“Let your brothers and sisters endure their trials as they are a necessary byproduct of growing in Christ.”~TB
I love my family with great fierceness– for better or worse. It’s a joy to see them do well and it’s heartbreaking when they suffer– especially to false accusations. I’ve been known to jump on land mines for the people I love. Though my intentions are well-meaning, every single one of us has to go through the fire at some point and blocking someone else’s spiritual assignment –good-intentioned or otherwise– benefits no one.
Growth Through Struggle
Having experience with unfair persecution, I can say that those uncomfortable times did way more good than harm. Through the muck and the mess, I learned that I had to rely on God because He was with me in the fiery storms. When I look back at those radical moments, I realize that though the experiences were unpleasant, never was I harmed. So, if God walks with me, I’d be a fool to not trust that He’s walking with all of you as well. More to the point, when those we love endure suffering for what is right, we should be pleased that they too get the opportunity to grow in Christ.
It’s All Joy
These days I am more mindful about the Hand of Christ and I am present and careful to watch Him at work. I pray for His Will to be done rather than jump the gun with my hair-brained schemes. Instead of interfering, I encourage and listen. Friends that is all we can do, because the heavy lifting is God’s plan. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather that my brothers and sisters have God’s help than mine, because well, it’s should be obvious, ha! So the next time you see those in your life go through hard times, remember how your struggles brought you closer to God and that they too are given the opportunity and honor to know God in that same way.
Are you letting your interfering ways block the spiritual growth of others?
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1Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the LORD, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying.
2So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the LORD ’s Temple.
3The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the LORD has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’
4For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword.
5And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon.
6As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”
7O LORD, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me.
8When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke.
9But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!
10I have heard the many rumors about me. They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.” They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.” Even my old friends are watching me, waiting for a fatal slip. “He will trap himself,” they say, “and then we will get our revenge on him.”
11But the LORD stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.
13Sing to the LORD ! Praise the LORD ! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.
14Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news—you have a son!”
16Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the LORD overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17because he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave!
18Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
“Imagine how peaceful we could be if we just did the work.”~TB
Admittedly, I am the consummate procrastinator. As a creative individual, part of my ‘secret sauce’ is the adrenaline of the last-minute deadline that shoots my imaginative process into high gear. I’ve had incredible success with this model. I’ve also had incredible failures too. More to the point, when you procrastinate in all areas of your life, you’re playing with unnecessary fire. As they say, live by the sword, die by the sword.
If you procrastinate long enough or if you’re prone to not doing legitimate work of any kind, you will experience a lot of loss or missed opportunities. One of the not so great things about these experiences is that if you have many that result in a similar ending, you begin to falsely perceive a feedback loop of failure. Even worse, without realizing it, many of us act out this feedback loop subconsciously, resulting in anxiety and a doomsday outlook on certain aspects of life or just life in general.
Our brains work to form correlations so that we can come to certain conclusions more quickly based on past experiences. It’s a survival mechanism. The problem is if you’re falsely wired the incorrect information, it makes getting the correct information more difficult, but, not impossible. Many of us tend to discredit what God does in our lives because He’s not physically present turning water into wine right before us. But, imagine if you quieted the noise, looked within and forged that relationship. You’d see God in a more honest and relational way but in order to get to that place, you have to drop the preconceived notions and behaviors and do the work.
Where would your relationship with God be if you worked as hard as you procrastinated?
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1The LORD gave me another message. He said,
2“Do not get married or have children in this place.
3For this is what the LORD says about the children born here in this city and about their mothers and fathers:
4They will die from terrible diseases. No one will mourn for them or bury them, and they will lie scattered on the ground like manure. They will die from war and famine, and their bodies will be food for the vultures and wild animals.”
5This is what the LORD says: “Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them. I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy.
6Both the great and the lowly will die in this land. No one will bury them or mourn for them. Their friends will not cut themselves in sorrow or shave their heads in sadness.
7No one will offer a meal to comfort those who mourn for the dead—not even at the death of a mother or father. No one will send a cup of wine to console them.
8“And do not go to their feasts and parties. Do not eat and drink with them at all.
