Chapter 1: Truthfulness

Chapter 1 from Everything I know about God I learned from our sons.

The Fish Stick Story… It’s gotta go first!

If you know me personally, you most likely already know the infamous fish stick story. Just go ahead and chuckle. Oh yeah, it’s a story worth repeating. And if you haven’t heard it before, I hope you giggle, but also appreciate the magnitude of this timeless lesson on truthfulness.

unsplash.com

Come, Lord God, and teach us what You want us to know about Your character through the eyes and lips of children. Holy Spirit You are welcome here!

As an apprentice in motherhood, I found many aspects of rearing sons challenging to a number of my previously held notions. Trying to creatively broaden the palate of two extremely picky eaters, was (for a time) my most frustrating venture. From my non-picky perspective, a diet of hamburgers, pizza, hotdogs and chicken nuggets was too little nutritional value on which to grow men. And yet, their father, equally picky in his eating habits, had fully developed into healthy manhood.

Peaceful assurance was not out of reach for me if I had been willing to accept that I was concerned without cause. I could have listened to my husband who insisted these two young lads were quite normal. I could have listened to our family doctor, who was not concerned with our sons’ development. I could have chosen a number of other wise paths, which would have ultimately led me to throw worry out the window.

But, truthfully, I thought I knew better. I wanted more variety in their nutritional menu and so, I sought out the opinions of those who would support my cause. Of course, I sought wisdom from other moms!

Through many phone chats during nap time, and much unscientific polling of mothers in my circle of influence, I determined a plan. I would trick these picky eaters into trying something new. I formulated a brilliant plan. I purchased a box of fish sticks during my next grocery shopping excursion. One evening in preparation for dinner, I placed 6 frozen fish sticks on the chicken nugget baking pan along with the usual handful of frozen french fries, and placed them in the oven.

Shortly before pulling the deliciously deceptive dinner from the oven, I called our two sons to the table. “Dinner! Boys, come and eat!” They came running and settled into their seats with forks raised because they already knew what was headed for their plates. One look at the baking pan as I approached the table and our youngest seed (age 4) halted my progress with these exposing words,

“Those aren’t chicken nuggets!”

I froze mid-kitchen. Baking pan hovering between oven and sons, I began to cry. Again, the exposing words of sons,

“Mom, you lied!”

I sobbed. I confessed. I was humiliated. I was caught in my lying scheme.

Yes, that’s right, the mom who daily drilled truthfulness into her childrens’ consciousness. Yes, me, the Jesus following, lover of truth, chose deception and manipulation as my best tool for expanding the nutritional palate of my own flesh and blood.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Proverbs 27:5

I know! I’m not proud of this complete lack of wisdom and just plain loss of common sense. This story (still repeated at most family functions, especially if newcomers are present) details one of my greatest motherhood fails.

Does that sound overly dramatic?

I’m not being overly dramatic. This is a funny story, and I hope you giggled. However, sin is sin. And sin has not-funny consequences.

As much as you might be tempted to give me the benefit of the doubt or think that what I did was really not that bad, my actions were sinful. In our western culture, especially amongst Christ followers, we too easily believe that the good end justifies the means. Let this truthful assessment sink in.

My actions were pre-meditated, planned out and designed specifically to deceive in order that I might get my way.

My big fail includes multiple forks in the road at which point I could have latched onto truth and diverted my path from disastrous results. Unfortunately, I stubbornly careened right into the middle of my own sad and humbling pit of sorrow and remorse. As Billy Graham often quoted, “Be sure your sin will find you out…” {Numbers 32:23}

Here are just a few aspects of my big fail…

  • {pride} I was sure I knew better than everyone who had a different opinion from my own.
  • {manipulation} I wanted my way so I was willing to discount truth.
  • {deception} I was willing to risk the natural trust of our sons in their mother to gain a win.
  • {comparison} I wanted to be considered a successful mom because my children ate a well rounded diet.
  • {fear of man} I sought value in the eyes of other moms rather than finding my value in my Creator

What did these precious seeds teach me about God?

Lessons I have never forgotten.

  • God delights in truth.
  • God receives honest confession.
  • God is forgiving.
  • God allows natural consequences.
  • God is good and kind when I fail.
  • God speaks truth and wisdom through little children

The silver lining of a dark cloud.

The sting of conviction was only soothed by my recognition of God’s goodness exemplified through the words and actions of our two young sons. First, I realized that our young seeds understood what it meant to tell a lie. Second, I recognized that our sons felt comfortable enough in our relationship to confront me with the truth. And finally, my public humbling, my confession of sin, and remorseful apology gave me an opportunity to set an example of what it looks like to repent.

