Mercy


Lord have mercy on my soul
Life is strange, I’m growing old
Never felt so many cold
Hearts so distant and so bold

Lord I need you more each day
To keep me going in every way
So I don’t care what people say
Because you are the truth, the light and the way

How do we stop the downward spiral?
Where is the hope for this hour?
In your Word we find the power
Daily not to fear and not to cower.

Praise is ever on our lips
Keep us from life’s sinking ships
And even then your hand does lift
Never leaving us alone when we face a shift

Lord have mercy on us all!

Written 4/11/22 Jo Ann Whitaker

Puffed Up

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Anyone who knows me well knows I love knowledge and information. However, over the past few years I’m beginning to understand how the biblical reference to “knowledge puffs up” applies. This seems opposite of Proverbs advice to acquire wisdom and seek knowledge. I honestly believe that we have access to WAY too much information that is damaging, not our business, distracting, slander, gossip, creating division and fights but doesn’t encourage or lift up, build up or even matter. The difference is what kind of knowledge are we seeking and whether we intend to use it for a good purpose.

Wisdom is needed to discern what type of knowledge we acquire. And the book of James tells us God gives wisdom freely, if we ask for it. I know I’ve spent entirely too much valuable time on things that don’t matter in the overall scheme of things. It distracts from what does matter.

I’m for truth, wisdom and knowledge but over instant access to massive amounts of trivial information, cancel culture, and a constant flow of negative, divisive details. If we stop bringing attention to it, I believe we would be happier, calmer and less stressed.

Everyday it’s something new spewed out and shared that is irrelevant to most of us and becomes a 24-48 obsession bombarding our lives. Hot air everywhere. Everyone is outraged, for a minute and weighing in until the next big deal. Arguing ensues with absolute strangers and friends on social media or in person in an effort to control the dialogue and to make our outrage and opinions known. Puffed up like a big bull frog – croaking, lots of show and noise in our little pond like we rule the masses. And I won’t even go there on false or misleading information. Well, except to say half the truth is still a lie. I believe we have a responsibility to be careful in what we say, do and share.

Acting like we know everything and being unteachable results in us being proud, unapproachable, judgemental, unloving and “a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal”.

I don’t need to know everything happening across the street, in the neighborhood, around the city, state, country or world every moment of the day. This is why I occasionally clean up my newsfeed, unlike pages, severely limit my news intake, turn off the TV, avoid certain conversations and refocus. It’s easy to fall into it. Sometimes I even say “stop it” out loud to myself. The old garbage in, garbage out comes to mind.

It’s not healthy! And, I’m working on my role in it. There is a better way.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/php.4.8.ESV

Voice in the Wilderness

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I woke up in the middle of the night, burdened by the condition of the world and the pain in it and cried out to God. What is the proper Christian response to the violence and chaos all around us? We’re told in scripture that if anyone lacks wisdom to ask and that he will give it graciously and without making fun of us or chastising us.

Praise refreshes the soul!

That’s when I heard a still small voice whisper to my heart, be a voice in the wilderness.

John the Baptist set that example for us.

Was he a voice of warning? Yes. Did he give instruction? Yes. Was he untraditional and did he interrupt the status quo? Yes. Did he make a difference? Yes. Was it painful? Ultimately, it cost him his earthly life.

Was he hateful? No. Was his message accepted? Sometimes. Did he, the cousin of Christ and the one paving the way have doubts? Yes. He even asked if Jesus was the one or should he wait on another in his jail time.

What was his message? Repent, be baptized and Behold, the son of God!

All of our actions, warnings, prayers and words should be lovingly, boldly pointing others to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer, the Saviour of the World. And if we can’t do that with love, pray for our enemies and even be willing to lay down our lives, we are as Paul said…sounding brass or tinkling cymbals. In other words, making a lot of noise, to just draw attention to ourselves.

Read chapter 11 in the book of Matthew for more insight. This is the chapter where John questions Christ during his unfair imprisonment. This is were Christ sends message that his work, miracles and healing continues on.

We’re told that from John the Baptist till now, the kingdom of heaven is being raided with and subject to violence. We’re also told in this chapter that those who ignore his miracles and repentance will suffer harsher judgment than Sodom.

