Your Amazing…

Eyes

Helen Keller, who lost her eyesight and hearing to scarlet fever, as a toddler of nineteen months is quoted as saying,

“Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.”

Helen Keller

Would you agree? Disagree?

Helen Keller, with the patience and expertise of Anne Sullivan not only overcame her blindness, deafness and muteness but developed her sense of touch so sensitively that she “listened to music” via the vibrations in the air and things around her.

She also developed her sense of taste and smell so acutely that she was able to gather more info through her limited senses than we probably do with our five senses. And yet, she had no eyesight.

Helen eventually went on to become the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree. She is amazing!

“I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which is to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.” “It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”

We see, but do we have vision?

Our eyes are amazing. They provide vision of the world around us, and also reveal if we’re happy, tired, down, or confused and they even serve as “windows to the soul”.

Allow me to take you through a quick review of how exactly our amazing eye works. (Thanks to my own refresher course at livescience.com.) Then I’ll tie it all together with some interesting applications for you. Hang in there.

We humans have a “camera-type” eye. Just like a camera lens focuses light onto film, our cornea focuses light onto our retina, that big screen at the back of our eyeball. The cornea is transparent and is at the front of your eye to help focus the incoming light.

The iris, you’ll remember is that part that gives you your eye color. It is ring-shaped and it has an adjustable opening called the pupil. The pupil controls just exactly how much light enters the eye. It has to adjust to let the light in.

The colorless, transparent lens is located behind the pupil and focuses the light onto the screen of your retina. (Aren’t you glad we don’t have to remember all this before we see anything? It just happens, we have sight, we have an amazing eye.)

Inside that eyeball chamber are two different kinds of jelly, liquid type substances. The aqueous humor and the vitreous humor. (Can you guess the application of these two? 🙂 ha ha)

Of course, there are muscles involved inside the eye, too. The ciliary muscles for example, hold the lens and must both relax (pull and flatten the lens) and contract (thicken the lens) for far away and up close sight.

Review is almost done.

On the retina are millions of light sensitive cells called rods and cones, which differentiate between us seeing colors or black and white. When the light hits them it is converted to an electrical signal that travels to the brain via the optic nerve.

The brain then accepts that electric signal and changes it into images for us to see. Phew!!!! Review done.

Seriously, I could say nothing else and I think we’d be challenged and reminded just how amazing our eyes are, right? How perfectly designed. How intricate. How complex, having liquids and electric signals in the same spot without loss of power. How significant each part is and vital for sight to be effective. If a part of the eye anatomy is defective, sight is hindered, disabled or lost. For perfect clarity and vision, all parts of the eye must be fully functional.

The same can be said for the clarity of our other vision. By that I mean our “world view”, how we see the world around us. Not just anatomical seeing. The “eyes” through which we see what is happening around us.

Check out these practical tips for clear eyesight in these days, that I have drawn from our look at the amazing eye:

  1. Cornea – we need to focus on the light. Let the light in, focus on it not the darkness
  2. Lens – we must fight to stay transparent, stop trying to hide or cover up what we are feeling
  3. Pupil – we can and must control what we allow into our lives. We give things an opening and we decide how much to let in. Put controls in place in your life.
  4. Aqueous and vitreous humor – LAUGH! Find joy. Seek humor, make people laugh, laugh yourself. It is a medicine that we need a double dose of in these days.
  5. Ciliary muscles – to see things in the distance we must relax. Pull back, flatten out. Learn to relax and not jump too far ahead. To see things up close we need to have a bit more thick skin. Thicken our lens, be tough and we will see more clearly.
  6. Retina – seeing color is determined by millions of very, very sensitive cells; and those cells are responsible for sharp, clear vision. Our vision of color will sharpen as we are sensitive to those around us.
  7. Signal conversions – remember that everything we see has been converted to appear as an image we see. The brain makes translations for us and helps us make sense of what we are seeing.

We have an amazing eye who’s function is to help us see clearly. Today, at the very least I trust that your appreciation for your vision has been boosted.

Yet, beyond that, I hope that you are able to take away a more tangible lesson from the eye to apply and use to help you see more clearly in these days.

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”

You’re amazing and so are your eyes.

Cheers to you.

How’s Your Sense of Smell and Taste

Developing Discernment Series
Sunday Sermon 9.12.20

I find it totally fascinating that on the list of symptoms for Covid19 is the loss (sometimes permanent) of smell and taste. Vanderbilt University tells us that up to 80% of people who test positive for the virus have complaints of taste and smell loss.

That same study goes on to say, based on their evidence, those who suffer such loss will experience a milder onset of the virus, yet those without any loss of smell or taste “appear to have a worse disease course”. Hmmm.

We all remember that “taste and smell are separate senses with their own receptor organs, and yet, they are intimately entwined.” (Brainfacts.org) Those organs send different and separate signals and those signals will eventually converge and allow us to detect the flavors in foods.

“Just as sound is the perception of changes in air pressure and sight the perception of light, tastes and smells are the perception of chemicals in the air or in our food.” (Brainfacts.org)

Get that? Smells are the perception of things in the air… The spiritual implications are clear, here.

Hence, we have the phrase, often with our head shaking, no, “Something doesn’t smell right”, or “I smell a rat”, or “we’ve got to sniff this out”.

We are talking about developing discernment, with the emphasis today on our senses of taste and smell. In real life, having the ability and perception to sniff out the afore mentioned rat. Perceiving in the air around us that something just isn’t right, it smells rotten. We’ve got a bad taste in our mouth.

You’ve used those phrases, haven’t you? You have identified discernment. That urging to use that spiritual sense inside you, prompted by Holy Spirit to help lead you and guide you into all truth.

I’m not going off some spiritual deep end here, there’s plenty of biblical support for these truths about discernment. Check out these passages:

  • 2 Cor. 2:14 – he spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere
  • Job 6:30 – can my mouth not discern malice?
  • Ps. 119:103 – your words are sweet to my taste
  • SS 2:3 – the Lord touched my mouth
  • Jer. 1:9 – the Lord put his words in my mouth
  • 1 Cor. 12:10 – to another the distinguishing of spirits
  • Hos. 14:9 – who is discerning, let him understand

Our spiritual smell and taste help us to distinguish good and evil. They work together to help us perceive the atmosphere around us, and get a taste for what is happening.

They pick up signals just as the nose and tongue pick up chemicals. Those signals then, are offered in prayer to the Lord, asking for his clarity, understanding and knowledge. And the Lord in his faithfulness will make clear what we are sensing.

Bottom line friends, allowing our senses to be awakened and alerted to spiritual things is nothing short of the New Testament pattern. Read the Book of Acts, pay attention to what the Holy Spirit did, said, and used people to do, say and reveal. Dreams, visions, wonders, healings, resurrections, miracles, earthquakes, bold explanations, stonings, beatings, trances, angelic visitations, riots, church growth, persecution, government interference, unquenchable faith, casting out demons, turning the world upside down.

I AM IN!! I WANT IT! There’s no more exciting way to live, than being in tune with the Father, and listening to his voice by means of Holy Spirit within us, and having His Word, the Bible as the foundation for everything we do, say, know, and follow.

The Apostle Paul tells us that there are many gifts that Holy Spirit gives, and one of them is – “the gift to discern what the spirit is speaking.” 1 Cor. 12:10 TPT

So my prayer for you echoes Paul’s, as found in Galatians 5:16 – “Walk by the Spirit…” and ” Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” 5:25 Let’s live in a place and way that we can discern the spirit speaking to us.

Discernment is needed everyday to help us distinguish between God, Satan and the world, and to warn others. We must train ourselves to walk in it and exercise it. Heb. 5:14

In my simplistic discernment, I find it simply amazing that even amid this Covid19 mess, the evil one is seeking to rob people of their sense of taste and their sense of smell. That is not coincidental nor are they unrelated symptoms. It is a spiritual signal that we need to be picking up on.

There are so many of those signals around us. Are you picking up on them?

How is your spiritual sense of taste and smell?

Go with God.

What Do You See?

It was my son, the artist who first taught me about “negative space” in art work. I was interested then and I am interested now.

“Negative space” is the space around and between the subjects of an image. It is considered most effective and evident when the space around the subject, not the subject itself, forms an interesting shape.

Here’s a classic example to help you visualize it:

what do you see?
vase? 2 faces?

In the 1980’s, I was working for a very young company based in Memphis, who’s goal was to ship packages overnight everywhere in the world. They wanted to beat out UPS and USPS. The CEO’s name was Fred Smith and we affectionately called him Uncle Freddy.

In 2000 they changed their logo to this, one that I believe nearly everyone has seen:

They changed it to utilize the negative space between the E and the x. What do you see?

There between the E and the x is a white arrow, pointing to the right, and is meant to represent the idea of moving forward with speed and precision, much like the FedEx brand.

Brilliant use of negative space, right? Had you noticed it before?

Below I am going to insert several logos, most of which are familiar. Study them, and not just the negative space, what do you see?

In each of these there is more to see than meets the eye, there is more to the message.

  • Wendy’s – look at her collar. It spells MOM. Home and family, are Wendy’s priorities.
  • Baskin Robbins – pink lettering reveals the number 31 – because they have 31 flavors. (that’s what I still call them to this day)
  • LG – the round, red circle is designed to be a face with the L and the nose and the G encircling it the outline of the face. Bringing humanity to machines.
  • Tostitos – delish chips for sure. Did you notice the “i” is a small table, it has salsa on it; the dot of the “i” is a chip, and surrounding the table (i) the 2, t’s are designed to look like people. The messaging, Tostitos are for sharing.
  • WHAT DO YOU SEE?
  • Formula 1 racing – easy to see the negative space 1 speeding away
  • Hershey’s kisses – hidden in the logo is another kiss. Can you find it? It is between the K and the I… see it? Message – another kiss is hidden in there
  • Goodwill – I always saw the smiley face in the left corner, but I never realized it was meant to also be another g… 2 g’s making the goodwill point.

These types of brain teasers I have always enjoyed. I’m hoping that you are too.

But there is another message too, and I’ll share it after this next and last set of logos. Look at them, what do you see?

  • Apple – we all know this one. True story, it is designed to represent when Eve took the bite from the “apple” and received knowledge (of good and evil.)
  • MLB baseball team the Milwaukee Brewers. A baseball glove with MB
  • Toyota’s logo of interlocking ovals shapes every alphabet letter of the company’s name
  • Pinterest- we have all seen this one, right? The P is a pin.
  • Toblerone – featuring the Matterhorn Mountain of Switzerland, has a hidden bear in the mountain symbolizing it is made in the “city of bears”
  • Sun Mircosystems – sun spelled out in the microchip, facing every direction
  • Hope for African Children Initiative – HACI – not only does it appear to be the continent of Africa but the outline is actually created by contours of two people – an adult and a child

So, what do you see?

What did you see before some of the messages were revealed? Did you see the entire, intended message?

Today, I am challenged by the fact that not everything we see is clearly understood. I am challenged to search for the underlying messaging, the hidden messages, if you will.

I am confident, there is more to it than meets the eye and the discerning will see beyond the curtain and realize just who is pulling the strings and levers in this land of oohs and aahs.

What do you see?

Cheers to you.

I Gotta Feeling

Sunday Sermon 9.5.20
Developing Discernment Series

Yes, I stole today’s title from will.i.am and The Black Eyes Peas. Woohoo. (Some of you are hearing it play now in your head, right? Go ahead, let it play out, then continue reading.)

As we continue to look at developing discernment in our senses, today we move from the senses of hearing and seeing to that physical sensation of touch, or we could also call it, our feelings.

Remember, the book of Hebrews tells us of a people who have have learned, or have trained their senses to discern both good and evil. (5:14)

So, how can we train our feelings to discern?

Feelings. those pesky things that often overwhelm us, fool us, and ignite us, can be good and controlled on one hand, and be negative, demanding and out of control on the other hand. How can they be trained and exercised for good?

We are triune beings like our Creator/Father, we are body, soul and spirit; and we know our feelings come from the soul part of us which is comprised of our mind, will and emotions.

That ole soul part can be problematic. Within it we find all of our emotions, all of our feelings, all of our thoughts, our conscience, our intuition, and our “gut” – that place where “I got a feeling”.

Because we experience our feelings consciously, and they are often triggered by events, it is so easy for their influence to be driving us. It is so easy for us to be driven by a feeling that may or may not be of God or His Spirit.

And let’s address too, our past experiences, prejudices, and traumas and admit that they too, affect our feelings.

What you have is a powder keg of explosive potential, for good, and for evil.

Hence, the desperate need to develop discernment over our feelings.

I have heard many people say, “I gotta go with my conscience”. (my inner feelings). Here’s the problem with that. Our conscience is determined by our life experiences and influences and therefore can become polluted.

1 Timothy 1:5 says that faith and a good conscience go hand in hand. In other words, without faith in God operating in your life, you will not have a godly, or good conscience.

Titus 1:15 tells us that to the pure all things are pure but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.

The New Testament is full of this principle:

If you feed on the Word – you will obey God. If you feed on the world you will disobey God.

Therefore, your conscience cannot be trusted to lead you to God/good unless it is filled with the Word and the Spirit. That goes too for “your gut”, your intuition, your hunches and your feelings.

Bottom line, the Holy Spirit is an actual person. Not an “it”. One of his many jobs is to work in the lives of believers and their conscience to notify them of sin, to see to it that no one (or thought, or feeling) takes that believer captive. Colossians 2:8

The Holy Spirit will lead and guide us. He will convince us. He will teach us to discern between our feelings and those prompted by Himself.

The Holy Spirit is a person. He does not evolve. Cannot be conditioned. Cannot be deceived.

Yet, our conscience, our feelings can. They evolve, are conditioned and can be deceiving.

Charles Stanley teaches that there are these types of consciences:

  • good 1 Tim. 1:19
  • struggling 1 Cor. 8:7-12
  • soiled Tit. 1:15
  • seared 1 Tim. 4:2

No matter the number, or the levels, the point is that our conscience, our feelings must be washed by the Word of God and submitted to God for them to be relied upon for guidance.

God wants to speak to us and will do so in any way He chooses and if He is to use our feelings effectively, they must be yielded to Him and cleansed of our own leanings.

God has given us feelings and emotions because He has them. We are made in His image. Therefore, He wants us to feel as He does. To be moved with what moves Him. To be broken with what breaks His heart, to be moved with mercy, justice and compassion as He is.

We cannot be effective in discerning the Spirit of God if we are tied up in the knot of our own feelings and emotions. He cannot reveal His Father’s heart to us if our heart is overgrown with weeds of hurt, distrust, and insensitivity.

Our heart must be tended to, groomed, softened and healed. Our heart must be submitted to God because from it flows everything that we are. Prov. 4:23

From our healed and tuned heart will flow the promptings of the Spirit and our faith will arise to follow that “feeling” – that feeling of the Spirit of God touching a man or woman with the very heart of God. Those feelings that have been trained to align with The Word of God and the heart of the Father.

Those feelings that reflect the influence of God as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal. 5:22-23

All the other feelings have been trained to submit to the Word, and so we can quickly distinguish good from evil, wrong from right, God’s will from man’s will. We can feel Him inside of us, directing us and teaching us, we can hear His voice and feel His presence.

That heart, that person – is a powder keg of explosive potential for good!

That is the one to whom discernment will come, because their senses have been trained by reason of much use.

Again, to quote will.i.am :

“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, Saturday, Saturday to Sunday.”

Let those days be the ones that you discern a feeling…(from God).

Go with God.

Times are Changing

Sometimes it’s kinda fun to look back, especially when you can laugh at what you remember. Do you remember these?

Times are changing! Right!?

Sometimes the change is gradual and unintentional, other times change is targeted, and opposed. Consider the following that were inventions to target change yet they were criticized, opposed and spoken against when they were revealed:

  • Automobiles – in 1902, they were scorned and the leaders said, “the prices will never be low enough”
  • Liquid nail polish – in 1917, many doubted its usefulness
  • Talkies – movies in 1928 had no sound. When sound was introduced, the actors declared “talking doesn’t belong in pictures” it will be too distracting
  • Cheeseburgers – In 1934, in CA when cheese was added to beef, it was considered “just another crazy California idea”
  • Personal computer – those in the field agreed, there was “no reason anyone would want one.”

My, how times have changed.

Some changes really do stick around. Like these changes that are turning 40 years old this year – they were introduced in 1980 and are still with us; even bigger and (mostly) better:

Times are changing.

We are creatures designed to live in the present. We cannot live in the past, nor can we live in the future. Yet, our past affects our present and our future.

Our mind seeks possibilities yet it resists change.

In these tenuous times of change, what changes will be temporary and funny to look back on?

What changes will continue to be opposed? Which will be defeated by opposition and criticism? Which will overcome and change our world?

Which changes will be around another 40 years and make make our world a better place?

Times are certainly changing…

Cheers to you.

Tune In

Sunday Sermon 8.29.20
Developing Discernment Series

We are enveloped 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by radio signals. These radio waves are used for fixed and mobile communication, broadcasting, navigation and many other applications.

They are the lowest frequency waves in the electromagnetic spectrum, and travel at the speed of light. Their characteristics can be long waves and cover the Earth very consistently, or shorter waves and reflect off of the ionosphere and travel around the world; or they could even be shorter wavelengths that bend or reflect very little and travel only in the line of sight.

Those signals that envelope us unawares, are a vivid picture of the voice of God that is constantly speaking to us, 24/7.

What is needed? We need to tune in. Check the receiver. Turn on and tune in to His voice.

“It’s the nature of God to speak”

A.W. Tozer

You see, God wants to have fellowship with you and He wants you to hear him.

We have to find His frequency and tune in to it. When we do we recognize His voice and He then is able to lead us. John 10:4

To hear the voice of God, we must listen for it. It is a conscious and intentional choice we make. A decision to find the frequency of God in the midst of a loud, busy and distracting world.

Revelation 3:20 tells us that Jesus is knocking at the door of our heart and the first step we must take is to actually hear that knocking. Not ignore it or allow it to blend in with the noise of the world.

