Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART...judgement seat

Dear Readers: I am so encouraged by so many of you who leave loving comments. I can honestly say I can't remember ever getting a negative comment on any of my writings. But I would be totally naive to think that everyone who reads this blog or anything I publish is in total agreement with me. It is never my intent to offend, criticize or judge anyone. The one avenue of the greatest criticism and judgement of people that I see is on facebook. Facebook is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, it is also a great way to lose friends. Facebook brings alot of negativity I believe because we honestly cannot see the heart of someone. Emotion is not a sin. Expressing yourself is also not a bad thing. But casting judgement is not cool. Not with me. and not with God. If you find yourself tempted to judge someone from what you see on the outside, look inwardly and try to see the heart. If you can't see the heart...then ask that person to explain themselves and above all ask God to forgive you for judging and then ask Him to show you that persons heart like He sees it. -I have written this post as a reminder that God is our ultimate Judge. Please read on...

Each of us will one day have to come before the judgment seat and hear God's final judgement. He will look over our life, our actions, our words and He will even reveal our heart and then He will render one final judgment. We will hear either, "Well done, good and faithful servant" or we will be harshly told, "I knew you not!"

Until that final day, each of us have opportunities to make things right in our life and in our hearts. Unfortunately, what happens to many of us is someone here on this earth crawls up into that judgement seat and tries to cast judgement on us before it is time.

As a writer, I can tell you that each and every day someone probably casts judgement upon me based on the things I say or possibly even for the things I do not say. Opinions are made about me as a person based on the tone of my writing or certain verbiage that I use. Every time I write something that is put out there in front of the public eye, I take the risk of someone misunderstanding me or criticising me and even possibly having someone judge me.

This kind of judgement is based on the outward appearance. Many of my writings go all around the globe, much of my readership comes from people that I have never come in contact with eye to eye. Our relationship is merely thru the web. The same is true for the friends that are on my "friend list" on facebook. Many of these "friends" are people who live miles and miles and miles from me, some are not even "real life" friends as we have never even met in person. We are just simply "cyber friends." Even though we have not met, it has aways intrigued me how yet we still have the ability to judge one another.

This kind of judging is carnal. It is of the world. It is in every sinful nature to want to cast judgement on others. Whether we know them or not. If I were to write on my blog or on facebook that I think "the grass is green!" I wonder how many of you would walk away with a different perception of what color green I was speaking of. Someone would no doubt judge me for not thinking the same way as they did about what grass should look like. Instead of approaching me and asking me questions, they would go on thinking how absurd I was for thinking that grass is the shade of "lime green"!

I never SAID it was lime green, but because someone didn't know me intimately or personally, they chose to believe what they wanted to believe. This is a prime example of carnal judgement. It's ugly and it is a sin.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble…” 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)

Casting judgement on others must simply break God's heart. When we cast judgement on others, we elevate ourselves up past the point of recognizing that what we are doing is just as ugly as the sin that we are judging others for.

In the book Holiness, Truth, and the Presence of God, author Francis Frangipane says,

 “Anyone can pass judgment – but can they lay down their lives in love, intercession and faith for the one judged? Can they target an area of need and rather than criticizing, fast and pray, asking God to supply the very virtue they feel lacking? And then persevere in that love – motivated prayer until that fallen area blooms in godliness? Such is the life Christ commands we follow!”

There is only One Who has the right to judge, and He has already exemplified what Frangipane is talking about. "Lay down their life in love, intercession and faith for the one judged?" Jesus Christ already did that and even though there is not one person besides Him that have perfected life, He still chose to extend Grace, love and forgiveness to us. None of us deserve it. Most certainly none of us can earn it. But yet He offers it, even when we were lost as all could be. When we were deep in sin, He chose to not judge us but love us and bring us up out of the miry clay.

