And Your godly ones will bless You

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created]. All Your works shall give thanks to You and praise You, O Lord , And Your godly ones will bless You.
Psalms 145:8‭-‬10 AMP

All Your works shall give thanks to You and praise You, O Lord , And Your godly ones will bless You.

The distinction at the end of verse 10 stirs us. There are two categories mentioned:

  • All your works
  • Your godly ones

There is a distinction made between the first and the last — that all of His works will give Him thanks and praise Him — but that His godly ones will bless Him.

I pray that we will give Him thanks and praise Him, but not be satisfied with only that. I don’t even pay that we would give Him thanks and praise and “want to” bles Him. We need to pay that we will be a blessing to the Lord, AND we need to live our lives to be a blessing to the Lord — because there is a great distinction between the two.

May our lives bear fruit, actions, deeds, service — not just words and songs — but let our lives be a sweet song lifted to you in the language of love.

…let our lives be a sweet song lifted to you in the language of love.

“Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets]. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from M e [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’

Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets]. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish (stupid) man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great and complete was its fall.”
Matthew 7:15‭-‬27 AMP

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory and majesty and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him [for judgment]; and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right [the place of honor], and the goats on His left [the place of rejection]. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]; I was in prison, and you came to Me [ignoring personal danger].’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.’ “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons); for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me [with help and ministering care].’ Then they also [in their turn] will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or as a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will reply to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these [my followers], you did not do it for Me.’ Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.”
Matthew 25:31‭-‬46 AMP

The King will answer and say to them, ‘I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me.’

God is not a Liar

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good and fulfill it?
Numbers 23:19 AMP

At times, especially during times of difficult challenges, I have found myself tempted to doubt that God is good and has good in store for me. But every single time, He has proven to be faithful and shown me in due time that the storm wasn’t there to bury me, but to clear the way for what He had in store for me.

However, even though it is true, telling someone “God has good in store for you” or “God is faithful” in the middle of a storm where it feels, looks, tastes, and seems like they are about to drown may not be comforting — in fact, it may be like pouring salt in the wound. It may sound like “fix it” advice when they need love delivered in a different language than just a spoken truth.

God provides love in so many more ways to us than just written words in a book. So if I follow His pattern, I will love in more ways than just quoting words from the book or sharing lessons online.

Help me, Lord, to be faithful when the orphans communicate a need to free the purse strings. Help me, Lord, when the widows need a comforting hug and a warm place to sleep and food on their plate to appreciate the opportunity. Help me, Lord, to see a friend in need of something I have and to be open handed. Help me, Lord, to find a friend in need of the type of healing that only you can bring and to be prayerful. Help ne, Lord, to love and be faithful like you are faithful to me all my days. And I begin to realize that when my time is spent being faithful and loving to others — it is such a blessed opportunity. Then, even the sting of betrayal or abandonment but others doesn’t leave me with less love to pour out, because you are my source of love to give. And the depths of your love for me to tap into and receive in order to give never runs out. Amen.

Shifts from the Expected Patterns

You don’t have to look that closely to find my faults. Dig below surface level and you’ll find dirt. But I hope that you might also catch an occassional sweet fruit and find some valuable treasure — that just don’t make much sense growing in such a dark and dirty place as all of my weaknesses.

If we want to see each other’s value, we have to get past criticism, judgement, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, and all kinds of things that divide us.

When we give up our preconceived notions of what we think others “should look like” or “should act like” — we might just get past all of this loneliness and isolation — and get to know people and be introduced to their treasure.

I don’t care about your dirt. I’d rather you be honest with me and us both make mistakes, learn from them, and grow — than put on some fake attempt to seem “good enough” in the eyes of others.

You’ve made mistakes? Me too.

You’ve done stupid stuff? Me too.

You’ve said, “I’ll never do that again. And found yourself right back in the same place again?” Yep, I know the feeling.

I’m not perfect. You aren’t perfect.
I’m not even “good”. And neither are you.

If that offends you (for me to say that you aren’t good and you aren’t perfect), I’m sorry, but we just aren’t. A “good” person would be slow to anger, forgiving, and could easily laugh off a silly untrue statement — but the guilty “doth protest too much” about what is true but uncomfortable.

