I’m not sure how to begin telling this story. How do you summarize 18 months of change and the miraculous in your life? No idea but consider this my best effort.
Let me begin by describing each picture. The first one was taken in late August of 2022. I was watching the movers put all my belongings onto a truck. You may consider it an odd time to grab a selfie, but I knew it was important to capture that moment. Not because it was a wonderful, joyful moment. Quite the contrary. It was, arguably, one of the worst days of my life.
I had lived in that apartment for 13 years. And now I didn’t have a home, in more ways than one. My parents had both passed. We were selling the family house. And I wasn’t sure where I was going or what to do next.
That was me. I couldn’t stay in my place, but I had no idea where to go next. My original plan was to move south where I have family. But I wasn’t ready to go all that way just yet. Thankfully, I had loving family locally who put me up (and put up with me) for a few months as I began my home search.
After trying, unsuccessfully, to find a place down south, I moved out of my family’s home and into a friend’s. I can’t tell you how humbling that whole season was. I had lived on my own for about 25 years. Now I was relying on the kindness of loved ones for a roof over my head.
Have you ever been there? Where simply having energy to do the most basic, fundamental functions is monumental? I enjoyed walking and running, so I forced myself to keep that routine in place. Yet every time I was in my car driving to my favorite park, I would cry. Now, I’m not talking a sniffle or shedding a tear or two. It would wash over me like a tidal wave. Gratefully, I wasn’t sobbing to the point where I couldn’t see, but sometimes it was close.
I knew God wasn’t punishing me or anything, but I couldn’t help but wonder why He was allowing me to be in this position. Again, I had been self-sufficient for decades. I wasn’t used to relying on other people. I wasn’t used to living with other people. And I wasn’t used to not having my own things around me.
With every move, I would take smaller versions of my personal belongings. And I began to feel as if I would never be whole again. Perhaps this smaller version of me was all that was left.
I was studying this picture recently. It brought me back to that time, but not in a bad way. I wasn’t overwhelmed or depressed by it. In fact, it was almost as if I was looking at somebody else. The woman in that picture was angry, hurt, grieving, lost, confused.
After several months, I realized it wasn’t time for me to move south. I also realized I couldn’t afford to live where I was any longer. My friend who I was staying with was so gracious, but I certainly didn’t want to overstay my welcome. I needed a plan.
But I had no plan. And, quite frankly, I didn’t want to go with my own plan anymore. I wanted the Lord’s plan for me. This change in my mindset hadn’t come quickly or easily. I had planned to move south. I believed it was the plan. Then I started looking for apartments, or rather I engaged a realtor there to help me. And nothing happened. I’d be interested and put my name in, and…nothing.
Rejections came fast and frequently. I had never had this experience finding a home. In the past, it was rather effortless for me to find a place to live. As a Christian, I don’t believe it was luck or happy coincidences. I have always believed it was the favor of God.
I know now how silly that sounds. God’s love, grace, and mercy is infinite. He often blesses us in spite of what we do or don’t do. It’s never about us. We can’t earn His love.
As I prayed and thought more about it, I realized perhaps my plan just wasn’t aligned with what He wanted. Maybe I was supposed to be somewhere completely different. Speaking with a dear friend, my sneaking suspicion was confirmed. Without me telling her what I’d been thinking, she asked me if I was sure I was supposed to move down south. At the time I answered, “Yes. Of course.” But I wasn’t 100% certain any longer.
I tried to dismiss that conversation, but it wouldn’t leave my brain. She’s a prayerful woman of God, so when she doubted my plan, I had to take that into consideration.
I visited another dear friend who had moved out of my state some time ago. We had a wonderful visit. She lives in the country, lots of trees and rolling hills. It’s a 15-minute drive to the heart of town, and it’s surrounded by a beautiful lake.
It was here that my journey took an unexpected turn. She graciously offered me the studio apartment on her property. I had stayed there several times over the years when I would visit. It was furnished and cozy. It was a chance to have my own place again. My furniture and bulk of belongings would remain in storage, but it would be my little spot.
I accepted. Once again, I loaded up my car with my traveling circus of stuff and headed to my new place. I was very grateful for the upgrade. Little pieces of myself started coming back slowly. It was an interesting time, because I was independent again, but not truly settled.
There were growing pains adjusting to my country mouse life. I struggled with periodic bouts of loneliness and boredom. I see now it had less to do with where I was and more about how I was.
This was the strangest thing of all. Here I was in a peaceful, new place. Why was I sometimes feeling almost as terrible as when I first moved out of my home? The Lord had blessed me. Why wasn’t I happier?
I see now it was because there was so much I hadn’t processed from the past several years. Now that I was in a safe, secure place, all that I had repressed or pushed aside was coming to the surface.
I see now it was necessary for me to deal with a lot of pain before I could move forward with purpose. God wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was helping me heal. He knew I couldn’t hold on to past hurts or keep reliving painful experiences. He needed to, like a surgeon, go in and cut out the cancer in my spirit. It may sound hyperbolic, but I know it’s true. I couldn’t avoid the past. I needed to get past the past, if you will.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still tear-stained pillow nights. There were still days spent lying in bed because I just couldn’t get myself out of it. But, over time, there were less. It was a process. There were good days and bad days. And sometimes there were worse days. As I began to lean closer to Him, spending more time in prayer, reading the Bible, and worshipping, the tide began to turn. More of His presence helped me forgive and unburden myself of the heavy load He never asked me to carry.
This brings me to the second picture. It was taken recently after I had just settled into my new, three-bedroom apartment! I will never forget the day the movers brought my furniture and belongings into my new home. I flashed back to the day when everything was taken away. But now here I was standing in awe at the miracle of God’s ability to turn it all around in my favor. I have felt such joy and peace as my friend and I decorate the space. I’m playing a lot more praise and worship music, singing and dancing like I haven’t in far too long.
For a while I had been glad my stuff wasn’t near me. The memories were too painful. Now, I’m excited to see the end tables that were my aunt’s, or the dining room set that was my parents’. The memories are now sweet without a trace of bitter.
The best part is that God orchestrated the whole thing!
I had been in the studio for about a year when this opportunity presented itself. Once again, I didn’t have to strive or seek it out. It was effortless. The Lord simply blessed me with it. So, what else can I do but dedicate it back to Him and pledge to use it for His glory. It’s an upstairs apartment I’ve lovingly nicknamed “The Upper Room.”
As I look at the second picture, I recognize her. She’s the me I’ve become. She’s content in a way like never before. See, she always believed and trusted in the Lord. But the last 18 months stretched that faith and took trusting to a whole other level. I couldn’t fix it myself. Believe me, I tried. Yet when I surrendered to Him, that’s when things began to change.
I’m sharing my story to give you hope. God is not a respecter of persons. What He’s done for me He can do for you. I didn’t make it happen. I’m no better than anyone. He’s just greater than everyone.
I won’t be so prideful to say I’ll never struggle again. That’s hubris and foolishness. What I know is He. Is. Faithful.
If you’re in a low place, feeling lost or confused, I understand. I mean it. I know what’s it like to just want to give up. I know what it’s like to want to numb yourself. I know what it’s like to shut down. I know what it’s like to feel angry, frustrated, discouraged. I know what it’s like to feel like it’s unfair and you don’t deserve what’s happening to you.
