Archive for the 'Current events' Category

Look After the Foreigners

God spoke through Zechariah regarding justice, mercy, and compassion when he said, “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” (Zechariah 7:9-10).

If we accept that the Bible (aptly called the Basic Instruction Book for Living on Earth) as the word of God and as a true guidebook describing how Christians are to act, then how does our treatment of foreigners line up?  Are we taking care of immigrants?  Are we recognizing and remembering that we built our nation on immigrants fleeing persecution and danger in other countries – or even just taking up America’s sincere invitation for a better life – so they could live in peace and strive for the American dream?  Do we remember our own ancestry?  And what about foreigners still living in foreign lands? Do we honestly want these folks to have a better life, or do we ignore them, degrade them, and wish them ill?

When I hear people talk about foreigners, I hear a lot of “absolute” statements. You know what they are, and they’re funny things. Absolutes are statements that assume certain facts, use words like “always” and “never,” and, psychologically speaking, provide comfortable shortcuts to help us make sense of a complex world. Most writing sources warn against using them, and, in fact, when used in a purely world setting, absolute statements are almost always wrong.

Take immigration for example. That’s pretty complex, and so we hear a lot of absolutes floating around, like, “They’re all criminals,” and “they’re taking our jobs.” The truth, of course, is far messier. There may be a few so-called “criminals” coming over the border, and still some more who try to evade authorities (making them criminal, perhaps, in the sense that they are in the U.S. unlawfully, though this still must be proved in America through a trial process). Mostly, though, people come over knowing that they’ll be immediately arrested and subjected to the legal processes of the immigration laws, which allow for folks to do exactly what they’re doing – crossing the border and turning themselves in. According to David Bier of the Cato Institute, “It does seem like the majority of people who are crossing the border now are doing it to turn themselves in (seeking asylum).” For purposes of this post, though, I’m going to claim it doesn’t matter because for purposes of the Bible, it doesn’t matter.

Nevertheless, these absolutes persist, and so I see lots of Americans wanting to get armed, build walls, immediately lock everyone up (which, by the way, goes against American law in that we actually use bail – or some sort of pretrial release – even in immigration cases), or more heinously, separating parents from children or threatening to shoot them. Don’t look shocked – I’ve even seen this sort of rhetoric on my Facebook feed. All of these statements foment hatred against anyone even remotely looking like a foreigner, including folks with long American genealogies.

And that’s just the folks actually trying to become American. Lately, we’ve seen a similar trend of “nationalism,” which, by most definitions, causes people to back certain ideas that dismiss, disrespect, and might even harm people from other countries. Once again, for purposes of this post, a foreigner is someone here or there, and I’m going to claim it doesn’t matter because for purposes of the Bible, it doesn’t matter.

But here’s the funny thing about absolutes: God actually uses them all the time. God loves everyone. All persons sin. We are to love and treat all persons equally and as we would want others to treat us. Jesus takes away all our sin. He died for everyone. You get the gist.

So, to me, there appear to be two ways to use absolutes. The first way, apparently needed by us finite creatures of limited knowledge, is to make sense of a complicated topic, which is fraught with the danger of coming off as non-biblical, if not outright prejudicial or hateful. The second is a way for an infinite, all-knowing God to instruct us to act in ways that follow his will on topics that God doesn’t see as complex at all. Which way seems right to you?

For me, the only right way is God’s way. He, alone, can use absolutes without fear of being “wrong.” He, alone, can tell us not to oppress any and all foreigners, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, and we, his creation, have no good argument for why we should disobey.

And this, of course, points us to the Bible, because that’s where He’s written it all down. Like all things, even the most complex matters can be solved by simply looking to the Bible for God’s answer. And in this case, that answer is clear. God wants us to use mercy, compassion, and empathy for the foreigner, and so I believe that there must be a humane and reasonable solution to the southern border immigration issue. Just like there is a more compassionate and humane way to speak of foreigners living abroad. We simply have to resist the worldly urge to use our own mostly negative absolutes simply because they make us feel a bit more in control.

