God's Roadmap

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:10 NASB).

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Thanking Veterans for their Service

by Barbara Latta

The military of the United States is a superior fighting force. It has grown into five groups with specialties to defend our land, sea and air. This week as we observe Veteran’s Day we commemorate and appreciate all those who have served through the centuries to defend and protect America.

Army - The United States Army is the oldest branch of our military. It was formed in1775 by the Continental Congress to protect the colonies. Since then it has evolved into a worldwide fighting force with different branches such as Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery.

Navy - George Washington started acquiring ships during the Revolutionary War. He went so far as
to purchase the first ship on his own, the Hannah, which was commissioned September 5, 1775. When the war was over the Navy and the Army were disbanded because citizens were tired of war and fighting and the country was broke. But because the United States needed to collect tariffs on imported goods and also needed to prevent smuggling, Congress establish the Revenue-Marine, which was the forerunner of the United States Coast Guard. Without the British Navy protecting the colonies, the ships became fast bait for the North African Barbary pirates. The Navy was reinstated to protect our seas and stop paying ransoms to Muslim pirates that were invading the Atlantic.

Air Force - On August 1, 1907 the U.S. Army Signal Corp established a small aeronautical division to take charge of all matters of the air such as balloons and air machines. The first plane was tested on August 20, 1908. On September 9, the first air casualty occurred. The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron was the first unit of the Army devoted solely to aviation and has remained active to this day. On March 1, 1935 the General Quarters Air Force took command of all air units and evolved into our modern day United States Air Force.

Marines - Two months after the establishment of the U. S. Navy, President John Adams signed a bill establishing the U.S. Marines as the landing

forces of the Navy. Marines have established over 300 landings on foreign soil. One theory of the origin for the nickname “leathernecks” was to protect the Marines while fighting with the Barbary pirates. They wore this protective gear against the assault of the Muslims who beheaded their victims.

Coast Guard - As stated in the description of the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard was formed as the Revenue Marine to enforce the payment of tariffs on imported goods and to guard against smuggling. In 1915 Congress merged the
Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service as a military agency dedicated to saving life at sea.

Thank you all veterans for your service to our country.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts about Veteran's Day.

Thanking Veterans for their service (click to tweet)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

If I am a New Creation...How can I sometimes act like I am friends with a Zombie?

by Barbara Latta 

 “Blood thirsty rogues and unrepentant cutthroats,” said Ezekiel as a crowd gathered around him. His
comment was meant to describe those who were hunting him and his followers.

This Ezekiel is not the biblical prophet, but a character from the TV series, The Walking Dead. I admit I have never watched an entire episode, but I have seen enough to know the humans are fleeing from zombies.

A dead body powered by an evil spirit in a post-apocalyptic world is out to suck the life out of those who are still alive. If a zombie bites or scratches a human, that human is doomed to become one of the walking dead. Wouldn’t you flee, too? A decaying, bloody skin-covered skeleton with all the characteristics of death wants your life.  Yeah, run!

The Bible says if we are born again, we are new creations. Then how can I sometimes act like I am friends with a zombie?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Why Do We Pursue Fear for Fun?

by Barbara Latta

Halloween. What more do we need to say to think of fear?

In some ways we want to avoid fear and in others we pursue fear for fun.


According to an article in healthline.com, when we are in a situation like a scary movie or haunted house, our minds know we are in a safe environment. The threat is not real so our bodies release chemicals and hormones that produce a high much like when we are happy or excited.

When I was a pre-teen, I went to see Frankenstein Created Woman. I had been forbidden to go, but, of course, being an almost teen-ager I went anyway. I don’t think I made it all the way through the movie before leaving the theater and I spent the night with my head under the covers and my eyes wide open.

Crowds flock to haunted houses and horror movies and some of them, like me, double lock the doors when they get home and jump at every creak of the house. Others go back for more. The reason could be that different personalities produce different amounts of dopamine which jump start the mind thrill. Obviously, I wasn’t one of those.

But in real situations of danger, the brain must determine if we are in a safe place or not. Without having time to comprehend that this is not a thrill moment, we run and scream. If we are being chased by a wild animal or being mugged in the park, the scary high wouldn’t be fun. It’s the warning needed for protection.

Where did fear come from?

There was no fear until sin came upon the scene.

The first fear was when Adam and Eve sinned and hid from God. Adam said, “I was afraid…and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). He had never experienced fear before, but his conscience knew he had transgressed God’s commandment. He was afraid of judgement. And they should have been afraid. God told them what would happen if they disobeyed. The penalty was death. If you have never seen death, you aren’t going to know what it is, but based on the fear they felt, they knew it wasn’t going to be good.

