When the Monsoon Winds of Change Blow

I spent the morning doing a little bit of cleaning, putting away Halloween decor and getting out Thanksgiving decor. While I was doing that I was thinking about what to do with this Faith post. My life has never been one of discipline or routine. My spouse is a college instructor, so every semester the schedule changes. We homeschooled our two girls all the way through high school so that schedule changed in accordance with my spouse’s. There were times when Mark had several evening classes, so we would have our main meal together at lunch time. Other times, the girls and I would fend for ourselves, knowing dad wouldn’t be home until 9 or 10 at night. In addition to that all of our family is out of state. Holidays, spring breaks and summers were often littered with trips to see Grandmas and Grandpas, uncles, cousins and friends.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Change is not a bad thing. Often, change can be exciting and something we look forward to with anticipation. Unfortunately, change can also be something that fills us with dread and despair. In just a few short weeks, my position as assistant manager of a university bookstore will be over. It was a position I grew into, as I started working when my girls were just little. I went from sales clerk, to general merchandiser, to shipping and receiving clerk, to assistant manager. I made the transition working part time, so I could still homeschool our girls and more recently help out with our grandson.

Pixabay - shop door

I had hoped that I could take a few months off, get my thoughts together and get through the holidays without the added stress of learning a new job, having a new schedule, blending with new coworkers and on and on the change comes. However, that is not the case. I have to find another job, so I am applying for something seasonal.

Image by  Andi Graf  from  Pixabay

Image by Andi Graf from Pixabay

Part of the reason, I am writing this is to work through the situation myself. Losing a job is like losing someone close to you. You didn’t get to have a say in when it happened, it just happened. You didn’t get to determine, what that change or that end would look like, it just ended. So here I am. I’m 55 and not sure what the next step is, other than to keep stepping.

There is a passage of Scripture that seems especially pertinent to my situation today, and maybe will speak to you as well.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:26-39 (ESV)

There are several key points that we can pull from this passage.

1 - Someone is praying for us.

Verses 26 and 27 plainly state that the Spirit intercedes for us. I love this. To know that someone is praying for me and not just praying but interceding with “groanings too deep for words.” Have you ever noticed when life is overwhelming it is also often confusing as well. In addition, knowing what God is trying to do through or in a situation is more often than not beyond our ability to understand. There are times I find myself saying, “Lord, I don’t even know how to pray.” That is how I have felt over the last few months as I have looked down the pike to losing my job. Sure, my heart would like to pray that everything would go smoothly and that I wouldn’t have to get another job right away. I want to be able to enjoy the holidays and not have them messed up with a new schedule and the stress of learning a new job. But, my mind is also praying for a new job as soon as possible. I have also entertained the idea, that maybe God would just like me to really trust Him. Ha, ha. It is exactly in this state of confusion that my prayers often hit the ceiling and go no further, so it is very reassuring to me that the Holy Spirit is praying for me and He is praying according to the will of God. Pure and simple.

Image by  Couleur  from  Pixabay

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

2 - Things will work out.

It would be nice to say, that things will work out, exactly as we had hoped and expected, but reality says that is rarely the case. However, according to verse 29, things will work for good to those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose. That may sound a little confusing, as though we have to figure out what God’s purpose is. The fact of the matter is, all we have to do is be present. Whatever the circumstance or difficulty, God will work it out and you can be sure it will be for your best and my best, because His will is always for our best. Our minds are limited in what we are able to see as being best, but from personal experience, I can say, it is only when I am completely submitting to Him and whatever path or direction He’s leading me that I have complete peace. That path may be wretchedly difficult, but He is walking it with us and the end result will be good.

Image by  SplitShire  from  Pixabay

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

3 - We are known, called, justified and glorified.

Verses 29 and 30 pack a big punch. There is a lot going on in these two verses, and rather than delving into each word individually, just know that we are pretty darn important to our Creator. I am also not going to get into a discussion on predestination versus free will. My heart believes that both are possible and that God is the only one who needs to understand how it works. That is good enough for me. The fact that He knew us from the beginning, He called us to Himself, He justified us through His Son Jesus Christ, and He will glorify us at the resurrection with new bodies, reiterates the amazing love of this being we call Jehovah. The complexity of this relationship with an Almighty being becomes clearly simple when we believe that everything He does is done for our benefit.

Image by  Stefan Kuhn  from  Pixabay

Image by Stefan Kuhn from Pixabay

4 - God is for us.

This needs little explanation. The only thing you have to do is believe it!

5 - God will provide.

God, who did not spare His own Son, Jesus, for our benefit, will provide all that we need. Note, I did not say all that we want, but all that we need. What we are responsible to do is figure out, what is it, that we really need. Food, clothes, love, security. Think about people who have been persecuted, tortured or neglected, yet still survived and even thrived regardless of the adversity. What is it that we really need? Only to abide with Him.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

6 - We are secure.

Verses 33 through 35, and 38 through 39, reassure us of our firm foundation in Christ. No one can separate us from Him or His love. We can be persecuted, neglected, overwhelmed, or in despair, but still He is will us. We might be losing our jobs, our spouses, our families, our homes, our health, but still He is will us and we are secure in His hands.

7 - We are conquerors in Him.

Verses 36 and 37, give us the kick in the pants we need, when we become self focused. When change is coming and the future is uncertain we can easily begin to look inward thinking things like, we’ll never get through this, we can’t do this one more day, we aren’t good enough or other such thoughts that take our focus off the one through whose hands every circumstance trickles. We can become anxious, self-absorbed and begin to invite friends to our pity party, but that is not what God wants for us. Verse 37 says, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Think about your favorite super hero movie. How did they get through the battles with bad guys, aliens and monsters? They conquered. They conquered their fear and they conquered the enemies. We have an Almighty, All Powerful God on our side. We can be conquerors too, in Him.

Image by  Joanny Liu  from  Pixabay

Image by Joanny Liu from Pixabay



Thoughts on Dia de los Muertos

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the historical back ground of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. This holiday has long been celebrated in Mexico as a unique and colorful event to honor and remember relatives who have died. When the Spaniards introduced Catholicism to Mexico, the native peoples decided to blend the new religion with the old and came up with this festival celebrating the Aztec goddess, Mictecacihuatl (goddess of death) and the Catholic traditions of All Saints Day (remembering our loved ones who have gone to heaven) and All Souls Day (praying for all souls). These three remembrances, are celebrated on October 31st, November 1st and 2nd.

Image by  Andy Giraud  from  Pixabay

Image by Andy Giraud from Pixabay

The reason I began to take an interest in Dia de los Muertos was because of my grandson and the movie Coco. If you have not seen that movie, it is a fun, family film with good music, action and some very moving moments about the love between family, both the living and the dead. In true Dia de los Muertos tradition Miguel’s dead relatives are able to cross over on that one day to visit their living relatives. The living relatives do not know they are there, but the idea is that in remembering them, they are kept alive, even beyond the veil, or the bridge as it is portrayed in this movie.

Image by  Andrew Martin  from  Pixabay

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Obviously, as a Christ follower, I do not believe that our relatives are all having a party over on the other side. I believe the spiritual realm to be a bit more complex and holy, because of the God who reigns there. I also believe that not everyone, necessarily ends up in the “good place” (another show, that I would recommend watching, because it is funny and it has some very thought provoking philosophical and moral content. Only for adults.) Death is part of this life, but it wasn’t supposed to be. The psalmist knew this reality of death.

Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8 for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
9 that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.

10 For he sees that even the wise die;
the fool and the stupid alike must perish
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they called lands by their own names.
12 Man in his pomp will not remain;
he is like the beasts that perish.
— Psalm 49:7-12 (ESV)

The psalmist knew that one day every single one of us will see death. There is no way out of it. You can search for the fountain of youth, but that didn’t work out very well for Donovan, did it?

You can also eat healthy, exercise and do everything in your power to live to be as old as you can, but the reality is, you will still die. Death is something we all have in common. Death can be scary. The process or the thought of how we will die can be overwhelming, but death is part of life.

The book of Romans in the New Testament of the Bible talks about another death, the spiritual one.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
— Romans 5:12 (ESV)

This death is the one that not only separates us on that bridge from our loved ones, but separates us from the God who created us, the Savior who loved enough to die for us and the Spirit who so willingly comes to dwell with and in us.

The good news is, in the same way Miguel found out in CoCo, that in remembering, his relatives lived on, it is in our remembering and partaking of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we too will live on forever in our spiritual bodies with Him.

It is easy, as Christians to find fault with every religion and way of thinking other than our own, but what we need to do is examine each thing that comes into our lives with God’s microscope, learning what we can from every situation and thought process that we encounter. For me, I am going to celebrate Dias de los Muertos, by remembering in two ways.

1 - Remembering Jesus.

It was Jesus that made it possible for us to cross the bridge that separated us from our Creator. His shed blood on the cross is the payment that had to be made to stand before a Holy, Pure God.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
— Romans 6:5 (ESV)
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
— Romans 6:9 (ESV)
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
— Romans 6:10 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:23 (ESV)

2 - Celebrating those who have gone on before us.

I find the idea of remembering my relatives an exciting prospect. My grandson knows very little about my father, who had passed away four years before Quintin was born. I thought it would be fun to share old photos and have some of my dad’s favorite snacks. like salty, hot buttered popcorn, and pretzel sticks. It might not be a bad idea to make Dias de los Muertos a regular part of our family celebrations as a way to share memories, food, fun, laughter and love.







Traits of a Godly Person: Knowledge

What is it about knowledge that makes us feel powerful if we have it, stupid if we don’t and causes us to pursue it like a wolf seeking its prey? Webster’s online dictionary defines the word knowledge as:

- the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association

- acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique

- the fact or condition of being aware of something

- the range of one's information or understanding

- the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : COGNITION

- the fact or condition of having information or of being learned

- the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind

There are two older meanings of the word which include a branch of learning and sexual intercourse.

Image by  Nino Carè  from  Pixabay

Image by Nino Carè from Pixabay

Here are a few quotes from other people on what they believe knowledge to be:

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
— Socrates
The Seven Social Sins are:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle.
— Frederick Lewis Donaldson, sermon at Westminster Abbey March 20, 1925
Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
— Albert Einstein
No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.
— L. Frank Baum, The Lost Princess of Oz
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
— Daniel Boorstin

One of the wisest men in recorded history, King Solomon, had this to say about knowledge.

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
— Proverbs 18:15 (ESV)

I could share with you the forms of knowledge, but rather than get bogged down in philosophical terms and definitions, let’s just say for this study there is head knowledge and heart knowledge. Obviously, our head was designed for the purpose of obtaining, storing and using knowledge, in addition to all of the things our brains do, that we actually don’t have to think about like blood circulation, breathing and blinking. The question then is, does the heart think?

The heart, as a muscle in our body that regulates blood flow, does not, itself, think. The brain is still the control center, even when it comes to the beating of our hearts. What then do we mean by heart knowledge? I often associate heart knowledge with our conscience, or for us as Christians, with His Spirit in us. Heart knowledge is that voice of right and wrong that we often hear, telling us to do or not do a certain thing. Heart knowledge also embraces the relationship we have with the Almighty.

We’ve all heard the quote from those sappy sweet Hallmark movies, “Follow your heart.” Or, “What is your heart saying?” But those are just movies. What about in real life? Often people get in trouble for following their hearts, rather than their heads. When it comes to the Christian life, what is the best way to live; by head knowledge or heart knowledge? I think King Solomon had the right idea. Let’s break down that verse in Proverbs into two parts.

1 - An intelligent heart acquires knowledge:

Solomon, himself, shows us in this verse, that our hearts can obtain knowledge. I think heart knowledge has to do with what philosopher’s call procedural or tacit knowledge. This knowledge is obtained through experience. When you first start working a job, you may have no idea how to use the new computer system. Maybe you are familiar with it, but you haven’t actually used it and had it become a regular part of your knowledge base. Once you learn the system, that head knowledge has become heart knowledge and is as easy as breathing (except for the fact that it is technology, which doesn’t always work as it should! Ha, ha.)

Image by  Bob Dmyt  from  Pixabay

Image by Bob Dmyt from Pixabay

Another example of this heart knowledge or experiential knowledge would be a little child. A child knows he/she is not to touch the flame on a candle, because they were told by their parent, but that knowledge does not become heart knowledge until he touches the flame and learns that it hurts. Heart knowledge comes over time and is learned gradually.

