word of God. In other words, since we are to accept the word of God, we are to accept He has made us wonderful human beings. We are worth something to him. If we believe God sent his Son to save us, why can’t we believe we are wonderfully made in His image? We can’t believe some of what God tells us, we must believe it all.
In verse 22, it goes on to say this, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” We aren’t only to listen to God’s word we are to apply it to our lives which means we are to believe what he says and live like we believe it.
In verse 26 it adds this, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” For me, this means when I don’t control my tongue and I talked negatively about myself and put myself down, then I don’t really believe what God tells me so my religion is useless. If I read in the Bible or if I go to church and I hear I am wonderfully made in Christ’s image, but I talk badly about myself then my faith in the Bible is not worth anything.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says this, “And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” So what this is saying is, we reflect God’s glory. Are we reflecting God’s glory when we talk negatively about ourselves or others? Does our talk match up with God’s glory? Do our actions reflect God’s glory? What message are we sending others who may hear us if we are talking negatively about ourselves? How do those words reflect God’s glory?
in a bible study, I was doing we studied comparison. I will be the first to admit, this is my downfall. I am a BIG comparison person. I compare myself to everyone and I usually fall short. Well, not usually, most of the time I fall short. When I was younger I was always compared to my sister. She was pretty, I was cute. I wanted to be pretty, but I remained cute for most of my life. My brother was the smart one. I wanted to be smart; never made the grade. I was not athletic nor was I musical. My brother and sister both hung out with the popular kids. Not me. I felt like I didn’t belong. As I grew older and I became more aware of who I belonged to, it helped me in life. I still have struggled with comparing myself to others. Even in church, I compare myself to others.
Something I recently heard Candace Payne say, “Comparison is the detour to joy”. If I continue driving down the road of comparison, I will never reach my destination which is joy. I have to get off that road and get onto the road that says, “be content with who you are in Christ.” That is the road that I need to take and it will get me to my destination.
So for a while, I will be working on reflecting God’s glory as I self-talk. I will be controlling my negative thoughts about myself and others, but mostly I will quit comparing myself. I will be content with knowing who I am which is God’s image; not what the world thinks I should be, but who God says I am.
This will take work and lots of prayer, but I truly want to reach my destination which is joy. What is your detour to joy? Mine is comparing myself to others, but yours may be different. Whatever your detour is, together let’s get off and go down the road to our joyful destination. Praying and lifting one another up, being in church and bible studies will surely help us get there.
God’s glory, God’s reflection in us…that’s what we strive for. That’s what we can obtain if we stay focused. Let’s reflect God’s glory for one week and see what happens.
Dear God: I haven’t been a very good ambassador reflecting your glory. Your image through me has been a bit tarnished. I am fearful of what I may have led others to believe about you because of my words, thoughts or actions. Help me to do better so I may reflect your image and others will know you better. Help me get off the comparison road and on to the road of contentment with who you made me be. Help me reach my joyful destination. Amen