9For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: In your own lifetime, before your very eyes, I will put an end to the happy singing and laughter in this land. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will no longer be heard.
10“When you tell the people all these things, they will ask, ‘Why has the LORD decreed such terrible things against us? What have we done to deserve such treatment? What is our sin against the LORD our God?’
11“Then you will give them the LORD ’s reply: ‘It is because your ancestors were unfaithful to me. They worshiped other gods and served them. They abandoned me and did not obey my word.
12And you are even worse than your ancestors! You stubbornly follow your own evil desires and refuse to listen to me.
13So I will throw you out of this land and send you into a foreign land where you and your ancestors have never been. There you can worship idols day and night—and I will grant you no favors!’
14“But the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when people who are taking an oath will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
15Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ For I will bring them back to this land that I gave their ancestors.
16“But now I am sending for many fishermen who will catch them,” says the LORD . “I am sending for hunters who will hunt them down in the mountains, hills, and caves.
17I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me.
18I will double their punishment for all their sins, because they have defiled my land with lifeless images of their detestable gods and have filled my territory with their evil deeds.”
19LORD, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble! Nations from around the world will come to you and say, “Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage, for they worshiped worthless idols.
20Can people make their own gods? These are not real gods at all!”
21The LORD says, “Now I will show them my power; now I will show them my might. At last they will know and understand that I am the LORD .
“While in the lion’s den, be patient and productive so that you can learn the lessons and tools God can teach you in your time of waiting.”~TB
Waiting sucks. Especially when you’re at a time where you are waiting for something that despite your best efforts is being dragged out with no end in sight. During periods like these, I’m reminded of Daniel in the lion’s den. Even though the lions could not physically harm him, I’m willing to bet that being stuck in that situation was probably less than ideal. But still, he put his faith in God.
Just like those lions, our times of waiting will not be the end of us. It’s human nature to want to hone in and focus on the obstacles we cannot change. However, when we obsess over what we cannot do, we miss out on what we can. Instead of watching the pot, ask God how to best utilize the time that you have to continue His purpose for your life. Rejoice that whatever is causing your frustration is not the end and that in time, the wait will be over.
How are you handling the wait?
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1“O Israel,” says the LORD, “if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more.
2Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name.”
3This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.
4O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the LORD, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.
5“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem! Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land: ‘Run for your lives! Flee to the fortified cities!’
6Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem : ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’ For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you from the north.”
7A lion stalks from its den, a destroyer of nations. It has left its lair and is headed your way. It’s going to devastate your land! Your towns will lie in ruins, with no one living in them anymore.
8So put on clothes of mourning and weep with broken hearts, for the fierce anger of the LORD is still upon us.
9“In that day,” says the LORD, “the king and the officials will tremble in fear. The priests will be struck with horror, and the prophets will be appalled.”
10Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, the people have been deceived by what you said, for you promised peace for Jerusalem. But the sword is held at their throats!”
11The time is coming when the LORD will say to the people of Jerusalem, “My dear people, a burning wind is blowing in from the desert, and it’s not a gentle breeze useful for winnowing grain.
12It is a roaring blast sent by me! Now I will pronounce your destruction!”
13Our enemy rushes down on us like storm clouds! His chariots are like whirlwinds. His horses are swifter than eagles. How terrible it will be, for we are doomed!
14O Jerusalem, cleanse your heart that you may be saved. How long will you harbor your evil thoughts?
15Your destruction has been announced from Dan and the hill country of Ephraim.
16“Warn the surrounding nations and announce this to Jerusalem: The enemy is coming from a distant land, raising a battle cry against the towns of Judah.
17They surround Jerusalem like watchmen around a field, for my people have rebelled against me,” says the LORD .
18“Your own actions have brought this upon you. This punishment is bitter, piercing you to the heart!”
19My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still. For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets and the roar of their battle cries.
20Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed.
21How long must I see the battle flags and hear the trumpets of war?
22“My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the LORD . “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!”
23I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless. I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24I looked at the mountains and hills, and they trembled and shook.