2 - and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

The mention of the ear makes me think that this part of the verse is referring to the head. The ears, eyes and mouth, along with our sense of touch are the ways that we obtain what philosopher’s term, propositional or explicit knowledge. This knowledge we can learn from a book, a speaker, a video and other forms of communication that express or share knowledge. Nurses learn about taking blood pressures, making diagnosis and treating patients. They can translate this knowledge onto a test and pass an exam, but this head knowledge does not become real until it is experienced on the floor during their clinical.

Image by  travisdmchenry  from  Pixabay

Image by travisdmchenry from Pixabay

Now that we understand the two different types of knowledge, we can move on to why it is important to have both and how this can help us to become more Godly Christians.

There are those who believe head knowledge is the best knowledge. It is only through reading books, studying history and understanding philosophical ideas that we truly have knowledge. This camp does not see the necessity for experience, or at least the necessity for emotional experience. Head knowledge followers actually like to read or listen to podcasts. They love to watch the news and keep on top of all that is going on in the world. Many head knowledge types are walking sources of factual information. Heart knowledge is often looked upon as weak and changing with every whim. Head knowledge without heart knowledge is sterile and lacks compassion.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The other camp says that heart knowledge is best. These are the people who love to experience life to the fullest. You’ll find heart knowledge adherents going to concerts, movies and for long walks in the woods. These types have relationships with their pets and are devastated when a favorite character in a book or movie is killed off. Yes, these are the ones who cry during Hallmark movies and good books. Head knowledge is looked upon as unbendable and critical. Heart knowledge without head knowledge can be lead astray and is easily manipulated.

Pixabay - woman in field

Obviously, most people do not just fall into one knowledge category or the other. Most of us operate somewhere between head knowledge and heart knowledge, although most of us have a leaning one way or another. My spouse is a head knowledge type of guy. He has a Master’s Degree in philosophy, for crying out loud! Me, I’m a heart kind of girl. I cry at kids movies, love books with complex settings and even more complex characters. For years I lived by my emotions, but I’ve learned that I need to have both head knowledge and heart knowledge to be a well rounded adult.

What does all of this have to do with our walk as Christians? Just as we learned from Solomon, we need to have both a heart and a head that seeks knowledge. I’ve broken it down into two lists, just to keep it simple and to keep this post from getting two long.

Head Knowledge - Read the Bible regularly. Listen to good preachers. Study the Bible more in depth (there are plenty of on line helps for studying scripture more in depth - https://www.biblestudytools.com/library/ , https://www.blueletterbible.org/ , https://bible.org/ , and plenty of others.) Read other sources of Biblical knowledge, such as Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer, D.L. Moody, Oswald Chambers, and a plethora of others. Just make sure that the things you are reading and listening too are Biblically sound (another reason to be in His word and know it).

Heart Knowledge - Worship. I don’t believe there is anything that more quickly connects our hearts to His than to worship in Spirit and in truth. Sing, pray, praise, thank, on your own and with others. Take action. Don’t just read and obtain the head knowledge, but let that head knowledge spur you on to do things. Help out at a soup kitchen, get involved in your church’s children’s ministry, take food to that elderly neighbor who just got home from the hospital, invite people over for dinner to have fellowship. Meditate. Meditation on God and His word was condoned by King David in the Old Testament. This is not some modern, New Age activity. It’s all about where you are placing your thoughts and your heart. I find the best place to meditate is when I am taking a walk, especially on a beautiful fall day or even on a snowy day out in the woods.

I hope that this post will help you and give you understanding of how we are all different and how we, as His people can grow in the Godly trait of knowledge.
















Traits of a Godly Person - Goodness

I am skipping from 2 Peter 1 to Galatians 5. I thought it would be useful to talk about goodness while we were still mulling over the idea of virtue. A question comes to mind when looking at these two words side by side. Can a person be virtuous without being good? Can a person be good without being virtuous? It seems to me these two words are very closely related, almost like two peas in a pod. Each one is distinctly its own thing, but they are two parts of a larger entity, which I will call morality. Can we truly have morality without having virtue and goodness?

Image by  Ruslana Babenko  from  Pixabay

Image by Ruslana Babenko from Pixabay

Websters Online Dictionary defines the noun goodness in this way:

1 - the quality or state of being kind, honest, generous, helpful, etc

2 - the quality or state of being useful or effective

From a philosophical perspective, the word goodness and the word virtue are two distinctly different things. A person can be virtuous, meaning they have the qualities of courage, diligence, chastity and so on without being a good person. A person can also be virtuous, but not necessarily good at it. For instance, if a person bravely runs into a burning building to save someone, we would say he has the virtue of bravery, but if he trips and falls and dies in the fire and never saves the person, we would also say he wasn’t very good at following through on that bravery. Even though, I am married to a philosophy professor, I have no desire to go any deeper into the intricacies of virtue and goodness, other than to point out they are two distinct things and one does not necessarily depend on the other.

For this post, I want to stick to the idea of what goodness looks like as a state of being and as a state of doing.

1 - Goodness as a State of Being

It is my personal opinion that in order to be good and express acts of goodness, we must first be good inside. Think about acts that we would deem good: things like kindness, helpfulness, honesty and generosity typically grow out of thoughts that revolve around kindness, helpfulness, honesty and generosity.

Of course there are people who are deceptive and are not truly doing things out of goodness. They are manipulating the world around them by being good, in order to get something, even if it is the satisfaction of feeling like a good person. For this series, I am speaking to people who truly desire to be good and do good things for the sake of the gospel, or for the sake of doing good.

Image by  skeeze  from  Pixabay

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Let me interject here, that the Bible is clear on our goodness:

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become
worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
— Romans 3:9-18 (ESV)
Image by  Sarah Richter  from  Pixabay

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

Paul was writing to the Jews at the church in Rome, however, he included everyone in this group, both the Jews and the Greeks, or in other words, Gentiles. Anyone who wasn’t a Jew was a Gentile. So, you see, we are all sinners. No one is righteous. No one is truly good. Sure lots of people do good things and live their entire lives with honesty, kindness, helpfulness and generosity, but for the sake of this study, the trait of a Godly person is that it is a trait that makes him/her Godly, or in other words, more like Jesus. The only one who can truly make us more like Him, is Jesus Himself. That is part of why Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Spirit. This goodness is His fruit. In order for us to live in a state of goodness, we must immerse ourselves in Jesus; in His words; in His spirit.

You might be asking yourself, “How in all of creation, then, are we really supposed to be this goodness? How are we supposed to live in a state of being good?”

I am so glad you asked, and I am even more glad that Jesus, through His spirit and His inspired Word, gave us a clue. Let’s look two more verses.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

God has given us clear direction on how to get our mind going down the goodness track. Every word and action begins in our minds. What we spend our time thinking about will show in our actions. If we think about how many things are wrong with the world, with other people and even with ourselves, we will be anxious and frustrated. If we think about past mistakes and wrong choices, we will be consumed with guilt. However, if we think on these things, as Paul encouraged us to do, we will be more likely to be good people.

2 - Goodness as a State of Doing

Frankly, what good does it do to be good and not act on it. If we are truly good, this should lead us to take action. Those actions will include three areas: goodness towards our God, goodness towards others and goodness towards ourselves. Let’s look at each of these briefly.

Goodness Towards Our God

How is it that we can be good towards God? Just as we choose to commit wrong, we also can choose to commit good. Doing good towards God, would be refraining from choices to sin, committing time to prayer, study of His word and worship. In addition, doing good towards God would include the simple act of thankfulness. Have you ever tried to worship or pray when you are angry and upset? It does not work. However, as soon as we humble ourselves and begin to nurture a thankful heart we change and we bring honor and glory to our God.

Goodness Towards Others

It is easy to be good to people who are good to us, but what about people who are negative, ungrateful and demanding? Does that sound like anyone in your life? I think we all have at least one person in our lives like that. It is easy to hold a grudge; to begin to not like that person, and eventually to not do good to and for that person. God’s Spirit in us, is able to produce good acts, even when we don’t feel like it or want to be good, but we have to choose to let Him have his way and bring to mind verses like those in Philippians and others. A big chunk of exhibiting all of these Godly traits we have been talking about is yielding to His Spirit in our lives and in our circumstances. As we think on good things, acting with goodness towards others, the choice to be and do good will become more natural and Spirit driven.

Goodness Towards Ourselves

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

In all honesty, this is probably one of the areas I struggle with the most. For me, it is easier to be good to others: customers at work, my family, friends, and others, but when it comes to myself, I am my own worst critic. My husband has this problem too. I have definitely softened towards myself over the years as the Spirit has brought me light on the topic of who I really am: created in His image, a royal priesthood, beloved and other wonderfully descriptive words. I still have days where I look in the mirror and am convince I am a cartoon character and should be residing in a comic book. I also have days where I feel so completely inept and unworthy, but these thoughts are not from God. (See my fiction piece The Tower, for a look inside my own struggling soul).

It is important that we give ourselves grace on a regular basis. We are not perfect. We are on a journey, just like everyone. It is also important to treat ourselves with goodness. Look in the mirror and thank yourself for getting rest the night before, showering to get clean and drinking lots of water. Make a mental list of your good traits; those beautiful eyes, pretty collar bones or shapely legs. Give thanks to the One who made you with an incredibly creative mind that desires to please Him.

There can never be enough good in the world, so let’s be sure we are doing what we can to make goodness, not only a state of being, but a state of doing.

Have a great day!



Cats and Dogs

I want to apologize that I have not been as consistent as normal with these faith posts. Writing a faith post is much more time consuming and in need of focus, than when I am writing a post about an outfit I put together. When I am writing a faith post, I want the information I share with you to be as accurate to the truth of God’s word as possible. I wish I could say that all I have to do is pray and I am infused with God’s spirit speaking through me, much like the original writers of the Bible were inspired to write the words, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Once in a while I get a shot of inspiration, that is like an injection of caffeine straight into the blood stream. It is as though I am suddenly awake and all that has been foggy becomes sharp and in focus. It is amazing when that happens. I feel more alive than normal, and my pen or keyboard moves at new speeds. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

My husband and I joke, that in the animal realm, he would be a cat and I would be a dog. His cat-like tendency is to pounce or attack whatever the task is to do and then take a nap. My dog-like tendency is to keep plodding along, trying to do everything that has to be done and keep trying to smile and wag my tail while I do. Ha, ha.

Image by  Rohit Tripathi  from  Pixabay

Image by Rohit Tripathi from Pixabay

Have you ever thought about how many tasks in life take dog-like perseverance? Women, especially, keep going, until they collapse at the end of the day. We get up, usually earlier than anyone else. We get ready for the day, get everyone else ready for their days, go to work, or start our tasks at home, like dishes, laundry, cleaning, decluttering, organizing, meal planning and prep. In addition to all of those activities, women are most often responsible for the smooth running of their homes, their families’ lives and their work environments. It can get a little overwhelming at times.

If you take a look at those two cuties in the above picture, you will see a pretty similar picture in my husband and I. My husband has ADD. He was never clinically diagnosed, but when our younger daughter was tested as an adult, we saw amazing similarities between her and my spouse. My daughter regularly takes Ritalin to be able to work and study for her college courses. My spouse does not, but he has had students with ADD in his classes and they have asked if he had it, as his teaching style is so well suited for people with this learning disability. That cat in the picture looks ready to chase something. My husband’s mind is often working at a million thoughts a minute, taking him down all sorts of rabbit trails and squirrel holes.

I, on the other hand, just keep plodding along. The look on that little pup’s face, is often how I feel. I never feel that I am doing a good enough job. I always worry that I could be better, prettier, thinner or smarter. I often wonder what I might have done that made my masters upset. I would, in a confrontational situation, run away and hide. However, dogs also have many wonderful traits. They are loyal, trustworthy, hard working, loving and hopeful. Most dogs are also fiercely protective of their flocks.

Image by  coffy  from  Pixabay

Image by coffy from Pixabay

In Colossians 3 Pauls discusses things we are to put off and things we are to put on. He reminds us that we are to focus our minds on things above, not on things on this earth. He ends the chapter with a call to work on our relationships with one another. One verse stands out to me.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
— Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Whether you feel like a cat, a dog, a human or something in between, we need to remember that what we do is to be done for Him, not for our spouses, children or even our boss. I often find myself feeling let down and unappreciated, because no one say’s thank you, when I do all the things I do, but I need to remember that I do it for Him, not to be thanked. The verse says that from Him I will receive the inheritance as my reward. Having an inheritance with an almighty God is a pretty big deal.

