Thursday, December 9, 2010

Broken to be Used

Many years ago, my grandmother gave me a stunning set of glasses and explained to me at the time that they were over a hundred years old. Since then, Grandmother has gone on to be with the Lord and the glasses have held much more meaning because of it. While I have tried to take special care of the glasses, there have been a few painful accidents. Last week while I was cleaning the cupboard out, one of the two only remaining glasses slipped out of my hands and broke into tiny pieces. I was crushed. I stared at the remaining broken glass and decided, maybe, just maybe, I should sip some water out of the last glass. At least I could feel like I had used one of them. I savored the small sip of water, admiring the beautiful detailing in a way that I had never done and carefully placed the heirloom on a high shelf where it was less likely to be broken but more likely to be used—even if I just took a sip of water every year or so.

This really caused me to think about how often and easily we discard things when they’re broken. I’ve also been thinking about how God does the complete opposite if we trust in Him when we’re broken. Just like it took three of my glasses to break before I thought about using the one that was left, I know that many of us are the same way. We may not appreciate and/or use some things until we experience loss. Moreover, we may not be useful for God unless we are broken.

In Matthew 18, the disciples ask Jesus who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus answers, unless “ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4). We know that God is not telling us to be childish, but He wants us to humble ourselves and our selfish ways. Matthew 23:11-12 goes on to explain that “he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” These verses are important to remind ourselves of what our spiritual position should be because our flesh so often resists this.

In fact, I believe that God often allows trials, obstacles, and tribulations in our lives to compel us to let go of our pride and selfishness. Brokenness can be a position of great value and usefulness in the kingdom of God. While the world doesn’t place high value on humility, God considers it to be highly desirable and necessary for His children. God can work through us when we have let go of our own agenda and motives. Often, it is only when we are at our wit’s end, at rock bottom, that we will truly search and hear God’s voice with a willingness to obey.
One of my of my favorite scriptures is John 12:24. Jesus explains, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Jesus is not only prophesying about how through His death, many will live, but this verse also illustrates the importance of each of us dying to self. Again, when our selfish attitudes and prideful ways are broken, He can use us to serve and draw others to Him.

Jesus says, quoting from Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath appointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4: 18). Through Jesus, we have access to overcome any brokenness, lack, sickness or insufficiency. As we all know, Jesus came to save the lost. He came to heal the sick and brokenhearted. Jesus heals and delivers us, and in turn, we are instructed to become useful, advancing the kingdom of heaven.

God could discard us when we’re broken, much like Jeremiah probably expected the potter to do with the broken pieces of marred clay at the wheel. Instead though, just like Jeremiah witnessed, God reshapes us and remolds us when we are repentant and obedient. We can be used in miraculous ways, no matter what the trial, no matter what the test. If God allows us to be broken, He can use us to bring Him glory. It’s really up to us to decide if we’re willing to go through the process of brokenness to be used by Him.

As we go through this Christmas season, let’s remind those who are sad, lonely, sick, or depressed. God is sovereign, and He has a purpose and plan for allowing their pain. Isaiah 61:3 says that the Lord will give “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Christmas Blessings,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Anointed to Write--Right?

The anointing is a word that many church folks use a little too freely. It’s almost become an ‘in’ word to use, if there’s such a thing. It seems that everybody calls somebody anointed to do this or that. Sadly, gifts and talents are often confused with a person being anointed to do something. Let’s be real. If all the people that say they’re anointed were really operating under and in it, this would be a changed society. While I don’t claim to understand all that the anointing entails, I do know that it is a crucial component to effective ministry and changed hearts and lives always follow those who operate under God’s anointing.

While doing some studying on anointing oil and how it was used by Moses to anoint Aaron as the first High Priest of Israel (Exodus 29:7), I also learned that the oil was used to dedicate all the priests. The oil was used as an outward display of God’s power and Spirit residing in a person. Miracles, supernatural power and strength came as a result of God’s anointing resting upon a person.

There is no better example of the anointing than “[H]how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). However, scripture also has numerous examples of everyday people who were used supernaturally by God to transform lives. Whether it’s Abraham, Moses, Joshua or Elijah in the Old Testament or Paul, John, Timothy, or Matthew in the New Testament (just to name a few), God’s Word is packed with evidence of how God’s anointing empowers and equips.

As Christian fiction writers, it is our responsibility to position ourselves so that God can use us. Positioning ourselves means that we love God first. We study God’s Word and pray about everything. We realize that we all make mistakes, but through Him, we can endure and overcome obstacles, temptation, and adversity. Our motives for writing must not be tainted by selfishness of any kind. Otherwise, it’s impossible be an anointed writer. The anointing implies that we are under God’s complete control. Just like the ointment that flowed down Aaron’s beard and garments, the anointing covers and saturates us with His glory. When we write under His anointing, He enables us to do what we are unable to do within ourselves. Furthermore, anointed writers are focused on the mission to serve God and His people.

I am keenly aware of how it feels to be writing under the power of the Holy Spirit and when I’m not. There are times when my tears spill onto the keyboard and my fingers won’t move fast enough on the keys to get out what I know the Spirit of the Lord has given me. Other times, there is a boldness that overtakes me, giving me the courage to say what is right, something in my flesh I would be too fearful to write. Yet, there are other times when the calm and peaceful Holy Spirit gently guides me to reassure and console with a message directed by Him. I must add that just because a person is saying, doing, and yes, even writing the “right” things, it doesn’t mean it’s anointed. I know, because just as I’ve experienced writing under the anointing, I have written the ‘right’ thing without the anointing. The result is that while it might be entertaining or possibly intellectually stimulating, it is likely that there will be no catalyst for change, no real and lasting effectiveness.

