“Don’t let the smalls things build up in your relationships with others.”~TB
I was tasked to transport my parent’s bird to California. My sister dropped him off and told me that his cage was clean. As I was trying to get the cage into my car this morning, the bottom dropped open and a ton of bird poop fell into my car and on the garage floor. I was livid (and sleep deprived). At 4 in the morning, the last thing I wanted to be doing was cleaning bird poop ahead of an 8 hour drive. In my rage, I recalled decades worth of previous infractions, as a means to fuel my frustration. I had every intention of letting her know how she screwed up. Isn’t it amazing that when we get mad, we immediately look for ways to fan the flame? But then I realized, this is the same sister who let me cry into her sweater when someone stole my gel pens in the 5th grade. She’s also the mother of 3 of my favorite human beings. During the drive, I called her to laugh about the incident as I knew my tiredness had gotten the better of me. It wasn’t that serious. No argument or perceived slight is. The trouble lies in when you allow slights or transgressions build up like plaque in your mouth.
Relationships are like teeth. When you care for them with routine maintenance, they last for a long time. However, just like teeth, if you don’t care for them and you let them rot, eventually they have to be pulled or filled. Relationships of all kinds are complex, which means that eventually we all have to go to God for help with a cavity. God is like the Holy Dentist, there to drill out the relational cavities and fill in the holes with mercy, wisdom, and grace. Without God, repairing relationships is like drilling cavities without novocaine, too painful and impossible to repair otherwise. Of course, cavities within your relationships can be avoided if you brush off the offenses and use the floss of forgiveness. So practice Biblical hygiene when doing life with one another.
Are you brushing away the offenses or are you constantly in God’s dental chair?
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1“Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea. Bring your strongest arguments. Come now and speak. The court is ready for your case.
2“Who has stirred up this king from the east, rightly calling him to God’s service? Who gives this man victory over many nations and permits him to trample their kings underfoot? With his sword, he reduces armies to dust. With his bow, he scatters them like chaff before the wind.
3He chases them away and goes on safely, though he is walking over unfamiliar ground.
4Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last. I alone am he.”
5The lands beyond the sea watch in fear. Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war.
6The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, “Be strong!”
7The carver encourages the goldsmith, and the molder helps at the anvil. “Good,” they say. “It’s coming along fine.” Carefully they join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over.
8“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend,
9I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
10Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
11“See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing.
12You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing.
13For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
14Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
15You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains.
16You will toss them into the air, and the wind will blow them all away; a whirlwind will scatter them. Then you will rejoice in the LORD . You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17“When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.
18I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.
19I will plant trees in the barren desert— cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.
20I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the LORD who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.
21“Present the case for your idols,” says the LORD . “Let them show what they can do,” says the King of Israel.
22“Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence. Or let them tell us what the future holds, so we can know what’s going to happen.
23Yes, tell us what will occur in the days ahead. Then we will know you are gods. In fact, do anything—good or bad! Do something that will amaze and frighten us.
24But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Those who choose you pollute themselves.
25“But I have stirred up a leader who will approach from the north. From the east he will call on my name. I will give him victory over kings and princes. He will trample them as a potter treads on clay.
26“Who told you from the beginning that this would happen? Who predicted this, making you admit that he was right? No one said a word!
27I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look! Help is on the way!’ I will send Jerusalem a messenger with good news.
28Not one of your idols told you this. Not one gave any answer when I asked.
29See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.
“Don’t Eternalize everything that you internalize.”~TB
I’m a selfish thinker in that I see the world according to Taryn and not according to how the world sees me. At 7, I took a wrench from my dad’s toolbox, took off the training wheels and spent the day falling until I could ride a two-wheeler. At 20, I applied for a tech job at my university, paid my brother to take the knowledge test, got the job, and was promoted within a year. My world is full of doing things I ‘can’t’ do only to excel at them by putting in some effort. I’m not some miracle person, I’m just crazy enough to believe that God made me awesome. Thing is, He made you awesome too. I’ve found that a lot of people believe the nonsense that others tell them, which is heartbreaking because God has created limitless potential in ALL of us. Seriously, we all can do extraordinary things if we believe we can. The problem is, in a world/society that wants to categorize and control our narratives, you must rise above the pressure to conform to manmade standards and answer the call that God has on your life.
