Thursday, October 13, 2016

Propaganda or Truth?

Dalai Lama's Palace

I don't remember the year exactly, but around 1999, Andy & I went to Lhasa, Tibet to visit a friend and to look for opportunities to help people.  Tibet was a closed communist country and we were required to have a "guide" the entire time we were there.  The guide did actually give us tours, but they were also placed with us to make sure we weren't detrimental to their country.  Before we went, we were even told to assume our motel room would probably be "bugged."

One day, Andy was with the guide touring the Dalai Lama's palace (I chose to forego the climb) and I was out touring the city with our friend.  All of a sudden, a voice came over the loud speakers placed around the entire city.  Since my friend could speak Tibetan, I asked her what they were saying.  Her reply was, "Oh, just a bunch of propaganda."  I was kind of stunned.  It wasn't my first time to be in a communist country, but it was my first time to be confronted with propaganda being blared so blatantly.  Her words never left me.

I came home and began paying attention to what was going on around me in the good ol' USA.  Were we being fed propaganda and weren't even aware of it?  Remember...this was 17 years ago.  I began noticing then that newscasters weren't even trying to be objective anymore.  More recently, I've been paying even closer attention.  Not only are we being fed propaganda, but great diversions are being created to get our attention elsewhere so people can change the direction we're going while we're not looking.

I encourage you to be aware.  If a herd of sheep are resting quietly in a pasture and a small dog runs into their space--they'll all react in fear and take off running together.  Ewes have even been known to abort their babies in a situation like that.  Don't be like a sheep and run with the mob in fear.  Take a quiet seat and observe.  And while you're watching, ask God to reveal truth.

A good question to ask the Father is, "What are You doing?"  And, "How can I agree with You?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Imagine that you were Satan and you could see the potential in people's lives.  What would you do to stop them from becoming all God meant for them to be?  Would you...

A.  Prey on their weaknesses
B.  Lie to them
C.  Inflate their ego until they depended on their own strength
D.  Throw obstacles in their way
E.  Debilitate them
F.  Intimidate them until they were fearful
G.  Bring disunity among them
H.  All of the above

And when would you try to stop their understanding of the power of God in them?
A.  At birth
B.  During the innocence of childhood
C.  When God came to live in them
D.  During the troubled teenage years
E.  Throughout their lives
F.  When they became more powerful
G.  When they developed strong, godly relationships
H.  All of the above

Satan certainly knows God's power--better than we do, actually!  And he understands what is available to us when we make Jesus the Lord of our lives.  He doesn't want us affecting the world around us.  If we were Superman, Satan would place kryptonite everywhere we went to make us powerless...and Superman's power is nothing compared to God's power in us.  I want to share my recent situation to help you understand how I discerned Satan's strategy.

I was very discouraged.  I'd become introspective, as I am prone to do, and was asking questions like, "Is my ministry effective?  Are people being significantly changed because of my ministry?  Does what I do really matter?"  I was even asking the wrong questions.  I was so tired and vulnerable, my guard wasn't up to keep the enemy from taking me to the pit of despair.  I was convinced there was no fruit in what I was doing.

At the same time, a good friend was walking through something so BIG and so traumatic that I stepped in to encourage her--even in my sorry state. In that moment, it was so easy to see what Satan was doing to her.  You see--she's a very powerful woman and she was asked not to attend a meeting--a meeting which she should have attended and had every right to attend.  I told her, "It's actually a compliment from the Enemy.  You're too powerful!!  You change the atmosphere when you walk in a room and you command the situation.  Now take that info and use it wisely--change the atmosphere with the authority of the kingdom of God!"  And she did.  Later, she told me that she'd been intimidated until she saw the truth--and the truth set her free.  She walked into that meeting with peace, confidence, and the power of God.  And God did amazing things in her situation!!

What I told my friend became a two-edged sword God used to pierce my heart about my own situation.  And I saw this truth:  SATAN FEARS OUR POTENTIAL.  He fears us understanding and unleashing the power of God which is in us.  So he's constantly on the offense trying to destroy us, our faith, and the promise of God in us.  I GOT IT!   Satan was using a different strategy on me (discouragement) than he'd used on my friend (intimidation).  He was trying to stop what I was doing for the very same reason--I WAS changing the atmosphere.  I was unleashing the power of God in me by doing the very things He'd created me to do--by fulfilling the purpose He'd given me.  It wasn't through big things--it was through every-day-things.  I'd been waking up every morning and asking, "What's right in front of me that I can do today to bring the kingdom of God to earth--to love, encourage, bring life, and share Jesus?"  THAT'S what Satan wants to stop--he wants to stop us from bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  ("Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...")

Examine your life.  What is Satan doing to stop you from changing the atmosphere around you?  Maybe what you're walking through is nothing but the enemy's "kryptonite" to stop you from bringing the kingdom of God to earth.  Say NO to the enemy!  And press in to TRUTH!!  DO kingdom work--love, encourage, bring life, and share Jesus-in the way God created YOU to do it!

