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Thursday, December 25, 2014

The true meaning of Christmas


We are all familiar with the manger scene.  Its generally a part of the Christmas decorations in most churches foyers.  You may find it in a few homes of your friends or family.


I was out for a run this morning.  

It was dark, quiet, crisp.

As I ran, in the quiet I realized that the greatest gift was given to us from a God who loves us fiercely.

He sent His Son to be born, so that he could grow up and die for us.  The Cross is a symbol of grace, mercy, forgiveness and peace.

How often do we truly accept the gift of forgiveness?  We are a broken people and without knowing it on a daily basis we hurt people.  We hurt them with our words, our actions, our attitudes.  We cheat, kill, destroy.  We deceive, lie, steal.  We judge people because they don't look like us, or like we want them to look.  We judge people because they have different beliefs and opinions than ours. 

Why would God send his son to die for people like that?  I realized this early morning that if I got no other gift, the gift of forgiveness is the greatest gift.  I don't deserve yet its offered freely.  Its up to me to accept it, and then walk in that forgiveness.  

This past year was filled with many ups and down, twists and turns.  I had some highs, some lows.  I was happy and sad, lonely at times and blessed beyond measure at other times.  What I deserve this Christmas is less than what I'm getting.  But,  because of God's great and amazing love for me, I am forgiven. 

Will you receive the gift of forgiveness this Christmas?  It truly is the best Christmas gift of all.  Its free for anyone who asks. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

God lead me...


Letting God lead me. 

That's hard sometimes, isn't it?

We either want to do things our own way, or what God wants us to do is HARD!

He will ask us to give away something that means a lot to us ( our money, our time)

He will ask us to forgive someone who hurt us (but they don't deserve it Lord)

He will tell us to go and we want to stay (mission trip? move to a new city? new job?)

Many times God wants us to do things that are hard, not because he wants us to fail but because he wants us to grow.  He is stretching our faith. If we do something that on our own we can't accomplish, then our faith in Him gets stronger, because its only by His power we are able to complete the task he has given us.

Many of you may have heard the song "Oceans" by Hillsong.  I posted the video above.  I've heard it many many times on the radio and at times have turned it off because I was tired of hearing it.  But, God brought it to mind during my quiet time.  I read the lyrics and the song took on a new meaning. So many times we hear songs and yet we don't HEAR them.  We listen to the lyrics, but we don't LISTEN.  God will call us to places unknown.  It will be a mystery to us why 
we are going where we are going.  But he also calls us to have faith in Him and trust that he will never fail us.   The lyrics are below.  Read them.  Embrace them.  Listen to the song and let it sink into your soul.   

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep My faith will stand
I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

The year is nearing a close.  A new year is about to start.  What doors does God want to close?  What steps do you need to take to put your faith in Him this new year?  Is God calling you to do something and you have turned a "deaf ear" because you don't want to listen?  This is a subject that has weighed heavily on my heart.  We should be set apart, different from the world.  "I am yours and you are mine".  We are God's.  He's asking us to go places we would never go on our own.  I'm excited to embark on a new journey.  To take my feet where my faith will be made stronger.   I challenge you to do the same.  Maybe spend the last few days of 2014 reflecting on what changes God wants to make in your life and see what you need to do to make 2015 the year of change in your life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gratitude or Ingratitude?


Adam and Eve had it ALL!

The Ultimate Garden.

Ecological Harmony.

Spiritual Peace

Relational Purity.

Satan suggested there could be more.  And with that thought came discontent.

I can have more?  

Had they chosen gratitude, would the world be different today?  If you chose gratitude, would your world be different today?

In this season of GIVING, I am more aware of the discontent of so many people.  What they have isn't good enough - they need more, bigger, better, faster, shinier.  Made me think about how often I say "Thank You" to God.

Thank you for a home I can afford - no matter its size.

Thank you that I have a job - even if its not my choice of jobs.

Thank you for a car to drive - instead of having to use public transportation or walk.

Thank you for healthy children - as I see others with children struggling with disease.

Thank you for running water, heat, and food in my refrigerator.  I could be homeless and hungry.

So, I decided to make a spontaneous list of my ABC's of Gratitude.  A few of them were hard to come up with, but as I finished my list, I found I started thinking of things I could have said - realizing then I have more to be thankful for than I can even think of!!!  I challenge you to write your own ABC's of Gratitude.  It will open your eyes to how THANKFUL and Gracious you should be.

