Blurred

In a discussion thread on Facebook the other day (or month), I expressed my view of the Restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf during the Coronavirus “Lockdown” as not being in the best OVERALL well-being of the commonwealth…. if you’re from PA, you understand the yo-yo restrictions that apply to certain businesses but not others… (even if you’re not from PA, you may be aware as I understand he has made national news with his dictatorial edicts) and I commented that, even to the most casual observer, one could not help it feel he really seems more about destroying the economy, largely made up of small businesses than he does about protecting the overall well-being of the state. As you might imagine, this was a hornets nest of political ranting on both sides of that mask argument, which, oddly enough, wasn’t even mentioned in my post. The most vocal of empaths retorted that she could not understand why he would want to hurt small businesses in his state.

Here’s a thought. Small businesses are less likely to contribute millions and multimillions to campaign funds….. but the big corporations, who seem to have very few restrictions, are contributing heavily to campaign funds.

Does it seem crazy to you… inconceivable that a person could become so corrupt as to be “bought” by the political game or financial status? Could politics have so corrupted a persons values that they would stoop so low as to deliberately sabotage those in their charge?

The devil is divisive… seeks to divide. Seeks to destroy. Is it not conceivable that he would use power and love of money to divide? To cause enmity and strife among leaders? citizens?

I have my political views, and honestly try to keep them to myself, especially on social media. This was one of few posts I made wondering outloud whether the cabinet company he formerly owned might still be profitable while other Pennsylvania small businesses suffer. That post, and the argument that ensued, led to being defreiended by a very liberal acquaintance who vehemently disagreed with comments others made on my post. Because she knows I’m a Christian, she took the opportunity to broadbrush comments made by my people on my post as “all you Christians”…. bad name, etc…

On the surface, I could care less that she defriended me. In fact, others who witnessed the social media storm that day have said “good ridence”. However, the one soft spot I have is that I know from her posts that she has been burned by the church and has resentment toward God and his people. I had always hoped to be a conduit to His grace and forgivenesses for her…

I find myself among Christians who are fired up about the political arguments and rightly believe that Christians can it simply stand idol and allow our freedoms (including our religious freedoms) simpler be taken away. I am grateful for their zeal and applaud their efforts.

For me, the hill to die on is that of continuing to bring the name of Jesus to a dark world. I completely understand the argument that if we don’t stand up and fight these issues, our very Greeks that allow us to talk about Jesus might disappear. I also see a church thriving in places like China and the Middle East where people have no religious freedoms.

I’ve thought long and hard about this… I have friends on both sides of the political fence, and I don’t want to alienate any of them. For me, it is far more important that they see Jesus in me than they share my political views. I would much rather try to show the love of Jesus than to argue my point just to try to sway them to my way of thinking. I pray that God would guide my words to bring healing and not division.

I certainly don’t have all the answers… in fact very few… but I know this. I know that I am called to love Gods people, no matter their political affiliation or tendencies, and continue to shine my light into a dark world.

My heart truly breaks for the divisions that I see in people I love all around me. My prayer today is that our blurred vision is cleared by the One who can overcome the divide.

It is in His Holy Name I pray,

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

Salvation belongs to the Lord

7 When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Jonah 1:7-9

My daily devotional had me in Jonah today, a book I could write about for days. Jonah is a book that speaks about running from God.. I’ve done it. I’ve known people who have… in fact, I know people who ARE running from God now.

God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh.. he went exactly in the opposite direction to Tarshish. Exact opposite direction. Further, he told people on the boat he was in that He was running from God, and when the storm arose, he KNEW it was because he had disobeyed God. He asked the men to throw him into the sea so they would be saved…. and God saved Jonah.

God gave Jonah a second chance to do what He had asked him… to go to Nineveh and preach so that the people of Nineveh would be saved… and this time, Jonah obeyed.

Had Jonah not obeyed God, the people would not have been saved. Jonah would not have been saved.

Have you ever run from God? Done exactly the opposite of what you know He wants you to do? Are you now?

