18 January, 2017

Special Moments That Make It Matter

A few moments ago I had one of those moments that just automatically turn on the faucets of tears. I'm sick right now and have been pretty much off of my feet since Sunday night. I've been on antibiotics since Monday and still feeling pretty rough. Anyway, early this morning I received a call from a young mother in town who I've met with and counseled through some trying times. She said she'd heard I was sick and wanted to check on me. We talked for a few moments and the conversation ended. So, just a few minutes ago, I received another call from her and she said, that she had left something for me out on my porch. She said she did not have much, but she wanted to show me some love in return for all the times I'd been there for her. I went out on my porch and there I found a plastic container of chili with a handwritten note that said, "You are loved!"

Right now, sitting here eating that chili, I feel the best I've felt in awhile.

16 January, 2017

Not Perfect, But Forgiven

I was having a conversation with someone earlier today who has only been a Christian for a relatively short time. This person was speaking of some of their struggles in their Christian walk and how it seemed like no matter how hard they tried, they kept blowing it and they felt like giving up. The said they were trying so hard but just could not get it right. They told me that they were just going to have to try harder, but that they were getting so frustrated and wondered if they could ever make it to Heaven. I almost had to laugh, not because what this person was saying was in any way funny, but that this sounded exactly like me when I was just starting out in my Christian journey. What I related to this person is what I want to write about just briefly tonight. 

For those who don't know me, I am the son of a pastor and my grandfather was also a preacher. I was raised in church most of my life. I knew (or thought I did) what was expected of Christians. The reason I say "thought I did" is because what I understood was basically a list of do's and don'ts. To make this shorter and straight to the point, I had learned a lot about religion, but I did not understand anything about having a relationship wit Christ. I knew that as a Christian I was supposed to "live like one", which meant, we did not cuss, smoke, drink, steal... you get the idea. So when I gave my heart to Jesus, I tried to stop all that. I tried to make myself into a "good person" who lived a clean life. But I kept failing. I'd find myself lying and using language that was laced with profanity. I really tried... and I kept falling. I was at the place where I was starting to believe that I just could not live as a Christian. I thought maybe it was just my lot in life that I was going to die and go to Hell. Then one day as I was reading the Bible, I stumbled upon the words of Paul where he wrote about how he struggled with the same thing... and it changed my life. He wrote in Romans chapter 7, " I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't do what I know is right. I do the things I hate."  A few verses later he goes on, "I know that my selfish desires won't let me do anything that is good.  Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don't do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me does them. The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. Then Paul says the words that unlocked the chains that had held me captive for so long. He says,  "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

There is something in that last sentence that will transform your life, just as it did mine. Paul tells us that the secret is KNOWING (this takes faith!) that the blood of Jesus has set us free and saved us, even though out bodies may not know it yet! This is not meant to give us an excuse to continue in sin. Far from it. What it says is that when I give my life to Christ, I'm as saved as I will ever be from that moment on.  Our flesh is still subject to the natural... but our spirit is free! This is where the battle between the flesh and the spirit begins as we take authority and persevere and overcome those things... but we are saved already. Never doubt that!  The work of Christ is full and complete and saves us to the uttermost from the second we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives. You will never be "more saved" than you are right then. But you and I have to get that issue settled in our spirit-man because the Accuser will be right there every time we fall telling us we are lost, never were saved and telling us what scum we are. If we don't know what the Word of God says we may forfeit that salvation and walk away from it. That's his goal! We must at that moment KNOW we are safe and secure in Christ and tell him to take his lies down the road. If we don't, most likely we will return to our old ways and continue living in sin. 

There is a vast difference in committing a sin and living a lifestyle of sin. What Paul is describing in Romans 7 is crucial to us. Notice he says he does not want to do those things anymore. The Holy Spirit makes us aware of things that grieve the Spirit and this is where our job begins... that of sanctifying ourselves. Separating ourselves from the things the flesh desires. This battle is a life-long battle as we beat this body into subjection. Again, this does not make us "more saved" but it does deepen and enhance our walk with the Lord. Satan's aim is to so batter us with guilt and shame to the point that we doubt our salvation. The most difficult aspect of all of this is getting beyond the question of being worthy of salvation. We're not... not one of us. This is the beauty of this whole thing. Romans 5:8 says, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." It has nothing to do with us being good, faithful or deserving at all. It only as to do with God's wonderful grace!

