Getting to Peace in the Kingdom of God

Photo:  Aquifers are geological formations containing ground water that supplies water for wells and springs.

Aquifers are geological formations containing ground water that supply water for wells and springs.

What is it like to live in the Kingdom of God?  The Kingdom of God isn’t just about having a secure place to go after we die.  Many treat it like a heavenly insurance program.  The benefit program starts here on earth.  It starts now. In Romans 14:17, Paul outlines three major benefit categories.  He writes, “The kingdom of God is…righteous and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The order of these three components matter.  They components build on each other.  The first component achieves right standing with God.  By becoming a member of the Kingdom of God, we have asked God to consider Jesus’ innocent blood as payment for our sins.  Jesus’ choice to make this available to us for all eternity still amazes me.

From this position of right standing before God, we can access His peace.  The peace of God bypasses all logical understanding.  His peace cannot logically be explained.  It’s the gift of confidence He gives.  He guarantees that He makes all things work together for our good and His glory.  This may not seem possible by looking at our circumstances.  Yet, by the very fact that God promises this, and through the stories of other people who have weathered horrific things, we come to believe that peace is possible.  We learn that His peace will take us beyond our feelings and our interpretation of events.  We start to learn and understand His kingly priorities.  We align our priorities with His priorities. This brings a living peace.

We gain more peace by studying God’s word in scripture and letting the promises therein become God’s guarantees for us.  To name a few…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“My righteous right hand will uphold you” Isaiah 41:10

“You will rest in safety”  Psalm 16:9

“I will be with in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” Psalm 91:15

After peace, joy follows. Joy must not be confused with happiness.  Joy is the underlying confidence we gain from being members of the Kingdom of God.  No matter the circumstances, joy lives beneath our emotions like an aquifer level of water.  Joy lives beneath the surface of our emotional highs and lows to bring us a steady confidence of God’s commitment to redeem and to restore all things into order for those who call upon His name.


Choosing Joy This 2016 Christmas

We can Choose Joy this Christmas 2016. Photo image:

We can Choose Joy this Christmas 2016.
Photo image:

It’s the Christmas season 2016. We celebrate Christmas as the season of Joy.  “Joy to t he World,” as the hymn rings out.  For many, the season does bring joy.  For others, it brings heartache reminders of lost loved ones. Some cry because they don’t have the Hallmark Christmas they believe should be for everyone.

The truth is that none of us have families where it is “all as it should be,” as designed by God’s original design plan.  Nonetheless, I thank God for the good things, and there are many.  We live in a peaceful land.  I have a roof over my head and food on the table.  I am blessed with many wonderful friends and family members.  I do not take these lightly.

Even in good circumstances, people say hurtful things that cut to the heart.  This happened to me this week, and I found myself in the bathroom crying and feeling rotten.  I knew I couldn’t leave till I forgave that person.  I forgave them as an act of obedient.  It wasn’t how I felt.  But I know enough not to harbor any hurtful exchange, and to forgive the words, the moment, the misunderstanding of the heart.  I laid it down and asked God for a fresh heart to love this person and continue on. I had apologized for my part sincerely, and as best I knew how.  I had forgiven her for the things she had said that hurt me.  Now I had to wait for my friend to figure out what she would do.  I asked for comfort from the sting of the words.  He granted me this.  However, I felt raw and robbed of joy for the season.  Walking past the Christmas tree, I wanted to cry all over again.  I settled for sad.  I looked sad; I felt sad; I sounded sad.

At that point, God prompted me with an idea, “You could choose joy.”  Of course, I didn’t feel any joy at the moment.  I was about to reject the idea altogether.  He said, “You’ve forgiven her.  You know the friendship will continue.  You know there’s moments coming where you’ll laugh together again.  I’ve offered to take care of the issue and work on her heart. You know reconciliation is coming.  I know how you feel right now.  But you can choose to walk in the joy of forgiveness, and the joy of knowing there’s a new chapter coming.  You are invited to divinely exchange your sad feelings with the mantle of joy. You can consciously choice to be joyful…Now.” Really?

I knew the situation wasn’t able to give me joy right now.  But I could allow for the privilege to forgive and allow God to restore joy.  I could choose to focus on the other parts of the day, and the season, that were joy-worthy.  I could choose to stand in faith-filled confidence that we two friends would get to happiness together in each other’s company again.  I could choose to return to joy without losing the three days of sadness that it might take for this friend to respond to my voiemail, and revisit the accusation with a fresh set of eyes.  I could believe this would happen.  And meanwhile I could literally choose joy now.  It would not be based on the circumstances actually happening, yet. Rather, it was a choice based in confidence that God would restore the situation.

