Grace .. for His glory!

He extended grace to us – not for our own sake – but for his glory! His unmerited favor was meant to send us on a passionate quest for the lost among every nation, introducing them to the truth of the gospel and leading them to become disciples of Christ – not replicas of us!

His grace is amazing indeed – so spread the word! The nations live all around you – tell someone who doesn’t know so that they too might believe and walk in obedient faith and abundant life!

“through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake” Romans 1:5

He’s Under Your Feet!

Romans 16 20I was just talking to my spiritual mama and she said to me, “If the devil is in your ear you need to tell him he’s up a little bit too high because the Lord has placed him under your feet!” That might make you chuckle – but it reminded me that sometimes as Christians we are just a little to timid with our enemy, Satan. Put that joker in his place!!

Have the presence of mind at all times to encourage yourself with the truth that God will act on your behalf. Yes – Satan might seem to prevail, but don’t let that make you lose heart – have faith and be patient because God’s promise is that Satan cannot prevail against you!!

Romans 16:20 – “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”


Oh, be careful little eyes what you see

be carefulSome of the shows that intrigue me most on television these days are filled with images of sin.  Some of them have gotten so raw that I stopped watching because of what they make me feel.  A friend of mine challenged me not to stop watching but rather use what I see in my teaching of the Word of God.  I’ve taken that advice to heart and decided to study a bit.

You see, I grew up watching and LOVING cartoons — Popeye, Tom & Jerry, The Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote, Foghorn Leghorn, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny (my personal favorite!), Elmer Fudd, etc.  When we moved to Ghana I even took DVDs of my favorites with me so I’d have something light to watch on heart heavy days.  I made the comment to my children that the cartoons of their day were just not as good and wholesome as the cartoons of my day.  So, a couple of Saturdays ago I was watching the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner movie and decided to pay attention to what I saw – Ahem … let’s just say I was surprised to note:  greed, covetousness, disobedience, laziness, cheating, deception, anger, rage — and then I stopped listing because I knew without a doubt these modern writers had to have put those things in there after I had already grown up!  Surely those things were not in there when I was a kid!

I decided to do the same thing for the most popular shows of today.  So I sat down the other evening and watched – but instead of merely watching I took note of every sin that was blatantly highlighted.  I’m sure I missed plenty, because I got tired of writing them down – but here’s what I saw: Idolatry, greed, covetousness, love of money, gluttony, complaining, tempting God, high-mindedness, disobedience, cussing, careless use of God’s name, laziness, filthy talk, dishonoring parents, murder, anger, hate, enmity, rage, brawling, rioting, unforgiving, wrath, spitefulness, stealing, dishonesty, lying, slandering, extortion, fornication, adultery and MORE!!  I decided they should call some of these shows How Not To Live As A Christ Follower.  The list was longer than my cartoon list for sure — but my conclusion is that a worldview that espouses the satisfaction of our own desires has always been the way of media.

I’m not trying to make you turn the television off – and I am certainly not calling watching television a sin. I enjoy a good television show after a stressful day, it is one of my favorite escapes.  But don’t fool yourself into believing that you can watch sin filled images (or listen to sin filled messages) all of the time and not be affected by it in any way. Be careful not to be fooled into believing that what you see on that screen is merely entertainment.  Be careful about the last image you see on that screen; do you really want that to be the last thing that enters your mind before your head hits the pillow?  The world’s job is to lull you into a false sense of what sin is and to convince that you should take advantage of the grace extended to you as a follower of Christ – but the word says different (Romans 6:1, 2).

In 1 John we are admonished not to love the world; the world’s ways; the world’s things because we squeeze out the Father when we do so.  When we begin to schedule our lives around these images that have nothing to do with our Father or His ways – I think that means that we are coming to ‘love’ these images.  Just my opinion.  Truth is that once an image is on television or in a movie, we begin to believe falsely that the image is mere entertainment.  Be careful, my brothers and sisters.  These images are not our reality and they are not our truth.  God did not send His son to die for us and free us from the bondage of sin so that we could enslave ourselves once again to our enemy, Satan.  Ensure that you are filling your mind with the Word of God and with the Truths of God and take care to call the sin you see what it is!

Go ahead — watch your favorite shows, but  let it be entertainment and not what fills you up.  I encourage you today to make a covenant to fill your eyes, your mind and your ears with things that are genuine, honorable, upright, trustworthy, crucial, and compassionate.  Make the choice!  It will change your lifeview – it will make you walk lighter – it will help you to be joy!   Be careful – our enemy is doing a great job; lets not make it easier for him…

1 John 2: 15 – 16  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Life Happens and sometimes you step in S***!

life-happensIt is much easier to recognize what is going wrong in our lives that it is to rejoice for the good.  I don’t know why that is, but it seems that our natural bent is to complain about what is happening to us rather than recognize what God is doing in the difficulty.  I’m sure that I have been guilty of that in my own life.  As we come out of the Christmas season and I have seen people returning those precious Christmas gifts complaining that the gift didn’t work; was the wrong size; didn’t meet with their liking; etc. — I could only think about how dissatisfied we are most of the time!  Just like we forgot that someone sacrificed something in order that we might have that gift; we forget that He sacrificed all so that we might have eternal life.