How do you see yourself? What do you believe about your worth or capabilities? Chances our, the negative thoughts or limiting behaviors can be traced back to some knucklehead telling you what you could or couldn’t do. Unfortunately, humans have this nasty habit of projecting insecurities onto other people, who may internalize bad assessments of their worth. If you don’t reject those wrong assessments, you can internalize them, chipping away at the truth of who you actually are. Look at the stories in the Bible; the Abrahams, the Davids, the Jacobs, The Ruths, The Amos, and the like, you will find supposed unqualified or ‘worthless’ folks who went on to do amazing things. Those people went against the grain and did what God put on their hearts. This means to me that you and I can do extraordinary things should we choose. So, the next time you think you can’t or someone has told you it’s not possible, don’t listen. Ask God to show you ‘how’ and persevere until you achieve it. Only God can see what you’re truly capable of, so don’t internally eternalize a broken man made system.
Who’s right about you; God or man?
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1“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.
2“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.”
3Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD ! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
4Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
5Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!”
6A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.
7The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD . And so it is with people.
8The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
9O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”
10Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
11He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
12Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD ? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?
15No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.
16All the wood in Lebanon’s forests and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God.
17The nations of the world are worth nothing to him. In his eyes they count for less than nothing— mere emptiness and froth.
18To whom can you compare God? What image can you find to resemble him?
19Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold, overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains?
20Or if people are too poor for that, they might at least choose wood that won’t decay and a skilled craftsman to carve an image that won’t fall down!
21Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God— the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant?
22God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them.
23He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing.
24They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and they wither. The wind carries them off like chaff.
25“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
26Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.
27O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
30Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
“God does not treat us like puppets or slaves, so let’s not do that to each other.”~TB
Since when did following Christ mean that we are meant to be doormats? As followers of Christ, we are meant to strive for a higher standard, but that also means asserting boundaries and holding each other accountable when people get into ‘Pharaoh’ mode. It’s one thing to turn the other cheek when you are wronged. It’s an entirely different story when you allow other people to enslave your time, mind and resources because you think you’re being Christ-like. If you think bowing down to others and allowing poor treatment is an act of humility, I strongly encourage you to read the Bible more carefully.
When you allow others to continually take advantage of you, you are going down a slippery slope. There is a stark difference between forgiving offenses and tolerating abusive behavior. In our lives, we will endure hardship, setbacks, and other uncomfortable scenarios. But, that is not the same as tolerating bad behavior, whether it comes from your boss, your spouse, your landlord or anyone else. If we truly want to be Christ-like, we have to hold one another to a higher standard. That means shedding light on evil deeds, slave mentalities, and the like. The next time you’re dealing with a ‘Pharaoh’, remember that God loves you and does not require you to put up with inappropriate treatment. Forgive, yes. In addition, remember Christ’s standards.
Are you accepting bad behavior?
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1In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them.
2Then the king of Assyria sent his chief of staff from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.
3These are the officials who went out to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.
4Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?
5Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me?
6On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!
7“But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the LORD our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?
8“I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them!
9With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers?
10What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the LORD ’s direction? The LORD himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”
11Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear.”
12But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”
13Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria!
14This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you.
15Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’
16“Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well.
17Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.
18“Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The LORD will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria?
19What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power?
20What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the LORD can rescue Jerusalem from me?”
21But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”
22Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.
“Whichever part of your mind you feed, you bring to life.”~TB
I almost didn’t write today. I’m feeling gray and moody, which doesn’t help because it’s also overcast outside. Nope, today was going to be a “Cranky-pants Taryn day”, I figure, I’ll post when I feel like it. But as I sulked and stewed, I heard a voice in my head say, “which side are you feeding?”. As odd as that question is, I knew what it meant. The mind is such an amazing yet dangerous tool when left unchecked or unyielded. Yes, I don’t feel like sunshine and daisies today, but, I don’t have to feed into the feeling either.
When I look back at the stories told in the Bible, I am reminded that I have a choice in what I do with my time on this Earth. We all do. I can give into my worst inclinations and be the biggest heathen on this planet. Or, I can choose to be thankful for all of the blessings God has given me, of which I don’t deserve. I can choose to give into my dreary state of mind, or, I can choose to let the feeling pass on by. It all comes down to what you’re feeding your brain. It took me a long time to understand that I have power in what I mentally ingest. We all do. Yes, feelings are a visceral part of the imagination, but if you choose to lean on Christ, you too can learn which part to feed and which part to let pass on by.
Which part are you feeding?
