Praise Breaks the Power of the Curse


Whoever presents a thank [praise] offering honors me. To whoever obeys my commands, I will reveal my power to deliver
Psalm 50:23 (NET)

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2-3 (NKJV)
[Jesus] is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)


Earlier this week, I woke up remembering the words of Psalm 50, verse 23. I received them as God’s instruction for the day. Clear and simple. Give thanks and sing songs of praise. Later in the day when feeling discouraged and tired, I remembered this instruction. I began singing. I began walking. The Spirit gave me a new song. As I sang the words, I felt strength in my body and joy in my heart.

I’ve been meditating on the above Scriptures and the words of my song all week, asking God for additional understanding. I’m sharing these words with you so that if you desire, you may meditate on them this weekend, as we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

For those of you who, like me, tend to become despondent, may the words of this song renew your faith and increase your joy in Jesus.


PRAISE BREAKS THE POWER OF THE CURSE

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
Our gracious, loving Father
Protects his sons and daughters

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
The yoke of sin is broken
Prison doors stand open

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
From the cross there's flowing
Strength and grace and healing

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
Don't yield to despondency
Celebrate Christ's victory

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
By faith receive his gift to us
Dress in Jesus' righteousness

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
With faith continue singing
Our Lord is interceding

Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

How Gratitude Reduces Depression


Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.
 He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NLT)
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)




In last week’s post, I shared something about my struggles with depression. I wish I could say that every time I became depressed, I recovered totally and instantly. With no effort on my part. It’s simply untrue. Sometimes, I hang out with ‘Friend’ depression for quite a while before I can shake her off.

Expressing gratitude is one of the actions I take to help me recover energy and joy. When I wake up, I may not feel thankful. I might feel more like complaining. Would it help me to complain? Am I being dishonest if I, instead, give thanks? It helps me to remember that gratitude is an attitude, not a feeling. It’s a choice I can make regardless of how I feel.

When I heard that the weather forecast for today, April 1, is snow, I did not feel happy. I wanted warm sunshine. I could have chosen to complain. Instead, I found the above photo of crocuses in my garden and focused on it. Each spring, these flowers work their way up through the wintry soil and dried leaves and delight my heart with brilliant color. I think it pleases my generous, gift-giving Father in heaven when, on a snowy spring day, I chose to smile and give thanks. When I do so, my heart begins to feel lighter.

Here’s the list of gratitude statements I’ve written so far, today. They are primarily simple things that can easily be overlooked.

  • Even though I walk slower and I can’t walk as far as I used to do, I still have the ability to walk.
  • My sharp and usually accurate sense of smell brings me joy. The aroma of peanut butter on toasted bread, which my husband prepared in the kitchen, whet my appetite for breakfast.
  • I had enough freshly ground coffee to make a cupful this morning. My 4-cup coffee maker worked perfectly, thanks to reliable electric power in my neighborhood.
  • The ability to make an easy-over egg without breaking the yoke made me feel happy. I’m thankful for the cooking skills I learned when younger.
  • I treasure my husband’s presence and feel deeply grateful for his desire and willingness to discuss a portion of Scripture and pray with me, again today. He values my insights. I value his.
  • In this eighth decade of life, my fingers are still flexible and I can move them quite rapidly over my computer keyboard, as well as my piano keys.
  • I can put up with the slight discomfort of support hose and will choose to be thankful for them today, knowing I need them.
  • My cataract surgery was successful, I need glasses only for reading, and I can pay for prescription eye drops for my dry eyes!
  • It’s been easy to think of the good in today and in writing these statements down, I feel encouraged.
  • How can my heart not feel grateful?

Depression: A Diagnosis, Not An Indictment


Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
    for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
    or I will die.
 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
    for I give myself to you.

Psalm 147:7-8 (NLT)

“I think you are depressed,” my doctor said. “You need to see a counselor.” “NO!” I wanted to scream. My body stiffened. I felt indignant but managed to keep my cool. A month later, when I saw her about another problem, she again asked me to consider seeing a counselor. I agreed to let her give me a referral. Two weeks later I met with the counselor. She said, “You are depressed.”

