Monday, 17 May 2010

. . . But Are You Listening?

I find myself watching television for the commercials. In the past I had a tv guide so I knew when my favorite shows aired and I could plan my viewing time each evening, but it’s a little more challenging for me now since I’m watching French television. Did you know that their shows rarely begin on the hour at the top or bottom of the hour? Instead they begin at 1840h or 2010h, and yes military time is the norm here. J

One of my favorite commercials in the states was, and is the one about cellular or mobile (depending on which continent you’re on) phones, how better one company is than the others because the reception is acute no matter how far you are away from the one calling you, and vice versus or is it versa? (Who created that confusing expression?) In the commercial the man would ask “Can you hear me now?” and then he would change his location and repeat the question, demonstrating to us that we needed not only that particular telephone, but especially service with that particular phone company. We all can relate to black outs and crackling noises and “I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up!” and looking at our cell phones to see how many bars we have, or for novices, just wondering what the heck is wrong with our phone. J The more bars we saw the better the reception in that particular location. (Took me a minute to learn this.) Oh you too?

Can you hear me now? LOL!! Try talking on the metro with people around you talking loudly and babies crying and the whirring of the train and screeching on the tracks and you’re in the middle of a good conversation and then . . . nothing. You look at your phone just to see zero bars and you’re going through a tunnel. Your connection is lost, but your neighbor is still talking on her phone. How can that be? Anyhoooo. I can hear you now. J

Let’s take it a step further, or is it farther? in another direction. Many times we ask “can you hear me now?” and the answer is “yes, I can hear you.” But as the conversation unfolds we feel like we’re on different trains, not only on different tracks (thank God! Whew.), but in different worlds entirely. You feel like asking a second question, “but are you listening?” Hmmmmm. Five m’s that time. (Don’t know if I’ve ever done five m’s. Oh yes, when I was in love with M & M’s I did more than five. You did too!) You know, those times when you’re telling your story and your listener thinks they know YOUR story better than you do, so they try to finish it for you, or just continue interrupting you with what they think you’re going to say next. They’re not really with you, and they weren't there but . . . You also know those times when you’re speaking and making a point and the other person makes the same point but more ASSERTIVELY and as you do LISTEN to them you realize they just repeated what you said as if you didn’t say it, as if they knew something you didn’t know, again about your own story. Ahuh. Oh, and the other one is from those who are really honest okay. “Oh, what did you say? I wasn’t listening.”

Okay, from spending some time in biology, psychology, and chemistry classes and not making straight A’s (just because you make straight A’s doesn’t mean you’re going to remember what you ‘memorized’ at that time, and just because you make/made B’s and C’s and an occasional D, doesn’t mean you will forget everything, nor does it mean you did not learn anything. This is a lesson I’ve learned well. LOL!!) I learned that we hear with our ears, but we listen with our minds/brains. Did you know that? J Hearing is the physical auditory activity of the ear from the outside that looks like a seashell to the inner ear (please do not ask me to tell you all the formal and scientific names of each part and their individual functions. I am not an optometrist! Oh, that’s a person who does eyes isn’t it? J). I can hear you. Cut out the wisecracks. J Anyhoooo, but listening is the processing of what you hear, and that’s done inside the brain/mind where our thoughts are created.

So you see, it is possible, probable and almost a 100 percent definite that most of us who are not physically deaf or hearing-impaired are “hearing” very well, but the reason we are missing each other is because we’re not listening. You're familiar with the cliche "we hear what we want to hear." hmm. Distractions of so many kind – external and internal appear like pop-ups on internet sites when we’re trying to read our favorite stuff. But when they pop-up we don’t just click them off, we instead follow them and are led by our nose to another “web-site”. Can you hear me now? Yeah, but are you listening?

How many times in school were you present 100 percent of the time, but for some reason your grades did not reflect your physical presence in the classroom? An R&B songwriter wrote a song back in the 70s I think in which the hook says “your body’s here with me, but your mind is on the other side of town.” It’s a pretty song, melody and all, but the truth of the lyrics is anything but pretty. Don’t you know, to hear and not listen can get many people killed, especially in the military, or when you’re crossing the street and traffic is flying by. To listen means to pay attention and take to heart – apply to oneself what you’re hearing. It’s more than just sound bouncing off the walls of our cochlea, eardrums and eustacean (forgot how to spell it, but I know it's not crustacean) tubes. You can help me in the comments section below.

