Stuck in Atlanta!

stuck in AtlantaGrandchidren are just that – GRAND! Can I get an amen!

Gaylon and I are blessed with four grandchildren. Two live in the Birmingham area. One lives six hours to our west in Baton Rouge, LA, and one lives seven hours to our east in Hickory, NC.  In order to be a vital part of their lives, there is a whole lot of travel involved.

On the weekend of January 25, we made the trip to North Carolina to visit with Tucker and Sarah. Tucker is so much fun. He’s a vibrant, full-of-giggles kind of boy, who loves his papa. We had a blast. Our plan was to return to Birmingham on Tuesday, January 28. We were aware that a winter storm was predicted to hit parts of the south, so we kept an eye on the weather forecast.  As we went to bed on Monday night, the last thing I did was a final check on the weather.  At that time, the storm was predicted to give Atlanta a dusting in the afternoon, and Birmingham about the same. We were good to go!

Without checking the updated forecast, early Tuesday morning we departed North Carolina headed home.  By leaving very early, we were sure to arrive home before any ice or snow arrived, or at least accumulated on the roads. So, we set out on our journey.

When we were about thirty minutes from Atlanta, a few light snowflakes began to fall, and by the time we got to Interstate 285, snow and sleet were falling a little heavier. Traffic was already crawling about five miles an hour.  Though we did not like going so slow, we had no choice, and decided we would have to patiently take three hours to go around Atlanta. Long story short – that twenty-mile distance around Atlanta became a ten-hour trip. It was evident we were not getting home that night, and we were not sure we would even get off the interstate. People were abandoning cars; cars ran out of gas; vehicles were barely moving. Several hours earlier we had a friend prepay a hotel for us, so we would have someone to stay, but even getting to the hotel was questionable. Thank God we did get to our hotel about 10:30.  We were stuck in a rundown hotel for two days. On the third day, it was time for resurrection!  While it was still a bit icy, and would require careful travel, we got up with our minds set on moving forward.  We made a decision not to be stuck one more day!

It is one thing to get stuck in the winter weather, but quite another to get stuck in life.  The truth of the matter is that being stuck is the case for scores of people. Like the Israelites, too many of God’s children started out on a journey with Him, and now they are stuck in the wilderness, short of their promised land:

  • Stuck in past failures
  • Stuck in church hurt
  • Stuck in grief
  • Stuck in a lack of faith
  • Just stuck

While God always loves us, God takes no pleasure in a derailed Christian who is has resigned themselves to living  sad, dejected, downcast and dispirited.  God’s call is for us to stop allowing outward things to prevent forward progress.  He wants us back on track with Him, full of the Holy Spirit, moving forward as a force for Jesus Christ.

God isn’t the Great I Was, but the Great I Am.  He desires for you and me to live in the present, not the past. God is calling us to press on with the Lord, in obedience and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come, so all we have is today.  The Great I Am wants you to walk with Him today.  He wants to bless your life, and He has powerful work for you to do where you are planted. His plan is that you will be a living, vibrant child of God who reflects the Great I Am.

So, the next time someone’s words, life’s circumstances or huge disappointments threaten to get you stuck, remember who you are, whose you are and where you are headed. There isn’t a person or thing in your life that is worth your getting stuck, and missing the fullness of what God has in store.

You don’t have to be stuck one more day!

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” – Philippians 3:13



It’s Time To Change Clothes

chain gangTwo shopkeepers owned stores directly across the street from each other. Each spent his days tracking the other’s business, and gloating triumphantly each time a customer chose his store, instead of that of his competitor. Over time, they became bitter rivals. It no longer was a life of enjoying their business, but a life wishing to see their competitor destroyed.

One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers and said, “I’ll give you anything you request, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive double. Would you be rich? You can be very rich indeed, but he’ll be twice as wealthy. Do you desire a long and healthy life? Request it, but his life will be longer and healthier. What’s your desire?

The man thought for a moment, and with a sly grin, stated, “Strike me blind in one eye!”


I can think of very little that damages a life and soul like a root of bitterness. Every one of us has been hurt by other people or by life circumstances. All too often we have wounds that fester inside of us. Do we sometimes have a right to be wounded and bitter?  I say yes.  Do we want to exercise that right?  A thousand times NO!  Bitterness is relentless and dangerous when allowed to take root in our hearts. It destroys one’s ability to make good decisions, and it compromises productive lives. Bitterness can destroy healthy relationships with people, and even with God.

Some might think that a preacher/teacher/speaker/writer, who is married to a wonderful husband, knows little about the hurts of life. “Barbara, how could you be tempted to live a life of bitterness?” Oh, I think all of us are tempted to become a convict in the prison of bitterness.

I’ve known the heartache of church wounds, cruel childhood abuse, miscarriage, and the death of a son. I could spend a lot of time enlarging my list for you to read, but that is not my purpose. My purpose is say that all of us are tempted to drink from the river of bitterness.

