Faye Bryant

Just agree with God already, would ya?

Oh, Believer, how good to know that ridding ourselves of sin is so easy! Just confess our sins to God and He takes care of the rest… Oh, you don’t think that’s really so easy? Why is that, do you think?

Admitting that what you did that felt so good, that was so much fun, that you enjoyed so much, that seemed like such a tiny thing was S I N?

Yeah, I hear you. If only sin felt like walking on glass or fire or something, huh?

I think God wants us to have to think. I really do. I believe He gave us these amazing minds and hearts… our souls, so that we wouldn’t be robots, but free-willed people choosing Him.

Have you thought how dangerous that was for Him? Giving mankind free will, knowing that many would reject Him? Could we do that? I doubt it. That’s another reason He is God and we are not.

Anyway, there’s only one way for us to know what displeases God and that’s to know Him. The way to know Him is to spend time in His Word. And let me tell you, going through it once is not enough! We’re leaky, you see. I mean, how many of you remember the last book you read in high school… word for word? Same with The Book. Our minds and hearts need that refresher daily.

When we spend copious amounts of time with the Father, our hearts become more like His and stepping into sin hurts our hearts like it hurts His.

Let’s give it a try today. Be conscious of what you do every moment, examining it from God’s perspective. If it’s sin, confess it to God and experience that amazing cleansing only He can give and walk in the freedom only He can offer.

What’s YOUR Dark Valley?

What’s your dark valley? David, the shepherd who would become king, knew dark valleys rife with lions and bears, filled with the sounds and smells that screamed danger for him and his sheep. He had to go there. It was his job to protect those assets of his father.

For us, we may be out hiking and have a sudden, ominous storm close in and turn what was a lovely walk into a scary, dark valley.
Or our valley may have nothing to do with location. It may be the valley of a terminal diagnosis. It might be the valley of grief. I could be the valley of loneliness. Maybe it’s the valley of abuse.

My own valleys have been horribly frightening places. I’ve twice visited the Valley of Cancer. Trust me, hearing “it’s a tumor” the second time isn’t any easier than the first. The color still drained from my face, my heart sank to my toes, and my mind whirled out of control. I was scared.

I walked through the Valley of Jack’s Aneurysm that I didn’t realize I was headed into, and wanted back out of as soon as I arrived. Hearing that my truest love might not survive the night was horrible. I was terrified.

Even so, I knew that God had not abandoned me, nor had he wished ill upon me. Neither was He shocked by these valleys like I was. There have been others. Quite a few. His presence remains the same.

David used the picture of the shepherd’s rod and staff. The rod he used to drive off the lion and bear, the attackers. The staff with which he would guide the sheep who were blissfully grazing along, unaware of their situation.

In childhood situations that scarred me, cancer, my husband’s near death, and other valleys, God protected me from all attackers. He knew I was vulnerable and He was there, taking care that I wasn’t devoured. He gently guided me where I needed to go — even to a specialist to restore me, located not in New York City, but in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Here’s the thing, y’all. We WILL go through valleys. There is no gettng to the mountaintops without them. There is no walking through life without encountering trouble. We can know going in to this journey that no matter what trouble, terror, or triumph we come to, God is right there to protect us and guide us. Always.

If you’re in one of those valleys right now, ask God to reveal Himself to you, to show you how He is using His rod and staff to protect and guide you. When you see it, rejoice and make the declaration of the shepherd, “I will not fear!”

If you’re on a mountaintop right now, look down and see the valley that awaits your arrival. Determine as the shepherd did that even though you will go through valleys, you’ll be doing so with God’s protection and guidance.

Walk on, Believer, head high, trust in place. God Himself is with you!

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Looking for a whole new you?

When we become a Christian, a devoted follower of Jesus, living in relationship with Him based on our acceptance of His sacrifice at Calvary, WE become new.

That doesn’t mean our hair suddenly looks great all the time or that any of it is restored. It doesn’t mean that we’ll have the perfect body – who defines perfect anyway? It doesn’t mean we’ll never have acne, aches, pains, or disease.

Yet, we are changed. New.

See, before Christ, we are ugly inside, even the best of us. What is in us is what will keep us separated from God, now and after our death.

Have you thought about hell? I have. I mean, Jesus talked about it a lot. A LOT. We recognize that it’s a place of fire, the smell is like brimstone (have you ever smelled sulphur water?), the sounds are of people wailing and gnashing their teeth. What isn’t obvious in the descriptions we see, yet is there: God won’t be in hell. Nothing of Him will be there.

No kindness, no mercy, no love. Nothing pretty or pure. Only evil. The worst of all who enter there. No God. No Jesus. No Holy Spirit. Just sin and the consequences of it, the worst of which is choosing self over God, which is what lands people there.