With prayer, and with our leaders working together as humans (versus crass politicians), a solution can be found that glorifies God and his creation at the same time. I believe that God created all of us in equality. In his masterful, all-knowing way, he created us to be different, to look different, and to have different cultures. Apparently, this is the best possible way to create his vision of the Kingdom, and so I’m not going to complain about it. Instead, I’m going to embrace it.

Would you want to live in a world where the only color was green?  I wouldn’t, and I relish the ability to learn from others with different cultures, life experiences, ideas, creativity, and God given gifts. I love the texture, color, and fabric of our differences that make up the masterpiece of God’s creation.  

So that’s it on foreigners. Don’t get me started on the widows, the fatherless, and the poor – that’s for another day.

Are you Ready? Preparing for 2021.

I’ve been hearing many words and prophetic insights into this time of pandemic in 2020, and I’ve been thinking about how we were/are to use the extra time most of us have received due to unemployment, working at home, and being quarantined. This blog is designed to share some of my resources and to help you find your own resources to thrive in the end of this year through 2021.

As we’ve said many times over the years (quoting the Bible and especially in the last few blogs), God works all things for our good (Rom 8:28), He’s in control, and He has a plan. Since this time in our lives factors into his overall plan, please understand that God is probably looking for humanity to do multiple things as a result of this pandemic. One, quite obviously, is to bring people to Him for salvation. It’s simply a fact of life that difficult times often provide the only impetus for people to make big changes to their lives. This can be one of those times. 

A second thing, which seems equally obvious to me, is to re-direct people who say they are “Christians” – but who are not behaving like true followers of Jesus – back to Him and to rebuke those “Christians” leading people astray. In short, and for whatever reason, there’s a certain amount of pre-judgment separation of goats from sheep going on in the church, with broad swaths of followers of Jesus being illuminated and identified as goats (that is, not true Christians). Not to put it too simply, but don’t be a goat because it has eternal consequences. Matt. 25:31-46.

A third thing that I think God wants us to do is just to press into Him. Over the last several months, I’ve heard and felt the Lord telling us to use any extra time we have to press in so as to truly know Him. Only by truly knowing God can we effectively clean our hearts and souls of the sins and ugliness of rebellion, hate, unforgiveness, bigotry, racism, judging, and bitterness so as to better position ourselves to clearly see the deception and lies of the enemy.

In fact, this is roughly how I’ve been spending the entirety of my pandemic experience. Early on in my work-from-home/quarantine time frame, I developed an insatiable desire for the manna of God’s Word and Presence.  Through that study, God has revealed many new gifts to me and directed me to various supernatural trainings to understand their use and purpose for furthering the Kingdom. I felt in my Spirit (and have also had verbal confirmation from others) that God is on an acceleration plan to reveal, train, and move people into new Spiritual giftings.  He’s lining up his earthly, spiritual warriors to shine the light of Truth on the lies and deceptions of His enemies and to set people free from the oppression of worldly bondage and, ultimately, eternity without Him.

Moreover, He’s calling up His children to new and higher responsibilities and tasks!  Don’t ask yourself if you’re ready because you’ll probably never feel completely “ready” for the kind of wisdom you’ll gain. Just take the leap of faith and say “Here am I, Father, not my will but your will be done.  Use me to bless and bring your people to you.”  I admit that it’s a bit scary to think of our Heavenly Father – the creator of the Universe – having a discreet plan to use us for His work here on earth, but isn’t that one of the fundamental pillars of our Christian faith?  Understand that no matter how unworthy or fearful we might feel, our Lord is right beside us all the way.  In fact, He loves to use us in our weaknesses and our faults because He knows we will lean on Him to help show us the way. 

In sum, the extra time given to us in 2020 should be used to bring us to a new level capable of handling whatever may come next, standing firm and strong like a tree planted by the river and not swayed by the world. And what’s coming next is 2021.

