“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.”
I Peter:3:3 The Message
As I go about my daily activities around the house, the television plays in the background. Though the television is on, I find myself caught up in my own thoughts. Yet, I hear the words of a testimonial from an infomercial; “his product really changed my life, ” I feel better about who I am.”
These testimonials echoed in my head and in my heart this morning. I thought about how we have put such emphasis on outward appearance these days. Infomercials tell us what products we must have in order to look and feel better. Other social media avenues such as Pinterest and Facebook have all the different fashions all put together for us as a blueprint of how we are to look as we head out to run those errands.
It is my fear that we get so caught up in what society defines as beauty that we have forgotten the true beauty God created. Society telling us what to do, what to use and defining beauty is no different from the Pharisees were with their rigidity of the laws that they had added to God’s commandments in order to be right with God.
The Pharisees missed out on the relationship that God wanted to have with them because they were so wrapped up in the laws. We miss a relationship with God and with others because we get so wrapped up in how we look and assessing others on how they look. Not only do we miss the relationship, we miss the blessings God has planned for us when we are wrapped up in ourselves instead of focusing on him and those around us.
True beauty is a matter of the heart. It is allowing God’s light and Holy Spirit shine through us and sharing that light with others. As we see others, we need to see them as Christ’s sees them. He sees beyond the outside and sees the heart.
The words, “his product really changed my life” really hit a nerve for me today. The only one person who can change your life and make it more beautiful is accepting Christ into your heart. It is when you accept Him into your heart, walk in the footsteps of his grace and love, and begin to really seek the heart of others, we experience the beauty God meant for us to experience.
Think about it….when we reach those pearly gates, God is not going to make sure we are in the latest suggested fashion before letting us into his kingdom. However, he is going to look at our hearts and how we shared His grace and love to others. God is going to see how we lived our love for his son, Jesus out loud.
I challenge you in the days ahead to look beyond the appearance of people you encounter. It is going to be in these experiences you are going to experience the beauty of God and his love and grace.
“Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray-and shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10 The Message
Seek God’s Beauty. It is all around you.
Jim and I have lived in the same town for twenty-three years. We have lived in the home we are in now for about eighteen years. Yet, when we leave the house to go to church, the grocery, out to eat, or whatever errand we must run, it seems we always have the same conversation when we start.
April: You know we are going to the grocery don’t you?
Jim: Yes, I know we are going to the grocery.
April: Then, why are you going this way. I always go down such and such
street to get there.
Jim: Well, I like going this way to get there because there are less traffic lights.
April: Well, I like the other way because it has traffic lights and it is easier to get out in traffic.
Even though we have this conversation time after time, we still get to our destination. Jim has one way he likes to go and I have another way I like to go. Our Christian journey is pretty much like Jim and me taking different streets to get to the same destination.
One example of taking different directions are the choices we make in where we worship. Our son, Drew was raised Methodist. Yet, when he went out on his own, he chose another route to grow in his Christian walk. His dad and I encouraged him to find a church home and when doing so to make sure it stood on firm biblical principles. We also encouraged him to make sure that it was not only a place where he could/would grow in his own spiritual walk but a place where he could encourage others and invite others to join him on the journey.
Not only are there different places and styles of worship for us to choose from on our journey. We all have different backgrounds, stories and experiences. It because of these experiences that we may see things a little differently from someone else who is heading towards the same destination but on a different route. No one is better than the other. It is all a part of the Master’s plan in molding us and preparing us for that final destination. We are all different so that we can learn from one another, teach one another and see how the grace of God is at work in many ways and in many lives.
On our journey, we have choices to make. Some of us take the streets where there are traffic lights that make us stop and look before merging into traffic. In other words, we stop and look to see where we need to go, who we need to help and see where we fit into the big picture. Then, there are others of us who simply like going on the streets where you don’t need to a light to merge into traffic. It is more comfortable for us to put the metal to the pedal and jump right in and go!
As I sit with my bible in my lap, I turn the pages. In these pages I see the maps of the journeys that different ones took to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. No one journey was alike just like none of our journeys are just alike. Yet, we have the same message to share to those we encounter on our journey. The message is that God sent his Son so that all can experience and receive his marvelous grace. We must continue to share the message of how Christ died for ALL not just for some.
