Loving Others

love-like-jesusI recently read a prayer that I thought hit the nail on the head for what we should be praying as often as possible.  (Lord knows I need all the help I can get!!!)

It said, “Dear God, help me to love you and love others today.”

Simple, yet sooooo hard!  And I love how this prayer is based on the two commandments that Jesus gave us that all other commands from God are hinged on.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

Loving God means we are worshipping Him, trusting Him and obeying Him.  Sounds easy enough, right?

It’s the loving others that I think is the most problematic!!!  I mean, come on, there are a lot of hard to love people out there!!!

However, once again, God doesn’t say “love the people that are easy to love.”  He says, “…love your neighbor as yourself.”  EEK!!!

I think the best guidance we get on how to love our neighbor is from 1Corinthians, Chapter 13.

  1. Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.
  3. Love does not envy.
  4. Love does not boast.
  5. Love is not arrogant.
  6. Love is not rude.
  7. Love does not insist on its own way.
  8. Love is not irritable.
  9. Love is not resentful.
  10. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
  11. Love rejoices with the truth.
  12. Love bears all things.
  13. Love believes all things.
  14. Love hopes all things.
  15. Love endures all things.

Don’t you find it interesting that this scripture tells us more about what love isn’t than what it should be?!?!?

I think it’s because God knows that our own egos and agendas get in the way of love more often than not.  As humans, we want to be right, rather than loving and that is just not what God wants from us.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

God wants us to put ourselves in the backseat and place others above ourselves regardless of the circumstances and that isn’t easy at all because, well, we’re downright selfish most of the time!!

We are number one, right?!?!?!  Nope!

Jesus is the example we are supposed to live by and His best illustration of love is that He died for us while we were still sinners.  He loved us even while we nailed him to the cross.

So, shouldn’t we work a little harder to love others??

I encourage you to try this prayer and watch what happens.  Loving our neighbor can only be done with God’s help!!!

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Where Is God?

gods-testDo you ever wonder where God is?

He promises never to leave or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5), so why can’t we feel His presence sometimes in the midst of hardship, tragedy or strife?

If you’ve ever felt this way, you are not alone!!!

Rick Warren says in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, that this is a normal part of the testing and maturing of our relationship with God.

Yikes!! That kinda stinks!

He goes on to relate many times in the Bible where God’s people (i.e. Job, David, and more) asked where God was and why they couldn’t feel His presence.  (Well, at least we are in good company if we’ve ever felt this way ourselves!!!)

To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Psalms 22:1

The truth is that we all will face this test once or more times in our lives.  The question is whether we will continue to love, trust, obey and worship God when it does happen.

To have faith in God isn’t necessarily about experiencing peace, joy or something magnificent.  It means we have faith even when we feel like there is nothing to have faith in.

Easier said than done.

God doesn’t promise we will always FEEL His presence or feel right about a situation or even feel good, but He does promise to NEVER LEAVE OR FORSAKE US.

Taking our emotions out of the equation and keeping our faith will help us remember these promises even when times are hard and the devil is gloating in our misery.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 2Corinthians 1:20

We must also remember that God is to be praised no matter what our circumstances are.

Rick Warren gives six reasons to praise God in the midst of painful situations that help me when things aren’t going my way:

  1. God is good and loving.
  2. God is all-powerful.
  3. God notices every detail of our lives.
  4. God is in control.
  5. God has a plan for my life.
  6. God will save us.

Number six gives me the most hope because it tells me that even though I am not worthy of saving, He does it anyway!!!  How awesome is that?!?!?!

So, the next time you don’t have a clue where God is, remember that He is right there in the midst of your pain and that He loves you more than you can imagine.

Praise His Name and don’t lose faith.  God is good, all of the time!

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.


eternityHow often do we think about eternity?  Probably not often enough considering we will be spending a very long time there!!!

I mean, REALLY THINK about ETERNITY for a minute….  WOW!  It’s pretty overwhelming.

In fact, it’s downright hard to contemplate “forever” when we are in the midst of the daily drama of this life.  However, the truth is that our lives here on earth are just not that long, but eternity is forever.

So, why don’t we consider our lives as the testing ground that they are for the home we will be spending eternity in?  Hmmmm….

Well, it’s more than likely we get sidetracked with all of the worldly things we are surrounded by and just don’t take the time to ponder the afterlife as often as we should.

