vultbld 2015

Don’t Be Deceived…

And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.  Luke 21:8 NKJV

This morning the usual chirps and chatters in my yard took on a drastically different tone.

From my perch I could see birds flying frantically back and forth. A bossy mockingbird stood guard. I thought to myself there must be a hawk in the yard.

As I collected my camera and coat I saw a couple of shadows fall over the yard as I headed outdoors. Kind of ominous. I’m thinking to myself that hawk is flying pretty low. I often see them but not usually this close.

I stand outside waiting for a decent picture of anything with wings. Then I spot one. And then another. Soon there are about a dozen in the sky.

Now, I’m no expert on birds but even I realize something is amiss. The hawks I usually see are loners. I may see two together, three at most but very rarely. I have my doubts but keep shooting anyway. I’m anxious to see what’s on my camera.

My “hawks” weren’t hawks at all.

They were  vultures.

From their distance in the sky they can pass for hawks to the untrained eye. But their behavior told a different story. My yard birds readily identified the enemy.  DONTBDCVD VULT BLSD 15

Some people are like those vultures. They look like one thing but their behavior eventually reveals the truth.

They live off others. Their presence is overwhelming. They prey on those small and weak. In nature, most creatures readily recognize the enemy. We aren’t always as discerning.

Our enemies are rarely obvious. They don’t arrive with a pitchfork and horns. Some are flatterers. Many endearing. Our enemies often know the right buttons to push. They can be manipulative. Often, we are oblivious until it is too late!

I’ve been praying for wisdom lately. I didn’t expect this lesson today. I asked God for a few bird pictures expecting cardinals or finches. I received far more than that.

I did manage to finally photograph a hawk. It flew higher than the vultures, not at all threatened by their presence in the sky.  BLS HWK 15

I like hawks. God uses them to remind me to “fly high” when I am tempted to “get low” and tell someone what I’m really thinking. I often see them when I need a bit of inspiration, no coincidence I’m sure.

I was reminded today to look closely and not act on what I think I see.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

We can’t resist our adversary if we don’t recognize him.

Every good deal, isn’t a good deal.

Some “problems” are merely distractions to pull us off track.

Don’t be deceived into thinking God doesn’t love you. He does.

Don’t be deceived into thinking setbacks will last forever. They won’t.

Don’t be deceived by rhetoric that is contrary to God. All lies.

When in doubt, check it out.

Investigate. Research. Read. Pray.

Listen to God when your gut is screaming “Danger!”

Wise choices often precede a blessing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 NKJV

 

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Anybody Home?

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you,” Psalm 84:4 NIV

“I long to dwell in  your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings,” Psalm 61:4 NIV  

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV  SPRW ATM BLG

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22 NIV

 

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Are You My Brother?

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
1 John 4:20-21 NKJV 

When I was a child, one of my favorite books was titled, “Are You My Mother?”  The book told the story of a baby bird who found himself frightened and alone walking up to all manner of things and asking, “Are you my mother?”

If I recall correctly, the bird walks up to a dump truck. I think there may have been a traffic light and possibly a dog somewhere in there.  The baby bird never stops searching and eventually learns the truth.

Unlike the bird, many “Christians” stop short of acknowledging the truth in front of us.

“He who loves God must love his brother also.”

Jesus did not say love those who look like you and think like you. There are no conditions attached.

I’ve noticed more and more “Christians” in their zeal to grasp God drift toward extremist doctrines and tendencies they condemn others for.

When we profess to know it all and throw around judgment about like birdseed, we place ourselves on a slippery slope where religion obscures fact. We beg God to forgive our sins, yet we readily highlight the flaws in others.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV

Believers often loudly condemn others for all manner of things. The clothes they wear. Tattoos. Race. Religion. Lifestyles. Political beliefs!

And yes, I’ve been one of “those” people thinking I knew it all. Thankfully, the older I get the more I learn I don’t have all the answers.  And I’m okay with that.

This post by Chris Martin really resonated with me.

How about we start with the basics and pursue that second commandment?

What if loving our brother is key to igniting a spark that draws people to God?
Not doctrine. Or rhetoric.

Are you my brother?