Boat Anchors

In one of my studies I am doing, we are talking about anchors. I was out on a boat this past summer. When the captain of the boat arrived at the place he wanted us to be, he threw out the anchor. It kept us from drifting too far. We were able to stay pretty close within range of where he wanted us to be. So, to say I was a bit intrigued by this concept is a bit of an understatement. This was not a new concept for me, I must admit, but one I had forgotten about for a long time.
“An anchor is a device, normally made of metal, used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. …Wikipedia” So, the whole purpose of an anchor is to prevent us from drifting off either in the wrong direction or drifting due to wind or the current.
This study has reminded me of several things concerning my faith. If I want to be grounded in my faith, I need an anchor. If I want to be kept from drifting off or drifting in the wrong direction, I need an anchor. So, what are some things that can anchor my faith?
First and foremost, God is the anchor. Once we accept Christ, we throw our anchor overboard to remain steady and to keep from drifting. God is that anchor that we throw into our lives, to anchor us and keep us within reach. Hebrews 6:19 says this, “This hope is a safe anchor for our souls. It will never move. This hope goes into the Holiest Place of All behind the curtain of heaven.” God is our only hope and this verse tells us God (who is our hope) is a safe anchor for our souls. God will be there to keep us from drifting too far off course.
Second, we have Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died so that we may have life. He came to walk among us and to teach us. When we became believers, we were taught Christ died for our sins. God gave us a second anchor through Christ. This second anchor gives us hope that we can have eternal life. Again, we know that hope is the anchor of our souls. Christ came and died for us as we were drifting away. Through his death, we were saved. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Jesus Christ tells us from Scriptures, that we will have a third anchor. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:26 Our third anchor is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us of all the things Christ taught us. I like to think of the Holy Spirit as that little person that sits on my shoulder and cheers me on, or tells me I am going in the wrong direction; I am drifting off course. He is my hope and we know hope is a safe anchor for our souls.
Looking at the internet (true source, right?) I found usually ships have only 2 anchors. God gave us three. He knew this world would be challenging; our lives would be difficult. It is so easy to drift off in the wrong direction. But, God thought about us ahead of time and gave us not only hope in himself, but he gave us Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. When our lives are attached to our anchors, we can only drift so far, move in the wrong direction for so long, before he pulls us back to him.
Also, online there are articles about how to choose your anchor, which anchor is best for what you want to do, and how to throw your anchor out. We can figure all of these answers out about our anchors by going to the Bible daily. Studying God and seeing what he does for us on a regular basis, gives us hope. Knowing Christ came and knowing what he taught us, teaches us how to anchor our faith. He left us with teachings on how to live abundant lives and then died on the cross so we might live – that leaves us with hope we can securely attach ourselves to. Listening to that still small voice guiding us and giving us direction, gives us hope. We don’t have to go it alone.
Anchors…God is our anchor, but he did not stop with just one, he gave us two more. What an amazing God.
I am thinking I need an anchor to remind me of all the ways I am attached to God so that I will no longer drift too far or drift in the wrong direction.
Hope is the anchor to joy and peace in God. God is the anchor to the hope that is found in our souls when we believe in Him.
As we get up each morning, may we remember, we have anchored our lives in the one that is not moveable. Let’s remember we have anchored our lives on one that will not let us drift off too far or in the wrong direction. Finally, let us remember God has given us a third anchor that will keep us safe and secured daily.
Dear God, thank you for lessons that teach us more about you, your Son and the Holy Spirit. Thank you for giving us hope through the anchors you have provided for our souls. May we always stay securely tied to these anchors. Thank you for the confidence we cannot drift too far away from you. Thank you that these anchors hold strong through the storms of life. Amen

I Don’t Want To Grow Up

I have a number of name tags. I am pretty sure I have shared this with you before. I have to be careful at the start of each day which one I grab. I also have many tittles; ministry care member, client advisor, after-school teacher, helping hands volunteer, vice-president, circle chair, and the list goes on. Then there are the other titles: mom, sister, wife, aunt, cousin, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, friend, and neighbor. I am sure I have left something out. We all have titles of some sort. These titles can define who we are and what we do.
Yesterday morning going off to do my thing I forgot to pick up my name tag. Later in the day, it hit me. There are times I just want to be me. I don’t want titles, or positions, or be known by what I do, I just want to wake up and be me.
We all get so preoccupied with who we are supposed to be we forget who we really are. Sometimes I wonder if I let all of my titles and positions go would I know who I was? What would define me if I didn’t have all these other things to occupy my life?
The world often scoffs at us if we are, “just a housewife” or “just anything.” The world tells us we must be somebody and do something worthy. We know when people retire from work some have trouble. They no longer have titles, positions or jobs. There has been nothing except work to define them.
If I asked you today to list who you were what would you say? If I said you couldn’t use any of the titles from above (like mom or dad, son or daughter, brother or sister, etc.) who would you say you were? What do you do when you have nothing to do? Are you playful, jolly, silent, are you creative, or a writer, or reader?
I have been thinking about how I would answer this. Although there are days I’d like to be nothing, that is impossible. I have to be something. So, who I think I am is important. It defines me. I know what defines me. I have found it in this verse, “But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children,” John 1:12. When I am not doing all of those things I do or when I don’t want to be a mom, or sister, or wife I am still a child of God. I have welcomed him into my heart and I can’t get away from that. When I don’t want to be anybody, I am still God’s child. When the world asks me who I am I can safely say I am God’s child!
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 Because we are a child of God’s it is okay to take a day and be still. God calls us in this verse to be still and to know Him. It’s okay to take a day and be God’s child and do nothing.
This is one of my biggest challenges is to do nothing. There are days I’d love to do nothing, but I can’t. I feel I have wasted a day if I do nothing. Just because that is how I feel doesn’t mean that is what God is thinking. Remember he rested after the seventh day of creating. But, then I also remember Christ took time out of his busy schedule to go off by himself. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16.  I don’t know and I don’t want to speculate, but I am wondering if Christ didn’t pray for a while then maybe did nothing but rest for a while. I am thinking he just needed to get away from the crowds of people, he needed time to stop doing what He was called to do and he was just himself for a little while. I am thinking he need a reminder of who he really was.
Whether we admit it or not there are days, “we don’t want to grow up” we just want to play and be a kid again. God says it’s okay for us to do that. It’s okay just to be yourself!
I encourage you to take time off and define who you are without all the titles you have, all the offices you hold or all the obligations you may think you have. If everything was gone tomorrow and it was just you, who would you be? If you were stripped of all your titles who would you be?
Sometimes we get so caught up in being a somebody or doing for so many we forget who we are. We forget what defines us. We don’t have to impress the world with all that defines us or all the titles we carry. It’s not about what the world thinks of us that matters. What matters is who we belong to. It’s pretty simple we can belong to the world or we can belong to God. We can be somebody in the world or we can be a child of God.  Matthew 6:24 says this, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…”  
So if you want to take the day off and just be yourself it’s okay. Go for it. Leave the cares of the world behind and take a day for yourself. Remember though we all have to grow up and we all have to go back to business as usual. The only difference is you will be refreshed, renewed and ready to tackle the world again.
When I am a nobody in the world’s eyes I am a SOMEBODY in God’s eyes.
Dear God, you know I struggle with doing nothing for a day. You rested after the seventh day. Sometimes I feel as though I am the energizer bunny and I keep going. That’s not what you want for us. You have taught us rest is important. Christ showed us how we need to go off and be by ourselves for just a little while. Remind us it’s okay to rest, do nothing and just be ourselves. Thank you for being my Father and allowing me to be your child. Amen.