Before Christ, that’s our future. After Christ’s transformation through salvation, trading our unrighteousness for His perfect righteousness, our future is vastly different. Our hope becomes a light that while we may suffer here, when this life ends, all suffering will be done for a lot longer than we have endured it.

Billy Graham has been noted as saying (paraphrasing here) that as a Christian, he was allowed to drink as much as he wanted, carouse as much as he wanted, run with as many women as he wanted, and do anything as much as he wanted, but since he met Christ, he no longer wanted.

That is the change, the transformation of knowing Christ as Savior. So, accept you, your body, your hair, your life as it is, remembering you are created in God’s image, and enter into the transformation of a life in relationship with God through Jesus. (If you’re not sure how to do that, message me. We’ll talk.)

I get what I want, right?

Ooh! Would you look? I get to ask whatever I want and God will grant it! Okay, I’d like a new house on lots of land, a new car with all the things, and travel, lots of travel….

What’s that? That’s not what John 15:7 means? Huh.

That doesn’t sound near as exciting, then.

We DO like to have what we want, don’t we? Just like small children we want what we want and we want it now. Thing is, God is God and there is no other. He gets His way, always, which means sometimes we don’t get ours.

The first part of this verse says IF we abide in Him… if we remain so close to the Creator that His heartbeat becomes ours…

…AND His Word – all of it, not just the parts we like – lives in us… through us, correcting our thoughts and actions, directing our choices…

THEN we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done.

Thing is, what I would ask for before I’ve moved close enough to the Lord to feel His heartbeat is vastly different than when I am that close to Him.

When we move closer to the Lord, when we allow His Word to permeate every corner of our mind, soul, and spirit we change. Our thoughts change. Our ideals change. Our desires change. God doesn’t change.

When we’re living so close to the Father that His noonday shadow covers us, when we keep His Word in us, allowing it to rule instead of our wants and desires, that is when our wants and desires will become much like His and so, when we ask, we are repeating His will, and we will receive.

Oh, I see you inching closer to Him. That’s fabulous! There’s plenty of room. Let’s all go!

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Be devoted! Be alert! Be thankful!

Paul wrote to the believers at Colossae to correct, encourage, and teach them. In this verse, he is telling them to pray. A lot. Like, to be devoted to it.

To be devoted in this case is to continually give all or a large part of one’s time or resources to prayer. What most of us do is send a hat tip God’s way with lots of asks for wants and desires.

What would it look like if we who are called Christian actually did what Colossians 4:2 says? Would God’s power be unleashed in us? Would we behave differently? Would we have better responses to people in trying circumstances? Would we love each other more? Would we feel compelled to tell the world of God’s love for them?

What if we were constantly earnest, unwearied, and steadfast in our prayers to God, pouring out praise and blessing on the One who carved out the oceans?

Note the last part, that we’re to pray with an alert mind and a thankful heart. What’s that about?

It is easy to get into a rut where our prayers become a rote practice and we say the same things over and over with our minds making up the grocery list or lining up the day’s tasks. That’s not what God wants. He wants us laser-focused on our time in conversation with Him. When we find our minds wandering during prayer, we need to make changes. Turn on music, turn off music, change locations, shift positions, turn off devices, turn off lights, turn on lights… make some sort of change to get us out of the complacency that allows our minds to drift from the importance of those moments with the Creator.

What if every time we encountered a situation, good or bad, we talked to God about it? Thanking Him for the sweet parking space, asking him for protection when you feel unsafe, seeking how He wants you to respond to that person…

Now more than ever, the world needs to see believers acting differently than those who don’t know God. There should be a marked difference. A difference that entices those who don’t know Him to enter into a relationship with Him.

Let’s do it, shall we? Let’s become constantly devoted, alert, and thankful pray-ers and see what if.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Anger ≠ Sin

Anger is not a sin.

Does that statement shock you? Did you instantly say that anger IS sin?

Paul wrote in his letter to the believers at Ephesus to not sin by letting anger control them. He didn’t say don’t be angry. God has anger. He gets mad! Jesus was angry that day he cleared the temple of merchants, turning over their tables and such. He did not sin, thus, anger is not a sin.

It is what we let anger do in us. Looking at the example of Jesus, some think that he was out of control, just slamming tables over, snatching a whip and driving the people out in a hysteria. Not true. He was deliberate. He was passionate. He was in full control.

When we allow ourselves to be controlled by anyone or anything…any emotion… other than God, we’re smack-dab in the middle of sin. Oops. There it is.

Paul went on further to tell believers to get rid of the anger quickly. The truth is, when we hold onto anger, it affects us physically, emotionally, and mentally. Every decision made – even when we think it’s not – is made through the filter of our anger.

It is in our best interest to let the anger go. No ulcers. No headaches. No having to maintain a grudge. No stress. The key is to deal with our anger quickly. Whatever was said that stung, whatever was done that hurt, deal with it right then. No allowing the wound to fester and grow infected. If you don’t deal with it immediately, choose to just let it go, acknowledging that YOU chose to not deal with it.

