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Perception is the Key

Picture this. A prisoner has been pardoned. But instead of leaving the prison, the prisoner sits there in the cell. The shackles have been removed. The door is open. The prisoner could just walk out and be free. Yet the prisoner sits there because he’s not chosen to walk in freedom. His perception and perspective is that he is and will forever be a prisoner. But the truth, the reality, is that he’s free. He doesn’t believe the truth but has chosen to believe a lie.

If you are caught up in the cycle of addiction, you are that prisoner.

If you are beating yourself up over the past, you are that prisoner.

If you believe that you are worthless, you are that prisoner.

If you believe your situation is hopeless, you are that prisoner.

If you think that things will never change, you are that prisoner.

If you are allowing your past to bind you and prevent you from moving forward, you are that prisoner.

If you believe your past is more powerful that Jesus’ sacrifice, you are that prisoner.

Jesus came to reconcile us to God. Reconciliation was His main purpose. But that was not the only benefit and purpose of His death and resurrection. Luke 4:18-19 (Also found in Isaiah 61) tells us that He came to restore us body, soul and spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

He came to reveal the whole truth. The truth of His Kingdom, who we are, and how God feels about us. (In case you don’t know He loves us A LOT).

He came to show us who the Father is by doing what He saw the Father doing.

He came to heal your body and your heart.

AND He came to set you free. John 8:31-34 says,

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Even though you have been set free, you need to walk out that freedom. A slave (prisoner/unbelief) mentality and not understanding their true identity kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land. See Deuteronomy 1. They still saw themselves as slaves. They cried out to go back to Egypt. Their wrong perception of themselves and their lack of belief robbed the ENTIRE GENERATION of their inheritance. Only two men of the millions that left Egypt from that generation entered the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Did you hear that? Two out of millions! And the only difference between those two and the rest of their generation was that they believed what God said, not what anyone else said. Did you hear that? They believed God. Not their circumstances. Not what they saw. Not what everyone else said. They believed God.

What’s my point? Well my point is that you need to believe what the Lord says about you and your future. You need to stop speaking negatively over yourself and beating yourself up for your past mistakes. You have value. You are loved.

Your situation is not too hard for God. Joseph went DIRECTLY from the prison to the palace. See Genesis 41. You don’t think God can do that for you? Nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING.

Priorities

At work today our new leader (He’s been here about 3 weeks) held an all-hands meeting. He used this time to detail his expectations and priorities. He also discussed the issues that had been brought to his attention. He was very up front, and I respect that. He also said something that really stuck me about priorities. He said that the best way to check your priorities is to look at your calendar. How you spend your time reveals your priorities. No matter what you say, your calendar shows the reality.

Wow.

It’s not what your words say; it’s what your calendar reveals that counts.

Many people say that their family is their priority, but they spend most of their non-work time sitting on the couch tuned into the television or on some sort of mobile device. Many people say God is a priority, but the only time they actually acknowledge His presence is at their church’s Sunday morning service. I could go on, but you get the point. I get that everyone’s busy, I am too. I’m not trying to criticize, as my calendar needs some scrubbing too.

My point is to sit down and think about your priorities. What and who matter the most to you? What are your long and short term goals? Now look at your calendar and think about how you spend your time. Your nights. Your weekends. Your vacation days. How are they used?

If your calendar does not reflect the people and things that really matter, then make some changes.

Say no to things that don’t line up with your priorities. This may mean you have to pass on some fun things or some good things even, but that’s okay. It is okay to say no. Your “no” to the extraneous things leaves room for you to say “yes” to the things that matter most. You don’t have to explain to people why, just say “no.”

Get out a calendar or use your smart phone calendar and mark off family days and time with God. Carve it out and keep it for its dedicated purpose. Block out some down time too, while you’re at it. You won’t regret it.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

God’s Not Afraid of the Dark

I loathe fear. So when my friend Danielle posted about God not being afraid of the dark, I asked her permission to share it with you.  It’s encouraging and challenging at the same time.  With that I give you what Dani wrote:

