Archive for January, 2015

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a Christian
was something I’d put off for most of my adult life.
which was forgiveness.
A few blogs ago I described the three kinds of
Christians from my perspective:
               Stone-cold,  Luke-warm and On-fire!!
Unfortunately, I’d spent most of my life as the luke-
warm variety.  Then one beautiful autumn afternoon
I guess Jesus just flat-out got tired of waiting for me to
come around on my own, so He arranged a little perso-
nal epiphany for me.   Sort of an “aha” moment, you
could say.
Hubby says the only way he can explain it, is that I
walked upstairs to my office as one person and came
down 30 minutes later as someone totally different.  I
went from being a luke-warm Christian to a sizzling-for
-Christ believer almot overnight!
So what made the difference?   For me, it was forgiveness.
There was someone in my life that I had to forgive for
something pretty awful.    It had happened years ago and
we had been estranged for years.   Forgiveness wasn’t an
option on my end or in my heart because I simply didn’t
believe that this person deserved to be forgiven,   So I
never sincerely made an effort. 
Then, one afternoon, in a heart-to-heart talk with my pastor’s
wife, it was made clear to me, that forgiveness wasn’t about
what someone else deserved —- it was something I needed
to do.  For myself!   
I called myself a Christian, which is supposed to mean
‘Christ-like’, but was I?  Not hardly.    Forgetting is NOT
forgiving and ignoring something doesn’t mean it isn’t there
or that whatever it is will go away.    What it will do is fester,
grow and weigh you down as long as you allow it to.
I listened politely, knowing in my heart that she was right
and then explained that I had tried many times over the years
to forgive with no success at all.   “I simply can’t do it!” I
told her.   To which she replied, “Have you ever asked Jesus to
help you?”    That brought me up short.    I just assumed that
Jesus was waiting for me to get it done.    It never once
occurred to me that I should ask Him to help me do it!  
Well, to make a long story short ( which I’m NOT good at ) I did
ask Him, and then, almost immediately, He did! 
That’s when everything changed!   It was almost as if something
had flipped a switch and a flood of blessings came gushing out
filling my entire soul!   Everything I do now for Jesus started
right then, that minute, that afternoon! 
  *  I started building and launched Dustys Front Porch website —
  *  I joined the prison minisitry bringing story verse to inmates
  *  Began sending out my little thought for the Day emails which
             now go all over the world every weekday morning.
   * Started a yearly crocheting project called Hats for the
              Homeless.
   *  Painting Witness-Wear T-shirts and so much more!
Before that day, I believed in God, went to church, said grace
before meals, prayed at bedtime, etc.   But to actually go out and
speak to people about God?   Go out into the world and work to
bring people closer to Christ?    Share His Gospel?   This chick?
No way!   But now I can’t stop!  
And old pastor friend of mine named Clayton explained it this way:
“Girl, God blessed you from birth with many wonderful gifts!  You’re
a poet, a storyteller, a singer and an Irish colleen with a gift of gab
that won’t wait!    But He was unable to let you use those gifts on His
behalf because you weren’t 100% committed to Him.    Your inability
or unwillingness to forgive was like a wall keeping Him from using
you and your talents the way He wanted to!    He was waiting for
you to give Him what you never had — your whole heart and soul.”
Once I knocked that wall down — it was on — all if a sudden I
couldn’t do enough, fast enough and I haven’t slowed down or looked
back since!   Who would have thought that a single thing like
forgiveness could make such a difference?    But it did!
Look at it this way:     We don’t forgive because someone deserves
be forgiven.    We forgive others because Jesus forgave us!  
Completely, thoroughly and instantly.    
We should be spending our lives here on earth learning to love like He
loved, live like He lived, and becoming as much like Him as we possibly
can.    It’s why we’re here!
Others should see Christ when they look at us!   His love and His light
should pour out of us in such a way that those who don’t know Him
yet, simply can’t wait to figure out what it is we have that they’re
missing out on!
It’s called the Great Commission!   It’s what Jesus commanded His
disciples to do just before He ascended up to Heaven.   Go and tell
the whole world who He is and what He taught us and baptize them
in His name!    He even gave us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide
us.  He even promised that He’d always be with us and never leave us.
If there’s anything in your life that’s preventing you from giving
yourself 100% to Jesus?   Get rid of it today. Whether its forgiveness, 
unconfessed sin, a bad habit, a wrong attitude, whatever
it is, ask Jesus to help you eliminate it.  Tell Him you want to be completely
His and that you want to work for Him.   Accept Him as your Lord
and Savior, then hang on and watch what happens!   He’s been
waiting who knows how long for you to ask……you won’t wait long
for an answer!
Your life will change in ways you never thought possible and you’ll
never regret a single moment!   It won’t be easy, but it will be wonder-
ful as you watch the difference you can make for Jesus!
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FAITH vs FEAR

