“Feet First”

Beauty, what a word. What a list of infinite definitions. EVERYONE has a different definition of what is beautiful and yet we often find ourselves feeling the pressure of a senseless society to attempt to obtain those unclear and ever evolving levels of the standard of beauty.

This had been rattling around in my head for quite a while, but once I began to pray the way He led me was quite unexpected. With the holiday happenings, most of us feel that we NEED to look our best and of course with the busiest time of the year, that is sometimes even harder and once nature and time comes into play… well the temptation of all the vast beauty “solutions” become harder to resist.

We all have “THOSE” people to deal with, you know the ones that you really don’t know if they are a “test” on patience and tongue bridling or if they are just sent from the devil to make you feel inferior and that your head belongs in a  bag.

The root of it has NOTHING to do with how we really look, it has to do with our perceived ACCEPTANCE and self-worth and all the Botox in the world cannot produce the true glow of what God has ordained to shine in us.

And I know so many ladies who suffer the onslaught of remarks and jabs at their self-worth. Our family actually knows one lady who manages to insult everyone that she runs into. She is a constant barrage of “You are looking old, you need to get something done” and forever running down others who are not even present, with so and so “Sure has let themselves go” and she seems to have a chart of exactly what each person should weigh, and in her mind she is the score keeper on status quo of how we all should appear.

My family and I ran into her awhile back and I seriously prayed the entire time, I was like Lord, please don’t let her start because if she hurts one of mine with her words,  I really don’t know that I could not have “returned” her the favor with some advice of my own concerning her own appearance. But Jesus is awesome like that, she did not say a word, I’m sure she said plenty the moment we were gone but I know those biting words “come out of the abundance of her own heart” and that is truly sad.

I detest hearing anyone comment on people’s weight and have lost the control over my tongue on more than one occasion. I hate it, probably because I struggled and struggled being skinny and flat chested (still flat chested) during my teen years as my friends “blossomed” and all I heard was “that a good puff of wind could blow me away” you often hear the hurtful remarks in the other direction but believe me, people are mean because they are just mean and they will find a way to hurt you no matter your size because your size is really not their issue.

The issue is to hurt you to feel better about themselves. Funny story with that, my husband briefly worked with a guy that we hadn’t seen in probably twenty years and my husband said one of the first things he had asked was about my weight, a few weeks later, Lo, and behold, “test?/temptation?”  we ran into him and I truly could have had a sadistic field day going off on his fallen attributes, but I didn’t, sure is nice to know my body shape meant so much to him.

God has brought me  along way from that little girl who so desperately needed acceptance, because the acceptance I needed to gain COULD never be achieved, not through make-up, not through dating a virtual army, not through any one man because who I need to “prove” my worth to no longer existed and would have never accepted it, if I were dipped in gold I would still have been utterly worthless.

But see THIS is where all this comes from in all of us and society has run wild with it. I do not own a scale, and I will never allow one brought into my home, I don’t need the drama, I’m going to weigh what I am going weigh.  I do wrestle with fear that Marty Stuart is gonna call and want his hair back, (no offense to him, it looks good on him, not so much on me) while other days the clowns would declare me their leader because the “fro knows” and the fro knows humidity well, and it will burst through any styling product with an absolute vengeance and all the lines, droops and scarves made of neck flesh bear witness to the fact that the old “Brown” mare ain’t as young as she used to be.

But when my thirty-six year old niece who is very beautiful informed me that she wanted to get the new “double chin” therapy, I was just disturbed. This is a major epidemic and there are plenty of celebrities that have taken plastic surgeries to the extreme in searching for the fabled fountain of youth that they now look more like cartoon characters and there is nothing remotely attractive about any of it.

So here is what He enlightened me to, because we know He does not approve of vanity, intentional or unintentional and THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN WANTING TO LOOK YOUR BEST, He wants us to feel beautiful, but BEAUTIFUL IN HIM, that does not start looking in the mirror at our own face, nor does it start by looking in the eyes of another for approval.

It does not start with hair, faces, bodies, clothes or any other decorative ornamentation known to man. It happens feet first and works its way up.  REVELATION 4:11 : ” Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS, AND FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED.”

That includes US. We all have some type of creativity because God puts that in all of us, whether it is culinary masterpieces, floral arranging, crafts, sewing, woodworking, pottery, on and on, but we ENJOY what we create and we create it they way WE want it. So also, HE CREATED US, THEY WAY HE WANTED US.

