Access Point

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I heard a story recently about thieves who broke into the same house twice. The troubled homeowner asked the police why thieves would return to her house for a second robbery. The officer told her the robbers checked to see if their access point was still open. It was, so they entered for a second time. He warned her, “The thieves will come back as long as the access point is open.”

Negative thoughts are like those thieves. As long as we leave open the access point in our mind, they’ll keep coming. We can close off the access point by filling our mind with positive thoughts so there is no room for negativity.

Research indicates that an individual thinks approximately 50,000 thoughts per day. Since we tend to recycle our thoughts by repeating the same ones we had yesterday and the day before, we need to make sure we’re filling our minds with positive thoughts. Pessimistic, downbeat, or gloomy thoughts rob us of our joy and can affect our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

How often in a day do we say aloud or silently these kinds of off-putting comments:

I am just hopeless.
It is a terrible day.
I feel awful.
I will never get this job done.
Nothing ever works out right.
I’ve always been this way. I’ll never change.
I feel miserable.
Bad things always happen to me.
Why can’t I ever catch a break!
Business is terrible.
Woe is me!

These thoughts make us feel sad, anxious, guilty, depressed, inferior, and angry. They also move us farther away from right living in Christ.
Every thought we have either moves us closer to God or farther away. Negative thoughts move us away from a close relationship with God. In Matthew 16:23 Jesus said, “You are a stumbling block to me. You think as men think, not as God thinks.” Author and pastor, A.W. Tozer said, “We have all found that God will not dwell in spiteful and proud and selfish thoughts. He treasures our pure and loving thoughts, our meek and charitable and kindly thoughts. They are the thoughts like His own!”

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” The Message version of this verse says that we have “powerful God tools” available to help us tear down barriers against God’s truth. Negative thoughts are barriers against God’s truth. The good news is that we can replace negative thoughts with positive ones, but it takes mental discipline. Every time a negative thought tries to enter the access point of our brain, we must switch it. We must use “powerful God tools” in order to think like God thinks and close off the access point to negative thoughts.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Last weekend I went with 18 women from my Bible study groups to the Women of Joy Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. What a joy-filled, Spirit led experience of renewal we had! We lifted our voices in praise with Charles Billingsley, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman. Four joyful women of God shared their inspirational and often humorous stories of faith. Each one lifted our spirits and encouraged us to move forward in our faith journey with hope and perseverance.

Sarah Palin urged us to find the desire of our heart, our God-given passion. Reminding us to use our passions, she said to look for sign-posts that encourage us. Then she shared that as she trained for a marathon, her teenage son Track left notes of encouragement every few miles. “You can do it!” “Way to go, Mom!” These “signposts” kept her going forward.
“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
She also shared that her special needs son Trig changed her world and taught her real compassion. As Trig wakes up each morning, he rubs his sleepy eyes and applauds. Sarah noted that’s what our Lord wants from us. We should begin each day and applaud God. “Thanks for this day! Whatever is to come, you’ll be with me!”
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Becky Tirabassi, an author, speaker, and Life Coach, shared how the power of prayer has affected her. Becky described prayer as God’s Stimulus Package. Let’s think on that. A stimulus is something external that encourages activity. Prayer is an internal stimulus that encourages us to act. What a marvelous takeaway message! Sober for 32 years, Becky has spent one hour a day in prayer for the last 26 years and for many years has read the Bible through each year. She shared story after story of how these spiritual practices changed her life and made her a new creature in Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! “ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Anita Renfroe kept us in stitches of laughter as she shared the humor of being a mom. Described as “this generation’s Erma Bombeck,” Anita laughingly told of her life as a pastor’s wife and the day-to-day issues facing women today. Her William Tell version of everything a mom says to children in the course of one day is a classic! Check it out on YouTube -

Liz Curtis Higgs, a favorite of my Bible study groups, provided the culminating talk of the weekend. Author of the Bad Girls of the Bible series, Liz brought a message of love and acceptance. She reminded us that God loves us as we are. He made us in the same way he made creation; he made us and said, “It is good!” He has lavished his love on us.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
He made us unique, in his image, and for his pleasure. God thinks we are each beautiful and he desperately wants us to agree with him. Liz encouraged us to jump in front of the mirror each morning and say, “Ta-da!” In the United Kingdom “ta” is a thank you and “da” is short for Father. When we say, “Ta-da!, we are really saying, “Thank you, Father!”

