Tent Living

 

Have you ever been camping? Things seem so peaceful when you are out in the sunshine in the woods or by a lake. But all that can change in a moment when the storms come. Life is like that. When things are running smoothly, there is peace. Yet, heavy burdens can weigh us down and we struggle for peace.

But when life seems to be a burden, be encouraged knowing your body is like a tent set up on a camping trip. The campground is only a temporary place you go on weekends or vacations. But eventually you will take down the tent and go home. The tent is your place of refuge while at a place of unknowns. However, while in the tent, storms may come. They may batter and blow the tent and hail may beat holes in the fabric until the tent collapses. That is when you will pack up and go home to a place that is safe.

Our bodies are like that. The Bible tells us we have a house not made with hands; one that is eternal in the heavens. Our earthly body is like the tent that wears out. But as believers in our Lord Jesus, we are guaranteed a permanent home with God for eternity.

In the meantime, we are to live courageously on earth enduring every storm. We are to live by faith knowing we cannot see the future, but believing what God has promised to us through our Savior Jesus. Therefore, we strive to please the Lord in all we say and do as we await our permanent home in heaven.

We find the truth of this illustration in God’s Word:

1For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed,

we have a building from God,

a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

5Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,

who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while

we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.

7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

8We are confident, yes, well pleased

rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

9Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent,

to be well pleasing to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:1, 5, 7-9 (NKJV)

Who is Trustworthy?

In a world of political upheaval, violence and sexual assault, the question becomes – who is trustworthy? In the newly released book, Rock Solid Trust, the answer is given for where to turn when trust is shattered beyond human repair. It leads you to the One who was, is and always will be trustworthy, and that is God Himself.

To some, it may seem to be a trite answer, yet I know these things to be true:
• When you suffer, He gives comfort.
• When you feel betrayed, He gives confidence.
• When you are exhausted, He gives strength.
• When you feel lost, He leads the way.
• When you feel threatened, He gives courage and peace.

In all these things, He is everywhere present and always present in your life as you turn to Him. And because He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble, we can turn to Him with any need or condition. He will always be there for us though we may feel abandoned by others. “The Lord will not forsake His people or abandon His heritage.” Psalm 94:14 (HSCB)

You can read about this and more. To order the book, us this link.

Hope is Confident

If you are constantly disappointed in the results of your expectations, try to think about the difference between unmet expectations and confident expectations. Unmet expectations are disappointing and frustrating, and can lead to long-term pain and anger unless you are able to identify the source and reverse your thinking. Confident expectation is the definition of HOPE. It is the confident expectation of something good to come. Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint. Therefore, confident expectation is hope and the opposite of unmet expectations.

Look at the definitions for the words “disappoint” and “disappointment” as stated in Webster’s:

  • Disappoint – To fail to fulfill the hopes of a person
  • Disappointment – The frustration of one’s hopes, annoyance due to failure.

Both definitions include the word “hopes”. And so, if you are not going to be disappointed, two things must occur.

  1. Your expectations are to be according to the will of God. Is what you are expecting in keeping with His word and mission for your life?
  2. Your expectations are to be about your Living Hope who is Christ Jesus and not in people or things. People will disappoint, but hope in God does not.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:3)

Are your expectations confident that God’s power is shielding you from disappointment? If you have any question about that, look at Ephesians 6:6 to discover the significance of the shield. What is the shield but faith in Him? Lift it up, keep your eyes on Jesus, praising God for the result of what you expect, no matter what the end result may be and you will not be disappointed but rather empowered to press on.

Have this attitude in yourself, that even though Jesus was in very nature God, He humbled Himself to obedience in the will of God. And so, we must ask ourselves the question, what is the will of God in any given situation that comes our way. Are we willing to yield to His will? His expectation of us is to live out the hope that is within us, The Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Journey of Faith

Conviction – what does that mean? I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. But that is where my journey of faith began. I was 29 years old.

Let Freedom Ring

As we approach the 4th of July this week, known as Independence Day; it is important to recognize that this day stands for more than vacation and fireworks. However, fireworks have been part of the July 4th celebration since 1777.

July 4th in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago in 1776 on July 4 by the Continental Congress.

The second paragraph speaks of our freedom. It says, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What is freedom? Freedom is the condition of a citizen. It is exemption from punishment.

The Bible talks a lot about freedom. We find Paul speaking about a greater freedom than even national freedom.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

What he is speaking of is the freedom from the burden of the rigorous demands of the Old Testament Law as the means for gaining God’s favor. This did not represent the freedom given through Christ. In fact, this demand impeded the development of the Christian life.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free exempting us from the penalty of our sinful state.

This is explained further in Romans 7:4-6. “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”

What does this mean? The Law was condemning and could not free a person on a daily basis from their sin. They had to wait, sometimes, a year for their sin to be atoned and forgiven through a priest.

But through Christ, we have access to God on a daily, moment by moment, basis. Therefore, He gives a freedom like no other. He does not condemn us in our sinful state, but rather delivers us from it.

