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Magnification 

​Everyone has problems. But dwelling on problems magnifies them in your mind, until they SEEM overwhelming. Choose to focus on Jesus & who you are in Him, and you’ll see how these things can be overcome. You are an overcomer! 

Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 ESV

Point to ponder while you wander… Don’t worry. Don’t dwell on the negative. Instead be thankful. Be positive. There’s joy to be found in that way of thinking…and strength comes from joy.

Be Strong! Be Courageous!

Joshua is one of the people I continually go back to study.  And one of the things that stands out to me is how many times God told Him the same thing.  DO NOT FEAR.  BE STRONG.  BE COURAGEOUS.

Joshua was the military commander under Moses, and then promoted to lead all of Israel into the Promised Land.  Joshua KNEW first hand the issues that Moses struggled.  He was one of the two spies who stood against the other 10 in front of all the people.  And he saw the people choose fear over faith.  He sat in the desert for 40 years as those people died off.  THEN God says, “Okay, Josh.  Take the people in.”

“WHAT?  Why me?  These people?  Seriously!?”

Those would be my thoughts.

But as I have learned.  The faith walk is not for sissies.

Before Moses (at the age of 120 BTW) stepped down and went to Mt. Nebo, he spoke to the people:

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV

Then he called Joshua to him in front of all the people and repeated it to Joshua directly:

Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8 NKJV

Then you roll on into the book of Joshua, and the first thing written is what God spoke to Joshua after Moses died is…(drum roll please)…Do Not Fear.  Yes, the exact same message again.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.‘” Joshua 1:1-9 NKJV

Why?  Fear is a sneaky punk.  And it’s relentless in it’s efforts to make you live a pathetic small life.  But God is bigger than fear.  His love kicks fear’s ass every time.  You just need to do your part and be bold and courageous.

Point to ponder while you wander…Today.  Right now. In the decision you are about to make…  Remember one thing.  God has personally gone before you into the place He’s asking you to go.

Real Communication Straight from the Heart

I appreciate this passage because it involves real communication between Abram and God. It showed him asking God real questions about his doubts and concerns. And God’s responses to Abram.

Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.’” Genesis 15:1 NLT 

What happened in the sometime previous to this later? Well Abram went to war to rescue his nephew Lot. In doing so he reclaimed all the spoils those kings took from Sodom and Gomorrah. The first thing he did was to honor God by giving a 10th to Melchizedek. Then the king of Sodom asked Abram for his people back and told him to keep all the plunder for himself. But Abram was like…no way! Then you’ll get credit for making me rich instead of God. So he took nothing of the 90% of the remaining plunder. He asked to keep what his warriors had already eaten, and that his allies received a fair share, but gave the rest back.

Wow! That’s legit trust in God.

God’s response to Abram was to tell him that fear is a liar, and that his reward for his faith would be great.

You’d think that Abram would be celebrating that promise. But no. Abram had a father’s heart and mindset. What is the point of blessing and protection if it ends with me? If there’s no legacy, then Abram only needed enough for him and Sarai. Or he could even die right then.

But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”  Genesis 15:2-3 NLT 

This wasn’t a woe is me attitude. 

This wasn’t ungratefulness.

It was a father’s heart. A leadership mentality. He understood that he needed to pass on what he knew about God and set up the next generation to go further than he could.

Abram shared his heart with God, and God responded. 

“Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” Genesis 15:4-5 NLT

That is a huge promise. Mind blowing. 

“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Genesis 15:6 NLT 

The thing that stands out to me, besides the importance of open communication with God, is that Abram had no Bible to read or way verify  God’s track record on promises. He simply believed God. 

I have the Word. I know His track record of faithfulness and promise keeping. I want to simply believe like Abram did.

I have promises from God that blow my mind and terrify me to my very core. I want these promises to be fulfilled because they are the dreams and desires of my heart.  And the thought of a life that doesn’t include those promises sounds absolutely boring and drab. 

But for those promises to come to pass I have to do my part. Trust God. And comply with the small steps of faith He has asked of me. Trust and obey. Simple, right?

Should be but not for me lately. Fear has been attacking me worse than ever. I feel paralyzed and apatheic. 

You know I hate fear (if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time). Fear is a punk and a bully and no match for God. 

