Masks in the Church: Part 1 – The Masks We Hide Behind

“Life is but a masquerade ball. No one is ever really who they say they are, but sooner or later, the masks come off.”

Okay, I made that up, although if anyone else has ever said it, I don’t know who they are.) I have said at one time in the past that I had considered having these words put on my tombstone (Now, I know better). Still, if you think about it, there is a lot of truth in that.

A while back, I did a post on Facebook about “Masks”, and how many of us as Christians have hidden behind them for too long. With all that we have going on now, with the Covid 19 Pandemic, and other signs that Christ warned us about happening all around us, I have felt led to visit this topic again.

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&Nsee more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&N, see more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

Are We Hiding Behind Masks?

For too many of us, the ways we have adapted to the ways satan (no, I won’t capitalize his name) uses our past to control us and define us, we have allowed it all to cause us to develop this hardened outer layer of ourselves, all while trying to put on a fake outer front, or “mask”, a false facade for others, while inside, we slowly languish in our own self made “prison”, instead of trusting Christ to set us free.

Before I go on, I’m just going to “get real” with you myself. I recently found myself going through a trial that forced me to take my own “masks” off and get real with God, and with myself, and others. On July 17, 2020, I tested positive for Covid 19. Although I am mostly recovered, as I write this, my husband is in the hospital with it. This whole trial has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself in the “mirror” of God’s Word, and gone deeper in prayer and repentance myself than ever before, and I didn’t like what I saw…

If we as the Church are not careful and diligent to pray and seek Him and study His Word every day, the enemy will fool us into continuing to wear those masks and waste this life away drifting along in the world’s masquerade ball. His evil plan for us is that we will waste the precious life God has given us, hiding behind these masks and missing out on the real, true power of Jesus Christ and the plans He has for each of us to make a difference in this lost and dying world. Ultimately, as long as we let him fool us into living with this deception, he knows we will never truly bear fruit for Christ’s Kingdom, or complete His will for us, and that we will hear those three dreaded words that are more frightening even than dying from Covid 19: “Depart from Me…”

Types of Masks We Wear…

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

We have all worn “masks” in too many different ways. “Selfish ambition” is one (see Phillipians 2:3-8). I wore that one for too long. Now, I know that the work I have been called to do for Him is more important than whether, as a writer, I ever make that coveted New York Times Best Seller List (By the way, “coveting” is a form of idolatry.). The attractions of wealth, material possessions, and fame are no longer important to me (see Matthew 6:19-34 and 1 Timothy 6:6-14), but what He is getting ready to do through me, and the souls I will win for Him, those I will encourage because I can say, I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there.

“Approval Addiction” is another one I hid behind for way too long (Joyce Meyer has a book on this) because of years of emotional abuse I suffered because of the choices I made. For too long, I was a prisoner of my past, controlled by the need for approval, constantly obsessed about and controlled by what people thought of me, the need to “fit in”. Even worse, I wasn’t really reaching out to others because of how worthless and insignificant I felt deep down inside. That only continued to feed that old monster weed of my insecurities, caused by that need for others’ approval. If you are going to serve Christ, you must be willing to be set apart! (See Phillipians 3:7-9.) Then, there’s the old, “I’m okay, I’m not really depressed” mask, you know, the one many of us wear to church. There are countless others. “Denial” is one many of us have struggled with.

Other examples of “masks” we can tend to hide behind are, “tolerance” and “political correctness” (Careful! Are we not denying Christ, as Peter did, by doing this?). Too many times, we as Christians have tried to “blend in” to society, when God calls us to stand out! We have let the devil trick us into wearing these masks, but they only keep us from seeing who we really are in Christ, and who He has called us to be.

Taking off the Masks – Who has God Called You to Be?

So, take a few minutes to start each day together with God’s word, pray for Him to show you the “masks” you may have been hiding behind, then ask Him to remove them and help you let go of the need to build false facades, “release” it all to Him, and speak the Word over your marriage, your family, and your finances. Make the decision today to “get real” and pray and agree on that Word God gives you together (see Matthew 18:19-20), and I can assure you, you will begin to see changes in your prayer life, your spiritual walk with God, and your marriage and family relationships.

I can honestly tell you right now, today, for me, those chains have been broken! The masks have fallen off! They are gone! I am FREE in my new identity in Jesus Christ, my Lord (also in that section in Phillipians 2:1-15, about seeking to have the mind of Christ).

If this series the Holy Spirit has laid upon my heart to share with you helps you somehow to take a closer look at your own life, and see, through His loving guidance, what masks you may have been wearing, then it will have achieved its purpose. After all, it is not me, but Him, lovingly calling out to you now, while there is yet time for us to make a difference. I am only the hands that typed the words you are reading here. I am only His willing vessel, one who has been broken in many ways, but He saved me, delivered and healed me, and I have answered His call to help as many as I can, just as I hope you have.

