Itching Ears

The only way to live in freedom is to live in the Truth.

Projections

Related imageIn 2 Timothy chapter 4, the apostle Paul tells Timothy that a time is coming when Christians will develop a malady called “itching ears”. What Paul is prophesying of is a time in which Christians will not endure sound doctrine. 

In this period spoken of by the Bible, members of church will not want to hear biblical teaching but will want to hear things taught that line up with their own desires.

Notice what is driving the type of teaching: their own desires – not God’s but their own. To get teaching that lines up with their own desires requires a change in biblical doctrine since solid biblical teaching focuses on God’s will and not our own.

The Bible says that they will “heap up” these type of teachers. This is the only place in Scripture that this word is used.

Image result for images of a compost heap

Episoreuo: obtain a multitude of.

As I study this…

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Smile and Wave

This evening I took a walk through the neighborhood.  As I climbed the small hill on the narrow road that leads back home, a car drove slowly past me and as I lifted my eyes from the pavement to the driver, I caught a glance of a hand raised in a friendly gesture; it made me smile as I raised my arm and waved back.  I have no idea who it was, but it doesn’t matter.  It only matters that we acknowledged each other’s existence.

Something as simple as a nod, a wave, or a smile can remind you that we’re all in this thing called life together.  We all have days when we just need to know that it’s worth it to slow down, take a deep breath, and keep on trying.  To look outside yourself to those around you, speak a word of encouragement, or just offer a listening ear.

One of the first things I noticed about people in Texas after moving here from California was the people were friendly, they smile and wave, talk about the weather and sometimes slow down to ask a stranger how they’re doing and listen to their response. It has now become one of my favorite things about people in Texas. I hope that never changes.  There seems to be a lot of people moving in from other states, I hope they will embrace the friendly waves, be generous with their smiles, and take time to know a stranger or two and discover the secret pleasures of kindness.

Where ever you are, smile and wave, slow down and enjoy life, who knows…you might meet a friend.

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TODAY

Today I just want to be…
still
quiet
contemplative
thankful
grateful
observant
peaceful
hopeful
thoughtful
kind
positive
joyful
present

Today I just want to be.

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Adventurous Faith

In 2014, I had the opportunity to get away from every day life as I knew it and head to Idaho to visit with my oldest son and his wife while we waited for the arrival of their first-born.

Getting there was the beginning of several adventurous moments that God would use to teach me spiritual lessons. The first thing he wanted to teach me was to be more “adventurous ”; to stop allowing fear to keep me from living abundantly by faith. It seemed for about a year he kept bringing to my attention, in one way or another, a verse— “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.“ proverb 3:5-6

You see, in every situation I was always trying to figure things out; always needing to know “why”, or what was going to happen next. So, God worked it out that someone offered me their employee pass to fly for free. I was told it might not be a simple flight, but I was very grateful for the opportunity and didn’t mind doing whatever I needed to, and bravely embarked on my journey. It turned out to be very unpredictable, hurrying to terminal after terminal trying to get on the next flight while someone I had never met was coaching me over the phone as she tried to find the next available flight each time I would miss one. My luggage made it Idaho before I did, and I ended up spending the night in Kansas, then catching a flight to Utah, and finally catching a flight to a tiny airport in Hailey, Idaho just before midnight on the night before my grandson would be born. I wouldn’t have changed a minute of my journey ; It was the perfect trip for me. God did a lot of speaking to my heart, and I did a lot of listening.

After all the excitement of my grandson being born, I had a lot of time to relax, rejuvenate, and refocus. My son ended up taking me on a beautiful hike towards the end of my stay there, and it was one of the best days of my life. The photo I used for this post is actually a picture my son took of me at one of the more intense parts of our hike. The poem is one of the things that came from my time on the mountain.

Thirty minutes into the hike I had to stop and check my heart rate, and say a little prayer. Even though hiking has always been one of my favorite pastimes, I had not hiked in quite a while and my son was taking me on a hike up to about 10,500 feet. I was also experiencing some health issues at the time so my prayer basically consisted of, “OK, God, I don’t know what I’m doing here. I want to go as far as I can, so I’m trusting you to give me the strength that I need to go as far as you want to take me. And I’m just going to enjoy it and let you speak to my heart if you choose to.“ Then I looked to my son and I said, ”OK let’s go!” I was not disappointed. It was an awesome hike through an amazing landscape unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Right before we were going to attempt the peak, we stopped for lunch in a beautiful grassy meadow, filled with wildflowers. The view was indescribably beautiful. As I looked around at the incredibly blue skies with soft white clouds that seemed closer than I’d ever seen clouds floating by, and mountain tops peaking one after another for miles, as far as I could see… Tears filled my eyes, and I heard Him whisper to my heart “if you trust me, I’ll take you further than you ever thought you would go.”