No letting that anger take the wheel of your life. Like Elsa said, “Let it GO!” As always, seek God first. He’ll help with the anger.

Oh, and by the way… dealing with your anger doesn’t include yelled words and hand signs from within a closed car.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Who has authority, power, and ownership over you?

This intrigues me: Why would God say He is holding us by our RIGHT hand?

A little digging reveals that the right hand signifies authority, power, and ownership. If someone is claiming sovereignty over something or someone, they would hold it in or by the right hand.

That’s nice, Faye, but what’s that have to do with today’s verse?

God said, “For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”

God is holding us by our right hand, OUR hand of authority, power, and ownership. He is declaring that HE holds authority, power and ownership over our entire being. That can seem a bit scary, huh? Having an unseen God holding us?

Remember when Mom or Dad would hold our hand when crossing a busy street? They were exercising their authority, power, and ownership over us, using that to protect us from great harm.

That’s our Heavenly Father. He holds us by that hand which shows the “I can do it myself” part of us. The Lord. The God of all creation. Takes the time to hold our hand to protect us – sometimes from outside sources, sometimes from our own choices.

We have no reason to fear this letting go of control over us. The One who made us didn’t make us for destruction. He made us for a specific purpose and plan and He wants to guide us to that.

Will you leave your hand escounced in His or will you leave that safe place to go it on your own?

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

You won’t lose you. Let go, will ya?

Give your burdens to the Lord. Sounds simple, right? Just set down what’s bugging you and you’re done. Boom. That’s it.

Then why are we walking around with all the weight of every yesterday of our past?

Could it be that we lay our burdens on the Lord, but then we hold on to them, keeping them close as though we’re not allowed to let go? Maybe we’re afraid that if we let go of those things, we won’t know who we are or where we’re going or what to do.

David seemed to understand this. His next words indicate so. “He will take care of you” other translations say “sustain you.” Sustain means support, give relief to, nourish, buoy up.

When we release these things, these burdens, these old thoughts, habits, and hurts, we won’t lose who we are, God will take care of that! He will hold us up and steady us as we start to walk again. He will nourish us, providing the filling that we need to replace the old pain and grief.

See, David wrote these words as he wrote of a friend’s betrayal. One who had walked with David intimately had turned his back, choosing to not only leave, but do horrible things that could ruin David, if not end his life. His heart was broken and anger filled him. That kind of wound is one that takes over.

David talked it over with God and realized that he had to hand all that over to God, because he was not equipped to handle it. He knew he had to release the weight of it to God because he was unable to bear it.

Maybe that’s what you need to do. Whatever that burden, whatever that betrayal, whatever that grief, whatever the hurt, you need to put that on God’s shoulders, release it and let Him carry it. He’ll take care of it and you. He’ll be sure you don’t fall or fail because of losing that burden, He’ll nourish you and hold you up and get you moving again.

Are you ready to be free and live?

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Don’t worry about the small stuff like eating and drinking, you have more important things to take care of!

Jesus said that we’re not to worry. But He didn’t say it when the whole world is held captive by a microscopic virus! He didn’t say it when authorities seem to have gone wild. He didn’t say it when everyone had lost their jobs and the economy was at a breaking point.

Uhh… yes, He did. Leprosy caused a whole segment of people to be sick and completely quarantined away from healthy people. Authorities? Hello…the Caesars? And begging had become an occupation.

Yes, He spoke these things in the same sort of times we’re experiencing right now, so we should accept they’re meant for us today, too.

His point was that we are more than our physical bodies. We are more than our circumstances. We are more. We are soul, spirit, mind, and body. We are eternal beings, made for a purpose and God is not ignorant of where He has placed us at the time He has done so.

We must be as concerned about feeding our souls, spirits, and minds as we are our physical bodies. Reading the scriptures, prayer, corporate gatherings with other believers, study of the Word are all necessary to our spiritual and emotional wellbeing. When we neglect these, we become unhealthy to our core.

We tend to feed our bodies several times a day because we use up the fuel we put in. Maybe we should be just as intentional about fueling the soul, spirit, and mind for the same reason.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Choose Joy

Joyful. Full of joy. Regardless-of-circumstances joy. Beyond-happiness joy.

Who doesn’t want that? And God gives us a two-step formula by which to achieve it!

1. Obey God’s laws.
2. Search for Him wholeheartedly.

Simple enough, right?
Then why aren’t we believers joyful beyond description?

Simply put, it must be we’re missing one of the two steps.

Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:40 an encouragement to examine and test our ways — thoughts, beliefs, actions — and turn to the Lord.

