Birds And Battles

The other day I laughingly told my husband I felt like I was fighting a battle with nature on two fronts. Off my back deck is my bird feeder. I’ve been feeding the birds there for a while now.  For quite some time we were able to keep the squirrels at bay and the birds were loving it. Ah, but then the squirrels figured out how to get at the birdseed. So now when I’m home, I’m on guard trying to scare them away whenever I see them. Add to that the neighbors cat skulking about under the feeder or  up on my deck, and its a battle for the feeder and to protect my feathered friends from attack.

On the front porch is my hummingbird feeder. I hadn’t had any issues with that before either, but now all of a sudden the bees have found it. I have watched them literally chase the hummingbirds away! Then there’s the finches who keep coming and drinking from the feeder even though I put water out for them elsewhere. Some days I feel like I’m running from door to door shooing things away. Crazy, I know, but I like my birds. But you know, with all that, I bet my little friends have no idea there’s someone out there fighting their battles for them.

We are not always aware we are getting help in our battles either. We don’t always see the things the Lord is doing behind the scenes to help us in our own fights. We also may never see the angels that are around us protecting us and doing their work. But it’s happening all the same.

Yesterday I glanced out the door and my bird feeder wasn’t there. When I went outside I saw it laying on the ground broken. Obviously some really fat squirrel had jumped on it the wrong way and broken off a couple tabs that were holding it together. I was not a happy camper. 

I was tempted to just quit and be done with the whole thing. I have fought this birdseed battle many times before. And with critters a whole lot bigger than squirrels. But what would quitting have accomplished? Sure, I might be done with the hassle. The squirrels would take their battle elsewhere, and I wouldn’t be bothered by them any more. But I would lose out on the prize which is the enjoyment I get from watching the birds come to the feeder. 

Obviously I’m just using my bird feeder stories as a metaphor of other things we may be battling. Have you ever thought about the prize we might miss out on if we give up on our battles too soon? James 1:12 says “The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is the truly happy man. For once his testing is complete he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love him.”

Maybe you’re fighting a battle in your life today and you feel like you’re just ready to call it quits and throw in the towel. Maybe its the kind of battle you have been fighting for a long time. Perhaps you’re just tired and you don’t know if you have the strength to fight another day. I always find Galatians 6:9 encouraging in those times. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

If that’s you today don’t give up. We only lose when we quit and stop trying. Give Him your heavy load to carry. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The Lord never told us we wouldn’t have problems but He did promise to be with us through them. Psalm 34:17 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles”. Don’t let today’s battles overshadow tomorrow’s promises. Reach out to someone you trust and let them help you carry the burden in prayer. Trust that the Lord is with you. Focus on the Lord and His promises, not the problem. 

As to the birdseed battle, my husband fixed the feeder so we are back in business! Do I think for a moment that that particular battle will never need to be fought again? Nope. Not for a moment. But we will persevere! 

be of good cheer

 

Just Ask

I was having a dream the other morning just before I woke up. I don’t recall most of it now. The part I do remember happened right before I woke up.  I was sitting at a table talking with someone I had worked with years ago. Someone else, and I’m not sure I knew who it was, needed a lawyer. Then suddenly one was sitting there. Just as I was waking up the lawyer was saying I can help you with whatever you need…but you have to ask.

Wow. How true that is of our relationship with the Lord also. How many times do we have a problem (OK, maybe not you maybe just me) and instead of running right to the throne where we can find the grace we need to help in time of need, we go elsewhere. We call our friends or family to get their opinion, or  their help, or we go to Google to see what it suggests we should do in our situation or with our symptoms. 

grace

I believe that dream was really a reminder from the Lord. He knows that sometimes we can just stew around in our problems, wringing our hands and trying to figure out what to do on our own. Or maybe we do what we think in our own minds we should do, and that doesn’t always work out so well. I was talking with a friend about that same thing the other day. She said she thinks it’s our natural bent. We think we have the tools we need, so of course we can fix the problem on our own! Except sometimes we find that we can’t. We can’t always see the whole picture of what’s needed.

Sometimes we don’t ask the Lord for His opinion or His help right away because we just don’t think of it. Other times perhaps we think, its such a small thing, I don’t want to bother the Lord with it. After all, He’s busy with much more important things. Other times we may think to ourselves well, the Lord knows I need/want that. So I don’t have to ask Him, He already knows.

But the thing is, the Bible TELLS us to ask.  In multiple scriptures and multiple places. Jesus did it all the time. It’s also called prayer. We find God’s people praying all through the Bible. In good times and bad, in times of plenty and in times of need.

