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courtesy Alexiscorvus | Dreamstime.com –

Throwback Thursday….from a post three years ago. I needed this reminder. Maybe you do as well.

 

An author friend of mine, Anita Klumpers*, posted this on Facebook about her grandson:

Lesson learned from a 37-month-old, trying to control his sad tears: “Liam, how did you stop crying so fast?”
“I made my mouth go different.”

Scientists state it takes less muscle effort to smile than to frown, but often times it takes a lot more spiritual muscle effort, doesn’t it?  It is hard to stay upbeat, positive and hopeful when the world dumps troubles and strife on our shoulders like buckets of coal.  Yet, as Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, we are supposed to rejoice, be thankful in all things and steadfast in prayer.  Is this possible?

Yes- if we make our mouth go different.

  • Take a deep breath and move your lips into a smile. It is hard to be angry, hurt or anxious if you can smile, or even drum up a chuckle.
  • Open our lips to only speak good things. Our grandmothers were right. If you don’t have anything nice to say…
  • Audibly Praise God no matter what and pray for Him to alter your attitude.

The next time you feel your lips quivering into a frown, ask our Lord to help you make your mouth go different. That is not to say emotions are not valid. There are times we should be sad or angry. Jesus cried.  He also overturned tables in the Temple.

I’m also not insinuating we shove our negativeness down our gullets where it can fester. But, we can change our attitude by purposely altering our body language and our thoughts.  We can choose to brood and be rude or make the choice to rejoice. We can give our angst to God instead of spreading it to others and pray for Him to give us the attitude of gratitude instead of stinkin’ thinkin’.

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

Each moment we have an option – be hopeful or despair, trust or distrust, stand firm or melt into a pool of self-pity. How will you make your mouth go today? However it goes, your thoughts and attitude will follow.

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The following is written by a lady in my writer’s group, Katy Huth Jones.  It definitely encouraged me. I hope it does you as well.

 

In the Bible, several things are described as precious. The Lamb’s blood (I Peter 1:19), the death of God’s saints (Psalm 116:15), an excellent wife (Proverbs 31:10), and this verse in Isaiah 43 that leaped out at me a few weeks ago: “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”

Who is precious in God’s eyes? Verse 7 has the answer: “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines precious this way: “Of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.” Which compels this soul-searching question: Do I see myself as precious in God’s eyes? If not, why not?

When I was younger and healthier, I was a whirlwind of activity in service (I sincerely hoped) to my family, church, and community. I felt I had value because of what I did for others, and I guess my identity became wrapped up in all that busyness and affirmation from others.

Now that my health has crashed and I’m living with a chronic disease as well as the ever-present threat of a third cancer recurrence, I have felt worthless and wondered why God doesn’t just take me home. But those feelings don’t come from God’s view; I’m comparing my present self to my former self, and there is no comparison. I’ve been wasting time and brain space on wrong thinking, treating carelessly what God sees as precious.

No, I can’t do what I once did, in the strength of youth. But what can I do for the Lord in my twilight years? First, show gratitude to the One who calls me precious and sent his beloved Son to shed His precious blood for my sins. I can also be thankful for a loving, godly husband who still sees me as a precious wife and is grateful I’m still here.

I can acknowledge that God cares for me daily while my body gradually declines. Instead of moaning and whining, I need to praise Him daily for the hope of heaven that can sustain me even on the darkest days. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) The inner self is our true self, our eternal soul which will live forever in the presence of God and the Lamb.

I can continue to grow in faith, and hopefully wisdom, so I can keep sharing God’s love with others until my last breath. “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” (Psalm 71:18) Even if I can’t “do” the things I once did, I can show by word and example what God has done for me. After all, He has brought me through the fires of tribulation, patiently molding me to have a genuine, precious faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)

If God sees me as precious, then who am I to call myself worthless?

 

 

 

Katy Huth Jones writes amazing novels (fantasy anthologies and Mercy series), children’s books, and a realistic, positive, daily devotional journey through chemo entitled Battling the Beast. It’s a must-read for anyone who has just been diagnosed with cancer or has a loved one who is starting chemo.

