Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (Part VII)

book of Jobglasses on Bible

What did Job mean when he said, “My ears had heard of You [God] but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6)? Bible scholars believe that the Book of Job is the oldest book of the Bible. It was written before the Ten Commandments were given, yet God gave man a sense of right and wrong. Job did have some kind of relationship with God because he never followed his wife’s advice: “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). The Bible says, in all of his suffering “Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 210b). [That tells me that it is okay to be angry and scream at God. He can take it and use it for good.] Job had a relationship with God, but it was all about the “dos and don’ts.” In doing the right things, Job was spotless in his own estimation. Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1b). Yes, Job did all the right things he heard he should do, but he lacked one thing. Job was not a humble man. He thought of himself as blameless before God. He saw all that he had and believed it was all a result of his own righteousness, his own hard work and his own ingenuity. He even said the right things, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the Name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21).

footprints in the sanddifficulties

A person, like Job, can DO the right things and SAY the right words and live a godly life, and still not SEE who God is. It is only when we SEE ourselves as sinners, that we are able to finally SEE the Almighty God. We realize that He is the only One, filled with POWER and GRACE and TRUTH, Who can forgive us and make us whole. God has indeed forgiven us and has made us whole, through His Son Jesus Christ. Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we have a right relationship with God. When we finally realize and SEE Who God really is and His gracious Gift of forgiveness, how can we not bow down and worship Him?

“CAST all your anxieties on Him [Jesus] because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).

confessiona. praying hands


C= Confession (continued from Part VI): Dear Lord Jesus, without Your grace “all [my] righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6b), compared to Your Righteousness. Forgive me for my pride and shortsightedness in dealing with people who don’t understand my disability. Help me Lord, to respond to them with Your kindness and grace. I pray, “Glorious Father,…give [me] the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that [I] may [want to] know [Christ] better. I pray also that the EYES of [my] heart may be enlightened in order that [I] may know the hope to which [Christ] has called [me], the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17b-19). I confess that this is not always my top priority. I often want a taste of heaven NOW. Forgive me for my impatience. Thank You, dear Father, for Your infinite mercy and patience with me and for your endless forgiveness and grace bestowed on me because of Your Righteous Son Jesus Christ, in Whose Name I pray. Amen.

WORSHIPjesus as high priest

A= Adoration (continued from Part VI): In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John gives us a glimpse of what the worship of God is like in heaven and what it will be like when Christ returns to the earth:

chrismas gold, incense and myrrhcrown

“Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under their wings. Day and night they never stopped saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.’ Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to Him Who sits on the throne and Who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being’” (Revelation 4:8-11).

handel's messiahAngels at God's Throne

“And when [the Lamb] had taken [the scroll], the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb [Jesus]. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls of incense, which were the prayers of the saints [our prayers]. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your Blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth’” (Revelation 5:8-10).

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing; ‘To Him Who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:11-14).

jesus as kingJesus in the cloudsjesus on the throne

“After this I [John] looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10).

“All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’” (Revelation 7:11-12).

So, I say, let’s get practicing!


A Child of the King,


Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (Part VI)

Jesus and PeterPeter Saved by Jesus

The Apostle Peter was a fisherman. It’s no wonder he wrote in one of his letters “to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered” (I Peter 1:1b) all over the place, “CAST all your anxieties on [Jesus] because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). When Peter wrote these encouraging words, I wonder if he was thinking of the times when Jesus told him where to CAST his fishing net. The first time it happened was when Peter first met Jesus and Peter realized that Jesus was not an ordinary man. After one of the biggest catches of fish in his career, Peter “fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (See Luke 5:1-10). Jesus answered Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10b). Jesus also advised Peter where to CAST his fishing net was after Jesus’ resurrection (see John 21). Again, Peter and his fellow fishermen caught a large number of fish (153 to be exact). When Peter realized that it was Jesus on the shore, he could not wait to see him and jumped in the water and swam to Jesus. It was on that beach where Jesus “reinstated” Peter to be a “fisher of men”, after Peter had denied Jesus three times before His death on the cross (see John 18:15-18, 25-27). Out of all the disciples, Peter knew about Jesus’ forgiveness, grace and unconditional love. That is why he sends his letter to other followers of Jesus, only this time Peter tells them to “CAST all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” I believe Peter means we are to leave them at Jesus’ feet and not pull them back into our boat [life].

Peter and Jesus on Beach

C= Confession (see Parts II through V): “…God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He if faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness….But if anybody does sin, we have One Who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world”

wolman at the well

(I John 1:5b-9; 2:1b-2). In my Prayer of Confession, I must be honest with myself and with the Lord, just as Peter was – I must admit, “I am a sinful person!” It is only after I confess my sins truthfully and honestly, that I am able to enjoy God’s forgiveness and have real and genuine fellowship with God and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

WORSHIPa. praying hands

A= Adoration (see Parts IV and V): The Prayer of Adoration is a prayer of praise and the worship of God and Who He is. We worship God by giving His worth and praising and exalting His attributes. In Parts IV and V, I listed ten attributes of God. In Part V, I looked at these attributes described in the Bible’s Book of Prayer – the Psalms. In the Book of Job, just before the Book of Psalms, God describes His greatness to Job. In the book, Job loses everything he has, except his nagging wife. After his unhelpful friends leave, Job starts asking all these questions of God concerning all the calamities that have come upon him. God waits until Job is finished and God answers Job by asking His own questions, from chapters 38-41.

