He Is Your Life

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So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message)

When I consider the passage above, I am reminded that we are to die to our old self and live in the newness of Jesus Christ. This is a choice, even though the Holy Spirit guides us, because we can choose to grieve the Holy Spirit and live in the old self. I find that sometimes I want to put on the old self. Anyone else? Our nature is to satisfy self and live in our desires. This is how the world lives and we see it everywhere every day.

I love how the Message translation reads “so if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it”. So true….actions say a lot don’t they? Pursue the things over which Christ presides is a perfect way of telling us to pursue godly things. I don’t always feel like reaching for my bible first thing but when I do, I am the one who is blessed. I am the one who benefits from spending time with God. Then I find like the next verse that I am not self-absorbed when I do spend time with God. I think about others and I seek to help others just like God would do. I am able to be a vessel for Him and be used in ways that only God can use a person.

If I am dead to my old life and my new life is real, then Christ is my life. Of course, this is not referring to physical death it’s referring to spiritual death. However, I want to share something about physical death. In my position at the church, I am the Director of Congregational Care and Adult Discipleship. In the role of congregational care, I help to care for people who are sick and hurting and some of the sick die. Being with those who are believers when they die, those are holy moments. You feel an assurance and presence of God in those times. I was at the bedside of my mother when she went to be with God. It was beautiful and something I will always cherish. She had fought a long battle with cancer and it was time to go be with God.

On May 15, 2015, my husband and I were driving home from dinner and we took another route home instead of our usual. This two-lane road did not have shoulders and it is a road with a few hills. It’s a pretty drive and it was a nice evening, still daylight around 7:30 pm. We came over a small hill to see two cars in front of us and it was evident they had just collided. There was a car in front of us and we stopped. We jumped from our cars to see it was a horrible accident, a head-on collision. Pieces of the cars and items from the cars were strewn everywhere. One of the drivers was coming in and out of consciousness and the other was unresponsive. We could not get them out of the cars because the cars were too mangled. All we could do was call 911 and try to put out a small fire under the hood of one of the cars. You can imagine our relief when the fire trucks showed up to make sure this situation didn’t get worse. That accident didn’t end well for one of the victims and a 28 year old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. This has affected me and like most traumatic experiences and I am changed.

My perspective is fresh and my purpose is clear—we do not have time to waste. There are people out there who do not have a relationship with God through Jesus. I know that I cannot and do not save people, that is God’s job alone and I am not judging this young woman’s salvation because only God knows a person’s heart. But I will tell you that following the accident, I could not find evidence of God in her life when looking at social media and family comments. A memorial service was held at a Universalism Unitarian Church and this tells me there is confusion among her family regarding Jesus. All roads do not lead to heaven only the path through Jesus Christ. I am praying for her family as they grieve and for a real saving knowledge of how to receive eternal life.

So what are some ways we can share Jesus with people we barely know? May I suggest putting on Christ every day and living out the Christian life by putting on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another. Above all, the scriptures tell us to put on love—the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:12-14).

Pray for opportunities to share Jesus with others and God will give them to you. And if you chicken out at the time of opportunity, pray for another opportunity. I have found God to be faithful to give second chances and third chances and so on and so on.

Here’s a thought, next time you are at the store, notice the person who is at the register. Make time to have a one to two minute conversation about them. I have found that some are quiet and don’t want to talk but many are eager for someone to ask them something about them. They have to say things like, “did you find everything ok today?” and if you respond with a question about them such as “how’s your day going” or “how are you today”, I’m always amazed at how people want to share. We just don’t take the time in our busy all about me world to ask a simple question. So think about making yourself available at an inconvenient time to listen to someone else by acknowledging them. Nothing makes a person feel more valued that someone spending time with them and often times, it only takes a minute or two. This is just one small way to show God’s love to people and you never know the impact it could have on a person. You may just be the only person who seems to care that day.

So don’t shuffle around with your eyes to the ground
Absorbed with the things in front of you
Look up, be alert and make yourself found
Be the person God can use.

Life After 9/11

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Beam left standing in the form of the Cross

I realize we are past the 15th anniversary of 9/11/2001 and publishing this post may seem late. However, I beleive the timing is perfect for someone and I’m praying for the person(s) this is meant to encourage. For me, 9/11 it’s a constant reminder that I need a deep relationship with God. Last year I went to New York for the first time in my life and when I returned, I started this post. However, it has been sitting as a draft ever since. I knew when the timing was right, I would share. Here’s my experience and I hope you will come along with me.

Saint Paul’s Chapel was the only building that didn’t sustain damage on September 11, 2001. I recall hearing about this at the time but there’s nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.

