Thursday, May 30, 2013

Confession Time

Don’t know what you are studying now, but I was led to study Hebrews, and I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect. You see, I love studying the stories of the Bible, the characters in those stories and how they might have felt, what they might have seen, heard and even smelled. I find those stories fascinating when I read the Bible that way, but Hebrews? Really, God?

Over the past couple of weeks there’s been a question roaming around in my head: “When should I pray to God, when should I talk to Jesus, and do I ever talk to the Spirit?” Have you ever asked that question? You’re probably more normal than I am. At any rate, one thing led to another, and here I am in Hebrews. Go figure.

Another confession, since I haven’t exactly been thrilled to meditate and study this book, I’ve drifted away from my quiet time, my study time. I would go a week at a time without studying the Word, picking my Bible up right where I left it from Sunday church. You’re probably more committed than I am.

Let’s just call what I was doing, my behavior as “rebellion” – plain and simple, passive aggressive. I have repented, and even though I’m not thrilled about HEBREWS, I’m digging in.

Personally, I think if the author wasn’t willing to put his name on it that should tell me something, right? I mean God gave this book to someone to pen, and the one who penned is unknown. If I ever pen a book, I want my name on it – just sayin’. There’s a lot of work that goes into writing a book. A young, published author friend of mine said it takes about 3000 words just to make one chapter in a fiction book. I wouldn’t have problem with the word-count for sure, but making the words count is what would be the most difficult. Plus remembering not to have dangling participles, ending words with prepositions, when do I write out a number versus just saying “3” – it’s very time consuming. So why didn’t the author of Hebrews want his name to be known? Would it have taken away from the message contained in the book?

I guess I’ll find out. Will you find out with me? Take a chapter a week and print out three translations/transliterations for each chapter. I go to to get my copies. My personal preferences are the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Amplified and the Message. Underline subject and verbs. Don’t remember what those are? No problem. Underline what you believe can be a verb. Read the chapter each time as if you have never read it before. Pray and ask God to open your eyes before you start this time digging into the Word. If you want more resources and tools as you dig, go to This is a Holman Christian Standard Bible site that has commentaries, dictionary, study notes, etc. I use it all the time.

I’d really appreciate it if you joined me. If you will do this with me, will you send me a message? Want to be accountable to someone. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's in Your Right Hand?

“Silence is golden.” Have you ever read that or heard that?

I have a daughter who wakes up talking, goes to bed talking and sometimes talks in her sleep. I have a son who wakes up moving and goes to bed moving the world. Anytime they are home, there is noise of some sort. If the boy is home and it’s quiet, this momma panics! Anyone else know what I mean? He’s into something, taking it apart or making something out of something that doesn’t belong to him.

Every now and then I just have to escape. I have to unplug from the computer, from the television, from my family, from life and just be silent. I cannot tell you how many times I have wished I could go on a silent retreat where everyone there is there to pray, read and meditate on God’s Word and commune only with Him.

Isaiah 41:1, “Be silent before Me, islands!” (That’s us) “And let peoples renew their strength.” Did you catch the order of that? 1. BE SILENT 2. RENEW THEIR STRENGTH. We have renewable energy source, but we have to be plugged into the Source who requires us to be silent. There’s another verse that says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). Ps 37:7 says, “Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him.” Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there’s even a season in which we are to be silent.

Then read verse 13 (this verse gives me goose bumps!) “For I, YAHWEH your God, hold your right hand and say to you: ‘Do not fear, I will help you’.” Next time you are in a storm or in a trial, I want you to look down at your right hand. Visualize God holding your hand. Hear Him whisper to your heart, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Is that not the ultimate picture of Fatherly love? Holding your hand. Telling you He’s got you. I need that. Don’t you!? And do you know why we can trust and believe Him to be there? In verses 17-20, God shows He is not bound by nature. He can put trees in the desert if His child needs one. He can put springs of water in dry lands if His child needs it. Things that look impossible to world, my God can do, and He does it for His children. Whatever trial or storm we find ourselves in, God’s answer is not always the conventional or the one that makes sense. And when He shows up and works that miracle in your life, give Him the praise. Don’t be shy or stingy with it either. For too long, Christians have kept silent about how God has done wonderful things in their lives. If we are silent with our praise, then the rocks will cry out. It is not coincident that He has saved you. It is not coincident or fate that provided a way for you. It is YAHWEH the One who holds your right hand. That is something to shout about.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

God Puts Himself on Trial -- Have You Read this?

