A living parable

Adventure through life like it’s a parable. What is a parable, you ask? Well, simply, it is a story with spiritual meaning or application. Imagine, if you will, every situation, every conversation, everything you read or watch, becoming a parable. It can if you simply ask the question, “what does Jesus want to say to me through this . . .?”

“He put another parable before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’” Matthew 13:31-32 ESV

This is obviously talking about how the Kindom of heaven may have small beginnings but grows beyond what one would expect. Life is a bunch of mustard seeds. Every word you speak. Thought you think. Choice you make. These seeds grow. It is why it is essential to choose your words wisely, be quick to listen, and slow to speak. It is why we need to take every thought captive and bring it before the Lord that we not be ruled by our limited understanding but by the Truth of God’s Word. It is also why we must choose wisely, be doers of the word; whatever we do in word or deed should glorify God.

Could you imagine the impact one could have if they started to think of everything they do as the beginning of a parable? Considering what a word or action would later produce is kind of common sense, but sometimes although the idea is there, the actual thought is not. You might say it would be too much pressure. i disagree. i view it as an adventure! It’s like one of those old choose your adventure books. You read a little and then your character faces a choice. In the book whatever you choose, you turn to a particular page and continue the story, some outcomes are good and some are not so good. However, unlike most choose your own adventure books, most of our day to day choices are redeemable. That should give us some hope.

i have been living this parable life idea now for some time, and i can honestly say that my life has become a great adventure! i don’t always make the right decision, but i am constantly learning and growing and experiencing life with a desire to have the mind of Christ, the hands and feet of Christ, the words of Christ, the love of Christ.

Join me in my adventure in being a living parable.

You are loved,

cj

“Just the facts, ma’am.” -Sgt. Joe Friday

It has been somewhat challenging not to read Christain books. i usually alternate between a good, who done it, mystery novel, or just a novel based on somewhat real life, and a book on spiritual formation from a Christian perspective. However, since the beginning of this year, i have cut out all of the latter and have been focused on a biblical foundation to my understandings rather than the interpretations of someone else. i will look for insight as needed or perspective from others, but i have cut out reading extensively on one subject. That isn’t to say i won’t ever again, just not in this season.

i want to focus on Scripture and allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. i know a novel concept. Yet, so few dive into this idea of coming to Biblical truth by simply reading the Bible and seeking wisdom and understanding or interpretation from the pages of God’s Word. After all, Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Therefore, i have deemed 2021 my year to set aside all my favorite Christian authors and seek wisdom from the purest source, the Bible. With some helpful commentaries or specific short writings but from several perspectives and interpretations to gain perspectives i may not have seen before with the understanding the Biblical text will determine the outcome of what it says . . . if i cannot make sense of a passage in the pages of Scripture, i will sit in it, pray through it until it is made clear. Knowing, however, that there are mysteries and that at present, i am looking through a mirror dimly.

Meanwhile, i am also enjoying my reading of secular novels. As i turn the pages and enter into the life of the characters, i ask myself, “how would i respond, or what would i do given the circumstances presented?” Or “how would i reach this person with the Gospel?” i am not a fast reader, so the fact that i am on my fourth novel this year is awe-inspiring for me. my current book is going to be very interesting for sure and will be a great source of inspiration as i turn the pages of Scripture in order to seek ways to present the Gospel to Edward, the main character. Who often says, like SGT. Joe Friday, from the old TV series Dragnet, would say, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

One of the verses that have spurred this idea or venture on is found in Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” i think we are living in similar days now. Now because i have a desire to understand Scripture and to know God, just not know of Him, i am searching Scripture as a miner seeks after gold, and silver, or as Indiana Jones, hunts down treasures.

i hope that my journey inspires you. That you are encouraged to seek the Truth of God through the pages of His Holy Word, with the filter of the Holy Spirit. John records Jesus saying, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26) Why do i find it essential to have a personal understanding, one based on Scripture first, confirmed by the Holy Spirit . . . because difficult times are upon us, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Finally, let me remind us of Jesus’ words during the sermon on the mount, Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide, and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

You are loved,

cj

Prayer and Fasting

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hyporcrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you; they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18

There is a lot of information on Fasting and dieting available with a simple internet search. Endless information, really. Most of it will be related to dieting with intermittent fasting and mostly positive regarding its health benefits. You will also find information on Biblical fasting and its health benefits. So i will not bore us with more information regarding this topic along these lines. However, i will focus on what one should expect while fasting.

