This passage was in my morning reading….

And Peter followed at a distance.  The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there.  A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!”
But Peter denied it. “Woman,” he said, “I don’t even know him!”
 After a while someone else looked at him and said, “You must be one of them!”,
“No, man, I’m not!” Peter retorted.
About an hour later someone else insisted, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.”
 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

While I’m the first to admit that denying Jesus is a big deal, I want to think about this another way.

Remember, he had just recently declared that Jesus was more than a teacher and much more than a friend, he was indeed the Messiah.  (Matthew 16:16)

When questioned, he’s not just denying the man known as Jesus. He’s not denying the carpenter he took fishing. Or the guy that he had dinner with last night. He’s denying the truth that was revealed to him by God.

Now you might be thinking that you would never deny truth of Jesus Christ as boldly as Peter did. But what about those little truths that God has whispered into your spirit?

Jesus said that, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

What if you're so busy denying the truth that it can't set you free? 

Since this is a blog about aligning spirit, soul/mind, and body. Then I’ve got to ask you these questions….

  • What do you know that you should be doing to take care of yourself but you’re not?
  • Are you holding a grudge?
  • Is there some stinking thinking that you need to change?
  • Are you eating things that you know are harmful to your health and self-esteem?
  • Do you find excuses to get out of daily exercise?
  • Is there someone you need to forgive?

 

 

 

Acting ugly….

Hank and I had lunch on Saturday in a restaurant that has been in business for more than 40 years! That’s a long time to be feeding people! This restaurant only serves breakfast and lunch and we arrived at the end of the day.

When I asked our waitress how she was doing she told me everything! Over and over she said that it was getting harder to serve tourists. Obviously this is making her job incredibly difficult because  this restaurant is on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach and 99% of her customers are tourists.  (Thomas Drive  is so iconic that Luke Bryan sings about it in his song Roller Coaster.)

I didn’t have to ask her why she felt this way because she was more than willing to tell me.  She said that tourists are impatient, irritated, and annoyed.

And then she asked the question that I ask when I’m standing in line at the deli counter, Why do people act ugly when they’re on vacation?

Let me just tell you this… if you or I act ugly when  on vacation, at the gym, or driving in the car then we are not living in the peace that Jesus gave us.  People, circumstances, or situations don’t steal our peace. We are more than willing to give it away the moment things don’t go our way!

We sigh, roll our eyes, and make demands. Truth be told, we want  the server, cashier, or  employee  who’s being paid to make us happy to be as miserable as we are. Isn’t that how so many of us see it – it’s their job to make us happy?!?!?

And what about our friends and family who are sitting at the table with us? Or the  people who are standing in line behind us? Our bad behavior has agitated, annoyed, irritated, and frustrated them and now their peace is G-O-N-E!

That’s why I’ve started praying everyday for the peace of God which passes understanding to fill my heart and mind! I remind myself that Jesus gave me peace and I get to choose how I’ll give it away…..I can give it to the devil by being easily agitated, irritated, annoyed and frustrated or I can share this perfect peace with those who don’t have any of their own by being loving, kind, gentle, and patient.

And, since this is a blog about aligning spirit, soul, and body, I need to tell you that I often forfeit my peace by choosing to eat foods that I know are not good for me. In the past few weeks I’ve fallen back into old habit of drinking sweet tea, eating sandwiches with real bread instead of salads, and sharing ice cream cones with Hank. Even something as simple as regretting what I ate is giving my peace away.

According to My Jewish Learning, shalom or peace is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect and this is definitely the extreme opposite of annoyed, agitated, irritated, frustrated, or regretful!)

What will you do with your peace today?

15279-john-14-27-nivAnd the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Philippians 4:7 

and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Ephesians 6:15 

 

 

 

 

Bad habits can last til the day we die….

IMG_0088(2)
Granny @ 90!

Hank’s mom has been staying with us for the last few weeks. She’s a Southern Baptist 90 year old who takes very little medication, walks on her own, reads her Bible out loud everyday, takes her exercises, and works puzzles like it’s her job.

She is aware of what’s going on politically and during the republican debates told us that “they shouldn’t talk that way” because I’m an old lady.

Of course, at 90, she loves to tell us stories about early life and, usually, we are more than happy to listen.

