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The Great Destructive Force

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?  Proverbs 27:4

When I delved into research about envy vs. jealousy I came across this interesting view from Psychology Today: 

“Although jealousy is a painful emotional experience, evolutionary psychologists regard it not as an emotion to be suppressed but as one to heed—as a signal or a wake-up call that a valued relationship is in danger and that steps need to be taken to regain the affection of a mate or friend. As a result, jealousy is seen as a necessary emotion, because it preserves social bonds and motivates people to engage in behaviors that maintain important relationships.”

Jealousy, unlike envy, is about emotional needs within relationships.  Be it between spouses, children and parents, or even between co-workers and a boss.  “My mother loves my sister more than me.”  “My wife pays too much attention to our neighbor.”  “He’s always playing up to the boss for compliments.”  These are all situations where a person is seeking to fulfill emotional needs through the wrong outlet.  When we feel jealousy arise in our hearts it should be a warning to evaluate where our prideful hearts are seeking to fulfill all its needs.


In the books of Mark and Luke a scene unfolds wherein the disciples argue amongst themselves who is the greatest of them.  They all want to be seen as the “top dog” alongside Jesus.  Who does Jesus love more?  Who does He rely on the most?  All signs of a strain of jealousy woven among them.  And true to Jesus’ ability to cut through the sin of man He reminds them all that they are to be the “least” among men.  To accept His love as little children, with innocence and grace.  James later reminds us of jealousy’s dangerous results: “You desire and do not have so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”

Friend, as Samuel Rutherford once wrote, “There is so much in our Lord’s pantry that will satisfy His children, and much wine in His cellar that will quench all their thirst.”  He admonishes us to live on Christ’s love alone.  When we place all our emotional needs in one human relationship we are sure to be disappointed. And disappointment can lead to jealousy.  As Rutherford goes on to say, “Let those who love this present world have it; Christ is the more worthy and noble portion; blessed are those who choose Him.”

Loving Lord, thank you for being a fountain of love that never runs dry.  A place I can return to over and over to refresh me.  Help me to seek your love above all so I can place my earthly relationships in the right place in my heart.  Amen

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Stop Pretending

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
    another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. Proverbs 13:7

According to an article in Psychology Today the advent of social media brought about a terrible case of lying.  Lying about our weight, our age, our financial status, social standing, looks, and well, just about everything about ourselves.   In a study that reviewed 80 online daters, researchers found that two thirds of participants lied about their weight by five pounds or more. In a large sample of over 2,000 people in England 43 percent of men admitted to making up facts about themselves and their lives that were not true.  Most commonly, participants said that they only shared “non-boring” aspects of their lives (32 percent) and were not as “active” as their social media accounts appeared (14 percent).

Some might say, eh, what’s the big deal?  While we humans like to think we are individually responsible for our own health and well-being we actually are in a giant social contract with each other.  When a young teen looks at people online having the time of their lives 24/7 they may think, “why is my life so boring?”  Unhappiness, dissatisfaction, loneliness, or worse, thoughts of harming themselves are paths many may take when evaluating their own “normal” lives.

I remember having this very conversation with my youngest daughter her first year of college.  “Everyone else that went off to school seems to be so happy.  Why am I struggling?” she once said.  I reminded her that very, very few people post the other 12 or 18 hours of their day when they are studying for a test, sitting alone having lunch, or crying from homesickness.  


Our wise words today speak to how we show our wealth or lack thereof.  But in the larger scheme of things, it’s about pretending to be something we are not.  I can’t help but think this comes from a place of looking for love and affirmation in the wrong places. God loves you when you have money and when you don’t.  He loves you when you are doing boring things like taking out the trash.  He loves you when you are on a fabulous vacation or quietly reading a book on the couch.

Friend, God loves you when you are being true to your situation.  You don’t need to pretend to be something you aren’t.  So stop trying to keep up with the influencers who stood in line for three hours to get that perfect shot in Malta.  If all you can do for a vacation is take a hike in your nearby woods, enjoy every single minute of it.  God is with you and loves you right where you are.

