Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Are You Looking At?

Genesis 19:26 (New International Version)
But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

You may not realize how critical what you look at is. Where you focus your attention, determines where you end up. There are three places, in particular, I want to focus on from the Word of God.

Lot’s wife couldn’t keep herself from looking back and, well, we know what happened to her! This tells me we should not constantly dwell on the past. While it is good to occasionally think back to happy times or past victories, constantly living in the past is a dangerous mistake. We all know people who are living on past glories or perpetually punishing themselves for past mistakes. Neither one is any fun to be around. You can’t move forward when you are looking behind you.

In 2 Samuel 11:2-15 we read about David, who should have been in battle with his men, but instead remained behind. In his boredom, he was up walking around on the roof and spotted Bathsheba – another man’s wife – bathing. He was then enticed to commit adultery. This tells me to be careful to avoid boredom. It almost always leads to trouble.

In Genesis 3:6 Eve was encouraged by the serpent to look at the forbidden tree. The more she looked at it, the better the fruit looked until she could resist no more and ate from it. Whatever you focus your attention on, increases. If you are on a diet, don’t sit and watch the Food Channel all day – you will inevitably go on a binge! We’ve all read about men who constantly fed their minds on pornography and ended up committing violent crimes. The message here is to avoid looking at anything that fuels a temptation.

Those are negative ways to use the gift of sight. Here is how God intends us to use it. We are to be like Abraham, in Genesis 15:5, and focus on our goals and dreams. Keep your eyes on the prize and before long it will be your present possession. Luke 21:28 encourages us to look up when all these negative things begin to happen, because our redemption is near. This tells me to keep my eyes on Jesus so my faith remains strong.

If you want to make steady progress, be successful, healthy and blessed - be careful what you look at.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Late Bloomer...Or Right on Time?

I had a conversation recently that made me think about this. I have always considered myself a “late bloomer.” As a mom, I have watched my children grow into young adulthood and constantly marvel at how much further along in their development they seem to be than I was at their ages! It made me stop and carefully consider why that might be. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, a very different time. There were no computers, cell phones or Face Book. My children have grown up with cell phones, computers and other electronics and are extremely proficient in their use. They have been involved in the social networking era of MySpace and Face Book. These things alone may have had a huge impact on how quickly they have “blossomed” in certain areas simply because of exposure.

As I thought about upbringing, that, too has to be a factor. I grew up in a household where my mother was an alcoholic. While I knew my parents loved me, the environment was anything but stable in many ways, and I know that while that sort of situation causes you to mature more quickly in some areas, in others your development can be stunted. I know that to be true of myself. My children, on the other hand, have been raised in a reasonably stable (none of us does it perfectly, after all!) home, in an atmosphere of love, encouragement and acceptance. I believe that, too, has been a factor in why they bloomed so much earlier in some areas than I did. So the soil a seed is planted in – the environment – either encourages growth or slows it.

I’ve always thought of this “late bloomer” thing as a negative, something to be ashamed about. But in studying scriptural longevity, I got an entirely new take on this. I was studying the verses in Psalm 90 that refer to the Israelites who rebelled and were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Many have mistakenly believed verse 10 which says the “days of our years are threescore and ten (70) or even if by reason of strength, fourscore years (80),” refer to a believer’s lifespan. I clearly saw this was simply referring to those Israelites who rebelled against God. In a very insightful footnote to this verse in the Amplified Bible it says: “Seventy years never has been the average span of life for humanity. When Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, had reached 130 years, he complained that he had not attained to the years of his immediate ancestors. In fact, Moses himself lived to be 120 years old, Aaron 123, Miriam several years older and Joshua 110 years of age. Note as well in the Millenium a person dying at 100 will still be thought a child.” (emphasis mine)

Well, now, that changes everything! I have always told my kids I plan to live to at least 120 so they will have to put up with me for a long time! Perhaps I’m not a late bloomer after all! Could it be that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my development? If I believe God is aware of every detail of my life (and I do); and I trust Him to direct my every step (and I do); and I expect to fulfill the number of my days in health (and I do); then I am developing exactly according to “schedule.” I don’t have to compare myself to anyone else or feel I should have attained certain understanding or revelation before now. I can just trust that God is moving me along at exactly the right pace and I will know whatever I need to, just when I need to. Besides if 100 will be considered a mere child, I’m still in toddlerhood!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Selective Hearing

"I'm exhausted." "Where am I going to get the money for that?" "This will never work out." "Who does she think she is, talking to me that way!" "I can't believe how fat I am." "Things just never go right for me." "I can't take it any more!"