It was my first trip to New York and I was so happy to see the city with my precious step-daughter, Chelsea. She invited me to come along on a work trip so we took advantage of the opportunity and went early for the weekend to take in the sites and see a Broadway play.

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The whole weekend was amazing! We started day one with a tour of New York City. It was a rainy and windy cold day. It was Fall which is something Texas doesn’t do well. Our tour consisted of bus and boat and it was fantastic! We saw many sites such as the Empire State Building, Flatiron Building, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial site and much more. Our tour guide, Bernice, was great! You could tell she loved her job and the city.

She shared wonderful details about all the sites and when she talked about 9/11, her story became personal. Seems like everyone has a 9/11 story if you were alive that day. However, her story really resonated with me and I want to share it.

Bernice had a dream the night before 9/11 of planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings. She was scheduled to give a tour of the World Trade Center to a bus load of people at promptly 9:00 am on September 11, 2001. She called in to work and told them that she needed to cancel the tour and would not make it to work that day.

I don’t have to tell you what happened because you know the rest of the story of that horrible day. Bernice praised God for saving her life and others.

Bernice has had other dreams and learned to pay attention to them long ago. On another occasion she dreamed of leaving her apartment and being mugged and badly beaten. When she woke and left her apartment the next day, she was mugged and badly beaten. Bernice has learned something that some of us might want to think about. I believe she listens to God and this is how God speaks to her. He speaks to all of us and often times we are not aware or we choose to ignore.

God spoke to me loud and clear to me following that dreadful September 11th day. You see I had a relationship with God for eternity, but not a relationship for the here and now. The bible tells us that Jesus came they we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). The Common English Bible translation says “…so they could live life to the fullest”. I knew he wanted me to find a place to worship and grow in the knowledge of who he was, is, and is to come. That day was a turning point in my life and I sought God with all my heart. Looking back, I’m grateful for taking the next step toward God and can see why he was preparing me for a better life…a life with Him at the center of everything.

Nothing can shake the foundation set in place by the One who delivered me from sin and death. I’ve been able to endure grief, sorrow, pain, and loss because God is my strength. I’ve also been able to experience joy, grace, peace, love, and life because God is my strength.

I believe God gave us a strong message by the standing and unaffected Saint Paul’s Chapel during the 9/11 attacks. There’s no explanation for why that building is still standing as it is literally across the street from where the Twin Towers stood. God purposely preserved this chapel and for me, it’s a message of hope and eternity. Don’t wait another second to follow after God and may you respond to the call he has on your life.

Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

 

 

 

 

 

Compassionate Disciples Seize the Day!

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Compassion always leads to action

I have to be honest, sometimes I don’t feel all that compassionate. I am on staff at Argyle UMC and part of my responsibilities under Congregational Care are to consider when it’s appropriate to help people with charity. When people come in to the church and need help (usually with financial assistance), I have to weigh the situation to see if it’s appropriate for the church to help. We have guidelines to help make the decision and sometimes I say yes and sometimes I say no. I pray every day for God to help me discern what He wants me to do and I take being prudent with church resources very seriously. I have to admit there are times when I can relate to what God said when speaking of the Israelites, he told to Jeremiah in chapter 15, “I am tired of showing compassion”. Sometimes I tire of the requests because there can be many and have to be very intentional to keep my mind focused on the task God has given me. It’s not always easy, but when I fix my eyes on God it gives me endurance to show compassion.

I have a tendency to think there are times when all of us struggle to show compassion. Jesus tells us there are signs of the end of the age and in Matthew 24:12, Jesus says, “Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.” I wonder if it’s possible that in the midst of so much terror and tragedy in our world today that we could become cold or numb. Honestly, it seems that daily we are waking up to another shooting or terror attack. It would almost make sense to put up a wall to protect ourselves of the daily violence happening in our world.

I don’t believe that we want to grow cold, but I could see us becoming numb and cold to the world around us simply as a way of coping. How do we keep that from happening when so much is going on around us?

How do we deal when another terror attack has occurred by those who hate Christians?

How do we keep our compassion for others and how do we honor what Jesus said when tells us to love our neighbor as our self when it seems our neighbor hates us?

Why is it important to be compassionate toward others?

What happens if we are no longer compassionate?

Well the good news is this…

Our God is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth (Psalm 86:15) and because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail (Lamentations 3:22).

Could it be this is how we are set apart as believers in Jesus Christ? When we understand the compassion God had for us through sending his son Jesus, this motivates us to be compassionate toward others.

It’s no surprise that the Hebrew and Greek words translated “compassion” in the Bible mean “to have mercy, to feel sympathy and to have pity.” To be a compassionate disciple means you respond to the suffering and are motivated with a desire to help others.

Compassion always leads to action.

God took action showing compassion when He sent Jesus (John 3:16-17).