Of course, the obstacles to operate under God’s anointing are real. For example, when I think about what others want to read and what will sell books, I am quenching the Spirit, stifling the possibility of writing under the anointing. As a result, I’m also limiting my possibilities, my peace, my joy, etc., and robbing someone else of the potential of being delivered and set free from whatever has them bound. The anointing really does destroy the yoke and set the captives free. God’s anointing is pure; no hidden motives or agendas lurk just beneath the surface. The anointing is productive and cuts through the mess and gives you immediate, unrestricted access to the throne room, the dwelling place of the most high.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, teacher, preacher, or brick layer, God desires each of us to build up the kingdom of heaven by operating under His anointing, His total and complete control. Whatever material gains a person may get by using his or her own plan, direction and discretion, will be temporary. As cliché as it sounds, it’s what we do for Christ, not ourselves, that will last.

On one final note, I recently heard a message by Pastor Creflo Dollar that has remained with me. I can’t quote him exactly, but he said that it is impossible for the anointing to be present where love is not. Our love for God and for one another has to be present. Recently, I met a very popular gospel singer, and I was shocked by how rude she was. She had done a session on singing under the anointing. Her demeanor differed dramatically from what she had professed onstage during my brief encounter with her. Yes, she could’ve been having a bad day, but we always have to be mindful that we’re representing Christ. There is just no way someone can operate under the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit and lack love.

We can’t do anything, including writing for Him, without our total surrender and dependence on Him. He is the One who enables us to love, and He is the One who enables us to write under the anointing. Why not examine yourselves with me this week? Let’s all make sure that we are really anointed to write or to do whatever it is that He has called us to do.

Blessings and Love,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Problems: Opportunities in Work Clothes

While running errands, I passed by a small unassuming church, and in the middle of the impeccably manicured lawn, the church message board read: “Problems are opportunities in work clothes.” Honestly, my thoughts were, “Yeah, right.” “Whatever.” Still, the little message has been ringing in my head, especially since lately I’ve had an onslaught of “opportunities in work clothes.”

Whether we like it or not, problems and obstacles have a way of holding a mirror up to ourselves and revealing our real selves to us, blemishes and all. When we aren’t where we need to be in Christ and there are no real problems or obstacles in our lives, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are the reason for any good things that have happened to us. We can attribute our success to our work ethic, great mind, or wonderful connections. On the other hand, when adversity strikes this type of Christian, they can be quick to ask God, “How could you let this happen to me?” “Why me, God?” Honestly, I know this Christian because I have fallen into this bad behavior and thinking many times. I’ve experienced the meltdowns when things are looking hopeless and bleak. Like Rueben in the Bible, I have had bouts of being “unstable as water” (Gen. 49:4). No matter what worldly accomplishments and achievements a person makes, a Christian cannot excel spiritually and be truly productive with character that is marred with instability.

Conversely, when you encounter a Christian who is truly anchored in the Lord and has overcome adversity with the realization that God is their only source, traces of pride and arrogance are never detected. I Corinthians 15:8 says, “be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” This verse is small but packed full of ammunition for the believer to fight problems and overcome obstacles.

We must be steadfast and unmovable. In a world that changes opinions, beliefs, and positions constantly, believers are commanded to be consistent and unchanging. There is no greater challenge for us to show how sovereign and good God is than to remain steadfast and unmovable in the face of adversity. We have to rely on God as our source in all matters. We must choose to exercise our faith and trust Him at all costs. This means that we are guaranteed to look unreasonable and foolish to the world. Still, we are called to be consistent and unchanged by relying on Him. It can’t be done apart from Him.

Whatever work we do, our vision for ourselves must always be in line with what God’s work is for us to do. With that God-given and inspired perspective, problems really can become opportunities for us to show others who God is and what He can do through faith. We have to use problems and adversity as a stepping stone to perfect us and mold us into being more like Him. If we resist, kick and scream at the problems, we will remain stagnant. We cannot produce unless we are connected to Jesus and His living Word. I can attest that His Word has literally breathed newness into so many bad situations. Like a breath of fresh air, His Word cleanses, restores, and renews.

Even while typing this, I have tears rolling down my cheeks because too often I haven’t trusted Him with problems. However, there is not one single time when I have trusted Him that He has let me down. Not one. God is faithful. I don’t know who this is for, but I know that God wants you to trust Him. Believe that He is sovereign and that He reigns forever. Let go of it and truly let Him take control. Your problems are only an indication of how God can demonstrate His greatness in your life.

Trusting Him with You,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Desperately Seeking Wisdom

As the mother of three boys, on a daily basis I am asked questions like, “Hey, Mom, have you seen my binder?” “Mom, where’s my belt?” “Have you seen the charger for my DS, Mom?” Even my two year-old chimes in now, asking, “Mommy, where blankey?” I respond in a typical Mom fashion, instructing them to look here or there to help locate the missing item. I have discovered that they have much more enthusiasm and motivation to find things like the DS charger or a football than let’s say, their belt or binder for school. Lately, it’s really caused me to think about how much we diligently seek the Lord in all of our daily decisions and actions. Do we only have a zeal for God’s direction and wisdom in a crisis, or do we seek Him with a steady diligence and determination everyday?

It’s important to start by being honest. After all, Joshua 24:14 says, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth.” I’m ashamed to say that often I find myself making decisions first, and then consulting the Lord later, hoping He’ll put his stamp of approval on my plan. This, however, is not how we are to seek the Lord’s will and direction for our lives.

The Queen of Sheba strikes me as a person who was intent on seeking after wisdom. She had heard about Solomon’s wisdom, but she wanted to find out for herself (I Kings 10:1-13). She was so serious about seeking wisdom that she took a large caravan of camels, gold, and jewels, determined to find out if this man she had heard so much about was truly wise. When she reached Solomon, she asked him “hard questions,” baring her heart and soul to him.

The Queen of Sheba traveled many miles to seek out Solomon’s wisdom, and her hunger and thirst for wisdom was quenched. Equipped with God’s wisdom, Solomon answered all of her questions. In fact, she responded after their time together, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighteth in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee a king, to do judgment and justice” (I Kings 10:8-9). What strikes me here is that she had witnessed that the wisdom of the Lord through her encounter with Solomon, and she discovered that Godly wisdom causes people happiness and peace. Most of us strive to be happy and have peaceful lives, and the Word gives us evidence that God’s wisdom is a principal factor to happiness and peace.

