Sunday, December 30, 2007

You Control Your Future

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to learn was how to swim. It wasn’t getting into the water – I loved that. It wasn’t wading out into the deep water – I liked that too. But to learn to swim, you have to be willing to lift your feet off the ground and lose control so that your body can float. Every time I’d raise one foot to try, I’d tilt sideways and feel as thought I was going over on my back and drowning. If I lifted both, I’d panic because at first my body would drop deeper into the water, and I felt as if I were going under. The key was being able to lose control and trust the water to float me.

Martha had control issues as well. As she and her sister, Mary, had welcomed Jesus into their house. Mary was content to just drop all the chores that should have been done to welcome a stranger into your house. She wasn’t pouring the wine, setting the table, or baking the bread. Martha, on the other hand, wanted to control the situation. She wanted to be sure everything was just right! She wanted to bake the best bread, fry the best fish, set out clean dishes, sweep the house, and have everything just right for Jesus. So when she saw Mary enjoying just being in the presence of Jesus, she didn’t understand, and “ratted her out” to Jesus. If Martha had been able to relinquish control over the situation, she could have had a wonderful worship experience at the foot of Jesus. Yet, she let her own priorities overrule those Jesus had for her.

We often do the same thing. When we feel God’s presence and His move in our life we sometimes fear following Him. Following His plan instead of ours will lead us into uncharted waters, and we want to be captain of our own ship. Yet, by not allowing God to take control, we bypass the paradise in life that He longs to give us.

God will never hurt you. You can trust Him in all situations. Wade into the waters, and lift up your feet and let Him determine your future. Lift both feet, and give him full control.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Unopened Gifts

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” – I Corinthians 12:7-10

Have you ever given someone a Christmas present just to watch them say “Thank You” and sit it aside unopened? I have. There’s nothing quite like it! It’s the epitome of a slap on the face of love, a stab directly to the heart. I had searched and searched for the perfect gift, wrapped it with the most beautiful glistening ribbon, made my own bow, and there it sat – unopened. I’ve often wondered why - why did he not open the gift and show me that either he appreciated it, or didn't care for it?

Today it occurred to me that there are times I’ve done the same thing to God the Father. I’ve seen the gift He has given, and yet, tossed it aside unopened. I’ve neglected to take the time to explore what He wanted me to receive. Other times I opened the gift, and said “Gee, that’s nice” but placed it on a shelf and neglected to share it.

God gives us all gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are valuable not only to ourselves, but also for those around us. They’re to be shared with our friends and neighbors. Sometimes it’s the gift of faith, which when shared could grow someone else closer to God, and allow them to open their own gifts. It could be the gift of healing, which can change and save lives. It could be wisdom to give proper advice. But all of these are gifts from God.

Open God’s gifts first this Christmas. Ask Him to send them, and with open arms receive them. God has picked those gifts just for you! He longs to see you enjoy and share them. What you do with them is your gift to Him.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Honest to Goodness YOU!

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” – Luke 15:17

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my future might hold. I’ve lived for years basing what I did on pleasing other folks – my parents, my friends, my church, my spouse, and even my kids. But God’s been talking to me lately about being honest with myself. When you’re honest with yourself you start asking deep questions like why do I part my hair on the side instead of the middle? Why should I ever wear a dress when they’re so darn uncomfortable? Do I really like coffee, or do I just like the thought of drinking the same thing as everyone else in the morning?

What I’ve discovered in being honest with myself is that a lot of what the world has chosen to be important is no longer important to me. When you really become honest with yourself, you discover who you are, and who you are in Christ. For example, just because a shoe looks good on me doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. I’m more about comfort than looks now because I’ve outgrown the need to look good for everyone else. Likewise, simply because it’s popular to party on New Years Eve doesn’t mean I want to. I enjoy the sleep I so dearly love far more than the countdown of a fancy clock! And while everyone else might like reading the popular novel of the day, I still find my good old Bible to be the most interesting book on the shelves – filled with deep meanings that make my heart flip just at reading it!

The prodigal son came to a point like this where he was honest with himself as well. Luke 15:17 says “But when he came to himself…” He had a moment of reflection on his situation, and it showed him his true identity. He realized the affliction he had given himself. Then he was willing to crawl back to his father and seek forgiveness.