Perhaps by reading my funny story full of big lessons, you are reminded of a big fail. Possibly you have accepted the lie that a good end justifies the means. Maybe the temptation to compare is your biggest enemy. Possibly, you slipped into judgment just now.

May I pray for you?

Lord, Jesus, I thank you that moms, dads and children are Your good idea. And I thank You that You have designed family for community. Help us today as we are reminded that You delight in truth to confess our sin quickly to You and to those against whom we have sinned. Teach us to seek Your wisdom for solutions, and remind us through others that Your ways are not our ways. Lord, teach us to be humble receiving the wise counsel of the family of God even when we are not sure we agree. Rather remind us to take all wise counsel before Your word and allow Your Holy Spirit to sift our thoughts and our words.

Thank You, God, for Your steadfast love and abundant kindness to lead us to repentance. Thank You, for making up for our failures and thank You for restoring our relationships as we come in line with Your character.

We love you, Jesus, and we love our families. Therefore we entrust ourselves into Your hands for growth and service. Be glorified, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Scripture references for wisdom and prayer:

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Psalm 51:1-2 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Proverbs 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Watching & Waiting

Eyes on Jesus. Watching His eyes to learn how He loves everyone on whom His gaze rests. Jesus is a Good Shepherd.

Listening to His heart as He blesses, teaches, corrects, and sings with delight over His sheep.

Watching the love and delight in His countenance as He hears the varied and distinctive voices of His beloved ones in worship.

Reading His word back to Him. Singing praise to His name. Grateful to receive the gifts of His hands. Loving the sheep next door.

Waiting at His feet. I choose to calm and quiet myself in peace. I choose to rest. I choose to learn. I choose contentment. Not because I am calm or quiet or content, but because Jesus is.

Eyes on Jesus. Watching. Learning. Choosing. Surrender.

So be it.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Grateful or Disobedient?

A man with leprosy came to Him (Jesus) and begged Him on his knees, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Jesus was indignant. He reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Mark 1:40‭-‬45 NIV

I’m curious. How do you read this true scenario? Was the man’s behavior disobedient or grateful?

Was the healed man dismissive of Jesus’ authority?

Or was he simply so overwhelmed with gratitude that he couldn’t help but tell everyone of his miraculous healing?

And was this glorifying to God? The healed leper was testifying to the kindness and power of Jesus.

But, didn’t Jesus, Messiah, command the healed man to go directly to the priests with his testimony? Wasn’t he strongly warned by Jesus not to tell anyone? The man was supposed to follow the law of Moses. (See Leviticus 13-14)

Did the healed man’s actions affect the movement of Jesus in that community? Was the work of God hampered by the man’s exercise of his free will? If so, how?

Worth pondering, this scenario is a much deeper well than it might appear on a cursory review.

I’m curious. Holy Spirit, what insight and revelation of truth would you like to reveal through this scripture? How does this real life scenario apply to my life in 2021?

Please come Holy Spirit and bring wisdom. Please reveal to me what You want me to know. Come and teach me how to honor Jesus and submit to His authority in my life. For my own good and for His glory…

I’m curious. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Get Excited For A New Thing.

God says He’s doing a new thing. He’s asking us, “Do you not perceive it?” Then even before we know how to answer, God simply begins to explain what He’s already causing to happen in the EARTH.

You might feel like resisting this message. I know we’re all still sore from 2020, and 2021 hasn’t exactly felt like the antedote for which we were hoping. So may I challenge your vision just a bit?

Look deeper. Look closer.

Ask Holy Spirit to help you see beyond the obvious.

Maybe just stop. Sit still.

Look again.

Can you see it?

The sprouts are beginning to pop up out of the ground. The seeds planted long ago, lovingly watered, prayed over and believed for…


These sprouts, they all have names. They are our children – sons and daughters. They are our grandchildren. Do you see it?

Do you see that these are they? These are the ones with whom God is doing a new thing in the Earth.

Will you trust God for the new thing He is doing? Will you ask Him to fill you with faith? Love? Courage? Belief?

We older ones who have walked this journey a bit longer; we are the ones who need to look and look again. We are the ones who need to catch a vision of what God is doing in our sons and daughters. Because we are the ones who will contend for them.

Unfortunately, our young ones have not learned to contend in prayer for themselves. Sadly, we’ve not diligently taught our sons and daughters how to encourage themselves in the Lord. The depths of God’s word have not yet been stirred by the youngest among us.

Do you remember Elijah praying with his head between his knees? Interesting reading in 1 Kings 18. {Go. Read it for yourself.}

Elijah was travailing in prayer to our Lord God Almighty to bring rain in a drought. In the middle of crying out to God, Elijah sent his servant to go look for any sign of a cloud.

The servant went and looked. He brought back a negative report. Undeterred, Elijah continued to send his servant back with the admonition to look again.