In the New Testament, we find Jesus exemplifying all of the Father’s attributes, including His compassion. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Jesus saw His friends weeping at the grave of Lazarus, He felt compassion for them and wept alongside them (John 11:33-35).
  2. Jesus was moved with compassion for the suffering of others and went to all the towns and villages, teaching, preaching, and healing every disease and sickness (Matthew 9:35-36)
  3. Matthew’s gospel tells us Jesus had gone to a remote place by boat and when he came ashore, the people were waiting (a huge crowd). He felt compassion for them and healed them before he divided up the five loaves and two fish to feed the 5,000(Matthew 14:14).
  4. Jesus had compassion on the crowds (Mark 6:34). When He saw the crowds as sheep without a shepherd. He had compassion for them, for they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he prayed for workers to send out into the harvest.

You see there are many people out there worn out and weary, they don’t know God and they are sheep without a shepherd. Maybe you are like the worker Jesus prayed for to send out into the harvest. People need to hear the good news that Jesus is the Great Shepherd who loves them.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded that it is to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, Then he added, love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40).

Love your God with all our heart, mind and strength means you have to spend time with God developing the same character of compassion as God. Seek God in asking what He wants you to do and realize that compassion has to be nurtured and practiced. Start by spending time in the scriptures and praying, being in church worship and community with other believers. If possible, seek one or two people to meet with on a regular basis and talk about the scriptures. You would decide before the meeting what book of the Bible to read before the meeting. Admit to each other where you have failed or sinned recently. Remind each other of God’s forgiveness and grace. Then ask each other some questions such as “where have you wasted time this week?” We are calling this DNA (Disciple, Nurture, Accountability) teams. John Wesley called them “Holy Clubs”.

What does the second commandment look like when it says to love your neighbor as yourself? Honestly, that is not all that hard unless you are not in a good place due to depression or anxiety. Most of us, love ourselves pretty well so when we think about loving someone else like our self, we should be able to imagine it.

In Luke chapter 10, an expert in the law asked, who is my neighbor. I think we ask this same question. Like God, who is my neighbor? Is it literally my neighbor, my coworker, my friend at school, the person I’m standing next to in line at Starbucks or the grocery store?

Jesus took that question “who is my neighbor” and told the parable of the Good Samaritan and how a man was on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho and how robbers stripped him and beat him up, left him half dead on the road. A priest and a Levite saw the man and passed by on the other side. Then a Good Samaritan came along and had compassion on the man and took care of him, he bandaged his wounds, put him on his own animal, took him to the hotel, then the next day, he gave money to the hotel clerk for the man to stay longer and said he would reimburse him for whatever the guy spent over what he gave. So who is our neighbor? Everyone?

God, who do you want me to love?

Everyone?

Those with a different lifestyle?

Different color?

Different culture?

Different country?

Different political views?

I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. John 13:34-35 NIV

So when we love everyone that means people who are different from us, different lifestyle, different color, different politics, different culture, different values.

Understanding how important it is to reach others and being intentional about showing God’s love should move us to be compassionate disciples.

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:32

If you have not accepted the forgiveness of sin through Christ, then you are not going to understand how important it is to forgive others. I invite you to accept the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ and start a new life with him.

Also, know that being compassionate may cost you something. It may cost you time which is a great commodity in the age in which we live. God may move you to a new place in serving or in mission. If you believe in what you are doing in following God’s call to compassion, you won’t mind giving up what’s necessary to follow Him.

Compassion always leads to action.

Imagine what our world would look like if we were all kind and compassionate toward others. We have to understand where people are that don’t know God, they are just doing the best they know how. I would like to challenge you to pray and ask God how you could show compassion to someone.

Robin Williams in the movie Dead Poets Society was trying to inspire and move his students when he told them, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world!!”

We have a legacy left for us by Christians who have gone before us? Some of them, because of their words and ideas changed our world. What would the people who are in heaven say to us if they could communicate with us? What if we could see from their perspective on how to do life here?

I think they might say something like this to us…

Carpe diem brothers and sisters in Christ!

Seize the day and go live an extraordinary compassionate life in the Lord Jesus!!

 

25 Years of Marriage

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March 23, 1991

25 years ago I married Doug Thomas. It was next to the best decision I ever made. He is a wonderful blessing from God and I’m truly thankful for him. The best decision I ever made was to follow Jesus and I think Doug would agree it was the best decision he made as well. Two people staying married for 25 years is a long time and if you are married, you know marriage is not always easy. I just can’t imagine what our marriage would like without Jesus.

When we married in 1991, I instantly became a stepmom. I had never even dated someone with children but I knew I would love these little girls with all my heart. They were and still are precious to me. Of course, they are grown now with families of their own but they will always be these precious little girls to me. I couldn’t resist but to show you a photo of them on our wedding day.