… if anyone hears my voice and opens the door…”

Rev. 3:20

That’s a big if!

The choice is ours to open the door of communication with Him. To recognize His knocking, His voice, His signals surrounding us. To tune in to His frequency.

God is a Spirit, and therefore communication with Him is Spirit to spirt, not brain to brain. John 4:24 Our spirit then communicates what we hear to our mind. Some call this “an inward witness” others a thought or prompting.

The Old Testament prophet called it “the still, small voice”; another translation says, “a gentle whisper”. 1 Kings 19:12

God is a god of communication, words with power. Here are some ways His voice has been heard and recorded in the bible.

He can speak in the thunder of creation, a trumpet blast, loud voice, many waters, in the wind, fire, earthquake, angels, dreams and even inaudibly.

The key is, learning to discern his voice from others. Learning to tune in to His frequency.

His promise is that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Jeremiah 29:13 Applying it to this lesson, if we seek His frequency and recognize it as such, we will find it.

If we call out to Him, He will answer. Jeremiah 33:3

If we hear Him, He will warn us. Psalms 81:8

A key to hearing Him, and tuning in, is being still. Psalm 46:10 It is often in the stillness that we hear His voice. Much like Elijah heard His voice in the gentle whisper, and not in the wind, earthquake or fire. But when he did hear it, he took action. He covered himself and went out. Then the voice kept on speaking to Him. And he was tuned in, picking up the God signals, and hearing the voice of God.

There are lots of other signals that we must tune out and discern their source. We get signals from our own emotions, heart and desires; forces outside of God, from the demonic; and from the Word and Spirit of God.

These all must be discerned, identified and recognized as God’s frequency, God’s voice or another.

Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice and another they will not follow.” John 10:5

As believers, our discernment is based on these foundations: The Word of God, prayer, meditating on His Word and acts, being still before Him and listening for that “inward witness” from His Spirit to our spirit; that gentle whisper from Him.

The signals of God’s voice are all around us, bouncing off Earth’s surfaces and reflecting through the atmosphere. They travel fast and yet are low enough for us to tune in to.

They are meant for us to hear, discern, and tune in to for a clear, two way communication with Him.

“He that has ears to hear, let him hear.“ Let him tune in to the voice of God on God’s frequency, and let him discern the different voices and frequencies all around him.

Go with God.

When the Sound of the Jackhammer Becomes Normal

that blasted jackhammer!

We have lived in our new home for 55 days now and for almost every one of those 55 days our understanding of the “quiet lil’ community” we moved into has been severely skewed.

This is normal? Really? This is not what we were expecting or promised!

I have wondered if we should reset our normal, or as Physicists call it address “renormalization”.

The blasted jackhammer seems to never stop!

the sound of the jackhammer

I don’t want this to be my normal, and scientists say that it will be accepted as resetting normal “unless it registers as a signal to rise above the background.” Well, I’m telling you it IS registering above the background, that’s for sure.

But that has had me thinking… where else in my life is there a signal that needs to register above the normal, background of my life? Are there signals that I am missing either willfully or inadvertently?

The jackhammer sound does not belong with such frequency in my happy lil home and sweet lil neighborhood. But am I missing other signals, other signals that:

  • are deafening
  • are irritating, annoying
  • don’t belong
  • are disrupting my safe environment and atmosphere
  • make it hard for me to do what I need
  • make me have to readjust my plans
  • infringe on our happiness and pleasure
  • cause me to view the source with contempt

All of these have been effects of the loud and obnoxious jackhammer in my life. The jackhammer is the cause and these are the effects.

Yet, I know there are other causes/signals in my life too, having the same effects.

And the truth is, I have absolutely NO INTEREST is resetting normal or renormalization!

So unless I decide take the signal from that proverbial frog and jump out of the boiling, water pot, I will be cooked, and life as I know it will end forever.

Remember, that classic frog when placed in cool water with heat signals warming up gradually, didn’t even notice his life was ebbing away until he had no sensations at all. By then he was dead to it all and noticed nothing changing around him.

things are heating up around us

He had the sense to recognize the signal of hot water not being his friend and used his fatty, frog legs to get himself out of there and not become someone’s snack.

There are times when it is important to not let distractions around you get you off track; to just forge ahead. But there are other times, when not noticing the loud and obnoxious sounds around you is terminal and will become a slippery slope in the loss of so much more for you, your family and friends.

I trust that in your life, right now, you will be able to identify the loud and obnoxious signals/sounds that are seeking to effect your life, lifestyle, happiness and fullfillmet.

Let’s not allow them to reset our normal, but instead to be the signal that rises above the background and sounds an alarm to us that the water is boiling and our sensitivities are being deadened.

We cannot allow the sound of the jackhammer to become normal.

Cheers to you.

Eyes to See

Developing Discernment Series
Sunday Sermon 8.22.20

Continuing with our series on discernment, we will look at how our senses are used and trained to distinguish and discern spiritual things.

Today’s focus is our eyes. What we see, how we see and developing our spiritual eyesight.

“There’s more to it than meets the eye” as the saying goes, is a pretty accurate description of what developing discernment with our eyes is like. It is the awareness that there is something else going on here, beyond what we are seeing.

I’m certain that each of you have had that “hunch” at some point in your life. You know, the time when the reaction was waaaaay off balance from the statement or question. Maybe it was with a friend, child, or partner, but you had no problem discerning that there was way more to that response than meets the eye.

Perhaps even in business settings, or world event contexts you have realized there’s something else going on here. Yep, that is part of discernment and yep, you’re right. Something else is going on.

Now to distinguish just what, though.

Remembering that there are two kingdoms we are influenced by and live under, we must learn to see them both, and recognize when one is usurping authority from the other. We learn to recognize good and evil, light and dark.

The Apostle Paul taught us:

  • we walk by faith not by sight 2 Cor. 5:7
  • we have not received the spirit of the world 1 Cor. 2:12-13
  • no eye has seen… but God has revealed it to us by his spirit 1 Cor. 2:9-10
  • the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened Eph. 2:18

When Paul was converted, he was literally blinded. He could see nothing for 3 whole days. Cut off from the world as he saw it, he was about to enter the Spirit realm which would teach him new things and grant him fresh revelation and perspective. His spiritual eyes would be activated, when he was prayed for by Ananias.

It is from this position that he tells us the things listed above. A position of having his spiritual eyes activated. A position of having eyes to see what the Spirit is doing.

There is a similar story in the Old Testament found in 2 Kings 6.

Elisha was a powerful and famous prophet. He and his servant were in a city that had been surrounded by enemy forces and the servant was very stressed out by it. The servant asked Elisha what they were going to do.

Elisha told him, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” v.16 But the servant was having none of it. He didn’t see a thing! He didn’t see what Elisha saw, he only saw with his physical eyes, not his spiritual eyes like Elisha.

So, Elisha prayed for him, “Open his eyes Lord, so that he may see.” v. 17 “And he opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire…”

The servant’s spiritual eyes were opened, in addition to his physical eyes. There was truly more to it than met the eye. He now had the activation of his spiritual eyes.

In order for us to see into the spiritual realm, our spiritual eyes must be activated. The eyes of our heart must be focused on Him and the spiritual world.

We should expect to see with the eyes of our heart and spiritual eyes if we are maturing and growing in our daily walk with Him. Heb. 5:14

You see, our Creator wants to communicate with us. He made us for just that and sent Jesus as The Word, to reunite us with Him in that perfect relationship of open communication.

That Creator, endowed us with five senses all to be used in that open communication. Because God is a spirit, and lives in the spiritual realm, we communicate with Him in that realm. But we have to grow in the realm and learn to bring that realm down to earth. Remember the prayer – “on earth as it is in heaven”? (Of course God uses the natural realm to speak to us too. He is not limited in the way He can speak to us. But we are.)

There are plans, purposes, strategies and agendas for us to see in the heavenlies and bring down and apply here on earth. The Kingdom of Heaven will ultimately rule here on earth. How? By and through people who see with spiritual eyes and walk in the spirit realm seeing beyond the obvious into motivations and secret agendas.

This is not some weird doctrine, it is the Word.

Matt. 6:23 – the eyes are the light of the body… if your eyes are unhealthy your whole body will be full of darkness

1 Sam. 16:17 – don’t look on the outward appearance, the Lord sees not as man sees

Psalm 119:18 – open my eyes to see wondrous things

2 Cor. 4:18 – we fix our eyes on what is unseen, for what is unseen is eternal

Mark 8:22-25 – Jesus touched his eyes and opened them and he saw clearly

As we develop discernment, our desire is to have our eyes opened, to see into the spirit realm and understand what the spirit is doing.

This will spare us from false teachings, and deception and keep us anchored to The Word and our great God.

We need to be as wise as serpents in these days. Not everything we see is all there is. There is much more behind the scenes and developing discernment, starting with our spiritual eyes is one of the keys to unlock “on earth as it is in heaven.”

I’m asking the Lord to give the readers of this eyes to see.

Won’t you join me in asking for your spiritual eyes to be activated?

Go with God.

I created a bible study for this, it is attached here. Enjoy.

Retirement Report Card

It was one year ago that that I stood at the threshold of a whole, new way of life. A total change in all I had known, done, hoped for, and trusted in. It was not without tears, questions, and uncertainties that I decided to declare, “Time to refire” (not retire); it had become my theme and it surged from the deepest part of my soul.

pens from the party

We gathered together with family and friends and celebrated the past, all the while looking forward to an exciting, unknown and new future. It was such a wonderful time, surrounded by so many who had walked with me through seasons and times in my life. I was and am so blessed to be influenced by people of such quality and character.

Be careful what you declare. Be careful what you wish for. Your words are powerful and creative! Oh boy, have I been reminded of that truth through this past year.

Little did I know or understand what was to unfold as far as His plan for my “refirement”. All I knew was it was time to refire and not lay down and become a retired couch potato.

Within a week of that festive celebration, I was hired to work part-time in my favorite boutique AT THE HARBOR, which is my favorite place in Orange County. The whole story is remarkable and I still shake my head at how it worked out so perfectly – me.

Lady Debra at Dana Point Harbor

Then, around the first of the year, prompted by a desire to write and encourage people, I began my website and blog underdebrasplam.com. It has been such a rewarding opportunity for sharing and teaching and I am so absolutely grateful to you for your following and support.

My new brand

A few months into my new job, it was time for a new church too. Through a series of events and a miracle with my husband we eventually felt directed to a church in San Juan Capistrano.

After a few weeks attending there together, we knew it was the place for us to become involved. We loved what was happening there and wanted to be a part of it.

Dennis and the Pastor began a beautiful relationship of mutual respect and together we have had the joy of conversations, meetings, prayer and planning in church matters and ministry. We have been so happy and fulfilled to help and serve where needed.

In fact, I never dreamed of becoming involved again in music, praise and worship; but Someone higher than I had other plans. All those years of training and experience were not to be lost, or stored away, because it was TIME TO REFIRE!

As you know, last month we moved, only 8 miles from where we were, but again, it was a move towards refirement. We know it is all about refirement and doing what we are s’pose to be doing, sharing it here in this place.

We meet weekly with different groups and are in some ways more busy now than we have been in a long time.

new friends of my refirement

I have certainly refired!

One year ago, I faced a very uncertain and unclear future.

Today, I celebrate the hundreds of open doors, untold opportunities, joyous encounters, new possibilities, fresh energy and insight that has been mine this past year.

It is with pregnant expectancy that I peer into the next year as well, because I am convinced it is still TIME TO REFIRE.

Oh, and I am proud to say that the report on retirement is A+.

Cheers to you.

Developing Discernment

Sunday Sermon 8.15.20

Last week we spoke about the need for discernment in these days and I feel impressed to stay with that theme – DISCERNMENT for the next few “Sunday Sermons’. Therefore, today we will begin a series I’ve entitled – “Developing Discernment“.

There is an urgency in my spirit that says we must sharpen our sensitivity to what is happening, changing, being presented and being birthed in our nation and in our lives.

We must see beyond the obvious and evident and see with “spiritual eyes” what is happening. That is where developing discernment is absolutely vital.

Let’s review what discernment means, and this week, look at the biblical definitions.

Discern or it’s related forms are only used a total of 25 times in the bible. The Old Testament uses 5 different words that are translated in a form of discern and the New Testament uses 4 different words.

Taken together, the OT definitions are: to scrutinize, look intently; to hear intelligently; to know by seeing; to separate mentally, distinguish; and to see.

The NT definitions are: to separate thoroughly, in public as a channel; to scrutinize or investigate; decisive, critical or discriminate; and to test or approve.

To help fill out the definition further, here are some synonyms for discernment = sensitivity, shrewdness, insight, perception, discrimination.

And lastly, some antonyms = unperceiving, obtuse, purblind (never heard of that one), tactless.

Thank you for wading through those tall word weeds, I know they can be cumbersome to some. (I hope there are those who ponder and further study those meanings, tho’)

Developing discerning means that we learn to scrutinize, investigate and separate or distinguish with spiritually discriminative senses any given situation, word, person, or spirit.

Jesus told his disciples –

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”

Matthew 10:16

Did you notice that word, shrewd? It is a synonym for discerning.

Jesus was warning the twelve, and his warning stands for us, we are sheep among wolves in our generation and we need to be exceedingly shrewd, and discerning among the wolves.

In another place it says –

Solid food is for the mature, who have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:14

That passages tells us that it is through practice and exercise that we develop discernment. Discernment is like a muscle that strengthens and becomes more defined with regular workouts.

With regular work outs our discernment muscle learns to distinguish between good and evil, truth and error, spirit and flesh, God and Satan. Left alone though, the muscle will atrophy – waste away.

But it takes more than human flexing and pumping and determination to develop our discernment muscle. The discernment that we are taking about developing requires a spiritual activation, spiritual drive and spiritual direction.

The Apostle Paul identified one of the nine gifts of the Spirit as “the gift of discerning of spirits”. 1 Corinthians 12:10 So we know it is a gift of the Spirit.

But all who are born again have received a rebirth by the Spirit and thereby can and should be Spirit led and fed. That is not a spiritual gift, per se, but a benefit of being a child of God and heir in His kingdom.

Therefore, we learn to grow in the Spirit, follow the Spirit, walk in the Spirit and discern the spirits around us. Our life on this planet should be one of developing discernment to the things of God.

I believe, in the months that lie ahead, it will be imperative for believers to understand the times (like Issachar of old) and discern what the Spirit is saying. If they don’t, they will be deceived with the rest of the unbelievers. (check out 2 Thessalonians 2 again!)

It is my prayer, that all believers be strengthened in their Spirit and learn to discern the days and times in which we live, thereby walking in full victory in the Spirit.

To that end, from now until Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 18-19) our Sunday Sermons will be on activating our five senses to discern spiritually.

If that’s your desire, won’t you join me in presenting yourself to Him this week and inviting Him to touch your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and hands and teach you to mature in developing discernment?

Go with God.

Those darn masks

I have to chuckle each time I pick up my cell phone, with my mask on, and the facial recognition tells me I can’t be identified and I must enter my passcode.

Here we have the most elaborate and advanced mini computer ever created in our hand and it won’t work with face masks.

What’s so amusing is this is clearly stated in the Face ID set up directions, created and listed in November of 2017.

What Facial Recognition software is able to do is truly amazingly powerful. It uses a “TrueDepth” camera to analyze 30,000 invisible dots on your face and then create a depth map of your face, while at the same time creating an infrared image.

The neural engine of the bionic chip transforms that depth into a mathematical representation and compares it to the facial data that is loaded into the camera.

Voila, it is either you and you’re in or it’s not and you need your passcode.

This facial rec is s’pose to be intuitive and secure and is able to adapt to changes in your appearance and location.

The odds of a stranger picking up your phone and being able to access it with their face is 1 in 1,000,000. Add to that the fact that your phone allows 5 unsuccessful match attempts then locks, and you are said to be very secure.

Oh, and I forgot to mention it is all encrypted and protected by “Secure Enclave”. (whatever or where ever that is…)

Lastly about facial recognition, not only is it amazingly powerful but it has many uses. It is used to unlock your phone or ipad, you can make purchases, sign in and it even auto fills for you.

Obviously, facial recognition is not only used on phones. It is also used in DMV data bases, airports, Customs and Border Protection, traffic cams, police departments, Dept. of Homeland Security, retail stores, find missing persons, aid investigations and diagnose diseases, to name a few.

The seemingly infinite power of an A12 Bionic, 64-bit hexa-core ARM, high performance mobile chip is within your reach and available to you pretty much anytime you want.

And yet, it is rendered useless by those darn masks!

Hmmmm…

Reminds me of another infinite power that has abilities and uses which are available for us, all within our reach… and yet, we choose to cover ourselves with those darn masks.

Hmmm… think about it.

Cheers to you.

Give us a discerning heart

Sunday Sermon 8.8.20

“Discernment”, “discerning” are words not used frequently these days and yet, in my opinion, they are needed now more than ever.

How would you define them? Go ahead, think about it, create a simple and clear definition. Remember, though, discernment is not wisdom, understanding or knowledge; they are all different words.

It took me several attempts and mental edits to make it clear and concise in my mind. How did you do?

Here’s what the pros tell us discernment is: “the ability to judge well”. Another says, “to separate or distinguish between two or more things”.

Discernment is the ability to see clearly and decide between:

  • right and wrong
  • truth and error
  • good and bad
  • primary and secondary
  • essential and indifferent
  • permanent and transient
  • good, better, best
  • in Christian worldview the ability to think and see Biblically

Discernment is lacking and yet so vital today. It has always been so. So vital in fact, King Solomon, in about 900 BC made it his number one request from God!

“Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong”

1 Kings 3:9

What a request! He could have asked for anything. He pretty much had a blank check from God. He thought long and hard and concluded that what he needed most in his reign, life and influence was discernment.

God heard, God honored his request and God gave him more than discernment. In fact, because he asked for discernment and wisdom in order to be a good leader and distinguish between right and wrong, God said He would give him wealth and honor greater than any other king. Thus, that is why Solomon is counted as the wisest and wealthiest man of all time. BECAUSE HE ASKED FOR DISCERNMENT.