That is a moment I carry in my heart to this day. Whenever I feel life is more than I can handle, I remember the promise he gave me that day, and I trust in Him who gives me strength, and whatever else I may need, to just keep on living by faith, moment by moment.

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It’s Time to Let Go!

“It’s Time to Let Go!”

In January of 2013, I was driving home from work trying to unwind from the day and refocus my thoughts before I reached the house. My drive was usually very relaxing and enjoyable because it was mostly on quiet country roads with no traffic. About halfway through, I noticed something different about my surroundings; I was amazed that everything had lost its “green”, and it seemed to happen so suddenly; the grass was brown, the trees were all faded or barren, and there were no signs of wildflowers anywhere. As I looked around it kinda bummed me out. And then it hit me– “this is exactly what has happened to me!”

I used to be full of hope, joy, and life and then it all dried up. It’s not the first time it’s happened, but this time It seemed as though I had really “given up”. I was done. I had cried out over and over again, “I can’t do this anymore! I’m done! I’m tired! and I’m confused! God, where are you?!” Emotionally and mentally I gave up. I quit. And, I didn’t care anymore.

I had left California in 2011 after my world, as I thought it was supposed to be, was flipped upside down, and my life and plans were in shambles. I was very disappointed and confused that God had not answered my prayers the way that I thought He would (should). After moving to Texas and trying to start over again and get back on my feet, things just seemed to get harder and harder and I struggled, it seemed sometimes, daily. I was truly in a “wilderness place”.

I had been desperately asking God to speak to me, and He finally did, however, it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I went to church that night to help with childcare as I always did. That Tuesday, we were watching the movie “Finding Nemo”. I had watched it MANY times, but this time God spoke to me very profoundly through it. As I sat there, with a little one sleeping in my arms, completely “detached” from all of my struggles, He was able to reveal to me what He had been waiting for me to “get”. The Holy Spirit was preparing my heart throughout the movie through certain scenes and dialogue, but it wasn’t until they were inside a whale that the message came through loud and clear.

In the movie, Marlin is always expecting bad things to happen or only seeing the bad in his circumstances, not having a good attitude, and pretty much is a bummer to be around. Dory is just happy–no matter what– and very positive and encouraging, usually seeing the best in every circumstance. The contrast between them was so apparent to me this time, it made me realize how disappointing I must have been lately to my Father in heaven. My attitude was not pleasing to Him, or anyone else for that matter. He created me to be a joy and a blessing to others, but I can’t do that if I’m all “dried up and faded” like the grass and trees that I had seen earlier that day.
I realized I identified with Marlin because bad things had happened to me in life; painful, sad, and unpleasant memories were something I had in abundance, and I chose to focus on those, and the negatives of life, instead of trusting God with them and allowing Him to use them for my good. I was a grumbler and a complainer.
(Have you read 1 Corinthians 10:10 ?!)

I continued to watch the movie with anticipation of more lessons to learn from it, I wasn’t disappointed.

When they became trapped in the whale, Marlin, in his anger and frustration, practically killed himself trying to get out of, what seemed like, a hopeless situation, complaining and insisting it was never going to get any better. Meanwhile, Dory’s in the background enjoying her time in the whale without a care in the world. When Dory heard the voice of the whale telling her to go to the back of the throat, she did so without question. Marlin, however, thought she was crazy and assumed that their situation was only getting worse…he was intent on doing it his way, trying to control a situation which he had no control over. It was only when Dory yelled at Nemo,
“He said IT’S TIME TO LET GO! Everything’s going to be alright!”

It was then that Marlin had his moment of faith, choosing to trust in what didn’t seem to make any sense. (It may sound silly, but in that moment it was as if she was saying that to me!) And, again, I identified with Nemo, realizing that is where I was also. I needed to let go and simply trust God.

God wants me to trust Him–no matter what. Operating out of fear of the unknown only kills the soul. I have no idea why things in my life have been so difficult and at times sorrowful, but God does. And He’s using every struggle, every trial, every difficult, painful situation to take me right where He wants me. I need to trust Him…even when I don’t understand. I need to “let go” and enjoy every moment of life that He gives me, and look for ways to be a blessing and encouragement to others.

You see, Dory and Marlin were on a journey and getting stuck inside the whale only “seemed” to be keeping them from what they were trying to achieve. The whole time they were stuck inside the whale, they had no idea where they were headed or what was going to happen to them next, but when they let go, they were set free to find themselves right where they needed to be.

Trust Him, where ever you are in your journey. He knows what He’s doing.

~Jonah

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Temporary, or Eternal?

What are you living for? What are your goals, or purposes?  What is the main motivation behind what you do?  Do you ever question, or wonder “what’s it all for?”

