Thursday, July 28, 2016

Personality Matters

1. Sassy.
2. Simple. 
3. Serious.

There. I did it. In three words.

(And yes, fellow writers, I even used the forbidden alliteration.)

In a writer's workshop I attended recently, we were asked to identify our blog's personality.

Identifying our personality traits helps us in understanding how our message is being communicated.

Makes sense. Right?

Our personality flows through our communication.

Being aware of how people perceive us is key to how we craft and deliver our message. Although this workshop was specifically for Christian bloggers, the principle relates to anyone proclaiming a message. Whether through print, social media, or face to face...

 personality matters.

In examining my own blog's personality, I've concluded:

1. Sassy can be funny, but it can also be offensive.

We need to know our audiences and gauge the "sass-ometer." If our audience has a good sense of humor or knows us well, then this personality trait will not hinder, and may even help our message, drawing them in.

But, if our audience is more serious-minded, or simply lack-luster in the humor department, then Sass would be a pass.

2. Simply speaking, we can never go wrong with simplicity

The K.I.S.S. method, for instance, has been around for eons. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. 
And, guess what. It still works.

I labor long and hard on my blog posts. Sometimes, too long. It could be days before I publish. My goal is not to lose your attention with too many words or cause you to have to reread a sentence that's difficult to follow. I want my carefully, selected words to flow so you will be moved to reflect or act or both. The quantity and quality of words is very important.

Simple can mean less, and less is usually best.

3. Seriously though, there's a time and place for serious discussion, and we mustn't be afraid to go there. 

Sometimes we're pressed for time, or we just sense an urgency to share a message of utmost importance. It's okay to get straight to the point, but with respectlove and grace.

Serious means our hearts are heavy and concerned.

What are your three top personality traits? How do they affect the way you communicate...

  • in your marriage?
  • with family?
  • with friends? 
  • in business?
  • through social media?

Christ has given us a mission, a purpose, and a voice. We must be aware of each as we proclaim His truth. And through whatever platform He gives us, we must consider our words and sparkle with our own, one-of-a-kind personalities.

Please, dear Jesus, as we seek Your face, 
Season our words with love and grace.

Bridle our tongues from speaking harm, 
And fill us with Your loving charm.

From today's beginning until the end, 
Stir our speech with a sacred blend. 

With respect and grace mixed just right, 
May we speak Your words both day and night.

My Pleasure,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Got Storm? Stay Calm and Sail On

A few days ago I was reading in my new favorite devotional book, Dwelling Places by Lucinda Secrest McDowell. Her word selection for that day was Still.


This past week with all of the horrendous events around the globe and here at home, I'm reminded again to still; to not get caught up in the media frenzy as a depth of evil I've not witnessed before plays out right before my eyes - over and over again.

As fierce storms rage and breath-taking fear overwhelms, God's call to His people is to calm down.

Like the story of the boat filled with Jesus' disciples sailing straight into a mighty storm.

Read the whole account. Mark 6:45-52.

Jesus sent His disciples on ahead to the other side of the lake. He knew the storm was brewing, but He sent them anyway. It was time for them to experience a strong, dangerous storm to refine their vision. He needed for them to recognize Him in the storm, away from the multitudes.

This vision and recognition was specifically designed for those closest to Him.

And, as His disciples today, we need our storm vision refined too.

In every storm I've personally sailed into, God knew it was coming. He knew how the blistering, raining down of hard circumstances would bring me to grips with who He really is and challenge the roots of my faith. And I'm forever grateful. My faith has increased, my understanding of who  He is has deepened, and my level of fear has drastically diminished. 

We're inside of a terrible storm right now. But, while the thunderous world pounds in our ears, the strikes of hurt and pain gnaw at our souls, and the winds of senseless chatter cloud our minds, God is calling out to those who are closest to Him, His disciples, "Do not be afraid." 

To those of us who know His voice, He's calling us to still in the calm of His presence.