Finally, on the 7th trip out, he saw a small cloud like a fist coming up from the sea. Don’t you know how ecstatic he was to bring a good report to Elijah?

I beseech you. Look again.

Look with faith eyes. Ask God to remind you of all the dreams you’ve had for your children. Remember God’s promises to you as you cradled that babe in your arms. Recall in faith the hope of life and believe that God is Redeemer.

Restorer. Resurrector. Healer. Deliverer. Mighty to save!

Thus, it is up to us to look up and scan the heavens for the tiniest semblance of a cloud, and declare out loud that we will trust God for the new thing He is doing in our sons and daughters.

God’s doing a new thing in the generations… Do you perceive it?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Who wants to get clean?

Many are fasting at the beginning of the year. I’m one of those who doesn’t love to fast, but loves the cleansed, purified feeling after the fast.

I’m choosing to consecrate myself through a 21 day fast because it’s the best way for me to stay focused on Jesus right now. Intentional fasting is the best way for me to focus on what He is asking me to do this year. {Watch. Weep. Whisper.}

The process of consecration is hard, not pleasant and generally not my idea of a fun time to schedule on my calendar. However, I have submitted to the process enough to now realize the amazingly, glorious benefits.

Kind of like scheduling a teeth cleaning with my dentist. I can’t say that I love the teeth cleansing process. I do love my dentist and I do love his wonderful staff. Yet, they are not motivation enough for me to submit to the process.

What is motivation enough is the end result. You see, I have submitted to the process enough that I fully understand what I will receive at the end. And I absolutely love the fresh results of having my mouth thoroughly cleansed.

Furthermore, because I am of a mature age and experience, I’ve learned that when I take better care of my mouth in between cleanings, the process is not nearly so difficult.

So, I choose to fast from certain foods during these 21 days. More importantly, I am choosing to look at Jesus during these days. I am choosing to watch for Him. Weep with Him. And whisper my gratitude for His goodness.

I trust that this consecration time will remind me of His purity and how good it is to stay right up close to Jesus. In a dark and scary world, He’s my nightlight. He keeps me at peace, settles my nerves, and helps me sleep through the night.

How are you doing? I know it’s a scary time for so many. Exciting too, which comes with it’s own feelings and pitfalls. Would you like to have peace? Do you need a nightlight? How about drawing near to Jesus who never sleeps and never abandons His own?

Would you like to spend 21 days of focus on Jesus? I hope so. Let me know you are joining in and I will pray for you in the process. I know you will be ecstatic over the results.💖

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Steadfast

Psalm 11

Lord, don’t You hear what my well-meaning friends keep saying to me: “Run away while you can! Fly away like a bird to hide in the mountains for safety. For your enemies have prepared a trap for you! They plan to destroy you with their slander and deceitful lies. Can’t you see them hiding in their place of darkness and shadows? They’re set against you and all those who live upright lives.”

But don’t they know, Lord, that I have made You my only hiding place? Don’t they know that I always trust in You? What can the righteous accomplish when truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse? Yet the Eternal One is never shaken — He is still found in His temple of holiness, reigning as Lord and King over all.

He is closely watching everything that happens. And with a glance, His eyes examine every heart. For His heavenly rule will prevail over all.

He will test both the righteous and the wicked, exposing each heart. God’s very soul detests those who love to resort to violence. He will rain down upon them judgment for their sins. A scorching wind will be their portion and lot in life.

But remember this: the Righteous Lord loves what is right and just, and every godly one will come into His presence and gaze upon His face!

{From The Passion Translation}

Steadfast. I want to be steadfast in faith. Steadfast in love I want to follow after You, Jesus. And then on some days I am weak in persevering.

Thankfully, Father, always is steadfast. Forever faithful. He is eternally true.

I praise You, Jesus, that You are steadfast in love and persevering in Your pursuit of us. Thank You for never wavering on Your promises, and for always forgiving.

I feast upon Your word and I am rejuvenated. Your living water refreshes my soul. Your steadfast love for us endures forever.

May I learn to live steadfast in love as I come into Your presence and longingly gaze into Your face. May it be said of me that I have been with You, my Lord. Steadfast and true!

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Bye bye, American Pie?

This is a “no judgment” zone. These words below are worthy of being shared. Gary and Patricia are my parents. They are elderly, and have lived more of history than I, and maybe you.

I’m sharing this very small platform with my parents because they matter, and their voices are important. We have somewhat lost the wisdom of learning from our elders, and our society is the worse for it. If you choose to read their story and mine, please do as my parents taught me.

If you have nothing nice to say, keep your thoughts to yourself.”

However, should you desire to engage in respectful and honoring dialogue, please let us know. And thank you in advance!

