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The Power of Our Tongue

I’d like to share this little story with you and I hope that you find this as thought provoking as I did. There is a very powerful message here! A group of hares were traversing across a vast desert when two of them tumbled into a very deep ravine. All of the other hares gathered around the rim of the ravine to behold their sudden and very unexpected predicament. After beholding the enormous depth of the ravine, they told their two comrades that they were as good as dead. The two trapped hares purposely ignored the discouraging comments and earnestly tried leaping out of the deep ravine with all of their might. The others kept shouting at them to stop, that they were doomed, that there was no possibility of escaping certain death! Finally, one of the hares took heed to what they were saying and sadly gave up, laid down and died. The other hare persisted to leap with all his might. Once again, the crowd yelled at him to just stop the inevitable and die, that he would never be able to escape. Yet with each shout that came, the harder and harder he tried, and he finally succeeded in making it out. Triumphantly standing at the top and free at last, the other hares asked him, "Did you not hear us, did you not hear us say that there was no hope, no chance of escape?" The victorious hare explained to them that he was deaf and thought they were encouraging him the entire time. As I read that, there were a couple of things that spoke to me. First, our tongue is a powerful instrument! That is so vividly pictured in the book of James chapter 3 where he compares the power of the tongue to bridles for horses and the rudders of ships. In verse 5 we read, Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! Our tongue is a powerful instrument being used for good or evil, for encouragement or discouragement. Second, our tongue is a revelation of our heart; how is it being used? Is it for praise to God and the encouragement for our fellowman or, cursing and criticizing?

Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? - James 3:9-11 

So again, how are we using our tongue? Is it for enlightenment and encouragement or the drowning of discouragement? Does it spread glorious hope and cheer or deep despair and defeat? Do we use our tongue for proclaiming God’s praises and precious promises or the drumming of doubts and disappointments?

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

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When God Refuses To Hear

Psalms 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me
Have you ever heard someone say, “He has selective hearing” or “He hears just what he wants to hear”? Has there ever been a time when you were so involved in reading a book, playing a game or some other intense activity that you didn’t hear someone call your name? There have been times I must confess that I sadly have fallen into that category; I’ve been reading a book or listening to something and totally miss hearing when my wife is talking to me. You know, us men are so often accused of having nothing between the ears, “it just goes in one ear and out the other.” But seriously though, thank God our Heavenly Father is not that way! God never turns a deaf ear to His children, ignoring their pleas for help or words of thanksgiving. Repeatedly throughout the Psalms we read passages such as: Psalms 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. …and…
Psalms 34:6
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Thank God for His love, mercy and grace! And yet my friend, there is a verse that informs us that there are times when God will not hear you and that is: Psalms 66:18
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
What a sobering reminder, that if there is still the love of wickedness in your heart; if you have any immorality which you are not willing to forsake; if there is any sin, no matter how insignificant it may appear, which you are not willing to forsake, God will not hear your prayers. The only prayer God hears of the sinner is the prayer of repentance. Friends, there are many other passages we could have looked at to solidify this truth, such as; Proverbs 15:8
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
Proverbs 28:9
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
As Adam Clark so clearly states it, “When they regard iniquity in their heart when they wish to be saved, and yet abide in their sins-when they will not separate themselves from the workers and works of iniquity. In all these cases, God heareth not sinners.” Barnes' writes “All prayer, to be acceptable to God, MUST be connected with a purpose to forsake all sin.” Heavenly Father, I pray with the Psalmist, search me, know me, try me and see if there be any wicked way in me…lead me O God, in the way of righteousness, may I ever be true to you. Father, my desire is to be pleasing and obedient to you, that I may hear Your words when this life is over, “Welcome home thou good and faithful servant!” Amen.
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Be A Difference Maker for God

