Reflections on “Back to Church Sunday”

Today is Sunday, the first day of a new week, and many will be attending churches all over the world. Especially since today has been designated as  “BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY.”Free St Nicholas Church In Brasov Stock Photography - 5552782

CHALLENGE: as you listen to the sermon, have your bible or e-bible open and follow along. Take notes, write down references for reading and studying later. Don’t only read or skim the verse or verses given, read the WHOLE chapter. (after church, of course) Then, if you truly wanna get your spiritual feet wet in the word, read the WHOLE BOOK. 

But, you say, “that sounds like “work” or college level study.” Yes, its work. But, if our desire to know the will of God is sincere, the studies will only prove to be blessings. We should take the advice given to Timothy by Paul recorded in Paul’s letter-
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
As you study, ALWAYS seek to know the CONTEXT of the verse in which a sermon is built around. We are to “test everything.” (I Thess. 5:21) Be like the Bereans and examine scripture as a whole, testing what is taught by all. (Acts 17:11)Free Oil Lamp And Bible Royalty Free Stock Images - 17103249
Speaking of examining scripture as a WHOLE- some treat the “Old” and “New” testaments as if they are each standing alone in their messages. This is far from the truth and, I believe, one of the greatest deceptions of the Adversary.  The truth is, the Old Testament should have never been dubbed the “old” to begin with. From that, I believe we are psychologically tricked into thinking the “old” is obsolete. The message of our Messiah and the gospel is woven loudly all throughout the “old” Testament. The mere naming of those scriptures as “old” is a play on words that may cause some to ignore the validity of the “old” Testament. Free Scripture (Bible) - Inspired By God Stock Images - 12205274
Another word of advice- Don’t be a buffet-style bible reader! (only reading the Word in segments without reading the entire book or chapter) We would NEVER do that while reading our favorite works of fiction. Why do we read the Bible in  fragments or segments?
Many desire and seek to be on the right path towards understanding God’s way for us. They are sincere in their heartfelt desires to find the right way. However, many are also too content to just sit on the pew on Sunday (or whichever day you attend church)  and be passively “filled” without ever questioning the “man of God” delivering the message. They will believe all that’s presented from the pulpit without ever requiring and examining the message in light of God’s Word.  We should be cautious in only believing a man or women’s “words” without holding them up to be validated by the truth of God’s WordFree Bible Stock Photo - 3445520
Questioning the words of mankind isn’t rebellion or an act of heresy. It’s just good common sense given by our Creator. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord….”
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…” (read all of Jeremiah 17)
Honesty, we shouldn’t even lean heavily on our own knowledge or understanding.
“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 straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8)
“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)Free Scary Dark Alleyway At Night Royalty Free Stock Images - 6548799
So many people are far too comfortable in the traditions and doctrines of their communities, families, and friends to know and read what the word of God actually says and rightly interpret it using other scripture. Instead they will quickly look up a commentary to match what they’re accustomed to or what they WANT to believe.
Jesus’ words in Mark 7:8-9- “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” 
There are some doctrines and beliefs in modern Christian practice that are based solely on traditions of man. Most of us will never seek to know the origin of those practices or measure them with the truth of God’s Word. If you haven’t done this, I recommend it. Speaking of doctrines of man: does your church lean more heavily on its bylaws than the Word of God? Just something to consider. If you’re unsure, it would be wise to ask for the church bylaws and see if they align with the scriptures.Free Bible Study Couple Royalty Free Stock Images - 4732909
Stepping out of the majority flow and popular traditions is a difficult and lonely path. Yet, Jesus says: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are MANY. For the gate is narrow and the way is HARD that leads to life, and those who find it are FEW.” (Matthew 7:13-14) (all caps emphasis is mine)

Here is what Adonai says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask about the ANCIENT PATHS, “which one is the good way?’ Take it, and you will find rest for Free Mount Sinai In Early Morning Stock Images - 6826644your souls, But they said, “We will not take it.'” (Jer. 6:16) (all caps emphasis mine)

So, you ask, what exactly is the narrow way and what “ancient path” should I be on? What is “the good way?” I recently did an in-depth study on Jeremiah 6:16 and will be sharing my notes in the next post. Free Sunlit Nature Path Royalty Free Stock Photos - 11182408

Until then, I pray blessings on your week ahead! Thank you for taking the time and reading my newest post! Please be in prayer for me as I am praying about whether to use a vlog format. I’m going to be honest and say that I really don’t want to, but it seems that fewer people read blogs and more are turning to listening to and watching video messages. So, I’m praying about this decision.