With our continual bombardment of instant gratification and our stubborn pride, we really don’t stand much of a chance to see how this life is actually the stepping stone for a life forever with God in His kingdom.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

Our earthly life is basically one big test to see if we love God and what we will do with the many gifts He provided us.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1Peter 4:12-13

Not that we can “earn” our way to heaven because that ticket is a gift with our believing in Jesus Christ, but we can make our earthly lives more fulfilling by realizing that this isn’t the end-all-be-all.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I don’t know about you, but I really want to hear God tell me that I was a good and faithful servant when I meet Him on Judgment Day.  I desperately want to die knowing that I fulfilled His purpose, used His gifts and shared my talents for His Glory.

However, I doubt I will do the best job if I don’t remember that a successful earthly life is not what I’m striving for.

What is your eternity going to look like?

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 21:20 – Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.


5c42912542c95fdaa00583e4f885a49eDon’t you love it when you can see your prayers being answered?!?!?!  I sure do.

In fact, I’ve watched my prayers be answered twice in the past week and I just had to share the small miracles I witnessed.

Both had to do with me getting back into running.  I’ve laid off running for quite some time, so getting back into it has been really, really (and I mean really) hard!!!  Especially since I have a few extra pounds that I’m bringing along with me!!!

Anyway, the other day I was on my last mile and I prayed to God to help me finish and I heard a small whisper telling me I could do it and that I would be blessed at the end.  Huh!  Okay!

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:18-19

Now, you must understand that I’m running in 98 degree heat in the middle of Texas with no shade in sight!!! UGH!!!  What am I thinking?!?!?

Well, as I past my stopping point, I saw these two men who smiled at me and one said, “Hope you enjoy this.”

I had no clue what he was talking about until all of a sudden all of the sprinklers around me turned on and sprayed me all the way home!!  It was SO NICE!!  Thank you, God!

The next day as I was, again, running the last mile, I prayed to God that I needed Him desperately to get me to my stopping point and that I’d love to see how He got me the water I was dying for since I still had at least a half mile to get to my house.

Not two seconds later, this car came to a screeching halt beside me with a man hollering “Hey baby”!  Of course, I jumped, screamed and about had a heart attack until I realized it was my husband who handed me a bottle of water!!!!

Can you believe that?!?!?!  I was stunned and VERY THANKFUL!!!

These two encounters with God really helped me realize that God is with us always.  He’s there in the big things and in the little day to day things if we will just acknowledge His presence and invite Him into every moment of every day.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1John 5:14-15

There’s no doubt that we all pray hoping we will get our prayers answered.

Of course, we’d really like them answered the way we want so that our plans, hopes and desires are met to our specifications…right?!?!?!

But, many times, prayers are met with silence or worse…the big fat “No”!

This doesn’t mean we stop praying.  It means we start praying for different things like a change of heart or different desires so that we will be aligned with God’s Will and not necessarily our own.

Prayer is God’s gift to us to have open communication with Him.  We just have to USE it!!!!

God is always with us and when we open our eyes to Him we will be amazed by the many miracles we get to witness!!

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 15:29 – The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

Living in the Dash

live-your-dashToo many of us have one foot in the past and one foot in the future – so much so, that we forget to live in the dash!!!

The dash is the line between our birthdate and our death date that we will all have on our tombstone one day.  (Hopefully, later rather than sooner!!!)

These dashes all look the same at first glance, but they are way different upon further inspection.

Some of those dashes may be full of joy, laughter, sorrow and pain – which is what life is full of anyway.

However, all too often the dashes are a desolate waiting ground where we’ve spent too much time paralyzed by fear, worry and anxiety instead of actually living.

The dash represents the present and what we are doing with it!!!!  It would serve us well to remember that we only get one chance and we’d better make it count!

However, if we are living in the past or the future we miss living the dash as we should by actually LIVING our purpose, therefore, doing what God wants us to do in this life.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. James 1:22-23

There are lots of clichés about the present being a gift, but they are all worthless if they don’t inspire us to make changes and start living in our dash.

So, what is it that can make us LIVE each day free from the burdens of life and careless in the care of Jesus Christ?  (I can’t take credit for the “careless in the care of Jesus Christ” because that came from my preacher’s sermon on Sunday and I just LOVED IT!!!)

Well, the main thing we have to do is get to know Jesus Christ in order to be in His care.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

Developing our relationship with Jesus isn’t as hard as it might sound.  In fact, we make it difficult instead of just doing it most of the time.