I felt embarrassed. That made me feel more depressed. How could I, a counselor, myself, need a counselor? How could I, who in years past was depressed but spent money and time to work through issues, be depressed again? For a week or so, I felt defeated.

Then, I realized that depression is not an indictment. It’s a diagnosis. Depression does not mean I am a criminal. It means I am human. Christians, as well as those of other faiths, and those of no faith can become depressed. Denial of depression deepens it. Acknowledging it is the first step toward recovery.

In Psalm 147 (quoted above), David acknowledged his depression. Then, he called on the Lord for help. Every time I’ve admitted that I’m depressed and prayed for help Jesus has heard my prayer and provided the help I need. In a way, depression can be called a “friend”. Not a friend I want to walk with for very long, but a friend who alerts me to the fact I need help.


Depression is a Friend of Mine

A friend? (I hear you ask.)
I can’t imagine why you want her
Get rid of her—and fast

She will ruin you completely
She will take up all your time,
She will rob you of your energy
And use up your last dime.

I used to think as you do
About my friend, Depression
I was embarrassed by her presence
Until I learned this lesson:

Her purpose is to warn me 
To tell me something’s wrong;
In some way my life’s off balance;
Perhaps I’ve worked too long.


I have overdosed on sugar
With a resulting glucose plunge
Or my hormones are not flowing
Like they were when I was young 

I just might be a couch potato—
Neglecting exercise,
And my windows are all shut
No fresh air can get inside.

So, my body’s lacking sunshine—
Not much serotonin remains.
I may have buried anger,
Covered over guilt or pain

I might have buried anger,
Felt helpless to confront
Persons or situations
That are painful or unjust.


Or I’m hiding painful memories
And rejecting who I am;
So, I deny my giftedness
And feel like a sham.

Because of lies I’ve sheltered
In my subconscious mind,
I try to change direction
But cannot do what I design.

I may have experienced a loss
And not fully processed grief;
In the circumstance I’m facing,
I’m questioning my belief. 

The problem might be simple
But, often, it’s complex.
Depression won’t play God
She can’t tell me what to fix.

When I’m given knowledge
I become responsible,
I must take some steps to change
And overcome that obstacle
 
Depression is not pleasant;
She’s a friend of confusion
But she certainly won’t leave me
If I ignore her intrusion.

Yet, Depression does respect me
Yes, she is polite;
When I do the needed action
She, eventually, takes flight.

Who and Who Not to Fear


[Jesus said,] “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Luke 12: 4-9 (NIV)

Oh, how easy it is for me to become overconcerned about the opinion of others. To fear human power rather than trust in the security of God’s love for me. Especially if I sense shame or physical danger. As I watch the war in Ukraine progress and see the courage of people there, particularly President Zelensyyy, I’m amazed. I can think of no other person who is so unafraid (as Jesus told his followers to be) of those who kill the body. He demonstrates courage combined with compassion more than most world leaders have done for generations.

Jesus instructed his disciples to not be afraid of humankind; then, he told them who to fear. Maybe it sounds like a double message. How can we both love and fear God? And what does it mean to fear God? We can only fear and love God if we understand his nature. Jesus, God in human form, showed us God’s nature. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as being “full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

He clearly demonstrated what it means to fear God (humbling himself and respecting the authority of our Father in heaven) and to love God (keeping his commandments of love in all relationships).

We, humans, tend to emphasize grace or truth to the neglect of the other. Our knowledge of both is incomplete. We make ourselves the authority of truth and judge others according to our standards. By embracing truth without grace, we become proud and legalistic. God, alone, who is all-knowing can define truth with accuracy.

When we de-emphasize truth or define it according to our own desires and focus on grace, we also mess up. This causes us to overlook and downplay the presence of dysfunction (sin) in all of us. In describing the human heart, Jesus said, “From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander”. It’s because of this that we need grace. God’s desire for us is forgiveness and freedom from sin and Jesus made this possible.

