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Hacked or Hoodwinked

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A recent event has left me stirred, perplexed and extremely concerned, and so should we all be.

Many will be familiar with the social media post that went viral a few weeks ago that started with one person sending another a message that they had likely been hacked and that someone may have cloned their profile. The post offered instructions as to how to remedy the fact that their data and imagery may have been compromised, which included letting all your friends know.

Within hours, I received multiple dozen messages from friends instructing me to change my password, avoid accepting any new friend requests, beware, be alert, and pass it on. When I received the first one, I was standing next to a friend. I asked her to search my profile on social media. She did. There was only one me. I began deleting all of the warnings and alerts I had received and ignored the advice. Problem solved.

However, after seeing the viral response that occurred and how many people were anxious, concerned and panicked over a prank, I began to see a real and valid threat.

Matthew 24:4-14 TPT says,  Jesus answered, “At that time deception will run rampant. So beware that you are not fooled! For many will appear on the scene claiming my authority or saying about themselves, ‘I am God’s Anointed,’ and they will lead many astray. You will hear of wars nearby and revolutions on every side, with more rumors of wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for the breaking apart of the world’s systems is destined to happen. But it won’t yet be the end; it will still be unfolding. Nations will go to war against each other and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be terrible earthquakes—seismic events of epic proportion, horrible epidemics and famines in place after place. This is how the first contractions and birth pains of the new age will begin! You can expect to be persecuted, even killed; for you will be hated by all the nations because of your love for me. Then many will stop following me and fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many lying prophets will arise, deceiving multitudes and leading them away from the path of truth. There will be such an increase of sin and lawlessness that those whose hearts once burned with passion for God and others will grow cold. But keep your hope to the end and you will experience life and deliverance. Yet through it all, this joyful assurance of the realm of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God. And after this the end of this age will arrive.”

As we look about, we can see that these words have life in them. There is a harsh reality  revealed here in something that was written many years ago. I see people feeding like piranhas on the words of others and passing those words along as quickly as they are read or heard. And I am bothered by it. Lies have a way of weaving a thread from person to person in no time at all, and the primary reason this is so easily done, is selfishness. People are so focused on their own needs, traumas, threats, struggles and trials that they have no buffer to keep them from instantly bowing to ‘panic and giving in to their fears”.

As my cousin, Lenn said, “Satan shows us the bait, but not the trap.” Profound!

John 8:32 says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” and Acts 17:11 says, “This was evident in the great eagerness with which they accepted the word and examined the scriptures each day to see whether Paul’s teaching was true.” The best way to avoid deception is to know the truth. It is essential today that we verify anything taught or shared with us to discern or understand whether or not it is truth, because there are many deceivers. Do your research; communicate with those you trust to lead you to the truth; don’t take everything others share with you as sound, unless confirmed, and thereby live in joyful assurance. Peace be with you.

 

 

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Like, What?

likeIt’s been a while since I’ve written and I find these days a hesitation to write. It seems as if everyone is so bold today about sharing their opinions and perspectives. I miss the days when people purposed to listen rather than to blare out their thoughts and practiced the ART of discretion. So here I am, blaring out my thoughts, but on the very subject that this entails.

I’ve noticed recently that people are living their lives by what they do or do not “like”. The difficulty in this is that one’s opinions can change as often as they receive new information or data to add to their theories. My husband always encouraged our children in their school-age years not to worry about who liked them on any given day, because by the next day that would change.

The verb like as defined in the Webster’s is:

Definition of like, liked, liking

  1. transitive verb
  2. chiefly dialectal : to be suitable or agreeable to I like onions but they don’t like me

  3.  to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in : enjoy- likes baseball                       to feel toward :  regard – how would you like a change

  4.  to wish to have :  want –  would like a drink

  5.  to do well in this plant likes dry soil my car does not like cold weather

  6. intransitive verb
  7. dialect :  approve

  8. to feel inclined :  choose, prefer leave any time you like

And used in sentences:

  1. He likes baseball, but he loves football.

  2. Do you like Mexican food?

  3. I liked the movie a lot more than I thought I would.

  4. I don’t know what it is about that guy, but I just don’t like him.

  5. They were political allies who truly liked each other.

  6. What is it that you like or dislike about him most?

  7. She says she likes him as a friend but she’s not attracted to him.

  8. My boss was a tough guy, but I liked him for his honesty

 

Notice that all of these choices reflect emotions that can change in an instant. I believe the better way is to choose to live by what is moral, ethical, conscientious and right. This view serves the whole of humanity, not the purpose of one. This view is God’s plan for all of us, from the beginning to the end, whether or not one is able like or believe that He is there. This view makes way for us to enjoy one another to a greater degree, live peaceably, let go of anger, and find joy. It brings us back to the ability to just “be” and stop trying so hard to “prove”. With all of the stress, anxiety, turmoil and chaos in life, this seems to me to be so much more desirable. I think I like it.