(all photos above are from http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

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An Open Book?

Sometimes we say someone is “an open book.” Perhaps this person is outgoing, outspoken, or talkative. Maybe they’re honest and seemingly transparent. But is anyone truly an open book simply because a few of their “pages” or “chapters” are readable?

If I’ve learned anything from my 49 years in this life and the many relationships on my journey is that most often than not- we all tend to only skim the surface of truly understanding each other.

The person assumed to be an “open book” most likely is frequently misunderstood, misjudged, and gets summed up like a short story.

We all have a story. And if we’re fortunate and blessed we also have a few people who know a little about that story. But to know the whole of it- I venture to say just isn’t possible. People aren’t this simple. We are all complicated and hold mysteries unknown and difficult to understand even if under the cover of being totally readable.

To know someone’s story and “read them” takes time…maybe even a lifetime.

I’ve written about this before. How we all desire to be understood. How so often we all misunderstand one another. I’m going to guess that misunderstandings are the root and catalyst of most, if not all, relationship struggles.

The only one who truly has the ability to know and understand us fully without error is God.

Psalm 147:3-5

3He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”

Psalm 138:1-18

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

3 You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

5 You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 ¶ Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12 even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

I awake, and I am still with you.”

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An invitation and challenge to wade out a little deeper…

This post is going to be different from my usual posts. I suppose you could say its an invitation to explore and reconsider. To begin, I suggest you either have your Bible ready(I use the ESV and King James versions) or a good digital version of the bible. I recommend the Blue Letter Bible app. Get a Strong’s concordance and learn to use it. You’ll find it a valuable tool. There are many other Bible study concordances and dictionaries but for now start with a Strong’s. Stay away from Googling or internet fishing for stuff to match up with your current indoctrinations or belief system for now – it’s a tool that can also become a trap and will trip you up. Let’s just stick to the scriptures in the Bible until you gain a strong foundation and knowledge in them. Let scripture interpret scripture. Use your center column when needed. Be careful about only reading added footnotes or commentaries if your Bible has them. Stick to the scriptures.

So, in order for any of what I will share here to be of value to you you must already believe that the Bible isn’t just some ancient text that contains only history, geneaologies, or words that have no value for our  present day. You need an element of trust to begin understanding. IMG_E0413The following scripture must ring true for you as it does for me:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The apostle Paul wrote the book of Timothy toward the end of his life around A.D. 66. In this letter to Timothy he reminds him to continue in what he’s been raised from childhood to know. Read in verses 14-15 and see what Paul tells him.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

Did you catch that? The “sacred writings” were able to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ. What part of the scriptures do you think he was speaking of? It wasn’t what we call the New Testament. Many don’t realize how much of the Old Testament(as we call it now) points to Jesus. More on that later.

So, if you agree that all scripture, both Old and New Testaments is useful for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness then we can move on.IMG_E0445

Let’s go straight to one of the most stern things I’ve ever read that Jesus said.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

What Jesus refers to as the Law or the Prophets was what they understood to be the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch or the books of Moses) and the books of prophecy. When he says “fulfill” he did this by accomplishing and obeying the scriptures, thereby bringing clarification and fulfillment to the prophecies foretold of him. He is NOT saying that because he is the fulfillment of those prophecies that God’s laws were now old news and done away with.”

Some other noteworthy things written in Matthew that were said by Jesus:

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matt. 5:46-48)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is  hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matt. 7:13-14)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”(Matt. 7:21-23)

Did you read that? Lawlessness. The word “lawlessness” was translated from the original Greek word anomia which means “lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience; utter disregard for God’s law.

Side note- there are a couple other times that the phrase “depart from me, I never knew you” (or  words meaning the same) are used in the Bible. See Luke chapter 13 and Matthew chapter 25. There may be others and if you find them please comment below.

There is so much more contained in the book of Matthew. I recommend reading the entire book. A Strong’s concordance is helpful for clarification of hard to understand verses. Get a notebook, take notes and make highlights and your own notes in your Bible.IMG_E0419

Now, before I get emails thinking I need to be informed about how we can no longer keep ceremonial laws of  Moses’ day, please gain an understanding and knowledge of how Jesus became the atonement for our sins. So, of course, I know that the ceremonial sacrifices were indeed done away with. He alone is why we no longer have to make ceremonial sacrifices for our sins. He canceled our debt to sin that stood against us-that’s what he nailed to the cross, not God’s moral laws.  To see what Paul said regarding sacrifices of the old covenant go read all of Hebrews chapter 10.  Read it in entirety and then go back and reread verses 26-31 in case you’re inclined to think that you’ve now got a ticket to ride on the grace-train without walking in obedience to God. Never, never, take for granted what He did for us! We walk in obedience to God not because it is what brings us salvation. Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life.”(see John 14:6) Obedience to God is a result of salvation through Jesus. We obey because we love him.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(John 14:21)