In fact, Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery; “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She said “no one sir”. Jesus replied, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11

Freedom also addresses the state of citizenship. We are born as citizens of the country of our birth, but with freedom in Christ, our citizenship is in heaven. Phil 3:20. Once we become citizens of heaven through Christ, we are in this world, but not of it because our final resting place will be with Jesus in Heaven. And if we are citizens of Heaven, we should act like it by patterning our lives after Jesus.

And so, what is it that sets us free from this earth and all its troubles? The answer is found is John 8:31b-32. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  • What sets us free? – The truth.
  • How do we know this truth? – From the teachings of Jesus.
  • How do we know the teachings of Jesus? By reading the Bible and prayer. If you are new to the Bible, I would recommend you begin with the book of John in the New Testament.

Let’s continue with these verses in John 8:33-38.

“They answered Him, we are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

“Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

But even though we are free in Christ and have access to God through Him at any time and all the time, we are not to abuse that freedom by doing whatever we want even if it is wrong.

The thinking of ‘oh, it’s just a little white lie or spreading gossip, or rebelling against authority and saying, “but God will forgive me”, is wrong thinking. Yes, it is correct that God will forgive our sins, but to intentionally do what we know is wrong with the attitude of, but God will forgive me later, is simply wrong.

As believer’s, having experienced freedom and God’s forgiveness, it is our responsibility to live accordingly.

I Peter 2:16-17 addresses this.

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil, live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

And so to live as free men and women does not authorize rebellion against constituted authority, but to freely obey the word of God and to live under earthly authorities. Genuine freedom is the freedom to serve God. Liberty is not permission to do as we please. We are to obey the governing of the land because it was God who ordained the system of human government.

We see that in Romans 13:1-2: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

However, the highest and first authority the believer is to follow is God Himself. If someone in your life, who you consider to be an authority figure is leading you to sin against God, you are to look to the guidance of God and follow His will and His way for your life.

Rulers exist for the benefit of society – to protect the general public by maintaining good order for the freedoms granted the citizens. Lives have been lost for this freedom. Wars have been fought. Young men and women have served this nation at great sacrifice so that you and I could be free in our nation.

It began with our founding fathers and continues today. Freedom is not easy, nor is it free. Even the freedom we have through Jesus came at a great cost – His life paid the price for our freedom from sin.

And so, as I am writing this, I am humbled. I am humbled to know that I have not had to fight for my freedom, but others have fought for me. How can I not honor them and honor God, by rebelling.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

We all know that we need healing in our land. As a nation, and as believers, we must pray for the healing of our land. We have God’s promise that He will hear, forgive and heal our land.

Corporately and individually we need to ask God’s forgiveness for the rebellion, for the violence, for the immorality, for the destruction of life and the disunity that is occurring every day in our land. It is the only answer we have for being able to keep the freedoms we have been given. It is our hope.

And so as we approach Independence Day this week, let’s all enjoy the day. Let’s have fun with friends and family. But let us not forget to let freedom ring by remembering how it came about. And let us remember to pray before we begin the day of celebration for the safety of our nation, our people and especially all those young men and women who are away from home fighting for our freedom.

Independence Day is not a day for rebelling against leaders of our land, but a day of celebrating the freedom made possible by the leaders of the land from the beginning of this nation called America.

5 Me’s


“O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;

In your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”

Psalm 143:1 NIV

It is the holiday season – that time of year for celebration and giving thanks for our country and God’s provision for those who landed on the shores of this great land all those years ago.

And yet, for many this Thanksgiving and holiday season, celebration is the last thing on their minds. Hearts are broken, health is in question or provision unknown. Where is the hope and help needed in these times of despair and hopelessness?

In reading a prayer of David in the Psalms, you will find five “me’s in his requests of God in chapter 143:

  • Answer me
  • Show me
  • Rescue me
  • Teach me
  • Lead me

David was overwhelmed by his situation. He was desperate for mercy and word of God’s unfailing love. Despair was trying to drag him down into a pit, but he was determined to trust God. He cried out to Him for his needs of rescue and guidance.

  • He needed a quick answer because his spirit was failing, meaning he was at his wit’s end and sinking into despair fast.
  • He needed guidance and direction for which way to go through the difficult circumstances facing him.
  • He needed to be rescued from those who were out to destroy him.
  • He needed lessons for how to know God’s will and how to do it.
  • He needed to be led on a path that was free from obstacles at every turn.

Throughout David’s prayer, he made commitments to the Lord to meditate on all the works of God and the things He had done. This is where you would remember that it is God who created you to be His very own. It is God who loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be taken away from you.

Then David surrendered his situation, made his “me” requests known and trusted God for answers, love and deliverance. There are times in our prayer life when we intercede for others, but there are times in our prayer life when it is all about “me”. When you are heartbroken and in despair it is perfectly OK for your prayer to be all about you. God wants you to be healed from your broken heart, illness, despair or whatever state has tried to drag you down. He will give you strength to endure.