15 January, 2017

I'm Back

I've taken a little while away from writing because 1) I've been very busy, and 2) because my focus was distracted by the political drama that has unfolded surrounding the election of Donald Trump and the crying and protesting by Democrats. I'll say this and move on. Suck it up and deal with it. He is our next President. I did not like it when Obama won in 2008 or 2012, but I accepted the will of the voters and moved on. So, let's give the man a chance and see what happens.

Now, as I begin writing again this year, I want to focus much more on those things that matter, primarily with spiritual matters and family. So, in the coming year, it is my goal to not write about political issues at all, unless it is a MAJOR story or that political happening has a spiritual connection or will impact Christians. I look forward to connecting with many of you again.

30 December, 2016

People You Need to Walk Away From and Leave In 2016

Can you believe that we are at the end of 2016? This year has flown by in the blink of an eye. In fact, for most of us, it seems just yesterday we were all awaiting the crash of our computers as we crossed into the new millennium… and suddenly we find ourselves on the threshold of 2017. It hardly seems possible that 17 years have come and gone so quickly… but this reminds me that since time flies by so quickly, we need to count the days and make them matter.  I've come to understand that time is too precious to waste time on people who suck the life out of you. We need all learn that what we will accomplish next year greatly depends on the people you surround yourself with. Or, another way of looking at it is to say that it greatly depends on which people you decide not to surround yourself with.  With that in mind, I wanted to take a moment to write about ten types of people we ought to sever ties with and not drag them into 2017 with us. When the clock strikes twelve on December 31, 2016 and you step into 2017, leave some baggage behind and watch and see how much better the coming year will be for you.

So... Let's look at who you need to walk away from as you enter into 2017. 

1. The people who always manage to hurt you. 
People are people and we can (and do) all hurt others at times. But then there are some people really add little, if anything good to our lives and for the most part, only add stress and pain. The problem with this one is that the only reason that these people add pain to our lives is because they mean so much to us. They could not harm us if we didn't care and care deeply. So, the reality is that we tend to allow them to remain a part of our lives because we cannot bear the thought of them not being there. It's a catch 22. But if you have someone in your life who can’t manage to stop hurting you, it's time that you do yourself a favor and cut that person off. This is important… "Pain is only good if it teaches you a lesson." In this case, the lesson is to stop allowing others to use you as a punching bag. 

2. The people who don’t respect you. 
People who show respect deserve to be respected. That's simply how this "respect" thing works. Be we all know that we have people in our lives who seldom (if ever) show you the respect which you have given to them… it's time to kick them to the curb. Here's the thing… you have to have enough respect for yourself to never allow others to disrespect you and remain a part of your life. Forgiveness is one thing… being walked on is another.

 3. The people who use you. 
OK… let's be brutally honest here… the truth is that everyone uses everyone to some degree… and that is usually okay. I mean, the whole reason we socialize and interact with others because we find that it will benefit us in some shape or form. If we didn’t believe it would, then we wouldn’t find sufficient reason to interact with them. But we all know that there are some people in our lives who use us in ways that end up hurting us. While most people will use us and by doing so, either maintain or improve our wellbeing, there are others who are like parasites who use us and leave us worse off, sucking us dry.  It is this kind of person who we should not allow to have a place in our life. Throw them out NOW and do not drag them into 2017 and don't let them return later! 

4. The people who lie to you. 
Even though some will say they never lie, the fact is that everyone lies... at times.  For example, we pretend to remember someone, when In fact, we are clueless as to who they are and we are hoping something will jog in our memory banks as we blow smoke when the reality is we are lying and ought to simply admit we cannot remember and begin with a clean slate. These type of "lies" are generally harmless, but that all changes when the people who are lying to you are the people you trust... and you shouldn't!  Fill your life with trustworthy people and you’ll be far better off.
Find people who will speak truth to you and leave the liar in 2016 as you move forward. 

5. The people who bring more stress than usefulness. 
Contrary to popular believe, not all stress is a bad thing… in fact, it’s what you make it out to be. If you believe stress is bad for you, then it will be bad for you. But if you learn to use stress as the motivator it is, to motivate you to act, then stress can actually be a healthy part of our life. However, there is a very important rule of thumb concerning stress that we must come to terms with and hold fast to. Our goal should be that we are only stressed by situations… not by people. Here's the thing… If you have people in your life who constantly stress you out, that’s your mind telling you… trying to motivate you… to dump some weight from your life. For goodness sake, life is stressful enough on its own and none of us need people in our lives who continually multiply that stress!  