c. Bear and its cubs

God begins by saying, “Who is this that darkens My counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell Me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or Who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? ” (Job 38:27). Throughout chapters 38-41 God talks about how He created the world and everything in it, and all that needs to be taken into consideration and done in His perfect timing, wisdom, exactness, limits, and harmony. God asks Job if he has been where God has been: “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?” (Job 38:16). God asks Job if he can do what God can do: “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades [star cluster]? Can you loose the cords of Orion [star constellation]? Can you bring forth constellations in the seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set God’s dominion on the earth?” (Job 38:31-33).

b. Oriona. Pleiades

After more questions like these, Job response is, “I am unworthy – how can I reply to You? I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4). After more of God’s questions, He also describes Who He is and what He can do. Job is undone and he replies to God: “I know that You can do all things; no plans of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ My ears had heard You but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6).

c. praying prostrateb. kneeing in prayer

We often hear of the “patience” of Job, but we do not hear about his sin of pride and self-righteousness. Job thought he was better than anyone else and he deserved nothing but the best. He followed all the rules without having a personal relationship with the Rule Giver. It is only after Job saw himself as a sinful man who needed help from the Almighty God, that God was able to bless him, just as He blessed the Apostle Peter and just as He blesses us. The Book of Job does not end with him sitting in dust and ashes:


“The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters…Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years” (Job 42:12-13, 15-17).

Jesus looking at earth

If you are ever stuck and do not know how to pray a Prayer of Adoration to God, go to Job 38-41. It’s a MIND-BLOWER!



A sinner saved by His Awesome Grace,



Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (Part V)

march madnessbrackets

Even when we stop thinking about “God things” God never stops thinking about us. Last Friday, I did take a break from my Lenten disciplines and watched a few “March Madness” NCAA men’s basketball games. I was happy that Duke lost, but sad that UMASS did not win. I usually fill out three brackets but, this year did not fill out any for the first time in about six years. I found out that it was less stressful watching the games without a bracket because I didn’t feel the need to flip channels every ten minutes. While watching Mercer verses Duke and Tennessee verses UMASS, two TV commercials for LOWE’S Home Improvement Store caught my attention. It was almost like God said to me, “This is what Lent is all about.”

The two commercials had a person finishing two different home improvement projects. One finished putting up a ceiling fan, and the other was putting up new ceramic tiles in his shower. You can guess what happens next. It was almost too painful to watch. When the person finishes tightening the last screw in the ceiling fan, he goes to the wall switch and turns on the ceiling fan. It does one rotation and crashes down on a glass coffee table. We see more shattering glass when the fan comes flying out a picture window. In another commercial, a person is carefully placing the last ceramic tile on the shower wall and it falls and shatters in the shower tub. Before anyone thinks that he just needs to put more adhesive on that one tile, one by one, the tiles come crashing down and breaking, then a whole bunch crash down and break and finally, the last tile hanging comes crashing down into the pile of rubble in the shower tub. There is no talking in these to commercials. They both end with a written tagline: “Need help? LOWES – Never Stop Improving”. During this special time of year, God is telling Christians everywhere, almost the same thing, but in a slightly different order: “LENT – Never Stop Improving. Need Help?” I know that I cannot “improve” myself without the Lord‘s help. All I have to do is admit that I need God’s help and ask Him for help and He will Do “IT”.

a commercial

At times, I need help in knowing how to pray, even when I use the acronym C.A.S.T. and I know that in prayer I “CAST all [my] anxieties on [Jesus] because He cares for [me]” (I Peter 5:7). I am so thankful that “…the Holy Spirit helps [me] in [my] weakness. [I] do not know what [I] ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [me] with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches [my] heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints [me, a follower of Christ] in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26b-27). I am exceedingly thankful that “Christ Jesus, Who died – more than that, Who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for [me]” (Romans 8:34b). Finally, I am thankful for God’s Word which helps me to pray, especially the Bible’s Book of Prayer – The Psalms. As I have been doing throughout this paragraph, as I read the Scriptures, especially the Psalms, I can personalize them and pray them to the Lord.

praying handsc. praying prostrate


C= Confession (continued from Parts II, III and IV): “Blessed is [she] whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin the LORD does not count against [her] and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long…Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ and He forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:1-3, 5). As I pray this Psalm, the Holy Spirit reveals the sins I need to confess and ask God for His forgiveness. Also I need to know, “[God] does not treat [me] as [my] sins deserve or repays [me] according to my iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those [like me] who fear [honor] Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed [my] transgressions from [me]” (Psalm 103:10-12). One of the hardest things to do is to forgive myself. But, if I don’t forgive myself, I am saying that Jesus’ dying on the cross for my sins was not enough and I don’t want to say that. If God doesn’t “fill out a bracket” to keep “score of my wins and losses”, who am I to “keep score” and keep feeling guilty for the sins God already forgave me for? (Other Psalms of Confession: 6, 38, 51, 143)