Beauty is not found in the three-inch heels encasing the soles of our feet, it is found in our souls touching HIS feet and “uncovering” that mystery, it is an intimacy and a place of humble worship, not worshiping the fashion gods, but worshipping the true and living God. True beauty is found not in becoming obsessed with our “beauty” but becoming obsessed with HIS BEAUTY.

And that my dear friends is from the inside out and will rock you to your core and produce a glow that everyone will know. Now why do I think you have to pursue this?

Humility, a fully aware willingness to surrender, willingness to submit, all those “s” words that strike horror and outrage into our proud little minds in our new self-righteous, always right society, to a being that is supernatural, all-powerful, and holds life, death and heaven and hell in His hand and allow His complete control over your soul, your body, your will and allow Him to take you into that inner sanctum of His Holy Presence where you will worship in the absolute BEAUTY OF HIS HOLINESS and there you will find your self-worth and you will find a beauty that can never be bought, dyed, or injected into you.

How do I know that we “resist” this intimacy with the Lord? Our go to book on issues of the church concerning her King;

Song of Solomon:1:7: ” Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon: for WHY SHOULD I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?”

Wasn’t a question of love, the love was there, it was a question to the submission in humility, she wanted all the answers up front, she questioned WHY SHOULD she have to appear to be of a more questioned character, WHY should she have to “lower” herself in her pursuit of him? It would be good enough for “others” to do that, but oh, no not her. See the religious snobbery there? Remember we were created, we did not create Him.

You can see the foreshadowing for this need of surrender, and not just surrender to salvation, in Ruth, we’ll pick it up as Naomi advised her in more or less a marriage proposal to Boaz, as he was by right a kinsmen.

RUTH 3: 3-11: “Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment (best clothes) upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: and make not thyself known unto the man, UNTIL he shall have done eating and drinking.

And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

Want to stop there for just a second, notice she listened to wisdom, she was clean and presented herself at her best (take that spiritually), she was to not interrupt him, as with Solomon’s “stir not up my love until he pleases” WE WAIT ON THE LORD, not jump up and down and demand an audience with him, she was then to uncover his feet, that place of intimacy and THEN LAY HER SELF DOWN, leaving all that she was, SO SHE COULD HEAR HIM.

Picking back up at verse five: ” And she said unto her, ALL that thou sayest unto me, I WILL DO. And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid (startled), and turned himself; and behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth, thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt (garment corner) OVER thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsmen.”

Think about the Lord “lifting up His countenance” on us, that is His  APPEARANCE, His protection, His covering all the way around us.

Verse 10,11: ” And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in thy latter end than in thy beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst NOT young men, whether poor or rich.

And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requires ( ask); for the city of people know that thou art a virtuous woman.”

Notice she was BLESSED of the Lord for not pursing the other “things” but pursing the RIGHT path. This union would ultimately produce King David and we will now pay a visit to another lady who laid herself at the feet of the ultimate production of that bloodline:

Mark 5:25-34: “And a certain woman which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had SUFFERED many things of many physicians, and had spent ALL she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.

When she heard of Jesus, came in the press (crowd) BEHIND, and TOUCHED HIS GARMENT. For she said, IF I MAY TOUCH BUT (even) HIS CLOTHS, I SHALL BE MADE WHOLE.

And straightway,(immediately) the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that virtue (POWER) had gone out of him, turned him to the press and said, Who touched my clothes?

And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, KNOWING what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter,thy faith has made the whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

Now as most know, to have any bleeding made the woman unclean and under mosaic law, no one could go near her, but the beauty of Jesus is that transcends all laws and human conditions and she knew just making it to His feet would indeed heal her completely.

Mary proclaimed that her soul did magnify the Lord, when she was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost the magnification of His Presence through her and in her soul brought forth that conception, as His power went forth to heal the terrified lady at His feet, as Mary Magdalene found forgiveness, love, and unimaginable peace at His feet, we also will only find what we need in His presence.

Don’t buy into the world view of finding it any other way, don’t buy into the lies that you are of a lesser value based on idiotic notions of this world. You will never know who you are or what beautiful really is until you lay yourself, all of yourself, all the insecurities, hurts, wounds down and “uncover” the truth of time well spent at the feet of the only one worthy of praise, the only one who possesses true beauty and the only one who can make you feel beautiful when His love beams through you.