I love attending trials in which I don’t have to testify but have a vested interest in. I love to hear the witnesses testimonies especially when it contradicts documentation and statements that I have secured previously. If they were honest in the first place, there would be no need for a trial. Did you know that God puts Himself on trial in the Bible? I didn’t, but He makes quite a convincing argument, and His testimony is POWERFUL!

On your side of the courtroom you have your worries and what you value the most.

What do you worry about?




               Replacing the AC unit or septic system or roof on the house or the vehicle in the driveway


What do you value the most?

     Your status

            Your family

                  Your health

                       Your home

                            Your career

Whatever you place on a pedestal whether it be a worry or something you value, you are making it your god. Anything that you put above the power of God, above the name of God is your idol, your god.

Isaiah 40:18-20 is God making fun of our idols, our little gods. He puts things into perspective and that’s a good thing.

“Who will you compare God with? What likeness will you compare Him to? To an idol? – something that a smelter casts and a metalworker plates with gold and makes silver welds for it? To one who shapes a pedestal, choosing wood that does not rot? He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up and idol that will not fall over.”

Do any of your worries or does anything you value fit into this verse? How does what you are worrying about compare to God? Is it smaller or bigger than God? Have you laid it down at God’s feet and left it there? The most valuable thing you claim, how does it measure to God? Is it something that can be made by man? Like a house, a car, a boat, a career. All these things that cause you to worry or the things to which you place the highest valuable can all be knocked over! Ask those who’ve lived through hurricanes and tornadoes. They’ll tell you the wind can take the bark and leaves off of trees, decimate steel buildings leaving them in twisted shafts. They’ll tell you they’ve lost friends and family members, their health, their jobs, their home, their cars, but one thing remains. God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:8). He never leaves or forsakes you (Hebrews 13:5, Deut 31:6).

Can it be scary? Why yes it can! But as God’s children believing Jesus died for our sins and has adopted us into the family, we can have confidence in Christ Jesus. He is the One we are to value the most. He should be our focus.

If there is any question in your mind, then study Isaiah 41. There is a trial. There is a trial putting God on the stand. Whatever you value or whatever you worry about, take it to chapter 41 and put it on trial against God. I think it would be fascinating. Let me know what the verdict is.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

He Puts the AWE in Awesome

I love finding different traits of God in Scripture. I’ve been studying and meditating in Isaiah 40 and 41, and in 40:11, I take comfort because God has a tender spot for mothers of young kids. Verse 11 says, “He protects His flock” (those who have confessed Him as Savior and Lord) “like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.” What a tender picture of our Father’s affection for mommas and for His children! You think you are by yourself, taken for granted, unloved – READ THIS VERSE OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. He protects us. He gathers us in His arms and when necessary He carries us in the fold of His garment. And He leads – gently leads – mommas with young ‘uns. SWEETNESS!

Other qualities or traits of God that I’ve been meditating on in chapter 40:

1. Nothing gets past God. Try pouring a cup of water into your hand and hold it for a minute, just a minute. Pour it back into a measuring cup. How much do you have? We serve a God who has held the entire world’s water in the hollow of his hand and can mark the distance of the heavens by the span of just one of his hands.

2. God knows the density of every object on earth – Reminds me of the children’s song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Verse 12 goes on to say that He knows how much each mountain weighs as well as the hills.

3. No one has EVER given God counsel, understanding, knowledge or wisdom. God has never asked to be taught or sought direction from anyone.

4. God has always existed – nations have come, and nations have gone, but He remains.

5. God controls the landscape of earth lifting up islands where He wants. I love visiting new places to see God’s handiwork. There are mountains in Hawaii that look like God just ran his fingers down the side of them when he was creating them. There are some unusual forms of rocks near Santa Fe, and I wonder if God formed them in his hands much like children playing with play dough. I think to myself sometimes, “When God was making this did he ever say, ‘Hey, watch this angels! One day, Kristy is going to see this and be amazed’?” Because I truly was amazed.

