Jealous of You

Psalm 19:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I have been jealous of you- my fellow bloggers. Not because you post much more frequently than I do. Not because you are actually writers (I’m just a girl with a pen, journal and laptop who talks with her fingertips). I’ve been jealous of the approval and affirmation you’ve received from others.

I know. It’s disgusting. It’s foolish. But its been lurking in my heart.

IMG_4389I’ve been blogging for more than a decade. Scratch that. I’ve been “blogging” since I was a kid. In the 80’s I just didn’t share my thoughts with the world. They remained locked up in my diary. In the early 90’s they were kept on printed paper, courtesy of my cool typewriter. In the 21st century they ‘got mail’ as I began sending paragraphs of my life lessons to family and friends electronically. I don’t remember when or how I was introduced to this online journal called a blog. But for whatever reason, I decided to join the community. I created a homeschool blog and wrote about…you guessed it, homeschooling! In 2010 I shut that site down and launched a marriage blog in conjunction with our ministry founded that same year…posting about, yep- marriage. That blog was also shut down and replaced with this one. Now I’m just a blogger who shares a journey of trusting God in life, marriage, parenting, homeschooling and ministry. Morning after morning I sit in our comfy office chair with a cup of coffee (cream, no sugar), bible and composition book. Some days the pages remain blank. Other days the words flow from my heart faster than the pen can release its ink on the paper.

God has given me the ability to read His Word with understanding.

God has given me the ability to share how Truth has radically changed my life.

God has given me the ability to arrange words into grammatically correct sentences in order to communicate the Good News to others.

But sometimes I forget all that…

I forget that I blog to please God. I forget that He called me to share my story with others. I forget that the praises of men will pass away, but “well done, good and faithful servant” will be eternal.

I may never have a multitude of people follow/subscribe to my blog.

I may never have a multitude of people like/share/comment on Facebook.

I may never have a multitude of people like/re-tweet on Twitter.

Jesus had a multitude of followers, but only a handful of friends. Only 12 became His disciples. He wasn’t concerned with being popular. He wasn’t concerned with receiving praise from men. He was about His Father’s business. Everything He did was to glorify His Father in heaven.

When I compare my blog feedback with others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I become jealous of others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I think I’m a failure based on opinions, I’m not like Jesus.

When I seek praise from others, I’m not like Jesus.

When I expect affirmation for my obedience, I’m not like Jesus.

Lord,

Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my blogs
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Amen

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Salt Life

Matthew 5:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

In verse 1 of the 5th chapter of Matthew crowds once again were gathering around Jesus. He left them, choosing instead to go up the mountain and sit with His disciples for another teaching opportunity about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told the 12, “you are the salt of the earth.” His disciples were no longer part of the crowd. They were set apart on the mountainside- and they would be set apart in life.

They were to live the salt life.

According to science.howstuffworks.com salt already exists far below the earths surface. In order to extract the mineral and use it for seasoning, deep mining shafts are required to drudge it from the pit of darkness into the light of day. This process requires continual drilling, cutting and blasting of dirt, rocks and sediment to break the salt free.

Long before salt was created, God existed. Long before minerals were tucked into the depths of the earth, God called His children by name. He called His children to be disciples. He called them to be salt. He provided the way for them to be salt: He crushed His Son. Through Him, they would have eternal and abundant lives. Then He gave them the power to be salty: The Holy Spirit. And then… the mining process began. He drilled deep shafts into their souls to break the salt free that was hidden within the darkness. He drudged the mineral to the surface, so that others would taste and see that the Lord was good (Psalm 34:8)!

When you respond to Gods call by believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord, you are salt. But in order to live the salt life- in order to go, make disciples you will require continual deep shaft mining. When you invest time, day after day, getting to know the Lord through His Word, prayer and with His church (other believers), the Holy Spirit will drill into your soul. He will cut through the hardness of your heart and reveal the mineral that exists deep within. Through confession, repentance, forgiveness (drilling, cutting, blasting), your sin and those who have sinned against you will be forgiven. You will be crushed and His flavor will be hauled to the surface where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will emerge.

Salt life.

Has your life lost its flavor?

When the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life rule your mind, will and emotions you shut down the deep shaft mine to the Holy Spirit. You don’t study the Word. You don’t pray (except in public – to be noticed). You don’t confess. You don’t repent. You don’t forgive. You are convinced that you’re right about everything and everyone else is a bunch of idiots. You don’t love our wife. You don’t submit to your husband. You don’t train your children.

Immediately after His declaration on the mountain, the Lord gave His disciples (present & future) a stern warning about being salt without flavor: what they did in His name would be thrown out, trampled on, and essentially…worthless- if they did not know Him (see Matthew 7:21-23).

But…the Good News is still the Good News! IF you choose to humble yourself, pray, seek Him and turn from sin, He will hear, forgive and restore your saltiness.

You are the salt.

Now go, live the salt life!