John 6:9
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
  I want to share a story with you that I love to read when the enemy says that there is no reason to keep going, that nobody is listening, that you should just quit. An elderly gentleman had the habit of walking along the beach before he began his work day. One day, as he was walking, he saw a young man bending down repeatedly and gently tossing something into the ocean. As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! May I ask what are you doing?” The young man replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.” The elderly gentleman then asked, “Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?” “Well,” said the young man, “the sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they will die.” Upon hearing that the elderly observer replied, “But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly make a difference!” The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea and said, “It made a difference for that one!” (Author unknown) Have you ever stopped to reflect on how God used ordinary people in such extraordinary ways throughout history? How He took those who many would have never given a second glance and brought about great and mighty miracles through them? Do you ever recall the stories about the ordinary people God used to accomplish extraordinary things for His glory? Like a little Hebrew boy named Joseph, favored by his father, hated by his brothers and yet he saved a nation! Or how about Moses? A stuttering man who led a nation to the promise land! A shepherd boy from the hills of Judea who slayed a giant with a stone and a sling. How about Gideon? Gideon didn’t think he was worthy or capable… Judges 6:15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house… and yet God used him to deliver His people with only three hundred men! And then there is the lad with five loaves and two SMALL fishes… “what are they among so many?” They are the ordinary being used by God for the extraordinary!
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Interruptions Or Opportunities?

I don’t know about you but every time I get ready to relax it seems like something happens. I have often wondered if there was some kind of “secret device” that immediately informs people, “Hey, he’s relaxing, now is the time!” Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining, that’s life and we live in a very busy world. Before our family entered the ministry our lives were extremely busy, having our own business never left us with much “personal” down time. If it wasn’t the clients, then it was the case workers and when they were all taken care of, it was one of the children. That’s just life, there is always a need or something happening. But I’d like to remind us that we are not alone, Christ’s ministry was a ministry of “interruptions”. In Mark 1:21-26 we see Jesus entering the synagogue teaching with such authority that it brought astonishment but it is immediately followed by the attack of the enemy via the man with the unclean spirit. Yet, that “interruption” lead to Mark 1:33 And all the city was gathered together at the door…followed by the very next verse of healing and delivering many. If we move on to Mark 2:1-5 where Christ comes to Capernaum and when it is told that He was there, we see many gathering to hear Him preach. As He is preaching, He is “interrupted” by the roof being removed, a man being lowered down to Him for healing and Christ seeing their faith forgives his sins and heals his body. This act brought amazement to all and glory to God. I also think of the account of Jairus pleading for Jesus to come and heal his daughter and the “interruption” of the woman with the issue of blood along the way (Mark 5). So many “interruptions” and yet handled with such grace and compassion! What can we learn from these events in Christ’s life? How can we be effective in our ministry and yet maintain our own needed physical, emotional and spiritual health?

1. Show Compassion

Remember that people are hurting and longing for love, kindness and attention. Looking to Christ as our perfect example will instruct us as to the purpose of our mission and remind us that interruptions are more often than not, opportunities.

Mark 6:34

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Mark 6:37

He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.
They need to know that someone cares, so return the compassion that was shown to us by Christ.

2. Be Impartial

Christ didn’t show respect of person. The majority who interrupted him were not prominent individuals. James is very straight forward about showing partiality…

James 2:1

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

James 2:8-9

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
If Christ treated all people as important, shouldn’t we?

3. Remain Focused

Christ never forgot His ultimate mission for coming nor did he get sidetracked when things happened. Earlier we referred to Jairus and his daughter, how Jesus was going with him and yet stops to help the woman with her issue of blood; however, Christ didn’t forget about Jairus or his daughter. Even after news comes that she has died, Jesus’s immediate response is… Be not afraid, only believe. (Mark 5:36) The lesson for us is, commit to God the questions we may have in life and keep our eye on the objective and finish the task that has been laid before us.