6. There aren’t enough trees or animals to make a burnt sacrifice that could make us as holy as He is holy.

7. I love verse 22 because it gives such a great visual picture.”God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” I can’t help think about me trying to get the Saranwrap to come off the roll and attempting to get it to cover a dish only for it to cling better to itself than my dish. God doesn’t have that problem.

8. He controls rulers, even the wicked ones. He can destroy princes or He can put judges in place that are irrational. WHY? My thought is DISCIPLINE. He allowed the children to fall under some of the harshest ruler, the most wicked rulers, and God put it into motion because His children were being rebellious and prideful. Makes me very scared for America.

9. God is unequalled.

10. I love verse 26: “Look up and see; who created these? He brings out the starry host by number; He calls all of them by name. Because of His great power and strength, NOT ONE OF THEM IS MISSING.” When all of my cousins were together and one of us would get into trouble, my Mammaw would go down the line till she got to the right one – Kimberly, Carrie, Kristy, Lori, Leslie, Lauren. Rarely did she call Jonathon or Peter’s name. (I assure you it’s not because they were innocent.) God names the stars. He knows MY name. He knows YOUR name. That’s HUGE! That means we are important to him. His creation is important to him. And because of God’s power and strength not one of the stars are missing. You are not missing from His sight. He sees you.

11. God is everlasting (vs 28).

12. There is no limit to his strength, and He EMPOWERS his children. Because of God, we know that our future contains strength because the verb in verse 31 is future tense: “but those who trust in the Lord WILL RENEW their strength; they WILL SOAR on wings like eagles; the WILL RUN and not grow weary; they WILL WALK and not faint.” There is where we find hope for our tomorrows.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LAYERS -- I Just Love Layers, and I'm not even an ogre

Layers. I just love layers.

In the movie Shrek, Shrek says that he has layers like onions have layers. “Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.” There’s a pause when Donkey says, “Oh, you both have LAYERS. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake!” Then Donkey points out, “You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits!” Why? Because parfaits have layers.

The Word of God has layers, and I don’t know why I am surprise when God reveals something in His Word that shows layers, but I am still surprised nonetheless. For example, a verse that I have clung to for years is Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Cannot tell you how many times in my life as a Christian that I have felt like I was following God blindly down paths I had never been down before – being married, going through fertility treatments, proceeding through the adoption process, parenting, etc. In this verse He says He will guide. He guides by spreading His light because darkness cannot stay where He is.

Then there is this whole “rough places smooth” thing. I know God has gone before me to prepare my footsteps as He has ordained them. I know that He is preparing me for what lies ahead. I know that He will never leave me, but what I didn’t know I found in a layer of the Isaiah 40:3-4: “A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rough places, a plain.” So can you see why my mind would go from verses 3 and 4 to Isaiah 42:16? So I did some digging in commentaries and different Bibles and found a nugget, a jewel. Anytime a king would travel, people would go ahead of him to smooth out the rocky and rough roads and to straighten out all the curves. They were preparing the way, and they did it for ROYALTY. As children of the Most High King, He considers us royalty, and He goes before us to prepare the way. He’s working it all out for our good. He’s smoothing out the bumps and jagged edges. He is leveling the playing field.

Will our lives be easy? No. That’s not what this is saying, as a matter of fact, it says the opposite. You WILL go through hard times, but the difference is that for Christians He’s ahead of us working it out and preparing the way for us to come. What might seem like an insurmountable obstacle may be a mole hill compared to what it was before God got ahold of it. What seems like an insurmountable obstacle or trial becomes passable and doable when we follow the Light He has put before us, stepping where He steps. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t been down this road before. What matters is God has! We have hope. We can have peace. We can even have joy during the journey because we know the One who knows what’s ahead, and He’s got it all under control.

I LOVE LAYERS! The Bible has layers. Everybody should love the Bible and should dig in.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Biblical Math Is Just about as Confusing as Algebra

So I’m reading the Scripture around the story of Jesus walking on the water, and right before He walks on the water is the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 men plus women and children. You know, math is NOT my thing. If I can't get it by using my fingers and toes or a calculator, well, let's just say X will have to resolve itself.