Lord, help me shine for the person you made me to be right now.  I want to be thankful for the blessings you have given me.  I know you love me whether rich or poor.  Whatever you have blessed me with help me to bless others by being genuine and true.  Amen

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Taking Offense

Fools show their annoyance at once,
    but the prudent overlook an insult. Proverbs 12:16

This is the second rendition of today’s post.  When I started this blog over two years ago, I asked the Holy Spirit to speak through me.  If writing a particular post felt like I was pulling teeth I knew it wasn’t coming from the right source.  As a result, the post I wrote earlier went into the “delete” pile.  Each sentence I wrote was interrupted either by texts, my husband, timers going off, etc.  I now realize every time my mind wandered to one of those interruptions it was a tap on my shoulder to re-focus and re-write.

You see what was happening in the background of my original text was this very proverb.  I was getting annoyed and offended by problems surrounding an event I am hosting.  It only took me about a half a day to finally figure it out.  The Holy Spirit giving me a real life example of practicing what I preach!  


Being offended has risen to an artform these days. We are offended by other drivers, cashiers, politicians, neighbors, strangers, businesses, faceless people in our social media threads, our friends, our family, our spouses and on and on.  If “they” don’t conform to our wants and needs, it might ruin our day.  If “they” don’t act how we think they should we are hurt and insulted.  No grace and definitely no mercy.  

We take for granted that God won’t do the same to us.  Thank goodness because we all probably offend Him multiple times a day.  While He may allow our sinful actions to suffer the corresponding consequences, He isn’t sending down bolts of lightning to smote us each time we mess up.  He hasn’t washed His hands of us because He’s had it for the last time.

Friends, it’s time to step back and control our emotions.  We have in Jesus the perfect example for us today.  He was whipped, beaten, stabbed, spit on, forsaken by friends, and hung on a cross yet He still loved.  He still asked God to grant mercy.  Today, can’t we do the same with the brothers and sisters around us who are probably doing their best to make it through this day just like you?  I, for one, got this message loud and clear today.

Gracious God, thank you for your mercy.  Help me to deliver that same mercy and grace to those around me who might insult me or cause offense.  I thank you for teaching me how to seek peace throughout my days.  Amen

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Taking The Easy Way   

 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead. Proverbs 9:16-19

There’s a great debate raging in the United States today about achieving equity through stealing.  Where I live, a law was changed so that if you steal less than $950 and are caught you might receive a small fine.  As a result of this change, reported (much goes unreported) larceny as has gone up 3% in just one year.  Property crime has increased in 24 counties throughout the state.  Stores are closing in areas where shoplifting has skyrocketed.  As one woman put it in an interview, “If I need diapers or formula who is going to get it for me?  They aren’t out there arresting people for shoplifting and everyone knows it.”

Now this post isn’t a spotlight on political missteps or any particular point of view.  But there are consequences when we choose to live and make decisions outside God’s plan for us.  And one of the oft repeated admonitions in Proverbs is about laziness or taking the easy way out.  Some argue that being against allowing people to steal for what they call “basic needs” is racist or discriminatory.  But what really is at work in this particular issue is people who are not in need, such as politicians and activists, taking the easy path.  “Well, if we just let people steal without punishment that solves the problem, right?”

There are free needle exchange programs, safe drug taking areas, laws removed to allow for sleeping on the streets, money thrown at problems, etc.  None of these choices make us step back and take the harder, more intricate path.  Some would say they exacerbate the very issues we are trying to resolve.  As Christians we should be convicted to be more thoughtful and loving and wise.  To have the desire to help God’s fellow sheep be lifted from sin and despair.  


My favorite reality contest show was Biggest Loser.  Not only was the goal to lose weight but the show counseled participants on the root of their weight issues.  Many discovered their pain from abuse or loss triggered their unhealthy eating habits.  Without resolution of that pain, they were sure to continue on their destructive, “easier” paths.  

Friend, if in your own life you seek bandaids rather than true healing, if you try to avoid doing things the right way because it just seems easier, God is calling you to wisdom.  Stolen water is sweet but the dead live in that realm.  He is calling you to life and true joy.