6. Two Faced People….
You know, those people who smile to your face and then talk about you behind your back. In my humble opinion, this type of person is the scum of the earth. They are untrustworthy, unfaithful cowards who don’t have the guts to speak their minds. These individuals enjoy pretending to be your friend while trashing you to the rest of the world. These people will ruin your reputation and in case you have not learned this, reputation matters! Walk away from these people and shut the door! 

7. Two faced people, part two…
These are the people who don’t care about you but pretend they do. We’ve all had people in our lives who act like our friends only when it’s convenient for them or they need something. This type person is a paradox… they can be a lot of fun to hang out with, and more than willing to accept help from you…  but when you need their help they’re miraculously nowhere to be found. These people are especially damaging to us because they give you the impression that you can lean on them for support, but when you reach for their shoulder, you fall over and hit the ground because they are nowhere to be found.

8. The people just taking up space. Everything in life is limited. Resources are limited and you had better learn... TIME is limited. What each of us can accomplish within a lifetime is limited. We can’t, and never will be able to, have it all, no matter how long we live or how hard we try. This is why you have to be very careful with not only what you choose to do, but with whom you choose to do it with. You can only maintain a handful of strong relationships at any given time. You just don’t have the time, energy or mental fortitude to handle more. Choose wisely.

If you’re filling your life with individuals who sap your time, energy, peace, joy, finances and happiness and give nothing back… you need to let them go. Simple rule of thumb… "If someone isn’t adding to your life, then, by default, they’re taking away from it." Leave them in 2016 and build a better inner circle in 2017.

28 December, 2016

And I Love You So

Today Libby and I celebrate 31 years of marriage. That's kind of hard for me to wrap my head around because in our minds we are just kids. But the calendar does not lie, and our son is now the same age that I was when we stood at the altar and pledged our lives and love to one another. It's been a great ride. People often say that we have "the perfect marriage." I say, there is no such thing as the perfect marriage. We've had our ups and downs, some struggles but overall we've had the time of our lives!
The Lord has blessed us, indeed.
No, we are not wealthy... far from it. But we are rich in other ways. We have a love that keeps us young. We have children who are of such character that any parent would be proud to call them their own, but they are ours and when I look at them, I say we are blessed. We have been blessed with so much that it would take volumes to list them all, but I just want to say, first to God, "Thank you for leading me to this woman who has so enriched my life" and secondly, to Libby, "Thank you for listening to God when he led you to marry me when you barely even knew me." People said we would not make it, but look at us now. The years have come and gone, the storms have tried their best to knock us down and tear us apart, but we've made it, and today, I call myself blessed because I've spent my life with you. You've given me so much love, joy and happiness... much more than I deserve. And the best things is... This ride is not over yet!

I'm reminded of one of my favorite songs from long ago. My life was so empty before you became a part of it.
Happy Anniversary my love!

And I love you so
People ask me how
How I've lived 'til now
I tell them I don't know
I guess they understand
How lonely life has been
But life began again
The day you took my hand 
And yes I know how lonely life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won't set me free
But I don't let the evening get me down
Now that you're around me 
And you love me too
Your thoughts are just for me
You set my spirit free
And I'm happy that you do 
The book of life is brief
And once a page is read
All but love is dead
That is my belief 
And yes I know how loveless life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won't set me free
But I don't let the evening bring me down
Now that you're around me 
And I love you so
People ask me how
How I've lived 'til now
I tell them I don't know

23 December, 2016

Letting Your Light Shine

Most everyone who knows me knows that the past year of my life has pretty much been defined by getting our church building restored after a storm in November of 2015 did massive damage to it. Thankfully, we are currently in the process of moving back into the building after being displaced for 13 months. Anyway, this past year, I have practically "lived" in Menards buying materials as we have worked on the building. I've gotten to "know" many of the employees on a casual level. So, last night I was out doing a little Christmas shopping, and one of the cashiers from Menards saw me and shouted out a greeting to me. We ended up standing in that store for more than a half hour talking. It started out as simple Christmas greetings and then took a turn as she began asking me questions. She commented about how a couple of weeks ago she witnessed another customer "lose it" and screamed obscenities at me for several minutes and she said that she was amazed that I took the abuse with a smile on my face and kept trying to defuse her anger. She asked if she could ask me a question, to which I said that it would be fine. She told me that some of the other employees had told her that I was a pastor and she wanted to know of that was true. When I told her that I was, she smiled and said, "I knew there was something different about you, but did not know what it was until now." From that, the conversation took on a much deeper tone as we discussed some issues in her life. After awhile I told her that I was going to have to go because my wife was waiting on me in another part of the mall. The last thing she said to me is something that has run over in my mind since then. She said, "You don't seem like a pastor because you are so approachable and down to earth." She spoke about seeing me come into the store in dirty clothing showing that I was working alongside the others and how I laughed and cut up with others. She said, "In my mind, that is how I see Jesus; hanging with the common folk."