The Way

Proverbs 22:6 New Life Version (NLV)

Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.

fullsizeoutput_4d9fRecently, a child of ours (who shall remain nameless in order to protect his/her identity!) was dutifully completing their morning chores and independent homeschool work for the day. Halfway through our lesson together however, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that all the required subjects had not been completed. I stopped what we were doing and instructed the child to retrieve their school schedule. I asked about the first assignment,

“What did you read about in the Bible today?”

“Bible?”

“Yes, Bible. What did you read about?”

“Um….I forgot about the Bible, but I’m gonna do it!”

Lie.

Cover up.

I continued down the list, asking specific questions regarding the subjects and activities that were supposedly completed. Tears began to emerge from the child’s eyes but the lips continued to mutter dishonest responses in an attempt to avoid the inevitable.

“Child,” I said “you didn’t forget. You deliberately chose NOT to do your schoolwork, because you wanted to hurry up and go play with your friends.”

Tears and sobs.

“Why are you crying, child?”

“Because, I’m ….in….TROUBLE!!!!”

“Why are you in trouble?”

“Because, you….are…..mad….at ME!”

“Why would I be mad at you?”

“Because, I…didn’t….do….my schoolwork!”

“No. I’m mad because you disobeyed. I’m mad because you lied. I’m mad because you tried to cover it up.”

More tears. Louder sobbing.

“Why are you so upset?

“Because, I’m… in…. TROUBLE!!!”

“Child, you’re not in trouble, you’re guilty.”

Truth.

“You’re upset because you got caught – not because you were convicted of sin. So, in order to train you in the way you should go (obedient & truthful), I’m going to discipline you. I discipline you because I love you.”

Hebrews 12:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.

“You are confined to your bedroom and our yard. You may not play with your friends today. And, you will go back and complete ALL your subjects.”

Then the principal (aka, my husband!) re-enforced the training. He read Ephesians 6:1, prayed over and exhorted our child to confess and repent. An hour or so later, that young student humbly came to the teacher (me) and whispered “mommy, I’m sorry I disobeyed…would you please forgive me?”

“Yes, child, I forgive you.”

Big hug.

Like the child I am now training, I have disobeyed, lied and tried to cover up my sin. But I’ve learned to put away childlike things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and humble myself before the Father.

Over and over again, He’s forgiven me.

Over and over again He’s hugged me.

Over and over again He’s shown mercy.

Over and over again He’s disciplined me – because He loves me.

Over and over again He’s delivered me from evil.

Over and over again He’s restored my soul.

As a parent, I’ve discovered that I can only train our children in the way that they should go if I know the way.  Jesus is the waythe truth and the life.

Do you know the way?

Are you going the wrong way?

Are you upset because you keep getting caught?

Dear child, allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin. Humble yourself before the Father. Confess. Repent. Be forgiven. Be delivered from evil. Then discipline your flesh, obey the way, and train your children.

Deep Grief

James 4:7-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

IMG_6986Although I was raised in a Christian home, attended Sunday school, church services, VBS and youth group, I didn’t believe in the Lord until I was 9 months pregnant with our first child. Feeling like a beached whale lying on our bed, waves of tears streamed down my face as the reality of my separation from God began to crash over me. I knew I was completely unworthy of being loved and forgiven. Yet, at the urging of my husband, I poured out my sorrow to the Lord, confessed my sin, and proclaimed His Kingdom come, His will be done in my life.

It was many years later that my soul experienced the deep grief James speaks of. Like a child, I had been sorry for getting in trouble with my heavenly Father. I was even sorrowful for my disobedience…but I never felt grief.

Getting past the obligatory “I’m sorry” takes a depth of humility that only comes through continual submission to the Lord. When we humble ourselves in the light of His glory, we choose to surrender our will so that we can come close to Him. When He comes close to us, the power of His living water begins to pour over our filthy hands and the intense heat of His all-consuming fire purifies our hearts. His truth exposes the lies that are hidden within the dark places of our soul, proving that we are divided between our worship of Him -and the world. When we SEE the object of our worship, we realize our sin nailed Him to that cross. Tears drip down our face, like the blood that dripped from the thorny crown upon His head. Sorrow pierces our soul like the spear that pierced His side.

Then death comes, followed by deep grief.

Confession, which is simply admitting sin, brings tears and sorrow. But, repentance, which is acknowledging that our sin produces death, brings deep grief.

Jesus died for our sin. He overcame death. By believing in Him, trusting Him, loving Him and obeying Him, we can have LIFE- eternally and in abundance.

Are you stuck in a continual cycle of confessing sin?

Have you been doing all the “right” religious things (Sunday school, church services, VBS and youth group) to try and stop?

Have you shed a few tears?

Have you felt sorrow (distress, disappointment) over your actions?

Then do you sin….again?

My fellow disciple,

Tears and sorrow won’t deliver you from evil. JESUS is the deliverer. You must confess and repent of the sin that is lurking deep within your soul. Trust me, God will give you the grace to do so, if you humble yourself (James 4: 6).

YOURSELF.

Humble yourself.

No one else can do it for you. Not your spouse, not your friend, not your pastor.