As we travel this road we call life, may we be ready to stop at the traffic lights and listen to the Father to lead us into serving God’s children. And, may we to be ready for those times when He doesn’t give us a light but He just says; “go!” and trust Him. Last but not least, let’s make sure we invite others to join us on the journey.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus
had told them to go. When they saw him, the worshiped him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said. ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been
given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the
the name of the Father and of the Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the
very end of the age.’
May we feel his Holy Presence as we continue our journey.
- Habukkuk 2:4 (holyessays.wordpress.com)
- Why I Follow Jesus… (youngadultministries.wordpress.com)
- Keep Walking, Friend – the Son Has Risen. (therisenson.wordpress.com)
- God’s Assurance When the Going Gets Tough (conmakhalira.wordpress.com)
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which
being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4: 22-24
How many of you remember going to church camp, conferences, or even worship services and a leader would shout out; “ATTITUDE CHECK!”? The response from the participating group would be; “PRAISE THE LORD!”. In other words, it was a barometer of how the group was feeling and an encouragement for everyone involved to have a good time, to take part and be in fellowship with God.
Our attitude affects our every day living. If we look at life or what we are doing with doom and gloom, it is going to be just that….doom and gloom. However, if we wake up every day ready to receive the blessings God has planned for us and with a smile on our face and heart there is nothing in this world that can pull us down.
In my last blog post; We Need to Bow Down I share how we need to spend time in the presence of God and how we need to kneel before Him. We have to empty ourselves before God so that He can fill us up again. It is in this moment of holiness with Him that we open our hearts, we tell Him we trust Him and His plan for us, and we make ourselves vulnerable to life’s events whether they may be good or bad. In other words, it is this time of holiness that puts our attitude into check.
The theme of Thoughts From The Porch is “Encouraging words for a busy world.” As the technology age began to evolve, we were told that these tools would make life easier. And, most times technology does make life easier and better. After all, it has given people like me a chance to express ourselves, share the gospel to people we may not ever encounter in person, re-connect with friends and loved ones, and to get information easier and faster. Yet, it seems since the technology era has taken off, people are working more hours, people can’t leave work at work and bring it home because a lot of what they do is by computer and the computer has become more portable via the Smart phone/iPhone. Thus, this business can affect our attitude on life and to those around us. In other words, there are times when we need to take time out and have an attitude check.
If I were to shout out to you at this moment “ ATTITUDE CHECK!!”, what would your response be? Would you be saying “PRAISE THE LORD” no matter the circumstances you are facing or would your response be; “don’t even ask” ?
Life is busy. Life is stressful. The economy is rough for everyone right now. It seems more and more people are hurting and are sick. Yet, if we change our attitude on these issues, praising the Lord comes so much easier. Instead, let’s look at things this way:
Life is busy Life is full of blessings at the moment
Life is stressful Life has given me the opportunity to spend more time in my Father’s presence
The economy is rough for everyone right now The economy has given me opportunities to count my blessings all the more and to share my blessings with those less fortunate
People are hurting and sick I have the opportunity to lend a hand to someone, encourage someone to look UP!
You see, life is all about our perspective and our attitude. I love the story Zig Ziglar shares in the video below:
- Let Every Thing that Hath Breath Praise the LORD. (Ps. 150:6) (newchanginglife.wordpress.com)
- How A Great Attitude Can Change Your Life (mountainmoverscoaching.wordpress.com)
” I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like fire; brilliant light surrounding him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I feel facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Ezekiel 1:27-28
This description of what Ezekiel is experiencing in the presence of the LORD just gives me chills. I can only imagine what Ezekiel was thinking and feeling at this moment of time. The study notes in my Life Application Bible say this; The glory of the LORD appeared like fire and brilliant light to Ezekiel. Ezekiel fell facedown, overwhelmed by the contrast between God’s holiness and his own sinfulness insignificance.”
