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This page is intended to refresh your spirit and soul.

The following are some personal photos I took and paired with Bible verses.

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At the bottom of the photos are a series of dots.


If you continue to scroll down further, you will find my daily blogs.


"Loving By Listening...Part II"


"Whoever is patient has great understanding,

but one who is quick-tempered displays folly."

Proverbs 14:29



You and I may have different talents to offer this world but some of the gifts God has given us are the same.  We are each called to be fruit growers, as we plant, grow and harvest the fruit of His Holy Spirit.  This may seem like an easy thing but the actual doing is difficult. (Galatians 5:22)


Today I had my plan to devote time to writing my blog.  My plan did not happen the way I had hoped, at the time I had planned and yet I am LEARNING that I need to be ADAPTABLE, KIND, PERSISTENT, and PATIENT.  The website I am using was full of glitches.  I kept losing connection.  Blogs were missing.  Fonts were changing in the midst of my typing, the Spell Check feature was not working.  It was nothing short of aggravating and yet...I remained steadfast...I was determined.


The above Bible verse (Proverbs 14:29) kept coming to my mind.  I was doing my best to be patient, but I was not understanding why so much of my day had to be spent on what SEEMED to me to be a waste of time?  But was it?  Was it important for me to stay determined and focused when disappointments and things beyond my control kept coming my way?  Was kindness and politeness to the Customer Service Representatives something God valued, even when it SEEMED as if their advice did not resolve the issues and APPEARED? 


Did I FEEL like I had great understanding when repeatedly put on hold with "longer than normal wait times?"  Is understanding really all that important?  How ADAPTABLE could I be when a friend "interrupted" my blog writing with a lengthy dilemma she was experiencing?  Which was more important?  Being there for a friend or completing a blog?  I CHOSE the friend.  After the conversation, I started back on the blog only to get booted off the site. REALLY? This is the tenth time!!!  UGH!  No matter what I did, something unexpected happened to frustrate my attempts to write.  I decided to go for a walk to get a change of scenery and some fresh air.  I  come back to get a fresh start.  It sounded good in theory.


As I was walking, I called a friend who lives in the neighborhood.  She wanted me to stop by her house to show me something that was important to her.  It wasn't important to me but because she is important to me, I went.  It was a nice visit.  An important time for ministry and friendship.  It wouldn't have happened had I been on a mission.  It was an "unexpected interruption" but those are often "Divine appointments."  If Jesus took time for those, I can too.  I left their home and completed the walk.  


I started back again.  Wow...things were actually working for a change.  I was beginning to get into a rhythm...that was until the phone rang. Another friend...another LONG saga.  Difficult relationships...drama...hurts and offenses...fears.  The usual stuff.  My friend was afraid that her phone call might be interrupting me from doing something important.  I told her that her and her friendship was what mattered.  She proceeded to tell me that she always felt that she could call me because I always made her feel important.


Wow...if she only knew how far God had brought me.  If she only knew that God had been training me for years to handle adversity, interruptions, disappointments, heartache, relationship issues, illnesses, etc.  As a matter of fact, He had me in intensive training just before she called. Thankfully, He's a Masterful Teacher.  He had prepared me well.  I passed with excellence and in both cases, their days and hearts were brighter as a result.


There would have been a time when I would have ignored the phone calls. There would have been a time when I would have agreed that I was in the midst of something important and didn't have time to talk.  There would have been a time when my mind would have been distracted with "my own issues" and I would have tried to rush through the conversation. There would have been a time when my grumpiness would have been apparent and I would have changed the focus of the conversation to me and what I was going through.  There would have been a time when I would have missed out on what really mattered.


Things aren't always what they seem.  At the heart of the issue is the issue of the heart.  God cares about ALL of us, the good, the bad, the hurting, the abuser, the victim, the prisoner, the outcast.  Jesus took time to teach, disciple, heal, restore and love.  He calls us to do the same.

Oh, by the way, after I "passed the test" and went back working on the Blog after the phone call.  It was only about five hours and 35 times of being kicked off the web builder but I am better for it and am grateful.  




