Repost of It’s Pointless blog

This week’s blog is a repost of a blog titled, “Freedom from ‘It’s Pointless’ Thinking” which appeared today on CBN.com. I wrote this a while back, but today God wanted me to embrace in a fresh way the truths He gave me to share. I’m praying God will free you from “It’s pointless” thinking and remind you what the main point is.

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/Devotions/creasman-pointless.aspx

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Have A Grateful Day

Not long ago I ran into a young man who is troubled, but yet has a heart hungry for the Lord. He’s a writer, and has some insights that shine through has battle in trying to succeed in life.

I overheard him talking on the telephone with someone. Before he hung up, instead of saying, “Have a great day,” he said something that has been going through my mind over and over since then.

“Have a grateful day.”

How I needed that instruction for my own heart.

I tend to focus on the negatives even though I have a life that has been richly blessed by the Lord. When difficult circumstances arise (I’m going through some right now), I can focus on what’s bad in my life, and instead of gratitude, griping words come out of my mouth fueled by a heart that has given in to self-pity.

After hearing what this young man said, I prayed, “Lord, help me to have a grateful day.”

And God is showing me how.

My eyes are being opened to all that’s good around me and to the good that’s coming from difficult situations.

When I’m outside, I can see the beauty of nature and thank God for that instead of being internally focused and fretting over the latest crises in relationships.

Just days ago I went to the emergency room with some scary symptoms and had to stay overnight for observation.

Even then God helped me to have a grateful day. Instead of spending my time worrying about what was wrong with my body and how much is all of this going to cost? I thanked Him for the kind and caring nurses, doctors, patient care techs and other hospital workers. I thanked Him for how healthy my body has been over the years. I thanked Him for the opportunity to let His light shine through me while I was in the hospital. I thanked Him that He was going to bring good out of the situation—even if I couldn’t see what it was at the moment.

I thanked God for my daughters and husband who kept me company and encouraged me throughout my ordeal of “losing control” of what my body was doing.

Not only did I thank God, but I thanked all the people I mentioned above.

And when the verdict came concerning my symptoms, I thanked God that it was not a more serious issue and that I could go home.

What I discovered as I’ve determined to make every day a grateful day is that my gratitude in the past has often come after a difficult time is over. God showed me that thanking Him and others in the midst of hard times helps me to have peace and to maintain confidence in Him.

When I think of a grateful heart, I remember what God instructs us all to do:

“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB)

I notice it says “for this is God’s will for you.” When I’m doing God’s will, that’s when I sense how blessed I am and can maintain a deep joy—no matter what’s going on around me or in my body.

Even when things go from bad to worse, there is always so much to thank the Lord for—blessings that never change–like His love for me, my salvation, and His promise to be with me always. And the list goes on.

I’m becoming convinced that the way I handle difficult times is directly related to the gratitude level in my heart. When I’m grateful, hard times can be times I sense God’s closeness and His care for me. Forsaking gratitude brings misery.

Today and in the days ahead, I’m going to take the advice of the precious one God brought across my path to remind me to “Have a grateful day.”

How about you? Do you have a problem being grateful during hard times? Today will you choose to thank God and the people around you no matter what you’re going through? Discover that a grateful day can turn a grueling day into a great day.

Here is a “new song” I discovered today about being grateful.

“Thank You” Lord by Don Moen

Here are links to two more songs if you are still having trouble saying turning from “Grrr!” to gratitude.

“Thank You” by Hillsong

“Forever” by Chris Tomlin

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Answering God’s Call–Part Two

“Clearwater Beach, Clearwater Beach/Jesus loves Clearwater Beach/Every day in every way/ Jesus loves the people on Clearwater Beach.”

That’s the chorus to the song God gave me when I went to Clearwater Beach again on Good Friday to sing some Jesus songs to the tourists walking by. Once again I rode my bike over the Highway 60 bridge and went to the same spot as the week before—right in front of where buses and cars stop to unload people.

It was at least three times as crowded as my last visit.

While waves hit shore many yards behind me, another kind of wave swept over me. I felt overwhelmed with love for all the people walking by.

In years past I saw the spring break crowd as a rowdy group of people I would rather avoid. But as I sang songs to them and over them and around them, all I could think of and feel is, “I love these people so much.” I believe Jesus was showing me how He felt about them.

I found myself making eye contact, smiling, and even saying a hearty “God bless you” with my mike on between songs as people walked by.