Godly wisdom must be sought after by studying and meditating on God’s Word, spending time praying and fasting, and seeking fellowship with other like-minded believers. How can we know if we possess Godly wisdom? How can we know if others have it?

Quite simply, Godly wisdom is revealed through our conversation, actions, and choices. James 3:13 explains, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” Again, the words we speak, the decisions we make, and the actions we take can show us if we truly possess Godly wisdom. Love, peace, and mercy follow the wise.
In the parable of the pearl, Jesus explains that “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found on pearl of great price, went and sold all he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). The merchant didn’t settle for anything but the best, and he was willing to sell all he had for the one pearl of great price. Likewise, we must be willing to seek Godly wisdom and the kingdom of heaven with everything we’ve got. We also have to be willing to lose everything in exchange for the things of God. There are no compromises.

A lot of times, we want the wisdom, blessings and direction of God without truly seeking Him, ready to give up any and everything that would separate us from Him and His will. There are no shortcuts.

Just like we can tear up the house to find missing keys or frantically search through the mall or grocery store to find a missing wallet or cell phone, we have to have this same level of enthusiasm for seeking the things of God.

Is there something missing in your life? Whatever it is, make a resolution and a renewed determination to seek the kingdom of heaven first and His righteousness. As the Word tells us, then all the other things will be added.

Seeking With You,

Friday, August 20, 2010

All We Really Have to do is Obey by Guest Blogger Marvin Lawton

We are blessed to have Brother Marvin Lawton, one of the members of Abiding in the Vine, contribute a very timely message about obedience. I think you'll find his message to be honest, humorous, and insightful. Be sure to drop him a line on the Abiding in the Vine message wall (It's not too often we hear from the brothers.). Enjoy!

I grew up in the typical urban ghetto plagued by drugs, gang violence, roaming stray pit bull dogs, and the list goes on. And despite being very fortunate to be reared in a two-parent household, the desire to give into these external temptations was ever present. Like most Christian parents, they knew that keeping me in church was the best combatant to my urban environment. Of my many fond as well as quaint memories of growing up in the “hood”, the most prolific was my church experience.

I was brought up in holiness (shout out to all the COGIC folk!) whereby church was more important than school. Heck, even as a lad they made us fast so much I could never figure out why we had any obese people in the edifice! Like many kids we played church, laughed at the women who danced out their new hairdos every Sunday, and slept in the back during the weeknight service in lieu of doing homework. But soon, I too had that same religious experience at the ripe age of thirteen that once tickled me every Sunday morning via the rhythmic stomp of stiletto pumps enshrined by the long skirts of those holiness women. It happened to me at a Sunday school convention in the summer of 1988. The details of the experience aren’t as important as the instant and more importantly, reflective change that took place. After going back to the hotel room to have my first legitimate prayer with God, I began to ponder how could I return home earnestly showing this wonderful change that had taken place in my life? At the time, although I knew I was going to evangelize the good news to all my peers, my main concern was how could I be a witness in my parents’ household? It wasn’t like I had a job, a car or driver’s license for that matter; nor did I have a means of paying any bills. The word God gave to me was to simply go back home and “Obey”. As complex as I wanted the exhibition of my change to be, it really was that simple. As a child, the only real tool I had to be a witness was to obey my parents. So I did just that; from thirteen to adulthood my parents never had to raise their voice, punishment became a foreign word to me, and the only whooping that ever took place was maybe when I beat them in a board game or Scrabble (that one is for you Marita!!).

The above account is the prelude to a simple devotion on Obedience. In John 21:15-17, we find Jesus asking Peter the same question three different times. He told Peter to “Feed my sheep.” If we examine the passage more carefully, noticed He prompted Peter by asking if he first loved Him? Many of us could empathize with Peter’s frustration of being asked the same question over and over again even from the Savior. But what Jesus was trying to convey was the fact that God doesn’t need us to show Him love by what we think is good, instead love Him by doing what He asked us to do. If your wife asks you to spend time with her and watch a movie once a week, a husband shouldn’t go by her a Louis Vutton purse in place of not spending that time with her (although I’m sure the ladies would give you a pass with that gift!).
Like the example of me being a lad and adhering to my parents wishes, so should we be with God. Think about it, we may have the means of doing certain things as human beings, but in regards to God what can we really render? He’s omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. Like the congregational song we sing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands!” Outside of receiving salvation, following what He already put in His word is how we exhibit our love for God. Being chairman of the deacon board is great and associate youth pastor second assistant is a wonderful position of service within the church body, but if we are not living according to His Word it’s null and void. As a single male, I do a pretty good job in trying to keep the basic ten on a daily basis, and for the most part my primary battle is with that “thing” in the words of Lauryn Hill. But conceding to that struggle or giving into temptation in exchange for being the musician, trustee, custodian, and church security guard does not make it okay. God would rather I be a basic member and walk upright before Him than hide behind my self-glorified good works.

Not too long ago, I updated a Facebook status that read something like this: “You gotta love church! They let you have any ministry as long as it’s for the Lord…I’m thinking about starting a beat boxing ministry!” As cynical as it sounds we all know how true it is. Churches now have sewing ministry, baking ministry, prison ministry, dance ministry, children’s ministry, and even aerobics ministry! I honestly believe that it’s a blessing to have an environment where Christians can use their diverse gifts and talents for God. Along with edification of the saints, when done properly these ministries have drastically changed lives and improved many of our urban communities. At the same time, we should not let these ministries overshadow our fundamental responsibilities as Christians. Many times we get entranced in building a better church culture, but forget to be basic followers of Christ. Have you ever found yourself wondering if you are in God’s will? What is my purpose in life? Is this decision I made really of God? The answers to those questions lie in the simple yes or no answer to if you are obeying His Word. Are you feeding His sheep? We can debate over the Old Testament ten, but Jesus saved us the headache of the ongoing ecumenical discussion by giving us a new commandment that “we love one another” (John 13:34). Obedience is the true will of God. There’s really no need try to complicate it with our own zeal or doctrine. I strongly believe it’s the reason we always frustrate ourselves in trying to “hear God”. We are too consumed with trying to listen for something He gave explicit instructions to do a long time ago!