Unleash the power of God in you--
change the atmosphere around you!  
God wants to 
with what He does!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Be Kind

You've surely heard some of these sayings:

  • "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."  
  • "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."  
  • "Be ye kind one to another."  
  • "Being kind is more important than being right."

Why kindness?  I believe our culture is moving in a troubling direction.  With the accelerated use of social media, people are feeling freer and freer to voice their tactless opinions as they hide behind their phones or laptops.  It's so much easier to be blunt and say what you think when you know you won't have a face-to-face encounter.  And if someone disagrees with you--or even verbally assaults you--you can remove them from your account with no remorse because, more-than-likely, you'll never see them again.  You feel safe...and right.

When Zach was about 6-years-old (which means I was in my early 30's), I asked him if he wanted to go to Walmart with me.  He asked why I was going (surely wondering if there was a prize involved).  I told him I had to take some things back to the store.  He quickly said, "NO!  I don't want to go with you!"  His reply was so quick, so curt, and so emphatic, that I asked him why he didn't want to go.  I'll never forget his reply.  He said, "Because you're mean when you take things back to the store."  Wow!!  What an explosion of truth from the mouth of a child--my child!  I had to stop and examine my life.  Was I mean?  Probably.  I think I actually approached people with defensiveness.  I wanted to be in control of a situation to avoid rejection or disapproval--which I constantly expected.  I wanted needed to be right.  It became a defining moment in my life.  I purposed I would never intentionally be mean again and I began pursuing kindness.

When you feel right, you come off as judgmental, accusatory, condemning, self-righteous, egotistical, and snobbish.  And when you approach people with that attitude, they're going to be defensive and you'll never achieve your objective.  I didn't realize it, but my mean attitude was getting me what I feared most--rejection.  What a cycle!  I learned that I could be right...or I could have a relationship.   Not both.

Kindness changes everything.  EVERYTHING!  You become more approachable--you even look kind.  People are more willing to listen to you.  You're more apt to get kindness in return.  And people want to be around you--kindness promotes relationships!

Looking back, I realize God had to break through some pretty stubborn resistance in my life and He knew His most powerful and effective tool would be one of my kids.  It was like running head-long into a mirror and seeing my heart the way God saw it.  But in His incredible grace, He offered me the chance to change and grow and I determinedly drew a line in the sand.  The only way I could have any lasting change in my life was through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I had to let Him have control and allow Him to transform me.  Becoming kind was a process.  But fruit-growing always is.

Be kind.  Teach your children kindness by instructing them but especially with your example.  They're watching...I have concrete evidence!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finding Fame

It seems everyone is looking for their 15 minutes of fame.  YouTube...Facebook...Selfies...Instagram...Twitter are all helping to promote our fame.  We're all looking for that one catch phrase or creating that one video which will have millions of people "liking" our post or possibly even landing us on Ellen's show.  Christians aren't immune.  It's almost as old as Methusela to want to become famous!  Actually, it dates back to least.

 After the flood, God told Noah and his family to spread out across the earth, repopulate the earth, and subdue it.  Ol' Noah's clan got to the land of Shinar (about a 30 day journey) and thought it was a good place to stop and build a tower to the sky to "make a name for themselves!"  And God actually said, "Will you look at that! The people are all together on this. With one language they are able to start this kind of project. This is only the beginning of what they will do. Soon they will think they can accomplish anything and everything on their own.  Let’s go down and break this up! If We confuse their language, they won’t be able to understand each other’s words.  This is how the Eternal scattered people from Shinar all across the surface of the earth."  (Genesis 11:6-8, The Voice)

1. They were disobeying God.  He'd said "spread out" and they stopped. He had a plan in their being scattered--He wanted the whole earth filled with His representatives.
2. They were doing what they did for themselves.  They wanted to make a name for themselves.  Even Jesus said, "If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me."
3. They were in unity.  Just because there's unity, doesn't make it a great idea!  They'd found something they could "accomplish on their own."  God wants us submitted to Him--not doing our own thing.
4. There was already greatness in their names--they didn't have to make a name for themselves!  And they understood what their name meant because of the descriptiveness of their language.  But they were searching for their identity and their purpose in the wrong place and in the wrong way.

When we understand who we are, our identity, and the purpose for which God has created us, it gives us a focus for how God wants to use us in the kingdom of God.  And it also answers the "why!"  Why do we do the things we do?  The "why" is to glorify God and to lift up the name of Jesus through the very things He's put inside of us.  Jesus' name is above every name and we should delight to exalt his name.  When we spend time exalting Jesus' name, it's not so important to become famous.

But...on the flip-side, God has created us in His image.  He's made us into a complex being which reflects His nature and character.  We become a representative of Him.  It's kind of like when a baby is born and we say, "Oh!  He's the spitting image of his daddy!"  We're the spitting image of our least an aspect of Him.  Just like no two children from the same daddy are exactly like him--but each have characteristics of him.  When we understand who we are and what we were created to do, we can then break open the essence of who we are in praise to the One who created us.  Just like when Mary broke open the alabaster bottle of perfume to anoint Jesus and it expanded--when we break open the essence of who God created us to be as an expression of worship to Him, it expands.  Who we are expands.  Our purpose expands.  And the fragrance of our worship fills the room.

