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Short & Sweet: Measure Up

Short & Sweet-1Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

Hebrews 13:7-10

“I’ll have your order up in a moment, Ma’am,”

the hostess said as I waited at the counter of one of my favorite restaurants. I was looking forward to my lunch. I brought a salad to school and I ordered a pint of my favorite aged-balsamic salad dressing. Tangy, sweet and savory all stirred up into one delicious hot mess. I know—I need therapy.

As the hostess approached the counter, I eyed the small container in her hand. Too small. I readied myself for battle. I had been through this before.

“That will be $7.95 for your pint of dressing.”

I said, with utmost gentleness, “Miss, that isn’t a pint. It’s only a cup.”

“Oh no, Ma’am,” she said firmly, “it’s a pint. The cooks measured it in the kitchen.”

“They may have measured it, but I assure you, it is not a pint—it is a cup,” I stated decisively.

“Ma’am, we looked it up on Google (the ultimate authority). It is a pint.”

“I am a teacher. We cover measurements and conversions at school. Plus, I have been cooking for 35 years, I know a cup when I see it. I’d like the rest of my dressing, please.” I was calm despite the twitch in my jaw muscle.

The conflicted clerk then said, “Ma’am, we measure our pints differently than anyone else. This is how we measure our pint.”

#imustbedreaming

I didn’t think I’d live to see the day … pink is the new black. Wrong is right. Up is down. A cup is the new pint. Can we count on anything, anymore?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The word same in the verse above is derived from the Greek word autos and it simply means himself. No kidding. Jesus is simply, magnificently Himself. Not new and improved. Not updated or upgraded. Jesus. Go back up to the verse and replace the same with himself and read the verse out loud. Hallelujah! We can count on Jesus. He will always be himself (I on the other hand have been several different versions of myself and God is still working on me). He is our rock our strong tower and His word will outlive skinny jeans and boots, your latest tat, selfie sticks and designer cupcakes.

With Christ I don’t need to remake myself every day because He is making me over into the image of Christ. Because Jesus never changes, I know who I am, I know whose I am, I know how to act and I know how to live.

Right is still right, wrong is still wrong. God is on his throne and HE NEVER CHANGES!

Just in case you are wondering, I left the restaurant with a pint of balsamic dressing … old school style.

Life is Sweet!

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Short & Sweet: 3 Signs You’re Building on the Rock

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We live very close to Lake Michigan.

While we go to the big lake most often in the summer months, we enjoy it best in the fall and winter, after the tourists have gone home for the season. This winter the Midwest experienced days of turbulent wind, especially along the lake shore. The waves reached incredible heights, crashing the coast and pounding the beaches. Churning. Tossing. Stirring.

They reshape and sculpt the landscape. Yards of beach can be gained or lost during the stormy season. Houses built too close to the shore are at risk. Every year some are lost to the lake. Expensive, beautiful homes tumble down to the surf like so many houses of cards. Why? Poor construction? Cheap materials? No, wrong foundation – they were built upon the sand.

Sand is unstable—it shifts beneath our feet causing us to stumble and trip. Sand stings and whips as it is whisked away by the winds.

I have built upon the sand:

Crumbling castles of pride and foolishness.

Misplaced trust.

Wrong motives.

False doctrines.

A relationship that never should have been.

Habits of sin.

 Dreams I built upon the sand came tumbling down.

I stood among the rubble, thinking all was lost—not realizing the false had been washed away by the waves to make way for the True.

Storms of life reshape the landscape of our existence—sculpting the substance of our souls. Underneath all the turmoil God is at work. The Holy Spirit, the breath of God, blows away the sand and reveals a Rock—a firm foundation.

While the wind and waves bring devastation to the house built upon the sand, we see a strange phenomenon for the house upon the Rock. The house is not wrecked or ruined by the waves—it is refined. Jagged edges smoothed. Rough surfaces polished. Sharp corners chiseled.

The storms no longer destroy—they transform.

We no longer have to fear the storms. God uses them as an effective tool to conform us into the image of His Son. We can stand upon the Rock with the assurance that because He stands, we also will stand.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

3 signs you are building on the Rock.