That's the difference between carnal judgement and eternal judgement. People who serve as the judge and jury can only see the outside. God, however sees the inside. He judges not only what is seen by the eye but what only His eye can see...our motives, our sincerity and our hearts!

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  LUKE 6:37,38

Be careful about casting judgement on others.

1. You may only see what you want to see.
2. You may only have half the story.
3. You can't always judge a book by its cover.
4. No one has the final say except God.
5. His judgement is more final than any man's could possibly be.

Just be careful!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

LACED WITH GRACE...What is it?

Please visit LACED WITH GRACE today, I have shared a short devo with the readers entitled,


"When my children were just toddlers, I just loved it when they would draw me a picture. Many times it was difficult to make out what the different lines were suppose to form. They would so proudly present their masterpiece to me, and I would have to ask…”What is it?” “Silly Mommy…it’s a pink elephant hanging in a tree of course!”..... CLICK HERE to read the rest!

As always, your comments not only encourage me but other readers as well!

THANKFUL THURSDAY...where Grace is, love abounds

How many times do we turn our backs on someone instead of extending Grace to them? It seems like leaving, giving up or throwing our hands in the air is the easy thing to do. I have wondered why it is so difficult for man to extend Grace to others?

God's Grace is astounding to me! His kind of Grace certainly differs from man's ideal of Grace. God's Grace means that He accepts me IN SPITE of my sin. Man's idea of Grace sometimes comes in a different form. We can turn our love and affection off quickly BECAUSE of sin. It's difficult to see past the wrong doings of people sometimes.

I have a tendency to see good in people. Even before they see it. I believe that every person, no matter how bad their past may have been, can turn around and be a good person. The reason I believe this is because of God's Grace. Before I came to know God, I was a sinner. I didn't murder anyone. I didn't rob anyone. I didn't spend any time in prison for anything. However, I was still a sinner.

Sin is sin. There is no grey area when we talk about sin. We can't say we just sin "alittle" bit or "alot". We either sin or we don't. The only measure that God uses for our sin is whether or not we have repented and have been forgiven. The measurement that God uses for sin is the heart.

1 SAMUEL 16:7 "For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Each of us are sinners. Some of us are just sinners saved by Grace! I like what John Piper said about Grace..."Grace is power, not just pardon." When God reaches down and gives His Grace, He not only PARDONS our sin, but He gives us the POWER to live according to His Word.

His Word implores us to love one another. Every word, every deed and every thought should not be based on love for yourself, we should each be propelled because of our love for God. When we fully understand that the Grace of God is the ultimate act of love, we will indeed have a deeper love for others, even those who seemingly seem unlovable.

Extending Grace to those who have hurt us or who are lost in their sin is an amazing act of love. After all, isn't that what God did for us? Where Grace is...love abounds.

Today on THANKFUL THURSDAY, I am so thankful for God's Grace and His love. Without it, I would still be lost in my sin. May I not forget what He has done for me, and may my remembrance propel me to extend Grace and Love to someone who needs it.

What are you thankful for today? Please share your grateful heart with us by linking up below!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aunthentic Christianity

Recently, for our daughters "sweet 16" birthday, we surprised her with a very unique and special ring. Not only was the green gem stunning, but it was accented with a small diamond on each side. We wanted to give her something very special for her sixteenth birthday. The look on her face was priceless as she opened her gift...
One of the first things that Anna said to us about her ring was, "Is it real?" I can't tell you how many times in the past week she has asked if her ring was the "real thing"?

It's easy to show the authenticity of jewelry, if you don't have the proper paperwork, you can always take it to a jeweler who can appraise it and confirm the genuine value of the gem. In God's eyes, each of us are gems to Him, but showing the authenticity of our Christianity to others takes more than words.

God knows our heart and knows how real our faith is, but sometimes we try to be something we are not. It seems strange to me how some people try to be more "spiritual" than they really are. When you consider that true spiritual maturity involves deep humility and the utmost integrity, it seems ironic to me that people try to "put on". Some people are intrigued with the Christian lifestyle but yet have not committed to a real relationship with God.

