God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Expand, Stretch, and Grow

by Barbara Latta 

I took a deep breath of cool, fall air as the breeze blew against my face. Orange, red, yellow, and purple trees swathed the mountainside in a palette of color. God's handiwork called for us to stop and enjoy the view.

As I looked over the valley between the mountains, the wind blew leaves from the trees in front of my face. I captured one and admired its brilliant color. This leaf was detached from its life giving source and would soon wither and fade, becoming mulch on the ground. Nature’s purpose had been accomplished and it was time for the tree to let go and make room for the new growth spring would bring.
Our lives can become cluttered with dead leaves. We hold on to old things that still look good to us because they are familiar. But new growth cannot begin until the old is detached and discarded. The Bible tells us to "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes" (Isaiah 54:2-3).

One of the things I have needed to change in my life is a feeling of inadequacy. I was asked to fill a leadership position in a group which would often require speaking or teaching. I have never thought of myself as a leader, but I can’t grow and become what I want to be as long as these feelings stay attached to me. I have to form an image based on the new creature I am in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Even if what you are holding on to was once beautiful, the purpose could now be gone.  It's time for new growth. Blossoms and blooms can only appear when the dead has been discarded. 

What are some things you need to change to allow for new growth?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rejecting A Bully Mentality

I read another article this week about bullying which caused me to want to address the issue on this blog. This activity has become so prevalent over the years that it has become a hot topic in news stories, magazines, and social media. Teachers and counselors try to offer solutions but these remedies do not address the heart issue. Behavior modification will not work permanently because the crux of the matter is a damaged soul.

People can become bullies because of inner wounds inflicted upon them by abuse, abandonment, and feelings of unworthiness. They then try to overcome these emotions by overpowering others through intimidation and violence.

When situations in life cause us to feel rejected, we all compensate in some way to try to overcome it. Rejection hurts and we try to heal ourselves any way we can. For some that means inflicting pain on others.

To help someone overcome a bullying mentality we need to:
  • Convince them that God loves them (I John 4:10).
  • Show them God's forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).
  • Reveal that they are accepted and not rejected by God (Ephesians 1:4-6).
  • Remind them they will never be alone (Hebrews 13:5).
  • Teach them to change their way of thinking (Romans 12:2)

Following these guidelines will teach a person they don’t have to exert power over others to feel accepted.

The victim of a bully will suffer the same consequences of feeling rejection and shame. In some cases, this could cause a vicious cycle of creating another offender. Both the victim and the bully need to know that God’s love goes deep, heals hurts, and restores life.

Intimidation and fear cause more wounds for the bully and the victim. God’s way is the real power. Not power over someone, but power through Someone.

Have you been a victim or a bully, or do you know someone who has? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fresh and Flourishing

Both our sons had birthdays within the last three weeks. The cards and wishes remind us of time that has passed and I reflect on where it went.  I look in the mirror and see the sags that weren't there last year and age looks back at me. 

We are all aware of celebrities and others in the public eye who spend thousands of dollars each year on repeated nips, tucks, and injections because they can’t stand the thought of looking old. I don’t know of anyone who wants to appear decrepit, but changing the outside doesn’t change the inside. Somehow they think if they change their looks, they are becoming younger. But inside they still feel the same, because their mind is on aging. The only thing they have to live for is looking young.

Youthfulness can only come by being planted in the Lord (Psalm 103:5). When our souls are healthy it will be transferred to our physical being. Yes, our bodies will age until we receive a glorified one in Heaven; but we don’t have to let the aging process control us by keeping us in bondage to old thinking.

God says we are blessed when we delight in his law and we will bring forth fruit and our leaf will not wither (Psalm 1:2-3). Staying focused on God and His Word will bring youth to our souls. Meditating on aging can actually speed up the time clock.

While we do whatever we can to keep the outside looking young, we need to remember that the inside is reflected to the outer person. Seeing a wrinkle or gray hair isn’t fun for anybody, but if we see ourselves the way God sees us, those things won’t be devastating to our emotions.

Remembering that I can be a leaf that does not wither will help me next time I see the sags the mirror shouts at me.

What do you do to counter the voices that shout your age?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Drink From The Communion Well

We celebrated Christ at church today with the remembrance of Communion. As I held a piece of cracker and a  cup of juice in my hand, I looked at the symbol of Jesus' body. The bread was full of holes, browned in places, and had broken, jagged edges. Without leaven or salt, its taste was bland.

Jesus was baked in the fire of God's wrath when judgment for sin fell upon Him. His body was torn and ragged from whips and cords being slashed across it and he beaten with reeds and sticks. His skin and muscles hung from his bones. His hands and feet were pierced with nails, leaving holes so big light could be seen through them. Sin leaves a bitter taste. 

The cracker is a reminder of all His body went through.

Blood flowed out of His body dripping and pouring onto the ground. My sin and yours washed down the rough wood of the cross, mingled with sorrow, separation, and shame. That blood was placed on the mercy seat of heaven after Jesus' resurrection because atonement had been completed. 

Looking into that cup I see His blood. Because of that, I don't see my sin.

His gift gives us life and He invites us to drink of the water of that life freely. This picture of the well tells me I have to take the bucket and willingly drink.

What does it say to you?