Author: debio7

Running on Empty

Thank you Jackson Browne for that great song utilizing the famous phrase, “running on empty”. Today, Imma use it. Here’s the song if you wanna listen to it – 1977 baby!!

What do these things have in common?

  • banking
  • taking a vacation
  • catching up with a friend
  • touching base with a family member

When I was tending to some banking recently, I saw a connection between each of these four activities I had just participated in.

Do you see it?

At the bank I was making a deposit.

The vacation was an overdue necessity to retain sanity.

Close friends were chatting about what’s been happening in their lives.

Family love and connection was desperately required, poured out and yearned for.

In each case, a deposit was required to avoid running on empty, or perhaps to refill where the warning light was already illuminated.

Triple A keeps records of how many people run out of gas and receive their assistance. In 2006, 116,000 motorists ran out of gas.

I wish I could tell you how many people run out of gas emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually, or how many are running on empty right now. I bet it would be many of you.

There are signs when your car is nearing empty. That light illuminates on your dashboard and signals you have 30-50 more miles to go before you will be on empty. After that, there will be no more going until you refill.

And if you do completely run out of gas, because your car is fuel injected, meaning the pump is inside the tank, that pump will be running dry which is harmful to the pump and engine and can cause costly damage.

When you do refuel, it then takes time for the gas to pump through the pump and carburetor, crank the engine and then it will finally start up again. Hopefully, without any damage.

Let me stick with this car scenario for one more point.

There are common symptoms of running out of gas – running on empty. They are:

  • indicator light on dash lights up
  • car won’t start
  • car stalls out regularly

Me thinks people may very well have similar symptoms when they are running on empty.

Like in the cases above.

It had been years since a vacation had been planned, taken or enjoyed. There were warning lights being ignored, fatigue was making starting more difficult and stalling out more regular.

After several busy and stressful weeks these friends finally were getting caught up. Only to find the fuel tank nearly empty and running on fumes. The conversation was helpful to refill the tanks, but fuel levels were dangerously low. There were many warning lights flashing, damage was imminent and much more refilling was needed.

2020 had taken it’s toll on these family members; the separation, isolation, loneliness, stresses, numerous disappointments were emptying the tanks. Phone conversations for temporary refueling were helpful, but what was needed was face to face, extended time being together, and that was coming up this week!!!! Tons of warning lights, stalling and just not being able to get motivated were signaling it could not come fast enough. They were running on empty.

The bank account was in need of a deposit as well, before it too became too dangerously close to empty. Luckily, a hefty deposit saved the day and things kept running.

I am concerned about you, about people today. Are there warning lights trying to tell us we are about to run out of gas? Are we in need of a deposit? Emotional deposit? Physical deposit? Spiritual deposit?

I urge you to stop and take notice. Do not go one step further without evaluating your fuel levels. Are you low on emotional fortitude? Physical energy? Spiritual drive?

Have you been finding it difficult to get going, or start things? Is your motivation nill and interest low?

How are you doing with completing tasks? Do you finish, make it through to the end or stall out somewhere before?

These are signs that you are running on empty, that you need a deposit of some sort.

For me, I recognize the signals in my life when I am running on empty; irritable, antsy, unhappy, hard to please, selfish, tired… Anyone else?

And for me, usually what is needed most is I need to get outside and spend time alone out there just being. Unplug, disconnect and refuel. Get my personal tank resupplied.

Jackson Browne had it right when he said, “Looking into their eyes I see them too… running on empty…” “Running on empty, running blind.”

Get refueled, refilled, make those deposits, receive those deposits and heed the warning signs. Keep yourself from running on empty.

Cheers to you.

Messages of Comfort – Part 2 Comfort in Obstacles

Sunday Sermon 12.12.20 This is the 2nd of a four part series from Isaiah 40 on Comfort

Look no further, here you will find COMFORT, encouragement, help and hope.

Regardless of the previous voices that you have been hearing, this voice, right here, is speaking comfort – freedom from pain or constraint and ease of grief or distress.

Busting into your world of distress, weariness, and discouragement is a resounding voice calling – “Make room for the Lord! Get ready. Give Him space.” Isaiah 40:3

Keep reading and I will show you how He comes to bring you comfort from:

  • depression
  • mountains of trouble
  • rough places
  • corruption

All of these situations are spoken of clearly in Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40 represents a dramatic shift in the book and that shift starts with a comforting voice speaking into these obstacles in our life. Check it out.

To begin with, the comfort offered here comes from the arrival of the Lord. By that we mean, God’s presence actually showing up in your life and situation. Make space for Him, make way for Him, prepare for His presence in your life. He’s coming to bring you comfort.