So although I know that a song rendered from my beat box ministry will probably never supersede the morning message in place of the praise dance ministry (that’s comprised of the pastor’s daughter who counts on the one instead of the two messing up the routine every Sunday!), I have a peace in knowing that as long as I OBEY God I am in His perfect will. And although I’ve made some decisions based on me trying to hear God, the true reality is that I may never hear Him. Life is not what it’s supposed to be, it’s what it is. But as long as we continue to do what He told us to do over two thousand years ago, which is to love thy neighbor, we will always be in His will and be pleasing to our heavenly Father. Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Be Blessed,
Brother Marvin Lawton

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Does the Black Church Really Keep Black Women Single?

I got an e-mail from a friend who forwarded a CNN article to me that really has me fired up. In fact, this devotional blog is going to be very “out of the box” for me but hopefully relevant to some. I have extracted the gist of the article by Liane Membis below, but you can read it for yourself at:

"Cooper, a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, recently made claims on her blog that predominantly black protestant churches, such as African Methodists, Pentecostal, and certain denominations of Evangelical and Baptist churches are the main reason black women are single. Cooper, who is black and says she is not strictly religious, argues that rigid beliefs constructed by the black church are blinding black women in their search for love."

The article also includes a statistic that 55% of African Americans “interpret scripture literally.” Of course, the implication is that those of us in this group are misinterpreting the Word of God by striving to live our lives according to it. A few in the article further suggest that women are limiting their potential for relationships by having high biblical standards (being equally yoked).

To say that “[r]igid beliefs are blinding black women in their search for love” is an example of I Corin. 1:27, which reads, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” This a flawed deduction and dismisses many other factors that aren’t even brought up. Most importantly though, this is a conclusion that the world has come to that has no spiritual validity.

The Word goes on to say, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Corin. 1:30). Christians strive to make wise choices, but no amount of rational or intellectual thought, statistics or anything else can supercede Christ’s work on the cross and the godly wisdom that only comes from Him, the true life source. For believers, our final authority is the unadulterated Word of God. Yes, we take it literally.

Furthermore, I Corin. 2:11-13 says,
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Those who aren’t Christians can’t understand the lives of believers. The Word and lifestyle is silly and foolish to them. It is only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit that we can understand and obey His Word.

Again, the remainder of chapter two in I Corinthians explains that only by the Holy Spirit can we attain insight into the plans and thoughts of God. The closer we get to Christ, the more peace, love and joy we have. His purpose for our lives can be disclosed to us through interpreting the Scripture fully and literally.

I was very disturbed by many points in the article, but mostly for attempting to tear down the church and for subtly appearing to persuade women who are praying for a good mate to lower their standards. As they say, the devil is a lie!

The problem with the increasing number of single black women is not because of a true, Bible believing faith-based church or the Word of God.

The Word says that “Eye hath not seen, nor hear heard, neither have entered the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The key to having fulness of joy is staying in His presence and in His Word.

I would love to hear from you on this topic. Drop me a line on the Abiding in the Vine Group page.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Freedom to Live

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence and Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. America’s freedom means many things but one thing is sure, we no longer live under anyone else’s rule. We are free to live under our own laws and ideals, and we are willing and able to protect ourselves against any others who may threaten our safety or freedom.

Spiritually, all of us have been offered a freedom that far surpasses that of the United States of America. Christ offers us spiritual freedom sin, which ultimately offers us eternal life with Him. We no longer have to be bound by sin. Galatians 5:1 explains, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Can you imagine the US going back to Britain to be under their rule and authority? It just wouldn’t make sense now that we’re free. Similarly, once we are saved and freed from sin by our faith in Christ and by His grace, it would be unimaginable to go back to a life living under the bondage of sin. Yet, many are lured back into ungodly behavior, and they are fooled into believing that when they are free to do whatever they want, this is freedom.

However, people thinking that they’re free when they’re living lives that are not submitted to Christ is a very prevalent deception today. In fact, when we live a life free to do whatever we want in the flesh, we become slaves to our desires. Without a life fully submitted to Christ, people are driven by the desire for material things, greed, power, position, sexual immorality, and a host of other ungodly behaviors.

Because of Christ, as believers we are able to live a life of freedom. We can live, reigning victoriously over sin. Yes, we can! Through Christ’s perfect sacrifice, we have access to have the chains and bondage of sin broken. None of this is accomplished by us—it’s all by Him. In exchange for our total dependence on Him, we are given freedom from the penalty of sin and death. We have to make the right choice though.

Paul goes on to explain to the Galatians in 5:4 that “whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” In other words, we cannot keep certain points of the law and think that we are gaining favor or freedom by doing these things. If we do think that we can do it in ourselves then we must obey all of the law, not just some. This attitude ultimately separates us from God.

Galatians 5:6 goes on to say that “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many people who think that because they know scripture, go to church and/or Bible study, or because they pray, they have earned their ‘brownie points’ with God. They are often deceived into thinking that because God can forgive them, they are free to sin. My heart grieves for anyone in this state of mind and this state in life. As my note says in my Bible, “Freedom to sin is no freedom at all, because it enslaves you to Satan, others, or your own evil desires.” Again, we are free from the bondage of sin to live unselfishly, to serve Christ and others, and to bring glory and honor to the One who freed us.
As Galatians instructs us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit should be evident in our lives by the fruit of the Spirit. Those who are truly free the bondage of sin are not difficult to identify. They are those that display the fruit of the Spirit. They show love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).

I am praying a special prayer for anyone who may be bound and entangled by sin. I pray that the Lord helps you to stand firm and sure in His perfect liberty. Free yourself from the chains and weight of sin. Trust Him to work it out. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Blessings and Love,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Craving Comfort?

