Have You Really Looked At The Cross?

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I made this cross a while back. The clay did not bake as it had before. Instead it came out black and cracked. I was going to throw it away but I couldn’t. You see various places decorated with beautifully crafted crosses. Some even dedicate a wall in their home to crosses they have collected. Each one beautifully decorated with jewels, or flowers. Some are painted. They are made from various materials. I have made a few myself as gifts. I had looked at this black and cracked cross and thought it would never be a nice gift. It was not beautiful. I could have painted it but it was not smooth and it was cracked. To be honest when I looked at it, I thought it was ugly.

Then I thought about the day Jesus was nailed to a cross. The cross was not beautiful, they had not sanded it smooth. It was rough and stained with His blood. Pierced by spikes driven through His flesh, nailing Him to the instrument of death. When Mary looked up at her son Jesus, she did not see beauty. Her heart was torn, as she watched her son suffer and die. Innocent blood stained that cross. A life freely given to pay the price for the sins of all mankind, no matter when they were born or if they are male or female. He went to the cross without a fight, and then spoke forgiveness.

You know how badly He had been beaten and how distorted his face must have looked like. The pain that He felt. Not the pain of one man did He bear, but the pain of every person who would ever be born on this earth, and all of the sins He took on Himself. He redeemed us, because He loved us.

The beauty is not the cross, no matter how you decorate it. The beauty is the love of Jesus given on the cross. This cross is a reminder of how ugly my sin is, and what my sins cost. So I will be keeping this cross. Not for decoration but as a reminder of how much He loves me.

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Is it time for a change of your name?

As you read through your Bible you find that names were changed by God. In Genesis 17:5 You read that God change Abram to Abraham and in verse 15 Sarai becomes Sarah. Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter, and Saul becomes Paul are just a few names that were changed by God.

So why the name change? When a woman marries a man she then takes on his family name which identifies her as his wife. Think about that we are called the bride of Christ. Who we were before we came into the knowledge and relationship with Jesus is now a part of our past. That is who we used to be, but now we are made new by Jesus.                 2 Corinthians 5:17  (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.                                       Isaiah 43:18 “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.
Ezekiel 36:26″Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Most of us still identify with the person we were and still hold onto the traits of the person we were before we received Christ Jesus as our Savior and repented of our sins. When we repented, we turned from our sinful way of living and turned to Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father but through Him.

I can try to change my behavior on my own, but this is nothing more than what is called behavior modification. My actions have changed but the desire to do the things I once did is still there. There are two things that I need, but not limited to, and they are (1) The heart of Christ Jesus.  James 4:8  – Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. 1 Samuel 16:7  – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (2) I need the mind of Christ. For how I think and see things are not how God sees or thinks. Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I have to make the decision to submit to God and allow Him to transform me into the creation He wants me to be so that I can better share the love of Jesus and testify what God has done for me through His Son Jesus. How He changed my life in ways that I never could on my own.

Questions;

If God changed your name today, what do you think He would change it to?

What part of the old you are you holding onto? (like an old pair of jeans that do not fit anymore but you hold onto because one day they might fit again)

 

 

 

Would you die for your enemy? Lessons of love /January 8, 2018

It is written, ‘No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends.’ John 15:13.

Now think about this; ‘Would you die to save the life of your enemy?’

Many would easily give up their life to save their child, their spouse, family members,  friends, and some would do so for a stranger they see in danger. To give up your life for someone who hates you, who despises you, who wants you to you to feel pain, have your life destroyed and even wants you dead, could you sacrifice your life for these people? Would you want to? If we were to be honest our first response is a big fat ‘NO!’.

Yet as I have meditated on the sacrifice our Heavenly Father gave, when He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins and the fact that Jesus did not have to do this but that He loves us as much as our Father does, He surrendered His life. Before He was crucified, He was mocked, ridiculed,attacked, falsely accused beaten and spit upon.then crucified still being mocked, and what were His words? “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’ How much mercy and love He had not only for those who loved and followed Him, but He loved those who were His enemy. He died for to save the lives of those who were and are His enemy. We have all sinned. Those of us who have not only acknowledged our sins and repented, we have also received Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Through His sacrifice we have been adopted into His family and have become children of God, but before this we too were His enemy.