I’ll continue to plod along, in dog-like fashion, but I will have hope, because I do everything for Him.

Have a great day.

Traits of A Godly Person: Virtue (Moral Excellence)

It is time to get back to my Traits of A Godly Person, series. I have spent several weeks dwelling on other topics and working through my own discouragement over the circumstances of life. There are still bad things happening out in the world, but in order to walk upright through the difficulties we need to remember whose we are and what is expected of us.

Image by  Andrew Martin  from  Pixabay

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Superheroes are usually looked at as individuals who are virtuous. We usually look up to them as examples to follow for goodness towards humanity and of course saving our butts when we are in a bind.

This week I would like to look at the characteristic of virtue. We do not hear this word very often any more in the world we are living in. In order to understand why this is, let’s look at how Webster’s Online Dictionary defines it.

1 - conformity to a standard of right; a particular moral excellence

2 - a beneficial quality or power of a thing

3 - a commendable quality or trait

4 - a capacity to act

Let’s take a look, once again, at how virtue is used the 2 Peter passage.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
— 2 Peter 1:5 (KJV)

If you remember when I did the study of 2 Peter 1:1-11, I mentioned that there was a logical progression to the list of Godly characteristics. In the original study, I used the New American Standard Bible. In that version, virtue is called moral excellence. I actually like the idea of moral excellence better than virtue, but there are some things about the term virtue that give us added insight into the idea of moral excellence.

First of all our Webster’s definition says that virtue is conformity to a standard of right, or a particular moral excellence. If anything has become skewed in our world it is the idea that there is a moral center or standard that we are to adhere to. We now live in an age where morality is about being a good person, but then people have their own definition of what a good person is. How can we even define things like truth, morality, or goodness if we have no standard against which to measure it?

Image by  Wokandapix  from  Pixabay

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

If we take a look at the physical world we see that there are standards that define it. We measure length in inches, feet and yards. We weigh physical objects in ounces, pounds or tons. We have formulas to define volume, mass and even things like statistics and interest rates. We learn about how animals migrate, mate and live in herds or prides. We have standards set by scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and others on how to building bridges, skyscrapers and jumbo jets. We even have standards to which our children and grandchildren are to adhere in order to pass each grade and eventually become members of the adult community. Why then are we so willing to give up the standards by which to live life?

Pixabay - HOmework

Second, Webster’s says that virtue is a beneficial quality or power of a thing. For something to be beneficial it has to be good. In other words it has to have benefits. Often when we speak of virtues we think of things like courage, honesty, faithfulness and so on. Certainly, those things are beneficial to all beings, not just a chosen few. Wouldn’t all humanity be better off if each of us were courageous, honest and faithful? Virtues of this nature (and others) have a power to help, and to lift others up.

Image by  Military_Material  from  Pixabay

Third, Webster’s states that virtue is a commendable quality or trait. Similarly to the last definition, we have to ask ourselves what is commendable? If you surveyed the general population you would probably find that most people find faithfulness, honesty, courage, kindness, generosity and others commendable traits. Why then, do we have so much disparity when it comes to what people really want and how people really live?

Why, if people want honesty, do so many live lies? Why, if people want courage, do so many struggle with anxiety? Why, if people want kindness, are so many fighting and bullying? Why, if people want generosity, do so many only spend what they have on themselves without any regard to others?

I personally believe the disparity exists because so many are trying to live without Jesus. That leads me to the last definition I listed from Webster.

Fourth, a capacity to act. As with all things, growth comes through practice. We do not obtain virtue, by merely sitting on our bottoms and talking about it. We need to be doing something.

Don’t just discuss the benefits of honesty…BE honest.

Don’t just wish you were courageous…do things that will make you BE courageous. (This does not necessarily mean running into a burning building to save a life. This might mean, calling your local representatives about bills that go against a Godly standards, or telling someone about Jesus, or taking that position on your church’s worship team. Courage comes in many forms.)

Image by  Dennis Gries  from  Pixabay

Image by Dennis Gries from Pixabay

Don’t talk about that lady that was mean to you….BE kind in return, or pay it forward to someone else. God told us in His word, to be kind to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Don’t talk about maybe you’ll give…BE generous. Give your money, your time, your love, your life. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did and wants us to do?

I didn’t spend any time delving into the scriptures for this post, because each area of virtue, and there are many more than just the ones I listed, has its own verses to back them up. In addition, many of these will be covered in future installments in the Godly Traits series.

For now, focus on a virtue that you struggle with and just BE.

The Trickle Down Effect

I am putting my Traits of a Godly Person on hold to address, once more, the need for constantly abiding in Christ. Living this life is no easy task. Maybe for some, the living of life bears no heavy burdens. Your life is free of insecurities and unknowns. You haven’t experienced the death of a loved one, or the loss of a dear friend. Maybe you’ve never watched an aging parent slowly fade as their mind gives in to the devastation of dementia. You might even be a parent, but have never had a child who rebelled against all you taught them because of a dark secret they carried. Maybe you’ve never gone without a job or had to scrimp and save, just to put food on the table. Most of us don’t have that privilege. Most of us struggle day after day and many of us lose hope.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Why abide in Christ? What difference does it make? Will He relieve us of these burdens by removing memory of our loss, or by showering our houses with gold coins, or by healing the minds of our kin that are turning into literal mush? Probably not. Why then abide?

Andrew Murray says it best,

Dear souls! How little they know that the abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing, and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept — the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trust worthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us and through us. It is a work He does for us — the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simple, to yield, to trust and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.
— Andrew Murray - Abide In Me

When you are tired, abide.

When you are weak, abide.

When you feel lost, abide.

When you feel tempted, abide.

When you experience loss, abide.

When you experience joy, abide.

When the sun rises in the morning, abide.

When the afternoon grows long, abide.

When that same sun sets in the evening, abide.

Day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, abide.

Abiding is made much easier when we recognize two truths.

Truth 1 - God is Sovereign

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
— Psalm 103:19 (NASB)
13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
— 1 Timothy 6:13-16 (NASB)

No matter what we think or what we do, we cannot change the fact that God is and He is supreme. We cannot put Him into a box of our design, even though most people try. We cannot make Him do what we want, even though we pray with pleading and begging as if it will make a difference. We do not control Him, nor do we control the things that come into our lives, unless they are the result of our own choices. Even those, are sifted through the fingers of the Almighty. This idea is what I like to call the trickle down effect. Nothing comes into our lives that does not first go through the hands of God.

Image by  Peter H  from  Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

You might be thinking at this point, “Well, if that’s the case then God is an overbearing, bad guy.” But that brings me to the point number 2.

Truth 2 - God Loves You

Image by  Vlad Ymyr  from  Pixabay

Image by Vlad Ymyr from Pixabay

It might be hard to see that, when you are going through a difficult struggle, but it still holds true. We can say, “I do not believe the sun will come up tomorrow.” However, tomorrow the sun will come up. Our saying I don’t believe something, does not make it the case. God is love and God loves us. He is the purest, most perfect form of love. No matter how sacrificially we love, our love is still imperfect compared to the love with which God loves us.

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
— Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
— John 13:34 (NASB)
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
— John 15:9 (NASB)
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:5 (NASB)

That last verse speaks a truth we need to hear and remember. Hope does not disappoint. Why? Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Dear ones, God loves you and the testimony of that love is the Holy Spirit that lives with in you. Should we not also do Him the service of living within Him. This is what it means to abide. To dwell within and with, not just when we are strong and things are good, but especially when the darkness has fallen.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I love to go for walks with my spouse in the darkness of night and see all the houses with their lights on. I am not looking in like a voyeur, but in amazement and thanksgiving, that even in the darkness light still shines because someone is living there.

The light shines within us, even in the darkness, because He is living there and we abide with Him. Knowing that nothing comes into my life that He hasn’t already seen with His eyes, heard with His ears and felt with His heart gives me the strength to stay in that safe place, nestled in His arms.

Lessons from Loss

I’ve decided to take another week off, before getting back to my series on Godly traits. On Monday my daughter texted me that a woman from our former church had died unexpectedly. I was in shock. Mary was only a few years older than me. She had five grown children, a devoted husband and her first grandchild, a girl, whom she adored. She was dearly loved, not only by her immediate family, but by siblings and church family and friends. What really floored me, and many others, was the fact that last summer Mary had gone into the hospital with a lung infection. After months in the hospital and rehab, she seemed to get better. She got to go home and resume a somewhat normal life. Not long after life started having some semblance of normalcy, Mary lost her sister to cancer, this was just last month. Last week, Mary ended up, back in the hospital and Monday morning she died.

Sweeny family. Mary is in the middle with her husband Paul. My daughter took these pictures this past spring. Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull.

Sweeny family. Mary is in the middle with her husband Paul. My daughter took these pictures this past spring. Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull.

I felt myself questioning God. Why, Lord? Why? This was a beautiful woman; one of your sheep, who loved and gave and was gracious. She was a beautiful soul, inside and out. She loved her family and took others in as if they were part of the family. She exuded the peace that passes all understanding and I would often see her posting quotes from Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts on being thankful. The funny thing was, I didn’t really know Mary that well. We moved in different circles as our kids were growing up and while we went to the same church, we weren’t able to spend vast amounts of time together. However, I still feel this loss. It is as if in a galaxy full of stars, Mary’s shown so brightly, that the burning out of that star affected the whole universe.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I am not sharing this with you to look for sympathy. This was a tragic and unexpected loss, but what I wanted to do was use these musings as a branch from which to tie a rope, take a leap, swing out and fall into the river of God’s grace.

How do we deal with these things? How do we get past the shaking of the fist towards the sky, to the questioning why, to the acceptance, to the choice to believe that He is good, no matter what, to the final step of lifting our hands in praise, adoration and thanksgiving? Two words come to mind which I have used on the blog before, baby steps.

Image by  Barbara Jackson  from  Pixabay

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

A baby does not learn to walk immediately. It is a process. They reach, they scoot, they rock, they roll, they crawl, they grab, they pull themselves up, they move around the furniture and eventually they let go and take those first steps. Those first steps aren’t perfect, but they are full of enthusiasm. When we are new in our relationship with Christ we are full of enthusiasm. We want to tell the world what He has done, not only for us as individuals, but for the whole world. We want to share the good news that Jesus loves the unlovely, rescues the drowning, lifts up the cripple and fully redeems that which was completely lost.

Then life happens. We experience disappointment, pain, heartbreak and loss. If we are being honest with ourselves we do not like these things and many of us probably thought when we came to Christ that it was going to be smooth sailing. How very wrong we were. If anything, it seems, at least for some, that we are being shot at by the biggest guns available on a US battleship. Worse yet, we might be getting hammered by friendly fire, while well intended, completely misses the mark and wounds us instead of helping us out.

So how do we approach loss without losing our faith? How do we endure pain without giving up hope? How do we continue to walk when we are clearly wounded and would rather lay down and die?

One baby step at a time.

Baby Step 1 - Shaking fists and questions.

Image by  Niek Verlaan  from  Pixabay

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

God is much bigger than we are. He created us and He knows our frame is but dust. As the Creator he manipulated that dust, breathing life into it. Don’t ever think, He doesn’t get it. He most certainly knows our weaknesses, our pit falls and our innermost feelings. You might not be literally shaking your fist at Him, but He knows what you are thinking on the inside. Sometimes it is okay to get mad, to raise our hands, not in praise, but in frustration, anger and pain. The key is to not stay there. It is okay to say:

I don’t get it.

It’s not fair.

Why? Why? Why?

I don’t like you right now?

It hurts and you let it happen.

That is exactly how I felt about Mary’s death. She was a vibrant woman and God let her die. I couldn’t help thinking, there are thousands of others, suffering with debilitating illnesses, pain and complete loss of ability to remember their own families or even how to use the bathroom. Why not take one of them? Why not relieve someone else of their burden? But He didn’t. He took Mary.

It felt wrong to have those thoughts and feelings, but they are real, visceral, but real and doesn’t God know that? He gave His own Son to suffer and die. He knows loss. He knows pain. Jesus knows loneliness and abandonment.

