Friday, July 30, 2010

Put a Bridle On It

Every now and then I come across Christians who make me drop my jaw in amazement.  Gossip flows from their mouths like liquid poison from a stream, and they do it without any kind of shame or repentance.  No target is immune from their venom.

The topic of their conversation doesn't even have to be true. They just go on autopilot, taking great joy in spreading rumor, innuendo, and negativity.  They love to hear it, and they love to spread it. 

I sometimes wonder if we really understand how seriously God views the decisions we make in the choice of words that we allow to come from our mouths.  These same Christians who wouldn't dare to utter a word of profanity embrace gossip like a drug.

No doubt gossip has ruined many a life and has brought chaos and dissension to more than a few consecrated congregations as it spread among the members like a raging fire. 

Let's make a commitment today to join in love to stop gossip at its source.  Don't allow people to bring it to you, and don't carry it yourself. Remember, the old saying still holds true, "A dog that will bring a bone will carry a bone."

Are you careful about the words that you speak?  Have you ever been the victim of gossip?  How did it make you feel?  Was there ever a time in your life that you enjoyed gossip?

"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."  James 1:26

*Photo via stock.xchng.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Count Your Blessings

In my church, every now and then we sing an old-time song that goes like this:

"Count your blessings, name them one by one, 
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done."

Sometimes in the midst of all that goes on with our day by day, with all that's going on in the news, in the world, on the job, at home, you name it, we can get overwhelmed to the point that we forget to count our blessings.

But no matter what's going on in our lives we have this confidence, that God is always working for our good.  So let's make a point to

Praise Him through the good;
Praise Him through the bad;
Praise Him when we're happy;
And even praise Him when we're sad.

The point is that He loves our praise, and it's the least that we can do for Him after all He's done for us.

Take a moment right now to stop and count those blessings!

How has God blessed you over the course of your life?  How has He blessed you today? 
"I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving."  Psalm 69:30

*Photo via stock.xchng.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to Rest

I know that I've written about this topic before, but in the fast-paced society that we live in I don't think that the concept can be emphasized enough, especially when as I look around I see so many running like hamsters on a wheel, never taking time out to smell the roses.  So here we go again -- back to rest as an essential component of spiritual growth in our lives.  

I am so abundantly blessed.  As I look back over my life, I can see God's hand working in both the positive and the negative, and in all things He's always worked the end result to my good.

Over the last few months He's seen fit to open doors to some wonderful opportunities for me that I plan to reveal when the time is right.  Because this has paved the way for many of the dreams that He planted in my heart to be brought to fruition, in my enthusiasm I've embarked upon a work schedule that borders on the insane.  I literally have been working seven days a week for a number of hours each day that I won't dare mention to do my part to make things come together.

Both my body and my mind are tired, and things finally came to a point this weekend where warning bells began to chime that I needed to factor sanity back into the equation.  So I made myself stop and take a day to just veg out.  Today with my energy stores somewhat repleted I feel a little more rested and better able to face my challenges.

The Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance that I simply must do better about balancing the sum total of my life.  He reminded me that even God rested on the seventh day of Creation after six days of labor.  How much more as a frail human do I need to rest, even with Him being gracious enough to provide me with the resources I need to accomplish my assigned tasks?

I'm not the only workaholic in this bunch, so if you feel this message is ringing your own spiritual doorbell, don't ignore it.  Open the door, and let it in.

We can't ever let ourselves forget that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Although our spiritual self is our first priority, it's our duty to also fortify our physical selves as much as wisdom allows.

Do you get your proper rest each day?  Are there others around you who should be more mindful of getting rest?  What are three things that you can do right now to ensure that your life is balanced and restful?

"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made."  Genesis 2:2
Additional reading:  The Power of Rest

*Photo via stock.xchng user zatrokz.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Build Better Balance

All week long I've been running at top speed, not eating right, not getting enough sleep, certainly not exercising. I'm exhausted. Although I'm getting things accomplished, I'm beginning to wonder at what price. It occurs to me that my life lacks balance right now.

We were made for balance

God in His divine wisdom didn't intend for us to be one-dimensional beings. He made us complex, multifaceted, with many parts that combine for total success. When too much of our energy is directed into just one area for an extended period of time the other segments of our life become lopsided--and that's when the problems begin.

Work must balance play.
Activity must balance rest.
Soberness must balance humor.

You get the picture.

Are you in balance? 