 Two main factors that I’m pretty sure confront every

 Christian at some point in their lives are Faith and Fear. 

Or perhaps I should say Faith versus Fear.  

       God has granted each of us a certain measure of

faith,  we know this because the Bible tells us so.   

And fear?  Fear is an undeniable fact of life for all of us!

Fear of different things, of varying degrees and at certain

times in our lives.   There’s no escaping it   It’s unavoidable

and attacks everyone, believer and non-believer alike.   It

can take many forms; stress, doubt, tension, uncertainty,

et,.  but it’s an issue we’ll all have to address at some point.

    Even Jesus acknowledged it when He told us that we

would face trouble and suffering here on earth.    He also

said that we should not give in to fear because with His

amazing sacrifice at Calvary on the cross, He had already

overcome the world and all the problems in it!

      The Bible says it and faith is what allows us to believe

it’s true.   Being afraid is nothing to be ashamed of.   It’s

part of being human and Jesus knows this.  That’s proba-

bly why there are over 365 “fear nots” in the Bible!

        But we can experience fear and acknowledge it with-

out letting it beat us over the head!   We are overcomers in

Christ.   Period.   The best way to overcome fear is to not

let it get the upper hand.   Start out by considering the

source.   Know what fear stands for?

                 F.alse  E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal

In other words?  A lie.   And we all know who’s the king

and father of all lies.   The devil.    And the only power

that old pest has is what we choose to give him.   So even

when you don’t understand the reason for  problem, ill-

ness or trial – all you have to do is trust God.   Just be-

cause He hasn’t explained why something is happening

doesn’t mean He doesn’t know!   But when you’re left

temporarily without answers that’s when the devil turns

up the volume in a fierce attempt to convince you that

you’re all alone, that God doesn’t care or that God can’t

bail you out of this one.    Please don’t buy into that hype!

Just grab Romans 8:28 and beat the devil over the head

with that particular scripture!! 

       The devil’s lies are just empty words and rhetoric

unless you give them power.  Trust Jesus and you’ll be

able to laugh off whatever the devil tries to throw at you!

             I’ve had lots of practice with this maneuver since

the whole cancer thing reared it’s ugly head 2 years ago.

I’m facing this diagnosis of terminal cancer that is sup-

posedly going to kill me.   Now dying isn’t what frightens

me — I know what’s out there beyond my final breath!

Heaven here I come!   What’s terrifying to me is the inte-

rim — the whole sickness, needles, doctors, needles, pain,

medicine, did I say needles?   I’m not a big fan of people

sticking me with tiny sharp things so the prospect of lots

of that in my upcoming timeline didn’t exactly tickle my

funny bone.
But day by day, shot by shot, chemo by chemo, test

after test, Jesus held me hand and walked me through

it all moment by moment.    Looking back now over the

past 2 years it’s easy to see how Jesus managed to get me

through it AND used what was happening to me to

strengthen the faith of so many people that I came in con-

tact with at the same time!