Before you can come to Christ, you have to come to yourself. You can’t be a Christian and carry the cross you’ve been given without understanding why you are willing to bear that cross.

Friends, take some time to ask yourself the deep questions. Do you really want to do what you’re doing now for the next 20 years? Is this the life God has designed for you? Come to yourself, then bow to Him. Life is so much easier when your walking the path God has cleared for you rather than trying to clear your own.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Perfect Gift

“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

Here at Christmas time we’re all searching for that perfect present to give to someone special in our lives. But sometimes, the things that mean the most to you are not on a Christmas list. It’s the things that touch your heart that truly show the love that is Christmas.

I have to confess to you, I love to make people cry. My best friend is a crier. In fact, she carries a sponge and a bucket instead of tissues!  A few years ago she had blessed me with her testimony and really blown me away. Friends, this life story should be a book for all young girls to read. It impressed me to know that God had brought her through so many storms.

For Christmas that year, I gave her a journal. Inside it I wrote the preface to her life story for her, in hopes that she’d complete it within the journal for her daughters and grandchildren. When she got it, of course, she cried like a baby! It truly touched her heart. She cried because I’d taken the time to know her, love her, and to understand her heart.

When Jesus was born, three wise men traveled from the east to see him. They came to Herod and said, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” The fact that they called the star “His star” and that they already knew he was born “King of the Jews” says they had foreknowledge of Jesus, the Messiah, being born. Their purpose in locating Him was simple – they wanted to worship Him. They came to bow before Him and adore Him. How blessed all of our Christmas times would be if we first stopped to adore Him!

But they didn’t stop at offering Him their love in a silent manner. They proved it by the gifts they brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts are significant in that they proved their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and they knew whom they were worshipping.

Gold was a gift given to Kings. Jesus would become King of Kings.

Frankincense was an offering made in temples to God. Jesus is the Son of God.

Myrrh was used to anoint a body for burial. Were it not for Jesus’ death and burial, His birth would have been unnecessary.

How Jesus must have loved the thoughtfulness behind those gifts! How perfect they were, because they were given from the hearts of those that truly knew Him.

This Christmas, seek to do more than check a friend off your Christmas list. Seek to bless them through your love, for that is the true meaning of Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Temporary Cures for Permanent Problems

“For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.” – Luke 8:29

When I was a little girl we had a black and tan coon hound named Big Boy. He was named after my Dad’s uncle, who’d given him to us. Big Boy was a great dog. My brother and I played with him as much as we did each other. We would dress him up in clothes we’d outgrown, re-fold the loose skin under his chin into pleats, ride him like a pony, and when we rode our bikes, Big Boy would usually follow along behind us.

Big Boy was an outside dog, and we lived in the country. He wasn’t one of these fancy dogs on Science Diet food, or something special. He ate table scraps and whatever he could catch. That didn’t make for the best smelling breath for the old dog! My brother and I decided one day we’d cure his bad breath. We first got an Oreo cookie, ate the center out, filled it with toothpaste and fed it to him. When that didn’t work, we got my mom’s toothbrush (well, we couldn’t use our own!) and brushed his teeth. Big Boy’s breath smelled minty fresh! Of course, he wasn’t too much for hanging around us for a while after that!

Of course it wasn’t long until he was out eating off the land again. We’d found a temporary cure for a permanent problem. As we often do, we sought the quick cure. We cured the symptom instead of the problem.

In Luke 8 Jesus encountered a man who was possessed by demons in the country of the Gadarenes. He had been in their possession for a long time. The Gadarenes had bound the man in shackles and chains. They were looking for the temporary cure. But the demons would break the links of the chains, and the shackles. The people no doubt lived in fear of this man. What if he hurt their children? What if he set fire to their homes? Maybe they didn’t even understand that the man himself was not the problem, but the spirits living within him. Regardless, they sought to cure the symptoms of his destructive nature by further binding him up in shackles and chains.

But when Jesus came, He offered a cure. He wanted to give a permanent solution to a permanent problem. He ordered the demons into a herd of pigs, and they ran off a cliff into the ocean, and the man was freed of the demons.