This so impacted me as a young Christian, Solomon’s request for wisdom and discernment, that I made it my life verse, goal and prayer. It is powerful.

King David also desired discernment.

Psalm 119:66 – Teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I trust in your commands.

Psalm 119:125 – I am your servant, give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

Some call discernment a 6th sense. Some call it how things look in God’s eyes.

No matter what we call it, scripturally it is called for. Today we need it. We must call for it in our lives in a greater measure.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 – examine everything sensibility

1 John 4:1 – do not believe every spirit, test the spirits

2 Peter 1:3 – God has given us everything we need for godliness

Matthew 7:1,6 – be careful not to cast your pearls before swine

In these days, we need to be able to distinguish between truth and error, good and bad. We need to be able to discern or judge well. We need to be able to separate between things and sort and sift wisely.

Let’s join Solomon and ask God to “give us a discerning heart.”

Go with God.

Self care

With our latest technology advancements, you can find charging stations all over the place.

  • Electric vehicle charging stations at stores, gas stations, parking lots, transportation centers
  • Cell phone charging stations at airports, shopping centers, stores, stadiums, churches
  • Home charging stations in nearly every room and vehicle
  • Electric bike & scooter charges onboard or on street corners

Think about it. We cannot live, it seems, without our equipment being charged up and ready to go, so we have made places in our life to do just that, get them fully charged.

And yet, we often find that our life is running on empty and in need of a recharge. That recharge we need is called self care by many and is essential for our health.

It is vital that we pay attention to our body, but self care involves these areas too:

Self care is not selfish, no matter what that voice in your head is telling you. You are not being selfish when you are getting your rest, because in doing so you will become more energetic and be able to do more.

Self care is not a one time or rare experience, like going to the spa. Self care is essential maintenance to your well being and actually the well being of those around you. (Ask your spouse or a family member if they like you better rested or tired. 🙂 )

Self care in not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is wisdom at work in your life.

Self care is not only for some people. Everyone must find what it is that recharges them and get charged back up. Is it golf, sewing, alone time, a book, getting outside, a good movie? Find where your recharging station is and get plugged into it.

This has been my personal challenge these last couple of days. You can go and give and do and repeat until you feel yourself running near empty.

So when you see your charge being depleted, be brave, don’t deny and do what is needed to get that vital recharge.

Take care of yourself, you are essential.

Cheers to you.

Close the door

Sunday Sermon 8.1.20

Early this morning, this phrase came crashing into my heart and upon my mind, “Close the door”.

I hadn’t heard a door slam, nor had there been creatures invading us; the weather wasn’t threatening, neither were the circumstances. So why the imprint of this phrase on my psyche?

While pursuing its import, two main points developed before me.

We, adult humans are faced with 35,000 decisions each day with 226.7 of them alone, having to do with the food we eat (or don’t). That means, if we spend 7 hours sleeping each night, (and we assume no choices are made in our sleep, a BIG assumption) then, that means we make 2,000 decisions per hour or 1 decision every 2 seconds!

That’s alot of choosing, options, brain stress and distractions!

Many of those decisions are unconscious, but they are still decisions that the brain encodes 10 seconds before we even consciously, and with awareness make the actual decision. The brain has decided and then the conscious thoughts justify the decision. The decision is made in the neurocircuitry of our brain by predicting outcomes ahead of time. Then we actually make the choice in real time.

All of that research was published long before Covid and still remains true. But with Covid, those decisions have been confined to a smaller setting – our home, or the area we spend most our life in.

There are so many influences, voices, reports, demands, people, speaking or often yelling at us with directives. And what is spoken as truth this week, often morphs into something entirely different next week.

Our heads, hearts, and emotions are bombarded, battered and bruised with the onslaught information, (or misinformation) and in my view, these all are distractions, that must be cut off.

Close the Door point 1CLOSE THE DOOR on distractions that bring you anything but life, faith, hope, peace, and joy.

Turn off, stop listening daily, ignore notifications, stop feeding fear, don’t read it, refuse to own it. Don’t give place in your life to the endless, fearful distractions.

It is one of those 35,000 decisions you can make now, ahead of time and get your brain in the encoding process. Close the door to distractions.

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus told his disciples, to go into their room and CLOSE THE DOOR (and pray). He instructed them to close out distractions, shut themselves in with who really mattered, and focus on what was more important.

I am not saying to close yourself off from the world and only pray, that’s just weird and ineffective. I am saying, in order to be strong and effective in your mission on earth, you must learn to close the door on distractions while focusing on what is important.

Another place we see “close the door” in the Bible is in 2 Kings 4.

A widow, with two sons was facing creditor problems involving the seizing of her sons for repayment. She was desperate, so she sought out the prophet Elisha. She confessed to him she had nothing of value in her home (to sell) “except a small jar of olive oil.” 2 Kings 4:2

He told her to gather from her neighbors as many empty jars as she could and not just a few. Then she was to go inside her house and “shut the door” behind her and her sons, where they would then pour her oil into each empty jar that they had gathered.

She did as she was told – gathered, shut the door and poured into each jar. When there were no more jars to fill, her oil stopped flowing. Every jar had been filled and were now filling her home. She had plenty to sell, paid off the creditors, and lived off of what was left.

Close the door point 2You have all you need at home (your little bit of oil), you need to pour it out into empty vessels.

Your family and those who enter your home need what you have. You can fill them with your words, actions, kindness, encouragement, prayer, help, correction, insight, love. What you do behind the closed doors of your home is where the “anointing” starts. The outpouring of God’s spirit of love and favor – His anointing oil of the Spirit, starts at home, behind closed doors. Pour out your “little” oil there and see how you little becomes much.

It is my determination to ask the Lord to help me close the doors of distraction in my life, and work within me behind the closed doors of my home to fill up empty vessels.

I want His help in recoding my neurocircuitry and decision making prowess. I want to equip my brain with the positive and faith building data to allow it to predict the most favorable outcomes. This is a decision I have made!

Won’t you join me?

Close those doors, keep pouring out.

Go with God.

“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”

Although written in 1770 by British spokesman, orator and political thinker, Edmund Burke, that title could have come from our headlines today, and certainly reflects my heart and message for this blog.

It is Burke who is credited with one of the most popular quotes of all time, (even though his speech never specifically said the words.)

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I’ll still take it, wont you? It is so good, JFK used it.

What Burke did say in his writing “Thoughts on the Cause…” was –

When bad men combine – good men must organize.”

Edmund Burke

I feel such an urgency for good men (mankind) to speak up, step up, step out, launch out, reach out, take action, refuse the trends, stay the “good” course, and as Burke said, maybe even organize. Why not? It is time!

In the words of President Grover Cleveland, “What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something.”

I am not running for office, nor are you most likely, but here’s the hitch- what are we standing for? Are we standing up for anything? Or have we allowed our voices to be silenced by fear, complacency, louder voices, cancel culture and censorship?

In the days of Women’s Suffrage there were suffragists and suffragettes. Suffragists believed in peaceful, constitutional campaigns for women’s right to vote. Suffragettes were activists, willing to take direct action into the community. Their motto, “Deeds not words” often led to hunger strikes and handcuffing themselves to the White House fence.

Both believed in the same thing – that women had the right to vote but they took action in different ways. The key though, they took action. The result? The passage of the 19th Amendment allowing women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony would have been proud, after being arrested and still voting 150 times illegally. She stood up for that right long before others jumped on board and made it legal.

Being a student and lover of American history (I hear a yawn 🙂 ) I can’t help but go to dozens of examples of those who stood up in the face of “discontents”, injustices, and hardships and joined with others of like mind to push through change.

The good people voluntarily organized and took persistent action so that the evils of their day would not triumph in their society.

What would the nation/world be without these who stood up for the cause that gripped their soul, and sacrificed their own self interests for the good of the society and future generations?

Consider the following and their causes:

  • Dorthea Dix – mistreatment of the mentally ill
  • Horance Mann – education reform
  • Frederick Douglass – anti-slavery, civil rights
  • William Lloyd Garrison – abolition
  • Ida Tarabel – investigative journalism (what’s happened to that?)
  • Jane Addams – help for the poor and immigrants
  • Booker T. Washington – black education and training (peaceful)
  • WEB Dubois – black rights, NAACP (violent if needed)
  • Sojourner Truth – abolitionist
  • Harriet Tubman – anti-slavery
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson – writer, reformer
  • Caesar Chavez – farmworkers rights
  • Malala Yousafzai – Taliban awareness, women rights
  • Florence Nightingale – nursing
  • Clara Barton – founder of the Red Cross
  • Marie Curie – medicine
  • John Muir – wildlife conservation
  • Upton Sinclair – meatpacking industry reform
  • Jackie Robinson – racial equality
  • Sally Ride – space travel

The world is a better and changed place because each of these did something with the passion they felt. They joined with others and got things changed. These good humans pressed through the evil and triumphed over it. “Overcome evil with good”.

Solomon, in Proverbs warned us:

If you do nothing in times of trouble, your strength is small.

Proverbs 24:10

So, how’s your strength? These are NOT “do nothing days”. Shame on us if we are “do nothing-ers”.

I conclude my thoughts on the cause of the present discontents.

Cheers to you.

Living in the days of Daniel

Sunday Sermon 7.25.20

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

George Santayana

And, those who learn history will often see close parallels between ancient days and modern days. (Debbie Chaney – :-))

Take the prophet Daniel for example. Let’s look at him today and notice the modern day parallels.

Daniel lived some 2,500 years ago, as a member of the noble family of Judah, and was taken captive to Babylon by its king Nebuchadnezzar. He and his family and friends found themselves placed in a re-education program there.

They were now in the minority in the midst of a religiously hostile nation and being pressed upon by the customs of that nation to reshape their values and ideas.

Daniel was a godly, obedient and courageous believer in Jehovah and had even earned the respect and admiration of non-believers.

That’s the backstory, now we enter chapter 1 of Daniel where you will find –

3 R’s

Daniel RESOLVED, Daniel REQUESTED, Daniel was REWARDED

In Daniel’s re-education program, he resolved to not compromise his values. Although being told he has to eat certain things, his heart and values said he would not and he set himself to stay true to Jehovah and his personal beliefs.

He did take action however, and requested to be given certain acceptable foods. That took courage and faith. He had and demonstrated both.

In fact, his faith and courage were rewarded with favor and compassion from Jehovah. He was allowed to eat his suggested foods and in the end, he and his friends were better off in every way than the others in the re-education program with him.

Chapter 2 of Daniel presents us with –

3 D’s

DREAMS, DEATH, and DANIEL

King Nebuchadnezzar had a bad dream and because his wise guys couldn’t interpret it, he ordered them all to be put to death. As his servants were rounding up the wise guys, they came to get Daniel too, for he was now a part of king Neb’s wise guy council. Daniel, inquiring what was going on, was told and responded with “wisdom and tact”. Short story, guess who was able to interpret king Neb’s bad dream?? Yup, Daniel.

Yay Daniel, right??

Things were good, for a while. Daniel was promoted, and His God – Jehovah was lauded in the kingdom. Yay!

Enter chapter 3, here we see –

3 I’s and a double I

IMAGE, IDOLARTY, INSOLENCE and an INCREDIBLE INCIDENT!

King Neb got pretty full of himself and had an enormous self image (selfie) built in the center of town. But as if that wasn’t enough, he then made an executive order that everyone had to bow down and worship the selfie. Everyone was to practice idolatry by worshipping him.

Enter principled, god-fearing, non-compromising, wise man – Daniel and his friends In a full out act of insolence, His friends refused to follow the executive order or worship the image of the arrogant king.

Their response was – we do not need to defend ourselves, if the God we serve doesn’t help us, we will still will not serve or worship the empty orders of man. We serve and worship Jehovah only. We will take our chances by standing with him and his favor, not man. Do what you will, oh king Neb.

The king was hot and so he heated up the fire. His men tossed the three men into that fire and lost their lives doing so.

And then the INCREDIBLE INCIDENT!

In the fire, appeared a fourth figure. Looking through the fireproof window, Neb was petrified. How could there be 4, he threw in 3? Again, short story – Jehovah God showed up to defend his wise, faithful and courageous followers. Daniel’s friends not only survived the incredible incident, but demonstrated God’s deliverance and power to a heathen king, palace and kingdom. Yay Daniel and friends. Yay Jehovah!

We are living in the days of Daniel with some exceptional parallels for you and I. Let’s be learners of history.

  • It’s not easy to follow Jesus in today’s culture, but it can and must be done.
  • The re-education program has begun. How are you doing with maintaining your values, and godly obedience?
  • In the midst of the re-education program, what is your resolve? What is your request? How will you be rewarded?
  • Wisdom and tact are hallmark needs in the midst of these bad dreams and death. How are you doing there?
  • Executive order after executive order, idolatry, arrogance – when will it be time for you to respectfully display your insolence?
  • Courage and faith are needed and to those who walk in them, they will be shown incredible incidents! Miraculous events. Unbelievable power of God. Mighty deliverance.

I challenge you, I challenge myself, let’s be like Daniel. Let’s let God be our judge in these days, and see if He doesn’t use us to do something earth shattering.

We are living in the days of Daniel.

Go with God.

Remember the dragonfly?

We recently moved to a lakeside home, where there is an abundance of dragonflies. They are interesting to watch and walk with but in doing so, I realized (after speaking with my brilliant husband) that I had forgotten much about these amazing creatures.

So guess what I have been studying? Yep – Odonata, Anisoptera – the dragonfly.

So today’s blog can be whatever you choose it to be. An animal planet type lesson and appreciation for the dragonfly; or a lesson with human and personal applications for your own insight and growth; and maybe even a place to glean some spiritual insight with applications for you spiritually.

So, here goes, take what you will from the amazing dragonfly.

The emperor dragonfly – Anax = “lord, master, king”

There are more than 5,000 species of dragonflies and their name is taken from the Greek which means, “toothed one”, because of their serrated teeth. They go through a three stage development called “incomplete metamorphosis” which includes: egg, larva (nymph) and adult.

Most dragonflies live near fresh water; it can be flowing water, standing water, running water, still water, or temporary pools of water. There is a species that can even live on or near salt water.

But check out these remarkable factoids:

  • they are expert fliers: up and down, hover, & even mate midair
  • they capture and eat their prey from the air, with their feet with 90-95% accuracy
  • if they cant fly, they will die, starve (because they ONLY eat what they catch in flight)
  • they eat 30-100 mosquitos per day
  • they have 6 directional flying, 4 styles of flight, many flying modes, accelerate from 4G-9G in sharp turns and have 4 ways of generating lift
  • WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AN INSECT, NOT AN AIRPLANE!!!!
  • their flight inspires engineers (duh)
  • nearly their whole head is eye which gives them vision that sees nearly 360 degrees, except directly behind them
  • their eyes have 24,000 ommatidia (those compound eye sections)
  • they are migratory insects ranging from traveling every third day (NJ Green Darner) to 11,000 miles across the Indian Ocean (Globe Skinner)
  • they spend 1-5 years in their nymph stage, living totally underwater (this is where they spend the majority of their life – underwater)
  • in this stage they will molt 6-15 times, and eat everything with a hinged mandible, they even eat their own
  • in the water they breathe through gills in their rectum (yep, crazy!)
  • they propel themselves through the water by expelling water through their anus (yep, again crazy)
  • when it emerges from the nymph stage, it stops eating and crawls from the water on a reed where the exoskeleton cracks open and releases the abdomen and wings, which will dry and harden over several hours
  • emerging is the adult dragonfly, which is learning to breathe air and is expanding its body to its full extent
  • as an adult, it will live a few months up to a year

In the Japanese culture dragonflies represent courage, strength and happiness. However in European folklore they have a more sinister reputation.

We can see that the dragonfly is a design marvel intended to live in two different worlds, with crazy, powerful and amazing abilities in each. We can see its incomplete metamorphosis being completely perfect for its design and purpose.

We can see the dark deluge in which it spends most of its time is not the end of its metamorphosis, but the preparation needed for a whole new life.

I’m not gonna lie, I see so many spiritual applications and personal challenges for me to apply from the life of the dragonfly. My hope is that you too will gain insight, hope and at the very least wonder as you remember the dragonfly.

Cheers to you.

All research based on info from Smithsonianmag.com and Treehugger.com

Lavish love

When was the last time you were overwhelmed by someone’s generous, extravagant, elaborate, luxurious love? I mean truly blown away, melted, in awe, mouth open, stunned and head shaking in unbelievable amazement?

Think for a moment.

Can you relate to having love lavished on you in such an astonishing way?

To help us visualize this type of love, imagine a young person with a red, solo cup in hand saying, “Yes, I want it all, I’m ready. Here, fill me up”, and extending the red, solo cup to receive it all.

puny, red, solo cup

In response, comes a deluge from the skies totally engulfing the youngster, drenching him, filling the cup, overflowing the cup, and moistening everything in the youngster’s life with this lavish and extravagant outpouring. He/she was overwhelmed. Lavished. Unable to contain it all. The red, solo cup mentality was far too small for what rich, generous and abundant outpouring was available and coming.

There are two applications that I have recently seen in regards to this.

First, we are loved waaaaay more than our puny minds can fathom! God’s love for us is generous, excessive, abundant, beyond what we can imagine, rich, poured out without measure, indescribable!

His love reaches to the heavens, his faithfulness to the skies, righteousness to the mountains, justice to the great deep, is priceless and is a river of delights. (Psalm 36)

He gives generously to all without finding fault. (Jas. 1:5)

No one has seen or heard what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Cor. 2:9)

We are unable to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for us. (Eph. 3:18)

1 John 3:1 – Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s love that he has lavished on us!

We are the one holding that red, solo cup, unable to hold the depth of the outpouring of his love for us.

His love for you is overwhelming. Beyond what the red, solo cup mind can hold or understand. Bask in the deluge of his love, let him drench you and moisten everything in your life. Receive his lavish love.

Last point worth making is this – God is generous, He is not tight fisted.