But God’s mercy killed an animal in their place. And several millennial later, God’s mercy killed His Son in our place. Physical death still happens, but spiritual death has been done away with.

That fear factor has been passed down to all humans since Adam. And the enemy of our souls, Satan, uses that factor to incite fear and use it against us to make us afraid of God.

After all, aren’t there oodles of verses in the Bible telling us to fear God?

Yes, there are. And I discovered that the verses telling us to fear God and those where he tells us not to fear are using the same Hebrew word, yawray. That sounds confusing until the actual meaning of the word is discovered. It means to revere.

Fear God – hold in reverence
Fear not – do not hold in reverence

God is telling us to hold him in reverence and awe and using the same word in a negative context He tells us not to hold whatever we are afraid of in reverence and awe. Don’t give the fear any esteem.

There will be a final judgement and those not ready to stand before God should fear and tremble. But until that day, He is extending mercy and grace for those who don’t know him to have time to repent so they will not be included in that sentence.

That day will not be the thrill-seeking high of fear. It will be real to those who have refused the payment Jesus made. It will be a fear like nothing on earth has ever rendered.

While on earth, there is still time to repent. If you haven’t done so, He is holding out His hand to you now. The tab on this blog page titled “Knowing God” can help you make that decision.

And may you live a fear-free life!

Join the conversation and share your thoughts. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Lamb's Book of Life or Great White Throne Judgment?

by Barbara Latta

Each year as Halloween approaches, churches and Christian organizations sponsor events depicting the Great Tribulation. This is used as a ministry tool to evangelize lost people and reveal to them the horrors of life on earth when judgement comes, and the terror of life after death without Christ.

Some say we are at the beginning of the tribulation period or that God is beginning judgment on this sinful earth. Predictions of the rapture abound and the pre, mid and post tribulation theorists all have an opinion.

No matter which camp you are in, one thing we know for sure is that Jesus will redeem His church and He may be on His way right now to do so.

But if He doesn’t come back for another hundred years, people are still going to die. We will still stand before God and the question is:

What condition will you be in when you do?

Will your name be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life or will you be at the Great White Throne Judgment where all sinners must be judged?

While living on this earth we still have a choice. God loves people. He made a way for everyone to be saved from sin and destruction. (John 3:16)

Our part is to receive what He gave. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The god of this world has blinded people. (2 Corinthians 4:4). This is nothing new. Noah preached for 120 years and yet no one responded. But God provided a way out of the storm through the ark for Noah and his family because they believed and trusted in Him.

There is another question to ask after we determine we are ready to meet God.

Are you ready to live for Him?

I was born again when I was seven years old. But at that time, I thought that was enough. I didn't know to renew my mind. I didn't go around actively sinning, but the only way it was evident I was a Christian was because I went to church. It wasn't until later in my life, I realized I needed to let the Christ that was in me come out.

We need to do more than just believe there is a God. Even the demons know who He is. (James 2:19)
Living for Christ doesn’t mean doing things for Him.

It means embracing Him and becoming like Him. When we become like Him we then do things for His kingdom—because then it is a fruit of the relationship, not a way to obtain the relationship,
Saints of God don’t need to fear in this world of chaos. When our trust is in Christ, we can stand on His Word. We may be living through some calamities, but He is there with us every step of the way.

You will never regret the decision to live for God.
Feel free to share our thoughts or testimony.


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Gold Star Mothers Day

by Barbara Latta

Thousands of families have endured the loss of a son or daughter through war since our country has been fighting for freedom. As our service members sacrificed, so did their families. Grieving mothers held on to letters and telegrams informing them of their loss. Tear-stained pillows were gripped with hands that had waved good-bye as their solder of sailor left home and would never be seen again.

Gold Star Mothers of America was formed after World War I as a way to honor and support the parents of children who died in war. The mother who founded Gold Star Mothers was Grace Darling Seibold. Her son was 1st Lt. George Vaughn Seibold who was killed in August of 1918. The most well-known Gold Star Mother was Aletta Sullivan who lost all five of her sons when their ship the USS Juneau was torpedoed and sank. The movie, The Sullivans, portrayed their life and the tragedy of their death.

The last Sunday of September is a date set aside to recognize these special mothers. Those fallen men and women will never see their children grow up, get married, graduate or produce grandchildren for their parents Their hopes and dreams died with them on the battlefield so that our hopes and dreams can continue.

Each day that goes by a mother will miss her child. When birthdays, holidays, and remembrances of special occasions grace her calendar, there will be no celebration, only a grave to visit.

This Sunday we honor these mothers with recognition for their sacrifice, as well. Their son or daughter is gone, and they will live with that loss for the rest of their lives.