A - Apples that I can eat that are juicy, sweet and good for me
B - Boys - my two sons - the loves of my life
C - Cowan my kitty - He is full of life and his purrs soothe me
D - Dog Sandy - She's been a faithful friend for over 13 years
E - Excitement over the wonder of Christmas
F - Friendships - they bless me more than I can say
G - Grace - freely given
H - Hope - In Christ I have hope
I - Interruptions - they cause me to stop, and sometimes helps me to see whats in front of me
J - Jesus - enough said!
K - Kisses - the small chocolate ones!!!
L - Laughter - its the best medicine
M - Mom - she is my rock, my biggest supporter, my hero
N - Naps - as I get older, I appreciate them more 
O - Oh's - "Oh, that's awesome!", "Oh, your baby is adorable".  They enhance life!
P - Puddles - lets splash in some!
Q - Quizzes - they help us to see what we know and what we have yet to learn
R - Rain - it washes away the dirt, it makes the flowers grow, its a sign of life
S - Sleep - can't get enough of it these days
T - Talks with friends
U - Universe - what a vast and wonderful thing created by our God
V - Victory over death
W - Walks thru the woods
X - X-rays, xylophone, and anything else that starts with X!
Y - Youth - its fleeting - embrace it
Z - Zippers - they keep the cold out and the warmth in

Its a quick list - took me about 10 minutes to write. 

I challenge you to write yours today.

Today, choose Gratitude over Ingratitude because:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Loving Father or Ashamed dad?


When I pray, do I view God as a loving Father, or a dad who loves me when I'm good, but ashamed of me when I'm bad?

This blog is going to be raw.  I cried buckets of tears this morning.  I am not ashamed to say God and I wrestled.  Ok, I wrestled, he sat and listened, waiting for me to calm down so he could hold me and let me know he loves me.

I thought I felt free to come to my father with anything, at any time.  I have found I can't say "daddy" when I pray.  Why?  Because I grew up without a daddy.  I never had an example of a dad when I was a little girl.  My dad was absent.  Forgetful.  I felt dismissed.  Forgotten.  Forgettable.

I have lived most of my life feeling like no one would ever remember me if they crossed my path.  I have felt that from God at times.  I try to live a life that is Godly.  I try to do the right thing and yet my blessings are held away from me.   I don't live my life trying to be Godly in order to get blessings.  I live that way because I want to reflect my Father.  I so desperately want to feel loved.  I want to feel like my Father wants to be with me and that he is proud of me.  Proud to call me his daughter.  His child. 

I've lived my life feeling forgettable.  A mist that blows in and then fades away, so the sunshine of those behind me can shine through.  Why?  I'm suffering from the sin of my father.  One who left and forgot me.  He raised another daughter and never left her.  He still to this day floats in and out, like the fog does off the misty shore.  If I'm a product of him, doesn't it stand to reason I too am mist?  Its what I've grown to believe.  



God is chipping away at that.  Little by little he's letting me know He has never left me.  I may have strayed.  I may have done things that are shameful, but he isn't ashamed of me.  He wants to hold me, with my head in his lap.  He wants me to tell him my deepest fears and doubts.  He wants to wipe them away and give me hope.  He wants me to listen to his heart, his teachings, his guidance, and feel safe and secure.


Its my hope that one day I won't feel like the mist.  That my life is meaningful and purposeful.  That I can and will be more than I could ever imagine.  That God's mission for my life is being lived out.  Whether single or not, whether poor or rich, whether in good times or bad, I will strive to live my life for Christ alone.   No matter what I feel, I stand on the promise of God.  That I am loved, that I am His and He is mine.  That I am bought with his blood. 




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

His Garment




We take for granted what Christ did for us.

We take for granted who Christ is to us.

He was perfect.  Holy.  Seamless.  Pure.

He went to the cross wearing a seamless garment of perfection.  At the cross he was stripped of that garment and clothed with our wardrobe of indignity.  The indignity of our sin.

This perfect, spotless man became all that we are - liars, cheaters, murderers, thieves.
He walked through the streets carrying a cross he didn't deserve so that we could be free from it.  He did all this and we take what He did for granted.  We squander the gift.  We do what WE want to do and forget the sacrifice that was made to give us that freedom.

