Ditch the Judgmental Attitudes

from Last-days Survival Guide, by Rick Renner

The above quote is from chapter two of Rick Renner’s Last-days Survival Guide (phenomenal book), and I shouted when I read it. I used to be a judgmental person, and let me tell you…I’m a lot happier and more productive since I got a grip.

There’s not really any need for me to add to this. As he says, “You must free your heart of judgmental attitudes if you are to be a person God can use to help people who are in need.”

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

He Walks With Me

http://Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS from Pexels

“He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” These are much more than words to an old song. 

I grew up in a typical American Christian home. By that I mean that we loved God, but lived our Christian walks on our own terms. Generally, that meant we went to church when we felt like it, prayed when we needed something, and read our Bibles when we wanted to. For me, everything changed when I started attending church regularly at 18 and began to realize what I’d been missing. 

As I grew in my walk with Him I discovered true hunger. The closer I got to God, the closer I wanted to be. I was in my 30s when, as a minister was talking about one of the many conversations he’d had with God, an undeniable desire rose up in me. “God,” I begged. “I want that type of relationship with You!”

Long story short: Today I have it. It took a while. I had to learn to shut up and listen, to recognize His voice, and once I recognized it I had to learn to always be listening for it – and to respond. A conversation, you see, takes two. Now we talk a LOT. 

It may be Him starting the conversation, or it may be me. It may be deep theological converse or it may be lighthearted stuff. He answers questions I once would not have dared ask, and He tells me secrets. Sometimes He ambushes me with information I’d not even considered asking for. He warns me of things to come, and He reassures and comforts me when I’m hurt or afraid and run to His arms. 

Now, here’s the point. I’m not special. The only thing about me that’s different from some others is the strong desire I have for this relationship, and my willingness to do whatever is necessary to develop and maintain it. I’ve had to seek Him out and spend time with Him; I’ve had to work at getting to know Him just like I’ve had to do with my earthly best friend. 

God wants everyone to have this type of relationship with Him. It’s what He created us for. 

How do I know?
He told me. 

Celebrating walking with Jesus!
Tammy C

But is He Your Lord?

We ask the question, “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?” and the one who has accepted salvation automatically says, “Yes.” I would ask it differently today. “Ok, He is your Savior, but is He your Lord?” There is a difference.

The one who has accepted Jesus as his Savior has been saved from bondage to sin, and every time he realizes he has sinned he can repent, ask forgiveness, and be pulled back up out of that sin as one is saved from drowning in water.

But here’s the thing. Some people are having to repent of sin continually while others walk more consistently upright. What’s the difference?

It’s Jesus’ lordship.

In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what I say?” This is the key. If Jesus is truly my Lord, I will do what He says. If I do what He says, I will be much less likely to sin and have to be rescued from the consequences of that sin. So how do I do what He says?

First, I must know what He says. This takes active effort on my part. It requires getting into the Word, studying it. (2 Tim. 2:15)

Then I have to apply His Word to my life. I have to live what I’ve learned. This requires me to continually choose His will over sin.

And, ultimately, I strive to develop an intimate relationship with Him, to learn to hear His voice so clearly that a whispered, “Go this way,” keeps me on the right path.

I will – I choose to – keep Him as my Lord.

Celebrating Jesus’ lordship!

Tammy C

Thy Will be Done

As a child, I heard numerous prayers that included the words, “if it be Thy will.” As a result, I had one picture of “Thy will be done.” Mind you, that picture is not inaccurate, simply only one part of a picture.

As an adult, I ask that God’s will, and only His will, be done in situations and people’s lives all the time. But today…

In this week’s Flourish Journey (passionpublishing) I was led to read Psalm 19 and several other scriptures in light of “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” and I saw something new. Or, perhaps I should say I saw an old truth with fresh eyes.

I want God’s will to be done in and through me just as surely today as it will be when I live in Heaven. I want to continually and actively choose to do God’s will, to continually and actively choose to let God’s will be done in and through me here on this earth just as surely and consistently as I will when I’m living in His presence.

Psalm 19:13a shows this was David’s heart. “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”

Yes, my prayer is, “God, help me. Help me to live out Your will today just as purely and completely as I will live it in Heaven.”

Celebrating Jesus and the power He gives!

Tammy C

Do I?

I recently had to stop in the road because two little dogs had dashed into the street. One crossed the road, but the other got confused and was wandering. I prayed for the poor things, but then I realized what they’d been after and was floored.

A large dog was jogging beside a woman. He stayed right at her side, never seeming to even notice the little yapper that was chasing after him. He never broke stride, never looked away. He was doing EXACTLY what he’d been trained to do.

And he was carrying his own leash. Literally. He held it in his mouth as he jogged down the sidewalk beside a woman who obviously had total trust in him. And the two made me think.

In a sense, we’re all like that dog. God calls us to run along beside Him, but though He gives us a guide (the Word and the Spirit) that He could use as a leash to control us, He ultimately leaves the decisions up to us. What do we do? What do I do? Do I actively choose to walk faithfully beside Him, not turning to the right or left?