In my version of the Bible it gives Matthew 7:7-11 like this: “You must regularly ask and it will be given to you, you must continually seek and you will find, you must knock habitually and it will be opened to you: for everyone who asks takes, and the one who seeks finds, and it will be opened for the one who knocks. Or what man is there of you, who when his son will ask for bread, will give him a stone? Or then will ask for a fish will give over to him a snake? Therefore if you, being evil yourselves, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more your Father, the One in the Heavens, will give good things to those who ask Him.”

So we can see how important it is to ask and seek. It shouldn’t just be an every now and again thing. Or we have John 16:24: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” The Lord loves to do things for us and to give us what we need but our part is we need to ask. Also, when we pray based on the promises in God’s Word it activates the angels to go to work. 

When we do ask it’s important to remember to ask in faith. James 1:6: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” The Lord loves to see our faith in Him. After all what loving father wouldn’t want his children to believe him when he says he will do something? Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

This gift of asking that the Lord has given us, that we call prayer, is by no means a gift we are meant to use just for ourselves. No, the Lord calls us to pray for others. Yes, we are to pray for our selves, our families, our friends and loved ones, our neighbors, our churches and all those in our circle of influence. But we are told to pray for more than that.

We are also called to pray for all men and those in authority. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

” We are to pray for our enemies Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”.

We can pray for the sick, James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” We are also called to pray for our nations. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The Lord wants us to come to Him with even the smallest details of our lives. He cares about our lives. But He doesn’t want us to pray just small prayers. He wants us to pray big, bold prayers. God is a big God, He is by no means limited by our sometimes small thoughts. Ephesians 3: 20-21 says “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

If He can do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or think then shouldn’t we think bigger? Ask bigger? There’s a whole lot of people and situations out there that need our bold prayers. We never know when we will be called on to pray. Sometimes situations pop up in an instant. We should be ready to pray at all times.

One synonym for lawyer is advocate. When we are praying for someone we are their advocate before the Lord. Pleading their case. Interceding. And following the advice of the lawyer in my dream. Opening our mouth and just asking!

And let’s not forget to make sure God gets all the glory for our answered prayers!

 

 

Are You Planted In The Right Place?

Most of us have heard the old saying “bloom where you are planted”. We would probably agree that would mean something like to flourish in whatever place you find yourself. Make the best of where you are.

Good advice I guess. But, what if we are not in the place where God would have us be? Can we truly flourish if we aren’t supposed to be there in the first place? Perhaps in some ways. We may think we are. But are we really?

In my opinion I don’t believe we can ever be truly happy or flourishing unless we are walking in the plan of God for us. By that I mean that kind of down deep, soul satisfying peace and contentment you get when you know you are doing what you’re called to do.

Before you read any further, here’s another question for you. Is your desire to be led by the Lord and to walk in His path, greater than your desire to follow your own “perfect” plan for your life? Are you willing to change anything the Lord asks you to change? Or do you prefer to stay in your comfort zone where you have feel you have some control over  your life?

If we say we want to follow Jesus,  then are we willing to do as Peter said he and the other apostles did, when he said to Jesus “See, we have left all and followed You.” That may not be what is asked of us. The Lord may have us work right where we are. But would we be willing to do it if He did ask?

God is the one who has the perfect plan for our lives. He sees the end from the beginning. He knows the things He has called us to do, and the places where He has prepared for us to be. Jeremiah 29:11 says “ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Although He does have a plan for us, the Lord also gives us free will. It’s up to us whether we choose to follow His plan or not.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Ah, there’s the rub. He said He will direct our paths but it’s when we are doing our part, and acknowledging Him, asking Him to lead us. Not when we are leaning on our own understanding, or our own thinking of what we should do. 

Sometimes we say we want to be led of the Lord but we stay when He says go or we go when He asks us to stay.

Sometimes we are in the wrong place because we made a mistake. Maybe we didn’t ask the Lord whether we were doing the right thing. Or maybe we asked but didn’t wait to hear the answer. We didn’t mean to go off the path. Or perhaps we heard the answer but went ahead and did what we wanted anyway.

What about those times we are in the wrong place because of our own willful disobedience, or maybe we chose to follow our own leading instead of the Lord’s. Or perhaps we left somewhere or someone out of offence? 

Offence has become so rampant in the world today. Take a look at the news. No one can give their opinion, or say anything to anyone it seems, without offence being taken. Matthew 24:10 tells us in the last days this is what will happen. “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” But aren’t we, as Christ followers, supposed to be different than everyone else? 

