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HOW TO OUTSMART A SQUIRREL

peskysquirrelI jumped from my chair as I heard something crash to the ground outside my office window. My eyes followed a long strand of twine being dragged across the deck by a small squirrel. He had gnawed through the twine that held my wine bottle vases in place along the upper deck rails. The crashing sound was the bottle as it hit the concrete below.

I shouted out, “Get out of here and don’t you even think about coming back!” The critter scurried off and I resumed my office work. It wasn’t long before I heard another bottle drop from the deck and then another.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered under my breath. This squirrel was on a mission of destruction and my decoupage wine vases were like soldiers under attack. I had spent countless hours decorating these bottles and this squirrel was showing total disrespect; and for what, a piece of gnarly twine?

The pesky little squirrel had declared war and I was not to be defeated. As he proudly perched next to his latest victory our eyes locked. “You are going down,” I said. With a ball of wadded twine in his mouth he made unidentifiable vocal noises and ran in a westward direction.

Squirrel was making a very comfortable, luxurious and rent free condo at my expense. A building permit or squatter rights had never been granted. This infringement had to be stopped and I had a hot game plan to make it happen.

I mixed my hot pepper concoction on the stove and put it into a spray bottle. “Taste this, you little squatter,” I said as I sprayed the twine with the fiery jalapeno mixture. Did it work? You bet. Squirrel discovered a whole new meaning to the term squatter rights.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with a devotional blog; let me share.

Every day our enemy, Satan, is on a mission to seek and destroy our life. He continually gnaws on the very thing that secures us to God; our faith and he makes every effort to claim squatter rights to our soul. He is determined to break the ties that bind us to God’s grace and finds great pleasure when we fall.

When the enemy starts to gnaws at your life, take action and apply God’s fiery concoction of His Holy Spirit peppered with the Word of God. Satan is defeated when you apply God’s Word to your heart and mind.

As for the pesky little squirrel, I haven’t seen him since he tasted my fiery concoction. I guess he decided to not come back for seconds.

“In your loving kindness scatter my enemies, and destroy all those that afflict my soul; for I am your servant.” Psalms 143:12

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CHRISTIAN TAILGATERS

tailgateI am an opinionated woman, with strong moral, political and religious beliefs. Imagine that! I bet you are shocked.

When close friends and family members share opposing views, it’s OK; I take no offense (unless you are a member of some extreme group who behead and kill for religious differences). It is refreshing when views and opinions are not in agreement with mine because it indicates you have likely taken time to investigate the facts to form your own opinion.

It annoys me when individuals tailgate on the opinion of others while they contently sip on a cocktail of misinformation. Certainly we all know at least one friend or family member who embraces all things posted, written or shared online (or offline) about a topic they know nothing about.

Anyone can form an opinion, but the ability to defend that opinion is what separates a tailgater from a player. Without a solid defense of facts, you will never enter the playing field.

The news media has a monopoly on the information they feed to us. Sadly, we form our opinions based on constant news feeds influenced and purchased by those with a political agenda. If you disagree with that, you have your head buried in the sand and you should probably keep it there.

We are at the mercy of the media and their power to exacerbate or diminish newscasts at will (or under the direction of higher powers). It becomes difficult to seek the truth with so many hidden agendas. Perhaps this is what has given birth to a generation of ‘informational tailgaters’; Christians included.

So how do we find truth amidst all the news hype being presented 24/7, hidden political agendas and deception thrown in our face daily? For me, the starting point is the BIBLE because it offers hope, not just for today, but for eternity. Even more importantly, God’s Word makes us accountable to a higher power who rules with truth and grace.

Christian tailgaters will never enter God’s playing field until they align their views and opinions to God’s Word rather than the popular opinions and views of today’s world. The only way to do that is to read and research the Book of Truth. Only then will you know when you are listening to the Voice of Truth.

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Psalm 119:160

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REPURPOSED FOR LIGHT

DRILLBITI listened to the sound of the diamond drill bit as it edged its way through the porcelain saucer. The drill bit had a mind of its own and would quickly jump out of position if the right amount of pressure wasn’t applied at just the perfect angle. To make it even more complicated, this particular bit type required a constant stream of water to keep it from overheating as I drilled.

It was time-consuming to drill each hole needed to create the teacup and saucer lamp base I hoped to create from old china purchased at a flea market. The local glass company quoted a cost of ten dollars for each drilled hole. “Drilling into porcelain china is risky,” said the owner, “it takes two people ten minutes and we can’t guarantee against breakage.”

There were seven china pieces that needed holes for the lamp cord; $70 was more than I wanted to spend on a $4 flea market find. “I can do this myself!” But as I listened to the drill bit grind into the glazed porcelain, I wondered if I had possibly underestimated the skill level of this project. Maybe I needed the guidance and help of someone who had done this before.

I patiently continued to give the drill bit a water bath as it bored its way through the center of the saucer. Before long, the saucer spun around like a carousal gone mad and a circular opening was revealed. When I threaded the electrical cord through the hole, it was a perfect fit.

Jesus is the diamond drill bit in our life and we are the porcelain china into which he makes an opening to house the electrical cord (His Word) to light our darkness. He is skilled in the amount of pressure to apply to prevent breakage and He knows when it’s time to refresh our souls with cool water.

God’s workmanship is slow and steady as He re-purposes us for something greater. Whether you are a fine piece of porcelain china or a flea market find, the Master longs to water us with His Word and make us into something new.