One of the most beautiful descriptions of truth combined with grace is this: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God through Christ”. (2 Corinthians 5: 21 NLT)

In the words of that famous hymn, “Amazing Grace”, it was grace that taught my heart to fear [God]. By looking at Jesus’ life, I saw my dysfunction. “And grace my fear relieved”. By looking at Jesus’s death, I saw God’s compassionate grace. My love for him is a response to his love for me.


Lord, you have a panoramic view of every
ocean, valley, and mountain peak.

Yet, you count each hair upon my head and
See the sparrows nest in yonder tree.

Such knowledge I shall never comprehend,
Greater still the mystery of your love for me.

You choose to die upon a cross!
You choose to save a fallen one like me.


Sparrows are such common birds. I prefer more colorful cardinals, goldfinch, and dainty hummingbirds. God does not overlook sparrows. That tells me he cares about common people. Those who go unnoticed. He sees the details of their body, knows the number of hairs on their head. If God values sparrows how much more he values humans like you and me. 

Sparrows fall. So do we do we humans. Sparrows fight with one another for the seeds on my deck. Sadly, we humans do too. In small ways,  like children over the largest piece of candy. In disastrous ways. Like war. How thankful I am for God's provision of grace!

Everything Here is Passing Away


And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
1 John 2:27 (NLT)
We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. Ecclesiastes 5:15

A few years ago, I went back to the farm where I lived as a teenager. The house was gone. The only thing that remained was this dilapidated barn. I cried. Recently, I located on a Google map the house where two of my grandparents lived. My grandmothers’ well-kept lawn was nothing but mud. Broken shades hung on the windows. The house needed painting. Again, I cried.

I felt the truth of the words “this world is fading away”. I can’t imagine what Ukrainians have been feeling, as their cities are destroyed and decimated by bombs, rockets, and missiles. They don’t have the bare necessities of life, food, clothing, water, heat, and shelter.

Yet, their spirits don’t seem broken. Yesterday, ABC Evening News showed a video of a seven-year-old girl in a bunker singing. As I listened to her beautiful voice, I cried.

I wonder how we, the richest nations of the world, would handle ourselves in such a situation. Today, I read an article about the level of anxiety in various countries of the world at this time. It showed that people in rich countries suffer a higher degree of anxiety. As Jesus said, “I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 (NLT)

If Jesus’ words are true, let’s live like they are.


Everything here is passing away 
We’re around for a very short day.
Let us not plan and let us not boast 
About the great things we think we can do.

Listen to God and do what he says;
Don’t try to look good or try to impress
Our family, friends, and people at work
Like us, they’re dust, their life will soon end.

If we serve God, we’ll get a reward 
He cannot lie; he is true to his word.
His promise is life and unending joy
To those with faith who long for his return.

Let us make sure, as we patiently wait, 
We keep ourselves clean—pure in his sight;
Quickly settle disputes, and seek peace;
For he shall come back—but we don’t know when.

Let’s set our minds on pleasing our Lord;
Let go of things we cannot afford,
Pay all of our bills; get rid of our debts.
Take actions to live a more simple life

Stop all the useless games that we play;
Time is soon gone, don’t throw it away.
For many are lost and live without hope
With all of life’s pain, they futilely cope.

It was for them not only for us
That our Savior died, he went to the cross.
And now it remains for someone to go
Why do we delay? Why are we so slow?

It Won’t Happen Here


Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 27:12

“Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,” was a common expression I heard while growing up. It referred to hearing, seeing, and speaking of the best in people. This is certainly commendable, but this phrase can also be used to avoid seeing, hearing, and speaking about that which is dangerous and destructive. In our environment. In others. In ourselves. Denial is costly. Untruthful. Unloving.

How long did it take various countries to come to grips with the reality of Covid? How long did countries of the world fool themselves into thinking Russian troops would never attack Ukraine? How many devastating forest fires, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis will it take before we accept the reality of climate change?

I find there needs to be a balance in my life. If I look at photos of Ukraine and listen to updates about the war all day long, I feel overwhelmed with grief. I can only pray effectively and think reasonably about this distressing situation if I look away from it from time to time. Out of a heart of compassion, I mourn with those who mourn and pray for them. By looking at Jesus, who exemplified truth and grace, I find peace of mind and do what I can to help in some practical way.