When my two oldest sons were around the ages of four and five, I had the pleasure of witnessing an exchange that will always make me smile. We had a nice collection of Beanie Babies that my youngest son loved all—with the exception of the Beanie that was a ghost. My older son kept prodding him, trying to get him to hold the ghost Beanie. My younger son started crying, clearly scared. “No! Stop, I don’t want it.” I started to step in, but without missing a beat, my older son said, “It’s the Holy Ghost!” My younger son’s face brightened and he hugged the little ghost Beanie with all of his might, instantly comforted by the revelation.

As believers, we have 24-7 access to divine comfort, guidance, and peace, but sometimes I wonder how many of us tap into this power that is given to us. Like my son, do we fear and doubt, not realizing the power and peace we have in the Holy Ghost?

Jesus instructs in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We have to love Him first and more than anything. Out of our love for Him, we will obey His Word. We cannot love Him and remain in a state of obedience. Unfortunately, many of us get stuck right here. We choose to disobey. When we have accepted Jesus as our personal savior, sin no longer has dominion over us. If we sin, we sin willfully. God’s presence within us empowers us to reign over sin, but we must choose to obey. When you love Christ, your commitment and actions will show it. You will obey—this is a crucial step.

Jesus then tells us in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” No matter what circumstance or obstacle we face, Jesus is letting us know that we are not alone. We have the Holy Spirit to comfort us and He will never leave us. What better assurance do we have in His Word and His Spirit that will never leave us?

Jesus says that the world won’t recognize the Holy Spirit. The world can’t because the world doesn’t love Him and His Word and certainly doesn’t keep His commandments. God’s Holy Spirit is reserved for believers who love God and obey His Word.

In John 14:26, Jesus says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” At times, we struggle with things, like fear, doubt, depression, and insecurity because we fail to really love, obey, and trust Him with everything and all of us.

I do have to mention that you can’t obey Him if you don’t know His Word. Things can’t be brought to our remembrance if they aren’t there. Our priority in life has to be growing and nurturing our relationship with Christ. Studying the Word, praying, attending church, and living an obedient life should be the basic foundation for all believers.

The life of a believer is a submitted life to Christ. The evidence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is paramount. No believer can do it without the Spirit of God. Reigning victoriously over sin is not mind over matter—it’s making a choice to submit to the Lord and His Word. When we make this choice, we have the precious gift of God’s Holy Spirit. When or if we sin, we will repent quickly because the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will convict us. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we have the peace of God. This peace does not mean that we don’t have obstacles or trials, but it does mean that our lives are not filled with stress, depression, doubt and worry. We have comfort and consolation that is beyond any temporary satisfaction that the world might offer.

I’m praying that today, if you haven’t allowed God’s Holy Spirit to comfort you, that you would receive His love, power, direction, protection, grace, and peace.

Blessings and Love,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sins of the Father

Recently, I met a young man who suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of his mother as a baby. Apparently, his drug addicted father was neglectful and selfish. With his mother serving a jail sentence for the abuse she had inflicted upon him, he was left to care for himself when his grandparents passed. Living on his own, he has had a hard life and as a result of bad choices, has even spent time in jail. By any standards, this person, through no fault of his own, was born into a bad set of circumstances. The sins of his parents caused him monumental pain and suffering, but again, through no fault of his own.

What do you do when you were born into a family that doesn’t care and love you the way that God intended? How do you keep from repeating the cycle of abuse, addiction, and neglect when you’ve seen nothing but that all of your life? This young man feels that he has been punished all of his life for the choices of his parents, but I also listened closely as he spoke. He also seemed to suggest that those terrible circumstances were justification for his present poor choices and any future bad ones that he would make.

The book of Ezekiel gives a good example of this type of thinking. The people of Judah knew that the destruction of Jerusalem was because of the sins of their ancestors. As a result, they did not take responsibility for their own sins. They felt justified to sin. The prophet Ezekiel informs the people that each person is responsible for his or her own sins. He tells them, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4).” In the past, you would bear the sins of the father. However, Ezekiel tells them, “doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.” Because of God’s grace, He would send the Messiah, His Son, to restore man back to God. No longer does the son have to bear the sins of the father—each person is accountable for his own sin.

Without a doubt, our family’s influence can be very powerful, but Ezekiel reminds us that, regardless of what mistakes have plagued a family, each person will be accountable for the choices that he or she makes. He says, “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. . . But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my [God’s] statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:20-21).

While some of us have had to suffer consequences from the sins of our family or others, we are not bound or punished by God because of them. We cannot use the sins of other’s to excuse our own sin. Again, we each have to accept responsibility for our present and future choices. My parents would say, “When you know better, do better.” Don’t allow the past mistakes of others or your past mistakes cause you to justify or wallow in sin.

Conversely, some people of Judah thought because their ancestors were blessed and favored by God that this also excused them of having to do right. I know some people think that because their mother, father, grandmother, wife, etc. is saved and praying for them, that this will cover them and their sins. This is equally wrong. You have to live a righteous life your self; no one can do it for you. You need to be saved and live a holy life, separated from sin. When and if you do sin, you need to be quick to repent. In other words, go and sin no more.

There is an escape if you’ve suffered unjustly s a result of someone else’s sin. You have to choose to break the bondage of sin in your own life by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior. If there is no one else saved in your family but you, you can be the person in your family to start a new lineage of faithful believers. Then, you must allow God’s Holy Spirit to empower you to live a victorious life. Read His Word daily, always praying and meditating on His Word. Get involved and committed to a good solid Bible-believing church. Surround yourself with saved, spirit-filled believers, who will positively speak words of encouragement in your life.

When negative thoughts try to overcome you, choke them out with the Word of God and prayer. There is no condemnation in Him, but there is hope, joy, love and peace. As the Word says, those who hunger and thirst shall be filled.

I am praying a special prayer for those who feel bound because they have had to live with the consequences of another person’s sins. I am praying that the Lord will comfort you and empower you with His Holy Spirit. I pray that the Lord will remove any guilt, pain, anger, shame, and or bitterness from your heart and fill it with joy, love, peace, and forgiveness. You are not alone.

