Dating the Church

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I have a confession to make. I  had a revelation this morning that, I have had no problem being single from the church, yet for some stupid reason I can hardly handle being single from men. When I had that revelation, it hit me pretty hard.

Let me back up and lay some ground work. Everything in the Bible corresponds with things that are happening in real life. There’s a parallel of sorts that takes place between the spiritual and the natural. We are a spirit, we possess a soul and we live in a body.

The spirit is the real you. The soul consists of our mind, will and emotions…this is the dangerous part of you and the part that gets us in the most trouble. Then, of course, there is the body, which is nothing more than a vessel carrying us through this life.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

That being said, we are the body of Christ. But what happens when you divorce the church? I mean, I know there are those who will argue this point, but from personal experience, my personal relationship with God has always been intact. But I divorced  the body of believers. Oh, I dated around by visiting a few different churches for awhile, but nothing ever held my attention,  so I never joined.

Six years ago,  me and my husband of 18 years divorced. I was single for a year, and although I had great times, the single life just wasn’t for me. So I jumped into a marriage, a very toxic marriage at that. The thing is, that I never realized how toxic that marriage was until it ended 5 years later, just 4 months ago.

Ironically, I have attended and been married to some toxic churches as well. Being a part of a church where all the rules are man made and controlling, is much the same as being in an unequally yoked, controlling marriage. You never realize until you break free exactly how toxic either relationship has been.

I’ve also been in, for the most part, a great marriage, as I have been in some great churches.

So once the divorce from either a church or a marriage is underway, a lot of things happen. There is a lot of bitterness that presents itself, and you have to make the decision as to whether you are going to allow that person to control your emotions, or are you going to forgive and let go and move on.

Often times you become angry at yourself for being so blind and not seeing the signs.

The change in routine can be devastating to most. A lot of times when you leave a church, you lose most of your friends. When you divorce a spouse, you lose friends, but you also lose so much more. In both situations, you become lonely. The quest  to fill that void becomes almost an obsession for some. You start filling your time with  harmful things. I won’t even begin to list what those might be, everyone has their own ways of dealing with things, so you won’t find any judgment from me, but you know just as well as I do when you are in a downward spiral.

And so begins the process of trying to live again.

For single people, most enter into the modern world of dating…and let me tell you, it is a very ugly world out there. You will be mistreated, disrespected and made to feel cheap. Your self-worth will take a huge nose dive and you will continue until you hit rock bottom.

The thought of being lonely will drive people to do some crazy things that are totally out of character.

Eventually, you will have had enough and suddenly the bar will get raised. You will make mental lists of what you want. You will constantly edit that list with each new experience.

Some people want to jump right into a new church and will take the first one that the people seem to accept them rather than waiting patiently to see where God leads you. You may try out several before getting that feeling that this is “the one”.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, I was fine with being single from the church. But the truth of the matter is that when you put God first in your life, everything else falls into place. Notice, I didn’t say it would be easy. The enemy will come in like a jealous ex-girlfriend and try to destroy everything about you. She is not happy and she sure doesn’t want you happy. But you have to stand firm. The bar is raised and that doesn’t just make it hard for potential mates to get over, it also means it is hard for you yourself to resist lowering  the standard on a whim or temptation.

I know what it is to abound in God’s grace. I know what it is to be loyal and faithful and to stand firm, even when I stand alone. I know what it is to enjoy all the benefits. I have seen some miraculous things in my life. There are over 32.000 promises in God’s word, and I have experienced them. I have lived in the promises of “houses I didn’t build and vinyards I didn’t plant”, I have seen God destroy those who rise against me. He even does it now…now that I am not living the perfect biblical life, now when I struggle with loneliness and  the desire to make a man happy. When I struggle because I want to love and nurture a man, the way I was created to.

The bible says that it is not good for man to be alone.

I have been married basically all of my life. The single life is not for me, but I won’t settle for less than what God has for me. I did this last time, and now, like Moses in the wilderness, I’m making another trip around that mountain.

Yes, I struggle…we all do, but God is faithful and He still uses me.  Before you judge me and tell me that God can’t use me because of my sin, remember this: David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Peter denied Christ…and the list goes on. God is no respecter of persons, if He used them mightily…even in their mess, He can and does use me mightily, and he’ll use you as well.

So realizing all of this, I have 2 very important goals to accomplish. The first is to find the right church that will push me to accomplish what God has for me to do. I have dreams, I’m going places. Some of it I know and some of it I don’t, but there are things that I am called to do and I will do them.

Secondly, I will find a respectful, spiritual leader who is like minded and headed down the same road as I am, that I can share my life with. I will not settle.

 

The church is a community. A body of believers that are supposed to be there to encourage and push you to the next level in every area of your life. Notice I didn’t say beat you into submission or to control you. The church community is needed. Everyone needs that “Iron sharpening Iron” friend.

I’m not even going to lie, I have basically no one I am close to who  I can be real with and who I can bounce the Word around with. That is something that I miss terribly. I lost that when I divorced the church and when I divorced my husband of 18 years. That is something that is vitally important to me.