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Chelsea & Courtney

Courtney was 7 years old at the time and Chelsea was 3. As you can see, Chelsea had decided to cut her bangs the day before our wedding. Her mom (who is a hairdresser) tried to fix them but she cut them so short, it was impossible. It was really funny and I couldn’t help but adore her even more as she rocked back and forth during our vows. Courtney is the quieter one who loved and still loves to read. I love them both and so grateful to God for giving me these two beautiful daughters.

IMG_1898Sharing is important in a marriage. Doug and I have shared our hopes and dreams. We’ve also shared grief and disappointment. Marriage is full of peaks and valleys. If we are open to each other, we can learn in the valleys in order to have more peak moments. It takes listening and being present for each other. I’m not always good at listening because I’m usually the one doing the talking (bless his heart). However, I’m hoping over the years that I’ve made some progress in this area. I love his gentle soul and how sweet Doug is to listen and care for me.

IMG_4782Find something you like to do together. It may not be your favorite thing, but it may be your spouse’s favorite thing. If so, do your best to enjoy it. If you still struggle, ask God for help. I believe God wants us to love being with our spouse. So ask God to help you love what your spouse loves. For us, it’s going on a motorcycle ride. Now I’m a fair weather rider so it needs to be nice and sunny for me to hop on the motorcycle with my husband. When I go with him, I just love getting away and enjoying the open air together. It’s refreshing and renewing.

IMG_2484When the kids are grown and you find yourself an empty nester or almost empty nester, make sure and get to know each other again.


As much as you try not to focus on the kids or work, it’s almost impossible not to when it comes to the needs of your children or the demands of work. However, make time for dates and stay connected. One day the kids will leave (well hopefully) and it will be the two of you. Make intentional time together along the way and keep those date nights, they are critical to your marriage.

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We’ve changed a lot over the past 25 years. It’s so evident when you look at where we started. However, I can’t imagine changing with anyone else. I love this man of mine! I can’t control him, I can’t change him, I can only love him. By the way, I don’t want to control or change him. Well maybe early on in our marriage but we won’t go there (smiley face).

What makes a marriage last 25 years and counting? Love! Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

 

 

 

Do You Love Me?

dreamstime_s_61056922It was 3:30 in the morning and I heard a voice. My alarm was set for 5:00am. I needed to get up early and get to work at the church. So it surprised me when three times He asked…

“Kim, do you love me?”

Yes I love you.

“Kim, do you love me?”

You know I love you.

“Kim, do you love me?”

God, you know I love you. Why are you asking me this? Then I heard Him say, “Feed my sheep”.

I knew immediately God was speaking of the church.

I also knew He told Peter this same thing in John 21:15-17.

Commentaries tell us when Jesus had this conversation with Peter, He asked him three times “do you love me”. It’s believed this dialogue was symbolic of the three times Peter denied Christ as a way of reconciling their relationship.

I believe God woke me and asked me this same question because people are starving for Jesus. So I asked myself…

Am I giving them sustenance?

Am I giving them the bread of life?

Am I giving them living water?

Am I giving them Jesus?

I’m currently taking a Disciplemaking course along with twelve other people. I’ve been praying about something I heard while taking the course. The presenter asked if we loved our mission more than we love Jesus.

Let’s think about this for a moment and reflect on the question.

Do we love our mission more than we love Jesus?

I have been putting several words in the place of “mission” such as family, ministry, myself (ouch). I have been reflecting on just how much I love others or other things. And do I love those things more than I love Jesus. Anything else that I put in the place of Jesus becomes an idol and a form of idol worship.

If I truly love Jesus more than anything else, then my desires line up with God’s desires. Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. His will is accomplished for my life and I’m living out the mission of being a Christ follower. Am I doing that?

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says this of John 21. Three times Christ committed the care of his flock to Peter: Feed my lambs; feed my sheep; feed my sheep. Those whom Christ committed to Peter’s care were his lambs and his sheep. The church of Christ is his flock, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28), and he is the chief shepherd of it. In this flock some are lambs, young and tender and weak, others are sheep, grown to some strength and maturity. The Shepherd here takes care of both, and of the lambs first, for upon all occasions he showed a particular tenderness for them. He gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them in his bosom. Isa. 40:11. It is the duty of all Christ’s ministers to feed his lambs and sheep. Feed them, that is, teach them; for the doctrine of the gospel is spiritual food.

The doctrine of the gospel is spiritual food. Now that’s something to digest!

This Lenten season, I’m asking God to make me aware of opportunities to share the love of Jesus by feeding His sheep. I’m repenting of all those times I have not fed His sheep or loved them well.

Would you like to join me?