Blessings and Love,
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Will You Choose?

The weight of making decisions lately had been pressing me, and to be blunt, I had been feeling overwhelmed. When I stepped back though, I realized that it was only because I wasn’t taking the decisions to the one who knows all the answers.
Most all of us are bombarded on a daily basis with a host of choices, both big and small, to make but God has been showing me that we need to carefully make the right choices in life in all matters. The decisions that we have to make, however, should not be made directed by our emotions, by what others will approve of, or by the world’s standards. Our standard and base for decision-making must be grounded in God’s Word. When we take the decisions that we have to make to Him and His Word, we assured that we will always do the right thing.

I remember being at a crossroad in my life many years ago. I didn’t want to be single, but I knew that I couldn’t serve God and settle for less than what He wanted for me. I had to decide whether I’d let my fear of being lonely force me to make ungodly decisions or to trust Him. I remember clearly being knelt by the side of my bed in my small apartment crying before the Lord. A vision of years of loneliness unfolded before my eyes, and I sobbed. Yet, during my prayer the Holy Spirit calmed me and the decision was again before me. Are you going to trust me? That night I decided that I would serve and obey the Lord, no matter what. While I didn’t do everything perfectly, I strived daily to obey Him and trust Him with every part of my life—even if it meant that I might be single. My heart was open and willing to trust and obey.

I have been blessed with a family that loves God. We serve and worship Him together. My vision, skewed by the world’s standards and Satan, was remarkably different than the plans that God had for me. I want to add that none of these blessing have been a result of my own goodness, but from the Lord’s grace and mercy. He honors complete obedience and a pure heart, and as His Word says, He is no respecter of persons.

God wants us to choose to love, worship, and serve Him willingly though—He will not force us. Joshua 24:15 says, “choose you this day whom ye will serve . . .as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings: choose life , that both thou and thy seed may live.” God has given us the roadmap for life in His Word. Psalm 119:5 explains that “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” His Word must be the standard we apply that illuminates and directs our path and decision-making in life.

Often people think that they can obey part of the truth and be okay, but we are either living a surrendered life devoted to Christ or we are not. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity [sin] in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” If we are not actively choosing life by obeying His Word and His will, we are choosing death—even if it is by default.

Some of these things will make people uncomfortable I’m sure, but the bottom line is God is the one that searches every man’s heart. We can’t trust ourselves to make the right decisions in life. Proverbs 21:2 says “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” We can be fooled into thinking that we know what’s best for ourselves and end up with a joyless, unsatisfied, and empty life.
We are don’t have to worry about the outcome of the decisions we make when we love Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul (Matt. 22:37-40). From there, we will be compelled to read his Word and pray. The Word tells us that when the Word is in our heart, not just our head, we won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Finally, we can rest, knowing that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He really will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

I’d love to hear from you, and know that I’m praying that God is directing all the decisions that you have before you.

Blessings and Love,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I’m not one to know the latest pop or R&B songs, but I do know that a popular theme these days is independence. I overheard someone talking about a song entitled, “Independent” and thought I’d look up the lyrics out of curiosity. The only thing was that the lyrics were so profane that I couldn’t even read through them all. Still, it’s the in thing to be independent for those in the world. Many women tout that they don’t need men, and there are loads of men who admire women who don’t need them. We won’t even discuss how many men want to be independent of the responsibility of having wives and children. So, it’s no surprise that many children feel that they don’t need their parents. Often as a result, there are far too many people who feel like they don’t need God.

While independence does have attributes in the right context, for the most part, glamorizing it has many pitfalls. The Bible instructs us over and over again to depend on God. Yet, when life is going according to our plans and feels easy, we tend to lose our dependence on Him. We can slip into the attitude that says, “That’s okay, I got this one, God.”

However, we must depend on God for everything at all times. Making the decision to depend on Him isn’t a sign of weakness but true strength. As believers, we don’t live by life’s changing circumstances. In the face of possible death, Paul passes on comfort and advice to other believers. He explains in II Corinthians 1:8-9, “we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” Paul reminds us to trust Him with our lives.

Why should we depend on Him? We should depend on Him because He won’t fail us like people, plans, and things often do. Psalm 121:2 says, “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” God created us out of His image, and He knows us. He knows our hurts and understands our burdens. In fact, Matthew 8:17 says that Jesus, “Himself took our infirmities and bare our sickness.” It doesn’t matter what the problem is, He can handle it. We just have to trust Him and cast our cares on Him.

We should depend on God because His love for us is constant and never changes. David says, “for all that is in heaven and earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest overall; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all” (II Chron. 29:11-12).

Depending on God means that we need Him, not just when the going gets rough but just like the air we breathe, we need Him to survive. We have faith in Him and trust Him with everything. Furthermore, when we depend on God, we submit our will and desires to His authority and His Word. We have to submit to Him and obey Him. We can’t just trust Him with things we feel comfortable letting Him have. He wants us to have total and complete dependence on Him.

On a final note, I do want to add that we need one another. God created Adam and said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18). Also, as believers, we make up the body of Christ. In chapter twelve in I Corinthians, Paul says that just as the body has many members but is one, so is the body of Christ. We all need each other to complete the work that God has for us to do and to draw others to Him.

When I hear people say that they don’t need anyone, a red flag goes up. I wonder who has hurt or let that person down. We may avoid some hurt and rejection by being independent, but we morph those negatives into an abyss of selfishness, anger, depression, loneliness, and a host of other problems. God has shown me that when I completely depend on Him, my life is filled with peace and joy. I can then reach out freely to others, knowing that just as I am not perfect, no one else is either. I am not tossed to and fro by life’s ups and downs because my total dependence is on Him, the One who holds my future and the world in the palm of His hands.