  1. Are you building on the Truth? Can everything you are doing be traced back to Scripture? Is God’s Word at the foundation of all your decisions and actions?
  2. Do you have a good supply of building materials? Are you filling your mind and heart with God’s Word? What needs to go? What do you need to add?
  3. Are your current projects, relationships, and ideas built upon rock or sand? Will they stand the storms of life or are they destined to fall with a mighty crash? It’s never too late to make a change.

Life is sweet. Build on the Rock.

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Short & Sweet: Bread Enough and Some to Spare

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“But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
Luke 11:15-17

 

 

I am starving.

I said these words just the other day when I came home from work. The truth is, I was not starving, I was only hungry. Just like every other day of the week, I had eaten breakfast and lunch and there was plenty in the Frigidaire for dinner. I’ve have always had plenty of food. Other people — not so much.
When I was little someone broke into the garage and stole not our car but our spare food. I remember my dad saying he would not call the police because he didn’t want anyone to go hungry while we had bread enough and some to spare. People are hungry.

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The prodigal in the verse above had the same problem.

He was hungry. What caused his hunger? There was a famine in the land. The lack of bread finally drove him home. But there is another kind of famine more rampant and dangerous than famine of the land — famine of the spirit. Spiritual famine is the deep down hunger a person feels when they do not know God or are running from Him. Our souls become emaciated, and our hearts become barren and fruitless like the land in Luke 11.
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What is the cause of spiritual hunger?

As a lack of bread causes physical hunger, a lack of Bread of Life causes spiritual hunger. The world cannot offer what satisfies. It takes what little we have and leaves us hungry.
Famished.
Destitute.
Finally, we come to our senses and realize only Christ satisfies. Jesus has a special talent for feeding thousands. In Him, we can have Bread enough and some to spare.  Manna raining down from heaven. We get all we want. What is the implication then to being well fed? When we are filled, we will be able to turn and feed others. Double blessing.
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Yet so many of us try to serve others on an empty stomach.

We skip our quiet time because we are too busy doing ministry, chores or living for ourselves. It is impossible to feed others when we have nothing to give. Just as God sent manna for His people to gather every morning, we must gather also, fresh from His Word.
Ironically, while I have joked about physical starvation, I have been spiritually starving and unaware of the danger until it reached a critical point. Finally I came to myself and ran home to my Father, where I had bread enough and some to spare.
Bread enough and some to spare.
People are hungry. God gives to you so you can give to others. Share your Bread.
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Action Points:

  1. Consume God’s Word. How can you get more of God’s Word into your heart? Are you consistently spending time with God? If not, why not? What needs to go so you can schedule more time with God?
  2. Some to spare. Do you have enough knowledge of God’s Word so you can share it with another hungry person? If not, what do you need to do … join a Bible study group, find a good church, or ask someone to mentor you?
  3. Someone to share. Who do you know who needs to hear the truth? Who in your daily life needs Jesus? What will you do today to share your Bread with another?

 

Life is sweet. Share your bread.

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i hear: 3 things to do when in trouble

i heari hear

short podcasts to bring the sacred into your everyday

Do you only have a few minutes for Bible Study today? Or do you have a few extra minutes and want to feed your soul? Try one of our new i hear podcasts. Three minutes is all you need to receive  a little encouragement and refreshment from God’s word!

What do we do when we are facing trials and hardships? The Bible gives three things to do when we are waiting on the Lord to complete the good work He started in us.

 

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To read a  written version of hope, wait and pray, please click on the following link:

Hope, Wait and Pray

Be blessed!

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To Do-ers List: What He Says

To doers

Princes also sit and speak against me, but your servant meditates on your statutes.

Psalm 119:23

 My mind used to be a battlefield, a theater of war used expertly by the enemy to oppress, control and render me useless for the cause of Christ. Darts of the enemy used to fly unchecked, inflicting damage on my heart and soul. Jagged wounds hemorrhaged confidence and peace as I struggled to stop the flow. I was a victim of my thoughts — at the mercy of whatever drifted into my mind. One nasty comment from  a coworker or supervisor and I would embark on a three-day pity-party, complete with sleepless nights and a churning stomach.

