Category: Personal Growth

Seeking personal improvement

“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.

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

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.