"Imposter" Christians are not always easy to spot. For one thing, they blend in with the real Christians. They know the talk. They know the walk. But the one thing missing with the fake or imposter's is that they do not KNOW God. It may be easy to fool people, but we can never fool God. Look at Ananias:

ACTS 5:1-6 "But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.' 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him."
I don't know if Ananias was an imposter Christian or not but at times people can be just like Ananias. We try to play up our spirituality. We say things that we really don't mean and pretend to do the right thing, all so others will think highly of us.
As you can see with Ananias, in the end, the truth of our character, integrity and faith will be revealed. We may be able to fool those around us, but God is never fooled by our phony ways. In the end, He will give us the stamp of authenticity...
 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ -Matthew 25:21
May we all be found to be the real deal. Genuine. May we be found to be authentic!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...birthday celebration!

Don't you just love birthdays?
It's a day set aside to celebrate the birth of "YOU"! You may get the day off of work, go out for lunch, have a party, blow candles out on a cake or you might even get a gift or two. No matter what you do on your special day, it is fun rejoicing in the life that God has given you.

Around our house, it seems like all we have been doing is celebrating birthdays. Since June, we have celebrated birthdays of 2 bonus daughters, 2 sons and now our "sweet 16" teen daughter! I love making their day special, whether it be a family dinner or a unique gift purchased with just them in mind.

Our youngest, and only daughter Anna, just celebrated her sweet 16 birthday.

It takes me back to the sweet memories of being a teenager and anticipating every new year, counting down to that BIG 1-8! As a young person, it seemed like it would never, ever arrive. But yet as quickly as I can remember, here it came and as quick as it came, it quickly left. That has been a few years now for me, but thinking about it caused me to stop and reflect on what I have done since that time of my life.

Have I reached my goals? Have I made a difference?

As I thought about this, I wondered about my spiritual birthday. As great as having birthday celebrations are, I wonder why we don't take as much time and care in remembering and celebrating our spiritual birthday...the day we gave our life and heart to Christ. The day of new birth. The day of salvation.

I can remember some great birthday celebrations that we have had in our family. So many great parties with our children. But honestly, I can't think of any better celebration than when I saw each of my children come to Christ. Now that is a day worth celebrating! Some of us are at an age that birthdays are not much fun anymore. We don't look forward to them like we use to when we were younger. But our spiritual birthday is one of those things that should never get old. Each day, each year with God should get sweeter and sweeter. And as we look back in our life and reflect on what we have accomplished so far, the same can go for our spiritual walk.

Have we pursued His Will? Have we heard His voice and obeyed?

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

As Christians, we have been given a new life in Christ. Each year that passes we should find ourselves closer to Him. We should be meditating and understanding His Word more. We should be more confident in sharing His love with others. We should be growing, not dying.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Today I am thankful for all the birthdays that God has blessed me with, not only the physical ones but the spiritual ones. It is my desire that the older I get, that I will not focus on my age as much as on the opportunity He has given me to be all I can be in Him! And may He find me growing and not dying.

What is your grateful heart thankful for today? Share it with us as we celebrate THANKFUL THURSDAY! I am so glad that you stopped by to share your thankful heart with us!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What if there was a complaint department in church?

I can remember the old slapstick comedy routines where there was a complaint department and some poor soul behind the counter had to listen to and solve every ones problem that came by. If I remember right, most of the complaints were outlandish and the comedian portraying the complaint department usually had a crazy reaction that didn't really solve anything.

We laugh at such comedy routines, but how realistic does that sound to real life drama?

I think that every business establishment should have a complaint department. That way we would have a place that we could go to to complain about the service or whatever is eating away at us...At the restaurant: "The food is cold!" At the dry cleaners: "You used too much starch!" At the movie theatre: "It is too cold in here!" At the local Walmart: "The check out lines are too long!" At the doctors office: "How much longer do I have to wait?"