Don't spend time creating skyscrapers to reach the sky to make a name for yourself (or any other number of things you can do on your own)...find out who you are.  Worship God with who you are.  Submit to Him and watch God expand the essence of YOU.  It's a work of transformation accomplished by the Spirit of God.  That expansion and transformation beats fame anytime!

II Corinthians 3:18
Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy Birthday, Andy!

Today is Andy's birthday!!  (And the birthday of his twin brother, Phil...and his uncle...and his cousin...)  September 8th is a big deal around here!  
As I was going through my photos recently, I started laughing.  In almost every photo of Andy, he's with a crowd of people---a different crowd of people (as you can see below).  It took me awhile to figure it out, but it was early in our marriage when I realized Andy was happiest in a crowd of people.  He was created for ministry!  Andy loves LIFE and he loves PEOPLE!  And it's been a whole lot of fun doing life with this guy. (And sometimes exhausting!  And sometimes crowded...)  
Happy Birthday, Babe!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Happy 9th Birthday, Olivia!

Today is Olivia's 9th birthday!  It's so hard to believe she's already this old.  I got to go to Dalhart and stay with her two brothers while she was born.  There was so much excitement when they brought her home from the hospital!  By the time she was three, when you asked her when her birthday was, she'd reply, "20 August 9!"  And she said that for years.  I really hated when she outgrew it.

She's always had the prettiest eyes and most adorable cheeks!

She's always been full of giggles, too.  (I still love getting Olivia alone--her silliness and laughter come out!)

She was hiding from us.  (She's done some of the cutest things!)

Those rosy cheeks!

Her brothers loved her.  They still do...most days.

This photo of Olivia in her tutu was almost foretelling.  This girl has loved to dance!

They were visiting and watching a movie together.  Olivia was a thumb sucker.

Did I mention her dimples??

And here we go!  Olivia's two brothers are both musicians--so she has always had music to dance to.

 Her dance recital.

Olivia is a big sister--and she fills that role so well.  She LOVES her little sister!  They share a room--and secrets, I'm sure.

She has a good role model.  She adores her mom.

Olivia has always been quiet.  When her two brothers were being home schooled, she would entertain herself for hours--no joke.  She is very compassionate and has a really tender heart.

Olivia is such a good friend to others.  She forgives easily and is a giver--she loves to share her things with her friends.  But she also loves her alone time.  It's not unusual for her to tell her neighborhood friends that she just wants to be alone--and then she'll go to her room and read or play alone.

And I leave you with this.  Olivia is singing "Happy Birthday to You" and it changes to "Amen."  
My favorite video of all time!

I love you,

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gus!

Gus turns 4-years-old today!  I remember rushing to Lubbock for his birth and then waiting...taking a nap in the pickup...waiting.  But it was so exciting when he came!  

His big brother, Dax, has watched over him since he was born.  Dax would make sure Gus had his pacifier--and open his own mouth every time he tried to get Gus to open his mouth.

His first Christmas as Santa...with his pretty mommy.

We were babysitting Dax & Gus while Zach & Shanna went to Alaska.  We went and got Gus a walker since he was wanting to follow his big brother so badly.  He loved it!

This guy has always had the best smile and most beautiful eyes!

Gus kind of likes his Pot, too.

We'd gotten chicken for dinner and gave Gus some mashed potatoes.  
He liked them!

Gus was showing me his muscles---and making a grunting noise.

We went to the lake in Dalhart so the boys could throw rocks in the water.  Gus got a ride.
(Notice how he's holding on!)

Gus loves to laugh!!  And his greatest delight is making others laugh!

Gus was hiding from Dax.

The boys had watched Horton Hears a Who.  Gus was listening for the Who.

This was a picture I got when I was on my way to babysit the boys.  
(I was more excited than Gus!)

Gus had "thrown up in his mouth" so Dax made him lay on the couch and covered him up.  And then he began to read a book to Gus since he didn't feel well.  (He really could read!)  Gus didn't stay sick very long.

Gus was pretending to be dead.

This kid keeps me in stitches!!  I've only known two little guys who began to exemplify a sense of humor as early as one-year-old--Gus and his older cousin.  I was amazed!  I'd never seen such a young child understand humor--and how to make others laugh.  Both of these guys are the second child with an older brother--I wonder if that's why.  Gus also knew how to push his older brother's buttons and get him all upset...and then laugh.  
Gus is also very sensitive.  He knows when someone is unhappy or has their feelings hurt and will quietly go sit by them--and usually touch them in some way.  It's not at all unusual for Gus to randomly sit in your lap and whisper in your ear, "I love you!"  He has such a tender heart.
He's crazy about his family!!  He gets so excited when his mom and dad come home from a trip!  And he's anxious to meet up with his brother and sister when they've been separated for a short time.  I love this guy!!
Gus, I can't wait to see what amazing thing God has for your life!

I love you,