My Pastor, Phil Smith of Colorado Christian Fellowship, began this year with a message that we would see significant “shaking” in the world and in the church. Needless to say, he was right. Shaking is a way to get people’s attention, and it’s also a way to separate one element from another. Ever since then, our little church has been routinely weathering the difficulties with an enormous amount of comfort that God is most definitely in control. But the shaking isn’t over, and it appears it may last – indeed, it may intensify – as we move into 2021. Realize that this is a different message than you may get at other churches. Other churches seek only to move back into their buildings, run their services the only way they know how, and collect their mortgage or building fund. Their message is one of praying that the whole thing will end, resulting in a swift return to normalcy, and toward some sort broad Christian political revival that will apparently happen without forcing the church itself to examine its own practices.

My pastor and I simply don’t believe it will happen that way, and so we need to get ready for possibly an even more trying year in 2021. The clock is ticking, and we only have about two months left. But there’s still time to develop a plan to press into God so that you can handle whatever comes next with tranquility, and to use it as a tool for reaching and helping others. The key is to start getting ready now. There’s no more time to wait. 

So, my plea to you is to put away the flesh of politics. Put away the notions and tendencies of the natural world. Get ready to hunker down and study, opening your spiritual gifts and stepping into the real person God intends for you to be. No more unwholesome television. No more games or time objectively wasted on social media. And no more “religious” activities that turn you away from the relationship God intended for your life.  God is doing a new thing, and you need to be able to see it and fully participate in it. Isaiah 43:19.

My husband continues to do a lot of Christian apologetic and philosophy of religion study, and one day I’m sure he’ll share his resources. In the meantime, here are a few of the resources I’ve been using to learn, grow, and feast on the Truth during 2020.

  1. Sunday sermons online for Colorado Christian Fellowship (CCF) at https://ccfyourhome.org/view-page1/  Sunday church is at 8:30 am MST but is a recorded message so you can watch at your leisure or re-watch at will.
  • My pastor and his wife, Phil and Sylvia Smith, also do a weekly “coffee time” every Wednesday at 8 a.m. MST on the Colorado Christian Fellowship Facebook page. It’s like a family bible study (that only lasts about an hour), and it’s meaty and fun! Here’s a link to past recordings: https://ccfyourhome.org/apostle-phil-and-sister-sylvia-coffee-time/ 
  • I have also taken a few free classes (Revelation and Names of God) at Dallas Theological Seminary and here is that link https://courses.dts.edu/.  The have many free courses that allow you to work at your own pace.
  • CCF also has wonderful online classes for developing the 5-fold ministries (Apostle, Pastor, Prophet, Teacher, and Evangelist) as well as many other classes for spiritual development.  These are offered through Colorado Vocational Training School (CVTS).  Here is the link to see what they are offering.  https://www.cvtsonline.org/  I am taking several classes right now (Exegesis, Your True Spiritual Identity, Revelation) and they are great and very inexpensive and sometimes free.  There are also really great seminars offered throughout the year.
  • I have also been taking some online classes from Patricia King and reading books specifically for my giftings. 
  • I like to follow, Rabbi Schneider (Discovering the Jewish Jesus) as I am always interested in the Jewish teachings, festivals and aspects of walk with the Lord.  After all, Jesus was/is Jewish!  Here’s his site: https://discoveringthejewishjesus.com/.
  • I also follow Joseph Prince for his digging into the Word while working in the Hebrew and Greek and speaking to operation of the belief for our spiritual gifts.  I especially love his messages on healing through communion! Here’s his site: https://www.josephprince.org/.
  1. Finally, I’ve been journaling my prayers and making a gratitude list every day as well as logging and prayerfully interpreting my dreams and visions, using the daily devotional by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn called, “The Book of Mysteries,” which is about mysteries of the Bible.  By the way, if you want some really good prophetic books on events of and surrounding 911, and other mysteries of this time we live in, check out his other books like “The Harbinger.”  I’ve also been reading a ton of books on dreams and visions, revelations, and prophecy.  Don’t be overwhelmed, I work a full-time job and am using the extra 3 hours per day that I have now since I am not commuting downtown to my office.  It’s possible for you, too. Just start feeding your spirit and your mind good things!