With this pandemic we are all facing now, we can only work together, pray and show our appreciation to all of those front line workers who are bravely doing their jobs to take care of us, and pray for those who are sick. The truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. The path to prayerfully seeking His guidance to help us take the masks off that too many of us have worn for too long, and show us the plans He has for each of us to make an impact for His Kingdom is a journey each of us must take on our own. We can only work, love, and pray together, now, as never before, and believe in the miracles He wants to do in our lives.

There is Hope for You…

Covid 19 is not an automatic death sentence. Many have recovered, and gone on to appreciate the things in life they took for granted before. I am one of them, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But if your time should come, and your name isn’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and you haven’t accepted our Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then after your last breath will be too late. You will have just allowed the devil to punch your ticket to the Masquerade Ball of no return.

Jesus loves each of us, so much He died for us to have a more abundant life of hope and fulfillment, leading others to Him. I hope you will accept Jesus as Lord of your life today. If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all it takes is a simple prayer, and to believe in Him with all your heart, in total surrender to Him. If you’re ready to take that step, click here, and allow my 12 year old self to tell you how. (That got ya thinking, didn’t it? 🙂

 

What Will Your Choice Be?

I wore many masks for a long time, but thankfully, I have been set free by the power of Jesus Christ. I am no longer chained to the past. I gave my ticket to that masquerade ball the enemy had me going to for too long to my Lord and Savior, my Jesus. He took it and ripped it up and gave me a new hope and a new life. Right now, I am taking it one day at a time as we recover from this, and praying for healing for my sweet hubby. Again, none of us are promised tomorrow. But I can tell you this much: I’m done wearing any of those dumb, ugly masks. I know now that God truly cares about what we’re hiding behind that mask, and that the truth has set me free (John 8:32,36, and 14:6) just as it will set you free. I know that each new day I wake up with the breath of life He gave me in my lungs, I will praise Him with it, and never take it for granted again. I don’t want to be the person I was before all of this. I want now, more than ever before to strive to reach my full potential of what He has called me to do.

Which will you choose? Will you continue to be a part of the problem, as many of us have been for too long, or will you choose to make a great impact for the Kingdom of Christ? The clock is ticking for every one of us. Thankfully, we have a loving Savior Who standing there at the door of our hearts, waiting to come in and help us “get real”, with Him, and with those we will reach for Him. Now, let this song minister to your heart…

Have You Checked Out My New Book?

If you haven’t, be sure to check out my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, as I mentioned above. It has my testimony of my near death experience in a car accident in November of 1985, what I have learned since, and has been written as an encouraging message of faith, especially for those who have been through traumatic events and have felt like giving up. In the book, I also talk about throwing off the excess baggage from the past so you can sail forward to God’s wonderful plan for your life. I feel in any case, that it will help enrich your walk with Him, but it should by no means take the place of studying God’s Word. Jesus is the Lighthouse. I am only a flashlight to point the way to Him.

Know Someone Who Could Use This?

If you know someone who would be encouraged by this information, please share! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to hit that ‘Subscribe’ tab so you won’t miss my next post in this series, and so you will be among the first to know about my upcoming new books. Now, let’s throw those masks out and start building the Kingdom together!

20 Things NOT to take into the Year 2020

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At Cades Cove in TN earlier this year with my hubby. This is one of the historic cabins. We were tired and I had windblown “mountain hair”, but I still like the pose, kinda makes me think of looking off into the future. Expecting good things in 2020!

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I know 2019’s been a hard year for a lot of us, but I’ve chosen to think of it in terms of what God HAS done in the past year, the storms He has brought us through, and how it’s all made us stronger. When I think of the blessings that did come from this year, despite the storms and trials, it just got me to thinking of all the things NOT to bring into this coming New Year. Then too, I think we do that every year. It’s how well we stick with it that counts, and I think too, that comes with maturity and experience.

Well, here we are…20 years after the big Y2K (Year 2000) Bug scare invited itself to our New Year’s Eve Celebrations of December 31, 1999, and just wouldn’t leave, until well into New Year’s Day, when it became apparent that no major failures had occurred. I’ll leave it for you to do your own research if you want to know more about that. For now, as we sit here, around our living rooms by our fireplaces (or “fake fireplaces” like ours, hey, we like it), dining room tables, or mid-morning coffee or brunch tables, talking with friends, loved ones, or co-workers about what all we don’t want to take into 2020, things we want to change, and New Year’s Resolutions, that will likely fade into oblivion by the 2nd week of January, I couldn’t let this time pass, as a writer, without offering my humble take on it all. So, here, altogether in one list, are some old habits, thought patterns, or other forms of excess baggage that should be thrown off the “ship” of your life well before going into 2020.