Yet how many of us have left jobs or marriages, families, friends or churches because we didn’t like the way things were being handled or we didn’t like something someone said? Or maybe even because we didn’t get our own way? I know I’ve been guilty of  some of those things. In some cases, maybe at the time I didn’t know enough to ask the Lord what His thoughts were. Other times I chose not to ask Him because I wanted to do what I wanted and I didn’t want to take a chance He might say no. Sounds childish right? 

Can I just say we don’t have time for any of this mess anymore? There’s work to be done. It’s time for those of  us who want to follow the Lord to get serious, grow up, stand up and get moving. The Lord has things He wants to accomplish and we each have to be in our place to make that happen.

If you are still staying somewhere when the Lord told you to leave then, go! If you’ve left somewhere when that wasn’t what the Lord wanted, then put your pride behind you and go back. If you are right where you are supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing then keep it up! Thanks for being a great example to others.

And if the Lord is calling you out to do new things for Him but you are afraid, then just believe you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, step up and do it! No need to worry. If the Lord asks you to do something, He will give you what you need to get it done.

Why not give Him the best of you today? Does He deserves any less?

Discover-Gods-Will-Isaiah-30-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruined Lives

Before I begin today’s blog I would like to put in a disclaimer. Some of you may read this blog, or part of it, and click off  angrily and never read another one. Maybe some who know me in person won’t want to speak to me again. Others will have strong opinions and vehemently disagree with me. Others will agree with every word I say because this is the life they are living. I just wanted to share some of my observations on the subject but by no means do I want to insult, accuse or condemn anyone. Having said that….here goes.

I’ve been reading a book this week that is a work of fiction. In the book the main character is a seventeen year old girl. Her mom was a single parent who died of an overdose of drugs and alcohol. The girl then goes to live with her grandfather, whom she had never met. As the plot unfolds we learn more about her life. She had worked from the age of twelve on to help support  herself and her mom as her mother was often out of work due to her issues with alcohol.

Many nights rather than have her mom tucking her in, she was putting her mother to bed because she was passed out on the couch. Later, as she comes to know her grandfather he tells her that at one point in his life he had also had a problem with alcohol, as had his father before him. He is still tormented by the fact that he passed this along to his only child.

Y’all I know this was fiction. But as I read this book I found myself getting really angry. Not angry at people but angry at this enemy that is as old as time. Angry for all the families that have been affected and all the lives that have been ruined. Angry for the lives that have been lost and the things that never came to be because of it.

Although this character was fictional, this kind of scenario plays out every day in our country and many other countries, I’m sure. And often in worse ways. Domestic abuse, children left alone in cars outside of bars, children who carry on the family dysfunction. Families who are forced to keep secrets because they don’t want friends and neighbors to know what is going on in their lives. 

If we were to be in a large audience and asked for a show of hands of those who had someone in their family or close friends effected by alcohol I think we would be stunned by how many people would raise their hands.

Often this curse is carried down through generations. Alcohol was an issue in my house growing up and we had relatives on both sides of my family who had problems. I saw first hand the effect of it. I also lost a cousin to a drunk driver so it affected my family in that way also.

My family was not alone. Years later I found out there were other extended family members with problems in their homes. There were also friends who had problems in their homes that they never talked about. Many times you could see these issues firsthand at parties or family gatherings. Or with neighbors where it was sometimes quite evident. Frightening for children especially.

I realize many of you may be responsible drinkers. You have a beer to relax after a hard day. Or it’s your culture to drink wine with meals. You would never think to get in a car and drive when you had too much to drink. Maybe this blog isn’t for you. Maybe you have never had anyone in your life with alcohol problems.

But what if your friends do? Maybe they drink with you because they see its not a problem in your life, but it might be in theirs. Maybe its something they struggle with when no one is watching. Maybe your children will continue your traditions but in their case circumstances in their lives may cause them to go down that road. Something to think about.

Noah was the first person mentioned in the Bible who planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20-25). And he got drunk and was naked in his tent. Two of his sons covered his nakedness while one son saw him naked. Whatever happened with that son that day it caused Noah to curse his son’s family line. Alcoholism is still a curse in family lines today.

I knew alcoholism went back at least two generations in my family. I recently found out this was an issue even at least one more generation further back with one of my great grandparents. Who knows how many generations ago this curse started in my family? It’s not something people kept a record of.

Those roots of bitterness that I spoke of in my blog the other day, could it not be that many of these roots can spring up in children growing up in these situations? And would that not then effect the way that they react to others? And the way that they parent their families when they have them?

How many more generations do we want to have go through these things? How many more families will be split apart? How many more children with an absentee parent or perhaps a parent who is there physically but is emotionally unavailable? When will we decide enough is enough? 

It’s heartbreaking to think there are some who are living right now in those kind of situations, and many more who are still trying to overcome the years they spent watching a loved one spiral down the drain.