1 SAMUEL 2:1-4: “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged (smiles) over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation, There is NONE holy as the Lord: for there is NONE beside thee: NEITHER is there any other rock like our God. Talk no more exceeding proudly; let NOT arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken; and They that stumbled are girded with strength.

Φλογίζω Σαλπιζω NBJ 2016

 

This is absolutely my favorite Praise and worship song. And so perfectly descriptive of Him.

“Sizing up the stumbling block”

And WHOSOEVER shall offend (PUT A STUMBLINGBLOCK IN THEIR PATH) one of these little ones that believe in me, IT IS BETTER FOR HIM (WOULD BE BETTER FOR THEM) THAT A MILLSTONE WERE HANGED ABOUT HIS NECK, AND HE WERE CAST INTO THE SEAMark 9:42 

“Then said he to his disciples, It is impossible but that offences (stumbling blocks) will come, (it IS impossible for offences NOT to come) but WOE UNTO HIM (those) WHOM THROUGH THEY COME!

IT WERE BETTER for him (would be better for those who set the stumbling blocks) that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and cast into the sea, THEN HE SHOULD OFFEND ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES. (CAUSE SOMEONE TO STUMBLE) LUKE 17:1,2

Stumbling block, quite an interesting word, always reminds me of setting a trap and chasing someone down a preplanned path in hope that they will fall across the wooden beam that had been placed there and carefully hidden under brush.

It actually comes from a Hebrew word that when translated into the Greek is “skandalon”, which in turns translates into our modern English word SCANDAL.

What a better way to ruin a persons reputation, self-esteem, and life as they know it that to create a scandal about them, and of course completely behind their back.

Jesus is talking about those who would intentionally cause his children to fall and be hurt as they try to walk on their path with Him. As we see He is not fan of it and is very point-blank in what His judgment is concerning the vengeance that will be suffered at His hand by those who would do this.

The Bible has so many wonderful scriptures on how we are to treat others, such as “love your neighbor as yourself” “carry each others burdens”, and even if we see someone struggling in a temptation, we are to help that person, without them being ostracized,  belittled and  or creating a SCANDAL about them.  

And to reject, ridicule someone and to publicize any ones failure is punishable by falling into the SAME snare and that is indeed Bible.

What about someone who SAYS that they love a person and secretly bad mouths them and tells others that they are a bad influence and goes over and above anything normal to keep their physical person interjected between this person and their friends with the constant pretense that they are “protecting” them, even demanding that the other person not be spoken too or included in any way and yet, they LOVE them.

What if the ostracized person is a teen? Nothing like bullying, even better when the bully is a grown up or at least is according to their age?

Just as satan invites himself into places that he is not welcome, just as when he stopped by in the Book of Job, as the sons were worshipping God, just to see whom he may devour.

That’s why he sends people to create scandals, to separate the lambs from the flock, when they are hurt, and shunned, he convinces them that they are a bad person and that everyone hates them, left abandoned by the flock, he then can move in for the kill, laying waste the path that God  had preordained them to walk in His Kingdom.

No shocker that Jesus’ judgment is that it would be better for the one who causes it to be drowned  than to meet with the fate that he will deal to them.

But God is faithful and he keeps our mouths shut and sends us help and His reassurance that vengeance is His and we are in no way to repay evil for evil. But when it comes from someone who pretends to be all good and all love, and  tries to set it up as though everyone else is just crazy, well, God had someone pray for me and these are the scriptures I was given when I was recently dealing with a situation: 

Proverbs 26:21-28:  As COALS are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so IS a CONTENTIOUS MAN (PERSON) TO KINDLE STRIFE. The WORDS of a TALEBEARER ARE as WOUNDS, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

BURNING LIPS and a WICKED HEART ARE LIKE  a potsherd covered with silver dross.

He that HATETH, DISSEMBLETH (DISGUISES) WITH HIS LIPS, AND LAYING UP DECEIT WITHIN HIM;

When he speaketh FAIR (TRIES TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH THEY LOVE YOU), BELIEVE HIM NOT: FOR THERE ARE SEVEN ABOMINATIONS IN HIS HEART.

WHOSE HATRED IS COVERED BY DECEIT, HIS WICKEDNESS SHALL BE SHOWN BEFORE THE WHOLE CONGREGATION.

WHOSO DIGGETH A PIT SHALL FALL INTO THEREIN: AND HE THAT ROLLETH A STONE, IT WILL RETURN (ROLL BACK ON) UPON HIM. 