If the purpose of fasting is to draw near to God, and that indeed is your focus. Whether to get direction or refocus your life and attention on God, you can, without doubt, expect a spiritual attack. As fasting is a fantastic tool to approach God in the way of humility, it also awakens the demons around you, and they will do all they can to distract, disrupt, mislead, and discourage you.

As Jesus is our perfect example, when He was in the wilderness before the start of His ministry, He was fasting and praying and tempted. We need to expect the same. We need to be aware of our weaknesses and prepare ourselves with Scripture to do spiritual warfare.

A real biblical fast should have at least one of three goals, focused worship, gaining wisdom, or as part of a repentant heart. If your reasons for fasting are not based on at least one of these three, there will be no spiritual benefits. If one or more of these is your focus, you should, without doubt, expect temptation and demonic distraction. This spiritual warfare can only be waged in the Spirit with The Word and with prayer.

If i can be transparent here, i always hesitate to go into a season of fasting because not only do i come under spiritual attack but so do those around me. i take the passage above to heart and try to keep my fasting between God and myself. However, this can be a problem if those around you don’t understand why there is an increase in spiritual warfare that if they are sensitive to the spirit, they will sense but without having an understanding as to the “why.” i say this not to discourage you but to encourage you to communicate with those close to you in regards to fasting because those in your home or if in ministry, those with whom you closely associate need to also prepare for increased spiritual influences.

Satan can absolutely use those around you, even Christians, to be a distraction to you. Look at how Peter was used to distract Jesus, “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23

Let me wrap this up with this if your motive is on the “things of man,” your fast will most likely go off without a hitch. You might even feel spiritually empty but physically healthier because there are health benefits to fasting. However, the spiritual emptiness will be the result of your focus. If your focus is on the things of God, your fast might leave you feeling hungry but spiritually strong. “And after fasting . . . He was hungry.” “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left Him, angels came and were ministering to Him.” Matthew 3:2, 10, 11

You are loved,

cj

You might be the answer . . .

i was in my mid 20’s and married to the mother of my boys. We had hit a rough financial spot, and i had spent the week in prayer. i would go down to the harbor in Dana Point. There was a place where the storm wall met the beach that created fantastic tide pools. The waves would crash upon the rocks at low tide with great force making for a spectacular water show. This was my prayer closet every morning, and i loved it. It was here that i brought all my worries and concerns and financial needs to the Lord and tried my hardest to leave them there in faith.

A week had gone by, and we were growing increasingly desperate for relief when came a knock on the door. It was our neighbor Carlos; he said, “Good morning, i have been restless all week. My wife and I came into some extra money unexpectedly after having a dream to give you money. I ignored the dream and bought a new TV. We got the TV home and plugged it in, but the screen blew, and it didn’t work. That night I had another dream about giving you the money. Again I ignored the dream and that morning went down and exchanged the TV. The same thing happened, and it happened again yesterday. Three times total. Last night I had the dream again, and I can’t ignore the dream anymore. So here is a check, please accept it; I don’t understand why but if I am not obedient, I am afraid I will never sleep without that dream.”

We did accept it, and after he left and I had gone inside, i opened the check, and it was for the exact dollar amount we needed for our financial shortfall. The EXACT amount! To this day, i have a dollar in the Bible i used down at the harbor as a memorial to God’s faithfulness. i had prayed for a week; God set out to answer that prayer as soon as i started to pray. Finally, through the obedience of our neighbor and friend, the answer arrived. i think about when Daniel fasted and prayed, and 21 days had gone by before getting an answer to a pressing vision he had. You can read the account in Daniel 10.

