Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Sometimes in life we end up in a situation and we just don’t know what we should do.

Our human nature may cause us to want to react with a flight, fight or freeze response.

Flight:  Should you run away from what you are facing as fast as you can?  Hopefully, the problems you are running from won’t chase you down.  Is getting away the best option?

Fight:  Do you stand up to the opposition?  Get in your battle stance and come out against the foe, fists up, determined to win at all costs.  Is the win within reach as you tackle the problem head on, using your artillery to suppress the forces coming against you?

Freeze:  Do you plant yourself firm, no motion to flee and no effort to attack or resist?  You may became frozen due to fear or uncertainty or you may be steadfast, standing still knowing that you are right where you are meant to be.  At this moment, is not moving going to help you or could it put you in harm’s way?

Should I stay or should I go?

If I go there will be trouble,

And if I stay it will be double.

Song lyrics from The Clash

I recently read that the best thing you can do, when you don’t know what to do, is to stand still.  The context was to wait on God to be your guide and advisor.  It went on to say that standing still is not inactivity or doing nothing.  It is anchoring yourself in hope, having an expectant trust in God to bring about good.  Our minds hate waiting and we can’t stand uncertainty.  Sometimes we act rashly or make snap decisions just so that we are doing something, anything.  The actions associated with fight or flight close off options as you throw yourself fully into the choice you have made.  Remember that there is power in the waiting.  The act of waiting opens you up to many of the opportunities that can present themselves. 

When we are deciding what to do, God wants to help us.  He will speak to our souls and give us a sense of peace about what we should do if we will listen closely for God’s voice.  We cannot rush things and expect everything to be clear in a hurry.  Instead, allow things to come together with God’s timing.  We’ll have an urge, a leaning, a preference for one choice over another. We may not feel 100% sure but the way is forming.  We should wait until we get the urge to move, waiting actively, not passively.  Be patient, good things take time.  The Bible says our strength will be renewed if we wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:31).  We will mount on eagles wings, we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint.  So if we wait, once God gives the sign it is time to go, we will have all that we need to do what God is asking of us.  If God prompts you to fight, God will weaken your enemies and strengthen you for the battle He has ordained or He will fight for you (Deuteronomy 3:22).  If God is leading you away, your flight plan is designed by the Almighty, the journey and the destination will be so much better than if you tried to build an escape plan on your own.

You cannot go wrong by following God’s will for whether to fight, take flight or freeze.  If it is not clear what you should do, pray and have faith that the right course will present itself at the perfect time.  God’s plans are better than our plans.  Wait with anticipation for what God is about to do.  Be open to God’s blessings in the waiting and in the moving.  He has your best interests in His heart.

God Bless You!

God Is Bringing Restoration

R: Revived and rejuvenated, we will no longer feel dormant

E: Energized and encouraged, excited to experience growth

S: Saved and sustained, God doesn’t let us stay in our withered state

T: Taken under God’s wings, touched with tender, loving care

O: Order and organization will replace the chaos and confusion

R: Risen spirits, resuming what was halted and recovering what was stolen

A: Amen, alleluia, our All-powerful God–with God all things are possible

T: Thriving, thankful for all we’ve been given, our hopes for today and tomorrow

I: Inspired—innovations and ideas instilled into us to propel us forward

O: Only One can restore us, only One fills the hole in our hearts to make us whole

N: Never hopeless, not broken, not dead, now we are made new by God

Let us be ready to allow God to bring about a restoration within us.  God has a grand design for our lives.  When God plans our extreme makeover, the result will be amazing. With God we will not just be returned to where we were in the past.  We will be made better.  God, moves us higher—bringing about a renewal, a rebirth, a resurrection that brings us closer to Him and to our best-self ever.

With Love,

Kerri LeVanseler

Dealt a Cruel Hand

Dear God,

Why does life have to be so cruel sometimes?  We love you.  We trust you.  We pray.  We have faith.  Then our circumstances change.  We are thrown into the pit.  Despair.  Anger.  Fear.  Sadness.  These emotions take over our thoughts.  How could this happen?  God, you promised to be my protector.  Where are you now?

Our hearts cry out…

  • I didn’t want my loved one to die.
  • I didn’t want to have this illness.
  • I didn’t want to lose my job.
  • I didn’t want that person to walk out on me, to let me down.
  • I didn’t want to be hurt and broken.

But here I am.  The worst has come to be.  What do I do now?  To whom do I turn?

God, is it possible for us to thank you for all the good and light in our lives and not hold you to blame for the darkness and the bad?  God, let our hearts know that you are not the dealer of this cruel hand.  The world is made up of individuals who are free to make choices.  We are physical beings with fallible physiologies.  We live in a natural environment with consequences and where bad things happen to good people.  There are a host of causes, some within our control, some not, that bring us to the place we find ourselves.