A LYING TONGUE  HATETH  THOSE THAT ARE AFFLICTED (CRUSHED) BY IT; AND A FLATTERING MOUTH WORKETH RUIN.”

Pretty good advice, they will fall into their own pit, so if you know someone who is tempted to spread rumors, gossip, and just try to ruin someone else, here is some more Biblical advice to share with them, that may make them think twice:

ROMANS 14:13 : “Let us NOT therefore JUDGE one another any more: BUT JUDGE THIS rather, THAT NO MAN PUT A STUMBLING BLOCK OR AN OCCASION  TO FALL IN HIS BROTHERS WAY.”

And if you are being bullied or suspect someone else is, as in my situation, pray about and keep praying till you get your answer, it is hard especially for kids to talk about and God WILL let you know. I promise.

Never cover for a bully, they ARE NOT your friend and their only desire is to hurt you and see you miserable, whatever their motive may be. And as our scripture shows when they say the love you and have your best interest in mind, DON’T  BELIEVE THEM. Real friends may have to tell us something sometimes for our own good that we may not want to hear, but they do it with love and they never hover over us and control us and every move that we make.

Love is NOT harsh and Love will NEVER hurt you or say mean, unkind things about you. Love will never spread rumors, or tell lies to control your friendships. That is Not love.

That is the devil and as the T Mac’s song goes, he needs to  “Go on, get his junk out of here” NO ONE NEEDS IT and NO ONE WANTS IT. Talk to someone who you can trust or call a help number. Don’t spend another second being the victim of someone’s insecurities.

So you really have to size up the stumbling block, if  it something small, maybe  you can solve by just cutting off all contact with the bully, try to avoid them if at all possible and when it is not possible always have another person with you, maybe give up social media for a while or close out an account and reopen using maybe your middle name or initials that the bully would not be aware of, and limit contact with anyone who could give them information about you but ALWAYS let a friend or trusted person KNOW what you are doing and why. That protects you.

 If is a really big stumbling block and they are threatening you or ruining your reputation, it may be necessary to take legal action, there is no shame in that, that is why we have laws in place to protect us and I know, I’ve had to stand up to an abusive boyfriend kind of bully as a very young woman, I know it is scary and it is hard but you will be glad you did, and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. People who threaten you count on that fear to keep you held there, don’t give them that. And if you know someone who is being bullied, you be strong for them and help them and let others know what is going on so that they can get help. Remember when you are afraid TRUST in HIM. Love and peace to you in Jesus’ name.

N. Brown Johnson 2016

Groovin’ the Gauntlet

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18

The Gauntlet, the reality of the answer of the age old question, what is the meaning of life. That is the answer, not quite what you would think is it?

We are all souls with God, who is eternal, no beginning, no ending, self -existing and ever existent  until we are born to this earth.

As God told Jeremiah, first chapter- fifth verse: “BEFORE I formed thee in the BELLY, I KNEW THEE; and BEFORE thou camest forth out of the womb I SANCTIFIED (set apart) THEE, AND I ORDAINED (appointed)THEE A PROPHET UNTO NATIONS.

As with the names that were written BEFORE the earth was formed. Our souls just as they are eternal, were with Him until time for whatever the reason, to be born onto the gauntlet field of this world.

1st Ephesians 1:4: “According as He hath chosen us in Him BEFORE the FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”

So we are born, hit the ground and IT IS ON.

 The gauntlet is formed against us BEFORE we can even hit the ground running, because the enemy knows more about you than you do!

The gauntlet of the “tares”, the weeds the devil planted among the children, on one side and facing you on the other side the demonic forces of hell, so you start your run between the tongue wagging finger pointers running themselves, trying to set those stumbling blocks before you, every imaginable scheme will be hatched for their use as a weapon against you, just trying to knock you down with everything they’ve got.

So you are running as fast as you can trying to keep one eye on the course in front of you and one eye on the weapons coming after you but then you see on the other side of your course the demonic forces armed and ready with snares and traps set every step of the way and many, many archers with their bows poised and the fiery darts ready to rain down, the farther you make it the more they are gonna hit from both sides, the “holier than thous” just dying to see you fall so they can tell all their buddies they were right about you the whole time, the devil starts bringing out bigger and bigger giants, more and more archers and sends the storms chasing you.