Yesterday was Veterans Day.  A day we celebrate all who fought and died for our freedom.  We honor those men and women publicly.  We uphold them and thank them for their service to us and our country.  Yet, the man who died on a cross in our place we fail to honor daily.   We ignore his gift, his sacrifice, his death. 

We say we don't have time to read our Bibles, we don't' have time to spend with Him, we are too busy to go to church.  We are too busy because we are enjoying the freedom His death bought us.   We find time to do the things we love - play sports, go to the movies, watch our favorite TV shows, text our friends, etc., yet we can't seem to commit to spending time with the God who gave his ONLY son to die on a cross for us so we would have everlasting life.  Why is this so hard for us?

Giving God our time, our money, our attention is something we struggle with - yet he willingly gave his life for us - in a brutal death - a death full of indignity.  Every aspect of the crucifixion was meant to not only hurt the victim, but to shame him.

He wore our sin on that cross so we could wear his righteousness.  Heb 3:14

We come to the cross dressed in sin, but leave dressed in the "coat of His strong love" Is 59:17

We leave the cross dressed in CHRIST himself Gal 3:27  "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ"


Jesus didn't just prepare a feast, or reserve you a seat at his table.  He didn't just pay the price - He let you wear his own clothes so that you would be properly dressed.  He did that - just for you.

So lets find a way to Honor and Praise Him daily for that sacrifice - that gift.

Is it too much to ask??

Thursday, November 6, 2014

God's Hands



God's hands are powerful. 

They created the earth and all that is in it.

They parted the red sea.

They furrowed truth into the tablets. 

With a wave of his hands, he toppled the tower of Babel.

From his hands flew the locusts that plagued Egypt.

From his hands he sent the ravens that fed Elijah.

The hand of God is a mighty hand.  So, why did he lay on the cross, palms open, and let the nails be driven into his wrists?  Why didn't he clench his fist, flex his bicep and push the nail and the hammer and the guard away?  He could you know.  The same hand that did all of the above is the same hand that stretched out on a wooden beam to be nailed down.

Why didn't Jesus resist?  We always reply "Because He loved us".  Yes, that's true, but only partially true.  In my morning reading today I realized that Jesus didn't resist because between the wood and his hand was was a list.  A list of my flaws, my lies, my sins, my lusts, my bad attitude, all of my mistakes.  Dangling from that cross was an itemized list of my mistakes.   The list can not be read though.  Because my sins are blotted out by the "blood of Christ"

Col 2:14 " He has forgiven all your sins; he has utterly wiped out the written evidence of broken commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it to the cross."

He refused to close his fist because he saw the list.  My list.  Your list.  And he knew in order for that list to be blotted out, his blood needed to pour down over it.  Our list was hidden by his sacrifice.

I think sometimes we accept what Christ did for us, we appreciate it, but we don't live like we do.  We continue to live in sin, we continue to swipe his Grace and Mercy as if it was a credit card with no limit.  But, we need to remember what He did for us on that Cross.  He could have gotten out of it.  He is God after all.  He could have said "They won't appreciate this.  They will take my sacrifice for granted".  But He didn't.  He knew we would struggle, continue to sin, continue to add to the list.  The only way for our sins to be covered was for his blood to pour down.  

He opened his hands for the nails so that the door of heaven would be open for us. 

What a sacrifice.

What great love. 

Something to remember and reflect on as we enter this season on Thanksgiving.  

I'm most thankful for God's Hands.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Comparison Trap



Women are the worst at it.

We see a beautiful woman who has what we want, and we start to compare.

I wish I looked like her, then I would be happy. 
I wish I could afford to buy new clothes and dress like her, then I would be happy. 
I wish I had a car like hers, then I would be happy.
I wish I had a job like hers, then I would be happy.
I wish I had a husband/boyfriend like she does, then I would be happy.

Its tiring really.  Wishing I was someone else.  Wishing I looked differently or had a different life.  I am who God made me to be.  Why would I want to change what He says is precious?

   Is 43:2-4  "Fear not, I have redeemed you.  I have summoned you by name.  YOU ARE MINE.  When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Isarel, YOUR Savior...You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you".

When God looks at me, He sees someone He knows.  Ps. 139:1 "O Lord you have searched me, and you know me."  God KNOWS me.  He made me unique.  I am treasured and of great worth.  