Warning:  We’re always called to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and we need to be ever careful in guarding our hearts and spirits to be sure we are learning from people with correct theology, who are speaking Truth and striving to be obedient to our Lord.  I have become much more discerning and watchful of who is speaking into to me, and frankly I’ve been surprised at how many false prophets seem to be operating at this time. Occasionally, I also see people claiming someone or other to be a “false prophet,” but with no evidence whatsoever. So do watch what you consume.

Remember that our bodies take in the words and spirit of those we allow to teach or speak into us.  Personally, I simply reject listening to anyone acting in rebellion to God or rules, anyone mixing money/politics into their words, or anyone in which my spirit feels a hesitation. If I find that I’m listening and learning from someone who I later discern not to be in alignment with God, I stop immediately, repent for following a false teacher and ask the Lord to remove any religious or polluted teachings from my spirit.  I admit that I’m not perfect. Like all of us, I’m just a work in process. Nevertheless, I find with such a wide array of teachers out there, I’m able to get confirmation of Truth.

If you have specific questions on what I’m studying I would be happy to share more.  Just get started if you are not already pressing in! But remember that wherever you are in your scriptural study, there is always more to learn.  Join us on our Arming The Saints Facebook page and/or my personal page at Denise Burrows as I share links to CCF Coffee Time and Sermons and other things from the people above.

May God abundantly bless you all!

“Evangelical Christians”

I recently saw a post on Facebook about “those Evangelical Christians in Washington, DC.”  I started to reply, but I ultimately erased it. Still, the whole thing bothered me. That’s because more and more I hear this phrase – “Evangelical Christians” – used liberally on all media, and it’s never used in any kind of a good way. The more I think about it, the more I’m disappointed and distressed by the current use of both the words “Evangelical” and “Christian.” So, I want to address each term separately, but then together to indicate how I feel.

I became disillusioned with the term “Christian” many years ago as I noticed how often people would utter it with disgust. At the time, I had to admit that this particular word came with a lot of baggage. Centuries of “Christian” elitism, laws crafted by Christians dictating the acceptable religions of the day, the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, and other atrocities or otherwise immoral acts perpetrated by groups claiming to be Christians tend to cause a repulsive reaction to a word that people think sums things up. My husband grew up in a neighborhood in which his famous neighbor – a self-proclaimed Christian – used to fly flags and banners saying, “God Hates Fags.” You’ve probably heard of him, and there wasn’t an ounce of love inside of him. Yet, everything he did was done in the name of Christianity.

By the way, the term “Christian” (from Christianos – followers of Christ) appears to have been coined fairly early on as a way to designate this new group and differentiate them from other Jews. It’s first seen in the Acts, and gradually replaced what the Christians themselves preferred to be called, which was “saints,” “brethren” or “disciples.” One researcher has noted that the infrequency of the term “Christian” in the New Testament indicates its non-use then, and has surmised that because the word “Christos” and its ties to anointing meant little to outsiders, those outsiders, instead, settled on calling these people descriptors based on the word “Chrestos,” which meant virtuous, good, or moral, and seemed to be an apt description for the people who so often showed a different sort of moralistic, sanctified behavior. His theory is that as the term Chrestos caught on, often with some scorn and perhaps even as a pun, the followers of Christ felt pressured to adopt and emphasize a more accurate word to reflect who they were and who they were following. This should not take away from the fact that Christians, as a group, have been vilified, often due to the message, but just as often through their own behavior. It also means that we aren’t necessarily wedded to the word.