Now i am no Daniel, but i find it intriguing to think that as we pray that within the heavens, battles are being fought. Also, that the ruler of this world and his many minions are fervently fighting to delay answers to prayers. Have you felt led through a dream or vision a pinch of the heart to help someone and failed to do so? Could it be that the devil would have you distracted from being the very answer to someones prayer? If the devil can get you to focus on yourself, you will miss the need of your neighbor.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about giving to the needy in this way. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you; they have received their reward. 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. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4

Earlier, He said this: “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42) Now i didn’t make known our need, and my only begging if one would call it that was making my petition to the Lord. God moved Carlos to be the answer to that prayer. His willingness to be obedient in giving was a blessing to us and actually to him! i want to be careful here because i don’t want to give folks the wrong impression of being obedient. Our reward is often in heaven, however for Carlos and his wife, that weekend at a company picnic, they won a drawing for a TV! Coincedence? Maybe, maybe not.

Here is my question for us, what dream or vision is God giving you? Who is he leading you to reach out to, to lend a hand to, or perhaps even help through money or groceries? You might just be the answer to someone’s prayer, don’t delay the response any longer, giving temporary victory to the evil one.

You are loved,

cj

this is The Way . . .

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for thiers is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the mercifull, for they shall recieve mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you
.” (Matthew 5:3-12)

These are more than just statements; they are a code, a way of life, a call to action, for those of us who would consider ourselves children of The Way. When you break them down word by word and understand the definitions, they take on a more profound life than they already present. Let us begin by understanding the word blessed.

Blessed, by its very definition, sets the stage for each statement. The word means consecrated, sacred, holy, sanctified, and favored. Each of these words deepens the meaning and statement to come. Those that “are the” are blessed. We of The Way, who walk according to these beatitudes, should have a spring in our step, and oomph in our prayers, and a hope rooted in our hearts.

Blessed are the . . .

Poor in spirit, this can be described like this, ‘a steadfast dependence on God’s grace and provision.’ When we understand that without God, we are empty of meaning, we can recognize more clearly that with God, we have a clear purpose. (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Mourn, to feel or express sorrow, even for sin, both personal and that of the world. If we remove sin from the world by worldly morality, there is no sin to mourn. This is a dangerous practice that is more than prevalent in and outside the church. We must remember the WHOLE of Gods word. (Romans 6:1; 6:15; 1 John 3:6,9)

Meek defined is, humbly patient or quiet in nature as under provocation from others. We cannot get into the ‘cancel culture’ that is so big today. We must begin to find ways to speak truth in love. We can be, and should be, angry at many things in this world. However, it must be a righteous anger. (Ephesains 4:15,26)

Hunger and thirst for righteousness. We have to desire God and His righteousness like that of food and water. Without either, our bodies will wither and die . . . the same is true for us spiritually, we need to seek Him above all else. Only then will we be satisfied. (Psalm 34:8; 1 Peter 2:1-3)

Merciful, full of mercy; compassionate, possessing the attribute of mercy; exercising forbearance or pity; not revengeful or cruel; be gracious. First, forbearance is refraining from enforcement, and pity is empathy, sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you throw your stones at them. (Psalm 41:1)

Pure in heart, like the heartfelt plea of David in Psalm 51, “create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right spirit within me.” We must desire a life free from anything different, of inferior to the Word of God, or anything that is contaminated by the world. (James 1:27; Hebrews 10:19-25; 2 Timothy 2:22-26)

Peacemakers; a person, group, or nation that tries to make peace, especially by reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight. It sounds like we need some peacemakers in Washington. We as The Way must begin to breech the conversation even with the knowledge that we will be persecuted! (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14; Psalm 34:14)

Persecuted, to pursue with harassing, especially because of religious or political beliefs . . . If we truly stand on the Word of God, we can expect to be persecuted and even more so as we see the day of the Lord approaching. This should not deter us but embolden us to continue to seek justice and righteousness. (Matthew 10:16-22; 2 Timothy 3:1-5)

We have a message of hope and redemption that the world desperately needs but is becoming increasingly blind to . . . that does not relieve us of our responsibility to share the Gospel. These beatitudes are a road map to life in Christ; we need to begin to live them out! The world needs Jesus. “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:8-10)

You are loved,

cj

. . . there can be no wrong?