I get it.
More importantly, God understands.
So, let my story encourage you. For a time, in the natural it seemed like I lost everything, including my smile. But. God. It didn’t happen for me overnight. It took time, starting, stopping, standing, falling, crawling.
But it did happen.
Restoration is possible.
Healing is possible.
Peace is possible.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Believe in God and in His Only Son Jesus today. That’s the first step.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you.
You may have heard someone say that phrase, or you might have used it at one time or another. This week we’re going to discuss if there is a difference between being Spiritual and being Spirit-filled. (Spoiler alert: there is.)
Here endeth the lesson. Thanks for stopping by. Catch you on the next blog.
Just kidding (except about the part where there is a difference between the two terms). Let me preface this piece, as I do often, by stating I’m a resident expert on absolutely nothing. Once again, what inspires and informs my writing is my faith and my experience, and biblical truth. Whew, glad we got that out of the way. Now, let’s get into it.
This week’s topic was inspired by a recent sermon I heard. The speaker didn’t labor the point. He simply stated being spiritual and spirit-filled are not the same because being spiritual allows you to be open and vulnerable to all kinds of spirits. Being spirit-filled (in the Christian world) means you are filled with the Holy Spirit.
I wrote a piece some time ago on how the Holy Spirit is our superpower. And it really is. For clarity’s sake, let’s begin by providing the biblical definition of the Holy Spirit. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
If the Holy Spirit can be grieved, meaning hurt or pained, this means the Holy Spirit is not an it. The Spirit is alive and is not a thing. It is a person (not in our traditional sense, but nevertheless we cannot refer to it as an animal or a thing).
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
I am so grateful for His presence. When I am at a total loss, when anger, or suffering and sadness is trying to overtake me, and I can’t find the words, the Spirit is there. He is interceding and moving on my behalf.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me: (John 15:26, KJV)
In this verse Jesus was preparing His disciples for His death and resurrection. He is assuring them that though He will no longer be with them on earth, He’s sending another who will dwell on the inside of them and be their Comforter, Guide, and Teacher.
I’m so glad you asked. In Acts chapter 2 of the Bible, it describes what is often referred to as the Feast of Pentecost. It is a moment when the disciples are gathered together, praying and worshipping when suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind sweeps through the room and tongues of fire appear over each person’s head. They begin to speak in different languages as the Spirit prompts them. This event signified the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’s disciples. People outside heard them and were amazed because the disciples were speaking fluently in languages they had never been taught. They were speaking the native languages of many in the crowd. This didn’t make any sense because how could the disciples do that?
The Holy Spirit, that’s how.
This is certainly a dramatic occurrence in biblical history, but it is a fraction, a minor demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. How do I know? Because the Lord blessed me with His Spirit over 25 years ago. In my case, there wasn’t a flame over my head or anything as exciting as that. It happened during worship in a Sunday service. I had been asking the Lord, and He answered. How did I know? Because I started speaking a foreign language. Which one? Couldn’t tell you. What I do know is that the more I let the words flow freely, the stronger I felt, the more connected I felt to God, and the more my worries and cares began to melt away.
And that was only the beginning.
Since then, I’ve witnessed the Holy Spirit move in and through my life. From discouraging me from making bad decisions (I didn’t know were bad in the moment), to encouraging me to speak to someone or share something God had on His heart for them. There is no greater moment than when the Holy Spirit prompts you to say something. After you overcome the initial fear and anxiety, it’s awesome to watch the person react (most of the time). What you say may not always be received as you’d hoped. But more often than not, it’s a beautiful exchange. Regardless, you walk away knowing you listened and obeyed. You did your small part.
You may not believe me, but there have been times where I knew something about someone when there was no earthly way I could have known it. The Holy Spirit showed me or told me something. I just knew it.
It was more than a feeling or a vibe. It was deeper than that. If you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s hard to describe. I apologize. The bottom line is your life completely changes for better once the Holy Spirit is on the scene.
Well, there is our pesky free will always at play. We can choose to ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit and do as we will. I certainly don’t recommend that, but I’m not so prideful as to act like I’m not guilty of choosing my plan over His. Gratefully, with time and experience, I’m learning and choosing His way more than mine. The Holy Spirit may lead you to uncomfortable places. You may have to endure sadness, frustration, loss. We’re not immune to the ups and downs of life. But He’s the only way to get through it and know peace in the midst of chaos, calm in a storm, joy in the morning after a night of weeping.
Well, I would answer that with a yes and no. Yes, because you believe in a spiritual realm and have made yourself receptive to it. No, because there are other spirits in that realm who do not serve the Lord. In fact, many are working overtime to interfere with the plans of God for His children (you and me).
Let’s back up a little and start by agreeing there are two realms: natural and spiritual. As I wrote in an earlier piece, the two realms are not mutually exclusive. They intersect. We can be influenced in the natural by activities in the spiritual. When I asked the Lord to send His Holy Spirit, for example, I intersected the two realms. Now, I in the natural world have the Spirit (from the spiritual world, obviously) living inside of me.
The two worlds are not as far apart as we like to imagine. The Bible speaks of many angelic visitations and other breaches between realms. (You need to look those up for yourself. Blog 76 rules.)
The main difference between any spirit other than the Holy Spirit is that He is a gentleman. The Holy Spirit doesn’t invade and take over. He is waiting for your invitation. He respects your free will. Other spirits are, let’s just say, not so accommodating and gracious.
As you do certain rituals, poses, meditations, etc, ask yourself, “Who am I connecting with? Who am I giving access to?” Answers such as: “mother earth, the universe, my inner self,” and so forth can be problematic. I know, that’s a hot take. I’m Kat Controversy; it’s what I do.
Some may say, “Well, I’m thinking about God when I do (fill in the blank), so that makes it OK.” Again, I have to give you my yes and no answer. Is God some ethereal, intangible being? Or is He the Father of the universe, Maker of heaven and earth, Lord of all. Is He a part of the Holy Trinity, the Godhead of Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit, or just some old dude sitting on a cloud somewhere? If you meditate on scripture and the goodness of the Lord, then you’re in a good place. If you’re doing certain poses and rituals with origins in worship to other gods, then I have to strongly advise against it.
I know this might not be easy to hear. My goal isn’t to offend. But it is to educate. Being spiritual isn’t enough. In fact, it might work against you rather than for you. Because you may be innocently dabbling in the spirit realm, but those who dwell there do not play around. And there is only One who will not play with you. There is only One who will care, comfort, love, guide and protect you.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him for His Holy Spirit today. You won’t regret it. Promise you.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Let me preface this piece by stating something I’ve declared in nearly every one of my 75 blog posts. (Did you catch the subtle flex in that sentence?) I am a resident expert on absolutely nothing. What I carry are over 25 years of working out my salvation with fear and trembling. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes and am eternally grateful for God’s mercies being new each morning.
My belief is that during my lifetime I have learned some things. It is these few bits of knowledge and understanding I wish to share with you. It is a blessing to have this platform to discuss these issues.
