Don’t Let Creeping Charlie Invade Your Space!

Don’t Let Creeping Charlie Invade Your Space!

When owning a home, you take on a lot of responsibility. Maintenance of a home and yard can be time consuming and expensive.  And if you live in an area where you have neighbors in close proximity, it sometimes becomes a challenge.  In my case, the culprit is “Creeping Charlie”.  We take time to spray our yard a few times a year for weeds.  I like my grass to be green – not spotted with yellow, white or purple flowers.  This year, I have had a war with Creeping Charlie invading my space from beyond the fence.  I found out that living next to a homeowner that doesn’t share the same standards and values for their lawn really affects me.  I can either fight against it by almost daily weeding out the invaders or I could just give in and let it slowly take over my yard.  Now, we are talking about literal weeds here but living too close to the world can bring invaders into your life as well.  We’d like to think that close associations with people who have different life standards and values won’t affect us – that we can keep it at bay and not let it creep into our own lives.  But it will be a daily struggle and if we slack off, the invasion takes more ground on our side of the fence. Be careful to not allow yourself to be adversely affected by relationships that don’t align with your values and standards for life.  Just like Creeping Charlie, they will want to creep their way into your space and take over!

1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; Psalm 1:1 (NKJV)

33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NKJV)

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.  Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV) 27

Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Proverbs 6:27 (NKJV)

Be Extraordinary!

Be Extraordinary!

When Jesus began His ministry on the earth, he chose 12 men to join with Him.  Their names are Simon Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew (or Nathanael), Thomas, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas or Jude), Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot (replaced by Matthias). (See Matthew 10:1-4 and Luke 6:12-16.) Some of these men were well known from scripture but some we really don’t know much about. But no matter whether their names are very familiar or not, Jesus saw something in all of them that He knew could be cultivated and nurtured into something great.  That same potential that Jesus saw in these 12 men can be found in each of us!  These were ordinary men who were transformed into extraordinary men by two things:  the fact that they were discipled by Jesus Himself and because they were empowered by the Holy Spirit.  You cannot help but be changed in the presence of Jesus.  These men were fortunate enough to be with him physically.  We have the opportunity to be with  the “Word made flesh” through scripture and prayer.  We can take encouragement from their failings and faults because we know how spending time with Jesus and the baptism of the Holy Spirit transformed them. Now we do know that Judas Iscariot eventually chose to turn away from Jesus to the point of betrayal, which was his free will choice. Don’t be lured away by greed, jealousy, pride or even fear.  Peter may have denied knowing Jesus three times.  But He went on to lead 3,000 people to Jesus in just one day! Don’t concentrate on your shortcomings, faults or even your past sins.  Be encouraged by what your potential can be if you just spend time with Jesus and submit to the Holy Spirit.

13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (NLT)

1 IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. John 1:1 (AMP)

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. John 16:7 (NKJV)

9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)

Don’t Be Shark Bait!

Don’t Be Shark Bait!

Shark Week!  If you are a Discovery Channel fan, then you know what this means.  The channel is concluding its annual Shark Week, where all the programs are shark focused.  If you are like me and are old enough to remember, your mind may venture back to the movie Jaws in which a large white shark terrorized a tourist town in the north east.  The opening scene of the movie was pretty horrifying where Chrissie makes the fatal mistake of taking a late night swim in the Atlantic Ocean. If you haven’t seen it, you can image what happens. Well, just how is this going to segue into Food For Thought you might be asking? Most of us would never think of going swimming in the ocean at night. This would seem like asking for trouble, and while you might feel bad for poor Chrissie, you probably think she was pretty stupid.  The shark, much like the roaring lion of scripture, was on the prowl seeking who he might devour. Chrissie made it pretty easy for him.  If you find yourself being devoured in life, or it just seems like you’re fighting off one attack after the other, stop and examine if perhaps you are making it easy for your adversary. And let’s be clear, your adversary is the devil. He’s the only opponent you really have and he will take advantage of any little mistake or misstep you make.  More times than not, the biggest mistake we make is not first praying about things. We follow after our own thoughts and logic which, to us, seems clearly to be the right thing. But God may not agree and, all of a sudden, we are out of His will swimming off into the deep on our own.  Don’t leave God out of the process.  Consult Him in your decision making.  Don’t be like Chrissie and give the devourer an easy late night snack!    