And we also honor Blue Star Mothers. These are moms whose children are actively serving or are veterans.

If you know a Gold Star Mother, what would be something special you could do for her today? Feel free to share your thoughts and memories.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Thank You, God, for Marvelous Migrations

by Julie Lavender

This week's post is by multi-published and award-winning author, Julie Lavender. I met Julie through the writing conferences we have both attended. I'm sure you will enjoy reading the message God has put on her heart through nature.

An autumn walk with God in the south is often graced with the fluttering of butterfly wings. God’s creativity is evident in so many of His masterpieces, but I often feel like He ‘outdid’ Himself when it comes to butterflies.

Thank you, God, for Marvelous Migrations
I spotted a monarch butterfly on my walk today. Black and orange with white spots along the tips of its wings, the monarch flies farther than any insect during its short life on Earth.

The beautiful and elegant Monarch butterflies migrate almost three thousand miles every year – from the forests of Mexico to parts of the United States, all the way to Canada.

I can’t imagine the hazards the monarchs face on that kind of a journey. The in-flight “potholes,” like unusually strong winds, thunderstorms, fast-moving vehicles along the path, sudden and unplanned temperature changes, lack of food sources along the way.

Fortunately, God gave the monarch an internal “compass,” instinct if you will, to lead and guide the monarch butterflies to make these long treks. With his creative genius, God directed their flights, long before each one hatched.

Interestingly, monarchs that live east of the Rocky Mountains move from
Canada and the United States to Mexico, and monarchs that live west of the Rocky Mountains migrate up and down the Pacific coast from the US to Canada and back.

Whew – that’s a lot of frequent flyer miles those guys are racking up, huh?

I was born in the small town of Statesboro, Georgia, and though I always dreamed of traveling when I grew up and saved some money, I never really wanted to migrate away from my hometown. I was comfortable there and my family that consisted of three siblings had all settled in nearby counties.

And, when I started dating my high school sweetheart a bit more seriously during college, I thought my zip code was settled, because he, too, was from my hometown.  

Well, God (and my husband’s degree stamped on his diploma) had other plans, and David made a deal with Uncle Sam for one three-year tour in the Navy when we both finished our Masters Degrees. At first, I wasn’t happy about it and stomped my feet a little …. well, a LOT.

Long story, short….one three-year-tour became a twenty-year migration across the United States, courtesy of a career in the Navy.

But you know what? I only pouted and stamped my feet for a short time, because it wasn’t long before I fell in love with God’s beautiful creations in other places besides my hometown.

My military-wife migration sent me from Jacksonville, Florida to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina and then back to Jacksonville again. Next stop for the Lavenders became Stafford, Virginia. Those migrations kept us on the east coast, but our next flight sent us all the way to Oceanside, California. From there we fluttered up the coast to Poulsbo, Washington. Our last tour took us diagonally back to Jacksonville, Florida – we’d come full-circle in our flight, landing back where the career began.

When David completed his Navy career, our family settled back in our hometown, surrounded by our four kids’ grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Our family had a marvelous migration – I loved seeing God’s big beautiful world.

Every year, about this time, when I watch monarch’s flitting about, I’m reminded that I may often plan my course, but it’s God that leads my steps…or flight! And I’m so thankful He’s in charge and not me!

What about you? Did you have a plan for your ‘migration’ after college that went a different direction? Did that happen even later in your life or career?

Tell me about some of your migration adventures. My favorite landing place was Washington state during our adventures. Where was your favorite zip code?

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.


Julie Lavender reluctantly took off the homeschooling hat she’d worn for over twenty-five years when her youngest of four started college three years ago. Julie and husband David, married for thirty-six years, have two sons, two daughters, one son-in-love, and one precious grandson.

Julie has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and taught public school before becoming a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling mommy. Julie and her husband, a former entomologist for the United States Navy and a current wildlife biologist at an army base, traveled about the country with their four children as Uncle Sam directed for twenty years before returning to their hometown of Statesboro, Georgia.

Living in six states and moving twelve times, the Lavenders have certainly rounded many curves, encountered some potholes, climbed a lot of hills, and navigated a few valleys, but through it all, God was faithful and true and ever-present.

Julie Lavender won a Guideposts Writing Contest, joining eleven other winners in Rye New York to study under top, New York-based Guideposts editors. Since winning that contest, Julie has been chosen for five Guideposts Refresher workshops. Additionally, Julie writes for her local newspaper, The Statesboro Herald, authored 365 Days of Celebration and Praise and Creative Sleepovers for Kids, and contributed to Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations.

Julies’ byline is found in magazines like Refresh, Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Southern Writers, BookFun, Focus on the Family, Mature Living, Country Woman, ParentLife, The Upper Room, and Taste of Home.

