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Posts Tagged ‘Julie B Cosgrove’

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.

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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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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.

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“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

I watched through the windows of a friend’s house as several sparrows fluttered back and forth from the ground to lawn furniture on her veranda. They were chirping loudly. Then I saw why. Her dogs were crouched down, watching them.

One little bird flew toward the whirring ceiling fan instead of joining the others in their frantic dance. I held my breath, knowing there was no time to bang on the window and divert the little thing from flying headlong into danger. I watched with my teeth tucked into my lower lip, and yeah, I said a prayer.

But the bird was savvy. It knew how to fly above the turbulence caused by the blades and land securely on top — safe from harm of the fan and from the dogs below. Then I noticed a small tangle of grass and twigs. It was building its nest there! Smart critter.

God lesson: In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about how the Father cares for the birds of the air, and how much more He will care for us.

We can fret on the ground about things that are beyond our control, hopping around like chirping sparrows. We can sense the danger and feel helpless to do anything about it. It can overwhelm us with worry so much that our judgment is clouded. We may even just freeze, close our eyes, and pray we’ll come out unscathed as our knees crumble and our teeth chatter.

Or we can soar above the turbulence in life and nest safely in our Father’s love. We can ask Him to give us the way to lift ourselves above it all as we follow His voice and trust that He will either lead us out of the peril or armor us with the smarts to get through it by His mercy.

In I Samuel 17, David slung a stone and whacked Goliath smack dab in the one place that would fell him. He used his expertise in scaring off wild animals from his flocks, a talent God had developed in him for such a time as this. Just as God taught that little bird to judge the wind currents so he then could navigate the whooshes of the ceiling fan.

God is preparing you and me for His purpose. He knows what is going to happen and has our best interests at heart. He will provide the equipment we need to face any challenge or show us a route to safety.

So, before you think your life is going to hit the fan, seek the Father to give you both the strength in your wings and the knowledge you need to lift you above it all. He is faithful to do so — if you look to Him and not your situation.

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A dear friend of mine relayed a story to the rest of us in our women’s Bible study.

In Scotland, two men were thatching a roof. One slipped and fell off.

The other heard him cry out but couldn’t reach out fast enough to save his friend. As he inched toward the edge, the second man heard a thud.  Then an eerie silence. Fearing the worse, the other man was overcome with a feeling of helplessness. His coworker was gone.

He crawled down from the roof and walked around to the side where his friend has fallen.  There the first man stood! Upright, brushing the dirt and thatch from his clothes. He wasn’t even bleeding.

“What happened?” the other man called out in disbelief. “You fell!”

“I know. But just then a herd of sheep sauntered by.” The man pointed to a white lump on the ground behind him.”I fell on that lamb. It took the brunt of my fall. It died to save my life.”

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What a graphic story of redemption. Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, sacrifices Himself for each of us. But here is the catch (pardon the pun.)  He does that each time we slip and fall from God’s grace…if we let Him.

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great . . .” 2 Samuel 24:2

Are you like the man who fell? Do you feel on the edge, teetering? Fall into the arms of Jesus. He is there to catch you if you cry out to Him.

Perhaps you relate to the other man in the story. Do you feel helpless as you watch a loved one plummet into a bad situation? Pray for Jesus to catch them. They might come away with a few scrapes, but they will be saved.

We all want to “do things” in times of crisis. But the best we can do is fall – fall on Christ who will always be there, arms outstretched to receive us. He is the only one who can take the brunt and save us, or any others we know.

The other man couldn’t help his friend. My guess is he gasped a prayer in a moment of distress.

So can we. Each and every time – for ourselves, or those we love.

 


What is a digital ministry? My passion. My mission field is my keyboard, which reaches hundreds of thousands over the internet every month through Power to Change’s websites called  Issues I Face and The Life. We truly are fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all nations over the internet. Want to journey with us?  Sign up for free devotionals sent to your inbox each day. You can volunteer as an online mentor to those searching (don’t panic we will train you and you set your own hours),  you can pray, and you can support the effort with a donation.  