Are you prepared for His presence to overwhelm you, right now, as you sit there? Make yourself ready, prepare your heart to receive the provision that comes with His presence. Stop, focus, breathe deeply, soak Him in.

When He arrives He promises to do several things. The first one mentioned in Isaiah 40:4 is –

“Every valley will be raised up”

Valleys are low places, depressions in the landscape. Many times surrounded by mountains and covered in shadows. Valleys can be lonely places, dark places, isolating places. Psalm 23 tells us there is a valley of the shadow of death.

These valleys represent depression. In the low places of depression, His presence will overshadow you. His presence will comfort you. His presence will raise you up. EVERY VALLEY WILL BE RAISED UP.

He wants you to be free of depression and hopelessness. He has a plan for you and a future. He knows your path and will walk with you through the valley to the other side. Make room for Him. Prepare for His presence. Place you hand in His and allow Him to lead you through your depressed valleys and raise you up.

Next He promises –

“Every mountain and hill will be made low.”

Those mountains of troublesome ideas, thoughts, and plans that are so big they can be scary… He will bring them down to size!

Mountains are huge obstacles and sometimes the thoughts within our minds are huge obstacles. Other times, the obstacle is a mountain of seemingly unsurpassable roadblocks. No matter what, whether facing the mountain and even the smaller sized hill, we can find His comfort.

In scripture mountains represent governments. So even when government seems like an obstacle, God promises to bring them down to size.

Remember Jesus told his disciples, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move.” Matthew 17:20

I’m still working on that kind of faith. I guess I still don’t have even a tiny mustard seed worth yet, but I’m not giving up, and I am still believing. I will exercise my faith, to see His presence and comfort in the face of my mountainous obstacles.

The third promise He gives us is that He will make –

“the rough places plain”

Haven’t there been excessive rough places in your life? Rough situations, rough expectations, rough disappointments, rough relationships, rough, rough, rough. Geesh, we sound like a dog.

Bumps here and ruts there. Rough storms and issues to deal with.

Our comforting God assures us that He will make those rough, bumpy places smooth.

Just like He did for the disciples, in that boat, in the storm, He will stand next to you and speak to the storm, “Peace, be still”, and you will see smooth water where there were rough seas.

His comfort, peace and safety come when facing the rough obstacles.

Lastly, His comfort is promised when facing the obstacle of corruption. Look at what Isaiah says:

“and the crooked places plain.”

“Crooked” always represents twisted, and corrupt ways, ideas and people.

Scripture is full of judgment being called down on corruption. Corruption is never blessed or honored and even though it’s judgment may not come until the next life, it will surely come.

But it is satisfying here, in Isaiah 40, amidst this dramatic shift for the Israelites and thereby for us, that we are comforted by the fact that corruption will be made plain. Corruption will be exposed. Corruption will be judged.

These four obstacles have wormed their way into our lives: depression, mountains of trouble, rough patches and corruption. Yet, we are not without hope, consolation and comfort.

Make room in your life for the presence of the Lord. Prepare a place for Him to reside and in doing so you will find the comfort, strength and victory over these obstacles that you crave.

Don’t delay. This can be immediate and permanent.

And should you face these or any obstacles, keep exercising that faith muscle, so that you can reach the mustard seed size.

In the face of all of your obstacles, there is a voice calling to you, offering you peace and comfort.

In fact, “Tidings of Comfort and Joy”.

Go with God.

The Electoral College (and more)

Election season is usually the time that we brush up on what the electoral college is and now more than ever, I believe that refresher course is needed.

America’s form of government and how it works is built upon the the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution determines how our government is set up, run and changed as needed.

The Constitution is not a political document, in fact it is the compass for politics, (if there must be politics). It is the guiding force of our nation, providing structure, certainty, safety and direction. It tells us how to do what needs to be done.

All Federal employees, officers, workers, and many State as well, when assuming their jobs, take an oath of office, “to uphold the Constitution of the United States”. The Constitution is our most prized and protected document, for within it we find our foundations.

In Article Two of our Constitution we find our guidelines for “The Presidency”. The four sections of that Article lay out for America, how she is to select the President of the United States. All the details are there.

In Article 2, sections 2,3, and 4 we read about the “Electors”. This is the collection of people that we, today call “The Electoral College”. I will explain more, in a minute.

Let me first say a word about why the framers designed it that way they did to choose our President.

You’ll remember, our original 13 colonies were a collection of small and big states.

From the very beginning of our nation, there has always been heated discussions between the large and small states. Both accuse the other of not understanding their state’s needs or need for power.

