“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.
“Only you can give up your peace; but you must cultivate your faith to believe it.”~TB
Faith is total trust and confidence in God. It’s a verb in that you must act on it every second of every day. Though we can’t open a door and say “Here is God!”, we know that He exists and is the creator of all. It’s easy to say we have faith. After all, it sounds pretty and whimsical. But there is a fundamental difference between talking faith and walking in faith. And, we are tested on this day in and day out. The devil can rattle your cage, but ultimately you must decided whether or not to lose your peace about it.
Walking in faith means that even though you are not in control of your situation, you are at total peace because you know who is. It means to sit still and let God handle the heavy lifting in your life. It also means to not allow your upstairs neighbor who likes to crank her bass up loud all day long after you’ve talked to her twice about it get under your skin. When you experience a tough time, remember that God is sovereign and there is nothing out of His control. So don’t merely talk about faith, walk in it so that you can experience the Hand of God in your life.
Are you using the real ‘F’ word?
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1But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
3For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.
5“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth.
7Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”
8Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.
9Gather the nations together! Assemble the peoples of the world! Which of their idols has ever foretold such things? Which can predict what will happen tomorrow? Where are the witnesses of such predictions? Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
10“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD . “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.
11I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior.
12First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God,” says the LORD .
13“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.”
14This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King.
16I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea.
17I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.
22“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel!
23You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.
25“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
26Let us review the situation together, and you can present your case to prove your innocence.
27From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me; all your leaders broke my laws.
28That is why I have disgraced your priests; I have decreed complete destruction for Jacob and shame for Israel.
“God’s blueprint for our lives is far better than our own.”~TB
Pursuing plans without consulting God is like building a house that’s not up to code. You’ll end up with a crooked foundation, busted plumbing, or worse trying to combine a faulty blueprint with someone else’s blueprint. More to the point, when we try and show our “handy work” to God, we end up offended that He doesn’t co-sign our convoluted workmanship.
Up to Code
When you’re tired of failing inspections, it’s time to go to God, the Holy Home Inspector. If you ask Him for an assessment on your blueprint, He will show you all of the ways of which your does not measure up. Instead of trying to make corrections on a faulty home, ask God for His blueprint for your life. His plans will result in a lifelong, sustainable dwelling.
Are you ready to accept your true blueprint or does shoddy workmanship cut it?
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1“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations.
2He will not shout or raise his voice in public.
3He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
4He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction. ”
5God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth. And it is he who says,
6“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations.
7You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.
8“I am the LORD ; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.
9Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.”
10Sing a new song to the LORD ! Sing his praises from the ends of the earth! Sing, all you who sail the seas, all you who live in distant coastlands.
11Join in the chorus, you desert towns; let the villages of Kedar rejoice! Let the people of Sela sing for joy; shout praises from the mountaintops!
12Let the whole world glorify the LORD ; let it sing his praise.
13The LORD will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies.
14He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.
15I will level the mountains and hills and blight all their greenery. I will turn the rivers into dry land and will dry up all the pools.
16I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.
17But those who trust in idols, who say, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned away in shame.
18“Listen, you who are deaf! Look and see, you blind!
19Who is as blind as my own people, my servant? Who is as deaf as my messenger? Who is as blind as my chosen people, the servant of the LORD ?
20You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.”
21Because he is righteous, the LORD has exalted his glorious law.
22But his own people have been robbed and plundered, enslaved, imprisoned, and trapped. They are fair game for anyone and have no one to protect them, no one to take them back home.
23Who will hear these lessons from the past and see the ruin that awaits you in the future?
24Who allowed Israel to be robbed and hurt? It was the LORD, against whom we sinned, for the people would not walk in his path, nor would they obey his law.
25Therefore, he poured out his fury on them and destroyed them in battle. They were enveloped in flames, but they still refused to understand. They were consumed by fire, but they did not learn their lesson
“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 allows us to go through tough experiences to share with others.”~TB
Last week, I came across an article written by a fellow freelance writer. She had a catchy title, so curiously, I clicked. The first sentence began, “After 3 weeks of freelancing, I’ve come to learn… and I’m here to teach you…”
Three.Weeks. I was incredulous. How someone can believe they have the authority, understanding, or mastery of anything let alone running a freelance business is beyond me. It reminded me of the passage in 1 Timothy about why new believers shouldn’t be leaders and how the Devil would cause them to fall. It made me chuckle as I remembered a conversation I had with my father some years ago.