One day you may wake up and realize that everything you’ve been living for has no true or lasting value; like you’ve been chasing an illusion, a mirage in the desert.  When you finally reach that goal or acquire that one thing that you’ve been so focused on; when you get to the “spot” that you’ve been so intent on reaching, once you grasp it… suddenly, it slips through your hands like sand, because it wasn’t what you thought it was at all.  It really didn’t turn out the way you expected or didn’t satisfy you the way you thought it would.  So, you begin chasing after the next vision, dream, or desire thinking that it’s the thing that will give your life meaning, satisfaction, or fulfillment.

To a person who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, these words I write may have no meaning.  But, for a true believer, someone who has asked Jesus to be Lord of their life, these words will hit their mark. Because we know that there is more to life than what we see.  We know that we are not meant to live for the things of this world because the things of this world are only temporary, having no eternal value.

Jesus was born to fulfill a purpose on the earth, as we all are.  He only did what the Father told him to do.  He set the example for his followers to live by.  He left instructions for all of us to find.  But, instead of seeking Him and following his directions and example, we get caught up in the world’s way of “living” and forget that “this world” belongs to Satan (John 12:31) the enemy of God, who is constantly trying to destroy the works of God in the lives of believers by deceiving them or distracting them in subtle and mundane ways.

As I try to live one day at a time, I encounter people from every walk of life who are living life on their own terms and in their own way.  They’ve planned their whole life out, and with bucket lists in hand – they’re livin’ their dreams!
However, some are simply existing–living for the next paycheck so they can pay their bills, or perhaps to buy the new and latest gadget or item that they’ve been wanting so badly.  There are those who are planning their next vacation or get-away because it’s the only time they seem to “enjoy life”,  while some are looking forward to the next drinking party or night out, so they can get drunk and forget all their problems (for a tiny moment in time).  Others seem to constantly be looking for a new job because each one they have just isn’t satisfying their need for approval or acceptance.  Then there are those who are always looking for the next new relationship because the thrill and excitement of someone new in their life is their addiction (or sex is their addiction).  Still, some are just stuck where they are because nothing has worked so far and they’ve given up; they have no direction.

What most people don’t realize is there’s no life worth living without Christ.  There’s no joy outside the perfect will of God, and there is no lasting satisfaction in pleasing the “flesh” because chasing after the things this world has to offer only leaves us unsatisfied and longing for more.  The only thing that brings true peace and fulfillment is choosing to live your life according to the ways of God, and finding your purpose in knowing Him and making Him known.

Life on earth is short, especially when compared to eternity.
You don’t even know if you will be alive tomorrow! For all you are is a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears.”  ~  James 4:14

What we do on earth affects our eternity.
It is appointed once for man to die, after this the judgment..”  ~Hebrews 9:27

God has written the number of our days in a book and only He knows how many there are for each of us.  Sadly, we waste most of our time doing things that really don’t matter and live our lives without regard to the Truth.  We waste the time that we’ve been given, chasing after things that only satisfy the dying part of us, and missing out on the life God had planned for us before we were born.

You have decided the length of our lives.
You know how many months we will live,
and we are not given a minute longer.”    ~Job 14:5

“Your eyes could see me before I was born,
and in your book all my days were already written;
my days had been numbered before any of them existed.”   ~ Psalm 139:16

Finding satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, contentment or peace in this life and in eternity, can only be found in the One who gives us life.

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Only One Way

No sin is beyond God’s forgiveness. Sometimes we feel unworthy of God’s love and we hide from Him—believing our sin is more than He can forgive. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from Him in shame. Thankfully, God’s love is greater than our sin. His love for us is so great, in fact, that He prepared the way to set us free from our sin.

Although each of our struggles may be different, we are all caught up in a hopeless battle against our sin, and the harder we fight to be free, the more hopeless we feel. We can then begin to believe that we will never be set free from those things that are killing our soul and stealing our lives. But Jesus, seeing our desperate need, says, “Only I can set you free, give you victory, and bring you life.” He uncovers the hidden things in our hearts, breaks the strongholds that have us bound, and frees us from their grip.

All we need to do is realize that our problem is not that we sin –whether it be lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, gluttony, lust, pride, anger, sexual immorality, drunkenness etc., but that we have a desperate, unsatisfied “thirst” that can only be quenched by the “living water” of Jesus Christ.

We are all born sinners, broken and in desperate need of God’s love, healing, and restoration. Only He can fix us, because only He truly knows each one of us, and only HE has already done the “work” that will save us.

He has made a way for us to be free from the very things that keep us from Him, because He knows that He is the only source of true life.

Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, you still feel empty inside? Does it seem as though something is not quite right within your soul? Do you need forgiveness, healing, or restoration? Come to Christ. You can trust Him to save you, heal you, and recreate you.

Prayer: God, please forgive me for the ways I have tried to satisfy my longing for You apart from You. Forgive me for trying to live my life my way; by my own rules and my own terms. I want to be made new by the power of Jesus Christ. Fill me with Your Living Water today. Thank You for Your salvation, healing, and renewal.

I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

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