As early as 1787, at the Constitutional Convention, the large state of Virginia was fighting with the small state of New Jersey about representation.

Virginia believed their governmental representation should be based on population – because they were big, had a large population, they would have more status and power.

New Jersey believed that each state should have equal representation in their government and therefore equal power. (Just cuz they were small didn’t mean that they didn’t matter, right?)

They were at a stalemate and moving no where fast.

The founding fathers realized that both the big and small states must be represented in our United States, in our government and especially in our elections.

What came of it was what they called, “The Great Compromise”. One in which the states would be represented by population in the House of Representatives (the Lower House) and the states would also be represented equally in the Senate (the Upper House).

This is what has worked for 233 years, and what we call Congress, The Legislative Branch of our government.

Now, this is important and affects our presidential elections too.

Why? Because the founders had no intention of having the popular vote determine the outcome of the presidential election. They knew the large states could easily overpower the smaller states by the shear size of their voting blocks.

Therefore, in writing the Constitution they fleshed out a plan based on “electors”.

How does it work?

Rather than have a candidate win only large states, and thus not truly represent ALL Americans, the candidate would need to earn the electors from many states, thus representing a cross-section of Americans.

The popular vote of a state would determine who would receive those valued electors.

Each state would then hold their national election and it’s outcome would determine how their electors would be assigned.

How many electors does each state get?

They receive the number equal to their representatives in Congress. For example, I live in California, and CA has 55 electors – the same number that represent us in Washington DC.

The electors are people, who are selected to attend a meeting, after the general election; at which time they will cast their assigned vote, based on their states popular vote (except Maine and Nebraska) for President and Vice President. This process is called “The Electoral College”.

What this provides for is the representation of all states in our election. Candidates must work to relate to many states and their people’s needs, many differing ideas and ways. The majority, therefore represents the majority of electoral votes and not the majority of popular votes. Whoever receives 270 electoral votes, receives the majority and thereby represents a broad swath of American ideals.

This is how the Founders designed our system to work. It is not perfect, but for over 200 years it has worked, even in turbulent elections (1800, 1824, 1836, 1872, 1876, 1888, and 2000).

Now here’s the deal, our 2020 electoral college is scheduled to meet on Monday, December 14, at which time, the electors should be casting their votes.

However, because the state legislatures must certify their elections prior to the electors voting, and because that is currently NOT the case in every state, there is the possibility that the December 14 date may be affected.

Additionally, the idea of “safe harbor” – or that safe zone for disputed election results is looming today.

To be clear though, the “safe harbor” ruling says that, “if an election dispute is not resolved by the State by the safe harbor deadline, Congress has discretion over the disposition over the State’s electoral votes.” THAT is a wide open statement in my humble opinion.

Wait, what… whadoyamean?

What I mean is this – the Constitution of the United States has provided direction and guidance for us through very sketchy times, for a very long time. It is the law of the land, and it is working.

However, still to play out are the disputes and contestations – they actually have more time to evolve and will probably be sorted out by some mix of The Supreme Court and Congress. (again, in my opinion)

To close, I am a Constitutionalist, I dearly believe we need it (AND the Electoral College) to be the America we love. I also believe our current election is far from over. There are still unaddressed and contested outliers yet to be adjudicated.

I pray that all of my readers find themselves on the side of the Constitution, regardless of what side you may be on politically.

My continued prayer is God, please Bless America.

Cheers to you.

Messages of Comfort Part 1 – Comfort in Doom

This Sunday Sermon, is the first in a four part series that I have created on Comfort based upon Isaiah chapter 40.

As I look around at my family, friends, community, nation and world I see a tremendous need for comfort, consolation and encouragement.

Battered by uncontrollable edicts, changing norms, judgments, unresolved politics, and losses, people are worn down, frazzled, afraid, and even becoming hopeless. It has been difficult to find encouragement and keep ourselves propped up with positivity.

We are all in this struggle together. You are not alone in the adversity that you face nor in the weariness that accompanies it.

Therefore, today, and in the next three Sunday Sermons, I will share a message of COMFORT, because we all need the assurances and peace that come with comfort.

In the Bible book of Isaiah, the fortieth chapter begins with

” Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

Isaiah 40:1-2

Notice the double imperative that starts that text. COMFORT, COMFORT.

What we see here is a bold declaration of comfort, consolation and heartfelt pity.

Why?

Because for the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, it was all doom and gloom, judgment, and loss. In Jerusalem things were getting really, really bad. Things were constantly changing and moving from bad to worse. New leaders were showing up with prideful, arrogance and flexing their political and military muscles. Jerusalem was becoming more and more secular, oppressed and just plain worn out. It was looking very bleak.