“I’m not afraid of the dark” – God
     God told me this tonight. Seems so simple, but such a profound statement. I felt like a little kid telling God “I’m scared to go there… it’s dark.” And He said, “Don’t worry, I’m not afraid of the dark, I will keep you safe.”
     In your life, He’s not afraid of the dark. He’s not afraid of those areas you’re unwilling to give Him in this moment. He’s not afraid of your mistakes or the bad things that have happened to you, He’s not afraid of your thoughts, He’s not afraid of anything about you, past present or future.
     In our world, He’s not afraid of the dark. He’s not afraid of the Red Light Districts. He’s not afraid of gang neighborhoods. He’s not afraid of failing economies, He’s not afraid of sickness or torment or death. He’s not afraid of anything about this world, past present or future.
     And He wants to bring LIGHT to every dark place so that He can let you know that not only is there nothing in there for HIM to be scared of, but there’s nothing in there for YOU to be scared of either! Let Him flood a light in your life, in your circumstances, in your world. Watch your identity shift. Watch your stance of fear melt away and be replaced with a stance of authority and victory. He has no intention of letting the enemy win… He wrote the end of the Book, and it’s a victory for the Kingdom of LIGHT, NOT the Kingdom of darkness.

God is Good.

Okay, I have to admit that in the past I’ve been annoyed with people saying God is good, because it doesn’t seem enough.  I’ve even annoyed myself by saying it.  True story.  The truth is that it annoyed me because I kept thinking that God is so much bigger than just boring ole standard good. He’s great! He’s awesome! He created the entire universe and everything in it. He’s omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful. Simply put, He knows all things, is everywhere at once and nothing is impossible for Him. Mind blowing, right?

So with all that, how can people just say, “God is good?” and leave it there?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve said it because it’s hard to describe God sometimes. He’s so fabulously magnificent that words sometimes fail me. So I just simply mutter, “Wow. He’s good.”

Words have power. Even the word good. So today I want to check out this word good.  It first appears in Genesis 1:3-4, “Then God said, “Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

This same word good is found to describe God MANY MANY times in scripture. Here are a few of them:

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” I Chronicles 16:34

“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

Good in Hebrew is the word ‘towb.’ It is H2896 in the Strong’s Concordance. It essentially means good, pleasant,and agreeable. It can also be translated into the following: beautiful, best, cheerful, at ease, fair, favor, fine, glad, good, graciously, joyfully, kindly, kindness, loving, most merry, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, right (as in ethical) sweet, wealth (valuable in estimation, rich), welfare (as in benefit) and well-favored.

Put all those words together into a description and it’s starting to sound like a better description of God to me!

So NOW every time you hear someone say God is good or you read in the Word that God is good, you know what good really means.  So NOW you can join in the praise!  You can give a shout and say, “He sure is! All the time.”  I know I’m going to!

Have a good Tuesday!

A Cheerful Heart

It’s Monday. And I think that people need to laugh and smile more.  So does Solomon.  Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

So if you are finding your strength waning in the midst of whatever it is that’s going on in your life, do something fun.  Watch old sitcoms that are actually funny or some other comedy.  Read a light hearted book.  Take a walk or do whatever it is you enjoy that makes you smile or laugh.  Start speaking positively.  Make plans that you will look forward to and enjoy.  Choose to find something joyful in your day.  Be silly!

Since it’s Musical Monday… Here’s “A Cheerful Heart” by Rick Pino.  and “Laugh” by The Monkees

Prayer Wall

Are you a prayer warrior or do you need prayer? Then check this out: Prayer Wall

For you warriors, I’ve noticed that depending upon when people post, some requests get like 20-40 people praying, while others don’t have anyone or only 1 person praying.  Feel free to scroll down and pray for those requests that God puts on your heart or all of them if you want.

Nothing happens without prayer.  But with prayer, all things are possible.

Our words have CREATIVE POWER.  Speak what you want to see not don’t speak the problem.

Later Alligators.

Random Random Random

SBD_1

I’m having a week where my thoughts are bouncing all over the place. SO I’m going to share some random. If you need fun….there’s some fun in here. If you need a deep word or something to study, I’ve got some links in here to the Living Word. If you need visual inspiration, gaze into the above photo of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. For more you can search Sleeping Bear Dunes images. You won’t be sorry.

**Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a beautiful place. I am quite sure it looks like this in Heaven.  Who needs gold streets when you have beauty like this?  Not me.

**My friend’s husband, who is also my friend too, posted this on FB this morning:   “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”  So true.  Just look at the above photo.

**”It seems like yesterday, but it was long ago….” Random Bob Segar lyrics that are stuck in my head. Any Michigander who cannot immediately identify that these are Bob Segar lyrics from Against the Wind…I say tsk tsk.