God had the same complaint about the Hebrew children. He told them, "sure, you’re reading My Word and Words out loud, but you are not taking them into your heart, because if you were you would be healthy – spirit, soul, and body, you wouldn’t continue creating debt because of your impatience to have this or that, you would not be appearing in court for driving drunk and getting caught because you totaled your car, your children would listen to you because they would be doing what you’re doing – uh, yes 'listening to ME'”. Now that’s the Allnthejeans version, but if you are a reader of Old Testament history, especially the first five books, you will see the repetitious mistakes of people like you and me. Oh! :-o So what did God want them (us) to do anyway? He wanted them to first hear with their ears, understand with their minds, and receive with their hearts, and allow His Words to mean so much to them that they would change their ways for the longevity and prosperity of their tribes in a vibrant relationship with Himself, and so they could be an example and blessing to all the other peoples on the earth.

So what does it look like for you to listen to me and me to listen to you? It means that I am here with you in the moment and you have my undivided attention to the point where not only can I repeat what you say, but I can paraphrase to make sure I understand what you mean. I guess we’re talking about communication aren’t we? Something upon which our very lives are hinged.

Since being here in France many people have asked me do I always understand what French people say to me, and I have to answer truthfully “no”. And there are several reasons for that. One is, hmmmm what is “I’m American for 400 Alex?” LOL!! Just kidding. Anyhooo, sometimes they talk too fast. I’m still learning the language and it helps when speakers speak more slowly. This increases the likelihood that I will understand what is being said. But sometimes, it’s because I’m just not listening and this is also sometimes my reply. I’m not listening because the conversation doesn’t concern me, or my mind is on the other side of town, or on another continent, or just on other things. But when I concentrate and focus on the speakers, I’m making the effort to not only hear their words, but the phrases so I can follow the storyline of their conversation or monologue. This takes effort – reading lips and listening for words that mélange together versus being one word. Or for instance, in school I learned that “vous” is the formal and plural noun for “you”, and “tu” is the singular and informal noun for "you". (In English we just have "you". So who's more confused?) When I came to France people were saying “toi” but I thought they were saying the number three which is “trois”, which is pronounced similarly. But as I followed the conversation, the number three did not make sense, so one day I decided to cease living in this world of ignorance and reveal my lack of understanding. When I was told what the deal was and is, it is this: "toi" is the singular, informal and more laidback version of the noun “you” and it is used mostly between family and close friends. That was not an example of melanging words, but one in which I had to really concentrate to understand not only what I was HEARING, but what it meant within the context of the conversation. I had to submit my entire being to the conversation if I wanted to understand what I was hearing. Can you hear me now?

Are you listening? If not, then why are we here? If we’re not going to listen as well as speak, why are we “here”? Yes, it is more important to be understood than heard, for everybody is making quite a bit of noise, but not everyone is making good sense and therefore not communicating well. And what about the children? We can HEAR them all around us making all kinds of sounds, but do we know what their sounds mean? Are we listening to them to SEE what they’re really MEANING? “Mommy, you’re not listening.” “Daddy, did you hear what I said?” “But that’s not what I meant.”

When we seek to be understood and not just heard, we will speak with our audience in mind and not just our own voice in our ears. We will watch their facial expressions and their eyes and realize either “they’re with me” or “they’re not getting a word I’m saying.” And we’ll make the necessary adjustments. When it’s more important to us to understand than just to hear, we will treat the speaker the way we want to be treated when the microphone is in our hands. Can you hear me now?

Oui!! J’ai t’entendu, et j’ai t’ecoute bien!!