4. Keep Renewed

There will be times when it is necessary for us to get away from it all if we are going to maintain our needed physical, emotional and spiritual health. Before Jesus began His ministry, Mark relates to us that after Christ’s baptism, immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). Before we begin, before we face the enemy, before we dive into the commission, we must be bathed in the Holy Ghost, we must have that time of spiritual renewal. All throughout the Bible we have examples of God’s people needing that physical, emotional and spiritual renewing. Elijah for one, needed God’s touch even after that glorious victory on Mt. Carmel. Jesus on multiple occasions sent the multitudes/disciples away so that he could get alone and pray (Mark 6:46). Friend, if Jesus needed that alone time how much more do we? We need to minister but we need to be refreshed too. The title of this article is “Interruptions Or Opportunities”, my meager attempt is to remind us that often what we may see as an “interruption” may actually be an opportunity to minister to someone in need. As I sit here writing, there is one phrase that keeps coming to me, John 4:4 And he must needs go through Samaria. Brethren, there will be times when we must needs go…it may seem like an inconvenience or interruption but God is always in charge of weaving the tapestry. The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about John 4:4; “In Jesus' day the Jews, because of their hatred for the Samaritans, normally took the eastern route in order to avoid Samaria. But Jesus chose the route through Samaria in order to reach the despised people of that region.” Do we realize that interruptions and inconveniences could actually be opportunities and appointments designed by God to minister to some desperate soul in need? My prayer, Lord, help me to remember that “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” That in the midst of what I may call an interruption, remind me O God “that all things work together for good to them that love” you, “to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Father, help me to trust you with each day, each moment and to know that you not only have a plan for my life, but you are working through me in the lives of others.
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This Is Your Time

Esther 4:14

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
We all know the story of Esther, how a beautiful Hebrew girl became the queen of a great empire. It is a beautiful account and reminder of how God is always watching over His people. As I read that verse, there are several thoughts that jump out at me that I’d like to share today.

1. There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent.

This was not the time for Esther to be silent, it was her time to speak up for her people. Do we know when it is time to speak up for the things that need to be spoken for; is it your time to speak against the evil of your day?

2. Deliverance will come, but are you willing to pay the price?

I can’t help but think of that citation by the outspoken public foe of Adolf Hilter, Martin Niemoller; First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

3. This is your time!

Esther was put there by God for such a time as this, to be used of God to bring deliverance to her people. She was reminded that God’s plan/people will be delivered with or without her participation. My friend, you are where you are for such a time as this, let God fulfill His plan in and through you, stand up for righteousness, holiness and truth. Father, help us to be brave, not to fear their faces, but to proclaim the truth and spread holiness, to contend for the faith in such a time as this! Amen.
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He Went To Him

Luke 10:33-37

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Sometime ago I was listening to a message on the Good Samaritan regarding “Who Is My Neighbor”. A phrase the preacher read in “Luke 10:34 And went to him…” jumped out at me, “went…to…him”. So often I’ve heard individuals say, “I want to help someone but I just don’t know who or how.” Or better yet, “they didn’t ask for help so I don’t want to interfere”. From time to time, many of us have even had that very thought ourselves. As I sat there thinking of that phrase, a couple of things came to mind.

1. He was unable to ask for help… he had been beaten insensibly… Luke 10:30…leaving him half dead.

2. His circumstance was definitely visible… Luke 10:31…a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

3. He chose to go to him. Luke 10:34 And went to him,

As I thought about these things, I couldn’t help but think about other discussions I’ve heard over and over again. “How do we get people into our churches?” Then it began to dawn upon me…he, the good Samaritan, went to him!

1. He didn’t wait for a plea of help from the hurting…

2. He didn’t try to ignore the need that was right in front of him.

3. He took responsibility for what was right in front of him. He showed compassion, went out of his way and spent his time and energy to help someone in need.

