I am Disgusted with Gossip!

Gossip happens everywhere. It happens at work, at school, among family members, and yes even in churches. Gossip is lethal, and yet so many people thrive on it and love to get some juicy details. What does God think of gossip? Well simply put, He hates it. It is an abomination to God. He hates lying. Whether gossip that is spread is in fact true; if it is causing discord among brothers, God hates it. It is to me one of the most easy traps to fall into. If you find yourself getting excited and entertained with gossip, this is the first sign that there is a deeper problem. The tongue is unruly and it can be the most destructive thing on our bodies. What comes out of our mouth is a reflection of what is in the heart and what does God look at? He looks at the heart. Our mouths are evidence of where our heart is. If we love God why would we want to do something that he hates?

In the church, it can become easy to get sucked into gossip like if we think we are doing something righteous or just being honest about our feelings, or just wanting to find out details about members in the church. We have to guard our hearts. and test our motivations. If our motivations are anything less than edifying, and giving glory to God, then we might want to reconsider saying what we want to say. If it is a selfish motivation, if it is a prideful motivation. if it is vengeful motivation, if it is simply an emotional response, watch out! Guard your heart! Out from the heart, the mouth speaks! Don’t let emotions take control of you and spew garbage. If Jesus is living in you, let him guide your heart and mind.

Christians are supposed to be showing the world that we are different because of Jesus, but if we aren’t acting any different than the world, what testimony is this.

Lord, I know how easy it is to let the tongue loose. It’s as if it’s like a wild animal. Guard my heart, so that I can speak with grace, truth and love so that you will be glorified and the power of Jesus would be known! AMEN!

Jesus Doesn’t Care About the Easter Nod.

Well here it is again…….easter eggs, peeps, chocolate bunnies, lilies, and the biggest church attendance day out of the year. Now wait, I am not being cynical. Don’t yell at me. I like bunnies, and I like painting easter eggs. Peeps are great too, especially when you let them get a little stale. I am really NOT the Easter nazi. Here me out.

What is Easter about? We know it’s  about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but what does this really mean? It’s about the power of the cross of Christ. It’s about fellowship with the Lord. It’s about being formed into the likeness of him. It’s about Jesus paying for our sins. It’s about Jesus giving new life. It’s about Jesus living in me. It’s about the love that he poured out on the cross for me. It’s about the fact that I am no longer condemned. I am free! I am forgiven.  It’s about having unending joy through Jesus. It’s about everlasting peace, by way of the Prince of Peace. It’s about my savior, my Lord, who I serve forever. THIS IS BIG STUFF! This is EVERYTHING! Jesus doesn’t look at a holiday and say, “why thank you for observing me this one day out of the year.” The true meaning of Easter is not about a single day of the year, that we decide to put on our Sunday’s best and pay homage to this man named Jesus. The true meaning of Easter is Jesus IS alive! He’s not just alive one day a year. NO! NO! NO! When we accept his gift by way of the cross, Jesus is alive in us everyday of every moment of the year. I want to start waking up every morning shouting “HE IS RISEN!” I want every normal day to be a declaration of the Risen Savior. I want the end of my life to have one message, his name is Jesus!

So no, God doesn’t give points for the Easter nod. God looks at the heart. He wants YOU! All of YOU! Once you taste this Water of Life, you won’t want anything else. You won’t just want to give an Easter nod, you will want to live your life for Him. 

 Will you declare with me not just this Easter but every day, HE IS RISEN! This old natural life is put to death by way of the cross. Keep coming back to the cross. I AM MADE ALIVE THROUGH JESUS! 

 HAPPY EASTER!

The Longing 

I go to sleep in search for a new day that will fully satisfy. It never comes. 

I wake up, open my eyes, “Am I there yet?” I’m not there. I work hard, but the work is not enough. Comfort, convenience and money are not enough. Friends and family are a blessing, and yet it falls short.
Am I home yet? This world is not our home. I know the one who satisfies. He is our living water. He is our daily bread. He is our prince of peace. He is our shepherd. He is our king. He is our light. He is our friend.
He is Jesus our savior.

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.” C. S. Lewis

Who Knows? He Knows!