One of my favorite verses is 3 John 2:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

This verse for me sums up all of life. Several years ago I coined  the phrase “Soul Prosperity”, which by the way, I will have tattooed across my wrist. Put the stones down, it’s ok, I already have 2 tats, and yes I’m getting more…Anyway, Soul Prosperity is my battle cry and my prayer.

 

So with that, I must find a good church to date.

Speaking of dating.

 

When I was in junior high, I went to a private school and one of the teachers made a statement that stuck with me through all these years. He said, “Every date is a potential mate”

 

Today’s dating consists of hooking up when the mood strikes. Folks, believe it or not, that is not what I am looking for.

I mean some people only go to church on Easter and Christmas. Just as some people only pray when all hell breaks loose in their life. If that’s the case then all you are doing is looking to God as a friend with benefits.

Whatever happened to old fashioned dating or courting? Where is the commitment? Yes, you have to initially talk to people to find out if there is even a snowball’s chance in hell that you might possibly work out, but once you find that person that you click with, DATE him or her. That doesn’t even mean you are boyfriend/girlfriend. Show her respect show him respect but most of all, show yourself respect. Again…I’m working on it, but half the battle is knowing, the other half is doing. I mean, some of it can be modernized. Meet at a certain place, in public and do stuff together. Eat, play games, whatever, but show respect at all times. I’m going to just leave that right there, but you catch my drift. When you’ve dated for awhile and everything still looks promising, then take it to the next level and by that I mean the boyfriend/girlfriend level.

 

Well, I’ve got things to do now that I have raised the bar, set the standards and openly voiced my goals…

 

So let the dating begin…

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Life Lessons from a Cedar Tree

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The life of the cedar tree has so much to teach us.  There is such beauty, wonderful fragrance, and uses that this majestic tree provides. In fact, it is the most mentioned tree in the Bible…and for very good reason.

First, a few facts about the cedar tree

  • It is evergreen-it does not lose its foliage in the fall
  • They can reach over 100 feet tall and have a very large diameter
  • Lebanon Cedar was used for the construction of ships for Alexander the Great and for construction of King Solomon’s Temple
  • The fragrant oil extracted from the heartwood of the cedar was used during the mummification process in Ancient Egypt as well as a mosquito repellant by Native Americans
  • Because the oil does not develop in younger trees, the heartwood is subject to rotting, which in turn results in mature trees with hollow trunks, making natural homes for wildlife
  • The Lebanon Cedar is a symbol of tolerance and immortality
  • Cedars prefer moist soil which in turn also makes them live long as they are safer from fire

If you didn’t get anything from the few facts I shared, allow me to share my revelation.

The cedar tree is evergreen. That means it’s instant in season and out of season because it is always in season. It’s steadfast no matter what life throws at it. Its beauty is everlasting.

It is fragrant. The woman with the alabaster box poured fragrant oil on the head of Jesus. When the disciples rebuked her for wasting such expensive oil, Jesus responded that she did it for His burial. Now, I’m not sure exactly what the oil was, however, the Ancient Egyptians used the oil from the cedar in the burial process, so we can closely assume that this may have been the oil that this woman used to anoint the head of Jesus .

Cedar was used in building Solomon’s Temple. It was used as an insulator. It was also very expensive, as you can imagine. Nothing in Solomon’s Temple was cheap. Only the best was used.

Let’s get to the heart of this subject to get an even deeper revelation.

Ezekiel 31:3-7

Indeed, Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs

The waters made it grow; underground waters gave it height, with their rivers running around the place where it was planted, and sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field. Therefore, it’s height was exalted above all the trees of the field; its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long because of the abundance of water as it sent them out.

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young, and in its shadow, all great nations made their home.

Thus, it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches because its roots reached to abundant water.

The seeds take 2-3 years to mature. When you are planting seeds in someone’s life, don’t expect overnight success. That loved one you have been praying for may not come around for a long time.

Once  the seed is mature enough to plant, don’t be discouraged by the slow growth. Cedar trees are very slow growing, but there is a good reason. All you may see is a twig, but underneath the surface, something major is taking place. You can’t see it, but roots are growing. They’re not just growing a few inches, they are growing deep. They are growing so deep that they can sometimes reach underground water…abundant water.

A tree that is deeply rooted can withstand any storm. Think about the trees in the mountains. The winds are constantly blowing. The cedar is flexible and can bow with the wind, but they do not break. Their roots are holding them to solid ground.

Who cares how ugly that cedar starts off as. Its beauty is more than skin-deep. Strength is needed to live long and prosper, and as the roots are growing deeper, it is growing in strength. The point is that we need to be rooted and grounded in Christ

A cedar also grows up. Once the roots are established, the cedar starts growing tall. We need to grow up, we need to mature, we need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord.  There is a time for the cedar to stay scrawny, but there also comes a time for the cedar to grow up.

As the cedar grows up, it also grows out and this is where it all comes together. Because of the density of its leaves and the year around shade, the cedar makes a very good refuge for all sorts of animals. Birds and squirrels make their nests in its branches. As mentioned above, all kinds of wildlife make their home in the hollowed out trunks of the trees. Animals and even people seek refuge under the shade, as it is a great place of protection from the weather elements.  Do people come to you and sit in your presence? Maybe you are a person who exudes an atmosphere of great peace. People don’t know why they like to be around you, but they do. Maybe people come to you to talk. You have something to offer people, you listen and you give good sound advice. Maybe you are able to give a person a place to stay. These are all examples of cedar tree qualities.