Julie is excited that a co-authored Christmas devotional with Michelle Cox comes out in time for Christmas this year, and a parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child, with Revell Publishers, releases in the fall of 2020.

Connect with Julie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and follow her blog at julielavender.blogspot.com to catch a glimpse of what she learns from God’s amazing and fascinating creations. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Kindness Can Change A Life

by Barbara Latta

Fruit of the Spirit series  – Kindness
Read the previous post here

Fruit of the Spirit - Kindness
King David had a covenant with his friend Jonathan. Even though Jonathan was dead, he still wanted to show kindness to the family of Jonathan because of love for his friend.

Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1 NASB).

The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are traits we are indwelt with when the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. But God never changes. Even though David lived under the Old Covenant and was not filled with the Holy Spirit the way believers are today, God still exhibited Himself through David because David loved God and followed His commandments.

The kindness of the Holy Spirit shone through David to extend to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. He found this now grown son of Jonathan and brought him to live in the king’s palace and eat the king’s food. All because of kindness.

God extends His kindness toward us…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).

David’s favor toward Mephibosheth changed the life of Jonathan’s son. He was living in poverty and fear until the king showed him kindness. When God shows kindness to us, we are redeemed from the poverty and fear that sin brings, and we are brought into the King’s palace and we can sit at the King’s table.

Our Father shows great kindness to us by forgiving us and giving new life in Christ. When we allow Him to have control, that same kindness can be flowing out of us toward others.

The fruit of the Spirit can bring the world to the King’s table.

Feel free to join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Aftermath of September 11 Continues

by Barbara Latta

September 11, 2001 changed America.
Pentagon Memorial

That day changed life for thousands of people.

Loved ones were lost and families will never be the same.

Children were born that will never know their fathers.

2,763 people died at the Twin Towers.
189 died at the Pentagon and 44 at a field in Pennsylvania.

But people are still dying because of this tragedy.

First responders, clean-up crews and those who lived and worked nearby were affected by the dust and debris that remained in the area for months. As of June 2016, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s World Trade Center Health Program had enrolled over 5,400 people who had been diagnosed with cancers linked to the 9/11 attacks. More than 12,000 have related mental health issues and over 32,000 have been diagnosed with respiratory or digestive disorders.

Remembrance of those who died at the Pentagon
Our military forces continue to fight with costly consequences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As we recognize Patriot’s Day this week, may we remember why we fight against terrorism.

All we need to do is look at the numbers—because each one represents a life.

If you have a remembrance of 9/11, please feel free to share.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Words for the Work Week - Balancing Work, Rest and Play

by Barbara Latta

Balancing work, rest and play
Labor Day is a holiday observed in the United States to give workers an opportunity to be recognized for their labor. 

God gave Adam a job to do in the Garden of Eden before there were any weeds to pull or crops to grow. Productivity was His goal. After the fall, work became labor for survival. But God even had a plan for that. We don't have to toil in despair when we follow His guidelines for work. 

He shows us how diligent work is rewarded. Slothfulness does not glorify God and neither does running our bodies and minds into exhaustion. We should live a balanced life between work, rest and play.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Our Words - Are They Tools or Weapons?

by Barbara Latta

Sometimes silence is golden.
Words are tools or weapons

TV and radio programs pollute the airwaves with words of hatred, accusation and blame. The entire earth is filled with words that hurt other people and plant seeds of doubt and discouragement into minds.

God is listening.

His heart is hurting.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:30-31 NASB).

We can grieve the Holy Spirit in lots of ways, but the way we use our words must stab at the heart of God.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

What Is Salvation - Back to the Basics

by Barbara Latta

If you have been a believer in Christ for a long time, you may wonder why it is necessary to rehearse
what salvation means. And if you are exploring believing in Christ for the first time, hopefully this can illuminate answers to help you know Him better.

Maybe I am the only one whose mind does this, but there are times I can hear something in a sermon or teaching moment and it is something I have already learned. My mind shuts down and thinks it doesn’t need to listen again. But we never stop learning. No matter how many times a subject is taught, we can still glean knowledge from other teachers and have new insight into lessons.

When we go back to the meaning of salvation, it can refresh our minds to what God really did for us. For without salvation, where would we all be? Lost and without hope. So, here are a few aspects of salvation to never stop thinking about.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

How to Overcome Jealousy and Envy

by Barbara Latta

Humanity has been dealing with jealousy since the beginning of time. Our fallen nature promotes self
and without Christ, we are captives of this sin.

