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Jesus: The Feng Shui of my Soul

water-1525798_1280The consistent rhythm of lapping water against the lake’s shoreline is a harmonious and soothing Feng Shui blend to my soul. I need that right now. I am continually amazed how God uses nature to enlighten and direct our thoughts to find tranquility in His divine creation amidst life’s adversities.

Every one of us has been a casualty, even if only temporarily, of a life story that has an unhappy conclusion. God knew that from the beginning of creation which is why He sent Jesus to save us.

Our eternal redemption was secured with every droplet of blood spilled at the base of the cross, but that sacrifice never guaranteed life on earth would be without heartache. Even Jesus didn’t escape the hardships and suffering of this world.

In our moments of distress, when we feel lost and alone, Jesus is our Feng Shui. He listens to the inner cries of our heart, brings a balance that enables us to move forward even in our deepest moments of anguish and sorrow.

Are the lapping waters of your life’s shoreline bringing waves of defeat or waves that create?

Waves of defeat bring  debris to the shoreline of life. Waves that create, clear the water’s edge and wash life’s debris into God’s sea of forgiveness.

And so, as I listen to the lapping water, I choose to cast out the debris that contaminates my life and embrace the harmonious and soothing Feng Shui of God’s forgiveness. In the process, His redemptive grace cleanses my shoreline view. so I can see clearly; I can see Him instead of the adversity littering my shoreline.

Prayer for Today:

Lord Jesus, help me to look beyond my adversity and seek peace and tranquility in the shoreline of everyday life. Cause me to seek you in all things with the knowledge that every lapping wave is purposed from above.  Allow me to see that my reaction to those waves will either create a new shoreline view or obstruct it when I give into defeat.

“seek God…he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:27

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Never Wrong: The Sorry Never Comes

never wrongThere are those individuals who will never admit they are wrong and when challenged, they dig their heels in even deeper with a combative attitude which often leads to total denial of words spoken or actions performed.

An apology from a husband, wife or friend for unwarranted explosive behavior may never happen. Their ‘I need to be right and won’t back down’ situation is transformed into something entirely different through their eyes.

Phrases like, “I never said that,” or “I was calm until you raised your voice,” aren’t uncommon when a Mr. or Mrs. Right recalls and replays a confrontational moment. I think all of us have friends or family members obsessed with the need to be right at all times and in all things. It is tough on marriages, friendships and employer relationships.

Encounters with a person who is never wrong can deplete us of every emotion except the one that exacerbates the situation: Anger. Through personal life experience, I find the always right persona is often coupled with a tutorial of: If you had done it my way.

Maybe you are the person who is driven to always be right. Or, perhaps it is a spouse, family member or close friend. The reality is it’s a difficult place for all concerned. Each has their own set of coping skills and behavioral reasons that I call ‘help me Jesus moments’.

Aggregated layers

A culmination of life experiences and stories shape our life. Some we willingly acknowledge while others are laid to rest in the abyss of stories with bad endings. Bad ending stories have a way of resurrecting themselves at the most unexpected times and trigger a reaction.

Reactive behavior is a first response in the process of trying to gain control and look for someone to blame. It has a way of peeling away layers to reveal an alter personality that isn’t always becoming.

How to live and cope with an ‘I am never wrong and won’t say I’m sorry’ person?

I pose this question because many stories have been shared with me in confidence that echo these same relationship issues. Seems it is more common than one might think but most won’t openly talk about it because it provokes emotional/financial repercussions, disbelief, blame and shame from others.

As I sit here overlooking the lake and listening to the sound of boat engines and barking dogs, I want to believe life is simple. But it’s not.  I don’t have answers to the countless contaminates that dominate this world because of sin. I don’t have answers to the attitude of I’m never wrong and a sorry will never come that seeks to tear apart family relationships.

What I do know.

Tomorrow, when I awake, the sun will rise. Chances are good that it won’t be a perfect day. Chances are even better that I will encounter a confrontational moment with an ‘I am never wrong’ person. Odds are it will involve a conversation with God about what He needs to do to fix this person.

God’s reply will be the same: My child, today, I am working on you. My grace is sufficient to perform every good work… in my time.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God, keep me from bitterness and disdain for those that have the need to be forever right. Be near and keep me calm when I want to fight back with words that I will later regret. Remind me that my imperfections need your grace as well.

“Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal;” Romans 3:23

Amen

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Dirty Lenses

dirty_lensesWhen our lens on life becomes clouded and smudged with the filth of this world it’s hard to keep our eyes on where God wants to lead us to fulfill His purpose. The same is true of the 50-plus pair of eyeglasses I own that have fingerprints, dirt and spatters of who knows what that obstructs my vision to see things clearly. I’m amazed I manage to get through the day, drive my car or see the screen of my iPhone and not notice my dirty glasses.