I am here. I know what's going on in and around this cruel world. And, I also know how it all ends. Remember, I've already won the victory over sin through my Son, Jesus. Justice will be served. Evil will perish. Righteousness will prevail. But to get there sweet one, we must go through the storms. I AM with you through them all. I love you more than you could ever know, My child. Stay calm. There is absolutely nothing to fear.

Every generation marches closer to the final prophecies of Scripture being fulfilled. The Father has already established the exact moment in time when the page will turn, signaling the final chapter of His Redeeming Love. But, in the meantime, He is full of patience, loves perfectly and does not desire that any should perish.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16, emphasis mine).

When we still in His presence, He reminds us of where our strength to endure comes from; the Root, Jesus Christ- from where all that is good and perfect and sacred flows.

Today, as I still, I wanted to share this bit of Good News with you. Christ is calling out to all of us who are listening to remember that He is God...

ahead of,

in the midst of,

and on the other side of.

Got storm?

Stay calm and sail on.

My Pleasure,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Above the Gray

What catches your eye when you look at this picture?

The red heart or the wall of gray?

If you're like most people, the color stands out above the gray.

This past spring we painted from our den, through the kitchen, into the breakfast room and out into the florida room shades of gray.

Gray is the modern, neutral color of choice. The number of color schemes that stand out above the gray is limitless. And, what really freshens and lightens up a gray room is the bright, white trim.

But gray is never a good choice when it comes to living out our purpose as followers of Christ.

We are called to be His Light in a dark world. We seek to know God, love God and obey His Word. All of which distinguishes us from the world.

We are never called to neutrality.

We are called to be holy.

We are never called to blend in.

We are called to stand out.

Gray living is what the Church has embraced - a life of comfort, complacency and mediocrity, where there's no clear defining of Truth and very little 'standing out' in the crowd.

From the stage to the pew to the bar, is there any difference?

How did we get to a place of blending in with the world?

  • By allowing the graying of Truth to justify our acceptance of destructive lifestyles.
  • By adopting the philosophy of a godless culture: There is no right or wrong
  • By compromising the Truth to the point where Truth is no longer recognizable.

The authority of God's Word has been painted over with shades of gray creating a culture of chaos and confusion. How can the world know what to say No to if the Church is saying Yes to everything?

Satan's favorite color is spiritual gray.

So what can we do?

In my last blog, I wrote my views on the state of the nation from a believer's perspective and stated that the reason for our lack of influence on the culture is:

The Church's unwillingness to repent.

If the Church is going to be the change the world needs to see, then She needs to strip herself of the gray of our culture and humbly walk back into the Light of His Kingdom. 

  • The Church cannot continue to compromise the Truth of God's Word. Just because someone may be offended is no reason to go gray. Jesus said, I did not come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34 NKJV). Jesus also says that if we love anyone more than Him, we are not not worthy of Him. (See Matt. 10:37-39)
  • The Church cannot claim we are living in Truth if we continue to live in disobedience.  Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15 ESV).
  • The Church cannot continue to defend those who consistently refuse to obey Truth.  If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32 NKJV).
The misconstrued Truth being spoken in many circles today is, "We just need to love everyone." Well, that's true, but the world interprets love as merely human kindness, the tolerance and acceptance of all beliefs and behaviors. That is not the cross-bearing type of love and truth Jesus lived and taught.

The Church has bought into the world's "politically correct" mindset. We have failed each other in the love department because we've ignored the truth of God's Word and therefore have confused those around us about what real love is. 

Speaking to the Church of Laodicea, Jesus says, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent (Revelation 3:19 NIV). 

I believe the 21st Century Church is being rebuked and disciplined. Just because we've received and believed does not mean God gives His people a pass to sin more or to remain in a sinful, destructive pattern of worldly behavior. His love, mercy, forgiveness and grace saves us from eternal punishment for our sin and separation from the Father, but His holy character defines His loved-filled discipline when we stray. We are corrected so we can enjoy the abundant life He offers here on earth. 