I know what it feels like to get cut out of communion and communication based on standing firm on what you believe in. I also know the pain it causes because of the love I have for the other person. Grief. Suffering. Hurt. I know the temptation to lash out at the other person for being rejected. I know the temptation to give up on the one who has rejected me.

In Hebrews 4:15 it states, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus, our King,  knows first hand what this feels like and his response looks like this: He LOVES. He is rejected. He LOVES. He is mocked. He LOVES. He is cast out. He LOVES. He is scorned. He LOVES. He was beaten. He LOVES. He bled. He LOVES. He was killed. HE LOVES. HE LOVES. HE LOVES. He rose above all of that literally! He is alive! He is risen! We can rise above it too, through the power of Jesus. We are conquerers! Love conquers all and God is love. He is the beginning and the end. What is the answer? Jesus is the answer! He knows my weakness and sympathizes with me. He says, “Johanna, I know how you feel. Rest in me. Take heart daughter. I have overcome all of this. Come unto me, my burden is light. Trust me.”

2 Corinthians 1:5 -“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

It’s a comfort beyond anything I know to have a savior who knows how I feel and now I know a taste of what he felt when I shut him out. He loved me. He didn’t lash out at me. He loved me. He didn’t give up on me. HE LOVES ME! Thank you Jesus!

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

A Pebble that Shines for Him

Do you ever feel like God is not there? Does his presense sometimes seem far away? I have felt this at times. One time in particular, I was feeling depressed. I continued to pray and read the scriptures, but I was getting these thoughts like “There is no God listening to you.” I knew this was not the case, but the feelings of being alone still were there. “Where are you God?” “Why can’t I feel your presence?” Notice one common word, “feel”, “felt”, “feelings”. I knew I couldn’t put my faith in my feelings.
I stumbled on Romans 11 where the apostle Paul tells of the branches being grafted into the tree. I read “The Message” translation and one verse stood out that said, “You do not uphold the root, the ROOT upholds you.” I thought about how it’s not what I do or how I feel that makes me a Christian instead it’s what Christ has done in me and is continuing to do in me and in all circumstances.
I went out to go walk on the bayou in our neighborhood that we recently moved into. My neighbor kept telling me I should go see it. I kept putting it off, but I finally went out and did it. As I was walking down the pebble paved walkway, I began to look ahead and in the pebbles some of them were glistening beautifully and some even brighter. My eyes gravitated towards the shinning pebbles. It was beautiful! As I kept walking, I crossed under a tree; the pebbles stopped glistening. The thought at that moment occurred to me that it was not the pebbles themselves that were glistening but the bigger LIGHT above shinning on the pebbles reflecting that bigger LIGHT. God was saying, “I am here! I have always been here! I am upholiding you!” God will never leave us or forsake us. Even when we have crossed under a cloud, He is still there. We can’t put faith in a feeling. Feelings are feelings and that is all. Let the truth of Jesus govern above all else. Let Him shine and radiate through your life.

Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

At the brink of disaster, He caught me!

Here I am an empty vessel. I thirst, I hunger, my longings never cease. I want and I need. Its a constant crave cycle. I need to be filled up, emptiness will never do. Oh, I try to fill it up with nostalgia, with family, and fun, approval, even going to church. These things I know will never fully satisfy. My trust can’t be put in anyone of these single things. These things are all good, but they won’t leave me fully satisfied. This I know to be true with my entire being, because I have tasted the Water of Life; it wasn’t by my own might or power. I did nothing, accept dive into His arms – spirit to Spirit. When I knew I had no hope and I was at the brink of disaster, I didn’t stop and analyze the statistics and weigh my options. I had no other option. I knew this to be true; spirit to Spirit. I jumped. In mid air I went from death to life. He caught me and made me fully alive. I am filled up spirit into His Spirit. I am His and He is mine, not by might not by power but by His Spirit! This old nature is still to be wrestled with, and until I reach glory, I have to jump into His arms daily spirt into His Spirit!

Make me spiritually alive. Fill me up dear Savior!
Amen!

Stranger or Lord?