The perception of our circumstances is altered when viewed through dirty lenses and over time, we tend to acclimate ourselves to the dirty filter. Sin is like that. We don’t see the fingerprint smudges of sin in our life unless we hold the lens of our heart up to the light of God’s Word.

I do my best every day to avoid touching my eyeglass lenses, but those efforts prove futile. When I hold them up to the light at day’s end, I am surprised at the accumulated smudges and smears clouding my view.

I liberally spray them with water and use my handy-dandy cleaning cloth to wipe off the filth and my view of the world suddenly changes. Images appear sharper and I can focus with greater clarity.

Our Christian walk also requires daily cleansing to avoid the contamination of this world. Failing to do so will dramatically alter our view of what is right and what is wrong. Dirty glasses influence our perception of current cultural trends and popular opinions and hides God’s from our view. It’s the proverbial, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Are you in a place where you need God’s living waters to wash your spiritual glasses and His word to be your cleaning cloth?

“Show me the right path, O LORD ; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalms 25:4

God can’t point out the right path if we’re looking through dirty lenses. We must allow the Word of God to wash away the daily grime, crude and filth that this corrupt and sinful world throws at us to successfully walk in the paths of righteousness.

Today’s Prayer:

Dear Lord,

When things within this world cloud my vision give my spiritual life a serious wipe down and deep clean with the washing of your Word. Let me never lose sight of your eternal purpose for me when I choose to clean my glasses and seek the right path.

“Wash away all my evil and make me clean from my sin!” Psalms 51:2 (GNT)

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The ‘Forgiveness’ Cocktail

forgiveness.pngThe indisputable truth about an unforgiving mindset is it can (and will) cripple our life spiritually, emotionally and physically. God desires us to be Christ-like in every area and since He has unconditionally forgiven us, I’m pretty certain He expects us to reciprocate forgiveness to others.

“But, you have no idea what he or she did to me and my family!” No, I don’t. I can only speak about my own life circumstances. I’ve had to drink the ‘forgiveness’ cocktail more than once.

Let me share:

Once upon a time I married my prince, or so I thought, but he was actually a toad incognito. Let’s call him ‘Dick’ to protect his identity.  Sidebar: This person is NOT my daughter’s father who remains a good friend to this day.

I gifted this prince my heart. In return, he gifted me a secret life of strip clubs, porn, drugs and lies. Imagine going to work and a co-worker shares, “I’m pretty sure I saw your husband at my in-home nurse visit today. He seemed to be living there.”

It all proved true. Dick’s out of town commercial paint jobs were really nights spent with the ‘other’ woman… or at strip clubs. Once his secret life was exposed, Dick never returned home and the IRS lien notices soon followed. My prince had defaulted on his quarterly business taxes and our home was about to go into foreclosure.

Call it bad choices, ignoring the obvious signs or being blind-sided. The truth is life happens and the ending doesn’t always play out like Hallmark movies.

In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means “to let go.” My translation would be closer to this:

I can ‘let go’ after you suffer alive as body parts are dissected for science; or, you experience a forever erection and acquire a disease that requires a lifetime catheter. Yep, you should get what is due you for my pain and suffering.

But then, there is God and His mercy. Hard to ignore when we look at the cross and realize we didn’t get what was coming to us.

“Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage; stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred.” Ephesians 4:31 (NIRV)

God’s ‘Forgiveness’ cocktail doesn’t mean you condom the offense. God forgave King David of serious sins (murder and adultery), but David still suffered the consequences of his actions even after asking for forgiveness. We aren’t the judge and jury for how the actions of others impact our life.

“Let go of anger and abandon rage.” (Psalms 37:8). To partake and reap the full benefits of the ‘forgiveness cocktail’ we must let go.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis.

I had one brief encounter with Dick after he abandoned us. It was at his mother’s funeral. He gave no indication we had ever been married and shared an intimate relationship, but that’s OK. My decision to forgive rather than retaliate has yielded 23 years of marriage to a man who more than makes up for the guy I thought was my prince.

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord, help me to remember Colossians 3:14:

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Remind me that your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Guide me into the freedom of forgiveness. I praise you for the work you are doing in my life, teaching and perfecting my faith.

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The ‘Anti-Anxiety’ Cocktail

Overshare_HavingEverything_V1What triggers anxiety in your life? For me, it is stress that is self- induced by taking on more projects than I can possibly handle. It is difficult for me to tell others I can’t do that, be there, or help you solve your life dilemma.

A close second in the stress arena is being a passenger in a car on the expressway. Sounds crazy, I know, but anxiety grips every part of my being when I don’t have control of the driver’s seat. Your anxiety triggers may differ from mine, but the feelings of angst are the same and can have crippling effects.

Scriptures gives us the following solution to our anxiety woes:

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, 7 then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:5-7 (TPT)

“I can do that!” said no one ever.