Sound pretty unbelievable?  Ah, Jesus said “for this cause” He was born into the world.  His cause being to DIE on a cross, not only die but to be tortured, humiliated, and rejected, his gauntlet beginning with his forty days in the wilderness, which HE MADE IT THROUGH HIS FORTY DAYS, he remained completely spotless and sinless and us being human CAN never achieve that, BUT we are to strive and stay on that course.

Now add in just the reality of living, grief, sorrow, heartache, because it rains on the just and the unjust, EVERYONE WILL RUN THE GAUNTLET.

But those with Christ have an expected end to this course.

This is the reason we are commanded to NOT look to the right or to the left, and NEVER EVER LOOK BACK, only forward, if we don’t look to either side we can’t lose focus worrying about what is getting ready to hit us and WE ARE COMMANDED more than once to not look back, if you do you will see what is gaining on you and you will stumble over those blocks that has been placed before you.

Your entire reason for living is to bring glory to the Father and to help as many as you can run the gauntlet that has been set before them by the god of this world  (2nd Corinthians  4:4).

Paul was very apt in describing his gauntlet and we often feel that our burdens are heavy but I know for me, I gain so much encouragement from reading what they suffered and being blessed to read the end of their stories and how God used all those things to enlarge the Kingdom.

2 Corinthians 11:23-30 ” Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one (they thought it merciful to give 39 lashes as opposed to the 40 you were sentenced to, so at the time he wrote this Paul HAD RECEIVED A TOTAL OF 195 lashes) . 

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; journeys often, in perils of waters, IN PERILS BY THE BRETHREN, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, IN PERILS AMONG FALSE BRETHREN ( notice both groups listed, the ones who ARE your brethren that set those stumbling blocks and the FALSE brethren sent by the enemy). 

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings (sleeplessness) often, in hunger, in thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

BESIDES THOSE THINGS (other things) WHICH COME UPON ME DAILY, the care of all the churches.

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended (MADE TO STUMBLE), and I burn ( BURN WITH INDIGNATION) not?

IF I must needs glory, I WILL GLORY OF THE THINGS WHICH CONCERN MINE INFIRMITIES.”

 What he was saying if he survived all these things and yet glorified God in all them through showing love to others, how could ANYONE complain of their own sufferings?

He learned the groove of the gauntlet,  he learned to accept it for what it is and go with it.    

 He knew that is had to be ran, to fight it just held him up and there was people whose lives would be changed, there were others to help.

His purpose was NOT to fight in retaliation those who manned his gauntlet but to show the love listed above, to grab onto those who had fallen or were wounded by fiery darts and pull them with him to the finish line.

Acts 16 tells us of the arrest of Paul and Silas for doing just that, praying for a possessed girl to be delivered, this enraging those who were using her possession to make money through fortune telling, they were beaten and thrown in prison.

Paul had learned to be content in ALL situations and learned to REJOICE in affliction because the more he suffered for the Gospel, the GREATER the POWER OF GOD rested upon him, so with excruciating lash wounds on their backs they STILL sang and praised God, this pleasing God who sent an earthquake and opened every cell, now they could have left, completely free and thought “Ha, Ha the jerks get what they deserve for beating us.”  

BUT when Paul saw that the jailer was going to commit suicide because they had all escaped, Paul called to him NOT TO harm himself that they were all there.

That is that love and the jailer and his entire family was saved because Paul knew how to play the gauntlet and HE DID EXACTLY what GOD WANTED HIM TOO.

Just as Jesus “who for the joy SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, DESPISING THE SHAME, and is sat down at the right hand of the Father.”

Those of Hebrews 11, who should give anyone hope and courage to press on.

Learn to groove that gauntlet, play it smoother than any jazz tune ever played.

The prize we seek is NOT in this world.

It is in the next and the true secret is what they knew, press on, press on, press on.

Pick yourself up, let the tears fly as you run, but RUN, RUN with everything you got and grab on to all you see who have fallen in their own race against the gauntlet, pull them, drag them whatever you have to do to help them to that finish line, but never ever look at those opposing you just look to the Author and Finisher of your faith.

He made it through His forty days and Forty nights and then He ran that gauntlet that hell itself had prepared and he died running it BUT HE ROSE and FOREVER SHALL REIGN!

Φλογιζω/ NBJ 2015 

Original post date 12/04/15 revisited 07/01/2020 As you go through your day and your week, please remember that this world and the troubles of this world are temporary, just as our first verse assures us and in these awful days in which we live set yourself with one purpose and one goal and that goal is this, a reminder of what Jesus told us,NEVER LET THEM STEAL YOUR CROWN.