There are a handful of times in my life where I felt the Holy Spirit direct me to do something very specific. One of those times I said, “No”. Unequivocally no. I had an argument with God, Lol. I felt He was asking me to make myself vulnerable and I just wasn’t going to do it. I basically said those exact words in my head.

“Nope, Lord. I’m not going to do it. I’ve done a lot of things for You, but I’m not doin THAT!” Days later, the same command. Again, I said “No.”. Days later, a third time, the same command. Each time the command was exactly the same… He didn’t say it louder each time, or preface it with “I told you…”. It was simply the command. The THIRD time I heard it, I literally said.. to the God of the Universe, “I hope You know what You’re doing”… and I did what He asked of me. I couldn’t have guessed in my wildest dreams how God was about to bless me because of my obedience. But more than me, God brought others to saving grace because I had obeyed Him.

God is still in the miracle business… still using people like Jonah and me… Imperfect, scared people with a tendency to run to reach people who need to know Jesus.

Stop running today. Stop and listen. God wants to save you more than you can imagine. Where is your Nineveh? go there today. Don’t wait. He is there for you.

Be blessed my friends

SB

Sandpaper

In my spare time (whatever that is…), I like to build things out of wood. I wouldn’t consider myself a woodworker, and even “enthusiast” gives me too much credit… but I enjoy building things… Without exception, since I was a little girl, every single time I pick up a piece of sandpaper and begin sanding wood, I think of how God uses the rough things in our life to refine us and shape us to what He needs us to be.

In the process of sanding wood, we start with coarse grit… the roughest… if you’ve ever sanded anything with course sandpaper, like 60 grit, you know that it takes a lot of material off at once… and hurts the most if you accidentally sand your hand, particularly if you’re using a palm sander or belt sander. As you work on your project, the grit of the sandpaper increases and it’s roughness decreases, and the wood gets smoother and smoother. After 60 grit, we may use 100 or 120, followed by 150, then perhaps a 220. The size of the grains of sand on the paper determine the grit number. I’ve seen sandpaper as fine as 600 though, in truth I’ve never used it. I usually top out at 220, depending on the project, where it’s smooth enough for my use.

This is how it works with God… He takes the rough things that happen in our lives and uses them to continue to refine us and smooth us…

Whether your sandpaper is a relationship with conflict, a health issue, a financial issue, God can use those things to shape and mold us. It may be unpleasant, even downright painful… but trust the process. He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Be blessed today, my friends, even if what you’re going through is the sandpaper of life. Trust that the Sculptor is making you beautiful for His purpose.

Be blessed,

SB

The battle for your soul

Evil runs deep. Far deeper than we ever imagined. Time is short to get your affairs in order with the Lord.

It so easy to get wrapped up in all that’s going on around us, and, indeed, there is great need to pray and even to be involved to impact change

But the single most important thing you can do is get your heart right with God. Time is short. I am praying for those who don’t yet know the saving power of Jesus… those who don’t realize they need Him. Those who have it well off.

I’ve said for years that it’s far easier to help someone who knows they’re a wreck than someone who thinks they’re doing fine.

In my year of PRAY, I have committed to praying for people who need to know Jesus… the free grace that only He offers to everyone.

As my year plays out, I’ve created six categories of people for whom to pray regarding finding Gods grace and salvation:

1 myself. (Yes, I know I’m saved, but I want to continually surrender my will to the will of the Father)

2 my circle.. there are many in my immediate circle who do not yet know Gods grace and salvation personally. As people in my circle enter my mind, I record them in my journal and pray that they will find Gods grace

3 my community… those I know less directly but who aren’t very far from me

4 state – those in our state who need to know Jesus, be it government officials, state colleges, state workers, etc.

5 nation – those in our nation who need to know Jesus, our leaders and politicians, national business leaders and influencers…

6 globe – those across the globe who need to know Jesus…

There are, undoubtedly, enough people in those six categories to keep you praying for a long time… i encourage you to pick a category today and start to pray for those in it who don’t yet know Jesus… even if you don’t know them personally.