Let us always be mindful of the permanent cure that is possible through Jesus. We often seek to find a temporary relief from our problems rather than seek the cure. Jesus offers a cure for any and all of our problems. We just have to go to Him in prayer and ask, believing, and receive. We have not, because we ask not.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

All You Need to Know to Be Healed

“I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!" But what can I say? He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this. I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul. Lord, by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live. “ – Isaiah 38:14-16

When the diagnosis is given and that knot forms in your throat and your vision becomes clouded by your tears, you need to know that God is in charge of your health. When you hear the tests you have to have and the side effects of the medications you will have to have, you need to know that God doesn’t will you to be sick. Life comes from God. He breathed it into us. He controls how much we have, and when it ends. If you are a child of God and you are living for him free from sin through your repentance and His mercy, serving Him daily, it is not God’s will for you to be sick.

Would God place even a blemish on the Body of Christ, of which you are a member?

Would God vandalize the temple where His Holy Spirit dwells?

Would God give His own children disease, when we would never do that to our own children?


If God hasn’t willed sickness on us, then we MUST view it as an attack by the enemy. So how do you fight back? How do you cope with a bad diagnosis in a Christian way? How do you cause the power of Christ in your to take control of the situation? With any war, there is always a plan of attack consisting of major battles. The war is won through winning these battles.

The Battle of Sin: Cleanse your Heart. God cannot hear your prayers when you live in sin, and you need His close companionship. Isaiah 59:1-2 says “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.“ Get down on your knees alone with God, name and confess all your sins. Ask Him to bring them to your memory so you can name them all.

The Battle of Faith: Time and time again when Jesus healed the diseased He said to them “by your faith you have been healed”(Matthew 9:22, 15:28, Luke 18:42). Our faith grows through understanding God’s strength in healing. Increase your faith by talking with those around you who have received healing. Listen to what God has done for them. Read the many times in the Bible that Jesus healed the sick. Psalms 103:3 says that he “heals all your diseases”. Matthew 4:23 says that Jesus went about healing “all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” He’s already won victory over your illness! Faith in that can give you victory in your battle.

The Battle for First Place: Nothing gets God’s attention more than the sacrifices of His children. One way to do this is fasting. When you view your need for Him more than your need to live in a physical realm and feed your flesh, God comes near. Isaiah 58:6-8 says that He has chosen the fast and that “Your healing shall spring forth speedily”. Many people don’t attempt fasting because, bottom line, they don’t believe in it. If you choose to no believe in fasting, you choose not to believe the Bible. John 1:14 says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” which is a reference to Jesus. Can you really believe in Jesus if you choose to not believe fully anything in the Word of God? Are they not the same? Fast and pray. Put God first. He will honor your sacrifice.

The Battle of Anointing: James 5:14 says “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Anointing Oil is not just oil. It is oil that has been prayed over and that is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is equally important that the “elders of the church” have faith in your healing. One seed of doubt in a field of faith acts as a weed. It will spread and choke out all faith. Don’t allow it. Choose very carefully whom you will even tell your diagnosis.

The Battle for Life: Holy Communion will act as a medicine to heal your illness. John 6:53-57 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” Take Holy Communion as you would medication – on a set schedule. When you do, read Matthew 26:26-30. There is life in the flesh and blood of Jesus!

There is victory over ALL ILLNESS through Jesus. Claim your victory! It’s yours for the asking.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Cure for Cancer

First of all, let me just say this isn’t a soap-box sermon. I know first hand through the loss of three grandparents how devastating cancer can be. Because I was older, I remember most vividly my Momma Pearl going through her fights with cancer. I watched as cancer completely digested her body.

She first had a complete mastectomy, which was a terrible blow to this beautiful woman. Later she had a colonoscopy. As my Dad became the one to have to clean the bag, she lost her self-pride. As the cancer progressed, she could no longer form her own words, hold open her eyes, hold your hand, or even control her own drool. I can personally attest to you that cancer is one of Satan’s greatest demons loosed upon us today. But I can also tell you today there is a cure: Faith.