God, please let us remember that you are light, goodness and love, always, everlasting, unconditional, freely given, love.

Darkness comes, evil exists, people hurt one another and bad hands are dealt.  The hand is lost.  But, God, I will remember, you are not the dealer, you are the inventor and creator of the game.  You see beyond this round.  You see the big picture, how everything fits together.  You see this cruel hand and reach out to me with compassion.  You carry me through.  You mold me and shape me for a big win in the game of everlasting life.  I can know this hand is not the end.  God, you will keep me in the game. Next rounds will be played.  And, God, I know you will be at my side.  With you God, there will always be a victory!

Amen

A Sprinkle of Salt & Sweet

A sprinkle of salt or the taste of sweetness gives flavor to what we eat.  As humans, we often crave foods that are salty or sweet, sometimes going overboard on how much of these snacks we eat since these flavors please our senses.  One taste is not always enough. These terms, salt and sweet, don’t just describe food, they are also used to describe a person’s character.

“You are so sweet, the salt of the earth.” 

Being the “salt of the earth” means you are a very good and honest person, respected for your pure heart.

Being a “sweet” person means you are kind, gracious, thoughtful, forgiving and loving.

These characteristics add flavor to life, creating more joy and peace in relationships.  It is God’s will for us to be the salt.  He blesses the peacemakers and the pure of heart.  If salt loses its taste, it is worth nothing (see Matthew 5:8,9,13), just like us without love, we are nothing (see I Corinthians 13:2).  

When the devil steps in to spoil our thoughts, making them distasteful, focus on the good of Jesus.  We can keep letting Jesus flavor our thoughts.  Even when things go sour or get bitter, the addition of love will make it better.  Each day we are judged by the flavor and content of our character.  We “must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.  Let us not seek to satisfy our desires by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”1  Strive to be the salt; strive to be sweet.  When we open our hearts, we can accept the help of Jesus to love our enemies.

Let us sprinkle salt and sweetness into the lives of others.  With loving actions applied generously, unconditionally and with a pure heart, more people will experience the sweet life.  O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)  Accepting God’s love and blessing others by passing love along—there is no other flavor that can ever top that.

__________________________

[1]From Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, August 28, 1963.

5 Top OFI’s for 2021

Opportunities for Improvement

With the New Year, some of us reflect on what changes we’d like to make in our lives. Perhaps a resolution or two are made. Annual professional and personal goals are developed and written down with the intention that this action may strengthen our commitment to achieve the objectives. 

Unfortunately, the goals and resolutions made in January can leave us with guilt by February if we have failed to take the actions we had initially planned. Instead of being aspirational and motivating, thinking about our goals just brings us down as the weeks fly by without progress being made. Let’s “think small”, doing little things to move us in the right direction. Define your OFIs, Opportunities for Improvements. Here’s a top five list that I am sure will help you make the most of the year ahead.

  1. Lose Weight—Don’t carry around heavy burdens that drag you down spiritually. Put the load you are carrying on to God to handle. If you are carrying guilt, let it go knowing you are forgiven and loved. Be thankful that you don’t need to deal with that extra weight as you face your future as a lighter, brighter you.
  2. Be More Active—sometimes we hear a small voice that tells us to take an action. Help someone in need. Encourage someone who is down. You are busy. They don’t want me to bother them. I don’t know them. No excuses, follow the voice and act with kindness, it may be God telling you what you should do. Pray and act out your faith, you will be amazed at what can happen.
  3. Stop Smoking— When something happens that has you fuming, stop and breathe. Don’t fan the flames of your anger thinking about how it is unfair or how wrong someone or something is. Getting mad and exploding never helps a situation and more often than not people can get hurt.
  4. Eat Healthy—Seek out God’s word and other sources that feeds your soul and nourishes your spirit. Making healthy choices of what you are taking into your body and mind will make you stronger, more resilient and allow you to reflect the best version of who you were meant to be.
  5. Get Organized—Each of our lives is full of stuff, stuff we own, stuff we have to work on, stuff we enjoy and love, and stuff we don’t like and want to avoid. Too much stuff can be a problem whether it is too many thoughts circling around our brains or too many items cluttering up our lives leaving us stressed out. It helps to get organized and prioritize what is most important. Ask God to help clear up your thinking and to follow His will for what matters most. Purge out the stuff that isn’t good. Focus on the positive stuff, the things and people that build you up and give you peace. Look for small steps to take or problems that you can solve so that the life you are living has meaning and purpose. You are worth it!

Will We Be Ready in the End?