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Matthew 7:2-4 NKJV

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Survive or Thrive?

Winter is very much underway. Still, I am ever hopeful and looking forward to spring.

The transition to my “personal spring” will require me to cut off a few “dead things,” and work a bit harder.  The promise of renewal encourages me to look forward to good things in my future.

Do I know what my good things are?

I haven’t a clue.

I do anticipate the best from a God Who is faithful.

Many of us merely survive. Periods of icy dormancy leave us barely making when it appears nothing productive is happening. To simply exist during those times when our winters wear us down is quite a blessing!

Yet, one thing I’ve noticed is that even after their season changes, some people fail to change with their season.

We can become so accustomed to struggling we fail to let go of our harsh past which is necessary to open ourselves up to a sun filled (Son filled?) future.

If we become stuck in a winter mentality, we can’t move forward into opportunities to thrive. New experiences that challenge us to bloom, grow or expand are dismissed because we fail to step out of our doldrums.  Some people habitually live in a mindset of winter dormancy long after that season has come and gone.

I’ve been there.

I readily admit it took effort and repetition on my part to finally move out of the dark and into the Light!

Today I was reminded of a goal I tossed aside years ago. The harsh reality of one particular “winter” buried not only my aspiration but my inspiration as well.

I felt like I was running on empty. Looking back on it I was carried more than I ran. Regardless, today God led me to give that opportunity a second look. The season for this particular goal may have come once more.

Very few of us will bloom all the time. That just isn’t the way life happens.  We must stay mindful and Spirit led to act when it is time to get moving. Doubt, fear and insecurities will keep us “stuck” if we allow it.

Our “winters” are as unique as we are but winter eventually yields to spring.

It may be the frustration of finding a job. Strained relationships. Family responsibilities. The death of a loved one. Financial burdens. Yet, when the “odds” are stacked against us, whatever the situation, we must dare to make a move. God’s blessings aren’t based on odds or luck!

Our first step of faith can move us into a new season! The decision to thrive instead of survive mandates we enjoy the journey instead of fighting to reach a destination.

We may not like those first vital steps. There may will be some discomfort. We may be forced to interact with people unlike ourselves. It can be frightening.

It may very well be exactly what we need.

What about you?

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

 

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What Are You Searching For?

Seek good and not evil, That you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, As you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:14 NKJV

Seek good, not evil.”  We are implored to seek good.  Seek God?

I had a trying experience yesterday.  I could have allowed one customer to destroy my entire day.

See, I’m still honing the ability to hit my OFF button. I somehow allow evil thoughts to find my mental space. Anger festered inside of me. I continued to think about this customer long after she was gone. Long after I’d gone home. She even haunted my dreams!

All this did was make me tense, angrier and opened the door for more negativity to venture in.

However, I was also approached by two of my “good” customers yesterday. Both of them had very kind words for me. They appreciate what we do for them.

Their words were not loud like the hurricane customer who stormed out only to return and shout some more before finally leaving. Their words of appreciation were soft-spoken, understated yet sincere.

Sometimes we must seek good.

I could have allowed the “evil” to blind me to the good. And I would have not that long ago.

“That you may live.”

We must actively seek and magnify the God/good to stay sane and stable amidst all the “crazy” running amuck.

Preoccupation with “evil” make us stressed, tense, and angry. I recognize how dwelling on “evil” things affects my health.

Anxious mind. Queasy stomach. Fear.

These ailments are often manifestations of allowing the negative or evil in life to supersede the good and Godly right in front of us.

Not exactly living as God intended.

Seeking the good in all situations, allows us to truly live and not just exist.

I believe God sent me encouragement because “crazy” was on the way! Thankfully, I recognized the “God/good” in my workday!

Whatever we strive to “seek” we will find. 

When we look for the best in even the worst of situations, I believe God meets our level of faith and expectation. If we constantly complain about our trials, even with due cause, what display of faith is that?

I don’t pretend seeking good is always easy. It takes diligence. It can be difficult. But in the end, definitely worth the effort.

“So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,”

The spiritual maturity necessary to seek the good enables us to direct our thoughts instead of our thoughts dictating our behavior.

If we can do just this one thing, the other areas in our lives will be that much better. 