Choosing joy wasn’t a false pretense.  It didn’t circumvent my part of heart searching and getting to genuine repentance and forgiveness.  It wasn’t shoving the incident under the carpet where it would smell in three days.  It wasn’t burying the incident without processing.  It wasn’t pretending it had never happened.  Now it followed a genuine business meeting with Jesus laying out my flawed part of the exchange.  True repentance, forgiveness and willingness to move forward transpired before God.  He had heard and given his commitment to help.  Now it was time to proceed.  And it was his suggestion to “choose joy.”  Ephesians 5:2 says to “walk in love.”  Even when we don’t feel like it.  This time He spoke about joy.  I chose to put on a smile, allow Him to do what I could not do with my friend.  And pick up my lengthy “Things to To List” and move forward in JOY.  I told my face muscles to move from a scowl  into a smile.  I said, “All right.  Very funny God.”  Then I smiled again, and turned the corner from Sad Street to Pathway to Joy.




The Action Plan for Thanksgiving 2016

The Action Plan for Thanksgiving  2016


Happy Thanksgiving 2016 Photo:

Happy Thanksgiving 2016 Photo:

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Psalm 100 (NKJV)

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!

Serve the Lord with gladness

Come before His presence with singing.

Know that the LORD, He is God

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving

And into His courts with praise,

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name

For the Lord is good;

His mercy is everlasting

And His truth endures to all generations.”

Make a joyful shout.  Let us get our mouths in gear and Praise Him.  Say what we are thankful for. Start with Praise

Serve.    Let us find ways to serve the Lord.  Sometimes it’s just showing up to a difficult situation.  Sometimes, it’s finding a kitchen serving meals to the homeless.  Sometimes, it’s being inclusive by extending an invitation to join with another’s family.

Come before Him.  For some, this is easy and we can easily sing a song.  Others come to a Thanksgiving table and it’s the first time they’ve bowed their head for grace in a long time.  Coming before Him often requires us to face our stuff.  This little phrase might be difficult for some and we pray it is a literal time before God letting God do His cleansing work.  Find time to sing a song at some point during the day.

Know He is God Keep this knowledge that He is God who sits on the throne.  There is none before Him.  Because He has the whole world in His hands, we do not need to fear.  You may be the only one with this knowledge around the Thanksgiving table.  Let this knowledge permeate out of you (even silently) into the atmosphere all around.

God Made Us.  We did not have to make ourselves.  He did it.  He created each person with a unique gift package.  This truth doesn’t allow us to pretend we’re self-sufficient.  We need God and we need one another.  That’s God’s design plan.  Let us be thankful for the design plan God had in mind, no matter how far we or our family members have strayed.

Enter In  We can enter in to wherever we are at Thanksgiving with gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts.  We enter His courts with praise.  The word courteous comes from the manner one was supposed to have in the “courts of the king.”  We can walk in a courteous fashion.  As kindness and courteousness goes out of vogue, the person who is courteous stands out like a welcome light in the dark world that craves approval and acceptance.

Bless God.  Giving God glory and credit for things that other people take for granted as just “nature” or “the way science is” can cause a person to recognize the Divine Creator behind the sunset or the changing seasons.

Truth Endures Let us be thankful that truth does endure to all generations.  Whether people admit certain truths or not, God is all about truth and what is true, lasts forever.  Let us be the reminders that God is good (so many forget this if they don’t like their circumstances.)  Let us rely on His mercy and loving kindness.  This is the truth of God’s character that last throughout the generations.  Let us look for the threads of His mercy in our families from generation to generation.

Operating in the Love of God and the Patience of Christ

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT)

 We may need the patience of Christ with some of our families.  Let the Lord provide this and show us how to express the love of God.

Let us Hold our Victory Place in the Journey with God.

This post was originally written for

Prayers for the Parched: God Never Fails

God Never Fails Us Hebrews 13:5.  Photo credit

God Never Fails Us Hebrews 13:5. Photo credit

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged. And confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me. Hebrews 13:5-6 AMP

This prayer is particularly helpful on those days that seem overwhelming.  That’s when it’s time to bring to mind the sustaining verses. It’s time to refresh our minds with what the Bible says in the face of what our business associates say, our family members say, our media says, or what our friends say.  It’s time to focus on what the Bible says about us. It’s time to remember his commitment to us and his perspective on our lives.