Faith is a funny thing. We have it, but only as much as we can understand ourselves to have. For example, I have faith to believe God saves because I’ve experienced it first hand. I can even tell you God cures migraines because He has taken them from me. I can tell you that God can heal a broken heart, change your finances, give you wisdom beyond your understanding, give you friends who are true friends, and on and on. This is the faith I have because I’ve experienced it first hand, and I understand it is possible.

But what about new challenges and trials? How will you respond when you’re faced with something bigger than your faith, like cancer? For that purpose, God has provided those around us who can strengthen our faith, and His Holy Word. Through His Word, which will generate a new faith in you if you allow it, yes, even cancer can be cured.

In Psalm 103:2-3 we read “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases”

Is God limited in His healing power?

Is cancer too great for God to cure?

No! In Luke 1:37 we are told “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Is there proof of God’s strength in healing diseases? Are there evidences we can look to as a means of support to our faith? Yes!

In Matthew 4:23 we read that Jesus was in Galilee, and “healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. “

Read that again – “ALL kinds of disease”. The verse isn’t worded that way by mistake because the Bible is the complete, infallible word of God. It’s meant to include cancer and anything else that our bodies can become inflicted by.

Jesus had power to heal all sickness. Jesus still has that power. He didn’t lose any strength in His death and resurrection. In fact, He shared that strength with us through the Holy Spirit.

In John 14:10-14 we are told “Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

The question arises, if this is true, then why are prayers not answered?

There are two conditions in this passage, the first of which is “anyone who has faith in me”. Again, our faith is limited by what we can understand to be possible. But Jesus tells us to believe on the evidence of His miracles, which will provide strength to our faith. He gives us events to look to and say, “yes, Jesus can do this because He has done it before”. Can we believe the miracles were performed? Can we trust the Bible to be the complete truth? If so, we can depend on the miracles that Jesus performed to strengthen our faith.

The second condition is we must ask him “for anything in my name.” Our power is only through the shed blood of Jesus, which is given to those cleansed by salvation. We can ask God for healing because Jesus has provided the path – the connection – for us. By His stripes, we are healed! In Jesus name, all things are possible! Anything we ask in Jesus name, even for the complete healing and recovery of someone with incurable cancer, Jesus says “I will do it”. It’s not that Jesus’ name is some magic word. Asking for something in Jesus name means that we come to the throne through Jesus, proclaiming Him as our authority to ask of God the things we need.

This is the promise we must stand on, that whatever we ask for in Jesus name, believing in faith and without doubt that we will receive, will be ours. God doesn’t break His promises because that would mean God lies. Does God lie? Absolutely not! In Titus 1:2 it says he cannot lie. In fact, the one and only thing God cannot do is lie!

So what are we to do now that we know (yes, KNOW) that God will heal those with cancer through our faith, and the shed blood of Jesus which gives us the ability to approach the throne of God in prayer, and ask for it? Look at what Jesus did before Lazarus was brought back from the dead.

In John 11:38-44 it says “Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. (Listen to what Jesus does!) And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

Jesus praised God! He thanked him BEFORE Lazarus was brought back from the dead. He knew, just as we KNOW, that healing was imminent! We don’t need to continually pray for the healing to come, we need to praise God for it as affirmation of our belief in His Holy Word without doubt that healing is being accomplished!

And again, if Jesus can bring Lazarus back from the dead after his body has not breathed a single breath in four days, what is curing cancer to Him? Either we believe the Bible’s recollection of this event to be true, or we don’t believe the Bible at all. If there’s one fallacy in the Bible, then the whole book is subject to question. But, time and time again, even history has proven the Bible to be true. Even archeology has proven it. The Bible is God’s Holy Word, complete and without flaw.

When your faced with a big trial as large as cancer, sometimes it’s hard to pray. Your words won’t come because your heart is so heavy, your spirit is filled with fear, and your soul is broken. Jesus experienced this himself when he went to Lazarus. It says he was “groaning in Himself”. This is the communication of the Holy Spirit within us when we are too weak and broken to communicate. In Romans 8:26 it says “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Don’t be worried because when you pray you can’t find the words. Pray anyway! Give God time alone with you. He will hear your heart through the Holy Spirit, He will heal your brokenness, and He will do the talking.