God offers the only alternative to bitterness, and that is forgiveness and trusting Him to handle those who have wronged us.   Joseph said it well in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”  God can take that which was intended for evil, and slap the devil in the face with it! How could forgiving that awful person bring us any kind of peace?  It is a supernatural thing.  Once you’ve experienced the healing power of forgiveness, you will understand.

We have a hard time with forgiveness because we are unclear about it. Think about this:

  • Forgiveness does not mean we justify what the other person did.
  • Forgiveness does not always mean the relationship will be the same as before.
  • Forgiveness is not the same as trust.
  • Is forgiveness difficult?  It can be.
  • Do we still need to forgive because God instructs us to do so?  Yes.
  • Are we set free as a result of forgiving? Yes, yes, yes!

I read an interesting story about a man who was describing his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. One paragraph in particular jumped out at me:

“My mother used to be a bitter woman,” Tim explained. “But then she got Alzheimer’s disease and forgot what she was so bitter about. She actually became a very pleasant person to be around.”  Oh that we would forget while we are still well enough to enjoy the freedom!

Ponder that thought: Oh, that we would forget while we are still well enough to enjoy the freedom! Take off those convict clothes, and put on a garment of praise. Whom the Son has set free, is free indeed!  It’s time to change clothes.

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15


Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

aint_nobody_got_time_for_that_pinback_button-r8a8c64360eed4781886d1894c7c7ce4b_x7j3i_8byvr_324Recently I attended a small group with about a dozen people. This was not a church group nor a group filled with Christians. Each person was asked to share their thoughts about the subject of the day. When my turn came, I was just myself, and stated that my success in the area being discussed, was based on my relationship with God and His word. I went on to say that regardless of the “success” I had experienced, the past weaknesses in my life try to revisit me, and it was only through prayer and God’s principles that I continued to walk successfully. They were accepting of what I said and moved on to the next person.

When the group concluded, a woman made a beeline to get to me. She wanted to talk to me about my spiritual experiences, and about hers. What she really wanted to know was if I could tell her some easy way to have the overcoming power of God in her life. She said I don’t really want to have to read the Bible and pray every day, I am a busy person, and “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

My response was and still is, “You cannot live a victorious Christian life without time devoted to God.” Getting saved at a church service or even at a McDonald’s is only the beginning. That does not equate to victory forever.  Calling one’s self a Christian does not equate to victorious living.  Being in the best church on the planet does not make one an over-comer.

When the United States invaded Iraq, one of the things that occurred was the tearing down of a statue of Saddam Hussein. After the toppling of the statue, some thought  the war had been won!  It’s over!  Not really, they had only won a battle. Still to this day the influence of Hussein resurrects its head to try to take back territory.

As believers, we do have the victory, but it does require fighting battles on a regular basis. A one-time salvation prayer does not bring victory in all battles of life. The statue of Satan that had set itself up in our hearts, was pulled down the moment we surrendered our lives to Christ Jesus, but at that moment, the war to take back our lives began. The war to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan is being waged against us.

It is impossible to walk a victorious Christian life without being empowered from on high. If an easy way means: I want the power of God, just by sleeping and waking up and it’s there, no one will ever be powerful.  This only causes us to walk defeated, when victory is ours because of Calvary, and I say, “Ain’t nobody got time for THAT!”

“Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.” – Ephesians 6:13;  “Victory comes from you, O LORD. May your blessings rest on your people.” – Psalm 3:8

Mr. and Mrs. Benton, You Have Termites

TermitesMr. and Mrs. Benton, you have termites! My heart sank to my feet recently, as the pest control guy spoke those words to us. Dollar signs flashed before my eyes.

The front of our home has a huge window that measures about ten feet by seven feet, and has a large ledge at the bottom. The area gets morning sun, and from time to time, insects like to sunbathe there. As a result, I check the area at least a couple of times per week to see if any critters are making it home. I refuse to share my home with critters!

One morning as I looked at the ledge, I saw about a hundred little wings in several piles, and a few bodies. Surely those can’t be termites! We used to have the yearly contract on our house to insure termites could not take up residence, but we had allowed it to lapse.  I took a picture of the insects and sent it to a neighbor who owns a pest control company. Within minutes he informed me that we had termites, and he would need to come inspect our house to see how bad the infestation was and how much damage had been done.

Termites tend to move in during the stormy, rainy season.  While homeowners move routinely about life, these pests find a vulnerable, subterranean entry and, if unchecked, will virtually destroy a building.  Termites love to do their work in the dark. Seldom, if ever, will you see them, yet they quietly eat away, until one day the beams can cave in, and the house is destroyed.

Alan checked our whole house, and then gave us the verdict. “Fortunately, you have kept your eye on this area, and caught it before the destruction could spread. We will destroy the termites before they can destroy your home.”