a. praying handsb. kneeing in prayer

A= Adoration (continued from Part IV): Prayers of Adoration are prayers of praise and worship for Who God is. Worship is giving God His worth, praising His Holy Name and acknowledging His attributes. God is All-Knowing and All-Powerful (Psalm 147:5); God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-7-14); God is unchanging (Psalm 90:1-2, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8); God is Holy [Pure and Blameless] (Psalm 99:9); God is Righteous [shows no favoritism in His dealings with mankind] (Psalm 116:5; 129:4; 145:17); God is in charge of everything (Psalm 103:19-22); God is Love (Psalm 103:17 and Psalm 136); God is Merciful (Psalm 103:8); God is the Triune God (Genesis 1:1,26; Psalm 51:11 and 103:26 and Psalm 110); just to name a few of His attributes. (Other Psalms of Adoration: 8, 33, 95-100, 109, 118. I am sure there are others.) (See

One of my favorite Psalms of Adoration is:

moon and starssunshine

Psalm 8

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!
You have set Your Glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise
because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars which You have set in place,
what is man that You are mindful of him,
the son of man that You care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of Your hands;
You put everything under his feet:
all the flocks and herds, and beasts of the fields,
the birds of the air and the fish of the sea,
all swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!”

My Good SideimagesCAEA2RP3

Dear Father God, You have taken all my “broken brackets” and shattered dreams and given me Your Love which endures forever, Your grace which makes me free and Your forgiveness through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Thank You Jesus for washing all my sins away. Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross for me and for rising from the dead, so that I will also rise again on the last day. Thank You for Your forgiveness. I am forever grateful for the Cross of Christ. Dear Holy Spirit, help me to forgive others as Jesus has forgiven me. I pray for those who have not embraced Your Love yet. Please Father, make Yourself known to them. To know You is to love You. You are an AWESOME GOD and I love You and I want to serve You forever in Your Kingdom. I want to love others as You love me! Please forgive me for the times I don’t love as You love. Your love is unconditional and free. Thank you so much for listening to my prayer. In the Precious Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

good friday6jesus arose

“Now to the King eternal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen (I Timothy 1:17).




Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (PART IV)


Can you imagine having a friend who always says the same things over and over and over to you whenever s/he sees you? The friend says something like, “Hi Lydia. How about those Red Sox?! Did you watch the game yesterday? It was exciting [or depressing]. Oh no! Look at the time. I gotta go. I’m very busy. Bye.” This is the only one-sided conversation your friend has with you and s/he talks as fast as s/he can, so s/he can move on to more “important” things. I have been to some churches where the prayer is done in that same way. Prayers are said by rote, from memory or read from a pamphlet, and it’s like the congregation is trying to make the Guinness Book of World Records, as the fastest praying church on record. Praying to our God should not merely be a rote exercise and done quickly, so we can go on to more “important” matters. The Apostle Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 as a warning: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5b). Sincere prayer comes from the deep recesses of the heart, when we “Humble [ourselves], therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift [us] up in due time” (I Peter 5:6). Prayer means something when we “CAST all [our] anxiety on [Jesus] because [we know] He cares for [us]” (I Peter 5:7). Using my acronym for prayer, C.A.S.T.:

a. praying handsb. kneeing in prayer

C= Confession is being honest with God about our failure to honor Him in our thoughts and attitudes, in our words and actions and inactions. Sometimes, I feel like the Apostle Paul, when he writes, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…What a wretched man I am! Who will restore me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15, 24-25). Like Paul, I cannot free myself from my sinful tendencies, but Christ already has: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). We always have Jesus to turn to: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men” (I Timothy 2:5-6a). When we confess our sins to Christ and ask Him to help us, we know that He will: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross God will “restore to [us] the joy of [His] Salvation” (Psalm 51:12a) when we confess our sins to Him. Psalm 51 also tells us that God does not want us to do penance for our sin, but to have a humble heart: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17). Instead of reciting a certain number of prayers, the Lord may want us go to a brother or sister in Christ who we have wronged, and ask for his/her forgiveness and to make things right between us (See Romans 12:18 and James 5:16). God also wants us to forgive those who have wronged us (See Colossians 3:12-14). The Prayer of Confession brings back joy to our broken hearts. (See Parts II and III for further thoughts on the Prayer of Confession.)

c. praying prostratebelieve god's love 2

A= Adoration is the praise and worship of God for Who He is and not necessarily what He does for us. After we have confessed our sins to the Lord God Almighty, our hearts and minds and souls are emptied of worldly clutter and we are free to worship His Majesty. We are free to give Him His worth – That is what “Worship” means. In our Prayer of Adoration, we exalt His Holy Name, we esteem Him as the God of Glory, and we bless and honor Him as our Creator and King over all the earth. We Praise and Worship God for His attributes: God is Omniscient (all knowing), Omnipotent ( all powerful), Omnipresent (everywhere), Immutable (unchanging), Holy (pure and blameless), Righteous (without favoritism in dealing with man) Sovereign (full authority over all His creation), Love (filled with mercy, grace and loving-kindness), Merciful (offering salvation, and not what we deserve), Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) (from There are many more attributes of God, but these ten are enough to make us drop to our knees (if we are able) in awe of who God is. God is an AWESOME God!

praying hands

There are examples of Prayers of Adoration throughout the Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms and the Book of Revelation. Personalizing and praying the words found in the Scriptures helps me with my Prayers of Adoration. Also, having a hymn book handy helps me to Praise and Worship (giving God His worth) the Lord in Prayer. More about this next time.