This week’s topic may prove a little prickly. Please understand, when I write I may be sharing a message, but it’s for me as well. Typically, I’ve already been faced with that lesson or nugget of truth or am dealing with it at the moment. My topic selection is often predicated upon a personal trial, situation, or correction.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can dive into this week’s topic. I was inspired to write about it as I’ve come across a lot of Judgy McJudgykins in the faith-based community. My focus here is on those who proudly declare themselves believers yet seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to get the speck out of someone else’s eye while ignoring the log in their own. (Bonus points if you know the Bible reference for that analogy.)
I believe I’ve written previously how the majority of negative comments and feedback I receive from my blog or other posts usually come from “christians”. (Yes, in case you were wondering, the lowercase c was deliberate.)
I follow several celebrity accounts on social media who each state they believe in Christ. I don’t believe in deifying anyone, but we should support anyone working in Hollyweird (the belly of the beast, IMHO) who dares use their platforms to even utter Jesus’s name in a non-blasphemous context. I would argue most of us in the real world have no idea how oppressed and downright demonic the entertainment industry is. Though recently it does seem as if they’ve taken off any veils and are proudly and overtly promoting evil. But I digress.
In 2024, unfortunately, between increasing censorship and algorithmic selection and suppression, most of us are finding it more challenging to reach our audiences with the good news of Jesus. I daresay, however, these few actors and actresses I follow take more risk than me every time they talk about their faith, mention the Bible, encourage prayer, etc. Why? I’m so glad you asked. Currently, if I post something the powers-that-be don’t like, I don’t have a lot at stake. My job is not, at present, in jeopardy. My circle of family and friends already know what I believe, so I’m not likely to be ostracized or canceled. But for the celebrity? Unless they’re sheltered working with a faith-based studio or production company, they have more on the line to lose with each Jesus post, right? (This theme holds true for athletes and musical artists, as well. I merely chose to focus on actors/actresses for this piece.)
Think about it. All those days and nights, all the auditions. All the callbacks that went nowhere. All the callbacks you didn’t even get. You grind it out for years in bit parts and cameos that are more like walk-ons. You keep going. You keep hustling because you know God gave you a gift. You can’t imagine doing anything else.
Then it happens. Your big break. Suddenly you’re an overnight sensation except few people know that overnight was the last 12 years of your life. But you’ve made it. It must be a heady time. The only way you can stay sane and deal with fame and all its trappings is to press in even more into the faith that’s been sustaining you all along the way. You realize the Lord has made it all possible. He opened the doors no one can shut for you in His perfect time. You’re so overwhelmed with love and appreciation for His goodness, you want to tell everybody. And now you can because you have a platform. So, you get on social media, or you sit down for an interview, and you give God the glory.
And it all goes nuclear.
Calls come in from your agent advising you to tone it down a little. Media interviews are edited to delete your potentially triggering ideas. And the comment section is blowing up!
Some get the message and suddenly become a lot less vocal. Others do not. My hat goes off to anyone who continues to be bold in the face of that pressure. Again, I’m not deifying anyone. They’re not my idol. But I think we should respect and encourage them. Show them some support. Not trash them in the comments.
OK, I’ll agree with you there are times when I read something or hear someone speak and I know it doesn’t completely line up with the Word of God. But the rush to immediately vilify and disqualify the person is where I take issue. And, truth be told, I’m sure I’m not acting in a way that’s pleasing to the Lord at least once a day, but maybe I’m the only one?
From my personal experience, the ones who can’t wait to school me and show me the error of my ways never seem to be around when I post something pure like a scripture verse or prayer. Why not? You have to call balls and strikes, people. Are you my unsolicited editor? Are you always reading my content, but only commenting when you find fault with it?
Let me state again, this message is for me too. I’m not exempt from falling into the trap. Of course, if we read or see something that doesn’t line up with the Word, we want to fix it. If we love the Truth, we don’t want to see it twisted or compromised, even if done innocently.
But I believe it’s the way we go about delivering the message that matters. First, are we praying and asking God before we hit a keystroke or say a word? Perhaps it isn’t your job to tell so-and-so they got it wrong. Maybe it’s your job to pray for them instead. Maybe instead of publicly commenting and embarrassing them, you’re meant to send a private message with your concerns.
A healthy, respectful discussion or debate can be beneficial. But attacking, mocking, or disparaging one another helps no one and does nothing to further the kingdom.
Are there times where someone might need a firm word, a strong correction because of what they’re doing? Absolutely. But more often than not, it is the gentle word that will pierce the heart and persuade.
I know I’ve had to acknowledge that sometimes I was being prideful in my approach. Someone said or did something completely not in alignment and I swooped in to fix them. But how dare I think I’m somehow better than that person simply because I didn’t make their mistake (this time).
I guess my point in all of this is to never forget the love. I’m not suggesting you ignore or permit what the Bible says we shouldn’t. A fair dose of compassion mixed in with the correction, however, goes a long way to help be and bring the change.
The fact is we all make mistakes. We all stumble. It is only by God’s grace that we get back up. Don’t believe me? Excellent. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. (James 3:1-3)
“Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect…” Do you know anyone like that? I mean other than Jesus Christ. I don’t. Just saying.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:13)
If you read some of the verses around this one, the Apostle Paul was using an example of if someone believed eating a certain food was a sin, even if you know it isn’t, don’t eat it in front of them. For me, this verse can apply to many areas. The Bible tells us to prefer one another, esteem others more than ourselves. The true Christian life (note the capital C here) is always about humility, preferring others, supporting others, building others up so that the Body may be whole.
For anyone getting ready to rebuke an actor or actress for the projects they choose, “You call yourself a Christian?” “How can you play that role?” “Why do you do blah blah blah?” Take a minute and consider your own ways.
For anyone getting ready to correct another believer, “What were you thinking?” “You know that’s a sin.” “You need to repent.” Take a minute and consider your own ways.
Correction may need to be made. You may be the one to bring it. But if you’re not operating in love, with wisdom, understanding and discernment, be careful. You just might stumble yourself. And wouldn’t you want a gentle, strong hand there to help pick you up?
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. (Proverbs 3:20-23)
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you.
There’s a social media trend (yes, another one) where people are posting their “Ins” and “Outs” for the new year. For example: In – more quality time with me; Out – less time with people and places that aren’t right for me. This is a relatively benign illustration, but the gamut of this trend is wide and far reaching.
I’m certainly not against using a new calendar year as an opportunity to reflect and review your life choices. There is value in it, if you’re willing to exam yourself honestly and not simply externalize responsibility for any areas that aren’t going well. It’s very easy to point the finger at other people or situations rather than studying what role you may be playing in any given problem. Of course, there are times and circumstances where it truly isn’t your fault. But (and I realize this may be a hot take) I venture to say with most people those instances are few and far between.
As children we are limited in our ability for autonomy. We are too young and inexperienced to make important life decisions. Most of us will defer to our parents or other adults to guide us, steer us along the way. Once we become adults, however, the bulk of responsibility (and, therefore, accountability) lies with the one whose face you see looking back at you in the mirror each day.