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1Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
2Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the LORD will display his glory, the splendor of our God.
3With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees.
4Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
5And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
7The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.
8And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.
9Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
“Thank God that His plans far supersede our own.”~TB
I had planned to move to Eugene OR after my travels. I loved the location, the river, and the coffee shops that were literally everywhere. I felt for sureit was the place for me to be. In spite of my best efforts, I could not find a place in my desired location before my move in date. I even came close to finding a home that was right next to a friend I had made during my visit earlier this year. Even though in my mind, it was perfect scenario, it didn’t pan out. Instead, after some convincing from my parents, they encouraged me to move back to Las Vegas.
In my limited vision, all I could see was that my plans were dashed and that Vegas was not the place for me. But what I’ve come to know is that being back in Las Vegas is exactly where I’m supposed to be. For starters, my family is here. Having dinners with my nephews is something I would not trade for the world. Secondly, sunlight. I need daily walks in sunlight or I feel like a zombie. In Eugene, it rains more than it doesn’t. I would’ve eventually been so miserable. My point in saying all of this is, had my original plans worked out, I would’ve suffered. But instead, I have many things to be thankful for in a city I didn’t want to be in. I laugh and thank God for His infinite vision as opposed to my shortsighted plans. It also makes me reflect on how many perceived failures we all put on our backs because things didn’t work out as we had hoped. So, the next time you think about the ways your plans haven’t worked, remember that God’s plans and timing take into account the things we do not understand.
Whose plans are better; God’s or yours?
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1Look, a righteous king is coming! And honest princes will rule under him.
2Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land.
3Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth, and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it.
4Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly.
5In that day ungodly fools will not be heroes. Scoundrels will not be respected.
6For fools speak foolishness and make evil plans. They practice ungodliness and spread false teachings about the LORD . They deprive the hungry of food and give no water to the thirsty.
7The smooth tricks of scoundrels are evil. They plot crooked schemes. They lie to convict the poor, even when the cause of the poor is just.
8But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.
9Listen, you women who lie around in ease. Listen to me, you who are so smug.
10In a short time—just a little more than a year— you careless ones will suddenly begin to care. For your fruit crops will fail, and the harvest will never take place.
11Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief.
12Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines.
13For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone.
14The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts and watchtowers
15until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
16Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field.
17And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.
18My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.
19Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down,
20the LORD will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.
“In order to run the race God has set before you, you must be who He made you to be.”~TB
I’m not a fan of doing life in gen. pop. That’s because I’ve noticed that when humans get together in masses, especially with today’s technology, we all begin to act like one another, abandoning certain God given traits, and ultimately derailing our relationship with Christ. If we are all the Body of Christ, we certainly can’t all behave like the head— that’s not a body. Look at the 12 apostles, Moses, Lot, David, and the list goes on. Those people were all characteristically different, yet God used them ALL and for different purposes.
I find that I’m most in tune with God when I’m being the most Taryn I can be. I’m logical to a fault, witty, stubborn, headstrong, smart, skeptical, and enjoy pointing out the ironic practices of my fellow humans (Makeup companies telling you to love yourself as you are, but first, buy their makeup, I mean, come on). I don’t do well in prolonged social engagements and others don’t do well when I’m overly socialized (my snarky robot side comes out). For better or worse, my characteristics equip me for the role God has placed me in. If I gave up on those traits, I could not be who I’m meant to be. On the flip side, if you’re not being who you’re meant to be, well you get the gist.
It’s not hard to feel like you’re in an observation bubble, filled with the need to please and impress others. Problem is, the only people who are beloved by the masses are the ones who obfuscate the truth. The judgment of man cannot override God’s judgment. So, if God called you to be the arm, be the arm. If you’re role is the leg, be the leg. Stop adhering to the ridiculous standards of corporations that want your money or the misguided people who want you to partake in sinful practices. When you keep it honest with yourself and with God, being who you’re meant to be becomes a lot clearer.
Do you know who you are?
Enjoy the reading
1What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine.
2For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.
3The proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel — will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet.
4It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.
5Then at last the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people.
6He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates.
7Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions.
8Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere.
9“Who does the LORD think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned?
10He tells us everything over and over— one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”
11So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language!
12God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.
13So the LORD will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured.
14Therefore, listen to this message from the LORD, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem.
15You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”
16Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.
17I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away.
18I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground.
19Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.” This message will bring terror to your people.
