Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Florida Sonshine (not a typo)

"The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you."  Numbers 6:25

As I am sitting here typing this post, I am a wee-bit tired from a wonderful weekend getaway to sunny Florida.  However, it has been over a week since I posted so I opted to lose some more sleep to share a little with you. 

Last June, two friends from high school convinced me to join them in running the Disney World Princess Half Marathon.  It wasn't an easy sell, but they sold it to me and I am a happy customer! I began training last August, getting up at 4:30 a.m. and other early hours often to train for the 13.1 miles distance.  This winter has been cold for Tennessee and many mornings were in the 20's during training.  Well, at last, all my hard work paid off.  This past weekend was the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. 

All I can say is that I felt God's hand on the entire weekend.  Florida is known for being the "Sunshine State" and for me this past weekend, it was the "Son Shine State".  His presence was so evident to me.  The whole weekend was one giant kiss from my Heavenly Daddy.  

I may write more about all the details of how good my Daddy is and how I felt His SonShine on my face this past weekend later, but right now, I just want to say, "Thank you Daddy.  I love you. Thank you for an amazing weekend. Thank you for shining on me and being gracious to me."  

Father, I ask for you to shine Your face on these readers and be gracious to them.  I pray for them to see You at work in their lives.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Purple Minions

I couldn't help but chuckle at a conversation between our seven and eight year old children yesterday.  Although the reality isn't at all funny, the context of their little minds demanded a smile.

Luke, our eight year old, was explaining to Sarah, our seven year old, that Satan had minions.  Then, he added almost as an after thought, but they aren't yellow.

You could see Sarah's seven year old mind spinning....Then, she asked, "Are they purple?"

If you have seen Despicable Me 2, then I know you are following right along with me.  However, for those of you who haven't seen this funny kids' movie, you might be scratching your head.  {smile}

These are the minions from the movie Despicable Me 2.  The yellow ones are friendly.  The purple ones, um...not so much.  

However funny this little conversation seemed to me, it doesn't minimize the severity of the reality that Satan does indeed have minions and they are neither yellow nor purple.  They are cruel, evil, oppressive. and destructive. 

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness or this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness (minions) in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:11-12 (parentheses added). 

I, for one, don't like to talk about demons or the enemy too much.  I think he likes the attention.  However, it would be unwise to ignore that they do exist or that they do scheme to wreck havoc on our lives.  These minions are constantly at work lying to us to get us to do their bidding or remain trapped in a cell of deception. 

However, we are not helpless.  We are fully equipped with the Word of God to stand against "the wiles" or strategies of the devil.  

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."  Ephesians 6:13-14

The trouble is many of us don't know the Word of God well enough to stand.  We get attacked by the enemy and we just take it and get knocked down.  God never meant for us to just take the punches.  He has given us spiritual weapons to stand strong in battle.  

"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."  2 Cor 10: 4

Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exults itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5

A stronghold is any lie or belief that you have that is contrary to the Word of God.  Or a stronghold could be anything that you have come to rely on other than God.  The enemy will lie and try to convince you that you must have ______ in order to be full.  Jesus is the only One who can fill the holes and make us whole. Anything else is a counterfeit and when we come to rely on it, it becomes a stronghold.  

My friends, don't be naive.  The enemy does indeed have his "minions" out to try to get us in strongholds and sin.  We need to stay in God's Word and buckle down double when we see any traces of yellow or purple fog around our minds.  Just kidding about the yellow or purple.  I wish they were colorful so we could recognize them easier.  When you start to feel anything other than joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, you can bet there is a purple perpetrator somewhere around.   Friends, we can be aware even without the color notification.  

Are you in a stronghold today?  Have you been relying on something other than Jesus to fill you?  The good news is when we can recognize what is going on, we can do something about it.  We can see what God says about it in His Word.  Bring every negative thought captive to the obedience of the truth of Jesus.  Stand. Win. 