And the baggage continues to pile up today. I’ve seen my share of “Christians” in the public eye not appearing to live according to the words of the Bible. Indeed, we seemed to have reached a fever pitch with this stuff in the last few decades with so many televangelists falling due to their immoral, hypocritical, and often criminal behavior. At its very basic level, a “Christian” should be one who allows the Holy Spirit to tell them when they’ve done something wrong, willingly asks for forgiveness, and then makes serious amends for his or her mistakes. But there have been so many “Christians” that don’t even appear to follow the general thrust or themes of the Bible that I have discarded the name altogether. In my heart, I know that most Christians are not immoral hypocrites, but even a small percentage of people can do a great deal of damage to a label over hundreds of years. Accordingly, while I’m not ashamed of being a Christian, I tell people outwardly that I’m a “follower of Jesus” or a “follower of Christ.”

And by doing so, I’m not doing anything that Jesus might not also have done. When Jesus was with us in the flesh, he continually denounced the hypocrisy of those in the church. Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint of the Dallas Theological Seminary often said that, “The Lord’s strongest words of invective were not against murderers or thieves or sexually immoral people. His strongest words of invective were against hypocrites.” To Dr. Toussaint, hypocrisy is a sin that affects every single person today, but also a sin that is “particularly loathsome to God.” And yet, despite the clear theme (see, e.g., Matt: 23) we see so much hypocrisy today that we take it for granted. In politics, we’ve grown to expect it.

The bottom line is that lots and lots of people have used (and still use) the term “Christian” to describe themselves, and yet they act in overtly non-biblical ways. This, in turn, causes people to stop even seeking God. And stopping someone from seeking God has got to be one of the worst possible things you can do to someone on this Earth.

In addition to “Christian,” the word “Evangelical” is rapidly evolving into a term having at least the same amount of baggage. And, similarly, I find I need to distance myself from what would ordinarily be – and used to be – a great descriptive word.

According to Websters, the definition of “evangelical” is “of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels.” I once visited the National Association of Evangelical’s website and, in addition to other statements of belief, saw that it said evangelicals are “serious” about the Bible. Unfortunately, I increasingly see people who claim to be evangelicals who are decidedly not serious about the Bible. In fact, and quite unfortunately for me, I consider myself to be an evangelical and so I see lots of social media posts from other so-called evangelicals. And lots of times those posts really upset me. For example, how – and, I’m really serious about this – how in the world can an evangelical post something about God one minute and then turn around and post something showing hatred, judgment, or scorn on someone the next? I actually saw someone post a picture of Jesus and something about love, followed within minutes by a post wanting to kill all “liberal democrats.”

I suppose you can see where this is going. The term “Christian” is a goner for me. It’s got too much baggage and suffers from extreme hypocrisy. I choose the term “follower of Jesus,” because at least then it’s a more direct line toward holding up my behavior to the ultimate moral model. The word “evangelical,” on the other hand, doesn’t have centuries of problems, but it has become a gigantic problem today with so-called evangelicals – people proclaiming to be serious about the Bible – showing so much hypocrisy and politicization that the term itself is almost uniformly uttered with scorn. Again, like Christian hypocrites, evangelical hypocrites do more to harm the Kingdom of God than anything else of which I can think. How do you stop a child from wondering about God and perhaps beginning a search toward finding God? The best way (likely devised by Satan himself) is to show him or her various vocal “Christians” or “Evangelicals” who simply do not follow the Bible. Show the child an “evangelical Christian” who hates people. That’ll do it. I think God hates hypocrisy so much because it keeps people from even beginning the journey that might lead to his Kingdom.

Today, we unfortunately hear the two words together: “Evangelical Christian.” Two perfectly good words – indeed, words that used to fully describe me – ruined by hypocrisy and politics. Whenever you hear them together you can hear the scorn and disgust. And, you can almost assuredly envision some child somewhere saying, “Well, whoever they are, I’m not going to be like them when I grow up.”

Of course the world hates “Christians.” Of course it hates “evangelicals.” Who wouldn’t, given some of the things I’ve seen? But being scorned for hypocrisy is a whole lot different than being scorned for righteousness. Personally, I hate the fact that I can’t even use these two words anymore. Moreover, the world doesn’t hate these labels because all Christians and evangelicals are bad. Nope, the people of the world simply do what is entirely human to do, which is to watch those who identify with the labels most vocally as they behave in a decidedly un-Biblical manner, and then brush off the whole lot. And I don’t blame them. As a one-time evangelical Christian, I’m just sorry about the whole thing.