Let me set it up for you. The twelve disciples have just returned to Jesus after having been sent out. Jesus had given them the ability to heal and cast out demons, and the disciples were telling him everything they had done. It is exhausting work to do the work of Jesus whether it’s in daily life, in a ministry position, in or outside the church walls. It can just wear you out. It’s a good type of exhaustion, but it is still fatigue. Jesus realizing they could use some down time, gets everyone into a boat and heads to the other side of the lake. The people who have been following see where they are going and run around the lake telling others who they are going to see. The disciples may be looking forward to some alone time with Jesus or some down time, but when they arrive on the other shore, people were arriving.

Always the teacher, Jesus tells the disciples that they will need to feed this group. Jesus knows what He’s
going to do, but it’s an opportunity to refocus the disciples from what they just had accomplished in Jesus’ name to what they were about to witness. It was Jesus’ opportunity to allow man (aka Phillip) to figure out that it was impossible for them to feed this many people with the limited resources they had. This story is also in John 6, and by digging a little deeper into Phillip, I discovered that he was from a town called Bethsaida which was 9 miles away. If anyone is going to know where to find something good to eat, it’s going to be a hometown boy. When I go to New Orleans for seminary or for business meetings, I always ask a local, “Where’s your favorite place to eat?” OH MY WORD! YUMMMM!

The Bible tells us it’s near Passover time. For us women, we know that holidays mean eating. Am I right? We go to the grocery store to get all the supplies and start cooking. If Passover was near, my guess is that grain may have been short in supply, or at least difficult to find enough to feed close to 15,000 people. When thinks look impossible or improbable, God is up to something. So, pay attention, He’s about to show up.

I can see Phillip now doing estimation. Let’s see, there’s 5000 men plus women and children so around 15,000, plus Peter eats as much as two men. There’s forty dollars for bread. I can buy 40 of the short loaves for 40 dollars, divide that by 15,000, carry the…wait! There’s nothing to carry over. Everyone would get like maybe one bite of bread to eat. Then there’s Andrew. I’m not sure, but I think he was being a little sarcastic too when he pointed out, There’s a kid with five loaves and two fishes. That’s enough for us, but what about them? (Of course, I added my own goofiness to it, but you get the point, right?) Now apply this to you and where you sit right now. You have been responsible with your finances – no excessive spending, no budget blowing, no shopping sprees. You’ve given to God, and yet it doesn’t look like you are going to make it to the end of the month. You’re looking at your check book, I can buy one loaf of bread and maybe some milk. If I do that, subtract it from what’s in the account… WOOWEE! Have I been there. But God. God sees what you have. You take what you have. You lift your head up to the heavens. You ask God to bless, and Jesus satisfies. It’s a faith-builder or a faith-buster. Some pull out a credit card. Some go upside down. Some bounce checks. Wouldn’t you rather sit at the feet of Jesus, let him bless what you have, and wait for him to satisfy your need? I would.

One other point to make, a child brought forth his five loaves and two fish. Jesus does not discriminate because of age. Jesus uses what a child brings to the table to bless a multitude. Never, never, never, never prevent your child from giving to the kingdom whether it is a favorite doll, all of their savings, their baseball card collection. You find a way to make it into the kingdom work, and you show your child how God can use it, bless it and multiply it. What a great teachable moment!

So they are on the shore and we’re not exactly sure how the disciples feel about the crowd being there, but the Bible says in verse 34, “He was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”

If you contrast Jesus to Herod the territorial leader of the time, you will see Jesus led with compassion for others. Herod led by focusing on self-love and selfish desires. Jesus provided for the mass, but Herod gave only to his inner circle. There are a lot of contrasts, and I could go on, but there is something that catches my attention more in Mark’s version of this story.

Jesus instructed the people to break up into groups and to repose, recline, get comfortable on the green, herby grass in order to be fed until they were satisfied. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Psalm 23:1-3

1. The Lord is my Shepherd,

I shall not want.