Depend on Him for that very thing that you’ve been holding onto, refusing to give to Him. Trust Him with it, and watch Him perform a miracle. Your decision to trust Him will empower you with supernatural strength to overcome any obstacle Satan throws your way.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Too Focused For Distraction

Have you ever had your bubble blown up, soaring high and hopeful, only to have it burst into tiny pieces right before your eyes? Have you ever pulled blankets to keep your upper body warm, only to discover that your feet were sticking out? I’m sure you get the idea. Obviously, like many of you, I’m well-acquainted with these types of scenarios. In the thick of it, it can be difficult to stay focused and centered on our faith and not life’s changing circumstances. However, if we are focused and armed with the full armor of God, we can prepare ourselves for the spiritual battle with distractions.

When we’re faced with problems and difficult situations, the worst thing we can do is to lose our focus. This past week has been an unusually difficult week in many respects. There have been some very big challenges and then not so big one, such as my son beating my new Mac pressed powder like a drum, covering his body and the floor with it. (I have to mention how he made the kitchen wall his art canvas and an orange and green crayon his paintbrush as well this week.) Anyway, I got caught up in the emotions of the negative situations and temporarily lost focus. I even attempted to pray, reading scriptures and devotions. However, it had little impact initially because my mind had locked onto the problems and its possible devastating consequences. I had caved to the pressure.

We have to make a deliberate choice not to waste any time resting our thoughts on the negatives, which only lead to anxiety, worry, and depression. Anything that distracts us from God’s Word and His will are dangerous because it inevitably leads to sin. As elementary as this is going to sound, I realized that I can’t have faith and worry. It’s just like the principle that says light and dark can’t occupy the same space. Hebrews 12:1 instructs us, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” If we choose to focus on our faith, it can keep us from distraction. Every single care has to be given to Him so that we can accomplish what God has for us in its fullness.

Paul admonishes us in I Corinthians 7:35 to “attend upon the Lord without distraction.” In Matthew 6:33-34, Jesus says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Jesus has given us a divine order to the complexities of life. Priority one is for us to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. I have to admit that when I really meditated on these words, the worry and anxiety broke. When I’m obedient, the worry, fear and anxiety dissolve.

Problems and challenges have a way of revealing where we really are. We can panic, worry, and delve into a sea of despair, or we can put the problem or challenge where it rightfully belongs, at the feet of Jesus. Anytime I’m tempted to pick it back up, I have to remember to quickly let it go and refocus.

I am reminded of Jesus teaching about those who build their houses on rock and sand in Matthew 7:21-28. He explains that not everyone who gives prophesies, prays, and performs good works in His name will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Only those that hear and do what he says will be like the wise man who built his house on a rock. Remember, “the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

Is your house built on a rock? If not, consider surrendering all to Him. Storms will and do come, but there is safety. Cast all of your cares upon Him. He loves you and doesn’t want you weighted down by the pressures of life. He can fill your joy and every dark space. He can cover you under his blanket of unconditional love, protection, and provision. He did it for me, and I know He can do it for you.

I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line on the Abiding in the Vine Facebook group page or comment at


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Be Real

My sons bring me great joy on a daily basis, but there is one consistent thorn in my side when it comes to them. They can be messy. After their daily chores, I’ve had occasions when I’ve gone to inspect their room, and it looks pretty good on the outside. However, after opening the closet, I’ve discovered chaos. At times, it has seemed that everything that they had been instructed them to clean up had been carelessly throw into the closet, under the bed, and into the drawers. Even their beds that had appeared to be made up, under closer examination had visible lumps, letting me know that only the top comforter was put on correctly. Sometimes, our spiritual lives can be just like this.

Many times, we can lose focus if we’re not careful. We may start off with good intentions, but lose sight of the big picture. Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says to the scribes and Pharisees, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouths, and honorouth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8). Clearly, you can do the right thing with the wrong motives, and it is useless before God. He will not accept an insincere heart, regardless of how many good deeds we perform, how many scriptures we know or church services we attend.

Over the years I’ve had opportunities to meet fellow authors, musicians, and singers. There have been too many times that I’ve been blessed by an author’s novel or blessed by a singer’s song—only to talk to them and find them to be rude, impatient, or insincere with others. This is hypocrisy. We represent Christ, and regardless of how we may feel, we have to uphold a standard and that standard is our instruction in the Bible. We are to love, to show patience and kindness towards one another, whether we are having a good day or not. II Corinthians 3:2 says, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of men.” To quote my pastor, “Somebody is watching you—whether you realize it or not.”

Jesus addresses the Pharisees and their ability to follow the details of the law but omit “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He tells them that they “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel,” and says, “for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess” (Matthew 23: 24-25). Jesus continues, “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28).

This will surely seem too simple and elementary for many, but it is so basic that I’m afraid that Satan deceives many into thinking they’re righteous when they’re far from it. I get angry thinking about how many people do things in the name of ministry, but they’re sincere desire is to take advantage of God’s people. Wealth, power, and prestige can be wonderful blessings and by-products from abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ. However, sincere motives and a pure, clean heart before God should always be the foundation from which we operate.

How do we cleanse ourselves from the inside out? It’s very simple. We have to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our savior. We must read the Word and obey it. We must live surrendered lives before Him. We must abide in the vine. John 15:3 says, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Apart from the vine, there is no real life, no real power, no real peace, and yes, there is no real way to be cleansed.

I am not all that He would have for me to be, but I am so grateful that through relationship with Him, He shows me myself. I know what Jeremiah meant in Lamentations by saying that His mercies are new every morning. Everyday when I wake up, I have another chance to live for Him, glorify Him, and thank Him for his cleansing and forgiving power.

If you haven’t been real with Him, I pray that you will drop any selfish motives or cares that would separate you from Him. The Word says that he already knows our hearts, so just ask Him to forgive you and surrender your all to Him today. He loves you, and He cares.

Blessings and Love,

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cleaning For Guests or Cleaning For Good?

Have you ever cleaned your house just because you’re expecting company? I’d like to say that my house is always immaculate and that I have never had to run around on a cleaning frenzy when guests are coming. However, I’ve had to do it, and it’s always a pretty sore reminder of what daily work has been neglected. I’ve also noticed that when I clean with the sole motivation that it be nice when guests arrive, it often goes right back to the state it was in before the company. Why? Well, just maybe because the motivation is only temporary.