So often God has placed things right in the MIDDLE of the road for us, and yet we walk right around it like the Priest and the Levite. We convince ourselves that someone else will take care of it, that we’re too busy. All the while many are dying right in front of us! Heavenly Father, help us to see who You have put in our pathway, may we not ignore but go and help them!
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Leave The Details To God

Exodus 14:29

But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea…
How many times have you been faced with a “GAINT” crisis and you thought that God was just not moving fast enough? Maybe you’ve been afraid that God was going to miss some “tiny” detail, that…well, you could just help Him with? Now be honest…many, if not all of us, have at some point fretted that things would not turnout as we thought they should. Even the Israelites fell prey to that snare, remember their exodus from Egypt? Exodus 14:11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? How many times have we chastised the children of Israel for their unbelief and lack of trust in God? How could they possibly have beheld all of those miracles and yet still have doubts? Where was their confidence in God and yet, we should be asking ourselves that very question. How many times have we done the very same thing? Over and over God has revealed Himself but we only see the “Red Sea”. Over and over God has proven Himself at the “Red Seas” of our life, even taking care of all the minuscule details, but we still question Him. My friend, take courage, God not only handles the “Red Seas” but also takes care of even the minutest details. You see, God didn’t bring the children of Israel to the banks of the Red Sea for them to cross wearing muck boots! No, He provided a clear and dry path for them to cross. God is thorough and will take care of your problems too, just trust Him. Heavenly Father, help us to never forget that You always provide, that You are truly thorough!  

Song: Over and Over

Over and over again and again, God is faithful Over and over, again and again, Through it all He’s made me able To stand and survive, To come through alive When it sure looked like I couldn’t win, Jesus is with me So I claim the victory, Over and over again
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Look Up!

Luke 21:28

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
In light of what all is going on in our nation, one could become extremely discouraged. Did we ever think that we would see the day (in the United States of America) when Christians were singled out and executed for their faith? That a monument of the Ten Commandments would be removed from a State Capital? The definition of marriage changed and a woman imprisoned for standing up for her religious freedom?

To the bewilderment and unbelief of many, we’ve watched over this last year as these very events have transpired. These atrocious verdicts and abominable acts towards God and Christianity are destroying the very foundation of this nation. We are living in some very perilous times and only God knows what is ahead for our nation.

But in light of all this, I would like to remind us, the redeemed, the blood washed, to take courage! These things were foretold (2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…). But oh the JOY that should be flooding our souls when we call to remembrance the words of our Savior! As Luke writes, when these things begin to come to passLook upLift up your heads! For your redemption draweth nigh! This is what we have been waiting for, praying for, longing for, the return of our Messiah!

My friends, BE NOT discouraged but REJOICE, for OUR KING is COMING! So spread the NEWS!

I can hear the chariots rumble…I can see the marching throng…And the flurry of God’s trumpets spell the end of sin and wrong…Regal robes are now unfolding…Heavens grandstands all in place…Heavens choir is now assembled…Start to sing Amazing Grace…The King is coming, the KING IS COMING, Praise God He’s coming for me!

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God’s Two Engines

Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL the days of my life…
The reality of life is that there will be hard times. There will be some long dark tunnels and some very high mountains. There will be times when the enemy will come along and try to defeat you. He will try to get you to believe that you’re all alone, that nobody cares about your problems. He will even try to convince you that God himself has abandoned you. That if God really cared, then why is He making you bear this burden alone. The enemy will point out every negative thing that has ever happened, every trial, every hurt and every disappointment you’ve ever known. He will try to get you to focus on every hypocrite you’ve ever seen, all simply to get you to quit. But I would like to remind you that the enemy is a liar and a defeated foe! That you can believe and claim the promises of God! That this verse was true yesterday, is true today and will be true tomorrow. Many years ago I heard an illustration from an older preacher who lived in the mountains of North Carolina on this very verse. He was sitting on his front porch watching a single locomotive trying to pull a line of 88 coal cars up over the mountain. As he watched, he wondered whether it would be able to make it. The load was long and heavy, but to his amazement, that engine laboring hard, kept a slow but steady pace. Eventually he saw the end of that long line of coal cars and to his surprise, there at the back was two engines pushing. He said all of a sudden the Holy Spirit brought this verse to his mind…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…He said he got so blessed he couldn’t contain himself and began to shout! Remember my friends, the mountain may be high, the load long and heavy, but God’s engines of goodness and mercy are pushing from behind! Heavenly Father, help us never to forget that your goodness and mercy follows your children all the days of their life!
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O To Be Like Thee