While I sang in the sunshine beneath the blue sky which God so graciously provided that day, He healed me of my judgmental attitude toward this crowd of people—even scantily clad individuals, those having too much to drink, and those having as their highest goal “to have fun and get a great tan.” I was that way once, I was reminded.

Some heckled me as they walked by mimicking my voice and mocking my singing or saying sarcastically such things as, “That’s a beautiful song.” With the young man who said that, I answered, “You’re beautiful. God bless you.” This kind of boldness does not come naturally for me. In fact, when people have made fun of me as a singer/guitarist in the past I’ve become silent and wanted to withdraw and proclaim, “I shouldn’t be here doing this. I’m not good enough. I can barely sing and play the guitar. What was I thinking?”

But I realized that whenever someone said or did something to put me down, they were being touched by the song or avoiding being moved by it. I noticed that when a guy who was part of a couple would say something, the girl he was with would give me a shy smile and a look that said, “Pay no attention to him.” I’m sure alcohol was a factor.

At one point a group of intoxicated young men knocked over my stand and my music was scattered. They were too drunk to put the stand back together, but even they touched my heart deeply, and I felt such love and sang for them as they walked away.

The bottom line is that God was absolutely curing me of fearing what people thought of me and of negative thoughts I had toward others. I didn’t care if they thought I sounded awful or were not pleased by the kind of songs I was singing, because I knew I was where God wanted me to be doing what God wanted me to do, imperfect as it may have sounded since I was still adjusting to singing outside.

There were people who communicated they were blessed. Some gave donations. One lady and her male friend were waiting for a bus, and she said while sitting on the curb, “I’ve let two buses go by,” because she said she was so enjoying the music. She had a bird on her shoulder–a beautiful Sun Conure. How I wish I had taken a photo of the two of them.

After a while it seemed the bird was trying to sing along with me. I thought it was just my imagination until she said, “Did you notice my bird is singing along?” The lady was moving in time to the music and said, “I needed that” when I would finish a song while her friend who sat to my right clapped enthusiastically.

The highlight of my time on the beach was when two young men sat down near me. I braced myself for them making fun of me, but instead one of them said, “My grandma would love you. You remind me of her.”

We talked for a while, and I found out James and Brian were brothers in their twenties who were originally from California and whose grandma still lived there. Brian had recently moved to Florida, and James was in the army soon to be transferred to Hawaii.

I wished I was their grandma, I thought as I talked to them. They were so hungry for the Lord, and to know more about Him. Their grandma was a Christian they told me, and I’m sure she had talked to them often about spiritual matters.

“But we still don’t understand,” one said and the other agreed. “It’s hard when you can’t see God.”

We talked, and I gave them my testimony and what led to me receiving Jesus as Savior. I prayed for them for greater understanding of the salvation message and for faith to believe it and receive Jesus as Savior. Another little song had come to my mind moments earlier, and I incorporated it into the prayer I said for them. It came as an offshoot of the song, “Open the eyes of my heart.” It went like this, “Open their eyes. Open their ears. Open their minds and their hearts. Help them to see; help them to hear. Help them to know who You are.”

I gave James and Brian some pass-it-on cards and bookmarks about Jesus that I was passing out, and they thanked me profusely. We hugged before they left, and I felt so privileged to have met them. I wanted to “seal the deal,” but I sensed they weren’t ready, but would be soon. I felt certain they’d come to know Jesus as their Savior before too long and would live their lives serving Him. I encouraged them to talk to their grandma more about the Lord. They said they would.

My contact info was on one of the cards I gave them, and I urged them to write to me. They said “yes, we will.” We’ll see.

I thought I was going to the beach to move and touch others. What an extra blessing God gave me as He moved, touched and transformed me. He is so good.

How about you? Are you continuing to receive an urging from the Lord but have not yet responded? Say “yes” and be blessed.

Here’s one of the songs I sang on Friday—one of my favorites–“Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

Please join me in praying for James and Brian that they will receive Jesus as Savior soon.

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Answering God’s Call

“Well, Lord, I’m here on Clearwater Beach with my guitar, amplifier, microphone, music and a trembling heart.

Having an amp and a mike make this so much scarier.

Help me to sense You right here. May I sense angels singing along.

Calm my shaking heart. Amen.”

That’s what I wrote in my journal this past Wednesday while in the midst of answering God’s call to play my guitar and sing Jesus songs on Clearwater Beach to the tourists walking by.

I had tried to talk God out of going during this busy spring season when traffic and finding a place to park can be horrendous.