If right now your life seems stressed and you can't seem to get it together, take a look at how things fall in the balance. With just a little re-prioritizing you can set the scales back in order.

Is your life in balance right now? How do you keep it in balance? If it's not in balance, how do you intend to get it back that way?

"Let your moderation be known unto all men." Philippians 4:5a, KJV

Additional reading: How to Live a Biblically Balanced Life

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dangers Seen and Unseen

This week I learned about a recently apprehended serial killer from California called The Grim Sleeper. Apparently over a span of 20+ years he killed at least 11 people. The reason this is relevant for this post is that I also found out that he lived just down the street from some of my relatives!

Thinking about this drives home again how perilous the times are that we live in. I don't have to give examples. The media has us on information overload about all of the evil that's taking place in the world.

As we move about our daily affairs we really can't imagine the things that God delivers us from that we don't know about ... and I'll bet if we could it would make our blood run cold. 

I'm stopping right now to take a moment to give thanks for how He has kept me safe up until this present point. 

May He continue to keep you too under the safety of His wings.

Do you have a praise report of how God has kept you safe? Please share it with us.

"For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken." Proverbs 3:26, KJV

"The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD." Proverbs 21:31

"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nexus of Joy

I used to be a Trekkie. For those of you not familiar with the term, this is someone who's a big fan of both the Star Trek series and movies (yes, dear readers, I too have an inner geek).

The Nexus of Joy

One of my favorite episodes featured a spatial anomaly called the Nexus of Joy. Without going into too much detail, one of the main characters, Guinan, described it as "being inside joy." It filled any entity present inside of it with an exhilarating sense of euphoria, and anything desired became reality.

I remembered this episode because this week I again had an experience that periodically comes upon me that I likewise term my nexus of joy.  In it, for some unknown reason I suddenly have this unexpected momentary sensation of overwhelming joy, and love and peace seem to flood over me. It doesn't last long, maybe a couple of minutes at the most, but it almost paralyzes me during its duration as the feelings wash over me in waves. Then just as suddenly as it came, it leaves, and a sense of calm, just like after a storm, is left in its wake.

The Power of God's Love

I've always attributed this to the Holy Spirit, it being His way of letting me know that He's there as my life cycles through its ups and downs, that He loves me and cares about what I'm going through, and that He's trying to remind me that in the scheme of eternity everything is going to be alright.

I don't know if you've ever had anything like this happen to you, but I would wish it upon every believer. Feeling God's love is something that almost can't be described in words. It takes you to a different place in your spirit and compels you to want to grow deeper in Him.

May You Too Feel His Love

Today I wish you your own nexus of joy. May you be filled with His peace, His love, His joy, and get to know Him in a way that transcends the routine activity of your walk with Him.

Have you ever experienced your own nexus of joy? Do you feel God's presence in your daily life? How can you get to know Him on a more intimate basis?
"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11, KJV

Friday, July 16, 2010

Joy Stealers

The writer in me compels me to be a consummate and perpetual student of human nature. I quietly observe people and learn from their behavior, whether it be to derive wisdom, to avoid making certain kinds of mistakes, or just to learn the basic ins and outs of common everyday psychology. I find it to be a fascinating study.

One of the most consistent personality types that I've taken note of over the years -- but which I truly don't understand -- is that of the 'joy stealer.' This type of person seems to have an aversion to other people whom they consider to be joyful. You've probably even come into contact with one of them yourself every now and again. When they see an individual who appears to be exuding joy they instantly go on the defensive, directing a finely-tuned laser beam of contempt towards the receptacle of joy. They just don't like them. And if truth be told, they can't even give a specific reason as to why they don't like the other person.

Now we can toss around all kinds of theories about this -- the joy stealer isn't happy within himself so he can't bear to see others happy, he tends to be envious by nature, or maybe he's just plain mean. For the purposes of this post the reasons aren't what's important; what we're establishing is that these kinds of folks exist.

I'm making this my topic for today because it's been my observation over the last few months that the joy stealers seem to be winning! They go out of their way to stamp out joy wherever they find it by whatever means necessary, and they're doing it with a minimal amount of resistance from the ones they're attacking. I want to exhort you right now, never let anybody steal your joy.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, a sign of His indwelling us. The enemy knows this and sends his children to steal it away. I have to admit that there have been occasions in my own life where I've allowed joy stealers to kick down the door of my spirit, burst in in a spiritual home invasion, and steal every ounce of joy that they could find.