I learned quite early in life how to deny the reality of unpleasant and unacceptable emotions, along with physical limitations. To “burn-out” was an approved practice. This proved to be very costly for me. It resulted in years of depression.

Recently, I’ve been listening to an audio version of An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling. I’m reminded, again, of how important it is to slow down and listen, to live in the reality of my humanity. I am not god. I need God. I need others. They need me. We are interdependent. A tendency to deny these bottom-line truths is a dangerous type of pride. It flows out of unreality and leads to isolation. Isolation increases our denial of reality.

Greatness arises in those who in true humility are simply themselves, nothing more and nothing less, who live in honesty, not pretense. Living in reality gives us the energy and wisdom to do what is truly loving.

We must guard against denial, first of all, in our own hearts.

Jesus, measuring tape so true,
I stand myself next to you.

Here, I’m safe to be alone.
You tell me how much I’ve grown;

Then show me what I cannot see —
The sin that still resides in me;

The habit I still need to break, 
The new one I must create.

By your grace, I succeed, 
Forever, you intercede.

I rejoice in your acceptance.
Your presence is my evidence.

Daily, you give me a song.
You speak and I know I belong.

I’m not satisfied with the norm.
I want you to fully transform

My heart, my mind, and my soul;
I want to be holy and whole.

Does God Love Me When I Doubt?


And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us.
God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.1 John 4:16 (NET)
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.
Happy is the one who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:22 (NASB)

Coming to believe in the depth of our hearts that God loves us is easier for some people than for others. For many, it’s a life-long struggle. I’m one of those people. That’s because of lies I believed. Lies about God. Lies about myself. Lies about what faith is. Gradually, God has been showing me what these lies are and my trust has grown stronger. Still, I sometimes doubt.

I’m encouraged as I find out from stories in the Bible that God loves doubters. He’s patient with them. He answers their prayers. He gives them the evidence they need to believe. In one story, a man whose son suffered uncontrollable seizures heard of Jesus. He didn’t have much faith but in desparation, he said,

“‘If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!'” (Mark 9:22-24 MSG) Jesus honored the faith this father had and answered his prayer. I’m sure this increased the man’s faith.

The ease in which we believe God loves us and our readiness to trust him is greatly affected by the culture and the home we’re born into. How do our parents treat us? Are they patient, fair, and kind?, Or quick-tempered, unfair, and mean? Do they offer grace or demand perfection? It’s natural for us to think that God is like these first authority figures.

In addition to the messages about God we’ve received from our family, we have our own beliefs about God’s love and reliability. Conclusions we’ve come to through our experiences, reading, and reflection. Sometimes instead of asking God to show me what he is like and what he wants, I focus on what I want him to be like and what I expect him to give me. So when he doesn’t immediately answer my prayer, I doubt he loves me.

Delay on God’s part to answer prayer may or may not be related to my faith or lack of it. It’s possible, he wants my trust to grow deeper, and give me a heart that perseveres. To believe with my mind is one thing. To believe with my heart is another thing. Through the hard experiences in life, I’ve learned to know God better and trust him more deeply. My faith has moved from being something others told me I should believe to something my mind and heart believe.

I’m convinced God answers our prayers not so much on the strength of our faith but more on the strength of his love and mercy. Instead of covering up and denying doubts, I bring them to him. He receives me just as I am. My love for him and my confidence in him grows.

I am learning to practice what the psalmist did. He said to God, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV


I rely on the love God has for me.
Though l trust imperfectly,
My God keeps on loving me.

I rely on the love God has for me.
Not put off by my anxiety,
My God keeps on loving me--

When this truth I fail to see, 
My God keeps on loving me.
Someday, I know I'll be free

Of fear and anxiety, for
My God keeps on loving me,
My heart asks, “How this can be?”

“I love him so imperfectly.”
Then one day I finally see
Why God keeps on loving me.

‘Cause God is love. He cannot be 
Anything less than loving to me;
Knowing this sets my heart free.

