The most wonderful time of the year?

Hey BCU Family,

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the podcast blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!

As many of us prepare celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and The New Year with family, friends, serving others, or what have you, let’s ask the Lord to help us to watch as well as pray for all those we come in contact with.  Let me tell you why.

I recall a few years back on a Friday night, I was at a Christmas dinner party with some friends, where we ALL laughed and talked for hours–it was one of the best times I had ever had!  Fast forward to the following Monday and we learned one of the guests had committed suicide. I was SHOCKED..and as I recounted the time we had together, I did not detect this engaging person intended to carry out their own demise. It still breaks my heart to think about it. 😦

While there is not a set time, the enemy, adversary or plainly, the devil seems to come around hard during November, December and January, working on the minds of people to convince them there is no hope, you’ll never get a job, your family does not love you, you have no friends, things will not get better, that relationship will not work, nothing goes right, the pain is too great, things will only get worse..et cetera. And the ultimate–if you end it all, you will finally be at peace. That is NOT so–your soul has an eternity to live with that decision, and it WILL be one you regret.

God is the giver of life and whether we saved or not, as depressing, sick, tough, painful, ugly, unbearable, tiring, impossible, messy, hurtful or what ever is happening  (and yes, I DO understand.. we have ALL been here some time or another), God does not give us permission to end our lives–that’s HIS job. Rather God directs us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Word also reminds us that Jesus wants all who labor, are burdened and are heavy laden to come to Him for rest! He wants to exchange burdens with us because His burden is light. (Matthew 28:11-30).  Is that easy to do? No! Think about the alternative, though–as we carry burdens, they get heavier, we get weaker, sicker, less motivated, depressed and then the suicidal/self-destructive thoughts  and actions come. It is true we will have troubles in this life,  but God really wants us to come to and depend on Him to help us with every situation we have.

Bottom line: Sometimes, behind the smiles and jokes, there is a person who is hurting and does not know how or to whom they should reach out. Pride, fear of ridicule, stigma, losing social status, gossip, being bullied more (all coming from the enemy), can rob a person from this earth prematurely leaving the family and friends reeling from the shock and praying for God to heal their shattered hearts.

My Holy-Ghost filled readers, please… ask God to sensitize your heart, spiritual eyes, and give you what to say to those around you. Be on the lookout for people who are laughing, but there is pain in their eyes. Make it a point to call or SEE someone (NO texting or email unless it’s to set up a meeting). Only use Skype or FaceTime if needed..just make a personal connection.

Pay attention to folks at the market, pray silently (or with them if they would like) for the representatives you speak with on the telephone.  As you are getting your hair cut or styled or shopping about, ask the Lord to bless, heal, deliver and save anyone who comes in the shop.  As you think about it,  pray for those who may be depressed over losing a loved one, relationship, job, hurting, and over life in general. Ask God how to help–maybe you can cook a meal, give a gift card, buy them a coffee, or just listen –be a friend. Your act of kindness can turn things around. Also, ask God to help YOU (yes, believers feel sad sometimes), to take all your heavy burdens to Him. Confide in a trusted friend or prayer partner as needful.

If you do not know Christ or maybe you do and are feeling blue or know someone who is, know that we are praying for you. Take every situation to God in prayer right now–you do not have to be fancy about it, just talk to Him.  Ask Him to send you a sensitive, Holy-Ghost filled counselor who will give you biblical and practical advice. God is STILL in the saving, fixing and healing business. He has done it for me and wants to do it for you and others as well..you have His Word on it! He promises!

If you happen to be listening/reading and feeling out of sorts or know someone who is and would like to speak with us, you can reach out to us here: Blen@BlenCouragesU.com  or call 845-768-3349.

You can also get encouragement on the daily by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! You can also maintain your encouragement by listening in and subscribing to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes.

 

We love dialogue here! Before you go, please leave us an encouraging comment for someone who may need it.

Until we are together again, thank you for stopping by and may God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you! #StayOnTheWall!