Prayer changes the battle.

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

Evidence of Gods Power

Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know that I am one of the youth leaders for our church’s youth group. Last night was youth group night, and we are studying the book of John. We read several passages throughout the book that shared some of the miracles Jesus performed while on earth and we talked about the power of God.

In our small group time, we asked our junior high girls if they’ve ever personally witnessed or experienced the power of God… crickets…. deer in the headlights… crickets. They all said they hadn’t…

I asked them what they would have thought if they had seen Jesus turn water into wine… they said they would have thought someone was playing a trick on them…

I wanted to jump out of my skin! As someone who has clearly seen the power of God right here in MY life and the lives of those around me, I wanted to shout from the ROOFTOPS! I had to try to contain myself because in our small group I feel like I’m the one always talking (middle school girls are very quiet)…. but I also wanted to share with them some of the ways I’ve personally seen evidence of Gods power… to help their eyes be opened to see it for themselves.

One of the girls in our group and I have a mutual friend named Cheyne who just graduated from high school and started his freshman year of college. Cheyne was diagnosed with cancer when he was FIVE years old… multiple surgeries and chemo treatments throughout his life… and he graduated from high school!! They never expected him to live… and he graduated high school and is planning his future right now! THAT is evidence of Gods power! I reminded her of Cheyne and she said “oh yeah.” … kind of as if to say, yeah I guess that was Gods power.

Still saddened by the fact the kids couldn’t articulate examples they’ve seen of Gods power, On our way home, I asked my high school daughter why she thought none of them could answer the question. I rattled off several other HUGE examples of the evidence we’ve seen of God. She said, “well, you’re older than they and you’ve had more experiences”. “True… and I thought of that, but you’re not much older than they and YOU’VE seen Gods power…”

She thought for a moment and said, “not everyone has a mom like you who talks about the power of God all the time and points out answered prayer.”

On one hand, I am humbled… thankful to have actually done something right in my life… to have provided an example to show others what God is capable of… on the other hand, I have awakened a sense of urgency to TELL OTHERS more and more about the power of God! If we don’t tell them, who will? If we don’t tell them, how will they know?

My story is only just beginning. I have seen the power of God and I want everyone to know. He has made the foulest clean… He has softened the hardest hearts.. He has healed the leper’s, He has made the lame to walk! Not just in biblical times… but right here, right now, all around us! And He wants to do it for you, too!

Father in Heaven, open our eyes to the wondrous works of Your hand… show us Your Power… up close and personal in the lives of our students that they would know how much You care about them… as individuals… and want to work in their lives. Help us to live as examples of Your power that others would see You through us. In Your Holy name I pray… amen

Be blessed today, friends

SB

Coconuts AND Peaches

Good morning, friends. Today, I want to share a new perspective… one that someone hit me with after they read my post yesterday…Peaches and coconuts

What if you’re both a coconut AND a peach? What if you’re hard on the outside AND on the inside? Is that possible? Do you know people like that?

What do you think causes that? Are they born like that? Or simply worn down by life to the point where they just build an outer shell as well as an inner shell?

I hadn’t really even considered that possibility to be honest… but after reading my post yesterday, someone pointed out that it’s possible.

How would you reach someone like that with the love of Christ? Would they be open to having Gods love penetrate their facade?

I am fascinated by personality studies… and have learned that people often have a public persona and a personal persona… the face they WANT you to see and the face they REALLY are… different types of personality tests can determine many things about both.

Oddly enough, in personality tests that I’ve done, my public persona is nearly identical to my personal… in other words, I am what I am… and yet even I wear a mask. I believe we all do to some degree. (Hence the Masquerade).

My theory is this… the people with the hard outer shell WANT you to think they’re tough… and in fact, they may indeed be hardened by the trials of life… they’ve harden the themselves to protect themselves.. and sometimes ONLY Gods love can penetrate their scales..