Scratched Glasses


1 Corinthians 13:12

I am rambunctious and a klutz. I also wear glasses. Being rambunctious and a klutz doesn’t always go well when one wears glasses. Toward the end of the year, I did something to the lens of my glasses. They were pretty bad. My right one was the worse of the two. I came home after Christmas and tried to do various things to my lens so I could see out of them, but nothing helped. Finally, as the last resort, I called the Eye doctor. I found out I wasn’t supposed to get new lens until April. I couldn’t imagine going that long before getting new ones. She noticed she could get me some replacement lens. After a couple of weeks, my new lens came in. They were put in my frames. As I put the glasses on again, it was a miracle. I could see clearly. Life was good again.
My husband has yelled at me for years about being more careful with my glasses. He has asked me to protect them a little more than I do. I suddenly realized, it is to my benefit that I protect them. I really didn’t like to see things blurry and was beginning to get headaches, not to mention being grumpy most of the time.
I began to wonder about the other things in my life that I don’t protect or am not careful with. Faith is one of them. Do I protect my faith enough? Am I cautious enough not to let my faith be tarnished by sin so I can’t see as clearly as I should?
Do I allow the world to distort my faith so I can’t see clearly by listening to various programs that are not healthy or often bring me down instead of lifting me up? Do I allow others to distort my faith as I listen to them tear others down, or talk in ways that water down my faith?
I can be a real klutz when it comes to understanding the Bible. I have to be careful what I read. If my faith is distorted, then my understanding of the Bible is going to be distorted as well. I have to make sure my faith is pure and holy so that when I read the Bible, I can get the true message that God wants me to have; not a watered down or distorted message. The world would love for us to read the Bible through the world’s eyes, or the world’s thoughts on the Bible. That is often not healthy for us.
I can be rambunctious with my faith as well. Rambunctious means rowdy or wild. Sometimes I get ahead of my faith and do things that I shouldn’t have done. I do those things on a spur of the moment not necessarily on purpose. On more than one occasion, I have jumped into doing something without taking the time to pray or see if that is what God is leading me to. I need to, on more occasions, to not be so rowdy and wild and to settle down and listen to God’s still small voice.
It’s so easy for the world to distort what we believe in. It’s also easy to allow emotions to take over and distort our values and beliefs. It’s so easy to try to do this faith thing on your own, but as I found out with my glasses I needed to go to the source for the solution and for assistance. When we are struggling, we need to go to the one true source to help us out and to clear our vision so we can not only see clearly but to think clearly.
It was not beneficial for me to be driving around with distorted vision. I could have harmed myself or others. When we have distorted faith, we can destroy ourselves or lead others down the wrong path. We must be able to see clearly so others who follow our lead, will be lead down the correct path.
I thought I could clear up my lens by doing lots of different things, applying lots of different solutions to them or trying all kinds of homemade remedies. Unfortunately, I was only able to get a fix when I humbled myself and called the eye doctor. We have a tendency to try and fix things ourselves and we go around in circles. It is best if we just humble ourselves, go to God, confess and seek His grace to cleanse us. Just like the new lens, it is only then that we will be able to see a clear picture.
Each morning as I get up I can choose to put on my glasses and see clearly or I can choose to walk about with distorted vision. Each day, I choose to see clearly. We have another choice each morning. We can choose to put on our faith, asking God to give us wisdom, direction, and a clear vision or we can choose to walk in the ways of the world, which is often distorted views and watered down faith. I can see clearly now…God has helped me with that.
Dear God: I thank you for being able to see without any distortion. Thank you for the scratch-less lens that helps us see clearly. May we realize it is not always good to be rambunctious. Let us not be klutzes with our faith, but to be warriors.