Everywhere we go, it seems someone has something to complain about. Even in church..."The music is too loud!" "The carpet is the wrong color!" "They never sing from the hymnals anymore!" "The preacher goes too long!" "Did you see what the preachers wife was wearing today?"

Wouldn't it be strange if every church had a complaint department? You could fill out your complaint on a card, turn it in and someone behind the counter could help resolve your issue. It is sad to think that of all places, the church would need to have such a place. But it's true, church is not exempt from complaints. Nor is it exempt from strife, disagreement and what the Bible talks about...disunity.

As mature Christian leaders in the church body, we must be able to distinguish between the rebuking of sin and petty actions.

ROMANS 12:17-18 "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

When you read the letters of Paul, you hear a particular tone when it addresses the issue of conflict in church. Whatever the disagreement may be, whether it is concerning the roles of women in the church, or the leadership or the role of the Spiritual gifts, one thing is the same when it comes to making a resolve...the answer must be centered on focusing on God and not on man. We must surrender to God and not to the ideals and ways of man.

In our man flesh, we can let our ideas, our visions and our pride stand in the way of what God wants to do. When we are led by our own flesh, it is difficult to follow the lead of Christ. Paul continually reminds us that we are to express our oneness (our unity) with Christ by showing love and acceptance to others because He first loved and accepted us.

True wisdom can solve any conflict. No matter where it is but especially in the body of believers. But often times our own pride and fleshly desires stands in the way. However, Gods grace will always prevail. Man may seek other things, but God seeks peace and will bring it in an orderly fashion. Those that try to stand in the way of peace and love will be reckoned with.

Pettiness that arises out of hearts of jealousy, bitterness and pride will only ruin relationships and in some cases ruin ministry. As mature Christian leaders, we must pursue peace and love. Sometimes that may mean we will have to "agree to disagree." It is never God's will that there be disunity in His church or among His children. Sometimes you might find yourself in a place that you will have to stand alone and take a stand for what initiates unity. Unity must start with the top and trickle down thru the rest of the body. Satan thrives on conflict and he wants to pull you into it and keep you in conflict, however:

JAMES 4:7-8 "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you."

James asks a very crucial question...are we resisting God or resisting the devil? How we respond to life and to others will be rooted in how we respond to God.

A humble heart and spirit will respond in love and peace and seek God's ways, while a prideful heart and spirit will respond in criticism, disagreement and judgement, seeking to serve mans desires.

Humility and pride serve two different masters...and when brought to the complaint department, both will end up with two different outcomes.

What are you doing to create a spirit of unity in the world you live?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...spiritual cooling

Have you ever wondered what the greatest invention of the 20 century was?

The automobile? Microwave popcorn? Antibiotics?

Honestly, for this southern belle, I would have to say the best and most ingenious invention would have to be air conditioning. According to Wikipedia, the first air conditioner was invented in 1902. Someone had to of lived in the heat of the south to think of such a great invention. There is nothing like walking in from the outdoors on a sun blazing hot day and feel a cool blast of air hit your face.

This past week, our air unit went out and walking into our house was like walking into a sauna. It is unbelievable how quickly the temperatures can change. Instead of being cool, I was hot, sweaty and my feet felt swollen. I found myself sticking my head in the freezer for a moment or two to just be able to remember what a cool breeze felt like.

What is so amazing to me is that no matter what the temperature, cold or hot, some things just never fluctuate. While the thermostat goes up and down according to the heat, God's love for us never fluctuates.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. –Psalm 32:4

The Psalmist nailed it on the head, any length of time in the heat will leave you feeling dry and parched. The same is true with your spiritual being. The Psalmist is not speaking about the weather in this passage. The point we can walk away with is that no matter how hot, dry and parched we may feel, God never releases His hand from us. He is with us during the cold season and the hot. His hand remains upon us in the heat of the day and the coolness of the night.