Yet hadn’t I just heard a sermon on the radio about going into all the world? Clearwater Beach during spring season does bring tourists from all over the world. That’s exactly when God wanted me to go.

And step by step, He gave me instructions.

Bring the travel guitar. Buy a small battery-operated amplifier to go with it along with an acoustic pick-up. You’ll need something to amplify your voice. (A friend gave me that.)

Find a place to park near the bridge, so you don’t have to drive over. I found an Episcopal church and asked if I could park in their parking lot. The secretary gave me a hearty “yes.”

Ride your bike over.

What? With all of that?

I packed my song notebook, voice amplifier, music stand, and travel guitar in a backpack I borrowed from my granddaughter with the neck of the guitar sticking out and straight up.

I put the amplifier (which was too big for the backpack) in my new Joy FM bag and let it hang from several fingers on my left hand which also clutched the handle bar.

And on Wednesday morning, I made my way over the bridge. I thought of the homeless I see who carry a lot of stuff (often all they own) while riding their bicycles.

The good news is I rode my bike over and thanked God for the crossing which is for bikes and pedestrians, so I did not have to be involved with traffic at all. Once I was on the beach, I found a place to lock my bike, chose my spot along the sidewalk, set everything up, and began to sing with the sound of the waves in the distance and with seagulls flying and the sun shining overhead.

A friend whom I asked to pray for me had said via a text that morning, “You’re courageous.” All I knew is that I wanted to obey. Refusing to seemed much more dangerous than stage fright or worrying what people thought of me and my not-so-American-Idol voice.

Before I finished setting up, a kind man from Michigan stopped to talk to me. He inquired about my small guitar and then turned to talking about where he was from and about Clearwater Beach. He walked away before I could sing him a song.

Scores of people walked by as I sang “What A Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Jesus Paid It All,” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” along with many other selections. Few acknowledged my presence. I had a smile from a mom and her son, and he kept turning around to look at me as they walked by.

Then a load of young people in one of those double bicycles that looks like a little car rode by and cheered for me. They rode by again in a little while and cheered again. Were they making fun of me? I wondered, but even if they were, at least I got their attention, and perhaps they heard some truth.

I felt alone and ignored at times, but I knew I was being obedient, and prayed the word “Jesus” would touch many hearts even as the people rushed by to get near the shore, to a restaurant, or back to their cars.

I felt glad God instructed me to get an amplifier for my voice and guitar because the background noise was loud. Construction, airplane, traffic, and people noise competed with my “joyful noise.” I realized that any time we witness on a day-to-day basis there’s lots of noise to compete with—not only the racket of this world but the noise in people’s hearts.

As I continued to play, I thought of how I wanted acknowledgement. I texted a friend, “I feel lonely out here—like someone crying out in the wilderness.” I realized that was a flaw in me. I wanted attention when doing something for the Lord. Pats on the back, and some “aren’t you specials?” would help.

As long as I focused on myself, I felt uncomfortable. As I kept my attention on the wonderful truths of the songs I was singing, I felt joyful and content.

When the heat began to get to me, I packed up my gear and went to a local coffee shop for a sandwich and something refreshing to drink.

Then I headed back to my spot, set up again, and played the same songs I had played earlier. I made the decision to stay until 4:30pm.

In a short time, a young woman came up and tried to hand me some money. I pointed to my Joy FM bag. She placed it in there and smiled. I smiled back as I sang on.

I noticed that people sat on the ledge near me. Lord, let them hear the truth.

Around 4:15, I went over to a woman who sat to my left and handed her a tract and pass-it-on card I made with a poem I wrote on one side and Bible verses on the other. She said, “thank you,” and continued to sit near me. Soon two other women joined her. I gave them some “hand-outs” as well.

“We really like your songs,” one of the women said.

I asked them where they were from. “Texas.” A man joined them—a husband of one of them. We talked for a short time because they said they had to leave soon for the airport. One woman who had recently moved to Tampa gave me her card, and I wrote down all of their names on it. They took a picture of me on my phone, and then asked if they could be in a photo with me. The husband took the photo, and within minutes they and my time of bringing truth through song was gone.

God is calling me to go back to the beach on Good Friday—an excellent day to sing about Jesus and all He’s done for us.

This time I’m looking forward to it. I’m grateful God has called me to this adventure—even if I’m still just a novice as a guitarist and a vocalist. I pray people will hear the sincerity of my heart and the truth about Jesus. I think of the saying, “Little is much if God is in it.”