 

Love,

 

BCU

 

Series: #SpeechTherapy..it starts in the heart! (part 2)

 

Hey BCU family,

As usual, please enjoy the audio podcast (click on the icon below), the written transcript, or both! In either case, God bless you as you read, hear and apply the Word of God.

We prepped and started heart surgery last time, realizing we may harbor too many old and bad things in the heart/mind, and bad meditations get you in trouble! We saw that with the evil-thought/actioned Haman in Esther 3. We need to understand that many of the adverse thoughts the enemy brings are rooted in lust that is spoken of in I John 2:15-17, followed by some examples.

Do not love the world or anything in the world, if anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, comes NOT from the Father, but from the world. The world and the lusts pass away, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

  • lust of the eyes (Esau wanted Jacob’s stew and sold his birthright for it in Genesis 25:30-34).
  • lust of the flesh (many of us know all about David & Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11:1-4).
  • and pride of life (besides Haman in Esther 3), King Herod who gave a speech, was lauded by the people, and the angel of the Lord smote him for not giving God the glory (Acts 12:21-23).

This is a fixed fight you know, and God wants us to be victorious over our heart meditations and gives us the Word in which to do it. Let’s go back to Romans 12:1  from a previous study. I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. Verse 2 says not to be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing (ongoing) of your mind, that you may test or prove what is that good and acceptable perfect will of God. When we offer up our bodies, that includes the heart and mind. Acceptable means welcomed, well-pleasing and favorable. And we cannot present our bodies properly if the mind/heart isn’t right. Let’s talk about the lust of the eye.

*Since eyes are the windows to the soul, this lust tied to the soul and emotions. For the most part, every lust comes from a desire that is good. There is NOTHING wrong with desiring something—God gives us the desires of our heart when we delight ourselves in Him (Psalm 37:4). We desire to work, have things, work in a ministry, to be married—those are GOOD things. Where we have to be mindful is how the enemy can pervert good desires in your heart with thoughts that are contrary to how God commands us to think speak or act.  When you start to covet, plot, scheme, start working overtime, missing church, saving your tithes and offering money, not paying your bills, all to get “things”, that’s where the lust comes in. Let’s look at 1 Kings 21:1-16.

The story is, Naboth had a vineyard that the king, Ahab wanted (or coveted) BADLY. Naboth refused and Ahab was so upset about it, he would not even eat. Queen Jezebel found out and devised a HEINOUS plot to lie on and have Naboth killed–and then told the king the vineyard was now his to have. Just.like.that. This couple did not care that an innocent man was killed, his family likely very devastated—it did not matter who they needed to step on to get what they wanted, so long as they got it.

Can this apply to us? Perhaps not to this extreme…but let’s think about it from a few angles. For my singles..wanting to get married because you “see” everyone else is in a relationship, so you go out of our way, or rather “out of God’s way” to make it happen. When you get Mr. or Ms. NotRightNow, things go great initially (that’s how the enemy does it), and then he lowers the BOOM and you have a crazoks on your hands!  Let’s ask God to keep us content with what we have, and bless us with “extra” as He sees fit.

I Timothy 6:6-8 says, but godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be content.

Or, think about the times you may have wanted something so badly you missed important date or responsibility just to get it. In my early saved days, I skipped paying a bill to get a pair of shoes. I cannot tell you where those shoes are, what they looked like or where they are today! I can tell you I had a hard time recouping that money to pay my bill. All because of wanting something someone else had/ wanting something SO bad. A covetous heart. A desire gone bad.

Okay, what about the lust of the eye/desire to “play.” The purpose is socializing; taking a break..maybe talking a bit at work, playing Candy crush or a binging on a movie marathon. We all like to relax the mind–and that is a good thing.

