buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Change of Heart”

Be the Light

Have you ever had a dream that left you feeling unsettled? The last two mornings, I have had that feeling. I don’t know why I dreamed the things I have dreamed, but they were disturbing nonetheless. This last one was about a storm brewing that I could not escape. The winds were picking up and the black clouds were rolling in. I was not at home and I couldn’t make my way there because I couldn’t find my car – actually it was a van which is a bit more unsettling to me as well! Anyway, I woke up in that state of “what am I to do?” “Where am I going to go?” Yuck. I didn’t get to finish the dream. I guess that’s why it’s so unsettling; there’s no conclusion. Did I make it through the storm? Did I ever find the hideous van? (Nothing against vans, but this one was a wreck.)

Maybe this dream was because of the unsettled times we’re in. The storm brewing feels like it’s never going to end. And we are, for sure, not at home in this place. I don’t usually write about the tragedies we are experiencing. But I read some of the comments on Facebook last night about gun control, mental illness and politics that left me feeling a bit unsettled. There is a lot of anger coming from all corners. I don’t have kids so I really don’t think about the things parents think about, but I understand the anger.

I don’t have a problem with guns, although I don’t like them. I feel sorry for those who are dealing with mental illness. And I am sorry that all they are given are drugs instead of helping them with the problem. There has to be a different course of action. Background checks will continue to fail the system. Evil is still a problem that cannot be legislated. Parkland maybe the latest but unfortunately will not be the last. There is always a way for evil to find its way. “Where there is a will there will be a way.” It does feel hopeless and unsettling.

We have been on this slippery slope for quite some time. I can remember the unsettling times we had when I was growing up. Back then it was rioting and knives were the course of action. Guns were not an issue. I don’t remember what set it all off. I was in grade school when the riots happened in the local high school. When the high school kids came onto our school grounds, the principal made them leave – and they did. There was respect for authority back then.

Maybe it was my generation that began this slippery slope. We didn’t like the rules we had growing up and we relaxed them for our kids. Maybe the baby boomers got it wrong and the generations coming from them are experiencing the consequences. We took out spanking the kids when they broke the rules – I know; child abuse and all that – I get it. We have to be politically correct and not allow any mention of God in school life. No prayers; although I don’t remember prayers in my school at the time. But the things I grew up with, seemed to have gone away. School isn’t the same as it once was. I don’t know whose fault it really is but culture will not change any time soon. We’re too far down the slope to turn back now, right?

The real problem we’re facing is a heart problem. Somewhere along the way, the heart problem got more pronounced. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. We haven’t sown into the heart the ideas of right and wrong; of love and kindness; of respect for authority. We have gotten way off track. I think we started chasing the almighty dollar and left the family to fend for itself. The dollar has failed us. The family unit is no longer the same. When the family unit has been destroyed, so will the community as a whole. The threads of life are unraveling at a faster pace than ever before. It’s hard to get the family and the community back together again. And the systems are failing because of it.

So, what is the answer we are seeking? Yes, the correct answer is Jesus. However, the community needs the church to wake up to the problem. We need to stop chasing the dollar and start paying more attention to the family. We need to bring back the heart of Jesus’ message to the church and to the community. Love God and love one another. When we follow those commands, it will change the family and the community. It’s not a simple change. It’s a small ruder to turn this boat around.

The church has quite a bit of accountability for this slippery slope. We have allowed evil to reign in our communities and in our families. The church has to be more proactive instead of reactive. It’s not about our programs that will change this world. It’s about the heart of Jesus and showing it to others outside of our walls.

You do know who the church is, right? It’s you. And me. Anyone who follows Jesus has a part to play in solving this problem. And we need to get more involved – even if we don’t have kids – yes, I am talking to myself now. The light will dispel the darkness. We have to be out there showing the love of Jesus to those who have no idea He will change their lives – He will change their hearts. We can’t just talk about it anymore. We have to demonstrate it. Let others experience this love for themselves. It changes everything.