Just look at the natural world for a glimpse of his generosity:

  • There are 25,000 varieties of orchids
  • Orchids are 1 of 270,000 species of flowers
  • The galaxy has 100,000 million stars like our sun
  • Our galaxy is 1 of 100,000 million galaxies
  • The estimated number of sand on the Earth is 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power
  • Sand in the universe = 10 to the 63rd power
  • Atoms in the universe = 10 to the 80th power
  • Even though there are over 70 thousand, million, million, million stars in the universe there are
  • that same number of molecules in just 10 drops of water
  • YES! There are more water molecules in the universe than stars.

God is generous. Unfathomable. Beyond our understanding. No eye has seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for all who love him. Amazing!

Yet, he willingly pours out on us his love, grace, faith, knowledge and all we need. He willingly lavishes his love on us.

The unfathomable God has lavished his love and provision on you. Live in the deluge, dance in that deluge, be refreshed in that deluge and throw away that puny, red solo cup.

Cheers to you

Going through the fire?

Sunday Sermon 7.18.20

What fire does not destroy, it hardens.

Oscar Wilde

The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire.

Carl Jung

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12

These trials have come to prove the genuineness of your faith, which is of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire…

1 Peter 1:7

So, my assumption is that you very probably ARE going though the fire, because most of us are, including myself.

The fires of today’s ever changing societal norms, the fires of pressures and stresses on strained relationships, the fires of fatigued and worn emotions, the fires of losses, challenges, faith, and apathy. We are quite literally living in a firestorm that is surrounding us and affecting us on every side.

It would be wise to accept the fires as a given in our life, with a definite purpose.

But it is also wise to accept this promise:

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God…

Isaiah 43:2-3

Remember, Daniel’s three friends who refused to submit to the decrees of the king and were thrown into the fire? (Daniel 3) Very literally, they were thrown into a furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. And yet, they not only survived the ordeal, the king actually saw a fourth man walking around in the fire with them!

Three thrown in, four seen in the fire! That is the promise from Isaiah, that the fire will not burn us because the Lord Himself will be walking with us through the fire. What a promise, what a miracle!

In the very midst of the fire, the Lord is with you. In the most heated exchanges, in the burning and aching hearts, in the crying out of flesh, soul and spirit, the Lord, Himself is with you.

I firmly believe, these days are being used by Him to refine us, process us, and bring the best, most pure from within us.

Malachi and Zechariah both spoke of a time when the Lord would refine his people like silver and gold, when the Lord would sit as a refiner and purifier. (Malachi 3:2-3; Zechariah 13:9) Yes, this was referring to Israel and it’s historical captivity and rebuilding. But things that happened in Old Testament times happened as an example for us, too. With lessons and applications for us. 1 Corinthians 10:6

I submit to you, the purpose of the fire(s) is to refine us. To purify us.

I recently spent some time studying the process for refining silver, gold, platinum, and palladium. That process is extensive! At my count, it contains no less than 32 steps! Check out some of these words used in the refining process:

  • gun
  • dynamite
  • hauled out
  • brought to the surface
  • primary crusher
  • secondary crusher
  • cone crusher
  • water to separate
  • acid added
  • filter press
  • black powder
  • 50% silver, 50% waste
  • dried out
  • placed in oven
  • silver and waste separated
  • poured out
  • settles to bottom
  • waste skimmed off
  • sold to refinery
  • weighed
  • flux added
  • placed in crucible
  • able to take the heat
  • placed into melting furnace
  • transformed
  • molded
  • remolded
  • re-cooled
  • smaller
  • placed into acid solution
  • all impurities dissolved
  • results = 100% pure

If you and I are silver or gold and we are in the fire, then look at this amazing process. Look at the purpose of the fire. The Lord, as the refiner is processing us to be 100% pure, remolded into the image of Jesus. All impurities and waste burnt away in the crucible and only pure silver, or gold remains.

We are being tried in the fire and shouldn’t consider the ordeal we are in as some strange thing. It is the process of purification and stripping away all that is waste. He has not left us, He is with us in the process and is directing the entire operation in our life.

Check back at those words, that process, it’s an extensive and painful process.

He is making of you and me, a vessel of honor, pure and solid.

Trust Him, through the fire.

Go with God.

How big is your God

When you receive “a bad report”, when you are feeling the walls closing in on you, when circumstances go from bad to worse – how big is your God?

When you see no way possible, when funds are low and stressors are high – how big is your God?

When you have prayed and see no “answer”, when you read and see “no answer”, when your faith is all but gone – how big is your God?

How big is your God? Does your God even care? Is He listening?

Is He bigger than your situation? Bigger than your problem? Is He bigger than you can imagine? What are His limitations? How big is your God?

Is your God made by man? Ideas prescribed by human thinking? Is your God based on the philosophies of man and man’s wisdom?

What God is it that receives your praise? Your strength? Your time? How big is your God?

This is a simple call to all who will listen, how big is your God? Because in these days, the god you lean upon, should be the One you trust in, invest in and be the One who saves, strengthens and uses you. So, how big is He?

Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger…

Isaiah 40:12

Think of it, visualize it… God, holding up his thumb and little finger in front of him and using it to measure the expanse of the skies, from one end of the universe to the other. On my hand, that span barely measures 7 inches. The God of the universe measures that very universe as a master navigator or chief contractor with his thumb and little finger.

That’s a big God!

That is a God who’s power is limitless. Who’s attention to detail never misses even the slightest change or move. That is a God who not only cares about every detail in his creation’s life but is big and powerful enough to provide the very answer to every need that his creation has.

That’s a big God. That’s our God.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? He who brings out all the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”

Isaiah 40:25-26

That is the very God who cares for you; is able to provide for you all you need. That is the God who has the answers, wisdom, strength, and is always listening to prayers. He will never, ever leave you on your own to figure it out by yourself.

That is a big God, yet that is a personal, loving and all sufficient God, who simply asks for your devotion. That’s a deal I’ll take any day!

Our God is limitless, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and best of all loving. He will not be confined, limited, shut down, or locked up. He is the Great “I AM”, who will be there for you in every situation.

So, how big is your God?

Cheers to you

Feeding the wolf

Sunday sermon 7.11.20

The story is told of an elder Cherokee man telling his grandson of the battle that goes on inside of every person. He said there are two wolves battling.

One is evil- it represents anger, envy, jealousy, regret, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

One is good – representing joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

After hearing about the battling wolves within, the grandson asked his Grandfather, “Which one wins?”

“The one you feed”, was the response.

Consider that for a moment in regards to your soul and spirit. Which one wins with more frequency in your life? Your soul or your spirit.

The one you feed, is still true.

Our soul is who we are; our mind, emotions and will. Our spirit is the home for God’s spirit and makes contact with God.

We find ourselves living between these two howling wolves. The soulish one, where we live according to our emotions, fears, understanding, senses and reasoning; and the call of the spirit man urging us to line ourselves up to God’s Word and standard.

The Apostle Paul states it this way,

I do not understand what I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:15-16

Yet, he also challenges us in Galatians 5 –

So I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (soul). For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

Galatians 5:16-17

The one you feed will grow, become stronger and influence your decisions and take over your life. It will become the lens through which you see everything, including your abilities, dreams and purpose.

My heart has been crying out lately for people to arise and feed their spirit.

Your spirit is yearning for food. Crying out like that musical, “Feed me, (Seymour)”. Your spirit needs nourishment. What are you feeding it? Is it starving?

For some that means beginning at step one and igniting your spirit by allowing God to make it alive by being saved, reborn.

Others will need to spend more time in the Word, prayer, study, outreach. Some need to shake off the passiveness and and extend the kingdom more assertive and boldly in their lives.

There are those who need to make some things right, get things in order, deal with issues truthfully.

As you feed your spirit, you are actually cutting off those soulish desires, habits, and thoughts, shutting down those out of control emotions. And, your hungry lil spirit man is enlarging.

If you’re looking for a great spiritual meal right now, you may want to spend some time in Romans 8 and Galatians 5. Then take whatever steps you need to each day to intentionally feed and grow your spirit.

Pray, read, talk with others, study, reach out, help others – these are all healthy ways to feed your starving spirit.

You will find new strength, insight, passion, purpose, faith, and boldness as your spirit grows and your emotions are trained.

In your howling battle within, which wolf is being fed?

Cheers to you.

Musings on Moving

Everything in the universe is moving. It never stops.

Everything is moving because there are forces at work causing that movement; forces like gravity and electromagnetism. If there were no forces at work, there would be no motion.

The Earth itself moves through space at a rate of 30/km sec. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, it will have moved 450 km- about the width of Ohio.

Earth spins on its axis at a rate of 1,000 mph, and a jumbo jet moves at 500 mph, about half as fast as Earth spins.

Movement is fundamental to life. We move our bodies to express wants, needs, emotions, thoughts and ideas. How well we move and how much we move determines how well we engage with the world.

We are advised, for the benefit of our own health, to develop a body that moves well. Our bodies are designed for movement and we must defeat the sedentary life.

Sir Issac himself, three centuries ago, submitted 3 revolutionary ideas about the laws of motion, which as we now know are the foundation of modern physics.

Remember these?

  • Things cannot start, stop, or change directions by themselves
  • When a constant force acts on a massive body it causes it to accelerate
  • For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

I hope I haven’t lost your attention … but this moving issue is vital to us. Let’s look at these life lessons we can glean from the facts I’ve shared above:

  • Movement is a constant in life. Things will move, change, rearrange, and relocate. Embrace it. Move with it. Adjust. Be fluid & flexible.
  • There are forces at work causing the movement. Some you support, others you don’t; pick your battles and fight courageously. Not all forces are good.
  • In the big picture, the speed of the movement isn’t the priority, it is that the movement is actually happening, albeit, often apparently slow.
  • We were designed to move and engage the world. You can and do impact, by your motions, those around you.
  • If you are an object at rest, a greater force will definitely act upon you to get you to move.
  • Don’t be surprised if your motion accelerates, that’s good! It means a constant force is acting on you!
  • Expect opposition and resistance when you move out, move on and move in. Newton told us about that too.

We need to understand, the world will not stop moving/changing. If the Earth stopped moving, the atmosphere would still be in motion at Earth’s rotational speed of 1,000 mph and the trees, soil, rocks, buildings, even your dog, would be swept into the atmosphere.

Movement/moving, changing position or thoughts over time is part of life. It will not stop.

As you feel the world swirl around you and whirlwinds blow past you, know that there is a Greater Force acting and willing to act on your behalf.

Learn to move with that Greater Force and keep on accelerating.

Cheers to you.

When all is stripped away

What do you have?

When the accolades, excesses, superficial and shallow are gone, what remains? When the cupboards are bare, the accounts low, and energy depleted, what is left?

What is it that is important? Is it things, memories, accumulations, accomplishments or status? Maybe deeds, holdings, achievements or awards?

When all is stripped away, what matters most and still stands, and will always stand?

What values do you hold true to? What characteristics do you cherish, honor and hold in high esteem? What truths are immutable? What ideas are solid yet evolving?

Who are you, deep inside, when all is stripped away?

Who are we as a society, when all is stripped away?

This is your bedrock. This is our bedrock.

Bedrock = the lowest point; solid rock underlying surface materials; fundamental, basic or relaible

What is it that can never be taken away from you? Your family?

What is it that cannot be taken away from your community, your nation?

Now is the time to see very clearly what is important, valuable, worth fighting for and burning at our core of who we are.

Remove the filters, reduce it all to the basic common denominator, and stand strong and unapologetically for those very values, ideals, truths!

If you do not, you, your family, your community and your nation may very well change forever into a place that you no longer recognize, prize, or desire.

When all is stripped away, I want to stand proud and unashamed for the principles, characteristics, morals, ideals and mores that I am built upon. When all is stripped away there are “these truths” that I hold as self-evident and I will not compromise them. No matter what. And I will not allow anyone to rip them away from me.

When all is stripped away, I will answer to the One who made me for who I am and what I did with what He gave me. And I will stand proud upon those things of eternal value.

When all is stripped away, what about you? Who are you? What do you stand for? What is important you you? What remains of value?

Cheers to you.

Acknowledgement

Can you recall a time when you were totally ignored? Have you ever worked for a boss who was sparse, rare or void of positive recognition? When was the last time you walked into a small shop having not received eye contact or a welcome from the worker? Who were you speaking to last when they skipped right over your feelings and emotions and went straight into “fix it” mode?

How did these scenarios make you feel?

Contrast them and the feelings they evoke with that of the Zulu’s, who’s most common greeting is, “SAWUBONA“, which translated means, “We See You“. (My husband and I experienced this first-hand when we had the privilege of spending time in Kenya and Tanzania.)

The greeting “Sawubona” represents the Zulu communities philosophy of seeing each other fully, not with just visual intake but with value and acceptance. Their seeing includes not just the person, but their gods and ancestors. The Zulu realize the need to see each other slowly and as they are. They have prioritized how to feel and listen to others.

After being greeted by “Sawubona”, the response usually is, “Shikoba” which means, “I exist for you”. Wow! What acknowledgement!

This is more than an exchange of greetings or pleasantries, it represnets a deep-seeded value for the community that says, you matter to us, we totally accept you, and trust you. It symbolizes the importance of directing attention to another person and embracing their soul.

Sawubona reminds them to see the other person as they are and pay attention to them.

The Zulu believe fellow humans exist only if others see and accept them.

In our Western society, we have missed this. We greet one another with, “How are you?”, and barely listen for a response. We fail to see each other slowly. Most of the time we fail to acknowledge one another as we should.

This word acknowledge/acknowledgement has been powerful to me of late; both in its possibilities and its cost.

With its absence comes a cost. When we fail to acknowledge people, when we ignore them, don’t listen to them, fail to recognize them, we devalue them. We are saying you don’t matter to me, and they hear I don’t matter at all.

When we acknowledge people, look them in the eye and give them our presence, we are valuing them and assuring them that their life counts, what they have to say is important.

In your family, haven’t you seen this? The simple act of acknowledging a loved ones’ feelings, position, or emotions yields great reward, for understanding begins to flourish because acceptance and recognition has been granted. Both parties have SEEN the other. Both parties have given and received.

When we allow someone to be fully seen, we are giving them a magnificent gift of being who they are, without fear or hiding. Yet, we too are receiving a gift, the existence of another valuable child of God.

The gift of presence, acknowledgment, recognition, Sawubona, is a gift we all have the power to give. It can and will change lives, one person at a time. It can and will validate, and strengthen relationships as well as defuse, and neutralize jealousy, envy and other damaging emotions.

Who doesn’t feel encouraged, accepted, and better understood when someone acknowledges them? It gives energy, purpose and resolve to keep on working, and not give up. It helps us to feel validation although agreement may not have been reached. Acknowledgement empowers.

Those sound like things that we all want. Don’t they?

Give (acknowledgement) and you shall receive.

Cheers to you.

The Heart of the Father

Sunday Sermon 6.20.20

Everyone of us have at least one thing in common and that simple truth is we each have a biological father.

That father, his presence or absence, strengths and weaknesses; all he is and all he is not, have shaped our thoughts, ideas, expectations, confidence, predictions, trust and image of what fatherhood is and what fathers do.

In addition to the biological father, some have had the imprint of another father (or fathers). Other men, who have impacted the views, feelings, impressions and perspectives of how a father acts, speaks, relates, teaches, and loves.

Our family, that sacred place where fatherhood is modeled, is the seed bed for how we see, relate to, respect, fear, honor, and love our father. In our families we learn to anticipate with joy our father’s presence, dread and fear his presence or any number of measurable feelings in between.

Fatherhood affects childhood outcomes from infancy to adulthood; including physical, emotional, academic, social and behavioral outcomes.

Along with those outcomes, consider these statistics:

  • Father involvement using authoritative parenting with loving and clear boundaries and expectations leads to better outcomes in every way for children.
  • Children who feel close to their father are twice as likely to find stable employment after high school, less likely to have teen birth, less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience depression
  • The quality of father-child relationship matters more than the specific amount of hours spent together
  • High levels of father involvement correlate to higher levels of sociability, confidence, and self-control
  • Children with actively involved fathers are more likely to earn A’s in school, and less likely to repeat a grade in school
  • 24.7 million children live absent their biological father
  • 39% of students grades 1-12 live in homes absent their biological fathers
  • more than 1 in 4 children live without a father in their home

And of course there are the statistics regarding fatherhood from the National Fatherhood Initiative that state, children without fathers in the home are:

  • 4 x greater risk of poverty
  • 7 x more likely to become pregnant
  • more likely to have behavioral prpblems
  • 2 x greater risk of infant morality
  • more likely to commit a crime
  • more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • 2 x more likely to suffer obesity
  • 2 x more likely to drop out of high school

Fathers are vitally important and how we view our father has impacted how we view our Heavenly Father. We see God, our Heavenly Father through the lens of our childhood/adolescent father awareness. Good, bad, ugly, right, wrong, our image of God has been shaped by our father image.

There is no judgment or comparison here, simply a statement of facts. That image has shaped how we see God as our Father.

But here are some valuable truths that reveal what our Heavenly Father is truly like, what his character truly is and what makes his heart pound. In Luke 15, we find these awesome insights into the Father’s heart and we see how he responded to his son:

  • when insulted and humiliated, he still distributed the inheritance to his younger son
  • his son took all and left
  • his son wasted his $$ on reckless living
  • his son was totally spent, empty and hungry
  • his son became desperate
  • in humiliation, the son wound up homeless, in a pig pen
  • alone and abandoned the son came to his senses
  • the son considered the servants at his dad’s place
  • he desired to return home as a servant and practiced his speech to dad
  • he admitted he was wrong
  • he set out to return home dirty, debased and unworthy

The Father’s reception:

  • from a long distance the father saw the son coming down the road (he was actually waiting for him to return and looking anxiously for him – after a long time)
  • with great compassion – he saw his son dressed as a beggar, but returning
  • the father raced out to meet the son, swept him up in his arms, hugged and kissed him in tender love
  • as the son started his speech, the father interrupted him and said, “Son, you’re home now”.
  • the father called for the servants to bring his very own robe and placed it on his son
  • then he called for the family ring and placed it on his finger (this allowed the son to conduct family business)
  • he then called for shoes to be placed on the sons feet (slaves went barefoot, but not his son!)
  • the son was home, now it was time to celebrate
  • a feast was prepared and celebrating began
  • the father’s heart was bursting with pride, happiness and love for his beloved son who was once dead was know was alive!

