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Throwback Thursday

HERE IS ONE I POSTED IN 2016…revamped a bit, of course.

 

While lecturing and book signing in San Antonio, I spent the night with my sister. When I blurry-eyed stepped into her shower, this is what greeted me.

IMAG0128

 

SIN AROMA. I had to laugh. It was 6:30 in the morning and I’d already found God today.

San Antonio is a bilingual city, so labels are in English and Spanish. “Sin Aroma” means “unscented”, but it got me to thinking. What is the aroma of sin? Isn’t it often undetectable?  Unlike natural gas, which is also undetectable, nothing is added to temptations to let us know danger lurks. No nasty, scrunch-up-our-nose odor to warn us to back away. Unless we have our holy prompter inside of us, the Holy Spirit. But even then, do we always obey His whispers?

Sin should leave us feeling dirty.  But too often, don’t we cover it up like an aromatherapy spray?  If you can’t smell it, it isn’t there anymore, right? Other times, it may be masked with an enticing whiff that pulls us in like walking by a bakery just when a batch of freshly baked bread is being pulled from the oven, even though you are on a low-carb diet. Yeah. Been there.

James wrote in his letter, “Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (1:15) The father of lies’ temptations are often what we think we want, need, or even believe is God’s will for us. Whatever it is, he knows it is a lure for us. So we dash ahead without taking it to God in prayer first for verification and blessing. We don’t detect the smell that might otherwise cause us to back away.

Back to the soap I saw in the shower imagery…

The fact that sin can wash over our body and we still “feel clean” is evidence that we live in a fallen world. But when we become part of the Body of Christ and He lives in us, sin’s enticement is more detectable. The more we allow ourselves to be washed in His Blood, the more protected we will become.  As believers, we all need a “body wash” (jabon corporal) to slough off the sins that have begun to stick to us like sweat.  That is why going to church is so important. So we can be in “corporate” worship together.

Hey, I am not trying to revive the 1970’s adage, “Save water shower with a friend.”  (Just to be clear.) But the same way a friend can pull you aside and tell you that you have a smudge on your blouse, as members of the Body we can lovingly and quietly point out a spot on each other’s souls that need to be scrubbed a bit. But spot cleaning doesn’t always do the job.

As individuals, just as we cleanse our skin each day, let us also remember to wash our souls daily by spending time with our Lord.

Now everyone sing …“What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus…”

R and I

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

I found another word twist. I know, I know…but read on. The following two words have the same letters, just in different order. Here they are—

RETIRED
RETRIED

One backs away and quits, the other rolls up the sleeves and gives it another go.

It all depends on where you put the “R” and the “I”. So, what are the “R” and “I”?

I see them as Reason and Interest. Those are the two things that drive us to continue the road we are on or to choose another path. Whatever holds your interest, for whatever reason, will dictate your involvement.  When your interest loses its reason, you give up. But when the reason sparks your interest, you keep trying.

Looking at the verse above (also found in Luke 12:34), I had to ask myself what do I treasure? What piques my interest? What is my passion?  And what is the reason that it does?

Recently I have been questioning and re-evaluating if I should continue to do what I have been doing.  Since most of what I do is writing for Christians, and trying to make a living at it, I questioned if my doubts were from God or the devil. Was God closing a door, or was it being pushed? Should I concentrate on my regular job and ask for a raise or continue to divide my time between the two? Not that I take much stock in astrology, but I’ve been really acting like a Gemini lately. One foot in two worlds.

So, I prayed. I prayed for the reason I write to re-spark my interest. Which, I guess, reveals my heart.

Will I retire from this keyboard or try again?

Perhaps the fact that I am writing this is part of the answer.  Yep, I guess you will be reading these posts a bit longer. May God use them to His glory.

That is reason enough.

Still, I hope they keep you interested.