If I’m not content with my career status, I have to first look at what I am doing or not doing to gain access to a better situation. I have absolutely spent time complaining about work conditions over the years. I was discouraged. I wasn’t getting the recognition or compensation I deserved. Yet I kept working there, in some cases, far longer than I probably should have. Can I fault my employer for that? I chose to stay working there. I could rationalize that “I had no choice. I had bills to pay.” That was true. I had to work, but where I worked was a different story. Sure, sometimes there weren’t many job openings in my field, so my choices were limited. That didn’t mean I had no choice. I just may not have liked my options. And if I simply chose to not even look for another position, then I had no one else to blame for my discontent but me. The employer might not have been doing the right thing, but neither was I. I wasn’t doing anything and everything I could to change my status.
That’s just one illustration. But I think you get the point.
Most of the time, we don’t have a great deal of control over what’s happening around us. We do have control over how we respond and position ourselves. So, I’m all for making a “fresh start” in the new year, provided it includes an honest self-examination of your strengths and weaknesses.
I guess in 2024 that statement might be considered a hot take too. I mention it only because I’ve lived it, multiple times. I decide to make a change and I’m fired up about it. And that lasts for a while, until it doesn’t. Even if I have support from friends and family, sometimes I hit the wall. It gets too hard, or it’s taking too long, or any of a number of discouragements come my way. If I’ve been moving solely in my own strength, eventually it will run out and I might drop out.
I am so grateful I don’t have to do that anymore.
There is a God who loves us so much He sent His Only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. His love is so great, and His desire to be in close relationship with us is so real, we don’t have to be alone.
Now, some of you may be saying, “We can’t see God, so we’re still alone.” With all due kindness and respect, I must tell you that is incorrect. An analogy I’ve often used is how we can’t see air, but we know it’s there. And once you come into relationship with Him, He is as vital to you as the very air you breathe. (I won’t go down this rabbit hole now but consider this: He’s the reason you’re still breathing. Yes, your body is performing the actual activity, but who set up that mechanism? Did you determine your first breath? Will you determine your last? But I digress.)
Let me be clear, you are still accountable for your participation. When you ask Jesus into your life, it doesn’t mean all your work is done. As I’ve said before, the Bible isn’t Aladdin’s magic lamp. You don’t rub it and Genie Jesus comes out and grants you three wishes. Instead, you enter into a joint venture. Obviously, He’s the senior partner and should have the final say. Yet you will have input; you will be making decisions.
God never wanted little zombies and mindless drones. He gave us the ability to think and reason. He desires for us to choose Him and His way in all things. But He doesn’t love us less if we don’t.
I’ve just learned that my understanding of any situation is grossly limited. I’m not all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He is. So, why wouldn’t I want to include Him in every area, especially when I’m resolving to make changes?
It can be scary to give up any control, to trust in Someone you can’t see. I completely get it. But here’s the beautiful part. He gave us His Word (the Bible) to help us learn to trust. We can read and see time after time how He was faithful, constant, and unchanging.
Other people, even those we love and who love us, can and will disappoint. There may come a day or time where we put our trust in them, and it doesn’t turn out well. Things and people can change.
God doesn’t and He won’t!
Don’t believe me? Wonderful, you know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)
So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations. In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them, and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Psalm 102:24-27)
Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:7-8)
If you don’t know Jesus, or you’re skeptical, I get it. There are a lot of distractions and alternatives put before us each day. Some may even say we’ve moved beyond the Lord. We don’t need Him anymore. (I don’t recommend standing too close to them; however, you never know when lightning might strike. But I digress.)
What I’m suggesting is this: Try God.
You know what’s it been like attempting to change on your own. You know what it feels like when you stumble, when you fall. Wouldn’t it be good to know what it feels like to have the Creator of the universe be there to help pick you up? What if He was there before you stumbled and alerted you to the pitfall ahead of time? What if you listened and avoided a disappointment altogether?
I want to close with this verse which speaks so powerfully of how we believers feel about the Lord. Check this out:
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)
God is real. Jesus is real. The Holy Spirit is real. Invite them into your new year, into your life, into your heart. Let 2024 be the year of real change.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you.
As I write this, we are less than two weeks away from Christmas. The older I get the faster time seems to fly by. I remember when I was little it felt like an eternity between Halloween and Christmas. In fact, there was a whole other holiday, Thanksgiving, thrown in the middle. It was a lot of pressure. After all, I had to be nice if I wanted to get presents from Santa. I’d heard rumors he’d been watching me all year long, so these last couple of months were critical. I couldn’t afford anymore slip-ups.
When I watch our home movies of Christmas morning, I see the battle-weary fatigue on every child’s face. It’d been rough not calling each other names or making faces at mealtime for almost 60 days. Not to mention staying silent when your siblings would deliberately sit in your spot on the couch and refuse to move. And, of course, there was always the borrowing-without-actually-asking challenges to be handled with great diplomacy and tact, and no yelling.
But we had dutifully sucked it up, navigated the familial minefield, and kept our eyes on the prize. Now, underneath the glistening tree was the glorious payoff. As we’d rip through the carefully wrapped presents, leaving a flurry of wrapping paper debris in our wake, we reveled in our reward.
Later on, as we’d sit together enjoying a bountiful breakfast, we’d be tempted to revert back to our old ways. But it was still Christmas, so we’d declare a temporary truce, which usually ended precisely on the morning of December 26.
As an adult Christian, my focus has shifted from pursuit of presents to pursuit of God. I’m no longer imposing some temporary self-restraint in the hopes of cash and prizes. I’ve come to realize this simple truth.
Now, I realize that may be an unpopular take. And I don’t expect you to take my word for it. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)
All have sinned. All have fallen short.
That’s tough for many of us to accept. We try to live our lives doing the right thing, being nice, but no matter what our best efforts, we can’t earn our way into heaven. We can’t make ourselves righteous in our own strength. We are flawed human beings.
But there is a God of all the earth who looks upon us in love, who knows our weaknesses yet sent His only Son to die in our place. Jesus took our punishment upon Himself. To use my earlier analogy, regarding the things of God, there is only one name on the nice list. That name is Jesus. The rest of us are all on the naughty one.
Yet as we come to know and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, as we receive Him into our hearts and repent for our mistakes, our names disappear from that naughty list and appear on the nice one. I imagine that each letter: J E S U S contains millions of our names within it. A surface glance would still show only one name: Jesus. But if you look deeper, you’ll see our names inside it. He covers us. He goes before us. He made the Way.
Christmas morning is different now.
It’s still a time of laughter and gift-giving. But there is a deeper reverence, an appreciation for the Lord of all who didn’t spare His only Son to save us.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still something so precious seeing a small child’s face as they open that one special present they dreamed of getting. Perhaps we could all have that same awe, wonder, surprise, and joy when we realize the gift that was our Savior born in a stable in Bethlehem. May we read our Bibles with the same excitement because there are so many gifts inside just waiting to be opened.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Jesus is the reason for the season and the Gift that never stops giving.
Look forward to hearing from you.
I recently had the privilege of witnessing my nephew’s water baptism. No, he wasn’t a little baby dressed all in white. He’s a grown man. People have different opinions on when someone should be baptized into the faith. Some sects dictate it should be done when a child is an infant, others believe the child should be older and decide for him/herself. What most, if not all, would agree upon is that baptism symbolizes you dedicating your life to the Lord and washing away your old ways and who you used to be. It’s a purification ritual and a sign to everyone that you are changing your life for good.