Thursday, 13 May 2010

When Dreams Become Idols

Very recently I had a wakeup call. Yes I was still dreaming. Yes, sometimes I was sleeping and sometimes I was awake, but looming before my physical eyes and my internal eyes were my desires and goals. You see I’ve been planning to do great things in, and with my life since childhood. Alone inside my mind I knew I would marry and have 2.5 maybe 3 children. LOL!! (If you read statistics in science journals etc. sometimes their numbers are like that when describing how many people are guilty of doing certain things or having certain traits. I’m still trying to understand how you end up with half a person, at least on paper.) I also planned to record my songs even though at 10 years old I hadn’t yet written any. I had no intentions of becoming a preacher or pastor or anyone wearing a robe etc. I like colors and different styles and shoes . . . oh the shoes oh soooo much. So to be a preacher restricted to a robe was just not in my thoughts at all. Evangelist and prophet – okay and maybe because the ones I grew up seeing and knowing wore some great outfits and hats and yes, shoes . . . I think that’s what made it so exciting for me. The shoes. But anyhoooo, let’s move on to why I’m at this place again this week.

When a child dreams, she (or he, but I can only speak from my point of view of being a “she”, so men please don’t get offended or feel left out. Stay with me. Remember, it’s my story. J) sees something bigger and greater than herself at that moment in time. It’s beyond her reach and grasp, but because she has not yet been lied to that she “can’t do this” and “can’t do that”, or at least she is so rebellious inside that she rejects those negative assignments sent her way, she believes beyond belief that she can, and will attain that for which her heart longs. It’s like, for me anyway, standing under the Eiffel Tower and believing “one day I’m going to the top” before elevators and stairs are even invented. And then growing up and 20+ years later being able to take the elevator or stairs and going to the top! Either way, whether as a child or an adult, that Eiffel Tower whether with stairs or not, still is as tall and large as it has been and always will be. Can you see the words coming out of my mouth? LOL!! Okay, I’ll try to simplify it a little more. Hang in there.

For more than 20 years I’ve been trying to accomplish some things with my life, and each time I seem to have come close to it, it seems to slip away. Much prayer and introspection, releasing and receiving, researching and studying, giving up and trying again have occurred just to accomplish what has been, and is simple for so many others who have traversed every continent on the earth since the beginning of time. So why not for, and with me?

Day in and out, waking and sleeping I have dreamed of this and that, and so have many of you, so you do know what I’m talking about. Many of us who grew up in the church were taught “idol hands, I mean idle hands are the devil’s workshop” meaning if you’re sitting around with nothing to do and too much time on your hands, you’re probably up to no good, or “know” good. Hmmm. Three m’s that time. Sometimes we were asked “what you know good?” (If you try to say it correctly it doesn’t work, so please don’t try to correct my English. J I’m sharing with you not only the ‘text’ but the ‘context’ so you can at least envision where we were at that time.) So we were taught that we needed to keep busy doing something. Of course that verse is nowhere in the Bible, at least I’ve not found it yet. If you do, please send it to me. Anyhoooo, a verse of scripture in the Bible that has “saved” many and tripped up more, because of lack of understanding, says, “Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he/she who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man] – blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he/she.” Proverbs 29:18 (Amplified Bible). Now the Amplified hasn’t always been around so many of us did not grow up reading it and getting the understanding needed to rightly apply this verse to our lives. However, one day I was reading this in the King James Version and I just was not satisfied with it, so I began to research key words in this verse such as “vision” and “perish” in the Hebrew, the language of Proverbs. The Hebrew word for ‘perish’ is para meaning to loosen, implying to expose, dismiss; figuratively to bare and make naked, uncover. O-Kay. Now my eyes were opened, again.

Defined above “Vision” means - a redemptive revelation. To redeem means to “buy back”, to purchase to save or rescue. Revelation is information, a picture of the future, the present, the past to give understanding, to remove the scales from our eyes, to give greater understanding and a clearer picture. Like wearing corrective glasses for astigmatism or nearsightedness; only like. So, once I understood this verse after my research I held onto my childhood dreams and goals more than ever. I did not want to go through this life without a “vision” – a picture or some direction for my life. I didn’t want my life to be uncovered, naked, with no purpose. Para - perish: means you’ve done more than loosened your shoe laces or unbuttoned your shirt and slacks, but you’ve actually taken them off and you’re walking around with nothing on!

