HAVE YOU EVER FELT OUTNUMBERED BY YOUR ENEMIES?

“Lord, how many are my foes!  How many rise up against me!” (Psalm 3:1 NIV)

Everyone has felt outnumbered by their foesOur enemies aren’t necessarily people.  Sometimes life seems like the enemy.  I felt like life was getting the best of me the other day.  I walked dogs, not realizing I was out of doggie bags.  One of my medium sized clients who never poops on our walks, chose this day to poop.  The only thing I had to carry the poop with was an old pair of sunglasses.  I carefully scraped the droppings onto the sunglasses and gingerly carried my prize to a trash can.  The trash can was a ½ mile away.  

A couple of days later, I realized the sunglasses weren’t my old ones.  They were my good sunglasses.  I had to buy a pair of sunglasses.  The crappy moment kept on giving more crap.   Life’s foes outnumbered me. 

Everyone has felt outnumbered by their foes.

Crap happens to everyone, literally and figuratively.  One bad thing seems to happen after another.  A black cloud hangs over your head.  No matter what you do, nothing seems to go right.  But beautiful things come from crappy moments. 

If I hadn’t had the poop incident happen, I wouldn’t have had a belly laugh with a dear friend.  She had her own “poop” moment happen in life.  Our crappy moments turned into a chuckle, which bonded us closer together.  Beauty from ashes, laughter from tears.  Life’s moments are just that, moments.  Good or bad, they both pass.  The key in facing our foes is realizing, we’re not alone in the battle.

God is with us in our battles.  He knows the poop of life, and He knows what He’s going to do with it in our lives.  All things work to the good for those who believe and trust in Him (Romans 8:28 NIV).   He used my friend and I’s poop moment to deepen our friendship with each other.  God doesn’t waste anything,  He uses everything for His purposes.  He knows the battles we face, He’s already provided a way:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV)

When life’s foes are outnumbering you, seek God.   Use His weapons to fight the battle.  Turn to His people to help you gain a new perspective.  You’re not fighting alone.  God’s placed warriors in your life to fight with you.  God’s warriors outnumber our foes.

Question of the Day:

How can your poop moment turn into a victory for you?

Further Reading:  1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17 NIV, Acts 23:11-35 NIV, Psalm 3 NIV, Proverbs 18:14-15 NIV

WHAT WAS THE FIRST MOTION IN THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS?

“Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:12b NIV)

The first motion was for prayer.   God is who our forefathers looked to for guidance when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, signed on this day in 1776.  When the First Continental Congress met in September of 1774, the first motion and debate was about prayer.  John Adams, in a letter to his wife described the event:

“When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious sentiments — some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists — that we could not join in the same act of worship.”

No matter what denomination we are, we all serve the same God.  Our forefathers knew this.  Samuel Adams knew this:

“… [He] could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country.”

Prayer is our path to refuge.

Whatever you need rest from today, God is the answer.  He will give you rest.  He will restore your soul.  But you have to turn to Him to receive it.  Prayer is the first step.  Our forefathers believed this so much, their first thing they talked about was prayer.  They decided we needed prayer:

“Accordingly, next morning the Rev. Duche appeared with his Episcopal vestments and read the 35th Psalm. I never saw a greater effect produced upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that psalm to be read on that morning.” Samuel Adams

Prayer founded our nation.  Prayer is how our forefathers took refuge in God.  Prayer does the same for us.  Take time to read the 35th Psalm today.  Think about our forefathers, gathered together, listening to Rev. Duche read the words.  God’s word formed our country.  Our nation’s trajectory was set by the Psalmist words:

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;

    fight against those who fight against me.

Take up shield and armor;

    arise and come to my aid.

 Brandish spear and javelin

    against those who pursue me.

Say to me,

    “I am your salvation.”

Psalm 35:1-3 NIV

God’s words started our nation.  God’s words can save our nation.  When we pray and seek refuge in Him, God will answer.  Our forefathers humbled themselves in prayer.  They sought God’s refuge before they did anything else.  We can learn from them. 

We all serve the same God.  No matter what denomination or church we attend, God is the same.  As Samuel Adams said,  what matters is the person’s heart.  When people who love God pray, we should join them.

Question of the Day:

How can you pray for our country today?

Further Reading:  2 Kings 23:31-25:30 NIV, Acts 22:17-23:10 NIV, Psalm 2 NIV, Proverbs 18:13 NIV

WHAT PAUL DID WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED

“As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?” (Acts 21:37 NIV)

When arrested, Paul had one request, to share the gospel.  The people he’s sharing the gospel with are the ones imprisoning him.  He’s offering them the hope of eternal life, even though they treat his life so poorly.