We left home as 18 friends and returned as 18 closer friends in Christ inspired and energized (and I must say well-fed! Is it wrong to want Kentucky Derby pie every day of your life!)

I hope you too will be inspired to begin each day with prayer, Bible reading, applause to God, and a hearty “Ta-da!”

Weed Killing

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Have you done any weed killing lately? Last week I took on the dreaded task of cleaning out the flower planters on my porch and deck. It was time to get them ready for spring planting. Removing the debris of old plants is key to the long term success of new plants. Donning my garden gloves, I dug into each bed yanking out the scrawny leftovers of last summer’s vegetation. For the most part, I was able to remove the clods of dirt, dead flowers, and their roots with ease, but for some I had to use my trowel to work through the soil and release the scraggly roots. However, in each of my seven planters, I had centered a plant called a “Dracaena Spike” that served as the showcase of the container. Last summer they stood tall and spread out like a shady fan over the other flowers in the planter. But after the neglect of the winter, the spike had taken deep roots that ran throughout the planter creating a tough web of strands. In every planter as I attempted to pull out the spike, I broke it off at the root and no matter how hard I pulled, I couldn’t remove the root. I was having a showdown with the showcase! I was beginning to understand the meaning of the plant’s name: “dracaena” is a derivation of “dragon!” I had to trace the stubborn core loosening the “legs” a few at a time. Then I used the trowel to finally yank out the root. It took a lot of effort, but I finally had planters with fresh, loose soil ready for new growth.

While going through this process I was reminded of how strongholds take root in our lives. These strongholds begin as thoughts and emotions that turn into actions and soon become spiritual obstacles that settle into the patterns of our lives. They eventually spread and choke out the beautiful seedlings. They become rooted in our character overtaking the good soil. In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-28) we see that the abundant crop comes from the “good ground.” In the parable, the stones and weeds choked off the seed (the word of God) planted by the sower (Jesus). “Good ground” is clear of debris and can bear fruit. Jesus described weeds as worries and deceitfulness that prevent us from growing in our faith. He said the “evil one” snatches away the good seed. Removing the weeds in our life is hard and often requires help. We must persevere in getting to the root of sin, to the stubborn core, until we finally have fresh, loose soil ready for new growth in Christ. Do you need to do some spiritual weed killing?

"The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams." Matthew 13:23

Living Hope

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is risen! He is risen indeed! How do we know this? Let’s look at the record, the facts. Let's see how living witnesses shared the living hope!

Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Messiah, preached throughout Israel, in Galilee, Samaria, and Jerusalem. He was arrested, tried, and crucified. His body was wrapped in linen cloth following Jewish burial customs. Then his body was placed in a solid rock tomb with an extremely large stone rolled against the entrance. A Roman guard was stationed to guard the tomb, and then the tomb was sealed with the Roman seal to prevent vandalism. Three days later when some women went to the tomb, they found the body was gone. In the following weeks, his disciples claimed that God had raised Jesus from the dead and that he appeared to them at various times before ascending to heaven. Beginning with the testimony of living witnesses, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and the Good News has continued to spread through the centuries. No credible evidence of hostile witnesses has ever been proved.

For Consideration
The empty tomb could have been proved false if that were the case. Both Jewish and Roman sources admit there was an empty tomb.

In the Roman military guards could be put to death for the smallest infraction. They surely fled in fear of their lives when they discovered the stone had been removed and Jesus’ body was no longer there.

The burial clothes remained in the tomb and appeared in the same position.

Jesus appeared to…

First to Mary Magdalene. (John 20:14, 16, 18; Mark 16:9)
Then to the other women. (Matthew 28:9)
To Peter. (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
To Cleopas and the other disciple on the way to Emmaus. (Luke 24:15)
In the closed room, to ten disciples. (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19, 20)
To the eleven. (John 20:26, 29)
In the mountains, to the eleven. (Matthew 28:10, 17)
At the sea, to Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two
other disciples. (John 21:1, 14)
To five hundred brethren at once. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
To James, and to all the apostles. )Acts 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:7)
To Paul. (Acts 9:3-6; 22:17-21; 23:11; 1 Corinthians 15:8)

Scripture records they talked with him, ate with him, and touched him. According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus appeared to over 500 followers over a period of 40 days after the resurrection and before ascending to heaven.

Yes, He is risen! He is risen indeed! Living witnesses and a living hope!

“In his great mercy he had given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:3

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