You see, the father’s heart is one of unconditional love. Always believing, hoping, loving. It is everlasting and unrelenting. The father’s heart hears our cries. The father’s heart is full of pride. The father’s heart has a plan for us. The father’s heart will provide and care for us. The father’s heart will protect us.

Your Heavenly Father is: loving, kind, compassionate, giving, faithful, merciful, strong, forgiving, good, righteousness, caring, sovereign, shepherd, ever-present, refuge, gracious, healer, powerful, one who saves, helper, and makes all things new. (I have verses for each of these if you want them.)

Our Heavenly Father shows pity, shows mercy, chastens whom he loves, loves us and is not only just but justifies us.

Our Heavenly Father gives life, loves his children, protects, provides, teaches and trains his children.

There is no man on the planet that can come close to modeling your Heavenly Father, but Jesus. But then, he wasn’t from this planet, was he?

So whether your father was a saint or a sinner, we can give thanks, this Father’s Day, for a Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly, unconditionally, and with all of his heart. He receives us, welcomes us, rejoices with us, forgives us, and celebrates with us.

God is love.

Abba Father = Daddy God, Happy Father’s Day.

Cheers to you.

Time to Move

It’s that time again. It’s time for us to move.

no dinner guests in this dining room!

My husband and I, as empty nesters, have been considering downsizing (again) for a while, and are feeling now is the right time.

That is pretty much all that is certain at this point. We feel it is time to move, so we have begun packing and all that it involves. To date, we are still uncertain exactly where, but know it is in the area and hopefully by the end of the month.

Movement is a fundamental aspect of life. It requires action and affects everything. And I do mean everything, including our circulation, digestion, metabolism and even immunity. Movement even helps the body regulate hormones, detoxify and respire! So movement is good for you, me. (I need to keep chanting this to myself during this crazy time!)

Movement, whether it be daily activity, a change in position or ideas, or change in place of residence or employment has undeniable value.

I would like to offer these 5 points that I have been impressed with during our moving time. They apply not only to residence changes, but movement in our thoughts, positions, policies, and priorities. For your consideration, they are:

1. Realize it is time to move – It is important to admit when it is time to move on from the situation you are in. Realize it is time to get out. It is time to let go. It is time to move ahead. Until you can do this, you are stuck!

2. Move to – where? You may not have the specifics immediately, but having a general idea the direction that you want to move is vital. Continue your due diligence, and continue to pack while it becomes clear. You are moving and are preparing while you wait for all the details to become clear, not sitting around twiddling your fingers waiting for more information. Move on. Move forward.

3. Pack: keep or toss – The labor intensive part of moving is packing and with it the emotional wear of the constant decisions of what to keep and what to toss. It is physically grueling to load into boxes your life and all it’s precious possessions and it is emotionally taxing to let go of those things that once held prime space in your memories. How do you detach, let go of those precious memories? Throw away? Are you kidding?!!!! Some things just must go.

4. How to release? Where and how do you let go of those priceless memories? They can’t just be thrown away? (Actually, some can and should and will be). What about the others? To whom should I donate them? Share them? There are things you should share with others – give them away to your friends, family. It is time. Do it. There are other things, that should be donated. Find your charity, there are plenty, fill up the car, or have a pick up. Let it go. Release it, all. Give generously.

5. Support – It is really tough to do a move totally on your own strength. A support team is tremendously helpful. Whether it be a realtor, moving company, friends with trucks and strong backs, or helpful family members; you need support to move. Period. A major life decision like relocating, will impact you for sure in every way, but it will be with less stress if you have the proper support around you. So too with change in our thoughts and attitudes. We need support.

I challenge you, whether or not you are physically moving, to consider these 5 points. How? Why? In what way?

We as people are changing, moving forward in our ideas; personal, spiritual, and political. In what ways do you need to consider or apply these 5 points to your spiritual ideas? Personal ideas? Political ideas?

What ideas need to change? What will be your new stance? What needs to be tossed out completely or kept and edited? Where should the old idea(s) go? What support is around you to help you continue walking in your new found idea, perspective?

Let’s move on in our lives. Let’s not be trapped in a clutter of old ways and routines. It’s time to move. Pack up or discard the old and move into a brand new way of thinking, living, speaking, and being.

Is it time for you to move on in some way? Think seriously about it.

Cheers to moving.

What Do You See?

Sunday Sermon 6.13.20

Look at the image. What do you see?

Look at our nation, what do you see?

I’d like to suggest when looking at the events and happenings within our nation that you consider the opposite of what you see, as truth. What do I mean?

First, we must establish that the prince of this world is the devil. His is the spirit that rules this world and is at work in it. Ephesians 2:2; John 14:30; John 12:31; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4

Jesus nailed it strongly, when he said to his audience, in John 8-

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44

What do you see in the image above? A man? The word Liar?

What do you see in the nation? Lies from the chief liar, father of lies – the devil. All counterfeits and polluted truths stolen from our Heavenly Father. Now, what do I mean?

Just take a look at some of the things that have been imposed upon us or spoken and see the truth that is being lied about, polluted or counterfeited:

  • Lie – cover your mouth and face. Truth – this is the Hebrew year 5780, the year of the voice. Speaking out, openly.
  • Lie – lawlessness in the streets. Truth – God is bringing His Kingdom rule and order. He is the Prince of Peace.
  • Lie – lockdown and stay at home. Truth – go, share, tell, save.
  • Lie – close houses of worship. Truth – where 2 or 3 are gathered, there He is!
  • Lie – don’t hug, touch, socialize. Truth – there is power in love, hugs and human contact.
  • Lie – division. Truth – we are all made in His image.
  • Lie – I can’t breath, the life is being squeezed from us. Truth – Jesus came to bring abundant life.
  • Lie – death and destruction. Truth – resurrection life and power through Him.
  • Lie – no large gatherings. – Truth – this year many Gospel stadium rallies were planned worldwide.
  • Lie – no graduations, weddings, parties at all. Truth – He rejoices with those who are celebrating and wants us to be happy and joyous.

Getting the idea?

You can look at what is happening in the political and social world and very often see it as a counterfeit or pollution of God’s truth. That is because the prince of this world is a liar. He only knows how to lie, counterfeit, pollute, destroy, offer fake, bring delusion, destroy, steal and kill.

Apply this filter when you hear and see things and see if it doesn’t ring true. You will be amazed. Think opposites. Think opposite of what you are seeing. Discern between truth and lies.

Then remind yourself that there is One who is over, in everyway, the prince of this world and That One has conquered the prince. I once heard a pastor say, “The devil walks around like a roaring lion. But he doesn’t have any teeth, he can only roar at you but not bite you because Jesus defeated him on the cross. Jesus knocked all his teeth out.” 1 Peter 5:8

The devil is a deceiver, Revelation 12:9, and he wants to make us think his power is great; when in fact it is a LIE! He is a liar.

God, the Father, sent His only Son, Jesus to earth, to conquer sin and death. Jesus then, disarmed those spiritual powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them by his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, triumphing over them. Colossians 2:15

He (Jesus) is the TRUE power of this world. He reigns over every principality, authority, spirit, prince, and lie of the devil.

Jesus said, “I am the way the TRUTH and the life.” John 14:6

When faced with lies remember who’s behind them. Remember where truth comes from. Look for those opposites and flip the lies on their ear with your truth crowbar.

Recognize the liar. See the truth.

What do you see?

Go with God.

Swiped

There’s a lot of swiping going on these days.

Swipe right. Swipe up. Swipe your card here. Swipe at (someone). Swipe out the two. Swiped it from ____. One last swipe of the mop. The cat took a swipe at me. Gently swiped the brush. Etc.

I am so stirred up about us being ripped off! We have been stolen from. So much has been swiped from us.

Yes, it involves the constant swiping of our phones, thumbs and fingers. In those actions, our time and focuses have been and are being robbed at alarming rates and frequency. But there’s so much more than that.

I made a list today of ways in which our lives have been robbed this year. Things that have been swiped from us. See what you can add to this list…

  • open (unmasked) faces
  • smiles
  • free speech
  • social gatherings
  • human interaction
  • business
  • employment
  • education
  • shopping
  • entertainment venues
  • constitutional freedoms
  • personal choice
  • outdoor gatherings
  • religious gatherings
  • celebrations
  • dreams
  • hopes
  • visions
  • health needs
  • family gatherings
  • safe society
  • law enforcement
  • happiness
  • enjoyment
  • growing economy
  • political unity
  • societal harmony
  • patriotism
  • respect
  • honor
  • peace
  • free movement
  • trust
  • American values
  • American freedoms

Geesh! Please add yours. Go ahead, say them out loud.

We have been robbed! We have been ripped off. All these things have been swiped from us!

I am spitting mad! This is enough! No more!

Call me a simple person, but this kind of list does not come from the One who created us, has our best interest at heart, and has plans to prosper us and give us peace. The things on this list are 180 degrees opposite to the loving, caring, satisfying, good, kind, gentle, hopeful, fulfilling, satisfying and rewarding One who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

We have got to wake up America! We are under attact! We are in a spiritual warfare! I can no longer sit silent and not address the elephant in the room.

If you have never before engaged in “spiritual warfare”, now is the time! That simply means, we do not address the issues we see with our natural understanding or in our natural ways. WE PRAY! We seek God’s way of dealing with the issue. We commit it to Him, ask for His insight, strength and strategy. Then, we follow his direction.

The things we see happening in our nation, left unaddressed spiritually, will not end well for us or the nation that we love.

Yet, through a nation in prayer, the tide can change, and miracles will happen.

Our Great God, Creator of the Universe WOULD NEVER rip you off, steal from you, rob you or swipe one thing from you, or your future generations. That is NOT who HE is, how He loves, or what His plan is for you.

Please realize that. You are loved. By Him.

I’m so tired of being swiped from! Aren’t you?

Cheers to you.

A Wineskin in Smoke

Imagine, if you will, an ancient Bedouin home, a tent made of black goat’s skin; it is made of coarse, heavy fabric and will protect the family in all seasons. The tent’s shape is somewhat oblong and inside it is divided into 2 or 3 apartments by goat’s hair curtains.

As you enter you proceed into the men’s compartment and also the place of welcoming guests. If you were to walk on, you would enter the quarters for the women and children, which is protected from view from the reception area.

Rugs are covering the grounds, and the bedding and mats are brought out only at night. Around you will see sacks of grain piled up, and over there a mortar and handmill where the grain is pounded.

A hole is dug in the earth where the fire is set and several stones are put around it; this hole is inside the tent. Outside the tent another fire is also prepared.

Hanging from the poles inside the tent you will find skin bags for water, other liquids and even cheese, butter or olive oil.

Let’s look at those bags more closely.

a bottle
or wineskin

These “bottles” were made from the goats skin, dried and tanned, having been cut in the shape of a “bota”, stitched, reversed and sealed.

These Botas (bottles) were valuable to the Bedouins, for they carried life, refreshing, and sustenance on their long days or journeys. They were used and reused and refreshed as needed if they became too hard or brittle. When the bags were empty they would be hung up on the poles inside the tent.

Because the fire was inside the tent, it affected these empty, hanging bags. The bags would loose their elasticity, become dry, brittle, cracked, and eventually covered with black soot from the smoke. This is where the idea for our title comes from, “the wineskin in smoke”, those empty skins that hung inside the tent and exposed to the fire and smoke.

” Though I am like a wineskin in smoke, I do not forget your decrees.”

Israeli Psalm 119:83

If the Bedouin, now in need of a wineskin, took one down to refill it and found it old, cracked, brittle and unable to hold what he needed, the skin would have to be “reconditioned”.

This process included cleaning it, washing off the soot, dust and dirt and soaking it in oil. The wineskin would be soaked in oil until it was rejuvenated to its supple and soft state again, ready to be used for new wine. It was never thrown away, it was reconditioned, or as they called it, made “fresh”. It was the skin that was made fresh, not always the wine.

Throughout history, much has been made about old and new wineskins. Many literary, historical, and biblical lessons and analogies have been taught regarding wineskins.

Most often, we hear of how an old wineskin cannot hold the new wine, because it has become too rigid, and is no longer flexible. So, when the new wine is placed inside, as it ferments and expands it creates pressure inside the old skin , and eventually it will burst the old skin with the new wine being sadly wasted.

New wine, we are told, belongs in new wineskins. But what is really meant is new wine belongs in an old, usable wineskin or a reconditioned wineskin. Bottom line, the bottle, bag, wineskin, or “bota” must be flexible, pliable, soft, soaked, refreshed, rejuvenated, or reconditioned and refreshed.

There are dozens of applications to draw from this story and wineskin picture. My first request is to ask you to receive from it what is meant for you- as the wineskin. Pause now, reread sections, or think about it. What’s in it for you?

What I feel to add is this –

We are living in a time when something new is being birthed. It’s powerful and expanding and we wineskins need to be flixible and not rigid in our handling of “it”. The old ways will not hold the new “thing”.

Wineskins are being filled up with this new wine and more is coming. It is not the time to be empty and hanging in the smoke of the tent all dirty and sooty and rigid, unusable.

Whether it be political, personal or biblical “new wine”, the wineskins must be reconditioned and refreshed to carry and pour out the power of the new wine.

What’s your condition?

Let’s get filled up!

Cheers to you.

Daily Prescription

take one as needed

I have an amazingly effective, and lasting prescription for you today.

It is fast, effective, dependable, and has been scientifically proven to :

  1. Strengthen your immune system
  2. Boost your mood
  3. Diminish pain
  4. Protect from the damaging effects of stress
  5. Lighten burdens
  6. Inspire hope

Other proven effects are: It keeps you grounded, focused and alert. It helps release anger and forgive sooner. It is a resource for surmounting problems. It enhances relationships and it supports physical and emotional health.

Would you like a dose of it right about now? Would you keep this handy, little prescription close at all times and take as needed?

But it even does more! It relaxes the whole body, all muscles for 45 minutes. This prescription also protects the heart and blood vessels, ensuring good blood flow. It even burns calories; not many, but the 40 calories it does burn will add up to 3-4 pounds over a year. And lastly, it prolongs your life.

Best of all it is free!

Have you guessed what it is, this prescription that we so desperately need right now?

All of the above facts come from my research at MAYOCLINIC and HelpGuide.com and is referring to…… drum roll…

Are you ready for this miracle prescription?

LAUGHTER!

A good laugh has the power to heal and renew. Laughter triggers endorphins. Laughter stimulates your organs, soothes tension and brings personal satisfaction. LAUGHTER – the miracle drug. Laughter – the best medicine.

Laughter is NOT contingent upon circumstances. Laughter can be learned and produced. Studies have even proven that simulated laughter (canned laughter) is just as beneficial as live laughter.

To help you laugh, you can surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Put funny pictures, cartoons or memes around your house. You can choose to remember funny events when stress is mounting.

You can seek laughter by spending time with playful, fun people. This is one of the reasons I married my husband, he makes me laugh and even more after 33 years together. We have more stories and things to laugh at now. Sharing laughter with others strengthens connections and benefits all involved.

Then, of course, there is always the internet with YouTube, Social Media, and epic fails everywhere. It only takes a minute to find them and when you do, you’ll get your laughter fix and 45 minutes of muscle relaxing laughter.

Here are a couple to prime your laughter pump. Or at least get out a smile.

wait for it…

Dr. Debbie is hereby prescribing 1-2 daily doses of laughter. Deep belly laughs and laughing tears are extra bonuses.

Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Enjoy your days more with laughter.

Cheers to you.

The Mother’s Matrix

Sunday Sermon 5.9.20

This weekend, for many, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and by just walking into a grocery store we see that is obvious.

But I would like to take this time to drill down into a slice of Mother’s day, that may not be so obvious. It begins with a story.

There was once a woman who found herself surrounded by a disorganized throng of people, pressing in to see Jesus. In the midst of that crowd, she lifted up her voice and yelled out, “Happy and blessed is the womb or matrix that bore, carried you.” Luke 11:27 (I have transliterated this verse according to the original Greek word meanings.)

This crowd scene and the woman’s yelling out a blessing on Jesus’ mother seems kind of crazy, and a strange thing to blurt out in this particular setting. Yet, it’s significance cannot be overstated or lost.

The focus was on blessing the one who gave birth to Jesus. Why?

Let’s review what matrix means –

” Matrix – the environment or material in which something develops.”

Oxford Dictionary

The cry of this text is for us to see that no matter the environment or material of our birth, upbringing and nurture (or lack of it) it is blessed. It is by design. It is by mercy. It is by purpose. It is not by mistake. Everything surrounding your birth was perfectly aligned to bring you into the world into that situation to be and develop into the you that you are today.

It is the mother’s matrix.

Each of us were born into a situation by a mother. Period. We all share that.

It matters not whether the situation was good or bad. Whether we were raised by a present mother or absent mother. Adopted or surrogate mother. Abusive or affectionate mother. Nuclear family. Single parent family. Mixed family. Incestuous family. Imperfect, healthy, godly, evil, rich, or poor, family. Abandoned, embraced, loved, mocked, nurtured or neglected.

The situation into which you were born, by the mother that bore you is blessed. Not because it was a good situation but because that situation and that mother gave birth to YOU! And you were PLANNED.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at some examples of what I am talking about.