May we never forget that when our spiritual temperatures fluctuate, He is with us, embracing us and offering us a spiritual coolness like we could not find anywhere else.

Aren't you thankful today for the spriritual freshness that He breathes upon us? Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY and I am so glad that you joined us. Won't you share your grateful heart with us by linking up below? It is my prayer that you will be refreshed today with a newfound spiritual coolness.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A piece of my heart....Putting fish in a jar!

We have a small fishbowl with just one fish. We inherited the fish from a friend who had fishbowls on the table at their wedding. We have never really had any luck at keeping fish alive for long. But to our amazement this little guy has lasted much longer than we thought he would.

When it comes time to clean the fishbowl, we have to catch the little fishie in a net so we can place him in a small jar while we clean the bowl. You would think that such a small little creature would be easy to capture, but sometimes it takes 2, 3 or 4 attempts of catching him.

As difficult as it is to capture just a small fish into a small jar, it blows my mind how difficult it would be to go to the ocean and capture a massive amount.

PSALM 33:7 "He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; He puts the deep into storehouses."

The thought that God can gather the sea up into a jar while I can hardly gather up a cup of it into my jar, just totally fascinates me. Isn't it interesting that the Psalmist paints us this picture.

It makes me think of the days we spent on the beach when our kids were little. We would stand at the
edge of the water, and as the tide rolled in, we would be ready to gather up as many shells or crabs that washed ashore. The kids would be waiting in anticipation with their little shovels and pails, only to be disappointed that the tide would wash the shells and crabs back out to sea almost as fast as it washed in.

It is difficult for me to imagine God standing at the beach line with a jar, waiting to collect as much
water as He can before the water washed back out. I don't think this is the picture that the Psalmist is painting for us. However, the point is that God is in control and He rules over everything, even nature.

He created the seas and everything in it and if He needed to He could command the waves to stop and He would be able to put all of the waters into jars if He had to.


Now THAT is what strengthens my faith! Knowing that God is all powerful, all knowing and able to handle anything. If He could put all of the sea into jars, how much MORE can He do something with what hangs over our heads? When the waves come crashing in on us, He WILL make a way!

We just have to trust Him. And obey.

Trust and Obey...two words that can calm any storm!
And this has been a piece of my heart today;

Thursday, August 4, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY...surviving the heat!

It is so hot!
It is no joke when you hear someone say that someone has turned up the heat. Here in the south, temperatures have peaked to over 100 degrees. Yesterday was noted to be the hottest day ever, temperatures reached 117 with the heat index.

There isn't alot you can do in temperatures like that. It is even too hot to go swimming. We are all just doing what we can to survive this heat wave. We are all different when it comes to how much heat we can take. Some of us would faint of heat exhaustion if we had to work outdoors, while others of us just love the heat, the hotter, the better.

Spiritually speaking, we are molded the same way. Some of us quiver and faint easily when the heat of the fire hits us, while others of us can take alot of stress and pressure before buckling at the knees. In the heat of the summer, it is nearly impossible to escape the heat, Christians are not exempt from persecution, therefore escaping the blazing heat of the enemy is not always easy.

Most of us need to drink extra doses of water in these hot days. Water will quench our thirst and replenish our bodies. But what happens when all of the water in the world cannot put out the heat we feel? Usually I do not like the heat, not just weather speaking but spiritually as well. I can't think of too many people that actually enjoy to go thru hard times and persecution, but it is in these times that I know God refines us.

Look at Jonah.

God had an assignment for Jonah to go to Nineveh. But Jonah had the wrong perspective of what was being asked of him. He did not want to go to Nineveh.

Eventually Jonah submitted and obeyed God and went to Nineveh to warn the people of their sin. The people repented and God showed mercy upon them. But Jonah had a different perspective of things than God did. Jonah thought that the sins of the people should not go unpunished. Because Jonah was not seeing things clearly, God sent some heat upon his head...