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When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it. Job 29:24a

I met a friend for lunch. For the first time in a long time, it was actually an almost cool day in north Texas. Therefore, we sat on the front patio of the restaurant. It is a popular lunch spot, so if you love to people watch, this is the perfect place.

I imagine close to a hundred people passed by in the time we were there. Students from the university down the road wandered in, as did the medical staff from the hospitals and clinics up the road. So did business people in their suits, ties or heels. Sprinkled in between were retired couples, tourists, moms on a rare lunch out, and workers with their names on their uniform shirts or badges.

What surprised me the most was the countenance on most of their faces. On a cool day after a good rain that was so needed during our stretch of 100 plus temperatures, you’d think people would be uplifted, walk with a spring in their step, feel rejuvenated. But most wore a scowl or straight face.  Many seemed bent over with the weight of the world on their backs. A few, who had arranged to meet, nodded at each other, and then fell into mutual silence.  Some ignored everything around them as they stared into tiny screens as if it provided an invisible shield. Couples walked together in a marital patterned, robot-like pace without touching each other.

The only ones who broke the drudgery lunch time routine with laughter were three women taking out indulgent deserts in boxes, trying to convince each other they shouldn’t feel guilty.

I thought of how our Father in Heaven must see us. All His children running around like irritated ants whose mound has been kicked. How it must break His heart to have so many pass up His freely given love and choose the world view instead. It made me realize how far from God our daily lives have drifted here in America where we are supposed to be one nation under Him. I almost wanted to stand on the table and shout out, “Smile, people. Jesus loves you!”

But I didn’t. Instead, we linked hands and prayed. Will you pray with me, now?

Heavenly Lord, draw your creatures back to You. Let them realize they are not alone and to seek You each day. Help them to see You are right there, waiting. You came down in the form of Jesus, Your Son, to bring us back into Your merciful grace. Through His sacrifice, we can have direct access to You with each and every breath we take.  Help us, who believe, be more and more in touch with your Holy Spirit in us and to see evidence of Your presence in our daily walk so we can guide others to You. We pray this through Christ and in His name. Amen.

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know the saga of my 43 year old corn plant. Today it taught me a lesson from God.

In my new apartment, I have the plant sitting in a south-facing window. As I drank my morning coffee, I noticed something unusual. One leaf had bent its way through the slats. It wanted more light. Evidently it wasn’t content like the other leaves to just get a smidgen that filtered through the window covering.

Can you see the lone leaf weaving it’s way through the wooden blinds? It is the brighter green one toward the middle of the plant.

Anyway…as I stared, God whispered into my spiritual ear, “Daughter, are you that tenacious?”

I wanted to answer, “Yes, of course, Lord.”

Instead I paused to reflect. Am I content to only get small doses of God, slatted and deflected by the world I live in, by my environment, and where I have been placed? Or do I stretch and reach out to grasp the full mercy and grace He offers so I can grow even more in His light?

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

As I gazed at my old corn plant, I wondered if the other leaves will eventually get the idea? Even more, I wonder if those around me will if they observe me constantly, consistently stretching to be closer to Him who is The Light of the World? To be totally exposed so I can soak in His goodness no matter what is going on around me or what obstacle blocks my path to growing in Him. To let nothing stand in the way of receiving my Savior into my life each day.

I nodded and closed my eyes in prayer. “Yes, Lord. Show me your presence more each day so I can be like that leaf and reach beyond my circumstances to You.”

 


One way God has stretched me is to become a digital missionary with The Life Project. However, to continue to grow in this ministry, I need to become fully funded by partners who will pray and financially support me. I am seeking 40 people who will pledge to provide  between $10-$25 a month.  You can learn more here.  Comment and I can send you more material to peruse so you know this cause is legitimate, why I am so passionate about it, and be assured your money will go to reach people around the world with the message of Hope in Jesus, one click at a time. Thank you for seriously praying about it.

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