Belonging to An Awesome God!



Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (Part III)

Jesua paved the waydesert

So far in our Journey through the forty days of Lent, we talked about Ash Wednesday and how important it is to know who God is and who we are. God is our Creator and we are created by Him (See Genesis 1:1-27 and 3:19; Job 30:19an 42:6; Ecclesiastes 12:7). Also, it is important to God that our broken relationship with Him when sin entered the world, and into our hearts, be restored. God wants us to become His children and have fellowship with Him for all eternity (See Genesis 3; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23). God wants us to talk with Him and think and use our minds and our hearts. When we do, He will show us the way back. God says to us: “Come now, let us reason together…Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be has wool” (Isaiah 1:18). God Himself provided the perfect sacrifice to cleanse us from all our sins through the crucifixion of His One and Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.


(How many hearts do you see in this picture made by three berries?)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17).

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

“Thanks be to God for His Indescribable Gift [Jesus]!” (II Corinthians 9:15).

Jesus' Baptism

“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You [Father God] did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased. Then I said, ‘“Here I am – it is written in the scroll – I have come to do Your will, O God”’…And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this…‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:5-7, 10, 15a, 17b-18).


“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the world…How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is who we are!” I John 2:1-2 and 3:1a).

Jesua, heart, sandbelieve god's love 2

People who call themselves “Christians,” are followers of Christ and have accepted God’s free gift of salvation through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. Christ’s followers have “agreed” with God that they are sinners and have turned away from their sin and now desire to live God’s way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the NEW has come!” (II Corinthians 5:17). Because of Christ, we are forgiven, we are made new, and we are finally free to become the people we are meant to be – people who “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”” (Luke 10:27). Not only that, but Christians go a step further by obeying a new way to love given to them by Christ: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-34).

robin and nest

“Lent” means “Spring,” when life begins anew. The Lenten Season is a very special and important time when Christians have the opportunity to do some “Spring Cleaning.” It is forty days long, which makes me think of Jesus’ temptation in desert (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13). The number “40” is used many times in the Bible – Forty is the number of years the Israelites wandered in the desert (Numbers 32:13) and forty days was the time period between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension(Acts 1:3), just to name a few (information from my church‘s Ash Wednesday Service). As for me, I could use more than forty days as a time for self-examination, self discipline, soul-searching, repentance and a time to strengthen my love and faith in the Lord. However, God does not want us to remain in the desert forever. God wants us to use what He teaches us during Lent and make it our way of life and be a real witness [example] of God’s love in a world that desperately needs Him. We are to be like Jesus. After His forty days in the desert, Jesus began His ministry.
christ in desertimagesCAPBEZO8

In Part II, we talked about the discipline of fasting during the Lenten Season. Whether we fast for a whole day or one meal or from sweets, we can carry over this discipline into a way of life by eating less and eating more simply and nutritiously to honor God with what we eat and don‘t eat. Whether we fast from food or TV or time on the computer playing games, we can use that time to pray and/or read the Bible. We can also use that time to give a friend a call or send an encouraging email or use “snail-mail” to send a note on a card. If we are saving money by what we have given up, we can add it to our church offering or give it to missions or someone in need. Whatever we do, big or small, when we do it in Jesus Name, without fanfare, and for the love of our brother or sister or neighbor, God is pleased. Whatever it is that God is calling us individually to do, we should not wait, but do IT. (See Colossians 3:17).

glasses on Bible

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4).

“As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ He said, ‘this poor widow has put more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on’” (Luke 21:1-4).

marathon race

In Part II, we also talked about prayer being a two-way conversation. Many times, we need to quiet our hearts and minds and just spend time listening and waiting for God to direct our prayer. So many of us live our lives going one hundred miles a minute, from one activity to the next, and this includes people who are retired. In all of the things that take up our time, how many of them do we really need to do? Are we filling our calendars because we are afraid of having “free time” because it will cause us to stop and think and re-evaluate how we spend our time? God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

photo (4)

(This is a photo of one of my living room walls.)

Every now and then I read “the handwriting on [my] walls” [phrase attributed to Daniel 5]. I have plaques all over my house, with writings from the Scriptures and other writings from Christian poets and writers. I thought one of my plaques I have hanging near my front door would help us quiet our hearts and minds before the Lord.

Slow Me Down, Lord
(By Wilferd A. Peterson)

Slow me down, Lord.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the
quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace with a vision of
the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the
calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves and
muscles with the soothing music of the
singing streams that live in my memory.
Help me know the magical, restoring
power of sleep.
Teach me the art of taking minute
vacations – of slowing down to look at a
flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to
read a few lines from a good book.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to
send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring
values that I may grow toward the stars
of my greater destiny.

praying hands

Finally, in Part II, I talked about an anachronism I use to give an order to how a pray. The anachronism uses the letters C. A. S. T. The “signature verse” for this way ordering prayer is I Peter 5:7: “CAST all your anxiety on Him [Christ] because He cares about you.”