Faith Without Deeds
A few years back, God downloaded the Truth into my brain and I arrogantly shared with my Dad the “secret” to Christianity and following God. My father— who is ever patient and long-suffering with me— nodded and listened carefully to my “all knowing theories and agreed that what I said had made Biblical sense. He was kind enough to let life’s teachable moments fill in the gaps of my arrogant ways. The thing is, it’s easy to understand God’s truth, at least the “mechanics” of it. But, to hold onto that truth whileyou are tested, while you endure hardship, while you suffer persecution, now that’s a whole other animal. See, I knew the Truth, but had no experience applying it. As fate would have it, not too long after our conversation, I went through some of the toughest years of my life.
I was broken down, pruned, fired in the kiln, spiritually crushed, and eventually put back together. In that time I had to make a choice: either press on or give up God altogether. For me, though at times I wanted to quit, I knew too much and I couldn’t go back to my old selfish ways. At the time, I didn’t understand why I went through such an oppressive period, but a random conversation with a woman in Tennessee made me understand why God’s children have to go through a foundation building process.
I talked about this a month or so ago, but while I was traveling, I stayed at an Airbnb in Tennessee with a hospitable lady. She had a free spirit “all gods are the same” type of mentality, which I didn’t push back on. At the time I was travel-worn and just wanted to catch my breath. What was interesting was that she kept asking me what I believed and why. And as I mentioned earlier, I was in no mood to have that conversation, but I could feel God prodding me to answer this woman, and so I did. At the time, I was more concerned with sharing about God’s Truth and not necessarily my subject matter expertise. To be honest, I didn’t know why me of all people would be the one share Biblical information. I certainly didn’t feel (And still don’t) qualified to know or share anything after the crazy past few years. However, after reading that freelance writer’s blog, remembering the conversation with my dad, and recalling the conversation in Tennessee, I finally got my answer why. Experience. It’s easy to know the Truth untested, but to believe it after a hard life exam, you’ve gotten some subject matter experience under your belt.
No, I’m not some wise person who has unique God-given experiences (at least I don’t think, I do have grey hair, however). I believe that those who have been through the refiner’s fire have something to share with those who are in the process. We can encourage those going through tough times because we’ve had to endure struggles of our own and have lived to tell the tale. The woman in Tennessee was asking some legitimate theological questions and had I not gone through such a crappy few years having to rely solely on God, I would not have been able to give meaningful answers. I say all of this to say that if you have gone through the process, have gone through the fire, and can still choose God above yourself, you too have answers to share with those seeking Him. It’s a team effort.
What’s your experience to share?
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1“What sorrow awaits Ariel, the City of David. Year after year you celebrate your feasts.
2Yet I will bring disaster upon you, and there will be much weeping and sorrow. For Jerusalem will become what her name Ariel means— an altar covered with blood.
3I will be your enemy, surrounding Jerusalem and attacking its walls. I will build siege towers and destroy it.
4Then deep from the earth you will speak; from low in the dust your words will come. Your voice will whisper from the ground like a ghost conjured up from the grave.
5“But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind. Suddenly, in an instant,
6I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will act for you with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and storm and consuming fire.
7All the nations fighting against Jerusalem will vanish like a dream! Those who are attacking her walls will vanish like a vision in the night.
8A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry. A thirsty person dreams of drinking but is still faint from thirst when morning comes. So it will be with your enemies, with those who attack Mount Zion.”
9Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor!
10For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries.
11All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.”
12When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.”
13And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.
14Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.”
15What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!”
16How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?
17Soon—and it will not be very long— the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
18In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness.
19The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the LORD . The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20The scoffer will be gone, the arrogant will disappear, and those who plot evil will be killed.
21Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear. A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
22That is why the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear.