Thoughts are constantly floating through our minds, whether we are aware of them or not. We also may not realize the origin of many of those thoughts. Every critical, negative word ever spoken to you is filed away in your computer-like brain. The devil won't miss an opportunity to whisper destructive, negative, hurtful thoughts into your ear every minute of the day -IF you allow him to. After twenty-four solid hours of those destructive thoughts bombarding your mind and spirit, no wonder you're exhausted, discouraged and defeated. They chip away at your strength, self-esteem and hope, which is exactly what the devil intends. If we absorb enough of these trashy, miserable thoughts, they can erode our confidence to step out, paralyze us with fear of the unknown and utterly destroy our faith. If we allow him free access to our thoughts, he can eventually fulfill his mission according to John 10:10 which is to steal our joy, kill our vision and destroy our lives.

The good news is we have a choice. We can choose to sift the thoughts we constantly have offered to us. It is called selective hearing. That's an expression usually used to describe how a husband can hear every detail of a ball game, yet totally tune out his wife's request to take out the trash! It's quite an effective tool (as many a husband will testify), and it is at our disposal as believers to use against these rogue thoughts.

In order to do this, though, you have to begin with a simple, basic, elementary truth: God is good and the devil is bad. I realize that's 'Faith 101,' but if you measure each thought according to that yardstick of truth, you will be able to tell what the origin of the thought was and whether to receive it or reject it.

Next, you have to purposely become aware of the thoughts constantly fighting to gain entrance into your mind throughout the course of each day. When you decide to pay attention, consciously, to what percolates through your thoughts, new understanding will begin to flood your being. If you've been exhausted and dragging around in defeat lately, you may be surprised to realize how many fearful, discouraging lies you've been assimilating over each 24-hour period.

Once you gain this awareness, you can be selective about what you allow to saturate your thinking. For instance, you're driving to work and seemingly out of nowhere you think, "I hope I don't get laid off."

Sift it. What feeling floods you when you really acknowledge that thought? Fear? Uncertainty? Confusion? Despair? Definitely not good. That thought originates with the father of lies. Right then and there you have the choice as to whether to receive it as truth or reject it as a lie. Once you choose to reject that lie, you must replace it with the truth. For instance, something like, "God blessed me with this job and He can and will keep me here or find me a better one."

You may find yourself doing this exercise a hundred times a day at first. That's OK. Don't get discouraged. As you practice 'taking these thoughts captive' as we're instructed to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5, you will find it becoming less and less necessary. Why? The reason is simple. As you continually capture, sift and examine your thoughts, measuring them against the ruler of God's Word, basically what you are doing is submitting yourself to God and resisting the devil. James 4:7 says if you do that, the devil will have no choice but to flee from you! He'll get the message pretty quick that his lies are not having their desired effect and look for an easier target.

Just as you are caeful about what kind of food you put into your body, the thoughts you allow to gain entrance into your spirit through your mind can have a devastating effect on your life and physical health.

The choice is yours. Be selective and sift your thoughts.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing
Ephesians 5:19 Be filled with the Spirit speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord

Recent studies reveal that just ten minutes of singing - whether you are in the car, the shower or anywhere else - not only slows your breathing and heart rate, it also causes your blood pressure to drop by up to ten points!

The researchers explain that the vibrations singing produces in your throat then travel to the brain causing an increase in the release of endorphins, those brain chemicals that cause us to relax and feel good.

God encourages us to enter His presence with singing! You may think you cannot sing - that your voice is terrible. He commands us to come before Him with singing - so we are definitely able to do so. You may not have what is considered a beautiful singing voice - I don't. In fact, you may think your singing sounds more like noise than music! That's ok. Remember He also tells us in Psalm 66:1 to "make a joyful noise" unto Him!!

Even if your singing sounds more like noise to you, as long as it is joyful, it sounds like the sweetest music imaginable to Him. And you are improving your health at the same time. How like our God to multiply our every effort to please Him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Second Chances

Jonah 3:1-3 NLT "Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: Get up and go to the great city of Ninevah, and deliver the message of judgment I have given you. This time Jonah obeyed the Lord's command..."

What an incredibly encouraging portion of scripture this is! Jonah ignored the Lord's command the first time. How many times do we hear deep within our spirits that we should (or shouldn't!) do a certain thing and just ignore or overlook it? Many times we find out later exactly why we got that warning and must pay the consequences for neglecting to pay attention.

Haven't we all experienced that awful feeling that we've blown it big time. We were warned - we just didn't listen. It's too late now. But God.

Those are the two best words you can imagine. But God...always gives us second chances, and third and fourth and however many it takes to finally "get it." He is so generous and so gracious. That is not to say we may not have to pay the consequences for disobeying the first time. But He doesn't just give up on us as we so often do ourselves.

Jonah out and out disobeyed and ran in the opposite direction! (Sound familiar to anyone?) God did not just wash His hands of him and find someone else to do the job. No. He pursued him and gave him another chance to obey. To his credit Jonah did and fulfilled the call on his life.

Jonah wasn't the only one to experience God's grace in this way. Think about Peter who denied Christ three times. Couldn't God have just said - that's too much, he's gone too far? Sure He could have, but He didn't. He called all His disciples and gave a special, personal invitation to Peter to make sure He knew he was forgiven and He gave him a second chance.