If you don’t get deeply rooted, and grow up and extend outward you will never be of any use to anybody.

The cedar tree has an uncanny ability to protect itself and others. Pests and insects are repulsed by the unpalatable resin and oils. Even the leaves are covered in a thick coat of wax that prevents the loss of water.

Boxes and trunks are made to keep items of great value in, all because of the protective quality of the wood.

I don’t know about you, but after looking at the life of a cedar tree, I want those qualities in my own life. Even if it takes time, I want to get rooted and grounded in the water of God’s word. I want to grow strong and be able to withstand the storms of life. I want to mature as a Christian  and become a fragrant offering to God. I want to repel the enemy that tries to attack, and most of all, I want my boughs to extend out to help others in need. Then, I want to be used to build the Temple of God. What a full circle life!

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Crown of Thorns

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We have all heard the story of The Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.

We know he was unjustly sentenced for proclaiming who He is and all the works and miracles that he performed. We know that even though the government found no wrong in Christ, they allowed the citizens to choose who to set free, and the citizens choose a murderer named Barabbas.

We know that he was taunted by the religious folks of the time, called names, spat upon, whipped forty minus one time by a cat of nine tails.

Forty less one stripe-Jewish law stated that the maximum amount of lashes a person may receive is 40. The reason for them giving 39 is room for error in the counting, so as not to exceed the punishment.

Cat-o-nine-tails- an instrument  of torture comprised of a short cluster of whips approximately 3 feet in length. Each strand made of leather has a sharp piece of bone or metal attached to the end. When it strikes the body, it tears off the upper layer of skin in a stripe several inches wide, causing pain and profuse bleeding.

They then made him carry his Cross down the Via Dolorosa (Way of suffering) to the hill called Galgotha (place of the skull)  outside of the city where he would be nailed to the cross and the cross was erected for all the world to see. He eventually suffocated to death. I highly recommend that you read the actual science behind the crucifixion. This is a very stripped down overview.

All the while this ordeal was taking place, he never said a word. He never fought. He never defended himself. He knew what the end result would be, and this death had nothing on the glory that was to come for both himself and the rest of the world for those who accept this most amazing gift.

I highly recommend reading the entire chapter of Isaiah 53, but here is a short clip from the chapter:

3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.

5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The one thing that I want to focus on is the Crown of Thorns.

When Christ was being crucified, they fashioned a crown of thorns to mock the King. Thorns. They placed this crown upon His head and beat it into his skull.  Take a minute to let that sink in.

We know that by His stripes we are healed. Healing is available to everyone who accepts and believes because of the stripe. It’s been paid for. It’s up to us to accept it and walk by faith in the healing.  The one thing that we overlook is that crown and its symbolism.

Part of the curse in Genesis 3 is that the land would produce thorns. If a crop bears thorns and thistles, that crop is worthless.

So here’s my question for you:

Have you ever been called worthless? Have you ever thought of yourself as worthless?

Have you ever been made fun of? Have you ever felt degraded? Let me go a step further…Have you ever had voices in your head that told you all these things?

You are a nobody

You are worthless

You’ll never amount to anything

You’ll never be good enough

What if …happens?

What if there’s not enough money?

What if I screw it all up?

I’ve made too many mistakes.

Nobody could ever love me

Are you recognizing these voices? These are voices that those suffering from depression, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses hear.

There is not a single thing that Christ went through that was void of meaning. Jesus wore the crown of thorns…the thorns that went deep into his skull, so you can be free of mental illness and mental oppression. Just as he received 39 stripes so you can be healed. Just as he died on the cross and literally went to hell and defeated Satan, so that you don’t have to.

And the most amazing thing is that 3 days after He died on the cross, He rose from the dead. He walked this earth for 40 days before ascending into heaven. Nine days later, what is now known as the day of Pentecost, He sent His Holy Spirit. It is His Spirit that lives inside of those who have received Christ as their savior. This is very important because it is the still small voice of the Holy Spirit that has the ability to override those voices in your head.

The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. Therefore, we have the mind of Christ.

It would be heartless of me to tell you all this without telling how to deal with it.

The bible says in Philippians 4:6-8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy-think on these things.

Think on things that are positive. Stop the “what-ifs”. Find out who you are in Christ. You are worthy. Look up your identity in Christ. Search the scripture. Anytime you see the words, “In Christ”, “In Him”, and “In whom”…that’s talking about YOU. That’s who you are.

The apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, yet he was who had this revelation. A Thorn. Sound familiar?

Another reference is scripture to read is about the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6:10-17. In this scripture, it speaks of the helmet of Salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.

In order to defeat mental illness or mental oppression, it is important that EVERY DAY when you wake up, that you get dressed in the Armor. The helmet protects the head…the mind. The sword of the spirit is the words you speak. A sword is double edged, so be careful with it. You can speak life or death. You can protect yourself, and with the same sword, you can kill people with your words. That’s another story for another time, but right now, we want to put the focus on protecting ourselves. This is where the thinking on these things comes into play. Every action starts with a thought then it manifests through the mouth. That is the action. Stop speaking and thinking negatively. When a negative thought comes into your mind, take it captive and change it to something positive.