 












"Loving by Listening"


"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

James 1:19


Our society places great importance on speaking. Phrases such as "speaking your mind", "free speech" and "telling it like it is" and others abound. But God places a great deal of emphasis on listening. Today we are going to look at this important aspect of our lives, beginning with the above verse.


First off, ALL Christians are part of God's family. We are all brothers and sisters. We ALL have important things to learn, from our Father, from His Son, Jesus and from each other. James lets us know that we are all loved when he refers to us as dear brothers and sisters. We need to keep that in the forefront of our minds, since Satan will often try to undermine our confidence that we are loved. When we question God's love for us, it will only be a matter of time before Satan will get us to question God's promises to meet our needs and answer our prayers. We will begin to think that we must meet our own needs. Since sin is progressive, we will eventually believe that we must meet our needs at the expense of others, no matter what the cost. God is a God of excellence and balance, therefore, He tells us that when we meet someone else's needs, He will meet our own. Listening to others is to become a higher priority in our lives than speaking what we want others to know.


James tells us that we need to take note of this. The reason we take notes is so we won't forget something important. James knows how easy it is for us to get puffed up with pride and arrogance. He knows that our sin nature is basically self-centered. He is reminding us that the life that is pleasing to God is that which is other-centered, not self-centered. Listening is a gift we can give others to demonstrate to them their importance and self-worth, under such a time as they learn how to listen to God and hear it directly from Him.


James also shares that we are to be QUICK to listen, SLOW to speak and SLOW to become angry. We need to listen for the meaning behind the words, not just the words themselves. We need to LEARN to ask clarifying questions, in order to glean more information and to make sure that we understand what is being said. We need to DISCOVER the FEELINGS behind the words. This verse speaks to the importance of not REACTING too quickly and becoming angry and reactive.


Proverbs 1:5 tells us that "a wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel." How do you feel when someone takes the time to listen and actually hear to understand what it is that you saying? You feel as if they care about you. You feel affirmed and valued. You desire to spend more time with them. They will often be the very people which God uses to positively influence your life. God will bless you with amazing opportunities to positively impact others when you listen to Him and obey. He then will raise you up to demonstrate His love by listening to others.


Proverbs 12:15 advises us to listen to sound counsel. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." This doesn't mean that we should act on every piece of advice but that we should select wise Christians who are living out the Gospel in their own lives, exhibiting the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16) and go to them for confirmation. We should go to God first but He will often confirm what He says through verses in Scripture, through other mature Christians and through our circumstances. He will also confirm His will through our feelings by giving us His peace when we are living out His purposes.


Proverbs 18:13 warns us that it is foolishness to give an answer before hearing and understanding what is being said. It admonishes us once again that REACTING leads us to shame. Proverbs 19:27 tells us what happens when we stop listening. We will stray from words of knowledge which could help us. Proverbs 18:2 informs us that "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."


Titus 3:2 admonishes us to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good "To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone." Wow...what a contrast to that which we see on TV as people REACT to the police, those who are serving as elected officials in our government and to others with whom they disagree. What would happen if they listened so to understand? What would happen if we did?


Titus goes on to say that we were saved in order to do good and to positively impact the lives of others, so that they too might follow Christ. "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kind of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.  But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned."


Jesus informed us that there would be wolves in sheep's'clothing but that we would know those who were His followers by their fruit. (Galatians 5:22). We are not to be overcome by evil, rather, we are to overcome evil by doing good. (Romans 12:21) His followers are not to be divisive and perpetuate strife. We are to promote unity and love, as we LEARN to LISTEN and seek to LEARN how to LOVE AND UNDERSTAND. Only then can we pray, bless, extend grace, forgive and serve with excellence, through the power wisdom and strength of Jesus Christ.



 















"Everyone Loves an Encourager!"


"Therefore encourage one another and 

build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

1 Thessalonians 5:11


This life is not easy.  There are often unexpected interruptions to our plans.  There are difficult personality types which come out way.  There are financial challenges which we must face at various times, sudden health issues among ourselves, family members, neighbors, co-workers, workplace management changes and layoffs, etc.  Sometimes it seems as if every time you turn around you are dealing with another unexpected crisis or problem.