All we have to do is ask Him to help us.

For example, for the past several months I’ve felt like my own relationship with Jesus has taken its own hiatus.  So, a few weeks ago I started praying that He reveal Himself to me and for me to grow closer to Him.

Guess what?

He’s done just that.  Lately, I’ve felt His presence, seen His miracles and heard His voice…AND I’ve responded to His calling.

Funny how that works.

Living in the dash is a choice and that choice defines what type of life we will have lived when that day comes when they put our tombstone out for everyone to see.

Will we have lived well or will we have lived waiting?

It’s up to us what our dash is going to look like.

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 8:17 – I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Living Bravely

braveThere are some moments in life where we just have to pull up our big girl panties (or big boy boxers) and move forward.

Even when there is no plan in sight, sitting still is just not an option.  We will never get anything accomplished if we do that!!!

Yes, of course, there are times to be still, but there are also those moments when DOING something counts big time in answering God’s call to be His people.

Therefore, we have to live bravely in a world that tells us we aren’t good enough; we are too old, too young, not smart enough and so on.

But God IS ENOUGH!!!

Living bravely doesn’t have to mean that you are setting the world on fire with your awesome ideas, talents and gifts.  It could be as small as getting out of bed each day and putting food on the table because that is where you are today.

The point is to put out the effort and allow God to do the rest!  Responding to God’s call doesn’t mean you do it all…it means you allow God to use you as his vessel of action in the world!

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18

Unfortunately, many of us are waiting for the BIG MOMENT when God speaks (loudly) to us and tells us exactly what to do and when.

Uhhhh…it doesn’t work that way.

God can speak to us in many ways and we must be open to hearing what He has to say.  We can’t allow ourselves and our own ideas of how things should go to get in the way of His Will for our lives.

Even if you are waiting on God…the wait is supposed to be ACTIVE!

Sitting around waiting for God to act IS NOT what we are supposed to be doing.

We are to live our lives to the best of our ability while praying, studying scripture and staying as close to God’s presence as possible.

These disciplines are the way we know that we are in His Will and not acting on our own desires.

And let’s be honest, most of us have a plan that we want God to work out for us and we aren’t willing to change that plan or do the grunt work that God has planned for us instead.

Hmmm…a change of heart is needed.

Living bravely means trusting God to have my best interests at heart and truly giving my life, plans, livelihood and everything in between to HIM!!

Go out and live bravely today!!!

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 18:9 – Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.

Hey There!!

you will growIt feels like forever since I wrote a GEM!!!  Sure feels good to be back in the writer’s seat doing what I love to do!!

I must be honest.  I stopped writing GEM for what I now see as a really STUPID reason.

Man, I hate it when that happens!!!

The fact is that I let someone get into my head and I believed their opinion instead of following God’s Will. UGH!!!!

Their opinion is that GEM is a waste of my time and since it does nothing for me monetarily, it isn’t worth the effort I put into it. Nice, right?!?!

The reason I tell you this is not for shock and awe or sympathy.  I tell you to help you understand that our words can change the direction of someone’s life and they can really make a difference…GOOD OR BAD.

But, we have to decide what comes out of our mouths and whether we will use our words as weapons or as instruments of healing, love, comfort and hope.

Another lesson is this: Do we allow others to draw us away from our purpose and if so, why?

Now, let’s be clear.  I never started GEM as a money making business, so why I listened to them – and even worse, believed them – is way beyond me.

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:2

However, I think it’s been a good hiatus because I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been silent and my absence has taught me to appreciate my God-given talents because you never know when they will be taken away – regardless of how.

My how just happens to have been self-inflicted and I’m pretty sure we’ve all had an episode like this at least once in our lives.

This eye-opening experience has shown me the following:

  1. The world’s opinion doesn’t matter…only God’s.
  2. Our gifts don’t come from within us – they come from God.
  3. If we don’t use our gifts, we won’t receive God’s blessings through them.
  4. Allowing our anger and fear to rule us will get us nowhere.
  5. Words can hurt and words can heal, so we have to be aware of which one we use them for.

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 2Timothy 2:14

I hope that in the future I will take other’s negative opinions to God instead of wallowing in them and in the self-pity that I allowed to hold me down and shut me up.

Ultimately, it is my fault for believing the opinion of someone else and it is my responsibility to stand up for what I want and should do for God.