Many people might view the coconut shell and/or peach seed as a bad thing… the but truth is there’s a time and a place for both… there IS a need for us to protect ourselves… to guard our most tender and vulnerable areas from harm. Equally, there is a need for us to be tender and loving and show others our true identity…. The trick in life is to determine when and with whom each is appropriate.

God is raising up warriors, my friends… He wants to use us to reach a hardened world. He needs us to sensitive to others and to be able to show them His love, but He needs is to be tough enough to withstand the devils schemes.

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

Peaches and coconuts

This morning as I bit into my Chambersburg Peach, one of summer’s magical delights, I remembered the analogy I heard about people some time ago.

Peaches are fuzzy and soft on the outside and have a giant, hard seed on the inside… the pit.

Coconuts have a very hard, thick outer shell, but once cracked, are soft and tender on the inside.

The context of the analogy about peaches and coconuts was our pastors wife, sharing her experiences after a mission trip to Paris last fall. During their trip, someone equated the French people with coconuts…. seemingly hard on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside, seemingly closed minded about the things of God, but once penetrated, open to hearing the Truth.

Many of us have become hard on the outside, for various reasons, with different life experiences. Deep inside, however, we are tender and fragile. Only when we break through that hard, outer shell are we open to see the works of God.

Ezekiel 36:26 says:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Are you open to allowing God to break through your shell? It’s scary, for sure, to step out in faith, not really knowing what’s in store for your future. After all, you’ve been pretty successful being tough. Will you allow God to break through?

Or are you a peach? Seemingly soft and tender in the outside, but inside hard and closed minded? will you allow God to soften your insides?

Think about it… be blessed my friends!

SB

Turn the world upside down

Is it possible to turn the world upside down for Jesus when it seems all those around are completely against anything of God? In a society that not only allows, but seems to promote everything that goes against the gospel?

In his sermon this weekend, our pastor reminded us that the first century Christians faced exactly this same opposition, yet the church flourished. The tenets of the Christian Faith were in direct opposition to the culture at that time…

In America, a country founded in Christian values, we’ve seen a moral decline and are appalled at the cultural norms that are so widely accepted, but our society is not terribly unlike the society of the first century Christians.

Like many of you, I am watching the events in our country unfold, grieving in my heart at the moral decline, the hypocrisy that abounds, and the division I see occurring, not just between political parties, but between friends and family members.

As the country focuses on politics and its upcoming election, I am choosing to focus on the One who holds tomorrow. It’s not that I don’t have a political view or see the importance of standing up for what is right. I do. …. and I truly value those who are fighting the political battles that need to be fought..

My focus will be first and foremost on Jesus, and I will be calling on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct every step I make that my impact would be for eternity for Gods glory and not my own.

By Gods Grace, I have been found, and by His grace I will take every opportunity I can to show His grace to others, that they, too, may find the peace that passes all understanding in a world that desperately needs Jesus.

Be blessed today, my friends… I am praying for all of you!

SB

The lids can be friends…

For some households, socks enter the dirty clothes pile and are never again seen together… lost forever in the black hole of laundry… that happens in our house…. but even more than the sock, the Tupperware lids in our kitchen live a solitary life… they may start life together, but typically once a plastic container goes through one wash cycle, they are never to be friends again…

A week or so ago, I went to Target to pick up a few items, including a 1/2 gallon water cooler for my daughter in preparation for band camp. While there, I found a French Press… oh, how I love my coffee, so I bought it.. and eagerly made my first pot of iced coffee.

The directions said to mix the coffee with water in the pitcher, put the solid lid on, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours… then take the solid lid off and install the lid with plunger, press the coffee and then serve.

The next day, I eagerly put the plunger lid on and put the solid lid into the sink for washing…. that was the last I saw it. For a few days, I waited, sure it would eventually show up… and then finally, I just made a pitcher and put it in the sink without its lid, hoping no one accidentally knocked it over.. and so far, so good. In truth, I was more than a little irritated that the lid went completely missing – I looked in all of the places I thought someone might put it. With 4 females in my household (some of them more OCD than others) it could literally be anywhere.