The setting – Three days had passed. Jesus had just been crucified. Two men were on the road to a village called Emmaus. The story unfolds in Luke 24:13-35

On the road to Emmaus, the men were grieved. They were reasoning and conversing when Jesus drew near to them. Jesus draws near in suffering and sadness and searching, but in this grief they couldn’t recognize him. Jesus was a stranger to them. We often are clouded by our own feelings. As a result, we cannot see the reality and truth.

The stranger asked “What are you discussing?” They explained, are you the only one who doesn’t know these things that have happened; the tragedy, the grief? He answers “What things?” Jesus presents the questions so they can talk it out and search it out and be responsible for what they believe. Where is our perspective? Are we focused on the feeling and clouded by a feeling? It might be the very thing keeping us from seeing Jesus.

They explained all the events that had transpired over the past 3 days. They explained that Jesus was a prophet and that they had hoped that he would be the One but he was betrayed captured and crucified, and now they are saying there is an empty tomb but Where is Jesus? Suffering and sacrifice was not in their plan of how it was all suppoesed to happen.
The stanger said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Don’t you see the Messaiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” The stranger began to show them everything in scripture.
Jesus was standing in flesh and blood and yet they didn’t even know and recognize him as he was walking and talking with them. This is a clear indication that you can know a lot about Jesus and think you know him but if you don’t acknowledge the cross and our need and own brokenness we won’t be able to see Jesus.
Our foolishness comes out when we trust our own ways and not His. “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

The men pressed the stranger to stay and have dinner with them. They felt a pressing need for him. And so the stranger stayed. He sat at the table. “Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them.” The two men immediately recognized him! Its Jesus! They were able to then place correctly the feelings that they had.
That great need they felt drew Jesus in and when he broke bread as a symbol of his body being broken for us they saw Jesus!
We recognize Jesus at the cross. There is no other way to see him. His body was broken for us because of our sinfulness. We must be crucified with him. Our old self must be put to death so that Jesus can live in us and through us.

Where are you on the raod? What mile are you on?

Are you in deep grief? Are you asking questions?  Are you confused? Do you see the empty tomb but you don’t see Jesus? Do you feel the need for Jesus? Have you broken bread with Jesus? Have you been to the foot of the cross? Have you been crucified with Christ? Is you heart burning as you search and seek?

My Soul Cries Out, “At Last I’m Whole!”

My soul cries out
lack of self,
redeem myself.
It cries again,
heal this pain
just love to gain.
And still again
full of wonder
as strong as thunder.
And once again
take my heart
a brand new start.
Release my soul
that I may fly.
Let not thy wonder
pass me by.
Much to gain
and naught to lose.
My self desires
I bid goodbye.
My soul sings out
a brand new story;
full of love, full of joy.
It sings again
with not a word
yet still is heard.
And still again
I can feel.
I know He’s real.
At last I’m whole
just ask my soul.

Original poem by Johanna Russell

God’s Dwelling Place

1 Kings 9:3 I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

Describe the kind of home you would like to be for Him:

Pure / Clean
Full of love
Sweet fragrance
Giving / full of gifts to give
Clutter free – get rid of distractions
colorful / personality showing Jesus
Always welcoming / hospitable / open door / House of service
Bright / Shining His light
thoughtful / organized….everything in its proper place
Stress free / anxiety free 

Lord, I pray today that you would wash this house, deep clean my soul. Fill me with love and sprinkle Your sweet fragrance so that all would sense your Spirit. Lord, I give all that I have. Let this house be your house of gifts, providing blessings to all those around me. De-clutter this dwelling so that there is less of me and more room for you. Color the walls of this house. Let the personality and gifts that you have given me sparkle for you. Let me be an open door to your Spirit, welcoming Jesus, treating all those around with heart of service. May this house shine with the brightest light of Your Son, so that in whatever darkness may come, this Light will never be extinguished. Father God, renew my mind and organize my thoughts. Put them all in their proper place. May I always put you at the front. I will serve you always in this house. I know that you will supply my needs. There is no need for stress or anxiety when you rule in this house. Thank you for being owner of this house. Praise the Lord now and forever!
In Jesus name,
AMEN