Termites have to be evicted or they will destroy the place they inhabit.

As believers we must be careful of spiritual termites. They try to take up residence in the hidden place of the heart, especially during rainy, stormy seasons of life. These pests invade us from the inside, take up residence and eat away, destroying our faith, hope and joy.

Make no mistake about it; our spiritual lives are vulnerable to “termites.” It is essential that we are aware of the things that desire residency in our spiritual house – things like unresolved anger and hatred, hanging on to the past, lying, immorality, faithlessness, prayerlessness,  spiritual apathy, sowing of discord and a host of others. We must be alert to that which tries to take up residence in our lives.

Thank God I did regular inspections on that window area. Because of that, I saw something that did not belong there, and destroyed it before it destroyed us. Canisters are now all around our home to ensure that we have victory over the termites. Today, we are termite free!

God’s people have His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy the things that try to destroy us. Through His power, we have victory over the things that will destroy us, but we must deal with things quickly.  Declare this over your life. “Satan, I refuse to share my temple with critters.  Every evil insect that you send to take up residence in me, is destroyed by the Holy Spirit right now! It has no place in me. I am termite free!”


The House of Fear

Shotgun-House-Plans-Small-Design-Decor-IDeasMy grandmother was a woman who was gripped by fear, and it literally controlled her life.   Granny was afraid to stay alone at night, so her mother, my great grandmother, would walk next door each night carrying her pillow and blanket to stay with Granny.  After my great grandmother passed away, Granny was fearful of staying alone.  Since we lived a block away, she asked my parents to let me stay with her at night.  So, every night for many months, I would walk through the field to my grandmother’s house so she would not be alone.

Interesting things happened while staying with Granny at night.  She had a shotgun style house, which means if you walked in the front door, you could see from the front door to the back door.   The front room was the living room, and the fourth room was the kitchen. Between those two rooms were two bedrooms.

My grandmother made me sleep in the room with her. Since the house was shotgun style, there were two doors to the room.  At night, Granny would close those two doors, and triple bolt them with locks my uncle had installed for her. The room had two windows. My grandmother would close the windows, lock the windows and brace them with a board so they could not be raised.  She was petrified that someone would try to break-in.   Each night, a “slop” jar was placed in the room in case one of us needed to use the potty.   No one could leave the room during the night.  Think how a hot southern, summer night with no air and a stinky potty was!

Every time Granny would hear the slightest sound, she would awaken me to hear the sound.  She would then tell me that someone was outside trying to get in, and we had to sit on the side of the bed until we no longer heard the noise.  She would, at times, shout out, “I’m going to get my gun.”  So there I sat, as a ten-year-old child petrified.

If a thunderstorm came up during the night, my grandmother would awaken me, make me get out of bed and get fully dressed.  She said we had to be ready in case lightning struck the house. So, this sleepy child would get dressed and sit in fear, hoping the storm would pass by without killing us.

One last story from life with Granny.  When I would get to her house at night, she would tell me I was filthy, even though I had taken a bath before leaving home.  She had me strip naked, get in her tub, and she would proceed to wash me from head to toe, using a stiff scrub brush.  She often told me I was not clean.  So for years, I walked around with my skin half scrubbed off, fearing I was an unclean person.

Before you think badly of Granny, let me say that Granny was a sweet person.  Her issue was that she was consumed by fear, and it paralyzed her from having a normal emotional life.

For many years, even into my married years, I was paralyzed by fear.  I was afraid of being alone when my husband was gone, petrified of thunderstorms and obsessed with cleanliness.  My grandmother lived in a house of fear, and built one for me.

There came a point in my walk with God, that He revealed to me that I was paralyzed by fear.  I was afraid of dying at a young age, afraid of storms, afraid of an attack, afraid of not having enough money, afraid of speaking in front of others – afraid, afraid, afraid!

I was reading the scripture in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus said, “Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest because your heavenly Father feeds (takes care of) them.”   I had to chuckle at that verse.  Have you ever seen a bird having a nervous breakdown?  They don’t worry because they trust God to provide. That same passage of scripture lets us know that God thinks we are far more valuable to Him than the birds.  In other words, I am the apple of God’s eye, and He can be trusted to take care of me in every situation.

What is the answer for paralyzing fear?   Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It’s been said, “Why worry when you can pray?”  What a great question!  When you are afraid, you have choices.  You can lie in bed and agonize, you can try to work out your problems in your own power … or you can pray.  I have found that option number three brings such peace and courage to my soul.

What fear do you need to be free of today?  Child of God, it’s time to be free.  Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”  My prayer for you today is that you will be released from the house of fear, with its bolted doors. It has held you captive far too long.  Whatever fear you are facing, God is greater.  Put your trust in the one who is greater.

There are occasions that Satan tries to beckon me to once again take up residency in the house of fear.  No thank you! I don’t live there anymore because the Lord Most High is now my dwelling place.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10