Faith is awesome, but it’s dead when there is no action behind it. It’s wonderful to think that Christ took our physical and emotional pain on the cross, but if you don’t put into action what He provided, you will remain in the same predicament that you are in.

Allow me to speak from experience. I come from a long line of worriers. Anxiety is a very strong curse in my family. My grandmother had it, my mother has it, I have been known to suffer from it, and my daughter has it. It’s bad. It can make you sick and paralyze you. Several years ago  I went to a conference called an “Encounter with Christ”. It was a great weekend service where we learned all of the symbolism of the cross, just as I have touched on above. The part that really got me was the revelation of the crown of thorns. Through my battle with worry or anxiety for many years, I finally learned how to put into action the things that I have talked about above. My quality of life drastically changed. I became someone I didn’t even know, and I liked her.

At some point, circumstances in life happened and I started losing ground. The reason I lost ground is because I stopped clothing myself daily with the armor of God and I stopped thinking and meditating on positive things. Now I am basically back to square one. I have determined to find that person again who was free of anxiety. I don’t have it all together, but I do know what I have to do. I just have to do it. Earlier this year, I decided to find her. I do good mentally when I practice this, but I have not yet made it a habit.

I want to encourage everyone who is interested in getting free from anxiety, depression and other mental oppression, to join the journey with me.  Not just for a day or 2, but until it becomes a habit.

Life Lessons From A Waterfall

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Every year I used to go camping at Turner Falls in Oklahoma. We would camp on the top of the mountain and walk down to the river. The river was ice cold and it took awhile to get brave enough to plunge into it. It was so cold that just putting your foot in would take your breath away.

Although it was cold, it was very refreshing, especially in the heat of the summer. The water was the purest water I had ever seen. Of course, with Turner Falls being such a high tourist area, I was always to scared to drink the water for obvious reasons. We would take our time hiking down the river. There were many small waterfalls as we hiked.  The river cut through the mountain and the walls of rock and caves climbed  high above us. There was a small tree here and there. The river bed alternated between being as slippery as ice to areas of thick silt. We hiked all the way down to where the water fell over the cliff into the pool below.

After hiking our way back up the river, we would get in the truck and head down to the pool below the fall. There were a couple of huge boulders that the water fell on and a shallow cave formation behind the veil of water. The pool was deepest just below the fall.

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As I reflect on those memorable summers spent in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, I think of the science that forms the falls. The steam often begins as a natural spring and is narrow. As the water courses down the river over resistant bedrock, erosion slowly takes place. As the velocity of the water is increased, turbulence occurs. The water carries  sediment which is microscopic silt, or pebbles and erodes the soft rock so that the streams channel cuts so deep that only hard rock is exposed.

Just above the fall, the stream becomes wider and shallower. Then there is that magic moment where the water ceases flowing horizontally and falls vertically. The water then crashes against the boulders below, which causes a back splash. The backsplash creates a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter. The pool below the fall is deep due to the kinetic energy of the water hitting the bottom and causing erosion below.

Just thinking about this amazing phenomenon gives me chills. I don’t know if you got anything out of all that, but let me tell you what I got out of it.

The first thing that completely and totally amazes me is how that much water can continuously flow at such a high rate of speed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for thousands upon thousands of years. To me, this shows that there is a never ending abundance that can come only from God. Think about the waterfalls you have seen or know about. Consider Niagra Falls, for example. Then think about the thousands of waterfalls all over the world. You would think they would dry up at some point.

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Psalm 78:15-16 He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance. He also brought streams out of the rock and caused waters to run down like rivers.

And here’s something to think about.  The power that it takes to cut through the rocks and the mountains, the power of the water falling over the edge of the cliff. That power is so great that nothing can live in its path. Everything is uprooted. The water is pure and clean and it cleanses. It takes all the areas of the river and breaks it down and washes it away until there is  nothing but hard rock left. It cuts deep.

We all have dirt in our lives. We have things in our past that may be deeply rooted. We have mountains in our lives that we feel we can never overcome. The good news is that the Word  washes us as clean and pure as the river that flows through the mountain, until the point that our horizontal relationship with man falls over the edge and our relationship becomes vertical with Christ. It’s not always a fun time. The Word will cause turbulence in your life, but know that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it ultimately turns into something beautiful.

There is a place behind the veil of the fall that you can hide. A sanctuary of sorts. A hiding place. The same water that gives life can also be a deadly force if used wrong. Of course, that is a different story for a different day, but think of all the times scripture has been misused and taken out of context.

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Nature has a lot to teach us if we pay attention. The Word is alive and well and is relevant to your situation. My prayer is that you glean revelation from the Waterfall.

I want to leave you with this as you think about the power of the waterfall, think about these things:

Job 8:6-7 If you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.

Ephesians 3:20-Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

John 7:38-He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water

Ephesians 5:25-26-Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word.

Life Lessons from an Eagle

There are many things we can learn from an eagle about life. The eagle is the most majestic bird ever created.