      So now, when some new symptom or test or procedure

pops up, I don’t panic because I know Jesus is going to

handle it and me just like He has all those times before.   I

don’t have the words all the time or the details or the

answers and I don’t need them.   All I need to know is that

Jesus loves me and will always do what’s best for me.

‘Nuff said.

The same is true for you whatever you’re afraid of.   If

you’re a Christian then Jesus is standing in the gap between

you and whatever it is that you’re afraid of!   Don’t let the

devil succeed at convincing you otherwise becaue when it

comes to reinforcements?   You have MAJOR back-up!

Always remember too, especially if you’re wading through

a public test or trial that others can see, (try keeping cancer

a secret!) then the world is watching to see if your faith is

something you only preach about or something you LIVE!

The way you handle difficulties says volumes to others

about how powerful it is to trust in Jesus and have Him in

charge of your life!   They will be able to see what you have,

(FAITH), witness how you use it, (TRUST), and see the re-

sults, (PEACE).   And sooner or later, they’re going to want

that for themselves!

Nothing makes Jesus happier than being audaciously trusted

by His children and He will move heaven and earth to reward

that kind of trust with His presence, His peace and His power!

Believe me,  been there –seen that!!

   It doesn’t matter what the trial, whether its finance, disease,

stress or relational, whatever, our challenges may be different

but our Savior is the same.   Jesus has overcome the world and

anything it can dream up to toss our way….There simply isn’t

anything He cannot handle.  

Talk with Him daily and ask Him to walk with you through

whatever’s ahead.   Whatever’s coming it will be SO much

easier when Jesus is holding your hand.   So when it comes to

fear?  Faith is stronger every time!