25I looked, and all the people were gone. All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness. The towns lay in ruins, crushed by the LORD ’s fierce anger.
27This is what the LORD says: “The whole land will be ruined, but I will not destroy it completely.
28The earth will mourn and the heavens will be draped in black because of my decree against my people. I have made up my mind and will not change it.”
29At the noise of charioteers and archers, the people flee in terror. They hide in the bushes and run for the mountains. All the towns have been abandoned— not a person remains!
30What are you doing, you who have been plundered? Why do you dress up in beautiful clothing and put on gold jewelry? Why do you brighten your eyes with mascara? Your primping will do you no good! The allies who were your lovers despise you and seek to kill you.
31I hear a cry, like that of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman giving birth to her first child. It is beautiful Jerusalem gasping for breath and crying out, “Help! I’m being murdered!”
“Building a firm foundation in Christ is a marathon, not a sprint.”~TB
A marathon cannot be run after a few test practices. Similarly, a relationship with Christ cannot be achieved after one run glance at the Word. We cannot put short-term efforts into knowing our Father in Heaven. No, it takes a lifetime of seeking, listening, failing, repenting, trying, and the like to uncover a semblance of understanding who Christ is. Friends, this is a lifelong endeavor of which we must forego the short-term comfort of ignorance to embrace the long-term impacts of salvation. Do your training accordingly.
When you put in the work each day to learn the Truth of Christ, you build an endurance to run the race He has set before you. The shortcuts are less appealing and the long-term goal of receiving the gift that only He can give becomes the priority. We cannot know the winning effects of knowing God without doing our daily training with Him. More to the point, we have to encourage and give hope to our teammates so that they may be inspired and not deterred from training for their race. Though each day brings its own challenge, consider the long-term advantages of running with Christ than against.
Are you putting in the work, or are you waiting until the last minute to cram a lifetime of training?
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1“If a man divorces a woman and she goes and marries someone else, he will not take her back again, for that would surely corrupt the land. But you have prostituted yourself with many lovers, so why are you trying to come back to me?” says the LORD .
2“Look at the shrines on every hilltop. Is there any place you have not been defiled by your adultery with other gods? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and your wickedness.
3That’s why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless.
4Yet you say to me, ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth.
5Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!’ So you talk, but you keep on doing all the evil you can.”
6During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree.
7I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this.
8She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution.
9Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted.
10But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
11Then the LORD said to me, “Even faithless Israel is less guilty than treacherous Judah!
12Therefore, go and give this message to Israel. This is what the LORD says: “O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever.
13Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the LORD your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to my voice. I, the LORD, have spoken!
14“Return home, you wayward children,” says the LORD, “for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel — one from this town and two from that family— from wherever you are scattered.
15And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding.
16“And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the LORD, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the LORD ’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
17In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the LORD .’ All nations will come there to honor the LORD . They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires.
18In those days the people of Judah and Israel will return together from exile in the north. They will return to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance forever.
19“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land— the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me.
20But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
21Voices are heard high on the windswept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the LORD their God.
22“My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” “Yes, we’re coming,” the people reply, “for you are the LORD our God.
23Our worship of idols on the hills and our religious orgies on the mountains are a delusion. Only in the LORD our God will Israel ever find salvation.
24From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for— their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters— was squandered on a delusion.
25Let us now lie down in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor, for we and our ancestors have sinned against the LORD our God. From our childhood to this day we have never obeyed him.”
“Find a way to channel your efforts and energy into what God would like for you to do and stay focused happily in a harmonious way.” ~ Jon Barnes
Find the hilarious things in life to laugh at while you work, so that you stay focused to keep working on your projects. Expect and know that everyone will not always like what you are doing. If God has not given you a project to work on for Him, you should be concerned about what you are doing with your time. Peacefully ask God what you should be doing and do the work.
Quietly and patiently be a part of the good solutions to problems and let people enjoy the benefit of having you around. Remember the job, message, and story that God givens you to share, relate, and respond to people, problems, and events. Give people access to God’s ways. These examples contain clues of happiness, success, and solutions to follow you around the world.