Our world – in a mess,

Civilizations acting uncivilized,

Super rich, living in excess,

Extreme poverty, with people living on the edge,

Brutality and abusive behaviors occurring,

Some dismissing the value of young innocent lives,

Spreading disease forcing people to be separated from their communities,

Battle lines are drawn, with fighting between politicians and leaders,

Natural disasters wreaking havoc on cities and in the countryside,

People feeling hopeless and depressed,

No one is in direct control of their circumstances,

Humanity is overwhelmed by what is happening.

This is the world that Jesus was born into. Or is it 2020?

Back then, Jesus came as a babe to grow and teach us all a better way of living. He came to us weak and unprotected. He came, not to create a religion, but to demonstrate love and compassion.

He left us with the Holy Spirit and our sins forgiven. He left us with the keys to God’s Kingdom and the path to life everlasting with Him.

When Jesus returns, He will come showing His power and authority over all. He will return quickly and His reward will be with Him.[1] He will return when least expected and will reward the servants who are ready.[2]

Are we going to be ready for the end? What are we all waiting for?  God is alive today.  No one needs to wait until the return of Jesus in the flesh in order to experience a new life.  He is here with us, everywhere.  God has invited us to come to Him and if we only ask, He will come into our lives.  Let anyone come who desires to drink freely from the water of life.[3]  We plead with you, encourage you, and urge you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy.  For He calls you to share in His Kingdom and Glory.[4]

In the past, present or future, we are told we must be ready.  It could be your individual life which can end unexpectedly, or an end may come at a more global level.  Be ready at all times.  God has given us time to bear good fruit.  We may be given more chances, but why wait another moment?  Be ready in case the end is now.  Give your life over to God today.  Live with love and kindness.  Show compassion to your neighbors, your family, friends and those who treat you as their enemy.  That way, when it is the end, we will be ready, ready to celebrate and relocate to our true home, eternally with God.


[1] Based on Revelations 22:12

[2] Based on Luke 12:38-40

[3] Revelations 22:17

[4] Based on 1 Thessalonians 2:12

Prayer for Open Doors & Windows-

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Dear God— I am very grateful that You made Your Presence known to me. From that day I have known in my heart and mind that You are REAL and that has changed my life, my thoughts and my priorities. Thank You for all that You do everyday and the love You give whether I am at my best or at my worst. You are by my side. You can be trusted. You prepare a place in Heaven for me when life on Earth is over. Nothing can ever harm me because You are my protector. You give me strength and carry my burdens when I need a rest. I praise and thank you Lord.

Now I am asking for help. How do I do my part to lead people to see that You are real? There are so many people hurting, Lord. They think that this broken, messed up world is all there is. They think it is foolish to put their trust in anything they cannot see and prove. I pray that they can know You. Pushing words about Your Peace falls on deaf ears. Doors may close that I am trying to open with words of Your Love for them. Lord God, teach me, guide me to say the right things when I am given the window of opportunity. Please, Lord, reach them, touch them, show the nonbelievers that You are there. Make it personal in ways only You, Our God, can do. Whether they are seeking You or not, open the doors and windows and let Your Light flow into their lives.

Once they feel Your presence and see that You are REAL, their lives can be filled, their hurts can be healed, You can comfort them in their troubles. They can receive Your Love and have hope for their future. Don’t wait God, they need You now. We all need You now and always. Sending praise and thanksgiving for open doors and windows for You to enter into the lives of those who don’t yet know You.  Bring about the changes for good that come from a personal relationship with You, our amazing God. 

Amen 🙏

Ageless Wisdom

These days it seems like true wisdom is in short supply.  People often accuse one another of being ignorant and having poor judgement.  Our society idolizes youth and beauty, with actors, musicians and athletes in their 20’s getting a lot of attention and “air-time”.  These “kids” may have notoriety, but have they gone through enough life experiences to be able to share wisdom with the world?

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The dictionary says that wisdom is…

  • Experience and knowledge together with the power of applying them
  • Prudence, common sense
  • Wise sayings

To say someone has wisdom is a superb compliment.  When people apply that wisdom to problems and propose solutions, it is a great benefit to others. 

In the Bible, Solomon, son of David, became a king at the tender age of twenty years old.  God came to Solomon in a dream (1 Kings 3:5-14).  God asks “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”  Solomon replies that even though he is king, he is like “a little child who doesn’t know his way around.”  “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.”  The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.  God gave Solomon what he asked for and more.  (1 Kings 3:28) …the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given Solomon for rendering justice.  (It is too bad that Solomon didn’t exercise that wisdom when it came to women later in his life.)

