Be alert and be present!

Just like the many ways we celebrate holidays and birthdays, we also start the new year differently. But the mindset of almost everyone is we start over. 

But instead of ‘starting over,’ which would mean throwing out the attempts made in the past year, let’s start where we left off.

Either it is improving our diets, sticking with new habits, being more positive with our words and thoughts, goals to read more books (instead of social media), or even exercising more.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. I have attempted to improve in each of these areas but without consistency. 

You know the saying: two steps forward and one step back; one step isn’t quickly achieving the goal. But! We are moving forward.

Instead of looking at the past year as a failure, let’s see it as progress. Building on what small changes we have made will only encourage us to make more. Well, it does for me anyhow.

However, there are some things that we do need to forget about, like “family drama.” We all have dysfunction in our lives and have experienced some struggles in our relationships.    

In the Message Translation, Isaiah 43:19 states, ” Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?

Going over old history, I believe, is the main reason family feuds don’t get resolved. We all can learn how to do better in loving one another.

I am not saying we all lay down and be door mats, allowing family to wipe their feet on us. Insight can be found if I honestly look at the situations that have caused ‘drama’ in my family circles. And for me, it generally means I had an opinion that doesn’t line up with my beliefs. Taking responsibility for my attitude releases my mental ‘rehearsing’ the drama, thus allowing honest conversation to grow naturally and bring resolve.  

So, as we step through the door of 2024, let’s take a moment to evaluate what things we need to build off of and what we need to let go of altogether.

Another small text from The Message translation: Colossians 3:2

Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

We want to wish all our family and friends a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Let us all BE Present and Alert!! Great things are ahead.

Are you experiencing the fullness of the season?

We have had unseasonably warm temperatures, making it not ‘feel’ like Christmas. But with the snow falling outside and the living room lit with LED candles, I turned the fireplace on and sat cozy with a cup of tea and a warm blanket on the couch.

The atmosphere was set to experience the evening. I searched for The Nativity Story to stream through our television.

Then a question dropped in my heart: Are you experiencing the fullness of this season? Is it about the falling snow outside? LED tea lights? The fireplace glowing?  

As I thought about these questions and looked around at my surroundings, it may seem that the atmosphere was set, but not “really.”

I mean, the candles weren’t really glowing with a small flame dancing with the movement in the room. The fireplace “looked” as if it was burning but not three-dimensional, with the colors of heat dancing within the wood pieces in the dog grate (freestanding metal holder inside the fireplace opening). 

Pondering the question, I realized I hadn’t ever experienced this type of setting. I mean, with real candles burning and a real fireplace glow as it heats the room. 

Then I heard these words within my being: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.

Then another question was dropped: Are you experiencing the fullness of The Messiah?

Wow, that’s a good question. Am I?

This past year, we (Bob and I) have journeyed down paths we have never walked before. We experienced The Wonderful Counselor when my mother passed away. The Prince of Peace when I got diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Immanuel (God with us) as I started chemo treatments. Jehovah Rapha (the Lord who heals) when my scans came back “Cancer Free.”

In these situations, we experienced one aspect of the Messiah but did not always recognize His fullness.

He is the Prince of Peace. But also, HE is the Mighty God, King of kings, and Lord of all.

So, as we come upon the day we celebrate the birth of Our Messiah, let us not think only of Jesus as a babe lying in the manger. But let us celebrate the FULLNESS of our Savior. And not just on December 25th but every day.  

From the sincerity of our hearts, we are very grateful for all the faith-filled prayers prayed on our behalf this year. James 5:15

May each of us experience the fullness of The Messiah this season and always.

Merry Christmas.

Taking the ugly thread and replacing it with gold

Most of you, my readers, know that I have been on a journey of healing for the past few months. My healing hasn’t been just physical healing but inner healing as well. Though there are many things I could share with you, and I will in my next book, today I wanted to share what the Lord revealed to me.  

Again, I desire to be open and honest with my readers. I have often admitted that I don’t have it all together, but the path to freedom the Lord has me on, I hope, would direct you on yours.

This morning, Bob and I started our day at the usual rhythm. However, we began to rush around as his schedule dictated the tempo, and his words became impatient.

Rather than seeing the situation for what it was, he was running behind; I took offense and left the room. I stewed about this particular moment and every impatient word he had spoken as I made the bed.  

Thankfully, Holy Spirit is teaching me how to be aware of my body. I am realizing the emotions that I am experiencing affect my body. 

Right away, I could feel a slight tightness in my breathing, like it was restricted. I quickly recognized I was shallow breathing as I rashly went about my morning ‘chores.’ 

In these scenarios mentioned above, I would typically say: “I give it to you, Lord,” not identifying ‘what’ I was giving Him. So, in reality, I am stuffing the conflict deep inside me.