2. He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

3. He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For His names sake.

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I fear no evil, for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows.

6. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

WOW! Isn’t that beautiful!? This group of 5000 men plus women and children may not have realized they were living Scripture, but I do. I wonder what I miss. I wonder what Scripture God has me in right now, and I don’t recognize it as such. These people eating a satisfying meal from 5 loaves and 2 fish were satisfied completely, contently at the feet of Jesus. Jesus knows exactly where you are today, what your needs are, what your desires are, and He wants to be your Shepherd. You have a choice to make: Do you follow the Shepherd and find peace? OR Do you continue to focus on what is in your bank account, the troubles you are in, the stress your sitting in? It’s a no-brainer for me. Give me peace. Give me Jesus.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lori Told Every Detail...Just Get Me to the Point!

When Lori and I were growing up, we lived about 25 minutes from school, and mom would invariably ask what happened in our day. My communication was direct, factual, and straight to the point. Lori’s, on the other hand, was filled with flowers, what people were wearing, what everyone said, what everyone did at what time. She was quite descriptive. DROVE ME NUTS! JUST GET TO THE POINT! But NOOOOO, we had to drive everywhere around the point, circle it several times before she’d get there. UGGGH! It wore me out. Now I have two children, and I ask them what happened in their day. I have one who tells me the facts even if they are disgusting, and I have one who tells me about every flower, what people were wearing, what everyone said, what everyone did at what time, and what this child thinks about every aspect of the situation. Oh dear!

The author of a book colors the story from their own experience and perspective keeping in mind who their audience is. For my flowery-worded people who finds every bit of minutia interesting, these authors describe every smell, every site, every thought. For my get-to-the-point people who want directness, they like authors who are succinct and to the point. They like authors who are tight and cohesive in their composition. While the Bible has One author, God, He uses different human beings to write the stories.

In Matthew 14, he writes this story as if Jesus goes alone to the other side of the sea whereas in Mark 6, he tells us that Jesus went to the other side with the disciples. His disciples had been sent out in twos previously and had returned to him to give him their reports. From the sounds of it, the work was exhausting. If you have ever done church work or been in church leadership, you know how tiring it can be. Jesus was leading them to the other side of the sea for a time of rest. Is this two different stories? Is this a conflict in the story? No, it is simply the author’s perspective in what he is led to see as important. Matthew’s audience is the Jews. John Mark’s audience is the Christians. For Matthew, he wanted the Jews to realize that Jesus was human needing rest and connection with the father. He also wanted to point out that Peter, another Jew, believed in Christ and participated in this one miracle with Him. Mark is pointing Christians to see how the disciples were accountable to Jesus, that they all needed rest, and that Jesus is the focus of the miracle of walking on the water. One story, two different takes.

It’s like in a car accident, you can have two people sitting in the same car watching the same accident unfold, but the eyes of the witnesses may be focused on two totally different things. One is watching and waiting for the light to change. The other is on their phone texting. They both hear a noise, but their attention is drawn to the accident at slightly different times. Their minds are in two totally different places. One of them is a driver and has experience in driving. The other is a teenager who hasn’t started driving. Did they both see the same accident? Yes. Are they going to have slightly different versions? Yes. Will they both be right? Yes, because it is what they experienced.

The Word of God never changes. It doesn’t contradict itself. If you think you find a contradiction, then you need to dig deeper. Ask a pastor. This is an opportunity for you to grow in your faith. Dig on!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Being Confronted by the Sin in Your Life -- UGLY!

Have you ever gotten in a situation and wondered, “How in the world did I get here?”

Have you ever realized that you are in the middle of some stressful stuff and realized you’ve been played?

Pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Maybe it’s time to wake up and take a lesson from Herod.

I know I blogged about John the Baptist’s beheading before, but I did it from the perspective of Herodias, the woman of influence.