Chapter 40 begins a new emphasis, a new direction and hope for the remainder of the book. Therefore, it is altogether appropriate to begin with COMFORT, COMFORT.

It is altogether appropriate to have comfort and doom side by side, because the message here is that comfort triumphs over doom.

It has been said, that the seeds of comfort take root in the soil of adversity. And it is true that you may not escape adversity, but you may find God’s comfort in it.

God promises to comfort his people. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”

To those in relationship with Him, who call Him their God, he promises to comfort. In Him they find peace, consolation, and tender mercies filled with strength and hope. They hear His loving voice reassuring them that their sins are forgiven and their hard service is completed. He promises double blessing and double comfort – COMFORT, COMFORT, because of the double price paid for their redemption.

The comfort He offers His own in the middle of grief, distress and doom is meant to be felt and experienced worldwide. His comfort is available to all.

So, let’s review -in the midst of doom and gloom Isaiah tells the people

  • God is speaking comfortably, to the heart, tenderly to you
  • the time for your release from doom has come
  • your debt has been paid in full
  • a great price (double) has been paid for your sins

How is that message any less important, timely or needed for us, today?

Reread those and be reassured that is God’s message to YOU too.

A dramatic shift occurs when we choose to focus on Him rather than on the doom of the day. Just like Isaiah’s shift in chapter 40, when we focus on God and His comfort and consolation rather than on trusting in the secular rulers of the day, things change for us too.

I trust you will find renewed faith to look to Him above all else and in doing so find new comfort, encouragement and strength to live in daily victory.

“Praise be to the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…”

2 Corinthians 1:2

John 16:33 -” I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The God of all comfort wants to be your comfort. He will tenderly draw you close to Him and speak gently to your weary heart. See His love for you and power to lift you and change you with His comfort during these days of doom.

Isaiah 40 is packed full of truths that apply to our times, so I hope you will check back for the second installment of Messages of Comfort from Isaiah 40.

Next up – Comfort and Obstacles – Isaiah 40:3-8

I am wishing you tidings of Comfort and Joy this holiday season.

Go with God.

Thinking of You

No one really knows what races through our thoughts and minds each day.

Some say that the majority of our thoughts are useless and unimportant ones. Perhaps though, there are creative ideas either way, thoughts are much like butterflies, ever flying around from one flower to another, rarely standing still.

Medicines are even given to some who have uncontrollable thoughts, impulses and inclinations in their minds. They actually need assistance controlling and settling their thoughts.

Science tells us the average person has between 6,200 and 80,000 thoughts a day. The numbers vary with a common thought being 72,000 thoughts a day!

If that is true, (Dr. Deepak Chopra thinks it is) that would mean you have:

  • 3,000 thoughts per hour
  • 50 thoughts per minute
  • 1 thought per second

And those thought are fast little suckers; like those fleeting butterflies.

When we receive some sort of sensory stimuli, it takes about 50 milliseconds for our brain to become aware of it. If we are to respond to that stimuli, then that takes 150 milliseconds to take action. (Sciencefocus.com) That is super fast!

I’m sure that you have found all that gobbledygook to be true, each time you sit to try to meditate, or study, or rest quietly.

Your mind and thoughts are racing, and the busier you are, it seems the faster and more distracting the thoughts. So you do your best to allow those butterfly thoughts to stop and still. It is very much like herding cats. Good luck with that.

One last little scientific detail – Psychologists say that “the psychological present” is a window of about 3 seconds. Everything else is past or future. So, the present is only 3 seconds long.

You’ve heard the term… “we need to be present” aka fully engaged in the moment, body soul, mind and spirit. Now we know that present window is only 3 seconds.

We struggle with being present for 3 seconds??!! Focusing for only 3 seconds. Really?

Yep, cuz our mind is so full of thoughts, butterflies, cats needing to be herded.

Can you imagine being the target of all of those thoughts? The object? The intended receiver of each and every one?

Try to, because you actually are.

Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore.”

Psalms 139:17-18

It is estimated that there are roughly 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power, or 7 quintrillion pieces of sand on Earth.

Now realize, that God’s thoughts to YOU are MORE than 7 quintrillion every single moment! In every 3 second, present moment 7 quintrillion thoughts are coming at you. In the next present moment, 7 quintrillion thoughts coming at you.

He is covering you, every moment with innumerable thoughts. He is present for your present moments. In every breath, every beat of your heart, every thought of you mind – He is showering you with loving thoughts. More than you can comprehend.