What happens when the scales start tipping to the lust of wanting more play than work? This is when chronic slothful/laziness creeps in. A Sunday off here, missing a study there, half-doing what you’ve been called to do, not tending house, not taking care of yourself, burying your talent, not calling a sister, sending a note of encouragement, or maybe witnessing—all because you don’t feel like it, not in the mood, need a break from the people, the chores, etc, or have gotten into the habit of a Lifetime Movie Marathon or the whatever your go-to play routine is. While we all need days to unplug, recharge and refresh, we are accountable for the time God gives us and we have way too much responsibility to practice slothfulness on the regular. With God’s grace, let’s ask for wisdom to know how to spend the time He gives us.

See then that you walk circumspectly not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Do not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).

What about the desire to be safe? Keeping/knowing our loved ones are safe? Our jobs are safe, the bridge is safe, etc. We teach at work that feeling safe is a basic need—NOTHING wrong with that desire–in the right place. Where things go too far is when the emotion FEAR comes in. Fear can come on the form of cowardice, worry, panic, having irrational thoughts, making emotional decisions. Let’s not forget the unprofitable servant in Matthew 25 —the one who buried the talent? During accounting time, verse 25 says, the servant told his master he was AFRAID and went to hid his talent in the earth. The master called the servant wicked and slothful–and proceeded to cast him into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

A bit back, a dear friend and sister in Christ got a message in between Sunday School and morning service that a family member had not been heard from since the night before—not answering phones, etc. Notice how the enemy timed this attempt right before service. What I loved was that the sister said something like “God knows where He is and I am not going to worry about it.” We prayed and it turned out he was fine, thank God!! Sister did not let fear take over. Now, I realize that there are scary situations out there—no doubt. We want to ask God to cover, keep and sustain our hearts from fear.

And we know that God has NOT given is a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

What about grief? That’s an innate desire when we lose a loved one or friend. The emotion connected to that is sadness. Perfectly normal. Now hear me good, grieving, sad days, crying spells are normal as we miss a person—birthdays, holidays, special times…

Where the enemy gets heart-busy is when the grief is extended to the point where one cannot function and stay in a state of depression for years at a time. We talked about that in Ruth 1 as Naomi vocalized her grief (after losing her husband and two sons) by telling the folks to call her Mara meaning bitter—because the Lord had dealt bitterly with her. While she went though the grieving process,at some point the Lord blessed her to start adjusting to the “new normal”, and she was used to bring Boaz and Ruth together. If Naomi had stayed grieving, she would not have been functional as to what God called her to do–and look at the result! Boaz and Ruth became great-grandparents to king David and mentioned in the lineage of Christ in Matthew 1.

To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Once again, let’s start paying more attention to your thoughts/ what’s in your heart. Ask God to show you (even if it’s painful), what areas need more attention or a purge. and ask for His help in overcoming them and creating a clean heart Psalm 51:10. Also, step up your gatekeeping of the heart as directed in Proverbs 4:23. Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think on true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy, think on THOSE things. I did not say not to talk to the Lord about what bothers you, we just want to take it there and LEAVE it there. Amen? Amen!

Join us next time as #SpeechTherapy continues with the lust of the flesh–you do not want to miss it! Thank you so much for stopping by/tuning in and until we meet again, #StayOnTheWall!

 

Love,

 

BCU

 

*See http://www.themoorings.org for a nifty chart and examples of lust gone awry!

Be on high alert: Holiday blues

Hey Family,

As many of us prepare celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s with family, friends, serving others, or what have you, I’d like us to keep ourselves, those around us and especially those we do not know in prayer.

I recall a few years back on a Friday night, I was at a  Christmas dinner party with some friends, where we ALL laughed and talked for hours–it was one of the best times I had ever had!  Fast forward to the following Monday and we learned one of the guests had committed suicide. I was SHOCKED..and as I recounted the time we had together, I did not detect this engaging person intended to carry out their own demise. It still breaks my heart to think about it. 😦

*Sigh* "The holidays are here again"...
*Sigh* “The holidays are here again”…

While there is not a set time, the enemy, adversary or plainly, the devil seems to come around hard during November, December and January, working on the minds of people to convince them there is no hope, you’ll never get a job, your family does not love you, you have no friends, things will not get better, that relationship will not work, nothing goes right, the pain is too great, things will only get worse..et cetera. And the ultimate–if you end it all, you will finally be at peace. That is NOT so–your soul has an eternity to live with that decision, and it WILL be one you regret.