When reading Mark, I’m more intrigued by Herod. John the Baptist was a straight-shooter. He did not mince words for anyone. He wasn’t worried with being politically correct. So, Herod had John the Baptist for telling the truth. “Herod, you are committing adultery.” Herod viewed John as a holy man, a prophet. Herod’s relationship with John was like watching a train wreck, don’t you think? You know it’s going to end badly, but you have to watch it unfold. Herod at times is driving the car that’s trying to beat the train, like when he has conversations with John. Herod has many conversations with John. He was drawn to John and the truth he spoke, but then again, he hated it when John was the train speaking frankly about the sin in Herod’s life. He hated the feeling of guilt he had after having listened to John. Do you see an internal tug of war in Herod? He wants John dead. He doesn’t want John dead. He wants to hear what John has to say. He hates the way he feels after hearing what John has to say. Then, eventually, Herod becomes the train. He has a choice to make. He can come clean before God and send his wife packing back to his brother, OR he can get rid of the messenger. Let’s face it, there are just some people who can’t handle the truth when it the truth is about their own sin or sometimes the sin of those close to them. They’d rather shoot the messenger or get rid of him or her. Repentance requires humility which is a rare commodity these days and apparently back in Herod’s day as well.

Something else about Herod that caught my attention is he made an oath with a young woman in front of an audience there to celebrate his birthday. Be careful to whom you bind yourself and your loyalties. Be careful of your words and what you are willing to give away. Herod made an oath which is stronger than a pinky promise, much stronger. He thinks he’s making this oath with a young, enticing, beautiful, talented woman, but in truth, the one behind this young woman is the puppeteer. Herodias tells her daughter to ask for John the Baptist’s head. Herod was actually bound to two conniving women instead of one. Herodias came up with the idea about John’s head, but it was her daughter who added that she wanted it on a platter and now. The daughter added the conditions of the oath. WOW!

Who is really behind the scenes of what is going on in your life? Ask for God to give you discernment, guidance and wisdom to know to whom you should be dealing with, following or in business with. And if someone is confronting you about sin in your life, you better step back, step off and ask God to search you. God puts people in our lives for a reason sometimes, and that reason sometimes is to give us a word of warning or a word of correction, are you listening? You better be. Go clean out your ears, and ask God to clean your heart (Ps 51).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Don't Let Your Roots or History Trip You Up

So I had actually planned on moving on to a different subject matter in the Bible, when my Bible study girlfriends pointed me to Mark and John’s version of Jesus walking on the water, I had to dig in. Truthfully, I was just interested in Peter walking on the water because he and I could probably wear the same sandals, but my girlfriends were right. In order to get a full picture, we really should study every aspect of the story, investigate the different perspectives of the authors, and see what God would have us learn from each.

While Mark hasn’t always been my favorite gospel, this time he gives me more of the details I like. I mean his version of the temptation of Christ was two or three verses! I mean, REALLY? His version left me with more questions and wanting more truth. Know what I mean? But since I do like variety, I charge on to Mark’s version which can be found in Mark 6.

Keep this in mind when reading Mark. Mark is actually John Mark who travelled with Paul. John Mark was not one of the 12 disciples. His audience was the Christians in Rome. Matthew was a tax collector at one point in his life, and he wrote specifically to the Jews. He combines Old Testament and New Testament to prove Jesus is the Christ. With that being said, let’s dig in.

After reading this passage maybe the third or fourth time, the first part of Mark 6 hit me square between the eyes.

Think back to your childhood, your teenage years. Your family got to see it all the good, the bad, the ugly. They got to see your rebellion, hear your smart mouth, and saw how you broke your parents’ hearts at some point in time. You parents are known for being upright, kind, and humble, and here you are. Of me and my sister, yes, I was the black sheep. LOL. My parents kept me on a short leash, let’s just say.

Now, you are all grown up. You learned lessons by doing things the hard way, but God kept on and kept on and kept on until you got the picture. Now, God has changed you. He has molded you. He has bent your will to submit to His. He has a personal, in-depth relationship with you, and you want to share it with others.

You know, I really doubt that Jesus was a willful child, but as an adult, the people in his town, in his church were so stuck on who his parents were, what they were that they could not see Jesus for who He was – their Savior. Jesus tried to reach out to them, to teach them, and to heal them, but their lack of faith in Him caused him to move on.