First, let’s observe a few facts about eagles:

  •  The eagle is a bird of prey
  • The eagle has a very large hooked beak for ripping flesh
  • The eagle has strong muscular legs and powerful talons
  • The eagle’s eyes are 3.6 times the acuity of the humans. A human can see three basic colors where an eagle can see 5 basic colors
  • The eagle makes its nest in high trees or at the tops of cliffs and near water
  • The eagle mates for life

We’ll be making reference to these facts throughout this article, so stick with me while I lay some groundwork, then we’ll get to the meat!

The eagle symbolizes power, freedom and transcendence.

Power: the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy

Freedom:

1. The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint

2. Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

3. The power to determine action without restraint.

4. Exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, etc., as a person or one’s will thought, choice, action, etc.; independent; unrestricted

5. Able to do something at will; at liberty

6. Clear of obstructions or obstacles

7. Personal liberty as opposed to bondage or slavery

Transcendence: Going beyond ordinary limits; surpassing; exceeding

There are some important characteristics of an eagle that we should know about. First of all, an eagle is towards the top of the food chain. Things in the past that should be dead and buried, we should never dig up and revisit.

Secondly, eagles only flock with other eagles when they do socialize. Where do you find other eagles? Very high up, even up to heights of 10,000 feet. You won’t find other birds at that elevation.

You won’t find eagles socializing with chickens, who do nothing but scratch at the dirt all day, complaining and flapping around stirring up dust. You won’t find eagles socializing with pigeons who deliver the latest gossip and poop all over everything. You won’t find an eagle socializing with an ostrich who sticks his head in the sand and refuses to confront the world around him. And, you won’t find an eagle talking with the parrots who mimic others, so they look and sound good, but there is no substance to them.

An Eagle Defeats the Enemy

The eagle will sit in high places observing every little detail in life. He can spot the enemy from very long distances, even up to two miles away. His keen eyes give him this impressive talent. Once he spots the enemy or prey, he will swoop in with confidence, never looking over his shoulder and snatch his prey by his powerful talons from the ground or water without ever landing, then he will take his prey up to the high places and use his beak to tear away it’s flesh and have him for dinner.

She Knows What She Wants

The male will put on spectacular aerial displays to attract a good woman. He is showing her his skills and beauty. The female eagle will then test the male to find out if he is right for her and will find out if she can trust him. She takes him high up in the air and she drops a twig. The male will then chase the twig and catch it and bring it back to her. She will then go higher and repeat the process. Each time the male catches the twig she has dropped and brings it back to her. Once the trust and love and affection are proven, the pair will mate for life.

They’ve got Mad Parenting Skills

The male will build a nest, usually on the top of a very high cliff or tree where the eaglets will be out of reach of the enemy. The outer layer of the nest consists of thorns that have been laid on the cliff as an outer shell and serves as protection. The middle layer of consists of soft grass and the inner layer consists of feathers for comfort.

Once the eggs are hatched and the eaglets mature, the mother will teach them to fly. She gathers them on her back and spreads her wings and flies high into the sky. Suddenly she swoops out from underneath her eaglet and allows it to fall and learn the function of its wings. She then catches the eaglet and repeats the process until he is able to fly on his own.

If the eaglet is slow to learn, she will take him back to the nest and begin to tear the nest apart, feather by feather, stick by stick, until all that is left is the thorns. As you can imagine, this makes the eaglet very uncomfortable. She continues to tear the nest apart until there is nothing left for the eaglet to cling too. She then nudges him off the cliff. This may seem mean, but it is really the only way to teach the young bird to survive on its own.

As human parents, we do everything we can to teach our babies while they are young. When they reach the teenage years, we give them more independence and teach them the important things in life and basic survival skills. When they reach a certain age, after graduating from high-school or college, we push them out of the nest. The eagle in it’s natural habitat, can really teach us a thing or two about parenting.

 Rise Above the Storms of Life

When a storm is raging on the horizon, the eagle will use the updrafts to rise above the storm. The eagle is very conservative of its energy. It takes very little flapping of its wings and he glides effortlessly through the air. When there is a storm, the updrafts take him high into the sky until he is above the clouds, where there is only peace. He does  not use his own energy.

Many times when the storms of life hit us, we become fearful and our natural fight or flight instinct kicks in so that we either fight the storm or run and hide from it. We can take a lesson from the eagle. The storms of life are going to come. It’s not a matter of if, but when. When the storm comes, accept it and have peace in the knowledge that you are going to get over it. Just don’t fight. Don’t try to fix it. Let nature take its course and rise above the storm.

Rest, Reflect, Renewal

As the eagle ages, around the age of 40, it’s body deteriorates. His feathers wear out and become old, thick and heavy, making it difficult to fly. It’s long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey. Its beak becomes bent. The eagle is left with two choices: either give up and die or make go through a process of change. He chooses to live, so he flies to the mountaintop and finds shelter in the rocks and then goes through a metamorphosis stage.

First, he beats his beak against the rock until he knocks it off. He then waits for it to grow back. Next, he plucks out his own talons and wait for them to grow back. Finally, he plucks out his old worn out feathers and waits for his new feathers to come back in. He never leaves the safety of the rocks the entire time. The process takes about five months. With his renewed body, the eagle can then live another 30-40 years.