C = Confession: I already gave several examples of Prayers of Confession, in Part II, so I won’t repeat them. I do want to give a few points of caution though: 1. If you are quietly waiting for God to speak to you and you “hear” words of condemnation and accusation and someone saying, “Why are we talking about this AGAIN for? You’ll never get your act together!” or something along those lines, this is not God speaking. This is the devil speaking. Satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44) and “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). We do not have to listen to him. 2. When we confess to God, it is not out of fear of punishment. We do not have to do penance. When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with Him that we are sinners and need His help to change. He tells us that we have already been forgiven and that He will help us to change by the power of the Holy Spirit. When God speaks to us about our sin, we feel His joy because we are set free from all guilt and shame (See Isaiah 1:18 and Hebrew 10 on the first page of this post).

Jesus HugimagesCA1A2FRP

“.Therefore, there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me FREE from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sin nature, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit…What, then, shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His Own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God Who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, Who died – more than that, Who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:1-4, 31-35, 37-30).

Since the beginning of the Lenten Season, this hymn has been running through my mind (Some people do not like the music, but I believe the words are so soothing and profound.):

How God Sees Ussunshine

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
By Samuel Trevor Francis

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Vast unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me,
Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward To my glorious rest above.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, Changeth never, nevermore;
How He watches o’er His loved ones, Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, Watcheth over them from the throne.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of every love the best;
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘Tis a haven sweet of rest,
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ‘Tis a heav’n of heav’ns to me;
And It lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me up to Thee. Amen.

Deeply Loved By Jesus,


Lydia (and All of You Too!)

Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (Part II)

fastballcatcher's mitt

It took me awhile, but I finally thought of how the disciplines of FASTING and PRAYER are connected without using a food analogy (I just didn’t think using peanut butter and jelly was appropriate). Fasting and prayer go together like a baseball and a catcher’s mitt. The “fast” ball would not have a target when it is thrown and would just go anywhere without the catcher’s mitt to show it target to aim for. The catcher’s mitt (Prayer) would not have a defined focus and purpose, if there wasn’t a “fast” ball to catch. Fasting helps us focus on prayer. And prayer is more defined and Christ-centered when we fast. When we fast to make more time to pray, our hunger reminds us of our need for the God we are praying to. We become more focused on Him when we are passionate about getting to know God better. (It’s the best I can do without using food.)

Jesus in the Gardengood friday6

In another writing, my wise brother in Christ reminded me of another definition of “passion” which I did not consider in one of my previous blog posts. He writes, “Many of us think ‘passion’ as something that we should desire. If we are ‘passionate’ about something, it means that we are driven with desire to fulfill a task. The meaning of the word ‘passion’ in the early Church meant ‘to suffer’ When we speak of Christ’s passion, we speak of His suffering during the events of His crucifixion.”


What am I “passionate” about? What am I willing to “suffer” for? Am I willing to “suffer” for the pleasures of my sinful nature: gluttony, pride, lust, anger, greed? These sinful pleasures come so naturally. My brother in Christ writes, “But in reality, these things cause us to suffer and are pulling us away from God. We cannot serve two masters Christ teaches us. (Matt. 6:24)” He also adds, “…to be healed from them, we have to fight. We don’t fight in our own strength, but in the Grace of Jesus Christ. It is still a fight, however, because healing from these [sinful] passions feels very unnatural to us. But in fact, the effects of these passions in our life are quite unnatural. We were never created for this.”

“What a man loves, that he certainly desires; and what he desires, that he strives to obtain” (Abba Evagrius, “Directions on Spiritual Training).

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

My brother in the Lord concludes, “In this life, we either strive to obtain God, or we strive to obtain the things that are opposed to God and are controlling us.”

fasting and prayer

What am I “passionate” about? What am I willing to “suffer” for? I want to be passionate for God. I want to be willing to suffer to know Him better, to love Him more, to do His will for my life, to love others as He loves me. To grow closer to God and do His will and to love others as He loves me, I must fight with the Grace of God. One of the ways to fight is to PRAY AND FAST.

PRAY AND FAST: During the times we usually eat a meal, we can instead use that time to pray. Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-13:


“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, Who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your Name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”

In what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer”, we learn that we need to see God as our Father Who loves us. At the same time we must honor Him Who is above all, with reverence and respect. We also need to pray for His Kingdom to come and that His will would be accomplished in the world. We also pray for our physical needs to be met one day at a time, as well as pray for our spiritual need to be forgiven and be given the grave to forgive others. We finally pray not to be led into temptation and for our Father to protect us from the evil one. Adoration and praise for our Heavenly Father, praying for our spiritual and physical needs and for protection are all in The Lord’s Prayer. These are the needs we all need to pray for.

praying hands

Prayer is a hard concept to grasp. God know our every need, even before we know them at times, yet He wants us to talk to Him and tell Him what He already knows. It is so strange, but not if we THINK about it outside our human “box” called the “brain”. Prayer is really for our benefit and not for God’s. Prayer is not only talking TO God. Prayer is talking WITH God. It is a two-way conversation. Prayer involves us talking to God, and it also involves us LISTENING to God. Before we say anything, we sit and wait, try to clear our minds of everything that is around us [That’s why closing our eyes is helpful] and be still before God. After a time, God will call to your mind what we need to pray about.

