Good Deeds

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Hebrews 10:1-4 “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they never provided perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.”

If my “good” deeds could earn my way to heaven then there would be no need for Jesus’ sacrifice. If I could do enough again and again, year after year, there would be no need for the new covenant – BUT I CAN’T. If that’s what I am depending on then the good works can never stop, and the guilt will never go away.

Thankfully God created a new covenant and the blood of Jesus cleans and purifies me forever. I don’t have to keep earning, and striving, and working, and feeling guilty. I can rest and live freely in the grace of God’s perfect one time sacrifice, Jesus.

Does my life and actions reflect that? Some days, but some days I fall back into old habits. God, today help me to live by the new covenant, Jesus, not the old covenant, the law.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mothers’s Day to all the Mother’s out there. Mother’s come in so many different forms, birth moms, mother-in-laws, adoptive moms, grandmas, aunts, foster moms, sisters, moms for a season. They all mold us, influence us and change our lifes.

I am super blessed to have these two women as Moms in my life.

I was blessed to be born to the woman in the first picture. My Mom has always sacrificed and provided me with unconditional love. She is always on my side and has always been there for me. Thanks God for giving me a wonderful Mom.

I am blessed to be born again because of the woman in the second picture. Without my Mother-in-law, letting me tag along to church with her kids when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn’t have Jesus in my life today. Thanks God for giving me such an amazing Mother-in-law.

Both have been examples of faith and what a true relationship with God means.

Thank You God for providing me with wonderful women in my life, and filling our lives with great Moms in all shapes and forms.


Come Boldly To The Throne!!

Hebrews 4:14-16 “So, since we have a great high Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

I don’t know if I come boldly to the throne of God. Mostly I more like sneak in quietly like a mouse. I slide in like someone who doesn’t really belong there. I definitely don’t ever feel like I am worthy enough to come boldly to the throne. Yet, that action belittles the work of the cross.

Jesus died on the cross so I could come boldly to the throne.

It is kind of like this. What if Brett got a second job, and saved up enough money to buy me a really big, expensive, diamond ring, and I opened it, and saw it. I loved it, yet I didn’t wear it. I left it in the box on my dresser. I might open it and look at it sometimes, or I might show it to someone if they came over, but I never wore it.

Brett would be ticked, and his feelings would be hurt, because he worked hard to pay for it, he wanted me to have it, because he loves me. The ring is already paid for, it’s already mine. Not wearing it would be like a slap in Brett’s face. He felt I deserved it, he wanted me to have it. He would want me to wear it.

Is not coming boldly to the throne the same thing? I don’t deserve that right, but Jesus wanted me to have it. He already paid the price. The gift is already mine. All I have to do is slip on the ring. All I have to do is boldly come.

And, these verses tell us, there is a matching necklace and earrings that go with the ring. Because I don’t just have the right to boldly come to the throne. When I do come, I receive His mercy, and grace to help when I need it.

God, today let me be a gracious gift receiver. Let me come confidently and boldly before you – not because I have done anything to deserve that right, but because you paid a high price for me to have that privilege.

Sisters & Siblings

Last week Brett’s Aunt Betty Faye passed away. She was my mother-in-laws last remaining sibling. These two ladies were the perfect example of what sisterhood, and siblings should be like. Up until just a few years ago that continued to travel together. Into their late 70’s and 80’s they would take off on trips to Florida together. Jump in the car, just the two of them and head out.

They were very protective of each other. They might fuss at each other, once in a great while, but you better have been ready to take on both if you were going to take on one. There were six siblings in their family all together, three boys, and three girls. These two were the youngest, and I think maybe a little younger than the rest. That maybe why they were so close. They lost their mother in their teens, or early 20’s which may have been another reason they were close, they were use to watching out for each other.

I know they were there for each other at different trying times in their lives. During the loss of loved ones, during heart ache, and struggles. They supported each other and counted on each other just like siblings should.

Both of these ladies have a deep love for God, and a gentle spirit about them. They both possesed the ability to make you feel comfortable and part of the family. Life and wisdom taught them not to worry about the things you can’t control, the little things that don’t matter.