Though I still trust imperfectly,
My God keeps on loving me.
Someday, there’ll be no doubt in me.

Winds of Fear or Wings of Grace


He who observes the wind will not sow.
                                                Ecclesiastes 11:4

I look at the thermometer. It reads 45°. To my husband I say, “A good day to go for a walk.”
    “There’s a cold wind." he responds. You might want to step out the garage door and check it.” 
     “Oh, I don’t think I’ll go. I’ll walk inside.” 

After a few minutes, I look out the window. The tree branches are barely moving. I put on my warm coat, pull my knit hat over my ears and walk outside. I sniff the air. It’s so much fresher than the stale air inside my house. The wind blows. I'm facing it. Sweeping under my hat and swishing around my ears, it threatens to carry it off. Securing my hat with my mittened gloves, I keep walking. 

When I’ve walked as far as I want go for the day, I turn around and head back home. Now the wind is on my back, gently pushing me up the hill. Strengthened by it's energy, I feel as if I have wings. I’m flying. 

Fear, like a strong wind in our face, can cause us to turn back. Or we can walk into it. When we do so, God's Grace, like an empowering wind, gives us wings. Power to fly.

Are winds of fear causing you to doubt you can handle a challenge in your life? I hope you will not give up and turn back. Instead, face your challenge. With the power of God's grace, fly above fear.  

While walking home, I recalled the following poem I wrote a few years ago when  feeling anxious and hesitant about writing. 
a risk
false labor
a first attempt
a practice run
we must all began somewhere

only
the fearful
the perfectionist
and the procrastinator
fail to begin

mistakes
for them
are signals of guilt
indications of failure
so they withdraw

threatened by clouds of disapproval
they refuse to plant.
they remain unknown
unpublished
unheard of

withholding their talents from the world
their laboratories become
tombstones of anonymity
productive only
of boredom


If we do nothing with our gifts and talents , we rob both others and ourselves of joy.


Don’t Let Indecision Paralze you.


Elijah said to people wavering in their commitment, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision?”
1 Kings 18:21 (NET)


This morning I read the Old Testament story of Elijah confronting the indecisive people of his day. One word stunned me. Paralyzed. Someone who is paralyzed goes nowhere. Someone who refuses to make a decision goes nowhere. I never thought my indecisiveness was too serious. I never thought about how it keeps me stuck.

What does it feel like to be stuck? I know what it’s like to get stuck in a snowdrift. I’ve driven into a snowdrift and stepped into a snowdrift. I could go nowhere. The more I moved the deeper my car or feet sunk into the snow. Until I called for and received help, I remained there. Cold. Lonely. Anxious.

I thought about what decisions I’ve been avoiding. One is the decision whether or not to renew my website for another year or not? Whether or not to keep writing and posting my blog? I thought about how this indecision has been affecting me. How is it keeping me stuck?

This is what I realized. Not making a decision is a decision. It’s a ‘No’ I’m not admitting to. Not writing and posting anything has been kept me stuck in a snow drift of negative thinking. Self-doubt. Anxiety. Do I want to get out of this drift? Yes. I do. With the help of God’s grace, I am doing so. I’m making a commitment to write and publish a post every Friday.

Maybe you would like to ask yourself these questions.

  • What decisions am I avoiding?
  • Why am I avoiding them?
  • In what way(s) is this failure to me?

Good came down at Christmas


God is good to one and all;
    everything he does is soaked through with grace.

Psalm 145:9 (MSG)

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER

Thank you, Father, for your grace,
Shown to me in countless ways—

Favor, truly undeserved,
Full acceptance, unreserved;

Forgiveness, free and complete,
Though, my errors, I still repeat;

Your help in every trouble,
Your mercy when I stumble.

With a heart of gratitude,
I worship you. You are good—

God of Truth and God of Love,
God, who came down from above;

And, in Jesus, bared your heart,
From you, Lord, I won’t depart.

When I’m tempted here below,
Spirit, help me keep this vow

Faithfully, until the end,
Until the day, I ascend;

That when I see you face to face
There’ll be no shame to erase.

God, sustain me by your grace;
Make me good in all my ways.