How about you? Is God calling you to an adventure that seems way out of your comfort zone? Be willing to say “yes.” It may be scary, but God always rewards obedience.

Here’s “Jesus Paid It All” (one of the songs I sang) sung by Bethany, an everyday person like me.

Listen to the words and receive them wholeheartedly.

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He Knows

When going through a hard time, I can have an obsessive need to talk about my problems and the ache in my heart.

I’ve got to let people know, my mind insists.

Yet I’ve realized that telling a lot of people my troubles doesn’t help. Sometimes confiding in others can make things worse. People make wrong assessments of the circumstances and incorrect judgments about me.

Without consulting the Lord, they tell me what to do. And their instructions can be contrary to the Word of God—even though they proclaim to be Christians.

I am reminded of various times when I have told people about problems in my marriage only to have them say, “You need to get a divorce.”

Because I wasn’t careful who I decided “to let know” my issues, the “you need to get a divorce” urging has often been followed by “like I did.”

There are times God desires that I let others know my troubles ie for the purpose of prayer or to be transparent to proclaim to these individuals later how faithful God has been.

The important fact God has been reminding me of is this:

He knows.

God knows my every heartache. He sees when I cry and when I feel discouraged and desperate.

Lately the fact that God knows has been such a comfort to me, especially as I heard it expressed in a song by Jeremy Camp.

Often God gives me the instruction to “pray more than say.” And as I do so by pouring my heart out to the Lord instead of just to people, (See Psalm 62:8 AMP) I receive the assurance that He knows.

And as I search the Scriptures, He brings me to verses that shout to my soul, “Your God knows.”

Here’s one of them:

“I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy and steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction, You have taken note of my life’s distresses” (Psalm 31:7 AMP).

These days as I battle disappointment and disillusionment, I choose to draw close to God. For there is no one in the universe but God who knows everything about me and all I’m going through.

Today I’m celebrating this wonderful truth.

He knows.

Will you join me?

Here is link to the song, “He Knows” by Jeremy Camp:

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Overwhelmed By His Love

Not long ago I wrote about feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions. My conclusion was that the only way to overcome this is to be overwhelmed by the greatness of God.

Lately I’ve discovered another occasion when I feel overwhelmed.

It happens when someone I care about deeply says harsh and hurtful words. These individuals sometimes seem on a mission to hurt me, but I’ve discovered it’s because of their own hurt (hurt people hurt people). Sometimes it’s because I speak a truth to them, and the truth hurts when we’re running from God and His will and way.

God has reminded me that when I speak a truth, and people reject me and even try to crush me because of that truth which I have every desire to speak in love, it shows they’re rejecting Him.

Yet I still feel overwhelmed at times at how mean some people can be to me. If I don’t run to God immediately with my sense of feeling overwhelmed by hurt, a feeling springs up:

I feel unloved.

Beneath this feeling is a conclusion about myself which a counselor helped me to see years ago. This statement about myself originated in childhood.

I am unlovable.

When this overwhelming feeling and conclusion take over after a deep hurt or a slashing by harsh words, shame rises up and wraps around my heart.

For so many years I turned to food instead of the Lord when shame rose up in me. Overeating kept me in the cycle of hurt and shame.

I still go through this cycle at times in my life. I’m realizing it’s not because of continuing to have loved ones who out of their deep hurt wound me with harsh, hurtful words. The cycle comes because I don’t immediately go to God when they lash out at me.

Recently someone said something mean to me and because I was already fearful about a situation and I hadn’t had much sleep the night before and was working through grief over the death and hard life of a loved one, that overwhelming sense of “I feel so hurt, I feel unloved, I am unlovable, shame!” took over.

Instead of crying out to God, I expressed anger, and I used bitterness to try to overcome shame.

Truth alert: This course does not work!

What did work is in the midst of feeling hurt was to cry out to God and ask, “What do you say about me?”

This is what the Lord spoke to my heart: ELAINE, I LOVE YOU. I AM FOR YOU. I KNOW YOUR PAIN. I UNDERSTAND THE ACHE IN YOUR HEART (over loved ones rebelling against the Lord and hurting me and others while doing it.) WHEN IT SEEMS THEY ARE AGAINST YOU, THEY ARE REALLY AGAINST ME. DO NOT FRET. DO NOT WORRY. DO NOT FLY INTO A FURY. I AM A SHIELD AGAINST THE ENEMY WHO IS WORKING THROUGH THEM. CALL ON ME IN THE MIDST OF ONSLAUGHTS OF MOCKERY OR MALICIOUSNESS. I AM GREATER THAN ANY INSULT THEY HURL AT YOU. KNOW THAT. REJOICE IN THAT.