One of my best memories of the two of them together, was a few years ago during one of the cousins converging trips. They spend an evening sharing stories of growing up, of what life was like when they were young, of hard family times, unhappy times, and good fun memories. It was fun to watch them relive memories together. One would fill in what the other one had maybe forgotten. I am fortunate to be a part of this family by marriage, I think we are called “hanger on-ers”, and I enjoyed it immensely, so I know it had to mean alot to the kids, and nieces and nephews of these two women.

I can’t imagine what it will be like for my sweet mother-in-law to go on alone without her sister, but I know she will. Because one thing they shared in common as siblings was that they are both strong women of faith, so even though my mother-in-law is alone without a sibling, she is never alone.

Thank you Aunt Betty Faye and Mom for being family matriarchs. For leaving an example of what sisterhood and siblings should look like.

Call or text your sibling today, tell them you love them. Start being that example if you are not already.

What If We Could VRBO Our Lives.

What if we could VRBO lives like we do houses? What if there was a web site where you could just go out and trade lives with someone for a few days or a week? Who would you choose? What would you look for?

There are always homes that I look at that I pass right by and wouldn’t want to stay in. There are lives that I wouldn’t want to stay in either, then there are lives that LOOK so much better than mine, that I want to try out. I can get caught up in lives that appear from the outside to be better than mine.

I use to watch the show Wife Swap, I thought what a crazy, stupid idea. I would never do that. But, by the end of the two weeks, everyone involved had a new appreciate for their own lives. A new perspective, a different look. I believe some even walked away with changes that improved their lives.

Some days I am just tired, or maybe just tired of being tired. I don’t want to get up and go through the same day again. I want to get up on my own, not by an alarm going off. I don’t want to go through my morning routine, get ready for work, have to dry my hair again for the millionth time. Travel the same route to work, even if it is only five minutes. Go to work do the same paperwork, the same calls, the same people, every day. Come home to the same chores and same responsbilities.

Wouldn’t it be fun instead to get up and be an actor, or a writer, a famous sports person, or a millionaire, someone who could just decide, today I am flying off to Paris for the weekend? I think what I am looking for, is someone who doesn’t have any daily responsbilities, or someone who can put them aside for a day if they want to.

However, those people probably have more responsibilities than I do. Their life may not be so routine, but they have alot more people counting on them, and alot more to keep on track of.

But, I know if I were to put my life out on VRBO, there would be people who would jump at it. People to whom my life would look like a breeze. People who would love the stability, the family, the routine, and community I have. People who would love to have a job to go to everyday, or a house and husband to come home to.

It is that reality, that there is always someone whose life is worse than yours. I saw a cartoon one time that had a race car, an old beat up car, a person on a bike, and someone who was in a wheel chair all in a row. The person in the beat up car is looking at the race car thinking I wish I had that. He doesn’t relize that the person next to him on the bike is thinking I wish I had a car. The person in the wheel chair is thinking I wish I could ride a bike. There is always someone looking at our life thinking I wish I had that.

When I think about that, there has to be somone whose life is at the bottom of the totem pole. Someone who no one would want to trade with. That person might be Jesus. Isn’t that ironic, that the Son of God, might be the person none of us want to change lives with.

I certainly would not want to be the person who lived a sinless life, who gave his all every day. Then was deserted by all of those around him. Betrayed by those closest to him. Someone who had never sinned, but willingly went to the cross for a world full of sinners. I am pretty sure I would pass right by his life on VRBO, but it should make me thankful for the life I have. It should make me want to remove my life from the VRBO board and live happily in it everyday.

God, today I am thankful for the life I have!

Examples Can Be Good or Bad.

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I believe one of the best ways to learn is by example. When I worked at Edward Jones, that was how we trained on the phones. When training, someone sat with you for a day or two, they listened in on your calls with you. They watched where you found the answers, they learned how to work the phone system, and they learned good customer service skills. Then they would take calls, while you looked up the answers for them. The next step was, they took all the calls while you listened, just in case they needed help. Once they were confident, and you were confident in their skills, they were ready to go solo.