This is an absolutely acceptable part of grief. Whether your loss is the death of a loved one, an unfaithful partner, a divorce, a rebellious child, a parent going through Alzheimers, or the loss of a long time job, it is okay to feel anger, and it is okay to question why.

Baby Step 2 - Wear the blanket.

Image by  Katrina_S  from  Pixabay

Image by Katrina_S from Pixabay

When my father died back in 2006, I distinctly remember walking in a fog. Life just seemed rather cloudy and my brain felt full of cotton. Often when we grieve we think that the best thing for us is to throw ourselves back into life, subduing the overwhelming sense of loss to a dull ache. In most cultures the process of grief is much more elaborate and loud.

In 1985 I spent a summer in Africa. During that time, I got to experience a true death wail. It was unnerving as a group, of mostly women, wept and wailed and cried over a baby who had tragically passed away. This was no reserved whispered ceremony. This was a loud progression of frenzied sobs and tears. They let their expression of the sadness they felt erupt into the still, dark night, like a mass of molten lava pouring out of a volcano.

While I do not expect that, here in our US of A, we are going to start doing a death wail, it is good to allow ourselves to feel grief. I truly believe wrapping yourself up in the blanket of grief every once in a while, helps you to heal faster. If putting on a real blanket helps with the symbolism, go ahead. However, you do it, take some time to feel the sadness and the pain. Cry, sob, moan and even wail. It’s okay. Then when you feel a bit of relief, put the blanket away and go live life. Eventually, you will find, you don’t need that blanket quite so often. Eventually, you will be able to put it away, all together.

Baby Step 3 - Choices.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The best way to handle making choices during a time of grief is to choose slowly and thoughtfully. Don’t rashly give up your faith. Don’t decide to sell everything you have, join a commune and move to Tibet. Don’t start drinking. Don’t obsess on your loss. The greatest mistake we make when we are in the throes of grief is to think we are okay and we can handle this on our own. It is important to choose to take care of ourselves and to allow people to take care of us. We were not meant to be islands. We are supposed to live in community with others. In fact you might find there are others who have already been through the grief process before you. They can help, if you let them .

In addition, choose truth. Often we question whether God really loves us when someone or something has been taken away from us, but if we keep our eyes on scripture we will remember verses like:

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
— Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:39 (NASB)
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
— 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NASB)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
— Ephesians 2:4 (NASB)

God does love us and He always will. He will always be there for us, even in the midst of trial and grief.

Baby Step 4 - Take Action

Image by  Olya Adamovich  from  Pixabay

Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

Once we have worked through the emotions of anger, pain and sadness we can begin to, once again, take action. Action might start out with something simple like getting out of bed, taking a shower and getting dressed. Eventually, you might be able to go out and take a walk or meet a friend for coffee. Down the road, you may make it to church and then out to do something fun again. Your loved ones would not want you to stop living life. Besides it is in the choice to start living again, that God reveals His most precious and magnificent promises.

After I found out Mary was gone, I knew my sadness and shock was not as sharp as the edge on the sword her family was and is feeling right now, but I also felt that God had let me down. I prayed for Mary’s healing and He didn’t come through. That evening, my husband and I took a walk. I looked up at the expanse of night sky and heard His voice saying, “I’m still right here.”

Wow! That was just what I needed to hear. He is still right there and He always will be. He is there for us to lean on, pound on and depend on no matter what and knowing that is sometimes all we need. When I realize He is really all I need to get through, I am able to raise my hands in praise to Him and I can start remembering what I am thankful for.

My friend Mary was a Christian. She is with Jesus now. She is also with her mom and her sister who went before her. She left behind a legacy of love, and friendship for her family and her friends. The world is a more beautiful place because of her and I can be thankful that I knew her.









A Lesson in Weaving

She watched her through the open window that looked down on the small balcony. The young girl looked out over the river that lazily wandered past the castle. The child was hers, but she was no longer looked like a small girl. She had grown in those years she had been held captive by the enemy lord. She felt a lump in her throat that she could not swallow. The girl, her girl, didn’t want anything to do with her, her very own mother, nor her grandfather, the King.

Image by  DarkWorkX  from  Pixabay

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

When they had first found her in the enemy’s castle she was like a caged animal. The room they found her in was filled with waste and squalor. The girl did not recognize her mother at first and when she tried to take her in her arms, which ached to hold her again, the girl screamed. That scream had pierced her soul. They were finally able to get her out of the castle by coaxing her out with sweets. The thought of it still made her shudder.

Eventually, the girl saw that they were not going to hurt her and in fact were going to provide for her pretty clothes and good food, things that she hadn’t gotten when she was a captive, but still, she kept asking when she could go home. It galled her to think her only child thought of his palace as her home, even after how she had been treated.

A noise from behind her caused her to turn. Her father, the King, approached. He put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze.

“Father, I don’t know what to do. I feel absolutely helpless…I know she is hurting, and probably angry at me. I let it happen. I let her get caught by that evil man. I am to blame and now, I can’t even look at her without feeling utterly hopeless.”

The King took in a deep breath and let it out very slowly. She often saw him do this when he was thinking before he spoke, a practice he always thought wise.

“Daughter, you know how very much I love you, so I can understand those feelings of helplessness and even hopelessness. Did you know that I could not sleep at night when you were being courted by your late husband? It terrified me to let you go, knowing each step you took towards independence took you further and further away from me. But, I had to learn to trust the One. I knew that He would always take care of you, no matter where you were. Even when I eventually sent you into battle.”

Image by  Enrique Meseguer  from  Pixabay

She pulled away from him, suddenly feeling angry. “This is not a simple courting session that my daughter went through. She was beaten, starved and we don’t even know yet, if he did other vile things to her. She was just a child. Was the One with her, when that was going on, or has He abandoned her…has He abandoned us?”

The King sat heavily in a chair that stood near the fire burning cheerfully in a brazier. He pulled the footstool in front of him and patted it.

Once again, he wanted her to sit, to listen, to learn from him.

As she did so often, she began to pace. “No! I am not going to sit at your feet, like a little child and have you explain to me, how I need to trust the One. He let my little girl get hurt. He let her get caught by that vile enemy.”

“Now wait a minute. Is it your fault, or is it His fault?”

She stopped and stared. “Well…I….I….I don’t know! All I know, is that little girl is not the same person I knew before she was taken.”

“Are you the same person you were before she was taken?”

She inhaled, trying to practice the same technique he did, not speaking until she was sure she was in control.

“No. I am not.”

He patted the foot stool again and smiled.

Reluctantly she sat.

He leaned forward and took her hands in his own large ones. She could feel the callouses there. He was no show piece. He was a king who fought and bled beside his own men for the causes he believed in. How could he keep his calm demeanor? He always seemed at peace, no matter what.

“How do you to it? How did you send me into battle, knowing full well, I might never return?”

“Do you remember how your mother used to love to weave tapestries?”

Image by  MrsBrown  from  Pixabay

Image by MrsBrown from Pixabay

She smiled, remembering her mother, the Queen working tirelessly into the night weaving various colored threads together. “She used to hang it, so that when we came into the room, we could not see what the finished picture would be.”

The King let out a chuckle. “Oh yes. Once time I tried to sneak in when she was away and she had the loom booby trapped! I suddenly found myself doused by a bucket of honey mead. I couldn’t get the flies away from me for weeks.”

She laughed, remembering her father taking bath, after bath, after bath, but unable to get the sweet ale completely washed out of his hair.

He squeezed her hands. “Your mother always had a purpose for everything she did. Why do you think she presented the tapestry to us only from the back side, until the work was done?”

She shrugged. “I had always assumed she just loved the surprise on our faces when we finally saw it.”

“Oh there was definitely that! However, in addition to that she wanted to remind us of what real life is like.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Life is made up of all manner of threads, some beautiful colors and others dull and even ugly. If you didn’t know that the front of the tapestry was going to be made into a beautiful work of art, you would have thought the piece merely an ugly, jumble of random colored threads and knots where the threads had been tied off. It is that jumbled mess that makes up our lives. The ugly threads and the beautiful ones are all necessary to make the completed picture.

The One is weaving those threads. He is making all of it, even the threads we don’t understand or want to understand into a picture of such great beauty that it will be declared a masterpiece, when we finally see the finished product.

Your mother was an artist and she taught you those same skills before she passed on. What are you going to do with your threads? You can use them to create beauty, or like our now dead enemy, you can use them to weave chaos.”

The King leaned forward and kissed her forehead, then he rose to his feet and quietly left the room.

She stared into the fire, that slowly claimed the fuel it was burning. The fire was chaotic, yet it served a purpose to provide warmth and cook food. It was even beautiful in its dance of flame. Could it be, her father was right; that beauty could come from the chaos of life?

She knew what she had to do. She would teach her daughter the loom. She would teach her the dance of light and flame, darkness and chaos and pray the One would bring healing and beauty for them both.

This is a fiction piece by Amy D. Christensen

In 2010 Ravi Zacharias wrote a book titled, The Grand Weaver. It was this book and the images he shared of God being the grand weaver of our lives that inspired the imagery revolving around the tapestry in this story. If we can grasp His divine plan for our lives, in which He uses all the good, the bad and the ugly, how much easier would it be to let Him have control. I hope you enjoyed this story.

You can see the previous parts to this story by clicking on the links below:

Part 1: Return to Battle

Part 2: A Father’s Perspective

Part 3: Waiting

Part 4: Ready to Die


Traits of a Godly Person: Patience

Have you ever said a prayer, in a whispered rush, because you didn’t know what else to do; you had reached the end of your string and thought you would lose your mind or at least your cool?

“Lord! Please give me patience!”

What were you thinking?

I used to pray that prayer too, but then I realized something. Every single time I prayed for patience, things got oppressively worse. Why was that? I finally stopped praying for patience because I realized life, by its very chaotic nature, requires a camel’s hump worth of patience.

Image by  Wolfgang Inderwies  from  Pixabay

Since we looked at diligence last week, it seemed fitting to peer at patience as the two of them go hand in hand. Practice is an extension of diligence. If we want to learn a musical instrument or a language, we must diligently practice. In the same way, patience is required when we are trying to be diligent. We must be patient with ourselves. To think I will be able to play Beethoven after only a few hours of practice would be an error. Indeed, it might take a month, a year or a lifetime, to really master something, and that takes patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
— Galatians 5:22 (NASB)

The Bible tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. In order to fully grasp this idea we must look at what patience is not.

Patience is not getting my own way.

We might like to think that if everyone would just fall into line, my line, that all would be well and I would never have an impatient moment. How likely is that?

Image by  Dhamma Medicine  from  Pixabay

Image by Dhamma Medicine from Pixabay

As moms we know how hard it is to get the miniature people in our lives to fall into line, let alone the full sized ones. We are born with a desire to be individuals, and God is okay with that. He made us all uniquely different. God also created us with a desire to know Him. It is only in following Him, and getting into His line, that we will truly understand what patience is, and become partakers of it.

Patience is not being perfect.

How many of you have had thoughts like this, “If I was just more…..”? You can fill in the blank with words like pretty, skinny, smart, rich, sexy, outgoing, bold, and so on. Wouldn’t it be easy to be patient with ourselves and others if we were all perfect? Honestly, I think that would get a tad bit boring. Perhaps that is why God made us so differently; different colors, different languages, different approaches to life, different likes and dislikes. Perfect? No. Different? Yes.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Patience is not practiced.

This might seem counterintuitive, but think it through for a minute. You can practice the piano. A child can practice riding a bike or tying his shoes. A teenager can practice driving a car. The only way to really practice patience is by placing yourself in a situation that would require it and who it their right mind would want to do that?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“Hey, I think I’ll go to my doctor’s appointment an extra two hours early, just so I can practice waiting.”

“I think I’ll get on the highway at rush hour, so I can practice not getting angry.”

“I need an extra dose of patience, so I’m going to have the dentist put crowns on all my teeth!”

I mean really. Who thinks that way?

What do we do about patience? We all know we need more of it, especially in our chaotic world. Politics, racial issues, religion, family life; everywhere we turn we need patience. How do we obtain more of it?

Since patience is a fruit of the Spirt it makes sense that in order to have it, we need to be in close contact with the One producing the fruit. As I have said other times in this Godly traits series, being in close contact with the Almighty is the only way to truly obtain all of these traits. These are Godly traits, or characteristics that He has. In order for us to have them, we need to be walking in fellowship with Him. Prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, are all part of the formula for becoming a more Godly person.

