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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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WT* IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE

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We are horrified and shocked by the beheading, crucifixions, executions and torture in the Middle East. It’s time we sit at the feet of our crucified Lord and intercede for the future of mankind.

Here is a recent post by Chicks on the Right about the beheading of James Foley to which I would like to reply. It’s a rather long post but I had much to say. You may not agree with my point of view and that’s OK. It’s my point of view and isn’t up for debate. If your point of view is in opposition to mine, write about it on your own blog.

WT* IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE! (Yes, it’s a strong language title, but worthy to this post.)

We have taken God out of everything and in doing so given an open invitation for the Prince of Darkness to become a ruling power on Earth. If there was ever a time to believe in Jesus, the Son of God, the Redeemer of this world, it is now.

“How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:23-24
“And you will be objects of universal hatred because you are called by my name; but he who holds out to the End–he will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

I think we can all agree that the United States is faced with universal hatred and people are falling by the sword all around us. Wake up America, the Prince of Darkness is waging a battle for your soul; for our nation. Even if you don’t believe in God’s prophetic Word, Satan does. He knows the return of Jesus is very near and he roams the earth like a wild lion to claim souls for eternal destruction.

Whose side are you on? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

The beheading of James Foley was a sickening and gruesome display of the pure evil of satanic forces that can inhabit the souls of mankind. In the simplest terms, I liken it to the good guy/bad guy war games played by my grandkids. There are the only two options. You either stand with God or with the enemy; there is no middle ground in spiritual warfare. The dividing line is made clear by scripture; you either believe Jesus died on the cross to redeem you from sin and accept His salvation, or you don’t. But Christians aren’t beheading, mutilating and killing people that do not believe in Jesus, the Son of God.

Muslin extremists don’t care if you are a Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Scientologist or any other known religion of the world. They have only one mission and that is for mankind to worship and submit to the laws of Allah. The words spoken by the executioner in the video of James Foley clearly stated that this execution was done on behalf of ALL Muslims, not just extremists.

The ISIS conversion fear campaign has become more widespread and now includes grotesque killings, mutilations, rape, crucifixions and living burials in the name of Allah. There are peace-loving Muslims living in my community, but as ISIS more aggressively infiltrates the Western World, and they will, that could change how we perceive Muslims within our communities.

If an extremist confronts my muslin neighbor with a sword and is told to kill a Christian or die, I’m fairly certain it would be my head on the chopping block. Think it will never come to that? Think again. Look no further than the mayhem in Ferguson to understand how quick a mob can increase in numbers when they believe they have a justified cause.

The catalytic reaction to exterminate Christians has been set in place; the only thing missing is the base and I believe muslin extremists are the base. Through fear tactics they will begin to fuel the acceptance of a ‘New World Order under Allah’; all in the name of worldwide peace, of course.

So to those who say the GOP should salute Obama’s handling of Iraq, I say this:
Obama is subject to God’s prophetic Word and it is Jehovah who will ultimately determine the outcome of the current situation in Iraq. I rest in the assurance that God is in control and the President and all other government officials are pawns on God’s playing board.

It is time for Christians in the Western world to cry out to in prayer on behalf of our country and also those Christians being persecuted for their faith. No one understands persecution, torture and death more than Jesus. If you are not sure how to prayer for our nation and the world situation, I offer this prayer:


And God said:
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Almighty and Eternal Father, we thank you for the inspiration and courage you gave to the founding fathers of our nation to establish a land where your principles and laws would guide us. You have provided for this nation mightily with every good thing but we have squandered your gifts and turned away from your laws and principles. Forgive us Lord. We acknowledge we have sinned against you and one another in every conceivable way.  We deserve your just punishment but plead for your mercy. (Nehemiah1: 4-11)

Grant us, the people of our nation, the grace to turn from our sins and return to you that we might be healed.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Savior.
Amen

God is faithful to His Word and shall accomplish that which He has spoken.
(Isaiah 55:11)

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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)

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PERFECTION PITY PARTY

Perfection Pity PartyI walked down the hallway to my office and called out, “What are you doing Olivia? We are supposed to be reviewing your spelling words.”