It took me a while, but thankfully, God has a way of placing us in the paths of others who open our eyes to the truth.

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 29:20 – Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.


Do you feel that you are enough?  The better question is are you enough where you are right at this moment with no changes or take backs?

Long sigh….

The problem is that we live in a society that says we never have enough in our lives.  It also lies to us and tells us that we’ll be happy whenever we get to the “enough” status we’ve been working towards.

Don’t listen to this nonsense!!

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be working towards goals in our lives, but I am saying that most of us deal with some sort of “not enough” problem on a regular basis that is just not necessary.

Maybe it is money, time, vacations, or (insert whatever you don’t think you have enough of).  The list certainly is endless and many of us have multiple things that we wish we had more of.  However, these things suffocate the gratitude and joy of TODAY!

Brene Brown, one of my favorite authors, says, “When we allow ourselves to become culturally conditioned to believe that we are not enough and that we don’t make enough or have enough, it damages our soul.”


The one thing we can do to combat the “not enough” problem is to be grateful for the here and now.  A few thoughts include:

  1. Be grateful for good health.
  2. Be grateful for another day.
  3. Be grateful for food to eat.
  4. Be grateful for friends and family.
  5. Be grateful for clean air to breathe.

Remember that we are enough (just the way we are) for God.  He loves us right where we are today.

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 22:7 – The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.


entitlementI was recently talking to one of my friends about the problem our world has with entitlement these days…it seems that everywhere you look you have someone screaming for their fair share or for something for nothing!!!  Geez!

Unfortunately, it made me sad to think that if I’m truly honest (sigh) even I struggle with feelings of deserving when in actuality none of us deserve a thing.

In fact, we deserve death as a result of our sin.  Yikes!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

It stinks to think that we deserve such a harsh punishment, but it’s the truth.  Of course, we all have our excuses ready.  You know the ones you tell yourself.  They sound something like this:

  • I didn’t mean to…
  • It didn’t really hurt anyone…
  • I’m not that bad…
  • I’m definitely not as bad as so and so…
  • Oh, that’s not a sin…
  • Uh, I didn’t know that was a sin…
  • Surely, God didn’t see that one…

Entitlement is a deadly way to live.  It stunts our growth and changes our attitudes (and not for the better).  It does nothing but make us miserable and it steals our thankfulness.

Furthermore, feelings of deserving take away the joy of the many blessings and gifts we have been given.

It’s unfortunate how many of us fall into the entitlement trap!  But, the good news is that we CAN be rescued from its tight grip.

The best way is to remember all that we have to be thankful for and most importantly, to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for us.

Changing our outlooks to ones of gratitude and thankfulness leave little room for entitlement!!!!!

So, the next time you feel like you deserve something better, just remember Jesus on the cross.  You might have a change of heart!

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 29:11 – A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.


Jesus“The church without Jesus in the midst of it is just a social club. Worship without the living Christ in it is just another form of cheap entertainment. Bible study without the living Christ in it is just a book club. Outreach without Christ is just social work. Ministry without the living Christ in it is just programming. Faith without the living Christ in it is just wishful thinking and self-appraisement. I look at the church and wonder are we trying to fish with Christ or without him? What needs to happen for you to be in the light?”

I often wonder what people do if they don’t have Christ in their life and the above quote from my pastor a few Sunday’s ago really tells me what the reality of life is without Christ in the midst of it.

Since I can’t imagine my own life without Him, I can only say that for me, my sad moments would be sadder and the happy moments wouldn’t be so great.  Yuck!  It’s hard enough WITH HIM!!!

Plus, I don’t want the ordinary life that the world offers.  I want the extraordinary that only comes through Christ living within in me day in and day out.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1John 4:10

Sure…the world can offer social clubs, cheap entertainment, books clubs and social work, but I want the life that provides a love like no other, miracles at every corner and a peace that is beyond human understanding!!!

Unfortunately, loads of people want to be spiritual, but in doing so also want to leave out Jesus.

This doesn’t work for me because Jesus is not only my Savior because He died on the cross for me, but He’s also my teacher of life.  I personally don’t want to do without either because I would be at a complete loss.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  Hebrews 2:9

Jesus is my rock and my redeemer.  He is the Truth, The Way and The Light.  Who could want for more?

So, the next time you think about leaving Jesus out of the picture, remember that He came into the world to save it and we all need a little saving!!!

Some Wisdom for Today:  Proverbs 4:5 – Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.