She is very serious about how she looks. She’ll get up at five o’clock in the morning to get ready for the ten a.m. service at church. She’s not going to leave the house without her makeup and hair done.

And I admire that. But there is one thing that I don’t admire about my mother-in-law and that’s how poorly she views her body. She’ll say things about her “big ole’ stomach” or how her ears are “getting huge!” The other day it was a hot and humid Florida day and she complained about wearing short sleeves because of her “ugly old lady arms.” And she wears knee-highs even when it’s a 100 degrees outside so that no one sees her “terrible feet.”

Rather than celebrating her strength and how mentally alert she is, she’s complaining about her looks!

What I’ve learned from listening to her is that we don’t automatically outgrow our negative self-talk. In fact, it can become such a habit that we continue it until the day we day.

Personally, I’m doing everything I know to break that nasty habit. For me, it begins with reminding myself of these truths:

I am created in the image of God!

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….. 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

I am wonderfully made!

Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

That’s the spiritual side of kicking the enemy’s butt in this area.

Hank helps me with this because he told me that I should never, ever point out flaws that he doesn’t see. And seeing as his eyesight is growing older along with the rest of him, he doesn’t see as much as he used to. At least not up close!

The last part of this breaking this habit is to go back to obeying one of my mom’s first rules. You remember this because you learned it too!

When you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say anything at all!

Yeap! Sometimes I just need to shut my mouth and move on!

Almost a year…..

one-yearIt’s been almost a full year since we moved from Gallup.

I spent the first few months feeling incredibly guilty about leaving. And then I spent a few months convinced that I had failed God, Gallup, and myself.

I’ve always viewed life with a pass or fail mentality. And for me, failing was anything less than an A-. So, closing the church definitely put me in the absolute failure category.

Since we left Gallup, I have visited a lot of churches. In the beginning, when I went into a new church, I’d think we did that or wonder why never tried doing it that way. Maybe if I had been more like this pastor then I would still be a pastor instead of  a visitor. Honestly, one time I went to a church and thought that the whole reason we didn’t reach the level of success that I believed for was because I couldn’t sing. You see, the pastor’s wife at that church is an amazing singer and leads praise and worship. Maybe if I could have at least  played the piano things would have been different???????

But in the last few weeks something has changed because I’ve started seeing things differently.

God has been speaking to me that he saved me to be his daughter not his servant. Think about it for a moment…If God only wanted servants then why would he create mankind? He already has devoted and obedient servants that he calls angels. These angels did not require the sacrifice of the cross to put them in a position of service. They were, are, and always will be doing exactly what they were created to do —- serve!

Angels are never called children of God.

Up until recently I believed a lie. I believed that God loved me because I was doing his will. I believed that God had created me for a purpose and if I failed to fulfill that purpose then I was failing not only myself but I was failing God. And if I was failing God, then what use did he have for me?  I was living life as an indentured slave because I had totally forgotten that serving God is in it’s simplest form an act of love.

Jesus said, “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35-36

These are the truths that God has been speaking to set me free…..

  • God knit me together in my mother’s womb because he wanted a daughter.
  • God rescued me from physical death time and time again because he loves me as his daughter.
  • God doesn’t need me to do anything but live as his daughter.
  • God allows me to participate in his will because he enjoys spending time with his daughter.
  • God’s purpose for my life is for me to live as his daughter.
  • God wants me to enjoy all of the benefits that come from being his daughter.

Since coming to understand and accept these truths, I am able to change my perception of the past and my expectation for the future.  No longer do I feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I no longer accept responsibility that was never meant to be mine. I choose to see serving God as the privilege of participating in the wonder of who He is as my father and as just another opportunity to spend time with Him.

Living life as a daughter makes the promise that Job received be true for me too…..

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.*

*“Adonai blessed Iyov’s later situation even more than his earlier one.” Complete Jewish Bible. 

 

How old are you?

My two and a half year old loves to say no to anything that she does not want to do. She’ll tell you no when you ask her if she wants to eat. Ask her if she needs to potty and the answer is no. Ask her if she’s ready to go to bed and she gives an emphatic no, no, no!

And she hates hearing it as much as she loves saying it. My daughter tells me that my little princess can throw a royal tantrum when she’s told no.

Aren’t we just like her? Think about it for a moment.