In one of the Beth Moore studies that I participated in with my small group, Beth shares the importance of bowing down in the presence of God and being present before God. Throughout the study we were encouraged to literally get on our knees, bow before God and present ourselves, our hearts and prayers to Him. Wow! What an experience of God’s presence I experienced when I actually got down on my knees and bowed before God.
I admit most days my prayer life are prayers said from the chair as I read a daily devotional, prayers said as I lay down at night and those that are breath prayers that I say as I go through my day. It is in those prayers that I am reminded that God is walking with me in my day-to-day life. Through these prayers I have invited God to be a part of all that is going on in my life. Yet, the times where I have truly experienced the awesome presence of my Father is when I actually get down on my knees and bow before Him.
In the moments of bowing before God, I am totally relinquishing all control I want to have over my life to God whom is in control. As I bow on my knees, I am showing God that I respect Him and His will for my life. It is in the getting on my knees and bowing that I feel a Holy presence like no other. There have been times when I have been on my knees before God where I felt a presence standing behind me, surrounding me and a hand touching my shoulder.
There is no question in my mind of the presence behind me and the one touching me because I know it is God’s Son/My Savior who is also in the presence of the Father. The presence that is surrounding me is the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is in these moments when I empty myself before God and allow Him to fill me up. There is a peace that passes all understanding that comes over me as He listens to me empty myself and as I allow Him to fill me up.
We live in a fast paced world. Many people are burden with many things these days. Some are burden with terminal illness. Others are burdened with finances or some other family crisis. The list of things people face today is long. Yet, in the midst of the illnesses and the crisis, we must remember to go to God and carry it all to Him in prayer.
What is heavy on your heart today? I encourage you to get down on your knees and bow before God. Relinquish the control you want to have over the situation and allow God to lead. As you are on your knees, feel His might presence, feel His Son touch your shoulder with assurance and feel the Holy Spirit wrap around you. Trust me, it is in the bowing before God is when you will feel a peace that passes ALL understanding.
I encourage you to watch this clip from the television show, Touched By An Angel.
“No longer do I call you servants for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from MY Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask my Father in my name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
Jesus wanted the disciples to know that they were considered His friends and not His servants. Jesus encouraged the disciples to go and love one another. In other words, go out not just make disciples to go out and make friends. He wanted them to demonstrate the most wonderful love that connects each one of us to one another and that is the love of our Heavenly Father.
Over the years, I have been blessed with many friendships and acquaintances. Each and every encounter of every person placed in my life has made some sort of mark on my life for the better. Whether it was for a few days I knew the person, a few minutes while standing in line or for many years, each friend/person that has crossed my path has been a part of God’s molding me into His likeness.
Since signing up for Facebook a few years ago, there have been friendships that have re-emerged from my past. I am so thankful for those friendships then and for them now. These are the types of friendships where you pick up like you were talking a few minutes ago and carry on but we haven’t seen or heard from the other in years. These friendships of the past are a big part of who I am today. These renewed friendships are now making new marks on my life that are wonderful blessings. There are days when I wish I could reach through my computer and give each one a hug.
Along with renewed friendships, I have made new friends even through Facebook and through my blog writing. On Facebook, it the connections of people. Someone I know has put me in touch with someone they know that I have something in common with. In making that connection, I have learned new things and discovered more about who I am. Again, God using friendships in His molding me into His likeness.
In my blog writing, I have made friends who have the same interest of writing topics. They are writers who are also passionate about getting the Good News out and in encouraging others. Many times we will comment on each other’s blogs or send a tweet of “hello, how are you this week?”. Then there are times where we will have prayer concerns that we will share with one another and we know that we can count on each other to pray. In the virtual world, we are friends that can sit down at our computer and have a cup of coffee with each other and catch up on thoughts, insights and sometimes a laugh or two.
There are friendships that I have in my small groups within my church and community. These are the ones you see at least once a week to connect, to be accountable and to encourage one another through the daily challenges that the world brings into our world. They are the ones you call up and say; “I need to talk. Can we meet for coffee or lunch?” These are the friends that are close by and within a reach of a hug.
Believe it or not there are the quick friendships. The friendships that are made while standing in line. The little old lady in front of me in the grocery with a wonderful sense of humor. Being stressed, tired and on a deadline to get things done, I end up behind her and she makes me laugh until I am crying. God knew that I needed a little humor to lighten my load for the remainder of the day.