If God says I am precious and honored in his sight, then why do I want to be someone else? Why do I want to look like someone else?  I need to be the best ME God created me to be.  God gave me the personality I have so I could impact certain people through my life.  If this is so, why would I want to trade that in?


We are all created for a reason, with a purpose.  Seek God and ask Him what He wants you to do.  Quit wishing you were someone else, or looked like someone else, and embrace WHO God made you to be. (Yes, I'm talking to myself here!!)

I'll be transparent and share my morning prayer with you:

"I don't have anything special to offer"

"Lord, I know that I do have something special to offer.  There is so much more to me than my outside.  My outside tends to control how I feel about myself on the inside, and that is not what you want for me.  You created me to be loving, giving, confident, organized, creative, fair, empathetic and intuitive.  None of those traits are dependent on my outside looking a certain way.  My heart and mind are who I am and I will not be defined by my outward appearance.  I see other women and compare who I am on the inside to how they look on the outside.  I will NEVER win in that scenario.  Help me to accept who you made me to be and embrace all you have for my future.  Help me to remember that I am precious in your sight...and you love me.  Remind me that my personality is what makes me uniquely me.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen"


Dove did a body comparison campaign a few years ago.  I've never forgotten the image.  We are all shaped differently, making us unique in our own way.  Nothing about how we look on the outside determines who we are on the inside.  People may judge who we are by our outsides without knowing who we are on the inside.  I pray that anyone, like me, who is struggling with body image will pray my prayer today.  Know that you are worth something and the comparison trap will get us nowhere.  Embrace who God made you to be and be the BEST you that you can be.  If people turn away from you because of your outsides, without getting to know your inside, then they weren't meant to be a part of your journey.   

Our outsides don't define us, so lets quit comparing!!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wise Choices


Choices....we all have them.  We make them every day.

Good ones.

Bad ones.

The choices I make today will set the course for my tomorrows.  

Show me a decision or choice and I'll show you a direction.

Decisions I made put me in debt - bad
Decisions I made set me free financially - good.

Decisions I made ended my marriage - bad.
Decisions to turn away from that temptation saved my marriage - good.

Decisions I made at work to do something unethical cost me my job - bad
Decisions I made at work saved the company money and I got a promotion - good.

We all have decisions to make - good and bad ones.

Just as a rudder on a ship determines the direction the ship will go, so do our choices.  The captain of a ship will study the weather charts, wind speed and direction.  He will plan his course and use the tools available to him to make sure he reaches his destination.  The rudder keeps him on course.

So should we study Gods word, pray and seek wise counsel in order to keep us on course with God's will for our lives.  

Romans 8:5-8 says:

 5Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Here Paul is telling us to  live in accordance with the Spirit.  Our minds are fleshly.  We want to do what makes us happy, what feels good.  Its the nature of Sin and we are all sinful people.  But, here we see in Vs. 7 that the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God. 

Insubordination.  We are saying to God "I know what you want from me, what I should do, but I'm not going to do it.  I'm going to follow MY way".  We are being insubordinate to God.

So, how do we decide which choice to make?

We dig into God's word.  Gods word was given to us so that we can know the mind of Christ.  So that we can fill our hearts and minds with the Truth.  Sometimes making the right choice is hard.  We want instant gratification.  We want what our flesh wants.  

But, in Rom 8:13-14 Paul says "If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are SONS OF GOD."

Whats more important to you?  Fulfilling your fleshly desires RIGHT NOW? or living an eternal abundant life in Christ?   What we want now is fleeting, but Christ is ETERNAL.

I pray you make wise choices today.  I pray I do.  I want to live each day knowing my rudder is secure and pointing me in the direction of my Lord.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In the Fire



You've probably heard the story in Daniel of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  They were ordered to bow down and worship the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar or be thrown into a blazing fire.   Not only would they be thrown in, but the King ordered the fire to be SEVEN times HOTTER!  

Many of us think if we do the right things and say all the right things, life will get easier.  But this shows us that when we stand our ground for what is right, when we enter a trial or a test, things can get even hotter before we come out of it.

These boys, teenagers at that, refused to turn from God.  They refused to bow down to the nasty King, and they were thrown into the furnace.  They did EVERYTHING right, and yet they still went thru the fire.  

Sound familiar?

Have you been asked to do something unethical at work or risk losing your job? 