“I know, NeeNee, but I’m looking for the new box of pencils you bought last week.”

“Why do you need a new pencil? You have one in your backpack, just use that one.”

She responded, “I can’t use a pencil that has bite marks on it and missing half of the eraser. I need a new pencil so my spelling words will be perfect.”

With no time to analyze her logic, I sharpened a new pencil. I just wanted to move on with the practice spelling words so we could have dinner and get to Wednesday night Awana classes. Olivia positioned herself at my office desk with her newly sharpened pencil and a lined notepad.

“I’m ready, NeeNee; and just so you know, it’s OK if you mix up the spelling words.” With a flip of her hair, she numbered her lined paper. “I’ll let you know when I’m ready for the next word.”

It started well as I complimented her neat penmanship and correct spelling. That soon changed when I asked to spell the word ‘birds’. On Olivia’s first attempt she printed ‘brides’, then ‘berdes’ and the third and final attempt was ‘brdes’. The new pencil failed to produce a list of perfectly spelled words; instead, it revealed more practice was needed. My suggestion to re-write the misspelled word 5 times for practice was received with anger and frustration.

The next spelling word was ‘egg’. As I pronounced it, Olivia wrote the first few letters and then forced the tip of the pencil into the paper. The lead spiraled downward as a visible protest of frustration; in defiance, she threw the pencil to the floor and stomped out of the room.  The error of her misspelled word and desire for perfection immobilized her and sent her into a ‘perfection pity party’.

God isn’t interested in a perfection driven life.

Our Heavenly Father looks at life situations differently than we do.  Bite marks, missing erasers and broken lead tips are signs of effort to God.  Being the sharpest pencil in the box doesn’t earn us a passing grade in the eyes of God. It is our continual effort to practice the Words of Life that gets His attention.

I encourage you to think twice before you toss the instrument you have been given to pen your life story.  Those erasure marks that blacken our pages, those misspelled words that cause us to stumble and those bite marks of frustration are what enable us to see how a PERFECT God works through IMPERFECT people to fulfill His PERFECT purpose.

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THE HAMMER

Most will agree the hammer can be a very handy and useful tool. A nail, however, might have a differing opinion. To the nail, the hammer seems brutal and relentless as it pounds and drives each nail head into submission.

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Do you ever feel like you are the nail and God is the hammer?

I sure do. God has used His hammer on me more times than I care to count and there have been plenty of bent nails in the process. When nails take on a mind of their own and fail to submit to the blows of the hammer they can bend in any direction. The same is true of our life in Christ.  Our will is the nail beneath God’s hammer.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

When we bend, God takes the hammer from His tool belt and makes us straight again. God never grows tired of straightening bent nails; He is in the restoration business.

God allows us to be crushed by the blows of the hammer.

We all suffer the driving force of God’s hammer in our life. With each blow the silent hurts, disappointment and pain seem to intensify. We cry out, “Stop! I can’t take it anymore.” Yet, the hammer is relentless.

In profound depths of anguish we either learn to submit and develop the character of God, or become bitter and crushed by self-pity.

God’s hammer draws out qualities of greatness in each of us.

God’s hammer is designed to reshape us, not ruin us. When we are being hammered, it is difficult to see God’s hand in our heartache, failures and despair. But as we submit to God’s will, we get a glimpse of His ability to make something useful and beautiful out of the bent nails in our life.

Consider the worlds of A.W. Tozer:

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

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A WARRIOR SPIRIT

One of my favorite Bible characters is David. This was a man who had an adulterous affair with Bath-Sheba which he tried to cover up with murder. A man with critical flaws and weaknesses; a man whose firstborn son raped his half-sister, no punishment or restitution was demanded.