In addition to that, here are a few real world things you can do, to help raise your patience level. I have found these most helpful when faced with those situations that make you want to scream, stomp and pull your hair out, or at least use a few very naughty words.

Take a deep breath.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Swimmers know that it is important to breathe. In addition to knowing the precise strokes, having strength, and practicing, knowing when and how to breathe is also important. When you are swimming through life and the waters get turbulent, remember how to breathe. Sometimes when I start to feel anxious I will take a deep breath in and then slowly blow it out. A simple practice could be the next time you are stuck in traffic, take a deep breath in and think about Jesus, a verse or a prayer. When you exhale, imagine you are blowing away the bad feelings, including those naughty words you were thinking in your head. Ha, ha.

Distract yourself.

Pixabay - smart phone/waiting

Having appointments, where you have to sit and wait are pretty common, especially as we age and have to spend more time at doctor’s offices. It is so much easier these days with our smart phones to play a game, get on Facebook or even listen to music, while we are waiting. It makes time go so much faster. The plus to this is, you can even listen to or read the Bible. There is really no reason to be impatient while you are waiting in our tech savvy society. However, do not use your phone to distract you while in a traffic jam! The results could be disastrous.

Think about others.

This attitude has often helped me in the retail business. When a customer gets cranky, I always try to remember they might be going through something difficult. They might be having their patience tried in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Image by  WikimediaImages  from  Pixabay

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Walk a mile in his moccasins.” I didn’t know until I looked it up that this actually originated with a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap (1838-1895), who was an American poet, Methodist Episcopal preacher, prohibitionist and suffragist. You can see more on her and the poem in full on the blog, James Wilson - Writing & Things. Here are the first three stanzas from the poem.

“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
— Mary T. Lathrap from Judge Softly

Trust Him.

If you read my faith post regularly, you will see a pattern. I always want to direct you back to our Creator. We know what it is like to be impatient, but there are times when life becomes so overwhelming we no longer feel the ability to wait for the Rescuer to come. These are the times I must choose to trust.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Bible, God’s inspired word says,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

This is a promise and when life gets to much to bear we must claim it. Paul said he was confident about this. He knew that God was working to perfect us in Christ Jesus. All the waiting, the hair pulling and the struggles are for one purpose, to make us like Jesus. If we do not believe that, then it all seems for naught.

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
— Job 42:2 (NASB)
Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.
— Jeremiah 14:22 (NASB)

If God can do all things and has done all things, won’t He most certainly give us the patience we need when life becomes a waiting game?




Traits of a Godly Person: Diligence

When I began taking a look at the first chapter of 2 Peter, I briefly went over each of the Godly traits listed as I went through the passage. I came to the conclusion, that each of these traits is so important that they deserve their own day in the sun, so to speak. So, if some of these ideas seem repetitive, that is because they are. Ha, ha. But you probably already know, repetition is often the way we learn. Though memorization no longer comes easy to me, when I was younger, it was through repetition that I memorized large portions of scripture and made it through classes in college like Anatomy and Physiology. That being said, let’s review this idea of diligence.

Websters online dictionary defines diligence in the following ways:

- steady, earnest, and energetic effort : persevering application

- speed, haste

- the attention and care legally expected or required of a person (such as a party to a contract)

Image by  Martin Melicherik  from  Pixabay

In my original post regarding verse 5 of 2 Peter 1, I compared the diligence we are commanded to have in the Christian life to the diligence of things like worker bees and ants. You can see that original post here. When it comes to the insect world, ants have earned an reputation as one of the most hard working and diligent creatures. They can also be a pain if they are invading your pantry or other parts of your house or yard. Ha, ha. Even the Bible speaks highly of the little ant.

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
— Proverbs 6:6-11 (NASB)

Here is a short PBS video on the leaf cutter ant.

There are several characteristics these ants have that show diligence.

1 - Hardworking.

As you can see from this video, the ant is never sitting around watching Netflix. He is constantly working, doing his part for the survival of the community. He doesn’t take coffee breaks, go to movies or get a pedicure. He works hard, all the time.

Image by  Bruno Glätsch  from  Pixabay

Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay

If you look at the people in your circle I bet you can pick out the movers and shakers. They are the ones who work hard. They work a job, raise their families, volunteer. host gatherings at their homes, and go to their kids games. They just seem to be moving, and doing all the time. Most of these people are the ones who get things done. They organize, prepare or take the initiative to get others to do these jobs. These people make me tired! Ha, ha.

Before you panic, that I am saying we should all be that way, I am not. However, I do believe we can all be hard working like the ant. Yes, some of us need more sleep, need more alone time and cringe when we have to go to another social engagement, but there are many ways to be a hard working diligent ant. You can cook or bake for shut ins and new moms, you can clean or drive when these services are needed. Maybe you love to buy and send cards, then you do the hard work of encouragement. Everyone needs down time, but let’s make sure we are all hard working as well.

2 - Focused.

Here is that word again. Focus. The ants are all individually focused, not on themselves, but on what their job is within the community. They don’t think about the job, they just do it. They don’t question why or whether this is the right job for them, they simple focus on getting the job done.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

How focused are you on a daily basis on your work, your home, your family, and your spouse? Or are you focusing on yourself? Imagine if any one of those busy ants decided they didn’t like what they were doing? Or suppose numerous ants decided to go on strike? In the natural world, those ants would probably become ant poop and the community would keep on functioning as normal. In the human world, one person’s self focus and dysfunction can become a trial and difficulty for many other people.

Focus on the good of the community is of primary importance for the diligent ant and should be for us as well.

3 - Team players.

When we think of team players we usually think of sports. Football, basketball, baseball, and many others involve players working together to win the game. There are other team players in our society as well, such as fire fighters, police officers, soldiers and doctors. Even retail businesses work like a team to deliver products to the people who need or want them.

Pixabay - surgery

Team work in our communities is just as important as in the leaf cutter ants’ communities. Working as a team allows for the best outcome or the win, as it is in sports. Just imagine the picture above, an operating room, where the surgeon, nurses, anesthetist and other caregivers are not on the same team? The outcome would be devastating. In the same fashion, if the ants did not work together as a team, the community would not survive.

How do we take all this information and apply it to our lives as Christians and what does all of that have to do with diligence?

In my life as a Christ follower, I need to be hard working, focused and a team player in my relationship with God and with others. Things like reading God’s word and prayer are hard work, but absolutely worth while. Becoming more Godly, takes focus, and other people. We are not an island, unlike Paul Simon believed. We are meant to be part of a body. That body might include your family, the church and others who encourage you to keep growing and challenge you to not become an ant that is self-absorbed.

In addition, becoming more Godly takes a diligent approach in our relationship with the Holy One Himself. If we are diligent in our jobs, our families, our churches and other areas of life, how much more so, should we be diligent in our faith and relationship with Jesus?

Image by  Peter H  from  Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

My husband and I have been without a home church for three years now. We both know this is something we need to focus on and be diligent about finding. We know how important it is to be accountable to others and to be challenged in God’s word on a regular basis. Until that time we find a new church, I thought it would be helpful in my own life to really get back to regular Bible reading. Doing these studies for the blog does help keep me in the word, but both my hubby and I used to read through the entire Bible on a regular basis. I was told about an app I could download to my phone that does just that. I don’t get to it every day, but I like the freedom of being able to listen to the Word spoken when I am doing my make up, eating breakfast or doing the dishes. This is a way to be diligent in my relationship with Christ.

Diligence takes work, focus and it certainly helps to have others keeping you accountable. What areas of your life do you need to have more diligence? Is there a specific area that God is convicting you needs to come under His authority? How can you make this happen by being more diligent?

Here are a few verses to think over on diligence. Thanks for following along. I’d love to hear your thoughts on diligence in your own life. Leave a thought in the comments.

Have a great day.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
— 2 Peter 3:14 (ESV)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
— Colossians 3:23 (ESV)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
— Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 3:14 (ESV)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.
— Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)










On Focus, and Ignorance, During Hard Times

I decided to take a break from the Traits of a Godly Person series for this week. There are so many things going on in our world, and I often wonder should I talk about some of the more difficult issues. I like my blog to be a place of encouragement, whether it is to dress better or to grow in your walk with Christ. However, there are people out there, some of whom might be following my blog, that need a different kind of encouragement.

Life really can be stinking hard! Relationships are complex and often the source of our deepest and darkest pain. More often than not, people who are going through great difficulty do not feel at liberty to talk about the situations they are facing, which means, they are not getting any support or encouragement. People who are going through great loss, also, don’t always feel free to talk about their grief and pain. I’m not really sure, how we got to this point. Why is it that we are afraid to let people know that we are not okay? Why do we hide our pain behind a smile and tell everyone who asks that we are doing fine? Maybe it has to do with not being able to express the deep pain and sadness we feel. Perhaps we are afraid that others will think less of us, if we show them our reality. Maybe we are just too dang tired from trying to cope, that we’d rather not put in the effort to explain all that is going on.

Image by  lisa runnels  from  Pixabay

Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay

I think there is something much deeper and darker going on when we are struggling. Obviously, I believe in a real God and a real devil. I believe that Satan is our enemy and he is out to kill and destroy.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
— 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)
Image by  steffenwienberg  from  Pixabay

Image by steffenwienberg from Pixabay

Our enemy is compared to a roaring lion. Why do you suppose Peter used the idea of a roaring lion, rather than that of a snake or some other creature? Obviously, lions are creatures to be respected. A lion can easily kill a man along with a host of wild creatures. Peter didn’t just make the comparison of the devil to a lion, but to a roaring lion. There is significance in the roar. Roaring commonly means, “This is my territory. Don’t get anywhere near.” Isn’t that interesting? Our enemy isn’t just trying to trip us up, he is trying to make us his own. He wants to claim us as his territory.

There are two problems that come up when we are going through difficulty that really affect our next step and our way of thinking. The first is our own focus. It is incredibly easy to focus on our pain. It is, our pain. The struggle is our struggle. Why wouldn’t we focus on it? This is made even harder when there is pain, illness, anxiety and broken relationships. Job loss is hard, but add to that a divorce and a persistent gall bladder problem and you are probably going to be feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
— Proverbs 4:25 (NASB)

Why is our focus so important? When you are walking you need to watch where you are going. This is especially important if you are walking on a narrow road, a path along a steep gorge or across a Lego filled living room. in those situations, it might be important to not be looking at your cell phone, reading a book or closing your eyes. This is also true when we are driving. The need for this straight forward, pay attention routine is even more important when things are getting chaotic, such as heavy traffic or passing pedestrians or bikers.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

When we are going through the hard bits of life, or even through the longer pits of life, we need to keep our eyes on our Savior. In fact it is even more important to focus on Him when we are faced with difficulty. I have been reading, Abide in Christ, by Andrew Murray. I started this book a while back, got about half way through and got busy, so put it aside. When I picked it up a week ago, I decided to start again at the beginning. There is so much good stuff in this book. Read these two quotes:

It is not the yoke, but the resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; the whole hearted surrender to Jesus, as at once our Master and Keeper, finds and secures the rest.
— Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray - Chapter 2

Remember how Christ tells us if we are weary and heavy laden we should come to Him.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 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.
— Matthew 11:28-29 (NASB)

Murray was referring to these verses when he was talking about the rest that is secured in Christ. Now look at this next piece from the same chapter in Murray’s book.

With this grace secured, we have strength for every duty, courage for every struggle, a blessing in every cross and the joy of life eternal in death itself.
— Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray - Chapter 2

Christ is to be our focus. Come hell or high water, this Warrior Prince named Jesus, has our back for every duty, every struggle and every cross we have to bear in this life. All you have to do is come to Him and believe He will do it.

The other problem that arises when people are going through hard times is the ignorance of those around them. How many of you have been struggling with a situation, only to have a friend give you advice on how to solve your problem? How did that make you feel? If you are like me, when I was going through a very difficult time in my life, the last thing I wanted was advice. What I really wanted was an arm around my shoulders, a friend who would pray with me, not tell me they would pray for me, a sincere hug and two listening ears.

Image by  Anemone123  from  Pixabay

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

My dear friends, I can not emphasize enough how important it is to keep your mouth shut and refrain from giving advice when someone close to you is going through a hard time. Give hugs, give time, bring food, pray with them, listen to them. If they ask you for advice, then and only then, open your mouth and be sure you are speaking from the Lord, not from your own large vat of worldly knowledge. In addition to that, sincerely, truly and intensely pray for that person. You will not know all the details and that is okay. God’s bigger than you and will work it out. Just pray.