“How vast is the sum of them”, David said. I couldn’t agree more.

Recently, I was singing a song, who’s lyrics were :

“Is it true that you are thinking of me?” YES! It is true!

Today, be reminded that God is thinking of you, and it is AMAZING!

Over 7 quintrillion times amazing!

Cheers to you.

Broccoli Man

Sunday Sermon 11.28.20

As I am writing this, we just finished celebrating Thanksgiving a few days ago.

Thanksgiving is an important celebration for alot of good reasons, but I would like to suggest one – because we humans forget, we are forgetful. So to help us remember the good, positive and even bad and troublesome things, we give thanks, we intentionally choose to remember and not become a victim of forgetfulness.

We “forget” the pain of childbirth even though we swear it was so bad we will never forget.

We “forget” abuses of people and keep walking back into the same ole situation.

We “forget” the positive words and remember only the negative ones.

We “forget” the painful consequences of sin and remember the moments of pleasure.

We say we will never forget, and yet there is a generation who has never even heard.

We are a forgetful people.

The Bible uses the word forgot or one of its forms over 110 times. I’d like to share one of them with you.

” … and after looking at himself in the mirror, (he) goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like…”

James 1:23-24

In this passage, James is talking about a person who looks at himself in the mirror and afterwards goes away from the mirror and forgets what he looks like. Who does that? That’s crazy, right?

We all can remember what we look like, isn’t that why we generally don’t like even looking in the mirror in the first place? But no…

I used to explain this verse as a guy looking into the mirror, seeing he has broccoli stuck in his teeth, and walking away, doing nothing about it – sharing his broccoli smile with everyone he meets.

I sat next to a guy on an airplane once with twice this… pleasant flight…

But that’s not really accurate.

You see, in the context of what James is teaching, the mirror isn’t a glass, painted with Rustoleum Mirror Effect. He was not referring to a typical mirror, mirror on the wall.

He tells us that the mirror is actually The Word (of God), the Bible. (verses 22-25)

So here’s the picture James is creating for us – a man looks into the bible, reads it, sees an image of himself, and walks away from the mirror and forgets the image he saw.

I always thought the image the man saw of himself was “the broccoli man” – you, know, the one with sin, blemishes and tons of imperfections, including broccoli in his teeth. So of course, he’s gonna walk away and forget! He doesn’t want to remember what a sinner he really is. Duh.

Alas, again I was wrong.

Listen to what James is really trying to tell us –

“…You become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin.

James 1:23-24 TPT

What broccoli man really sees in the mirror, the Word, is an image of his own divine origin, created in the image of God. In that reflection, broccoli man sees himself as God sees him, before the broccoli, before all sin, before the consequences of sin.

He sees the man created in the image, beauty and glory of God. No broccoli whatsoever. He sees the reflection of Jesus in him.

Now THAT’S amazing and confusing. Broccoli man looks into the Word and sees an image of himself that he doesn’t recognize. An image unfamiliar. A new creature.

In the mirror (the Word) broccoli man sees himself in God’s light:

  • God sees his heart and not his outer, physical appearance 1 Sam.16:7
  • as having a hopeful future Jer. 29:11
  • as a masterpiece for good Eph. 2:10
  • as a loved child of God 1 Jn. 3:1
  • as chosen, royal, holy 1 Pet. 2:9
  • as worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice Jn. 3:16
  • as a new creation 2 Cor. 5:17
  • as chosen, loved, compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient Col. 3:12
  • as light the darkness Mat. 5:14
  • as a son or daughter and heir of all heavenly blessings Gal. 4:6-7
  • as being wonderfully made Ps. 139:13-16
  • as a friend of God Jn. 15:15
  • as a place where Jesus and His Spirit lives 1 Cor. 6:19-20

Holy Schmokes!!

THAT is the image broccoli man sees in the mirror. He can’t believe it. That is not who he lives with, who he struggles with, who he thinks about. That is not what plays over and over in his mind. That image is not one that sticks with him easily…

So as he walks away from the mirror (Word), it is not long before he forgets what he saw.

We are a forgetful people. We tend to easily forget the image in the mirror/Word that God is wanting to become implanted in our memory. Over and over God reminds us of how He really sees us. Time and time again, as we gaze into the Word/mirror we catch a glimpse of what He sees for us.

There are times of encouragement, confidence, and strength. Then we forget, wander away from the true image of who we are and who we are meant to be.

Not one of us will maintain the divine image of who he has meant for us to be without returning to the mirror, over and over and over and over. It is by the constant viewing of His image for us, and that image being mixed into our daily actions and thoughts, that helps us to actually remember who we really are.