Behave

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I’m not much of one to rant, though I’d like to share an experience I had today. I had a conversation with someone that left me feeling sad and ashamed of what I see that we as a society have become. Whatever happened to courtesy, respect and just being kind?

This person was pretty beaten down by all of the rude and obnoxious behavior that has taken place this election year, and expressing how tiring and frustrating it is to deal with people who want to cast blame, force opinions and vent.  Though I understand everyone has different motives, I do agree.

There is such a big difference between standing firm in your convictions and trying to harass and intimidate others into believing the same things that you do. What many complain has happened in Christianity through judgmental, holier than others, and superior to all behavior has now crept into the rest of the world. Some would say the world brought it to the church, but I don’t think so. I think it came with mutual consent. We think that because we have been given a podium and a microphone through technology like email, social media, and video recording that it means that everyone out there not only wants to but NEEDS to hear our every thought and opinion. And then if they have the nerve to disagree, by golly we are going to set them straight, because all men are created equal, not individual. How crass, and how arrogant. Simply rude.

I’m an old-fashioned girl, I guess, because I still believe strongly in thinking the best of others and as my husband would say, loving them for who they are even if I don’t like who they are. In other words, it’s my duty in life to love all of mankind, though I am not required to agree with every thought, every bent and every mindset. I am free to choose what I believe, so why should I try to force others and take that freedom from them? I can hope to express my thoughts in such a way that perhaps others might see wisdom or rationality in my values, and then perhaps I can learn from the wisdom and rationality in some of theirs. We may even meet in the middle regarding some topics. But if we don’t, I am going to choose to be kind anyway. It makes life so much simpler than having to be angry at and hate everyone, raising ire and blood pressure and stress in my life, creating chaos and war with family and friends alike.

I miss the days when people used discretion, held their tongue, waiting for the right time and the right place to discuss issues with others, and for the sake of decency and civility, chose words like, “I disagree because”, “I understand, but what if” and “do you think”. I miss laughing at our shortcomings, telling stories and jokes, and having fun in the simplest of ways. I miss songs like, “We Are the World” and “I’m Proud to be an American”. I miss sitting on the front steps with your neighbors and watching the neighborhood kids at play. I miss honor and integrity. I miss love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. I miss nice.

Be nice. Behave. Please.

 

 

Laughing

Sharing a page from my devotional Time of Grace:

I Love Laughing With Friends

Lord, have I thanked you lately for my friends?

How you have blessed me with the circle of people who keep me sane. Honestly, I think I would go crazy if I didn’t have people to bounce ideas off of, talk me off the ledge, point out my foolishness, encourage me when I’m right but too timid, make me feel like I belong, help me out in a pinch, explain things to me, give me advice, and generally magnify my good times into great times.

As I think about the dear people you have brought into my life, I get what the psalm writer was talking about when he expressed his joys not just by himself but with people he loved: “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:2). Lord, you designed laughter as an amazingly healing human activity. My friends help me lighten up and not take myself so seriously. They give me perspective on my struggles, they share things they’ve learned, and they help me when I am in trouble.

I don’t want to be just a taker. How can I show people how much they mean to me? Please let me give as much of a lift to other people as they give to me. How can I show you how much I appreciate the gift of loving people in my life?