He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent.
— Proverbs 11:12 (NASB)
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
— Proverbs 17:28 (NASB)
Pixabay - hope

Life is difficult. Some of you are going through things that you never thought you would have to go through. Don’t give up. Keep you eyes fixed on the author and perfecter or our faith. And for those of you who are watching a friend or loved one suffer, don’t give up on them either. Pray, for and with. Love, help and even just sit in silence with them. For all of us, let’s remember this:

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.
— Psalm 42:5 (NASB)



Traits of a Godly Person: Moral Excellence - Part 2

In our world today, it is hard to talk about morality. As soon as the word shows up in a conversation or on social media, accusations fly of a judgmental attitude or intolerance. While it is true, that some people who try to be moral, can be harsh and unloving, that does not define what morality is, or who authored the idea. As I said last week, moral excellence is merely the desire to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. The question then must be pondered as to who determines what is right and what is wrong.

Image by  Johannes Plenio  from  Pixabay

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

If we believe we evolved from a primordial soup, then the determination of what is right and what is wrong can get a little slippery. The mentality of most animals is survival of the fittest. If we did, evolve from animals like monkeys or, as my husband likes to ponder, bears (since we really should be hibernating in the winter), then we would only be concerned about our own survival and our own well being. If I feel I am being threatened, don’t I have a right to eliminate the threat? If I feel hungry, don’t I have a right to eat whatever I want, wherever I want without any repercussions? If I believe I need a new car, shouldn’t I just be able to go to the car lot, pick out a car I like and then go demand the keys? Maybe I feel a little blue, shouldn’t I be able to drink, smoke pot and take opioids without any long term effects?

My examples are a little extreme, but I am trying to make a point. Our society and our world as a whole does have a moral standard. We have laws in place that are meant to protect. Where did those laws and standards come from? Did some monkey come up with them? Did a being, somewhere along the evolutionary line decide, “Hey, I want to be a good person and I want everyone else to be a good person, so I am going to come up with a set of standards. I’ll call it a moral code. It’ll include things like: we shouldn’t kill each other; we shouldn’t go over to our neighbor’s cave and steal his wife, no matter how pretty she is; we probably shouldn’t steal his food either….”

If we have truly evolved, then why are we still so blasted ugly? We hate, we kill, we covet, we have affairs, we promote twisted sexuality by making porn available, we steal, we do drugs, we even kill ourselves. How is this moral excellence? How is this morality at all? It’s not.

By placing ourselves under the authority and wisdom of a loving and just creator, we can easily buy into the moral code that He provided. The ten commandments were taken as truth ever since God’s finger wrote them down for Moses on Mt. Sinai. In recent years, however, attacks have been made on these commandments in a real and visceral way, from cars crashing into stone fixtures on which the commandments were inscribed, to Satanic groups protesting them, to lawsuits filed by the ACLU, this early list of moral codes has been focused upon as a religious issue, but in reality aren’t the ten commandments a moral standard that everyone, should ascribe too? From the religious right, to the liberal left, the Satan worshippers and the members of the ASLU, shouldn’t all of us live by these ideals: to not murder, to not covet, to not steal and so on.

Image by  Jondolar Schnurr  from  Pixabay

It is hard to talk about moral excellence without broaching these ideas. That being said, let me remind my readers, I am writing to an audience made up mostly of people who believe similarly to myself. I am not trying to convert you to my belief system, though I would be thrilled to talk to you about it. I am just trying to get you to think about the whole picture. Why is the world so against the idea of a moral compass? What is wrong with wanting to have standards of right and wrong? But hey, if I take on the mentality of those who would prefer to not have a moral code, then by all means, do whatever you want, as long as it isn’t hurting anyone. But then who is going to decide what hurt really is and who is really feeling it?

Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now. Ha, ha.

Image by  jussiak  from  Pixabay

Image by jussiak from Pixabay

So how do we, as Christ followers attain and maintain moral excellence? I have several ideas and if you have more, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

1 - Know To Whom You Belong

Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
— Psalm 100:3 (NASB)

If you have made a decision to believe in the work, death and resurrection of Jesus you are part of His family now. Knowing where you belong, can make a big difference in where you place your trust. The one you trust determines where you are going to place your faith and how you are going to live your life.

2 - Grow in that Knowledge

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
— Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB)
Image by  O12  from  Pixabay

Image by O12 from Pixabay

A relationship with Jesus is not static. When you determine to follow Jesus, you don’t suddenly arrive and become that morally excellent person you should be. You have to learn more and learning takes place by studying His word, being around others who will encourage your growth and reading authors who studied the Bible and lived life.

3 - View it as a Relationship

I think we learn more and are more motivated if we are invested in the relationship. Being a Christian isn’t just a contract between, you, Jesus, the Father and the Spirit. It is a living, thriving, growing, loving relationship.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
— John 14:23 (ESV)

I have always loved that verse, because it sounds so familial. God is going to come and make a home with us. it doesn’t say, He’ll meet us at the office or in the garage, but in our homes. That is so relational.

4 - Choose morally good things

It is easy to let our guard down and start watching shows and reading books or going to movies that may not be what is best for us. We all have a different standard factor, meaning some people can watch horror films and not have nightmares afterwards. When I was younger I used to love to watch scary movies. I still occasionally get fearful when I am home alone, thinking the boogie man is lurking in the shadows. I don’t watch scary movies any more. Now I am noticing that other things seen in shows are starting to bother me as well. That is only one example. You know what your standard triggers are. Just like an alcoholic has to stay completely away from alcohol and those situations, we need to make choices to head to the moral high ground, so that God’s work in us is not for naught.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB)

I love this passage and I often quote it when I am feeling anxious, but verse 8 really can up our moral excellence factor, if we allow God to bring those things to mind.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I hope this study of the traits of a Godly person is challenging your thinking and causing you to dig deeper into God’s word and into your relationship with Him. Thanks for reading.

Traits of a Godly Person: Moral Excellence - Part 1

The phrase, moral excellence, to some, might conjure images of judgment and prudishness that they want nothing to do with. However, moral excellence is simply the desire to do what is right, and the choice to avoid doing what is wrong.

We all face moral choices every day. Most of us will not kill, even though that customer we dealt with might be deserving. Most of us will not harm, especially those who are weaker, like a child or a person who is ill. But does this trait of moral excellence come into the world with us or does it have to be taught and learned?

If you have ever taken the time to watch children, you will know the answer to this. Children can be taught kindness, goodness, honesty, and other morally excellent characteristics, but left up to their own choices most will choose to demand their own way and demand it immediately. Moral excellence goes out the window when a coveted toy is involved or when competition to win the game is at stake.

Pixabay - boy with slingshot

The Bible confirms our sin nature:

All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
— Psalm 14:3 (NASB)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
— Romans 3:23 (NASB)
For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
— Romans 5:19 (NASB)
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification
— Romans 4:25 (NASB)

We live in a fallen world. It is easy to turn away from that which is morally excellent in order to have fun, feel good and be accepted. Our minds are filled with messages that tell us, if it feels good do it, if there is a rule break it, and anything that is conservative and restrictive is bad, while all that is freeing and pleasurable is good. We are inundated with bad news which causes us to wonder if it all is worth the effort, but even amidst all the chaos, God is still good and He is still working.

Here are a few quotes on excellence:

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.
— Aristole
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
— Will Durant
The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.
— Vince Lombardi
We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.
— Barack Obama

As you can see, most of these quotes, other than Aristotle’s are not specifically referring to moral excellence, but you could take each quote and plug moral excellence in for excellence to get the idea. If moral excellence is something that comes about only by habit, then what sorts of choices do we need to be making to be morally excellent?

I think the first thing we need to understand is the word morality. What does Webster’s online dictionary say? Here are several definitions related to moral as an adjective.

1 - of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior

2 - conforming to a standard of right behavior

3 - capable of right and wrong action

These definitions work from the perspective that there is a moral standard and that is what I want to address.

There are two other definitions that speak to a perceived morality - which means it is someone’s idea of what morality is.

4 - expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior

5 - sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment

My belief system revolves around a moral God. God is not only morally excellent, but He is perfect. A being that is purely loving, good, kind and just, cannot be morally corrupt. I also believe that God is the author of morality. He was the one to create us and to put us into a world dependent on choices. He also made us with a free will. We are able to choose to do right or to do wrong.

In the Garden of Eden, God set a moral parameter.

15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
— Genesis 2:15-17 (NASB)

The command that God gave Adam, was straight forward; if you do this then this will happen. There wasn’t a plethora of other voices telling Adam, “Dude, you can make up your own morality.” Well, there was one voice, and that was all it took.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
— Genesis 3:1-7 (NASB)

How quickly this all came about. One day Adam and Eve are grooving in the garden, enjoying the beauty of their relationship with God and each other, in a setting beyond what we could possibly think or imagine. They had purpose in their lives to care for the creation God had given them and actually walked with the Almighty in this amazing place. BUT, that wasn’t enough. Eve was tempted by that which wasn’t known.

Isn’t that one of the major problems involved when we stray from the right and wrong that God laid out from the beginning of time? We want to know. We want to know what that tastes like, looks like, feels like and sounds like. We want to take our lives into our own hands, but in reality what we do is exchange a good and gentle master for one that is harsh, and unrelenting.

Image by  진혁 최  from  Pixabay

Image by 진혁 최 from Pixabay

When it comes to moral excellence it becomes a matter of choice. Adam and Eve chose to do wrong. I choose to do wrong when I get angry, eat too much or become fearful. We are no different from our forefathers. The Bible is full of real people who were less than morally excellent, yet God loved them and used them anyway.

Not wanting this post to get too long, I’m going to save what moral excellence looks like for a Godly person until next week. This week, do some homework. How often do you think about the choices you make? How often do you hear those messages that say you are the one who decides what morality is for you? If you come across something specific, or have a thought from the Spirit, I’d love to hear about it.

Have a great week, everyone and thanks for joining me on the blog. If you know anyone who might benefit from reading these blog posts, please pass it on. I appreciate all your support.






Traits of a Godly Person: Faithfulness - Ours

Faithfulness is a trait we might wish more people had. Employers wish their employees were more faithful getting to work on time, or even at all. Wives with their husbands were faithful to getting work done around the house. Pastors wish their congregants were more faithful in their church attendance and in their giving. While many people are very faithful, we all probably struggle with being totally committed in all areas of our lives.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Let’s look again at the definitions of the word faithfulness:

1 - steadfast in affection or allegiance

2 - firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty

3 - given with strong assurance

4 - true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original

5 - full of faith

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. We took a brief look at God’s faithfulness last week and we learned that His faithfulness is everlasting and from generation to generation. We also learned that God’s faithfulness is great and because of that we can have hope. So what about our faithfulness? Are we as great as God that we can be steadfast in our allegiance and affection? Or are we guilty of wavering in the commitments we have made?

Image by  diapicard  from  Pixabay

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

I would like to take a look at several areas where our faithfulness is tested and often found lacking.

Our Relationships. Human relationships are not always easy. The variety of personality traits, points of view and communication skills makes for an interesting stew. Being faithful in our friendships, families and marriages is not only important to the institution of human relationships, but to our relationship with God. Our faithfulness to others is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us. That includes faithfulness when it is hard. God doesn’t give up on us, when we sin.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
— 2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB)

Faithfulness may not always mean continuing to have a relationship with a certain person. We live in a broken world where divorce, personality disorders and toxic thinking affects our relationships with other. A marriage that involves abuse or infidelity may need to be exited. A friendship that is detrimental to your health or well being should be left behind, but that does not mean that we should give up praying for these people.

Here are a few ideas for how to remain faithful in our relationships:

1 - Make contact. Not everyone is a good communicator, or outgoing enough to make the first move. I have several friends that I only see a couple times a year. However, we do make it a priority to make contact and meet up, even though infrequently. We are faithful, because we care and want to continue to a relationship.

Image by  5688709  from  Pixabay

Image by 5688709 from Pixabay

Making contact is also important in our marriages. Have a date night, or breakfast together once a week without the kids, cell phones or other technology. Actually talk to each other, not about your own hobbies, but about your relationship. Talk about the hard stuff and work through it together. Faithfulness is far easier when you make a regular effort.