You are so much more than what you see reflected in that glass mirror!

Turn to the mirror of the Word to see the truly valuable, beautiful, worthy, loved and chosen image of you, that He sees.

Don’t forget it. Work it into your thoughts, words, and lifestyle.

No more broccoli man. His image of you is way beyond that.

Lord, help us to NOT forget our divine image of who you have made us to be.

Go with God.

Are They Really That Important?

It’s true, I might have a touch of OCD, but yes, those things do matter, to me.

What things?

Well, let’s take planning a meal for a large crowd hosted in your home. How ’bout those things?

Pre-prep:

  • house in order (this statement alone is fraught with important details!)
  • menu determined
  • groceries purchased
  • guests contacted and informed
  • seating sufficient
  • kitchen pots and pans, dishes, utensils available
  • lighting set, candles?
  • fragrance determined
  • appropriate decorations in place
  • music and speakers ready
  • food prepped as needed (oh my, details!)

Are these little things or big things?

Then there’s the event, itself:

  • strategic hors d’oeuvers placement (yes! it matters)
  • plate, and napkins too
  • coat, purse placement
  • drinks arranged and all that’s needed for them
  • greeting guests upon arrival
  • directing and introducing each
  • receiving the fares that they have brought
  • dealing with the placement and needs of those
  • keeping a watchful eye and nose on the kitchen, where all the foods are warming or on their final countdown towards launch
  • being hospitable
  • smiling
  • keeping a calm attitude and demeanor

I must stop, I can feel my heart racing…

Remember that old adage –

“The devil is in the details”

I sorta believe that. I believe unattended details cause problems, so I seek to address the details so the problems can be forestalled.

How ’bout you? How into the details are you?

Do they really matter yo you?

They mattered to Martha, too.

She invited Jesus and his disciples to dinner at her home where she lived with her sister, Mary and brother, Lazarus.

When Jesus and his crew arrived, Martha welcomes them and then begins her hostess “duties”. AKA the list above… she paid great attention to those details.

In fact, here’s how the bible explains her demeanor –

“”Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores for preparation for her guests…”

Luke 10:40 TPT

Oh my goodness, I can so relate to Martha. There have been times, behind my smiley, hostess demeanor, I was exasperated. Am I alone? Have you?

Martha’s exasperation was not only with the tasks needing to be completed but the fact that her sister wasn’t even helping her. Martha felt that she was doing it all herself and it was unfair.

Ouch, I have felt that too. My thought bubble would read, “It sure would be nice to have some help around here. Why am I the only one?”

Martha was so worked up about this, that she went over to Jesus, who was seated in the front room, teaching those gathered, including her sister, Mary, and said,

“Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

Luke 10:40 TPT

Talk about things really being important!!?? These dinner details were super important to Martha. They were also robbing her of her joy, peace, compassion and keeping her from being with Jesus.

Again, I can relate to Martha and have been robbed of the same.

Imagine it, though… here Jesus is in the middle of a family squabble, now made public. All eyes are on Jesus and the hostess, Martha. Mary, I am sure turns and glares at her sister for outing her in public. This does not look like a happy family dinner gathering.

Martha, bitter and exasperated; Mary, betrayed; guests wondering what to do. And Jesus.

Jesus answered Martha,

“Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?

“Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 TPT

Jesus, He always gets it so right. For everyone involved. Wow!

That whole list of hostess responsibilities… Martha’s exasperation… Mary’s choice… the guests… Jesus … What is really important? What is the one thing that is most important?

All the distractions, the things pulling us away, demanding our attention, requiring our focus… what is the one thing that is most important?

Geesh, does it really matter if the olives aren’t in that spot on the table or the white and dark meat are not separated? Does it really matter if the plates don’t match, or the house isn’t immaculate?

All the distractions. All the details that pull us away from what is most important. Oh my…

Mary discovered what was important.

She chose to be undistracted. She chose to refuse the pull into the unimportant details. She chose the most important thing.

What a privilege to have Jesus’ attention. Mary had it and wasn’t about to give it up for what was of lesser importance, regardless of Martha’s tattling.

My friends, during this busy season, may we not loose sight of what is most important, what really matters.

May we fight the distractions of unending, tiring and draining details and focus on what is most important- enjoying Jesus’ attention and the love of family and friends that surround us.

It is our choice. We choose what is really important to us.

Are they really that important?

Happy Undistracted Thanksgiving.

Cheers to you.

You Can Say That Again

Sunday Sermon 11.21.20

I don’t like repeating myself.