I agree with her. Jesus did not walk around in $2,000 suits like he was above everyone else. In fact, when Judas brought the soldiers to the garden so they could arrest Jesus, he had to kiss him on the cheek to identify him to the soldiers. Jesus maintained his purity while walking amongst the common folk. So I encourage other Christians today, let your light shine without trying to elevate yourself above them.

22 December, 2016

Until the Flailing Stops

Right now I'm sitting back, helplessly watching someone I know systematically unravel his life over drugs. His marriage is gone, kids don't want to be around him, he's had several arrests, lost his business and is selling everything he owns for pennies on the dollar... and he can't see the problem. I'm not "judging" him... I've been there and got the scars on my life to prove where I've been. I find myself constantly wanting to reach out to him but I know that at this point it is futile. It's like something I learned years ago when I studied and became an Emergency Medical Technician/Ambulance... when a person is in the water flailing at the water, DO NOT go in there after them. If you do, they will wear you both out and both of you will drown. You have to wait until they stop fighting and flailing. And I know after more than 7 years working as a Substance Abuse Counselor and 25 years as a pastor that it is the same thing with the addict/alcoholic. You cannot rescue someone until they are ready to be rescued. All I can do is pray for him and his family at this time, but it is "killing me " to see his life go down the drain piece by piece, day by day. I pray he wakes up before it is too late.

16 December, 2016

My Stand on Profanity

I have a group on Facebook for Cardinals fans, and one of the few rules I have is that we talk civilly toward one another and that profanity is kept to a bare minimum. As I state in my rules, "dropping the 'f-bomb' is a quick ticket out of the group. I simply will not put up with it. People argue all the time that they are "adults" and "can use whatever language they choose". True... but NOT in MY group. Go somewhere else. Most of the nearly 6000 members of my group have expressed their gratitude toward me for keeping the site clean. But every now and then someone comes along who insists they have the right to challenge my rules and use foul language. That's why there are 70 something people who are blocked from my group permanently. Speak how you want... but not in my house. 
This issue came up again and the dude blocked is having a cow, messaging me and telling me that I'm a dictator, along with a lot of other names I won't repeat. For his benefit, as well as for anyone else who wants to know, I am going to share here for everyone just what my humble opinion is concerning the use of foul language. 
I believe that there is absolutely no value whatsoever in coloring your communication, whether spoken or written, with expletives. It is my opinion that the use of profanity typically boils down to an individual being guilty of having one or more of the following flaws:
  1. Lack of Intelligence: The English language offers us the choice of so many wonderful adjectives, analogies, abilities to paint word pictures and to use a variety of other descriptors, such that there is no need to substitute with expletives. The insertion of a four letter word for “emphasis” usually only points out the speaker lacks command of his/her vocabulary. Nothing flashes “stupid” like the use of profanity. Word of advice... Don’t make the mistake of appearing to be uneducated if you’re not.
  2. Laziness: We have all met bright people who swear. This usually means they either think they’re smarter than everyone else so people will put up with their use of profanity, or they have just fallen into a rut and are too lazy to work on improving their verbal communication skills. 
  3. Poor Anger Management: People who are not quick on their feet, or do not possess adequate conflict resolution skills, often revert to profanity as a safety net of sorts. If all else fails, people who fall into this category resort to attempting to intimidate the other party with the use of profanity (see # 4 below). People identified as having anger management issues typically don’t reach their full potential without learning better skills. 
  4. Insecurity: People who lack confidence in themselves and/or their abilities often try to bolster other people’s perception of them by using off-color language as an attempt to feign strength and power. Here’s a tip…it doesn’t work. Profanity won’t intimidate anyone (at least not any worthy opponent), and will likely only lessen your image with the audience you are so desperately trying to impress.
  5. Socially Inappropriate Behavior: The show-off, ego-maniac, substance abuser, the female trying to be “one of the boys” or the wannabe comedian are all examples of socially inappropriate behavior, which often times results in the use of profanity. Nobody likes a show-off, substance abuse is never a good thing, most people don’t find it appealing to associate with women who curse like the proverbial drunken sailor, and inappropriate jokes are more likely to get you a sexual harassment charge than a laugh. Even if you do elicit a brief chuckle from your audience, they will likely not be left with the impression you were hoping for. Here’s a clue for you: “when in doubt, remember vulgarity doesn’t add value.”
Bottom line…few things make an impact, or lack thereof, like the words you allow to flow from your lips. 
Regardless of your station in life, vocabulary absolutely matters… It matters to an even greater degree for those who desire to influence others or be in a position of leadership. 

