“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 the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,
and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18
What do those verses have to do with Orange Juice? Let’s take a step back. If you were to take a whole, unpeeled orange and squeeze it with all your strength, what would the result be? Right… the result would be orange juice; it wouldn’t be tomato juice or apple juice. Because an orange, or any fruit for that matter, can only give up what it has on the inside. Oranges make orange juice.
And so it with us humans; we do everything we can to keep our wrapper (the orange peel) tight around us, unblemished and intact, holding in all that there is about us; all that we are made of. Yet, let an unexpected life event come at us, applying a bit of pressure and it’s highly possible we might glimpse just a small tear in our wrapper. But for the most part, our insides are still intact; we’re still holding strong on the outside.
Apply a bit more pressure and you’ll likely see more of us spill out; a bit of juice and perhaps a tiny bit of pulp. But that stops as soon as the pressure stops and while our wrapper is wounded; it’s just a “flesh wound”.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3
I was cleaning my bookshelves a while back and came across a book that I hadn’t given much thought to in many years; it is the Prayer Book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Let me tell you how this little 80-page book blessed my life.
It was just after Thanksgiving time in 1995 while I was working as a pastoral assistant to a Catholic Pastor in Massachusetts. He was a great priest and a great friend. However, he was also great at volunteering me for projects! (I will admit that I really didn’t mind at all)
We traveled to Boston one afternoon to visit with the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy; what an amazing ministry they have. While taking a tour of their lovely chapel, we noticed that their prayer books were a torn and tattered mess that consisted of a folder of mismatched cards and papers. Continue reading
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
I was widowed in early 2006. Some months had passed and circumstances had gone from bad to worse in the business and financial area of my life. The business that I had started with my late husband had all but dried up… the money that I was earning from another job had also disappeared when that job ended. I was a thousand miles from any family, alone and down to the last of my dollars.
It was Sunday morning while I was driving to Church that I felt such a burden on my heart because I was not able to give anything in the Church offering that morning. My checkbook had just $12.83 remaining after paying my other bills that month. Yet my car insurance bill had showed up in the mail and they wanted somewhere around $30.00. I had no idea where that money was going to come from. Things didn’t look good. I was without resources, business prospects or family to rely on… I was sad, alone and desperate. Continue reading
Written in collaboration with Michael Sullivan
“The Cross splits the world. Either you look at it and think – that’s pathetic or you look at it and you think – that’s powerful. If you think it’s pathetic, Paul says you are perishing. But if you think it’s the ‘Power of God’, you are being saved. But it’s one or the other” ~ Billy Graham
“Our faith must begin and end at the Cross. The trouble is that many Christians have bypassed the Cross and are trying to be moral by their willpower and self-effort rather than trusting in the indwelling power of Christ to transform them (Galatians 3:3) But if we attempt to build our spiritual life by any other foundation than Christ crucified, we are doing so by our natural strength.” (Newman, Peter, “The Meaning of the Cross”, 11)
“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)
“’We preach Christ crucified.’ This is the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of blood flowing from Christ’s veins as He hung on the cross. The message of shed blood is repugnant to many, and they turn from such a gory sight, feeling that their delicate sensibilities have been outraged. Many people will accept Christ’s character, but they reject His crucifixion.” (Decision Magazine; April 2007)
“For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 AMP
“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.” John 15:1 AMP
A little while back our Bible Study class was discussing this passage in the book of John; pondering it brought to mind the many years that I had my gardens. Specifically it reminded me of tending to the couple dozen tomato plants I would plant in my vegetable garden each year.
Left alone tomato plants will overtake a good portion of your garden space while producing little or no fruit. They love the heat and the sun… add water and you have the makings for some pretty big plants. Notice I say “big plants”… I didn’t say a lot of tomatoes, just big plants.
Does God Really Forgive Our Sins? And if He does then why do we keep taking them back?
So a few weeks back, I was having a sweet chat with a dear friend and she said to me, “Do you believe that God really forgives our sins?” Without hesitation, I said yes I do.
She went on to tell me that sometimes she feels like no matter how many times she asks forgiveness, she feels like He doesn’t hear her. She doesn’t feel forgiven; thoughts of that particular sin seem to plague her.
There are dozens of Scriptures that talk about repentance and God’s forgiveness in the Bible, here are just a few that I shared with my dear friend.
“If I regard sin and baseness in my heart [that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it], The Lord will not hear [me]” Ps 66:18 AMP
What is cherished sin? Cherished sin is any sin that lives inside of us that we know is there, yet we choose to keep it hidden. It is those deeds and actions that we choose to coddle and excuse from our life.
It is the kind of sin that hinders our prayers and our relationship with God.
“We know [according to your tradition] that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone fears God and does His will, He hears him.” John 9:31 Continue reading
The following is a reprint of a recent article published online by Charisma Magazine. It is written by Dawn Hill; I invite you to check out her writings at http://lovesickscribe.com/
Prophetic Instruction: Wake Up From Your Coma
By Dawn Hill
For the past few weeks, I have been struggling to find the words to describe what I have been experiencing and sensing. Though I know in ministry it is not kosher to bear our souls to one another publicly, I believe that our transparency and vulnerability with wisdom is necessary. We the church, myself included, have become experts at suppression and wearing masks—so much so that we do not know what it feels like to have the breath of God blow across our being as we are set free from the masquerade of it all, and we are called to remain with Him past the proverbial stroke of midnight. I extend an invitation to you in this thing called holy discontentment. Continue reading
“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him” John 12:27
During His three-year ministry on this earth, Jesus had performed so many miracles, signs and wonders as witnessed sometimes by a few and other times thousands, yet the people wouldn’t, or couldn’t, believe in Him as the Messiah – the Son of God.
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John there are over 30 miracles documented. Yet, despite the eye-witness evidence of the lame raised up able to walk, the eyes of the blind opened to see, the lepers healed, the 5000 fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish, the dead raised to life, demons cast out at the mere sight of Him, enabling the mute to speak, turning water into wine, healing at the simple touch of His robe, life-long paralytics restored to complete health, house servants healed by only the words of His mouth, raging storms on the sea clamed by His command, and walking on water just to name a few, and let’s not forget His resurrection from the dead as witnessed by hundreds. Yet, despite all of the evidence, so many people in Jesus’ time would not believe either during His earthly ministry or after His resurrection.
Perhaps some had only heard about the miracles and did not witness them personally. With a skeptical mind, they could not, or would not, believe in what they didn’t see first hand. Perhaps they thought someone was exaggerating the event. Continue reading
“The wise man in the storm prays to God not for safety from danger,
but deliverance from fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I used to live in the Hill Country of Central Texas. We lived in a modest home right across the street from the amazing Lake LBJ. We were in close proximity to where the Lower Colorado joins the Llano River. It was such a beautiful area; we were blessed to call it home.
Central Texas, at that time, had been in a severe drought for quite a number of years. Many of the lakes on that river had dried up, Lake LBJ, however, was a constant level lake… so we were able to enjoy it immensely – drought or no drought.
It was about 2 years after we moved there, that the drought broke. And oh did it break. The rains started and it didn’t look like it was ever going to stop. Thankfully, our home was up on a little knoll… with all of the flooding, it looked like we lived on our own tiny little island, just big enough for our little house and our cars.