Do You Dance?

This post is a change of pace for this blog, so please be patient with me.  It has become very clear to me that in our current culture there is a severe lack of an ability to communicate effectively. This is an issue important to all of us, and I would like to address it here.

Years ago I read an article in a magazine (I wish I could remember what magazine and the author, but that was way before computers and search engines) about the art of communication. In the article, the author likened communication with dancing. When you are having a conversation with someone you are dancing, and every conversation is a different dance. For example, when you are in a business meeting, the dance is like that of a formal, choreographed waltz from the Renaissance; the dance you do with family can be like a square dance (kind of chaotic in an organized way); the dance you do with a group of friends is a line dance where you all have fun together; when dancing with people you’re angry with it is a break dance (violent and frenzied) and finally, when you dance with your significant other it can be a tango (fast paced and repetitive) or it can be a close, slow dance.  Yes, communication is a dance, and we should all partake to the best of our ability.

It could be said that we live in an era of mass communication. We are inundated with emails, text messages and many forms of social media; we have telephones, televisions, radios and a plethora of little electronic devices that we listen to and tap out messages on. People are in constant touch with all of the people in their lives, but how much of it is real communication? People talk all the time, but how many listen? Families and friends will gather only to spend their time posting pictures of their food to Facebook or arguing on Twitter rather than putting their toys down and having real conversations with those who are right there in front of them. People have been killed walking into the paths of busses and trains, or crashing their cars while trying to text, because their attention was on the electronic device in their hands and not on the world around them.  There is a great thirst for conversation, but many choose an empty glass that leaves them parched instead of a full glass that would satiate their thirst. It is a sad and sometimes dangerous choice.

The written word can convey a glimpse of what someone is trying to say, but it cannot express the fullness of the purpose behind the statement. A quickly written message on social media does not properly send the sentiment of what a person is trying to say; it is one-dimensional. Brief messages can incite anger; serious matters can be taken as jokes; humor is often misunderstood; and hearts can be broken, all because messages sent are not fully grasped. Telephone conversations are slightly better than text messages, because you can, at least, hear the inflection in a person’s voice as they speak and get a clearer idea of what the intent of their words are; telephone conversations are two-dimensional.

A three-dimensional conversation is personal. When you are together with the person you are talking with, you are able to judge the content of what they are saying. You get the fullness of the purpose of what is being said when you see the expression on someone’s face, hear the tone of their voice and see their body language. In-person communication doesn’t even have to include the spoken word; a lot of information can be found in a glance, a smile or the touch of a hand. The subtle nuances of a person’s character are a big part of effective communication.

Do you dance in your conversations? Or do you idly sit and expect others to read your mind? A declaration I hear often is, “Ah, I don’t have time for real conversations. Texting is how I keep in touch with my family and friends.” Really? How much time to you waste sending meaningless text messages when you could be doing your job? What would happen if you would complete your tasks without the distraction of text messages, Facebook posts and Twitter arguments? Would you, then, have more time to spend having an in-person conversation with your loved ones? (For a great example of how the constant texting and picture-taking can kill productivity in the work place, please see this ARTICLE) Do you really like wasting your time being knocked about in a Mosh Pit? Or would you rather have conversations that flow with the rhythm of life? I encourage you to consider putting your electronic gadget down and start having real conversations with the people in your life. Who knows? You might find yourself blissfully dancing to the greatest tune ever played: life itself.

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God Will Provide

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Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I will have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”  (1 Kings 17:2-4 NIV)

Elijah was the poster child for depression at the point in his life when God sent him to hide. He had just been instrumental in defeating the evil prophets of Baal, there was a bounty put on his head and he felt like he was the only one left in the world who loved God.  God saw Elijah’s heart and knew exactly how to heal him, so He sent him to a quiet place where his needs would be ministered to. The ravens brought bread and meat to Elijah twice a day (see 1 Kings 17:5-6) to provide for his bodily requirements and there was a brook to drink from to quench his thirst. But, God also sent Elijah to hide so He could provide for his spiritual needs.

We live in a culture of overwhelming social activity. There are so many aspects of our lives that involve other people: family gatherings, jobs, church groups, sporting activities, school and social events such as parties or get-togethers with friends. And then there is ‘social media’ where people spend endless hours tapping out meaningless rhetoric on their little electronic devices. There is rarely a moment in life when we are truly alone. A lot of people show signs of depression without even knowing it because they are so busy trying to fill every spare second of time with other people whether it is in person or in cyber space. Has God ever called you to hide? If so, it is because He wants to spend some quality time with you to address your needs; physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. You have worries and cares that weigh upon your shoulders, God wants you to set that burden down so he can heal you. Yes, we must have time in our lives for others, but it is imperative that we make time to hide and spend it with God in prayer and study of His Word. No matter what the circumstances of life, God will provide for all of your needs, if you let Him. If you ever need to be reminded of this fact, just look at the ravens and remember that God will send His messengers to minister to you wherever you may be.

Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:24-26 NIV)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, help me to hide myself in you and be grateful for all that you do for me. Give me courage when I am afraid, strength when I am weak and wisdom when my foolishness gets the better of me. Amen.

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Reality Check

Therefore, as God’s chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

(Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)

Every once in a while a specific section of Scripture really convicts me. The writer of Hebrews explained that the Word of God is sharper than a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12-13) and is capable of piercing the soul (paraphrase). I came across the verse above in my regular study on Tuesday evening and it really knocked me for a loop. I read it, and read it again and I realized that I fall so far short of being what God wants me to be, I must wonder if there is any hope for me at all. Do you fall short, too? Are you always compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient?  Do you forgive when someone hurts you?  Do you wear love everywhere you go?  I cannot answer, “yes” to any of these questions. To some, that would mean that I must not be a real Christian; if that is the case, then no one is.

Scripture is meant to convict us, but it is also meant to teach and comfort us. We are all a work in progress. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us, but it is a conscious choice we make to ignore the direction He gives us. I cannot speak for anybody else, but it is often difficult for me to follow the Holy Spirit because of my own foolish pride. There are some people who take being kind and patient too far and end up getting walked on and taken advantage of.  I push people away because I don’t have time to deal with the pain they cause. Meanwhile, those who get walked on are just as guilty of being prideful as I am.

Thankfully, just as Scripture can pierce the heart with uncomfortable truth, it can also heal. Recognizing those places where we fall short of God’s purpose for us is the beginning of growth. Once we’ve seen our own weakness then we can make the choice to let the Holy Spirit give us strength. A reality check is necessary. It doesn’t mean you see failure in your life and give up; it means you see failure and grow up.

Prayer – Father in Heaven, Please open my eyes to my failures and give me wisdom to learn from them. Help me to be the person You want me to be, teach me to serve You and allow my life to glorify You.

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What God Has in Store

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.                    

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

Every day we face trials, and with the current state of world affairs it just gets worse. We struggle with our finances, jobs, families, health, etc. How do we survive in this expensive, unstable and painful world? Sadly, some people resort to vice; whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling, adultery or some other destructive distraction or sin. Others become despondent and detached. No one has to sink into the depths, it is a choice. You can choose to deal with your problems the temporal (worldly) way, or you can choose to hand your troubles over to Jesus Christ and live for the Glory you will receive in His Kingdom. Everything the eye can see is temporal; everything is decaying and will at some point cease to exist. Yet, if we place our hope in God and trust in His promise that if we accept His Son as our Savior we will spend Eternity in Heaven (which we cannot see). Once you begin to look at life beyond what your physical eyes can see and recognize what your heart sees, you will have peace. It is a choice. I don’t know about you, but I choose to focus on what God has in store for me rather than what He must do to prepare me for it.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, Please increase my Faith and give me strength to face the tribulations each day will bring. Fill my heart with wisdom and prepare me for that day when I will be with you where you are. Amen

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Thirst Quencher

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.                              (John 7:37b-38 NIV)

People don’t often admit to having a Spiritual thirst, but it is something that everyone has. Just as when we are denied water our physical thirst can be overwhelming, so too, can a Spiritual thirst overwhelm us. Sadly, people don’t recognize Spiritual thirst for what it is; a need for God. It is easy to determine that emptiness inside is the need for a human relationship, a new job, a house, a vacation, alcohol or drugs. You cannot satisfy a Spiritual thirst with worldly things; only the Grace of God through the Salvation of Jesus Christ is able to quench that thirst in us.  Once we receive His gifts we are filled to the brim and overflowing with His Spirit. That is how the Living Waters are able to reach those parched souls around us.

The Living Water is the Holy Spirit Himself. When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and we accept Him, God sends the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our paths; just as a river flows freely, so should we.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, in Thy Holy Name, Please keep me from trying to dam up the Living Water that you have blessed me with. Help me to let go and let Your Spirit flow through me to wherever You want it to.  Amen.

