Tuesday, October 30, 2007


“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:31-34

My 10-year-old daughter, Gabriella, recently wrote a poem called “What Chicken Little Might Have Said”:

It’s falling, it’s falling
The whole earth is falling.
In a few minutes, you will be crawling.

It’s falling, it’s falling,
The blue skies and clouds are falling.
Com’on you guys, there’s no time for stalling!

It’s falling, it’s falling,
You will be balling!
In minutes, in seconds, you will be balling!

Chicken Little was a worrier. He took a small thing - getting hit on the head - and grew it into something much worse. Before long he had everyone shook up, stirred up, and all in distress!

We often do the same thing. We look at a large stack of bills and we look at our check stubs, and we start to worry. We hear our child cough in the night, and start to worry about how we’ll be able to take them to the doctor when we’re working full time. We see a low tire and worry that it might have a leak. We have cross words with our spouse and we begin to worry that they don’t love us any more. We take the smallest things, and make them into incredibly terrible situations.

Why do we do this? We lose focus. It’s impossible to worry when you’re focusing on what Jesus wrote in Matthew 6:32, “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Matthew 7:11 also tells us that God, our Father, gives good gifts to His children. None of our problems take Father God by surprise. If we can continue to focus on that knowledge while dealing with our problems, we won’t become a Chicken Little! Look up when your problems come! Trust God with your circumstances. He is faithful, He is always on the job, and he will not forsake you.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Doing Battle with the Sword

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” – Ephesians 6:14-18

The verses above are often referred to as the Armor of God. The verses tell us what we need to do battle in the spiritual realm where good and evil exist. We need the truth, we need righteousness, we need the peace of the Gospel of Christ, we need faith, and we need salvation. These elements pertain to our protection.

Only one weapon is mentioned in this text, and that is the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Holy Word. Evil can only be overcome by the word of God. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4, he didn’t try to manhandle Satan, although he could have. He didn’t send the angels to fight his battle, although he could have. He didn’t cause Satan to be mute and speechless, although he could have. Jesus simply spoke God’s word.

God’s word is the most powerful weapon we have, and yet, many of us never take it out of its sheath. There is power, and victory, to be gained by praying God’s word in times of struggle.

Do you have a child that will not obey?
Pray Isaiah 54:13, “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Pray Psalms 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” and Matthew 7:11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”.

Do you have enemies that seek to destroy you?
Pray Deuteronomy 28:7, “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”

Do you have fears that overwhelm you?
Pray Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”, or Psalms 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD".

Do you have financial hardships that are burdening you?
Pray Matthew 6:29-32, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”

God has given us these promises to sustain us in battle. Other problems can come our way, but God has given us the words to fight in every circumstance. There are no battles in which the word of God will not cause us to be victorious. If there were, He would have given additional weapons in the Armor of God.

Friends, praying God’s word can change your life. It can enable you to overcome the problems that life brings your way, increase your faith and strengthen your relationship with God. The Bible is your sword, your battling iron. Don’t leave it in the sheath. Keep it polished and ever present.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Will You Be My Teacher?

“… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;…” – Matthew 28:20

I was checking out at a department store recently and came in contact with a sweet lady who struck up a conversation about one of the baby items I’d purchased. She began to tell me about a couple who nearly lost their baby until she began to talk to them about praying God’s word over their unborn child. We talked for only 2-3 minutes while she was checking me out. As I went to the car it dawned on me that she had not only been my cashier, she’d also been my teacher.

As we go through the day, we come in contact with many people who are our teachers. It’s God’s design for us to learn from each other. Some teachers are as pleasant as my cashier and others…not so much.

What about the insistently whining child that was in the cart ahead of me? All that complaining and begging made me want shove the chocolate bar he wanted into his little mouth and snatch up his mom and give her a lesson in child rearing! But did I learn something? Yes. I learned patience. I’m praying I won’t have to have any refresher courses on this one, but I’d bet they’re on God’s agenda for me.

Just as others are teaching us, we are teaching as well. Someone once said, “You may be the only Bible someone will ever read.” Just as children learn to walk and talk by watching and listening to those around them, others are watching and listening each day to learn from us how to deal with the events of life itself.

Are we teaching self control, or how to lose our temper?

Are we teaching compassion or selfishness?

Are we teaching them to be “harmless as doves” or are they learning to use words that crush the heart?

I passed a church sign today that says it all. “Watch your step….everyone else does.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stirring the Pot

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was lead as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth." – Isaiah 53:7

My Grandmother Ruby wasn't the gossiping kind. She had a name for those who shared all their problems in detail. She called them "pot stirrers". She'd say they were "stirring the pot and they'd end up cooking up something terrible". She was right. As those pot stirrers would roam around from one person to another they'd gather bad advice like a dog gathers fleas. They'd get discouragement, they'd gain anger, they'd get fake sympathy to enforce their bad attitudes, and next thing you know, the pot was full!