When you humble yourself, confess and repent, the Holy Spirit will enable you to resist the devil and he WILL flee! You will draw close to God and He WILL draw near to you! There WILL be tears and sorrow and deep grief for your rebellion! There WILL be sadness and gloom. But, God WILL lift you up in honor!

“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

God Tested

Genesis 22:1-2, 9-12

Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”

12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

On the night of our wedding rehearsal, my father-in-law proposed a toast. It was a heartfelt speech, welcoming me into the Bullard tribe. Yes, tribe. A full-blooded Native American of the Lumbee Tribe, my father-in-law came from a very large close-knit family. Growing up in extreme poverty and feeling the sting of prejudice from southern white and black men alike, he left the tribal area to pursue a better life for himself.

But he never forgot his family.

Family was everything.

With raised glasses and our entire wedding party giving close attention, my fiancés father spoke assertively, “Jodie, you are now a part of our family…and we take care of our own.”

(kindof sounded like I was marrying into the mafia!!!)

Doug Sr. and I had a rocky beginning. I was a strong willed young woman. Barely 18 when I met his son, Doug Jr. (who was almost 6 years my senior), I was a rebellious, directionless sinner. He was a strong, disciplined, God fearing man. Needless to say, we didn’t get along very well- especially when I sat in HIS lazy boy recliner one Sunday afternoon to watch HIS naptime entertainment; golf!

Six months later, after Doug and I were engaged, he disapproved of the impending nuptials. IMG_1830Yet over the course of the next year and a half, we began to know- and love one another. And by the time my wedding day dawned, he had accepted me as a daughter, adopting me into his family on a warm spring day in 1996. Fifteen months later he had a massive heart attack. The family patriarch was gone.

After God adopted me into His family, I had a hard time trying to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. I was disciplined: I read the bible. I prayed. I served at church. Yet, I was completely unaware that in a dark corner of my soul, I had built an idol. It was named “family.”

Then God tested me.

He asked if I was willing to take each family member, whom I loved so much, and lay them on the altar.

Would I justify my relationships? (“God- you designed family. I’m supposed to love my husband, children, parents….)

Or would I repent?

I confessed the lie: family is everything.

I received His truth: God is everything.

I choose to obey the commandments, in order.

There’s a reason Jesus said we are to love God, then love others. Others may take care of us, train us, love us and welcome us into their family, but others will fail us. Idols will fall.

Yes, we must love our spouse, children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. But we must not love them more than Jesus.

Matthew 10:37

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.

Has God tested you?

Have you confessed the lie: family is everything?

Have you received His truth: God is everything?

Have you chosen to love God, then love others?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, my friend: all of your family has sinned.

They’ve all fallen short of the glory of God.

They will never give you eternal or abundant life.

They will forsake you.

They will leave you.

But, Jesus.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.

Jesus laid down His life on the altar for your sin.

Jesus will never leave you.

Jesus will never forsake you.

(and like the mafia, Jesus always takes care of His own!!!)

Bitter Jealousy

Acts 8:18-24

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

Simon had been a sorcerer- astounding the people of Samaria with magic tricks. Yet when he heard the Good News of Philip’s message, he believed in Jesus Christ and was baptized! Simon was saved….. but he wasn’t instantly sanctified.

In Acts chapter 8, we discover that as Simon watched Peter and John lay hands on believers to receive the Holy Spirit, he wanted something.

But what he wanted was wrong:

He wanted power.

He wanted to be the apostles.

He wanted their gifts.

He wanted to be an instant leader in the Kingdom.

He wanted others to acknowledge and praise him (as they did when he was performing magic shows).

And then….to get what he wanted, Simon tried to manipulate Peter and John, through bribery!

Peter, however, wanted to obey the Lord.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter realized that Simon’s heart was not right with God. He quickly rebuked him for his bitter jealousy, urging him to repent for the wickedness in his soul and ask God’s forgiveness for his evil thoughts.

Jealousy.

Bitter Jealousy.
As a new believer, I sometimes looked at church leaders and longed to minister the way they did. Like Simon, my heart wasn’t motivated to bring glory to God or advance His Kingdom. I was jealous. Sometimes bitterly jealous of the praise and attention my leaders received on- and off the stage. Several times the Holy Spirit brought conviction and rebuke from my authority to correct me. I too, was given the opportunity to repent and be forgiven for the evil lurking in my soul. And when I did, God graciously sanctified the wicked areas by exchanging them with his holiness.

Sadly, many believers often receive revelation through rebuke as Simon did, but they still refuse to repent. In their pride, they tell their leaders (or friends) to “pray for them.” Instead of submitting their will through personal confession and repentance, they hide. Instead of fearing God, they fear the terrible things (v. 24) that might happen. Instead of taking responsibility for their sin, they blame others.

Are you bitterly jealous of a leader in the Kingdom of God?

Are you trying to manipulate others to get the provision, power or position you want?

IMG_2961.jpgSubmit your will to the Lord and ask Him to deliver you from evil!!!

Confess.

Repent.Be forgiven.

Be set free.

Then GO…share the Good News with the gifts God has given YOU to advance His Kingdom.