  • Eve, in a nuclear family, bore 2 sons who lived in anger and animosity toward one another and the one eventually killed the other. A “perfect family” produced killing.
  • Hagar – in a runaway, abusive family, yet, in her misery bore Ishmael, a great and powerful people
  • Lot’s 2 daughters -an incestuous family, both daughter’s bore sons who became great nations
  • Rebekah, a miracle pregnancy, bore twins boys, Jacob & Esau, who fulfilled God’s promises
  • Israel, who had 4 mothers ( Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, Rachel) to his 12 children. Talk about a mixed family! With issues galore! And what a blessing came from those 12 kids and their upbringing in that crazy, mixed up family.
  • Elizabeth, a old, barren woman who bore John the Baptist!
  • Pharaoh’s daughter, an adoptive mother, who raised Moses
  • King David’s mother, a scorned and mocked mother who raised her son in shame and ridicule from siblings. (read Psalm 69, it is so sad!) Yet, David became a man after God’s own heart.

There are so many more stories, of other mother’s matrix and the amazing outcomes in spite of, (or shall we say because of ) the environment into which their child(ren) was raised.

Look, too, at the women who actually are listed by name in Jesus’ genealogy, which generally lists only men – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.

You see, the situation into which you were born, and the woman who bore you are blessed. Without that environment or building material for the structure of your life, you wouldn’t be the person you are now. Let’s be real, there are probably things we wished would have been different, perhaps a lot of things and maybe even everything. But that would truly change who we are.

There is nothing that cannot be healed, used, strengthened, improved upon and built on in our past. There is nothing that is useless or wasted. We are all still in process on this road of life and the broken pieces are being mended. We are being made whole.

But this weekend, I truly would love for you to be encouraged that although imperfect, you are exactly who God designed you to be. He has used everything in your past, including your mother, and that situation to mold you and bless you.

That is why, I believe the story we started with, in Luke 11 is there. To make obvious to us, this slice of the Mother’s Martix.

So I will say to YOU, Blessed and happy is the womb or matrix that bore YOU, for it made you the remarkable human that you are today. You are blessed!

Cheers you, and your mother.

Using your religious liberty

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Constitution of the United States, Amendment I

We have no state religion mandated, nor should we have, and that was the desire and intentions of our founding fathers. They saw the damage it had done in the nations they left, which were cause and reason for their Atlantic crossings. At the core of most hearts who came, was the desire for religious liberty. Which included the liberty to be non-religious.

THAT is the foundation upon which our nation was built, regardless of how the history books have been rewritten to exclude the Puritans and Pilgrims.

Fact is fact. Erasing it from the page doesn’t change the fact, it changes people’s remembrance of the fact, or more accurately lack of remembrance of the true facts. And that’s what is being sought.

Did you know when the US Capitol Visitor Center was built in 2008, all references to God were removed from pictures, signs, and all else. The national motto, “In God We Trust” was removed and replaced with “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many one. Speeches were scrubbed, chairs and walls changed, and bibles removed. The Visitor Center was literally stripped clean of any references to any deity.

It was done to supposedly keep with Thomas Jefferson’s “separation clause” – you know, the one that he (supposedly) wrote separating church and state. (Even that is historian’s seeking to erase the facts, because that is not what Jefferson wrote at all in his letter to Danbury Baptist Assoc., in 1802.)

The Visitor Center designers were seeking to erase our foundations and build new memories into future generations. Memories that are devoid of God and His providence in America’s founding.

Have the facts changed though? No.

What has changed is us. Those of us who know the facts.

My favorite Reagan quote is –

Freedom is a fragile thing and never is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

President Ronald Reagan January 5, 1967

We have taken our liberties and freedoms for granted.

Having lost some of them in the recent months, we now see that more clearly than ever.

But the facts have not changed. We have liberties and freedoms and we must not allow them to be whittled away, or erased from memory. And yet, remember this quote?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke, 1770

In this new decade, even amidst a devolving pandemic, I urge you to not be that good man who does nothing.

Be a defender of our rights, a preserver of our freedoms from extinction. We have many to defend.

Why not start now?

Start with prayer. Prayer for yourself, prayer for your family, prayer for your neighbors and friends. Prayer for this pandemic to lift, for businesses to reopen, the sick to be healed, workers to be strengthened. Pray for spiritual awakening in our nation, for freedom and justice to prevail, for truth to be upheld. Pray for God to forgive and bless America.

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 7, 2020 is the National Day of Prayer, but it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be a single day.

It is not a constitutional violation to have a day of prayer, quite the contrary. It is the exercise of your religious liberty.

Let’s exercise those religious liberties, lest we loose them.

Cheers to you.

Corroded connections

Recently I was tootling around our harbor in the dinghy, on which we are currently using a MinnKota, Riptide 45V electric, trolling motor. I love this motor because it is lite enough for me to lift in and out and it is so amazingly quiet.

cheers

I am never in the dinghy for power or speed and so I usually have her revved to only 3rd or 4th gear. But on this day, I cranked her up to her full-out, 5th gear, only to have the motor totally cut out. It wouldn’t restart, either.

Now I am thinking how glad I am that I put the paddles in the dinghy before I launched. So I used the paddle (s) to return to my dock.

Once there, I played around with the connectors from the motor to the battery and got her running again. So off I went. Again. In my mind though, I decided not go to 5th gear anymore on this trip. Solved.

Well, to finish the story, it was solved, for that trip. I had no further outages, but I also didn’t have the full strength of my motor or battery available. (Note to self, be sure and discuss this with husband.)

Well, today was the true problem solving day.

The terminals on the battery had to be cleaned from a build up of corrosion. I guess the battery’s acid was reacting with the saltwater causing that yellowish, electrochemical reaction. That “corrosion can interfere with the battery terminals ability to conduct power and in some cases can completely block the flow.” Autoblog.com.

Silicones Inc. tells us that corrosion, “Is a natural process that involves deterioration of metals because of its reaction with the environment.” It can drain the battery, and even shorten it’s life.

corroded connections. not mine!

It is interesting to note that “corrosion”, a Latin word, actually means, ” to gnaw through”.

Far more than sharing a Science lesson or a personal story, I’d like to share 6 applications and analogies.

1. Connections are vital for life – no matter who locks you down or what restrictions are placed on you, without connections to others, you will loose power and die out. Stay connected to other people.

2. Environmental reactions – the people in your close family/work environment will cause reactions in you, and you will cause reactions in them, especially over long periods of time. Be aware.

3. Unhealthy connections – when things build up between you and those you are connected to, it must be cleaned up or you are draining the power of your relationship. Notice & deal with it early.

4. Corrosion – those reactions, not cleaned up, will gnaw through your mind, heart and eventually the connection to the other person if left alone. Gnawing feelings are corrosive.

5. Clean connections take time – the time and effort it takes to apply some cleaning compound (honesty, love, forgiveness) to that connection is minimal and yet mandatory for you to run at full-power, 5th gear capacity in your relationships. Take the time.

6. 5th gear living – you were designed to run at full throttle, full power, abundant life. Don’t settle for less by choice or by corrosion on your connections with others. Let’s go.

For most of us humans, being boxed up as we have has probably caused some electrochemical, corrosive reactions within our walls. Perhaps we have even noticed we haven’t been running at full power, or ability.

The good news is, we know what to do now to get back to full power and lite, quiet running.

Check for corroded connections.

Cheers to you.

Hope deferred

Sunday Sermon 5.3.20

” Hope deferred makes the heart sick”

Proverbs 13:12 NIV

This phrase/verse has been weighing heavily on my heart lately.

” When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing.”

Proverbs 13:12 The Passion Translation

The loss of hope is debilitating. Paralyzing. Depressing for sure. Today, we want to talk about the importance of hope and offer you some solid examples of those who had hope in difficult situations.

A study of the original Hebrew words used in this passage from Proverbs would reveal that this is a much better transliteration of Proverbs 13:12:

” When a prophetic vision or expectation from the Lord is delayed, prolonged or removed; feelings, will, and intellect are all worn down, and worn out, making one sick and weak.”

Proverbs 13:12 original Hebrew meaning

You see, when hope is removed from the equation, our mind, will and intellect become worn out and weak.

Let’s be honest, it has been really tough to watch the news and read the latest reports without emotions rising up within us. Each day we hear restriction updates, business expectations, state revisions, financial concerns and add the family realities chiming in, we are definitely being worn out and rubbed down by the news.

Just today, I had to cancel our flight and accommodation reservations to Honolulu in mid-May for our son’s wedding! Vacations are being cancelled or postponed, graduations are not receiving the honor they are due, workers are still unemployed, travel has been suspended, schools have been closed and morphed into online, distance education, church meetings are virtual, gatherings are forbidden and freedoms have been handcuffed.

Hope has definitely been deferred!

Today, I’d like to submit to you stories of people who also faced a deferment of hope so that “hopefully” we can be encouraged and keep us from allowing our will, feelings and intellect from becoming “sick”.

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman (Psychology.com) tells us from his studies, that hope is a “cognitive motivational system.” It starts in the emotions and follows to the cognitions (mind). Lord knows, our emotions have been stirred enough and pressed upon enough to affect our thinking. Right?

But your hope, is more than a cognitive or emotional reaction.

Dr. Jerome Groopman, in his book, “The Anatomy of Hope”, tells us that belief and expectation are key elements of hope and they can block pain by releasing endorphins and enkephalins because they act like morphine in the brain and body.

So hope, in and of itself, has a powerful effect in the human body, mind, intellect and emotions. And hope triggers a virtuous cycle.

We are told that there are 4 types of hope. Let’s look at each of those and then look at those stories of biblical characters who demonstrated that kind of hope. Ready?

These are the four types of hope that psychologists say we have:

  • 1. Realistic
  • 2. Utopian
  • 3. Chosen
  • 4. Transcendent

In reality, if we are struggling with having hope, who cares that there are four kinds??! But here goes, anyway.

1. Realistic hope – this is the hope that says in a cancer situation, if we take these meds it will help. It is realistic in and about the situation.

Abraham and Sarah, in Genesis 15 were given a promise of a son of blessing and yet 60, 70, 80 years passes before Isaac, that son of promise was born.

They lived a normal family life for years with that hope and without it’s fulfillment. They tried to hurry the hope and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the son of promise. The hope of a son of promise had been rubbed down and worn out as Ishmael grew to the age of 13. Their hearts could haven been sick. Their hope could have escaped.

And yet, in Romans it says in chapter 4, verse 18, ” Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it. He took God at His word…”. Hope was deferred for at least 13 and maybe 60 years, and yet Abraham and Sarah had hope in the God of their circumstances. They were realistic in their circumstances.

2. Utopian hope – is a collective hope, negating the present and driven for a better future.

Joshua and Caleb, in the book of Joshua would be a great dipiction of this type of hope. They held out for the collective victory of Israel and their entering Canaan for 40 years. Do you think that after 40 years of hoping, they may have been a little worn down? A little heart sick? Was their hope deferred? You betcha!

Yet, after a 40 year wait, their hope was strong and Caleb said, “So here I am today, 85 years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle as I was then. Now give me this hill country…” Joshua 14:10-12 NIV

Joshua and Caleb hung onto the Utopian hope of a better future of fulfillment for Israel.

3. Chosen hope – chosen hope helps us live in a difficult, present situation with an uncertain future. It helps us to regulate negative emotions.

Joseph, in Genesis 37, who dreamed at age 17 of his brothers bowing before him, had that dream burning in his heart and thoughts for 13 years! In those 13 years he was betrayed and sold as a slave by his brothers. Imprisoned in Pharaoh’s palace, yet favored and set as a leader there. Falsely accused of sexual assault, thrown into prison again. Joseph’s dream, still burning in his heart, fighting off deferment sickness, he hoped until he finally became the Prime Minister. And then, his brothers came and bowed down before him. His chosen hope was finally fulfilled.

David, at a young age of probably 15, was anointed to be the next King of Israel. (1Samuel 16) That anointing, held him and his hope, through so many discouraging circumstances. He was literally searched for as an enemy of the king and his life was in danger, sought after, and chased down for 15 years. He did not become king until he was 30 years old. 15 years of hoping… 15 years of deferment. Yet he chose to “be strong and hope in the Lord.” Psalms 31:24

4. Transcendent hope – a general hopefulness that something good can happen.

Romans 8:28 – In all things, God works for the good of those who love him…

Psalm 38:15 – Lord, I hope in you

Lamentations 3:21 – This I recall to mind, thereore have I hope

These verses are just a few of the many we are given assuring us that something good will happen to those who put their hope in the Lord.

Yet, the best example of transcendent hope would be Jesus, the epitome of transcendent hope. His hope was fixed not on the now, but on the future… “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross..”. Hebrews. 12:2

And yet, even Jesus hoped. As a 12 year old kid, stumping the Rabbi’s until he entered his ministry in AD 26, he hoped. He hoped as he called the disciples and built the Kingdom of God inside them. He hoped as he taught the crowds, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He hoped in the garden of Gethsemane and he hoped hanging on the cross. He hoped in that empty tomb, he hoped as he ascended from that hill.

He hoped for them, he hoped for us, that we would hope without growing weak, tired, worn out or rubbed thin. He hoped that we would hope in Him, His promises and His Word.

Jesus’ hope transcended every limit.

Our hope can be secure like these heroes of hope, when it is anchored to God’s promises, (Hebrews, 1 Peter, Acts 26), when it is anchored to Jesus (1Timothy. 1:1), and when it is anchored to the Word. (Romans 15:4.)

Those three, God’s promises, Jesus, and The Word of God make for us a three-fold cord, that will not be easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) When our hope is built upon these, we are anchored, secure with an UNSWERVING HOPE. No matter the length of wait, wearing, or rubbing.

When our hope is anchored in Jesus, His Word and His promises we are secure. Our mind, emotions, will and intellect are strong and stable. We are not sickly. Our hope is in Him and our emotions will follow our will.

That kind of hope motivates. That kind of hope is congious. That type of hope can be learned. That type of hope is healthy and promotes healthy behaviors.

Hope deferred does NOT have to make your heart sick when it is anchored God’s promises.

But if it does, please allow Abraham, Sarah, Joshua, Caleb, Joseph and even Hannah, Simeon, Anna to encourage you to not allow the constant rubbing away of freedoms & strength in your situation to make you sick, weak, and depressed.

Hope deferred, may make the heart sick, but may it not be your heart, because you are anchored into Jesus, His Word and His promises.

Blessings.

Two words to chew on

I just can’t shake these two words that have been rolling through my mind, heart, and spirit for sometime. They’ve been simmering there and over time have thickened and come to just below a boil. Now is the time to take them off the heat and share their nutritional value with you.

#1 Movement

Or more precisely, overcoming inactivity, staleness, laziness, idleness.

Movement – changing physical location or position.

Dictionary.com

Movement is so important to our body for so many reasons. It affects everything – our circulation, digestion, our metabolism and even our immunity. When we move, our bodies regulate our hormones, detoxify our blood stream and clear and strengthen our respiration. Daily movement stimulates our brain and neurons and thus boost healing and immunity. (oh my goodness do I see spiritual applications in all of these)

We have all been affected in one way or another by the restrictions placed on us by this virus and governmental authorities. But that is no excuse for any of us to become idle, inactive, lazy or stale in any way. We must move.

We must war against laziness and idleness that would seek to rob us of what our body requires, and our spirit desires.

We must beware of hours lost to swiping, video/TV/movie watching, or sitting or laying around – even reading.

Movement is vital for life, growth, health and even feelings of self esteem, value and worth. Who hasn’t felt terrible about “wasting a whole afternoon” doing “nothing”?

The key here is to MAKE TIME TO MOVE. Schedule it. Make it happen. If you’re one that has a watch that tells you to move, then listen to it and move when it reminds you. (Don’t just ignore it or turn it off.)

(Just today, I had to kick myself in the rear and make myself get outside and take a long walk. My desk had become a cement block around my feet, brain and spirit.)

Movement – your body and brain will thank you.

#2 Fruitfulness

The season of bearing fruit, showing evidence of what’s been planted.

” Fruitfulness – the fact that something produces good results”

Cambridge Dictionary

Many of us live in urban areas and loose site of the seasons of fruitfulness and harvest, unless we go into the market’s produce section. Yet, we still can see fruit growing on a tree and understand that tree is being fruitful.

each of these I took while out walking

Fruitfulness demonstrates for all what has been planted. It reveals the results of what has been going on underneath the surface; what seeds have been germinating, sprouting and now are blooming. Fruitfulness is show and tell time.

Seeds that are planted are programmed to be fruitful and will produce their fruit given the correct exposure to water, light and soil conditions. It sorta happens naturally, by their design. Plant an apple seed – get apples. Plant lemons – get lemons. Fruitfulness displays good results.

I once taught a lesson called, “When you’re squeezed, what comes out?”. This again, makes the point that whatever is planted within us, will eventually bear fruit in our life.

During this time, what has been planted in our lives is coming out. The seeds that have been sown into our hearts and thoughts are bearing fruit in our words and actions. The germinating process is now giving way to fruit dangling from our lives. (Side note, are you proud of what’s coming out, your fruit?)

Fruitfulness – seeing the results of what’s been planted in your life.

” Me thinks that the minute my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow, as if I had given vent to the stream at the lower end and consequently new fountains flowed into it at the upper.”

Henry David Thoreau

Perhaps there is a link you are seeing between these two words? Perhaps not.

I hope you too will allow these two words to simmer in your heart and mind. Let them reach that gentle roll of bubbles and then take from them anything you find nutritious.

At the very least, there’s something for you to chew on.

Cheers to you.

Giving Tuesday

May 5, 2020

In this crazy world that we’re all dealing with, where we are looking for reasons to smile again, may I suggest – GIVING.

You know, looking for and planning opportunities to give. You can give things like time, goods, talents, strength, kindness, abilities and yes, money. You can give hope, happiness, a meal, thanks, letters, notes.

As a kid we loved receiving gifts but as we grow we discover the joy of giving – seeing some’s face when they open or receive a gift we gave is tremendously satisfying and rewarding. We actually made them smile, happy. Wow. What a thrill. And we too, are smiling now.

Giving makes us happier than receiving. But it also: helps others, makes a difference, cultivates self-worth, teaches responsibility, inspires giving and is easy.