It’s the application of the above scripture that proves problematic and challenging. Let’s take a look at what this scripture is really suggesting we need to do to overcome the anxiety issues we encounter daily with or without meds.

  1. Accept Jesus as your Savior is the first step. Without Him, you are powerless to overcome anxiety or anything else that impairs you to live life to its fullest.
  2. “Be saturated in prayer throughout the day…”
    Yep, that is what the scripture tells us to do. Really, God? Who has time for that when life is happening and I barely have time to put a meal on the table when the kids get home from school. Read these words carefully, you don’t have to be on your knees to pray. God is Omnipresent, He is everywhere you are. He is with you in your drive into work, at your kid’s baseball game, while cleaning the house or hanging a light fixture. ‘Saturated’ in prayer means talking to God on the go.
  3. …” offering faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude.” OK, so God is telling us to have gratitude and faith when pulled into the abyss of anxiety. It looks that way. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has determined that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  4. “Tell Him every detail of your life.” Are you suggesting I make God my personal therapist? Absolutely! As we communicate and admit to God that we need His help, He will orchestrate every detail of anxious moments. He will make the violins of our workplace and the flutes of our home life make perfect harmony. God’s wonderful peace transcends human understanding but only to the degree that we allow Him to work without our obstruction. The anti-anxiety cocktail is dependent on our dependence on Him.
  5. “Then, God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” WOW! That scripture alone should make us want to seek God in all things. For some, meds help with anxiety issues, me included. However, saturating myself in communication with God in daily prayer and seeking to find gratitude in all things helps me find peace when anxiety overcomes me.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God, when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? But you do God and for that I am thankful.

You stand ready to battle against every anxiety that seeks to destroy my peace in you. Help me to immobilize any anxieties as I talk to you in the moment. No one knows me better than you. I trust you to redirect every arrow of anxiety I experience to the throne room in Heaven.

Thank you, Jesus, for caring about every detail of my life.

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The Perfect Cocktail

coppa-martiniDo you know the Bible has the perfect cocktail for every situation in life?

Bartenders are aware that the most important rule of mixology, the rule that supersedes everything else, is that balance is everything. The same is true in your Christian walk with Jesus. Forget about a splash of this scripture or a splash of that scripture.

To grow in God’s grace, we must look deep into His Word to truly understand and receive the balanced life Christ intends for us to enjoy.

We are quick to assess our Christian cocktail based on needs. A couple parts of joy mixed with a little kindness and love; we throw in a pinch of mercy for good measure. Or, I’ll take two shots of a miracle, one shot of peace, followed by three shots of forgiveness.

If only the Christian walk was that simple. It’s not! Bible cocktail recipes are based on sound doctrine and principles. We can’t just throw things into a shaker and expect it to yield a perfect and balanced Christian life.

The right cocktail of scriptures mixed with prayer is the only way we find balance for whatever weakness, need or struggles we face.

What does God’s perfect cocktail look like for you?

I invite you to visit my blog (DeniseMarksBlog.com) every Monday and Friday for the next five weeks as I share my thoughts on God’s perfect and balanced cocktail for our imperfect life situations. God truly desires for us to find consistency, balance and divine intervention in all things.

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God Doesn’t Need Us

21bb469bd758a78d363986998129d056Contrary to what you might think, believe or been taught, the truth is God doesn’t need us. He is already all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. He isn’t a God who needs anything, and that includes us. He doesn’t need our faith, our prayers, our love, and He doesn’t need our praise.

Some have suggested God created man because He needed someone to love Him or He needed someone to love. False truth!

He is the creator of all and He is above all, as the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:24-25,

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands; And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

We Are Arrogant

God has plans that are better than we have for ourselves but we think we know better. We dismiss him until finding ourselves in need or in a hopeless situation. We can’t remember the last time we read our Bible or actually pursued Him with all our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37). But the minute we find ourselves in dire straits we look to God for an easy bailout. We treat Him like He’s a Genie in the bottle ready to grant us our three (selfish) wishes.

But God Never Listens

God is always listening, but we aren’t.  To truly find answers and help from the Lord, we must search our spiritual heart. Is there anything we aren’t doing that He told us to do? When we repeatedly hardened our heart to His call we stop listening and become obedient to our desires, not His.

We Need God

As depraved, in-corrupt people we have nothing to give to God, but yet He wants us. Left on our own, we would have never gone to Him. He came to us for our need, not the other way around. We can understand and appreciate Him more for who He truly is, and for all He has done for us when we fully digest that God loves us.

Consider this:

God sent His only Son to die a horrific, painful death on the Cross even though He didn’t need us. He did it because He knew we needed Him. That’s love, that’s grace, that’s mercy and that is mind boggling. God doesn’t need me, but He WANTS me. He wants me to see my need for Him. He wants me to desire His ways, He wants me to seek after Him and He wants to spend eternity with me.