Father, at times it seems simpler and less painful to take the easy path.  Please guide me to making better choices that effect both my own life and the world around me.  Amen

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Guard Your Heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

I’ll admit to you right here for the world to read that I have a serious problem with cursing.  Once upon a time I was innocent with my expletives.  I’d say, “Jimminy Crickets!” and “gosh darn.”  And then I started working in a restaurant.  By the time I’d graduated high school my responses to things that went awry or to not nice people weren’t so innocent any more.  Up until recently I figured I just needed to work harder at stopping.  But I was reminded that overcoming sin requires more than just “working harder.”

I read a devotional that convicted me of the root of my sin – the status of my heart.  It shone a light on what was flowing from my heart — anger, pride, unforgiveness, lack of compassion, lack of self-control.  Although James was spot on with his imagery of the tongue being like a fire, I realized that that fire is sparked by my heart.  

My “ah ha” moment that day was how much anger I allow to swirl around in my head and in my heart when someone doesn’t act how I expect or when the world doesn’t stick to My Plan.  Instead of compassion, kindness, love there’s *@%!   A truly ugly use of my God-given heart and tongue.  And a heart change can only take place with the help of the Holy Spirit.  My gal pals know I’ve joined forces with the Holy Spirit to remind me of the fruits of the spirit whenever I leave my house (because I never seem to have a cussing problem in the quiet confines of my She Shed!).  I cannot produce this fruit; I can only bear it because I am closely attached to the vine of Jesus. 

Friend, the world doesn’t think cussing is any big deal these days.  In the past, you’d never hear cuss words on tv or on the radio.  If you’ve ever spent more than a few minutes at an elementary school – yes, elementary school – you’ll find our lax attitudes toward this sin have affected our children.  But we are called as Christians to be different.  To be transformed.  We are to guard our hearts from taking in and spewing darkness.   I, for one, take the pledge.  How about you?

Holy Spirit, guide my choices today in what I take into my mind and heart and help me to return to the world the fruits of your Spirit – kindness, compassion, patience and most of all love.  Amen

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Take His Advice

“Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes… but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”  Proverb 1:30-33

Are you the kind of person who likes to dole out advice?  According to an article in Psychology Today, research tells us that whenever a person tells us what to do and how to do it, we respond with defensive defiance because we want to maximize our personal freedom and decision-making.  And in another study about giving advice, it indicates that, even if you’re not actively out to take the reins over others, giving advice can make you feel like you have some sway, which helps you feel more powerful.

So here you have two polarizing human actions.  The need to have some, a little or maybe even a lot of power over people’s decision making coupled with a defiant audience wanting to, as toddlers so often say, “do it myself!”  Is it any wonder that the entire first chapter in God’s book of wisdom, Proverbs, focuses on the challenges and pitfalls of ignoring God’s advice?  We humans want so often to go it alone.  We buck and itch at someone telling us how to do it better or different – even when we can see they are correct.  Our sinful nature seeks immediacy, comfort and pleasure.  Yet, God’s Word can sometimes ask us to do the exact opposite.

Here’s a secret about God.  He doesn’t need to feel more powerful.  He is all-powerful already.  He doesn’t need you to listen to Him.  He can do just fine without you or me.  You will eventually experience any consequences of ignoring Him all on your own.  He doesn’t have any other motivation in giving advice than this one thing: He loves you immensely.  He won’t be a “stage mom.”  He’s not pushy and obnoxious.  He simply lays out a very clear path to make living this temporary life in this broken world as best possible. 

So friend, while you may spurn the advice of others because you are unsure of their motivations I encourage you to embrace His wisdom.  We can be assured of His motivation.  He loves you so much that He wants you to live a good life with eyes toward His eternal kingdom.

Lord, help me not to turn my ears from your Words.  I want to soak up your advice and live out a life full of your wisdom. Amen

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His Mercy

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Proverbs 25:2

Heavenly Father, King above all kings, you know my sinful heart and yet you love me.  You know my sinful ways yet you love me.  You know my idolatries that I struggle to get out from under yet somehow you forgive me and love me.  I reach out to you Lord in all your mystery and glory and thank you for the mercy only you can give.  Amen

I was asked in a study to write down all the reasons why I pray.  I listed thankfulness, requests, intercession, praise and repentance.  I was then asked to circle the reason that comes up most in my prayer life.  I have to admit “repentance” wasn’t one of them.  Thankfulness is probably the most frequent expression I find in my prayer life.  And it’s usually related to blessings – not for keeping me from the fires of my sinful ways.