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”(John 15:10)

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”(1 John 2:3)

Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”(1 John 2:4)

“and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”(1 John 3:22)

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”(1 John 5:3)

Now go read what Revelation 12:17  and Revelation 14:12 says. Truly, these two verses were what caused me to rethink, pause, and dig deeper into God’s word. I was studying prophecy several years ago and started by reading Revelation. The rest is history and ongoing enlightenment and growth. Oh, the things the Lord has shown me since.

I’m going to stop here. Word of advice: pray before beginning your studies of the scriptures. Ask God to open your heart to His truth and give you discernment.

So here’s your invitation and challenge: 

READ AND STUDY-

*All of Matthew

*All of Hebrews(or at least the 10th chapter)

*All of the gospel of John

*All of I and II John

*All of Psalm 119

*read the Ten Commandments- you can find them in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Have we all fallen down a rabbit-hole? 

I’ve avoided writing in this blog  yet have wanted to so very many occasions in the last year or so.

I’ve felt like a pressure-cooker of emotions and words. So, instead I keep, carry and write in a private journal just to take the edge off. (Actually have done so anyway off and on for years)


The lack of blog posts? It’s not because I’ve nothing to say- it’s because I’ve too much to say  and so much to write about and it’s far too important to me to mess it up and potentially stumble over my words and be misunderstood.

I think we all hate being misunderstood. It’s a mutual human need actually. To be understood. To receive empathy.

And for a writer this has been an excruciating and frustrating fear. 

I’ve felt silenced. I’ve read between the lines and came to the conclusion that it was my only choice. To keep peace. To stear clear of the vortex of word wars we all so easily and unintentionally get sucked into. 


And facebook? Oh gosh. It’s the devil’s cauldron for conflict. Just try and “have an opinion” online or check “like” to a post that ruffles a feather or two. 

I heard someone say that “facebook” was satanic.  I scoffed a bit at that but, you know, I truly think we’ve all fallen down that hellish rabbit hole. Myself included. I tried not to, trust me. But….well, you know. 


I think we’re all seeing a great deception on the news and our social media platforms- the media is desperately and successfully causing such dissention, hate, and misunderstanding. Just try and look away and pretend to not notice the many hotbed issues these days. 

Yes, some very tragic things are occurring. I’m not saying we should bury our heads in the sand. However, we’ve got to keep our eyes on what is really happening. What truly matters. Because we’re all becoming so distracted in the heat of all these chaotic emotions. 

Do I have an opinion or strong feeling about a few of the popular issues at hand? Absolutely. But, I’ve also seen so many different perspectives to each. It isn’t always easy to pinpoint what the “right”  thing is. There are some very murky waters to tread here. 


I went through a personal crisis nearly a year ago that pretty much knocked the wind out of me for months. Surprisingly I found myself going through a grieving process although I hadn’t lost anyone to death. 

Sadly, the only way I could find someone who could truly say they’d experienced what I was going through was on a private Facebook support group. If it wasn’t for that, I think I probably would’ve just deleted my account. 

It’s truly disheartening that in this age of information (or should I say MISinformation?) that we all seem to be totally missing it. I feel it in my gut the way one feels when you know-that-you-know you’re being deceived. 


So, I’m on a personal mission to keep it simpler. I’m striving for more quality in EVERY moment in the same way I try to avoid junk food. It tastes sooooo good but…it’s really not essential or nutritious. I now feel the same about Facebook- not essential and definitely not healthy…and only to be partaken in small portions. 

Because I’m emerging from a season of grieving and heartache I’ve avoided writing in my blog. But, oh how I’ve missed it! 

It’s now, thankfully, a season of Spring for me in my life. I’m easing into and savoring more of the activities and interests  I’d put aside to heal. I wish I could write about what I’ve been through but I can’t. So instead, I’ll share what I can about other things.

Just a parting word: if there’s anyone reading who’s ever felt silenced or been told that what you feel isn’t rational or valid- don’t despair and don’t “go it alone.” Pour your heart out to the Lord. If you also just must have that human connection or shoulder to cry on pray and ask God to guide you to just the right ear of understanding. I did and received just that and it made all the difference. 

To be understood by even one is healing relief. 

a quick selfie taken this summer in Utah

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Plot twist! 


This one will seem a bit mysterious.