Okay, let’s put it like this. I’ve met so many people on this European continent who did not go to college after high school and all they do is smoke cigarettes, meet in bars and go to clubs, movies and karaoke places. They may or may not have jobs, for they may be living home with their parents still. They do a lot of reading, but no writing of their own. They did not study musical instruments or voice in school, but they sure would like to sing like Mariah Carey, or dance naked like Beyonce and Lady Gaga. (What’s a gaga?) When you ask them about having a dream or goal for their lives, they talk about other celebrities and what they’ve done or are doing, but for themselves it’s only a wish, not a possibility. They’ve never had before their eyes something great to aspire to achieve with, and through their own lives. No great insurmountable mountain that excited and motivated them rather than discouraged them. This has never before been my problem. I’ve always had before me dreams and goals and I was not afraid to drive, hike, walk, hitchhike (not literally), crawl, run etc. TOWARDS my dreams and goals. But somewhere along the way, I became obsessed with the dreams and instead of them getting closer to me and me to them, they would drift farther out to sea.

As I was dealing with this reality just a few days ago, I saw before me a great wall. It was the wall of my dreams. When I was a child it was just as large as it is now, but then I had a childlike attitude about it and it was the wall that was going to take me to another land, another world. And come to think of it, as a child, it didn’t look like a wall. It looked like a hill or the monkey bars at the park reserved for the bigger kids. But one day I would be a bigger kid too! And no, I did not dream of coming to France, at least I cannot remember that as being one of my dreams at that age, (even though I did read a lot of Barbara Cartland). Maybe it came later, in high school when I took a few mandatory-for-graduation French language courses. But this time when I saw the wall, I saw not something to be climbed. I saw something else I could not fathom. I saw something that was an obstacle. I saw . . . is that an idol? Can’t be.

The very thing(s) I desired and was pressing my way to achieve and accomplish had become the obstacle to my achievements and accomplishments. I should have recognized the symptoms years ago whenever anyone said something to me like “what if you never have children?”, or “what if you never record your music?”, and my reactions would be so strong and harsh. I would feel so much pain inside and anger and “how dare you say such a thing to me!”. I could not see my life without my dreams. Day and night, they would taunt me, torment me and harass me. They? Who? The dreams. Yes the very things I was trying to accomplish had turned against me, but I didn’t know this. I thought it was just the pain of suffering for the very thing one desired. But now I know, it was the pain of carrying inside my very soul something that could do nothing for me, but upon which I was giving my every breath to achieve. Like I was carrying the very thing that was supposed to carry me. Like trying to pull the car instead of driving it.

No wonder God told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 5:7 “Thou shalt have no other gods before ME or besides Me.” (Amplified) Lately I’ve been running into Psalm 135 quite a bit, and now I know why. Verses 15-18 describe our idols, our contemporary gods. I won’t record them all here, so you will have to read it on your own, but take a gander at this: verse 15 – “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.” Well, I did plan to get rich and have about 3.5 houses on at least 2.75 continents, but most of my dreams were of marriage and family and music. Still “unless the Lord builds the house (whatever material is used for whatever kind of house, real or imagined) they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1) I was building my house of dreams and my dream house. In my dreams. And with my sweat and tears, contracting pneumonia, stressing out my internal organs with worry, competition and fears of “what if. . .?”

Verse 16 says “[Idols] have mouths, but they speak not; eyes . . . see not; verse 17 “. . . ears, but . . . hear not.” Verse 18 is the scary one, “Those who make [idols] are like them; so is everyone who trusts in and relies on them.” Okay, I typed them for you ‘cause I just couldn’t get away from them.

Sometimes while walking the streets of Paris and other towns in France I’ve noticed statues in shops where you get your hair and nails done, also in restaurants. Certain ethnic groups of the Asian persuasion believe so much in these ‘gods’ and that they will bring them good fortune that they “host” them in their stores and homes. Well I really want to tell them it’s not the statues bringing them their fortunes, but “what is ‘customers’? for 300 Alex?” It’s my cash and your cash and everyone else’s cash that’s giving them their fortune. (I do like some of those fortune cookies though. LOL!!) Not those trinkets in the window. And if it were not for the mercy and grace of our Almighty Creator, none of us would be supporting anyone. But this is not about them. :-0