8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” 1 Corinthians 3:19 (NLT)

12 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 14:12 (NLT)6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

The Entanglement of Sin

Last summer I broke out in a horrible itchy rash on my arms. It began to spread and got so bad I eventually had to go to the doctor and she told me it was most likely poison ivy. I had to think about where I could possibly have gotten it and the only thing I had done was pull weeds and trim bushes at our church. So in looking around the area that I had been working, I discovered that one of the bushes has been invaded by a poison ivy vine. It was so well disguised amid the bush that I didn’t see it. But it was too late for me as it took several agonizing weeks for the rash to go away. In life, the devil often works in a similar way. Sometimes sin can creep up so subtly to invade our life that we don’t even know it’s there until it’s too late and we are left struggling to get rid of it. We might even have to stop and think how we possibly could have gotten into it. The devil is a sly one. He is not in your face. He moves very subtly in hopes that you won’t even notice. Sin is not a cliff you jump off from. It’s a slope you gradually slide down. A Master Gardener at the local extension office told us that any weed killer we put on the poison ivy will also kill the bush. She said we’d have to pick through the bush and find where the vine is growing from the ground, cut it there, and then put weed killer only where it is growing out of the ground. The part above the cut will die off and the part beneath the ground will absorb the weed killer and die while the bush is left intact. Cut the sin out at the root by giving it a good daily dose of the Word! Allow the light of the Word to dispel the darkness of sin to leave your life intact. The process may be agonizing as the consequences of sin may be unpleasant. But you’ll soon feel the relief as sin loses its grip and you are freed from its entanglement.

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” Genesis 3:1 (NKJV)


11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 (NLT)


14Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 (NLT)


22 Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (NLT)


1 ….. let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Beware!

Beware!

I recently watched a documentary on TV about Jim Jones, founder of The Peoples Temple, and the horrific tragedy in Guyana years ago.  As I watched it, I found it impossible to believe that people could follow such a person. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of Scripture should have been able to see him for what he was – a false prophet. There are many warnings in the Bible about the rise of false teachers and false prophets, especially in the last days. So many warnings in fact, that it should make us think twice about it.  Is it really that easy to be drawn away and deceived by someone? The only way to know a lie when you hear it is to know what the truth is. And the truth is found on the pages of your Bible!  Have you ever heard a preacher say something and it “just didn’t set right”? That is the Holy Spirit doing His job! As a student of the Word, you may not remember chapter and verse of everything you’ve learned, but the Holy Spirit will cause it to rise up from your spirit and remind you of everything Jesus taught. He is warning you – “You better check that out against the Word!” Any good preacher/teacher will encourage you to verify what they preach against God’s Word.  And don’t let signs and wonders fool you either.  They are not a foolproof indicator of God’s chosen servants, as the Bible also warns.  The Word of God is your only standard! Jesus is the Word made flesh. From Genesis to Revelation, scripture points to Jesus.  If a message or a messenger doesn’t point to Jesus, beware!

26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26 (NLT)

24
For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.  Matthew 24:24 (NLT)

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:14 (NLT)

1 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 (NLT)

3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.  2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NLT)

Dare To Dream!

Dare To Dream!


We continue again this week with the theme of hope.  Hope is only as good as who or what you put your hope in.  The last line of a song from a popular musical  goes like this:  “Now life has killed the dream I dreamed”.  We’ve probably all experienced times in our lives where we’ve longed for, hoped for, counted on and anticipated something for so long and then, poof, in an instance, that hope is shattered into a million pieces.  I visited a woman who experienced such a time.  She and her husband had a dream of someday owning a bed-n-breakfast.  Her abilities were such that they would lend themselves well for such an endeavor. For years, everything she did was in anticipation of one day purchasing it and running it. Then after many years went by, her husband told her he never wanted it, that it may have been her dream but it was never his and he wanted no part in it.  She was absolutely crushed.  What she thought was their dream would never come to pass.  Her hope in that dream had been killed.  Last week we read the dictionary definition of hope.  This week, let’s read the Bible definition of hope:  Psalm 71:5:  “O Lord, you alone are my hope.”  If your hope is not in God, then there’s a good chance life will somehow kill your dream.  When hopelessness threatens to overwhelm you, check to see where you’ve placed your hope. If your hopes and dreams have their roots in God, you will overflow with peace, joy and confident hope!  God is not only your hope, He is the source of hope!   

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:7 (NLT) 5 O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Psalm 71:5 (NLT)

5 O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Psalm 71:5 (NLT)

Hope!