Paul’s passion  for Jesus is inspiring. Beating and attacks were a normal part of Paul’s life.  We don’t know struggles like Paul knew struggles.  But his struggles only spurred him on more.  Paul’s arrest, to him, was opportunity to share the gospel with that particular group of people.  Paul got God.  He understood, wherever He was is where God wanted him to be.  His mission is always the same: love them like Jesus.

Paul’s arrest was an opportunity.

When God leads our life, we find ourselves in interesting situations.  Paul experienced beatings, imprisonment and a shipwreck. He had a thorn of some sort in his life God wouldn’t take away (2 Cor. 12:7-9 NIV).  His life was a life of suffering by human standards.  Yet he viewed every hardship as an opportunity to share the gospel with others.

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20: 23-24 NIV)

Each of us has our own race to run, just as Paul did.  We all have the divine task of sharing the good news of Jesus.  Writing has become a divine task for me.  I am able to share my love of God with others.  I pray my writing helps others get to know Jesus.  I pray they will fall in love with Him like I have.  I pray they will understand, He loves them.  They are never alone, God is always with them.  I pray they will grow closer to God with what they read.  Writing isn’t a chore for me, it’s a privilege.  When I write, I’m sharing the gospel with others, my divine task.

Find your race.  Seek God and ask Him, “Who can I share the good news of Jesus with today?”  Follow your passions, that’s often where you’ll find the answer.  Maybe teaching children about Jesus is your passion.  Maybe working with women who have suffered abuse, sharing Jesus’ love with them.  Or volunteering with disabled veterans who need hope in their lives that only comes from Jesus.  God has given you something you love to do.  Whatever it is, use it to talk about Jesus.

Question of the Day:

Who can you share the good news with today?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 22:3-23:30 NIV, Acts 21:37-22:16 NIV, Psalm 1 NIV, Proverbs 18:11-12 NIV

HOW LAZINESS CAUSES DESTRUCTION IN YOUR LIFE

“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” (Proverbs 18:9 NIV)

Laziness destroys relationships.  No matter what you do in life, relationships are a part of it.  Married or single, we have relationships with our friends, family and co-workers.  Life is about the relationships we have.  God places people in each of our lives.  We are to have relationships with them.  Relationships take work.  If we don’t work at relationships, we destroy them.  

Laziness destroys relationships.

Relationships with the people in our life requires work.  Having a good relationship with your spouse takes work, from both parties.  One person cannot do all of the work.  Having healthy relationships with your friends takes work.  One person can’t do all of the calling.  Friendship is a two way street.  Using the excuse, “You didn’t call me,” is not an excuse.  The phone works both ways.  Having a productive working relationship with your boss takes work.  You have to accept, whether you like it or not, they are your boss.  You have to respect their authority in your life.  You have to find a way to deal with them. If you can’t deal with your boss, leave.  Your boss isn’t going to change.  You are the only one who has the power to change your work environment. 

The lazier we are in our relationships, the worse the relationships are.  We take people for granted.  We know there’s a problem, but we don’t deal with it.  We don’t take responsibility for our actions.  We put the blame on others without taking any of it ourselves.  We don’t pay attention to what is going on in our loved ones lives.  We assume no news is good news, which isn’t always true.  We ignore the nudges we have to call, text or email someone.  We put our own needs before the needs of others. 

God is clear, we’re to work on our relationships:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV)

Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church says it this way:

“I want those who KNOW ME BEST to RESPECT ME MOST. That’s the true measure of SUCCESS.”  

If we want the people who know us best to respect us most, we have to work at it.  We have to take an honest evaluation of our relationships.  We have to take responsibility for our part in them.  We have to let others do the same.  Each day is a new opportunity to do better.  Laziness destroys, but hard work builds.

Question of the Day:

What relationship do you need to work on today?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 20:1-22:2 NIV, Acts 21:18-36 NIV, Psalm 150:1-6 NIV, Proverbs 18:9-10 NIV

WHY DO YOU ENJOY LISTENING TO GOSSIP IN YOUR LIFE

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Proverbs 18:8 NIV)

Gossip is sinful pleasure.  The juicy morsels of someone else’s woe secretly make us feel better.  Especially if the gossip is about someone we don’t like. The friend who betrayed your trust, what’s the harm in gossiping about them, right?  The boss who makes work difficult, gossiping about him is easy.  How about the ex-spouse, boyfriend or partner?  Hearing gossip about someone who hurt you deeply secretly brings pleasure.  We want them to suffer for the suffering they caused us.  We enjoy listening to gossip because it takes our attention away from our own problems.  Gossip is a sinful pleasure we don’t think is harmful.