23For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction
“In matters of communication, intent matters as does grace and mercy.”~TB
When Help Goes Wrong
A few weeks ago, I was making a pot roast for my parents. Man, do I make a mean pot roast. My trick is to allow the roast to slow cook for at least 8 hours. I find that the meat just falls apart yet it retains its juices. One morning, I prepped the dish, and decided to use the day to take care of some tasks. When I got home, I went to check on the pot roast only to find that the meat had already been cut into pieces and it had been slow cooking for only 6 hours! I was livid. Turns out my dad thought he was doing me a solid by chopping up the meat. In his mind, he was helping. In my mind, he butchered (pun intended) my perfected process.
Stop Drop & Roll
My first instinct was to read him the riot act, driving home the point of my process and how the dish was simply ruined (dramatic, I know, but if you love to cook you get it) the meal. But when I saw his face after I informed him of the mistake (and perhaps I had my mean face on) I stopped for a minute and chilled out. I realized that his intention was to help me, not to ruin the dish. This moment did not call for a fire and brimstone approach. Instead of focusing on the mistake, I decided to focus on the intent. How cool is it to have someone want to help out? I simply let it go and then we sat down to play some epic dominoes. God delivered the domino victories to me that day. Justice was served.
It seems like today, we hustle and bustle through life, quickly judging and assessing yet sometimes failing to look at the bigger picture. Relationships are complex in nature and if we fail to recognize the true intent of the people in our lives, we can get things wrong. Sure, an action may have caused an unintended outcome, but that’s what mercy is for. After all God forgives our actions— both good intent and bad. The point is to evaluate a situation on a case by case scenario. In the example above, I had to look at all sides of the equation, not just how I felt in the moment. Had I chosen anger, my dad could have gotten defensive and then we would have had an argument on our hands. Instead, we had the opportunity to laugh at it, play some dominoes and life went on as usual. So the next time someone in your life accidentally offends you, don’t forget to look at their intent with mercy and grace. Remember the mercy and grace that Christ extends to us every second of every day.
Do you consider intent or are you intent on being continually offended?
Enjoy the reading
1Look! The LORD is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters the people.
2Priests and laypeople, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors—none will be spared.
3The earth will be completely emptied and looted. The LORD has spoken!
4The earth mourns and dries up, and the land wastes away and withers. Even the greatest people on earth waste away.
5The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant.
6Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. Its people must pay the price for their sin. They are destroyed by fire, and only a few are left alive.
7The grapevines waste away, and there is no new wine. All the merrymakers sigh and mourn.
8The cheerful sound of tambourines is stilled; the happy cries of celebration are heard no more. The melodious chords of the harp are silent.
9Gone are the joys of wine and song; alcoholic drink turns bitter in the mouth.
10The city writhes in chaos; every home is locked to keep out intruders.
11Mobs gather in the streets, crying out for wine. Joy has turned to gloom. Gladness has been banished from the land.
12The city is left in ruins, its gates battered down.
13Throughout the earth the story is the same— only a remnant is left, like the stray olives left on the tree or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest.
14But all who are left shout and sing for joy. Those in the west praise the LORD ’s majesty.
15In eastern lands, give glory to the LORD . In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One! But my heart is heavy with grief. Weep for me, for I wither away. Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere.
17Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth.
18Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare. Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake.
19The earth has broken up. It has utterly collapsed; it is violently shaken.
20The earth staggers like a drunk. It trembles like a tent in a storm. It falls and will not rise again, for the guilt of its rebellion is very heavy.
21In that day the LORD will punish the gods in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth.
22They will be rounded up and put in prison. They will be shut up in prison and will finally be punished.
23Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem, in the sight of all the leaders of his people.
“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.”
“Life will always present new opportunities and challenges, so hang tight, calm down, and remember who made you.”~TB
This sin fallen world will lull you into the fake belief that Christian life is some perfect-Instagram-able filter, where Jesus protects you from experiencing any pain or hardship. Many of you believe that if bad things happen, God must not be around. How foolish! Read your Bibles and you will see that every single person who took up their Holy employment struggled with many things. Even David, God’s favorite, endured hardship. The enemy uses this false ploy to deceive young believers. The moment you face a struggle, you abandon ship. You cower in fear and anguish over every little thing, because you haven’t done your reading. Friends, use your hardships to deepen your relationship with God. In those moments, double-down in your faith.