There are times when we become worn out from life. We need a time of rest, reflection and renew. This process begins by noticing that life has taken it’s toll on you, and then making the choice to change. It’s not an easy decision. In fact, it’s often the most difficult decision you will ever make. But you know that you cannot go on anymore without taking the time to rest in the Lord. Beat your beak against the rock, pluck your talons and feathers. Take time to reflect on areas in your life that need to change so that you can not only live but soar. Wait. Once you are renewed, you will emerge from the mountain like a brand new person. You will be ready to take flight once again. Soar through the air with little effort and rise above the storm.

Psalm 103:5

Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits: who forgive all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

 

 

 

 

 

Bride of Christ or Prostitute? (revised 2016)

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There’s one on every corner; two or three on most. So which is it, a church or a prostitute? Or is there even a difference?

If you’ve ever taken a drive through the red light district, you know what I’m talking about.  If you’ve ever taken a drive through the bible belt, you also know what I’m talking about. The problem is when the two areas are so similar that you can’t tell one from the other.

Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world.

The Latin meaning of the word comes from PRO-upfront or forward and SITUERE-offer up for sale.

There are many reasons a person may prostitute herself. She may suffer from low self-esteem, she may be poor or hungry and does whatever she can to survive. She may have been sold into a human trafficking ring. She may even see the profit in it having the love of money.

Regardless of the reason, when a person finds herself in this situation,  it is immensely degrading

These women become more aggressive and animalistic in time, to the point of preying on men. When you see these women, most people are disgusted that they can bring so much dishonor to themselves. They are very often diseased and rather intentionally or unintentionally, they spread the wealth to the men they sleep with and indirectly to their wives.

So you may be wondering what a prostitute has to do with the church. Well, there are some very close similarities that most may not realize.  Think about some churches you may have been in. What is the vision of the church, and are the people who make up the body of the church behind the vision and working towards it, or are they working towards and unworthy cause and selling out. Maybe you feel like you have entered a social club. All the members are in cliques and don’t even notice you are there, or maybe they do, but don’t care. I’m not here to put down churches, I just want  you, the members of the church, the body of Christ to reflect, and be sure that when someone walks in, that they can feel like they are looking at the bride of Christ and not some diseased, disgusting body.

Galatians 5:25-Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

I can guarantee you that when a visitor enters the church, they are there for a reason. They are searching for something, maybe to fill a void in their life, to make a change, they may be hurting or simply looking for a friend. MAYBE they are a prostitute or drug dealer or addict or alcoholic, looking to change their life, because what they have been doing has not been working for them.

If we know what a prostitute looks like, we should probably distinguish what the Bride of Christ looks like.

Imagine for a moment…A BRIDE. Historically, she is a virgin, she is pure, she is so in love with her man and he is so in love with her. Her mission in life is to be the best she can possibly be for her husband and to give life. She becomes one with her husband and they work together towards the same goals.

So, what does the Bride of Christ look like? She definitely has the same qualities as a bride. Her intentions are pure, she becomes one with her Groom. She loves him above all others. She is the apple of His eye. She gives life and bears fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23-The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

I’m sorry, but if the Bride is not giving life and bearing fruit, then she has sold herself out and is a dishonor to her Groom. She is a prostitute.

People have such a bad taste in their mouth about the church, just as they feel dirty when they drive through the red-light district. It’s time to change that. The judging and ignoring people has got to stop. We don’t show love by our words, we show love by our actions. When a person walks into your church and weeks go by with barely anyone acknowledging their presence, we have failed

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

Bride of Christ or Prostitute? 2001 version

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Photo by: http://wrongallalong.com/

This is the original version of this piece that I wrote and published on my website around 2001 and was also published in my column Grace Under Fire in the Lakeside News in the Cedar Creek Lake area in Texas. My views have since developed through both studying the Word and through life experiences. Look for the upcoming revised version.

There’s one on most every corner in this area. Two or three on some corners. She sells her body for money and she is often diseased. Is it a church or a prostitute? Is there even a difference?

Do you put a high price on the people who come into your church? What does it cost someone who wants to be a member? Are the people in your church clean-cut, well dressed, good mannered, holy saint of God or are they stinky, hung-over, begging, no good, thieving, doped up lounge lizards?

Think about it, which describes your church? More importantly, which type of people do you want in your church? What’s the image you want your church to put out? I personally prefer to have the latter. Not that there’s anything wrong with the former. I just strongly believe that when we do what Jesus told us to do in Mark 15:15-18, that we will have the less desirable people in our churches. When we line up and follow His word completely, He will make them the person He want them to be.

Jesussaid go into all the world. So, are we supposed to go over to the neighborhood with the nice houses and well-kept lawns? Yes, we are. We are also supposed to go into the ghetto’s, the bars, and under the bridges where the homeless live. I can tell you right now, that the churches of this area are not lining up with the Word of God. The Bible is not to be just set up on the shelf Monday through Saturday and taken to church on Sunday morning withmamma wearing her pretty dress. The Bible says that man shall live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

I personally live in the ghettos of Cedar Creek Lake and I have for nearly eight years. Out of those eight years, there has been one person knock on my door for the sole purpose of inviting me to church. One. Out of hundreds of churches  in this area.

