I’m the one with the tongue sharp as a dagger that stabs people in the back. I’m the one who does not have time to visit the sick. I’m the one who doesn’t donate to a food bank. I’m the one who led the rally to stone the adulteress. I’m the one who kills, steals and destroys. I’m the one who hasn’t tithed because I worked hard for my paycheck. I’m the bully. I’m the one…I’m the one…I’m the one… It’s all about me!!
I’m the one that said nothing in secret; I have spoken openly to the world. I’m the one who healed the lepers, the blind and the lame. I’m the one who fed thousands of people with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. I’m the one who kept the adulteress from being stoned. I’m the one who came to give life; life to the full. I’m the one who meets all of your needs. I’m the one that was flogged, scourged, spit upon, mocked, crowned with thorns, and crucified on a cross. I’m the one…I’m the one…I’m the one…I did it for you.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Living amongst four cats makes life interesting. I often watch when one cat stalks an unsuspecting cat while they are in the midst of rolling around the floor playing with a toy or dutifully cleaning themselves. The stalker walks ever so slowly, being sure not to be noticed. Each step is orchestrated pace-by-pace with moments of statuesque poise until the opportune moment arises and they are able to pounce and attack their prey.
I attempt to distract the stalker because I care about the unsuspecting cat enough to protect them. When the attack happens before I can intervene, I rush to comfort the cat that was preyed upon; assuring them that they are okay and that they need not fear the other cat. Although this type of activity is in their nature, I prefer a peaceful dwelling.
My cats are not demons, but this activity gives me a visual of how demonic forces prey upon humans.
We go about our lives, enjoying times with family, friends and even alone time. At each moment, the devil sits waiting in the shadows for his opportunity to prey upon our weaknesses. Have you felt envious of your friend’s success? Have you become filled with despair because you lost your job? Have you started to record a list of wrongs so you can have ammunition to throw at your spouse during the next fight? Do you invite anger to ride along with you as you drive from point A to point B? Do you numb emotional pain by over-indulging in alcohol? Has gossip slipped through your lips? These circumstances are not all-inclusive, but they are examples of weaknesses that the devil preys upon.
Jesus restored a demon-possessed man in Mark 5:1-20. He called out the legion of demons from the man and sent them into a herd of about 2,000 swine grazing nearby. The swine went crazy and rushed into a nearby lake and drowned.
Angels may run interference numerous times for us every day, but it only takes one small crack in a weakness and the devil slips in and starts to wreak havoc in our lives. When we cannot control our envy, despair, recorded lists of wrongs, road-rage, addictions, gossiping, or anything else that is a personal weakness, remember that we do not have to lie down and give up. Call out to Jesus. He will rush in and comfort, he will assure us that we will be okay because he prefers to live in a peaceful dwelling.
Let me take this time to pray upon you, in the words of Paul to the Ephesians 3:14-19
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
In Jesus’s name. Amen.
Yesterday, I had a doctor appointment. I was guided by the medical assistant to my cold room where I waited for the doctor to make her visits to other patients. Through the thin office walls, I could hear the conversation with my neighbor. A celebration was going on because she just found out that she was pregnant. I visualized the balloons flying and confetti falling and the hug of joy shared between the mother-to-be and the doctor who confirmed the blessed news.
The doctor left the party next door and entered my cold room. My diagnosis was not party-worthy. “You have severe endometriosis” she announced. “We can remove the endometriosis and try to salvage your ovaries; however, although the blood tests do not indicate cancer, we cannot rule that out until we cut you open because of the masses in your stomach are rather large. If we do not find cancer, would you like me to attempt to salvage your ovaries?” Knowing that my marriage was heading in divorce I could not imagine bringing a blessing into the world of a broken relationship. “Take it all if you need to” was my heart-wrenching reply.
This really wasn’t yesterday, but it sure feels like it. This happened 18 years ago today. This was absolutely a life-changing decision.
God creates a life path as unique as he creates his children. I was newly divorced and barren; two things I never imagined would occur on my path. I know I would have made a great mom to a little human that shared my DNA; however, that is not my path.
The pain of childlessness is the thorn in my side. After 18 years I realize that I can be a mentor to newly diagnosed barren women. I can utilize my spiritual gift of helper because I can leave at the drop of a hat to help anyone who needs an extra hand or a shoulder to lean on. The thorn in my side has turned into the biggest blessing I have in my life because it created an awesome relationship with my Lord and Savior.
Galatians 4:27 (NIV)
27 For it is written:
“Be glad, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
shout for joy and cry aloud,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband.”
I heard the phrase “job security” the other day as people were walking past my table at lunch and it started me thinking. How often has “job security” been used in a sentence? Usually it is uttered in some sort of joking context, but to be honest, there is a bit of uncertainty that goes along with this phrase. It packs quite a punch.
April 2, 2009, I lost job security with my employer. I was told that in 60 days, my job was going to be terminated because it was deemed redundant. Anger, disbelief and fear formed their own job security and punched in to work for me, but I quickly let them go as I found optimism to be more productive. With optimism on my side, I realized I had opportunities ahead of me. I was scheduled to graduate college the following month and I became eager to put my degree to the test and find a new career. I envisioned starting my own business from a business plan I created for an entrepreneurial class, but at the final hour with my employer, I was offered job security in a recently formed full-time position of which I was over-qualified. I accepted the job because it felt better to have job security rather than no job security. I gave optimism a leave of absence soon after settling into the new job.
After a little over a year, optimism knocked on my door looking for work. I reviewed the time we had spent together and remembered what a great morale booster it had been for me. It only costs change in me in order to have optimism work, so I brought it on board again.
I’ve uttered the words job security in a sort of joking context and I felt the uncertainty of this phrase as well. I am thankful for being able to work, but optimistically, I feel I am in training to take a position working strictly for God. I believe there will always be job security working for him until the second coming of Christ. I shall surrender myself and listen to my life direction.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
My heart wants to love my neighbor unconditionally – at all times.
My heart feels joy even during the saddest of times and situations.
My heart feels peaceful even through storms of life erupting all around me.
My heart waits patiently for relief from the painful trials experienced.
My heart encourages me to treat others with kindness; it does not feel the need to provoke a fight.
What has gotten into my heart?
Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
How does your heart feel?