I am sharing this from a helpful, non-judgmental perspective, and these have not come to me without a lot of trial and error on my part, as well as some intense prayer and fasting in the past few years of my life. Much of it was learned the hard way. So, I hope you will see it this way and be encouraged from it as you and your loved ones and family pray together and anticipate what the year 2020 will bring for you. Together, we can go into this New Year with “20/20 vision”, and “hit the ground running”! So without further ado, here you go…

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

20 Things NOT to take into 2020

1. Past Regrets –

In the Old Testament, Lot’s wife disobeyed God and turned to look back at His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Jesus also makes reference to this in Luke 17:28-32. We can’t get the past back, and wasting time allowing yourself to be sucked into that old whirlwind of regret will only weigh you down and keep you from moving forward. If you keep allowing yourself to get caught up in all the could have, would have, and should haves of life, it will only continue to allow our enemy, the devil to fill you with sorrow, discouragement, and depression. He will do this to every one of us if we let him. We all have things in our past we regret, things we wish we could change. But if we are going to move forward into 2020 with the renewal and “Holy Boldness” God needs us to have so He can reach others through us and do great things in our lives, this is the first of the excess “baggage” that needs to be thrown overboard. If you have accepted Christ and repented of all your past sins, then He has forgiven all of that. Stop letting the enemy throw it back in your face. Throw that mess overboard and move forward. Besides, a good thorough search of the scriptures will help you see this as the idolatry that it is. Nothing in your past is better than what God has in store for you. We as the Church, as family, and friends, have to help each other move forward. In Galatians 6:2, Paul said, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”. For some, that may be too heavy a load for them to lift by themselves. If you see someone struggling with past regrets, take time to talk with them about it, pray with them, and help them lift it up to the One Who died to set us free from living a life of regret. Jesus came to set the captives free, and so that we could live a more abundant life in Him (see John 10:10).

2. Grudges/Unforgiveness –

Just as regrets will hold us back, so will old grudges and unforgiveness. Jesus clearly told us that if we cannot forgive others, then our Heavenly Father cannot forgive us: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15. The Bible is clear that no one with unforgiveness toward others will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Eternity is a long, long time to spend in Hell, separated from God, in eternal torment, simply because we could not forgive. Let it go. Ask God to help you if you don’t feel like you can forgive. Take a few minutes to watch this:

There is nothing God can’t do. Don’t carry the heavy burdens of unforgiveness and grudge toward others into 2020. Jesus, the Son of God, took the lowly form of a man and hung on the cross in our place, and paid for our sins with his life. So who are we to hold unforgiveness or grudges toward anyone? If Corrie ten Boom could find the strength and grace of God to forgive, then we all can…through Him. As she said, in and of ourselves, we can’t. But through Him in us, we can. Don’t let the sin of unforgiveness and grudges keep you from God’s best for you in 2020. Most importantly, don’t let it keep you out of Heaven.

3. Old Unproductive Habits –

Hey, I’ve had them, we’ve all had them. One of my main issues, which I will discuss briefly in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, coming soon, is my ability to focus and get organized, as far as using my time wisely. This is mainly due to the head injury I received in the accident. I have my issues, just as we all do. But Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things” (read: ALL things) “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In the book, I will give my testimony on how God has helped me to triumph over these setbacks that the enemy wanted to use to get me to give up on life. I could have easily given up and missed out on all that God had for me, but He helped me, just as He will help you. His Word is full of encouraging and powerful scripture that will set you free if you take time to meditate on it and speak it over your life. So speak the truth of His undefeated Word over any unproductive habits you are struggling with and trust Him to help you rise above it and move forward to greater expectations in the coming year! Speak it and believe it, because as Isaiah 55:11 reminds us, His Word will not return to Him void!

4. Procrastination –

There isn’t much I can say about this one other than I am an overcomer, just as we all are, according to His Word. There can be many different reasons we fall into being procrastinators, but we don’t have to let ourselves be defined by it. Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” For any of you who are writers, I did a couple of posts a while back on “Writing for Procrastinators”, which you might find encouraging. Here’s the first one, and here’s the second one. We’ve also been promised that we have “the mind of Christ”, as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:16: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” Whatever you do, or whatever gifts God has given you to excel in, make the decision to trust Him to help you conquer whatever procrastination or other habits that might be holding you back, and believe that 2020 just might be your year! Procrastination can be a hard old habit to break, but then again, there is nothing we can’t do with Christ’s help. Well has He reminded me many times of what He said in John 15:5: “ I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” It took “Ms. Independent” here a long time to get that, but believe me, I get it now. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but in Him and through His empowering us, we can do anything (see Phil. 4:13), including overcome procrastination.