Every bar on this lake should have at least two peoplefromchurch in them every Friday night. Not to drink, but to show the love of Christ and invite them to a place where there is hope. If we would do this, our churches would beover flowing onto the streets on every Sunday Morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other time the church doors are open. People would be so hungry for the word, that there would be a continuous on-going revival at every church.

As long as there are unsaved people in this area, there is work to be done. Stop complaining about how hot it is, how tired you are, how bad the mosquitoes are biting etc…Did Jesus complain when H was being beaten or when He was carrying your cross, or when they drove nails through His hands and feet? No, He did it with a willing heart because that is what His Father sent Him to do

How much is your salvation worth? Christ gave His life for His bride, and He is coming back for her and He expects her to be without spot or wrinkle.

What will you do the next time you go to church and some smelly old man with dirty clothes, reeking of alcohol sits down on the pew next to you? Will you get up and move somewhere else and go talk to your friends about how bad he smells? Or will you welcome him with open arms and show him the love of Christ? What about when you see the local hooker at Wal-Mart will you look at her with disgust and thank God that you are not like her or will you smile kindly and invite her to church? If you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to Jesus Himself

Rumor Has It

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Don’t you just love rumors? It’s so awesome to find out things about yourself that you didn’t even know. I tell you, I have learned a lot over the years about myself thanks to the rumor mill.

Here’re a couple of definitions to consider:

Rumor-1. a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts 2.gossip; hearsay 3. a continuous, confused noise; clamor; din

Gossip– idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others

 

Before I get started on this subject, let me make it clear that there is a huge difference between venting to someone about what is going on in your personal life when all the facts are present. The line gets crossed when a person attempts to vent about other people’s business when there are very few if any facts…and that person starts making assumptions to try to fill in the blanks of what they DON’T know.

 

It’s interesting to see the people who have no life and the lies that they can fabricate, I guess because they have nothing better to do.

Have you ever been around someone who does nothing but talks about other people? I’m not talking about the kind of stuff that is uplifting or truthfully informative, you know like so and so had a baby or that person got a job, but just unfavorable and degrading information. They talk about the preacher and everyone else in the church, or their boss and all the employees on the job. Did you ever stop and wonder what they are saying about you?

I have a rule of thumb that I use when talking to people who love nothing more than to gossip: If they are talking to me about everyone else, they are also talking to everyone else about me.

They say that misery loves company. When someone is constantly  talking about everyone and spreading vicious rumors, that is a reflection of themselves. Think about it. If for instance Suzy is telling you that Joan was at the store and saw a wallet sitting in a basket and Joan took that wallet and stole somebody’s money, why would she say that? Maybe she even saw Joan take that wallet out of the basket, but the question is, what did she do with it? Maybe Joan took the wallet up to the manager and turned it in. Suzy obviously doesn’t have all the facts, she sees something and then makes an assumption and then goes and tells the entire church what she thinks she saw Joan do. Next thing you know, when Joan is at church, everyone is stand-offish and pulls their purse close to them when Joan is around, when in fact, the rumor that Suzy started was actually a reflection of herself and what she would have done. If Suzy had come upon that basket where someone had left their wallet, she would have put it in her purse.

Using the same scenario and taking it a bit further, Joan begins to realize that people are shunning her. Even her closest friends are suddenly making excuses of why they don’t want to get together with her. Finally one day, Joan just asks one of her good friends, what has happened. Why are people treating her that way, what did she do? Thankfully her good friend, Julie let her in on a little secret. Suzy had told everyone in the church that Joan had stolen that wallet. Well, that explains it! Joan let Julie know exactly what happened, and Julie lets a few of their friends know the truth, so some of the damage were partially repaired.

They say that when a person sees something bad happen or even if they receive bad customer service at a restaurant or store, that that person will tell eleven of their friends. However, when something good happens, only three of the friends get told. For some reason, people love to hear the bad stuff, and they love to tell everyone else the bad stuff.

What if Julie had done something different when Suzy started telling her about Joan “stealing the wallet”? What if Julie told Suzy that that is not even in Joan’s character. What if Julie told Suzy that her ears are not a garbage can, and stop telling her trash about someone else. What if Julie had gone directly to Joan and told her what Suzy said and that she wants the facts. I tell you, you can shut down a gossiper. It’s hard sometimes, but it can be done. Once that conversation turns in the direction of gossip, you put your foot down and say that you don’t want to hear it, that person will eventually get the hint and stop talking to you about that junk, or maybe even at stop talking to you at all…which is probably not a bad thing. For that matter, you can just stop going around people who are known to gossip.

Here it is, plain and simple right in the Bible:

 

Proverbs 26:20, 21 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases

As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.

 

In summary, here’re a few points to remember:

  1. If they are talking about everyone else, they are also talking about you
  2. The lies they fabricate are a reflection of themselves
  3. The rumor that someone starts about you will eventually get back around to you

 

The third point is a basic principle in life and one straight out of the bible as well:

1 Corinthians 4:5-The Lord will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.

 

I will never understand why people find it necessary to attack people’s character with words. Jobs have ended, marriages have failed, friendships and relationships have been destroyed because of somebody’s loose tongue. They say “lose lips sink ships”…and I believe the ship they sink is often their own.

There are tons of scripture in the bible dealing with this subject. I believe it’s addressed so much because of how big of a problem it really is.