Maybe we need to experience it again too. Maybe we’re part of the problem. We have forgotten God’s love for us and we feel unloved as a whole. Are you on your knees? It’s time, church. We can make a difference. One child at a time. One family at a time. One community at a time. One state. One nation. One world. It’s our purpose. Let’s get on with it.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

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Singing a New Song

Last Sunday, Christmas Eve, we sang a few Christmas songs during our worship time. It wasn’t the traditional carols. Yes, “Go tell it” was one of them, but it was a different version. Then there were a couple of songs that I couldn’t name for you, much less sing well because I was unfamiliar with the tune. They were different and upbeat – even had a rap song thrown in for good measure. However, I enjoyed them.

Do you get tired of singing the old songs over and over? Does your worship go routine when the old songs are sung? Do we pay attention to the words any longer when it becomes routine? Is our worship affected by routine? I can imagine God saying – “sing me something new” – “feel something different in the newness for me.”

Routine. Rut. Same ol’ same ol’. I think my own routines get the best of me at times. I can imagine that God wants something different for us as well. Routines will kill the Holy Spirit’s movement. Routine is just a mind-numbing exercise. It’s hard to get excited about routines. Yes, I do find some comfort in routines, but it’s when it wears down to a rut that it becomes the monotony of life and just going through the motions.

December 1st, I started the Draw the Circle, 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson. Yesterday’s reading (Day 29) gave me a bit of a pause. It was all about getting out of the routine. The author wrote this profound statement “sacred routines become empty rituals if we do them out of left-brain memory instead of right-brain imagination.” I am good at left-brain work. It’s the creativity that I have a problem with, but I can see that creativity is something God put in us so that we can use it to worship Him more effectively. After all, wouldn’t the Creator give us that same desire to create – we are made in His own image, right?

If you have been following my blog for any time, you may have noticed that for the last year I have been posting on Thursdays. Before that I posted on Wednesdays. Since I started a new job two months ago, I realized that I need to move the day again. I can no longer write in the mornings when I have to be at work at 8 o’clock. This work isn’t working for me! So here I sit on a Saturday morning typing away. This is my right-brain activity for the day! I might throw in another creative outlet at some point as well at some other point in the week, but for now this is what works. Change is a good thing, right?

Mark Batterson noted a response to one of his sermons about prayer from someone in the audience concerning his continual prayer out of his knowledge of the human body. The responder had a degree in biology and started to thank God for all the interactions that occur in the body. He wrote “Thank You for mitochondria, which right now are creating ATP. Thank You for ATP. Thank You for glycolysis. Thank You for pyruvate.” This may not hit you as it hit me, but these are the things I am currently learning through my interest in healthy living.

This responder had a lot more knowledge than I do and he went on to other areas of the body and in nature as well. He was thanking God for the complete work that is going on in our bodies that we have no control over but by His hands we live and breathe and function without a single thought on our own. He did it. He sustains us even when we don’t even think about it. It’s just amazing what God has done for us. It’s His breath in our lungs. It’s His handiwork in our bodies. It’s all Him.

We can get in our routines and not even think about it. But how much more we would get out of life when we contemplate every aspect of our lives are in the palm of God’s hands. How much more we would worship Him when we realize how great and majestic He is and the work that He has done in us and through us. It’s time for a little creativity in our worship and in our prayer lives too. It’s time to get out of our routines and try something new. Are you with me in this?

We are starting a new year in just a few hours. Let’s make it a goal to try something different this year. Let’s tap into our creative imagination and watch what God can do in the midst of it. You up for it? Let me know what you come up with and how God responds to you in that newness. Happy New Year!

Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 96:1-4

The Only Answer

Can I be honest with you? The things going on in this country hurts my heart. I don’t know what the answer is, except Jesus. I don’t know how to fix all the strife, but Jesus does. Why doesn’t He do it? Why has God given us this free will when it drives us so far from Him? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus?

Mark Lowry has written a new song about Jesus called What’s not to Love? “Jesus took my place. My sins have been erased. It’s about amazing grace.” Yet, in this world, Jesus’ name is a curse. People would have you talk about anything else than mention the name of Jesus. Why? I just don’t understand.