 

 


I still seeking 20 people who will partner in supporting my digital ministry with the Life Project at $20 a month. If you would like more information on this vital ministry that reaches an average of 600,000 people a month through our two websites, comment and I will respond.

Underground

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” Philippians 2:10

Today I saw the last part of this passage “under the earth”  in a new way. In my neighborhood, all the utilities have gone underground. Cable, phone, and I think even some of the electrical wires, are now all zipping through fiber optic pathways. No more tangle of wires weaving across tar-coated poles. It looks nicer as far as the landscape.  But out of sight out of mind, you almost forget they still exist until someone has to dig up the street. Then, what a hassle and a mess! Traffic has to be rerouted. People run late. Blood pressures rise.

Sometimes, God works underground. His love flows as a constant current.  We rely on it, and sometimes consciously forget that it is there, until we need a dose of it in our lives. Like flipping on a switch or remote control. Click. “Oh, there you are God. Hi. I need you.”

But we are the conduit of His love as well. We are supposed to be passing it on. to others, letting it flow through us and our day to day lives. It should underground all of our thoughts and actions.   And yet, we are also constantly under construction.

The old adage, “God isn’t through with me yet” is true. We all need repairs. Our emotions and human-ness can interrupt the flow. Sometimes, God needs to put on His hardhat and start digging down deep. At first, we think it messes up our daily routes. We get a tad annoyed. Right?

God’s constructive work can jam up a few things in our lives, but it is necessary work.  One day we all will have an uninterrupted flow of faith and every knee will bow at the name of Jesus. But not yet. Until then, we are in a construction zone, and miraculously, God’s love still moves along in spite of it.

Lord, let me welcome your digging into my life so I can be a better conduit of your love and commandments. In Jesus’ name that one day everyone will worship, amen.

Another Flip

Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured. Jeremiah 46:11

It’s word time again! This time, I made a typo in a work in progress. I meant to type salve and it came out slave. Yep, the brain went into gear again as the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear.  God can teach us from our boo-boos.

When the L and A flip, the meaning become almost the opposite. One is frightening, the other calming. One is horrid, the other welcomed. So what are the L and A?

I see it as the “L” as Lord/love and the “A” as Anxiety/Anger/Anguish. Follow along, now.

We can be slaves to our negative emotions so quickly. It is as if a little elevator in us suddenly rises when the button is pressed. Either anger surfaces or anxiety levels raise when we are transported out of our comfort zones by circumstances we didn’t foresee. Maybe both ride up our esophagus together, pressing against our heart on the way! It “lords” over us. The A pushes past the L. When we choose our anxiety, anger, or anguish to rule, it enslaves us.  It never goes away. It keeps resurfacing, or it festers deep within us and ferments into bitterness.

But turn to the Lord and give Him our “a”s in life, and the experience can become a salve, not only for ourselves but for others as well. We see it through His eyes and love, rubbing deep into our souls and our tenseness, blood pressure, and worry plummets. He is the cure, our Great Physician. Prayer brings the Lord’s answer. His peace can be the salve that soothes. The Balm of Gilead mentioned in Jeremiah.  In the ancient world, this balm from Gilead was known as a rare perfume oil that was used on all sorts of ailments from headaches to sprains to stomach aches to mental disturbances.  It literally was thought to soothe the soul. The A is followed by the L, changing our reaction.

It is an established fact in the medical and psychological community that the healing capability is often linked with the mental state of the patient. Patients with a positive outlook and a deep faith handle their diseases much better. In fact, quite a few miracles have been documented.

Not that faith heals us physically every time, or when an illness isn’t healed it is due to a lack of faith.  We are, after all, temporal beings. But how we face the adversities of life can make a huge difference in our mental, spiritual and physical health.

So, you choose what will follow after the circumstance presents itself. SLAVE or SALVE.  Does the Lord follow the anxiety or anger and calm it down, or do the anxiety and anger chase after the faith and love we know about and pushes them out of the way?