Perhaps the fear of this disease, which I know so many have seen in their families through the years, has overtaken your hope. I want you to see a guarantee that God provides for QUICK healing. That’s right – a guarantee! I must remind you God does not lie. Therefore, this verse is a lock-tight guarantee from Almighty God.

In Isaiah 58:6-8 we read “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

God says to fast, to give your bread to the hungry, your clothes to those that have none. God is saying to sacrifice the things your body wants and needs to bring forth his mercy and attention.

Any mother knows the pain of watching her child do without anything they need. If your baby is hungry, you’ll skip a meal yourself to feed it. If your child is sick, you’ll forget your own sickness to tend to them. If your child is heartbroken, you will carry the pain with them. If we are affected by our children’s needs so greatly, then how much more will God be affected by ours through fasting?

Fasting doesn’t have to be complete abstinence from food. What do you enjoy most? Is it television? Is it quiet conversations with a friend? Is it the computer time? Is it chocolate? Is it new clothes? Whatever it is – give it up until you see healing occur. Give the thing you love to others. Sacrifice to bring about God’s attention, and show your earnest in your prayers.

Then He says “Your healing shall spring forth speedily”. If God can bring the planets and all creation into existence in 6 days, how fast do you believe He can bring healing? Can you believe God for this promise? Can you trust Him to do what He says He will do!

We now know that it’s not that God can’t do it, and it’s not that God won’t do it. Perhaps Satan has led you to believe that this is God’s will. He’s such a liar!

Did you know God has placed a length on man’s days and allotted for an extension? In Psalms 90:10 it says “The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years”.
These are the lengths of our lives in God’s eyes. You have to understand this is His will for our lives, 70 years, or 80 if we are strong. God doesn’t punish his people through sickness and death. That’s Satan’s work!

God provides even greater than 80 years to you in yet another promise! In Exodus 20:12 He says "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” To live longer than the allotted time is to be beyond 80 years. Ephesians 6:2 says this is the first commandment with PROMISE. That’s right! It is a PROMISE from God, which will not be broken!

Maybe the lie Satan is giving you is that healing cannot come because the cancer or disease you’re facing is a punishment from God. Does not forgiveness from a repentant heart take away our punishment and sin? Psalms 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us“. Think about that! There is no end to be found. Your sins are gone forever. Moreover, Isaiah 43:25 God says "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” He forgets your sins! If He has forgotten them, will punishment remain? Absolutely not!

Now, based on the scripture we’ve read, we know that:

1. God, working through His Son Jesus has healed us of all diseases, and there is no limit to His ability.
2. Through Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are granted even more authority to do great things in His name.
3. God is affected by our prayers and fasting, which bring about quick healing.
4. God has guaranteed us at least 70 years by His standards. Anything less is due to an attack from Satan.
5. God does not punish those who have asked for forgiveness through sickness and death.

So, I must ask you now….

Do you have the cure?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

To Be Real: Unselfish

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Pinocchio had proven to be brave and truthful. The last thing Pinocchio had to accomplish to become a real boy was to prove to be unselfish. He had to give away something that was dear to him.

He’d come deep into the ocean to rescue his father, Geppetto, from the whale that had swallowed him. After building a fire to make the whale sneeze, they found themselves on a raft being tossed across the ocean’s raging waves. As they washed violently to shore, Pinocchio rescued Geppetto, and then drowned in the shallow waters of the shoreline. He gave his very life to save him. The one thing Pinocchio wanted most, to be alive and real, he was willing to give up for Geppetto.

God wants us to love each other in that same way. If it took your life to save another, would you be willing to give it? I won’t answer that question and I don’t expect you to either. But that is the goal in which we should strive to reach - to love others more than ourselves. Jesus did it and if we are to be true Christians, that same spirit of love must live inside us.

God had to teach me a hard lesson about loving others on deep levels instead of superficially. When He caused me to examine my heart what I was not pretty. In fact it was down right ugly sin. I had created in my heart a set of requirements for whom I would love and be friends with. I wanted to be friends only with those who lifted me up, instead of lifting up others. I wanted to feel good in their presence rather than letting them feel good about being in mine. I wanted to be friends with those that could benefit me instead of looking to be a benefit to someone else. I didn’t want to be around smelly people, dirty people, needy people, sad people, or hurting people. God convicted my heart of the sifting I did in loving other. What I was giving was not love. It wasn’t even friendship. It was selfishness. Nobody could live up to my standards every day of the week!