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At the suggestion of a friend, I got a battery back up for my smartphone. The older my phone gets (yes, it is paid for) the more quickly the battery runs down. I know the feeling!

Recently, the phone needed charging while I was not at home so I couldn’t use the cord.  I had carried the battery with me. As I plugged the phone into the battery, it occurred to me that I am like that. Sometimes I need recharging. Don’t you?

At any time, we can plug into our source of life, which is God. But sometimes, we don’t feel we are close to the cord. It may be stress, hurt, pain, or a sense of being overwhelmed. That is when we need someone else to pray for us and boost our energy. I honestly think God puts people in our lives for just that purpose.

Interceding for each other is so very important. Being able to honestly discuss what we are going through and where we are in our walk is vital. We all need one or two prayer warriors to plug into, with whom we can be totally vulnerable, knowing that they will not judge or chide us. Instead, they will give godly wisdom and prayer support. We know they are filled with power because they have been in the Word, have spent time with God, and have allowed His Spirit to reign in their lives. Life has not depleted their resources. In other words, because they have been plugged in and are fully powered at the moment, they can boost us in our weakened state.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

There will come a time when we will be the battery saver to someone else. Faith in community works that way. Sure, bearing another’s burden may drain us a bit, but we can always be renewed by plugging into the Source on a regular basis.

And here is what convicted me the most. I should always have power stored up in me  — the same way I try to keep my battery charger ready. If I don’t, then when I run low, I will be drained of energy and in search of something to energize me. If I haven’t brought my battery saver as a backup, or have not plugged my phone in for a while, it dies. It is the same with my soul. I need to plug into God through prayer and His Word often or I’ll become depleted. I’ll either seek a temporary fix such as caffeine, chocolate or comfort carbs, or I will lean on someone else over and over again to boost me, draining them.

It is wise to consistently plug ourselves into God’s power.  We all need a holy battery saver (or should I say Savior) for those dark times when the power of our own strength seems to go out. And doesn’t it always seem that power flickers the most during a storm?

Is your battery fully charged and ready?

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But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. Nehemiah 9:31

 

Perhaps it’s because I’m a child of the 1960s, but I can’t throw out a plant.

Years ago, I was given a Chinese evergreen in a sympathy basket when my husband died. When it grew, I replanted it and all went well…for a while. Then the leaves began turning yellow, one at a time. A few cat teeth marks appeared on a leaf that had become torn. I kept watering the plant, but finally, the only leaf remaining was the torn one. In fact, one could barely call it a leaf.

But it still was alive. I couldn’t bring myself to carry the thing to the dumpster. I watered it, talked to it, put it in a different part of the room. After a few months, another leaf appeared, and a few more teeth marks. So, I dabbed the leaf in vinegar and moved the plant from the floor to my desk, away from tempted felines. I aerated and added nutrients to the soil. Slowly, another stalk emerged and unfolded into a wonderful green leaf. I propped it with a gardening stick.

Now it has four healthy, thriving leaves. It’s taken almost three years to get this far, but I have hope that one day it will be full and lush again.

Today, as I watered it I heard God whisper into my spirit, “Now you understand how I feel.” When it comes to saving souls, God is even more tenacious than I am with plants. What others may see as worthless, He sees as potential.

Life may have been harsh. Perhaps we feel as if someone has gnawed on our egos awhile or ripped through our hearts. We droop, feeling useless.

Our loving Lord will allow His spirit to nourish us, prop us up, and give us what we need to once again grow. He won’t give up. He is patient. He has the time to continue to care for and encourage us. None of us are worthless in His sight.

Thank you, precious Lord, for your loving, caring, tenacious attitude towards us to have potential but are right now barely thriving. Thank you for not abandoning us, but mercifully nurturing us as we learn to grow in Your spirit.  Amen.

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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…”

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“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.

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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

 

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