Our spiritual lives can be the same way if we’re not careful. Our motivation to “clean” up our spiritual lives must develop out of our love for Christ and from our desire to be obedient to Him and His Word. God knows it all. He knows why we do what we do, and we will be measured by not only our actions, but also, or more importantly, by our motivation. For example, some people may go to church, pray, and even fast to get the approval and admiration of others. Some may give money to feed the poor, and many take care of the sick. Others concentrate on reading the Bible with the sole intent on becoming Biblical scholars. All these things are good things to do. However, if the motives for doing these things are not pure and out of our love for Christ, they are all in vain.

While we are cleaning up this year, let’s constantly check our motives. When we identify things in our lives and character that don’t line up with His Word and His will, let’s swiftly act to confess, repent, and do better. Let’s not justify any behavior, words, or deeds that are contrary to His Word. Yes, I understand that our justification comes from Him through our faith, but sin cannot be tolerated by a holy and just God.

David was a man after God’s own heart because of his ability to assess himself, identify his sins, and repent to God. In Psalm 51:2, David says, “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” He recognizes that only God can cleanse him from his sin. He continues, “Behold, thou desireth truth in the inward parts.” David understood that God requires and desires true repentance by being honest with Him, others, and ourselves. God searches every man’s heart, so we must take the time to be honest with ourselves and examine our own.

David explains, “For thou desireth not sacrifice; else I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:6-7). We can’t fool God. We can’t simply say we’re sorry and then excuse ourselves for doing the same thing again. True repentance turns away from the sin, and when you confess with a true repentant heart, God is faithful and just to forgive you of all unrighteousness.

Cleaning our spiritual lives up requires us to take inventory of where we are and who we are in Him. Sinful thoughts, acts, and behaviors have to go, much like we toss trash and junk in the garbage. We can’t say, “Well, God knows who I am and how much I can take.” We can’t say, “I can’t help it.” Wherever we fall short, we have a God who will never fail us. He’s given us power to overcome all the tendencies towards sinful actions and thoughts. His Word says that we will be held accountable for every idle word that proceeds out of our mouths.

I pray that none will read this as condemnation because it’s meant to encourage you to get to those secret places where sin may have crept in unaware. It has not been easy to admit some of the areas where I have clearly let Satan get a foothold, but I am grateful because I have the opportunity to repent and do better.

God has expectations from us. He created us to glorify Him and to be the salt and light of the earth. We cannot accomplish this with sin in the camp. Psalm 15:1 says, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in His heart.” Our motivation to clean house shouldn’t be out of fear but out of love and obedience. As the cleaning continues, let’s check our motives. When our motives are right, keeping things clean won’t be temporary, but a lifelong process, preparing and assisting us to bear fruit and live productive lives. Let’s walk upright, be righteous, and be truthful with ourselves and Him with a truly grateful and repentant heart.

Drop me a line on the Abiding in the Vine group page or visit I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you all.

Love and Blessings,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Have You Cleaned Your House Lately?

It’s been a while since I’ve last connected with you all. I pray that your new year is off to a blessed beginning.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of house cleaning—both in the home I reside in and in my spiritual house. Inevitably, when you begin doing really serious cleaning of any kind, there’s usually a good amount of debris and trash that needs to be discarded. There’s no such thing as cleanliness residing in the midst of mess. It’s either clean or it isn’t. So, as I work, I thought I’d share some things that are helping me to spiritually clean house over the next few devotions.

When I clean, I like to go around the house and sort of scope things out first. Although I see the house daily, it requires a different type of perspective to see what exactly needs to be done to get it clean. For example, on a daily basis I don’t notice the cobwebs that may be in the corners or the dust behind a door. Generally, I overlook this type of examination day to day. Similarly, when we want to clean our spiritual lives, we have to examine ourselves, not neglecting to see ourselves and actions as we really are.

Self-examination is so very important to spiritual growth and maturity, so despite the difficulty in doing this, I can’t get things in order without taking a sincere and honest inventory of what’s going on with me. I’ve even gone as far as writing down some things that I really need to pray about and work on so that I can be used by Him. I no longer want to justify or excuse sinful behavior or thoughts.

After we all do some serious self-examinations, we have to be fully prepared to get rid of things in our character, actions, and spirit that are no like Him. I can be transparent and say that one thing that really challenges me is my quick-temper. When I began to do some self-examination, my quick temper is one thing that I know I need to get rid of. How do I know? I know because having a quick temper is not in line with the Word or God or His will. There are numerous scriptures that speak to this.

For example, James 1:19-20 says, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Proverbs 16:32 explains that “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” In addition, Proverbs 25: 28 says that “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” It has been sobering to think that having no self-control leads to having no protection or covering from the Lord.

Meditating on these scriptures and others about being quick-tempered has helped me to identify the behavior when it comes and cast it down. I can admit that it’s still a challenge, but I believe that it is something that I will be delivered from with continued prayer, consecration, and meditation on the Word. As a matter of fact, as I’m typing this, my one year-old insists on typing with from time to time in spite of the fact that he has several lap tops age appropriate for him (ugh!). My initial response to him laughing while pushing the escape button was to raise my voice in anger, but after he climbed back up and pushed it the second time, I remembered what I was writing on, stopped typing and re-directed him with something else. By the way, he’s happily reading an Elmo book and I am not frustrated because I took the time to take control over my emotions.

Whatever issues (attitudes, behaviors, people, thoughts, etc.) you may have that need to be worked on and/or discarded, whether big or small, I am praying that you have the courage and strength to take an honest inventory of your “house” because the Word tells us, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (I Corin. 3:16, 17).

Let’s begin 2010 with no more excuses for being who God wants us to be and doing what He has for us to do. The time to act is now. Ready to clean house with me? Drop me a line and let me know or visit the devotional blog site at or

Blessings and Love,