It would have been so easy for me to fall into that pattern again, moving on, but not really. 

In the past, I would let that little situation fester inside me. Being curt with my words toward Bob or whomever I was taking offense to for hours, sometimes days. Childish, I know.

However, this morning, as challenging as it was, I quieted myself and asked a simple question: Where does this come from, Lord? 

Trust me; many little “squirrel” moments tried to derail my thoughts this morning as I leaned in to listen. But I would speak out loud: No, I will not get sidetracked; I want freedom in this Lord.

Instantly, a memory far from my consciousness became clear in my heart. I saw the younger me, little Georgia, process that particular situation, and I could hear her (my) reasoning for picking up the insubordinate mindset. 

I looked up the definitions of words like impatience, defiance, and offense, which helped me see that allowing these behaviors has distorted my perception of submission.   

Again, Holy Spirit showed me how this defiant mindset has been woven in many areas of my life. And how it has affected my relationships with those close to me, as well as my relationship with the Trinity. 

The inner healing process starts here, where I chose to be still and allow the omniscient (all-knowing) God (El de’ot) to show me how this behavior has been so inner-knitted in my default responses to situations. 

And in these revealed areas of my life, I had to see the individuals that knowingly or unknowingly tangled me in these deceptions. And then forgive them. Not find excuses “why” I forgive them, but to simply forgive them. 

Jesus died on the cross to forgive us our sins. Period.

Romans 3:23-24 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…  

Once I have forgiven, I turn to look at the Trinity. And I see that I have unknownly had these attitudes toward the Father, King Jesus, and even Holy Spirit. Maybe not as blatantly as I have with those family members I am closest to, but still, this small inferior thinking has caused me to be blinded by how it has hindered me from walking in obedience. 

The next step is to renounce those lies that I had partnered with. 

This takes a moment for me because not everything is plainly written on the wall, so to speak. 

Cutting off the “old Georgia” behavior with my blood-bought scissors, I felt freedom. I then cut the behavior off those individuals I would have genetically passed it on: my children and grandchildren. Exodus 34:7     

Lastly, I act as if I am putting all that we processed in a box and giving it to Him. I ask: what do you have for me in exchange, Lord? 

In my mind, I saw a piece of tattered fabric standing up, and as it stood, I could see many threads being pulled out, each strain coming out from the fabric’s beginning to the end.

One would think the fabric would have fallen apart, but it didn’t because I instantly saw gold threads being weaved in as the old was being pulled out. 

This is a picture of what God has done for me. He took the tattered me, pulled out the ugly threads, and weaved HIS goodness (gold) in me. I went from being a shabby cloth to fine linen. 

We all have behaviors we are not so proud of but habitually do. And once we fall into the ‘old way’ of responding to situations, we feel conviction and ask for forgiveness, only to find ourselves in the situation again. Gosh, I know this vicious cycle. 

Unfortunately, we don’t get total freedom in these things until we see where the root of the behavior comes from. 

But! We find freedom once we see and walk out steps like I mentioned above. It might take a bit to get ourselves out of the rut of behaving like we did in the past, but over time, it will no longer be a part of our DNA.

Pastor Appreciation 2023

Pastor: A minister of the gospel who has the charge of a church and congregation, whose duty is to watch over the “flock” and instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion. www.websterdictionary1828.com

I believe pastoring is increasingly difficult as the worldview has infiltrated our way of thinking, and the biblical worldview is deemed prudish or, worse, evil.

I am 58 years old and haven’t had to put a line in the sand (so to speak) publicly. It has been my resolve to live my life based on scripture. However, in the past couple of years, I have had to stop and look in scripture for answers and publicly “speak up” about issues that affect me and my family, neighbors, and even the community I live in.  

I say all this to help us realize that pastoring is not popular. Yes, it is teaching the Gospel of salvation, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But pastoring is also about teaching us how to use The Word of God as a lantern to navigate the many issues we have in society today. It is about walking in love in every area of our lives, and God is love. And God has things to say about what is going on today. Trendy or not.

Ultimately, pastors teach us about God’s love and His heart is for all people to be redeemed. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn 3:16). God wants to give back to us what was given up in the Garden (Ge 3) and the Kingdom of God here on Earth (Mt 6:10), which goes against what society has accepted in many areas.

So, Pastoring is a massive task if you ask me. Pastors have an enormous heart for us and future generations. Yet, pastors also have personal lives that they are walking out.

Think about when we set out to make a difference in our world. Letting the light of Christ inside us shine, and we get hit with opposition.

Pastors get hit with opposition as well. They have to go through it more publicly than we do because they are standing in front of us each week, which should remind us to lift our pastors (and family) in prayer daily.