The Bible gives us several examples of people in the Bible who gave in to jealousy and the disastrous result.
  • Cain was jealous of Abel – resulting in murder and Cain becoming an outcast (Genesis 4:3-15).
  • Jacob and Esau – Jacob was jealous of Esau’s birthright; Esau was jealous after Jacob stole it – resulting in Jacob’s deceit to his father and he had to leave home; Esau lost his rightful place as the firstborn (Genesis 25:29-34; Genesis 27).
  • Joseph’s brothers were jealous – resulting in selling their brother and lying to their father (Genesis 37:18-34).
  • Miriam and Aaron were jealous of Moses – resulting in Miriam contracting leprosy (Numbers 12:1-16).
  • Eliab was jealous of David – resulting in him not being chosen as the next king because of what was in his heart (I Samuel 16:6-7).
  • Saul was jealous of David – resulting in torment from an evil spirit (I Samuel 18:6-11).
  • Michel was jealous of David’s relationship with God when he danced before the ark – resulting in barrenness (2 Samuel 6:16-23).
  • Absalom was jealous of his father, David – resulting in his death (2 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 18).
  • Jesus’ disciples were jealous of each other – resulting in Jesus’s reprimand (Luke 22:24-30).

As a writer, I have many instances for envy to arise in my soul. When other writers are published and I am still waiting, these feelings could derail my progress if I let them. But God showed me what jealousy really is.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have selfish ambition there you find disorder and every evil practice (James 3:14-16 NIV).

I highlighted the words earthly, unspiritual and demonic because reading that can set us in our place. That really spoke to me when I read those words in the NIV. Jealousy is demonic. I don’t want anything demonic in my life, but the only way to keep it out is to be submitted to God and feed on His Word.

No matter what our position in life is, jealousy and envy can attack. We can compare ourselves to other parents, careers, possessions and titles, but the bottom line is jealousy comes from the devil.
The remedy for this is to find scriptures that help with overcoming these feelings. Here are a few I stand on:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; rather in humility value others above yourselves (Philippians 2:3 NIV).

A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones (Proverbs 14:30 NKJV). Wow, I don’t want rotten bones!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8 NIV).

God will show His plan to each of us when we ask Him to. His plan for me is not the same as His plan for someone else so I shouldn’t strive to have another person’s position or accomplishment.

These are just a few scriptures that are medicine to the soul when the sickness of envy attacks.

Feel free to share some of your favorite verses and join the conversation.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Avoiding False Vines by Recognizing the True Vine of Christ

by Barbara Latta

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

Jesus used the analogy of vines and branches to teach believers about our relationship with the Father through the Son.

The agricultural society of biblical times understood Jesus’ comparison because they lived a planting and harvest lifestyle. Those of us who do not live on farms must delve a little deeper into the
Jesus is the true vine.
workings of seeds and growth to get the true meaning of Jesus’ message.

A visit to a friends farm showed us how large these vines can grow. Small, curly vines reached toward the sky hiding the larger stems and growth underneath. The aged vine had grown thick and woody like a tree trunk. Roots penetrated the earth and reached deep sucking up the moisture to nourish the branches. 

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser (John 15:1).

Jesus said He was the true vine. That means there must be false vines and we need to recognize what that those false vines are so we can avoid them. Staying in the true vine gives us life.

What are some false vines offered in life?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Gentleness of Christ

The Fruit of the Spirit series –Gentleness
by Barbara Latta

The fruit of the spirit
The harshness of parts of our world and society create the wrong image of gentleness. This trait from the Fruit of the Spirit may sometimes be overlooked because we attribute being gentle with weakness or letting someone run rough shod over us.

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

Here are some examples of how Jesus used gentleness when dealing with sinners:
  • The rich young ruler – Jesus told him what to do to have eternal life. The way He demonstrated this fruit didn’t condemn the seeker, yet Jesus was able to expose the condition of the man’s heart. The youth made the decision to turn away and Jesus was saddened by his response (Matthew 19:16-23).
  • The adulterous woman – Jesus was gentle toward her, yet he didn’t condone her sin. She was given the option to stop sinning and we assume she went away and did what Jesus said (John 8:1-11).
  • The tax collector – Zacchaeus was not condemned for being a tax collector which was what the small man expected. Jesus invited Himself to the house of this sinner and because of His willingness to do so, Zacchaeus saw God looking back at him and he repented (Luke 19:1-10).
  • Peter - When this impulsive follower denied Christ, all the Savior had to do was look at His disciple and realization impaled Peter with the knife of regret. Yet after the Lord’s resurrection, Jesus restored Peter and made sure His follower knew forgiveness had been extended.

Every instance in the Bible where Jesus met sinners, He changed their lives by showing them the gentleness of the Spirit of God. Sin was not overlooked; rather, sin was repented of because of gentleness. You have also given me the shield of your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great (Psalm 18:35 NKJV).