If there is no right, there can be no wrong, and if there is no wrong, then the phrase, “Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law,” becomes completely understandable. The idea of “You do you, or whatever makes you happy!” This first saying, “Do what thou wilt . . .” was that of the person accredited with starting the new age movement we see today. i wrote last week about right becoming wrong and wrong right, and as i have thought about it this week, we are witnessing the transition happen before our very eyes. This should be troublesome for all believers of the Way. Not in a fearful way but in an awakening sort of way. We can no longer sit by . . . our silence, is our consent.

The new age movement uses the terms we use. They will refer to light and that we are all stars and light. But their appetite is selfish. It goes back to the garden, and the tree, and satan. “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” “Did God actually say, . . .?” Satan was a lying serpent then, and he is a lying serpent today. Yet, he disguises himself as an angel of light. This is how Paul describes it in his second letter to the Corinthians. “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” i have thought about what it would look like to be the light of the world or a lamp on a stand. There are some street preachers here where i live. One guy who has a microphone and speaker stands on a ladder and preaches. Another guy says nothing; he simply walks all over town with a sign that reads very clearly, “Jesus is our only hope.” i don’t feel called to either of those, but there is no doubt that they are being light. One thing is for certain when we are silent to the sins of this world; we are the opposite of light.

We are living in a time in history that i believe was foretold of by Paul to Timothy. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” He goes on later to say this: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:1-4)

This hasn’t only happened outside the Church with the new age mantra, “Do what thou wilt,” but also inside the church, and it is time for the remnant of the Way to “hunger and thirst for righteousness, for (we) shall be satisfied.” Finally, let me close with Jesus, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” Matthew 16:24-28

Be the light . . .

You are loved,

cj

Betrayal, what the enemy thought for evil, the Lord uses for good . . .

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray Him. (Mark 14:10-11)

Imagine hand selecting your inner circle of closest friends. Walking with them for three and a half years and then having one of those friends betray you. Some of you don’t have to imagine because you have lived through it . . . maybe not the death part, but for some of you, it could have felt as threatening. i know that i have had some close to me betray me, and it hurts.

We are in a time in history where many are looking at what is going on in our country and crying, “betrayal!” It could very well be true. Many are disheartened because they prayed and have not seen God move. They have been told of specific outcomes, and those outcomes have not come to pass, and time is growing increasingly short.

Jesus took his closest friends into a garden to pray. The burden so heavy drops of blood fell from His face like sweat. Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me.” His desire was not for what was ahead of Him. Could you blame Him? He was to suffer a tremendously torturous death. If i knew that was the way i was to die, i would be pleading with God also. Yet, Jesus finished His prayer, “not My will, but Your will be done.”

Sometimes we don’t see the whole picture. Sometimes when we pray, we don’t fully understand all that is going on. This is why we are called to be patient. This is why i have such an issue with name it and claim it preaching. God promises this, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14), But they so easily forget the “not My will, but Your will be done.” part of prayer. In 1 John 5:14-15, it says this: “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” These are true sayings; however, there is also this idea of prayer “HIS WILL.”

For Jesus, it was death on a cross. He was tortured in the most horrific way. Yet, as Jesus prayed in the garden, He understood that although the road was difficult, God’s will was being accomplished, and through it, you and i, and countless others have been able to have the hope of eternal life in glory with Jesus.

Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3) Could it be that although we desire one outcome because we see it as being best, we have blinded ourselves to the idea of “Your will be done.” Because of the weight that it brings, the difficulty we know comes with it?