We don't need to let any minions get the better of us, no matter what color they come in. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kudos to Downton Abbey

I have a confession to make.  I love the show Downton Abbey.  There aren't too many shows the Holy Spirit will let me watch on television (seriously), so when I find one that has His approval, I am THRILLED!!

For those of you not familiar with Downton Abbey, it is a beautiful portrayal of life for the super wealthy in the early 1900's.

I actually had on my mind to write this blog on their nightly tradition of mealtime centered around a table followed by a time of fellowship in the "drawing room", and how we need to take a lesson from the importance they placed on that daily practice.

I may expound on that topic at another point, but this last Sunday night's episode peeked another subject matter in need of highlighting. (Warning: Spoiler Alert if you missed Sunday.)  

Last night 10.2 million viewers watched and gasped as Edith wrestled with whether to abort her unborn child.  In the moments of her waiting in the "doctor's" office while she listened to the cries of one who had previously chosen death, it was as if 10 million people all at once pleaded with a fictional TV character, "NOOOOO, don't do it!!!"

The TV show did a fairly decent depiction of the issues surrounding abortion.  It was very secretive. Edith realized she may not be able to be around babies ever again due to the pain it would cause her.  She knew she would have to live with a lie and the fact that she had killed the baby she wanted from the man she loved. She acknowledged that it was indeed a baby.

However, I have to wonder.  Was there one person out there in TV land watching that was rooting for Edith to choose death?  Was there one person out of 10 million that thought, "That's right, Edith.  You have to do that, it is the only way for you to have the life you want."  Or could every single person out there see that if she would have chosen death, that death would have followed her home.

Abortion doesn't solve any crisis, it only creates further chaos.  The very thing promised to quiet the consequences of choices, brings silent chains of despair, grief, and shame.

If Edith would have chosen abortion, I can predict what would have followed.  I can predict it because I have lived it.  She would have fallen into a deep depression followed and accompanied by self-destructive behaviors.  She would have shunned close interaction with her nephew and niece and other babies while coddling her destructive secret.  She would have withdrawn from her family, feeling unworthy with her lie tucked safely behind a mask.  Her life would never be the same and the shadow of her "choice" would have followed her relentlessly whispering words of condemnation and guilt.

I wonder if everyone watching saw the two roads ahead of Edith.  One ending in life.  One ending in death. Or, if my perceptions were sharpened due to experience.  However, if 10 million viewers were on edge for her to choose life, would they also react the same in reality.  If it was a friend, a neighbor, a relative, a daughter, or self?  Would they be rooting for life then?  Or would the circumstances surrounding the decision cloud their thoughts?

One is a pretend baby in TV land.  However, every day 125,000 abortions are performed.  125,000 babies' lives ended today due to a choice.  This isn't pretend.  This isn't TV.  This is real and this is horrid.  If that number doesn't shock you, I pray you would get down on your knees and ask why it doesn't.

While I have to give Downton Abbey kudos for being brave enough to show some of the dark realities surrounding abortion, it still doesn't begin to come near to the true darkness that results from an innocent life being taken in the name of choice.

I saw a Planned Parenthood campaign today that said, "Women need safe and legal abortions for valentine's day." http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/02/10/planned-parenthood-president-women-need-abortions-for-valentines-day/  and my heart sank.  Abortion is a lie and I won't be quiet about it.  I know some of you may even feel uncomfortable with me talking about it right now, but the truth must be told.

Thank you, Edith, from Downton Abbey, for choosing life.  I pray for those in the real world who are faced with the same decision.  I promise you, abortion will not solve anything, it will only result in despair, pain and regret. Take one breath and trust the Lord.  Babies are a blessing, not a crisis, and never a curse.

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live" Deuteronomy 30:19 

"For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." Ps 139:13-16

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you."  Jeremiah 1:5



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Seven Year Old's Thoughts on Fasting

As I was tucking our seven year old, Sarah, into bed the other night, she asked me an insightful question.  It might be a question many people have thought at one time or another but have never verbalized.  It was a question on fasting.