**I enjoy the French Peas from Veggie Tales…so I’m sharing this from Josh and the Big Wall. If you need some fun today, or haven’t ever watched the Veggies, check this out: Keep Walking

**If you want to read about Jericho minus the slushies, it’s in Joshua Chapter 6. You can find that here: Jericho Story on Bible Gateway

**Thinking about Joshua makes me think of the sun standing still in Joshua Chapter 10. Want to read about someone praying powerfully, that one will knock your whole self for a loop. Moving mountains and the sun standing still. God’s just cool. Oh…you can find that sun standing still chapter here: Sun Stand Still on Bible Gateway

**We have a lot of people with J names in my family, but not as many as the Duggars. In my immediate family there are 4 J’s out of 16. Okay it seemed like a lot more before I counted.

**God’s love is a consuming fire that ignites and inspires but never burns up. Let that one soak in. I’ve been soaking in that for 2 weeks and it still blows my mind. Need an example from the Bible of God’s consuming fire check out Moses and the Burning Bush on Bible Gateway.

**Okay this is bugging me. I need to count. There’s one A name, one B, one C, one E, one H, one K, one O, two P’s, one R & two T’s. So the percentage of 4 out of 16 is 25%…which is a higher percentage than the others, so yes there are a lot of J names. Phew. I feel better now.

**Remember in Bambi when Thumper says, “Mama says, if you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all.”? Well, Thumper’s Mama must read the Bible. God actually shut Zachariah’s mouth so he couldn’t wreck the blessing, He’d just given him. Zachariah was literally muted from the time God spoke about them having a son until Elizabeth gave birth to John. God did this to prevent Zachariah from speaking doubt and negative. Our words have creative power. So we need to stop speaking the problem and start speaking God’s word over our problem.

This has been random thoughts with Jill. Have a fabulous day!

You are…

Just a heads up that I won’t be on here for about 2 weeks.  I will be without access to the internet.  While I’m gone I want to leave you with this…

You are seen…because He is the God who sees. (Genesis 16:13)

You are known…because He knit you together in your mother’s womb.  He even knew you before He created the world. (Psalm 139, Ephesians 1:3-6)

You are loved…because He is love. (I John 4:7-19)

You are never alone nor forsaken…because He has said He will never leave nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5 and Hebrews 13:5)

You are never hopeless…because Jesus is the hope of the world. (Psalm 71:5, Jeremiah, 17:7, Acts 28:20, Romans 15:12, I Timothy 1:1, Titus 2:13-14)

You are never without grace…because Jesus is the personification of grace. (John 1:14, Romans 5:15, II Corithians 8:9, II Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 2:11, Titus 3:7, I Peter 1:10)

You are valuable to God.  (Luke 12:6-7)

You matter to God.  Never forget that!

Time for Change

On Monday I talked about how I will not be moved.  By that I mean that I won’t let go of God, His word or His promises.  No way no how.  But as serious as I am about hanging on, I’m just as serious about change. 

As much as I love my cozy comfortable bed and simple little life, I crave change.  I need it.  When my life gets boring or monotonous I create whatever change what I can.  I used to move to a new place once a year or so, until I bought my house.  Now, instead of moving, I rearrange my furniture or move my bedroom to another room in the house.  I paint walls.  I dye or cut my hair.  I take road trips.  I even take a different way to work, just to have something different.  Being still is difficult when you continually have the desire to go somewhere, anywhere, else. 

It’s not that my life is bad.  It’s not.  I have a job.  A house.  A car.  I’m healthy.  My family’s healthy.  I have great friends.  I go to a great church & love my church family.  I’m grateful, truly grateful for the blessings in my life.  But there’s something in me that craves the new.

It’s not that I’m discontented.  I’m not.  But I love to learn new things.  I love to create processes and set things up and then turn it over to someone else to maintain.  Once I master something, I’m over it.  I need the challenge.  I need the adventure of learning new things or discovering new places.

Had I been born in the 1600-1800s I probably would have been one of those people continually going west.  Although I wonder how that would have gone because I’ve never actually made it to Oregon on the Oregon Trail game.  Ever.  Has anyone?  Ever?  Even as an adult I cannot beat that stupid game.  Anyway…

It’s funny that I posted about the song ‘Moving On’ the other day because I’m really feeling the need to move on.  Like I said, it’s not that I need to escape a horrible situation or bad people.  I don’t.  I just need some change.

Then I went to church last Sunday and got challenged a bit in my idea of moving on and change in my Pastor’s new sermon series called… Move.  No seriously…after thinking about and talking about this all last week with my friends, I go to church and hear it’s time to move!  You can check it out here.  Pastor D talked about how growing and moving forward always starts in God’s Word.  The answer is always the Word.

God’s Word is amazing.  It transforms our thinking.  It is the light unto our path.  It is alive and sharper than any two-edged sword.  It teaches us.  It edifies and encourages us.  It brings healing to our hearts and bodies.