Do I?

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

It’s The Word

I’m going through the Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/Lifeway) with friends, and we’re studying Psalm 119. I’m also, in my private time, working my way through Job yet again. It is amazing how much the two books teach me the same lesson.

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.” Psalm 119:92-95 (ESV)

These verses also reflect a truth about Job. He could have written them, in fact. Job’s delight was in God’s precepts. They were more important to him than food. They were the most important thing in his life.

This passion is why his faith was so great that it prompted God to bring Job to the devil’s attention, and even though Job slipped near the end of the trial, the foundation that was his faith kept him from going under.

After all was said and done, it could have been Job who declared, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”

In our Flourish journey, we are sharing what God teaches us, and I love how He gives each of us our own, personal lessons while we study the same words. So far, my lessons have all revolved around this point: The Word is paramount, and making it the focal point of my life is essential. It’s not that I CAN immerse myself in it and make it a part of me; it’s that I MUST immerse myself in it and make it a part of me.

Everything else that seems important will eventually disappear. Only one is eternal: God’s Word. (1 Peter 1:24-25) That alone should be enough to make us realize how vital it is to our very lives.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Facing the Mountain

We all face mountains. The question is, how do we face them? One man starts up the mountain without worrying about its height or terrain, trusting God to lead him every step of the way. Eventually, he pauses to glance around and sees he’s made it halfway up without even realizing it.

Another man stands on the dark side of the mountain, with no light to reveal its features or face. It is fearsome and he shivers at its base in terror, not daring to put one foot in front of the other. Yet if he waits for the sun the truth of the mountain will be revealed and his path become clear.

It is not the mountain itself that matters, but how we face it. If we trust in God with all our hearts and refuse to rely on our own, faulty logic, if we turn to Him for direction at every step, He will show us the right path to take.

Celebrating Jesus and Proverbs 3:5-6!

Tammy C

Get Ready

A friend asked me to tell her, in one sentence, what God has been saying to me recently. The question caught me off guard because He’s been saying so much on so many different topics that, for a moment, I had to think. How to put it in one sentence?

Then I saw it. Other than the times He’s come to encourage me and help me through something, or to answer one of my myriad random questions, everything He’s said has ultimately been about me getting ready – ready to be used.

I’m not talking about being used as a speaker or writer, both of which I’ve done before and loved. I’m talking about being used every single day of my life.

I’m to stick close to Him, constantly listening for the Spirit’s whispered, “There. He needs help,” or, “Stop. She’s crying out for someone to listen.”

I’m to be prepared and able. For those two nudges, anyone could respond, but He’s calling me to more. I’m to truly grasp who and what He is in me and who and what I am in Him, to understand the authority I have as a believer when it comes to dealing with demonic activity.

I am to have His Word firmly planted in my heart, ready to be brought out and used as the Sword of the Spirit that it is. There are two important things about a sword. You cannot use it if you don’t have it (I’m talking memorization, not just carrying a Bible) and you can’t use it if you don’t know how to use it.

I’m to stay on the offensive. This is something that’s been churning in me for a while, that as a Christian I’ve been living my spiritual warfare life on the defensive. No military leader wants to fight battles defensively. He knows the best chance of winning any battle is to stay on the offensive.

I am to live thankfully trusting, because this is where peace lies, and peace – His peace – is one of the most vital elements of all.

I am to love with compassion. I am to love like never before, being intentional about expressing the love of God to the people He puts in my path – whoever they are.

So, almost everything He’s been saying recently falls into one of these categories. Really, there’s nothing new here. But that’s the point, isn’t it? We never know what’s coming, but He does, and He wants us ready to face it head on.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Revisiting the Furnace

Most of us have heard the story of the three Hebrew boys and how they were thrown into a fiery furnace after refusing to bow to the idol. (Daniel 3) We read about their obedience to God, being thrown in, the guards dying from the heat, the king seeing them and the fourth man walking around, and them walking out of the fire not even smelling of smoke. But let’s pause for a moment. What about while they were inside? What happened…from their perspective?

The first thing they would have noticed, beyond the fact that they were still alive, was that the very fire intended to destroy them had, instead, burned away their bonds. They were thrown into the fire held captive and bound, but were likely loosed before they even hit the floor. Yes, they were still in the fire, but they could stand up, may have even playfully pulled each other up, and they could walk around as they liked. In truth, they were more free than they had been for a while. 

Many times in our lives, we find ourselves anticipating potential outcomes with dread, perhaps with such a fear that it binds us, holding us captive and keeping us from moving forward. Statistics say that what we fear almost never even happens. Think about that. How much time do we waste letting the fear of something that will NEVER HAPPEN hold us captive to the point that we can’t even move?

But the thing is that, once we’re thrown into the fire, that fear is burned away. The worst has already happened and, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we can look up from the floor of the furnace and realize, “Hey! I’m still here! I survived!”