And yet, I find myself hiding and procrastinating. Procrastination is a symptom of fear. It is delaying until it’s too late so that you can say…”Oh I wanted to but I just don’t have time.” Or “I’m too busy.” Those are fear excuses.

I have enough time to do everything God has requested from me. I just need to choose to actually use the time to do it.

I want to comply. I want to desperately. But when I start doing it I am inundated with thoughts of how terrible my output is and fear of failure. Sometimes fear of success too. I’ve been so anxious lately that I’ve been breaking out in hives. That’s not God. God does not want that for me.

I asked for prayer yesterday from some trusted mentors and friends, and one declared this over me:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

It’s what I am standing on today and praying over all of you. Go forth in boldness my friends in what God has asked of you. Jesus believes in you, and so do I.

Point to ponder while you wander… Before Abram received all God promised, God changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). So for an entire year everytime someone said his name, Abraham was reminded of his promise. 

Remind yourself of God’s promises every day. Remind yourself of His track record. Talk to Him about what’s on your heart. And just believe Him. 

Eat it!

Christians, for the most part, want to impact the world for Jesus. We are well intentioned folks who genuinely want to help others. Unfortunately some end up hurting more than helping.

Why? Because we are hearers of the Word but NOT doers!

But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively & continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:22 AMP 

I’ve known Jesus since I was 7, but officially received him at 16. 

And promptly went about telling everyone they needed Jesus too. Did they? Absolutely! Was what I was saying true? You betcha!

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I had never learned to apply my carefully memorized verses to my own life. I never internalized the Word.

I spewed the Word at people like a fire hose expecting that to clean them up and inspire them to come to church with me.

But that isn’t what happened. I got eye rolls and people closing up and shutting me out. I even stopped being invited to parties with one group of friends.

I had the exact opposite effect as I intended. I came across as judgmental. Bossy. Mean. Pushy. I was a hypocrite. I expected other people to submit to verses I hadn’t applied to my own life, and in some cases hadn’t even read.

Within one year of my salvation I was so frustrated that I rebelled fully and completely. I told God His rules were crap and I was going to life my way.

Why was I frustrated? 1. I focused on the rules and trying to be a perfect person. And it was exhausting. 2. Not one person was changed for the better, despite my preaching at them.

Jesus never asked me to do that. That was all me. Jesus just wanted to love me and heal me. But I was not open to anyone mucking around in my personal business. Besides Jesus has bigger things to worry about than me, right?

It took 8 years for me to come back to Jesus. Then 3 more years for me to begin to open up and actually let Jesus in. 

And another few years after that to see that Father God wanted a relationship with me, and that He really loved me. He was for me and not against me.

So now about 25 years after I was “saved” I finally get it. I have a real relationship with Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit. And I understand the way to help others, obtain wisdom, and change the world is to internalize the Word in my own life. Let it heal me and change me. Let The Word shift my perspective until I see like Jesus sees, and to love the way Jesus loves.

Point to ponder while you wander…the Word is powerful. It doesn’t return void but accomplishes what the Father sends it forth to do. So don’t just skim it and forget it! Internalize it! Apply it! Live it! That’s what the prophets mean when they talk about eating the Word.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

His Way

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.” Psalm 18:30 NLT

Thankful today for His enduring patience and unconditional love for all the times I doubted the truth of this verse and wouldn’t trust Him.

It has taken me a long time to understand the truth of Psalm 1, that delight comes when we follow God’s way. It’s not about rules and regulations and being perfect. 

It’s about understanding that His way always includes our best interest. His best for us, as He is for us. He loves us.

God doesn’t want robots or slaves. If He did we wouldn’t have free will or the ability to make choices.

God respects those choices even if He doesn’t agree with them and knows it will end badly. He respects our choices.

But! Remember He can only bless us within the confines of our choices.

So when we freely choose His way…then He has free reign to pour abundant blessing on us. More than we can ask or think.

What delight comes to those who follow God’s ways! They won’t walk in step with the wicked, nor share the sinner’s way, or be found sitting in the scorner’s seat. Their pleasure and passion is remaining true to the Word of “I Am,” meditating each and every moment in the revelation of light. They will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s designs deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss; bearing fruit in every season of their lives. They are never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever plentiful.” Psalm 1:1-3

Point to ponder while you wander…His way doesn’t always make sense to us, but He knows the beginning, middle and end of your story. Doesn’t it make sense to trust His opinion over our own shortsighted opinion? 

