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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Is anyone really listening?


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… it took my breath away. Left me picking up the “pieces” and sorting through some very raw and real emotions.


And the irony? There weren’t enough appropriate words to describe what I experienced.


So, even when I trusted someone enough to share what I was going through it was equivalent to standing naked and judged in a public arena.


Eventually I learned that bottling it up was easier. Actually safer.


Word of advice: if you have a friend or loved one going through something “difficult” and you don’t know what to say. Don’t assume that silence or avoidance is best. 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 are ready to listen,

Because honestly, no one’s listening anymore. But maybe they should.

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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burning bridges?

dirt-path_thumb.jpgThere’s been one too many times in my life I’ve had the overwhelming urge to “make a run for it.” I’ve actually seen a few people do this lately, selling out, packing up, and moving away in search of a new thing…in search of peace. Running from something or someone or themselves…leaving behind all they know, leaving family and friends.

We all entertain thoughts of this kind of great escape at times. We yearn to burn all the bridges, cut ties, and start over. Maybe we even want to just burn “it” all down in one dramatic cleansing moment of frustration.

roadinmaui-edited3.jpgLooking back, I remember running away, making a dramatic “move” of some sort to escape the circumstances I’d found myself in. But, this kind of impulsive “move” in life rarely pans out the way we want it to. The newness of the new thing or place always wears off. We are then left with just another daily grind.

The universal truth is, wherever we go and where ever we live, some things are absolutely the same. There will always be someone we can’t tolerate or who challenges us more than we care to deal with. There will always be conflicts of some sort. There will always be things that must be done that brings about the “daily grind.” There will still be bad weather and environmental difficulties over which we are helpless. The grass or pavement on the other side of all fences may be different and enticing but isn’t always better.GA-PATH-BW_thumb.jpg

The deep restlessness many feel comes from discontent. The cure for discontent is finding the source of true joy. Truth is…that peace and that joy only comes from within and being filled with God’s Holy Spirit is the only way to successfully fill in all those aching empty places in our hearts.

IMG_8345CampingOCT2014

I’m thankful that we don’t have to trek far to find this kind of joy and peace in life. We can  find it “being still” and letting God’s goodness and mercy catch up with us. “Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell forever {throughout all my days} in the house and in the presence of the Lord.”(Psalm 23:6 AMP)LastingImagesByLisa_2009 10 13_3181_edited-1

However, if life leads you to wander for the pure joy of seeing and enjoying God’s great “wonders” then do so with gusto! And if your heart leads you to wander far from your usual stomping grounds in desire to serve God, then trust Him with  your adventures and go bravely in that direction!

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Blesses are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matt. 5:9)

 

 

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So very far from Eden…

I’m trying desperately to muddle out of this new chaotic “thing” that’s reared its ugly peace wrecking head in our lives. The tension in the back of my neck and the deep sorrowful ache in my heart is consequence of attempts to find reason in what should have been so simple. It will be a miracle if the sleep comes tonight. Most of the time, I choose to see the good in a situation. I choose the joy. Even if it seems to be hiding, I seek it out…call it forward. 
And then there’s these kinds of days. You know, the ones that scream with all the force of darkness…dredge up every negative emotion. 


The world is so very broken. There is so much pain and suffering. So much selfishness and pride. Sometimes I am amazed at how comfortable the majority seems to be in this darkness. God, we’ve come so far from the beautiful Eden you created. We still turn our backs away from the bountiful wonders you set before us…always seeking more or different…As if there just might be something better…as if You were holding out on us. Our greedy hearts always aimlessly wandering towards what ultimately only brings misery. 


How long will we all walk in this desert circle? How much does it take for some to see that You and You alone are all we need? 

My soul is in such deep thirst for your comfort and protection tonight. I need spiritual shelter under Your all-seeing, all-knowing power. I am laying down every burden of my heart and leaning into Your peace that passes all understanding.

Psalm 42:5-8The Message (MSG)
5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

    Why are you crying the blues?

Fix my eyes on God—

    soon I’ll be praising again.

He puts a smile on my face.

    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse

    everything I know of you,

From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,

    including Mount Mizar.

Chaos calls to chaos,

    to the tune of whitewater rapids.

Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers

    crash and crush me.

Then God promises to love me all day,

    sing songs all through the night!

    My life is God’s prayer.

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It’s a choice 

 All these things truly are choices, although we sometimes live as if we are shackled by our daily circumstances and obligated to be sucked into a vortex of busyness and living a joyless life.

Jesus came to give us a life more abundant, not one where we daily struggle to barely survive because we’re so stressed out.

If you have been living on the verge of a total meltdown or just barely surviving the daily grind, dragging through your days weary and broken inside- ask yourself “why?” Are you choosing to allow your circumstances to enslave your heart and mind?

Joy really is a choice.

 Choosing to live joyfully requires changing how we think about what’s going on around us instead of  being tossed about by a sea of emotional reactions. As the annoying, yet oddly wise, Disney song says “let it go, let it goooooooo oh….!”

Today, I’m choosing joy…in spite of it all! I’m choosing to slow down and live more intentionally. I’m choosing to not let worry squash my mind in its crushing vise. I’m choosing to “let go” of the negatives and grab hold of the overflowing mercies of God!

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

 

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