Jesus changed the lives of sinners through gentleness.
But the Pharisees were treated differently because their hearts were hardened toward God. They had already decided in their hearts to reject Jesus so gentleness wouldn’t have worked with them. They had made themselves god by adding their own set of rules to the Law of Moses. Jesus knew what was in their hearts and He knew they were not going to change, so judgment was meted out to them (Mark 3:1-6, Matthew 23:1-36).

He was not gentle when dealing with the money changers who were abusing the Temple with their greed (Matthew 21:12-13).

We are told to restore those who have fallen with gentleness (Galatians 6:1-2). Someone coming out of sin doesn’t need judgment, they need restoration. This doesn’t mean sin is swept under the rug. If they are truly repentant, they have probably already beat themselves up with guilt. They don’t need others in the church helping them do more.

Restoring them in gentleness means giving them the Word of God to show Christ’s forgiveness. Showing kindness toward them without reminding them of their sin, and discipling them back into fellowship to grow in the Word will keep them out of future sin.

While someday there will be judgment extended to those who have rejected Christ, right now God is dealing with sinners with gentleness and mercy.

What does gentleness mean to you? Share your thoughts.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

8 Ways to Hear and Receive From God

by Barbara Latta

Do you have difficulty making decisions? Does God sometimes seem silent and your prayers
8 ways to hear and receive from God
unanswered? Most of us have gone through this in our Christian lives. Sometimes God is silent for a season because what we are asking for may not be in His timing yet. The key is to not give up. We need to continue to seek Him and listen for His voice.

Here are 8 ways I have found helpful to hear from God:

  1. Be available. Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice and renewing our minds in His Word places us in a position to hear from Him. (Romans 12:1-2). Putting ourselves in a worship mindset will take the focus off self.
  2. Leave the past behind. We can’t move forward when we live in the past and dwell on mistakes and sins. This hinders our ability to hear what God is saying now (Philippians 3:13-14).
  3. Ask for revelation knowledge. (Colossians 1:9-10). He will give us understanding when we ask for it.
  4. Know that His will is available through His Spirit. He does want to reveal things to us (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).
  5. Believe we receive our answer when we pray. Make sure prayers line up with His will and are not selfish (James 1:5-8).
  6. Be quiet, listen and get rid of distractions. (Psalm 46:10). We cannot hear God’s voice in the middle of TV shows, a radio blaring or social media streaming through the computer.
  7. Pray in the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). Many times in scripture praying in the Spirit is associated with praying in tongues. When the Spirit of God is praying from our spirit to God the Father, our mind is bypassed, and our reasoning cannot get in the way.
  8. Let peace be the guide (Colossians 3:15). When trying to make a decision and unsure which way to go, test the options with which one gives peace in the soul. When God is directing, there will be calmness and not anxiety or confusion.

What are some ways you have found helpful to hear and receive from God? Share your thoughts.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

What Does It Mean To Be Created Equal?

by Barbara Latta

The Declaration of Independence states that all men were created equal. 
The Declaration of Independence states that all
men are created equal.

It’s obvious all people on the earth are not equal. Many are enslaved, reduced to poverty, suffer from social injustice and abuse. So where does equality come from and what does it really mean?

The signers of our independence document recognized God as the Creator of all men. As the sovereign Lord, He made mankind in His image.

Each person is born as a human being with the ability to commune with their creator if they so choose.

And that is the key. Choice.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 NASB).

Adam and Eve had a choice and they chose to rebel against God.

That rebellious spirit has been passed on to every human born since that time.

Because of that rebellious spirit, those who choose to continue to disobey God exalt themselves in some positions of authority and inflict oppression on to others.

This is what causes humanity to be in classes of inequality today.

Oppression comes from other people. Dictators choose to inflict domination onto citizens; human traffickers take it upon themselves to think they can own another person because of their own selfish desires; socialism prevents citizens from owning their own property.

The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (Psalm 34:1).

The signers of the Declaration of Independence
recognized God as the Creator of all men.
God created the earth and gave it to the people He created. But He intended that creation to be used for good and not evil. Romans 13:1-4 tell us that God ordained the authority of government because people choose to be rebellious. But because there are evil leaders who obtain high positions, wisdom is required as to how far obedience should go.

And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” (Mark 12:17).
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men,” (Acts 5:29).

The Founding Fathers of America recognized that God is the giver of rights. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a God-given gift. But because of the selfishness of mankind those rights are denied to parts of the world by ungodly leaders who want to be in charge. 