So, you always wanted your best people training. You wanted your trainee to pick up the right skills, and the right habits. You didn’t want someone who slacked or cut corners. You wanted someone leading by example who did their best. Someone who gave the best possible service.

We can learn by good example, or sometimes we can learn by bad example. In Hebrews three, we learn from bad example, what not to do, verse 7 says, “Today, when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. They tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.”

It goes on to say, that God said, “I was angry with them, and in my anger I made a vow: They will never enter my place of rest.” God didn’t allow them to enter the promise land because of their rebellion, because they tested his patience. He provided and they still complained. For forty years He lead them, He feed them, He protected them, He parted the sea for them yet they wanted to turn from him.

The writer goes on to say, be careful, make sure your hearts are not following their bad example. Make sure you are not evil and unbelieving, don’t turn away from God, warn each other. Don’t be deceived by sin and hardened against God. If we are faithful, and trusting God we will share in that promised land. that place of rest.

Then it says one more time, “Today you must listen to his voice, don’t harden your hearts against him, as Israel did when they rebelled.” Twice in one chapter the author gives us the same warning. Don’t harden your hearts, as the Israelite’s did.

What does it mean to harden my heart? It means to choose my own way, it means to disregard what God says, it means to rebel against God. We have an example of what that meant for the Israelite’s, and it didn’t turn out good.

God, today let me learn by example, let my heart be tender and open and responsive to you.

Do Our Prayers Matter?

Last night after work, I joined a group of about 30 people from our church who went to pray for one of our members. William Kinley was diagnoised with cancer about six months ago. If anyone has the faith to believe God can heal him, I believe it is William.

William has been a part of Celebrate Recovery since CR began at our church. I can say that, without breaking any CR confidentiality rules, because William is proud to be a part of CR. He has used struggles in his own life to help others recover. In fact William has dedicated alot of his time and energy pouring into men and their recovery.

As we met, I was so excited to see cars keep pulling up, with men, women, and kids getting out. God says in Matthew 18:20 KJ, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” I like the KJ version, I like that it says there am I in the midst of them.

I have no doubt that as this group gathered to pray for William and Betty, that God was in the midst. I listened to men thank God for the impact William had in their lives. I listened to so many pray for strength, comfort, and healing for this husband and wife.

I know that many of these people are praying daily for William, and I know William knows that also. There was just something about a group of people standing with this family outside their home, on their drive praying.

I have no doubt that those prayers were a source of strength and renewing for William and Betty. However, they were also a source of strength and community for each person gathered there. I hope also that those prayers were a curiosity for neighbors, as we walked up I saw people looking out their doors. I pray that William’s neighbors stop and ask him what was going on. William won’t miss the chance to brag on His God.

I know William believes God has the power to heal him. I have prayed for so many who have had cancer. I prayed for an Aunt whom I was sure would be healed, yet God had a different plan. Just a few years later I prayed for her husband, my Uncle, whom based on the stage of the cancer when it was discovered, I had little hope. Yet, God healed him which I believe was a miracle.

When we pray, we have to not only believe God can, but that he will. If Brett says he loves me, but I don’t have enough trust to believe him, it doesn’t really mean anything. If I know God can heal, but I don’t believe that he will, then my prayers don’t really mean alot.

God may my prayers be prayers of believe. William, thank you for being an example of that.

How Are Your Fishing Skills?

This past weekend I went to Arkansas to watch my nephew, Justin, compete in a bass fishing tournament. What a great weekend. My cousin and her husband live on the lake where the tournament was, so I got to spend the weekend with them. The picture of the water is from their house, so after I got over coveting their home and gorgeous view I had a great time (lol). They were wonderful host and it was like a mini vacation for me.

The fishing tournament weigh in was pretty neat to watch. All these boats come in and their fish are in a bag. They were allowed to keep 5, but they had to be a certain length to be keepers. So as they weigh, teams are knocked out of spots when other teams have a higher weight.

As they were weighing the fish, the MC would ask the guys, what they used, what was their stratagey, where did they fish, did they fish deep or shallow. Who knew there was so much to fishing poppers, and jigs, and skimmers.