Before a word is on my tongue, You, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.
Psalms 139:4‭-‬5 NIV

Gary & Patricia Milford                                  October 19, 2020

Here’s our story….

A few weeks ago my wife was having a conversation with a Christian neighbor / friend.

During the course of that conversation the subject turned to the upcoming 2020 election and our friend made the following comment; “I believe this election will be the most important election of my lifetime and I further believe that if Biden / Harris win this election, it will be an indication that GOD has turned His back on America.”  (I don’t know if that’s true or not, but this is what I do know………..)

Later, as my wife was telling me about that conversation my mind went immediately back fifty years to a young man, Don McLean who in 1971 wrote, recorded and performed his now famous song, “Bye Bye Miss American Pie”.  The long version of that song is about various events (some tragic) that had occurred in America and how those events impacted the young man’s life.  The last verse, however, is about a future event which had not yet occurred.  He could not foresee the event, but evidently some foreboding caused him to write it down and include it as the final verse in his song.  

  • “I met a girl who sang the blues
  • And I asked her for some happy news
  • But she just smiled and turned away.
  • I went down to the sacred store
  • Where I’d heard the music years before
  • But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
  • In the streets the children screamed
  • The lovers cried and the poets dreamed.
  • But not a word was spoken 
  • The church bells all were broken
  • And the three men I admire most
  • The Father, Son and The Holy Ghost
  • They caught the last train for the coast,
  • The day………….the music………died.
  • And they were singin’…..
  • Bye bye Miss American Pie
  • Drove my Chevy to the levee
  • But the levee was dry
  • And them good ol’ boys 
  • A drinkin’ whiskey and rye
  • Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die.” 
  • Bye Bye Miss American Pie

Final verse; Don McLean 1971

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139:16 NIV

The next generation of American Pie.  By Lisa Brittain

Hopefully, you’ve read Mom and Dad’s story, and I hope you will take a moment to read mine from the point of view of the next generation.  My hope and desire is not to persuade you; rather to cause you to ponder before God. I hope you will ask Him all your deepest and most relevant questions.  You, in the next generation, please will you write your story? I pray we, people of all generations, will continue to share our stories even when we disagree regarding the bigger picture of life on planet Earth.  

Our stories are unique.  My parent’s story is their story.  It is part of history, and God always meant for Mom’s story and Dad’s story to be single threads in the fabric of the greater portrait of God’s design.  My story is unique as well, and my story is a thread also.  Your thread is important.  Please receive this truth.  Your thread, your story is unique and important.

So, with that… here I go… jumping in the deep end!

Even though American Pie was released by Don Mclean in 1971, most likely you’re fairly familiar with this song.

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie”
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good old boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die”
“This’ll be the day that I die.”

Dad started singing it while we worked in the shop weaving a new seat on a chair. He stopped singing, and proclaimed, “It’s almost 50 years old, you know? That song came out when you were 9.”  These memories of our shared days gone by are precious to me.  I love stories!  I love true life stories, especially the ones which contain a part of my family history.

Often times, the truth from God’s word mixed together with life experiences and distant memories mingle together with a glistening in Dad’s eyes. Sometimes, as we both get older, the stories are more animated with emotion, and many times shared from a place of growing grace and gentleness.

I can usually tell when a story is about to come forward. His hands get still, and he’s quiet for a moment. The story begins in his eyes, and I can tell that what I am about to hear is important. I want to listen and learn from Dad’s hard earned wisdom for as long as possible.  So, together, we take a moment.  He talks and I listen.

“I remember that old song,” I agreed.   

And I do. American Pie in the fullness of it’s 8+ minutes is etched in my childhood memories. There’s a whole soundtrack of Eagles, Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, and the like; which play behind all the memories of warm days and breezy nights, bikes and trees, the sun and surf of my South Florida childhood. Isn’t it interesting the way a particular song can take you right back to a moment in time?

My childhood years were not peaceful days as we sometimes want to remember the “good old days”. There was much contention and unrest in the 1960’s & 70’s.  Our view of the past generally becomes dulled by time and age.  However, the songs of a culture tell the story of the culture and the signs of the times. When we choose to remember honestly, we have to acknowledge that generations of people were anxious, frustrated, angry and afraid because of the destructive atmosphere invading America during those two decades. People of all ages and cultures were desiring peace and love – seeking hope and unity.

The current atmosphere of division, hate and destruction with all the emotions that go with it, are not new. Unfortunately, we have been here before. Maybe there’s more to learn…

The evening news of my childhood contained graphic pictures of the Viet Nam war, civil rights marches, destructive protests, and a president under investigation.  Hatred, bloodshed, and division invaded our home through the television during my childhood. Current events are not new. And so American Pie was one of those songs that gave people living in that era a ballad with which to express their emotions, questions, and angst.