Every time I misplace something in my house, my mother, who lives with us, says, “why didn’t you ask me.. I knew where it was…” except that every time I ask her, she doesn’t know where it is….whatever it is… so I tried it with this, and she gave me the deer in the headlights look… a week ago… so I asked tonight, since she is the one most often in our kitchen.. if it had ever turned up.. nope. I’m not gonna lie. I was a little irritated and assumed that she lost the lid.

Truly, it’s kind of a running joke in our house… the fact that we have a pile of containers and a pile of lids… and can’t find two that actually go together.

As it happened, my youngest daughter was with us tonight when I asked about it.. she silently left the room and was gone a few minutes to return with the lid!

As luck would have it, the lids diameter is approximately the same size as her new water jug… and She saw it in the sink and thought somehow they must be connected, but couldn’t figure out how it connected. She had it in her room. lol! So, at least for now, the lid and the pitcher have been reunited! I asked her to put it in the kitchen so I could make a pot of coffee.

A little while later, my oldest daughter came into the family room and I was telling her about it, and kind of laughing. She said, “well I just saw it on the kitchen table and put it with her water cooler which I was going to take to the storage closet downstairs (now that band camp is over)… good thing you told me or it would have been gone til next summer!” 😂. Then she told me that they were trying to figure out what it was and Tiffy actually googled her water cooler and said “oh this is what it is! It goes inside to keep liquid from spilling during transit”… turns out that the lid is the exact inside diameter of the water bottle. I came dangerously close to losing the lid again… 😂

The lid
“Keeping the liquid from leaking”

My mother… exonerated… at least until the next lid goes missing.

Eagerly awaiting my next pitcher of cold brew coffee…

Be blessed today…

The love of many

As I watch the news unfold around me, and, perhaps more importantly, watch how people respond to it, I am struck by the coldness with which I we live. In a tangled irony, we mandate life saving measures to “save the few” while allowing the majority to suffer. Yes we have forgotten our compassion and our hearts wax cold.

In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the sin that abounds in the last days before His second coming… 24:12 says, “because sin abounds, the love of many will grow cold”

Many people have been outraged this week over the execution style killing of a five year old boy by his 25 year old neighbor, who had dined at his house just the evening before. Many have posted on social media comparison between George Floyd’s death and commented on the glaring lack of media coverage. Heart wrenching story.

In one Facebook post, “i know this is going to be a hard one for some of y’all to grasp but no one is talking about the little boy who died because his murderer is being held accountable for his actions. wild, i know.”

My first thought in reading their post was, my, my, my, what a cold, cold heart. Though I understand the logic behind the comment, I am duly disturbed by the lack of compassion, and it drove me to my knees to pray for the hearts of people who have become so desensitized as to not be bothered by the execution style murder of a little boy in front of his siblings. Yes, perhaps his murder is being held accountable… and perhaps it had nothing to do with skin color… but to speak so callously about it as if it’s no big deal is beyond disturbing.

I can only pray for the hearts that have become so cold they fail to have compassion for anyone.

The good news is that God has promised us a new heart and a new spirit when we allow ourselves to be renewed by the transforming of our mind.

I have a cousin who suffered with heart issues when she was young… she is a wonderful Christian woman. Many years ago she shared with me that she came to faith in Christ in part because of my father, one of the few Christians in his family who made an impact for generations to come, even though he died over 40 years ago. She told me that he had given her the scripture in Ezekiel 36:26, probably due to her physical condition.. when I first read it, though, I knew it applies much deeper than physical, and speaks to the emotional condition of our hearts.

Life has a way of desensitizing us, allowing us to become cold and stubborn. We need compassion… we need understanding… that only God can give. I pray for all of the cold hearts in the world today

LORD, let my heart never lose compassion for Your creation, let love conquer a multitude of sins. Give me Your love for people and help me to see past their cold, ugly hearts and know that they need You. Help me to pray for them… help me to love and accept them. In Your Holy name I pray, amen