I didn’t want to think about the harsh words echoing around the corners of my mind — I seemed to have no choice. They’d flash in HD, vivid and brutal, as I relived the hurt with each replay.  I needed to learn to control my thoughts and take them captive for Christ and shut off the broken record. I needed to learn Christ had set me free.

I needed to listen to what He says.

As Christians, we decide what to meditate upon.

We have several choices. We can think about:

  1. What we say about ourselves
  2. What others say about us
  3. What the world says about us
  4. What Satan says about us (LIES, LIES, LIES) or
  5. What God says about us (TRUTH, TRUTH, TRUTH)

Satan will always lie and friends will usually only tell us what we want to hear. We can’t trust what the world says or our own words either. Our only trustworthy source is God. If we listen to any other source we’ll miss God’s will and disobey Him in order to “eliminate” fallout from critics. Peace no longer depends on Christ, but on the absence of conflict.

So how do we silence the broken record?

Focus on God and what He says.

Simple — yet, oh so challenging.

Turn off the lies.

Stop cooperating with the enemy.

Start agreeing with God.

Listen to what He says.

The Battle Plan:

  1. Shut down the lies. The second a thought slithers into your mind that does not agree with what God says about you, shut it down. (For example: Say the enemy wants you to believe you are not smart enough to complete a task God has given you. Literally say out loud, “That is not truth. I am not stupid, God has given me the mind of Christ.”)
  2. Praise God. Finish off your verbal power session with a round of praise for our mighty God. “God, I thank You that You are stronger than anything that comes against me. Thank You that You have called me and chosen me for this task.” The enemy will flee at the sound of His great Name.
  3. Re-purpose your thoughts. Remember all the hours you spent replaying some awful scene in your head in slo-mo? A fight with your husband, an attack from coworker, a mistake you made in a very public setting? The next time you are tempted to dwell on the hurt, re-purpose that time for thinking on what God says in His Word.
  4. Repeat the steps above as often as needed.

It works. I know.

Today, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of your self talk. The moment a negative thought pops into your head, replace it. 

Be a doer of the Word. Listen to what He says.

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Short & Sweet: Anyone

Anyone

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Luke 9:23

Anyone.

Anyone is welcome. Anyone can come. Any tribe, any tongue, any religion. No one is excluded. All have sinned, but all are welcome. Anyone can come to the foot of the Cross, take up his cross and follow Jesus.

I used to think only special people were really welcome in the kingdom of God. You know who I’m talking about. The pretty people … the smart people … the popular people. The people who’ve been Christians since they were able to talk. Perfect lives marked by wise choices, good decisions and smart moves.  They were the ones God really used.  A-list people with first-string capabilities. Everything I was not.

I barely made the cut. I flew in under the radar—allowed in heaven, but better seen and not heard. I had already messed up God’s perfect will for life, doomed to live on Plan B (or in my case plan Z) until God called me home.

But God says,

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Forget Plan  A.  God says anyone is welcome.

Anyone. Broken people marked by sin and shame—welcome. Shattered people scarred by hurt and hardship—welcome. Plain people with common lives—welcome. Anyone may come.

But. we must deny ourselves … of what?

The right to live safe.

The right to stay small.

The right to live unforgiven.

The right to excuse ourselves from abundant life by focusing on our wounds instead of our Healing.

But when we deny ourselves, we indulge the Spirit.

With self out of the way, there is room for the Spirit. Blessing, power and energy flow unchecked from the hand of God to the heart of man. Any man, any woman, anyone who will  follow Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Action Points:

  1. Do you believe anyone is welcome in God’s kingdom? Do you believe you are welcome? How can you better live the truth anyone is welcome?
  2. Is there any people group you avoid witnessing to, or praying for because you believe they don’t deserve God’s grace or love? What can you do to change this attitude?
  3. Is there anyone, anytwo, anythree or four  in your life right now who need to hear they are welcome? How can you share the love of Jesus with them today?

Life is sweet. Anyone may come. Anyone.

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