Suddenly, my Dad pondered out loud, “What if these words are for now?” He was specifically reflecting on the last verse of the song – American Pie

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The father, son, and the holy ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

We wondered together: What if this young man wrote, prophetically, of a time when God would actually give up on America? Perhaps in 1971 it seemed to the young song writer, as it seemed to many Americans then, that the fabric of our land was irreparably torn. It’s a relevant question, and I’m so glad Dad brought the question out into the open air.  We rolled the question about – tossing circumstances back and forth. 

Yet, in the end we strolled confidently back to the truth we both know.  He and I both have built our lives on the foundation of God’s truth – the solid rock – and that’s exactly where we landed.  We walked right back to Psalm 139 – the scripture we are currently memorizing together – and stood there smiling in the assurance of God’s love for us.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

Dad pondered the question…  “What if the upcoming 2020 election results decide whether God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) gives up on America?”  I honestly do not know the answer to that question.  No one knows the answer to that question, except well, God Himself. However, it is a good and honest question.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23‭-‬24 NIV

This I do know.  Whether God ever gives up on America, He will NEVER give up on His children.  He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  His promises are trustworthy and true. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5)

It would be awful to live in America if God should choose to take His hand of favor from our land. Dad, Mom and I are not the only people asking these questions.  We’re all asking, seeking, and knocking in search of the TRUTH.  Just as in the days of my birth and youth – the turbulent 60’s and 70’s or the war torn years of WWII, into which my parents were both born –many today are asking the same questions again and again. 

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling. Kiss His Son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Psalms 2:10‭-‬12 NIV

Have we as a country gone too far? 

I personally believe that is the wrong question. I believe we’re suffering in our country because the family of God is broken. The bride of Christ has been caught in adultery. The children of God are sleeping. The Church of the Living God has been unaware, uninvolved and selfishly looking for Jesus to step out of heaven signalling the eternal exit route.

Have we, in America, crossed the point of no return? Or has God’s family become so lukewarm that we’ve lost our first love?

God’s greatest commandments are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re not seeing a whole lot of love in our country right now. The Church should be leading the love parade, but many churches are closed, hiding in fear, and just as divided in speech and action as the unbelieving world around us.

People of God, wake up! Come alive, dry bones! Awaken to the call of God on your life. All of the unbelieving world, in one way or another, are still seeking and longing for peace, love, unity and truth. (Matthew 7:78, Jeremiah 33:23)

Why aren’t we taking them by the hand, loving them where they are and introducing them to Jesus? Why aren’t we obeying the commands of God? Why aren’t we loving the One who saved us from ourselves?

What if 50 years ago a young man was inspired to write an 8+ minute song, so that all these years later awakening hearts would remember and begin to pray? Do you know Don McLean was told that his song was too long? He was told American Pie would never get radio time. It was just too long and people wouldn’t listen. Yet, fifty years later this song is still getting air time, and another generation knows the words by heart.

Do you know that God called many people such as Noah, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (just to name a few) to proclaim a message of truth and salvation to the people of the world?  God has spoken His message through faithful servants throughout all the years of history, but the majority of people didn’t listen.  The message was discounted and scoffed at, but the messengers sent it forth anyway in obedience to God’s calling. I’m worried about being called “weird”; but truly, many people have paid for their obedience with their lives.

Do you know that God sent forth another messenger; this time His very own Son?  The Son of God left His Throne in heaven and put on the lowly flesh of our humanity to proclaim the good news of God’s deliverance.  He came into our world to love and heal, to declare truth and to redeem the broken, and the people He created and breathed into life killed Him for His message. 

Jesus came with a message from His Father that we could, if willing, be adopted into God’s family.  Jesus said that His Father would be our Father.  He would love us as the Father and Son love one another.  Jesus promised that if we were adopted into God’s family we would be united with God as Father and as Son, and that the Holy Spirit of God would come and dwell with us until the end of the age. (Ephesians 1, 1 John 3:1)

I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

So, is it the end of the age?  I don’t know.  Are the three we admire most – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – about to take the last train for the coast?  I don’t know. But I have some thoughts…

Here’s where I’ve landed after this whole American Pie pondering…

Curious about the song from 1971, I went to Google. Interestingly, I found a verse which had been written in the song writer’s notes, but never included in the recording. This deleted verse, I think, is more important than those included in the recording. Reading the verse below, I recognize a reminder that God is a God of second chances and more. 

[Deleted Verse]
And there I stood alone and afraid
I dropped to my knees and there I prayed
And I promised him everything I could give
If only he would make the music live
And he promised it would live once more
But this time one would equal four
And in five years four had come to mourn
And the music was reborn
(https://genius.com/Don-mclean-american-pie-lyrics)

When we’re afraid we’ve gone too far, when we feel all alone, and we feel we’ve blown it one too many times; there’s an opportunity to fall to our knees and pray. We might make a promise to give everything we have to give, but really all that is necessary is to give our soul in full surrender to God.