A few years ago, I finally grasped the concept of God’s mercy with this helpful saying, “Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve and grace is when you get something you don’t deserve.”  Boy, should I be constantly thanking God for His mercy!  

"Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions." Psalms 51:1

The problem is we sometimes lack of awareness of our destructive swaths we create through sin.  Realizing that, we should find it even more amazing that God gives us believers His mercy.  He doesn’t always save us from earthly consequences but we know that when Jesus returns to judge the earth we won’t be thrown into the fire.  What a glorious and loving God!

God has not asked us to wander bewildered by our transgressions and consequences.  From beginning to end He has set the stage for our success.  Through first giving us the Law, therefore defining sin, then sending Christ to teach us about God, how to live the Christian life and best of all, cleansing us of eternal punishment, He has taught us how to align ourselves with His ways.  The Holy Spirit, which He left to dwell in us, provides us a daily conduit to keep us on track.  

Friend, He thought of everything because He is our Glorious God!  His mercy is our safety net.  He knew we would struggle, and boy do we ever!  Maybe you, like me need to tune in better to the Holy Spirit before we pray today.  Ask Him to search our hearts and minds, like only the King of Kings can do.  Have Him show us those corners of our life that seem blind to us.  Let His glorious light shine to cleanse you.

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His Sacrifice

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15

Gracious God this morning I rose thinking of the Son you sent to save us.  I remembered the pain He endured to show His everlasting and deep love for us.  You created this plan and He completed it.  In remembrance of that day I sit in awe and wonder at your glorious ways.  Amen

Over the course of 30 years a survey was undertaken asking high school and college students if they would first try to save their dog or a stranger.  I’m disturbed to report that 2/3 have always voted against saving the person.  In newer studies, adults now vote similarly.  How would you vote if asked the same question?

This study was posted online awhile back and I went to the comments section to see what people had to say.  I shouldn’t have.  It was more disturbing.  People condemning others for being “evil,” “cruel,” and “vile.”  Strangely enough, they didn’t put themselves in those categories!  The folks that would pick an animal over a human (now certainly there would be instances we all might do the same.  Say a person has just attacked you and your dog) fail to see their decision makes them complicit in devaluing human life.

What the surveyors have surmised is the lack of Judeo-Christian values in a person’s life or the watering down of those teachings increases making moral decisions based on our feelings.  In addition, a belief in God elevates human worth over that of animals.  Without that, we see the image of God brought down to having no more value than a squid.

“9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9-10

Throughout the Bible we are reminded that humans were God’s special creation.  So special that He gave us dominion over the earth.  The earth serves us, not the other way around as some would say.  When this understanding of the world’s creation is thrown out the window it’s no wonder the people of this world have turned everything upside down!

A number of my Christians friends have struggled with the fact that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son.  We either secretly or out loud say we hope God never asks us to do something so difficult.  Yet every day parents see their children in the military risk their lives for us.  Police officers, firefighters, lifeguards and others put their lives on the line for strangers.  Because they believe we are worth saving.

The Bible is one of the most tested and proved documents in all history.  And God’s work is all around us to see proof of His ways.  There is little to no dispute that Jesus walked this earth.  Or even that He died a horrible death on the cross.  And whether or not a person believes He rose and ascended into heaven everyone should understand that He went to the cross that day for us.  He spoke over and over about the plan ahead for Him.  He didn’t die because He wanted fame.  He didn’t die to save the whales.  He didn’t die because of some terrible crime He committed.  The Father sent His Son to die to save us.  Because, thank God, He believes we are valuable. And just as our first verse reminds us, we aren’t saved just to be saved, but to spread the Word so that yes, even strangers are saved.

Friend, God in His glorious ways made us special.  I love my dog, Tucker, but he won’t seek justice for me and he won’t take up arms to protect me.  God made us in such a way that we can even ponder these moral thoughts.  He made us so when faced with difficult decisions we can decide on A, B or even A and B.  It depends on if you love God’s creation as much as He does.