 

Flip It Around

Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many. Jeremiah 5:6

Words fascinate me. So God uses them often to get my attention. Today I saw the same letters in two different ways.

W-O-L-F.

What comes to mind when you think of a wolf? For me, it is something wild, snarling, attacking, hunting prey.  Beautiful animals, from a distance. But don’t get too close.

Scripture talks of wolves in this manner. Where I live we don’t have wolves, but we have plenty of their cousins, the coyote.  I lost a kitten to one several years ago. It ventured underneath the fence and the coyote, lurking in the tall grass of the vacant lot,  snatched it in its mouth.  They are stealth in their prowess.

Spiritually, there are a lot of wolves out there. There are ideas that seem beautiful at the time. The lure to run free is tempting. And just when you think all is okay, snatch. The consequences are lethal to the soul.

Wolves run in packs. It is the same with temptations. One rebellious act leads to another. One little backslide sends a person teetering on a slippery slope, ready to tumble.

Now flip the letters around. F-L-O-W.

Eden had a stream flowing through it to bring water to the lush vegetation as well as Adam and Eve. The promised land was described as flowing with milk and honey.  Jesus said He was the living water and no one who came to Him would thirst.  In other words, to the obedient, God provides abundantly.

Instead of rebelling and heading off on our own where dangers lurk, we can choose to “go with the flow”, as the 1970’s adage states.  Not only can we float in the boundaries of God’s will, but we can be an example to others who either don’t realize that is an option or have considered it too stifling.

Jesus said in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 

So, it’s our choice. Be a lure in the right way to a thirsty world by letting His love flow, or go off on our own and be lured by the wolf called self who crouches waiting to devour our souls.

Bubbly?

Bubble lights are one of my favorite holiday decorations. They are glass cylinders filled with a colored liquid that slip into a base, each of which houses a small Christmas bulb as the heat source. As the cylinders heat, the liquid inside begins to bubble. When I see one bubble up, it makes me smile and lift my spirits.

The ones that are the closest to the plug seems to heat up and bubble faster than the ones at the end of the string. I guess it takes time for the energy to get to them. And even then, sometimes I have to thunk them with my fingernail and thumbnail to get them to start effervescing.

I can relate. There are times I feel downright bubbly for Jesus. I feel close to Him as the source of my energy. Maybe it is a passage I read in my Bible that truly spoke into my life. A hymn or song on the radio. A friend who has a prayer answered.

Other times, it may take a thunk to get me going. The energy takes a while to make it’s way to me. I fell distanced from my Savior, at the end of the receiving line of His grace. When will it be my turn?

Of course, I know it is all a matter of perception. God’s circuit never wavers. It is the same for all of us, all the time. I’m the one who is blocking the flow. My emotions get in the way — jealousies, anger, hurt.  I confuse faith with feelings.

So God needs to take His holy thumb and gently thunks me to get me bubbling. And each time, though it may jolt me a bit, I am thankful He does. Why?  Because then others notice my faith effervescing. It makes them smile — and maybe, that lifts their spirits as well as my own.

This new year, may I continue to bubble up, long after the tree and lights are packed away and Christmas is another memory.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew  5:16

 

A Christmas Story

 It took all the effort Little Grass had, but he finally did it. The dirt that had surrounded him since birth no longer held him. He pushed through to the sunlight. Now he could grow tall. He could wave in the breeze with the other grasses and be drenched by the spring rains. He could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays cover him and stretch towards the sky. He grew and grew and grew. Life was great.

Then one day men came swinging large sharp things. Ouch! They whacked him off at the roots and bundled him up with the other grasses next to him.

“What is to happen to us?”

Another stalk of grass stacked under him sighed. “I have heard stories. This is the end, my friend. No more water will seep up into our veins because we have no roots. They will dry us out. We will become yellow and brittle.”

“No,” Little Grass trembled. “There has to be more. We must have a purpose.”