I don’t have all the answers for myself, my family or my land. I’m not quite sure what, if anything, all these words mean about yesterday or today or our future. And quite honestly, I’m not sure why God hasn’t given up on America, or me, way before now.  All I can surmise by His forbearance is that God is exceedingly gracious, merciful and kind.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good ; His love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

Has God turned away from America? Is He about to do so? I honestly do not know.  Nor do you.

What I do know is that if we, who bear Christ’s name, are simply looking for the escape route to heaven, we are living disobedient. We’re not following God’s command to love Him and to love our neighbor. If we’re looking for our way out of all this mess by hiding and staying silent, we’re not following Jesus’ command to go into all the world and proclaim His name. If we’re not healing the sick, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry with the Bread of Life; we’re simply living disobedient. Why shouldn’t a good Father be upset about that?

God is good and merciful and long-suffering. And I know that whether God gives up on America or not, He will NEVER turn away from His children. He is a good Father, and so He does discipline His children out of His abundant kindness. (Deuteronomy 8:5)

God, our Father, Son, and Holy Ghost may simply be waiting at the coast for His children to turn and run into His loving arms of forgiveness.

Is it bye, bye to America as we have always known her?

Perhaps.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Maybe not.

However, Church in America, yes – I mean The Bride of Christ –  it is time for us to wake up and arise. It is time for us to wash the sleep from our eyes. It’s time to go out to the fields and joyfully, triumphantly, bring in the harvest of ripened souls.

It is time for us to purify our thoughts, our lips, and our hearts, our hands and our feet. It is time for the Bride of Christ to consecrate herself and dress for the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

It is time to prepare invitations and make them ready for those who will receive the good news of the Bridegroom. 

It is time for the music to be reborn. It is time to glorify our King, Jesus.

Great is the Lord , and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Psalms 48:1 NIV

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my very long pondering message.  Just like Don McLean, I’ve most often been told, “Your stories are too long.  No one will ever read them.”  That’s okay because you just did.  

Thank you, and may God, our Father, His Son and our Redeemer, and our Comforter, Holy Spirit be glorified.  May Almighty God’s Name be magnified and made famous.  And may I spend eternity in Heaven with you, my friend, so that we can praise God and tell stories forever and ever.  Amen.

PS – I just completed 80 days of reading out loud the word of God from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22:21. Our Zoom community (Healing Strong) began reading on August 1, 2020, and we completed the reading on October 19, 2020.  I highly recommend this journey to all who have questions. 

The reading of God’s Word out loud in community is powerful.  God’s Word is powerful for transformation.  So, if we’re seeking transformation in our land, I recommend we start with personal transformation through the reading and declaring of the Living and Active Word of God.  Give it a try. Take God at His Word. See what happens.

May God bless you with all the richness of His Glorious Light; may you receive His healing and life abundant, and may you spend the rest of your life making His name famous! Amen.

Kindly Correction

I love this verse so much. What if the people who speak to you honestly actually help you the most? Even better, a true friend loves you best by speaking the truth. What do you think about that?

One of the things I appreciate most in life is an honest conversation. Unfortunately, these are rare in today’s world. Rare things only increase in value, so there’s the silver lining, I guess.

Truth speakers help me grow in Christ, in love, in wisdom and in humility.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Taking a stroll down memory lane this morning. I’ve had many supervisors in my life. Many of these leaders had my best interest at heart, and some clearly did not. Yet, I learned valuable life lessons from each one.

One woman stands out particularly as I think back. She heard me (on the job) bragging to coworkers about my exceptional spelling skills.

{By the way, this was 1986 and well before spell check technology. We had no laptops or smartphones. Dictionaries, in hard copy, were part of our workplace resources. And our work was documented in pencil on paper. The large eraser was also our ever present help.}

Perhaps my supervisor had not heard the entire conversation. Several of us 20-somethings were enthusiastically discussing our strengths, but mostly weaknesses regarding the written English language.

Apparently, our supervisor agreed with my self-assessment regarding my lack of grammatical expertise, and so, she let that go. However, she did not hold back as I touted my spelling skills.

From the far end of the conference table her voice arose. I froze hearing my name like a child unaware of a parent’s listening ears. Charlotte corrected me in front of all my colleagues. She listed 2 or 3 words for which I was habitually guilty of misspelling.

My coworkers chuckled. My cheeks became hot and I am sure my entire face was as red as ripe cherry tomatoes. I was dumbfounded. And I was truly frustrated with my supervisor, but not for the reason you might be thinking.