Gossip is a sinful pleasure we don’t think is harmful.

Gossip is harmful.  Not only does gossip hurt the person who is it’s subject,  listening to it is harmful to us.  Gossip diverts us from the truth.

Gossip’s definition: casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. Gossip is lying.  Gossip is making up something about someone that isn’t true. Gossip destroys relationships, devastates people and causes harm hard to repair.  Gossip destroys trust.

Gossip starts so easily, and usually innocently.

A friend of mine was recently struggling with a health issue that wouldn’t go away.   Normal treatment wasn’t effective.  Because of family history, the doctor’s checked for a brain tumor, there was none.  A few weeks later I was having lunch with a different friend.  Knowing of my other friend’s struggles, she told me she’d heard something.  When I asked her what she had heard, it was that my friend had cancer.  A total lie, somehow started innocently that spread like wildfire.  I debunked the lie immediately.

Gossip isn’t a harmless sin, it’s tendrils are long and deep.  People ruin others’ lives because of the lies they tell.  Lies we believe easily because we’d rather see the worst in people than the best.  As Christ follower’s, fighting gossip is an everyday battle we can’t avoid.

How do we fight the battle?

First we mustn’t gossip.  Set the example for others.  Don’t talk about other people. Don’t spread lies.  Don’t start rumors.  Don’t gossip.  Secondly, when someone starts to gossip to you, stop them.  Don’t allow them to lie about others.  If you know the truth, tell them the truth.  If you don’t know the truth, and they don’t know the truth, then don’t talk about the subject at all.  And when you falter and partake in gossip, confess your sin.  God already knows, confess to Him.  He’ll lead you in what to do to repair the mistake.

Gossip is juicy, but following God is juicier.

Question of the Day:

Who have you gossiped about lately?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 18:13-19:37 NIV, Acts 21:1-17 NIV, Psalm 149:1-9 NIV, Proverbs 18:8 NIV

GOD CREATED YOU OUT OF HIS LOVE FOR YOU

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever—he issued a decree that will never pass away.” (Psalm 148:5-6 NIV)

Love creates.  God created us because of His love for us.  He pours His love into us so we can pour it into others.  When we love others as God intends, we become creators.  We create new relationships with healthy boundaries.  We create homes for our friends and families where they feel safe.  We create conversations that give life to others.  We create moments that change people’s lives forever. We create because God’s love pours through us to others.

Love creates.

God created life.  He’s given us the ability to create life by having children.  The love parents feel for their children, as intense as it feels, is nothing compared to the love God has for us.  I think of the people I love most in this world.  I can’t imagine God could love them more than I do.  But the truth is He does. 

I have a common joke I tell when describing my life to people.  I spent my 20’s doing everything I could to screw my life up.  I spent my 30’s healing from the hurt I caused myself in my 20’s.  My forties were spent reaping the rewards of the work I did in my 30’s.  And yes, I had ten years of work to do.

I had to learn to have healthy boundaries.  Applying God’s word to my life, day by day is how I learned.  I remember the first time I said no to sleeping with a man I was dating. I met him in church.  I had just started following Jesus wholeheartedly.   When he realized I really meant no he freaked out.  He immediately informed me of all the other women who were happy to accommodate him.  He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t.  I ended the relationship.  For the first time in my life, I set a healthy boundary.  Because I did, I saved myself so much heartache.  

God creates newness in our life every day.  Each time we take a step of faith towards Him, He creates something new.  His light begins to shine through us to the darkness of the world.  God’s reflection in us draws people to us.  God’s love has no bounds:

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16 NIV)

God’s love lives in us. The closer we draw to Him, the more love we will have to give.  God’s love created you.  His love creates newness every day.

Question of the Day:

How has God’s love created newness in your life?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 17:1-18:12 NIV, Acts 20:1-38 NIV, Psalm 148:1-14 NIV, Proverbs 18:6-7 NIV

HOW TO BRING LIFE TO PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE

“The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” (Proverbs 18:4 NIV)

Wise words give life to all that hear them.  The NIV Theological Study Bible describes “deep waters”this way: a person’s words and plans may be unfathomable, inaccessible, not beneficial, and potentially dangerous.  The words of the wise however, supply living water with ready accessibility.  In other words, frivolous speech does no one good.  Wise words give an ever lasting supply of life to those who listen to them.