Are you willing to let God pick up His diamond drill bit and make an opening in your heart? God stands ready to thread a cord of light into that opening and keep you from walking in a path of darkness.

 

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
Psalms 119:105

“Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
John 8:11

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INSECURITIES

insecurities_by_seekeroftheholysporkI battle with feelings of insecurities; maybe you do too. Those times when you compare yourself to others and in doing so, experience a dignity crushing, self-reducing kind of insignificance. It’s not exactly a pity-party but close to it. When we compare our accomplishments, personality traits, work skills or creative talents to another; we reduce our value in the sight of God, the creator of all things.

Those close to me are surprised to find I am not always as confident as I might appear. My outgoing personality and creative pursuits paint a picture of complete self-confidence in all that I do. Not true! I fight daily against feelings of inadequacy and insecurities.

What has helped me most is knowledge of who I am in Christ Jesus. Simply put, I belong to God and am loved by God. I am a resident and citizen of something greater than my insecurities, past and inadequacies. The only validation of my self-worth comes from above.

All of our failures, inabilities and comparisons are buried at the cross. Everyone is significant through the eyes of God; He views our imperfections much differently than we do. God sees our insecurities as opportunities to grow us spiritually. Through our inadequacies, He reveals grace is made perfect in our weakness.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 12: 9-10

When we see ourselves through the eyes of the world, we may seem insignificant. When we see ourselves through the eyes of God, we understand we were purchased by the blood of His son, Jesus and are more than conquerors.

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LIVING IN DENIAL

denial

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. –Reinhold Niebuhr

Long before Facebook, I wrote a monthly newsletter for the cousins on my mother’s side of the family. We have all remained close in heart through the years, but separated by distance. The newsletter was a way to stay connected with each other and share memories from the past. It was a great idea until an aunt sent me a past memory to post in the newsletter.

I included her story in one of the newsletters. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from a family member who was offended by the story. They felt the writer had darkened the real truth. In anger and hurt this person was quick to accuse me of deliberate misrepresentation of the true story.

It seemed both the storyteller and reader had jaded memories of the published story. The real truth will never be known because neither person was willing to change their perception of the story. They chose to live in denial of the truth.

Sigmund Freud defines denial as:

A psychological defense mechanism used when a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

Living in denial can be dangerous and can interfere with your ability to tackle challenges. When you refuse to acknowledge a stressful situation or problem and find ways to minimize potentially devastating long-term consequences, you are in denial.

It’s OK to say, “I can’t think about all of this right now.” Sometimes, we need time to work through and adapt to something that has happened or life changing circumstances. But, this should only be a temporary measure as we work toward the reality of the situation.

There are times in life when the truth hurts, makes us angry and forces us into denial. We run but can’t hide from the truth. Jesus makes it very clear that it is the truth that sets us free. It opens our eyes, ears and heart to accept those things we cannot change and to work through the challenges before us.

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

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INSIDE OUT RESTORATION

IMG_2823
I returned from a ten-day trip to Northern Italy exhausted and exhilarated; exhausted because of the long journey, and exhilarated by sites I had only seen in travel brochures or read about in history books. It was a lifelong travel dream with many ‘pinch me’ this can’t be real moments.

Words or photos cannot portray the beauty of the many cathedrals I visited or the emotions that surfaced each time I touched buildings and sculptures that dated back to the Byzantine era. As I stood in the center of grandeur palazzos with thousands of other tourists, I was overwhelmed by how small and insignificant I seemed in comparison to the backdrop.

The massive cathedrals embossed with gold mosaics, jewels and artwork from ancient times have immeasurable value and are irreplaceable. Many buildings are in disrepair and being renewed continually to preserve the integrity of their foundation.

That is how God works with us. No matter the backdrop of our life or how much we are in need of repair, He lovingly works to preserve our foundation. As we stand in the palazzo of life surrounded by the masses and feeling insignificant, He whispers

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (ISV)

Jesus stands ready to renew us from the inside out. Our souls are irreplaceable and have been purchased by the immeasurable value of the redemptive power of His blood. No one is insignificant or small against the backdrop of the cross.

We are not so unlike the crumbling facades of the many ancient buildings burdened by the elements of time. It is only after the exterior is stripped down to the original foundation that the true damage can be assessed and repaired.

Jesus stands ready to erect the scaffolding needed to renew you from the inside out. He will power wash the accumulated dirt from your soul, restore the foundation on which you stand and renew you to your former glory.

God is in the restoration business!

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TIME TO BE RENEWED

renewAs I prepare for an upcoming trip to Italy, I find myself spinning around in every direction. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done before I leave. As I race against the clock, stress hives (that itch like crazy) have taken up residence all over my body. To me, they are a divine indication that my mind, body and spirit need to be renewed by my Creator.

It’s so easy to take on too much at one time and I’ve never been one to pace myself. I tend to jump into umpteen different projects all at once within an unrealistic time frame. Part of it is my personality type, but the rest is a stubbornness that refuses to listen to the quiet inner voice telling me to slow down.

Yet, even in my stubbornness God continues to patiently urge me toward a time of renewal and He is not above presenting physical signs, like my hives, to warn me it is time to back away from life situations. My creator knows when it is time to allow my mind, body and spirit to be renewed by Him.

God divinely notes when we are in a life overload moment. He remains persistent and lovingly directs us to the foot of the cross to find mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Today, I find I am way overdue for a renewal, perhaps you are too. If God is calling you to step back from the chaos that currently surrounds you, then take time to meet with Him. He can empower you to move forward with renewed strength in both body and mind.

“…they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)