The Lord also reminded me of a verse as I battled feeling unloved:

“May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant” (Psalm 119:76 NIV)

I remember sharing that verse with an atheist after he asked “Why do you need God?” and telling him that God could give us something that we could get nowhere else: unfailing love. Not too long after, his wife filed for divorce.

Since many of the attacks from “mean” people in my life have to do with me not being perfect in their eyes and their condemning me for not measuring up to their expectations, the following verse also helped me deal with the “no mercy” messages from others. (Oh Lord, I confess I sometimes am the one expecting perfection and having a “no mercy” attitude.)

“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 AMP).

Part of this verse in another version says, “He will create calm with his love…”

There are so many verses that speak of God’s love for me which trump any mean, unloving thing someone says to me or about me.

As I stay intimately connected to the Lord, He reminds me again and again of His amazing, unfailing love for me even as others communicate, “You’re not good enough to be loved” and/or “you deserve to be mistreated.”

The key is to believe God above all others.

I confess I sometimes slip into the role of unhealed wounder instead of staying in the role of healed healer, allowing God to use me to bring healing into the lives of others.

Some days I demand that God not allow me to be mistreated or put down ever again. That’s not going to happen.

But I can choose a better way to deal with it.

This battle with feeling overwhelmed by hurt doesn’t have to last long. It can even be aborted if I stay alert. I can choose to let go of bitterness and shame and choose to be overwhelmed by God’s love for me instead of feeling overwhelmed by lack of love from those I love.

And when it seems to them that I am being the hurtful, unloving one, I pray they will do the same.

God’s love is amazing. Let’s celebrate that truth today.

*****

I had the privilege of hearing Chris Tomlin sing this song in concert recently.

“Jesus Love Me” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CGkt67F2uI

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When The Glory Comes

This past Sunday as I watched the Oscars, I was reminded again of the problem of racism. Most days I try to block it out of my mind.

How this issue must break God’s heart. I was raised in the midst of it and have battled against it–and with God’s help won–in my mind and heart. I feel an ache when I see Christians have poisonous attitudes toward people who have a different color skin. I’ve seen racism lift its ugly head in my Christian circles.

I regularly hear people use the “n” word.

It breaks my heart that it is still often the case that the most integrated places in this country are our churches on Sunday morning.

The good news is that justice will prevail. God knows. God sees. God will make things right.

I fell asleep and missed John Legend and Common singing the song that won the Oscar for “best song.” But since then I’ve listened to it and watched the video many times. The song is “Glory” from the movie, “Selma.”

The phrase from the song that has been playing over and over in my mind is “When the glory comes…”

When I hear that, I think of another song that has the line “mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

When the Lord comes.

That’s when everything will be set right—not only in the area of racism—but in every injustice on the face of the earth.

Some days I long for Jesus to come back, especially when I contemplate all the evils of this world.

The Word of God talks about the day Jesus will return:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and beat their breasts and lament in anguish, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory [in brilliancy and splendor]. Matthew 24:30 AMP

Until that day, I continue to ask God, “What can I do to overcome evil with good?”

I can love every person who crosses my path. I can let go of fear and prejudice. I can stop seeing myself as better than other people.

One day when preaching the gospel in the streets of a poverty-stricken, mostly African American area near my home, I saw some men in the street who were high on drugs. A part of me believed I was better than them.

I remembered the verse which says that in humility I should consider others better than myself. (See Philippians 2:3) I asked the Lord at that moment, “How do I do that with these men?”

The answer that came to mind was this: “They are better than you, because you hide your sin.” God gave me words of love to speak to those men that day.

Back then I was a member of one of the churches in that neighborhood and taught Sunday school to the teens there. Those teens had been through so much. As I spent time with them, God gave me a heart of compassion to replace my heart of judgment. They taught me so much about the love of God.

I pray that things will get better when it comes to racism, and in some ways they have. I also pray that all of us will deal with the racism that resides in our hearts. Jesus can heal.

Yet people resist Jesus and loving like Him. And because of hardened, hateful, and unhealed hearts, racism will continue—that is until the day the Lord comes and makes all things right.

I’m looking forward to that day…”when the glory comes.”

Here’s the link to the song “Glory” by John Legend and Common which includes clips from the movie, “Selma.”

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