We know that in the end, perilous times will come. They will be difficult, and many will be betrayed by family and friends. We will be brought into the synagogues, and we will be hated for His name’s sake, even beheaded. These are unpleasant thoughts, and i imagine anything would be better but as we pray for the future of our country, and the world, let us not forget the part, “not my will but Yours be done” because as awful as our potential future, nothing compares to the glory that awaits us in Heaven! Just because God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to doesn’t mean He isn’t listening!

So, keep the faith. Seek not your will, but “His Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Do not fear, for He says, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” (Matthew 10:19) i believe we are headed into a very difficult season. Do not lose hope, do not lose faith, do not lose sight of our mission, “To make Christ-like disciples.” And always remember, “Not My will, but Yours be done!”

You are loved,

cj

The 9 Commandments

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Honor thy father and thy mother
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy nieghbors.

It seems fitting to take out the commandment about honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy since we have thrown it aside anyway. After all, we have made every excuse in the book to remove any need to honor it, even replacing it haphazardly without honor, certainly not holy, and filled it with worldly pleasure.

One, at this point, might label me a legalist. Ok, fair enough. Yet, if i am a legalist, then would i also be labeled a legalist if i said, “you shouldn’t kill someone?” Or that “you shouldn’t commit adultery?” Or any of the other commandments. The answer is obviously NO, so why is one labeled a legalist if they call for the observance of the Sabbath? Maybe someone can enlighten me. Of course, there are the scriptures that talk about how they gathered on the first day of the week, that being Sunday. However, it also says they gathered all the time; we don’t do that! It also says they took communion A LOT! Some are content to take it once a quarter, and still some not at all!

Part of loving God with our whole being as Jesus declared, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is honoring Him. i am not saying that you cannot honor God on Sunday, or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday . . . what i am saying is that God clearly cuts out Saturday and says, this is the Sabbath, and you should honor it and keep it holy.” So the next question is, how do we honor it, how do we keep it holy?

The Pharisee’s obviously were missing the boat on this as Jesus clearly rebuked them for how they had turned it into something that it wasn’t. So what is it? “Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because, on it, God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” God took the seventh day, and He rested. We can rest on any day of the week, i get it, but there is something to this seventh-day rest if it weren’t so the devil wouldn’t care to distract us from it!

i have been taking Saturday and resting. i try to do as little as possible. i refrain from shopping because that requires someone to not be at rest so that i can shop. i don’t do this out of legality but in honor of both God and others as i wish for them to honor the Sabbath day. i am still figuring out what it means to keep the Sabbath, but i spend time with the Lord. i read Scripture, listen to sermons, pray continuously, and seek to honor God by honoring the Sabbath. i believe this is what God desires of all of us. i would love to hear your thoughts on the idea.

You are loved,

cj

Cold Brew

Moments in which you are given the opportunity to self evaluate need to be taken like you are making cold brew. Coffee that is cold brewed is steeped for 24 hours. Whereas a coffee pot or perk, even a pour-over are relatively instant . . . of course there is instant, but is that even coffee? In brewing cold brew coffee, you use a filter of some sort, like a teabag, and let the coffee grounds sit in the coffee. That’s it. There is no real secret: filter, coffee, cold water, and 24 hours.

In your moment of self-evaluation, you will need just a few things. A good filter, i would suggest you use the Word; everything in your life should be filtered through Jesus and God’s Word. You will need coffee, the substance, the experience, the action, the situation that is being evaluated. You will need cold water, clear your mind of distraction. Finally, you will need time; you should never rush but consider everything in order to get an accurate evaluation.

The Word will keep you honest. Life is life, and there is nothing new under the sun. God already knows, so lay out your life bare as you evaluate it. You will be distracted, you will be challenged, and you will want to walk away if you are really taking the evaluation of your life seriously. Therefore it will take time, time to clear your mind, time to remove distractions, and time to sit and listen.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God . . .” It is an excellent place to start as you sit in the counsel of the Word. Be still before the Lord and know that He is God, that He already knows, and He cares for you. Psalm 1:2 says, “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” The Word, although difficult at times, to understand, to follow, to take in, should still be delighted in. You should meditate on all of it, and as you read it in order to filter your life through it if you find something in it that is disagreeable to you . . . i can assure you, you are the one that is wrong and not the Word of God.