No one gets out of this life unbruised as we are all tested, pruned, pressed, into becoming more and more into the image of our Father in Heaven. To walk the path of Jesus means to catch a glimpse of what He endured to save us. When you understand this truth, go to the ultimate playbook, the Bible, to see how to navigate tricky situations. Troubles do not go away the closer you walk with God. However, because you’ve done your work and you know His teachings, He gives you the grace, strength, patience to endure any and every test thrown your way. So stop looking for the perfect life as a sign that God is good. God is Good because He IS. Calm down, remember the truth, and make Biblical decisions in all that you do.
How do you respond to your trials and tribulations?
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1A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
2Those who follow the right path fear the LORD ; those who take the wrong path despise him.
3A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him, but the words of the wise keep them safe.
4Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.
5An honest witness does not lie; a false witness breathes lies.
6A mocker seeks wisdom and never finds it, but knowledge comes easily to those with understanding.
7Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.
8The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.
9Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.
10Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.
11The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish.
12There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
13Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
14Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward.
15Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.
16The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.
17Short-tempered people do foolish things, and schemers are hated.
18Simpletons are clothed with foolishness, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19Evil people will bow before good people; the wicked will bow at the gates of the godly.
20The poor are despised even by their neighbors, while the rich have many “friends.”
21It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor; blessed are those who help the poor.
22If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.
23Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!
24Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.
25A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is a traitor.
26Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a refuge for their children.
27Fear of the LORD is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.
28A growing population is a king’s glory; a prince without subjects has nothing.
29People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.
30A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
31Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.
32The wicked are crushed by disaster, but the godly have a refuge when they die.
33Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart; wisdom is not found among fools.
34Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
35A king rejoices in wise servants but is angry with those who disgrace him.
”All things work as God intended, so till your soil, chill out, and be cool.”~TB
Each day presents new opportunities and challenges. You have a finite amount of resources to till the soil and plant the seeds of your future harvest. The devil’s job is to get you off task and he doesn’t play fair or nice. In those moments, you have two options: be cool and plant Godly seeds, or give in to the chaos and plant seeds of discord. While the opposition will lead you to a poisoned well, you make the choice to drink the poisoned water. No matter which path you choose, the results will show your deeds.
You can only fake your results for so long. Don’t forget that wheat and tares grow together and cannot be distinguished until harvest time, so don’t be fulled by growth. Come harvest time, God will show you whether you’ve been cool or not. Just because you have not yet reaped your harvest— good or bad— does not mean that God is not watching. If you’re cool, He will reward you. If you’re not, well, you reap what you’ve sown. Perhaps if you repent and let God work in you, He’ll hook you up in the next season. So be cool, honor God, and do your work.
Are you being cool yet?
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1Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns.
2She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table.
3She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city.
4“Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says,
5“Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed.
6Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.”
7Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.
8So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.
9Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.
10Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.
11Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life.
12If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.
13The woman named Folly is brash. She is ignorant and doesn’t know it.
14She sits in her doorway on the heights overlooking the city.
15She calls out to men going by who are minding their own business.
16“Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says,
17“Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!”
18But little do they know that the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of the grave.
“Understanding God’s Word is fairly simple. Applying it to your life, well, that’s a whole other animal.”~TB
In theory, love sacrifice, patience, long-suffering, and perseverance are lovely and beautiful concepts. When you speak them to one another, those words provide a false sense of accomplishment. In today’s society, people sing sweet nothings, as if spraying perfume on a stinky body, in an attempt to hide the foul smell. Words without deeds are empty. Many of you have filled your hearts and minds with empty rhetoric. Friends, listen carefully: as idiot people, we have subjugated those words, turning them into nouns when they really are verbs!
Love, sacrifice, patience, long-suffering, and perseverance requires DOING! You can’t just say the words and poof life is wonderful. You have to love when it’s hard. You have to be patient in tough times. You have to be long-suffering when the odds aren’t in your favor. You have to persevere when failure comes your way. Anyone can be an armchair quarterback. It takes humility in understanding that God can only help you with this verbs. You cannot overcome your sinful nature on your own.
Are you applying the verbs or do you stink under the perfume of fake words?
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1Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem.
2We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of poplar trees.
3For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!”
4But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a pagan land?
5If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp.
6May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.
7O LORD, remember what the Edomites did on the day the armies of Babylon captured Jerusalem. “Destroy it!” they yelled. “Level it to the ground!”
8O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.
9Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!