Over the last few weeks, I have been researching my family tree. I recently connected with a long distant cousin through a DNA test. The company I used for the test links DNA relatives and gives us the option to connect. One of the DNA relatives contacted me to share ancestry information. She was high on the list as far as segments matched, so I thought why not?

After connecting with her, she put me in touch with her mom who had been researching the family for years. The mother had a nugget or two that I did not have that has led me to my family roots from the turn of the 18th century. I found the link all the way back to England.

What’s really fascinating about all this (in my opinion) is that after coming to America, my family line lived in the south. Every part of the south – from Virginia to Texas. I know my Dad’s family was all southerners too. Now, I know I have southern blood through and through. I’m sure with the southern roots, someone in my family fought in the Civil War. Maybe. I don’t have any proof that they didn’t; I assume some son had to go and probably died. I don’t know what they were thinking if they did, or even if they even had a choice.

I now know my maternal side of the family comes from farmers who had lots of children. They weren’t rich. They kept moving south every couple of generations or so. I don’t know what they were searching for – maybe free land. I do believe most of the people in my family line were Christians. There seems to be evidence of it. It’s probably why the first family came over from England to escape the “state run” religion. That’s speculation. They were good, hard-working people. Again, speculation.

But this I do know, they were not perfect. They had their sins as I have my own. Sins run in my family line – both sides. Yours too. We are an imperfect, sinful people. And nothing will change that fact. We all need Jesus, whether we like to admit it or not. He is the only One who can change hearts, even now in this mess we have going on today.

Jesus said though, that He did not come to bring peace but division (Luke 12:51-53). Families will be split because of Him. Every person will have to choose for themselves whom they will serve. There are only two options. If they do not opt for Jesus, then the default is the other. Most people will not agree with that statement. They think there are many roads to heaven. I wish that were true. But if it was true, Jesus gave His life for nothing. If it’s true, He died a horrible death, not only that, but was beaten until He was unrecognizable. Jesus could have sent for angels to come and rescue Him from all the suffering. But He didn’t because He knew the truth. He is the only way to our Father in heaven. And we are only saved from our sins when we believe in Him.

Unfortunately, the ones who do not opt for Jesus will keep this world in chaos, and even more so as the day approaches when Jesus will return for His church. The signs are getting closer together to demonstrate that time is short. It might take another twenty years, but I don’t think so. I think we are about to run out of the grace period, which is what we have been living in since Jesus left us the first time. Jesus will fulfill the prophecies of His return. Count on it. Make sure of your election to serve Him as the One and Only worthy of serving. What’s not to love? Good question.

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)

The Better Life

While spending a few days with my Dad as he lay in a hospital bed, I thought of conversations we have had over the years. He slept most of the time so I had time to think. I got on my health kick about twelve years ago. He told me one time that he never wanted to live to 120 years so he was going to eat what he wanted to eat and do what he wanted to do. I told him I also didn’t want to live to be 120, but I wanted quality of life until the end no matter the age. There is a family history of diabetes and heart related diseases that I just don’t want to experience later in life. I have learned how to handle my health as best I can with what I been given. Quality over quantity!

I usually don’t write about health related topics on this blog. I save it for my Denise4Health newsletters that I send out once a month. But as I consider the Body of Christ these days, on average we are an unhealthy bunch. However, I am noticing a trend that seems to be going in a good direction. In the natural healthcare doctor’s office where I work, I have noticed a few patients come through to get help on their health journey. They have decided to try the natural route because the traditional route has failed them. I get it. I went the traditional route too before I saw the light!

Once in a while, we’ll get a patient that thinks all they need is a supplement and that will be all the work that is required of them. But it’s so much more than a supplement. It’s a lifestyle. It means changing a few destructive habits. As Christians, this should be easier for us. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us transform. However, we don’t put health in the same category as spiritual transformation. But I think health transformation is right in line with spiritual transformation. If the body isn’t healthy, the spirit and mind are not healthy. The stool (mind, body, spirit stool) collapses when one of the legs gives out. Each part of the stool is significant for complete transformation.