God is the giver of life and whether we saved or not, as depressing, sick, tough, painful, ugly, unbearable, tiring, impossible, messy, hurtful or what ever is happening  (and yes, I DO understand.. we have ALL been here some time or another), God does not give us permission to end our lives–that’s HIS job. Rather God directs us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Word also reminds us that Jesus wants all who labor, are burdened and are heavy laden to come to Him for rest! He wants to exchange burdens with us because His burden is light. (Matthew 28:11-30).  Is that easy to do? No! Think about the alternative, though–as we carry burdens, they get heavier, we get weaker, sicker, less motivated, depressed and then the suicidal/self-destructive thoughts  and actions come. It is true we will have troubles in this life,  but God really wants us to come to and depend on Him to help us with every situation we have.

Bottom line: Sometimes, behind the smiles and jokes, there is a person who is hurting and does not know how or to whom they should reach out. Pride, fear of ridicule, stigma, losing social status, gossip, being bullied more (all coming from the enemy), can rob a person from this earth prematurely leaving the family and friends reeling from the shock and praying for God to heal their shattered hearts.

My Holy-Ghost filled readers, please… ask God to sensitize your heart, spiritual eyes, and give you what to say to those around you. Be on the lookout for people who are laughing, but there is pain in their eyes. Make it a point to call or SEE someone (NO texting or email unless it’s to set up a meeting). Only use Skype or FaceTime if needed..just make a personal connection. Pay attention to folks at the market, pray silently (or with them if they would like) for the representatives you speak with on the telephone.  As you are getting your hair cut or styled or shopping about, ask the Lord to bless, heal, deliver and save anyone who comes in the shop.  As you think about it,  pray for those who may be depressed over losing a loved one, relationship, job, hurting, and over life in general. Ask God how to help–maybe you can cook a meal, give a gift card, buy them a coffee, or just listen –be a friend. Your act of kindness can turn things around. Also, ask God to help YOU (yes, believers feel sad sometimes), to take all your heavy burdens to Him. Confide in a trusted friend or prayer partner as needful.

If you do not know Christ, and are feeling blue or know someone who is, know that we are praying for you. Take every situation to God in prayer right now–you do not have to be fancy about it, just talk to Him.  Ask Him to send you a sensitive, Holy-Ghost filled counselor who will give you biblical and practical advice. God is STILL in the saving, fixing and healing business. He has done it for me and wants to do it for you and others as well..you have His word on it! He promises.

You can reach out to me at:  Blencouragesu at gmail dot com. (just type it out like you would any other email address).

God bless you for reading and taking action!

 

Love,

 

Blen

 

 

 

Of bread, stones, fish and serpents…

Hey family,

A couple of my young people/nieces got on me about not having posted an entry in a while, so I took my spanking 😀 (thanks Portia and Wanda) and got to typing! I was talking to the Lord one day and He brought the familiar Scripture of Matthew 7:7-11.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.” (Matthew 7:7-11 NKJV)

Usually we focus on the “good part” where we are “given,” “find” and “doors opened”. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the good part, too! The Lord had me look at the part of the Scripture that speaks on bread, stones, fish and serpents. Allow me to explain.

When we ask God for things, sometimes, while we have the best of intentions, it may be the wrong thing—it’s just not good for us–i.e. stone or serpent “gifts”. Because of our finite minds and limited understanding, we often get upset when we do not get what we ask for. I won’t lie and say it’s pleasant to hear “no”, it’s really for our good when God delays or denies our request.