He also referred to this generation as those who whine to each other about the things we do for others that doesn’t produce results. Probably because the words from their mouths were self righteous and works oriented instead of from a believing, sacrificing, obedient heart of love that points others to the good news, instead of, hey, look what we did in your name! Which leads to reference of those who say we did such and such and so and so in his name and he said, depart from me, I never knew you. Even the demons believe and tremble. But they don’t repent and follow. Just believing doesn’t get it.

Let’s avoid sharing a diluted message while thinking we’re sounding an alarm. Let’s offer hope with our warnings. Let’s love and pray for our enemies. Let’s operate in the fruits of the spirit. Let’s use self control. Let’s take our thoughts captive. Let’s bridle our tongues. Let’s not spew cursing with blessings. Let’s have the heart of Christ.

The chapter ends beautifully with a comforting passage that reminds us of our need for comfort and rest in him. It’s not our burden, it’s his. Rest and have peace in the King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, Deliverer….Good News!

Look up, redemption draweth nigh!

Be that voice in the wilderness, the voice pointing to the way!

#goodnews #voiceinthewilderness #redemption #Jesus

Reference – Matthew 11

Church Lament

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What is going on?

What happened to the Church and it’s people? Those of us who claim the name of Christ? When did we stop caring? When did we become so mean? When did we become so proud? What happened that we only seek our own interests? When did we stop considering others? When did we forsake the least of us for our own agendas? When did we decide others were beneath us? When did we become so hateful? Judgemental? Why are we foul mouthed? Why are our tongues on fire from hell itself? Selfish? Critical? Self sufficient? Lacking in compassion? Rude? Argumentative? Know it all’s? Crass? Backbiting? Complaining? Unthankful? Angry? Offended? Insensitive? Sensual? Bitter? Unforgiving? Unfaithful?

How do we turn the tables? How do we turn our hearts back to you? Does it take trouble or trauma to turn our attention? Or, do we continue to be stiff necked? Self-righteous? So smug? So spiteful? So full of gossip? Discord? Divisive? Will we be taken down suddenly? Will we wonder in the wilderness? Will we pay a price for our rebellion? Do we even care?

I bet it breaks your heart. I know you’ve seen it before. Again and again we turn to our own way. Like sheep, we wonder. We wonder into dangerous places. I know you want better from and for us. I know you’re patient and kind and gentle and not willing that any perish. I know you’re loyal, loving, faithful, kind, giving, a good Father. I know you’ve called to us to protect us like a mother hen protects her babies under wing even when we refuse your call and love. I know our names are written in the palm of your hand and you can’t forget us. I know you’re calling us back to you, our Creator, Restorer, Redeemer, Shepard. You can use circumstances, lack of peace or any number of things to call out to us. You can even draw us through your beautiful creation to you the Creator.

You use even what is meant to harm us for good. Lord, help us respond and turn from our stubborn ways. Have mercy on us and remove the scales from our eyes. Help us look only to you as our helper. Help us turn from our sinful ways and listen to your still small voice. Restore the years stolen from us. Help us to pray. Help us stay in your word. Turn our hearts to you. Fill us with love for you and others. Touch our unclean lips and hearts. Fill us with compassion, tenderness, wisdom, gratefulness, forgiveness, trust, mercy, justice, faith, hope and love. Create in us clean hearts. Help us focus on the most important things. We need you! You alone can save! Revive us again!

Forgive me.

Fussing and Fighting!

This stuck out to me this morning as our world seems so argumentative right now. So, I dug a little deeper to see it personal.

I think it is safe to say we could all do better at this, myself included.

My takeaway: It is not wise to argue all the time, esp over trivial things. It is respectful and God honors it when we stay away from strife and people who cause it. Scripture also says sewing discord and causing division are things God hates and to stay away from angry people unless you take on their ways.

My prayer: Let us walk away from arguments, conflicts and strife and instead be instruments of your peace in all we encounter today. Give us a strong distaste for strife that keeps us out of quarrels. Amen!

HONOR – regard with great respect
ALOOF – conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested typically through distaste
STRIFE – vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism; to be at strife; a quarrel; struggle or clash, armed strife, competition or rivalry
FOOL – a person who acts unwisely or imprudently
QUARRELING – heated argument or disagreement usually over trivial things. Angry dispute causing temporary or permanent break in friendship.