Those of us who live in the United States have been given a gift that most of the world does not have. America has been a light and supportive arm to the nations of the world who have been attacked and oppressed. If that light is put out, how can others be helped? We have a foundation that was built on righteousness and that’s why our enemy, Satan, opposes it.

People are created equal in God’s eyes. Inequality comes from mankind and because of sinful rebellion the rights of equality had to be fought for. That’s what the American Revolution was all about.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

How to Live Free of the Grip of Fear

by Barbara Latta

How to live free of the grip of fear
Angels bringing communication from God to saints of old always preceded their message with “Fear not.” While the visual image of a creature from heaven would be a terrifying sight to our natural eyes, God’s reassurance to the recipients of the words tells us He doesn’t want us to be afraid.

But how do we live free of the grip of fear?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

How Can We Conquer the Root of Rejection?

by Barbara Latta

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” This often-taunted phrase is a
How can we conquer the root of rejection
lie. Words can hurt worse than a physical injury and last much longer. The emotional scars left behind can take years to heal if the hurt is not dealt with properly. Rejection comes in many forms such as bullying from peers or abuse by those in positions of authority.

But we can have a great life in one area and still experience rejection in other areas of our lives and the effects can be just as devastating if left unchecked.

Rejection Isn’t Always Through Abuse
My home was very loving and kind. I didn’t grow up with abuse, foul language, yelling, drugs, alcohol or lack.
But there were times when I felt the ultimate rejection.

I was shy. I didn’t initiate friendships or participation in games and sports; therefore, when teams were formed, I was the last one chosen.

I wasn’t the cute kid who won the little beauty contests. No one ever told me I was ugly, but my ears always perked up when someone else was told how pretty they were. So, my mind said, “You’re ugly.”

I was skinny and was told quite often about my lack of flesh. My mind said, “There’s something wrong with you.”

I worked hard to make good grades and when another student surpassed me, the voices in my head would start again, “You don’t measure up.”

So, do you get my point? I was allowing rejection to form in my mind based on what others were doing or saying.

Rejection can grow a root in our lives if we do not deal with those feelings in a scriptural way. The fruit of that root produces:
  • Seclusion – we avoid the risk of relationships to prevent being hurt again.
  • Anger and aggressiveness – we shun and hurt others by our actions.
  • Depression – we wallow in self-pity and the endless cycle of hopelessness and despair grows and can cause physical sickness.
  • Hyper-sensitivity – we display hurts seeking for justification in our feelings and become easily offended.

The Rejection of Jesus
No one has ever experienced the amount of rejection Jesus faced. In every area of His life, He faced ridicule and abuse in some form.
  • Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders (John 11:53).
  • He was rejected by his hometown (Luke 4:28-29).
  • He was rejected by his followers (John 6:66).
  • He was rejected by the Twelve (Matthew 26:26, Mark 24:50.
  • He was rejected by his family (Mark 3:21).

In of all this rejection, Jesus stayed focused on fulfilling God’s will. As the Son of Man, he had the ability to feel the same emotions we feel; but as the Son of God He remained true to His purpose. He didn’t let the rejection of others sway what He knew He had to do. His spirit overcame His emotions (Mark 14:36). We have the same ability to overcome our feelings by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:33).

The Remedy
We can overcome feelings of rejection by:
  • Putting more value on what God says about us than what other people or circumstances tell us.
  • Surrounding ourselves with others who are committed to God. Jesus didn’t avoid sinners, but when he was around them he changed the atmosphere; he didn’t let the atmosphere change him.
  • Knowing that rejection is a part of life on this fallen earth. But our part is to reject those feelings instead of absorbing them.
  • Forgiving because Christ forgave us. All those who rejected Jesus were forgiven by Him. Even Judas—the one who never received the forgiveness extended to him.

Jesus gives us value.
The ultimate rejection Jesus experienced was rejection by His Father. “My God, my God, why have your forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46).  He did this so we could be accepted. This was the worst thing that had ever happened to Him. For all eternity Jesus had been in union with His Father. Even after He laid aside the benefits of His deity to come to earth, He still had the fellowship with God until His Father had to turn away because of the sin that had been laid upon His Son. Jesus was willing to endure the worst rejection of His life so we could be accepted. That shows us how valuable we are to Him.

Best-selling author and businessman, Harvey Mackay stated, “Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.”

Someone else’s treatment of us doesn’t reflect our value. Jesus said we were all worth dying for. That should make all the difference in the world.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Lessons of Leadership and Influence from the Apostle Peter

 by Barbara Latta

Lessons of leadership and influence from the Apostle Peter.

The Apostle Peter gets a bad rap sometimes. We hear Sunday School lessons and sermons depicting his denial of Christ, his impulsive comments and rash behavior. But when those personality traits were placed under the control of the Holy Spirit, a fire for God was started that the firehose of persecution could not put out.