Many people my age, also younger and older than I am, like to use mnemonics to help them remember things. For example, a sister in the Lord uses General Electric Power Company to help her remember the order of Paul’s first four Epistles: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Another helpful way to remember things is using anachronismns. For example, the word ACTS is used by some Christians to order their prayers: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Personally, I have this thing about first praying in adoration, then confession. It sounds, to me at least, like I’m buttering up God, so that He’ll forgive me. I know….it’s just my thing. Anyway, I am more comfortable with praying in CAST: Confession, Adoration, Supplication and Thanksgiving. The reason I like to start praying with confession is I believe unconfessed sins get in the way of my relationship and my communication with the Lord. If I have sin in my heart, I want God to reveal it to me, so I can confess it and God will get it out of the way, so I can hear what He wants me to hear from Him and be able to pray for others (See James 5:16).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [saints of old], let us THROW off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).


PRAYER OF CONFESSION: Sometimes, it is good to learn from others as to how to pray. It also helps me to be able to use my own words in prayer after I have read the prayers of others:

“Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed. By what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, forgive us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways, to the glory of Your Holy Name. Amen” (Prayer before Communion, in the Lutheran Church).

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me Your wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:1-2, 6-7).

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth [spiritual malaise, faithlessness] faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk. But give me chastity [integrity, wholeness], humility, patience, and love to Your servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brothers. For You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen” (St. Ephrem the Syrian – 306-373 A.D.).

“Abba Father, I offer myself to You as a living sacrifice. I ask that your Holy Spirit’s light of truth might shine upon my heart and reveal to me all that is not of You. Give me eyes to see it, a mind that might comprehend it, and above all give me open hands to release those things up to You, that Your Spirit might be free to manifest Himself in and through me without impediment and without measure. It is my desire to be transformed and conformed to the likeness of Your Son Jesus in accordance with Your will” (John Burnett).

“God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13b)

My Good Side

After reading one or more of these prayers, we may want to wait quietly, as the Lord reveals specific sins to confess and ask for His forgiveness knowing, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). During the Prayer of Confession, the Holy Spirit may bring to our minds sins of omission or a person who we need to ask his/her forgiveness or someone we need to forgive. When the Holy Spirit tells us to do something, we need to DO IT.

me writing

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God…Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:9, 23-24).

“Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:17-18).

“’In your anger do not sin’ [Psalm 4:4]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

With regard to confessing to one another, I want to make a suggestion: If someone has no idea that you have sinned against him/her in some way (had a bad attitude about the person or were uncomfortable being around him/her, etc.), and God has changed your attitude about him/her, I believe it’s best to keep it between you and God. For example, some people I know have told me, when they first met me they were very uncomfortable around me and had a very hard time understanding my cerebral-palsied speech. But they don’t feel that way anymore and can understand my speech. I had no idea they felt that way. It was sort of discouraging to hear that and it made me wonder how many other people feel this way. If you want to confess something to someone, I suggest you first ask yourself, “Why do I want to confess this? How will the person feel after I say this? Is it just to get it off my shoulders and make ME feel better?” I can give examples of the many times when my first impressions of someone were very judgmental (thinking he/she was a know-it-all or someone who just talks too much or is judgmental of others, etc.) I asked the Lord to forgive me and to change my heart towards that person, and He did and that’s where it stopped. It would be counter-productive to tell my friend I once had a bad attitude about him/her. God want us to THINK before we speak.

Jesua, heart, sanda pleasant word
“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed…Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:2-3, 24).
“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9)
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 19:2).

It won’t be long before we hear the thump of the FASTball hitting the Catcher’s Mitt – 19 DAYS and counting!

baseball in catcher's mittFenway's green monster

“Life Begins When the Season Starts!”

In Christ’s Love,



Think, Fast, Pray, Read and Do “IT” (Part I)

robin and nest

“Lent” means “Spring.” The Lenten Season is a time of faith. By faith we wait in great expectation for spring to arrive soon. By faith we prepare our minds and hearts to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. By faith we grow in our relationship with Christ and with our brothers and sisters in Christ and get ready for Christ’s glorious Second Coming. The Lenten Season is all about FAITH:

“Now FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…And without FAITH it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

liturgical calendar

The Lenten Season is set aside and marked on the Christian Liturgical Calendar as a time to “earnestly seek Him” and make every effort to grow in our faith in God, grow more in love with Christ and deepen our love for one another and love “as [Jesus has] loved [us]” (John 13:34). As my church bulletin stated, Lent is a time of “self-examination, self-discipline, a season of soul-searching and repentance, and a time to strengthen our love and FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ. The following are Spiritual Disciplines used to engage our minds, bodies and souls in our journey through Lent:


THINK: God invites us to use our minds and dialogue with Him and do some Spring Cleaning: “’Come now, let us reason together’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). God wants us to look at our sins and be honest with ourselves and with Him and He will wipe away all our sins just as He promises. God wants us to renew our minds. The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the RENEWING OF YOUR MIND. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). God wants to help us to be all that we can be by choosing His way over the sinful ways of the world. When we agree with God and “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

christ in desert

THINK FAST (Think About Fasting): Some people cannot participate in a complete fast (not eating anything for a day or days) because of health concerns (diabetes, medications that have to be taken with food, etc.), but everyone can fast from a favorite food, sweets, a favorite drink, etc. Just don’t replace what you are fasting from with something better or equal in deliciousness (Lobster or mac and cheese instead of steak or burgers). The purpose of fasting is to do something else during mealtime, such as pray and read the Bible or listen to Christian music or teachings. Those who are eating less expensive food can give the money saved to a worthy charity or to their church. If they are able to spend less time eating, they can also use the time sending encouraging emails or sending uplifting notes by “snail-mail“. Some can fast from TV or computer time for the same reasons. Whatever you choose to give up in a fast, Jesus teaches us how to fast:


“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Heavenly Father, Who is unseen; and your Father, Who sees all will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18).