Our love/hate relationship with the word no has caused us to gain weight, be out of shape, go into debt,  destroy relationships, and walk away from God.

No means that we can’t have our way and, like any two and a half year old, we absolutely hate not getting our way.

Liberty is a child and has someone who will back up her no with discipline but we don’t. We’re adults. We get what we want even when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s bad for us. We have money and can drive so we can go and get what we want when we want it. We can eat whatever we want. We can charge it if we can’t afford it. And if someone gets in our way, we can leave them because they’re not making us happy.

With God, we throw royal tantrums when he tells us no. We question if he’s real. We throw his promises into his face as demands. And if he still tells us no, we walk away because he’s not any use to us anymore.

Like a two and a half year old, we think that no‘s sole purpose is to deny our desire and we don’t like that at all!

For a moment, think about this from a parent’s perspective. Hannah is telling Liberty no because she’s loves her. She knows that cookies for breakfast are not a good for her. And pooping in your pants is just gross. She tells Liberty it’s time for bed because she needs rest to grow. For Hannah, no is another word for love.

And it’s the same for us. Remember, I wrote about loving yourself awhile back.  If we truly love ourselves, we can harness the power of no and come to understand that we are not being denied, we are being empowered!

 

 

self-acceptance

How many of us accept ourselves as we are? Maybe it would be better to ask, “how few of
us accept ourselves as we are?”

I struggle with this because I fear that if I ever accepted myself as I am then I would become stale and stagnant. I’d stop trying to become a better version of myself.  I think I would give up and give in to life as I know it instead of searching for ways to experience the abundant life that I’ve been promised.

For me the better option may be loving oneself. And I’m not talking about selfish or self-centered love. I’m talking about loving oneself like we  love family, friends,  or  neighbors.

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 Loving oneself allows the pursuit of  abundant life. Loving oneself prevents accepting things as they are and encourages each of us to seek out the best that God has promised in His word. Loving oneself encourages positive change and leads us on the journey of becoming who we are created in to become in Christ.  Loving oneself demands that we dethrone the goddesses of doubt, despair, and discouragement and give ourselves the love, joy,  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and  self-control  that we wish we could give to others.

Loving oneself demands that we take care of ourselves. We feed our bodies nutritious foods, we exercise, and we schedule sleep so that we can have the physical strength to enjoy God’s creation, our families, friends, and, quite simply, the life we have been given.

When we love ourselves enough to receive God’s best, we have the strength to give it away.

When I was a pastor, I accepted people as they were when the first came to Christ. There was no condemnation for past choices. Yet, I never wanted them to stay the same. I wanted to see every person become a better version of themselves and to live a better life then they had ever experienced up to that point.  I wanted to see everyone around me reach their full potential in Christ and in the world we live in.

And I want that for you and me too.

Scripture References:

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

 

Identity found….

I went to church yesterday. I’ve been to this church before and I really like it. I think it’s because its a bible study with worship. Nothing more happens. And right now that’s exactly what I need. Honestly, I think it’s what the church needs…… the word and worship.

Anyway, he taught on the following passage found in Hebrews 10:

What I remember most from his sermon is this,  Jesus completed the work of the cross and became the final sacrifice so that your  identity can be  God’s child. Your identity is loved by God.

identity-in-christ1 My identity isn’t lost. My purpose isn’t to teach. Or to write. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to bring me into relationship with the Father. He didn’t do it to make me a better writer. He didn’t go to the cross to give me a purpose to fulfill God’s will. He went to the cross to make me God’s daughter.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to earn my identity in the kingdom when it was mine all along. My identity isn’t author. My identity isn’t teacher. My identity isn’t pastor. My identity isn’t blogger. These things are not my identity nor are they my purpose. They are gifts that God gave me to enjoy. They are just like sewing,  quilting, reading, and going to the gym.  All of these things are just a few of the ways that God has allowed me to share the goodness of who He is in accordance with the talents he gave me. God doesn’t have me in a cocoon of transformation to make me into anything new but to teach me to rest in my one true identity and that is His daughter.

The purpose of purpose is to be fulfilled not to fulfill.

Hebrews 10: 1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,  but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings  you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—  I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them   after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,   and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he adds:“Their sins and lawless acts  I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.