My Bible says…

God will not fail me

God will not give me up

God will not leave me without support

God will not leave me helpless

God will not forsake me

God will not let me down

God will not relax his hold on me


He is my helper

I will not be seized with alarm

I will not fear

I will not dread

I will not be terrified

So therefore…

I take comfort

I am encouraged

I am confident

I am bold in Jesus


Releasing Blessing 4.30.2016

Steps to Releasing God's Blessings

Steps to Releasing God’s Blessings

EXERCISE:  Releasing Blessing

For                                           ,

1.    God sees you as His                                

Precious Child             Valued Saint

Victorious Warrior      Beloved

Faithful Servant          Friend



2.  God Wants You to Know He is Your                  

Protector                    King

Burden Carrier            Healer

Provider                      Father

Leader                         Strength


3.  God has for you abundant                                                

Grace               Resources                    Love

Forgiveness     Redemption                Peace

Wisdom           Comfort                      Delight

Acceptance     Confidence                 Strength

Joy                   Relationships               Hope


A Visit from a California Valley Quail

The Majestic California Quail

The Majestic California Quail

A few days ago a bird perched on the back fence looking rather regal.  I thought it might fly away, but it didn’t.  It caught my attention and I hunted for my binoculars to get a better look.  I recognized that it was a quail by its plume.  It stood like it was protecting the yard.  Its face looked like it was dressed in a medieval armor helmet with the visor lowered.  The white coloring is quite stunning on the male bird.  He was indeed protecting his family of young quails as they munched on whatever seed they were finding in the grass.  The shrubbery nearby offered an escape path for them to flutter to, if necessary.

The family fed for almost 30 minutes. The adult male stayed positioned on the corner stone fence post.  I felt I had an armed guard keeping watch over the property.  Its “yellow” breast covering looked orange in on this particular bird.  It seemed to be soaking in the sun as it stood guard. Eventually the family scuttled off into the chaparral.

I looked up online the fact this this bird is the official state bird of California. It’s easy to see why.  The beauty and pose and regal nature make it a lovely state bird.  The California Quail is also known as the California Partridge, Catalina Quail, Topknot Quail, and Valley Quail.  The California Quail is smaller than a pigeon, but larger than a dove.  It tends toward robust sizing.

How can it be that I have never seen a California Valey Quail till now? The bird is dressed in such exquisite detail. It continues to be welcome in our yard, even though it visits infrequently.  Long live the California Quail!

Celebrating the New Covenant with Communion

The Communion Cup represents the New Covenant.  Photo courtesy of

The Communion Cup represents the New Covenant. Photo courtesy of

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”  Luke 22:20

We take the cup of Communion celebrating the new covenant.  The old covenant takes us to the letter of the law brought by Moses from Mt. Sinai.  That glory dimmed before Moses made it down from the mountain and saw the people breaking the law.  Jesus ushered in the new covenant through becoming our sacrifice for failing to meet the terms of the old covenant.  The law of God still stands, but we get to stand behind Jesus who fulfilled the law.  His righteousness is what God sees when He looks at us. Further, God’s law is written in our minds and in our hearts.  The glory of Pentecost ushered in the Holy Spirit who became our guarantee of the new covenant, our seal.  “You were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”  Ephesians 1:13 NIV. The Holy Spirit comes and fills us with love, liberty and a new heart that loves the law.  The new cry in our hearts says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God.”  Psalm 40:8.  Truly “He takes away the first covenant and establishes the second.”  Hebrews 10:9.  Another way to look at it is that He takes away “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” (2 Corinthians 3:7) and establishes a new “ministry of righteousness.”  2 Corinthians 3:9. This new life is life in the Spirit.  The old covenant is passing away (v. 11) and the new covenant lives in us.  So, taking communion embraces and rejoices in the new covenant.  Each time we take communion we embrace a new depth of the covenant.



Does Our Giving Outweigh Our Thanks this Thanksgiving?

Does Our Giving Outweigh Our Thanks This Thanksgiving?

Does Our Giving Outweigh Our Thanks This Thanksgiving?

We take time once a year to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s a day to count our thankfulness to God in so many ways.  Taking time to really ponder our blessings fills our hearts with Thanks, and then giving.