One of my favorite pictures of my eldest son, is when he was about 3 to 4 years of age, dressed just like me. I’ll never forget that day. I was nearly ready to leave the house and begin harvesting when he came partially dressed and wanted me to assist him in finishing. He knew I was about to leave for the farm and he wanted so bad to be my helper that day. But he insisted he had to be dressed like me, because he was going to be a farmer too. So I endeavored to help him finish, even finding an extra hat just like mine for him to wear. He was so proud to look just like dad, a farmer, and guess what? So was I! My son wanted to look just like me…jeans, shirt, jacket, boots and hat, we matched to a T. As I look at that picture and reflect on that moment, I can’t help but think of that verse in Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God, as dear children… I wonder if God is proud when he sees us wanting to be just like Him? Do we bring a smile to His face? Do we long to be like our heavenly Father? Do we desire to match him to a T? I share with you the words to that beautiful song…  

O To Be Like Thee

1. Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,

This is my constant longing and prayer;

Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,

Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain: Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

2. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,

Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,

Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,

Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.

3. Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,

Holy and harmless, patient and brave;

Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,

Willing to suffer, others to save.

4. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,

Now to receive th’ anointing divine;

All that I am and have I am bringing, Lord,

from this moment all shall be Thine.

5. Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,

Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,

Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,

Fit me for life and Heaven above.

  Is the constant longing and prayer of your heart to be like Jesus? Would you gladly forfeit all of earth’s treasures just to be like Him? Do you display the attire of loving, forgiving, tender and kind, helping the helpless and cheering the fainting? Is the image of the Blessed Redeemers stamped DEEP on your heart? Friend, this year, my desire is to be just like my heavenly Father, to make Him proud of me, to see Him smile at me and say, “That’s my son”. I want to have His image stamped DEEP on my heart.
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Keeping A Proper Focus In An Unfocused World

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. - Colossians 3:2
We live in a world that is constantly promoting a “You’ve just got to have it” mentality. Just look at the advertisements, commercials, slogans and entertainment. Everything is about obtaining, achieving, needing or satisfying your fleshly desires. You need this…you can’t live without that…everyone has one…look how it will improve you…just go for it…if it makes you happy…and on and on it goes. This morning while having my devotions, I read Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." I was immediately reminded of a message from January 4, 2015, “Keeping A Faithful Focus in 2015”. So what did Paul mean when he wrote “set your affections on things above”? Well, I like the way Adam Clarke's Commentary puts it:
Love heavenly things; study them; let your hearts be entirely engrossed by them. Now, that ye are converted to God, act in reference to heavenly things as ye did formerly in reference to those of earth…Be as much, in earnest for heavenly and eternal things, as ye formerly were for those that are earthly and perishing.
As I stated at the beginning, the world is vying for our attention, to allure us away from the things that are holy, pure and morally right. The enemy wants us to focus on earthly things, to allow the things of this life to distract us from what Christ has called us to, holy living. Paul writes for us to “Set our affections on things above…” to achieve this, we must whole heartedly follow Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might." When we do this, there is no room, no sight for anything else. I can’t help but think of the chorus…
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
May we all keep a proper focus by focusing on Jesus!
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For He Commanded, And They Were Created

Have you ever felt slighted when no one showed any gratitude for that tremendous task you just completed? We all like to feel appreciated, that others are thankful for the energy we’ve invested, the time spent and sacrifices made in completing that extra responsibility. Yet how often we fail to recognize the Greatest Giver of all, the Promising Provider, our Heavenly Father. Have you ever wondered how grieved He must feel when we fail to glorify Him? One of my favorite passages of the bible is Psalm 148. The psalmist calls for the Lord to be praised, from heavenly host to helpless humanity, from the highest heaven to the deepest sea, from the vapor to the flame, from the fruited plains to the majestic mountains, from the creeping beast to the soaring bird, from the opulent to the destitute, from the young to the old, ALL are to praise the Lord! Oh that we would praise the Lord for the things He has done! We are so quick to ask and yet, so slow to give praise. My belief is, and has always been, if it’s important enough to ask for, it’s important enough to praise Him. How sad it must make our heavenly Father, to see us so obsessed with our wants, with life and failing to give Him the praise He deserves. The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 148:5 “Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created”…I want to remind us, God is worthy to be praised, for He hath created all things. Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. KJV During this busy holiday season, I want to challenge to us truly…praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven…Praise ye the Lord. KJV
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Un-Winterized Spiritually