Fixin My Thoughts

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I have started my new study with Candace Payne. Her book is “Defiant Joy.” If you don’t know Candace, I challenge you to go to Youtube and check out Chewbacca Mom.

There were three points in her video this morning. One of her points she included was this challenge, “replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.” Now I am not a negative person generally, but there are times I know I have more negative thoughts than positive thoughts. I am no different than anyone else, I am human. Because I am human, I go through a period of negativity. It seems like here lately it has been happening more and more. She challenged us with a major challenge which I will share with you later.
The scripture she used is from Philippians 4:8-9, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

It states very clearly, we are to fix our thoughts on what is true, not falsehood. The world and Satan wants us to believe so much is bad in our lives that sometimes that is all we can hear. We turn on the news and how much is positive and how much is negative? We go to our computers and check out social media and all we get is negative comments about how the world is going and what is happening in our world.

Unfortunately, our kids go to their social network and sometimes it is degrading. That is not what we are to do. We are to concentrate on all those things that are good about ourselves, our world and those around us. We are to let those lies escape from our memories. Concentrate on what is true; not the lies.
Honorable means ethical, respectful and worth. When we bring others down or when we tear each other apart, that is not being respectful and it is not saying much about what we think they are worthy of. When we hear others tear others down and not stand up and say something, we as Christians, are not doing what we are called to do. It is not ethical to even think about cheating on your taxes or your spouse or any other areas of your life. We are to think honorable thoughts.
We are to think about things that are right and pure. When I think of right and pure, I think of the word holy. We are to think holy thoughts; thoughts that are pure. One of the definitions of pure I like is unmixed. We are to have thoughts that don’t get mixed up with or get watered down with what the world is telling us. We need to have pure thoughts at all times.

We are to fix our thoughts on those things that are lovely, and admirable. There is nothing more lovely than fixing our thoughts on God and God’s agenda for our lives.

Finally, it challenges us to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. We are to be full of praise at all times.

Fix means to fasten something securely in place. That means we are to take all these things, true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy and place them securely in our thoughts. If something is secured it is not moveable. Once we securely put these things in our thoughts they can’t be moved unless we move them ourselves.

So what do we get from thinking all of these things? Peace. But not just any peace; God’s peace. The peace that the world can’t understand, the peace that only Christ shares with us. I think also though it can give us joy; defiant joy. A joy that the world does not know.
Now for the challenge. She has challenged us to go for 24 hours and think positive thoughts. We are to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts for 24 hours. Part of that will be easy to do, I will be asleep, but what about the other hours? All those waking hours? Think only positive thoughts? For me right now, I think that will be a true challenge for me. I haven’t picked my day yet, but I am up for the challenge. Pray for me this week as I take on this challenge.

If I am successful (and who knows) then maybe I can go 48 hours with positive thoughts, or maybe 72 or maybe I can work up to 5 days. Whatever I work up to, it will be more than I am doing now. I am sure not only will I receive God’s peace in my life I will have more defiant joy in my life. Don’t we all want joy in our lives?
I am taking the challenge. It doesn’t matter if you are doing the study or not, right now I challenge you to go 24 hours with positive thoughts. We can only do this if we fix our thoughts on positivity and not negativity. It may mean turning off the news for a whole day, or turning away when someone is talking negatively or in a way that does not honor God or it may mean setting down the newspaper or not taking a phone call. What would the world look like if we became positive people full of defiant joy? What would your little corner of the world look like if you were more positive and had more joy in your life?
I am fixing to have more joy in my life; defiant joy! I hope you will join me.
Dear God, you know for me it will be a challenge to go 24 hours without being negative or having negative thoughts. I cannot do this on my own. I can only do this with your strength and your presence in my life. Help me as I take on the challenge of not only thinking positive thoughts but learning to live with defiant joy knowing that with that comes peace; your peace. Amen.

Retaliation Is Not An Option!