5. Complacent Disobedience –

This is one of the worst enemies we can have, if we allow it to seep in to our daily lives. It happens for different reasons. I think for me, it was mainly because I had “hardened” in a sense, becoming insensitive to God’s voice, and complacently disobedient at times, because of the things that had happened in my life. But when we have given it to Him, and we fully surrender ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice for His service, He will help us to rise above the things that have hurt us so that it no longer can be used by the enemy to control us. But if we haven’t, the enemy could still be sitting at the controls of your subconscious mind in a sense, using that old stuff to control our thoughts, actions, and even our words. We must make the conscious decision to get into the Word, seek God in prayer, and ask Him to guide us and help us heal from whatever has hurt us. In His time and His way, He will help us rise above it, and we will see the Holy Spirit begin to work in our lives as never before, ordering the enemy to “cease and desist”! Ask Him to show you any ways the enemy might be still “sitting at the control panel” of your subconscious mind. Trust Him to help you stop seeing yourself as a “victim of your past”, and show you how He can turn it into your testimony. Jesus came to set us free, and His plan was for us to be ambassadors to the future, not prisoners of the past!

6. Corrupt/Inappropriate Communication –

This one speaks for itself, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had problems with this. We’re human. But as Christians, we don’t have to let it control us any longer. If we have a problem with it, we can ask Him to help us and He will. In Ephesians 4:29-32, Paul says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” The Book of James has much to say about the tongue. In Chapter 3, verse 10, he says, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” The enemy wants us to think we can’t control it, but he is a liar. Don’t let his lies follow you into 2020 and hold you back any longer from what God has in store for you. The Word of God has already rendered his lies null and void (see Jeremiah 29:11)!

7. Judging –

We’ve all done it. But in reality, that is God’s job. As our pastor has often said, “we catch ’em, God cleans ’em”. We are to win them over with Christ’s love, then let God do the cleansing. It’s not our job to “thump the Bible in their face”, but to show them the love of Jesus Christ, pray for them, pray for Him to show us ways to show them His love, let them see His light shining in us, and let Him do the rest. If we all start to do that more, I think we will see a lot more people coming to Him. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Then too, there is what He said to those about to stone the adulterous woman, “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7, see John 7:53 – 8:11.) I think if we all concentrate more on how we can improve ourselves, 2020 will be a much better year for all of us.

8. Wasted Talents/Gifts –

Paul talks extensively about the gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit, and how working together, with each of us using our gifts, we make up the Body of Christ (See Ephesians 4:7-16 and 1 Corinthians 12). The enemy will use our past to derail our future as long as we let him. But through Christ, we don’t have to allow it to follow us into the New Year. If you believe you are a prisoner of your past, you will remain so, but if you are ready to believe that through the truth of God’s Word, through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who sets us free, your time has come, then it has! Go forward, not backward. Stop letting the devil talk you out of your future, and speak the truth of God’s Word, ask Him to show you the gifts He has given you, and believe! In what ways have you allowed yourself to be distracted or discouraged from recognizing and using the gifts and talents God has given you? In what ways are you willing to work to change this in 2020?

9. Poor Decision Making –

We’ve all made poor decisions, but God promises to guide us in all our ways if we only seek Him. We must all fight the human tendency to do things our way. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”. Did you catch that? “In ALL thy ways, acknowledge him…” Yet, in how many ways have we tended to pick and choose which scriptures we want to obey, which are “convenient for us” to obey, and how much of God we want to allow in our lives? If we truly want His best for us, it has to be all or nothing in 2020. Let Him take the wheel and trust Him to guide you safely into His destiny for you.

10. Lack of Faith –

Lack of faith will rob us of all the blessings God has in store for us if we continue to think in our own limited human understanding instead of trusting in God’s Word and His promises for us. I will talk more about this in the book, but take some time to review the “faith chapter”, Hebrews 11 and discuss it as a family. In what ways have you let lack of faith cheat you out of God’s blessings for you? In what ways can you work together as a family to stop this in 2020 and claim the blessings God has in store for you and the powerful ways He wants to work through you? What type of ministry might God have in store for you and your family, just beyond that mountain you’ve been climbing?

11. Roots of Bitterness, Shame, etc. –

These can be rooted deeply, sprouting and growing for years until it grows into a “monster” that blinds you from seeing God’s plan for you. These roots will wrap themselves around you and hold you back from ever seeing or reaching the destiny God has set for you. But the Word of God is your “Weed killer”. So make the decision to stop “feeding the weeds”, no matter how loudly it may yell, “feed meeeeee!!!!!!” (from one of our pastor’s sermons 🙂 ). The Word is our weed killer, but we have to apply it to the root of the problems, and then root ourselves deeply in His Word, and water our faith daily. Then, we will see ourselves bearing more fruit for the Kingdom in 2020!

12. Negativity –

It can be too easy to allow the stress of the times we are living in cause us to sink back into negativity. Then our children and others around us pick up on it. At work, it can start with one person complaining, then by the end of the day, everybody’s complaining and biting each other’s heads off. Let’s make up our minds to encourage each other in the Word, in showing Christ’s love and compassion, and throw the old baggage of negativity overboard for good, so we can sail into the New Year with plenty of room for the new things God is going to do in 2020!

13. Pride –

It takes many forms, and we are all guilty. We simply have to recognize that the key to stopping it from controlling us any longer is to humble ourselves before God and ask Him to show us any places in our lives, our marriages, and our family and work relationships, even in the church, where it has crept in. Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” Trust me. This is one lesson too many of us have had to learn the hard way, including myself. Throw this old dead weight overboard too, and decide together that you will not be carrying any more destructive pride forward into your New Year.