Possibly Unaware

Sometimes we get hurt and the other person may be completely unaware that what they’ve done has hurt us. Choose to go talk to them. Face to face. Not easy, but definitely the right way to handle it, so says Jesus.

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” Matthew 18:15 NLT

Talking about a person will never solve anything, nor will screaming at them or silently fuming. Talking WITH them, honestly and openly might. Choose to be the bigger person.

Point to ponder while you wander…if the other person is unwilling or unable to openly dialog, CHOOSE to forgive anyway and pray for them. This releases  them to God so you can move on. Unforgiveness hurts you, not them.

More than Enough to go Around

Sometimes it’s so hard to be happy for someone else when they are getting everything you ever wanted. Trust me I’ve been there too. But being resentful towards someone getting their heart’s desire doesn’t hurt them, it actually hurts you. Envy can turn into bitterness super quick, and steal your joy!

If you’re finding yourself in envyland or thinking your dream is over because someone got “your” job, promotion, place, etc… remember this… One of God’s names is Elohim. It’s plural so it includes Yahweh, Jesus and Holy Spirit and the gist of its meaning is The Creator.

Why does that matter? I’m glad you asked! It matters because God created enough blessing for everyone and enough space for everyone to have a place at the table. So even if they wanted to, no one can take your place or the blessing reserved for you. Period.

“Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. ” Psalm 16:5 NIV

This is a big world and everyone is needed. If your dream hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. Just keep making good choices and doing the right things. Deal with your issues. Enjoy life where you are, right now. Remember you will reap what you have  sown. So, be happy for people! Pray for their success! Encourage other people’s dreams, and trust that yours is coming!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NLT

Better or Bitter

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Hardship and troubles happen to everyone, that’s just life. But how you choose to see those times either creates a bitter and angry you or changes you into a better and stronger you.  Better or bitter, the choice is yours!

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5.

Love Changes Everything

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” I John 4:7-12

I want to be a better lover of people.  I want to be someone who can love everyone.  Whether I like them or not.  Whether or not they choose to believe what I believe or not.  Whether they love Jesus or not.  I want to be that way because God is that way.  There are many people in the world who spurn, speak against, and even loathe God.  But He loves them anyway.  He believes in them anyway.  He gives them choice and the free will to hate Him.  Even though He is love and loves everyone, He allows people to choose what they believe and how they will live.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like or how to do it, but I want to be better at loving people.

I want to be better at loving people because the human race is starving for real love.  We look for love everywhere.  We search at school, work, bars and even online.  We stay in horrible relationships because some “love” is better than none.  We accept these cheap imitations because we are afraid we’ll never have the real thing. We choose to withhold love like a bargaining chip in a battle for control.

Love is not a bargaining chip.  Love is not a feeling.  Love is not lust.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not envy.  Love does not boast.  Love is not proud.  Love is not rude.  Love is not self-seeking.  Love is not easily angered.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil.  Love rejoices with the truth.  Love always protects.  Love always trusts.  Love always hopes.  Love always perseveres.  Love never fails. Love doesn’t coddle.  Love doesn’t control.  Love doesn’t demand.  Love respects.  Love encourages.  Love covers.

God is love.  He is the origin of love.  He cannot help but love.  It is who He is.  Everything He does comes from a love motivation.  That is why we have free will and the right to choose.  Simply because He loves us enough not to control us.

I will admit that I have been somewhat terrified to love people right where they are because I don’t want to condone sin.  If that isn’t being a religious Pharisee I don’t know what is.  But hey it’s the truth.  I was afraid.  I always wanted to be on the right side of the line so I didn’t go down with the ship.  I don’t want to be lumped in with all the people who chose to spurn God.

But slowly I came to the understanding that I am useless to people if I don’t love them right where they are.  That’s what I Corinthians 13 means.  I can do everything right but if I don’t choose to love people then I am nothing more than a crashing cymbal, making a whole lot of useless racket.  I want to be better at loving people.  I want to love people like Jesus did.