Sometimes the hardest people to witness to are the ones we grew up with, the ones in our family, the ones who know all of our faults and limitations, but Jesus tried, and he did so respectfully. Have you? Have you tried? It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable, but it’s necessary.

Jesus was not going to reward their lack of faith by doing signs and wonders just to prove who He was. He doesn’t have to prove who He was or who He is to anyone.

It was the people’s lack of faith in Jesus that prevented them from seeing Him in his element, in His glory. Does your faith, lack of faith, or limited faith prevent you from seeing Jesus as He is working in your life and the lives around you? I soooo don’t want to miss out on seeing Jesus work. That is exciting stuff. What are you missing out on?

Don’t let your past define who you are today. Don’t let the fact that people get tangled up in your roots and history be a hindrance or tie you down. Keep moving forward in your faith. Keep digging deeper. Keep growing richer, and If others can’t see the work Jesus has done in your life, then respectfully shake the dust off your sandals. The problem is with their eyesight. The problem is on their plate. You just do exactly what the Lord leads you to do. Don’t be discouraged. Jesus knows exactly how you feel. How awesome is that!?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blind faith, faith by sight, faith by touch - What Level Are You on?

Jesus says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31. You know, He doesn’t say it in a condemning manner either. That’s not his style.

Why do you doubt? I’ll go ahead and lay mine out there as to why I doubt.

• How can God use someone like me

• How can other people follow anything I say or learn when I’m not worthy

• How can God bless anything I do when I’m just a sinner saved by grace

• I’m ill-equipped

• I’m just a working mom of two kids trying to encourage other moms, but I’m just one mom. What difference can one woman make?

In case you didn’t notice the reason I doubt is because I see myself in the picture, and I know what a screw-up I can be. But Jesus is bigger. Jesus is greater. Jesus doesn’t have to save us, but he did. God doesn’t have to use us, but He does. It’s called GRACE.

Did you notice that the winds didn’t die down until Jesus and Peter were back in the boat? If the water had stayed calm, do you think Peter would have lost his train of thought, his point of focus? But if the water wasn’t choppy, if the wind was calm, would Peter have been more likely to say, “Hey, guys, look at this! I’m walking on water.” Sometimes I think God allows a little choppy water into our lives to help us readjust our focus.

The Bible then says those who were in the boat worshiped him saying, “Truly You are the Son of God” (14:33). Seriously? It took him walking on the water and calming the elements for them to realize his deity? The mere fact that he had just fed 5000 plus with only 5 fish and 2 loaves didn’t give them the assurance they were walking with God incarnate? What did it take to make you believe in Jesus Christ?

There’s a line in the children’s movie Polar Express, “Sometimes believing IS seeing.” Some have to see God in action, up close and personal, before they believe. Some won’t believe even then. These men went from Peter saying, “IF it’s You” in verse 28 to worshiping saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!” For them seeing was believing.

The fourteenth chapter concludes with Jesus arriving in Gennesaret. The men recognized him and brought all those who were ill in the community to be healed. Those who were sick just wanted to touch the tassels on His robe. According to what I could find, holy men wore white and had tassels on the bottom of their robes. These people were so desperate they asked to just touch his tassel and believed to be healed. For them, their faith required touching. It’s not that Jesus’ tassels held special powers. It was their belief that he could heal them and just a brush with his tassel was all it took. People were completely healed.

What is your level of faith? Are you willing to get out of the boat? Do you need to see Jesus work before you believe he’s working on your behalf? Or do you need to feel him to believe? Truth is on some level I’ve been on every one of them. I love to feel the presence of God on me and in me. I love to see Jesus working, but I also have to be willing to charge through the doors He opens without asking questions trusting He’s got it all worked out.

So, there you have it. We finished Matthew 14. I hope you got something out of it. I know I did. I love that about his Word. Know where I’m going next to study? I truly thought I was through, but my Bible study girlfriends pointed out this story is also in Mark and John, so I’m going to do some more studying. Will you join me?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Steppin' into the Water

I live in Louisiana, and there are a lot of farmers who plant crops like cotton, soy, sugar cane, corn, maize. I am always so amazed at how they can keep their rows so dead-gum straight?! I have a hard time trimming my bangs straight much less keeping a row over 30 yards straight. I’ve been told that the farmer has a mark at the end of every segment or row that he keeps his eye on and aim his equipment with that mark. If the farmer looks away from the mark, the row will not be straight because the equipment will follow where his eye wanders. I think you’ll get the point of this story by reading a little further.