I thought about that and how fishermen learn. They listen to what others use for bait, they listen to where others fish. They listen to what kind of poles and line people use. They listen and they learn from others, especially those catching fish. They also practice, they prefish a lake before each tournament.

As I thought about this I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 4, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people.” Jesus calls us all to be fishermen and fisherwomen.

How do we learn to be good fishermen?

Just like the people fishing for fish. We listen, we study what they do, where they go, how they do it, and we study from the master, Jesus. How did he do it? He went to where the people who needed him hung out. He met their needs, he took time to listen to people, he spoke truth, and he loved them.

How are your fishing skills? Are you studying? Are you practicing?

Addiction-One of Satan’s Most Deadly Weapons

As our community wakes up this morning, they are waking to the news of the loss of one of their own. Not just anyone, but someone who has been speaking out about addiction for months now.

It breaks my heart and it makes me angry. It breaks my heart that this precious life is gone. It breaks my heart that parents are grieving the loss of a son this morning. It breaks my heart that a brother has lost a friend, and it breaks my heart that it would appear that Satan won this one.

It angers me. It angers me that Satan has such a devastating, and destructive tool of war in his arsenal. It angers me that this happens so often. It angers me that this is something that we don’t talk about enough, that we try and hide it in our families, but something that touches everyone. If I am totally honest, I ask God why do you allow this to happen? Every one of you know someone in your family or close circle of friends who struggle with addiction in their life.

Addiction is not my struggle, and I thank God everyday that it isn’t. I have watched it in lives in CR. It is a tight rope struggle every day. No matter how long someone is clean, a day, a week, a month, years, they walk a tight rope. Everyday could be that day your foot slips. Tight rope walkers often have a balancing pole, and in the lives of an addict, Jesus is that pole. Lay that pole down for a moment and your next step may be a deadly slip.

Today my prayer is that just like Joseph, what Satan meant for evil God means for good. I pray that all across our community today students are going to parents and saying, I need help, I can’t do this alone. That loved ones of people struggling go to people they trust and say, I can’t do this alone any more. My loved one is struggling with addiction and I need support, will you be there for me.

I pray that Celebrate Recovery groups(see my Celebrate Recovery page for info), and NA groups, and I am Second groups in the community are full this week. That people say I need accountability, I need help. That a friend will say, hey let me go to group with you this week and support you.

Most of all my prayers go out to the Morgan family this morning. May God’s peace and mercy pour over you.

God Doesn’t Measure Me.

My friend Elaine sent this to me last week or maybe even the week before. I have it on my laptap screen, and have been mulling (is that even a right word), it over for over a week. She sent it to me, because she knows me well enough to know it would hit a nerve, and she’s right it did.

First of all it’s Piper, and his stuff always makes me think. I like Piper, I like what he has to say, I like that I feel I can trust what he says. I don’t ever feel like he is trying to please anyone when he speaks. He just speaks the word. I like to hear him talk, he has a mezmerizing voice, and I was fortunate to get to hear him speak, at a conference in Minneapolis a few years ago.

I have been reading this one little sentence over and over for a few days now. Piper will make you do that. Mainly this hits two things I struggle with. 1. A to do list. I am a constant list maker, who thinks every thing on the list should get done. 2. Grace, even though I say I understand it, even though I know it, some days it slips through my fingers like sand.

These are both things I have struggled with for a long time, and I have come along way on both issues. I can now admit them and can see when they are starting to take over. There was a time when not completing a list would have sent me over the edge, it isn’t quiet that bad now. I can carry a list over to another day or even throw one out that isn’t completely crossed off.

Grace – grace is a favorite subject of mine. It is something I cherish, something I hold close, God’s grace, knowing that he loves me and that can’t be changed. His unmerited favor on my life. But this sentence brings a new element. God doesn’t just love me no matter what, he isn’t measuring me, how freeing is that? I measure myself every day, but God doesn’t. If God doesn’t, then why am I?

After contemplating this for a week I finally summed it up in my own words. This is what it says to me. “Be at peace, knowing that my to do list is not going to measure up to reality, but God isn’t checking that list and loves me anyway.”

Thanks John Piper.

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