Another grass laying next to them laughed, but it was not a happy laugh. It sounded harsh and sad. “Our purpose is to be consumed. Either the animals will eat us so they can grow, our we will be thrown over coals and caught on fire so others can be warm.”

Yet another groaned. “We don’t matter. We’re worthless now. This is the end.”

“I don’t believe you. Any of you.” Little Grass straightened himself as long as he could. “We have more purpose than that. We have to. Why else would we have struggled so hard to push out of the darkness? We have found the sunlight and have bent towards it.”

“Yes, and all for nothing. The sun will now bare down on us and parch us until not a drop of moisture is left in our veins. We will become yellow and brittle. Dead. Why did we ever push out of the ground?”

Ropes were tied around the grasses and they were lifted high onto the back of animals.  Little Grass craned to see where they were going. “I had no idea the world was so big. All I could see was the tops of other grasses. Now I can see trees, and birds and mountains. Oh, this is wonderful.”

The other grasses moaned. “He just doesn’t get it, does he?”

Next, the grasses were spread out onto the dirt. The sun’s heat gleamed down onto them day after day. The little grass could feel all the water in his veins leaving him. He tried to keep it in, but the heat was stronger. He felt drained, thirsty. His stalk became stiff. No breeze flowed over him. He no longer could dance in the wind.  “But, at least this is making me stronger, less bendable. Maybe there is a reason. I have to believe that.”

The other grasses sighed. “He’ll learn. The worse is yet to come.”

A few days later, men came and gathered the grasses together again. Up onto back of another animal they went. Little Grass rode on the very top, and he was so happy to be on this adventure, but the other grasses grumbled and whined. They traveled over fields and across a stream of water. At night, the stars shone down on them as their animal carrier and the men rested. One star gleamed so much brighter than all the others.

“Oh, look at that.” Little Grass gasped. “I have never seen such a beautiful sight.”

The next day the bundle of grasses journeyed over a hill and down into a valley. Then, at dusk, the animal carrying the grasses stopped. People shuffled by, their sandals kicking up dirt. There were so many of them, and other animals, too. Where were they all going? A building up ahead had lanterns shining in its windows. They looked sort of like the stars.

“Are we going in there? Into that golden light?”

“No.” One of the other grasses sighed. “We will be in the stable. Soon the animals will eat us and we will die.”

The little piece of grass shook its stalk. “I don’t believe that. Something else will happen to us — something wonderful. We were made for another reason. I just know it.”

Then, a man gathered the grasses and spread them in a manager. “There. In the morning, the animals will have a feast.”

The grasses all whimpered and told each other goodbye. All except the little piece of grass.

In the middle of the night, strange noises woke the grasses. A donkey came in with a man and a woman. She groaned and huffed deep breaths. His voice was soothing and calm. Then, after a while, a third voice sounded—a soft babbling. It came from a very small human.

The woman took off her shawl, wrapped the wiggly baby in it and laid it on top of the Little Grass and the others. Immediately a warm glow spread through them. They became soft again, not stiff and scratchy.

“Oh, “Little Grass began to smile. “He has made us alive again.”

They wrapped their stalks around this child to keep him warm.

The grasses heard beautiful voices singing from above. Day and night, people came to look at the baby hugged by the grasses. They bowed and worshiped him as his parents stood by smiling.

“Praise be to God He found us this dry stable and these warm, soft grasses in which to lay his son, Jesus. “ The man gazed down at the grasses.

The people all echoed him. “Praise be to God for the stable and the grasses.”

A small amount of moisture left deep inside Little Grass formed into a drop, like a tear of joy.

“See, I knew we had a special purpose.”

The other grasses glowed with happiness and cuddled themselves around this child of God and worshipped him the only way they could — just by being there for His use.

For Scripture says… I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Romans 9:17

May The Lord bless you this Christmas and reveal His purpose for you in the upcoming year.                    

  Julie B Cosgrove

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