I can imagine their surprised joy in that moment. They had dared declare God’s power to the king, assuring him that the One they served was more than able to deliver them. And He had. You know that special laughter that comes with joy? I can almost hear it. I can also see them turning to look through the flames, out the door, at the outside. Perhaps in the midst of their astonishment they wondered what they should do next. And then, just maybe, from behind them…

They heard a chuckle. Can you see them whipping around in even more shock and amaze? The king said the fourth man in the fire looked like the son of God. Presumably, he was right. They wouldn’t have known Him as “Jesus,” but their hearts would surely have recognized Him.

Now their backs are to the exit, the fire that surrounds them is pretty much forgotten, and their eyes are firmly focused on their first ever glimpse of the One they’ve offered their lives for. Though they have no way of knowing it, everything – literally everything – has changed. 

What words would Jesus have spoken to them? Did they ask all of the questions that had burned in their hearts for years? Did He… I can’t really even begin to propose what He might have said. We do know this, though. They spent some time in there. 

We don’t know how much time, but it was enough that the king eventually realized what he was seeing, pointed it out to his companions, and called out for the three to come out. Given the raging fire, and how loud it would have been, it seems to me that either the fire was allowed time to burn down or Jesus told them, “Hey guys, the king is calling.”

Regardless, stepping back inside with the kids… While I was homeschooling, I wrote an essay entitled “The View from Inside the Furnace,” and at this point I suggested that they, instead of being in the worst time of their lives (what it looked like) were actually on the field trip of a lifetime.

As they walk around, I imagine Jesus explaining exactly how this furnace works, how it is used to harness the destructive nature of fire and cause it to change things, transforming soft clay into usable, even valuable, vessels. Then I imagine Jesus sharing a few secrets about how He is going to use their time in the fire to do far more, not only to change them, making them more useful and valuable, but also change the world. I imagine…quite a lot, actually. 

Can you see the disappointment on their faces when either they finally hear the king calling or Jesus announces that their visit is over? The very thing that was at one time the ultimate threat has now become a refuge, a place they’ve been seeking their whole lives – a secret place where it is just them and Him. In all honesty, if it were me I’d have been like a child begging for “just one more story.”

Actually, I have been. I wrote the essay I referred to earlier during one of the hardest times of my life.  I intended it for friends who were worried about me, and with good reason. In the midst of the fire I learned things I could never have learned anywhere else, and I developed an intimacy with God that I had never known. As I shared with God in prayer at the time, I would never wish that fire on my worst enemy, but I desperately desired to take the intimacy with me when I walked back out of the flames. 

Those three boys had to feel the same way, but for them I think it almost had to be a harder walk to take, because Jesus came out of that furnace with me, staying always by my side, and they had to leave the fourth man behind, knowing they would likely never see Him face-to-face again.

And, as I imagine Jesus promising, their world changed – and not just for them. Yes, they were promoted and given all honor, but even more importantly God was promoted, and the king himself ordered that He be worshipped. Yes, our God was merely added to the list of gods they already worshipped, but it was a beginning.

So I leave us (Yep, this is a reminder for me.) with this. Serve God with all your heart and don’t fear the fire. Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that He has great plans for us, and Romans 8:28 promises that He can cause all things to work together for our good. Even a walk in a fire-filled furnace, though terrifying to face, can be  an amazing experience that prepares us for an astounding future. 

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Consistency – YouVersion Bible App

I’ve been using the YouVersion Bible app for years, and I love it. When I first discovered it, I primarily appreciated the fact that I could have access to multiple Bible translations on my phone. After a friend invited me to do a devotion with her, however, my life changed.

Once you’ve downloaded and set up (easy) the YouVersion app on your phone, you have multiple options. If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see the little house highlighted at the bottom of the screen. This Home screen gives me a snapshot of my YouVersion life.

Select Read, and you’ll pop straight into the Bible. Here you can choose from various translations, some of which you can download, some you can have the app read aloud. As you read, you can highlight, make notes, and more. Depending on how you set your preferences, your friends can also see your highlights and notes. Yes, you have friends here!

Plans is where the real fun begins. You can see that I’m working my way through 2 plans right now, both of which are around 7 days. God alone knows how many plans are available, but I can almost guarantee that you can find a plan (or several) on whatever topic you’re interested in. The plan length varies greatly, from three days being the shortest I’ve done to…well, I know you can read the Bible through in a year, so 365 days for sure. You don’t have to limit yourself to one a day, however. You can blow through any devotional just as fast or as slow as you like.

And you can do it with friends too!

So when you start a devotion, you decide if you want to do it alone or with friends (You invite whomever you choose), and whether or not you want your activity to be public. When you start the plan, you’ll read, watch, or listen to a devotion; then read its accompanying verses. Finally, if you’re reading with friends, you have an option of making comments and carrying on conversations. This can be a very enriching experience!

The app has a lot more that I don’t even get into – like Verse of the Day and being able to make your own verse graphics. It is, indeed, quite amazing and a marvelous tool for me in my determination to be consistently engaging with God’s Word.

Celebrating The Word!
Tammy C