A very wise brother in Christ, who worships in an Eastern Orthodox church, recently sent me an email concerning fasting. With his permission I will share his email with all of you:

“Fasting from foods is intended as a spiritual preparation for an experience of deeper communion with God. Each person is a unity of body and soul. A right spiritual diet and a discipline of fasting go together and strengthen each other. Just as prayer benefits not only the soul but also the body so also fasting from foods benefits not only the body but also the soul. Fasting and prayer make us more sensitive to God’s personal presence. At important times of their lives the Prophets fasted and prayed. So did Jesus, the Apostles, Saints and Church Fathers.


Fasting must be undertaken willingly and not by compulsion. God doesn’t need our fasting. We don’t fast as a kind of personal punishment for our sins. We cannot pay God back for sins but we can only confess them to Him to receive forgiveness. Fasting with a willing spirit and not with just an attitude of fulfilling a religious obligation means that we keep the purposes of fasting always before us which is to develop self control and to remember God and His Kingdom. That way we fast not only in what we eat but also in how much we eat. Fasting is simplicity of eating. We leave the table not with loaded stomachs. Being a little hungry during the day becomes a constant reminder of God, of our dependence on Him, and of the fact that the Lord alone can give us ‘food that lasts for eternal life’ (Jn 6:27). In fasting and prayer, He reveals Himself to us as our true food and drink.”

me writing

In the same way fasting and “being a little hungry becomes a constant reminder of God, of our dependence on Him, and the fact that the Lord alone can give us ‘food for eternal life’ (John 6:27); I wonder if we who are disabled can use our disability, and all the pain and discomfort and grief (belittling and denial of our dignity) that comes with being disabled and all that is taken away from us, can be used as a reminder of Jesus; of our complete dependence on Him, and how Jesus willingly endured the cross for us, with all the pain and suffering and agony and shame; a reminder of the fact that Jesus alone has made it possible for us to exchange our ailing, failing, imperfect bodies for imperishable, immortal, perfect ones!

Crossjesus arose

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty Rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge…One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done” (Psalm 62:7-8, 11-12).

Angels at God's Throne

“…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear bothers [and sisters], stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:52-58)


My prayer during this Lenten Season is to have a deeper understanding of what Jesus did on the cross for me and what is awaiting me on “the other side.“ This will help me to realize that everything I am going through on this side of Heaven will be all worth it! What about you? What is your prayer for this Holy Season of Lent? 

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18)


“O God, you are my God, Earnestly I Seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your Power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your Name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied with The richest of foods; With singing lips my mouth will praise You. On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your Wings.” (Psalm 63:1-6).

Joyful JesusJesus in the cloudsimagesCA1A2FRP

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our FAITH, Who for the joy before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”
(Hebrews 12:2-3).

“The Joy of the Lord is My Strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)



“Giving Up” is So Hard to Do!

fox and lion

Is anyone familiar with “Aesop’s Fables”? Aesop lived way before Christ (c. 620-564 B.C.). Even though some of you may not know about Aesop, I’m sure you know some of his “morals of the story.” After each brief tale he wrote, he always ended with a phrase that summarized the main idea of what the story was trying to teach. For example, there is the fable of “The Fox and the Lion”:

“When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watch him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony. [The moral of the story is] Familiarity Breeds Contempt” (from quote/counterquote website)


How many times does this happen in relationships? The more you get to know about others, the more you discover about them, and the more you discover about them, you realize that you really don’t like them as much as you thought you did. Sadly, it happens in marriages, in roommate situations, in working relationships, in friendships, and even [especially] in Christian churches and other Christian organizations. For example, in the 1980s, I lived and worked at a residential Christian school for disabled children and adults. Everyone who lived and worked at this school were considered to be “indigenous missionaries.” We saw one another everyday, worked with one another, ate meals with one another, did almost everything with one another. One would think, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we would grow to be one big happy family. To some extent we were, but there was also lot of gossiping going on and clichés formed. Sadly, I took part in the gossip and the backbiting, for which I am not very proud of and have confessed to the Lord my wrong and have asked for His forgiveness and His help in “giving up” this very bad habit [sin].


When a group of people live so closely together, they tend to find out one another‘s “warts” [weaknesses and sins] and there is the danger of “giving in” to our own sinful nature and gossip about and find fault with one another. Instead of accepting those “whose faith is weak [or who have different views], without passing judgment on disputable matters…” and making “every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification” (Romans 14:1, 19), Christians find themselves jockeying for position to make their personal preferences become how the group does things. Christians especially can be sanctimonious in what they say about others by “asking for prayer” when what they are really doing is gossiping. When we are doing this we are only fooling ourselves. God sees our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10). God also gives us every opportunity to ask for forgiveness and He also helps us to stop our sinful habit of behavior (I John 1:9). This is called REPENTANCE: Agreeing with God, turning away from sin and turning to God’s way.