2 - Invest. Investing in each other takes time and commitment. It means finding out what the other person likes and dislikes. It involves going the extra mile to encourage and uplift. In a financial situation, making investments means studying where your money is going to grow the most. The same is true in our relationships. Investing in each other, especially our friends, children and significant others will allow the Holy Spirit to produce the quality of faithfulness that God desires we have.

3 - Forgive. Relationships are not easy and remaining faithful, as you know takes effort. We live in a very self focused world, so it is not surprising that we throw away relationships with regularity. Probably the biggest factor in this throw away mentality is the inability to forgive. We all mess up. We get mad, impatient and fearful. We yell, we cry and we lash out. I am guilty of all of these things with my own family. However, I am still married to the same man and my girls still hang out with me. There are two factors that have helped, apologies and forgiveness.

When my girls were young, I blew up with some monthly regularity, but whenever I did, I tried to go back to them later and apologize. My moods were not pretty and I didn’t like my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments, but God’s Spirit was at work in me and always brought softness after the anger. Today, when the girls talk about the past, they laugh about my craziness and talk fondly of the good times revolving around family trips and holidays.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your
— Matthew 6:15 (NASB)

In addition to apologizing, we need to offer forgiveness. We have all been hurt in our relationships, especially the people that are closest to us. How many wives have noticed their husbands’ looking at another woman? How many moms have been hurt by a comment their teens have made? Who hasn’t felt the snub of a friend, when they weren’t invited to an event or included in recent news? Faithfulness will compel us to literally forgive and forget whatever offenses were done, many of which are done without thinking.

Another area where our faithfulness is often tested is:

Our Public Affiliations. When I refer to public affiliations I am talking about work, church and school if you are currently a student. This could also include things like utility providers, banks and other public institutions. You might wonder what I mean by being faithful with regards to these public entities. Think about it. Our faithfulness in the work arena, church, school, and in paying our bills on time, being kind to the clerk at the grocery store and so on, all reflect God’s faithfulness to us. It is not that we have great affection for our electric provider or our garbage man, but that we adhere to our duty to pay them in a timely manner.

Image by  rawpixel  from  Pixabay

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

In regards to work, are we getting to work on time? Do we interact with our fellow employees in a Godly way that exudes kindness and compassion? Do we attend church regularly and encourage those who sit in the pews next to us? All of these things require faithfulness and will operate better if we are faithfully committed.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
— Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

The last area I would like to look at where our faithfulness is regularly tested is:

Our Relationship with God.

I cannot begin to emphasize enough, how important faithfulness to our God is. This is the Almighty One who created us. He breathed life into our dust and made us living, breathing beings. He is the one who provides. He is the one who made a way when all was dark. He is the author of light, the repeller of darkness and the burning heart of pure, undying love. He does not cast us aside. He does not believe in a throw away society. He is the cradler of each unborn child, the arm around each forsaken wife, the hand that holds those who are ready to come home. Isn’t this One, worthy of our faithfulness? Doesn’t He deserve our allegiance, our duty, our assurance, our standing true and our faith?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Just how do we show our faithfulness to Him? We show it in our faithfulness to those He has put around us. We show it in our faithfulness to His body, the church. We show it in our attitudes towards others and towards His creation. We also show it as we spend time with Him, studying His word and getting to know Him better. Faithfulness is an investment and will not return void.

....This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
— Revelation 13:10 (NASB) last part of verse





Traits of a Godly Person: Faithfulness - God's

This week and next, I want to look at the trait of faithfulness. Galatians 5:22 lists faithfulness as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Let’s take a step back for a minute and think about the two passages we are looking at that list the traits of a Godly person. 2 Peter 1:1-11 and Galatians 5:16-26. When we compare the two we see many similarities, but the 2 Peter passage seems to put the emphasis for obtaining these Godly traits on us.

Image by  congerdesign  from  Pixabay

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
— 2 Peter 1:5 (NASB)

We are told to apply diligence.

Whereas, Galatians 5 seems to put the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. It is His fruit that is being brought forth in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
— Galatians 5:22 (NASB)

Seeing these two passages separately we might think they are not both talking about the same concept, that of Godly traits, but I believe these go hand in hand, complimenting and enhancing one another in a dance that only the Holy Spirit can direct.

Since we discussed Faith the last two weeks, it seemed fitting to move on to the trait of faithfulness. The definition of faithful goes something like this according to Webster’s Online Dictionary:

1 - steadfast in affection or allegiance

2 - firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty

3 - given with strong assurance

4 - true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original

5 - full of faith

This week I want to focus totally on God’s faithfulness to us.

The book of Psalms is probably one of the clearest books in the Bible on God’s faithfulness. The psalmist, who was most often David, understood the difficulties of life. He fought giants, ran from King Saul who was trying to murder him, committed, not only the sin of adultery by being married and laying with Uriah’s wife, but also had Uriah killed. He was on the run, running the kingdom and messing up, yet he repeatedly saw God’s faithfulness to him. That doesn’t mean he got away with his crimes. His sin found him out and the unrest in his kingdom lasted until his death. For more on David read 1 Samuel 8 - 2 Samuel 24, as well as 1 Chronicles 10 - 23.

Image by  Parveender Lamba  from  Pixabay

Take a look at how the Psalmist describes God’s faithfulness:

For the word of the Lord is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness.
— Psalm 33:4 (NASB)
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
— Psalm 36:5 (NASB)
I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.
— Psalm 89:1 (NASB)
Before the Lord, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.
— Psalm 96:13 (NASB)
For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
— Psalm 100:5 (NASB)

In addition to the psalmist, a man called Jeremiah understood what the faithfulness of the Lord was. If you have a few extra minutes today read Lamentations 3. Read all 66 verses. There are four verses that stand out and that you have probably heard before.

21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
— Lamentations 3:21-24 (NASB)

Why is it that both of these writers speak of God’s faithfulness during and after great tragedy or difficulty? I believe, that is when we see God’s faithfulness most clearly. Let’s face it, when life is going well, most of us don’t really think about what is going on behind the scenes. We get food from the grocery store. We go to the doctor if we are sick. We have the Geek Squad to help us with our phones and computers. We don’t really have to think about where the food comes from, or will I be able to get in to the doctor, or even waiting very long to get a problem fixed. We live in a drive up window, instantaneous fix society. When things really go wrong and we have no easy answers, that is the time (hopefully), that we realize how very precious each day is and how faithful God has been to us throughout the years.

I am sure each one of you has a story of God’s faithfulness. I love it when God goes over and above to show me His love in the simplest of things. During an especially difficult time in my life, I was feeling very hopeless. I knew in my mind that God was faithful and that He would work things out, but I felt very alone in my grief. It was spring time and my husband and I decided to take a walk at one of our local parks. In my mind I sent up a prayer to God that went something like this:

Image by  Ulrike Mai  from  Pixabay

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

“God, I know that You are faithful. I know that You will work all things together for good, but right now, I need to see You. I need to see something to remind me that You are there and that You are at work.”

I have inherited my mother’s love for birds. I don’t have the time to be a true birder, but I always get excited to hear them in the morning, especially in the spring, as birds that left for winter, return. Shortly after I prayed my desperate prayer, I saw a flash of red on the trail before me. Ohio’s state bird is the cardinal, but this was no cardinal. There perched in a tree right along the trail was a Scarlet Tanager (click on the link to see a picture and read more about this bird). If you know the bird I am talking about it is brilliant red with a striking black wing and tail. These birds like to stay hidden in the foliage of oak trees, but there he was, just waiting for me.

I knew that bird was my answer to prayer. It still makes me tear up, knowing that the Almighty God did that for little old me. That is faithfulness. It shows His steadfast affection for His creation and His allegiance to upholding me through every circumstance.

I know some of you who are reading this are going through terrible stuff. God wants to remind you, He is faithful. Always and forever.

I would love to hear your stories of God’s faithfulness in your life. We are all in this journey together, so please share. You never know how your story might encourage someone else and remind them of God’s great faithfulness.

Next week, we will take a look at what our faithfulness should look like and how we can make this Godly trait a regular part of who we are.











Traits of a Godly Person: Faith - Part 2

Last week we took a look at a Biblical example of a man who had great faith. The faith of the Centurion in Jesus, to heal his servant, was so strong it made Jesus marvel. This week I would like look at our own faith. Do you have faith like the Centurion? Do I? If not, what can we do differently that will cause Jesus to marvel at our faith? Today, I want to look at a few of the verses where Jesus speaks of faith, then I want to compare a living faith to the development of a child

Image by  congerdesign  from  Pixabay

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

This first quote from Matthew 17 occurred shortly after Jesus had cast a demon out of a man’s son. The disciples had tried to cast out the demon, but were unsuccessful.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”
20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
21 [But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]
— Matthew 17:19-21 (NASB)
Image by  GOKALP ISCAN  from  Pixabay

Image by GOKALP ISCAN from Pixabay

These are mustard seeds. They are tiny. Jesus compares faith to this tiny seed. He says if we have faith, even this small, we can move mountains. Wow! Just wow! The fact that I have never moved a mountain, puts my faith to shame. Obviously, God doesn’t want us throwing mountains all over creation, but you get the point. We don’t have to have a mountain of faith, to do amazing things in Jesus name.

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.
14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
— Mark 10:13-16 (NASB)
Image by  WikiImages  from  Pixabay

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

In this passage, Jesus becomes indignant with the disciples for keeping the children from coming to HIm. Once again, I am amazed by the emotion exhibited by our Lord. The word, indignant basically means becoming angry because of something unjust. Jesus must have felt that the children were not begin treated justly, because they were being kept away from him, as though they didn’t have as much right to talk to Him and be near Him as the adults did.

Jesus then goes on to make an important point, which I have brought up before. “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Jesus just made a statement about faith that is often overlooked. We must have child-like faith to enter God’s kingdom. What exactly does that mean?

Children go through a certain progression in their development that coincides in the progression of our faith. Let’s take a look.

1 - Look & Listen - When a baby is first born, they experience a sudden assault on their senses. The sounds, sights and feelings outside the warmth and comfort of the womb must be overwhelming. As the tiny one grows they begin to use these senses to learn about their environment. They hear their mother’s voice and see her face. As the days pass, their eyesight and hearing becomes more clear and they begin to find pleasure in looking at their mother’s face and hearing her voice as she sings and talks to them. Looking and listening become a way to learn and grow.

Image by  fancycrave1  from  Pixabay

Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay

In the same way, when we accept Christ as our Savior, we must look and listen. We need to become familiar with His face and His voice. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to see God in His word, the Bible, and in His creation. He also gives us the ability to hear Him through the Scriptures, Biblical teaching, personal devotions, music and even through the singing of the birds in the early morning. However, we need to actually look and listen. We need to learn the lines of His face, the color of His eyes, the wave of his hair and the sound of His voice.

It has been scientifically proven that if a child does not bond with his or her mother early on, the child will undergo certain psychological impediments as he or she develops. We are God’s creation. The movement of humanity away from God developed when Adam and Eve sinned. That inability to bond with our Heavenly Father has impeded our ability to develop psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is only after we traverse that gap, by walking the way of the cross, that we see His face, and hear His voice clearly.

2 - Reach - As baby grows, he/she begins to reach for mom’s face. I can remember playfully chewing on both of my daughters’ hands when they were little, as they began to smile, and coo. Babies will reach towards toys, and other brightly colored objects, continuing their path of exploration and discovery.

Pixabay - toddler reaching

Our faith grows and solidifies as we reach for God. Reaching involves beginning to get outside our comfort zones. Many of you grew up in the church. You were used to hearing the songs and prayers, and had the example of others in relationship with the unseen God. For someone outside the church, becoming a Christian is much like the birth of a baby, bringing them into a world of light and sound that they are not used to. Reaching for God may seem a little odd, but it becomes quite natural as we grow in our faith and relationship with Christ.

How do we reach out to Him? Reaching is about focus. When my grandson was just learning to crawl, I was reintroduced to the focus that a little child can have. He would see something across the room and immediately fixate on it. Then, as he gained more mobility, he would scuttle himself towards the prize. Nothing could deter him, once he was focused on that thing he wanted. I know my girls did this too, but being a grandmother allowed me more time to watch that little guy develop. It was beautiful the way the Lord spoke to my heart through that tiny boy.