At this service, where some 70+ people made the same decision as my nephew, a dear young lady who I’ve had the honor of knowing for over 25 years was present. To say her being there was a divine appointment is an understatement. She doesn’t even live in the same state as us! But she was nearby and planned to come out and visit for the day. When she learned what we’d be doing on Sunday, she was all in. And then she went all in – as in all into the baptismal tank. Her declaration was slightly different than my nephew’s. She was there to rededicate.
She had loved the Lord for most of her life. She was a powerful woman of prayer and faith. But in that moment, she felt led to go in deeper, to recommit to the faith she’s known forever. This was next level or leveling up stuff.
I won’t pretend to know her motivations or what led to her decision. That is her story to tell. What I will say is her example inspired this post. And I can relate to coming to a place of knowing it’s time to recommit, rededicate, get back on track.
My focus here is on faith, but the same question could be asked concerning anything: relationships, careers, health, etc. There are times I’ve been so consumed with day-to-day life. When I stop and turn around, I realize I’ve lost days, weeks. (Technically, I didn’t lose them, obviously. But if you asked me what I did or what happened, I’d have no answer.)
Has that ever happened to you?
A verse I quote often is that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. It is an undeniable fact. (This is my 72nd blog, so I trust you can find the scripture for yourself.) The smartest minds, the wealthiest people, the healthiest athletes, the most famous celebrities have zero control over whether or not they’ll have a tomorrow. Sure, we can take steps and we can do things and lead lifestyles which reduce the risk of certain diseases. We can choose to not engage in risky, unhealthy behaviors. Yet the fact remains that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.
Excellent question. For me, it’s not because I don’t think the verse is true, it’s more that I choose to put it aside. I allow myself to be distracted and shift my focus to whatever lies in front of me at any particular moment. In short, I don’t let myself get that deep. I stay on the surface, battling whatever I’m currently facing, including: errands, deadlines, writer’s block, relational issues, etc.
I’m not suggesting we should be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good. It’s always about balance. What I am advocating for is rededication.
We are in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It’s the most wonderful time but can also be the most stressful. Lots of pressures and commitments. Lots of distractions. We can lose sight of what we are truly celebrating.
It’s the story of a God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)
We exchange gifts at Christmas, but is there any greater gift than Jesus?
Christmas is when we celebrate when heaven came to earth in the form of a little baby. He was born in a manger in a stable, surrounded by hay and animals. The Savior of the world was born in the humblest of circumstances. And He was born to die. But not just to be a sacrifice. He is the One who heals us, restores us. Through His life, death, and resurrection we are now able to have relationship with God.
When I think of the life of Jesus and His ministry on earth, I see someone who daily dedicated Himself to His Father and to His mission. He chose every day to keep going. He knew the pain, torture and hate He would face. Nevertheless, He kept choosing you and me. Jesus was resolute in His conviction from the start.
I desire to be more like Him, to be so single-minded that no temptation, distraction, disaster, can divert me. I am not anywhere near that today. So, when God shows me I’m going astray, or becoming complacent in my faith, His Holy Spirit will gently encourage me to rededicate, recommit.
As you prepare for the holidays, are you satisfied with where you are in your faith? Or are you feeling a gentle nudge to spend more time in God’s presence, whether that be in church, or reading the Bible, or praying and worshipping in your home?
For me, rededication has meant making the Lord and my time with Him a priority. This could mean a daily verse and meditation. It can mean talking about His goodness and love to others. It can mean writing a blog post about Him. It could mean getting baptized again.
Your expression of rededication is unique. It’s between you and God. That’s what makes it such a precious thing and the best gift you can give this season. It will cost you something. It could be time or energy. It could be not partaking in something you enjoy because it’s no longer right for you. It could be forgiving someone who hurt you even if they’ve never apologized.
As I close, what I can tell you is that you can never outgive the Lord. As you rededicate yourself in this season to Him, He can’t help but bless you. Of course, we don’t recommit to get something. It’s not a bartering system or an exchange. We rededicate because He is worthy of our full commitment, not a lukewarm, half-hearted effort.
Jesus didn’t save us that way, did He?
As you rededicate and reprioritize, you’ll be amazed how it affects other areas of your life: relationships, career, health and fitness goals, etc. See, when seeking Him and His kingdom comes first, all the rest can be added onto you. (That’s another non-annotated verse I threw in. Challenge you to find it in your Bible.)
I encourage you to speak with the Lord today. Tell Him of your sincere desire to rededicate. I assure you, He will give you opportunities to express that recommitment. It may be in helping a stranger. It may be attending a service or a prayer meeting. Or it may just mean taking a dunk in the baptismal tank.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Give God your best gift this Christmas. Give Him your whole heart.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Am I the only one who said, “I would never do that,” only to find myself one day doing (or saying) the very thing I vowed I wouldn’t? How about this: you’ve given up an unhealthy habit or behavior. You’ve resolved to never engage in it again. You don’t for a long period of time.
Then one day you do. You can’t explain exactly how you got to that point. You’re probably disgusted and disappointed in yourself. You feel ashamed and embarrassed. It’s a terrible, humbling moment.
I had such a moment recently, which prompted me to write this piece. There was an unhealthy behavior I had struggled with for decades. A year or so ago, I believed I had it conquered. It no longer took effort to avoid engaging in it. The thought of it didn’t even cross my mind anymore. It was never going to bring me down again.
Except it did.
One day, a day not unlike the hundreds before or after it, I found myself lured into partaking in that unhealthy act again.
You may be wondering what is my struggle? What is this harmful thing I’m involved with? I’m not going to share that here. Not because I’m afraid of what people might think, but rather because if anyone reads this and doesn’t have the same struggle, they may feel exempt from the point I’m trying to make.
The larger issue here is how fallible we are as human beings. We are capable of anything. Under the right circumstances, we can act nobly and selflessly. Under the wrong set of circumstances, we’re liable to do something terrible and awful. In some situations, we can be brave and courageous. In others we can be weak and cowardly.
In my case, as a Christian, we are often preached to about how God is greater than any of our problems. He’s the answer. (And He is, by the way.) So, when we mess up, as I did the other day, we can immediately feel condemnation and guilt. We may ask ourselves, If I love Jesus, how could I do something so stupid? What is wrong with me? Why after all this time did I slip? Was I not reading my Bible enough or spending enough time in prayer? What happened?
As I’ve written before, God is not surprised by anything we do. There has never been a time where He leapt up from His throne in amazement, turned to His Son and said, “What the??? Did you see that? I was not expecting that.” Nope. Doesn’t happen because He’s all-knowing, all-seeing and all that.
I’m not suggesting we completely dismiss our mistakes or sins. Absolutely not. We should take a careful look at ourselves, ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and His help to show us how we became vulnerable in that moment. Were our defenses down? Were we trying to escape a painful situation? Were we just tired of waiting?
That last one is a biggie for me if I’m being honest. The Bible says how God’s timing is not like ours. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Making you look that verse up for yourself. This is blog #71, after all.) I, like most people, have hopes and dreams I’ve been waiting to see come to fruition for a long time. I get impatient. Then I find myself wanting to disconnect, distract myself.
Therein lies the danger.
