A New Perspective

DSCF1229

by: Carole L. Haines

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:29-32 NASB)

My intention this morning was to finish writing a Devotion I started yesterday, but God grabbed me with this one. I was at a gathering of Believers last night whom I didn’t know. That is always awkward for an extreme introvert like myself. It makes me so self-conscious instead of Christ conscious. My husband said I did fine, but I just don’t know how to do the whole “socializing” thing. I woke up this morning with a knot in my stomach and was feeling so unsure when God brought me to this passage and seemed to whisper to me,
“Do not speak against yourself in this way. You should speak words that are good for your own edification so that you experience My Grace.”
I was dumbfounded. I mean, I never think about how I speak to myself.  I have had many people, including my precious husband, tell me that I am much too hard on myself.  I felt God urging me to ease up on the worry about how I came across. I tend to think of myself as “an acquired taste.” You are either going to like me, or not.  But I think that God has been showing me that is much too harsh a way to look at someone who is a part of His Body.  I’m not into that whole, “self-love” thing. But I felt God telling me that I need to be kind to myself, in thought as well as speech, because He meant it when He said to love your neighbor as yourself.
I will tend toward hardness toward my neighbor, if I think wrongly about myself.  God has given me a whole new Identity in Jesus. I am Beloved of My Father, a part of a Holy Priesthood, one of His own possessions. He loves me with an everlasting love. The Bible tells us we are to speak truth to one another in love. That includes ourselves.
If you struggle with doubts about yourself, feelings of inadequacy and fear. Look at the above passage from this new angle God gave to me this morning. Do not be bitter or angry toward yourself. Be kind and tender-hearted, forgiving yourself, as well as others, the way Christ has forgiven you. Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, no accusatory or harsh declarations. Speak the truth of God’s view to yourself and I believe you will find it easier to love your neighbor, to truly love one another.

Posted in Musings and ponderings | Leave a comment

Coloring outside the lines

DSCF4378

By: Carole L. Haines

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

The Women’s Ministry Leaders, at a Retreat I led worship for, gave me a gift. It was one of those wonderful Bibles with pictures in the margin to color and wide margins for taking notes. I was coloring one of the margins today, after reading the text I am studying, and was frustrated because I didn’t stay within the lines. There’s no erasing, no do-overs, I just had to leave it that way.  But then it was like God tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Yeah, Carole, but who put the lines there?”
I sensed God telling me that life with Him is not meant to have the picture drawn ahead of time, not by other people or even by ourselves. He is the only One who determines the course of our life. He intends for us to be colored outside the lines  that others have forced upon us, or we have strangled ourselves with.  His Will is perfect, our concepts of His will are not. Have you ever had someone try to pigeon-hole you, make you something you are not? Have you failed again and again at something you know the Lord has called you to do? Perhaps it is because you are not allowing Him to be the one who draws the lines of your life.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
(Psalm 16: 5-6)

A measuring cord or line, a territory; that is what the word “lines” means in this context. The lines in which God marks off our life, the boundary lines, the territory we dwell in, we minister in, we work in. God has set those lines and the psalmist says they have fallen to him in pleasant places. The Apostle James tells us that all good gifts are from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly Lights (James 1:17). We only appreciate God’s Boundary Lines when we erase our own. If God is coloring outside your established lines of life, let Him! His picture of your life is far more beautiful and far more fruitful than anything you could imagine for yourself.

Posted in Musings and ponderings | 1 Comment

Darkness to Light

dsc05232by: carole l. Haines

It’s been a little while since I last wrote, but God really spoke to my heart out of the following verse this morning, so I thought I’d share what He encouraged me with.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

I love how this verse shows us that, God made light shine out of darkness. It then immediately says that He made His light to shine in our hearts to give us light. If we have never been made aware of the darkness within our own hearts, we will not truly appreciate the light that God places in us through faith in Jesus.

We begin to feel our darkness and we are tempted to shy away, cover it up, paint it a different color, put a spin on it, or don a pair or Rose-colored glasses. Don’t!
Instead, embrace what God reveals about your darkness with the concurrent knowledge that He is able to crush that darkness with His light.  God only reveals to us what we need to see in order to lead us to the repentance that leads to life in Him. Repentance isn’t just for the time we first come to Christ. Repentance and confession is something we need all the way through our walk with Christ on this earth. We are not stuck in the revelation of Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
God tells us He understands our heart and is greater than it.
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.  (1 John 3:18-22)

We don’t need to be afraid of the Darkness within, because He is greater than it and already knows it. He can forgive us and free us from it. But we must entrust Him with it through confession. Confession is agreeing with God about our sin. We can’t agree with what we do not allow ourselves to see. The first step in transformation is the acknowledgement of the sin and darkness within our hearts which leads to a true repentance and sincere joy over the Grace of God.

Thank You, Father, that you love us so much and want to free us from all that separates us from You.  Thank You, Jesus for making that possible through Your death, burial and resurrection. Thank your for causing Your light to extinguish our darkness.

Posted in Musings and ponderings | 1 Comment

Perfectly camouflaged

sea-dragon-seahorse-animal-ocean-life-352637[1]

By: Carole L. Haines

Who doesn’t like to relax, right? Part of how I relax is to put on nature films with music behind them. I did that this morning with a film called, “Ocean Wonders.” It was so relaxing, but one creature in particular took my breath away. They are called Leafy Sea Dragons. They look like seahorses, but are camouflaged with extensions that look like branches with leaves, or like Sea Coral. When they first showed up, I couldn’t even distinguish them, until thy moved and closed their eyes. So stunning, so graceful and delicate. One of them is in the picture above.