Today, where can we find wisdom and how can we ourselves become wise?  Many have gone before us and they have learned much that can serve as a foundation of understanding as we face questions and look for answers, whether it is in the written word or by consulting elders. (Proverbs 19:20) Get all the advice you can, so you can be wise the rest of your life.  Looking to those who have lived their lives with integrity, we can gain valuable insights of what is right, just and fair.  (Proverbs 2) Tune your ears to wisdom and ask God to grant “a treasure of common sense.”  God will lead you to pearls of wisdom, if you search for them like hidden treasures.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who have chosen to avoid evil and find joy in doing what is right, have a wealth of knowledge to share. (Proverbs 1:8-9) My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.  Just leaders and godly educators teach and show the way to those who follow and stay on the path of the righteous.  The understanding that you gain from listening to their wisdom and the discipline you build by exercising good choices will keep you protected and safe. (Proverbs 2:7) God is a shield to those who walk with integrity.  This is what God wants for you.  Have respect and awe for our God who holds immense power over everything and all wisdom of the ultimate truth.  He is willing to lead us to wisdom as we listen and follow His instruction and great consul.  In these ways, we can have ageless wisdom as our guide so that we find more peace and joy in living.

Let God bless you and keep you. Amen.

Through the Fire

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What image comes to mind when you think of fire and flames?

  • A campfire with friends and family all around?
  • Sitting by a fireplace warming up on a winter night?
  • A candle burning while eating a romantic dinner or enjoying a peaceful moment of contemplation watching the flame flicker?

Or is it an image that is just the opposite of peaceful?

  • A forest fire destroying trees, wildlife and homes in its wake?
  • A fiery, explosive emergency where people are at risk of getting hurt?
  • Hell and damnation, the fire and brimstone images of death without freedom and forgiveness from sin?

The images of fire and flames are used in many ways within our culture.  The invention of the wheel and the discovery of how to make fire are great innovations of our prehistoric ancestors.  Being “fired up” or having “fire” can refer to a person’s passion, energy, desire and drive.  Whereas “being fired” means the loss of a job.  Fire is often used in connection with purification.  Forging metal with fire changes the characteristics of the material, getting rid of impurities and allowing for molding into new shapes.  Baptism by fire references a personal ordeal someone goes through.  God’s holy fire can be descriptive of the transformative power of God’s love.

By going through the fire, we have felt the heat, we’ve been under the pressure of a difficult situation, we may have gotten burned, but we have made it to the other side.  The fire didn’t destroy us.  It may have transformed us, it may have molded us, it may have brought us to a place where we can appreciate that we’ve been refined.  We may gain confidence that God had a purpose for what we’ve gone through.   By going through the fire, let’s get fired up and share what we’ve learned and what we know about God’s Holy Fire. It may be just what someone else needs to hear to get them through the fire they are in the middle of.  Share the experience of God’s transforming love that lit a fire in you.  Encourage others to go through the fire.  Help them to reach the other side and be purified and transformed in ways that only God can do. 

Amen, God Almighty, we praise and thank you for refining us to do your works and to live in your image.

Keep It Simple & Breathe

Does life on earth seem to be getting more and more complex?

The pace of information coming at us doesn’t let up.  Everyday we hear more about the issues and problems our world is facing.  Listening to a constant flow of bad news often leads to anxiety and sleepless nights.  Protests, politics, power plays, and a pandemic…we’re dealing with stressors both old and new.  People are on opposite sides of the fence.  Each side takes its stand at a far distance away from the other, leaving a great divide in the middle. Often the fighting between the individualized extremes blurs the reasons behind the passion for the cause, creating a blindness for seeing possible solutions for the good of us all.  God stands ready to give us solutions to the challenges, peace in the storms, comfort when the world’s gone crazy. Are enough of us listening?

I get in my car, turning on my radio to SmileFM.  The lyrics of the songs remind me of what is important and of what God wants me to do.  Danny Gokey says it like this…

“Gotta keep it real simple”…

“We’re living in a world that keeps breakin’

But if we want to find a way to change it

It all comes down to this

Love God and love people

Next, Jonny Diaz sings…

“When the stress is on the rise in my heart

I feel you say just

Breathe, just breathe

Come and rest, at my feet

And be, just be

Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe.”

These are words I need to hear.  These are words to live by.  Keep it simple.  From the beginning to the end of each day, love God and never forget how much He loves you.  With people, you can’t go wrong in living by following the Golden Rule:  treat others how you’d like to be treated.  Then rest at God’s feet and just keep breathing.  God will carry us through.  Seek God’s word for the counsel and comfort you need.  Isaiah 26:3 promises that God will keep in perfect peace those who trust in Him, whose thoughts are fixed on Him.

My prayers are that we all listen to God’s voice each day, whether it is heard through the words of a song, from a friend or something you’ve read.  God uses many ways to be our guide.  He wants us to experience peace in our crazy lives.

God Bless