That's why as Christians, we have a great opportunity to be  a "First Responder." We have a privilege of coming to the aid of those who are experiencing dejection, depression, discouragement, disease, despair, doubt, etc.  We have been blessed with the hope of the Gospel and the Word of God which guides, directs and inspires us to keep going.  

Mark Twain once said that he could live a whole year on one good compliment.  How many people do you know who chose their career as a result of someone who inspired, mentored and provided encouragement to them?  Think back over your own life and I bet you will discover that God raised up certain individuals at just the right time who spoke a "word in due season" to keep you on course and who inspired confidence in you and your abilities.  


As Believers, it is up to us to be FULL of hope.  We are called to be difference makers.  It is up to us to offer hope to those around us. That is something everyone can benefit from.  As always, God's Word is the basis for the hope we have.  Matthew 28:20b promises us that God is with us always, even to the end of the age."   Hebrews 135c says that He will never leave us or forsake us.  We may feel alone, fearful, inadequate or ill-equipped but but He is always with us.  2 Corinthians 12:9-11 tells us "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that "the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but give us power, love and self-discipline."

Ask God to bring to your mind someone who is in need of a word of encouragement.  Take a few moments to text, write, call or visit that person today.  Find out what they are going through and don't be afraid to ask them about their worst fears?  In doing so, you will learn how best to encourage and bless them.  You will also be able to find verses from the Bible that may pertain to their particular situation.  Kindly ask if it would be alright with them if you prayed for them immediately, if they say no, gently tell them that you will pray for them daily in private.


Be sure and make a note on your calendar to remind yourself to pray for them.  Also schedule a reminder to follow up with them in a week or two to see how they are doing and to let them know that you care about them and what they are going through.  You will be surprised how just being available and caring can take your relationship to a whole deeper level. Continue to jot down notes with each conversation, so you can praise God for His answer to your prayers and continue to pray specifically for their needs.


You will be amazed how encouraged you will feel when you become other-centered.  Empathy, compassion and authenticity can go a long way in building others up.  Pray for discernment and seek to learn what verses might apply to their situation?  2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."


So what should you do if you are trying to encourage a non-believer?  You can be a good friend.  You can listen, offer support, you can share verses which have helped you.  You can reveal times in your past (or present) when you too were feeling discouraged, weary, troubled or confused.  


1 Peter 3:15 reminds us how to proceed in such matters.  "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect."


Isaiah 55:11 promises "So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  It is not always necessary to quote chapter and verse when God's Word is part of your everyday vocabulary.  There is great power and encouragement in your love, words and care.


As St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.  Use words if necessary.








"God's Provisions for Your Victory"


"Then the Spirit took control of Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said:

We are yours, David, we are with you, son of Jesse!  

Peace, peace to you, and peace to him who helps you,

for your God helps you."

1 Chronicles 12:18


I have probably read through the bible at least 25 times and it still amazes me how the Holy Spirit will continually enlighten me with new truths to learn.  Today, I was reading from 1 Chronicles 12.  The chapter talks about how various men CAME TO DAVID while he was banned from the presence of King Saul.  King Saul was the king of Israel but in his pride and arrogance, he had repeatedly disobeyed God and opened himself to be negatively influenced by evil spirits, even attempting to kill David who was serving him faithfully. 


 God had previously sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David to be king over Israel, even though he was young and it would be many years before He would be raised up to be King.  In the meantime, David would have to be patient, humble and suffer mistreatment under King Saul, as he underwent training and mentorship for his eventual promotion.  


Throughout the Bible, God places people in difficult circumstances.  Many times these individuals were mistreated, suffered terribly and were misunderstood and dismissed.  THESE PEOPLE AND CIRCUMSTANCES WERE PART OF GOD'S ULTIMATE PLAN FOR GOOD.  Once those God was raising up had humbled themselves, submitted themselves to the will and purposes of God, in HIS WAY and in HIS TIMING, HE RAISED THEM UP FOR HIS GREATER PURPOSES.


This chapter illustrates this perfectly.  When the timing of God was right, GOD SENT MEN TO DAVID.  These weren't just any old rag tag band of misfits.  They were strategically selected for their skills and were raised up to assist David in waging war against Saul so he could become king.  