I say all of this to encourage you to not be so hard on yourself — shame is not the answer.

And don’t be so hard on others — judgement isn’t the answer either.

But what if you’re in a pattern of being hard on yourself and hard on others?

What if that pattern became a habit, and grew into a practice, and grew from there into a way of seeing everything around you, and grew from there into the way that you influenced everything and everyone around you?

I think we can easily imagine where that pattern would lead.

What about a pattern of forgiveness and encouragement?

What if that pattern grew in the exact same way — became a habit, and grew into a practice, and grew from there into a way of seeing everything around you, and grew from there into the way that you influenced everything and everyone around you?

Sounds hard?

How can a person change their pattern — change what feels like it might be an essential part of who they are?

Ask someone who you can see who is peculiar and has a uniquely different pattern than the norm. When I ask someone who is genuinely, authentically marching to that peculiarly different pattern — I don’t get an answer from them that is pride over what one might think is “good” or shame over what is “bad”. I always find someone who has found hope beyond themselves — and that neither the dirt nor the treasure in themselves is really of any great consequence to them. They aren’t striving to be perfect, nor are the lamenting over their imperfections. They aren’t religious zealots and hypocrites — nor are they self-absorbed, narcissist criminals.

Their eyes aren’t focused on themselves, and they aren’t focused on us either. The see something beyond what most see, like their eyes are opened in a different way to different things.

The Bible describes this as “setting your eyes upon the heavenly things”. Jesus Christ healed blind men when he walked this world in the flesh. But even greater than opening physical eyes to see, He opens blind spiritual eyes to see things clearly and truly — which makes it a bit peculiar.

Imagine if no one had the sense of smell and taste, but you miraculously were given this sense of smell and taste. Imagine things that do not look appealing to the eyes, or feel appealing to the hands, but that smell and taste so sweet. Others would avoid them and you would live them.

I understand that people can’t imagine how it could be an absolute joy to read and study the Bible, or pray, or worship — if someone had never tasted how sweet it smells and tastes, they would look at the way it looks to their eyes and feels to their hands, and they would think it is insane!

But what if your life and those around you are missing out on the sweet aroma and taste of a fruitful life filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self- control? Would you be willing to ask for the sense of taste and smell to know these things are good for you and all those around you?

I believe that we can come to God and ask Him for this “peculiar, spiritual sense of taste and smell” for these “fruit of the spirit”, these “things of God” and that our pattern will shift — because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ who died and the cross and is raised to life.

If you are tired of struggling against the old patterns, I will pray with you. Just let me know.

Pray for me too?

God bless.

Confession

I have contended daily in my life with lust towards women who are not my wife, with selfish pride of myself and harmful criticism of others, with doubt that God is good and truly has good in store for me.

I confess these particular shortcomings, not because they are the only ones that I have — but because they have been like a chronic infestation of bugs that have stolen from me repeatedly — and because all my attempts at extermination have failed. I am confessing my struggle in these areas of life because these are “sin” — something that has taken a foothold in my life that does me harm and not good.

Lord, before you and before everyone, I confess that I have sinned against you, in my thoughts, in my words, in my actions, even in my inactions. I believe that you will deliver me from these things — not just from the consequences of sin, but that your Holy Spirit is freedom. I believe that I will resist evil and see it flee. I believe that I will see those things that have hindered me be laid aside. I rebuke these things in the name of Jesus Christ and declare that you, Lord, will not only fight this battle, but will slay these giants, for your glory and honor. Lord, I know that you can, and that you are able. And I’ve seen you do amazing things beyond my understanding. Even while part of my flesh screams out in rebellion, “No, don’t let him take those things from us that have been a comfort!” I know that even poison can taste sweet to the tongue in order to get at its evil intentions. Lord, it is by the shed Blood of your perfect Lamb that I am able to make such a confession and trust you fully. Amen.