How did Jesus love people?  Radically!  He spent most of his time with people who could never give Him anything in return.  Lepers.  The poor.  Samaritans.  Prostitutes.  Tax collectors.  Drunks.  You get the point.  Jesus went to the Temple and did his part there.  But most of his time was outside the walls of the temple.  He was killed because He loved people radically.  His love was confrontational to those who were religious and those with agendas.  But Jesus loved anyway.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were unwilling to receive Jesus’s love and offer of relationship.  They clung to the black and white laws because it was safe.  You knew exactly what you could and could not do.  I can totally relate to this.  It seems easier to put yourself in a box.  It mitigates risk of contamination from the sinners.  I did it for a time.  Got exhausted.  Gave up and went 100% in the opposite direction.  Did I know it was wrong.  Yes.  Did I care?  Not really no.

I’ve asked myself why I just quit, even though I knew the truth.  And after a really long time, I realize there were several answers to that question.  One is that I was miserable and everyone else seemed to be having way more fun than me.  Another is that it is very stressful to try to be perfect and stay in that box every second of every day.  But the underlying reason is I didn’t believe I was worthy of love, especially not from God, because I believed I had to earn it.  But guess what?  I am not flawless nor can I be flawless every second of every day.  So I decided to just do whatever I felt like doing, because it was way too hard to be perfect.

When I came back to God, I did so with a whole lot of condemnation.  Not from the people at church, but from myself.  I prayed that I could work off all the wrong that I did.  My whole mindset was about working and earning and fixing.  So I did everything I thought I was supposed to.  I went to church every time the doors were open.  I took classes.  I got baptized.  I got Spirit filled.  I prayed in tongues.  But I had no peace, no joy, and I felt worthless.  I kept tripping and making messes.  I hurt people.

I went to church on and off from the time I was about 5 or maybe 6 years old.  I received Jesus as my savior when I was 16 years old.  I walked away at 17.  I came back at 25.  In all that time I memorized verses about love.  I knew “Jesus loved me.”  But there’s a difference between “knowing something” and really understanding what it means.  When I was 36 and a half years old, I finally understood that Jesus loved me.  Not just the little kid’s song kinda love.  But unconditionally loved me.  It wrecked me.  I was a pile of mush when I really saw that He was there loving me and believing in me when I was drinking myself numb and sleeping around.  He was loving and believing in me every day for my whole life.

I have grown and changed more in the last 3 years than I did in the previous 36.  Why?  Love.  Love changes everything, even broken angry women with a fierce attitude who don’t need anyone’s help.

Love changes everything.  And that is why I want to be a better lover of people.  We all know what’s wrong with us and how screwed up we are.  Let’s love ourselves and each other anyway.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each other because he loved us first.”  I John 4:18-19

All In

Perception is everything.  What you believe matters.  What you believe about yourself determines how you allow others to treat you and how you behave.  What you believe about yourself and God will determine your relationship with Him.  What you believe about God determines whether or not you are willing to have faith in, commit to, and trust Him.  If you don’t believe God is good and that God loves you, you will be unable to trust that He works all things out for your good.  If you are unable to fully trust Him, you’ll never commit to go all in.

It can be scary to go all in.  You may have doubts.  You may not fully understand.  Think about Mary when she was visited by the angel Gabriel.  She was confused and did not fully understand what he was telling her.  But she did believe that God was good and she trusted Him. So despite her doubt, Mary went all in.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.  For the word of God will never fail.”” Luke 1:26-37 NLT

Mary could have heard what the angel had to say, and dismissed him.  She could looked at teenage self and said, “Yeah right.”  She could have listened to her doubts and refused to believe that this was possible.  She could have missed being the mother of the Savior, the Messiah, if she chose not to believe.

But Mary did not miss what God had for her, because she chose to go all in.  No back up plan.  No rationalizations.  No strategies.  Just belief.  “Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.””  Luke 1:38

You alone choose what you believe.  No one, not even God Himself, can make that choice for you.  Mary chose to believe, and she gave birth to the Savior.  What will you be capable of if you choose to believe God and go all in?

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”  Luke 1:45 NLT

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”” II Corinthians 2:9 NLT

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” Hebrews 6:18 NLT

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”  Matthew 19:26 NLT (Verse also found in Mark 10:27 and Luke 18:27).