Has your marriage gotten difficult and you aren't sure what will happen next?

Is your relationship with your kids struggling?

Are you facing a health issue that doesn't seem to be getting any better?

My cousin suffered a major heart attack 13 days ago.  He is young, in his 40's.  He loves Jesus.  He is a committed follower.  He has 4 children.  He is loved by so many, yet today he is still fighting for his life.  He is still in ICU, not breathing completely on his own.  He's in a FIRE.  He's done everything right.  He's served God, served his community, served his family, yet God allowed him to go into the furnace.

Why?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  There will never be a time in our life when we don't' have stressful situation come our way.   God doesn't keep us from them, but He does walk through them with us, just as He was in the fire with the three boys.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew God would be with them in the fire.  And we have the same hope and confidence in God.  

God is Holy.
God is Good.  

When we ask why, we are doubting who God is.  God will always be Holy and God will always be good.  We doubt this when he doesn't do what we ask.  But, our circumstances don't alter who God is.  We can always say God is good when wonderful things are happening.  But God is good NO MATTER WHAT we are going through.

In Isaiah 41:10 God says:

      Don't be afraid, for I am with you,
      Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.
      I will strengthen you and help you.
      I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  

We don't have to be afraid, because He is with us!!!

And in the new testament Paul admonishes us in Phillipians 4:5-7:

Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God's presence is greater than our problems.   He has more wisdom than we do.  He has more awareness than we do.

And if He is with us, we can walk through any stressful situation this world throws our way.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Birthdays


20 years!  Wow, it seems like yesterday that I was in the hospital, waiting for this child to arrive.  I was excited, nervous, anxious.  He was not cooperating on coming out - so they went in to get him. 

When I finally saw him, my heart changed shape. It grew bigger.  I knew that I would do anything to protect this child.  

KADEN GARRICK SLOAN

Happy Birthday!

My heart.

My Joy.

My World.

I didn't know it was possible to love another human being as much as I loved him.  

Jeremiah 31:3 comes to mind when I think of my children  "I have loved you with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself".

It hit me as I was thinking back on the day of his birth that God loves me as much if not more than I could possibly love my boys.  It was overwhelming and it brought me to tears.  God loves me so much he sent his son to DIE for me.  Would I do the same with my son?  I'm glad God didn't ask me to do that - I'm pretty certain humanity would be condemned!  

I protected him.  I taught him.  I nurtured him.  I disciplined him.  He grew and matured and now lives away from home - a man finding his own way.   My role as his mom has changed from teacher to advisor.  I listen and give wisdom when its asked.  I cheer him on and encourage.  I tell him how proud I am of him and I sit back in amazement that God gave this wonderful young man to me.  

I have two sons and although today is the birthday of the oldest, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fireball who is my second son.  Kelland Gregory - my comedian, my ball of laughter, my jokester, my very vocal ambassador for Christ.  I've never met a 16 year old who isn't afraid to talk about Jesus to anyone.  I dont' know what I did to deserve my boys, but I thank God for them daily.  The love they have for each other is so awesome.  It's cool to see them grow and become friends (because we all know siblings fight when they are younger - just being real!).  

Today I honor Kaden.  Today I tell you, my friends, that in Kaden you will find a heart that is kind, giving, growing and becoming more and more a Godly man after God's heart.  I am proud and humbled at the same time.   To know God chose me, a small town girl from small town Indiana, to be the mom of a young man who will do great things for God's kingdom, is humbling.  I'm amazed at God's goodness and thankful each day that He let me have the greatest job on earth - 

Being MOM to these 2 boys.

I love you Kaden and Kelland. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lies...


We've all told lies.  Its something that is almost impossible not to do.  But, have you ever told so many lies that you begin to believe them to be truth? 

The Bible says in James 3:8, "But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." The tongue can be the most wicked weapon on earth, so use it wisely and speak your words with caution. As Christians, we shouldn't fill our lives with deceit. We should always strive to leave honest, open lives that are full of trust and love. But, since we are all human, sometimes it is hard to avoid lying.

White lies and small omissions are still lies - we should always remember that. The option to lie should not be a in a Christian's life; we should always think of the truth first. We are not made perfect and we are tainted by original Sin. But no matter how imperfect we are, we should always strive to be good people - and this means not lying. 