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. - Philippians 4:11

Several weeks ago, I humorously posted this verse as my Facebook status in-lieu of the subzero temps which we were experiencing here in central Indiana. After all, this is the “sunny south” compared to the “frigid ice box” where we were living before, right? As most people who know me would tell you, winter, is not my favorite time of year. I am one who enthusiastically enjoys the glorious rays of sunshine and warm summer breeze’s. I long for the perspiring dog days of August, where you can almost fry an egg on the sidewalk or watch a fish floating by because of the humidity. Well ok, not really that bad, but I do love hot weather. After posting that verse, reading and hearing many other likeminded comments, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me about the similarities between winter and our spiritual lives. Yes, I do not care for frigid temps and so long for warmer days, but I can’t help to think about how much we, as a nation/people, have become soft. Stay with me, as I listen to the old timers talk about the winters of yesteryears, how they had snow a mile high, brain freezing arctic temperatures, frozen rivers and mountainous drifts that covered barns; I can’t help but wonder how far we have drifted, no pun intended. How un-winterized/soft we have become, after several decades of mild winters, here we are experiencing winter weather as it really should be, COLD and SNOWY, and we are in a panic. Now you may be asking, what does this have to do with our spiritual lives? I believe that if we’re not careful, we can become a people who are “un-winterized” spiritually. We can begin to desire the continual ease of spiritual summers and complain of the wintery hardships in their due season. We become too content with the soothing waves of the sea drowning away our guilt of a prayer-less life. We vacate our post to the beaches of idle luxury, so as not to face the trials and tribulations associated with the Christian life, unwilling to stand against the icy attacks of the enemy. Please don’t misunderstand me, as I said earlier I most definitely prefer summer time to winter, and spiritually, I’m not begging or longing for God to send me more tests, trials and tribulations. Yet in St. John 16:33, Christ states that we will face tribulation, just as the Father told Noah there will always be winter and summer, springtime and harvest (Gen. 8:22). These are facts of physical and spiritual life and they serve to make us a stronger person. It is with these thoughts that I look at this verse with a new perspective, a new understanding, in whatsoever state I am…to be content”. My prayer is, Lord help me to cherish the delightful days of spiritual summer and to patiently, pleasantly and prayerfully endure the wintery hardships of this life. May I praise Him in the valley as I do on the mountain tops! It is with this reminder that I leave you with, SPRING ALWAYS FOLLOWS WINTER!!!!  
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Nothing Between In 2014

Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: Luke 18:22
As 2013 was coming to a close and looking forward to 2014, this song kept coming to mind:
Nothing between my soul and my Savior, Naught of this world’s delusive dream; I have renounced all sinful pleasure; Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between. Nothing between my soul and my Savior, So that His blessed face may be seen; Nothing preventing the least of His favor; Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Pondering over this song led me to a passage of scripture in Luke chapter 18, where a young man comes to Jesus desiring to have eternal life. Mark says that he came running and kneeled, desiring to be taught by the master. This young man desired the answer to the most important question anyone could ever ask, What must I do to have eternal life? I see Jesus sharing with him the demands of God, "Keep the commandments" and with excitement the young man responds: "All these have I kept from my youth up". It is then that Jesus looks upon him and declares, "Yet lackest thou one thing:"...forsake all and follow me. It is then that the young man departs sorrowful, instead of heeding and following after Christ as instructed, his love of his possessions come between him and eternal life. I can't help but wonder, how many have lived, are living a good life, trying to keep the commandments and yet lacking one thing. May our prayer and determination be this year, to let nothing, come between us and our Savior.
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