This is exactly what reaching means, to focus and yearn for that prize that is across the room. As a Christian, my focus is to be Jesus. I reach for Him as I study, read, pray, thank and rejoice.

16 Rejoice always;
17 pray without ceasing;
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit;
20 do not despise prophetic utterances.
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22 abstain from every [m]form of evil.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (NASB)

3 - Crawl, Walk, Run - From the point of reaching to the actions of crawling, walking and running, it is a very short time period. Look at how much a child develops in the first year and a half of his/her life. It is amazing! They go from being totally dependent to having the desire to be fiercely independent.

Image by  Sasin Tipchai  from  Pixabay

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

As we grow in our faith in Christ, we mature learning to see Jesus’ face and hear His voice. We deepen our understanding of Him, and His desires for us as we reach for Him. Once we are mature, we don’t stop moving forward, but our development changes. We no longer have the immature faith of a new believer. Now we have been through hard times. It is in the difficulties that our faith is challenged. When tragedy comes we need to run to Jesus. We may be so tired we can only walk. Or we may be on our faces and the best we can do is crawl. Each time we reach for Him our faith becomes more real and more solid. Each time we remember His promises, our faith deepens and broadens. Every day that we focus on Him the Spirit works in our lives making our faith live.

The worst thing we can do is become stagnant. If a child suddenly decided to no longer crawl, he would never learn to stand. If he/she never stood, they would never walk, and if they never learned to walk, they would never know the pure joy and delight of being able to run.

Let us run with Him.

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
— Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)


Traits of a Godly Person: Faith - Part 1

I was praying for clarity this morning as I thought about this post. I wanted to have some semblance of organization to my thoughts, as well as a sort of progression to the traits as we look at them. I am definitely a picture learner. It helps me to see a picture in my mind of what I am learning. That picture gives me the ability to remember the concepts better. At my age, anything that helps me remember is good. Ha, ha.

Image by  congerdesign  from  Pixabay

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

As I prayed, it seemed the Holy Spirit was impressing on me, the idea that Faith is the precursor to all the other Godly traits. Not only did it seem a Spiritual impression, but logically it makes sense. Without faith, we cannot know God, otherwise why would Jesus repeatedly refer to faith when interacting with people. Let’s look at a situation involving our Lord.

5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,
6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.”
7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.
11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;
12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
— Matthew 8:5-13 (NASB)

In order to understand the wonderfulness of this passage, we need to be clear on what is happening. The Centurion was an officer in the Roman army. He was a man of authority. He probably was fairly well off and he fully understood how things worked within the hierarchy of the Roman kingdom.

Image by  jacqueline macou  from  Pixabay

Obviously, he was a man of compassion, because he was deeply concerned for his servant who lay “paralyzed at home, and fearfully tormented.” He didn’t just come and ask, the passage says, “…imploring Him…” We do not know what the servant’s illness was. It could have been anything, including demon possession, but whatever it was came on fairly suddenly, and could have been deadly. Having been on the receiving end of malaria, I understand the severity of an illness that leaves you flat on your back and hallucinating, due to a fever, that when once measured at a clinic in Africa ,was over 105. However, it is clear that this servant was important to his master. Doesn’t this say something about this man? He probably could have gone out and purchased another servant without any thought, but he cared for this one.

Image by  Stefan Schweihofer  from  Pixabay

In addition to being a man of authority and a man of compassion, this Centurion was curious. If you know your Bible, you know that many times when Jesus was present, there were large crowds. Often these crowds were docile and listened intently to hear what Jesus had to say. Other times, the crowds got a bit rowdy, especially if there were Jewish religious leaders present who did not agree with what Jesus was teaching. I am speculating that Roman soldiers were often milling about, just to make sure the peace was being kept. This particular man must have been watching with some amount of intensity, because he knew what Jesus was teaching and doing. He observed how Jesus handled the people and how they responded to him.

Image by  Wajari Velásquez  from  Pixabay

The next characteristic of this man, is humility. He didn’t seem to feel dumb approaching Jesus. He just did it. He came to Jesus and immediately let Him know the problem he was desiring help for. How many times have I been afraid to speak up or try something new because I was afraid? More often than I’d like to confess. Pride, and the desire to not be uncomfortable, often keeps us from learning new things, meeting new people and experiencing life to the fullest. This Centurion was probably not accustomed to asking for help. He was a man who ordered others around. I can imagine the plan that went through his head as he contemplated walking up to Jesus and posing his desire for his servant’s healing. He didn’t hesitate. He just did it.

The Centurion shows great respect to Jesus. He knew the tension that existed between the Jews and the Gentile Romans. Under the circumstances it is understandable why there would be tension between the conqueror, and the conquered. This man approached Jesus with this thought in mind. When Jesus offered to come to the Centurion’s home, the man responded, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof…” Not only did he understand the cultural differences, but he honored Jesus as a man on equal footing, or even at a higher position of authority than himself. This proclamation brings us to the focal point of the passage.

The Centurion had faith. He knew Jesus could heal his servant without even being at his home. What an amazing statement of faith. HIs faith and declaration of it was so outstanding, that it says “…when Jesus heard this, He marveled….” I find that so fascinating. The Son of God, marveled. Would it be that my faith could be as straight forward and sure as the faith of this Roman Centurion. I would love for my faith to make the King of Heaven and Earth marvel! How about you? Jesus goes on to commend the man’s faith before the crowd. He says, “…Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” This heathen man’s faith was the stepping stone for all Gentiles to partake in the salvation from sin given freely by Jesus.

I love this passage. It is a reminder of how important our faith is. Next week we will look more specifically at what having faith means to us in today’s world. Have a marvelous week and keep the faith!





Traits of A Godly Person: The Choice to Abide

Before I actually get into the various Godly traits we are going to look at, I felt I needed to spend one more post leading up to the characteristics. What I have noticed, in my years of living a Christian life, is a definite disconnect between the flesh and the spirit. Obviously, this is expected. When we read, again, the passage from Galatians 5, we know that the flesh and the spirit are at odds with each other. We are commanded to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh. Yet, it is our flesh that must do the actual action of walking. How, then, do we get our flesh and our spirit to come into line with the Spirit of God?

Image by  Iván Tamás  from  Pixabay

Image by Iván Tamás from Pixabay

As I explained last week, once you accept the person and work of Jesus Christ as your Savior, His spirit comes to dwell in you. Let’s take a look at a few scriptures.

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
— Acts 1:8 (NASB)
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
— Acts 2:4 (NASB)
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
— Acts 2:38 (NASB)
All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
— Acts 10:45 (NASB)

I am not going to get into a lengthy discourse on baptism in the Spirit versus filling of the Spirit and other such conundrums. My personal opinion is, we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. Whether we can access more of Him versus less of Him, or whether you believe in angelic tongues versus foreign tongues is not the point of this series. The point I want to make is simple, we who have been washed in the blood of Jesus have access to His authority, power and understanding, by the Holy Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
— John 16:13 (NASB)
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
— Romans 8:16 (NASB)
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
— Romans 8:26 (NASB)

The difficulty I feel we have is maintaining a dynamic, open and moment by moment awareness of that fact. The Holy Spirt isn’t going anywhere, meaning once you have accepted Jesus, the Spirit is with you all the time, but I do think we move. We wander away from that closeness we are able to have with Jesus because we allow other things to become static in our open line to Him.

Image by  Annalise Batista  from  Pixabay

Andrew Murray was a minister in South Africa. Being of Dutch and German descent his parents send he and his brother to school in Scotland and the Netherlands, where they studied theology. Murray was a prolific writer and is best know as as a significant forerunner to the Pentecostal movement. He was a believer in healing and the continuation of the apostolic gifts. (Information taken from Wikipedia).

I am not a Pentecostal. I do however, believe that we can have a deeper, fuller, richer relationship with our God, not merely through intellect and rote memorization, but with the inclusion of our emotions and intuition. Do I believe I can hear God speak to me in His spirit? Yes. Do I think he cares what color skirt I put on today? No. I bring this up because, I have heard well intended Christians say, “God told me to do this or that….God told me to tell you….God wants you to go here, or marry that person…” I believe we can be lead by God to make choices regarding who we marry, whether we should buy a house, praying over a person who is ill and so on, but I also believe God gave us a free will. We can decide what to eat for breakfast, what movie to go see (even if it is a bad one) and who we are going to hang out with on Friday night. However, the right to choose, does not mean we will always choose right, and it is in this area of faulty decision making that we can sharpen or dull our ability to walk in the Spirit and hear God’s voice.

Image by  Jason Gillman  from  Pixabay

Image by Jason Gillman from Pixabay

One of the books that Murray wrote is called Abide in Christ. This book is an amazing progression into the deeper layers of God. I do not believe reading this is for everyone, but it is for everyone who really wants to grow, not only wide in their walk with Christ, but deep. Let me share a few quotes.

And observe especially, it was not that He said, “Come to me and abide with me,” but, “Abide in me.” The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened his arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His Divine fulness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words : “Abide In Me.”
— Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray

With versus in. The word with gives you the idea of coming along side or being next to. The word in is simply that inside or within. We can describe the idea of being with someone else by discussing a person’s proximity, but it is harder to explain the word in without using the word itself. In has a sense of being contained, surrounded, and protected. In also gives us the idea of a continuous connection that never goes away. Water that is in a glass, always has a connection with the glass. As long as that water remains in that glass it will be connected to it.

Image by  rawpixel  from  Pixabay

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

When we abide in Christ, we are in HIm. We are contained, surrounded and protected. We are always connected to Him as long as we abide. It is in this ability to abide in Christ that we will be able to begin to grow in our walk as Christians. As we abide, we will come to display the traits of a Godly person.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing
— John 15:4-5 (NASB)
Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
— John 14:23 (NASB)

I especially love that last verse, because of Jesus’ absolute familiarity with us. He’s willing to make His dwelling with us and that is exactly what He does. He is with us and we are in Him. With this in mind, we will begin looking at the traits of a Godly person next week.

Have a great week everyone!



Traits of A Godly Person: A Look at Two Passages

This week, I want to continue my introduction to the traits of a Godly person by looking at two passages, 2 Peter 1:1-11 and Galatians 5:16-26. Just a few weeks ago, we finished a Mulling It Over series on 2 Peter 1:1-11. It was this series that got me thinking I should follow that up with a series on the traits of a Godly person.

Image by  Myriam Zilles  from  Pixabay

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

When I speak of Godly traits, I am talking about the characteristics outlined in scripture that are those traits that God desires of us. These are traits like love, brotherly kindness, faith and so on. Let’s review 2 Peter 1: 1-11

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
— 2 Peter 1:1-11 (NASB)

In this passage we see nine Godly traits: diligence, faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

The other passage I want to stew over is in Galatians.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
— Galatians 5:16-26 (NASB)

In order to fully understand these passages and fully grasp the traits that each is referring to, we must understand the work of the Holy Spirit.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When a person accepts the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ he or she is choosing to place their faith in His person and His work. As a person He is fully God and fully man. His work, didn’t just consist of pertinent teachings such as kindness and love, but it included the most important work of all, that of bridging the gap between a Holy, Perfect, God and a fallen, sinful humanity. That is why He died on the cross. It was for us, to make atonement or a payment for the wrongs that all of humanity has done since Adam and Eve chose to eat of that tree in the garden.

Image by  jaaannnaaa  from  Pixabay

Image by jaaannnaaa from Pixabay

When you place your faith in Him, we then receive the person of the Holy Spirit. This is the third person of the trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each are uniquely different, yet all are of one mind and being. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to walk the Christian life. Sure people can be good, and love and be kind, but it is only these traits that are done in the Spirit of the triune God that truly last.

Image by  Colin Behrens  from  Pixabay

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

The other thing that this bond with the Holy Spirit does is allows us access. We have access to God the Father, a direct tram to the throne room, so to speak. We have access to the forgiveness and cleansing of Jesus and we have access to a powerhouse of God-given ability to live life, but life more abundantly. The Holy Spirit is in essence, the mover and shaker of the God-head. Obviously, there is controversy over how the Spirit conveys His work, but no matter how you look at it, the Holy Spirit helps us to live a Godly life.

Next week, we’ll look a bit more closely at this relationship between us, the Holy Spirit and His ability to manifest Godly traits in our lives. I hope you’ll join me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. If you have the time, leave a comment below. Have a great day.