JONAH 4:8 "And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live."

God did this to refine Jonah's perspective, so that he could see the people of Nineveh thru God's eyes instead of his own. In the heat of it, according to the above passage, Noah wanted to give up.

How many times do we do the same when the heat is turned up. We want to quit. Give up. Throw in the towel. Our perspective of things many times leaves us feeling parched. If only we could see things like God sees things. We might be spared of some heated days if we did.

What kind of heat have you been enduring? Has your stamina and endurance gotten you thru or does your perspective need to be altered?

Today is THANKFUL THURSDAY, and today I am giving thanks for the heat, for without it, I may not see things clearly the way God wants me to see things. One of the good things about the summer heat is that cooler days are coming, if we could just be patient. Same is true spiritually, today you may be going thru a heated trial, but be patient and trust God. Cooler days are coming.

What are you thankful for today? Share your grateful heart with us by linking up below with Mr. Linky!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A PIECE OF MY HEART....talk to strangers?

When I was young, my mother always taught me that I should not talk to strangers. This was also something that I taught my children as well. Strangers to a child can be scary. It is someone they don't know, and in this day and time, strangers can bring harm to them.
I was always leary of this lesson when it came time to teach it to my children. On one hand, I didn't want my children to trust just anybody but on the other hand, I didn't want them to be suspicious of everyone they came into contact with either.

We had to try to find a medium ground of what a good stranger was and what a bad stranger was. Problem is that often times the bad stranger can come disguised as a good stranger. It is at these times that knowing the voice of God comes in handy. His Holy Spirit has a way of putting doubt or apprehension in us when it comes to trusting folks, especially if the folks we are trusting are not a "good stranger."  Some people call this "intuition", I call it the "leading of the Holy Spirit".

As I have grown up, I have called upon His leading to show me the good from the bad. And thru the years I have learned that not all strangers are bad. In fact, some strangers are doing exactly what I am trying to do and that is follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Recently, we met such a stranger.

My husband and I sat at a local restaurant with our teen daughter. It was late on a Sunday evening. We had just got back in town from a long weekend. When we first entered the restaurant, we saw some folks from church and a few of them came and chatted with us at our table. When our food arrived, they politely went on their way.

All during our meal and visit, I noticed a gentleman sitting at the table next to ours. He kept looking over at our table curiously. He was a well dressed man. He didn't look scary or intimidating. But yet he kept looking.

My family continued on our visit and my husband and I sat and listened to our teen daughter. After a short while the man and his guest got up from their table and left. They never said a word to us. Except a few minutes later, the gentleman, the stranger, came back to our table and asked our permission for him to share something with us.

We gracefully said yes. I was waiting for the sales pitch or something along that line. But what this man shared wasn't at all a ploy to get us to buy something. It was clearly a message from God. He sat down at our table, next to my husband and across the table from our daughter. He spoke directly to our daughter, an encouragement from God that was so on target with something that she was dealing with. He spoke with clarity, with love and encouragement. He didn't even live in our town. He was passing thru town. There was no possible way he could have known what my daughter has been going thru these past few months. But God did.

He was a stranger to us, but yet not a stranger to God.

1 Peter 3:15 "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

This encounter with the stranger showed me a couple of things. First of all, God will meet you any where. He doesn't just speak to us at church, but often times He shows up in places that we would not expect. Second of all, God speaks to us in many different ways, He will even use strangers to deliver a message to us. But before a stranger can be used by God, he/she must know the voice of God and be willing to obey.

The stranger in the restaurant obviously knew the voice of God and he chose to obey His leading. I wonder what kind of a stranger I would make to someone? Am I always alert to His voice and am I willing to obey when I hear His prompting?

Do you talk to strangers?
We must be careful these days but we must also be able to distinguish the voice of the Lord.

And this has been a piece of my heart today.