 

Accessorize Your Life

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Have you already given up on it? I would like to propose a different type of resolution. One that can be found in the scriptures.

Colossians 3:1-3, 10, 12-14 The Message

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.

10Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Did you receive new clothes for Christmas? Did you open a gift or two with new clothes? What about a new accessory? Did you receive a jacket, shoes, boots, hats, belts, gloves, jewelry, or scarf? If you received a new jacket, would you put your new jacket on top of or over your old jacket? What if you opened a gift and it was a belt. Would you put on your new belt on top of your old belt? No, that would be crazy. I love how these scriptures use clothing as a metaphor for how we are to live in Christ.

When it comes to a new life in Christ, let’s go back and see what Paul says we are to take off.

Colossians 3:5-11

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. 9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. We have to intentionally rid ourselves of the old ways that causes us to sin.

Asbury Bible Commentary asked the following question, “Does this transformation occur in a moment or is it progressive?” The answer is, Yes! John Wesley said that “put to death” means to “slay with a continued stroke”.  In other words, while God’s transforming work is decisive, it is also perpetual. We are being renewed day by day, transformed from one degree of God’s glory to another. So we must die to self daily, and constantly put away evil. This is both our privilege and responsibility as those who bear the image of Christ.

Luke 9:23, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

I don’t recall anyone having to teach me to sin. I’m pretty sure I could disobey when I was a toddler and Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it.

Paul goes on to tell us that we need to remove those old ways that are connected with the old life meaning sin. Verse 9, You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes. What do ill-fitting clothes look like? They don’t fit, they are either too big or too small. You have a new custom-made wardrobe by God with his label on it. Those old cloths are out of style…obsolete. You can try to put on those old cloths but they won’t fit and you won’t be happy because you have the Holy Spirit living inside you prompting you, speaking to you and nudging you toward Christ.

  • As a Christ follower, we are someone new and made to dress in the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are to clothe ourselves in Christ’s image.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you (clothe yourselves): compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength (meekness), discipline (patience). Be even-tempered (bear with one another, make allowance for each others faults, accept one another), content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment (it binds everything together in perfect harmony, perfect bond of unity). Never be without it.

  • We are chosen for this new life of love so dress like it. Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

When we lay down those things our human nature wants to do, we are renewing our minds on what is above and not what is on the earth.

13Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.

What does it mean to be quick to forgive? What does it mean to forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you? Well let me ask you how much forgiveness have you needed from God? I don’t know about you but I’ve needed a lot of forgiveness from God and others. I mess up all the time and if it weren’t for grace, I don’t know what I would do. As I meditated on this, I was asking God if I am quick to forgive an offense? Do I offer forgiveness to others like I want in return from God? This is thought provoking and reminds me of a story.

Recently I had a bad day. My husband had been sick with a cold and was coughing…A LOT. After two sleepless nights, I moved to the guest bed. A storm moved through during the night and woke me up. It was too early to get up so I went back to bed after the storm passed. Well I overslept and this threw me into overdrive to get ready and get out the door to a meeting that I was leading. As it turns out, I was ten minutes late. It wouldn’t have been so bad except we had a guest coming to our meeting and I forgot to let her know that we had changed meeting time to 15 minutes later that morning. So she arrives 25 minutes before I do. You can imagine how bad I felt and apologized profusely as she and some of the other persons were leaving the meeting room as I arrived.

She was so gracious and forgiving to me which is something I didn’t deserve but really appreciated. She had a choice and she chose grace. Oh I forgot to mention that this is not my first offense with her. I’ve needed her grace before. There’s an incident in our past where she exhibited forgiveness and grace to me. She didn’t have to forgive me and offer grace to me either time but she did. I see someone who displays love, forgiveness, and grace over and over. I see God in her because isn’t He the one who offers love, forgiveness, and grace over and over? Isn’t He the one who equips us to offer love, forgiveness, and grace over and over?

One other thing I need to share about this story of forgiveness is that I thought because of our past that our relationship was fragile but actually it’s quite the opposite. Our relationship is very strong. Two people who offer grace and forgiveness over and over are stronger because the more we forgive, the more we love.

Have you ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer? Have you ever considered the part, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We are asking for as much forgiveness from God as we have given to others. It’s something to think about.

  • So accessorize your life with grace and forgiveness. That’s exactly what the Father does for us all the time.

14And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

The Japanese ceremonial dress consists of layers of expensively decorated cloths which are draped over a person, each beautiful in its own right. But the costume is incomplete until the belt is placed around the waist, holding the costume together. In a similar way, love functions as the primary virtue with which a Christian is to be clothed.

  • No matter how much you are offended or how much you disagree, wear love. It’s your all purpose garment never be without it. Love binds us together.