She asked, "How does not eating make your prayers stronger?"  Then, she added with a giggle, "It doesn't make any sense."

I explained that when we deny our flesh or  "old man", that it makes our spirit or our "new man" stronger. And when our spirit is stronger, our prayers are stronger.  (She understand her "old man" versus "new man" from great teaching by Paul Anne Swilley.  Thanks Paul Anne!)

Sarah said that made sense and then said something I thought was very insightful for a seven year old...

She asked, "Does that mean if we eat too much that our flesh gets stronger?"

Wow!  I replied, "Yes, it does!  What we feed gets stronger.  If we feed our spirit with the Word of God, it gets stronger.  When we overeat or do things to feed our flesh, our carnal nature or "old man" gets stronger."

Now, of course we have to feed our bodies.  We all need food.  However, she reminded me of how what we consume physically through all our senses is tied to our spiritual lives.  I think it is good to take a check every once in awhile to see what we are consuming.

Here are some examples of what feeds the "new man" or spirit:  God's Word, recorded sermons, going to church, reading Christian books, listening to praise/worship music, prayer.

These are examples of what feeds the "old man"  or flesh:  T.V.,  junk food, overeating, talk radio, pop music, movies, reading secular novels,  etc.

None of the above are necessarily bad in moderation (depends on the material).  However, if that is all or even most of what we are consuming, then there is a major problem resulting in the flesh overruling our spirit. When our flesh overrules our spirit, the Holy Spirit's voice is diminished.

When we feed our spirit, the Holy Spirit's voice and our spirit get stronger and it helps us to lead a life centered on Christ, walking with the Lord.  What we feed on determines the kind of fruit we produce.

If we are a tree, for example, and we want to produce beautiful plump shiny apples, we need the proper water and sunlight to produce good fruit.  If we do not get the right nutrition, our apples will be small and dry or there may not be any apples on the tree at all!

I want my life to produce big plump juicy fruit.  I want my spirit to be stronger than my flesh.  I want to live a life that points to Christ.  How about you?

Thank you seven year old Sarah for that reminder today!

Power Verses:

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit."  Romans 8:5

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."  Romans 8:6

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Cor 5;17

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Our middle son, Luke, went to a birthday party at Lazor Quest yesterday.  For those who do not live in Knoxville or who don't have a boy between the ages of 4 and 20, Lazor Quest is an advanced game of tag in which your goal is to tag the other players with lasers.  It is played in darkness with the only lights being the lasers aimed at players whose goal is also to hit their friends with lasers.

One of the fun things about Lazor Quest is having the opportunity to name your laser tagging alter ego with whatever ultra-cool name enters your imagination.  Yesterday, my son, Luke, chose L.U. K.E.

Upon first glance, his name choice does not appear to be very original.  So, I asked my husband what the letters represented.  He said, "L-oving, U-mbrella, K-ind, E-ntertaining.  Umbrella?  I wasn't sure the U was right.  I went to the source for the correct acronym.

Luke told me L.U. K.E. stood for: Loving, Unknown, Kind, Entertaining

I agreed with the L,K, and E, but I had to question the U.

He said U was Unknown because he was in the dark and you couldn't see him  (He was in stealth mode.) Then he said, "But, I wasn't really unknown because the light allowed others to see me."

I began thinking about how we can feel "unknown".   I think many people feel like no one sees them?

Perhaps you feel "Unknown".  Perhaps you feel like you are not seen.  However, you have been taken out of the darkness and belong to the "Light".   If you feel alone or insignificant or hidden or invisible, I hope you will know that U are not unknown.  There is One who knows the very hairs on your head and saves your tears in a bottle. God knows.  God sees.  You are precious to Him.

I hope, like Luke,  if you have labeled yourself as "unknown" that you will come to the same realization he did-- The Light shines on you and you are not hidden or invisible. You are known.

Power Verses:

"But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matt 10:30

"You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?" Psalm 56:8

"You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off." Psalm 139:2