Lord, thank you that we do not have to wait until we have a great fall. Lord, thank you that we do not have to only wait to repent after the consequences of our foolishness has resulted in things we cannot undo. Lord, I realize many will read this and think “I see he must have been caught in something” and misunderstand confession.

I would be tempted by my own pride and criticism of others to think the same thing, and would need to repent. So I understand.

We are loved by the Lord. Everything that He has for us is better than the things we cling to that hinder our walk with Him. Yet, we are still tempted to accept trinkets of sin in trade for the treasure of holiness. Most of us excuse these “little compromises” and we give up more and more territory in our own lives day after day until we have drifted further and further away from where our lives should be.

Confession is an opportunity to believe this — ti acknowledge ands respond to what is treasure and what is trash. To truly believe it, not just say it, not just sing about it — but to commit to it fully. Whether a man is deeply entangled in his sin and caught in the consequences, or whether he is aware of the feel of that familiar trap tugging at him again — the Lord is slow to anger and mighty to save, and He will finish the work He has begun in you.

God bless you, friends!

If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:8‭-‬10 AMP

Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].
James 5:16 AMP

My PrayerMate

Great is the Lord , and highly to be praised, And His greatness is [so vast and profound as to be] unsearchable [incomprehensible to man].
Psalms 145:3 AMP

I really enjoy the PrayerMate app. It helps me bring some order to my prayers while not just being repetitive. I can build out separate lists and tell it how many items to automatically give me from each list when I start a prayer. That way, many of your names come up.

For my lists, I start out praising God for who He is, with separate items praising:

Who He is as Father
Who He is as Son
Who He is as Holy Spirit
What He has done

Then I submit myself:

Confess who I am in Christ
Confess my sin
Pray to be granted Repentance
Surrender My Will to His Will

Then I pray your names and relationships:

My Closest Inner Circle
Extended Family
Church Family
Marketplace Relationships
Specific Unbelievers

At times, people ask for, or I feel led to specific intercessory prayer for others. I have a separate list of those names in that grouping.

Then I have groupings for:

My Walk with God
My Specific Needs
Missions/Outreach
Sharing My Testimony
A list of Biblical Prayers

I can set this app to remind me during the day to take a moment to pray. And by maintaining these lists, I can either have it automatically hand me a number of items to fit how much time I have right then for prayer — or I can drill down into a particular group and list.

Admittedly, I could be much more consistent and intentional with my prayer than I am at times. But this app really helps me with this, and when I’ve fallen out of practice, or when I’ve just been “phoning in my prayers” — I can look at the names and the needs listed and see the real hurt, challenge, and need and be prompted to truly contemplate the need, then pray for and try to help — rather than just grow cold.

I’m not sharing this to say “look how good I’m doing”. Nope, this is just an app that is helping me do what I should love you deeply enough to gladly remember to do on your behalf, to remember your needs, to remember our relationships and value them, and to remember that I can take it all to my Awesome God on your behalf.

I’m showing you my weakness. My crutch. That I need help, but that this is helping me — with organization, with access, with reminders, and with accountability.

I’m hoping that maybe someone else might find my crutch helpful, and maybe we could hobble along and encourage and pray for each other?

And most importantly, and as praising Him is first in my PrayerMate order, He is worthy of our praise. So whether it is with an app or not, let’s not miss out on our opportunity today to spend time with Him, to praise Him, and to walk with Him.

God bless.

If you want to be on my list, please just ask. I won’t even proudly say you’re already there. I’ll just be grateful that we have a relationship where we might be able to pray for each other and share something more than surface level things that are posted to Facebook. I want to love you, and prayer ands remembering the names of you and your family specifically ands regularly helps me. Thank you.

That “But Even if He Doesn’t” Kind of Trust

I’m looking at a “peculiar” type of trust today from the books of Daniel and Habakkuk. Imagine a trust that produced a “follow at all costs mentality” in people regardless of whether they got their own way or not.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
18 BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18

I used the word “trust” because it doesn’t have the same religious connotations and undertones as the word “faith” — but in the context of this discussion,  we can use them both interchangeably.

I’m talking about a trust that is not about bartering and trading with some “magical genie in the sky” to do your bidding — but is about seeking to do His bidding “at all costs”.