If we’re not joyful as the psalmist wrote, this would be a good time to examine our ways, making sure our thoughts line up with His Word and that we’re being obedient to it. It would also do us good to be honest about whether we’re seeking Him with all our hearts.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be interested in other things or that we can’t build a business and raise a family. It means that in all the moments of doing those things, we’re still focused on Him, seeking His face so we can see with clarity all that is before us.

Today seems a good day to start the examination. The good news is, you don’t have to go digging around inside all your thoughts hoping to find whatever. Ask God to reveal to you anything that is not pleasing to Him. He will show you! Ask Him to show you where you’re not fully obedient to His laws; He will! Ask God to show you the times and ways you should be searching and seeking Him. He is faithful to do these things for you, His beloved child. Trust Him and take action on what you learn.

Let’s get joyful!!!

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

What does laying down your life look like?

With today being Memorial Day in America, the day we honor those who have fallen in the service of their country, this verse can easily be thought of as applying primarily to them. I know when my dad joined the Navy, it was to get away from rural Iowa to see the world, but when the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor, his resolve was to prevent any further attacks on his beloved country and to serve her interests in Europe, the South Pacific, and later Korea. Dad sacrificed his life for 12 years, giving everything he had for his nation and the concept of freedom.

See, while Dad didn’t die in service, he gave his life. He could have been making a better living, growing a family, learning a trade (he went in at 17)… living life. He chose instead to give up his life and many of us do the same every day. He wasn’t forced to do that. Matter of fact, he chose to keep signing up again and again.

The mom who loves her family and takes time from her day to prepare meals, to do laundry, to prepare a meal for a sick friend, and so much more is giving her life for her friends. She isn’t forced to do that, she chooses to do that.

The father who gets up early after being up late helping with homework to head away from his family each day gives up his life for those whom he loves. He isn’t forced to do that, he chooses it.

The ones who volunteer at the food pantry, the animal shelter, serving the homeless, at the library, at church, are laying down their lives for their friends. They aren’t forced to do that, they choose it.

The biggest sacrifice for those loved is that made by Jesus, giving His life for every human born, so that those who would accept that gift of His tortured death, unceremonious burial, and brilliant resurrection as their own would have life eternal. He wasn’t forced to do that. He chose it.

We should be grateful for all who lay down their lives for us. The service members who fight and die so we don’t have to, to gain and maintain our freedom, the parents who put their children before their own lives, the volunteers the world over who give of time and resources freely without agenda, and Christ who gave Himself for us.

More so, we should become examples. We should be giving up the me-first attitude. It can be as simple as putting down our book to get that loved one a drink or as complex as getting the grocery list of a friend and doing the shopping and delivering the food at their door.

Every day we can stop our lives for a few moments in order to serve others and that, my friends, is showing God’s love tangibly.

Let’s do something about this today. If you know a Gold Star family who lost a service member, let them know that their sacrifice is seen. Their hearts are still broken. If you know a family of a law enforcement officer who was slain, let them know their sorrow is yours as well. Take the opportunity to serve others today, tomorrow, and every day, laying aside your choices, your life, in order to do for them.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Hard work ==> EXCELLENT benefits

We often think of discipline as the consequence of wrongdoing. That’s painful, too. Yet it’s meant to draw us back onto the right path, into right behavior.

Another form of discipline is that which teaches and trains us for the path. Training that keeps us on the path, growing in strength and confidence.

I believe God uses both of these to bring us to that place of right standing with Him. While we are given Christ’s righteousness upon salvation, our behavior sometimes prevents us from entering the presence of God. If we have disciplined ourselves and trained for a walk as a fully devoted follower of Jesus, we will more easily evade the behaviors and actions that keep us from Him.

What is this training and how long does it take?
All training requires the right resources. For runners, it’s shoes and some knowledge of the terrain. For boxers, it’s shoes, gloves, and knowledge of your opponent. For baseball players, it’s shoes, bat and glove, and trust in your team. For football, it’s shoes, pads and helmet, trust in your team, and the ability to read your opponent. The training continues as long as the athlete wants to stay prepared.

For believers, it’s a foundation (shoes) that is built on the scripture. It’s learning what the Book says about the world in which we live (terrain). It’s using the spiritual armor to help us as we battle our opponent (gloves [2 kinds], bat, pads, helmet). It’s the fellowship of believers that encourages us, gives us help, comfort, and strength (team). The training continues as long as the believer wants to be prepared.

This discipline isn’t easy. Sometimes it hurts. Our muscles – even spiritual ones – get tired and achy. We might feel like quitting. But if we keep the win in mind – that fellowship with the one True and Living God – we will lift our heads, and work harder than ever.

Are you feeling like you’re done with the disciplines to become a mature follower of Christ? Let me cheer you on. You’re on your way to a crown given by the Son of God! That’s way better than a medal on a ribbon or a trophy made of plastic or metal. Keep going, friend. Keep striving. Keep pushing. It really will be worth it!

Coffee, Bible, Journal.