When Lloyd and I moved to Ghana in 2004 we didn’t speak the language; we couldn’t eat the food; we didn’t know the rules; we didn’t understand the culture.  People stole from us; people told us that they did work that they didn’t actually do; the car kept breaking down; pipes kept bursting (once so badly that we had to fetch water and bring large barrels into and around the house for use); bugs were getting into everything; the ceiling fell in; malaria happened; dysentery happened; etc.   When all of these things happened – we were careful to encourage one another to rejoice at how God was going to fix it for us; how He was going to use us to be Him to the people we were trusting to fix the problems; how our headaches would bring Him glory.  Lloyd and I would go into our room and inspect one another – miraculously we found that neither of us had scars from a thorny crown; holes from nails in our wrists or feet; and not even a spear in our sides!  Incredible isn’t it!  None of it was Calvary! We believed every time that He would give us the strength to bear it – and He did!!  Time and time again – He brought us through all of it.

My dear friend Mike Pickett wrote a song that serves to remind me daily of what it means to count all of it as joy.  The lyrics say,

“You are the salt of the earth, a preservative for some.  You may be the ONLY reason destruction hasn’t come.  If while following God you find yourself in the midst of circumstance; you may have been sent there to let someone know that today may be the last chance to walk in righteousness; holiness; love; peace; and joy in the Holy Spirit of God”

So, yeah — you may be driving a car that is a little older than you like, and it may require a lot of repair; but are you taking that opportunity to be salt and light to the person who will repair the car?  You might be facing a different trial everyday in your health (thanks for this lesson, Lorenita!); but are you being salt and light to all who visit you and to the doctors and nurses that serve you?

This life on this earth is temporal!  Don’t lose sight of that!  Our home is in heaven – a place where all will be well!  As for the “momentary light afflictions” you WILL face down here — count it as joy AND count it as an opportunity for you to be His glory in this fallen world.  Know that as you face each hardship with joy – you will have more patience and endurance to face the next thing.  Being used for His glory in the midst of it all is just the icing on the cake!  I like icing and the thought of being icing on His cake is an incredible gift to my heart!  May the Father move me to trust Him in the midst of it all and may He bend my heart toward full joy and the hope of my eternal hope.  Remind yourself in the midst of difficulties and hardships  — It Ain’t Calvary!

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2,3)

Divine Do Overs

DoOverBob Carlisle wrote a song back in 1996 that was made popular by Donnie McClurkin, “We Fall Down”. The song talks about a person discovering the grace of God in His failures – realizing even people of God made mistakes and the grace of God covered them and gave them a new start. We all have different testimonies – but all of us have made our share of mistakes – we have all said and done things that we later regretted and as we take a backwards look at our lives, we know it was the grace of God that kept us. As for me – I am amazed at how the Lord has kept me in spite of me! My testimony is that I faltered, but  because of His grace – it was never fatal!

God does not delight in our mistakes but He delights in our desire  to obey Him. Even when we falter, He sees our hearts and knows whether we are truly seeking His will or seeking to satisfy ourselves. When you desire to obey Him — when YOU desire to obey Him — when you DESIRE to obey Him — when you desire to OBEY Him; He will honor your obedience with His presence and power in your life!

Sometimes we step out in front of God; moving before we get his direction about something that seems urgent. What does stepping out in front of God look like?  It looks like:  getting something off our chests when we should’ve keep quiet; taking out a payday loan when we need to manage the funds we have; buying that sale item when we don’t really need to be spending; eating that last piece of pie when we know we don’t need it; getting into a relationship that we know is ungodly; compromising our morals because it seems like an easier way; etc.  When we move outside of His will, we are failing to exercise our right to rely on The One who will always guide us to the best action and decision for our lives. When we fail to follow His lead – we will miss out of His best for us.

The great thing about being a Christ follower is that because we are His chosen ones – we have access to His grace. Because we have access to His grace — we always have access to a course correction.  We might have to go back to the drawing board — but He will be there waiting to redirect us – to get us headed in the right direction.  He knew we were going to muddle things; He knew we couldn’t keep His commandments without His intervention; He knew that we would botch even His simplest commands — so, in His great love, He sent us a Savior! He gave us unlimited access to His grace!  When we mess up He has a giant eraser AND a beautiful paint canvass!  How awesome is that?!

Here’s the deal — we all make mistakes; but He, in His infinite kindness towards us, will always be willing to give us a do over. We can rest assured that as we trust in Him and seek to obey Him (seek to OBEY Him!); He will honor us with His direction and His presence in our situation. Take a step back from your situation; your temptation; your stressor — He will gladly guide you in the right way allowing you to start over because it gives Him great joy to bless your life when you are leaning on His understanding and not your own.

Our mistakes do not have to be fatal errors — we really can start over!  CTRL/ALT/DEL — reboot — start again.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. (‭Psalms‬ ‭37‬:‭23‬)