This is what my church is doing. After much struggle over sin, we are all striving to become an “authentic community” of believers who love and care for one another, and being accepting of our differences. One way to become an “authentic community” is to stop gossiping about one another, stop talking about someone behind his/her back and stop grumbling complaining, and being driven by a critical spirit. Instead, we are to encourage one another, lift one another up, put one another before ourselves, and love one another as Christ loves us (Ephesians 5:1-2).

give thanks

How we use our words is very important to God. God’s Word tells us what God hates to see in His people and also what He is pleased to see in His people. Jesus also teaches, in God’s Word, that it is important for His followers to guard their hearts from evil and to ask for forgiveness NOW, rather than later. These Scriptures below cause me to ask myself, “What do I carry in my heart? What do I let into my heart? Is there anything I need to confess and ask forgiveness for? Am I being judgmental in any way to my brother or sister in Christ?” (There is one thing I am sure of, and it is this: I do not need to listen to talk radio or watch cable news to listen to hate-mongers or do I need to watch TV soap operas to fill my heart with all kinds of nasty junk. Doing these things are very harmful. Besides, I have enough trouble with my sinful heart without those things.)

glasses on Bible

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man [woman] who stirs up dissension among brothers [sisters]” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head… It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1-2b, 3).

Jesus teaches His disciples [including us], “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry at his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ [an Aramaic term of CONTEMPT], is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 521-24).


“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 71-3).

Jesus warns the hypocritical Pharisees and us, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-34).


“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

encouragement 2

I desire my words to be pleasing to the Lord. I pray that God will stop hurtful and thoughtless words from coming out of my mouth. My heart’s longing is to only use words of healing, thoughtfulness, encouragement – words filled with God’s mercy and grace.

hands united

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all…Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:2-6, 25, 29-32)

moon and stars.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life…” (Philippians 2”14-16a)


How can I ever begin to “give up” gossiping, grumbling and complaining and having a critical spirit, starting right now and through the Lenten Season and from now on, when it is so easy to “give in” to these old sinful habits? The truth is, I can’t do it on my own will power, but I can do it through the power of Jesus Christ.

many hands togetherlamp unto my feet

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him Who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 12-8).


How do I begin to glorify God with my words? James gives me very simple advice, yet it is so difficult to carry out:

“My dear brothers [sisters] take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

James is telling me to think before I speak. There’s an old saying, “We have two ears and one mouth because God wants us to listen twice as much as we speak.” What a difference that would make – to really listen to what a person is saying to us, then think about our response before speaking. BRILLIANT! James also counsels me to be careful of hypocrisy:


“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:26-27).

James is saying to not only say what I believe, but to do what I believe God wants me to do and to keep my promises. James also advises not to “fuel the flame” of gossip or hearsay:

christmas fireplace

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God‘s likeness. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:5-10).

The tongue can only be tamed by God’s wisdom:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18).

The wisdom that comes from heaven does not slander or grumble against brothers and sisters in Christ, nor does it make false promises:

Jesua, heart, sandJesus looking at earth

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only One Lawgiver and Judge, the One Who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:10-12).

“Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9).

“Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned” (James 5:12). [I think this means no one will believe you and you will be “condemned” as a liar.)

me writing

James’ last advice about speech is to be honest with one another and acknowledge when I say something wrong to my brothers and sister and ask for their forgiveness and God’s. Acknowledging my sin, rather than deny I did anything wrong, is using wisdom from God. It is also good to have your brothers and sisters pray for an area in your life that you are having trouble “giving up” to God.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

glasses on Bible

With all these Scriptures in mind, and praying over them, I have thought of questions to ask myself before I speak:

1. Why do I want to talk about this?

2. Will what I want to say be helpful, healing, and meet the need of the hearer?

3. Will the person be interested in what I want to say or does it have nothing to do with the hearer?

4. If I’m going to talk about a person, would s/he want me to share his/her information with others?

5. Would I be talking about him/her if she was in the room?

6. Will I be spreading a rumor?


7. How can I “give up“ my critical spirit and “give in” to the Holy Sprit’s “Attitude of Gratitude”?
A. Say “Thank You” early and often. There is always something to be thankful for.
B. Give sincere compliments early and often. There is always something to compliment some for.
C. Always be looking for times to say “THANK YOU” and times to give compliments to people.
D. Always give THANKS to God.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Please pray for me – that during this Lenten Season, I will “give up” total control of all that I think and say to God our Father, for the praise and honor of Jesus our Savior, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please pray that I get closer to living out my “Life’s Verse”, I Thessalonians 4:11-12: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands [Blog], just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone [BUT GOD].”

“Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).


[F.Y.I.: If you have never eaten a PACZKI, you have never eaten a jelly or custard filled doughnut! They are “jammed” packed with filling. I think tomorrow [March 4th ], “Fat Tuesday” will be the last day you can buy them at BIG Y. They a OUTSTANDING!]


Joyful and Thankful in the Lord!