We have been talking about joy these last few times. Being joyful is different from being happy. Being happy depends on our circumstances and those things that affect us.  When we are experiencing the kind of joy God gives us, others around us can feel that joy. Even when our days are not happy, we still have that joy and share that joy with others.
I recently experienced a lady that was not happy about her circumstances. Because she was not happy about her circumstances, she was going to make those around her miserable. She was unhappy and in her unhappiness, others were going to be unhappy with her. I was one of them she intended to make unhappy. A friend of mine and I were the victims of an outbreak of her rage. She lashed out at us in a very inappropriate manner; stealing my happiness. After she left our presence, we both felt very hurt and vulnerable. We were shocked at her response. I was a bit shaken because of some of her accusations about me. This lady is one person I had never met before or had any relationship with. She knew nothing about me and I knew nothing about her except she was an unhappy person.
For several minutes I pondered if what she had said was true. Was I really the type of person she was accusing me of being? I began to pray not only for myself but for this lady I had an encounter with.
As I prayed, God revealed to me I was not the kind of person she had insisted I was. I realized she was unhappy about a circumstance that had recently happened in her life. I began to feel sorry for this lady. She had to humble herself and come and ask for help, but her pride was not left at home. She brought her pride with her and when she did, her emotions got control of her and she could no longer handle the situation.
After God revealed all of this to me, did my happiness return? It did not. I was unhappy for her and felt compassion for her. I wanted her to come back so we could sit and discuss the situation. I wanted to be able to sit and talk and see what the best solution was for her and how we could help her. But storming out the door and promising never to come back, it was unlikely we would be able to resolve this.
As she was lashing out at me, I was trying to apologize for her feeling like we had disappointed her, hurt her and insulted her. She would not let me get a word in; so no apology was going to be heard let alone accepted.
It would have been so easy for me to let her have it. It would have been really easy to retaliate. Each day before I begin my day, I pray for God to control my mouth, my action, and my thoughts. I always pray for His Presence to be in me. God was with me and I believe he kept me from lashing out and making a bad situation worse.
After she left I regained my composure and prayed for her and the situation. Shortly after that, I was to go and teach a class at our church to some kids. It would have been so easy for me to lash out at these kids because of what I had just experienced, but because I was not going to let this woman steal my joy I let it flow from me; she could take my happiness, but she couldn’t steal my joy.
All of us at some time have been the victim. We have been unfairly accused of saying something or doing something that was construed by the other person as mean, evil or even racist. When that happens, we have choices. We can stoop to their level and retaliate or we can remember God is living within us and allow him to handle the situation by helping us keep our mouths shut and our thoughts pure.
I knew what this lady’s situation was and how upset she was, but there are times we may never know what the person who is attacking us has just gone through, is going through or facing. Years ago Carman sang a song. In it he sings this, “you can talk about me all that you please, you can talk about me all that you please. You can talk about me all that you please I’ll talk about you when I am on my knees…(from the song, “I’ve Been Redeemed/I Love Jesus” That my friend, is what we are called to do, be on our knees and pray for those who are going through rough times. We don’t ask God for revenge or we don’t ask him to retaliate. We ask him prayerfully to make his presence known to this person.
Life is tough for so many people right now. There are so many issues that people are being faced with. It is so easy to use any of these issues to justify how we think people are treating us. It is our responsibility to make sure we understand what is being said before we accuse people. It is our responsibility not to let our circumstances, our emotions, our pride, or any other factors get out of control. How do we do that? Every morning we ask God to take control of our lives, which includes our mind, our ears, and our mouths. We put on the armor of God and be ready with the tools he has given us to fight spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:13-17, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparations of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

I may not have directly prayed with her, but I have been praying for her. We turn from anger and respond in love when we are being attacked. We do not allow our emotions or the situation get out of control. We remain steadfast in God’s love. We pray and let God do the rest. “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

If we remain on guard, if we stand firm in the faith and if we are strong, we will never have to worry about what comes out of our mouths. If we stay courageous, stand firm and be strong, we will be able to resist the temptation to retaliate and instead, we will reach out in love to those who are hurting.
How we respond to our circumstances is a choice we make every day. We can choose to arm ourselves with the armor of God, take God’s presence with us daily and choose to love or we can choose the way of the world, fight back and bring others down with us. It’s our choice. I choose to stand firm in my faith, I hope you join me.
Dear Lord,
I pray for this lady and others like her that are having difficult times. I pray for your presence to be felt in their lives and that not only would they once again experience happiness, but pure joy through your love. When we are being attacked I pray for peace, I pray for a hedge of protection around us and help us not to respond in a negative way, but in a way that shows God’s love for them. Help us be on guard, stand firm, be courageous and strong in you and you alone. Amen