The friendships of that homeless person I pass on the streets of Chicago that says; “God Bless You” when he has nothing to offer and I haven’t given him a cent. He still offers God’s blessing on me and smiles. The blessing and smile make me realize to appreciate the smallest things in life like a smile and a blessing from a stranger.
The friendship of the UPS guy in the lane beside us. It is a summer day and we are driving on vacation with the top down on the convertible. We get stuck in the left lane. Jim and I becoming frustrated in wondering what the hold up is ahead. The UPS guy in the lane beside us yells down at us and tells us what is up and says he will let us over to get away from the hold up. Again, a smile from God letting us know He is looking out for us. Also, a gentle reminder that there are still good people in this world.
Oh, my list could go on and on of brief encounters and long friendships that have made and who are making me who I am. As I write this very post, I smile because I feel the warmth of each and every encounter in my heart and the blessings each one has brought me. All of these encounters are the wonderful examples of living out the words that Jesus told His disciples; LOVE one another.”
You may ask if there have been negative encounters in my life. My answer to that is “yes” but even in those negative encounters I learned from them and they also had a part of my molding me into His likeness. God uses every encounter and person in our life to mold us into His likeness. It is these situations that pushes us on into that perfection that we will one day receive.
Friendships are the leaves that grow out from our family tree. Today, I ask you to ” remember where we met….you are the leaves of my family tree.” To all those who are reading this post, it is my pleasure to call you, FRIEND.
Listen to the lyrics of this song….
- Friends (sjbrown58.wordpress.com)
- Brotherly Love (lifereference.wordpress.com)
- You’ve Got a Friend – So be Sure to Tell Them That (mangosalute.com)
I received this letter via email several years ago. It is a letter that I keep in my bible. And, it is a letter to be shared with others. Have a wonderful day!
I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFDJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) Box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem. If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution. Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest my child. If you need me, contact me, I am a prayer away.
Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones sings a song about waiting for a friend. Brad Paisley recorded a song; Waiting on a Woman where Andy Griffith is sitting on a bench with Brad giving him advice about waiting on a woman. Everyday it seems that most of us are waiting in some sort of line, in traffic, waiting for an appointment, anticipated phone call or waiting for a prayer answered.
Today, we live in what I call a microwave world. We don’t want to wait for anything! Instead, we want our answers right now, we want to hurry up and get to where we are going and NOT sit in traffic. We arrive at our scheduled time for an appointment where we may not actually be seen for an hour passed the appointed time and we grow inpatient and grumble that our precious time is being taken away.
It’s in the waiting where while I stood in line waiting my turn that I have met the neatest people and had the most interesting and sometimes entertaining conversations. There have been times when sitting in traffic where I look over at a sign that says something I needed to hear or it’s something that makes me chuckle that gets me through the rest of the day. It’s in the waiting on an appointment, I have listened to someone share their concerns about a loved one or of something they were going through. It’s in the waiting for that phone call that I was able to think things through and pray a little more before responding to the call that would be coming in.
Waiting is a season in life. All of us go through this season at some point and time. There are those of us who go through this season of waiting many times throughout our lifetime. In this season of waiting, we sometimes feel as though God is not there but in all reality he is there.
From my experience, I sincerely believe God makes us wait so we can experience him all the more. Remember the saying; great things come to those who wait”? This quote is true but it is in the waiting where God is showing great things all around us.
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
If you have watched the movie, Sister Act 2 you are familiar with this scene and song. Though the nuns are called by God to love and ministers to others, they have seemed to have built a wall between them and the community. They have put fencing around their living quarters and school for protection. Then, Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Deloris aka Sister Mary Clarence brings them to reality. In order to make a difference beyond their walls, they needed to get back into the community, be seen and put their calling and God’s love into action.
How many of us who proclaim to be Christian stand inside our homes, churches, or offices and see a world hurting? Yet, we do nothing. Instead, we build fences, walls and withdraw in order to protect ourselves from the ugly that is outside our door. We pass judgement on people, their lifestyle and situations. In other words, we keep the word, Christian as a noun and not an action verb.