Winston Churchhill said, ” We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. “

There’s lots of research to support these statements and the feelings we get when we give. Let me just share a couple statements:

  • Our brains are hard-wired to serve. Giving activates the brains prefrontal cortex. When we place the interests of others above our own, our brain lights up.
  • When we help others, there is a “helpers high” or euphoric feeling that we receive that makes us stronger and more energetic.
  • Helping others is a door through which one can go to forget oneself.

I’ll tell you what, I could stand to forget myself and my circumstances for a while. How ’bout you? Looking for more energy? Perhaps the helpers high will help.

I had planned on writing about serving/giving for this blog. And then I stumbled upon this movement called

It’s a global generosity movement, with special emphasis this year on helping during the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is scheduled for next Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

On this day, people are encouraged to simply help others, to give of yourself in someway. Here are some ideas:

  • pay for a meal
  • express thanks (words, cards or signs) to first responders
  • express thanks (words, cards, or signs) to medical professionals
  • express thanks to “essential workers”
  • make a donation to a food pantry
  • help serve at a food bank
  • write letters to troops
  • do chalk art on sidewalks
  • paint rocks and leave them around town
  • make a poster to hang outside your home
I actually saw this on my walk a few days ago

Would you consider getting involved? Would you think about what you could do that would lift up someone else and bring a smile to their face(s)?

I really can think of no better door to go through to forget about myself for a while. And I’m in. The world needs a smile and so do I. Plus, my brain could use a good lighting up too.

Let’s do this. Let’s surprise someone.

Think. Plan. Gather materials. Do. Give.

Check out more at http://www.GivingTuesday.org and share it on social media with #GivingTuesday. You can even post a pic with hashtag #UNselfie and share what you did and why.

Cheers to you.

Are you hurting? Do you feel great?

Sunday Sermon 4.26.20

Which ever side of the coin you find yourself on today, I have some solid advice and encouragement for you. But first, let me share a story.

Years ago, I was teaching in Pasadena, CA and at the time had to drive between 2 campuses during my day. On one particular day, while driving to the second campus, when passing through a quiet intersection, I was broadsided, driver side, driver door, by a Cadillac. I didn’t see it coming and when I did, it was pretty much at impact. All I had time to do was yell out in prayer, “JESUS!?!” – which I did. I don’t remember anything after that.

Witnessses say they saw my car flip over and fly through the air, landing on its roof. When they ran to find me, I was upside-down, in-shock, but very much alive. When I was removed from the car by first responders, witnesses told them there’s no way I should be alive because by what they observed, I should be a mangled wreck with severely damanged bones and organs.

I was not. I was taken by ambulance to hospital, treated for mild bruises, scratches and shock and released that same day.

I was definitely hurting, though. So, “Yes” would’ve been my answer to the title of this blog.

The only thing I could do and had time to do is let out that one word cry for help – “JESUS ! “.

The Bible says, in Ephesians 6:18 – ” Pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” NIV

In James 5:13 – ” Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing.” The Message Paraphrase

Whether it is a one word prayer of desperation, a 15 minute prayer time in the car for your family/job, or a passionate request for help and wisdom- we are told to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. They all count! No matter the length or position, if offered in faith they are heard.

Prayer changes us and often changes things. It is true. Prayer allows us to approach God with our requests and leave them in his care. Leaving it there with Him and trusting that He will take care of us and the request is often harder than praying itself. Right?

To that point – Not too long ago our son had planned an extensive backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. For over a year he was thorough and a bit obsessive in his preparation for this huge trip. He had done his best and the day to begin had now, finally arrived.

My husband and I had been praying for him nearly daily for that year. No kidding. This was a ginormous undertaking and we were not without our concerns. So when that day came, and we took him to Yosemite to camp for the night and set out the next morning, we were doing our best to trust the Lord and leave it in his hands. That was hard. This was to be a 2-3 week hike of 221 miles!

Talk about all kinds of prayers. Our prayers then were not not one word prayers. This was pouring out petitions on a regular basis. Asking, seeking and knocking and then repeat – keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.

In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells the disciples “they should always pray and not give up.” NIV

Here’s a verse you can easily memorize, “Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV

Some prayers require persistence, not giving up, or loosing hope.

Prayer is simple yet hard. When you’re hurting, pray. When you’re stressed pray. When you’re alone pray. Pray in every situation, every day, with every attitude, circumstance and battle raging. Pray with one word prayers, and extended, passionate cries. Pray.

Are you hurting? Pray.

Choose to pray. It is a choice made in advance of everything else. It is a decision made before the hurt, stress, lonliness. It is an act of the will, your will. And it will change you and may even change the situation too.

people who say they pray

Let’s increase that stat that says 55% of adults say they pray daily. Not just for numbers sake either, but because prayer changes us. Learning to pray with regularity changes us. That’s why we want to pray.

Now to the second part of this blog title – Do you feel great? (And I hope you do.)

Let’s go back to James 5:13 ” Do you feel great? SING” The Message

I love this! I love music too. That is why it is so wonderful to hear scripture encourage us to sing. Music and singing should naturally flow from a full, happy, content, joyous heart. So if you’re feeling great, PUMP IT UP. SING IT OUT. CRANK UP THE VOLUME.

Matter of fact, singing changes your brain. Seriously. According to an article in TIME’s, Life and Style section, “Singing Changes Your Brain” by Stacy Horn, 2013 –

“Researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.”

Whether it’s from those endorphins that bring pleasure to the brain or the oxytocin that relieves anxiety and stress; singing regularly contributes to quality of life. Even if you are a bad singer!

Psalms 47:6 – ” Sing … sing… sing… sing…” NIV

Singing however, is also a choice, a decision, an act of the will, and it is not dependent on a happy heart. It is always nice when the heart is happy and a song flows naturally from it. But, a song can also be sung by decision, in spite of circumstances.

Choosing to sing in spite of surroundings still releases those hormones on the brain and the same soothing, perfect tranquilizer effects occur. So SING.

Do you feel great? Sing.

With these two simple tools, Pray and Sing, one in each hand, all day, every day, we can face and conquer whatever the day brings, for in our hands we hold two very powerful weapons.

Have a wonderful week, and I wish I could hear you singing it LOUD and proud.

Blessings.

Bioluminescent Waves

Bioluminesence on full display

Please take 13 seconds and look at this very cool and rare video

These lit up waves are the product of “red tide” and it indicates an algal bloom. It happens at sunset during these blooms by photoplankton releasing biochemical light. But not just phytoplankton release it, so do fireflies and deep sea fishes.

Bioluminescent tides are rare, red by day and blue by the darkness of night.

I remember being in Catalina sometime ago, and we were atop a hill on a night hike overlooking the ocean and shoreline. That is when I first saw the bioluminescence of those photoplankton as they lit up the shoreline.

It is a stunning display, almost eerie because you are surrounded by darkness yet you are seeing a brilliant blue-white light from the waves. then the waves crash and light is disperses.

At almost the same time these waves were on display on land, in Newport Beach, CA, the same skies were lit up as well. It is the season of the Lyrid meteor showers. In April, every year, around the 21st, these showers are seen in the dark skies and are also a stunning sight.

My son and I set our alarms many years ago to go out and watch them. (I don’t remember how many we saw, I just remember the alarm part.)

These lights show up yearly, yet still only in complete darkness.

The simple and encouraging pivot here, to me is this –

Each of us have been entrusted with a light. A light of hope, a light of positivity, a light of faith, a light that burns deep within us. It’s illuminated our own private lives, attitudes, needs, and even brought beauty and stunning vibrance to us, individually, and privately.

We are currently surrounded by dark times. Darkness has replaced many once well lit places. Darkness has replaced hope, faith, and even tried to extinguished our little light. (I hear a song in my head we sang as a kids…)

But I am here to tell you, it’s time to SHINE. It’s time to allow what’s been blooming within you – your algal bloom – to break forth on the shores of your life and spread beauty, light, hope and awe to those you touch. (metaphorically speaking, of course. )

YOU ARE THE LIGHT, you are the living organism that carries that biochemical emission of light into the darkness and hopeless areas of your family, your city your sphere of influence.

You are that meteor of blazing light, hope, strength, soaring through the darkness, bringing hope and illuminating the foreboding skies.

It’s time to SHINE dear friends.

No longer consider the smallness of your light or it’s lack of wattage. In dark times, the smallest of lights brings illumination and dispels the darkness wherever that light burns.

So burn dear friends. Let your light shine. Illuminate the dark skies and shores and bring beauty, hope, awe and calm to every onlooker.

Your world needs your light now more than ever.

Cheers to you.

Low tide

A few days ago, I went to Doheny State Beach, where this is what I saw.

What you’re looking at is the lowest tide I have EVER seen at this or any beach! I went to take pictures of the waves crashing on the shoreline (for a video I was making) and couldn’t even take them or shoot the video because the tide was so low.

there they are, the waves crashing waaaaaay out there

It seriously made me wonder if a tsunami was brewing, cuz, you’ll remember the tide goes out before the tsunami crashes. But no tsunami, thankfully.

Still I was left to wonder, why such low tide? Exceedingly low tide!

Going back to 6th grade Earth Science class you’ll recall that tides are caused by the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth. These pulls cause bulges on Earth’s oceans. One bulge facing the moon and the other on the opposite side of Earth, away from the moon.

Every day (actually 24 hours and 50 minutes), there 2 high tides and 2 low tides.

Earth’s bulges, high tides. Low tides are on top and bottom of Earth in this graphic.

When I returned home from my low tide experience, I read an article that declared The Thames River as being “liquid history”, because at low tide “the Thames becomes the largest open air archaeological site in London.”

At low tide, the Thames River reveals all sorts of things. Coins, keys, clay pipes, love tokens and thimbles to name a few.

In Oregon, low tide reveals “Ghost Forest” – the ancient remains of a forest that is now small stumps. Low tides in Oregon also reveal Sujameco shipwreck, wreckage from a 1929, 324 ft. steamship.

Ghost Forest
Sujameco shipwreck

In England, there is a castle (of course there is!) called St. Michael’s Mount that has been there since 495. But for much of the year it is inaccesssable, EXCEPT for at LOW TIDE when a pathway is revealed briefly, until the tide covers it again.

St. Michael’s Mount.
Can you swim?
or just wait ’til low tide

This last one is my favorite!

In South Korea, about 5 hours from the capital of Seoul, 1.8 miles off of the coast is an island called Jindo Island. For 1 hour, 2 to 3 times a year, low tide reveals a 1.8 mile path from Jindo Island to Modo Island.

Jindo’s Miracle Sea Road Festival

Even though I haven’t told stories about animals here, I am going to allow my inner Aesop to come out.

High tides cover things. Low tides reveal things

Let’s start with the high tides of life. When our lives are full, to the max, sufficient – we tend to cover over or cover up what’s hidden below; the small things, lost things, broken things. Things like old habits and patterns. They can’t be seen and are therefore often ignored and not addressed.

How about the low tides of life. Times of want, lack, or emptiness tend to expose what’s underneath, and inside of us. Low tides are low times and are very revealing. They expose our foundation and reveal the bottom line of our life.

However, let’s take this point too. Hidden below those low tides could be brand new discoveries. Brand new ways, roads or paths even. Things we never knew were there. Ways we never thought of before.

And remember St. Michael Mount and Jindo Island – the new ways, paths will only be revealed for a brief period before they are covered over again. Low tides are temporary, but can be very revealing.

Sometimes it takes low tides in our life to reveal something better and expose hazards.

Cheers to you.

Birth Pangs

This will be the first of a weekly series, that I feel impressed to share called “Sunday Sermons”. It will be intentionally Biblical and decidedly spiritual in nature, meant to feed your Spirit.

I trust you will find nourishment and encouragement by it and will check in each Sunday.

Sunday Sermon 4/19/20

Romans 8:18-28

The Apostle Paul, the guy who once tried to kill Christians, imprison them, torture them and stop their preaching of “The Way”, has had an about face, and is now just as fervent in his defense of “The Way” and in his efforts to spread its message.

He is speaking here, at the height of the Roman Empire to believers, mostly Gentiles (like me, not Jewish), who live in Rome and are trying to make their way through persecution, misunderstanding, strong secular influences and crazy heresies. (weird and false teachings).

It is in this context that he says:

“I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.” v. 18, 22 The Message paraphrase

Birth pangs? What?

He was saying, the signs they were seeing were actually birth signs. Signs of birthing, signs of new life forming and getting ready to burst forth. Just like a pregnant Mom, facing labor pains before the birth of that precious new life.

He was encouraging them, that hey, what you’re going through now, the pain, uncomfortableness, the stretching, etc. is nothing compared to what is coming! I promise you. It will be worth it. Hang in there. Then he says –

But it’s not only around us; it’s within is. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs.” v. 22-23 The Message

Not only is something getting ready to burst forth in their present hard times, but something within them was being formed and it was about to burst forth too.

He identified it as a spiritual life being formed in them. The Spirit of God was actually forming new life in them. Awakening them, arousing them, stretching them, preparing them as individuals to bring forth this new life. What they were feeling was the preparatory birth pangs of what the Spirit had been developing in them and was nearly ready to deliver.

“Waiting does not diminish us… We are enlarged in the waiting. We don’t see what’s enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” v. 24-25 The Message

Here they were in the midst of hard times and pain themselves, carrying something inside of them, planted by the Spirit, that was growing and enlarging within them. As their wait increased, so did their growth and in kind, so did their expectancy of what would be birthed.

They were seeing within them, something of a spiritual dimension growing, increasing, enlarging and becoming bigger and bigger. As they saw it inside of them, their own excitement of what they were becoming grew! Their expectancy too was growing.

” The moment we get tired of waiting, God’s Spirit is right there alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us.” v. 26-27 The Message

Just like that weary Mom, after nine looong months of carrying that bundle of life grows weary in the wait – so too do the believers. But God’s promise here is that His Spirit, will be right there, helping them along as the birthing coach, even praying for them and helping them to pray!

Today, I see a tremendous similarity between those Roman believers and me and you. I hear Paul’s message to them, being perfectly suited for us. Don’t you?

Here are the take aways.

There’s no doubt the times we are living in are painful and there is suffering. It’s not good, but it will bring about good. They are birth pangs, signs that something new is about to burst forth in our world, across the globe.

And not just in the world/society – BUT IN YOU. The Spirit of God is growing inside of you, enlarging inside of you. Stretching you, preparing in you new Spiritual life, strength, vibrance, depth, and reality. The Spirit of God is growing inside of you and is about to burst forth from you.

It matters little where you’ve come from spiritually, whether this is old news or new news to you. What matters is that you are carrying a Spiritual seed that is growing inside of you.

Let it grow. Enlarge you, arouse you. Feel it kick inside you. Recognize the labor pangs.

And let your expectancy arise, for soon, the life of the Spirit will burst forth from you.

Birth pangs mean the time is near.

Get ready!

Life without…

It wasn’t until I was working as Chaplain at LA County Women’s Jail, that I became aware of LWOP. Life WithOut the Possibility of Parole. It was a dreaded sentence to receive and I spent many a weekend traveling to Merced, to visit with women who had received such a sentence and were truly without much hope.

LWOP

They would NEVER, ever in their life, no matter their age, see anything but the inside of those prison walls and cells. NEVER. AND, they would NEVER see their families, friends, or loved ones unless they were allowed visitation rights and passed all security screenings. Then only inside of a very pubic and guarded room with dozens of others, and in most cases, without any physical contact allowed.

They would NEVER again go anywhere they wanted. NEVER eat what they wanted. NEVER shop for what they wished. NEVER again dress as they chose. NEVER be able to speak to whom they wanted. NEVER again work at the place of their choosing. NEVER drive a car. NEVER poop or pee in private. NEVER own what they wanted. Oh my goodness, I could go on and on and on. It was a grim and dreaded sentence and life. Life without…

To many, these days in which we live have been and are becoming a dreaded sentence. LIFE WITHOUT…

You fill in the blank. Life without__________

You could probably go on and on too. Life without freedoms… to shop, to work, eat out, to gather, visit, socialize, to go to church, baseball games, concerts… life without income…life without is grim you say. And no one in their right mind would disagree with you. It is not an easy sentence.

But as I sit at my comfortable desk, and look out a dirty window, I still see the sun. (So glad it’s not raining today.) I see blue sky. I can actually go outside and feel the wind on my face, blowing my hair and feel the heat of the sun on my skin.

Within in my house, my fridge is full, as are my cupboards and pantry. (Thanks to my husband who always goes above and beyond in providing for our family.) Our bills are paid. We are not in debt or headed there. Our children are healthy, secure, and being provided for.

Our closets are full. Cars running. (well, one out of two ain’t bad.) We live in a home, not on the street or in a cell with another person. We enjoy the privacy of the bathroom and shower anytime we choose. (unless you count Gunner breaking in occasionally.)

Do we have it all? No. Do we need it all? No. Are we really doing life without? I would answer, “No”.

Have we had to GO without? Yes. Is it easy? No, but it’s not as hard as we make it sound either. For us, it mostly amounts to more inconveniences than anything else.

We are retired. Yes. So our income is not dependent on our ability to earn. I get it. We are blessed. I get it. Not everyone is in the same place. I get it.

But what I also get is this – I don’t believe any of us are truly doing life without what is really important. We may be “going without”, but it is temporary. Although we don’t know the end date, we know there will be one. It is temporary. It is not, NEVER.

It is not LWOP. Life without the possibility of parole.

It is life, temporarily without…

So, yes, Sister, perspective does matter. 🙂

Cheers to you.

Debbie’s Parable of the Weeds

For weeks now, every time I sit down at our kitchen table and look out the window, these weeds are all I see. And they’re not really in our backyard. They are just beyond our retaining wall. But they are oh, so ugly, and now so blooming tall!

I actually didn’t even notice them for a while, we were keeping the curtains closed during the cold and rainy weeks. Then, when we opened the curtains, I still didn’t notice them, cuz they were of course smaller. But now, and for the last couple of weeks they are so obvious. I must do something about them.

Today was the day of their doom.

die sucker! got your roots, too!