Use your instinct to follow God’s incentives, instructions, and intuition because God can see your motives from your heart. The Spirit will guide your heart, mind, and body. He will give you extra courage, support, clues, and cues to get the good work done. By exercising your faith, your fate is in good hands with God. If you do poor work and remain disobedient, you will harmoniously reap what you have sown.
Will you let God patiently map out your plans, work, exercises, activities, provisions, and family’s lifestyle in a harmonious way or will you become disobedient and naturally sabotage your future blessings?
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The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant,7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again.18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
19 When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him.20 Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?”21 Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Jesus Claims to Be the Son of God
22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade.24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.26 But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.30 The Father and I are one.”
31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him.32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”
33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus replied, “It is written in your own Scriptures that God said to certain leaders of the people, ‘I say, you are gods!’35 And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people who received God’s message were called ‘gods,’36 why do you call it blasphemy when I say, ‘I am the Son of God’? After all, the Father set me apart and sent me into the world.37 Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work.38 But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”
39 Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them.40 He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile.41 And many followed him. “John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man has come true.”42 And many who were there believed in Jesus.
“In case of emergencies (or in everyday life), tap into the Holy Humor of God.”~TB
The Divine Chuckle
God has to have the greatest sense of humor of all time. Just look at us, we are a funny bunch. I’m sure He looks down at us, and has a good chuckle from time to time. And if you learn how, you too can get in on the joke. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that when we endure trying times, in those moments we are able to experience the the kindness and humor of God. If you take a step back and look, you can begin to see God in His kindness and mercy, rather than the Old Testament look we tend to view Him as. Take the holidays and family, for example. Many of us in the Western part of the world are wrapping up the holiday season, which means time spent with your family– for better or worse.
Family can bring the greatest sense of joy. They can also provide the greatest amount of strife as those closest to us know (consciously or otherwise) how to get under our skin. Family functions will always have a sort of dysfunction because we’re all flesh-bag beings who are severely imperfect, and no amount of strategically choreographed photos can change that. Be that as it may, the art of seeing the humor in discord serves two purposes. 1.) You learn not to pick up the sword and you can disarm a brewing battle. 2.) It’s a fun way to take the sting out of the situation. Like the gauge of a pressure cooker, Holy laughter alleviates the boiling pot of tension in family gatherings, safely dismantling a lethal weapon, repurposing it into a fun endeavor.
For Better or Worse
This life is full of hills and valleys, highs and lows. If you can’t find the humor or absurdity in situations, friends it’s going to be a long and arduous venture. So the next time Uncle Frank (no offense to the Franks of the world) makes an insensitive comment or your cousin asks to borrow a couple bucks from you, have a laugh with God, and let the moments float on by as punch lines of your Holy Comedy Routine. The more you learn to chuckle and roll with the punches, the less opportunities are available for the opposition to sow seeds of discord. Remember, when in doubt, have a chuckle with God and laugh it out.
Are you able to see God’s Humor or are you the butt of the joke?
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1“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!
2Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
3‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.
4What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
5You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD ?
6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.
7Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
9Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
12Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
13“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD ’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
“Each day has their own land mines. Walk in peace, grace, and mercy to avoid stepping on them.”~TB
Have you ever experienced a seemingly benign day that turned into all out warfare? Like stepping on a land mine, one false moves blows up the scene, causing all types of trouble. Perhaps you’re getting home from a long day in the office only to be met with a series of anger inducing texts. These things don’t happen by accident. In fact, more often than not, they are strategically placed land mines aimed at getting you to lose focus on God and to engage in friendly fire with your loved ones.
Consider the Source
An unexamined life can be incredibly messy as the opposition is strategic about placing land mines in our day to day lives. When we do not reflect on what makes us tick, we leave ourselves vulnerable to unnecessary traps and attacks. This can come in the form of an offense from a spouse, friend, brother or sister, or anyone you do life with. Before you step on the land mine, consider the source. If certain things set you off, be aware that they will be used against you. The great thing about knowing your pitfalls is that when the devil throws them your way, you already know what they look like. So instead of being lured in like a lamb to the slaughter, let the attacks float on by.