20The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you.
21The LORD will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed:
22For the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.
23Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention.
24Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting?
25Does he not finally plant his seeds— black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat— each in its proper way, and each in its proper place?
26The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.
27A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
28Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it.
29The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.
“We make it easy for the devil when we don’t know who we are or Who made us.”~TB
Identity is a powerful concept. Our interpretation of who we believe we are shapes our thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and so on. If you know God, your personal understanding of your identity changes. First, you are His, everything else becomes secondary. If you don’t know God, first, you lack an accurate perspective on identity, allowing your flesh, the world, and the opposition to plant confusion in your ear. Today, the idea of identity has been severely skewed with dangerous misconceptions. I used to think that people were duped because they didn’t have the resources to know God (As I type this, I realize that initial thought was foolish because God is omnipotent). But now, I realize we are in the shape that we’re in— both physically and mentally— because we want what is easy. Friend’s take caution as easy street is the opposition’s breeding ground.
Knowing God is simple— not necessarily easy. It takes discipline to continue to fall, get back up, learn, and repeat. Just like learning a new skill, continual practice is vital in growing your relationship with God. Unfortunately, we’ve built a society that demonizes hard work and champions complacency. It’s so blatant that we complicate our lives to justify our laziness. Think about it, people will make excuses rather than do the work. People will also justify mutilating their bodies based on how they feel, rather than trying to get to the heart of their true identity. This isn’t to say that those who struggle aren’t fighting something difficult. Choosing easy feels like a ‘get out of responsibility’ card, and trust me I get it. Problem is, easy doesn’t benefit tomorrow and when tomorrow fades, we all have to give an account, no matter which road we chose. So know your true identity and choose wisely.
Do you want easy or eternal?
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1Listen, Ethiopia —land of fluttering sails that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,
2that sends ambassadors in swift boats down the river. Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction, and whose land is divided by rivers.
3All you people of the world, everyone who lives on the earth— when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look! When I blow the ram’s horn, listen!
4For the LORD has told me this: “I will watch quietly from my dwelling place— as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day, or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.”
5Even before you begin your attack, while your plans are ripening like grapes, the LORD will cut off your new growth with pruning shears. He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.
6Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields for the mountain vultures and wild animals. The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer. The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter.
7At that time the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem, where the LORD of Heaven’s Armies dwells.
“Imagine how great our relationship with God would be if we jumped through the same hoops of approval for Him as we do for the approval of one another.”~TB
I think a lot— much to my detriment. I also ask a lot of questions. People also seem to like to confide in me—whether I’m interested or not. I suppose I just have one of those faces. Anyway, I’m bringing this up because in all of my time on this earth, talks with people, and observations, it’s pretty clear that life is like the Matrix. I know, it’s a weird analogy, but hear me out. As a collective, humans have built this construct of “life” that most of us just blindly follow. Many of us are enslaved by the opinions of our peers, aka the Matrix. We’re basically strapped to a chair, downloading man made manuals on how to act, what to eat, who should be admired and who should be scorned, the list goes on and on. The problem with this indoctrination is that it is counterintuitive to the teachings of God. Even further, when we allow the opinions of others drive our belief systems and behaviors, we abdicate the ability to think for ourselves. And friends, that’s a dangerous precedent.
When you follow man, you are influenced by their sinful nature. There is not one single human being on this planet whose motives/ambitions are 100% pure. Sure, we try and have good intentions, but when it comes to direction, I’ll stick with my Father in Heaven. So why is this important? Well, when man has your ear, all of a sudden blatant sins become easily tolerated, celebrated, and even protected. As an individual, knowing what’s right and wrong is pretty simple. But in a group, people are liable to reason and rationalize why immoral behavior is right. So while you may know the truth, the battle lies in if you uphold it or fall prey to the pressure of conforming to your neighbors. It’s a tough choice that we all continually have to make. This is why quiet time with God, careful study of the Word, and counsel from the wise is critical for spiritual growth. Knowing God’s Truth gives you the understanding that your value comes from Him and not man. Wrapping your mind and spirit in the Word gives you the perspective and backbone to live righteously. But in order for us to get there, we must first get out of the Matrix and start seeing the way we were meant to.
Do you know where your worth comes from?
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1This message came to me concerning Damascus: “Look, the city of Damascus will disappear! It will become a heap of ruins.