I don’t expect my blog to change society. Alcohol is so ingrained in our culture today that only the Lord could bring about that kind of change. But maybe somewhere, someday if it causes one person to question themselves before they take that next drink its worth it. Maybe the person who has questioned themselves wondering if they drink too much. Or the one who has had loved ones tell them they are concerned with their drinking. Maybe the one who has noticed the look on their child’s face when they needed them, but instead of being there for them you yelled at or ignored them because you were busy drinking. 

I’m sure there aren’t many people who set out to be alcoholics. No one gets up in the morning with the goal of alienating their loved ones or losing respect among their colleagues or friends. I doubt many purposely set out to cause heartache to their families. 

Alcohol is a sneaky enemy. It starts out as your friend. So warm and fuzzy. A way to have fun and relax. But for some, with the stresses of life or perhaps genetic disposition it turns into something so much more. Something you think you can’t live without. Something that controls your whole life. 

If any of this has rung a bell with you, please. Get help. As someone who decades after the fact still deals with some of these scars in my soul, I can tell you it’s not worth it. Nothing is worth the pain you may cause to those who love you.

If this blog has in any way offended any of you, my apologies. It was a difficult blog to write. I so often think it would be nice to write a lighthearted, helpful blog. But this is what poured out.  Maybe you were meant to read this today. Just a thought.

Bitter Roots and Crabgrass

I was working in my garden the other day pulling up crabgrass. If you have worked on your yard or in your garden, you know what that’s like. You see what looks like a single blade of grass sticking up but when you try to pull it it doesn’t budge. As you dig around you find many tendrils spreading out in different directions. Dig a little further and you find this tangled mess of root ball with shoots going off in all different directions.

To me it seems that bitter roots in our soul could look much like that. Often we may not even realize that ugly old root ball is in there. We may deal with those single blades or issues as they come up and think we are taking care of the problem. But if we don’t get to the root we will continue to have the same issues over and over again in our lives.

The Bible says in Hebrews 12:15 “ looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled”. These bitter roots in our lives have the power to not only continue harming us, but to cause harm to others in our lives and in our interactions with them.

Just like that crabgrass where the roots can be so strong and so stubborn, so too the bitter roots in our lives. If we’re not aware of them, or don’t deal with them they can become like chains. Chaining us to behaviors or attitudes that we may feel we just can’t get free from. Strongholds in our minds.

These bitter roots can come from things that may have happened to us, or been said to us in the past. Maybe even so long ago, we don’t really remember what they were anymore. Yet the damage is still lurking there in our soul. Perhaps it caused a pattern to form in our lives. 

Let’s say someone betrayed our trust at some point in our life. Then, maybe even not consciously, we treat others with suspicion, waiting and believing that they will betray us also. This can keep us from ever having close relationships, even sometimes with the Lord. Then it could even become a self fulfilling prophesy. 

In Romans 7:15 Paul is talking about sin and the law. Can’t it also feel so true when there are things in our lives that we do that frustrates us? “ For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

I believe it is only with the help of the Lord, and His Word that we can finally free ourselves from these things. On our own, we may very much want to change, and even try really hard, sometimes we may even think we have overcome the problem. Then all of a sudden, up pops a situation and you find yourself back in the same old spot. 

This process of getting free can take time. Don’t become discouraged along the way just keep moving on. You may find you deal with one root only to find there is another one behind it. I believe, as long as we remain open to allow the Lord to show us these things, and be willing to repent and to change, we will get the victory.

Find a trusted friend to help you through the process as you go. Someone who will be honest with you and not just tell you what they think you want to hear.  Know that you’re not alone. It may feel like you’re the only one with these issues, but I would venture to say that many Christians struggle with some of these same things.

I am by no means an expert on this subject. Just sharing some insights from things I have been taught or gone through on my own journey.  Which, by the way, is by no means over. But I can say, like Paul in Philippians 3: 12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

This is a huge subject which affects so many parts of our lives. I have only begun to understand it. If you are interested in learning more on the subject I recommend this book by Jack Frost, that I think I recommended in a previous blog. “Breaking Free” Uprooting Destructive Habits & Thought Patterns. I believe its still available on Shiloh Place Ministries website. There are DVD’s and a manual available. I only had the manual. It was very eye opening. 

 I  started this post a few weeks ago but hadn’t finished it till today. Believe it or not, when I went outside to work on my garden yesterday there were more weeds! More weeds and more crabgrass. Some in the same spot I had pulled them from before! What?  But, I thought I took care of those! I guess it just shows how diligent we have to be to keep on top of these things so we don’t get any more roots! In the garden as well as in our lives.

Hope