14. Self Doubt –

This too, is another trick of the enemy. The key here is to stop letting him trick you into focusing on your can’ts and have nots, and instead, focus on what you CAN do, which is ANYTHING, through Christ, Who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13). Get into the Word and turn that “magnifying glass” he is using to magnify your problems and weaknesses around on him, and let the light of God’s truth burn him out of your territory in 2020! Speak God’s truth over your life, your finances, your marriage, and your family, and watch God work!

15. Lack of Focus –

I touched on this briefly in number 3, but suffice it for me to say, the enemy knows he doesn’t have much time left, and he is working to distract every one of us from reaching others for Christ, and making a difference in our churches, communities, schools, and workplaces. So, put your Jesus “glasses” on and get focused. What’s going into the New Year with you and what’s not? It’s that simple. You have the power, through Him, to decide, speak it, and implement it!

16. Poor Relationship Choices/Negative, Toxic People –

We’ve all been around them, whether it’s a co-worker, a classmate, colleague, or even family. But we can love them to Him and do our best to show His love and forgiveness. We can do our best to love them to Him, but as Paul well said, many will fall away from the faith in the time before Christ’s return. There are some who are just going to be negative and toxic no matter what we do. We must trust God to guide us and show us when it’s time for us to do as Jesus told the 70 when He sent them out, and wipe the dust from our feet and move on. Influence them in whatever ways you can, but if they want to continue to be negative, toxic, and unforgiving, we have to recognize, through His guidance, when it’s time to break negative, toxic connections that are only going to drain us of our energy to help those who WILL receive His message.

17. Distractions/Time Wasters –

I like the way Bishop T.D. Jakes put it in one of his messages: “Start deleting distractions!” It is time for us as the Church, as the Body of Christ, and as families, to start deleting the distractions that have been holding us back and believe that through Christ, and the power of an almighty and undefeated God working through us, 2020 could be our best year yet! Then too, we have to trust His guidance to help us recognize the difference between “distractions” and learning experiences. He is the Teacher. We are the students. Good teachers must first be good students. He knows the distractions the enemy uses, and He can guide us safely through those storms, but only if we allow Him to be the One at the helm.

18. Wallet Drainers: Things that Drain/Waste Your Finances –

We all have them. We’ve called them “holes in our pockets”, when really, it’s all poor decisions on our part. Things that might have seemed like a good investment at the time all of a sudden become the worst mistake we could have made. Then, we’ve ended up in situations that we can’t back out of, and it costs us much more than we had planned. As long as we allow our own limited, weak, human intuition to guide us, we will continue to make these mistakes. These are all ways the enemy works to steal our “seed”, that is, “seed” God has given us for sowing into the Kingdom. Only in trusting God completely and making Him the Head of not only our families and our marriages, but also our finances as well as every other area of our lives, can we expect to begin to reap the harvest that His Son, Jesus, died to give us. Hey, I’m talking about my marriage here as well. Make the decision to stop “devouring your seed” in 2020 and prepare to reap your greatest and biggest “harvest” ever! Make the decision for you and your family to become Kingdom Builders for Christ, and watch your “crops” grow in the coming year like never before! He is “no respecter of persons” (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34), what He has done for one, He will do for another!

19. Marriage/Family Relationship Drainers –

This is a biggie and can be a sensitive subject for us to discuss sometimes, but if we invite God to the table, and His Son, Jesus Christ as our “attorney” (the “fee” has already been paid!), He will work all things for our good. He wants the best for your marriage and your family. So invite Him to the table in 2020 and see what a huge difference it will make for you. For marriages, if Christ is the Head of it, it provides that 3 stranded cord that will not be easily broken. This provides the unity that will keep the family strong and undivided, and working together. For our children, just remember, as they grow older, they sometimes need our guidance as to their choices of “friends”, as well as in other areas of their lives. Your loving but firm, Bible-based guidance will keep them from making unwise relationship (and other) decisions, and your Christ-centered discipline and love will help them recover from bad decisions they’ve already made, and help them learn from the consequences. If done correctly, it will help them grow stronger, into responsible and productive Christian adults. I can’t say I have always been the best parent I could be, and neither can my husband, but we have surrendered it all to our Heavenly Father, and we have learned from it. Pray together, love together, and forgive together for a stronger marriage and family in 2020!

20. A Lukewarm Relationship/Prayer Life with God –

Revelation 3:16 warns us about being “lukewarm” in our relationship with God and our service to Him. I am just as guilty of this as anyone, but now, because I have finally reached a point in my life that I was able to humble myself in prayer to God and admit it to Him, rather than “sweeping it under the rug” for as long as I did, I am now seeing big changes. You will too if you only realize that to admit our faults to our Heavenly Father is to welcome Him to help us so that we can finally learn from it and move on. Just as in the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), our Heavenly Father will welcome us with open arms when we are finally ready to “come home”. In what ways have you been like that Prodigal son (or daughter, points at self)? What ways can you let Him help you change that? “Come home” and let your Heavenly Father receive you into His “family”. There’s a place for you at the table in 2020!