Enjoy the Silence
Land mines will never go away, but that does not mean we have to step on it. If someone is being used to goad you into frustration, fear, anxiety, or any other unpleasant emotion, do not engage. Instead, ignore the offense, and double down on mercy and kindness. Rather than looking at land mines as a means for discord, use them to sharpen your arsenal of Christ-like behavior. You can brush up on these techniques by reading the Bible and talking with our Father in Heaven. His Word will always light the path. When war is met with Biblical love, only God can be the winner.
Are you ready to walk past your land mines and give up the unnecessary explosions?
Enjoy the reading
1This is what the LORD says: “Was your mother sent away because I divorced her? Did I sell you as slaves to my creditors? No, you were sold because of your sins. And your mother, too, was taken because of your sins.
2Why was no one there when I came? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Is it because I have no power to rescue? No, that is not the reason! For I can speak to the sea and make it dry up! I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish.
3I dress the skies in darkness, covering them with clothes of mourning.”
4The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.
5The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.
6I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.
7Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.
8He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to bring charges against me now? Where are my accusers? Let them appear!
9See, the Sovereign LORD is on my side! Who will declare me guilty? All my enemies will be destroyed like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!
10Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.
11But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.
“Family is like a tapestry where each member is a fiber. Individually not as impressive, but woven together, quite formidable.”~TB
I communicate with my parents almost every day. My dad and I will usually have talks after he gets out of school where we talk about God, opera, theories and everything else in between. I’ve had people praise how amazing my relationship with my parents is, but oh friends, it wasn’t always so. What people see from the outside is the culmination of years of work, trial and error.
There were a few years where my dad and I could not throw together a few sentences to each other without getting offended. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty. Looking back, it’s probably because we’re so similar. But, I have to thank God that we never gave up on each other, and eventually we hashed things out, cried, hugged, and moved on. These days, if we’re annoying one another, it’s probably because one of us needs a nap or needs to eat.
I like to think of God as a Master Artist, creating a unique and exquisite tapestry that are families. Each member is a specific thread or fiber, providing a layer of complexity and beauty to the tapestry. Sometimes those fibers snag and if you don’t allow the Master Artist to patch things up, what once was a beautiful woven creation becomes a frayed and tattered garment. Families argue, we don’t always treat each other as we should and in those moments, the opposition will whisper in your ear all of the reasons you should leave or not forgive.
Friends, remember that the devil’s job is to separate us and keep us on opposing sides. It’s easier to cause problems individually than in a unit. Divide and conquer, it’s an effective strategy. But if we can look at each other as God looks at us, we can look past the offenses, learn how to forgive and not look for the reasons to leave, but remember the reasons worth staying. My relationship with my family will never be perfect. I’m prone to putting my foot in my mouth, ha. But, even in the tough days, I try and focus on the gorgeous tapestry that is my family and my, what an amazing creation from the Master Artist. He’s done a great work in you and your family too.
Are you admiring your family tapestry or are you not able to see past the fray?
Enjoy the reading
1Soon after this, Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift. He had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick and that he had recovered.
2Hezekiah was delighted with the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
3Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?” Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”
4“What did they see in your palace?” asked Isaiah. “They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.”
5Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the LORD of Heaven’s Armies:
6‘The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the LORD .
7‘Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.’”
8Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the LORD is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”
“There are times where plans are delayed because we forgot something and God is giving us a chance to make it up.”~TB
My dog, Abbey, absolutely loves going on walks. Whenever I open the drawer where her leash is kept, she runs straight for the door, anticipating an outing. There are times where I get to the parking lot stairs and realize that I’ve forgotten my phone or wallet, and we have to walk back to my door. If we have to turn around before going out, Abbey will anchor herself to the floor refusing to move, because she thinks we’re no longer going for the walk. After a few tugs, I’ll get her to come along, I’ll retrieve whatever I’ve forgotten and then we’re off to go on the walk. Then as if it’s a surprise, she becomes excited again that we’re going for the walk after all! Every single time this happens ( it happens a lot, I’m really forgetful.) the same behavior occurs and the other day, it made me realize there are times where I will do that with God too. How many times have you refused to change course because you thought your plans were being dashed? If we don’t reflect on our behaviors and circumstances, we can miss the tools and skills we need to progress to the next stage. If you’ve stalled, seek God to find our why. There is most certainly a purpose.