Let's make up our minds that from this point forward we're going to aggressively defend our joy. Greater is He that's in us that he that's in the world (I John 4:4). Put the enemy under your feet and keep him there where he belongs.

Have you ever come into contact with a joy stealer? How did you handle it? Worse still, have you ever been a joy stealer? How did you overcome having that type of spirit?

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Romans 14:17, KJV

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Insights on Going Through

Normally I direct generic 'forward' emails straight to my electronic trash bin. You know the ones that I'm talking about -- with a distribution list a half a page long that hasn't been BCC'd and usually some sort of chain letter type of proposition. This one, however, gave me pause.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church in California, apparently granted an interview to journalist Paul Bradshaw. In it he had a number of insightful things to say about the season of suffering that he and his wife were going through.  As best I can tell, the interview took place circa 2005 or 2006, so you may have already had occasion to read it.  In any wise, I present the transcript here in the hopes that someone may derive some benefit from it.


"People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal.

God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Comfort Food

My name is Angela, and I'm a chocoholic.

I freely admit my guilt.

I tend to be an emotional eater. When times of great stress arise, yep, you guessed it, I automatically reach for my favorite comfort food -- any sweet, scrumptious, calorie-laden incarnation of chocolate.

The brown food acts almost like a sedative. With it I'm able to weather the storm and keep it moving.

But at what price?

The euphoria is temporary, but the negative side effect, an expanding waist line, hunkers down for the long haul. 

Surely there's got to be a better way. 

Don't you sit there acting like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm not the only one who uses chocolate as a stress reliever. I've corresponded with a number of you. I know your weaknesses.  ;-)

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all learn to look to a real stress reliever instead of a counterfeit one? One that's usually as close as arm's reach? One that doesn't leave a negative side effect but only positive long-lasting benefits?

Wouldn't it be great if we could program our minds and spirits to the habit of picking up our Bible when stress hits instead of a chocolate bar or chocolate ice cream or chocolate ... you get the picture. 

Trying to feed our physical hunger when it's our spiritual hunger that's really the problem is an exercise in futility. Eat, eat, eat all you want, but that inner hunger pang is going to nag and poke and prod until it's satisfied, and there's only one way to do that -- to feed it with the Word of God.

So I'm issuing you a challenge today. Start paying attention. The next time that stress hits and you feel overwhelmed and anxious take a moment and get still, reach for your Bible, offer a quick prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead you to a passage of scripture to meet your need, and then read.

Rinse and repeat.

See if you don't start seeing a difference in the way that you handle stress. If what you've been doing thus far hasn't been working, now is the time to try something different -- something that will actually work.

I'm making a vow to rise to meet the challenge starting today. My chocolate stash is going on lockdown -- oh, help me, Lord -- and I'm issuing a self-imposed ban against my regular suppliers. Let's call this our chocolate fast. 

Give it a try for a week and then come back here and give us your praise report. I can't wait to read how it worked out for you.

"This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me."  Psalm 119:50

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weekday Friends

Since I've been walking in my widowhood I've discovered an interesting phenomenon amongst a few of my acquaintances that I call 'weekday friends.'

What kind of friends are these?

These special folks demand a great deal of my attention during the week no matter what other priorities I have pending. I'm called upon to listen to endless tales of woe, to encourage and support, to offer a never-ending cycle of assistance when needed, and to "sticketh closer than a brother."

If they wore a T-shirt the slogan would read, 'Me, me, me.'

However, on the weekend they disappear like foxes to holes, and the rules shift. They have their own lives, their own families, and other agendas, and they, quite frankly, over that 2-1/2 day stretch just can't be bothered. Then Monday rolls around and in circular fashion the ritual begins again. 

How do I deal with this?

Now if my affection was set on things on the earth this would present a major problem. Fortunately, my focus tends to be myopically centered on The Word and I can let love cover what I'm sure are unintentional sleights.

The Ultimate Friend

I say all this to say that I'm so deeply grateful to serve a God who not only promises to provide all of our needs -- but also delivers. He's the best friend anybody could ever have. If you're lonely, hurt, or drowning in depression, turn to Him and let Him fulfill you. Get to know him as a friend and let Him show you the meaning of true friendship that can be found by seeking His presence.

Read your Bible and pray. A basic tenet of friendship is communication. When we pray we talk to God; when we read the Word He talks to us.

There's no companionship that we could ever want or need that God can't fulfill. 