Whether it’s from forty-three years in the classroom, or because I am impatient or because people aren’t good listeners; I really hate repeating what has already been said.

Of course there are qualifiers; some things need and must be restated, and some stories bring continued joy upon retelling.

Then there is the expressing of love. Expressing love bears repeating, right? Love is well worth repeating, and in fact, must be repeatedly expressed for a healthy relationship to continue growing.

Using those thoughts as our springboard, check out these repeated phrases:

” All you Israelites, trust in the Lordhe is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lordhe is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the Lordhe is their help and shield.”

Psalms 115:9-11

When recently reading these words, they jumped out to me. It was the repetition that stood out, they were repeated three times!

  • trust in the Lord” – repeated three times
  • he is their help and shield” – repeated three times

You can say that again, and again and again!

Why? Attention getting. Well, it got mine.

Then two chapters later, we find this repeated phrase:

“Let Israel say: “His love endures forever“. Let those of the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear him say: “His love endures forever.”

Psalm 118:2-4

Again, the phrase was repeated three times.

  • “His love endures forever” – repeated three times

You can say that again, too.

But wait, we’re not through! In the same chapter, there is another repeated phrase.

“All the nations surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.”

Psalm 118:10-12

The repeated phrase –

  • in the name of the Lord I cut them down – repeated three times

That is alot of repetition! Is the Lord trying to help me deal with my dislike of repetition, or is there a bigger picture and message here? (Probably both.)

Here we have three passages, with at least one phrase repeated three times; and in one case, two phrases repeated three times.

That’s alot of threes!

O, The power of three.

Did you know that there is actually “a rule of three”? Not the rule of thirds as in photography, but rule of three. It suggests that words grouped together into threes are more appealing and easier to remember.

Because our brains are pattern seeking machines, they are constantly looking for meaning in all that is around us and seek to help us make sense of it and and remember what we can. Three is the smallest number we need to create a pattern and is the perfect combination of rhythm and brevity.

Research supports this and further tells us that speeches, ads and other messages that are designed with three claims will persuade, but four or more will trigger scepticism. Cool right?

Speech writers use the rule of three, we use it in conversation, listening for that list of three, as well as in our writing. (I just used it… he he)

Here are some examples that you are probably familiar with:

  • “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” – Shakespeare
  • “Government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Abraham Lincoln
  • “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Declaration of Independence
  • “Stop, look and listen.”

So, our brain likes chunks of information in threes for our short term memory. More than that requires alot more brain work.

In Biblical numerology three represents wholeness, completeness and perfection.

Whew… enough already.

What’s the point here? Three?

Nope. It is the fact that these simple, perfect and complete messages have been submitted to us three times, for our thought, growth and investigation.

Let’s go back to them:

  1. trust in the Lord
  2. he is their help and shield
  3. his love endures forever
  4. in the name of the Lord I cut them down

Each repeated three times for a reason.

Each repeated three times to help us remember. Each repeated three times to form a pattern for us. Each repeated three times to persuade us.

I am so encouraged by these phrases. You can say that again.

In the midst of my daily life, duties, and stresses I am reminded to trust in the Lord. Not myself, not my paycheck, not my understanding, and not the world system.

He is my help and shield, no matter what comes at me and my family. He will help me in every circumstance and he will provide a shield of protection to us as well.

There is nothing that can separate me from his love, no powers, forces, ideas, or laws because his love endures to me forever.

When I am faced with giant thoughts, fears, worries, stresses, jobs, events, or forces, it is in the name of the Lord that I cut them down to size. He helps me to balance, gain perspective and reduce those giants to size.

So, be encouraged today – trust the Lord because his love for you never ends, he is your help and shield, and he will help you cut your problems down to size.

Now that bears repeating!

In fact, you can say that again.

Go with God.

You’ve Never Heard About Goliath Like This

Yesterday, 11/15/20, I woke up burdened by the Lord with the word – Goliath. So I got up and began digging into 1 Samuel 17.

What you will find here is a teaching video of me telling what I discovered, what it means and how it applies to us today.

I feel the urgency to get the word out, so I am using all of the platforms that I have to do just that. These are days for swift and full obedience.

Please take some quiet time to watch and ask the Lord what He would have you to do.

11.15.20

Go with God.

Overwhelmed? Discouraged? You’re not alone.

Sunday Sermon 11.14.20

1. Feeling tired and afraid, he said, “I’ve had enough!”

2. Overwhelmed with complete exasperation, ready to quit, yet emboldened.

3. Clouded in anger and self-pity.

4. Discouraged by feeling unsafe and gripped with bitterness.

5. Life, livelihood and family threatened.

6. Alone, poor, troubled, weepy and sorrowful.

7. Acquainted with sorrows and grief.

Can you identify with any of these feelings? Could they match anything you have felt lately? If they do, you are not alone.