That is part of self-evaluation that nobody likes. The part in which, as one’s life is laid bare before God and His Word, there is no doubt conviction. That conviction isn’t intended to harm, but to grow you. Every situation in life is a learning opportunity to learn and grow. It can be very uncomfortable and feel very lonely; these two things are why many refuse even to attempt self-evaluation. Psalm 4:4 says, “Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” It is in these moments, pure, open, honest moments, that life is found, and growth can happen.

Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

You are loved,

cj

Lessons from Shiloh

Do you have a dog? i do, and he is the best dog in the world. His name is Shiloh, he is a Mini-Aussie, and if my neighbor could get away with it, he most certainly would dognap my boy. He goes on every trip i take now, the countless trips to Colorado, and now most recently, my trips to Vegas to see my boys. He is an amazing traveler. He understands the concept of a pit-stop, jumping out of the car, doing his business quickly and jumping right back into the car without hesitation. He loves sitting out on our deck and just enjoying the fresh air as well as long walks. He enjoys his belly being rubbed, his chin being scratched as well as just below the ears. Once you start he won’t let you stop either.

When we are on a walk, i have him tethered on a leash. He doesn’t often pull but will take as much slack as i give him. When we reach the light, if it’s green, we walk right through, of course. However, if it’s red, we will stop, i will stop, and he will walk until either his slack is used up, and he is caught back, looking at me like, “let’s go!” or i say, “woah” or “stop” or “wait” or “sit.” He then will look up at me as he sits and wags his little nub of a tail, which is more hair than a nub actually. When we get back to the house, as we walk up the stairs, i will take the leash off, and he will head to the door. He stops, looks back, and waits for me. He will look at me and then the door as if to say, “Ok, open the door now.” He can be a tad impatient. Ok, maybe more than a tad. He doesn’t like waiting, doesn’t understand the why, especially at the light.

Jonny Lang is known for singing the blues, but he also sings gospel and rock, a songwriter and guitarist. He is very talented and one of my favorite musicians. i have seen him live, and he doesn’t disappoint. Two of my favorite songs, That Great Day, and Red Light, can be heard on my playlist and often i will hit repeat because i get lost in the lyric. The idea behind Red Light is the way life can change, decisions made, good ones and bad ones. It’s the pause.

God often uses red lights in our life; of course, He also uses yellow and green. Like Shiloh, if we aren’t tethered to Him, we will walk right into oncoming traffic. If we are tethered to Him when He stops at the light, and our slack runs out, that jolt can cause you to look back as to say, “let’s go!” Not realizing the danger that is just ahead. His word to us, “woah” or slow down, take it easy, we’ll get there. Or perhaps, “stop” that is not the direction i want for you. The hardest sometimes is “wait” because we want to know why and we rarely get the answer. “Sit” is also hard as we don’t often want to sit; we want to go and go fast. Yet, the reality is that each of these prompts is for our benefit. His desire for us is pure and Holy. We need to be willing to listen.

Some of you will say, “who wants to be tethered? The answer is nobody does. Yet, there is one who’s an example to us, both free and tethered.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.” John 5:19-20

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 8:28-29

i often wonder what Shiloh is thinking when he sits at the light, usually very patiently, even still eagerly awaiting the words, “let’s go.” i want to be like him, i desired to be tethered to the Lord, walking with Him so closely that i not only sense His presence i hear His voice and His gentle reminders, warnings, and commands. Woah, stop, wait, and sit. my favorite prompt now is sit, “sit in My presence, sit with Me, let’s hangout together, tell me about your day, how are you feeling?” Yes, i like to sit in His presence. Today may you find yourself tethered to Jesus, and may you obey His Word.

You are loved,

cj