My mother was a wealth of wisdom in my life.  She had a knack for summing up a situation with few words.  When I landed a job as a Flight Attendant after I graduated college, her advice was simple.  “Don’t let any pilots in your hotel room.”  I can still see her face as she spoke those words to me.  She was right.  I didn’t follow her advice.  I learned a very hard, very painful lesson because I didn’t.  I was a single woman who was easily taken advantage of in those days.  But thanks to my mother and her wisdom, I learned quickly to follow her advice.  

Wise words give life.

Wise words are easily accessible to us.  All we have to do is ask:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV)

We acquire wisdom from God by asking Him for it.  Part of my daily prayer:  “Lord, give me your wisdom and discernment for the day ahead.”  I know, without His help, my words are deep waters, frivolous, not helping anyone.  But when I ask for His intervention, I’m amazed at what comes out of my mouth.

Twice this past week I was talking to friends on the phone.  They were sharing with me things going on in their lives.  Both times I had no words, I felt a nudge to pray because I didn’t know what to say.  I didn’t want to offer frivolous words, I wanted to offer wise words that would help them.  But I had none.  So I prayed.  I just lifted up our conversation to God, while talking to them on the phone. 

Wise words come from God. Without His help, we will falter.  When we include God in the conversation, He directs our tongue.

Since I’ve started following my dream of writing, words are all I think about.  God teaches me daily about the power words have.  Off-handed remarks cause deep wounds in people.  Words spoken years ago still cause hurt.  But God will give you wise words if you ask.  Words that heal.  Words that bring life.  Words that change people’s destiny.  All you have to do is ask.

Question of the Day:

Have you asked God to give you wise words?

Further Reading:2 Kings 15-16:20 NIV, Acts 19:13-41 NIV, Psalm 147:1-20 NIV, Proverbs 18:4-5 NIV

WHO SHOULD YOU PUT YOUR TRUST IN?

“Do not put your trust in princes,  in human beings, who cannot save.” (Psalm 146:3 NIV)

Trust God.  The only One who will never let you down is God.  He’s your savior, not people. He won’t disappoint you.  He will always listen.  He always shows up.  He hardly ever does what you think He should do, how He should do it, or when.  But you can put your trust in Him completely.  God knows best.

Man, on the other hand, is another story.  As trustworthy as I like to think I am, I’m not as trustworthy as God.  I try not to say anything about someone I wouldn’t say to them.  When a friend tells me not to tell anyone, I do my best to honor their wishes.  But I’ve faltered.  I’ve succumbed to my human emotions and said things in the heat of the moment I shouldn’t.  I have plenty of these regretful moments in my past.  When I think of one of them, I cringe.  I not only disappointed God, I disappointed myself.  I’m human, perfect is not a word found in the definition of humanity.  If you want perfect, trust God, not man.

Trust God not man.

The beauty of trusting God, not man, is we take the pressure off our loved ones.  For instance, I don’t expect my husband to meet all of my needs.  I never have, because I’m not supposed too.  Making my husband responsible for meeting all my needs is setting him up for failure.  He simply can’t, expecting him too is putting too much pressure on him.  I definitely do not want him to expect me to meet all of his needs, I know I can’t.

By not placing our trust in humans to save us, we’re giving them freedom.  If we aren’t expecting perfection, we are able to embrace people’s imperfections. We don’t have to let people “off the hook,” because we never put them on it in the first place.  If we don’t expect the people in our lives to save us, we won’t get mad at them when they don’t.  Instead, we can enjoy the person God created.  We can help them find His purpose in their lives.  We can share their journey, rejoicing when they rejoice, weeping when they weep.  

Human beings cannot save.  God is the only savior:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Let people off the hook.  Don’t expect people to do for you what only God can do.  Let people be people, let God be God.  Once we understand the difference in their roles, knowing who to trust is easier.  Trust God, not man.

Question of the Day:

Who are you expecting to save you?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 13:1-14:29 NIVActs 18:23-19:12 NIV, Psalm 146 NIV, Proverbs 18:2-3 NIV

GOD IS SLOW TO ANGER, RICH IN LOVE FOR YOU

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145: 8 NIV)

Slow to anger, rich in love.  Two traits of God we should all emulate.  God’s patience with us is grace.  He doesn’t respond in anger, He responds in grace. My current prayer is simple: grace not anger.  I want to respond to people with grace, not anger.  Having grace for others is something we can only do with God’s help.