It is so important to have a dream and vision for our lives, but sometimes we can take it too far and it can become an obsession. An obsession becomes a limitation creating a bottle neck, slowing everything down, and eventually bringing all progress to a halt. Everything we do, whether we realize it or not, we do for the sake of the dream, but we still cannot seem to reach it. My prayers for my life for many years were within the context of accomplishing my dreams. There’s nothing wrong with having focused prayers, but there is something wrong when you expect and demand the Creator, the Author of our dreams to ‘obey’ you. I have since learned that this is not trust, but fear instead. Yes, many of us do it and we think we’re okay because we’re praying scriptures where God tells us to “Command ye ME”. Hi Ho Sliver!!! Whoa horsey!! Let me tell you where it is so you won’t think I made this one up. You can find this verse in Isaiah 45:11, “Thus says the Lord, The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.” (emphasis mine) Now if He meant “ask” instead of “command” I’m sure He would have said “ask” because He did in the first part of the verse. Asking is making a request like “will you do . . .?” But to command someone is to tell him or her what to do, maybe how, when, where, with whom, what color, what size, ahem etc. You get my drift. J Anyhoooo . . . I know many will not agree with me, but that’s okay, this is a free world. At least it is for me. Mark 11:23 says (from Jesus’ mouth, o-kay): “Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he SAYS will take place, it will be done for him.” Now I’m not for taking scripture out of context, so you need to read some of the verses before and after this one to understand WHY Jesus said this. Because this blog topic is so long I’m trying not to belabor this point. However and nevertheless, there is a period at the end of this verse. No comma and no colon and no semi-colon. To me that means to a certain degree His thought is complete. He didn’t stutter or have a second thought, and thus it is scriptures like this one which we churched people have lived by for so long and built our dreams and expectations and goals upon. We’ve been SAYING a lot of things and expecting them to happen. To SEE it is to SAY it and to SAY it is to SEE it. To me this is faith. In my dreams I saw what I wanted, and I said it to myself, to God and to anyone else who would listen or just eavesdrop. But still I missed it somewhere.

Whew. So, where am I now with all this dreaming stuff? Well, at first I was very uncomfortable to say the least because yes, I surrendered everything to my Lover Jesus the Christ. I don’t want to be guilty of worshiping anyone or anything but Him alone. But after I gave up my very life’s skeleton, I was tempted to be in fear, but I knew that wouldn’t help me. It was not an option or a desire. So what am I doing? I’m doing what I did as a child, but didn’t learn to do until I became an adult. Hmmm, what a confusing statement I know, but if you’ve been reading my blogs by now you’re used to me talking like this. And you’re still heeeere! LOL!! ;-) Thanks for hanging in there. Okay I’m spending quiet time with Jesus, sometimes talking and sometimes listening because He’s sometimes talking. I’m reading His written Word and focusing on what is real – His Spirit in my heart. He didn’t leave me floundering too long, maybe about a week, and then He began to share with me HIS dreams! I now fill that place of my imagination with thoughts of Him. It is a challenge because I still want to think about my dreams and . . .

Did you know that our Creator is the biggest Dreamer there is? His head is so big I’m sure He gets tired from keeping all that stuff to Himself, because He never sleeps. So He calls us and knocks on our doors, and sometimes He has to wait for us to go to sleep so He can download one of His dreams into our dreams and we wake up with a vision. Wow!! Yeah, those first few days I felt like I was walking around naked because I no longer knew what I am supposed to do, and why I’m on the earth. But if I had not experienced this “surrendering”, I would never know how it feels to have no hope. I would never know how it feels to have no dream or goal or vision for ones life. Now because I know how it feels I can have more compassion and patience with people I meet and pass on the streets who display lifelessness, hopelessness. Maybe I’ll have the courage enough to speak to them and give them a word, from the Lord, that will turn on the light in their hearts so they can believe beyond their current situation. God's dreams and thoughts about them - Jeremiah 29:11.

I saw a movie a few years ago called “Children and Their Dreams”. The young actress was pursuing her dream of being a singer in Hollywood. In spite of everything happening in her young life that was negative, she held onto her dream. The other young kids around her didn’t understand her, and two little boys fell in love with her. She awakened in them and a little black girl the desire to look beyond their current lives to see what they wanted to be and do, and could be and do. She sang these lyrics, which have also been recorded by Celine Dion: “I Have to Dream”

Verse 1

What lies before me, what stands between?

