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GO FOR THE GOLD

medal-390549_640I watched each Olympic gymnast run down the floor mat and jump onto the spring board. They catapulted onto the vaulting table with calculated precision in preparation for a perfect dismount. They knew every twist, turn and flip of their body could cost them a medal.

Countless hours of training had placed these athletics in a position to compete for the gold. They were disciplined, dedicated and driven to succeed in this competition but even that didn’t guarantee victory.

Slips of the foot on the balance beam, out of bound dismounts, body alignments and falls were critically judged. It required total perfection to win and every mistake or miscalculated move would be deducted from their final score. Pardon or favor by the judges was not an option.

I am not an Olympic gymnast nor do I participate in competitive events. However, I do train, practice and take part in Christian living. It is an affirmation of faith that requires a lifestyle based on Biblical principles.

Like Olympic gymnasts, there are times I make mistakes, lose my footing and fall. In those nebulous moments, I question the futility of my Christian commitment and wonder how many more times I can fail before being eliminated? The answer is NEVER.

In Christian Olympics there is only one judge that determines who receives the gold and His name is God; Elohim, (Creator and Judge of the universe). With divine knowledge God judges the actions, spoken words and hidden secrets of our hearts. All mankind is a participant and the only way to win is an admission of our unrighteousness and an invitation to make Jesus our Savior and Olympic coach.

To accept Jesus into your heart means imperfections are forgiven; they are no longer counted against you. The blood He shed at the cross covers the curse of sin. Like the Apostle Paul, the finish line is the Olympic goal of every Christian.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing. 2 Timothy 4: 7-8

Feeling defeated today? Are you ready to give up because you’ve lost your footing on life’s balance beam? Maybe you’re faced with life changing events that have caused you to lose your grip or have fallen from grace and overcome with brokenness.

Whatever your story and wherever you are in your faith, the Righteous Judge is near. He longs to show loving compassion, forgiveness and pardon from all your ineffectual attempts to participate in life without His help. He stands ready to coach you to the finish line and award you the crown of life.

“He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

The trials that test our faith are more precious than gold. So, go for the GOLD!

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My Avenger (El Nathan Neqamah)

venganceJonathon Wild was a notable thief and master manipulator. He appeared to be on the side of the law by offering London police his assistance in finding stolen goods, but he was the thief.

Wild ran a gang of thieves who kept the stolen goods and waited for the crime to be announced in the newspapers. He would then claim that his agents had found the stolen goods and return the items to the rightful owner for a reward.

The story of Jonathon Wild is just one of the many betrayal stories recorded throughout history. Even the pages of Scripture are no exception . Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss of death; King Saul sought to kill David even though David had served with loyalty. The Book of Judges shares how Delilah betrayed Samson’s when she allowed the Philistines to shave his hair.

Our first response to betrayal is anger and to seek our own form of revenge. Licking our wounds isn’t an option; we want a payback and we want it to be worse than what was done to us. In the case of Jonathon Wild, his duplicity eventually became known and he was hanged before a massive crowd. Forgiveness wasn’t an option to those he betrayed.

For Christians, forgiveness is the only option when others deceive and fail us. It isn’t our job to take revenge. We are called to forgive in the same way Christ has forgiven us. That’s a bitter pill to swallow when every fiber of our body cries out for vengeance. It might feel good for the moment, but when we react on our own, we are essentially telling God we don’t trust Him to handle every situation.

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV)

Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God and when He exacts revenge it is done objectively. Our biased opinion isn’t needed to determine just recompense. God needs us to let go (forgive). If we can let go of the experience and our desire for revenge, we can move beyond the betrayal. The negative emotions associated with the betrayal may remain unchanged and that’s OK.

The act of letting go helps us look past our hurt and anger and resign our case to the final jurisdiction of El Nathan Neqamah* (The God Who Avenges Me).

Is it time for you to let go and trust God to right the wrong?

*Play for Pronunciation

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MY CUP OVERFLOWETH

PoppyJuice“NeeNee,” shouted my youngest grandson at the top of his lungs, “I poured too much Poppy juice into my cup and it spilled all over.”

The grand kids coined the term Poppy Juice when they were old enough to drink from a sippy cup. It’s a blend of red fruit punch that Poppy mixes in a big jug; should it spill, you have one big sticky mess with a good chance it will stain whatever it penetrates.

I’m fairly certain permanent wheelie marks were left on my office floor as I flew out of my office chair in the direction of the kitchen. What I saw was a panic-stricken six-year old on his knees with paper towel stretched in every direction in an effort to stop the trail of red juice that covered the floor.

“I’m sorry, NeeNee, I didn’t mean to put that much in my cup.” The remorseful and tearful way in which he spoke those words resonated with me. In that moment, I saw myself at the feet of Jesus asking for forgiveness.

I can’t count the number of times my life’s cup has overflowed and required heavenly intervention and damage control to mop up my bad choice messes. Like my grandson, I tend to ignore the voice that continually calls out to be slow and careful and I find myself saying, “I’m sorry, Jesus. I wasn’t slow and careful like you asked. and my cup overflowed.”

With love and a forgiving spirit, my grandson and I worked together to bring restoration to a chaotic and messy situation. That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. When we cry out for help, He comes to us with love, mercy and forgiveness to clean the stains of sin that overflow from our life.

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Though we fall short of God’s glory, He made provisions to restore His glory within us through the cross of Jesus. He stands ready to restore our life messes and lead us in the paths of righteousness.

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THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE

overcomeevilI am a friendly person by nature. My husband has always joked that I could strike up a conversation with the devil. Well, recently, I did just that; unknowingly.

The woman had an energy level that put me to shame and for those who know me well, that’s a daunting comparison. All the signs of an bi-polar person not taking medication were evident from the get-go, but I ignored them.