Can we love others as He loves us, or do we continue to only those who love us, and that we feel are worthy of our love?

Is there anything you can do today to show love to someone who has made it clear that they hate you?

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (NET Bible)

December 17, 2017 Sunday

I have not spent much time writing here for a little while and a few months back I did say I was going to be taking a break from blogging. We have all had our ups and downs this year. For some of us it seems there have been more down times than up, but we have made it through another year. We are still here and God is not done with us yet. In the year to come there will be much for each of us to do. There are so many hurting and lost people in this world and they are all around us. You do not need to travel to another country to be a missionary for Christ, you have a mission filed all around you. Friends, family, neighbors and strangers who cross your path every day are in need of love and comfort every day. We are His vessels who carry His Spirit and love in us and we should share this love with everyone we meet and see, each and every day. Life is not easy but you are alive. Let us do good with the life Jesus has given to us all. Love and peace to you all.

Righteous anger or just plain anger?

How do you know if your anger is righteous or if you are just plain angry? I know of many who will justify not only their anger but what is done in anger, and some that will even use scripture to give just cause. Yet is this right?

Along with fighting depression I have a major battle with anger. I have been told I am right to be angry for the things that have been done to me. That they understand why I have reacted in anger and that it was okay because I was hurt. Something inside of me says this is wrong. There is no excuse that I can give for any outburst of anger that I have had. No matter how minimal the damage I may have done when I have been angry I have still caused damage. Even if it was just my words and that I shot off my mouth, Wrong is wrong. Almost everything I have ever broken when I have been angry has belonged to me, It dos not matter if I threw an object and it shattered or I tore up clothes or burnt pictures. The damage cannot be undone. This damage is not as bad as the words that have come out of my mouth, and the cursing that I have done. Even the hateful thoughts are wrong. For it starts as a thought, then comes out in either physical actions or words and both can do irreversible damage.

They say to be careful with a cornered animal because you do not know how it will react or how bad it can hurt you. I used to be that cornered animal, and all the pain that was inflicted upon me to make me cower in fear. To control and manipulate me would eventually back me into a corner where I felt the only way to survive was to fight back with all that was left within me. The saying dynamite comes in small packages was one I used quite a bit yet I out my own spin on it. I would say, ‘Dynamite comes in small packages but nitro comes in smaller and has a bigger bang. Call me Nitro.’ That was when I was proud to be angry. I had every reason to be yet the person who I hurt the most was myself.

I thank God that I am not that woman any more. Yet I still fight the anger that sometimes still boils to a rage inside of me. The difference now is that I know it is wrong and I can acknowledge that the words or even the thoughts I have when I get angry like this are wrong. One saying I can agree with today is, ‘Two wrongs do not make a right.’

So how do I know my anger is not righteous? For one reason is because a hatred begins to burn inside. Then condemning and hate filled thoughts fill my mind. No one even has to be around, just a thought of something that upsets me pops into my head and a fuse gets lit and the anger begins. Thankfully this is not an everyday occurrence but when my body’s pain level rises I have noticed my level of agitation lowers and I become more irritable. Why share any of this with anyone? I learned a while back that by putting things out into the light exposes the darkness hidden within me. Then the darkness has to flee. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. I believe this is good because not every thought that passes through our minds are good. We are to rid ourselves of the damaging thoughts and keep the ones that keep us focused on Jesus Christ. I would like to say that the war on my anger has been won, but I still have my battles. There are battles I have won and there are battles in which I lost. I thankfully get a reprieve from these battles but then the war rages on and the fight begins again. The thing I am learning is that I do not fight anger with anger and I definitely do not fight it with hate. I start with myself and acknowledge any wrong on my part and then repent and ask God for His mercy and to help change me into a more loving person, that can be loving and merciful to those who seek to do me harm. Learning that these people are just being used as weapons and that the real enemy is not human, and is nor the terrible and painful events in ones life. The really enemy will wear any disguise that will help him do the most damage. He will twist your hurt and pain and try to make you his puppet. Something I have learned is that he only has the power over me that I give him. Will I still feel pain? Yes, I will. Can this body die? Yes it will. James told us to count it all joy when we face various trials and tribulations. How can we do this?We turn to God. We believe Jesus. We allow His Holy Spirit to help and comfort us. We cry out to God. We tell Him how we are feeling and we pour out our tears at His feet.

