Have a great Labor Day with friends and family.
Toby Keith- Made in America
In the precious name of your Son, Jesus, who holds all creation by the power of His name, I pray for the people in these areas of rain, storm and floods. I pray that you will give them a safe haven in the storm. I ask you to still the raging sea and quiet the waters. Father, in their affliction help them cry out to you for their salvation, not just from this present trouble, but for life in you. Father protect them from evil men who would take advantage of their plight. I ask that you give them peace in the midst of the storm and faith that you will see your children through to that safe haven. I ask that you open the hearts of your people, as you always do, to be willing to go and to help. I pray for the protection of those who are volunteering now and in the future when the real work begins as they begin to clean up after the water recedes. I pray for wisdom of the governing leaders to know what to do. I pray for patience for the people because these times are stressful and they are hungry,cold/hot, uncomfortable, scared, angry and insecure about their future. Only you can give comfort for an hour such as this and we trust that you will answer their prayers.
Thank you for your continuous watch over us even in the worst of times.
Literally treading water for Jesus today.
After being home for a few weeks, Jacob’s schedule consisted of Physical Therapy with
Skebo, Mary Ann, and Don at Genesis Rehab, speech therapy with Dana Eddins, and a
homebound teacher, Ali Hathcock. It was great to get into a routine and to see all of
these people that cared so much for Jacob help to get him better. My number one
priority at this time was to get rid of the cane! I bugged the Physical Therapist so much
about this and learning to walk again.
We had just learned that Jacob had double vision and this was definitely not helping his
balance. He tripped over things all day long. He fell numerous times trying to do things
on his own and scared me to death.
I can remember smiling so many times during this time because I could see God
working. I could see that Jacob’s walking was getting better and it would bring tears to
my eyes. I would cringe every time a person looked at me and said the words I
despised the most, “Bless your heart.” People had no idea what a blessing it was to
see improvements. My family didn’t look at our situation as a “bless your heart”
situation. It is really the coolest blessing to see improvements at the hands of God
before your very eyes.
One Friday night, Jacob wanted to go to the Demopolis High School game. We got
permission to drive our jeep to the corner of the field to watch. The next Friday night,
Jacob was asked to be a captain for his team. Still in his wheelchair most of the time,
we knew he was going to need assistance walking on the field. He wore his Jersey and
was escorted by two players to the middle of the field. This was bitter sweet, but I knew
as I folder his #7 jersey up that night, that would be the last time that he would wear it.
We all had a lot of time to “BE STILL.” Every day when I felt like kicking and screaming
and so mad at myself that I allowed this situation, I remembered this verse.
As I watch Jacob during this time walk, he shook and trembled so badly. It is really so
difficult for him. He has so many things right now that are working against him. But I
am at peace because I constantly remind myself to live each day by faith.
Counting my blessing,
When you see broken beyond repair, I see mended by Matthew West
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18
Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink. Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
Abstain from all appearance of evil. I Thessalonians 5:22
Jesus first miracle involved wine. Wine in the Greek comes from several different words, whose definitions range from “new wine” which is sweet to a vinegar which is sour or bitter. All have the potential to be intoxicating if used in excess. In Scripture, wine is both a blessing and a curse depending on its use. It is used figuratively of wrath as well. Jesus, who grew up in Nazareth, a grape producing area, is familiar with grapes: their uses, wine’s dangers and its pleasures. So, we see Jesus had the opportunity to be “tempted” with wine in excess. Yes, Jesus drank wine. He produced the sweetest wine at the marriage of Cana (John 2:1-11) at the end of the wedding celebration. Was He part of the problem of intoxication at the wedding? No. Man is given a free will, the ability and freedom to choose. He simply did as His mother asked and when He created something and blessed it, “It was good.” (Genesis 1) Jesus at some point in His life, in all likelihood, even stomped grapes: A living example of the wrath of God against evil. (Revelation 14:19-20)
Anything done in excess is dangerous. Addictions come in many shapes and disguises: smoking nicotine or marijuana, shopping and hoarding, drinking socially or in the closet, social media, gambling either online or at the casino, viewing pornography on a computer or at the newsstand, eating (gluttony or bingeing, or anorexia), using drugs not for health but to “feel good”–prescription or illicit, chocolate, caffeine, sugar (yes they are drugs!). All these and others are forms of bondage and used to escape the life that seems too hard or is just boring. Any addiction becomes the focus of the one bound. Every thought is toward the “next fix.” It has the “it is five o’clock somewhere” mentality. Wealth is lost, families are destroyed, health is damaged, and self respect evaporates and the lie from the pit of hell is heard loud and clear: “You are unworthy.” An empty place in the heart is desperately trying to be filled. It is a spot only Christ can fill with His Holy Spirit. This is why the apostle Paul wrote to be “filled with the Spirit.”