But then He caused me to see myself as He did. I saw my “friend filter” and He condemned me. I had to see that I was only a child of God like everyone else. I wasn’t worthy of anything, and everything I had He had given me. When you realize that God’s grace levels the playing ground for us all, you realize that you have nothing to offer anyone. It’s then that you can love others as yourself. It’s then that you can offer what you have to others without feeling remorse. It’s then that you seek to be a blessing rather than be blessed.

What Pinocchio wanted most was to be alive, and he gained that life by giving his to Geppetto. The blue fairy returned at his death, and gave him not only the life of a wooden boy, but he became a real boy. He gained true life!

Do you desire to be real with God? Do you want to walk beside Him and feel His love in your heart? I can and do testify to you that loving others will cause you to be closer to Him. God is love and those who seek Him must seek to love and be loved.

To Be Real: Truthful

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. –John 4:23-24

In the story of Pinocchio, the little wooden marionette was told by the blue fairy, that to become real he had to prove to be brave, truthful, and unselfish. Pinocchio had a peculiar problem. When he told a lie, it was as evident as the nose on his face! In fact, his nose grew!

There is one scene in the movie where Pinocchio chooses to lie to the blue fairy about why he didn’t go to school. At first his nose becomes a branch, but as the lie grew, his nose sprouted cute little green leaves. He stretches the lie a bit more, and his nose stretched too, and then bore flowers and a bird nest! He adds to his misery by further loosening his tongue, and it grew even longer and the birds flew away. But then the leaves died and he’s left with a big ugly stick for a nose.

It occurred to me as I watched this scene that from Pinocchio’s view, he saw something different than we did. He saw pretty little leaves, flowers, and birdies! How sweet! But from our perspective, we saw how stupid he looked with that tree growing from his face! I think when God sees our lies He sees how stupid we look too. Oh that we could see ourselves in that same way! Some lies are big and some are small, but they’re all lies in God’s eyes, and they’re ugly.

To worship God we must worship in spirit and truth. We cannot be superficial with God. We cannot slap on a happy face, go to church, smile and say, “I’m fine!” to everyone who asks and expect God to be pleased. We cannot quote scriptures, sing “It is Well with My Soul”, yet feel emptiness inside, and pat ourselves on the back for a “good worship service.” God is not impressed with our fake happiness, our false friendships to Him, and the cloaks of pride we put on to hide the truth that is inside. He is not impressed with our prayers of big fancy words spoken to impress the people listening instead of Him. When we do that we worship the people instead of God. How that must turn His stomach!

Do you want to be real with God? Then be honest with Him. Talk to God about what’s wrong – from the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.“ He’s looking right at your heart with eyes wide open! You’re not hiding from Him. Good relationships are built on truth and trust. Faking what’s inside is useless, and puts up walls between you and God.

The Holy Spirit has a name that I love, “The Spirit of Truth”. John 16:13 says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” The Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth living in us, will guide us to know more truth, and to live in truth. He will hear from God, and talk to you. He will deliver God’s word to you. But you have to be willing to live in truth, to communicate with God on a spiritual level, to set aside all falsehoods, and all pretenses. This is how God wants to be worshipped – in spirit and truth.

So it all comes down to this: Do you want to worship? Then you’ve got to get real with God.

To Be Real: Bravery

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there, if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” – Psalms 138:9

In the story of Pinocchio, the blue fairy tells the little wooden boy that if he wants to become real, he has to prove to be brave, truthful, and unselfish. God wants His children to be real as well. He wants us to have a true relationship with Him, not a superficial one. He wants us to be able to shed the cloaks of personality and character we put on to please people, and just be ourselves with Him. In order to do that, we also have to be brave.

Bravery comes in many different forms. We think of soldiers as being brave. They fight for what they know to be right. They show loyalty to their country. They stand for what is right even in the face of death. God seeks this kind of bravery in us.