Weeds you know, are not intentionally sown, they grow where they’re not wanted, and grow automatically. They are considered opportunistic and will grow in any moist soil, tiny crack or thin layer of turf. “Weeds are competitive, persistent and interfere negatively with human activity.” (Dwight Ligenfelter, Dept. of Agronomy Penn State)

Weeds choke out life, rob soil and other plants of important nutrients, water and sunlight. Weeds are plants whose undesirable qualities outweigh the desirable qualities.

Farmers have said that weeds left unchecked can cut the harvest 40-60%.

So BAM! Away with them! Up from the roots they go. Bye, Bye Bye. (hear NSYNC in background)

Have you picked up any symbolism here?

Weeds are the things in our life that keep us from being productive. Things that steal away the important from us. Distractions that eat up our vital nutrients and exposure to light. Weeds are the things that make us unfruitful. Often too, weeds are a sign of neglect and perhaps even laziness.

If I think of weeds as distractions that keep me away from what is important, then the top of my weed list is my phone. Although I use it for everything and a lot of it is needed, useful, and good, not all of the swipes are, nor all the time on it is. It does distract me, steal my focus and eat up valuable time.

I don’t want the weeds in my life to be left unnoticed or unchecked but I want them UPROOTED! I am seeking a productive life, not overgrown with nonessentials and harvest hinderers.

I’m choosing to uproot and remove those pesky distractions before they flower and produce more seeds! I’m also searching for those dormant weeds in the soil of my heart, those that have been there for years to get rid of them, at the root.

GONE! Roots and all

I am only interested in good fruit from my life and want to prune away the small, insignificant, and barren branches. I want to feed the good and healthy and keep distractions from choking off their continued health and growth.

Because weeds grow so fast, pro gardeners recommend pulling weeds weekly. I’m in, I’m game. I know I need it. And, there’s such great joy that comes after you spend time in the garden, weeding, cleaning and pruning. Then you wash it all down, and sit back and enjoy it with a tall, cool glass.

I trust that you will join me in uprooting any unnecessary distractions in your life so that you, too, may be 100% productive.

“Weeds are stubborn. Weeds are independent. Weeds aren’t tolerated.” Marty Rubin

Cheers to you.

Incomprehensible

It all started with a discussion about the size of 2.2 trillion (dollars).

While listening to and trying to digest it all, I realized, I had no real understanding of the number 1 trillion. Much less 2.2 trillion. So I did what every serious scholar and academically driven researcher does, I googled it. 🙂

After much mind numbing reading about zeros, exponents, and viewing diagrams of stacking bills on pallets, here are my 2 take aways:

1. If you spent $1,000 a day, it would take you 2.7 million years to spend 1 trillion dollars. And you would still have lots left over!

2. If you stacked $100. bills to equal 1 trillion, the stack would be 789 miles high. That is equal to 144 Mount Everest’s stacked on top of each other.

Bottom line for my mind, a trillion is incomprehensible.

But it really got me thinking about other things that are incomprehensible.

The universe, for example.

part of our universe. we’re in there somewhere

Scientists don’t even use the term universe. It’s been more accurately described as the “observable universe” because there is more than what we actually see. It’s size, they say, is 93 million light years in diameter. (For those that slept through Science class, remember, a light year is the distance light travels in a year or about 10 trillion km! (Really 9,500,000,000,000 km!) There’s that trillion again… Incomprehensible!

We live in a galaxy we know as The Milky Way. And to us, it’s really big. But geesh, we live on ONE of it’s 4 arms, called Orion, in a system called The Solar System, on a planet called Earth, on a continent called North America, nation called America, state called _____, county called _____ , city called _____, on a street called _____, and finally to OUR house at _____ . The size of all that is incomprehensible.

Consider too, our galaxy is but one of 350 billion large galaxies in the Milky Way! It houses 30 billion -trillion stars. (30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.) To put this in perspective, if you were to go out of the city and look into the sky, you would maybe see 2,500 stars. But there are actually 80 million times MORE STARS in the Milky Way and beyond.

There are actually 28 times more stars in the galaxy than the 7.2 billion people on the Earth. Another comparison, there are 1 billion cars on Earth – for every car there are 200 galaxies in the observable universe. Plus, there are 40 billion, Earth sized planets that could sustain human life. (Maybe we’re NOT alone in the universe???)

these are galaxies

Again, all of these numbers are incomprehensible! My brain hurts.

One last incomprehensible thing for you to think about.

GOD’S LOVE

The very Creator, who made all those galaxies, stars, planets, universe, both observable and beyond; the One who gives man the ability to deal with trillions of dollars and understand what he is doing; that God – LOVES YOU and me. I’m floored that he even notices us, with how small and insignificant we are compared to the details of a universe. But he does notice us, knows us and loves us. THAT is unfathomable, inscrutable, and yes, incomprehensible.

” …I pray that you be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…”

The Apostle Paul

Other writers have described God’s love this way:

  • everlasting
  • caring
  • slow to anger
  • never ending
  • affectionate
  • will never leave you alone
  • no barrier can separate us from God’s love

God’s love for us is so unimaginable, incomprehensible that He sent His only Son into the world, that we might have life through him, who was our sacrifice. I John 4:9-10

Jesus coming to Earth was a demonstration of God’s love for us. Jesus’ living here and brutal death on the cross was a demonstration of God’s incomprehensible love for us. Who would do that?

The suffering Jesus endured before crucifixion and later suffocating as he hung on that cross was pure and simple torture! It is incomprehensible.

When you have time, check out this video I made, about just that. (9 minutes)

Jesus’ crucifixion

God knows you, everything about you; strengths, weaknesses, good, bad, likes, dislikes, ups and down – AND HE LOVES YOU. Without measure, everlasting, carefully, caring, patiently, completely and unconditional. THAT blows my mind and is truly incomprehensible.

So, this weekend, as we celebrate Easter, I hope that you will celebrate the incomprehensible love that God demonstrated for you by sending Jesus to Earth; who lived, died and returned to life after three days! Who spent 40 days after the resurrection on Earth, was seen by over 500 people and after that was taken back up to heaven, (which was also witnessed by hundreds) where He is to this day.

Yet, to those who trust in Him, He comes to reside in their hearts as well.

Talk about incomprehensible???? My brain is exploding but my heart is overwhelming with gratitude.

Have a Happy Easter, because YOU ARE LOVED BY OUR IMCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD.

Cheers to you.

Standing at the hinge of history

I actually had no intention of writing this blog on this topic, but as the prophet of old has said,

” But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore…”, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

Jeremiah 20:9

So here goes…

I cannot express the depth of the urgency I feel inside about the spiritual mandate upon us, our nation, for this next week in our history. This week, I believe is a turning point – HINGE – in our history.

What happens this next week, will mark forever how our history plays out.

I cannot escape this, I cannot downplay it. I cannot soften it. And I am not seeking to instill fear or have you consider me a weirdo-fanatic of some kind. It is burning in my heart like a fire and must be shared. That is my job. Results are not.

What happens this next week?

I beleive totally in the timing of God. All things are in his time and controlled according to his timetable. This has always been, through the ages – a meticulously designed series of events involving nations, people, kings and leaders has been woven and played out.

This week, starting today, is the start of “Holy Week”. Today peoples from all over the world celebrate Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as they proclaimed him “King!”.

On this day as well, in 1270 BCE, Joshua and the Israelites had just successfully crossed the Jordan River, perched and almost ready to enter Canaan. But first, after 40 years of disregarding this covenant sign, there had to be a mass circumcision.

Tuesday, in Jewish tradion, is the “Formal Search for Chametz”, leading up to Passover on Thursday.

This search for chametz is when they thoroughly clean their homes of any and all leaven. All products containing leaven are burnt, sold or stored away in a special container. The understanding is not only diligently searching for that hidden leaven but diligently searching their hearts for hidden sins, pride, and hypocricy. Cleaning their heart of these things so they can enjoy The Passover.

Wednesday is The Fast of the Firstborn for the Jews and Christians celebrate Holy Wednesday, the day Jesus was betrayed by Judas.

Thursday is the first day of Passover. It is also known as Maundy Thursday, the day Christians celebrate Jesus’ Last Supper, or the day Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples. Passover is when the Jews remember the miraculous deliverance from Egypt and the plagues, including the Death angel passing over them because of the blood of the lamb on their doorpost.

Thursday, of this week also marks the 40th day of a 40 day global fast that was called last year. It began March 1 and ends April 9. A fast that hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe have committed to. A fast who’s goal was to bring worldwide awakening in the spirit realm and turning of hearts to Jesus and His kingdom. (My husband and I have been so blessed to be able to join with those throngs. )

Friday, we know is Good Friday. The day when we remember Jesus’ horrible beatings, mockings, and crucifixion. The day the world turned dark, the Earth shook, the veil was torn and graves were opened. The day he was sealed in a tomb and attended by the Roman guard. The day the disciples fled away in fear.

Friday night passed. Saturday passed. But Sunday arrived! And with it the resurrection of Jesus, triumphant over death and the grave! Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day!

Please understand, the convergence of all of these events we’ve listed WITH the coronavirus pandemic and its astronomical effects are not by accident. Fears, ilnesses, deaths, fatigue, shut downs, economic collapse, loss of education, celebrations, freedoms, relationships, hope…

They are by design. God’s divine timing. We are standing at the hinge of history.

I believe what we personally do this next week will not only impact our lives for good but more widely impact our nation for good. This is the fire in my bones. This is the call to action for each and every one of us.

  • Where do we need to allow Jesus to enter our lives, ways, thoughts? Where do we need to declare his victory and not our own? What needs to be cut away from our life?
  • What “leaven” – hidden (or open) sins need to be found and discarded from our lives?
  • How can our communion with the Divine be closer and more intimate? How can we feed that spirit?
  • What does that resurrection power look like in my life? in my family? my city? my state? my nation? How can it arrest the dark plague that has gripped us?
  • How can my stand see these freedoms from the Divine One extended to all who are in need and affect our future?

What we do this week matters. Never has our nation stood at such a threshhold.

” If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray… I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7″14

If not now, when?

We are standing at the hinge of history.

Cheers to you.

I would love to hear your comments and thoughts. Please leave them below.

Refreshing others

Isn’t it wonderful to hear the stories of people who choose to do good and help others in time of need? It’s inspiring! It brings hope and reassurance. It lifts our spirit. It encourages us.

Here are some recent such stories:

  • An anonymous do-gooder has made and left around Dana Point these encouraging surfboard signs
  • The Pacific Symphony members have been playing movements in trios, duets or solo on Instagram for the joy of their viewers
  • A non-profit was started to collect donations and then purchase meals from restaurants to have delivered to hospitals for the doctors and nurses
  • A salaried professor is Venmo-ing $20 to any neighbor in need, no questions asked
  • A couple who had to downsized their wedding and got married at home – but the entire neighborhood surprised them by celebrating from their cars, cheering and honking horns
  • A mob of cars showed up at a hospital and parked in the lot. From each car stood 1-2 people, with hands lifted toward the hospital in prayer for those affected by the virus in that hospital
  • WestJet threw a mini-graduation for 4 students who had to fly home due to the virus
  • Neighbors on lockdown sang Happy Birthday to an 80 year old from their balconies and windows

People who refresh others are so refreshing!

My hunch is that many of us want to be refreshing to others. We may or may not do so in a way that makes the 5 O’clock news but that doesn’t matter. I would like to offer this original acrostic as a means to encourage and inspire you to first be refreshed and then refresh others.

REFRESH

R – Reflect

E – Enjoy family & the small things

F -Find purpose & routine in each day

R – Reach out to friends & neighbors

E – Encourage others

S – Seek God

H – Hear his voice

Repeat the process…

These tidbits will help us find the refreshing that we personally need and also equip us to be that refreshing to others. You DO have something to offer others, even if it be only your smile.

” You can always give something, even if it is only kindness.”

Anne Frank

May you find refreshing today and give refreshing tomorrow.

Cheers to you.

Reset

Can you feel it lingering in the air?

That feeling that this is major and lifelong change is happening right before our eyes? The world as we know it is shifting and we are witness to history?

Maybe it’s not like that for you, but it sure seems to at least be a major reset for us. So, to that end, allow me to expatiate.

“Reset – to set again, or differently; adjusting or fixing something in a new or different way.”

Synonyms – reboot, restore, re-establish, restart

Common uses – to reset: an alarm clock, a broken bone, a different way, priorities, prices

Websters.com

We are truly at a reset time in our country. A time to re-evaluate our priorities, our values. What ways need to be changed? How can we do things differently? What has been broken that needs to be fixed? What alarm has been sounding and we better get to it? What needs major restoration? What shall we start up again?

These are questions I believe we should be asking on a global level, but I also believe that we should be asking and dealing with them on a personal level too. We have the time.

Now is the time to reboot, restart, restore and reset our thinking and priorities.

From my life, here are some simple examples of how my thinking has been reset: I now view grocery store clerks, workers, stockers and truck drivers with much more appreciation, respect and value. Restaurateur’s are due mad props for all they deal with and I will no longer take their fine dining wares for granted. That goes for fast food eateries too.

Hair dressers, teachers, plumbers, construction workers, florists, carpenters, small businesses, THESE are some of the jobs and people that have been overlooked, and undervalued in our society. We/I need to reset our/my thinking about them.

I value these jobs/people, they are important to me. They are more important to me than the multimillion dollar MLB or NBA player and what shoes they are wearing. Or the YouTube influencer and what lipstick they endorse. Geesh, how petty. How shallow we have become. Reset!

I value churches being able to meet. I value all Americans having the right to speak, even if I disagree with you. I value people disagreeing and yet still respecting each other. I value national traditions, even if they are not mine. I value life. I value hard work. I value family.

What do YOU value? I hope these days have given you time to see those clearly.

For me, these days are filled with major self-reflection and these 3 things keep coming up:

  • What are my priorities?
  • What are may values?
  • What are my interests?

If what I am doing, thinking, or planning does not line up with those, then I need a reset.

As America is resetting, may her members and citizens do the same. What is important to us – let’s keep it in focus and never stop using our voice and efforts to advance it. Otherwise, let’s adjust it and fix it or totally do away with it.

” Every sunset is an opportunity to reset.”

Richie Norton

Let’s PUSH the RESET BUTTON, today.

Cheers to you.

Times are changing

Yesterday, in our area, we had a dearly beloved historical attraction and youth overnight field trip location SINK. Literally.

The tall ship – “The Pilgrim”, docked at The Ocean Institute in Dana Point, began to keel starboard and take on water. By the next morning, it’s deck was totally below water, with only the masts and a part of the bow above water.

the ship is keeling

The Pilgrim is a replica of the 3-masted schooner that Richard Henry Dana sailed from Boston to California on in 1843 and upon which he wrote his diary, which became the book and movie “Two Years Before the Mast.

It was a popular overnight field trip site for over 400,000 fourth and fifth graders from throughout Southern California, as they “enjoyed” nights at sea, living the life of a sailor.

It was known to have a leak that was being “handled” and was scheduled for a full pull out, that had been postponed. It is considered a total loss now, and is being salvaged.

a crane working on salvage

It’s been sad for our community, as we have now added the loss of the Pilgrim to everything else that’s going on these days.

Times are definitely changing.

It was Walt Whitman, who wrote the poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” in which he compared The United States to a ship. At the time of his writing, 1865, the US had just ended the Civil War and President Lincoln had just been assassinated.

During his days, times were also changing – drastically.

Through her long and rich history, the good ship – America, has weathered many storms. She has brought joy and fulfillment of dreams to millions of children and their families as she has carried them on their varied adventures.

She is worn but she is not weak. Her values are just, her purpose clear – life and liberty for all. She has taken hits, and may appear to keel, but her foundation is sure and secure. Her hull is not breached, her body resolute. She is not lost and is not sinking.

Her people, aboard her, within her lifelines and rails may be knocked by pounding waves and deadly tempests, yet they will sail through the squalls and they, aboard her will safely dock again in peaceful, quiet harbors.

Times are changing.

But America is strong and resilient because her people are, her foundations are. May we change as needed, where needed but not compromise who we are as Americans and the purpose for which we have been called – life and liberty for all.

Cheers to America!

Sail on!

Butterfly Effect

Butterflies are such beautiful and delicate creatures that most of us have taken the time to enjoy their movement, colors and mannerisms. Their wings are massive compared to their bodies and don’t even need to be so big for them to fly. They can actually fly with a damaged or broken wing.

They don’t flap their wings either, like birds do. You know – up and down. Butterflies create a figure 8 pattern motion with their wings by constricting their bodies thus moving their wings and propelling them through the air.

Their large wings act like a rudder. The larger the rudder, the faster you can turn a ship. With butterflies, their large wings enable them to turn faster and thereby not become someone’s dinner.

But that’s not all, let’s not forget how butterflies start out… as catepillars, then cocoon, then butterfly!

As that caterpillar is in confinement in his cocoon, the time grows near for his emergence. But that will never happen without a struggle, without pain, without a difficult fight. Without that struggle his transformation is incomplete.

As he pushes through the small hole, his swollen body and small, shriveled wings rub and rub and rub on the cocoon, until his struggle is successful and he emerges, nearly at the point of exhaustion. His body has been resized and is no longer swollen and his wings are dried, strengthened and he is NOW ready to fly.

Without the struggle, he will never grow or fly! This whole process, by the way, takes 5-21 days. Hmmmm.

This struggle that we now face, is not unlike the butterfly’s story.

We have allowed ourselves to become “swollen”, filled with excesses, and accumulation of things. Our ability to spread our huge wings and fly over it all has not been sufficiently developed, partially because the difficulties and frictions of life have been few and manageable.

” As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.”

” Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

” All flowers grow through dirt.”

In this time of “struggle”/confinement – let’s embrace the rubbing, reduce the excess, enjoy the process, persevere, and emerge with gigantic wings to fly above all that is earthbound.

Resist the urge to flap up and down at the same old pattern of your life. Let your wings develop a new pattern of flight and find their strength in practicing this new way, while still in your seclusion. For soon, you will be free to fly and turn quickly in your new found life.

Who knows what “Butterfly Effect” you are destined to cause?

Cheers to you.