I knew men had come to David to assist him in battle but it was only today that God drew my attention to the special calling and skills each of these men possessed.  For instance God raised up warriors and archers from the tribe of Benjamin who could use either the right or left hand, both to sling stones and to shoot arrows from a bow.  


He called some Gadites to defect to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were fighting men, trained for battle, expert with shield and spear. These Gadites were army commanders; the least of them was a match for a hundred, and the greatest of them for a thousand.  They were the men who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and put to flight all those in the valleys to the east and to the west.  

Other Benjaminites and men from Judah also went to David at the stronghold.    David when out to meet them.  Then the Spirit took control of Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he committed himself and his men to David.  He encouraged him and prophesied God's peace and help to David. David received them and made them leaders of his troops.


Again, God provided David men when he went to Ziklag. Some of the Manassites defected to David.  They were chiefs of thousands in Manasseh and helped David against the raiders.  They were all brave warriors and commanders in the army.  At that time, men came day after day to help David until there was a great army, like an army of God.  


The numbers of the armed troops who came to David at Hebron to turn Saul's kingdom over to him, according to the LORD'S word, were as follows: From the Judahites: 6,800 armed troops bearing shields and spears. From the Simeonites: 7,100 brave warriors ready for war.  From the Levites: 4,600 in addition to Jehoiada, leader of the house of Aaron, with 3,700 men; and Zadok, a young brave warrior, with 22 commanders .


God even raised up 3,000 Benjaminites, the relatives of Saul.  From the Ephraimites, there were 20, 800 brave warriors who were famous men in their ancestral houses.  From the half tribe of Manasseh: 18,000 designated by name to come and make David king.  From the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do: 200 chiefs with all their relatives under their command.


From Zebulun: 50,000 who could serve in the army, trained for battle with all kinds of weapons of war, with one purpose to help David.  From Naphtali: 1,000 commanders accompanied by 37,00 men with shield and spear.  From the Danites: 28,600 trained for battle.  From Asher: 40,000 who could serve in the army, trained for battle.  From across the Jordan - from the Reubenites, Danites, and half the tribe of Manasseh: 120,000 men equipped with all the military weapons of war.


All these warriors, lined up in battle formation, came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel.  All the rest of Israel was also of one mind to make David king.  They spent three days there eating and drinking with David, for their relatives had provided for them.  In addition, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali came and brought food on donkeys, camels, mules, and oxen- abundance provisions of flour, fig cakes, raisins, wine and oil, oxen, and sheep.  Indeed, there was joy in Israel.


God raised up men from all 12 tribes.  To me, this chapter illustrates perfectly God's sovereignty in bringing about His purposes.  He brought love and loyalty to David.  He brought peace among David's men and joy. The fruits of God's Spirit and purpose is evident.  He brought unity of purpose and vision.  He brought David wisdom as he waited on God.


God will do the same for you.  He will often place you in difficult circumstances, with difficult people and require you to do difficult things with excellence and diligence.  It is during such times when you will face opposition, discouragement, fatigue and mistreatment.  


If you are in such a place right now, seek God's wisdom, direction and guidance through prayer and His word.  Focus on praising Him as you love and serve others.  Pray that He will open the doors where He wants you to be and that He will close the doors where He doesn't want you to be.  Pray for His favor and peace to be upon you.  Pray for your enemies and look for opportunities to bless them with good.  Be faithful.  Be patient.  Be adaptable.  Be peaceful.  In the midst of it all, be thankful.  Stay hopeful and prepare to be blessed.


AT THE RIGHT TIME GOD WILL PROVIDE WHAT YOU NEED AND RAISE YOU UP TO FULFILL YOUR PURPOSE IN BRINGING HIM HONOR AND GLORY.  There's NOTHING more thrilling than that and it is worth everything you have to go through in order to achieve HIS purposes and victory!









"Humility and Healing"


"So I always take pains to have a clear conscience

 toward both God and man."

Acts 24:16


It seems as if every time I write a blog, almost immediately afterwards I will be tested to see whether or not I am consistent in living out those same truths.  It is so easy for me to know the right thing to do but it is ever so hard to live it.