Think of a toddler who is constantly falling down.  As you watch them learn how to walk, you don’t get angry.  You smile at their attempts and help them back up when they need it.  We’re the toddlers in God’s eyes.  He watches us take steps of faith.  He watches us when we falter.  He helps us back up when we need it.  He’s rich in love for us because we’re at least trying.  And even if we don’t try, He still loves us.

Grace not anger, love not hate.

In our humanity, responding in grace and love is difficult.  My husband and I went golfing.  Our plan was to walk nine holes.  I have a three-wheel cart I use to push my bag along.  My husband carries his.  He forgot my cart.  I went from a good mood to a bad mood in a matter of seconds.  Anger consumed me.  How could he forget the cart?  My immediate response was not grace.  I wanted to punish him for forgetting.  I made him carry my bag to the pro shop.  None of my actions were grace filled, I’m embarrassed to admit.

But then there’s God.  The Holy Spirit started to nudge me in my anger.  I recognized I was overreacting to the situation.  My anger didn’t subside immediately.  I had to work to control my emotions.  I had to allow reason to enter into my thinking.  I had to pray, “Grace not anger.”  Those three words became my mantra.  And the anger subsided.

I apologized to my husband.  I understand his actions were not intentional.  Even if they were intentional, anger is not the response I want to have.  I want to respond the way God responds to me: slow to anger, rich in love.

When we turn to God in the midst of our sin, He’s not angry.  He rejoices:

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 NIV)

God rejoices when we turn to Him.  He is slow to anger, quick to love.  The only way we can respond like God is with God.  For whatever difficult relationship you’re dealing with today, pray “Grace not Anger, Love not Hate.”  Watch how God uses a simple prayer to change your life.

Question of the Day:

Who do you need grace and love for today?

Further Reading:2 Kings 10:32-12:21 NIV, Acts 18:1-22 NIV, Psalm 145:1-21 NIVProverbs 18:1 NIV

HOW GOD TRAINS YOU FOR BATTLE

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” (Psalm 144:1 NIV)

God trains you for battle with the mundane.  The daily routines you do every day that keep you going become your weapons in times of duress.  God trained David by making him a shepherd (1 Samuel 17 NIV).  For years, David tended sheep.  He killed lions and bears to protect his herd.  When God needed someone to stand up to Goliath, David was battle ready. God used the daily activities of a shepherd to train David as a warrior.  God trains us the same way.

  God trains you for the battle with the mundane.

Peeling potatoes can train you for battle.  Washing laundry, cleaning house, cooking meals are all ways God trains us.  As we encounter the battles of life, the hard days that never seem to end, we find comfort in the mundane.  

COVID is a good example.  People fought the battle of COVID  by cleaning closets.  They painted rooms, started workout routines and planted gardens.  The mundane tasks fought the fear, the worry, the anxiety of an unseen virus. People prayed as they completed their tasks.  Daily battles won renewed people’s faith.  The mundane tasks of living gave people purpose when they needed purpose.  

Each day when we spend time with God, He trains us.  I know, I’m never the same person after spending time in God’s word, praying and meditating on what He has for me.  I’m amazed at how He grows me, ever so gently.  He prods me in different directions, guiding me where He wants me to go.  Most of the time, I have no idea what He is doing.  But I trust His plan.  I’ve learned understanding isn’t a requirement of faith.  Faith is accepting you’re not going to understand everything.  

One of our favorite movies is The Legend of Bagger Vance.  Set in 1931, the Great Depression was in full swing.  The movie was narrated from the vantage point of the young caddy who loved the game of golf.  The boy’s father became a street sweeper when he lost his job.  He made enough to provide for his family, but his young son was ashamed of him.  One of my favorite scenes is when Junuh, the hero of the story, addresses this with his young caddy.  He looks the young boy in the eyes and says:

“Your daddy stared adversity in the eye, Hardy.  And he beat it back with a broom.”

Each day God trains us.  He equips us with what we already have.  When adversity strikes, we beat it back with the mundane.  God has already trained you for whatever battle you’re facing.  He uses the mundane to win the battle.  Whatever we need, He’s already given us.  Trust His training, win the battle!

Question of the Day:

How has the mundane helped you win the battle?

Further Reading: 2 Kings 9:14-10:31 NIV, Acts 17  NIV, Psalm 144 NIV, Proverbs 17:27-28 NIV