Believe Him today and claim your privilege as a Friend of God.

Can you honestly say that God is your friend? How has He proven Himself to be a friend to you? In what ways have you found Him faithful?

"And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." James 2:23, KJV
*Photo via stock.xchng by Robert Michie.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Watch and Pray

A Facebook friend shared the video below as an admonition to others not to text and drive or engage in other behaviors that are conducive to causing accidents. The video is so powerful that the images it contains still haunt me and bring tears to my eyes, even though the span of a few hours has passed since watching it.

Most people will probably take it as nothing more distressing than what they see in a typical movie nowadays. I see it as a reflection of lives tragically lost and impacted at a time and season unexpected.

For me, the video was a sharp reminder to never be complacent. We must watch and pray at all times. Who knows what evils God has delivered us from that we don't know about in addition to the things that He's protected us from that we do know about? For this alone, He is worthy of praise.

I can think back to just this past February when I was driving in an unfamiliar neighborhood in late evening. For whatever reason, people were driving recklessly. I saw a number of accidents, ambulances, and police cars that night. In under an hour God delivered me from no less than five accidents that could have been mortally serious from the dynamics of how our cars were positioned. Thank you, Lord.

Starting right now, let's make a vow to begin each day with prayer, thanking Him for all that He's done for us and asking Him to continue to protect us and those we love from dangers seen and unseen. Life is tenuous; circumstances can change faster than the blink of an eye. All in all, God is our only hope for safety and protection. 

What testimony do you have of God's deliverance? How has He kept those close to you safe? Do your prayers include specific requests for protection?

"Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is."  Mark 13:33
*Warning:  Video not suitable for young children or the sensitive.  The images contained therein are disturbing, graphic, and violent.  Use your best discretion in your decision to view it.

Video - Drive carefully.

Monday, July 5, 2010

He Heals the Broken Heart

 If my husband had lived, today would have been our 21st wedding anniversary.

It's interesting, I remember both the day that we wed and the day that he died as vividly as if both events happened just yesterday, even though a span of 15 years elapsed between our marriage and his passing, and six years have passed from his death to the present. I remember who stood for us ... and who stood against us. I remember the joy I felt on the day that we got married; I remember the pain I felt on the day that he died. I remember our life together.  Even now as I type this tears trickle from my eyes, an intermingling of joy and sorrow.

But this I know and can testify, in the midst of true loss God can heal your broken heart just as He promised. Your spirit may be bruised and your heart scarred until He calls you home, but you can go on with His power. He'll carry you through. Be encouraged. Even if you can't see ahead from where you stand, trust Him, hold on to Him, believe Him. If you fervently reach out to Him in your pain He'll faithfully reward you by filling the void of your empty, hurting place.

For those that have gone through and for those whose day is coming, I pray for your pain, for your broken heart, that God will come in and bind up your wounds, and fill you with peace until the day comes that we all stand before His throne where there'll be no more sorrow and no more pain.

May God bless you.

Have you ever experienced loss? How did you deal with it? How did God carry you through?

"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Danny's Angel Writes wishes you a Happy 4th of July. May your entire holiday weekend be filled with family, friends, and fun.  More importantly, may your spirit overflow with the realization of faith that our ultimate freedom and independence is found in God. 

Be safe and be blessed!

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." II Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fellowship is a Key

For reasons that I don't care to go into right now, of late I haven't been able to keep my church attendance up to the same extent that I was able to in other seasons of my life. With this I see a difference in the level of power that I project as I go about my daily business.  

I believe that fellowship with other believers is one of the keys to the power that we possess as Christians. Fortunately a number of my church members are a part of the same online social networks that I frequent as well as other Christians that I've been blessed to build relationships with, and I'm able to gain some degree of fellowship in this manner, but it's just not the same as actually assembling together in God's House.

I'm aggressively working to correct this failure on my part to obey God's command, but still at the heart of it all there really is no excuse. Encouraging, correcting, exhorting, and walking life's road together through fellowship is an integral part of our overall spiritual success. 

I can't wait to get back to regular attendance, and if you're slacking in this area I encourage you to make more of an effort to get back in line with this too. It fills my heart with joy to think of the day that we'll all experience ultimate fellowship together -- when we all get together in His heavenly kingdom.

Have you had seasons in your life that for whatever reason you weren't able to, or just didn't, attend church regularly. Could you see a difference in your life because of this?

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:25