No one can tell me what I have seen.

Some see the tarnish, I see the gleam.

I have to wonder; I have to dream.

Verse 2

One dream can change you; one dream can make,

All the difference one heart can take.

I dream of flying in mid air.

I have to wonder, what’s up there?

Verse 3

The sky’s the limit, today’s the day;

Heavens are still there when skies are gray.

Some days are better than they seem.

Some days are better because you dream.


On rainbows to rainbows, on starlight to star

To dream is what tomorrow’s for.

Only a dreamer knows what I know,

What it’s like to wonder, and then let go.

On rainbows to rainbows I know what I’ve seen.

I have to wonder, I have to dream.

Keep dreaming and doing what you can to realize your dreams, but don’t let your dreams become the roadblocks to the very thing you desire. When your dream crosses over to becoming an idol, your suitcase is too heavy. J


Monday, 3 May 2010


This past weekend while recuperating from a grueling week of work and traveling and teaching and rehearsing and . . . I watched one of my favorite movies again: “Bulletproof Monk” starring one of my favorite Asian actors Chow Yun-Fat. Of course he doesn’t know he’s one of my favorites, neither does ignorance of that fact prevent him from getting paid for doing what he does – act. As a matter of fact he’s banking on (pun intended) folk like me to continue making sure he gets paid. Hmmm, we seem to be going right in the direction I want to go and I didn’t know it. He’s keeping me happy and I’m keeping him happy and we’ve never ever met. Imagine that.

In the movie he is the next monk to protect the sacred scroll from evil people for the scroll has special powers. The monk before him protected it for 60 years but never aged a day over 25. When he passed on the scroll to Chow (I don’t think he minds me calling him by his first name) he said “I’m now going to do something I’ve not done in over 60 years. Take a vacation.” But he was killed instead by foreign enemies who wanted the scroll. As Chow fought and then “died” in the first 15 minutes of the movie, he took with him the sacred scroll which no one could find. Many years later he appeared in the United States where we learned (yes, I was there too.) that he had hidden the scroll on his body. He too did not look a day over 25 years old, even though he died.

As the story continues we learn from Chow that the power of the scroll is preservation. The person who preserves and protects the scroll is also preserved and protected by the scroll. The scroll made him bulletproof so he healed quickly and always survived a bullet wound, or a death fall, like in the first 15 minutes. This one particular line that he shared with fellow actor Seann William Scott, let me paraphrase it as I recall it, “he who protects the scroll is protected by the scroll” is the one that excited me. I was like “wow” yeah!!! Who wouldn’t want to protect and preserve something that’s going to reciprocate in kind like that? Then immediately another person came to my mind.

I thought about a man who lived a very long time ago on another continent and who died at a very young age, but he accomplished so much – more in three years than most of us do in a lifetime. The deeds He did and the Words He spoke changed the world forever, and continues to do so. His Words were so powerful and are powerful that people would be (and are) healed even though he didn’t touch them, even if he was in a different city! People suffering from violent multiple personality disorders which caused them to isolate themselves from society would be relieved of their mental and emotional torment with just one sentence from His scroll, I mean His mouth.

Even before that, before He was born His Father started it all just by speaking His thoughts and His Words became reality. Light, sunshine, moon, stars, water, etc. If you can name it, it’s because He said it first. But what I recall reading about Him, from His autobiography if you will, is that He said His Words are “life”. Then He said, well one of his followers, John by name, said it about Him for us: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Humph. Imagine that. Then He spoke His Word into the earth to accomplish certain things, which means He spoke Himself into the earth so He could DO certain things. Hmmmm. Inside His Words are power – power to GIVE life and power to SUSTAIN life. Power to PRESERVE life and power to RESURRECT life. Power to RESTORE life and power to ENERGIZE life. Power to START life and power to END life. Now that’s some power. In words. That’s what was on the monk’s torso in the movie that sustained and preserved his life for over 60 years – words. What’s tattooed on my torso – my heart? What words are preserving me?