PERSPECTIVE

  The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “perspective”
as a vista or a view. It refers to the depth of how we see
things.
Perspective can help us recognize that there are dimensions
even in our relationships. And “perspective” also assists us
with the subjective evaluation we place on people as well as
 events. Thus, the longer we each live, the greater and more
 informed our perspective becomes. {from the January
issueof Transformation Gardens newsletter}
I think it would be easier for today’s Christians to take the
whole issue of God, spirituality and Heaven more seriously
if we could adjust our perspective of mortal life versus
eternal life.
We tend to think of life here on earth in terms of what’s
‘real’.   Jobs, marriages, finances, relationships, etc….these
are concrete, real issues that we can see, elements that we
deal with, hands-on, every day.
In contrast, Heaven, eternal life, sin, grace…..these are also
real, but they’re items we deal with in the abstract.   It’s
difficult to put them in the same category as the pink slip or
divorce papers we hold in our hands today.   It’s hard, even
for believers, who are otherwise good Christians, to attach
as much gravity to God’s promise of an eternal someday to
the terminal diagnosis we got from the oncologist this after-
noon.
The only way we get to a place where God’s perspective is
as real to us as our own is brought about by a quality called
‘faith’.   Faith, simply put, is the ability, granted to us by
 God, that enables us to believe what we can’t see.   To
invest in what we have no physical evidence of.   Why?  
Because an all-powerful, loving Father who has never once
lied to us about anything, at any time, tells us so.    In our
hearts and in His word.
He has never once, in recorded history, told us anything but
the truth, xo it’s a bit ludicrous to think that He would begin
lying now and about such an important topic that will
eventually affect every one of us!
Jesus is certainly upfront in telling the disciples that life here
on earth is going to be hard.   He doesn’t sugarcoat anything.
But He also told us that it would be worth it and that He’d
never leave us on our own.   He reassured us that He would
be here to help us every step of the way.
He tells us over and over again that life here is only the firt
chapter of our existence and that death is merely a transition
between this life and the next one….the eternal one!   An
eternal existence in paradise with He and His Father that will
be more wonderful than anything we have ever imagined.
That is the destiny that awaits us once we accept the miracu-
lous gift of forgiveness and salvation that He earned for us by
by dying that horrible death on the cross.   The wages for
sin was and is death.   That penalty had to be paid before we
were eligible to be with God.   Now stop for a moment and
consider this:   Jesus loved s so much, that He chose to face
that awful agoey and death rather than live without us!!
And face it He did!    Is there any conceivable reason for Him
to have put Himself through any of that if Heaven was no
more than a fairy tale?   If none of it were true?   Of course
not!!
What we perceive of as an ending here on earth —- what we
call death is not an ending at all!  Its the glorious beginning
of a wonderful exciting forever with God that will never end.
So as we go through the troubles and heartaches and pain
that make up this life here on earth, we have the hope of
Heaven to hold onto.   Each and every one of God’s promises
to us that we can depend on, to carry us through.
The paradise that awaits us in the future as Christians is
every bit as real and concrete as the suffering we endure while
we’re here on earth.   And the bible promises, the pain encoun-
tered here will fade away and be as nothing compared to the
joy that’s coming!  
Keeping all these things in mind will make it easier to adjust
our perspective about whatever we have to deal with in this
life.
None of this means of course that the things we go through in
our lives are trivial.   They’re not.   But they’re also, in many
cases, not worth the time, attention and frantic amount of
worry that we devote to them either.    Something we should
always remember is that if God allows a trial to touch our
lives, then #1 He has a reason for it and
                  #2 He will provide us with the grace and strength 
                       we need to cope with or overcome it
Even if we can’t understand what possible motive the Lord
might have for what happens, we have to trust in His unfail-
ing love for us.   When we can’t see His hand, we must trust
Hisheart!!  
God is always in control.   Of everything, everywhere at all
times.   If we believe that with all our hearts, not only do we
please Him, but it becomes much easier for us not to panic
when sudden, unforeseen problems pop up in our day-to-day
lives.
One example from my own life that comes to mind is my 
diagnosis and ongoing battle with cancer that started back
in 2012.   To say my family was mystified is an understatement!
My sister pitched the proverbial ‘hissy fit’!!  “why you?” she
wailed.    “No one works harder for Jesus than you!  WHY
would He let this happen to you?”
Back then, I had no answer for her….but looking back over the
last 2 years and seeing what God has done with my illness I can
say exactly “Why me?”     God wanted to give Christians a
message about dying and how we should approach it!
Who better to broadcast that message than a loud-mouthed,
Irish poet/storyteller who already had a fairly large world-wide
following  thanks to a website and the Internet?     I’ve spoken
to groups and individuals, bible classes, senior groups, church
seminars etc about what a Christian’s response to death should
be and why.    My illness has put me in situations where I’ve
been available to speak to and with people who needed to hear
this message.    The poems and stories I publish and post go
all over the world and I know that more weight is given to what
I say simply because I’m facing death myself and everyone wants
to understand my “I’m not afraid to die” attitude.    Coming
from me it’s not just rhetoric because I’ve been there —done that!
God knew that my experience would make my statements even
more effective.    But back on that winter afternoon in 2012, when
I sat holding hands with my hubby in the doctors office as he told
us that my uterine cancer had metastasized (can anyone spell that
word??) into my bones and that it was terminal, I truly had no
answer to my sister’s question.    But even then, I didn’t need an
answer because I knew God had His reasons and that eventually
He’d let me know what they were.    God loved me, He was in
charge and that was enough for me.
I could tell dozens of other stories from my life about how one
seemingly unexplainable thing was used in a totally unexpected
way by God to further His purpose here on earth.
Once you get faith in God’s purpose and motivation settled in
 your heart, you’ll find evidence of it everywhere in your life.  
Looking back you’ll realize that what you had written off as
merely a coincidence was anything but!   A coincidence is simply
God choosing to remain anonymous.    Realizing that you play a
part in God’s overall scheme of things;  in His plan for His people,
it becomes much easier to adjust your perspective to fit His.
Your world will expand to include much more than just your
immediate surroundings.    And when you wake to the fact that
you have been chosen by Almighty God to further His agenda for
mankind?  That He considers your faith strong enough to carry
out His wishes?   Let me tell you — as a Christian?   It simply
doesn’t get any better than that!!