The message of the cross is Jesus finds us worthy: He died for you! This is how worthy you are. Satan screams, “You gotta get clean to get Jesus!” Jesus whispers gently, “I came just for you and I paid your debt! All is forgiven. All is behind you. You can have a new beginning. I love you just as you are!”
Jesus saw the destruction caused by the enemy and came to STOP IT! He saw lives destroyed in His day and He sees ours. We each have an addiction of some kind. It affects us ALL! Depressed so you watch twelve hours of television or are incessantly glued to social media to feel connected. You are overdrawn but go shopping with the credit card. Love food and so you eat and slowly “kill yourself, one bite at a time.” Suffer from anxiety so you numb with meds and when the doctor will no longer prescribe you find “creative” ways to get your hands on them even if it means you lose your license to practice in the field of medicine or lose your job from a failed drug test. Hide chocolate under the bed instead of the cabinet so you don’t have to share.
LIFE IS VERY HARD! Life does not feel abundant. Sometimes it is just plain boring and we try to inject some “fun” into our mundane. John 10:10 reminds us of Jesus words: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Jesus growing up in a community known for its winery understands the temptation to use anything that brings even a moment of pleasure to block some of the pain or sameness of this fallen world. It is why He relentlessly marched toward Calvary. He came to deliver to us from our bondage and to give us our inheritance to be used in the here and now!
He came to set the captives free! (Luke 4:18. Isaiah 61:1) Would you today, not see your addiction as anything but a path to the feet of the Lord. He will set you free! (John 8:36)
My Dad, was a heavy drinker, smoker, loved to play poker, cribbage, and swore like the sailor he was. When I was eight years old, he was asked to teach a Sunday school class of teen boys at our church. See, he was a good man and took us to church. Well, on Saturday night he decided if he was going to teach a class of young boys he maybe should at least read the lesson. He fixed a shot of whiskey, got his cigarettes and sat down with his Bible and was convicted by the paradox sitting on the table in front of him. He was anything but a hypocrite and having been a young teen without a family he understood the impact even strangers can have on your life. He was faced with a decision. In that moment, he gave His life to the Christ he had always known about but never served. That night, my stoic father of German/Swedish descent, surrendered his life to Jesus and life was never the same in our house! My daddy stopped drinking, smoking, gambling, and swearing on this night and never again was in bondage to anything or anyone except his LORD! He became a new creature in Christ. (II Corinthians 5:17) He shared his testimony not even twelve hours old the next morning but the way we found out was there were no ashtrays to empty, no shot glasses to wash, no profanity heard, and instead of going to the club on Saturday night, he took us every Sunday afternoon for an ice cream sundae at the Dairy Queen. When asked about the change in behavior he shared this story. His body became the Temple of the Lord’s Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19-20) My Dad’s kindness and humility only intensified. He had a tender spot in his heart for orphans having been one himself. His love for the Lord was obvious to all and he was loved by all who knew him. Jesus broke the chains of all that bound him in one fell swoop. Ten years later, Daddy would meet Jesus face to face. I can still see him, in my mind’s eye, standing and praying in our church and listening as we sang The Old Rugged Cross, his favorite hymn.
The Old Rugged Cross
If someone you love is bound by addiction, do not give up! Pray. God is not finished writing their story. He will write our stories for eternity. Heaven will be full of surprises. Remember, He looks at the heart. No sin is bigger or worse than another. Trust He knows best and He has your loved one in the palm of His mighty hand and nothing can snatch them out if they have trusted Christ as Savior. (John 10:28-30) The only criteria for heaven is this: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) For the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38) This is why Jesus went to the old rugged cross. It sets all us bound people free! If you have lost a loved one to addiction but you know they had trusted Christ as Savior let the words of the prophet Isaiah 57:1-3 comfort your soul. The only requirement for righteousness is trust in Jesus! (John 14:6; Philippians 3:9; I Corinthians 1:30) Nothing can snatch them from His loving hands! (John 10:28-30)
Broken Things, by Matthew West
Treading until Jesus comes,
When I made my first trip to Romania on a medical mission, I was beyond frustrated and feeling inadequate does not even begin to describe my emotional state. The needs were enormous and the resources pitifully scarce. What was I even doing there? Who was I to think I could bring hope and healing? How were a few over-the-counter drugs going to alleviate the ills of these precious, humble, grateful people? The numbers of people lined up in the freezing cold and damp air for just a vital signs and blood sugar check were mind boggling. Visits into the homes of those unable to come to find their one room abodes without windows, indoor plumbing, and hardly any heat was heart wrenching for this more than affluent Southern belle.