So, what do we do? Well, in my case I tell people I’m a follower of Jesus and that I have a Biblical worldview. But I do more than that. I now go out of my way to say, “Please realize that I am nothing like those people who claim to be evangelical Christians but who demonstrate hatred, judgment and immorality.  If my introduction to people were in the form of a document, it means that I’ve added a paragraph – an aside – to try to distance myself from a group that I call “political Christians,” a group that, sadly, keeps people from God because it has pushed a world agenda ahead of God. If it weren’t so sad, it would be ironically funny – evangelical Christians, the group who would tell you (these days quite vocally and with some amount of political fervor) that they’re only trying to bring more people to Christ – are actually driving people away from Christ. More and more each day.

Still, there’s always hope for the world and even hope for the most hypocritical and politicized members of our churches. But it means taking a hard look at how far we might have moved away from God. If we hear someone talk about God, and the first thing we think about is the Supreme Court, then we should realize that we need to get back to basics. God is real. Satan is real. God hates hypocrisy. Satan will try to turn you into a hypocrite. It’s a battle for good and evil that we’re losing, and in losing we’re actually dissuading other people from seeking God. And, by the way, if people hear this warning and don’t heed  it, then they shouldn’t be surprised when they’re called to account for willingly turning people away from God for some short-term, often political but always worldly, gain.

Now, of course, hated of the followers of Christ has been foretold, and people will occasionally try to justify their unbiblical actions by claiming that the public’s scorn is just a part of the overall persecution of Christians predicted in the Bible. Even Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” and “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”  (Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22). But – and this is really big – Jesus did not mean, “They’ll hate you when say you follow me but act in a completely opposite, worldly manner.” No, he meant “they’ll hate you for doing exactly what I have told you to do, acting exactly as I have told you to act. And I told you to love God and love others as yourself.”

There will be some who, on their last day, will say, “But, Lord, I’ve been a Christian all of my life. In fact, I’m an Evangelical Christian.” And on that day, the words of Scripture will truly come true, and just has he said he would, Jesus will reply, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

“I never knew you.” (Matt 7:22-23).

Seek God. Follow Christ. Read the Word. Remember the commands. Focus on love for God and others.

Your Spiritual Footprint

Some time ago, I was studying the Word and I was distressed over our climate and how we seem to be gradually destroying our environment. In particular, I was thinking about those articles that talk about reducing your carbon footprint to help out the environment. Now, I try to be a good citizen and neighbor and I’m constantly trying out more energy-efficient and earth-preserving things, like fancy light bulbs (and solar power for the house, which we have), recycling, growing food, pesticide-free gardening to help the bees, but it all seems overwhelming. I mean, after all, who am I but just one person? Do I really make a difference?

Then I heard the Lord say, “Okay, I get what you’re thinking about your carbon footprint, but what about your spiritual footprint? What are you sowing for others in our kingdom? What are you doing to spread my love and my word?”

This got me thinking hard about the term “spiritual footprint”? If our actions, in this world, create a physical “carbon footprint,” doesn’t it make sense that our actions, thoughts, behaviors in the world also create a “spiritual footprint?” More importantly, our spiritual footprint affects not only the supernatural aspect of things, it can also definitely affect how you continue to participate in the natural world. Think about it, spirituality is largely invisible and so is the supernatural world, and so, of course, what we do spiritually is going to have some effect there. But we also see the manifestations in our physical world of things we do in and for the spiritual world. In fact, there’s a huge overlap. For instance, prayer is activated in the physical world and the spiritual world at the same time when we pray out loud or silently, but then the answer to prayer, which might be immediate in the supernatural, becomes part of our natural world manifestation of the whole act. Thus, our spiritual footprint is affected in both realms.