As I let my mind wander, it can lead me to unhealthy situations. It starts out innocently enough: binge watching a show I like or scrolling through social media. Little by little, however, I become more checked out. I’m less interested in reading the Bible or praying or listening to Christian music. My flesh begins to crave more of the disconnection, more of the distraction.
Until I finally give in to a temptation that hasn’t been able to tempt me for over a year.
Would it help to know that even one of the greatest figures in the Bible (Paul) voiced this same struggle? Don’t believe me? Great. Check this out. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)
First, I take comfort in knowing this man whom God inspired to write a huge portion of the New Testament, who played a vital part in building many churches and helping lead many to Christ, wrestled with the same issues. You’ll notice he doesn’t name his struggles. The point isn’t what they were, the point is that they were.
This was a man who spent far more time praying, fasting, studying than I ever have. Yet he’s saying what I say many times too. I love Jesus. I want to live a life that pleases God. Why do I keep doing things I know do not please Him?
The simple truth is because we’re human. It is in our nature, but God overcame our basic, lower nature. His Holy Spirit helps us recognize a better way, a higher calling.
As I stated earlier, God is not surprised. He saw the temptation before we did. And He already prepared a way out for us.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
If I reflect on the events of the day leading up to my mistake, I can see subtle ways the Holy Spirit was trying to redirect me. I simply ignored the promptings. I made a choice. I’m responsible for my decision. Perhaps I did lose my way a little. I definitely lost focus on what really matters.
I close by confessing I may engage in this or another unhealthy behavior again. I pray I won’t. I pray the next time temptation rears its ugly head I heed the warnings, finding the way out God has already prepared for me. I am not so prideful to believe I can do it by myself.
I don’t desire to ever do it again. But I learned to never say never. And I can rest knowing God will never ever stop loving me and you.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Finish the quote.
I bet you probably can.
But just in case, and in the interest of time, here you go:
…was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
Though its origin isn’t from the movie The Usual Suspects, that film arguably solidified its inclusion in our culture and contemporary lexicon.
A few days ago, as I was contemplating my topic for the blog, this quote came to mind. As I now write this piece, it’s Halloween. I’ve already dipped into the candy purchased for the children trick-or-treating. And whether it’s part sugar rush or just a general Kat Controversy vibe kicking in, this quote seems more appropriate than ever.
In the last few weeks, we’ve been inundated with images of horrific attacks by terrorists on innocent Israeli civilians in the Middle East. Wars are raging around the world and our newsfeeds are bringing every brutal moment right to us in record time.
Some might say we in America are heading toward something akin to a civil war. Several years of extraordinary unrest and volatile polarization, fueled by powerful entities and an endless news cycle, are pitting friends and families against one another.
But which is the right side? Who defines that? As we move from a system of universal truth to moral relativism, how can we agree on right or wrong?
There was a time when if a group of people invaded and attacked innocent civilians, they were by that very action in the wrong. They were the bad guys because they targeted everyday people rather than engaging in battles against armed opponents. If a woman, child, the elderly or infirmed were pursued and assaulted (or worse), we agreed the one who committed the assault was wrong. Their behavior was evil.
It hurts my heart to hear so many young people justifying the atrocities of terrorists. My heart hurts for Israelis and Palestinians caught in the crossfire. But there is no nuance, no spin to justify killing non-combatants. You can’t treat thousands of peoples’ lives as collateral damage.
Let me give you an example: a person breaks into a home to steal and kills the homeowner in the process. They broke in because they were desperate for money to feed their family. Does this fact somehow absolve the person from being held accountable for committing murder? Is it now society’s fault so any sentencing should be lenient? Or should the fact that an innocent life was taken unnecessarily be the principal factor?
I’m not suggesting there isn’t room for forgiveness and compassion, though I admit I would be hard pressed to extend that to anyone who hurt or killed someone I love. It would take a lot of prayer and relying on the Lord heavily to get me to that place, if I’m being honest.
The fact remains a crime was committed. The reasons behind it, the circumstances leading up to it, though compelling, do not change the reality: one person’s decision led to the death of another. There is no way to bring back the lost life, yet justice demands the one responsible needs to be held accountable.
What’s troubling me most is that as I’m writing what I know to be true, I realize there are so many who would argue with me over it. There are those who would debate me for days about how it was actually the homeowner’s fault, or society’s, or mine because of whatever. The constant deflection away from core principles of right and wrong is astounding. The blurring of the lines between good and evil, and in some cases, the outright switching of the two, is baffling.
Now I understand some of you may not believe in him. You may consider the Bible a work of fiction or fantasy. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course.
Can we perhaps find common ground that evil exists?
My position as a Christian is that the devil is real, and the Bible is the Word of God. Coming from this perspective, I believe the devil is the full embodiment of evil.
For those who may not know his origin story, the devil was originally the angel of music (Ezekiel 28:14) named Lucifer. All was well in heaven until he got a bit prideful and decided he would make himself as God. Big mistake. The Lord threw him and a third of the angels out (yup, one third of heaven also chose to defy God) and cast them into hell (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Ever since then, the devil has hated humanity because of God’s love for us. The devil can’t stand how the Lord actively desires to forgive and restore us. He also hates God, obviously. So, he spends his time attacking us and poisoning our minds so we will either turn away from God or never get to know Him. He attempts to exact his revenge against God on us. The devil knows he can’t hurt the Creator, so he goes after the Creation (us).
His time of influence is growing short, so his level of expression is increasing. What I mean is he knows better than many of us how God’s Word is true. His end will come. But he wants to bring as much suffering and destruction to our world before the day of Judgement.
He’s a master liar and manipulator.
(Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
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)
You would think because he’s a liar that we could recognize when he’s in operation, right? Lies are being told, he’s behind it. But it’s not that simple. He’s also manipulative and doesn’t show up with red horns, tail, or pitchfork.
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Have you ever experienced a situation that initially seemed great, but over time you realized it wasn’t what it appeared to be? Something looked desirable and good for you, but with time the curtain was pulled back to uncover the truth. It wasn’t.
That’s how the devil (the enemy) works. He makes something or someone seem very attractive and appealing. If we’re not careful and prayerful, we can get lured in and fall into the trap. Next thing you know, we’re stuck somewhere God never wanted us to be.
It doesn’t mean we’re ruined necessarily, but sometimes we get off track and it takes time to restore us. We may have to live out some negative consequences or experience some sadness or pain.
The devil can be cunning and clever, but our God is greater. It is up to us to be mindful and watch out for the enemy.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
As I mentioned above, he’s on a full-time mission (along with that one-third of fallen angels) to destroy us because God loves us. Should we live in fear of him? Absolutely not. As always, the Lord gives us the blueprint for how to deal with him.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
We are called to submit ourselves to God. This means we must first believe that Jesus is the only Son of God who came to earth as the sacrifice for our sins. That his life, death, and resurrection were done to restore us to the Lord. He died on the cross for you and me.
Here’s a fun fact that may get overlooked. After Jesus died on the cross, he descended into hell and took the keys to hell, death, and the grave from guess who? The devil. (Revelation 1:17-18)
Once we believe, it is a constant decision to submit to the will of the Father. In all areas, at all times, we should position ourselves to do as God would want us to do. This most certainly means we should attempt to lead a life free from sin.