Those statements are taken from seven different bible characters. Take a look at them again. Can you guess which person each statement identifies? I’ll wait…

Lets briefly examine each one.

  1. 1 Kings 19:3-5 – Elijah was afraid, said I have had enough and laid down and went to sleep.
  2. Exodus 32:32 – Moses was exasperated with the people’s sin, ready to quit yet he prayed for them boldly
  3. Jonah 4:3,9 – Jonah threw a pity party, and was angry with God
  4. Job 10:1; 30:15-17 -Job was filled with bitterness, hated his life, felt unsafe
  5. Psalms – David was chased down, his family affected and position lost
  6. Jeremiah 20:18 – Jeremiah never married, had no kids, was alone, ministered alone, was called the weeping prophet, and experienced trouble and sorrow
  7. Isaiah 53:3 – Jesus was a man familiar with grief and sorrow

How did you do?

More importantly, check out these men of faith and the truth about their discouragement and feeling overwhelmed. Amazing, right?

These guys are some of the greats. We love their books, and stories. And yet, they were just normal, human beings, filled with emotions, feelings, and personal struggles too. They battled their discouragement. They fought against being pulled under by their circumstances.

They weren’t anything but ordinary. (except Jesus, of course.)

In the fight with their feelings, they were honest with God, and held nothing back. They were real and raw in voicing their complaints, emotions, and prayers.

I remember when I was teaching, I was always amazed that people felt that they could not tell God their real feelings. To a man, (woman or child), through the years, in schools, jails, prisons, church, and family rooms, people felt they could not tell God they were mad, angry or hurt. They weren’t allowed to, He wouldn’t look favorably on them.

That is so wrong. God expects honesty from us. Open communication about everything.

Have you read the Psalms? Geesh, so many different authors venting feelings and fears. The prophets hid nothing in their expressions to God. They all were totally real with God and voicing their situation.

This week I was reading in the Psalms and came to Psalm 102. Here’s how it starts:

“A prayer for those who are overwhelmed and for all the discouraged who come to pour out their hearts before the Lord. “

Psalm 102 – the title, The Passion Translation

I was blown away!

Here we have in the very first verse such important information.

Remember, the titles of the Psalms, those italicized words after the chapter number and before our verse 1 are literally verse 1 in the Hebrew bible.

We would call its content the setting of the Psalm, and it is. But it is inspired, given by God, and God breathed.

In the inspired “title” of Psalm 102 we see can understand that the verses that will follow are a prayer specifically for the overwhelmed and discouraged. Written clearly, by someone who was overwhelmed and discouraged.

He was not holding back whatever discouragement, bitterness, anger, frustration, or exasperation that he had. He was sharing it all with God. No holds barred. Just open, honest, heartfelt and teary sharing with his Creator.

Without even reading any more of the verses of Psalm 102, we can find encouragement in the title. Encouragement to pour out our hearts before the Lord, even in the midst of feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we don’t need the twenty-eight verse chapter. That chapter, as you can imagine, is packed with gut wrenching feelings, and emotions, truths and challenges. But that is not to be my focus today.

Today, the focus is to those of us who may be feeling overwhelmed and discouraged – we are not alone.

In fact, the great Charles Spurgeon, writes this about Psalm 102, placing it in what could be a very similar political circumstance

” It is a prayer of a sufferer – it has it’s own bitterness. This is a patriots lament over his country’s distress.”

We are not alone in our discouragement, in being overwhelmed. Whether it be in politics, education, religious freedoms, family relations or personal wholeness, multitudes have fought and are fighting these battles too.

So in the midst of whatever emotions that have parked on you, realize afresh that God wants to hear your voice pour it all out to Him.

He hears us. He cares. He has compassion. He understands.

In our weakness He is strong.

We can cast our anxiety on Him. 1 Peter 5:7 We can come to Him with any and everything. Matthew 1:28-30 His grace is sufficient and his strength is perfect. 2 Corinthians 12:9

We don’t have to be anxious and troubled. Luke 10:41-42 When we come to Him He will arm us with strength. Psalms 18:3

He has promised to never leave you and that includes even when you are overwhelmed and discouraged.

You’re not alone. God is ever present for you and with you.

You’re not alone in the feelings of discouragement, anger, tiredness, loss and fear.

Pour our your prayer to Him, and experience His strength, insight, peace and grace.

You are not alone.

Go with God.