Sin always results in consequences; saved or not.

If an entire Body of believers, or an individual continues to live in sin and refuses to adhere to the counsel of the Word, they will receive discipline from the Lord. Consequences are designed to change bad behavior. No consequences, no change. No change, no impact. No impact, more chaos.

Sincere repentance is key to reconciling and restoring relationships. First, with our Savior and then with the Body. We are doing our spiritual leaders and the Church as a whole an injustice if loving discipline and accountability aren't common practice. But sadly, this is an area where more churches than not are afraid to tread. Accountability helps us run our race well. Discipline helps us turn away from destructive living, getting us back on track. It's for our good and His glory.

If we are to stand out above the gray, we must look, act, and live differently from the world. Our lives must "pop" like this daisy, away from the gray wall, if we want the world to see Jesus in and through us. No more blending in, indulging in the things of the world thinking we can reach the world with worldly things. Gray is weak. Gray creates confusion. No more gray, Church! 

The world is looking for those who are willing to stand above the gray. Let's step into the bright Light of Christ so He can shine through us again for His glory! 

My Pleasure,

Friday, July 8, 2016

From Celebrating to Grieving to Healing

 Just four days ago we were united in celebrating our independence as a nation.

Today, we are united again as we grieve as a nation.

From friendly fireworks and backyard BBQs to fearfully running from sniper bullets.

Oh, what a difference a few days make.

Watching the protests in New York City, and the pandemonium unfold last night in the streets of Dallas, my heart broke.

What are we doing? What are we becoming? There is no stability, moral fiber, or common decency anymore. Where are the REAL leaders? We have plenty of REAL agitators, but REAL leadership seems to have become extinct.

As I followed the camera man running through the streets to capture whatever he could to tell the story well of what was happening, all I could think was...

Where is the Church; the Body of Christ?

What is She doing? What has She become? Why has She lost Her vision, purpose, stability, moral foundation, and even Her common decency? Why does She not have influence like She once did?

Because, as someone put it so well today, the Church is fractured. Broken. She has lost her first love and is seeking to survive a broken heart without the healing power of Her Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

The bacteria of sin has been allowed to fester and to spread freely without any form of treatment or prevention. It's become dangerously infectious, and now, I believe has spiraled into a septic state.

Sepsis is a form of infection that is very heard to treat. My mother died from sepsis. Once the infection is in the blood stream, little hope is left for recovery. The only way we will heal from the sepsis running through America's veins is by the healing power of the Almighty.

Listening to the vile and crude things oozing from the mouths of those in the streets last evening protesting against the very institution that stands along side them in the streets to protect the screamers and agitators made my stomach curdle.

And you know what? It's our fault, Church.

We relinquished our responsibility to lead and we've compromised the Truth.

The serious problems that need to be addressed and fixed in our nation will only get worse if we, the Church, continue to ignore the root of the problem- our sin. 

Mine. Yours. Ours.

If the Church is to turn the ship around, we must bend the knee, cry out to God, and repent. We must turn away from the vile winds of destruction and begin sailing with the healing winds of the Holy Spirit.

A powerful movement of God's Spirit begins when one heart repents and turns toward the Savior's face. 

How much longer will the Lord linger and be patient with us to live out His Gospel, love on His people, and steer those who are lost in the direction of the Savior?

My fear? Not long. 

Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV).

Awaken my soul to the desires of Your heart, O Lord. Give me the strength to step forward to lead and re-route this ship. Hear my cries unto You. I repent of my sin, my straying, my shirking of my responsibility as a part of Your Church to be Your eyes, hands and feet in a world so distraught, and infected with spiritual sepsis. If it's Your will, Lord Jesus, heal our land. Search our hearts and fill them Your love, Your compassion, and Your truth. In Jesus' name and for His sake, Amen.

My Pleasure,