So today, October 8th, I want to thank all the pastors who have been a part of my growth; I want you to know that I appreciate each of you. And you are greatly loved. 

Have I been abiding?

Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Refuge: Shelter or a place that protects from danger, distress, or calamity; a stronghold that protects by its strength; or a sanctuary that secures safety by its sacredness; any place inaccessible to an enemy.

How often have we recited Psalm 91, declaring it protection over our family and homes? My husband and I have declared it over our house but haven’t felt that protection lately.   

One morning this past week, I was reiterating the declaration based on Psalm 91:1-16

When our household abides under the shadow of El Shaddai, we are hidden under the strength of the most High God.

He’s the hope that holds my household and the stronghold for us. He’s the only God for us and our great confidence.

He will rescue this household from every hidden trap of the enemy. He will protect us from false accusations and any deadly curse.

Stopping here, I thought, I don’t feel that protection from accusations, Lord.

Suddenly, that first line was highlighted to me: when our household abides. I asked myself, have I been abiding? Thinking that I had, I decided to look up the scripture in the King James Version. Then, I look up the action words in this scripture.

Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Dwelleth/dwell: to abide as a permanent resident, or to inhabit for a time, to live in a place, to have a habitation for some time or permanence.

Abide: to be, or exist, to continue, to be, to dwell, rest, continue, stand firm, or be stationary indefinitely.

As I thought about it, I realized that I hadn’t abided under the shadow of the Almighty.

So, how do we abide under El Shaddai? As I pondered this, it doesn’t mean a physical place to stay, but it is our mental state.

After analyzing my mental state, I realized that my anxiousness and stress are due to my thoughts. Mental conversations I have allowed to take space in my mind affected my emotions and ultimately called me out of abiding in PEACE.

These thoughts have been very lofty, towering skyscrapers in a city that grew larger as I continued the one-way street, leading to more heartache. Instead of applying what I know to do: 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.

The New English Translation read this: “for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.

Who accuses? If you are familiar with the Bible’s texts, you would know that the accuser is satan. You would also know that our enemy isn’t people, per se. We find in Ephesians 6:10, the Passion Translation, that we fight against the evil strategies of the accuser. Our hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms.  

As I have said several times in my writings, when we act in a way that is not our everyday behavior, out of character, we need to pull back and see what string the enemy (puppetmaster) has snared us with.  

He uses many different stings of offense, fear, bitterness, jealousy, pride, and so on.

In this particular situation, I can now see that it wasn’t just one string of offense but multiple strings: fear, pride, and assumption. Pulling one after the other, it wasn’t long before I felt exhausted.

My lofty thoughts and assumptions rose above what I have learned in scripture. My flesh wanted vindication, and my heart had turned dark and cold. My flesh wanted to speak, and I could hear the Holy Spirit tell me to stop every time I started. However, I choose to continue talking about this situation to others.

Luckily, the Father kept me from lashing out at the person I was most upset with, which would have complicated the situation.  

Taking the time to look at myself, I realized that the Lord wanted to take me from a place of immaturity to the fullness of maturity. He desires me to walk in total wholeness and free from offense, burdens, and lies to fully and ultimately love as He does.

I am a work in progress and not there yet.

Looking at myself, I realized what I needed to do and went before the Lord to show him my dark, cold heart. As I did, the fire of wrath within me started to die, and my body started to rest.

I could feel the pressure of carrying this offense lift off of me. But as I did, I felt exhausted and noticed that symptoms of infection were taking place in my body.

How can this sickness hit me so quickly, Lord? I asked Him. These words dropped in my heart: I kept telling you to let go of the offense. Your body is still healing, and it takes energy to heal. And you have chosen to use your energy to feed the offense, and your body is tired.

After more days under the refiner’s fire, I realized that my brilliantly created body had tried to communicate with me to rest for months. However, lies tied to my past and pride (mindsets) have kept me from hearing. I am so thankful for His mercy and grace given to me despite my ‘flesh.’        

My soul (mind, actions, emotions) has found peace this morning. I am okay because I am choosing to remember who I am and who HE is to me, my defender.

Walking through this, I know that it isn’t just seeing where I was wrong in my behavior and mindset but humbling myself and confessing my wrong to the Lord. Ask for forgiveness and cut those strings that the puppetmaster has used to alter my actions with The Blood-bought scissors. 

I type this all out, wanting to be honest and genuine with all of you. But to also ask, what about you?

Do you have thoughts and mental conversations that go against the Word of God? We should apply this question in all areas of our lives.

Answering that question requires us to be honest with ourselves and God. It takes stilling ourselves and not just identifying the wrong thinking or fleshy attitudes; we must ask God to forgive us. And we must be diligent not to get entangled in those “strings” again.