I have never been so cold in my life and I had on my snow ski gear! From early morning to late afternoon they came and waited patiently. Not a cross word said. Mothers holding small children. Old men. Middle age women. Farmers. Slugging their way through mud and muck to see the “medical” help. Me! I am a nurse! I am not a doctor, I am not a healer, and I had no experience “laying on hands.” “Sweet Jesus, what am I doing here?” was my heart cry for those days. Oh and did I forget to mention, I do not have a clue how to speak Romanian? So I needed an interpreter which only slowed the entire process.
The brokenness all around me was overwhelming. I cried myself to sleep at night. I was super frustrated with my own inadequacies. I was mad they lived like paupers and I would be going home to live like a queen with a kingdom and a prince and princess to indulge. These people, many were the outcasts (gypsies) in even the villages with its extreme poverty, were so grateful for everything but when told they needed to see a physician due to the state of their condition I might as well have been a sister telling a poor family member to be go and be filled and offering no bread to eat. (James 2:16)
Just a casual reading through the gospel of Mark shows all the brokenness Jesus encountered on a daily basis. (Mark 1:23-3:23 to get an idea) I do not know how He handled the emotional toll. He was filled with compassion and mercy and He felt “it” every time He touched someone or they touched Him for healing, for release from oppression, or to be raised to new life. (Mark 5:25–34, Matthew 9:20–22, Luke 8:43–48). The physical expenditures must have been exhausting because I know how tired I was after just three days.
Brokenness is required for new life. It has been said “all new life comes out of the dark places.” Jesus said, a seed must fall to the ground and DIE to make many seeds (John 12:24) We grow the most through dying to self. (Romans 6:4-8) I was a broken soul when I got on the plane for Romania. I was grieving the loss of the officer and gentleman. I left with more anxiety than I had ever known! Anxiety is the fear of failure! I came home from Romania knowing if anything had been accomplished, I was not responsible. I saw miracles happen. I saw prayers answered. I saw light in eyes that were dull. I saw God that week. I saw the image of God we were created in: in every single person I encountered I was seeing something I could not quite put my finger on, would discover was this image of God in each and every soul. Jesus does feel our weaknesses! He was physically and emotionally challenged every day. He did grow weary. He did experience power leave His body as He ministered to others. The difference in me and Christ–He did so in the power of the Holy Spirit doing and saying ONLY what He saw and heard from the Father, (John 5:19) and all too often I attempt to “serve” in my own strength. Mercy and compassion see the needs and must be accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how the LOVE of Christ is manifested: one heart reaching out to another heart; one hand touching another hand. It is this love that takes our brokenness and brings forth new life as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Love Sees You by Mac Powell
Fabric of Hope is a Romanian Ministry
Treading in Thanks for brokenness,
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph Luke 3:23a
And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, Mark 6:2-3a
The number thirty in scripture is important. It is representative of a significant event or responsibility. The age of thirty is the age of spiritual maturity. Among the Jews it was the age one could be “fully recognized as a rabbi” and ready for the priesthood. (Numbers 4:3) We see this throughout Scripture: Joseph went before Pharaoh, David became king, John the Baptist began his preaching.
Thirty is considered by psychologist and sociologist to be the age of transition “when one re-evaluates choices made in their twenties.” For some it is a crisis of identity and self-confidence. Many restart “things dropped twenty years ago.” The displeasure with society, feeling trapped by responsibilities, having a desire to teach or become a healer (desire a life of significance), or desire for a simpler life can cause one to attempt to restart life to better “fit their heart.” Thus a transition or transformation vs crisis is wrought.
From the outside looking in, it would certainly appear Jesus experienced this trial of transition. He began a ministry as an itinerant preacher/teacher and left a much more lucrative profession of tekton, or craftsman, builder. By lucrative I mean he got paid for services rendered! He was by no means wealthy.
Jesus was well educated in the Torah and His wisdom had earned Him the title of Rabbi and even Rhabboni, “my master, my teacher.” (Matthew 7:29) He was well known and respected for He had “favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) By this age, Jesus would have completed His own handwritten copy of the Torah for His own use (Numbers 17:18-20) as prescribed by the education of every Jewish boy and would have been a master at the craft He had learned from Joseph. His previous occupation would have put Him in contact with all types of people as He traveled about as a tradesman building shelves, doors, tools, and repairing furniture items. So life lessons on dealing with personalities and expectations are well learned.