2The towns of Aroer will be deserted. Flocks will graze in the streets and lie down undisturbed, with no one to chase them away.
3The fortified towns of Israel will also be destroyed, and the royal power of Damascus will end. All that remains of Syria will share the fate of Israel’s departed glory,” declares the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
4“In that day Israel’s glory will grow dim; its robust body will waste away.
5The whole land will look like a grainfield after the harvesters have gathered the grain. It will be desolate, like the fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.
6Only a few of its people will be left, like stray olives left on a tree after the harvest. Only two or three remain in the highest branches, four or five scattered here and there on the limbs,” declares the LORD, the God of Israel.
7Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
8They will no longer look to their idols for help or worship what their own hands have made. They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles or worship at the pagan shrines they have built.
9Their largest cities will be like a deserted forest, like the land the Hivites and Amorites abandoned when the Israelites came here so long ago. It will be utterly desolate.
10Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you. You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you. So you may plant the finest grapevines and import the most expensive seedlings.
11They may sprout on the day you set them out; yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them, but you will never pick any grapes from them. Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain.
12Listen! The armies of many nations roar like the roaring of the sea. Hear the thunder of the mighty forces as they rush forward like thundering waves.
13But though they thunder like breakers on a beach, God will silence them, and they will run away. They will flee like chaff scattered by the wind, like a tumbleweed whirling before a storm.
14In the evening Israel waits in terror, but by dawn its enemies are dead. This is the just reward of those who plunder us, a fitting end for those who destroy us.
“Imagine the progress one could make if they were simply honest with themselves.”~TB
It is astounding how a flesh-ruled mind can distort life. We trick our minds into spending money we don’t have, behaving in carnal ways, eating things that are unhealthy, the list goes on and on. We made the situation, yet beg God to free us from the havoc we have wreaked. Of course humans justify stupidity with their feelings or their circumstance, as if those things absolve them from making sound decisions. We’re all guilty of this. What’s even funnier is that the justification is always way more complicated then the truth: we did what we did because we wanted to. We didn’t read the Bible not because we didn’t have the time: we didn’t want to. We didn’t go to the gym because we’re tired: we didn’t want to. We’d rather cling to a web of convoluted lies than take responsibility. Of course when the time to account for our progress— lack thereof— everyone is ready with a well-argued explanation devoid of the truth— we didn’t put in the effort.
Keep is Simple
Honesty is hard because it forces you to look in the mirror. One has to untangle the webs woven to spin the lies that bind their lives. Being responsible for your actions requires you to acknowledge that you alone control your behavior. Today, we look for all kinds of reasons to absolve us from our poor choices. Instead of saying “I didn’t want to do the work”, we have a diagnosis or excuse for why we didn’t. Friends, the problem with mental gymnastics is that after a while, you begin to believe your own nonsense, which hinders you from growth or progress. Now you’re trapped in the lies you created! The truth can be painful, but it is so necessary for development, especially in your relationship with Christ. So if you’re done trying to explain why you didn’t, speak plainly so that you can change your mindset and behaviors. When you hold yourself accountable for your shortcomings, you can then build a foundation of honest effort to make progress. If God is who you seek, spend time with Him. If it’s not your actual agenda, stop faking it. Your peers may not know the difference, but surely He does.
What web of lies are trapping you from progress?
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1This message came to me concerning Moab: In one night the town of Ar will be leveled, and the city of Kir will be destroyed.
2Your people will go to their temple in Dibon to mourn. They will go to their sacred shrines to weep. They will wail for the fate of Nebo and Medeba, shaving their heads in sorrow and cutting off their beards.
3They will wear burlap as they wander the streets. From every home and public square will come the sound of wailing.
4The people of Heshbon and Elealeh will cry out; their voices will be heard as far away as Jahaz! The bravest warriors of Moab will cry out in utter terror. They will be helpless with fear.
5My heart weeps for Moab. Its people flee to Zoar and Eglath-shelishiyah. Weeping, they climb the road to Luhith. Their cries of distress can be heard all along the road to Horonaim.
6Even the waters of Nimrim are dried up! The grassy banks are scorched. The tender plants are gone; nothing green remains.
7The people grab their possessions and carry them across the Ravine of Willows.
8A cry of distress echoes through the land of Moab from one end to the other— from Eglaim to Beer-elim.
9The stream near Dibon runs red with blood, but I am still not finished with Dibon! Lions will hunt down the survivors— both those who try to escape and those who remain behind.