If you are frustrated or feeling stuck… If you are in a place that you can’t really move…  If you need some change…  Maybe God’s calling you higher.  Maybe He’s challenging you to go deeper.  Maybe it’s time to move and change INSIDE.

Happy Thursday.

Musical Monday: I Will Not Be Moved

‘I Will Not Be Moved’ by Natalie Grant has been my theme song on and off since it was released.  Take a gander:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTeQdLKiRg8

Wayward child acting out….

I was a good kid for the most part.  I was a tad mouthy and such but I generally did as I was told.  I got good grades.  I only got one detention in all of high school.  I went to and liked church and youth group.  I officially got saved at 16.  Pretty good track record, huh?  Yep.  But then…I turned 17.

Something happened to me at 17 where I just LOATHED any sort of rule.  I may have still obeyed most of the rules I was given, but in my heart anger had begun to build.  I looked obedient but looks were deceiving.  I was rebellious and becoming more and more bitter every day.  While I still attended church and youth group and loved Jesus, I told God to take a hike.  (Please don’t ask me how the 17 year old me thought she could separate the Son from the Father…I have no idea how she thought this was possible, but she did.  She was weird and angry and borderline crazy.  Anyway…)  I saw God as the mean one just waiting for me to screw up, so he could cast me out.  I hated His rules more than any others because of this lie I believed.

I went off to college planning to leave parental rules, Biblical law and every other regulation in the dust.  I was FREE!  Right?  Wrong.  I was so wrong.  There were still rules and laws at the university level too.  Dorm and campus rules.  Michigan laws.  The laws of gravity and motion.  Oh and that God guy…He’s there too.  Great.

It took 7 years before I realized I actually needed God.  I missed church too.  I came back to Him very broken and fully expecting to be treated poorly.  I could go to heaven, but I’d be homeless there.  I would be permitted to attend to church, but on a probationary period only.  God wouldn’t actually like me, let alone love me.  At best I expected to be tolerated, at worst severely punished.  Maybe if I behaved perfectly I could earn my way back into His good graces.  Maybe.

It’s grace I’m standing on…

Then I actually spent time with God and began to get to know who He really is.  I learned that He was a creative genius who made the sky, trees and filled the earth with beauty.  I saw that He was love.  I learned that He was good and He doesn’t want a single person to perish.  I learned that He had a good plan for my life, even still.  Best of all, I learned that He never left me, not one time.  He was with me when I walked out of His will and chose to go the world’s way.  He was with me at the bar.  He saw me make MANY dumb choices.  He was with me when my first love and I broke each other’s hearts.  He saw me graduate from college.  He was with me when I got engaged to the wrong man.  He was with me when I got sick.  And through all of that, He loved me.

He what?

He loved me.  Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day. (“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3)

Then when I called out to Him, He opened His arms to me and welcomed me back.  I didn’t have to beg or plead or beat myself up.  I didn’t have to burn sacrifices on the altar or volunteer to lick anyone’s boots.  I just had to call out.  That was it.  I wish I’d have understood about His grace before I spent nearly a decade trying to make up for all the crap I pulled.  Lesson learned.

I will make mistakes…

I’ve come a long way from 17, but I’m by no means perfect.  I will make mistakes.  But my mistakes remind me that I need Him.  My weaknesses are not a design flaw.  Where I’m weak, He’s strong.  We are a team, God and I.  And that’s exactly what He wants from you too.  Partnership.  Relationship.  He wants to love you and help you to succeed.

That’s why I will NOT be moved.  I need Him.  Every. Single. Second. Of. Every. Single. Day. I NEED HIM.

I’ll leave you with Psalm 107.  This Psalm shows that no matter what kind of trouble you’ve gotten yourself into, cry out to God.  He’s waiting for you to ask for His help.  He’s waiting for you to tell Him you need Him.  We all need Him because of Adam’s sin in the Garden.  We’ve all inherited it.  Jesus is the only cure.

Psalm 107

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.

Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins. They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation and before the leaders of the nation.

He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands, because of the wickedness of those who live there. But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. He brings the hungry to settle there and to build their cities. They sow their fields, plant their vineyards, and harvest their bumper crops. How he blesses them! They raise large families there, and their herds of livestock increase.

When they decrease in number and become impoverished through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, the Lord pours contempt on their princes, causing them to wander in trackless wastelands. But he rescues the poor from trouble and increases their families like flocks of sheep. The godly will see these things and be glad, while the wicked are struck silent. Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.”