Friendship

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Reflections on friendship:

1) Those we are closest to greatly influence our lives and either lead us closer to God, good and our goals or further away. Choose wisely. You can love and pray for someone from a distance if what they have going on is too negative, a drain, harmful, wrong or too drama filled for you to be in the middle of the situation. But, tell them the truth!

2) Friendship doesn’t mean that the other person TOTALLY supports your every move in life, but that they are honest enough to give you an honest answer when you ask, whether you like it or not. Some of the toughest, but BEST advice I’ve ever received has come from friends who told me the cold, hard truth.

3) Friendship doesn’t mean constant communication and companionship. Sometimes everyday life and responsibilities require our greatest attention. Doesn’t mean we don’t love our friends or don’t think about them, but does mean we have responsibilities and desires outside that friendship and that friendship shouldn’t consume us. People have spouses, children, responsibilities and jobs. The one you write off for not being there may be in the biggest crisis of their lives and you know nothing about it.

4) The best friends are those who weave in and out of your life and you just pick right back up where you left off.

5) If you only call or need me when you have a problem, I’m not your friend, I’m either your counselor or your enabler. If you’re always the one doing the talking and never the listening, again, that’s not true friendship.

6) Things change and people drift apart. No foul on either part – just happens. Let it go.

7) New friends come along and like spring flowers, just make you smile and are a new beginning and a blessing. : )

8) Some people are acquaintances – we serve a purpose in each others lives, have a few good conversations, something in common or a situation in common. Enjoy those but don’t worry if it just ebbs and flows.

9) Some people are in your live for a season and even if it ends poorly, remember the good times and learn the lesson.

10) Friends from childhood that remain, are usually your cousins! : ) If you truly have one deep friendship that lasts throughout your life, it is rare and you’re truly blessed.

11) Enjoy friendship with the people in your circle where you spend the most time. Some of the people I love the most are former co-workers of mine.

12) Sometimes those we were tight with for one reason or another disappoint or hurt us deeply. Forgive and move on.

13) As Jim Rohn says, you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with…choose carefully.

14) Cut friends slack who are in new relationships, going through a breakup or divorce, having a hard time of some sort and especially if they’ve lost someone close to them.

15) If you’re the friend in the hard time or crisis, find a friend that you can share openly with, but don’t consume ALL their time and only whine about things. Share the GOOD, the bad and the ugly, not just the bad and the ugly. Honestly, this may be the time to seek good counseling or a support group of people who understand you situation and can help you heal.

16) And, finally, if you don’t have friends, maybe a look in the mirror and some reflecting would be in order. Are you a good friend? Trustworthy? Kind? Always needy? Negative? Maybe it is time to make a few changes and be more friendly!

The good news is most of us have a large number of friends from different areas and walks and that’s what makes the world go around. Don’t get hung up on those that are in a different place right now. Cherish the friendships you have right now, build some new ones and be a good friend.

Journey

I recently read the quote below and thought it was worth sharing as others may need to know this too.

I’m in a good spot at the moment, but I can remember a situation from many years ago where this was what caused me to leave an organization when the attacks just wouldn’t stop. It is sometimes Biblical to temporarily or even permanently relocate… even to a cave like David running from Saul or Elijah to the wilderness by a brook to be fed by the ravens. Or to the wilderness like Jesus where the enemy continued to taunt but was silenced at the repeated word of God.

The journey to the Promised Land is just that, a journey. It is filled with highs, lows, challenges and conquering. Just don’t go back to Egypt. Even miserable can be comfortable.

Know when God is leading you, know His voice and His ways. And, know your naysayers never have good things in mind for you or others and use slivers of Truth mixed with lies to mislead and trick. Know that half the truth is still a lie!

We learn that God will provide a way and what we need in the tough spots.

And like Job, even if he slays me, I will trust Him because to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Look at what Pharaoh actually said about letting Moses (the one raised in his household) go with God’s people… even in the midst of plagues. Another reason to be careful with the “I will never” or “I’m in charge of my destiny” statements. Pharoah literally drowned over his own words. Pride goes before a fall!

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord , that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord , and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”
Exodus 5:2 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/exo.5.2.ESV

“Pharaoh sees a cloud before the Israelites, a cloud behind them, & fire separating him from them.

He STILL thinks he can overtake them.

Don’t assume that if people see that God is w/ you, it will stop them from trying to overtake you.

Pride is one hell of a drug.”
Heather Thompson Day via Twitter