Many times, God has used my health to get my attention. When I needed rest, He put me in a place where I could rest. I had Rocky Mountain spotted fever back in the 80’s that knocked me down for quite a while. I had female troubles off and on for about twelve years. I have grown closer to God during those difficult times. I think when I am struggling the most is when I seek Him harder. Maybe that’s why He continues to send me down that health path. It would be nice if I could seek Him hard when things are going well for me.

God wants a better life for us than what we currently accept as normal. We settle for average. We settle for popping a pill and keep moving instead of seeking His best for our lives. We don’t slow down long enough to seek Him and His direction. Or maybe that’s just my way; maybe you’re different. When we become sick and tired of being sick and tired, I think that’s when we look for a better way. At least that was my case. I really do want God’s best for my life. If I have to make a few changes to get to that life, I will do it. Even now, if there are things that I am doing that are not the best for me, then I need to change my ways.

Andy Andrews said that to change we need to see “what’s in it for me” and “proof beyond a doubt” in order to make a change. We don’t have to hit rock bottom. We don’t have to wait until the last-minute. All we need to do to change is turn our minds to the thing we want to do and just do it. It’s a decision. It’s taking a step in that direction. One small step leads to another. We don’t have to make drastic changes, but make one thing different from what we’ve done before. Trade up to a better life. It can be done. One step at a time.

After ten days in a hospital bed, Dad was transferred to a rehab facility. They sat him at a table and put a meal before him. He ate it like he was starving (and he probably was). While he was in the hospital, he ate very little and was very lethargic. What a difference a little nutrition makes! He was much more alert and responsive after just one meal. I think he is in the right place for the right time. God still works on the health journey of a 90-year-old man. He can do it for you too. Seek His will for your life and find the better life!

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 (NLT)

Two Minute Warning

As we wake up on this Wednesday morning, things have changed for us as a nation. When this blog posts, we will know who will be our next president. Half of the nation will not be happy about the outcome. There may be quite a bit of anger involved. My hope is that we can move forward regardless of the outcome and become united again. But I am afraid unity isn’t going to happen. There just seems to be something different “in the air” with this election cycle.

I don’t put my faith in the political process. God is still on the throne this morning. Nothing has changed in His plan. Everything is going along as He has seen it from the beginning. Our world may be rocked, but His isn’t. He has had His hand on the process from the beginning. Things may change for us, but God still works out good for those who are called according to His purpose. We will still have opportunities to do good in this day and in this time – may be even more so now than ever before.

My heart is burdened this day because of something I heard Monday night. I like to check in every few days with a YouTuber who gives a prophetic word or two. Of course, I don’t know if it’s true or not until it comes to pass. But just in case it is true, and I feel strongly about the word; I would like to share my thoughts this morning.

I believe the Word of the Lord tells us we are in the Last Hour. Since the beginning of time, we have come to this point on God’s clock. Since Jesus returned to heaven over two thousand years ago, the last hour has been ticking. I might even hesitate to say that we may even be in the last quarter of that hour. I believe since Israel has become a nation again; the people of God living in land God gave her; I believe the clock has been racing toward the final stroke of the clock. Things seem to be coming together at a rapid speed.

I think we all get this to some degree. However, I don’t think we truly get that Jesus stands at the door waiting for the word “go” from His Father. People have been waiting for Jesus to return for two thousand years; and we have gotten used to His delay. We don’t really think about the ramifications of how close we may be to the end.

The message I heard on Monday evening has given me much to contemplate. The message was brought forth from a man who coded and came back to tell the message he heard from Jesus. Jesus told him to share this message. The man is a big football fan. In his “in-between” state, he was shown an empty football stadium with the clock standing at 2:13 and was told this is the two-minute warning. Jesus told him that the church is not ready; because if the church was ready, then we wouldn’t be living the way we’re living. (Jesus instructed the man to read Titus 2:13.)