So let me ask you. What’s in your closet? What’s in your heart? Have you given up your old self and old ways? Have you come to a place where it’s just not working any more. Could it be you need to tell God you are sorry for the ways you have failed him, for your sin? Do you need to clean out the old and ask God for the new way of life in Christ? Why not start off the year with a new wardrobe? It’s not too late.

Maybe you have a relationship with Jesus and need to put on some new accessories. Put away those old accessories and start wearing the new accessories God had custom-made just for you. Just ask God, He is waiting.

Don’t wear those old clothes any longer or don’t wear those old accessories. God has brand new custom wardrobe just waiting for you.

Go now and resolve to wear love, it’s your all purpose garment never be without it.

Happy New You!

Suffering

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This time of year can be joyous and painful. I find it to be a mix of both. As I reflect on my past, I remember a loved one. As I consider my present, I’m blessed with family and friends.

There is much conflict in the world around us and it seems to be encroaching into our own part of the world. We are unsure, we are uncertain, we are afraid, and we are sad. We want life to be the way it used to be but then we see beauty in today when someone is kind, thoughtful, and loving.

We don’t know who to blame for chaos in the world or in our own heart. We don’t know when it will end. We hold on to the very Word of God and Jesus who is our hope and our future. We hold to the Healer who mends our hearts and heals our wounds.

Suffering

In the suffering and in the pause,
We search for meaning and the cause.

Nowhere to find the cause nor blame,
Often leads to sob and shame.

In times of difficulty, trial, and disparity,
We pray to the Lord and look for charity.

Asking God to take this cup from me,
We yearn for healing from this we grieve.

Our hearts are anxious and all a flutter;
Then mouths are filled with words we stutter.

In the face of mistrust and uncertain danger,
We look for hope amidst the manger.

Where Christ offers peace like no other,
Sharing good news and how His love covers.

Lives are at stake for all who are lost;
It is Jesus Christ who paid the cost.

So suffering will come, and suffering will leave;
The Word is our hope and our future to cleave.

Fix your eyes on the Healer who delivers us all,
Knowing Jesus has answered from the very first call.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. Isaiah 53:4-5

Kim Thomas
November, 2015

WWJS…What Would Jesus Say?

If Jesus wrote a letter to your church, what would He say?dreamstime_s_8627999

This question was presented in a lecture recently and I have not stopped thinking about it since.

WWJS…What Would Jesus Say?

Would Jesus tell your church to return to it’s first love, persevere in suffering, refuse to compromise, hold on to sound doctrine, wake up, keep you from the hour of trial to come, or admit you are lukewarm?

In the book of Revelation, John writes to the seven churches. In these inspired writings, Jesus speaks to the churches and offers commendations and corrections to put them back on the path to righteousness and life with Him.

The seventh church, the church in Laocidea, is the most troubling and comforting to me. Like most of the letters to the churches, there is bad news and there is good news.

The Bad News

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit (the word “vomit” used in HCSB version) you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Revelation 3:15-18

It feels like Jesus is speaking into this time and place. We are so consumed with self and wealth that nothing else seems to matter. The church in Laocidea is the “selfie” church. Wow and how true of our times! I wonder if people were really honest with themselves, how many people believe they don’t need God. Things are going pretty good and when things are going pretty good, we are good. We don’t need religion or a relationship with God because “we got this”. We seem to make enough money to live in nice homes and drive nice cars, fund our children’s wants and needs, and fund our own wants and needs. We may give a little to the church or charity but not too much because we need to make sure our bills and needs are met. This “selfie” attitude and lifestyle is really nothing new just seems more prominent and accepted these days.

I speak on this from a place I know well…like 25 years well. I knew I need a Savior when I was a teen. I prayed for Him to free me from sin and give me a place with Him (Jesus) in eternity. Then I went about my business for a number of years. For a long time, I would attend church on Christmas and Easter because that’s what you do, but I didn’t really commit to a regular relationship with God. Then I started attending more regularly but it was still a casual relationship. If I needed God, I would call out; otherwise I was doing pretty well. The funny thing about this is I was not only spiritually poor, but I struggled financially even though it looked like I had everything.

When 9/11 happened, I realized that this casual relationship with God was not going to cut it any longer. In some ways, people thought of me as spiritual because I would regularly attend church but really the truth is, I was just attending church and really only when it was convenient. Something changed for me on 9/11/2001 and I wanted to know God in a meaningful way and my spirit was restless and hungry for more. That’s when I really started attending church and reading the bible. I committed to a bible study and fellowship with other believers. I needed community and had a desire to serve. You see it all comes together when you really commit to God. When you submit to God, He changes everything starting with your heart.

The Good News

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:19-22

We don’t like to think about discipline but it is just what a parent does with a child. If you are a child of God, He will discipline you. So accept this love and discipline, be honest with yourself and repent. Jesus is waiting and if you will open the door of your heart and let Him in, He has a seat waiting for you.