Rather you believe in Karma or rather you believe in God’s sovereignty, either way, those people  who can’t help but spread malicious rumors about people have a special place and a special reward.

It brings me great joy and peace to reflect on Isaiah 54:17

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment YOU shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord…

 

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You ARE What You THINK

When you first open your eyes and turn over to grab your treasured phone and open up to Facebook, what’s the first thing you see? “What’s on your mind?”
That’s a very good question, what is on your mind? Is it the stress and worries that have overtaken and threaten to become “what-if’s”? Do you obsess over your lack of money, lack of job, the fact that you fear your kids are going to hell in a hand basket because of their uncharacteristic and unacceptable behavior? Are you concerned about what your neighbor thinks or worried about a secret getting revealed and how it can ruin your life?
What takes up space in your mind, that you are allowing to live there rent free? What war is raging?  Have you crossed a line and now you are worried about the consequences?
What is really on your mind?
Joyce Meyers coined the phrase “The Mind is a Battlefield” and boy is she right! What you spend time thinking about will sooner or later take complete control of you if it hasn’t already.
Most people honestly believe that they can’t help what they think about; that they have no control over their thoughts.
I’m here to tell you (and me) that you do have complete control over what you think about. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I will say from experience that it does get easier with practice. There was a point in my life where I could literally take every thought captive as soon as something negative popped into my head.
I’m not saying that things didn’t happen because they did. Life just happens, but the worry that would try to bombard me was very quickly silenced.
Unfortunately, I have gotten out of that practice, but I know that I can get there again, and I’m hoping that I can take some people on this journey with me, but first I must convince you that it will be worth the trip, as well as how to get there.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 reads “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity.”
That’s pretty powerful right there.
Those verses tell you everything you need to know to win the battle within. How many times have you taken a shower and had arguments in your mind with your boss, your kids, your spouse, your in-laws or whoever? You know you won every fight in your mind. By the time you got out of the shower, you were ready to unload both barrels on them.  How did you do that? There is obviously a problem, otherwise, you wouldn’t be playing this argument in your mind. You have either real or imagined perceptions of the character of the person you are arguing with. Somehow, at some point, you bent the details just enough so that in your mind you came out the winner.
That’s good, in a way…I guess, but I bet that you didn’t get out that shower feeling very happy. What if you could get to the point to where the argument doesn’t even exist? It takes practice, but some things to think about before you even begin this argument is, do you have all the facts? Is the problem even an issue? What if you could learn not to worry until there is actually something to worry about? Most conflict happens because of not having all the facts, jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst….and you know what they say that happens when you assume. Ok, so I think we are free to let go of the conflicts now.
So what about other types of worry? Worry about money issues. Yes, I will be the first to say that this is the hardest area to mentally overcome because unfortunately it is a very real and often ongoing issue. First and foremost, I recommend reading anything you can get your hands on by Dave Ramsey. Secondly, you have to take a very real inventory of your current situation and see what is the worst that can happen. Sometimes when you take inventory you realize that although it may be bad, you can bounce back. You may have to find areas you can cut down or cut out altogether and come up with creative, but legal, ideas to get you back on track. Finances are unfortunately one of the biggest demons in most people’s minds, but regardless of the situation, you still have to think on the good things. More than likely you still have a roof over your head and food in your belly, even if it’s not the food you want. Make a list of your blessings and count them. Think about them. As long as there is breath in your body there is still hope.
The point is that whatever you are going through, you cannot allow those negative thoughts to consume you. You have to arrest them, take them captive and think on good things. It starts as a thought, then it becomes an obsession, then you take action on that thought. Next thing you know, you have caused a world of hurt and created your own storm. Keep allowing those negative thoughts to control you and you will become a negative person that nobody wants to be around.
As I mentioned, there was a time in my life when I could guard myself against negativity, starting with myself and my own thoughts. I was very careful about who I would let close enough to me to influence me. I have slipped out of that practice, but I remember the sound mind that I had then. Since I have allowed negative circumstances and people back into my inner circle, I have spiraled out of control mentally. Now every day is a fight to keep going. I literally feel like I am going crazy most days. The good thing is that I recognize it and I have to start kicking some stinking thinking to the curb and once again put that protective wall around my heart to keep negative people out.
Obviously, I have identified those people for myself. There are times when you may not be able to geographically remove those people from your life. You can be friendly and civil to them. It may be your boss or your spouse or your child. You will not be able to fix them and until you can fix yourself, you cannot expect to have any type of positive influence on them. You have to get strong in your mind before you can help others out of that rut. But you can keep conversations on a shallow level. You may even have to put your foot down and explain that you are not able to hear any type of negativity from them. If they insist, then politely walk away.
Mental health has become a big topic these days as more light has been shed. A lot of mental health issues are very real and people are genuinely out of balance chemically. However, there are a lot of mental health issues that can be dealt with by simply taking control of your thoughts. You have to have goals, purpose, vision and drive. It’s within you somewhere.
I want to encourage everyone to reflect inwardly on finding those things. Figure out what your purpose is. What do you like to do? What do you want to do? How can you make it happen…in little bites. Rediscover your vision and find your drive. Then when the onslaught of negative thoughts bombards your mind, think on these things…and remember, you ARE what you THINK.

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