My ‘giving’ disposition took the reins in an effort to mentor this woman toward business goals, that in the end, she would never realize.

Long story short, I had met the devil in disguise and all those red flags I had sensed were really the red horns of deceit and betrayal. This person had a hidden agenda to suck the life and money out of me and others; only, to discard us by the wayside in search of new prey.

What this so-called friend (turned enemy) didn’t know or understand is the protective power of God’s Word that surrounds me day and night. As a Christian and child of God, I know the wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing will be revealed in due time. Not my time, but God’s time.

Many of you reading this post may have encountered a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On a daily basis we find the enemy of God using others to cultivate destruction and devastation to Christians around the globe. Christians needs to rise to the occasion and pray daily for those who are spiritually blinded and being used unknowingly as instruments to orchestrate the eradication of all things JESUS.

In the meantime, my husband and I are pursuing all the legal avenues to reclaim lost business possessions and continue to prayer this person will allow God to claim her soul for something of true purpose.

 

“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered.”
Psalms 68:1

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
Matthew 7: 16-20

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DUCT TAPE, GLUE AND BOX CUTTER

IMG_3530Three rolls of duct tape later my grandson, Fischer’s, Minecraft costume was complete. The duct tape seams were hidden by Minecraft paper I had Modge Podged onto cardboard boxes. My little buddy was going to be delighted with his homemade Halloween costume. I even lined the costume head and neck area with felt for added comfort.

The outside appearance of the costume would surely bring many oohs and aahs from my grandson’s classmates; the interior of costume was a whole other story. When the costume was removed, the inside was a mishmash of colored duct tape, glue and jagged-edge incisions of a box cutter.

Fischer didn’t care about the inside appearance of his costume; as long as the outside looked impressive to others. What he didn’t realize is that once the costume was removed there was no way to hide the patchwork of ugliness found on the inside.

I wager each of us has worn an impressive costume in life in an effort to hide the hurts, scars and sins we don’t want revealed. I will be the first to step forward and say, “I have.” In fact, my life closet includes several different costumes for various occasions. IMG_3532

There are more duct-tape, glued and box cutter incisions in my life than I care to count or talk about with anyone other than God. His grace and mercy covers the scars, hurts, losses and sins I hide from others. Day by day He renews me from the inside out and strips away the many impressive layers of my multiple costumes.

What costumes do you wear to hide what’s beneath the exterior surface you present to others?

IMG_3533

Perhaps your life is duct-taped because of alcoholism or drug addiction; or held together with glue from the scars and pain of a divorce, or the loss of someone you love. Duct tape comes in my colors to fit every life moment that we try to patch up or hold together on our own.

I encourage you to talk with God. He doesn’t just patch us up; He restores, recreates and renews us into His likeness. And just for the record, God doesn’t wear costumes.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17&18

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TAKING INVENTORY OF ‘STUFF’

movingI will be moving a portion of my business to Washington State next month. In preparation, workers have been sorting, counting and boxing inventory for the transition. I liken it to a major spring cleaning project as we sort through ‘stuff’ my business has accumulated through the years.

We must sync the task to the arrival of the moving truck. As luck would have it, it happens to be one of the hottest and most humid weeks of the year. Even though the workers complain of the heat, they willingly wipe the sweat from their faces so we can get the job done.

There is another moving day in the not so far future; the destination is Heaven. In preparation I am sorting through all the ‘stuff’ my soul has accumulated over the years. I am amazed at what a deep clean of the soul uncovers. Hidden in the cobwebs of my past was bitterness and a unforgiving spirit about failed relationships.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to search our soul, an accurate inventory is revealed. Hidden things are brought to light; broken parts discarded or repaired; all the unnecessary ‘stuff’ we hoarded gets buried beneath the cross.

Does your soul need a deep cleaning by the Holy Spirit?

There is a limit to how much ‘stuff’ I can take in the moving truck headed to Washington State. There is also a limit to how much ‘stuff’ I can take with me to Heaven. Bitterness, anger, hatred, unforgiveness and envy are things that keep my soul weighted to this earth; as does jealousy, deceit and selfishness.

“When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].”
Ephesians 4:26-27

If you want your soul to take flight to Heaven then pack it with love, peace, understanding, forgiveness and hope. Allow the Holy Spirit to shine a search light into all the nooks and crannies of your soul and rid you of the ‘stuff’ that keeps you weighted down.

You can harbor and hoard things in your soul and be grounded at touch-off; or, lighten your load to ensure an upward departure.

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WHEN WRONG IS RIGHT

rightwrongYou lose your job, your spouse wants a divorce, the promised job didn’t come through, you face a debilitating disease; these are just a few examples of what life dishes out to us. None of us are free from disappointments, heartache, and grief or health issues. However, we are free to determine how we will accept and manage our life situations.

I have come to accept there are times when a wrong is right. Consider this:

A spouse files for divorce, you’re barely able to make financial commitments and overwhelmed by the injustice of it all. Maybe you’ve been unfairly fired from a job; unable to provide health care or an income for your family. There are times in life we are wronged for all the right reasons; God’s reasons.

Like it or not, our life operates in a God-ordained cycle and every choice we make affects us in a positive or negative way. Yet, there are times we encounter situations out of our control; when choices made by others impact us in negative ways and we are powerless to change them. I call them life’s “wrong is right” moments.

Sometimes wrong things happen for all the right reasons even though we may not understand those reasons; but in the end, the wrongs work out in our favor. That is so like God. He takes our ashes and turns them into something of beauty; He turns our mourning into joy.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
“…I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

Have you been unjustly wronged by someone? Look to God to make the wrong a right. Lean not to your own understanding and trust Him in all things because His ways are not our ways.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)