Compassion

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Compassion is defined as the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of another. The English noun compassion, meaning to love together with, comes from the Latin preposition cum(= with); the passion segment is related in origin, form and meaning to the English noun patient (= one who suffers). The truest form of compassion, then, is to love together with one who suffers. It is ranked as among the greatest of virtues in numerous philosophies and in almost all of the major religious traditions.
The scriptures say that Jesus was filled with compassion. The greatest gift He gave to mankind was to take our sin and sickness upon Himself, which restored our right standing with God and assured that we would not have to suffer the consequences of sin. He loved together with all who were suffering as the result of separation from God. He was filled with a desire to help those in need.
At the beginning of each year our pastor encourages us to seek God for one word that will define our direction and our focus for that year; an area that will require us to be intentional and ever mindful of God’s presence and His plan for us. My word last year was gratitude as you learned in an earlier blog I posted. This year my word is compassion. When I shared that with a dear friend, she said, “That’s interesting Ann, because you’re one of the most compassionate people I know.”
True to His nature however, the Lord has shown me (and actually He started two years ago though I was unaware), there is a great deal of difference between feeling compassion for others and loving together with them in their suffering.
Our calling is not to sit in a private box at the big race and watch others as they run, feeling empathy for them when they stumble and shouting a “woohoo” when they round a curve, judging their form and performance; but rather it is to run beside them, feeling the burn as they fight for momentum, urging them onward toward the goal, hurting when they hurt and sharing in the exhilaration when they rejoice. Irrational generosity, unconditional love, and intentional purpose is what we bring to prepare them and to provide for them as they struggle to overcome in both the straightaway and in the press. It is not seeing who they are, but seeing who God is and who they are in Him.
So though in days past I “felt” compassion for others, I believe now that I am becoming compassionate and reaching toward being filled with compassion.

Seasons

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I so love the change of seasons as you see the old fading away and the new coming in fresh and alive, full of the unknown, full of adventure. I’ve been pondering all that has taken place in our lives since the new year. I am startled to see that this is the first time I have blogged this year, and yet very pleased in knowing that I am once again ready to write. There has been a passing away of the old in our lives, some of it painful in passing and yet other parts opening new life where we had not anticipated it to come. I am reminded of something that I read, “Sometimes you don’t know you’re taking the first step through a door until you’re already inside.”  ~Ann Voskamp

We are alive again, vibrantly and brilliantly alive! And while we still yet see an occasional crumpled up dry leaf on the path that needs to be swept away, we can confidently say that God has been so good to us! He has healed us and made us new, opened our eyes, corrected our vision, changed our course and headed us down a path we couldn’t have seen without His loving guidance. Each day that dawns brings with it a new adventure, a new discovery and a renewed strength. We have a determination to reach the end goal and are truly inspired by the things we have learned and the friends that we have made to believe that we are in His plan for our lives and fulfilling His purpose in us.

Gratitude…

Spreading Our Wings

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As this year comes to its close and I reflect on everything that the Lord has done in our lives, I see clearly that it has been a year of transition. In birthing, transition is the shortest phase of labor, yet it is the most intense and the most uncomfortable part of the birthing process. The major emotional marker during this phase is the sense or perception of being out of control and feeling completely helpless. It is said that it is essential for one to be reminded during this phase that they are in transition, as it helps them to handle the increased intensity.

The Lord has led us through some major life changes in this season redefining our priorities, redirecting our path, and even making a career change. Through every step of this process, we have experienced pressure, emotional highs and lows, and feelings of loss and exhilaration all at the same time. We have experience intense levels of character development, faith building and trust. Yet through all of it God was there bringing words of encouragement, guidance and hope. It is through the grace of God alone that we were able to handle such a year of change.

The eagle is considered to be one of the strongest creatures in flight and can carry an object weighing as much as itself. It has the ability to soar to heights of more than 10,000 feet. Its nest is built in the highest part of a cliff and can weigh up to two tons, built strong enough to weather and endure the elements and the strong gusts of wind that come with high altitudes, because the nest is built inside the cleft of a rock. An eagle will fly in the midst of a storm, undaunted and seemingly unaffected by the elements, soaring even higher and appearing to challenge the ferocity of the storm with courage and tranquility, flying with grace into the wind and catching the updraft again and again.

I’ve realized that as we have walked through this period of growth and maturing in our spiritual and natural lives, the Lord has surrounded us with an amazing family and awesome friends to lend encouragement and support, and to help us face the wind with courage and an eagerness to see new horizons. He’s given us His word and the Holy Spirit to be our guide and our comfort, and brought new heights to our relationship with Him in the process. And He has lit up our world with His glory and grace to remind us of His unchanging and unending love.

We are thankful for each of you that we call friend and family. Our prayer for you in the coming year is His prayer for us as He prepared to fulfill His destiny, “Now Father, I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing So My people can experience My joy completed in them. I gave them Your word; Make them holy—consecrated with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that You gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating Myself for their sake so they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission. I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in Me because of them and their witness about Me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind — just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that You, in fact, sent Me. The same glory you gave Me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are — I in them and You in Me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that You’ve sent Me and loved them in the same way You’ve loved Me.” John 17:13-23 MSG