He is Bigger than Any Storm…

This past year has had its storms, and I would be lying if I said there haven’t been times I wanted to give up, at times even on life itself. But, as I will discuss in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door” (mentioned earlier), which will have my testimony of my NDE in a car accident in Nov. of ’85, I know that if our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ, is the “Captain” of your “ship”, and you make the decision to go into 2020 with His hands at the helm, then you can trust that whatever storms the coming year may bring, He will guide you safely through them. There will be storms, that is inevitable, but you can trust that your Captain will not allow the enemy to do anymore than He allows him to, and what He does allow, He will use it to make us stronger if we only yield it to Him and trust Him.

So, I am counting my blessings, thanking Him for what He has helped me learn from the storms, throwing the excess baggage of the past overboard, and sailing into 2020 ready to “hit the ground running”. I am ready for new beginnings and looking forward to all God is doing and getting ready to do. You can too, regardless of what the enemy has tried to use to destroy you. So, throw that mess overboard, let Him be the Captain of your “ship”, and trust that He is BIGGER than any storm the coming year may bring.

That said, it is ultimately up to you, what you choose to carry into the New Year with you and what is old baggage that it’s time to throw overboard. So, in a sense, 2020 is a book, the pen in your hand. What kind of book will you write? Better yet, put the pen in God’s hand. He’s already planned the perfect story for you. You have only to trust Him and turn the page.

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Image by plonk66 from Pixabay

The Grand Equation: 5 Steps to Finding Peace – God’s Formula for Balancing Out the Equation of Your Life #5StepstoFindingPeace

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Do you sometimes feel like your life is out of balance, like there’s something missing?
Does it seem that no matter what you do, things just don’t “add up”?
Would you like to know how you can find that balance and peace in your life?
My friend, there is a way. But are you really seeing the greater picture, or just going by what you can see immediately around you, as it applies to you?
Stay with me here, this gets really good. I know it has helped me. I know this because I have lived it, and found out most of it the hard way. I am currently 52 years old, soon to be 53, and I can honestly say, when you reach this pinnacle on the journey through life, you want to share the wisdom you’ve gained (most of it the hard way if you’re like me) with others, and hopefully maybe prevent someone else from taking the same falls in life you have.
Isaiah 40:31 is a powerful verse that has guided me through some of the rockiest, toughest roads of my life. It reminds us to see that greater picture through the eyes of the eagle:
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
We all go through hurt in this life. Most of us can relate to going through these painful times in our life. People you thought you could trust “stab you in the back”, reject you, judge you without getting the facts. Old unforgiven hurts and grudges. People who have written you off a long time ago. So how do you ever find peace despite it all?
1. Look at the Bigger Picture…From the Greater Perspective of Our Creator
The answer is simple. But you must first understand that you need to look at it from the proper perspective. As humans, we only see what is immediately around us. However, the eagle sees all that is on the ground below. If we pray for God to help us “mount up with wings as eagles” as the above scripture promises we can, then we see the picture through the eyes of that eagle, or closer to God’s perspective, seeing the whole picture.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we tend to see ourselves in the middle of our little “circle of life”, envisioning everyone else and everything in life rotating around us. But in reality, we are not seeing the full picture. It is our Heavenly Father, our Creator, Who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us by His grace, which we didn’t even deserve, Who belongs in the middle of that circle. So, the first thing each of us must do is put Him back in the center of our lives, and stop making it about ourselves.
Hey, I am talking to myself here too, friends. I went through years of heartache, dysfunction, and disappointment, because of the bad choices I made early in my life. I’ve also gone through a lot of undue stress and wasted precious time I cannot get back before I could ever get it through my head that it wasn’t all about me.
But what about all those hurtful situations that we find ourselves going through that we feel we didn’t even deserve? How do we forgive those who have hurt us deeply for no good reason, or treated us unfairly?
2. Forgive, Let Go, and Let God…
Well, first, we forgive them with the same grace Christ was willing to forgive us of our own sin. (See Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, among others).
Romans 12:19 boldly emphasizes this: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
He sees that bigger picture a whole lot better than we do, and He sees the hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him and nothing surprises Him. Besides, we never know that when we show them the love of Christ and forgive, it might just touch their hearts and win them over to Him. When we insist on being angry and getting our own vengeance, we rob Him of that.
Once we see it all from His Grander Perspective and forgive, this closes the door to the enemy being able to further use it to control us, and it opens the door for our loving Heavenly Father to work it to our advantage (see Romans 8:28, Galatians 6:9). Then, we apply a simple formula, which I will share with you here. For that, we’re gonna do some math.
I heard those groans! I know, math was never my best subject either, but this is a simple and time-tested process. I know because I have already been tested on it, so now, I am sharing it with you because I know it will work for you just as it has for me…
I have a chapter in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, called, “God’s Mathematics”…If the “equation” of your life isn’t “balancing out”, try what He has told me (and it won’t, until you do this, trust me, no better yet, trust Him)…
3. Take yourself OUT of the equation.Hey, I know that’s hard, believe me, it was for me. But like I said, in order for this to work, we each and every one have to get this through our stubborn, human heads…it’s not about us. It’s about Him, and what He did for us. It’s also about what is available to us, if we are only willing to believe, trust Him, and put Him back in control. This means total surrender from all the “I deserve, I shoulda, I coulda, I woulda, I’m gonna…”
Let. It. Go. This is the only way it can work. It represents total surrender to Him, the only One Who can save us…even if it means saving us from ourselves first. Trust me when I say, I went through this one “kicking and screaming” – okay, not literally. 😉
4. Put Him (Jesus, our Lord and Savior) in all the places you’ve been putting yourself.
Then…and only then…will it finally start to balance out. Trust me. It works.
For a long time, I held on to resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and the longer I held on to it, the longer I kept making it about “what I felt I should have been entitled to”, what I deserved, ya da ya da… I wasted a lot of time trying to figure it all out myself. It wasn’t until I let all of that go, and turned it all over to Him, and did just what He’d told me, that it all began to work out, and I began to finally have peace.
Now, for no. 5…
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5. Put down the pencil. – That’s right, just give Him the “pencil”!
After all, HE ALREADY HAD YOU FIGURED INTO THE EQUATION – long before you or I were even born. We need only turn to His Word for proof of this…
  • Genesis 15:5 – “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
  • Galatians 3:8-9 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
  • Galatians 3:29 – “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
  • Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
  • Luke 12:7 – “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
  • Matthew 6:26-27 – “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
  • Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