I guess you know by now, or maybe you don’t, but just in case, for those who don’t know, I am talking about God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, and His Son Jesus the Christ, the One Who said “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Hmmmm. Four m’s that time, again. He also said “If you abide in (live in) ME (talking about Himself) and My Words abide in (remain in) you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:8. Now He means more than just writing His Words on our bodies. He means for His Word to become such an important part of our lives, our very beings, who we are and what we do, how we believe and what we say, where we go and with whom, etc. that the things we ask for from Him would be the things He would also desire and would ask for from His Father, for us and if He were in our shoes. Again.

If we follow closely in His footsteps we see and hear that most of the time He requested “life” for everyone with whom He came in contact. Life for their bodies if they died (remember he raised Lazarus, and two other un-named teenagers from the dead, male and female.); life for their health when they were sick – the Centurion’s servant and the Syrophenician woman’s daughter, and both of them from a distance. He never made it to their houses. Just to name a few. Everything Jesus asked for from His Father He received, except one thing, because everything He asked for was what the Father wanted to do in the first place. Jesus carried not just ON His body, but inside Himself – He WAS and is the scroll on which God wrote His love letter to the world.

Those very Words preserved Him because He preserved those Words. He didn’t add to them neither did He take away from them. Read the promise and the warning in Revelation 22: 18-19. The promise He gives us is we will be kept by the very words we keep. We are what we say because what we say is usually what we believe, or what we will eventually believe if we continue saying it long enough. Another scripture says we are “snared by the words of our mouths.” Proverbs 6:2. On the positive side then we are Preserved and reserved, sustained and constrained, and restrained and . . . by the words of our mouths.

“Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee”. So I won’t miss You, the mark and plans you’ve set for me, my life, my destiny. But one of my mostest (I just love this incorrect word) favorite scriptures is the one where the writer says to God “Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written (words) before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16. This means God said something about us, me before I was ever born. He wrote it down so He wouldn't forget it. (gheesh, I'm truly my Father's daughter.) The Old Testament also tells us that the priests were instructed to wear the names of each of the tribes of Israel on their clothing every time they went into the Holy Place to burn incense in the presence of God. Why? To keep their names and His promises to them ever before Him. He made a promise to Abraham in Genesis about the children of Israel before they were ever born, before he ever had one son and long after Abraham died, the priests continued to remind God of what He said about his offspring. God’s Words to Abraham about his offspring preserved them as they also in turn struggled to preserve God’s Word within themselves.

Around France, and maybe even other parts of Europe there are these machines on walls in different places much like soda machines, snack machines, newspaper machines, but they’re called “Preservatives”. When I first saw one I of course was confused because I thought of chemicals we put into foods and other things with shelf lives to prolong their lives on the shelf. So of course I had to have a closer look and of course I learned something new that day. As a woman, I could be offended because to me it implied that having unprotected sex with a woman is dangerous and a man needs to “preserve” himself while using her to satisfy himself. But of course, it is supposed to work both ways, when it is working properly. An equal opportunity product. Preservative is the French word for condom. It’s designed of course to protect both partners, thus prolonging their shelf lives. J No offense taken.

When you read the ingredients on some food products you will see the phrase “no preservatives added” which means the shelf life is normal, and shorter than those with preservatives, and they’re supposed to be all natural too, like fresh fruit and veggies. You must consume them very soon. Frankly, I don’t think we could live very well without preservatives because living in today's society is fast and expensive. We need all the help we can get to prolong the life of everything we acquire.

Jesus is the Great Preservative – Preserver of Life. When we receive Him into our lives and in turn give our lives to Him, He enters our hearts and souls and the preserving or preservation begins. The more we honor Him and allow His Words, which represent Who He is, to transform our thoughts, desires, emotions, will, intentions, intellect, deeds, actions, and words the more we are preserved in every part of our lives. And yes we can live longer because His Words are health to our bones too, not just our spirits and minds. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24. Words that preserve I’m convinced must be pleasant and sweet. So the next time you get on an all-natural health food kick, and you find yourself scrutinizing all the ingredients on every label of every product you buy, and you see the words “preservatives added”, remember to ask yourself, what would life be like without them? Especially without the Great Preservative.