That seems to be a radically peculiar type of trust from what life teaches us about trust when dealing with other people. To trust a normal man of flesh and blood with your absolute dedication, regardless of how he treated you in return would be both absurd and harmful — because of the abuse that usually occurs when mere men are corrupted by the lure of absolute control/power. So we can understand that absolute, unwavering trust of fallible men is “no bueno”, not good.

But when we are dealing with a holy God (who is not like men,  and who can be trusted fully) — instead of use the simple and common word “trust”, most religious folks interject the word “faith” when dealing with God because it implies a holy type of complete trust where the one being trusted is worthy of that trust. Whether or not the person has enough evidence yet to prove that God is trustworthy or not — He is trustworthy. That is who He is.

Habakkuk shares this same perspective that we can be joyful in the Lord, praise Him and trust Him regardless of our circumstances:

Though the fig tree does not blossom And there is no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fails And the fields produce no food, Though the flock is cut off from the fold And there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord ; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17‭-‬18 AMP

For someone who doesn’t believe in God, everything they know about “trust” is based on what life has taught them about people — evidence/proof. So they say to themselves, “If I can’t trust people that I can see and try to hold accountable, why in the world would I trust in something that I can’t even see or confirm?” They look for evidence and proof first, before they are willing to believe ands have faith. It is a valid, practical logical question for a man of flesh and blood — but that approach works hard against the spirit man. And that is what confounds so many.

Lord, give us spiritual eyes to see and comprehend and discern spiritual things. Help us to have an eternity mindset that is firmly founded upon your worthiness and your unfailing faithfulness. These things are true. Please help us to accept that no single moment’s snapshot of circumstance shown to us by the accuser has to allow confusion or doubt to win. It is easy for us to think of the enemy as accusing us before you each day — but most of the accusations he brings against us are true. But when the accuser brings accusations against you, Lord, when He tries to steal you from us by way of doubt, confusion, and lies — help us to know and stand firm in our faith. You are worthy. Amen.

Seeking

Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those who seek and require the Lord [as their most essential need] rejoice.
Psalms 105:3 AMP

This morning as my wife read our morning devotional aloud, and Mia and I listened — my waking mind wandered and struggled to maintain focus. As she finished and it was time for me to pray, I realized that I wasn’t sure that I had really comprehended everything that was spoken. But lyrics from a song immediately came to mind that seemed to fit so well with the parts that I had heard — and I prayed about how God is worthy always. I prayed about when our circumstances are challenging, or when we need to let go of things like fear, anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, temptations, or sin that poisons our spirit ands hinders our worship– and that anyone can easily see how those things cause hurt in the world — that time worshipping changes that. When we desire to be with the Lord and spend time with Him, He changes us in that intimate time together.

My mom shared with me yesterday how she starts each day with prayer and how some mornings it comes easy and is quick, and some mornings it is more challenging or long, but that it is always good. I shared with her that I’ve had the same experience and that I sometimes mistake “needing more time with Him” with being “my fault” or “something I’ve done” as the reason for the difference. While that can be the case, that my own self can hinder the process of prayer and worship — who is greater, and who is the solution when I need healing? JESUS!

Speaking with mom on the topic, I was reminded of a video that my pastor Mark Pangel shared of a prophet speaking “there is no wasted time, there is no wasted effort” and given instruction “clean the house” and “the lost coin will be found”. And we talked about how our limited perspective just doesn’t see things right.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10221320729860998&id=1030524632

It’s like people who foolishly say “Israel wouldn’t have had to walk through the wilderness for 40 years if they had just obeyed God” and stop there. While the facts of their statement might check out when measured by the law — and their exegesis may check all the boxes — they might have missed the whole point of God’s sovereign will and His purpose to walk close and intimate with them, and that He purposed, designed, planned and allowed that time for a specific reason.

Knowledge is easy for smart people, and rules and laws, and cause and effect makes sense to them — but wisdom is something greater than just accumulated knowledge — and wisdom begins with the fear of God.