And this one, which speaks for itself, as all of God’s Word does…

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  • Psalm 139:13-16 – “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.”
The Grand Equation…
Too many times, the hurt, damaged self esteem, and feelings of worthlessness we have suffered at the hands of others leaves us damaged in ways that have left us unable to trust our Heavenly Father, Who only wants the best for us, and created us with His perfect plan in mind for each of us.
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Only He sees the grand equation of the plan He had for our lives, fully balanced out, with all the factors in place, blessings He had originally intended for us, many of which we often forfeit when we insist on being in control and doing things our way. Far too often, we grieve His Spirit when we do this, and we hinder, or delay His ultimate plan for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 “sums” it up best: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – KJV
The New King James Version renders it this way: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In truth, it is only in finally letting go, releasing it all to Him, turning the “pencil” over to Him, and trusting Him to balance it all out, in His perfect, all-knowing, all-seeing way, as He sees fit, that we will finally begin to see that we are already a part of a far grander equation than we could have ever dreamed possible. We only see one page, of the greater “book” that He sees, the “bestseller” He penned, with you as the main character, long before you were even born. 
If you know someone who needs this word of encouragement, please share via the buttons below! And don’t forget to subscribe to my email, via the tab above so you can receive email notifications of my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, coming soon, as well as future book releases. 

“Silent Night” in September?-A Love Stronger than any Hurricane #HurricaneFlorence

20180916_123651“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon

As most are probably aware by now, Hurricane “Florence” (OK, no “Flo” jokes) just tore through our area here in the Carolinas. It came ashore here in North Carolina, causing major damage and catastrophic flooding, then tore through South Carolina, and according to this news report, is still wreaking havoc, now spread over six states. As my husband and I just got our power back on Saturday night, and our internet wasn’t restored until late Sunday, we are just now being able to access information as to just how bad the damage has been. We had some tree branches down all over the place, including about half a tree in the back yard, which, thankfully, didn’t hit the house, and some flooding, which we are still dealing with, but we are thankful that our kids and everyone in our families is safe. That said, we are also praying for all of those in areas that got it worse, and especially the families that lost loved ones in this storm…which brings me to what this post is about.

The little angel figurine in the picture was part of a collection of Christmas figurines, some Nativity pieces, and other things, which, up until now, have remained in a box, carefully wrapped in pillow cases, etc. The collection came from household belongings which were donated to our church a couple of weeks ago by a local preacher and his wife after her mother passed away, most of which was dispersed by our Outreach team of our church. Keith and I have gone out with them the last couple of times, reaching out to the community, and we have truly been blessed and humbled by our experience so far. We are seeing lives restored and people saved and delivered at our church, and I believe it has only just begun.

Until recently, setting up a “prayer room” in our home was just an idea, something I had been thinking of doing, ever since I saw the movie, “War Room”. But when our pastor began to speak about it in his messages, we knew it was time to stop “talking about it” and make it happen. I can tell you, things have changed for the better since we cleared out that back room and turned it into our own “War Room”, and God has certainly made His presence known in that room in some powerful ways, which is just what happened this past Sunday morning.