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)
Wouldn’t be one of my blogs without at least one ouch verse. It stings to think that when we’re acting in ways God disapproves of, we’re aligned with the enemy. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us or that He’s done with us. In fact, Jesus came and sacrificed Himself, paying the price for our sins. Though our sins are covered, however, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to live Godly lives. We don’t get a free pass to keep sinning.
It’s comforting to know that though the enemy can make something seem so tempting and impossible to resist, the Lord has a strategy for us.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
When we’re being tempted, we are to look for the way out. God always provides a loophole, an escape route for those who believe. It doesn’t mean we’ll always take it. We are fallible. I know there have been times where I ignored my escape because in that moment my fleshly desire was greater than my obedience and submission.
But the Lord is the God of another chance. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yes, I’ve had to live out negative consequences. There have been seasons of sadness and pain because of my wrong decisions. Yet the enemy was unable to devour me. He couldn’t take me out. And even in the lowest moments, God was still there, still loving, still pursuing my heart, still forgiving me.
I believe we’re living in a time where it’s getting more difficult to easily weed out the lies, to see the enemy manipulating and deceiving, to resist him. As the world abandons universal truths and embraces my truth, your truth, this truth and that truth, his influence grows. It is up to those of us who believe, who know Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life to stand up and speak out.
We must be the eyes for the blind until their vision is restored. We must be bold, wise, and gentle. We must be humble and cultivate intimate time with the Lord, reading His Word, worshipping, and praying.
We need not fear the enemy, because he’s already been defeated. Yet we should not dismiss or ignore him. He’s still on the prowl, still hunting. We need to pray so we don’t fall prey.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Stay alert.
Look forward to hearing from you.
I was a teenager in NY in the 1980s. In high school my favorite radio station was WLIR 92.7 FM. There may be some of you reading this who can’t imagine a time before Sirius XM, Spotify, Pandora, or any of 1,000 different music platforms. But such a time existed, and it was glorious!
The tagline for LIR (as we in the know called it) was “Dare to be different.” They were instrumental in ushering in the New Wave music revolution. They showcased artists that most pop and rock stations wouldn’t even touch. They challenged the programming status quo, and they were successful. They tapped into, and some might even say, helped create a whole new market. People like me did more than just listen to the songs on the radio. We went out and bought the artists’ albums or tapes. (I’m not sure CDs even existed back then. If they did, they were incredibly expensive. But I digress.)
The station took a huge risk changing their format. I, for one, am so grateful they did.
I’m so glad you asked. As a teenager, every time I listened to LIR, I felt like a rebel. This wasn’t my parents’ music or even my sisters’ or brother’s. This was mine. I was on the leading edge. My siblings would eventually know about some of the artists, but that was months or years later. I was already a devoted fan. I was the trailblazer.
Honestly, after my teen and college years, I thought I was done with going against the grain. Yet even though it’s been forty years since I first tuned into LIR, I find myself embracing my inner rebel once more. I never thought I’d resurrect it, but when the world I live in began turning its back on everything I hold dear, I had to say something.
I had to dare to be different.
In 2023, it is astounding to me that values such as love of God, family, and country are viewed as harmful, dangerous, etc.
I’ve been a Christian for over 25 years. That’s not a humble brag; it’s more of a confession. Over two decades ago, I realized there was a God, and I wasn’t Him. I had been raised with religion, but now I was having my own personal relationship with the Lord. This meant I started reading the Bible more. It meant studying and praying. And as my time with the Lord increased, my desire to stay the same decreased.
It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s been an ongoing process. But little by little I developed an inner conviction which would frequently stop me from doing something foolish. At the very least, it ensured that if I did do something foolish, I was quick to repent and not repeat the mistake. In no way have I gotten it right all the time, or even three-quarters of the time.
I think God made sure His mercies are new every morning specifically with me in mind. He knew I was definitely going to use up each day’s supply.
Who wants to rebel in their 50s? There may be a few people out there, I suppose. But I was never meant to be one of them. These are supposed to be the years where I’m settled. I’m supposed to be moving along in my career and looking ahead to retiring. I’m not saying I should be slowing down, but I should be able to take my foot off the gas a little bit.
I realized I can’t. And if you’re someone who doesn’t agree with what’s happening in this world, you can’t either.
In the early days of this global shift in truth and morality, most of us weren’t active. It was subtle, and we didn’t want to make a big deal about seemingly minor issues. So, we made small concessions, compromises. Little did we know that with each go-along-to-get-along moment we were chipping away at the very core, the very heart of humanity.
Does that sound hyperbolic? Perhaps. But when child mutilation is now framed as gender-affirming care, abortion is now reproductive rights, and pedophiles are minor-attracted people, how else can you put it? There is an evil agenda at play. And I daresay that many engaged on the side of it aren’t even aware of its existence. The deception is real. The lie has become the truth. Love has become equated with acceptance. If you don’t accept, then you don’t love.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
My parents loved me, but they were never going to accept any unhealthy behaviors as a sign of their love. No, they loved me enough to let me hate them as they brought Godly correction. I’m here today by the grace of God and their love.
We can’t be silent any longer. I’m not in any way suggesting taking violent action, but we need to be vocal and stand up for what, deep in our hearts, we know to be right, to be true. For instance, men are not women; women are not men. We are not interchangeable. It doesn’t matter what procedures you get, or what hormones you take, you will never be a different gender.
I am sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings, but in my opinion, it is catering to feelings that has reeked so much havoc. The evidence simply doesn’t support that constant affirmation in all areas helps anyone. Truth must be truth. Our young people are more depressed, confused, and anxious than ever. And yet they’re the most affirmed generation.
It is shown when truth is presented even when it’s in opposition to what feels good. Truth presented in love is what matters. This does not mean I’m suggesting a parent reject a child. You should love your child unconditionally. But when their choices are going to lead to harmful, life-altering decisions, you must intervene. It is not the government’s job, it’s ours. We must try.
Don’t believe me? Great. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that He jealously longs for the spirit He has caused to dwell in us? But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:4-8)
This verse is another one for the Ouch category. In simple terms, it’s saying going along with the world means you’re against the Lord! I’ve been guilty of embracing ideas or trends in the world, so in those times I was God’s enemy. Yikes. If you love Him, that should sting. I know it does for me. (This is where I’m super grateful for His mercies being new every morning.) When you’re double-minded, you know what God says, yet you go along with the world, even though it’s opposed to His will. You have two minds about the situation, and you will fail.
There is a solution.
We need to humble ourselves before God and resist the devil. Wait a minute. Didn’t it just say we were being friends with the world? How did the devil get into the mix? Well, because this world is his playground. So, as we embrace the world, we’re in essence embracing the devil. You don’t have to be a Satan worshipper to be aligned with him. Whenever we’re world-minded and not God-focused, we’re in danger. Whenever we accept something that we know God does not, we’re in trouble.
Thankfully, there is hope. When we are humble before the Lord, resisting the devil, he flees. I suggest part of that resistance includes speaking out about what we know is ungodly in our world and culture today.