“How you experience life depends on your personal set of optics.”~TB
Some of us have perfect vision— able to see things without sight. For those of us that don’t, we need glasses to correct our impairment. With the aid of glasses, I am able to see things far away that I otherwise cannot. Boy would the world be in trouble if I drove without the help of glasses or contacts. In the same manner in which we see, our personal relationship with Christ allows us to improve our vision as Christians. In faith, we all have to wear our Christ-prescribed glasses, because without them we either can’t see up close, far out, or not at all. When we walk without God’s help the optics are skewed as we fail to see what really is and what really isn’t.
When you narrow in on the problems and failures of your life, your sight is myopic and useless. Like walking into a wall repeatedly, your vision is so constricted that the minutiae and little things of life become the big and impossible thorns in your side. If all you see in life is the negative or what you lack, it’s time to ask God to help you dilate your sight so that you can see the bigger picture.
A widened perspective is important to help see the grand scheme of things. However, without the details of Christ, we are unable to see the nuances of God’s handbook, the Bible, which helps teach us how to spend our time. Too wide of a lens can make us paralyzed or obtuse in our thinking because we lack the focus to process what we see properly. If you’re in this camp, God’s got the right prescription for you too.
Life is messy, imperfect, and full of tests that we pass, fail, and repeat. Human understanding of life is futile because our black and white vision pales in comparison to God’s vision. In order to get a glimpse at God’s view, we must allow Him to prescribe the correct sight. Your 20/20 vision isn’t going to cut it on it’s own. Fortunately for us, God’s insurance plan is free and only requires us to accept the gift of salvation. If you’re tired of not seeing the full picture or need help seeing the important details ask our Holy Optometrist to give you the right vision.
Are you content with remaining blind?
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1But the LORD will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel.
2The nations of the world will help the people of Israel to return, and those who come to live in the LORD ’s land will serve them. Those who captured Israel will themselves be captured, and Israel will rule over its enemies.
3In that wonderful day when the LORD gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains,
4you will taunt the king of Babylon. You will say, “The mighty man has been destroyed. Yes, your insolence is ended.
5For the LORD has crushed your wicked power and broken your evil rule.
6You struck the people with endless blows of rage and held the nations in your angry grip with unrelenting tyranny.
7But finally the earth is at rest and quiet. Now it can sing again!
8Even the trees of the forest— the cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon— sing out this joyous song: ‘Since you have been cut down, no one will come now to cut us down!’
9“In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you.
10With one voice they all cry out, ‘Now you are as weak as we are!
11Your might and power were buried with you. The sound of the harp in your palace has ceased. Now maggots are your sheet, and worms your blanket.’
12“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.
13For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north.
14I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’
15Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths.
16Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?
17Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?’
18“The kings of the nations lie in stately glory, each in his own tomb,
19but you will be thrown out of your grave like a worthless branch. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, you will be dumped into a mass grave with those killed in battle. You will descend to the pit.
20You will not be given a proper burial, for you have destroyed your nation and slaughtered your people. The descendants of such an evil person will never again receive honor.
21Kill this man’s children! Let them die because of their father’s sins! They must not rise and conquer the earth, filling the world with their cities.”
22This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: “I, myself, have risen against Babylon! I will destroy its children and its children’s children,” says the LORD .
23“I will make Babylon a desolate place of owls, filled with swamps and marshes. I will sweep the land with the broom of destruction. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
24The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sworn this oath: “It will all happen as I have planned. It will be as I have decided.
25I will break the Assyrians when they are in Israel; I will trample them on my mountains. My people will no longer be their slaves nor bow down under their heavy loads.
26I have a plan for the whole earth, a hand of judgment upon all the nations.
27The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken— who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?”
28This message came to me the year King Ahaz died:
29Do not rejoice, you Philistines, that the rod that struck you is broken— that the king who attacked you is dead. For from that snake a more poisonous snake will be born, a fiery serpent to destroy you!
30I will feed the poor in my pasture; the needy will lie down in peace. But as for you, I will wipe you out with famine and destroy the few who remain.
31Wail at the gates! Weep in the cities! Melt with fear, you Philistines! A powerful army comes like smoke from the north. Each soldier rushes forward eager to fight.
32What should we tell the Philistine messengers? Tell them, “The LORD has built Jerusalem ; its walls will give refuge to his oppressed people.”