I have not yet reached the goal but I get up each day and press forward. There are days I lay down weakened by my body, my mind and this life. Then the nest day comes and it is back on my feet, even if I do not feel like it. Of course that is when I think God has a cattle prod and gives me a loving jab. Yet I know those jabs are because He loves me and He does not want me to fall to the wayside. So I do no fight like I used to. I am learning that not only do I need to turn my cheek but as much as it pains me to offer up the other one. The battle is the Lord’s, I need to just trust in Him.

Acceptable Loss?

When is loss of life acceptable and meaningless? The world treats life as it is expendable. Your life an my life mean nothing to this world. Drugs both legal and illegal taking lives everyday. Babies thrown away through countless abortions. Lives lost to murders. Fatal car accidents caused by careless drivers who are to busy on their phone or devices. This list goes on and you know of ways lives are wasted or destroyed everyday.

You can heard it said in our government and big business the term acceptable loss. It is usually a financial loss when it comes to business but not always. The bean counters calculate the costs of lawsuits to be filed against the company. If the pay out to the law suits is less than making the costly changes that may prevent the loss of life then they proceed and subtract the legal costs from their profits.Then there are casualties of war. Innocent lives of no combatant people, the nonmilitary residents of a war zone who are injured or worse killed due to battles happening where they live.Once again you can hear the term acceptable loss.

The unfortunate fact that lives will be lost and people will be injured and killed everyday is going to happen. Even people who live in peaceful areas still face death. Most hope to pass from this world peacefully.  Yet I do not believe that any loss of life is acceptable and I believe God feels the same. If He did not He could have wiped us out  years ago before He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins. Yet He is merciful and patient. He is not slow as we count slowness but patient that all call to repentance.2 Peter 3:9.

As frustrating as waiting can be, I am grateful God is patient, loving and merciful or none of us would have a chance. Your life and the lives of those around you, and not just the lives of those you like, all life is precious to Jesus. He died for you and for me so that we can live and not perish. Life is a gift and we should treasure all life. No loss is acceptable.

Matthew 18:12-14

John 3:16

Romans 6:23

John 6:35

The Day Says Goodbye The Night Says Hello

I was inspired to take a walk as the sun was setting and the moon was rising and this song came to mind.

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As I looked out my back door and this was my view.  So I went outside to capture the beautiful sky.

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Then I turned to go back into my apartment and I see that the moon is rising. I thought, ‘I say hello and you say goodbye’ beginning the song in my head.

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So I take an evening walk to get  better view. The moon is so bright I am even able to capture the water tower next to the moon.

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The moon is in the perfect place to see between the branches of a tree as I walk closer to the west. The view reminded me of lace.

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I turned back facing towards my home and this is the view I see in the sky to the east.

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The last traces of the sun on the horizon as the star first star shines bright in the evening sky.

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The streetlights come on as the sun disappears from the horizon and the stars come out.

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Goodbye day, and hello night.

As the day says goodbye and the nights says hello I can’t help but think about all the senseless hatred and strife that is going on today. We are missing the beauty of God’s wonderful creation. Not only in nature but in the people all around us. We are all different but all created equal in God’s eyes. Our Creator who has given to each individual free will. Does this mean each person will agree? Doubtfully, but that is okay. I do not have to agree with you and you do not have to agree with me. The only one who is every truly right is Jesus. For He is the Truth, the Light, and the Way. No one came come to the Father except through Him. No religion or doctrine can get me to my Fathers home. Only Jesus. I can argue with you until I am blue in the face and I will never be able to change your mind and guess what? It is not my job to make you do anything. I can share with you all of the wonderful things Jesus has done and continues to do in my life, but I will not try to force you to believe in what I believe. I do hope though when you look around this world and the mess it is in that you can see the beauty and His love despite what man has done to one another and to this world. It is still beautiful, and His love amazes me everyday. I am just thankful that He gave me eyes to see all the beauty and love that surrounds me.

Photography by Julie Sheppard/Bridgeport, Texas 2/10/2017