I completely understand. We have non-stop access and exposure to the world’s current craziness. God understands too. That’s why He already gave us the fix. Check this out:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
How do we renew our mind? By unplugging from whatever the world is spewing forth and connecting with the Lord and His unchanging Word. Less time on social media, more time in the Bible, as an example. I can testify that when I spend less time scrolling and more time praising and worshipping, I’m in a healthier mindset. I am stronger in my ability to resist the temptations of the devil.
Let this verse encourage you.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
We were made by the Lord. He equips us for the fight.
It absolutely can feel intimidating to stand up against what seems like insurmountable odds. We may risk losing friendships, associations. We might be ostracized or excluded. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But when I think about the alternative, I realize there is no other way. And just like a radio station that changed its programming, I’ve decided to change my own programming.
How about you?
I’ll leave you with this. When you get nervous, say this verse aloud and remember:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Stay a renegade.
Look forward to hearing from you.
I was scrolling through social media recently and came across a post that stated the only things you can bring with you to heaven are souls. Let me be clear, I am not in any way stating I can save a single soul. I couldn’t even save my own! But there was something in that post that resonated with me, and so here I am dedicating a blog to it.
In this world, we need money to purchase the necessities and luxuries of life. Finances affect everyone. Given everything we’ve gone through over the past few years, and the continuing instability of our economy, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been looking over my income and expenses more carefully.
If we’re a parent, we want to be able to provide for our kids when they’re younger and be able to leave something behind for them in the future. Some of us may equate our worth based on the number of dollars in our bank accounts, or the cars and homes we own. Madonna wasn’t wrong when she said we are living in a material world.
But I’ve never considered myself a material girl. In my teen years I thought about labels and designer clothes, but once I was the one purchasing those items, my tastes became far more practical.
In my lifetime, I’ve lived paycheck-to-paycheck. I’ve also had seasons where I was able to have savings and be more generous with my money. Yet when I saw that post, I was reminded that in the end, you really can’t take any of it with you.
Sure, we’ve heard about Egyptian kings and other very wealthy people who were buried with their fortunes. But they didn’t really take it with them, did they? Their souls went somewhere while their riches laid dormant in the grave.
Not to be graphic, but after we’ve passed, our bodies are either buried or cremated. There is, however, a part that does live on. Our souls are eternal. This spirit is what crosses from this world into the next.
As a Christian, I believe our ability to enter heaven is only possible by believing in our hearts and confessing with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He is the Son of God who came to save us. He was crucified, died, and was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.
I know He sits at the right hand of God and is in constant intercession for us. Jesus’s sacrifice gives me, and anyone who believes in Him, access to an eternity in God’s presence.
If we choose to deny Him, our spirit will be sent somewhere else. I can’t explain to you exactly what hell will be like. I pray you and I never find out. But what am I certain of, is that God is not there. I don’t need to imagine lakes of fire and torturous situations that would scare even the greatest horror film director. All I need to think of is that I would be forever separated from the Lord. That’s terrifying enough for me.
On my worst days here, when I don’t feel close to God, I know He’s still there. I know it’s only a matter of time before my emotions will line back up with the Truth. He’s with me and for me. He’ll never leave me nor forsake me.
But I can leave Him, can’t I?
I could choose to deny Him. I could choose to walk away and condemn myself to an eternity without Him, to doom my soul to an endless time in hell.
Here’s something I learned a long time ago: the Lord is gentle. He is firm and strong, but He will never force Himself upon you. We were created with free will so that when we decide to accept His love, it’s our choice. Yes, He’s always been knocking on the door of our heart, but we had to open that door. We had to agree with Him.
I thank Him every day for helping me, guiding me, showing me the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And then one beautiful day so many, many years ago, I turned to Him. Best decision I ever made.
But let’s get back to heaven and eternity. We can’t take our earthly fortunes with us. I don’t believe that means we shouldn’t work, earn a good living, and give to our family, friends, and those in need. On the contrary, God loves a cheerful giver. (Look it up. That’s Bible.)
Stock markets can crash. Inflation can rise. There are so many ways our earthly money can lose its value. God assures us there is a treasure that won’t be taken away or destroyed. Don’t believe me? Great. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
I encourage you to read all of chapter 6 in Matthew. Jesus gives a great teaching on how to view money. This is the chapter where He explains how you can’t serve both God and money. Most of us would say we don’t serve money. Think it about though. If every day when the mail comes, you’re dreading seeing the bills, you may be serving money. If you’re worrying about the prices of food at the store, or gas at the pump, you may be serving money.
It’s normal to have a reaction when filling up your car’s tank now costs double what it did a year or two ago. I completely understand. What I believe God is saying to us is that He is bigger than an unstable economy. Our trust must be in Him and Him alone. It’s a cliché, but it does make sense: “Do your best and let God do the rest.” Be responsible. Don’t spend recklessly. And if money gets tight and you’ve done your part, trust the Lord to make up the difference.
That’s not just some fluff. I’ve watched Him move mightily in seasons where I was scrimping just to get by. I ended up with more than I should have had because I believed the words of the Bible. I had faith to know He could and would take care of me. I made practical choices, but ultimately, He blessed me beyond what my budgeting decisions could have afforded me.
I particularly like how in the verse quoted above it states how where your treasure is your heart will be also. That’s a sobering concept. Our heart will focus on what we treasure or value.
I want my heart focused on the Lord and on telling everyone I know about His great love for us. I want to share the good news of Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him. I want my loved ones to have personal relationships with Him. I want to use my gifts, talents, and abilities to serve Him.
That’s my heart.
It doesn’t mean I’m always operating in that mode. There have been times when I definitely let my heart consider something or someone a more important treasure. Trust me, it doesn’t work out well. Check out this verse:
“And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:19-21)
This would fall under the Ouch category. It’s a needed wakeup call, a strong reminder. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. So, whether we’re in pursuit of more wealth, or resting on our laurels, we’re missing it. Our primary focus should be on loving and serving Him, using our resources to further His kingdom here on earth. What does that mean? Helping those less fortunate. Donating time and money to organizations that show His love to the world through providing food, clothing, healthcare, etc., and most importantly, sharing the good news.
I love how this verse describes what we should do. Check this out:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
You can’t buy your way into heaven, obviously. We have access because of Jesus’s sacrifice. Point blank period. This verse speaks to sowing toward an eternal reward. Yes, there are rewards in heaven. Jesus spoke to His disciples about going ahead to prepare mansions for them. (You need to look that up for yourself too.) To me, the greatest reward will be dwelling in the presence of God forever, but if you want to throw in a mansion, who am I to tell you not to do it?
Did you notice how in the above verse it uses the word command. It doesn’t say suggest or even strongly recommend. It says command. This isn’t an option. It’s a requirement. And who doesn’t want to “take hold of the life that is truly life”?
I appreciate it may be challenging when bills are piling up, rent’s due and the car breaks down. I’m not making light of those real situations. I’ve experienced those tense moments. I’ve sat and cried wondering how I was going to make it. And then I was gently reminded of this verse:
But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
As I mentioned before, please read all of Matthew chapter 6. It is a phenomenal teaching. The key takeaway is always to seek first the kingdom and the Lord’s righteousness. As we do that, everything else will be given to us. We may not get everything we want but our needs will be met. Fix your eyes upon Him.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. And guard your treasure.
Look forward to hearing from you.