Such was the case yesterday.  Throughout the day I was doing ever so well in my thoughts, words and deeds when SUDDENLY something UNEXPECTED happened.  My intentions seemed right at the time but I did the very thing I advised not to do in my previous blog.  When something bothered me, I did not ask God for His guidance, direction and wisdom.  I FELT that it was up to me to GIVE MY OPINION and it was not well received.


Throughout the night it kept coming to me to apologize but I kept RATIONALIZING AND JUSTIFYING why what I did was o.k.  I wanted to bring others to a better way to live because I genuinely cared about them but I came across as judgmental, ignorant and holier-than-thou.  I tried to SHARE MY WISDOM and wisdom wasn't welcome.  In my enthusiasm to impart spiritual truths, I did what I thought would be helpful.  It wasn't.  I REACTED rather than ACTED.  I left God out of the equation and I failed to pray.  In other words, I reaped what I sowed.  I genuinely wanted to sow good seeds but works of the flesh can never  reap fruits of the Spirit.


So...I decided to pray.  I asked God to show me what He would have me to do.  What He would have me to say.  I confessed my pride, arrogance, judgement, hypocrisy and offense to Him and asked Him to forgive me and to cleanse me from every form of unrighteousness.  I then had to humble myself to those I had offended, even though I wanted to justify my intentions and actions.  I reminded myself that at the heart of the matter was the matter of the heart.  


It is not my job to convict and correct without the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit.  It my job to love and serve others.  It is my job to speak what God would have me to speak and act as He would have me to act, in His way, through His Word and in His timing.  He is faithful and trustworthy to bring His purposes and plan to completion.


God blessed me with a perfect opportunity to share my heart, my desire, my error and my regret.  It was risky and I felt vulnerable and disheartened.  Satan kept tempting me to move on.  He kept telling me that by bringing up the situation I would re-opening a can of worms that was best left alone.  I wanted to believe what he told me because it would be easier and less risky to the relationship but I just kept focused on the fact that love was what mattered. Demonstrating my love for God and others, not just in the times of excellence but also in the times of failure.


Thankfully, my confession and apology was well received. The response given to me afterwards was one of gracious love and forgiveness.  It unified.  It blessed.  It built up.  It honored God.  Trusting in God and His Word will ALWAYS TAKE YOU OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.  IT ALWAYS INVOLVES RISK.  EXPECT THAT AND GET USED TO IT!  Humility is often the very means God uses to intervene and bless, however, OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S WORD will ALWAYS NEED TO COME FIRST.


God is ever so faithful.  I will keep getting tests.  I will keep learning.  I will keep growing...and failing.  I will keep confessing and forgiving myself and others.  I will keep drawing upon the CONTINUOUS GRACE AND MERCY JESUS DIED TO GIVE ME.


It's "do over" time.  Another opportunity to demonstrate His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness to others.  Another opportunity to serve.  Another opportunity to honor and glorify Him!









"Bringing Things into Focus!"


"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."

Colossians 3:2


In order to wake up on time, we set our alarms for a certain time.  We need to get into the same habit when it comes to the things of God.  We need to submit our minds to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  We need to begin LEARNING how to think from a spiritual basis, rather than from an earthly basis.  This means keeping our minds focused on God and His Word.  It also means rooting out every thought which is not focused on God and distract us from His purposes.


I am starting to realize that negativity is a distraction.  Every time someone does something to annoy, anger or hurt me it is used by the enemy to tempt me to REACT rather than act.  I've had many opportunities to react to various hurtful comments and to speculate regarding their motives.  But God's Word instructs me to respond differently.  I am told that only God knows the motives of the human heart.  Often others are completely unaware of how the enemy uses their words or actions to cause me pain.  I have to LEARN not to go there and to CHOOSE not to speculate.  


2 Corinthians 10:5 says that "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."


Does that mean that we are just to be a doormat and lovingly dismiss any offense which comes our way?  I don't believe so.  But I do believe that we need to memorize and live out the truths in Ephesians 4:26 which state, "In your anger do not sin."  We will get angry.  Anger is a indicator that something is wrong.  We then need to keep James 1:19-20 in mind.  "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."


Proverbs 29:11 gives us further wisdom.  "Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.  Proverbs 19:11 tells us that "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is one's glory to overlook an offense."   Proverbs 15:1 reveals that "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  Verse 18 warns us that "A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel."