2015-02-05 026

I made a book cover out of wrapping paper for my Bible. It’s bright colors and the paper itself is slick and crisp. Every time I open my Bible now it feels like what it really is—a gift. When I open it there’s always new surprises inside.

The Bible I usually use is the King James Version. This week my surprises were some amazing new discoveries as a result of something my friend Paul Norcross taught about this particular Bible.

Did you know that wherever a word in the KJV ends in “eth” the “eth” should be read as “ing?” For me, that made a huge difference in how I understood some familiar verses.

For instance, Matthew 4:4 reads, “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” To me it seemed that it referred mostly to things in the past tense, like what was written in the Bible. But when I read it as “every word that is proceeding out of the mouth of God,” that brings everything right into the present for me. Not only would it include what God put in His written Word, but also what He’s continuing to say—the revelation words for things not specifically in the Bible, like “go home a different way, Carolyn.” That got me pretty excited so I decided to look up some other places where there were words ending in “eth.”

1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.” Change that to “He is caring for you.” He is right here caring for me right now. I like that.

Psalm 23 is packed full of “eth” words. “He leadeth me beside the still waters” (vs.2). He is leading me beside still waters. And verse 3, “He restoreth my soul.” As long as it remains “restoreth” I can ask, “When?” But when I read it, “He is restoring my soul,” I know He’s at it right now and that’s thrilling to know. In the same verse, “He leadeth me in paths of righteousness.” But I change it to “He is leading me [right now] in paths of righteousness.” That gives me an extra boost of confidence for the day.

I looked up two more verbs, teacheth and maketh and this was all during my half hour lunch time. It was awesome.

So if you are currently using a King James Version of the Bible, take a look at any action words you can think of that might have an “eth” ending. Like me, I think you’ll get some fresh new surprises at what’s in store for you.

Love, Carolyn

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I was waiting at the trail head for the rest of the hiking group. It started to sprinkle and was an unusually cold morning for Las Vegas. I saw movement up at the top of the cliffs and got my binoculars focused on one large golden eagle sitting at the edge of the cliff and another circling in the sky. They were getting ready to fly above the oncoming storm. Being above the storm, they cruise along peacefully. If only we could be as smart!

The financial systems of the world have failed. Most people trusted in some aspect of those failing systems and lost money. And now the devil wants to fill us with fear about the future. We can’t let him do that. The Lord has already rescued us and made a way for us to rise above like the eagle.

Our God is a good God. That sounds like a no-brainer, but how often have we gotten worried, scared or angry about our circumstances and felt our present situation and our future looks pretty dim?

This happened to me a few years ago. Las Vegas wasn’t building, so painters like me didn’t have jobs. When this happens I normally do a lot of side jobs, but people were being tight with their money and didn’t want to pay for extra projects. Besides that, I was caring for a sick friend so I had more things I needed to pay for. Things were really going downhill financially. It hit me like a brick wall, but friends and family helped and I cut way back on my spending, cutting my bills down, etc. It didn’t hurt me a bit.

I was glad to experience what I did. The Lord showed me how to cruise through, one event at a time. My low financial state took me to new heights spiritually.

I met some of the greatest and most loving people in the most unexpected places—places I’d never even thought of visiting before. The Lord was showing me a wealth of blessings and only a small part of it had to do with money prosperity.

In the last several years there has been so much teaching about financial prosperity that many Christians (including me) have felt ashamed if they haven’t become instantly rich like the church leaders and others whose testimonies we hear. I’ve come to believe that’s wrong.

The Bible says, “They shall not be ashamed in the evil time; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied” (Ps 37:19). The NIV reads: “In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.” And in the NAS: “They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance.” That abundance is not just referring to money. If we truly have God and his son Jesus Christ, we have everything and if we don’t have them, we have nothing.

I was financially poor a few years ago, and yet with God I soared like an eagle above the storm because I learned to ride the Word. What I received spiritually and in my soul was wonderful and worth so much.

No matter what our situations may look like and no matter what the world’s financial circumstances are, we can’t let fear lock us into bad times. We “seek those things that are above… and set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1-2). Our God is a good God and will always provide a way for us to rise like and eagle above any storm.

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Love, Carolyn

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religious con man

“You give me five thousand I’ll give you fifty.” – from the movie, The American Hustle

We started on our Christian walk, saw miracles in the beginning, amazing signs and wonders, great friends, great teachings and all was glorious. It was marvelous at first. But then times got tough. Where’s all the abundance of Ephesians 3:20 (“exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”)? Or the riches of Proverbs 10:22 (“the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it”)? Two things happened: time and trouble.

Sound like the Israelites’ flight out of Egypt? Exactly my point. They saw all kinds of amazing things like the parting of the Red Sea, the jewelry and riches God told them to take from the Egyptians, the miraculous way their shoes didn’t wear out and the manna from heaven every day.

Like the Israelites, we got tired of eating manna every day, so we prayed for real meat. When we got it we couldn’t handle it and we threw it up and went back to manna. But we just kept complaining and focusing on lack. Instead of growing closer to a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus we started to murmur and get angry. We wanted what He promised and we wanted it NOW.

Our leader, the Lord Jesus, left us alone, or so we thought. But rather, our murmuring and complaining drove him off in our own minds, just like when Moses went up to the mountain. We made the mistake of trying to venture on without him. We got tired of waiting. Then some leaders among us had bright ideas of their own – very clever and radiant as gold.

They thought like the Israelites, “We have some gold jewelry we took out of Egypt (never mind that God may have a plan for it later like maybe buying food or trading for land). Shame on God for not telling us ahead of time. What are we supposed to do, wait forever?”

A few of our trusted Christian leaders suggested we pool our resources. They decided we should send in our gold jewelry. They’ll coordinate it and if we give it to them, they’ll build a beautiful empire, a golden calf, and we’ll all share in the glory and it’ll be great.

They said, “Just give us a tenth of your wealth and we’ll give you a little something. And the more you give, the more you’ll get and maybe you’ll even get to be as big as we are. You’ll share in the glory we have. Isn’t it going to be wonderful? And anyway, Jesus went to the mountain and hasn’t really come through for you. This plan will give you the life you want.”

Thousands of Christians fell for it, sending their money to the big televangelists, expecting great financial blessings to come. I got tricked myself. I sent money to one minister for a plane he wanted, but then when he was coming to Las Vegas for a meeting, the Holy Spirit told me not to go. That was the first shocker!

Then I also sent a special offering directly to a popular prosperity preacher. He’d been using scripture all along to back up his erroneous teachings and it sounded Bible-based and pretty good. But any good con is based on some truth and that’s how they hustle innocent, well-meaning people in the first place. When I didn’t get any expected results from my supposed “first fruits” giving, I asked God about it and He said, “I never told you to do that.” OMG!

Bit by bit I was deceived and fell prey to wrong teaching. But don’t judge me. God already forgave me. We’ve probably all been conned a time or two and it feels awful. Once we start down the wrong road, the further we go, the harder it is to stop and go back. The devil is slick with this stuff: Pick some Bible scriptures to back up your error and introduce it a little at a time—smooth as silk, and pretty soon you’ve got ‘em. You know the rest of the story.

Fortunately for me, by the love and grace of God I woke up and started over with my tithe and giving. Each time I got money, I took it to the Lord, asked and did as I felt He directed. And to be absolutely honest, He didn’t always tell me to give it away. (How many times have you heard anyone say that? Not too many, I bet.) But I’m required of God to be honest with you so there it is.

The thing is, how many of the thousands of individual Christians who’ve sent to these big televangelist prosperity-teaching ministries have profited financially in the way they thought they were being promised? Jesus said the proof is in the fruit. Yes, some have profited and those are the stories you see on TV and in the magazines, but I would say the majority have not.

Giving is good and I know these ministries that are pushing their prosperity teachings are doing some great things with the money, no doubt. But how many innocent followers will fall along the way?

Jeremiah 7: 22 says, “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.” God was not asking them to give large offerings and sacrifices.  “But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you” (vs. 23).

A lot of good Christians have been hustled and conned by errors or misunderstandings concerning the prosperity teachings. We need to wake up. Individual obedience and relationship with the Lord is way more important than blindly sending our money to someone we don’t really know. I’m asking you to just think about it.

With the Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s never been about giving to get. We have to take a closer look at where the Lord wants us to give. We have Holy Spirit in us and the ability to hear and obey. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). That’s you and me.

And Jesus also said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14). Now that’s the kind of relationship we already have. We just need to get better at it.

We’ve been so programmed to go along with the crowd when it comes to the tithe, we’ve strayed from “as the spirit of truth will guide.”

Let’s learn to honor the spirit of Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ, by sharing of the money He gives us, in the way He directs. So what if we make some mistakes? It’s better to be brave and take some new baby steps than to be caught in the religious hustle and con of a Pharisee or misinformed preacher.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). You are that person.

Love, Carolyn

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road rage kitty

I’ve posted this before, but sometimes I need to remind myself of the details. When I originally wrote this, God gave me a new way of looking at forgiveness, which helped me and I think will help you too.

I was in a long line of traffic coming home the other day, when I had a guy pull out of the line behind me, go up to the front of the line and cut back in. I was furious and was telling him what I thought of him, though of course he couldn’t hear a word of it. Then all of a sudden I stopped and I asked myself, “Why are you so angry? God clearly tells us to forgive. But how do I wrap my mind around it here? How do I apply forgiveness in the middle of my road rage?”

I didn’t get it until the Lord told me to look up the word “forgive.” It’s made up of two words: “for” and “give.” We are to be for (in favor of) giving them to God. He can handle the people that we can’t. When we are in favor of giving the people who anger us over to God and the consequences of His Word, we get the negative influence of those people off of us. If we do not release them over to God, the negative thoughts and emotions stay attached to us. We need to completely release them to either God’s care or His vengeance.

I’ve often found myself thinking that a person isn’t going to change. Sometimes that’s right, but I still have to pray that the Lord sets up something where they have the opportunity to want to change. I know I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my life and still do, but I’m able to change with God’s help and others can too.

What about when we feel we have a right to be angry at someone? We still need to forgive. We have to give those people over to God. He knows just what to do. He’ll either love them into changing or if they refuse, Romans 12:19 says: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord.” God’s vengeance is going to have a lot heftier effect than anything you or I could muster up.

We may say, “I can’t forgive what they did; I just can’t let it go.” But you CAN because you have “Christ in you” (Col 1:27). The forgiver is already a true part of the real you. “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17).

Anger is a strong defense and can make us look and feel powerful. If we think we have to let it go, we may feel weak and vulnerable. But, in fact, it takes more guts to be a forgiver.

We have to be the stronger person to stand tall and say out loud, “I forgive; right now I give them to You, God. Lord, if they didn’t realize what they did, then I give them to You and I believe that You will get them to someone to teach them. If they did it on purpose, I still give them to You. Either way, I give them up, and I am free.”

We will start to see ourselves changing and see others changing around us too. Forgiving is empowering and it frees us up to receive from God. It is what any true believer does. Even on the roads, forgiveness can take the road rage away!

Love, Carolyn

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I got up early as usual, told myself God loves me and started my day. I wasn’t feeling top notch and didn’t know exactly what was bothering me: upcoming doctor appointment? No. Looking for a new work project? No. I went through a list of things that could possibly be bringing me down, but there was nothing specific. I just was feeling somewhat deflated, discouraged and sad.

Over the weekend I saw a snippet of the news announcing, “682,000 discouraged workers stopped looking in January.” That’s just what our adversary wants us to do to do—get so discouraged we just give up.

But it’s not going to work.

I started off by telling myself Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  I also told myself, “I’m going to have a great day.” I had to say it three times before I even partially believed it. I felt like just crawling back into bed, but instead I just started doing things. I went outside, swept the patio, did some paperwork for my taxes, cooked some vegetables for my best friend, and I started to feel better.

We all get disappointed and discouraged at times and sometimes want to indulge in a bit of self-pity over one thing or another. It’s just human nature. We get tired of always fighting and working and fighting and working and it just gets us down sometimes.

Jesus’ disciples had the same problem.

Jesus took them to the Mount of Olives just before his crucifixion. He told them to pray while he went off a little ways to pray by himself. But when he “rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow” (Luke 22:45).

That’s just how I felt. Midway through the day it was still heavy and I just didn’t want to do anything but take a long nap and escape the blues.

But Jesus “said unto them, Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (vs.46). And isn’t that just so true? If we stay in our “poor me, I just want to sleep” state we’re much more likely to fall into deeper temptations that get harder and harder to escape. Satan is definitely looking for that. “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

A great example of someone who let the “poor me” temptation escalate into years of sorrow was the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. He’d been coming down to the pool to get his healing for years on end. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to become well? Are you really in earnest about getting well?” (John 5:6). The man didn’t even just say yes. Instead he answered by blaming other people, saying it was their fault he wasn’t healed.

It’s easy to blame others for our lack of joy, health and happiness. But Jesus told the crippled man he had to take forward action himself. “Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (vs.8-9).

When there’s no one around to lift us up out of our slump, we have to do it ourselves with God’s word. And because God already knew we’d have some problems with this, He put lots of scriptures throughout the Bible to help us. I call them cures for the blues.

Hebrews 12:12 is a good one: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet.”

And 1 Timothy 1:6-7 says, “Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Isaiah 61:3 tells us the Lord gives us “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” But we’re the ones who have to put it on. When we’re feeling burdened, the last thing we want to do is get up, go to the closet and put on something bright and happy. But I’ll never forget the words of Rose Marie, a secretary I once met. I complimented her on how pretty she looked one day. She replied, “I always try to look my best when I feel my worst.” Great advice.

Nothing really spectacular happened during the day but I just kept moving and at the end of the day God gave me a great reward:

Jane and I were coming home from doing some errands and a young couple, Mayra and her husband (20 and 21 years old) were walking down the street. Several months ago it was raining and I gave Mayra a ride to her job over at Circus Circus. We had a great talk about Jesus and she told me her husband was starting to believe in Jesus too. She said they didn’t have a car anymore and were going to move across country to live with her dad and go to school.

And here they were today, walking down the street (God’s perfect timing) with two big suitcases, a guitar and their little dog in a pink carrying case. I waited for them to get to our driveway and asked, “Are you leaving now?” She answered, “Yes.”

“To the airport?” I asked. “How are you going to get there?” She looked at the ground and barely whispered, “We don’t know exactly.” Jane instantly spoke up, “We’ll give you a ride. Just wait a minute and we’ll be right back.”

We went inside, gathered some snacks into a bag and came back out. Mayra started to wipe the tears from her eyes, as she clutched the snack bag. I hugged her and told her we were happy to give them a ride. She said, “Nobody is this nice after only meeting someone one time.” They didn’t have a car so they were used to walking, but ten miles to the airport? That’s crazy!

We were so blessed to be able to help them start their new life. Then on the way home I got a text message thanking me for some help I gave another friend. God gave me a really spectacular and rewarding end to a day that started out sad and discouraging. I’m so thankful for His Word and His love.

Love, Carolyn

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Janice was the perfect candidate for leadership. She met the basic requirements, participated in all the meetings and added real insight and help to the other members. Several of the leaders recommended her and it looked like a lock. But when the final job interview came, she was denied. Why, God? Why?

There’s just some things we’re not going to be able to figure out or understand. God is all-knowing. But we are not and we can’t figure it out with reasoning or logic. We’ve heard the common phrase, “there’s a reason for everything.” But the second half of that should be, “but we don’t get to know all the reasons.” God is always going to know more than we do. He sees the bigger picture beyond what we can see.

Job 9:10 says He “doeth great things past finding out.”

That’s where trust comes in. With trust and obedience, there’s always going to be some unanswered questions: “Why, God?” “How?” “When?” We trust and obey from our hearts, not our minds. Our minds are too small to handle all the data it takes to answer every question all at once.

We have problems at times waiting on God and trusting Him. But we’re not the only ones. Take a look at Gideon.

The Midianites were destroying the land. The Israelites were hiding in caves and they were in poverty. Gideon was threshing some wheat to hide it from the Midianites, when an angel come to him and said, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12).

Then Gideon questioned, “But if the Lord is helping us, then why have all of these awful things happened? And where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of?” (vs. 13). But the angel didn’t bother to explain why it was happening. He just told Gideon what to do next, and said, “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites” (vs. 14).

We have to get used to doing things without always having to know why.

Daniel 4:35 says, “He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” We have to let God be God. He doesn’t have to tell us everything. He tells us He has a good plan for us and sometimes that’s all we need to know and then just keep trusting and doing the next thing.

Janice did the next thing God opened for her. She later found out that the company she had applied for was corrupt. Because of her integrity, she wouldn’t have lasted there even if she’d gotten the job.

So many things are like that; we don’t find out until later why our prayers weren’t answered in the way we had expected or in the time frame we were wanting. However, we see in the instruction book (the Bible) that everyone who trusted God and just obeyed, got great results, whether or not they understood the why and wherefore.

A word of caution: Many have listened to and obeyed their preachers and pastors without really verifying their actions or beliefs with the Word of God. We want to make sure we are trusting God, not just what some TV evangelist says. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). You don’t need a pastor to tell you what to do. Those of us who minister in the capacity of gift ministries are there to help, but God says, “the Spirit himself speaks to our spirits and makes us sure” (Rom 8:16). We’ve sometimes trusted more in our teachers than in God and His word.

Even though we may not know why things happen sometimes, the good thing is we have eternity to catch up on everything we couldn’t figure out. Meanwhile we trust Him, believe and obey. We let God be God and then we see the greatness of what He can do.

Love, Carolyn

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