I encourage you to watch and consider this wonderful video “He confounds the wise”:

Sometimes God has to break me out of the pattern of “just” reading comprehension, of “just” good hermeneutics, of “just” application, of “just” knowledge, of “just” understanding — to intimate time soaking in His presence.

Whether we need a quick shower to get on our way, or whether He has a long soak in the tub in store for us — whether our prayer and worship to start the morning ends up peacefully finished in our allotted timeslot — or whether it lasts through our morning commute and we must sit in our parked car for an extended time before entering our day’s responsibilities — our time is not wasted, our effort is not wasted. He is working in us to desire and to do His good pleasure, to bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, to turn graves into gardens, to turn mourning into dancing, to trade ashes for beauty. Amen.

“Graves into Gardens” is a song performed by American contemporary worship band Elevation Worship and American contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Brandon Lake which was released as the second single from their eighth live album of the same name, Graves into Gardens (2020), on August 7, 2020. The song was written by Brandon Lake, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick and Tiffany Hammer.

We sing this song because we have known the power of taking time to seek the Lord, desiring to know Him better. We’ve experienced coming freely into His presence and letting our hearts rejoice in Him regardless of the circumstances around us at the time because HE IS WORTHY OF PRAISE. when we ate standing upon the Holy Ground of genuine praise and worship, and we breathe in the rarefied air of His holiness, refusing our cars and concerns to rest in awe and wonder of the His glory, His presence envelops us like a big, spiritual hug, permeating us through and through — and He turns graves into gardens, turns mourning into dancing, gives beauty for ashes.

Thank you, Jesus!

Lord, Please Help Us?

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.
Psalms 46:1‭-‬5 NLT

I read or heard one time that one of the most effective prayers is the simple surrender of, “Lord, please help me?

When we are in that genuine place of giving up on trying to fix it on our own and surrendering to receive His help, it isn’t demanding our own way or stating a complaint. It is acknowledging that He is the help that we need.

As my family started back our morning family devotionals today, the imagery of the second sentence “many people stumble out of bed in the morning and head straight for…” was perfect for reminding me that what we consume into our minds, especially for that all important first meal to start the day, will feed us. And what better meal to start our day than time with the one who is peace, is help, is a refuge.

There are many things that we could do first — and I’ll be completely honest and transparent here — while also trying to not be gross. When I first wake up, even before consuming my breakfast for my body, and even before my mind consumes the Word for that day — I have to first get rid of whatever was left over from yesterday. I stumble first to the bathroom and evacuate my physical body of its waste — just as I should evacuate my mind of its waste from the day before. A simple, surrendered, heartfelt prayer like, “Lord, please help me?” helps posture my mind to receive what is needed for today and let go of anything clinging in my mind from the days before.

Let me explain why this is important. I’m not holding onto shame that we stopped doing morning devotionals for a while. If I went into this from a place of shame for my past shortcomings, I would see it as a religious obligation and a checklist — to either do and be proud “at what I’m doing” each morning — or to miss and be shameful about “not doing enough” — and that misses The Way on either side of the narrow path.

But when I’m truly seeking to “wait in His presence”, when I’m eager for His help, when I stumble to Him as my first — it is amazing how much more fruitful to my day than turning on the TV, phone, tablet or radio first. It’s amazing how much clarity and insight comes instead of the anxiety, frustration, fear or offense that seems to drive so much of the world around us these days.

Lord, please help us in these things? Help us establish a consistency in our faith that isn’t just empty repetition, but is a meaningful washing in your Word and your presence, and that brings salt and light into our lives, so that like a good bloodhound, we know the sweet aroma of your presence and we follow you straight away — not turning to the left or to the right, but walking with you along The Way that you have cleared for us today? Amen.

Why is ‘your God’ the one we all have to follow?

To answer people who think that because I am a Christian, that I “want to force my religious beliefs, customs, and traditions on them”,

(and who have understandably pushed back hard against some people who are fighting hard to force certain religious beliefs and practices through government upon those who want no part in such things),

And to answer those who ask:

Why is ‘your God’ the one we all have to follow?