Rather than stewing in the “no”, we have to ask God to help us realize the way He answered our request equates to fish or bread. Think about it—fish and bread are life-sustaining, nutritious, nourishing, tasty and just plain good for you, even if you do not like it.  On the other hand, a stone or a serpent can hurt, maim or even kill you—NOTHING good is coming from those things at all!  The other thing to remember is to ask God to take away our DESIRE for stones and serpents. Are you wondering what I mean? Glad you asked!

Who wants this?! Not me!

Going back to how we handle the “no”, when we don’t get what we want, we’ll pout, cry, get upset with God, stop giving, witnessing or maybe—go outside the will of God to get it.  It may not be malicious or intentional—we just want things our way and that leads us away from the bread and fish and towards the serpents and stones–not a good look or feel! Why is it that we gravitate toward the things that are NOT good for us?!  Say it with me, ya’ll: (in Jesus name), “no more serpents, no more stones, fish and bread forevermore!” Ok, I know my rhyme is corny, but you get the point, right?

Bottom line: There are so many good, no better things God has for us—we just have to have the desire for the good and trust that God loves us and always provides best gifts for us (even though it doesn’t seem like it at the time).

I hope this blessed you family! Stay in the will of God!

Love,

Blen

 

Pic courtesy of: http://blueimagegallery.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Black-Snake-31.jpg&w=800&h=627&ei=7UssUNyMCcXb6gHg6oBw&zoom=1

As the (jive) turkey turns…

No time for gobble-gobble

Time for another episode of Jive Turkey-ville! I’ll tell this story with the names changed to protect the innocent (and guilty). 😀

“Ginger” has been baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost for over 10 years. Early in her walk, she was a little unstable (as most of us are) and ended up falling for a guy, “Tyrone” who was “churched”, but not saved. Ginger was so smitten, she nearly considered backsliding! Tyrone ended up breaking her heart anyway, which was likely God’s way of delivering her. Although she was hurt, Ginger knew it was best.

On occasion, Tyrone would call her to say “hi”. During one of these instances, he tried to get Ginger to let him come by for dinner (sigh, that tells you a lot right there). Disgusted, Ginger stopped answering the calls and they stopped for the next few years.

Recently, the phone rang–Ginger didn’t recognize the number, thinking it was a family member. Oh, gobble-gobble, now!!! Tyrone was on the other end!! Regretting she answered, Ginger was curt but polite. Tyrone was very pleasant, though, asking about family, what she’d been up to and things along those lines. Ginger found herself enjoying the conversation and thinking, hmmmm…maybe this dude has changed. He suggested lunch since he’d be in the area, so they agreed to Friday.

As Ginger read the Word that week, a couple of Scriptures came up.
“As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). Also, Joshua 9 where the usually astute leader and his men were fooled in part because they did not “…..seek council from the Lord” (v. 14b). She didn’t think much of the “warning” until talking with the Lord during her prayer time. The Lord was telling her NOT to meet up with Tyrone..rather invite him to church.

When he called to firm up plans, Ginger let him know that she couldn’t make lunch and invited him to church. He heartily agreed and she was nervous, but excited that a soul would be coming to the house of prayer.

Sunday came and “surprisingly” dude never showed up. Nor did he call to explain what happened or come to church on his own. And funny, the calls stopped, as well. Umm hmm…anyone else smell jive turkey?

OHHH… and going back to the firm-plans call, after Ginger declined, homeboy emphatically stressed he had taken that Friday off and assured her he could still meet her. We can’t say what was on his mind, but I wonder if he had a bag packed thinking he’d be spending the weekend with his sandal dangling off his toe..who knows? LOL!!!

So while Ginger was a little miffed that Tyrone was still up to his old tricks and how she almost fell for them, she realized she followed the voice of the Lord and stayed in His divine will for her. That’s a blessing!!

Bottom line: temptations will come, but the Lord provides a way of escape
(I Corinthians 10:13) to those who choose the use the hatch!

Be blessed family!

Blen

Pic courtesy of: http://www.joystickdivision.com/2008/11/happy_thanksgiving_from_joysti.php