Jesus is not suddenly ready to begin. He has been preparing since He was a toddler. (Proverbs 1:8) He attended Passover every year and met all the requirements of not only a teacher (rabbi), but a prophet, priest, and a king. (Hebrews 1:1-3) As He put down His hammer and chisel and walked out into the world, He was doing what He had been preparing to do. He was not walking away from something but into His purpose and God’s plan for His life. Jesus did have significant lifestyle changes: from having an income and caring for others to total dependence on others, (Luke 8:3) and from having a home to no place to lay His head. (Luke 9:58) He went from being in favor with His neighbors to being rejected in His hometown. (Matthew 13:57. Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24)
Jesus faced what many face today when it appears one suddenly changes direction and walks away from a career, family, or lifestyle. Some think you are a “brick shy of a load.” Those closest to you may attempt to “get you some help.” Was He tempted to explain and justify His actions?” God had other plans for Jesus and He may have other plans for us. Scripture reminds us: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6). Our days are numbered (Psalm 39:4), let us “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
Life is one of constant transition. It is not just a midlife occurrence. We transition from childhood to adulthood, from single to married to widowed or divorced, we transition in and out of parenting, and into and out of the working world. How did Jesus face the trial of transition? Jesus faced this trial head on! Press ON! May our Father “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21)
Building 429 Press ON
Treading in very good company as life transitions,
First Century Nazareth Village https://youtu.be/pHst1FAC4bk
John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
Nazareth. The place of Jesus conception; The childhood home of Jesus once He returned from Egypt. Nazareth is in the northern part of Judea. An agricultural community known for its grapes. It was an area known to be wicked and its people “mean.” A community whose character was negative, to put it mildly, and yet living among this people was the Prince of Peace. Nazareth is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “branch” and many theologians believe it is referenced back to the prophecy found in Isaiah 11:1-10: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
Nazareth was a small (population 500-1500) secluded, obscure hamlet, perched on a hill. We know based on scripture it did have a synagogue for we read in Luke 4:16: “And He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” It was here in His hometown He declared His purpose and mission.
Among the Jews, Nazareth could be compared to the slums of the inner city. It was held as a place of “ill repute” and it referenced its people with great prejudice as evidenced by Nathanael’s remark. Remarks like this are felt among ethnic groups when prejudice is felt against a person, place or religion. Jesus Himself said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24) In fact, there was much prejudice, racism, and hate, “They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff.” (Luke 4:29) There really is nothing new under heaven. We see this kind of behavior against groups on the news nearly every night. In this scripture the people of Nazareth are attempting to end Jesus life prematurely. These were his “friends and relatives”! We can ask the question, “ With friends like this, who needs enemies?”
God chose Nazareth to remind us He uses “unlikely places where not much happens,” to do some of His greatest works. We need not look down our proverbial noses at the “unlikely” for God will use them every time. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (I Corinthians 1:27 NIV) Maybe this is why Jesus spent most of His time going from village to village instead of the cities. (Mark 6:6)
Here in the South, we are known for our prejudice, bigotry, and racism. Sad, but true. I would like to think we have gotten better but the facts point to how divided we still are. Jesus Himself experienced first hand the cutting knife of prejudice and racism. He was a Jew: Hated by the world. He was a Nazarene: Hated by the Jews. He was an itinerant teacher. How could one so educated (a Rabbi) be satisfied with such a lowly existence? He was misunderstood by most everyone in His hometown except His own mother.
“The spirit of Nazareth echoes today in every ostracized and occupied city and country, where outsiders are expecting no good thing from. Nazareth is our Detroit, Rio de Janeiro, Calcutta, Selma, Inglewood, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Palestine.” Jesus lived in the community of the least. Are you from Slapout, Cuba, Brooklyn, Chinatown, Syria or some other obscure spot where you are considered a “nobody?” Jesus was the gift to the world from a rural community and you are God’s gift to the world. Nathanael was narrow minded and his comment regarding the tiny community of Nazareth reveals this attitude. Phillip by simply saying “come and see,” demonstrated his recognition of the value of each human being regardless of their social status, heritage, place of abode, education, religion, or political view.
The temptation to listen to the sneers of others and stay sequestered in Nazareth was as real for Jesus as for you and I. It is a ploy of the enemy, who is always seeking to prevent the God given plans from being realized in our lives. Even Jesus had to keep His eyes on the Father. (Jeremiah 29:11)
We must remember, “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” (I Corinthians 12:18) We are where we are because this is where God has placed us to accomplish His purpose and plan in our lives and the lives we will intersect. Be thankful for your race, your heritage, your descent, your occupation, your hobbies, your home, and even your wrong choices. You are not a mistake!!! Nathanael who once questioned if anything good could come from Nazareth soon came to understand “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:49)
It Must be You (Moses) By Bart Millard
Treading Among the Least of These