What about Saul? He persecuted Christians. He went so far as to hold the cloaks of those who were stoning Stephen. Surely God couldn't use this man who was an accessory to murder? But He gave him another chance and Saul became Paul and wrote much of the New Testament!

Do you feel like you've blown it? Think it's hopeless? Feel like you've gone too far and God couldn't possibly forgive you or use you? Think again. God is the God of second chances...and third...and fourth! He doesn't give up on us.

If you're wondering what this has to do with health and how science and scripture agree - research shows the emotion most destructive to your health is hopelessness! People who ate properly, exercised and were not overweight developed diabetes solely when they felt hopelessness for an extended period of time. The same is true of some cancer patients. One of the most stress inducing emotions is a sense of helplessness. Believing you have messed up beyond repair and there's no turning back.

Don't fall for that lie! God is always present and His desire is always to redeem you, bring you back, renew your hope. Remember, scripture tells us 3 things will remain - faith, hope and love. While love is the greatest, it is intimately related to faith (faith works by love) and faith must have something to connect to and that is hope! Never, never lose hope! That's a command straight from the Father and He always knows best.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Didn't Even Think to Ask!

Ephesians 3:20 NIV Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Do you think God cares about the things that concern you? Do youreally and deeply believe He does? I definitely do and I want to share a story to illustrate why. Maybe it will encourage you.

I try to lift any and all needs in prayer. I’m great at praying for someone when they ask specifically or even if they just mention a problem or need – I’m on it! However, sometimes I don’t even think to bring an issue to God. Yes, I know we are to bring every need and concern to Him – large and small. Maybe you do what I sometimes do and did this past week. Let me share:

My brother got tickets to a Mets game for my children and me this Saturday. It is a night game. Not a problem, except I am a really early riser and my body is so used to being up very early, that by 8:30 or 9:00 pm my eyes are at half-mast most times. I mentioned to my husband and kids – half jokingly, but truly, only half - that I hoped I could stay awake. You see we will take a train from upstate NY into the city to meet my oldest son and go to Queens from there. If the game is over at 7 or 8 o’clock we most likely will not get back to the train station until at least 11 pm. Waaaay past my usual bedtime!

Anyway – I mentioned my concern several times and they all thought it was hilarious that mom would probably be the one struggling to keep her eyes open on the train (a slightly scary thought for me, actually).

We were watching another game on TV this past Saturday and at the very end they mentioned the “games of the week” to be televised next Saturday – the day we are going to Citi Field. They showed the Mets logo and my son saw they listed it as being televised at 4:00 pm. Really? He went on line and found that because they are televising it on that channel, the time was moved up to 4:00 pm instead of 7:00 as originally scheduled.

I don’t know about you – but I take things like this VERY personally! I was thrilled that the Lord would take into consideration my concern over such a minor and unimportant detail. And even though I didn't think to ask Him to rearrange the time, He still arranged for the game to take place earlier! You see, I have a very personal relationship with my Lord and I believe He pays attention to everything (and I do mean everything!) that concerns me! I couldn’t stop thanking Him for making this change for me. And I truly believe that is the case.

But it also brought the wonderful scripture in Ephesians 3:20 to mind. I especially love the Amplified version: "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and} do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams}. Every version I looked at used words like “infinitely, immeasurably more than we can ask or request” and the Message Translation adds “in your wildest dreams.”

I know the Bible tells us we have not because we ask not and most times I do make it a point to ask. But how wonderful that even when I forget or just don’t even think to do it – He still knows and responds.

Father not only always knows best - He is the best!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eternal Words

Matthew 12:36
The Message: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation."
New Century Version
And I tell you that on the Judgment Day people will be responsible for every careless thing they have said.

Once you speak a word, it exists forever. The laws of physics tell us that energy in the universe is never lost. It is transformed from one state to another. Sound waves never disappear. Sound is an energetic disturbance that causes a movement of particles. Because space is a vacuum with no matter, sound is unable to “travel.”

Think about the implications – if we had the right equipment voices from the beginning of time could be retrieved. We could actually hear the voices of Adam and Eve themselves speaking to God or Abraham Lincoln’s voice as he spoke the Gettysburg address or Jesus’ own voice speaking the Beatitudes! What an awesome thought!

Words may be spoken to a specific person at a specific time, but they exist in the atmosphere forever. Scripture tells us God’s Word stands forever; and the prayers of the saints are ever before Him. Your prayers exist forever and are before the Father continuously.

But consider the flip side. Every careless, nasty, hurtful, doubt-filled, angry word you’ve ever spoken is still floating around, and not only that. You will be required to answer to God for them. Now if that doesn’t make you stop and think long and hard the next time you are about to criticize someone or spew a word of fear or doubt, I don’t know what will! Our words are eternal in the most basic sense.

We are encouraged and commanded in many places in the Bible to carefully watch what we say. Ephesians 4:29 NIV says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. I love the way The Message translates this verse: Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. That says it all.