Father, I pray whoever has ears, let them hear.

Amen!

A Closer Walk

Cissy April 2015

Cissy – 2 months old

In the spring we got a puppy! My sister and nephew went with me to the breeders to pick out a puppy and to everyone’s surprise, we both picked out puppies. We have sister puppies and they are adorable (most of the time).

Sisters

Cissy and Dixie – 2 1/2 months old

They are really sweet dogs but puppies nonetheless and if you know anything about a Labrador puppy, you know they do everything puppy on a much larger scale.

I decided to start walking with a friend for exercise and to help Cissy burn off energy. It was good to have a dog to walk. During the summer months, while it is so hot, my friend carried a collapsible water bowl and water bottle while I would try to control the dog on the leash, carry my phone, and the gate remote. The leash is a retractable leash and because she has so much energy, it seemed appropriate to give her some room to run in front of us and sniff EVERY living (or dead) thing on the ground.

leash

Cissy – 5 months old

As it turns out, too much leash is not a good thing. She gets distracted easily and moves off course by walking to the other side of the road, walking right in front of us to the point of almost tripping us or trying to pull way off on the grassy side of the road. Neither were good. Even though I want to give her leeway, it’s best if I don’t. If I pull her leash in closer to me, she stays with me and she stays focused on the walk.

You know our walk with God is really no different. When I am in God’s Word and I’m staying close to Him, I am focused and content. When I go too far ahead of God, I tend to get off course and stray. And when I stray, I sin and I bet you do too. We need God and we need to stay close to Him or we sin! Now I’m not saying that I am without sin, but I will say, I sin less because my eyes are on God and my heart is on God and my daily life is focused on what God wants for  me.

You see this is one thing you can not fake. You can fake almost anything else in this world but a relationship with God you can not. You may get away with it for a time and think you have a long leash but ultimately you will hang yourself with it because too much leash leaves you too far from the One who made you.

Stay close to God my friend and let’s pray for each other while on our walk with God.

Would you join me in asking God daily; Lord, what do you want to do through me?

For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

 

 

God Can Use You

There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. Acts 10:1-2

Cornelius was a good guy, yet he was a Centurion. Centurion’s were a vital part of the Roman army and their job was to lead men (soldiers). The reputation of the Roman army was not good. However, Cornelius was a man who did charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. Because of that, an angel appeared to him and said, “Your prayers and acts of charity have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4b

Did you know God can use you whether you know it or not. You may or may not be seeking God. You may or may not believe in Jesus.

Yet God can use you.

So you may be a good person who does charitable things for others and you may know there is a God and even pray, but don’t fully understand the whole Jesus thing. Good News! Neither did Cornelius.

While God was working in Cornelius’ heart, Peter had a vision. Through that vision, God showed him the foods Peter thought to be unclean and how they could be made clean by God (Acts 10:9-16). Peter didn’t understand what God was trying to say and was deeply perplexed according to the scripture. While Peter was thinking about the scripture, the Holy Spirit directed him to three men who were looking for him. The men were sent for Peter by Cornelius who also had a vision. Cornelius’ vision was to send for Peter yet he did not fully understand why. Now here’s where I think this gets really interesting.

God used Cornelius, a Gentile, as an example of someone who was not Jewish. Someone who could be made “clean” and adopted into the family of God and be a follower in Jesus Christ. God was preparing Peter’s heart before the visit when he gave him the vision of clean versus unclean food. He was showing him that He loves all people both Jew and Gentile and salvation is available for all.

So can God use anyone…at any time…in any situation…to bring understanding of who He is and His great love! Are you praying for opportunities to be used by God. I promise if you pray it, He will use you.

I saw the movie War Room over the weekend and left the movie feeling inspired. The message I saw throughout the movie was about prayer and God’s faithfulness. In the end, the message was clear about another point.

Mentoring.

If I am a follower of Jesus, I should be mentoring someone else who desires to be in a close relationship with God. There are plenty of folks out there who attend church who could be mentoring someone. There seems to be a plethora of people who desire a close walk with God but don’t know what that looks like. I get that and I was in that place for a number of years in my life. These people are the perfect candidates for mentoring.

On Sunday morning, I prayed for a person I could mentor. A few hours later, a young woman is in our sanctuary by herself. When I approached her to introduce myself, she tells me that it is her first visit to our church and that she is nervous. It was an opportunity for me to encourage her for coming and for me to sit with her during the service. We have scheduled lunch this week and I am smiling ear to ear as I wonder how God is going to work in this situation. Maybe this is the person I am to mentor.

What about you?

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From Darkness to Light

Bibles

My grandparents bibles.