When I was able to speak without tears choking my throat and stinging my eyes, I addressed Charlotte, “Why haven’t you told me this before now?” I sincerely wanted to know why she would know for a fact I was doing something consistently wrong, but had not enough care for me to correct me. Now she, Charlotte, sat dumbfounded.

I asked her to circle the misspellings on my workpapers. Once she returned the papers containing her red marks circling my errors, I grabbed my dictionary to find the correct spelling for each misspelled word. She was correct, and now I had the opportunity to make my own correction. I re-wrote my workpapers ( yes, pencil and paper) and submitted them back to Charlotte.

Since we were working out of town, Charlotte asked if I could visit in her hotel room after dinner. I went and we had a longer than expected conversation about the events of the day. Charlotte was still intrigued by my desire for truth and correction. Perhaps, she had counted on me being offended rather than grateful.

I explained to Charlotte that I had lived deceived regarding truth for the most of my life. However, in those 20-something years, I met a young man who was willing to be a true friend by telling me that my life was on the wrong path. He honestly and painfully addressed some of the reasons for my obvious sadness and frustrations with life. He was willing to challenge me to read the Bible.

Before I left, I thanked Charlotte for speaking up, and I asked her to address anything she saw in me that might need correction. I hoped she would do it from a sincere heart. And I challenged Charlotte to read the Bible for herself.

I’m not sure I ever worked under Charlotte’s supervision after that week. Honestly, I don’t know what ever became of Charlotte. However, I promise you, every time I begin to spell those certain words I think of Charlotte with a smile, and gratitude.

Thank You, Jesus, for the many people You allow to intersect my life’s path. Help me today to be a friend seeking truth, and sharing truth in love. I thank You, Jesus, for Charlotte, and pray she is now adopted into Your heavenly family. I thank You for every Charlotte I am yet to meet. Continue to grow me up in wisdom, truth, grace and humility for Your glory, and to exalt Your name in my corner of the world.

Eyes in Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

God Breathed

There’s not one current human issue that has not been covered in the Bible. Not one! God is not shy about discussing every topic under the sun.

RELEVANT:

Upon invitation from a dear neighbor couple, I linked my desire for God’s word with a local Healing Strong group, and we corporately began our journey from Genesis to Revelation on August 1, 2020. We have just finished reading through the book of Jonah.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Reading straight through the Bible in 75 days is exactly what I’ve needed during this strange year. It’s not too late to join in by Zoom.

There’s much discussion on all forms of media regarding the chaotic and divisive landscape of our American society. Each point of view seems to point the blame finger at someone else for causing such hostility, bloodshed and corruption. All the angst threatens to make us silent rather than enter into lively conversations with even our dearest and most loved ones.

Yet, for those of us who are reading together the God breathed scriptures it has become apparent that the current destructive chaos rearing it’s ugly head is not a new phenomenon in our world.  The same evil events are catalogued in the Bible from Genesis all the way through Jonah, to this point. The cause in history, as is now the case, resides with us – faulty and lustful human beings.

Only God is innocent. The rest of us are guilty. Every single one of us.

CONVICTION:

These words we read together in community are the words of the Lord God Almighty. These are the powerful life-giving words of a good Father who has seen and heard it all, and yet loves His children. He is ‘Father Knows Best’ and He is looking for each one of His children to turn toward home.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

Joshua Tree National Park, California

As I have been chewing on the inspired words of God’s chronicles unbound by time and space, I am freshly convicted. I recognize through the mirror of His perfecting word the compromises I have made because of the culture (even church culture) in which I have dwelt. The light of God’s magnificent glory is getting brighter as the scales of flesh are falling from my eyes.

The simple and yet disciplined act of reading God’s Word aloud in community has begun it’s work of exposing lies I have allowed to become subtly incorporated into my thinking. Unfortunately, I have simply, slowly over time, allowed the voices of the world to resonate louder than the voice of God in several areas of my life.

God’s word brings conviction because the Word of God is Jesus. When we, who were created in the image of God, stand in the mirror of His perfection we catch a glimpse of how muddied and tattered we’ve become. When God in His Triune nature created us in our mother’s womb we looked much more like Him. However, we were born in the flesh into a corrupt world, which scrapes, cuts, lies and injures the purity of His image in us until we can barely recognize that we were made for Him. And it’s not just corruption from the outside. Our flesh craves sin and we gulp it down of our own free will.

“Then they will know that I Am the LORD.”

God

Over and over, again and again, the Lord inspired Ezekiel to write example after example of God’s created people falling into the deepest pits of the flesh. It’s hard to read because it sounds just like the daily news feeds of our current American society. Yet at the end of each example, God declared that then they would know that He is God. It’s a hard truth, but for most of us it takes coming to the end of our self-sufficiency to bend our will to God’s all sufficiency and saving grace.

Comfort, comfort My People, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

COMFORT

The living and active word empowered by the Holy Spirit of God washes over my open wounds. The word reveals my broken flesh, and points to my inability to save myself. Holy Spirit reaches in with cleansing and restoration as I submit to correction. Gloriously, the scriptures also expose God’s kindness and love. His grace is on display, and His goodness to create a rescue plan leads me and many others to repentance.

Dana Point, California

If you need encouragement today, open the God breathed scriptures, and read. Let the breath of the Lion of Judah warm your face as you take in His nourishing truth.  Taste and see that the Lord is good. Give thanks to our Father for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever.

You will find in His word the answers you are seeking in these frustrating and fretful days of 2020. You will, if you seek in God’s word, and you ask for wisdom. Jesus wants to uncover His mysteries of love and life to you. If it was true of His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, it will be true for us who are willing to meet with Jesus, The Word.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

Understandably skeptical, the woman who met Jesus at the well in the middle of the day heard these words from the mouth of Jesus, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

Today, I want to offer you water. I know you’re thirsty. I know you are feeling parched. It’s just an offer. It’s an offer because I care. The cup of cool water is held out simply because I have experienced for myself the relief, the healing and the life received when I turned to the Lord’s glorious solutions for everything I feel and need.

I bless you to take a chance with Jesus today. Take just a sip. Like the woman at the well who sipped and then drank deeply from the cup that is life. Don’t let your doubt, fear or stubborn will keep you from fullness of life and joy. I could be wrong, and I don’t have the answers you so desperately need.

But I know the One who does. Let me have the joy and honor of introducing you through the God breathed, living and active Word. Jesus is The Word, which has endured throughout all of history, and has covered every topic currently discussed in our society. He is not wrong or without victory.

Eyes on Him… You’ll shine!

~Lisa

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst again.” ~Jesus

Ponders:

1. Be honest with yourself for a moment. What is it that keeps you from receiving a cup of living water? Is your solution to your thirst satisfying and providing fullness of life and joy?

2. Read John 4 and put yourself in the place of the skeptical woman. What’s your response to Jesus?

3. Join HealingStrong.org and finish reading the God breathed, living and active word of the Lord in community with us. You’re welcome!

4. Take time to read the Psalms daily or one of the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel alongside the book of Romans. What do you read of history that looks, sounds, and feels like it is written from today’s news?

5. I’m praying for you from Psalm 37:1-8. May you meet with Jesus with all your questions and concerns today and find His peace. May you be comforted like never before. May you find yourself feasting at the LORD’s banquet table and experience complete healing and restoration for His glory and the fame of His Name. Amen.

The Power of Words

Picture credit: @YouVersion Bible App

One of the first scripture verses I memorized in my toddling steps following after Jesus in my early twenties was 1 John 4:18.

I was tired of being fearful. A good friend and co-worker recommended that I memorize this scripture. This friend encouraged me to turn God’s word into a prayer – into a conversation with God.

I was desperate for relief from overwhelming fear and anxiety so I was willing to take his challenge.

In the darkest of storm clouds, God shines through. Picture credit: Lisa Brittain

I wrote this verse on an index card, and found myself saying this verse every few minutes the first few days. I carried my index card to work, kept it in my car, and memorized it in my heart.

Over the length of a month I recognized the power of God’s Word to transform my thoughts. Fear was taking a backseat to God’s love for me.

I still felt fearful and anxious many times. Don’t imagine I’m speaking of a magical incantation. The accuser did not immediately run away never to return.

A rainbow after the fiercest storm clouds. Picture credit: Lisa Brittain

However, the more I used the word of God as a sword in prayer, the more my thoughts were transformed. As my thoughts became transformed toward the mind of Christ, the more freedom I experienced.

All these years later, in world and personal circumstances I could have never forseen, this all time favorite scripture truth wields power and clarity in my prayers.

If you have a friend who sends you to the Word of God and challenges you to memorize, pray and study for life transformation, thank God for that friend right now. Thank You Father for giving us brothers and sisters who remind us to go back to Your Fatherly wisdom.

Picture credit: @YouVersion Bible App

If you don’t have such a friend, let’s ask Holy Spirit and Jesus to connect you with a Bible friend today. I know Father has a son or daughter near you and wants to introduce you. So be on the lookout for a new friend who loves God’s word and wants to help you  gain strength, courage and wisdom.

Lord Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, thank You for giving us Your word and for connecting us with brothers and sisters in Christ who challenge, love and sharpen us for Victory in living a life that brings honor to Your name!

Standing on tiptoes to see how You are going to answer our requests…

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

#eyesonjesusandshine #wordofGod #swordofthespirit
#nofear #love #transformation