Being a Christian is a way of life, a chosen profession. You can be saved, yet not be a Christian. To be a Christian is to strive be Christ-like. A real Christian has to be brave enough to stand for Christ in the face of opposition, to be counted for Christ when it’s not popular. It means listening to God’s voice, and following His call as a servant. That can be frightening. If you don’t think so, ask a missionary who’s been sent into the region of witchcraft in Nigeria, or into the areas of Jihad in Iran. Bravery means fighting for what is right.

Just as Pinocchio found out, there are obstacles we must face in life. The blue fairy gave Pinocchio a helper. She named a little cricket named Jiminy to become his conscience, and gave him the title of “Lord high keeper of the knowledge of right and wrong, counselor in moments of temptation, and guide along the straight and narrow path”. She then instructed Pinocchio to let his conscience be his guide.

As Christians, the Holy Spirit is our guide. He is our keeper of the knowledge of right and wrong, our counselor when temptation comes, and our guide along the right path. But we often choose to not listen to that still small voice and go our own way.

On the first morning of being “live”, Geppetto sent his little boy to school. But along the way he met up with a fox named “Honest John” who showed Pinocchio that he could have a life of fame and fortune if he went into the acting business. Jiminy tried to warn him. He pointed to Honest John and said “Remember what I said about temptation? That’s him!” But Pinocchio ignored his guide, and set off on his own path. He soon found out that the life of fame and fortune would trap him, literally! He was placed in a cage and could not escape.

There’s a scene in the movie where Pinocchio is still trapped by the puppet master, and Geppetto is looking for him. His father, Geppetto, walks in the cold and rain calling out to Pinocchio, “Oh, where can he be? Where can my little boy be? Oh, Pinocchio!” He wants him back. He wants him home.
Our father wants us with Him. When we choose the life of sin over the life He has for us, He still seeks to have us with Him. He still calls out to us. But when you’ve been captured by the life of your own desires, it can be very hard to let go. That’s when bravery must be found.

Sin can be as confining as Pinocchio’s cage, yet it can feel as comfortable as an old shoe. Change can be frightening. Friends may be lost. Habits may have to change. The places you visit may have to change. But wherever you go, whatever you do, God is always there for you. You can find courage in that. You can be brave. Psalms 139:8 says, “If I ascend into heaven, You are there, if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Even though where you are at can feel like hell, you cannot escape the love God has for you. He is a faithful Father. He still calls out to you.

Do you want to be real with God? Step out in faith and find Him. He’s waiting. He will release you from your bondage. Turn and go back home to God. Turn from the bondage you’ve created, and allow him to give you real life. He’ll welcome you home.

To Be Real: LIFE

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. “ – 1 John 5:12

When my son was growing up, we must have watched Pinocchio about a ten million times! It’s a wonderful story about a man named Geppetto who was a toy maker. He lived by himself with a cat named Figueroa and a goldfish named Cleo. One day Geppetto made a marionette puppet boy out of wood and named him Pinocchio.

That night as he lay in bed, Geppetto wished on a star. He wished that little Pinocchio would become a real boy. Geppetto drifted off to sleep. But while he slept, a blue fairy heard his wish, and came to visit Pinocchio. That night in the toyshop, she gave life to the little puppet boy. He was still a wooden doll, but she told him that if he wanted to become real, he needed to prove to be three things: brave, truthful, and unselfish.

God wants to give us life too – eternal life. But unlike the story of Pinocchio, you have to ask for it yourself. Your parents may be Christians. Your grandparents may be Christians. You may have Christian friends. But becoming God’s child doesn’t happen through osmosis. You have to ask for it.

Do you want real life? Do you want to be free from the life you lead? It’s a wish away.

Do you believe that Jesus was God’s son? Even demons know it to be true. (Matthew 8:28-30)

Do you believe you are a sinner? Guess what? We all are! (Romans 3:23)

Do you believe that Jesus died to right your wrongs, to clean you from your sins? He did. (1 Peter 3:18)

If you can answer those questions with a “yes”, you can be saved. God waits for you to ask for it – to wish for it. Simply pray, talk to God, and tell him you want him as your Father, you want the new life he has promised, and that you accept Jesus as your savior. Then tell others! (Romans 10:8-10)

So, tell me now you have eternal life?