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Our Father

“ In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12

Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen

Awhile back I was listening to a podcast that broke down how and what to pray.  They started with what we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” (Luke 6:9-16) the beginning of which was my prayer for today.  They looked at the use of the word “Father.”  Our Christian faith is so unique in this view of our most Holy God.  We don’t pray to some mysterious, unattached, non-relational being.  In fact, one of Jesus’ missions while on earth was to show believers this new relationship – that of a loving father.  

I have read other people change the word “Father” to “Daddy,” and that seems to go a bit far as the pastors on the podcast also agreed.  It’s almost too familiar, without the reverence God deserves.  While others who have been terribly hurt by fathers or father figures may go to great lengths to dismiss even using a father reference at all.  But God is always seeking to realign us with His kingdom – not the world of sin.  Jesus draws us into this new relationship showing us what God’s glorious Eden will look like when we arrive.  And it is full of love, kindness, grace and forgiveness.

20 “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

I’m not sure if there’s any better story in the Bible to describe God’s role as “father” to His adopted children than the one told of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  When I heard a pastor speak on it, especially verse 20, it transformed me.  You see, the father didn’t meet his son halfway, he didn’t make him come all the way to the house.  He didn’t even first require repentance or repayment.  “While he (the son) was a long way off…”  When word came, probably from people on the outskirts of town, that this wayward son was coming home, his father lifted up his tunic so he could run. He ran to his son – filled with compassion and love.  

God seeks us.  He yearns for us to believe – without needing us at all.  How beautiful and glorious is that?  I recently read in a study that we aren’t all God’s children.  Yes, you read that right.  We are all made in the image of God; but can’t all call Him “Father.”   We must at least start that journey back to Him as the prodigal son did.  He realized he needed the protection and blessings of his father. 

Friend, the day we told God, “I believe in you and I believe you sent your Son to free me of my sins” we received our adoption papers.  He wrote us into the will for the inheritance.  Whatever type of father you’ve had on the earth pales in comparison to the one who has adopted you into His heavenly kingdom.  I, for one, count that the most glorious blessing of all.

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Intricate Creation

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.”  Psalms 57:5

Father God, as I go about my day help me to see the world in a new light.  A world that was created by you for your glory.  A world so intricate and beautiful and diverse that only you, God, could’ve designed.  Amen

As my dog Tucker ran along the path unencumbered with the complicated thoughts of us humans I had to stop and laugh at his simple life.  Simple, in comparison to mine, but still an integral part of God’s creation.  

We were on our usual trek through a local, suburban canyon which features homes on either top of the divide.  Through the middle are varieties of plant life too numerous to count hiding all manner of birds, lizards, bunnies, and probably a rattlesnake or two.  It even features a tiny spring welling up mysteriously somewhere along the way.  And it struck me how no human on earth could create such a diverse and self-sustaining environment.  We try, oh we certainly try.  

There’ve been numerous attempts to create our own human-based “Eden.”  In the 60s and 70s communes could be found throughout the United States, based loosely on China’s Mao Zedong’s plan for communal living.  But time after time they have failed.

Although American communards worked to raise food, shared parenting and household tasks, shared financial responsibility and upkeep, the rules and organization were often lax, leading many to fail simply because there was no governing body, not enough discipline or consequence when someone did not do their part. Also, for some, drugs and sex were more important than work.  

Russell Flannery, Forbes Magazine

You’ve probably heard the Romans 8 verse many times where Paul reminds us that God works for the good of all those who love Him.  I can’t help but notice in so many reviews of man’s attempt to re-create what God has already made perfect that what is basically missing is God Himself.  

God has already made the perfect commune for us.  It’s a world that, if we were to disappear tomorrow, would continue on growing, dying, rebuilding, burning, pro-creating, flooding, blooming, blizzarding, and shining.  But for what purpose?  That my friends, is the ultimate pinnacle of God’s plan.  In the beginning He made it for you.  It’s not something we need to re-make; that would pale in comparison to the original!  But it is something to appreciate in its intricately woven creation and sustainability.  For that we can give Glory to God all our lives.