David’s camp was invaded, his wives and soldiers were taken captive, and his wealth and possessions …plundered. The Bible clearly portrays David as a serious sinner who was continually pursued by enemy troops his entire life.

You may wonder why a seemingly sinful, unworthy man would be my favorite Bible character.  I can answer in three words: His Warrior Spirit. He had a fighting spirit that rose up during times of trouble.  He didn’t wait for God to conveniently rescue and comfort him; quite the contrary. Instead David approached God knowing any victory in conquering his enemy and reclaiming his joy meant putting his faith in action.

“So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?”  And He (God) answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all. (1 Sam 30:8)”In scripture, God refers to David as ‘a man after His own heart’. I believe God gave David favor because he sought forgiveness and willing sought redemption. Even then, he wasn’t exempt from weaknesses or enemy attacks.

There were times when God told David to “pursue”, and he hesitated, times when God said “run”, and he would hide. Not unlike us, when called to action, his warrior spirit didn’t always surface. But one thing is certain; David was keenly aware that every victory over his enemy was due to God’s enduring mercy.

Like David, we all experience brokenness, hurt and loss. Indifference can keep us chained to our past. It’s easy to develop an attitude of, “I guess this is what I deserve” or embrace a ‘woe is me’ attitude. But God has called us to fight to the victory and He has equips us with the weapons needed for our (spiritual) warfare. God is more than willing, more than able, to help us in our battles if we are obedient to his Word and move forward in faith.

Don’t expect God to bring victory when your focus is on defeat.  He expects ours prayers to be aligned with action. As he puts us in a strategic position for victory and change, he expects us to exercise faith.

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:12)”

Is there a warrior spirit that stirs within you? Do you have a spirit like David that cries out in times of trouble and seeks the mercies and forgiveness of God? Or, do you lack resolve and hope God will magically rescue you from the consequences of your choices?

It is when we admit we are weak and powerless to help ourselves that God incites a warrior spirit within us. David’s moments of weakness were followed with humble repentance. When we are honest with God, we experience restoration and our soul is delivered from the misery of sin and are empowered to overtake the enemy.

“If Lord Jehovah had not been a helper to me, before a little while my soul would have dwelt in misery!” (Psalm 94:17)

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A CALL TO REPENTANCE

The adulterous marriage of US and Russia is in the works. They plan to wed and bed in an effort to ‘fix’ the Syria crisis. It seems our leaders don’t understand you can’t negotiate with evil.  Russia’s diplomatic ploy is self-serving. It strengthens Moscow’s ability to support the Assad regime. This marriage will conceive a demon that will further defile our nation and play our president like a puppet.

America’s choices are leading us into the hands of the enemy. When that happens, our land will weep and mourn before God.  Remember Him? The very God our nation abandoned.  The God we removed from schools, military and government. The God who said,

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)But also said,
“And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.” (Romans 1:28)

America, God is not mocked. When we banish God from our nation; toss morality to the wind and embrace a self-serving lifestyle God is no longer on our side, he does not stand ready to do battle for us. When a nation abandons and denies their need for God, we are defenseless against our enemies and will succumb to defeat.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).

God longs to restore, heal and bring favor to America. He continues to call us to repentance; but it is up to us to heed the call. As Christians, we should fall on our knees before God and pray for a spiritual revival, and healing for our nation. We need to lift America before the throne of God and pray that the halls of congress and the people of our nation return to God; that corruption be judged and removed.

“Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 1:2-3 RSV).

If our nation returns to God, He will be on our side; His word declares He will be with us.

“Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless. Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed. For God is with us!” (Isaiah 8:10)

Take a few moments today to pray for America; our President, members of senate and congress. Pray for forgiveness and ask that God give our leaders direction and guidance.  Confess before God that our nation has lost its spiritual balance which has reversed our values. Lastly, ask God to cleanse us from our transgressions, rebellion, and immorality and return us to one nation under God.