Over the last couple of weeks, I have posted my own thoughts on this matter (Letters to the Churches; It’s Inevitable). I do believe something is about to change for us as the Body of Christ. There was a quote I heard on Sunday from the Pastor in Hawaii who said “it takes a shake up to wake up.” We may not want to hear this, but I think we need to heed these warnings. There are “watchers on the wall” who see things that we may not see. Jesus tells us that those who have ears to hear let them hear. The watchers see, but we are to hear the warning they issue and take action.

We may not like to hear; it may be hard to hear; and it may not be the end in our lifetime; but regardless we are to live as if it is. Who knows when Jesus may come for us as the church or as individuals whose time has come? Someone will take their last breath today. We just never know when that day will happen.

If we live as if this is our last day, it should change how we view this day. We would love differently. We would offer kindness instead of anger. We would be more generous with our resources. We would be more intentional with our time. When we do live differently, we will be ready to meet Jesus. The church will be ready for Jesus to come and take His bride home. What a glorious day that will be! But in the meantime, pray for the nation; for the leaders in the nation, state and communities; and for your family to be right with Jesus. When we’re right with Jesus, we’ll be a better witness in this dark world. For those with ears, this is your two-minute warning.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. Titus 2:11-14 (NLT)

Still the Message

Repent! For the Kingdom of God is near!” John the Baptist was given this message before the ministry of Jesus began. He was the one who called from the wilderness to bring about the change of heart for those who would hear and heed the word. Jesus had the same message. It might have been stated a bit differently. He spoke of forgiveness of sin to those who came for healing. The sick and hurting came in large groups for healing. But Jesus always looked to their hearts first to find their true sickness. He offered forgiveness and told those who came to Him “Go and sin no more!” The same message of repentance – turn away from your sins, and you will receive the Kingdom of God. Overcome that thing that holds you back. For the one who overcame, many promises were given. When Jesus taught the large crowds He ended His teachings with this phrase: “For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”

In Jesus’ time, the message was verbal. No one had ten copies of scrolls that they kept on their nightstand or coffee table to show those who entered their dwelling how “spiritual” they were. They went to the Temple to learn from the scholars. No one carried a scroll around to read while waiting for the next caravan to come around to take them to the mall to shop. It was all by the word of mouth that people were taught. So when Jesus said, “for those who have ears” He meant everyone that was listening to the sound of His voice. Pay attention – this is important to grasp the understanding you will need to enter the Kingdom. He said the way to the Kingdom is narrow and only a few would enter by the narrow gate.

I was listening to someone speak about the seven churches in Revelation on Sunday morning. I had a few thoughts that came to mind as they were speaking that I took note of and wrote them down. The first thought was: these letters were sent to churches – believers. I know it’s pretty obvious. Jesus wasn’t pointing out flaws or giving encouragement to non-believers. He had a message to give His followers. He had to get them back on track if there were going to fulfill His mission. Jesus gave every church a directive and a promise. Every church was called to repent of their deeds and for those who overcame their “issues” a promise was given. I have a red-letter Bible (meaning that the words that Jesus spoke are printed in red). Every word in this section of Revelation chapters two and three are in read letters. John wrote down what Jesus instructed to the seven churches. After Jesus gave the direction to each church, Jesus ended each letter “for those who have ears, let them hear.”

The message reminded me also when Peter, James and John went up the mountain with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them and they were overwhelmed with His glory. Peter being Peter started talking nonsense about building shelters for Moses and Elijah. God interrupted Peter telling them to listen to His Son (Matthew 17:5). Pay attention, boys! Jesus’ words were important to record. If they were important to write then they must be important to remember and obey. Listen! For the Kingdom of God is near.

Do we get that in this day and time? Are we so far removed from the message that we fail to hear the truth behind it? Would Jesus still give us this message today? The word today should still be repent for the kingdom of God is near. For believers today, the kingdom is already here – the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Even more today, we should pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. For those who have ears to hear: Pay attention! Repent! Set ourselves apart from the worldly pursuits and pursue holiness! This is not a message we like to hear. But we’re all called to do just that. Our lives matter here on earth to bring glory to Jesus. But it takes a pure heart and a willing spirit and a renewed mind. It’s still the same message today. Pay attention to what the Lord is saying today.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:19-20

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