So now we are hitting where the rubber hits the road, the pedal is to the metal. We have gotten to the meat of the matter. Sorry for all the clich├ęs. Peter is asking to step out of the boat. I think the first indicator that there is a question of Peter’s faith comes in verse 28, “Lord, IF it’s you.” Have you ever had something or someone laid on your heart, and you ask God, “Okay, God, IF this is from you…” Been there, done that. Not in starting, but in other areas of my life and ministry I sure have. The point I’m making is don’t cast a stone at Peter when you’ve done the exact same thing yourself. Just sayin’.

Peter goes on to say, “command” or “tell me” to come to you. And Jesus obliges. From fear of a ghost to faith with action, I’m trying to put myself in Peter’s sandals. They didn’t have water skiing back then, boogie boards, wave runners, or anything like that, so seeing Jesus on the water had to be one of the most completely foreign sights ever. People try to explain away how Jesus walked on the water, or they say it was metaphoric in nature. Those who say that show the same amount of faith as the disciples who stayed in the boat. I believe he actually walked on the water. I believe there is no other explanation other than Jesus is God and has control over all the elements of this world. I believe that Jesus feet didn’t get wet if he didn’t want them wet.

Something else I want to point out before it leaves my mind faster than a greased pig in a pig-catching contest at a rodeo. Jesus knows Peter is going to struggle and fail, and he allows him to struggle and fail. I don’t know about you, but I hate to see my kids struggle, fall and fail, and yet it is pivotal in the growth of Peter’s faith in Jesus. Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “No, don’t come out here, you’re going to sink.” He didn’t say, “No, don’t come out here because you aren’t God and can’t handle it.” He didn’t say, “This is above your faith level.” Jesus simply said, “Come.” One word. I have to admit I’m a bit loquacious at times. But the Bible says in Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise,” and I need to remember that in my parenting. Yes, this is walking all over me. That’s the way the Word of God works, isn’t it? To correct and to teach us.

So, Jesus knowing all, knew that Peter would fail but was willing to let Peter struggle and fail. What did this struggle and failure prove to Peter? Verse 31 says it simply, “Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him…” Peter didn’t reach out to Jesus. Jesus reached out to Peter during his struggle. Jesus pulled Peter up when he was going under. Jesus was there when Peter could do nothing for himself because everything else including the wind was against him. Peter cried out to Jesus to save him, and Jesus didn’t hesitate. Verse 31 says, “Immediately Jesus reached out.” Another lesson is Jesus never sank. He never struggled. He never failed. Those are some powerful lessons in faith, don’t you think?

And the reason Peter started going under, do you remember? Verse 30 says, “But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid.” How big is your storm? How big is the problem you are facing? I’m here to tell you, Jesus walks on water. He controls the elements. My God has gone before me and hems me in from the front and the back (Ps 119). He makes the rough places smooth and makes the dark light (Is 42:16). What my God does for me, He can and will do for you. If you haven’t asked Jesus as your Lord and Savior there is no better time than the present. Peter’s attention went from focusing on the face of Jesus to the problems at his own feet. The water, the waves crashing around his feet. (Ever feel like things are falling apart quicker than you can put them back together?) This wind was blowing strong currents. (Ever feel like if one more thing is piled on that you will just fall over?) And if he had a fear of drowning or a fear of failure, just add that to the problems he was focusing on. In your current situation or problem, what are you focusing on? At any point in time, we, as his children, can call out, “Lord, save me!” And he is mighty to save.

Peter saw how big his problem was. He saw all of the potential outcomes, and none of them were pleasant if he stayed looking at the circumstances. He started going down in the water when he took his focus off Jesus. He stayed in the water because he failed to realize that Jesus was bigger than his problem, but Jesus was bigger than the problem and reached out to him. Jesus is bigger than your problem, people. Keep your eye on him, and you won’t get off track or miss your mark.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”