I can tell you that if our own resources were better right now, and we weren’t sitting here unable to even get out or get anywhere much because of the flooding, (the dirt path leading to our house has pretty much been turned into a river), we would most certainly be out there, helping others who have gotten the worst of this storm. But since I can’t do that, I have done the next best thing, and that is, pray.

For the sake of everyone’s safety, our pastor as well as I am sure, most around here, made the decision to cancel services, urging everyone to still honor God in our devotions as well as staying in prayer for those affected by the hurricane. So, after I got up Sunday morning, I just felt the urge to go into the prayer room, and just pour it all out to God. I don’t mean just my family and our little circle of friends and all of that. I will just say here, that my faith has grown in leaps and bounds since I came under strong conviction to pray for others more, in our church, our community, and not just my family. We pray for each other in our church, and we share each other’s burdens. We rejoice when someone in the church’s prayers are answered, and it gives us a special kind of joy when we know we prayed for that need with them. It helps build our own faith. Galatians 6:2 says, “ Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” So, that is what we do. We rejoice with others as their prayers are answered, because we know that what God has done for them, He will do for us.

So, that is what I had in mind when I went into the prayer room. I knelt down at our humble little makeshift altar and just began first to praise Him, which is how I always begin my prayers. Then, I began to pour my heart out to God, not only for our own family, our kids, and our church, but for all those in our local church community, and the church as a whole. In other words, as the “Bride of Christ”, and others all over who have been affected by this terrible hurricane that has done so much damage and wreaked so much havoc and devastation everywhere. I prayed for God to help our Outreach program, and to help us all be the true examples, the light of Christ’s love, that we need to be as we reach out to those around us. I prayed for the families of those who lost their lives in this storm. I prayed until I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit begin to fill that room, lifting up my praises to Him.

When I came out, I looked at the time and realized I had spent at least a whole hour in that room, and I can tell you, I received an immediate answer. So, in effect, this special way God chose to answer my heartfelt prayer is for you, too, which is why I just had to share it with everyone. Immediately, as I walked out of the prayer room, I began to hear what sounded like a tune being played, from somewhere. At first, I thought something had happened with one of our neighbors, and it was someone’s cell phone. I walked all around the house, trying to figure out where in the world it could be coming from. It wasn’t my husband on his phone.

Then, I realized it was coming from somewhere in the house. It was muffled, like it was coming from inside of something…the box! That was it. It was coming from the box of Christmas figurines, which I had yet to even go through. I got down the box from where it was sitting, and opened it, and sure enough, it was coming from inside it. When I located the piece it was coming from, I carefully unwrapped it, the one you see in the picture above. It was playing “Silent Night”.

I sat down at the dining room table, where we usually have our devotions, and after a minute or so, turned it over to find the button to turn it off….

…it was already in the off position. 

Flipping the switch to “on” only made it play faster. I got my phone and took a picture of it, then shared it with our pastor’s wife. Ten, fifteen, twenty, then thirty minutes passed, and it was still playing. My husband actually had to take the battery out to get it to stop. Although it could very well be possible that this may have been a regular, or at least, occasional occurrence with this figurine, that doesn’t really matter. I know that my God is an on time God, and His timing is NEVER off.

It was then, that the Lord brought to my mind the passage in Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV):

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

This all took on a special significance to me, as I sat there listening to “Silent Night”, after spending almost two days, and one sweltering night, without power, or internet service, in the dark, and with no way to access internet via phones, as we have just switched to flip phones for now to cut corners. Though it was just an electronic tune, I knew the words, and found myself singing along with it, and being filled and surrounded by the peace of God, in a way I had much needed.

So, there you have it, God’s immediate answer to my prayer, to yours, and all of those who have been affected by this catastrophe, as we pray for one another, and help each other through this. Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, or other storms of this life, even after we have lost electricity, internet services, or even our homes, and even if we have lost everything, nothing, NOTHING, can ever separate us from the power of an almighty God who loves us and will never leave us, nor forsake us. Indeed, the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, the God of Israel, Who parted the Red Sea, and led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and Who sent His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ to earth to die for our sins, has Himself sent this message of His undying love for us. So, as we all work together to rebuild our lives, may we ever be reminded, that even if we lose everything, and we have nothing left but God, it is then that we will realize, He is all we need.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, which was inspired by a powerful message we recently had brought by one of our newly ordained ministers, that saying is actually on the wall in our laundry room. You can believe I took another long, hard look at it, by flashlight, of course, during the time we were without power, reminded once again, that we will never lose the Power we have available to us through the Heavenly Father Who loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. Thanks to a little angel figurine that played “Silent Night”, one stormy morning in September, even though it was turned “off”, we have been reminded once more of the Love that is stronger than any hurricane. It is a timeless message, lovingly sent by a God who needs no electricity or modern technology to communicate with us, for His power, His love for us, and His amazing grace, are much stronger.