It doesn’t take but a photo of war torn cities to be grateful for not having bombs go off in our country.  It doesn’t take but a photo of poverty stricken areas to be grateful for the meal on our tables.  It doesn’t take a child’s hand begging on a street corner to be grateful for a job, or even the welfare structure of our country. Homeless people sleeping in tents can make us grateful for a roof over our head.  We may not have everything we yearn for.  But we have what we have.  It’s the start point of gratitude for God.

Taking time to praise God begins to fill us with love for God and all He does for us.  We have access through Jesus to peace that passes understanding, to hope because of His faithfulness to us.  We know our prayers are heard.  We believe the Bible when it says, God is for us.  These truths begin to fill us with gratitude—to the point of spilling over.  This point of overflowing is where the convergence of thankfulness turns to giving.  As we realize our gratefulness, we turn to give out.

Does our giving outweigh our thanks this Thanksgiving?  It doesn’t have to be monetary.  It could be graciousness to a difficult relative.  It could be the gift of forgiveness to an old wound or new offense.  It could be letting people work out their relationships with God with silent prayer and love.  It could be simply showing up.  It could be loving again where love has been abused or misunderstood.  In choosing to love, we love wisely.  We love on God’s terms.  But the choice to address the issue and choose love (including tough love) once again is often costly.  Yet this sacrificial giving of love is noted in heaven and joined with supernatural power to join in your choice to give.

Let’s let our giving outweigh our thanks this year.

Christian Syrians Finishing Well

ISIS Killing Christians in a Church.  Photo

ISIS Killing Christians in a Church. Photo

When crisis events happen that catch the attention of the whole world, many Christians often comment, “This must be the beginning of the End Times.”  Truth is, we’re already in the End Times.  We are all aware of the Syrian Refugee Crisis as they flood out of Syria. Christian Syrians are escaping certain death from the Isis State.

Other Syrian Christians have already met their death.  They are already feasting in heaven with Jesus.  For them, that was their End Times.  For every person who died for their faith in a living Jesus as Lord, they did finish well.  Their death was noted in heaven and has a certain value.  They met their End Time by finishing well. Whether their photo made it to any journalistic media source or not, their life was not in vain.  Whatever we do for the Lord lasts forever.

Their death creates a sound heard in heaven.  Collectively the sound of the martyrs’ deaths increases in a cry that God hears.  Our outrage on earth joins the world-wide cry to God.  Our caring prayers create an echo.  It’s not just a cry of grief for the loss.  It’s a cry out for God to act on behalf of heaven and join in the supernatural battle with the heavenly armies. We serve a righteous God. He has a way to raise the righteous and the workers of iniquity are not able to rise.

Consider Psalm 36 as a prayer.

Psalm 36 New King James Version (NKJV)

Man’s Wickedness and God’s Perfections

An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
He devises wickedness on his bed;
He sets himself in a way that is not good;
He does not abhor evil.

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

10 Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 Let not the foot of pride come against me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the workers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been cast down and are not able to rise.


Praying with Confident Expectation for Our Children

Never Stop Praying for our  Children.  Photo courtesy of

Never Stop Praying for our Children. Photo courtesy of

Deuteronomy 4:40 reads, “You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

Like many of promises in the Bible, God attaches a condition.  Deuteronomy 4 describes how to makes things go well for us and our children.  On one side of the coin, it can seem like an onerous condition to have to keep God’s statutes and God’s commandments.  On the other side of the coin, if you are keeping God’s statues and God’s commandments, then the authority in your prayer request begins to carry confidence that this promise will come about. Our prayers are said with confident expectation based in scripture.

If you want a example prayer, T.D. Jakes, in his book He-Motions: Even Strong Men Struggle, suggests the following prayer: “Father, I’m concerned about the direction of my children are taking.  Right now they seem beyond the reach of my voice and influence.  But You can reach them. You can remind them of what they’ve been taught—and initiate the circumstances that will bring them back to You. Your Word says if I obey You, things will go well for me and my children. So I stand on Your promise, believing they’ll choose to serve You and walk in Your blessings for the rest of their lives. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.”

Start today.  Make the time to pray for God’s blessing on your children.  No matter how far they may seem from God’s plan, nothing is impossible for God.  Refuse to give up and believe that God is partnering with you to answer your prayers.  If it’s taking a long time to see the answer, choose to believe that He’s answering the devoted prayers of many other parents in bringing about change to many people’s lives.  The longer it takes, the more layers God’s answers extend.