Hope!

Hope!  Just the sound of that word is uplifting and encouraging.  The definition of hope is: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire or trust. Many times, we don’t actually have what we need in our possession but hope tells us that it is on its way and gets us through to tomorrow. Often our hope is placed in people – people we feel we can trust, that we can rely on, that won’t disappoint us or let us down. But all too often, our hope is misplaced.  The Bible tells us that Abraham hoped against hope.  Just what does that mean?  It means that, even though the outcome for what he was expecting had little to no chance of happening, he continued to believe for it anyway. And the reason that Abraham could continue to hope against hope was because his hope was placed in what God said.  When you put your hope in God, you will never be disappointed!  If God said it, no matter what your circumstances look like, there’s hope!  He makes the hopeless possible!

18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. Romans 4:18-22 (NLT)

His Eye Is On The Sparrow!

His Eye Is On The Sparrow!

Upon trimming some bushes out at our church, I discovered a small nest.  It is a sparrow’s nest containing 5 tiny eggs.  I’ve been checking on the nest every day and it now contains 5 tiny little baby sparrows.  Occasionally, I catch the mother sparrow feeding her young and sometimes the babies are alone with their little beaks skyward waiting for the mother’s return with a meal.  Today it is extremely blustery.  The trees are bending and I know the wind is fierce so I go to check on the nest.  And there, hunkered down, wings spread over her young, is the mother sparrow.  The bush is bouncing back and forth in the wind, but momma bird is hanging on for dear life to protect her babies.  As I watched this, I was reminded of this scripture- Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  NLT  As the mother sparrow protects her babies from the wind, the rain, or the storm, how much more are we sheltered by God’s wings of protection!

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT)
 
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (NKJV)

26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Matthew 6:26 (NLT)

Don’t Worry!

Don’t Worry!

In the days we live in, it is all too easy to slip into fear. All you have to do is turn on the news. Listening to many nightly newscasts will make one think that all is lost.  And I hesitate to even call most of it news.  The news used to be based on fact and truth.  But facts and truth don’t seem to matter anymore.  What seems to matter to most news networks is what they want you to think and believe, not what is actually true. Fear has become a tool that is used to control people’s thinking. If you make people fearful enough and if you make them think you have the answers, then you can control them.  There is one sure way to live your life free of the fear and uncertainty that surround us.  And that is by keeping your mind and thoughts on God!  When you turn to His Word, you never have to question whether it is true because God is not like man that He should lie.  The NLT (New Living Translation) says this in Isaiah 26: 3-4 –  “ 3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! 4 Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.”  Keeping your eyes, thoughts and mind stayed on God is the ONLY way to peace in your life.  In Philippians, it tells us that we don’t have to worry about anything if we talk to God about it and tell Him what we need.  When we do this, we can experience a peace that can’t even be imagined.  And then, so that we don’t get off track, we are instructed on what we should be thinking about – things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and of a good report.  When is the last time you heard any of that watching the news?  If your blood pressure rises and you are full of fear after you watch the news, turn off the TV and turn to God! 

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:6-8 (MSG)
6 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 7 Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 8 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Numbers 23:19 (NLT)
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!

This Sunday, we will be honoring, celebrating and remembering our dads.  For me, the day comes with a lot of wonderful memories.  But that’s not so for everyone. A relative once said that he was never going to have children because he didn’t want to be the kind of father to his children that his father was to him.  This makes me sad for a couple of reasons.  First, that his memories of his dad were bad ones.  And second, that he thought he was doomed to be that same kind of dad. To the contrary, many people allow their less-than-happy childhoods to motivate them to be the best parent they can be.  Will you always do the right thing as a dad?  The answer is most certainly no.  But your kids will  learn many valuable lessons by observing how you respond when you mess up.  They will either learn how to ask for forgiveness, how to admit fault and how to apologize and say I’m sorry or they will learn to be insensitive, unapologetic and stubborn.  It’s the tests and trials of life that will either add to your character or defeat you.  And remember, God and His word are always there to help you.  All you need to do is open your Bible or just ask Him.  Don’t let the fear of the past prevent you from being the kind of dad you always wanted to be.  Dare to give your kids good memories on Father’s Day.  To all those who have taken on the challenge of fatherhood, we salute you!  Have a blessed Father’s Day! 

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)

 Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a refuge for their children. Proverbs 14:26 (NLT)

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NKJV)

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (NKJV)