But only to those of you who either don’t know me or are only here to lurk.

This thing…yes, it stopped me in place. Took my breath away. Left me picking up the “pieces” and sorting through some very raw and real emotions.


And the irony? I’m ok. Better than ok. I’m growing, healing and evolving through it all daily. (And being blessed in the process)

Who knew that at 48 you could still face something like this and find yourself feeling as if the very foundation you stood on was yanked out from beneath your (mostly) steady feet leaving you feeling like gravity malfunctioned and you’re free-falling through outer space.

After a few months of what certainly took my breath away emotionally – I’m anchored firmly once again. Shook myself off and finally “caught my breath.”

I always keep my eyes on what God has in store. Because, I guarantee you, that this- This “plot twist” in my life has a higher purpose. One that is unfolding before my eyes day by day.


This “plot twist” has taught me more about myself and people than any other event in my 48 years. It’s been, for a lack of better words, indescribable at times. I’ve felt and am still feeling emotions I have no words for.

Some of you will find that unbelievable- me left unable to form just the right word for what I’ve been going through. Actually, for what I’m still processing.


I’m sorry this post had to be so very mysterious and seemingly rambling. It’s just the way it needs to be for now.

I’m ok. More than just “ok.” God has a plan. He always has. He’s already proven this to me long ago and over and over.


And by the way, for those of you that have a friend or loved one going through something “difficult” and you don’t know what to say to them so you say nothing. Maybe you fear you’ll say the wrong thing. However, saying nothing or pretending “it” didn’t happen? Not the better choice.

If you care- say something…anything. Pick up the phone- just ask…”you wanna talk about it?” Simple. If they don’t want to they’ll tell you. But, I promise they’ll be conforted just knowing you tried.

After all, it’s sometimes the smallest acts of kindness that make the most in someone’s journey to healing.

 

 

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Thoughts on thoughts etc…

The overwhelming thought I’ve chewed on lately is of how we far too often complicate our lives with overthinking, regrets, “shoulds,” comparisons, and “what ifs.” (Oh the irony) I’ll let you overthink that last line for a second… Another thought- I wonder what percentage social media plays in contributing to our mental chatter? There’s no denying that it’s brought much more of the outside world into our minds that surely make our thoughts a bit noisier. 


 So, here’s a thought- What if we actively chose to just live simply and peacefully to the very best of our God-inspired abilities in spite of all the chaos and noise from the world (and online news stories) and from within our own minds?  Life really doesn’t have to be everything spectacular all at once or something that makes the headlines. Those ordinary, quiet, trudging along days are always enough and still valuable. 


Our lives don’t  need to be perfect, neat, or free of discomfort to be wonderful. Our lives don’t  need to be overly busy to be productive. And our lives sure don’t need to be posted daily on social media to be considered significant or noteworthy! 

EVERY SINGLE DAY is a unique treasure whether it is posted, journaled or even remembered. Every single day counts simply because  IT WAS LIVED. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

P.S.- the pictures above are a few iPhone shots from a trip we took to Florida last month to visit relatives. I know they have nothing to do with the theme of the post- just thought it would be nice to add a little sunny Florida scenery. 😊

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this morning 


These gentle morning breezes are hinting of the coming season change…flowers are making their last grand displays or just quietly fading away…shadows play on the sun soaked newly mown lawn…an impatient hummingbird hovers near the empty feeder reminding me, once again- but what was that rule? Do we stop filling the feeders in September? I make a mental note to look it up later. I’m too content and comfy right now to write it down. I’m cuddled underneath the weight of my beloved gray blanket shawl- the one that I started making into a poncho. I smile as I recall how it all went chaotic and I took it apart twice only to allow it to evolve into what it now is…and it’s much better than what I had intended it to be. So much like life in general: sometimes that plan B(or C), well…its just better, maybe even cherished. Like this handmade coffee cup, a simple unique gift, warming my hands, sending up delicious aromas of my favorite strong coffee. This year has brought some difficult blows to my heart- a loved one’s brush with death, a daughter’s move across the country and several other opportunities to test my strength in many ways. A year filled with so many emotions and at times great excitement…exhaustion…overwhelm. Yet…still miracles and blessings. This morning I feel a peaceful sense of renewal and gratitude for the simple things. But mostly for the quiet peace that fills my heart. I feel God’s presence here…in the joyful sunlight, nature’s orchestra of bird songs, the smell of freshly cut grass and even in the exquisite taste of this morning cup of coffee. A new day granted, once again, by the Giver of the Best Gifts and all wrapped up in the peace He sends. 

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