When we give our problems the focus of our minds, they consume us. We should never give way to doubt or discouraging thoughts. It's often the mouth that ends up causing our problems. If every thought we had that was hurtful, disappointing, or not glorifying to God was simply tossed out of our heads by not focusing on it, consider how much happier we would be!

Just in case you're sitting back reading this and saying, "Oh, that's denial", let me just say that denial isn't a negative thing when it produces positive results. Will worrying about your problems make them go away? Will God be pleased with your worry, which shows a lack of faith in Him? Will He be glorified as you go from one person to another showing this lack of faith?

When Jesus was being tortured before His death, He did not speak. He bore incredible physical and emotional pain without opening his mouth. There's a lesson there for us. We need to keep our mouths shut more often. I can say this because I'll testify I should lead the "shut up" parade and carry the banner!

The only person who can help with our problem is God, and that should be the one we take them to. There's no problem we can have that he doesn't care about, can't fix, or won't fix if we only believe in Him and His deliverance. He won't give us poor advice, and He won't go behind our backs and spread those problems to others. Focus on God, and His authority over the obstacles in our life, and not on the problem itself. Focus on God, and all your problems will simply fade in comparison to His love.

The Search for Someone To Blame

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. “ – James 1:13-15

When I was younger we use to watch the Flip Wilson show on TV. One of the skits Flip would do was to dress as a woman and become his “alter ego”, Geraldine. Geraldine, a somewhat wild and unruly woman, would blame all her actions on the devil. She’s say in a shout, “The devil made me do it!” Satan will tempt, that is true, and it’s easy to let him be the scapegoat.

I’ve also heard people say that God placed a test in front of them and they failed, thereby they have committed a sin. But God doesn’t tempt us. It’s our own desires that cause us to stray from God’s will. Why would a Father who seeks to perfect His children place snares in their way to trip them up? Not only is it Biblical, but it’s simply logical that God doesn’t tempt His children. Would you purify gold just to contaminate it with dirt again?

It seems we’re always looking for someone to blame our sins on. It makes the repentance a little bit easier if we can share it.

“I lied to her about how nice she looked because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

“If I’d not gone with you, I’d never have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“You’re just one of those people that brings out the worst in me!”

“If you didn’t nag at me so much, I wouldn’t drink.”

“I could be nicer if you were smarter!”

No matter how we candy coat it, how many we find to blame, the pill is still a sour one to swallow. We sin, and we sin because the desires of our own heart lead us. Sorry Geraldine, it wasn’t just Satan honey, you were a willing accomplice!

“The search for someone to blame is always successful.” – Robert Half

Garbage In - Garbage Out

“So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”” – Matthew 15:16-20

In my last house, I had a garbage disposal in my kitchen sink. I loved that garbage disposal! I could put anything into it and at the flick of a switch, poof – it was gone! The turkey tetrazzini that sounded so good (but was so disgusting the dogs wouldn’t eat it), the pecan pie that was pecan syrup, the freezer burned ice cream, that stuff from the very back of the refrigerator that’s blue and hairy – it wasn’t picky! It would take it all in, chew it all up, and down it would go never to be seen again!

Now that I’ve moved, I don’t have a disposal anymore. Now I have a sink drain screen. When I rinse the plates, it catches the uneaten pieces of food. Then I have to pick up the screen, and take it to the garbage can and empty it. It’s a chore, but it’s much better to do it that way than to have a clog in my sink to deal with!

Sometimes we are like the garbage disposal. There’s no filter between the world’s vices and us. We aren’t picky eaters! We take in the behind the counter magazines, the TV ad’s that sell sex more than the product, the music that tells us to do what feels good rather than what’s right, horror movies, books of crime and devious acts, and so much more. We take it in, let our brains chew on it, and down into the depths of our hearts it goes. Just like the garbage disposal, poof, it’s gone! Or is it?

There’s just one problem with the garbage that we let enter our heart. There’s no drainage from the heart except back out through the body’s actions. Our senses take in the garbage of the world as if we were a disposal, when in fact we’re more like the sink drain screen. What we allow in most definitely will come back to hurt us. We have to make a conscious effort to filter out and dispose of the garbage we come in contact with.

Have you ever watched a movie on TV that had bad language, and found yourself repeating it just hours later? Have you ever watched a show where someone was drinking an alcoholic drink, and found yourself craving it? What do you think about when you’re listening to one of those songs about “intimate” relationships? It’s embarrassing to think we are that easily sidetracked. Yet exposing our senses, the plumbing of our hearts, to these corrupt things leads to one thing: sin.

It’s our own desires that cause us to sin, and those desires start in the heart. Our heart is the throne room of the Holy Spirit. We wouldn’t track dirt into God’s house, and we should be careful what we allow into the home of the Holy Spirit.

Photo courtesy of Wiseacre Photo.