Delay is not Denial
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Christian colloquialisms— often because the people using them are trying to circumvent honest or good behavior (a different story for a different day). But, I will say that God will delay a change in course if we haven’t done the work to make it to the next step. For example, you can’t just run a marathon if you haven’t even trained to complete a 5k. God gives each of us a dream, purpose, or goal. And with those wonderful plans comes the responsibility of tilling your soil to fulfill that purpose. Many times we fail to actualize God’s plans for us because we either allow people to discourage such “crazy ideas” or we didn’t condition ourselves to prepare for the road less traveled. I’m thankful that He gives us a lifetime to answer our specific call. So the next time things aren’t going according to plan, look for the lessons or tools you may have forgotten along the way. Don’t worry, you haven’t been left behind, just delayed. God hasn’t forgotten the vision He planted in you, He’s just giving you time to catch up.
Are you learning during your delay or are you missing the point?
Enjoy the reading
1This message came to me concerning Babylon—the desert by the sea : Disaster is roaring down on you from the desert, like a whirlwind sweeping in from the Negev.
2I see a terrifying vision: I see the betrayer betraying, the destroyer destroying. Go ahead, you Elamites and Medes, attack and lay siege. I will make an end to all the groaning Babylon caused.
3My stomach aches and burns with pain. Sharp pangs of anguish are upon me, like those of a woman in labor. I grow faint when I hear what God is planning; I am too afraid to look.
4My mind reels and my heart races. I longed for evening to come, but now I am terrified of the dark.
5Look! They are preparing a great feast. They are spreading rugs for people to sit on. Everyone is eating and drinking. But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked!
6Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, “Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees.
7He should look for chariots drawn by pairs of horses, and for riders on donkeys and camels. Let the watchman be fully alert.”
8Then the watchman called out, “Day after day I have stood on the watchtower, my lord. Night after night I have remained at my post.
9Now at last—look! Here comes a man in a chariot with a pair of horses!” Then the watchman said, “Babylon is fallen, fallen! All the idols of Babylon lie broken on the ground!”
10O my people, threshed and winnowed, I have told you everything the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has said, everything the God of Israel has told me.
11This message came to me concerning Edom : Someone from Edom keeps calling to me, “Watchman, how much longer until morning? When will the night be over?”
12The watchman replies, “Morning is coming, but night will soon return. If you wish to ask again, then come back and ask.”
13This message came to me concerning Arabia: O caravans from Dedan, hide in the deserts of Arabia.
14O people of Tema, bring water to these thirsty people, food to these weary refugees.
15They have fled from the sword, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow and the terrors of battle.
16The Lord said to me, “Within a year, counting each day, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end.
17Only a few of its courageous archers will survive. I, the LORD, the God of Israel, have spoken!”
“Do your best to be even-keeled as life if full of hills, valleys, and plateaus. The only thing we can be sure of is that God is in the midst of it all.”~TB
Notice the patterns in life, things are always in motion, whether you like it or not. Good things happen, followed by bad things, followed by ok things, and so on and so on. When you rely on the understanding the world tries to give, you will be as helpless and unstable as a leaf in a severe wind. If you seek peace, get to know God. It is that relationship, and that relationship alone that can help you understand the tide of your life.
Instead of fighting the tide, learn to flow with it. God will teach you how to wade in the waters of life if you let Him. This starts by relinquishing what control you believe to have in this worlds. Friends, we control nothing and even the best laid plans can crumble. This shouldn’t scare you, no, instead rejoice in the Truth that the Hand of God is in all things. All things work for Him, so don’t push or pull in your life, but rather, go with the flow.
Are you going with the flow with God?
1For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
9What do people really get for all their hard work?
10I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.
11Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
12So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
13And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
14And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.
15What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
16I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!
17I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”
18I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals.
19For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless!
20Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust.
21For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?
22So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.