Proverbs 17:7  "Eloquent words are not fitting for a fool; even less are lies fitting for a ruler"

What do we do as Christians when we not only find ourselves lying, but watch others being deceived by a lie? or multiple lies?

Do we call out the liar, or do we seek God and Trust that He will deal with the issue?  We've all been there - someone has said a lie about us and it just lights a fire in our bellies.  We want the lie exposed and we want the wrong to be righted.   But is that what we are supposed to do?  Do we go to that person directly and ask them to tell the truth and let them know how much their lie has hurt us?
 
Lying is more perilous than it seems. It's more Satan-like than Christ-like. Jesus referred to Satan as "a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). By contrast, Jesus declared himself to be the Truth (John 14:6).


I decided to do some online research into lies.  On Christianity today I found an article entitled "The Seven Levels of Lying".  Eye opening and so true.  When I read it certain people came to my mind - people who had started a small lie and then progressed thru the levels at alarming speed.  Whats sad is that its apparent to some outsiders but not the person his or herself.  Below are the seven levels:

1. You lie.
A single lie can become a match that lights a bonfire. Unless we confess the truth about our lie, we are probably on our way to Level #2.
2. You self-protect.
That is, you lie about having lied. If you lie about one thing, it is likely you will lie about another.  "Lies are weaklings; they need bodyguards."
3. You develop a habit of lying.
A liar at this level might, just out of habit, lie about something trivial for no benefit.
4. You self-deceive.
You now believe the lies that you are telling others. We can lie so effectively that we even lie to ourselves. We self-deceive.
.
At Level #4, a person enters into denial. He stops looking at his internal moral compass and therefore ceases to feel guilty anymore.
5. You rationalize.
Now you not only believe the lies are not lies, you justify the lies as a positive good. Now the lying is not just part of normal life, but a virtue—it helps the company grow, it saves jobs, and so forth. 
Level #5 lying is especially tempting at the leadership level. One of my mentors warned me to be careful in taking on the deanship at A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary. He said, "The higher up you go in an organization, the harder it is to tell the truth." A lot of times the lie is justified for the sake of the institution or some other larger good.

Level #5 lies happen in the personal realm too: "You don't understand," says the adulteress. "My husband and I never had a real marriage. We have had 30 years of cohabitation and child-rearing, but nothing like what I have with my new lover. He and I are experiencing love for the very first time. This is not adultery. It is love."
6. You develop your technique.
The main technique is to compartmentalize. You start isolating statements, ignoring what was said in other contexts. Level #6 liars are often found in the upper echelons of bureaucracy. A Level #6 liar might smoothly move from one constituent to another, saying each of these things, swearing in each instance that he is telling the truth:
"This institution is going to stay true to our stated core values."

"Core values reside in people. It really doesn't matter what is stated on paper."

"Don't let those stated values stop you from giving; it's long been public knowledge that I myself disagree with three or four of them."
  
7. You see it as your duty to lie.

Level #7 lying flips duty on its head, making lying mandatory. For example, in a dysfunctional family that operates at Level #7, grown siblings might kowtow to a parent for the sake of keeping dark family secrets hidden. In organizational life, Level #7 executives repeat corporate lies and say to their lieutenants, "Beware of self-anointed whistleblowers; they are critical and self-righteous."
Level #7 liars stone the prophets (John 16:2).
Because people are created in the image of God, we can't simply lie without trying to seem truthful in some way. That explains why Level #5 liars take pains to rationalize their thinking and Level #7 liars assume the pseudo-upright posture of being dutiful.

When we lie, we violate our relationships.  Not only with those we lie to, but with God.  God is truth - to lie is to go against God.  In order to stay out of the levels of lying, we need to have someone we can go to who will hold us accountable.  A person we can confess to when we lie.  If we do that, we will not risk getting to level 2, 3, etc.  Its hard not to lie, but when we do and we are convicted by the Holy Spirit of our lie, we need to repent and turn from it.  We are a broken and sinful world, and God does not expect us to be perfect as He is.  But He does call us to righteousness and a life of STRIVING to be like Jesus.  

When you catch yourself lying, pray the following verse:

 "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24).

Then confess your lie and ask for forgiveness.  Trust me, confessing is easier than continuing down the levels of lying.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Searching


A full moon.

A clear sky.

A cool morning.

A heart searching for direction.