To open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me (Jesus) they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified. Acts 26:18

Félix changed…I don’t know the exact date he changed, but I know he changed in 1956.

Félix was born 100 years ago today on August 13, 1915 and he was the oldest of ten children. He married Vivian Burns in 1940 and they had one son named Terry.

Félix liked to have a good time and he could party. He went out drinking…a lot! He liked to drink, gamble, and fist fight.

This is a story about how Félix changed sort of like Paul did on the road to Damascus.

But first, I want to tell you about his wild days before he changed. Félix lived in the small town of Sapulpa, Oklahoma. He was a hard worker by day and wild man at night. Most nights he would go and listen to Western Swing bands such as Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Johnnie Lee Wills, and Leon McAuliffe. Leon McAuliffe was an American Western swing musician who was famous for his steel guitar solos with Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys.

Félix’s wife, Vivian, dealt with her husband’s way of partying for the first 16 years of their marriage. I remember her telling me how hard these times were for her and their family. It really was the worst of times.

Then one day….. Felix changed.

In August 1956, Felix’s son, got really sick and had to be hospitalized. His appendix had ruptured and surgery was necessary to save his life. Felix realized he had spent his time and effort in all the wrong places. He begged God for a second chance with his son and told God if He would save his son, he would turn to him and change his ways.

Terry made it through the surgery and fully recovered.  If he had not, I would not be writing this post today since he is my dad. My grandpa kept his end of the deal and went to church and at 41 years old, he gave his life to Jesus. He changed and I mean really changed!

Félix changed

As far as the family knew, he never took another sip of alcohol after he came into a relationship with Jesus and many would say he was an alcoholic.

Felix changed.

On one occasion, he was leaving the movie theater and he saw two guys from his past.  One of the guys asked, “Félix, we heard you were a Christian now, what are you doing at the movies?” After that he never went back to the movies again. Honestly, in this day and time, it’s not a bad idea. What’s up with shooters in movie theaters these days? The enemy will try anything to make us live in fear and I refuse to be bullied by him! Oh sorry, I got distracted. So Félix quit going to the movies and the reason had to do with his witness for Christ. If someone saw him leave the movies and that caused them to stumble, then he shouldn’t do it. Romans 14:13b, Instead, decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. Now he didn’t put this on anyone else. He did not care if his wife and son went to the movies. He looked after his own witness and listened to the Holy Spirit. I love how personal God is with each one of us regarding how we live out our life and walk with Him.

Félix changed.

He attended church regularly and taught a youth Sunday School class. He would sit at the kitchen table and go over his lesson with his wife. His son would lay in bed in the next room and listen to his dad go over his lessons before class. As a result, he would know all the answers in Sunday School. He also learned a lot about the bible which has stayed with him to this day.

Félix changed.

He was a deacon at the First Baptist Church for many years and he prayed powerful prayers. He had a deep voice that carried and his prayers were heartfelt and emotional. He would come off gruff but had the demeanor of a big olé teddy bear. You could sense the presence of God when he prayed.

Félix changed.

He visited the sick in the hospital and made home visits to those who were ill and aging. He didn’t stay long but long enough to check on the person and pray for them before heading out to the next stop. Again, this was something he did on his own as the power of God moved in him to serve. He did not expect anyone else to do what he was doing, but did this service because he wanted to serve God in this way. It’s interesting to me that in my position on staff at the church that I care for the sick and aging.

Félix changed.

As a result, others changed too. He became a well-respected man at work, in the community, and at home. The power of Christ in him spread like a sweet fragrance. By the time I came along, he was a fantastic grandpa! When I was a little girl, every time I went to his house for a visit, he would take me to get an icee. This became a tradition for us and one I will always cherish as a special memory. He loved me like crazy and not just me, he loved our whole family.

Félix changed.

At Christmas when our family would be opening gifts, he would record our voices on his cassette player (cassettes were used after 8-tracks but before CD’s) so he could play it later to remember our special time together. He would get emotional at the goodness of God for his family. He was truly thankful for us and all his blessings and would tell us often, especially at Christmas each year.

Félix changed.

I’m so thankful for his transformation. As I think about his life, I don’t know if he ever went on a mission trip but I know he did mission in his community. He was generous to others and willing to help those in need. He was a kind and transformed man who loved well.

Félix changed.

God brought this to mind today as I remember the fact that my grandpa would have been 100 years old this year if he were still alive. He died in 1997 just before his 82 birthday. I cherish his life and I cherish my Lord Jesus. You see I was staying with my grandparents one summer in Oklahoma when I knew I needed Jesus and guess what?

I changed!

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

How do you want to be remembered when others reflect on your 100th birthday?

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Grandpa Barnhart, me, and Grandpa Rivers on my wedding day.