My answer:

“My God is not the one all have to follow.  In fact, He freely gives all of us our own independent free will to choose to either follow Him or deny Him. I don’t even demand that you follow Him or obey some list of rules in order for Him to accept you.

I just want you to know that He loves you enough to not just show you a better way and expect you to walk it — He demonstrates it and says that if you believe,  that He will come live in you and help you walk in the fullness of life.

And “the rules” aren’t even there for you to have to “live up to” — but so that you can see as He lives in you and through you — that you are actually being changed to be more like Him — by Him. I don’t expect those who don’t know Him and love Him to live up to a set of Godly morals or principals,  because I believe that isn’t even possible without His help.

And I know very few will actually know and love Him, and many will hate Him — and because of that,  they will also hate the things that we see as valuable and important to the successful growth and progress of humanity,  society,  etc. I’m not here to force anyone to follow my rules or believe what I believe or practice what I believe.

I’m here to introduce you to Almighty God the Father through the person of Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit of God who lives in me. He is my closest friend and my greatest comfort and encourager. He is my strength, and my hope, and my peace when times are tough. And He is the love that I want to be able to share with you in a way that you can see — past what seems like outward religious traditions and practices — to know the difference inside that makes all the difference.

When you find that thing that you know needs to change and you aren’t strong enough to change it yourself — you can humbly reach out to my God, because He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, and because He hears and gives justice to the oppressed.

When life’s circumstances become dark and worrisome and hopeless — you can reach out to my God, because He lifts up the downtrodden.

My God is not a tyrant, but a servant and a friend. Amen.”

If you know me, and if you listen to what I have to say, and if you watch how I treat others — I pray you will see a stark contrast in me to the ugly things that we all know about people who are driving political and religious agendas.

Very religious people (who are dead on the inside and worried about forcing everyone into compliance) have committed atrocities in the name of God throughout the agesbut their God is not my God, and their father is not my Father. Those people are dangerous,  and no matter how much they want to paint themselves white, as pure, as good — my God says that “their insides stink of death”.  He says that you can see it in how they “are jealous and envious”, how they “brag and are arrogant”, how they “are rude and self- serving”, how they  “demand their own way” and “are easily angered”.

But I tell you that I was those things too, and would still be those things but for the grace of God. So let’s not just throw rocks at each other,  but let’s show love to one another — that is The Way that I choose to follow my God..

And if you don’t think you are capable of loving such wretched religious hypocrites — or loving such wretched, filthy sinners — I’ve been both,  and I pray that my God will make it possible for you to forgive me for my many shortcomings and love me — and I forgive you and love you as well.

That is a great place to start — forgiveness and love — because that is the whole of what my God asks of us — not some laundry list of rules.  Amen.

Hurt isn’t a Seed to be Buried

Hurt causes us to see enemies instead of our fellow man. Truly praying good (and meaning it) for “our enemies” — and not wishing justice or vengeance upon them is a shift that needs to happen in all of us.

This shift (into “loving the undeserving”) is aligning ourselves with the gospel instead of opposing it.

Even when we have differing perspectives or even when we have unresolved hurt — the resolution doesn’t come by both sides ignoring it to fester or by continuing to feed the hatred, the bitterness, and the division.

We all need to pray good for them — and that they would pray good for us — and that if either or neither of us are yet able to do that for each other that others will know and pray for us until we can.

And we should seek out those who are hurt and hurting and divided — and pray genuine, heartfelt prayers for reconciliation — that we will all not see enemies but brothers and sisters and the beloved of God, created in His image — who He was willing to come live among us, die for or sins, and be raised to new life as The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

In these politicized, divided times, where hurt people are hurting each other — where people’s words and actions tear at each other violently like two wild animals fighting to the death — we all need to not just hear the gospel or speak the gospel, but to be the gospel.

#Forgiveness #Prayer #Reconciliation #FellowMan #YouAreNotMyEnemy

“This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.
John 15:12 AMP

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should also [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him.
1 John 4:21 AMP

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one . And take the helmet of salvation , and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.
Ephesians 6:12‭-‬18 AMP