“It may be that the Lord God of hosts Will be gracious…”

“So, I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 NKJV

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 NKJV

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New Year, New You?

With only a few days into the New Year many “resolutions” have been made.

And broken.

The stamina required for significant change looms far too large for many.

Athletes conquer their challenges with the help of a coach. Students achieve academic goals with help from parents and teachers.

But what about the rest of us?

We don’t have a coach or trainer to motivate us.

Or do we?

All the help and encouragement we need is readily accessible to us. We just have to ask for it.

And submit.

Our God is ever willing to help us become the best we can possibly be.

We often think we have to go it alone. But we don’t.

God is ever willing to provide the help we need.

When we ask Him.

Have you asked Him?

In our weakness God provides what we need to get us through. Those things that once tempted us can no longer hold us hostage.

What changes do you need to make?

Is your health in jeopardy? Need help with your finances? Relationships?

Progress isn’t always possible on our own. True and lasting “success” always comes through God.

The goals we strive for or our “resolutions” are probably changes the Holy Spirit has nudged us toward all along. With a fresh New Year we often dare to believe we can accomplish things that at other times seem daunting. If the New Year sparks positive change, go for it!

Eat too much? Drink too much? Too negative? Undisciplined?

The changes we are prompted to make prepare us for our purpose.

We will all change to some degree in this New Year. Whether the changes are for better or worse remains to be seen.

I challenge you not to obsess over resolutions or prior failures. Instead, take time and ask God what changes He wants you to make now.

I find my greatest regrets are not things I’ve done, but instead those things I didn’t have faith enough to try.

Do you really want the best life God has for you?

Enough to sacrifice? Dismiss your detractors? Go it alone without family or friends?

It’s all up to you. And Him.

How desperate are you for it? 

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.” Matthew 26:41 NKJV

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 NKJV

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” 2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV

“If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;”
Isaiah 1:19 NKJV

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV

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One Last Look…

We tend to begin the New Year with resolutions, proclamations, and prayers. My usual pray more, eat less, blah, blah, blah, makes me mindful of what is possible in 2015.

I’m all for looking forward to new and better, yet I do think it’s wise to reflect on the things in last year I am grateful for. I believe you can’t know where to go if you don’t know where you’ve been. Here are a few of mine…

I am grateful to see the end of 2014. I don’t mean this negatively at all. Working in health care makes me very aware of people who did not live to see it. It certainly puts whatever issues I may have had with 2014 into proper perspective!

I’m grateful both kids did really well in school. If you have ever read my other blog God, autism and me, you know this has not always been the case. My youngest has always struggled in school.

However, both boys pushed themselves beyond their usual “boundaries” and obtained extraordinary results. My prodding was not in vain. I wonder if I will break a few of my  limitations, but that’s a topic for another post!

I did not die from stress. Stressful jobs cause their fair share of heart attacks. My co-workers make my job a lot easier. I should tell them more often. I am very grateful for all they do.

Good health!  Last year I ended and began 2014 quite ill. I am grateful to be healthy today.

My mother. I lost my dad at Christmas over ten years ago. Each year I get to spend Christmas with her makes me appreciative of my parents and all they did for me.

My family. Needs no further explanation.

Watching other people find success. Nothing moves me like a good testimony. You don’t have to “preach” to have one. Watching how God intervened for others  fills me with peace and hope for the things I’m waiting for.

Friends on the net!  Now I know there are cynics who think you can never really have online relationships but I beg to differ. People I haven’t seen in decades I’ve been able to reconnect with, pray with and vent all through the internet! Who would have thought it? Certainly not me!

And last but certainly not least my fellow bloggers on WP!

You have encouraged me, challenged me, prayed for me and inspired me. Taking your valuable time to stop by and comment or “like” a post is always appreciated. When I began this blog I didn’t have a clue! But you found me.

And I am grateful.

You’ve given me good reads, good laughs and different viewpoints. Your words and photos provided answers when I didn’t know I had questions.

Thanks for dropping by in 2014. I hope to see more of you as I attempt a regular blogging schedule (yep, that’s a resolution!) as we enter 2015.

Oh, I almost forgot…

Happy New Year!!!