This was my morning...I vowed not to cry.  It makes my eyes puffy and tired.   I told God I wouldn't cry.  Then I sat down, bowed my head, and began to sing:

God you are my God
And I will ever praise you
Oh God you are my God
and I will ever praise you.

I will seek you in the morning
I will learn to walk in your ways
and step by step you lead me
and I will follow you all my days.

I didn't make it.  I cried.  A Lot.  My soul feels empty.  As barren as that full moon.  Why?  Why have I lost my footing?  Where is God leading me when I feel as if I'm not moving?  

Have you ever felt that way?  As if you are stuck in your circumstances and you see no way out?  You pray and seek God, you face the difficulties, the loneliness, the dwindling finances and mounting bills, the sickness, the heart break - and you wonder where He is in the midst of all of it...

Its where I've been for a while now.  I started 2014 off with a bang.  The year of Stacie.  Nothing was going to take my eyes off of my goals and what God wanted me to do.  Then something and someone did.  I got derailed and I've been unable to get back on track.  Has that ever happened to you?  What do you do in those circumstances? 

I have found all I can do is bow my head and be open and sincere with my Father in Heaven.  I pour out my feelings unabashed.  I feel no shame in my fear, in my discontent, in my sorrow...for He has been there too.  I have gotten off track and yet I know He is still  with me and hears me.  I know that in my failure there is meaning and a lesson to be learned.  In my waiting, I must choose to grow closer to Him.  

I share this today- being completely vulnerable to you - because I know I'm not alone.  I know others feel the same at times.  I know that God is leading me places and I don't know how to get there.  I have to rely on him completely.  

Surrender.

Trust.

Belief.

God will use this time of uncertainty for His good.  In His time.

Until then - God you are my God and I will EVER praise you!

Monday, August 25, 2014

His Love Never Fails


Do you believe that?  That God is always there.  That his love will never fail you?

I learned recently of a girl who didn't feel she had anything to live for.  That life was too stressful and too hard and she figured life would be easier if she wasn't in it.   She's heard people tell her God loves her.  She has heard others tell her they love her, but her CIRCUMSTANCES were bigger than her faith could stand.

We've all been there - we look at our circumstances and we wonder where God is.   When life is going according to our plan, when things are good and bills are paid and when we are happy, its easy to believe God loves us and is good.  But, when life turns tragic, we start to doubt God's goodness.  We lose our confidence in God's love for us and our faith gives way to doubt and despair.

When I heard of this young girl and her despair, I felt extreme sadness and the tears wouldn't stop falling from my eyes.  This is a girl I love.  I have tried to be a mentor to her.  But I realized I'm not there enough.  I don't see behind her closed doors.  I only see her a few hours a week - and she needs so much more.  What can I do to reach her more? What can I do to love her more?   Do you know anyone in your life that may need more?  We have become so self-centered, selfish with our time when there are people all around us hurting and alone.  Didn't Christ call us to be his Hands and Feet?


Kristian Stanfill leads this song about God's love.  His love never fails, it never gives up.  As this world around us crumbles and falls, as people are being killed in our neighborhoods, its opening my eyes to see IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!!!!  We as Christians need to start realizing this.  People are lonely, hurting, scared, and broken.   We are here as Ambassadors for Christ. We are called to tell others about Him.  How will they know of His love if we don't show it?  Demonstrate it?  Tell them about it?  But, too often we get comfortable in our own blessings or in our own despair, and forget about those around us.  The Church needs a wake up call.  People need Jesus and if we don't' tell them about Him, who will?  If our lives don't demonstrate His love, why will they chose to follow Him?

We need to quit being afraid of hurting someone's feelings or offending them.  Their eternity depends on it!   Am I saying go out in the streets and stand on the corners with Bibles, preaching God's word?  NO.  What I'm saying is, reach out to those around you.  Love them.  Help them.  Listen to them.  And when they ask for help or advice, give them God's word.  Tell them what you would do in that situation.  Open your hearts and don't be afraid to let them see Jesus in you.  But, don't judge them.  LOVE THEM.  And make sure they know GOD LOVES THEM.  Its the first step toward Jesus for them. 

I want this young girl to know I love her.  I was heartbroken for her because I can feel her pain.  Her loneliness.  I want her to know I'm here - day or night.  No matter what.  I want her to know I LOVE HER and GOD LOVES HER.