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He Must Be Greater

To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.  (John 3:27-30)

John the Baptist knew his place and knew it well. It is easy to get caught up in our own zeal for the Gospel and forget the true reason for it; Jesus Christ. In our own pride we can get lost in sharing the Gospel; trying to convince others to accept it.  The process of sharing the Gospel can become somewhat of a job rather than a joy. When we invite Jesus to come into our lives, we must be willing to let Him be the guiding force in all aspects of our lives. Inviting Him in and then asking Him to sit in the corner and watch you do great things doesn’t work. The only way you can do great things is to let Him take the lead. It us pure folly to think that we can draw others to Jesus with our own feeble efforts.  Pride will keep you from knowing the pure joy of Jesus Christ. Letting go of pride is the only way to effectively share what God has given to you with others.  That point in life at which we are able to honestly say, “He must become greater; I must become less.” is the point of His true revelation in our own lives.  When He becomes greater, our faith becomes stronger and we are filled with unfathomable joy.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, cleanse me of the iniquity that keeps me tied to my own pride, and give me the wisdom and courage to follow Your lead in all things. Amen

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Rest!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The world we live in is overflowing with chaos. The burdens we carry are abundant. We worry about our family, friends, community, jobs, finances and our country. It is easy to think we must carry the burden ourselves, but it is of utmost importance to let go and give our worries to Jesus, because He (and He alone) is capable of handling it.  Taking time to rest from our tasks is a command from God (Exodus 20:8-11). Our world runs constantly, so it is difficult to define a day of Sabbath Rest, but is imperative that we do so.

We must take the time every day to rest in God’s Word and learn from Him. We must pray and lay our worries out before Him. We must give thanks for the abundance of blessings that He has poured upon us.  And, we must quietly relax and know in our heart that He is taking care of us.

For the next week or so, I will be away from this blog. It is my intent to rest in God’s Word, listen to His Voice and give my worries over to Him. I hope to come back to you replenished and filled with energy to share more of His Word with you.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, take my worries and cares, fill my with Your Spirit and give me strength and courage to share what You give me with others. Amen

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If you are interested in helping me get my book projects published, please consider visiting this link –>  GoFundMe  Thank you and God bless you.

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A Faithful Following

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. ” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)

They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way; get off this path and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (Isaiah 30:10-11 NIV)

All throughout Scripture we are warned of people who want watered down teachings of God’s Word. The Truth is simple: you either believe God’s Word, or you don’t. The demands of our culture are no different from the demands of almost 3,000 years ago. The sinful nature of humanity has always wanted to change God’s Word to suit themselves. But, God’s Word does not change. Just as the assurance of His Judgment is the same now as it was in the Garden of Eden, so too is His Love and Mercy still the same. God asks us to be faithful followers; that means placing our faith in the proper place, in Him!

A church, a group or a person who deviate from the teaching of Scripture in order to appease the sinful nature of man is dangerous! It is not possible for us to adhere to all the Laws that God placed in front of us; that is why Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself and died on the Cross. We must strive to live perfect lives, because He is in us and we are in Him, but we will fail from time to time.  If we make a practice of ignoring or trying to change Scripture to suit our own ideas of what God wants, we fail! Being a faithful follower means taking God at His Word, whether we like it our not because in the end it will be His Word against ours.

Prayer: O God in Heaven, in Your Holy Name! Guide my feet on a righteous path that leads to your Kingdom. Strengthen my faith in You, that my life will reflect your Glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Do You Know What Love Is?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV emphasis added)

Do you really know what love is? Are you capable of loving the way Scripture tells us we ought to? Here’s a simple exercise: Look carefully at the verse above; replace every bold-print word with your name and personal pronoun (example: Susan is patient… I do not envy, etc.) Read the verse out loud with your name. How does it sound? Do you fall short? I know I do. When I replace the word Love with my name all I get is absolute conviction; I don’t even come close. Most of us don’t.

Now, try reading it like this:

Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Yes, the very definition of love is Jesus Christ! When we live in Him and He in us, then we become love. It is a daily process. Some days we succeed, some days we fail. Because He first loved us, we are able to love ourselves and others. As we listen to His Word, and as He fills us with His Spirit, we are emptied of the failure. Growing in our Faith brings us closer to the point where we can put our name in that verse and know the Jesus Christ is doing His work in us.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, in Your Holy Name, Empty me of the things that keep me from living the Love that You have already given me. Amen.

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Desperation

Oh Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgement, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:1-2 NIV)

The prayer of desperation is often the most honest of all prayers. When circumstances bring us to a breaking point we tend to get real about our own lack of righteousness. It is easy to forget that God is omniscient; He knows everything! He knows what is in your heart, what is in your head; He knows every word you speak and every thing you do. We are all unworthy of His mercy, because we all sin (see Romans 3:23). But, we must also remember that God loves us, not only when we are desperate for Him, but also when we think things are okay.  We go through seasons in life; some seasons are fruitful and abundant, some are bleak and painful. Being desperate for God’s presence during all circumstances is imperative to growing our Faith. Sure, you want God’s help when you hurt, but do you want God’s presence when you are laughing and dancing? It takes a lot of practice to get to the point when you not only think of God in all things, but that you want Him in all things.  God is righteous we are not. God is also merciful and forgiving. If we learn to rely on His faithfulness our desperation turns to peace.

Prayer: Father in Heaven, in Your Holy Name, Please help me to find shelter in You in all things.  Fill my heart with the everlasting joy of your eternal presence in my soul. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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