Peter became a leader in the early church. His influence persuaded thousands to follow Christ and the flame that burned within him radiated out to the point that even his shadow falling over people healed them.

What can we learn from this brash fisherman turned preacher about leadership and influence?

  • Lesson: When the boat is sinking get out of it. God is there to hold our hand. When all the apostles were in a sinking boat, Peter is the only one who stepped out in faith to walk on water. Yes, he eventually sank, but at least he got out of the boat. He is the only person other than Jesus who has ever walked on water. The boat was sinking yet the rest of the guys stayed in the boat. That’s amazing. (Matthew 14:24-32)
  • Lesson: Stand up for what we believe. Peter took a stand when all the others could do was repeat what the crowds had said about Jesus. He stood out from the other disciples to declare that he believed Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus said the truth of that statement is what the church would be built upon. (Matthew 16:13-19)
  • Lesson: Allow the Holy Spirit to redirect passions. Peter’s impetuous actions implored Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem to avoid crucifixion and Jesus had to rebuke him (Matthew 16:22-23). He also drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10. Peter was probably trying to take off the man’s head and when the man ducked Peter’s sword caught his ear. Peter was impulsive with his words and actions, but his forcefulness was used in a positive way to expand the kingdom of God when under the control of the Holy Spirit.
  • Lesson: Don’t stay in regret; repent and move forward. When Peter failed, he repented. After denying Christ, he was tormented by what he had done and he wept bitter tears. He still loved His Master; that’s why what he did hurt so much. He still wanted to follow Christ. (Luke 22:54-62)
  • Lesson: Don’t fear consequences. Peter denied Christ when the Master was arrested, but this denier was the same one who preached on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2: 14-41). When he was later arrested he told his accusers he had to obey God and not men (Acts 5:29).
  • Lesson: Submit to God and allow humility to take over. Be willing to admit when we are wrong (Galatians 2:11-12). Peter was willing to take the criticism of Paul and allow correction. Peter didn’t take offense at this.  Peter later quoted Paul and said his words were scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).
  • Lesson: Put Jesus first. Peter was willing to die for His Lord (John 21:18-19), (Matthew

I can identify with Peter in his failures. I haven’t always been obedient to my Lord. I have denied
Christ when I should have stood up for Him. I have allowed fear to control me instead of stepping out in faith. But I also want to learn from this wise follower of Christ and turn those failures into faith steps to influence the world around me.

What about you? What would you like to remember about Peter or one of the other early church leaders? Share your thoughts.

Monday, June 3, 2019

5 Ways to Handle the Offensive Opinion of Others

by Barbara Latta

The Bible tells us that words have power. Spoken thoughts can be used for good or harm. Our society has transformed into one in which those who don’t like what you say want voices silenced if words don’t agree with their philosophy. What is offensive to some is labeled hate speech and those who disagree say their critics are the ones who should be prosecuted.

Clicking the remote for the TV or booting up your computer is all that’s necessary to be blasted with someone’s rant or latest offense. Our ears and eyes can become bombarded with negativity and the constant stream going into our minds can have a lasting effect if we are not careful to stop the flow. Even when we think we are not affected, a mood change can be a key we are letting poison control our emotions.

 We have the power to flip the switches on electronic devices, but we can’t turn off opinions spouted in our presence whether in the workplace, marketplace or school. Refusing to become offended is a choice we can make, but the power to make that choice requires discipline in the Word of God.

Here are 5 ways we can handle the offensive opinions of others:
  1. Realize our worth does not come from someone else’s opinion or actions. Our values come from God not the news media, entertainment industry or politics. To the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV).
  2. Anchor our personality in Jesus and take possession of the inheritance He gave us. We have an inheritance in Christ that is far superior to anything this world can give. In him we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11 NKJV).
  3. Understand the words are a reflection of the condition of the heart of a person who probably does not know God. (In this case, I am referring to those whose words are vile, evil and blasphemous, not merely someone who differs from us.) They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18 ESV).  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions (2 Timothy 4:3 ESV).
  4. Allowing offense into our life doesn’t change the situation, but it can change us into an angry and bitter person. Do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you for many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 ESV).
  5. Don’t take the bait and get into an argument. The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult (Proverbs 12:16 ESV). Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words (Proverbs 23:9).
The best defense for offense is found in Philippians 1:1, "being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

When we allow the Word of God to dominate us the atmosphere of anger will not thrive in our sphere of influence. We can't control other people, but we can control our response to them. When we stand strong and avoid being drawn into negativity, we are growing in maturity and spiritual strength. 

What's your best scripture for handling offense?