God sent his Son, Jesus to be an example of putting love into action, of accepting others no matter their lifestyle, situation or demons. He didn’t pass judgement on anyone. Jesus simply loved. He came to take barriers down.
These days it seems that people are feeling more that we are in the end times and some have even predicted when Jesus will physically return. But we are reminded in scripture that we do not know the day nor the hour of His return. Yet, we must remember we DO encounter Jesus every day. He reminds us of this in Matthew 25:37:40
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and you, or thirsty and give you
something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes to clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you? ‘ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you , whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In other words, Jesus was telling us to put our love for Him into action. In a hurting world, isn’t it about time we began to take down fences just as the nuns did in this movie? Isn’t it about time we put the word Christian in action making it a verb? Is your love for Christ a noun or verb?
The other day I was going through some old files and I came across this prayer I received on email many years ago. I do not know the author but it says it all when it comes to putting our Christian faith into action.
Help us to remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic
last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day
and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework,
do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed disinterested young man
who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old student,
balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting
his student loan for next semester.
Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot
every day (who really ought to get a job) is a slave to addictions that we can only
imagine in our worst nightmares.
Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoying slowly through
the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring
this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week,
this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
Remind us each day that all the gifts you give us, the greatest is love. It
is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to
just those who are close to us, but to ALL humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to
forgive, show patience, empathy and love.
Working for God on earth doesn’t pay much…but His retirement plan is out of this world!!
How about it? As Christians, may those we encounter each day see that Christian is a word in action!
- the resurrection in verbs (theblogofkevin.wordpress.com)
- Sunday’s Message: “Christian This, Christian That …” (newportchristian.wordpress.com)
- Love is more of a Verb than a Noun (samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com)
We are all on different journeys taking different roads in life, but in the end the road will take us all to the same place….heaven. In the words of Michael W. Smith….”Pray for me and I’ll pray for you.” Enjoy your day and may you feel God’s presence on journey.
I like frogs. It doesn’t make sense of why I like them because I would not dare pick one up because they are slimy. And, as a kid I was told I would get warts if I held one. Yet, there is something about them that intrigues me.
FROGS. Fully Rely On God’s Sovereignty. Each one of us has reached a crossroads in our life, a life changing decision, a one hundred and eighty turn in mid-stride of our journey, or a time when we felt that we were at the end of our rope. In these particular moments in life, we have a lot of “why” questions, and there may be a chance we had to make changes that we weren’t really ready to make. It is in these moments when we truly must simply Rely On God’s Sovereignty.
When I think about relying on God’s sovereignty, I think about Moses when God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and out of slavery. Think about it. Here is a guy minding his own business and then one day God appears to him via a burning bush and tells Moses; “here is what I want you to do.” Can you imagine the butterflies in Moses’ stomach at that moment and possibly his blood pressure and pulse rate all going up at the same time? Yet, he relied on God and obeyed God and God’s authority.
Because Moses relied on God and obeyed, God’s people were led out of slavery and to a new land of freedom. In the process, however, the Israelites did not take a straight path to the Promise Land. There were moments when they doubted God and doubted Moses’ direction that was given by God. In the end, they make it to their destination.
Have you been tapped on the shoulder by God to change direction in your journey? Have you had something to happen that has put you at the end of your rope? Are you at that crossroads where you have to pick which direction you will take next? Is God calling you to do something that makes your heart race, your blood pressure go up and takes you totally out of your comfort zone? If your answer is yes to any of these questions , know that you are a child of a most Sovereign God who loves you very much. Listen to His direction and allow Him to guide you on your journey at this moment. Yes, you may get off course a time or two just as the Israelites did but know you can Fully Rely On God’s Sovereignty. God WILL get you to your destination.
Frogs. Another reason I like them is for the music they make on hot summer evenings. As I hear them sing along with the rest of God’s creatures, I am reminded of how they are relying on God for ALL of their needs. It is their song that reminds me that no matter what life brings or what new turns that come along, the God that I worship is a Sovereign God on whom I can fully rely on!
Teach me, LORD the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
and obey it with my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.