This all made me wonder, are we perfectly camouflaged in our little worlds, as believers in Christ? Are we beautiful and graceful, yet no one really knows why we are so kind or gentle? Worse yet, are we gruff and rude, perhaps insensitive or arrogant?  In those cases, we really don’t want people to know we are believers in Jesus. I have been both of these genres at different times.
One thing I have never understood is why Christians put bumper stickers on their cars.  We all fail in so many ways, and I have been tail-gated, cut off, and treated rudely on the road by many a person who, when they finally passed me up, had a Christian Bumper sticker on their car.
God tells us this through Paul:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:12-15 NASB)

Please know that God is speaking to my heart about this issue. I am judging no one, but just passing on what He brought up to my own heart this morning. I can certainly echo Paul’s sentiments”

15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17 NASB)

I am a foremost of sinners, of that I have no doubt. Let us come before the Lord this morning and ask Him to reveal the innermost truth about our reflection of Him in this world. Let us repent where we need to, yet be encouraged where He has already brought transformation. I want to be that light in the world that shines in a dark place, don’t you? I want to be transparent, not perfectly camouflaged.

Posted in Musings and ponderings | 2 Comments

Your Shepherd has gone before you

shepherd-sheep-15995043[1]

by: Peg Councill

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:6)

“Your Shepherd has gone before you” is something I have said on many an occasion to family members and friends. This weekend I had opportunity to apply those words to myself.

On Saturday, while having company, I began to experience severe abdominal pain and lightheadedness which caused my husband to dial 911. While they were on their way, I took medication my doctor had prescribed for this situation and when the EMTs took my vital signs all seemed a little better so I elected to not go to the Emergency Room.
My reason was I had been asked to say a few words of tribute at the Sunday service for some friends who were moving.
Saturday night was a restless one of fretting about how I would be the next day. I woke up very anxious and questioning whether I should go or not.
My habit for my Quiet Time is to start with the next hymn in my hymnal, which for that day was “Good King Wenceslas” about the King and his servant going to help others.
In Verse 4 the servant says “Sire. fails my heart. I know not how;
I can go no longer”.
The King replies “Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread now in them boldly”
This reminded me that My Shepherd had already gone before me, into the morning, so I determined I also would:
“Mark His Footsteps and tread now in them boldly”.
Still feeling anxious and a little lightheaded, my husband and I went to church where we asked for prayer.
The Lord provided peace and strength so I was able to, “Mark His Footsteps and tread in them boldly” up to the stage. I was able to pay tribute to our friends, remembering that indeed My Shepherd had gone before me.

Posted in Musings and ponderings | 1 Comment

Drop the Mask

carnival_venice_masks_mask_of_venice-334762[1]
by: Carole L. Haines
One of the biggest keys to walking in freedom is to have your public life be a reflection of your private life.  Where you are wrong, always admit it. Jesus wants us to live transparent lives and that can mean that our faults, frailties and failures are evident. But Jesus encouraged me with a particularly poignant passage:
1 Corinthians 1:26-28 (NASB)
26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are.”
Transparency is so crucial to our walks, have nothing to hide and be as weak as you are, publicly. God will bless your humility and encourage others through your example, to drop the mask. It’s such a heavy thing, this mask I used to wear. What you see really is what you get. God’s transformation starts from within and moves out. When we wear masks, we are pretending to be something we are not yet, and that hinders our becoming more like Christ.
So take courage, dear believer, and drop the mask, just let it fall. Don’t reach for the glue any longer to try to piece together the brokenness in your life.  Embrace it and you will be amazed at how God uses it to change you and bless others. Truly, when we are weak, then we are strong, and his power is perfected in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Posted in Musings and ponderings | 1 Comment

Our Foreverland

thNCD0QCRK

By: Carole L. Haines

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. (John 17:1-3 &13 NASB)

A friend of mine has been struggling with depression, they keep putting her on more meds, but it seems to make it worse.  We pray and I give her the Word of God to encourage her.  But God did a mighty thing in her life this past weekend that surpasses mere human efforts.  She has lost two husbands and so been a widow twice. She is not afraid of helping the dying, so when a gentleman at our church was dying, she jumped right in to help. She spent 5 hours with him laughing and watching his favorite movie. Then she looked at me at the beginning of Church the next day and said, “We’ve got to go, __________ needs us.” God had called her and her husband over to be with this man once again. She, along with many others helped this gentleman transfer over to a Hospice center. People from the Worship Team showed up right there, dozens came and they sang with him, cried with him, laughed with Him.

I called my friend this morning and she told me it was so miraculous that she is just filled with so much joy this morning. God answered our prayers about her depression. She ministered to someone who is preparing to go Home to our Foreverland with Jesus, and Jesus blessed her with His own joy. She said Jesus was so present there in the room with everyone, and they were celebrating even in the midst of this dying man, who was rejoicing with them all.
Precious People of God, Believers in Jesus, Our Hope is real, it is more tangible than the car you drive to work this morning, more real then the Sun you see in the sky, more reliable than the changing of the Seasons. Our Foreverland is waiting for us. Jesus has prepared our homes in Heaven and is coming to take us home, whether now, individually, or corporately in His Final Return. We have and unshakeable hope, from an unshakeable God in an unshakeable Kingdom (Hebrews 12:28). We can celebrate, even in the midst of death, because whoever dies in Christ will close His eyes in this world, and open them in the arms of Jesus.

Posted in Musings and ponderings | 2 Comments