This Psalm of David is short but filled with hope, encouragement and teaching for all, but especially those in seemingly hopeless situations. With Jesus, there is always hope because He is our Hope! (I Timothy 1:1)

Practice the five “me’s” in your prayers as you trust God for hope, answers and direction. He will guide you through whatever difficult situation you may find yourself experiencing. No matter what you hear, experience or who comes against you, He is with you always. He is there for you and hears the cries of your heart.

Candles in the Dark

“I AM the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

It was a great idea! My friend Laura wanted to host a neighborhood social and have a craft project for her neighbors. And so, I volunteered to teach candle making. I had the supplies – all we needed was heat to melt the wax and power to plug in the glue gun.

The day arrived and we were excited! Then I received an early morning call on the day of the event. “We have no power”. The storms had affected the power lines in Laura’s area. We decided to proceed anyway hoping for a quick repair.

Thankfully her stove was gas but with no power, we were working in the dark. I commented to Laura, “This is a good lesson for why we need candles – to shine light in the darkness.”

As I looked at the candles around the room, each had a soft glow of light in a dark place. In order to see what we were doing, we were drawn to light from them. It reminded me that as believers, we are to be that glowing light of Christ wherever we go.

There may be dark places we are required to walk in our schools, work places, community, government or even family events, but our light is to shine in those places. We can be a light in the darkness because Jesus is our power source. Extending love and kindness to those around you, no matter where you are, is letting Him shine through you.

Or maybe you are in a dark time right now. Be encouraged to know there is light for you. His name is Jesus. He will shine on the path before you to light your way and direct your path.

Return of the Ring

 Once there was a 12-year old girl who had a cute freckled-faced, redheaded boyfriend. He delivered newspapers and she twirled a baton. Each day as he delivered the paper to her house, she would be in the yard twirling. They would talk for a while every day.

One day, he gave her a ring. She didn’t recognize the ring for what it was. It was a high school senior ring. All she knew was the 12-year old boy liked her enough to give her a ring. She couldn’t wait to show it to her girlfriends the next day.

The problem was, she had two brothers who were in high school. One saw the ring and looked closely at it to see the initials of the owner. Not only did he know who it belonged to, but the owner played football with the other brother. So, he told her Daddy. He called the owner who came to pick up the ring. The girl was shy and embarrassed and hiding in her room, but her Daddy told her to go and give the ring back herself.

With her head hanging and her face red, she walked into the room, but what she saw on the young ring owner’s face was not anger. She saw compassion. As she handed him the ring, he reached in his back pocket, took out his wallet and handed her a $20 bill. That high school senior bought back something that already belonged to him… something that had been stolen.

That young girl was me. It wasn’t until years later that I realized God had given me a beautiful real-life picture of what redemption looks like. The innocence of humanity that was stolen in the Garden of Eden has been bought back through Jesus. He is our Redeemer and paid the price in order to buy us back for God.

How could I know then the value of what God was teaching in those moments in a 12-year old life. What a great hope we have in our Savior who knows all things and uses the situations in life to remind us of His great love, mercy and grace. In His compassion, He paid the price for our sin that we can be drawn into the presence of God as clean as Adam and Eve before sin entered in.

That’s what took place on what we now call, Good Friday. The blood of Jesus was shed on the cross to pay the price once for all to redeem us. Then, on Easter morning, He arose! Praise the Lord, Christ arose!

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 NIV

Icy Reminder

In Texas, we have a saying. “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.” We laugh when we say it, but it has certainly proven true this past week. The temperatures in North Texas have gone from a wonderful, sunny high 70’s to as low as 19° at our house. Added to the low temperatures has been an ice storm which shut down schools, businesses and even some churches.

As a native Texan, I just don’t like cold weather and especially not icy yards and roads. But this week I have enjoyed seeing the postings on Facebook and the news clips on television showing families playing together. There have been photos of ice skating in the street, sledding in the park, puzzles by the fire and walks to visit friends for dinner.

This ice storm has been the North Texas version of an early white Christmas. It has given us the opportunity to see from the photos and postings something we miss in our everyday lives. We have been able to see LOVE lived out as families took advantage of being iced in and played together, then shared their photos.

LOVE given is the true meaning of Christmas. It was God’s love for us that was expressed through the birth of Jesus on that long ago day in Bethlehem. It is His love that teaches us how to love in an unconditional way. God didn’t place conditions on us when He sent Jesus to be our Savior. We don’t have to be good enough or work harder to earn His love. He gives it to us exactly as we are – no strings attached.

Perhaps we needed an ice storm to be reminded to spend more time with loved ones. Or perhaps you are not one of the families who played together this week. It could be that you don’t have a family nearby or have lost a loved one this year. Many of us struggle with the daily grind in a way that doesn’t give time for play. But that does not mean you are not loved. Jesus LOVES you! He is the gift God gave for all. It is a free gift that you don’t have to work to be good enough to receive. God has given you Jesus out of His great LOVE for you.

As we spend these next few weeks in preparation for Christmas, let’s open our hearts to God’s love in remembrance of the purpose of Christmas; that is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the one who made a way for us to be with God forever. He is God With Us, Immanuel!

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.’” Luke 2:10-11 NIV

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ which means, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:22-23 NIV

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