We create our spiritual footprint by everything we do in the world, — whom we touch, whom we are kind to, how we act toward all of God’s people (saved and unsaved), how we share the pearls of wisdom given to us by God, whether we act selflessly instead of selfishly. In fact, every seemingly insignificant thing can affect your spiritual footprint. Moreover, each of those things can have enormously good or devastatingly bad consequences. By the way, watch out for the bad stuff – it’s like throwing a tiny cigarette butt out of a car window that can’t even be seen from the road, but that leads to an enormous forest fire. Every tiny, seemingly insignificant action forms at least a part of our spiritual footprint. Because these actions can be positive or negative, it’s up to us to constantly see what we’re doing in the natural world and thinking about ramifications in the spiritual world.

And sometimes it’s not the action itself, but the motivation behind it. I might give to the homeless, but if my motivation is one of glorifying myself, then I’ve messed up my spiritual footprint even though I’ve done something that the world might say or think is good.

Lately I’ve been taking an inventory to write down what I’ve done for others or when I’ve shown or talked about God to others, along with my motivations. Also, I’ve been writing down the instances when I can remember being unbecoming of a follower of Jesus. I try to do it daily, and then I ask, “Which list is bigger?” When I have things on the negative side – the list messing up my spiritual footprint – I ask the Lord to forgive me and to bless anyone on that list whom I have harmed. Then I tear it up. That’s how I remind myself of God’s forgiveness, which is a reminder of God forgetting our sins as an act of grace.

One day we’ll meet the Father and we’ll become instantly aware of the entirety of our spiritual footprints. Let’s work together to make sure they’re the kinds of footprints that reflect our belief in God and our following of Jesus Christ.

What Does Your Lake Look like?

Wow, there’s so much happening in the U.S. and the world these days it is hard not to succumb to the prevalent negative mood and attitude. But this week my Pastor talked about how we need to silence the noise. He said we need to get into a quiet place to detox from the things that are polluting our minds and hearts with the natural world view and to obscure our Christian world view. I was pleased that he reminded me that words themselves have spirits behind them that are either good or evil and that promote life or death, health or illness. Watching the words you allow into your brain is key.

So, as an exercise, think about going to a crystal-clear lake in which you want to take a swim. You can see to the bottom and the water is blue and clear and smells fresh. This embodies an environment of kind, loving, healthy words circulating in our atmosphere. Then think about going to a lake that is polluted, putrid smelling, filthy, with scum floating on the top and dead fish washing up on the shoreline. This is a lake of hatred, unhealthy words. Is this the kind of lake in which you want to swim? Well, if you surround yourself with hate, ugly talk, negative thoughts, misinformation, and an overall lack of love, you may as well be swimming in exactly this sort of scum.

I don’t know about you, but I want the clear, beautiful, fresh smelling lake as my environment, and so I’m making a constant choice to keep my lake (home/environment) clean and clear. I admit, though, that sometimes I have to take a net out and scoop out some leaves or the occasional dead fish, but overall, I want to keep my environment welcoming and loving. I want the kind of environment that glorifies my Lord and makes Him smile and proud of me as His child.

Take a look at your individual lake – the environment in which you swim each day. Close your eyes and try to notice how you feel when you envision your lake. Do you feel anger? Do you have vengeful, ugly thoughts or feelings about a person or topic? Do you feel depressed and hopeless? If yes, your lake might need a good scrubbing.

If so, take a break from social media and the news and pick up your Bible. Look up the words “blessing” or “hope” in the back and read the scriptures it references. Then remember who you are (a child of God, a saint) and how much our Lord loves you. I pray that all of us who follow Christ as our example will have clear, clean lakes. If enough of us do, then others will want to be around us and use us as an example. Together, we can make a real difference.

You already know that love conquers everything. As Philippians 4:8, encourages us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” That passage is especially relevant today, and if you think about and focus on those more positive things, your lake in life – the place where you do all your spiritual swimming – will be a clear one.


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