15 December, 2016

Who Wants to Be A Blessing

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing." (Gen. 12:1,2 KJV).

It is important for each of us to realize that as a child of God, we are part of the covenant of Abraham. It is God's will to bless His children. But, many people miss that an important condition to the blessing promised to Abraham was that he would not only be blessed but that he also would be a blessing to others. We are not blessed to hoard those blessings to ourselves. Rather, we are blessed so that we can take those blessings and in turn bless others. 

Today I was thinking about the final days of 2016 winding down and the New Year is just around the corner. As I thought about the new year and goals that I would like to meet, I immediately remembered a message I had preached several years ago titled "Blessed to Be A Blessing." In that sermon, I spoke on the idea of being a blessing to others and that we should ask God to make us a blessing every day.  I really believe that if we would shift our focus away from receiving blessings and focus on blessing others it would change our lives completely.  So, I came up with the following idea, and I want to invite others to join me. I am committing to praying every day of 2017 and asking God to make me a blessing to someone that day. I am asking God to help me to be so tuned into the Holy Spirit that I would hear his voice when he prompts and directs me to be a blessing to anyone, anywhere. I'm praying that God will show me ways in each and every day just how I can make a difference in people's lives. Whether it is a simple word of encouragement, helping someone do work they cannot do for themselves or some material blessing as the Lord provides, I just want to be used of God to be a blessing to others. It is my goal to bless more people this coming year than ever before. I have often said from the pulpit that if God can get it through you, He will get it to you.  So I am asking God to bless me, not so that I can buy a new car, a bigger house or big screen TV, but so that I can bless others and they will know that God loves and cares for them.

I am praying that God lays it upon the reader's heart to walk the journey with me in 2017. I'm praying that there will be others who will walk through doors that they have never walked through before so that you can be a blessing to someone. You will never know what kind of a blessing you are to someone just by saying or doing the simplest things that God lays on your heart to say and/or do for people. You see, it does not have to be something costly or elaborate to bless someone. Sometimes it is in the small things that we do that touch people on the deepest level. I pray others will join me, but if not, I'm asking that some will simply support me in prayer as I try to walk this out in 2017.

10 December, 2016

Hoping this Helps

So what is a borderline personality like it like? This is written by a man who was married for 10 years to a woman who was a BPD. This was the wife, but it can be the husband as well...
  • Seductive, but no true identity. She was sexy and extraordinarily seductive. But borderlines have no core personality, so they "adopt" your personality. At first, you think you've found your soul mate, someone who truly understands you, your needs, your desires. The reality is that they are chameleons, simply reflecting back to you your own desires. Then the illusion crumbles, and you realize the emptiness at the core of the borderline. Psychiatrists call this an identity disturbance.
  • Manipulative. Borderlines are among the most manipulative individuals ever.
  • Sociopathic. A borderline can and will lie whenever the lie suits their purpose, without regard for who they hurt. Borderlines make the absolute best con-men/con-women. They make great time-share sales people. They do not care who they take advantage of, or who they hurt. They completely lack any sense of ethics or moral compass. In a courtroom, their ability to lie with impunity gives them incredible credibility, and the only way to fight them is to demonstrate the inconsistencies in their testimony.
  • Emotionally crippled. Many borderlines stopped developing emotionally at an early age, sometimes as early as three or four years of age. The age at which their emotional development halted usually correlates with significant physical or sexual abuse occurring at that time.
  • Explosive. Psychiatrists refer to this as emotional lability. You are constantly walking on eggshells around the borderline, afraid that the slightest misstep, the slightest wrong word, will set off a full-blown adult screaming tantrum. This doesn't happen early in the relationship when you are being drawn in by the seductiveness of their siren call. But once you are hooked, watch out.
  • Splitting. The borderline sees only black and white, and no shades of gray, with respect to the person closest to them being good or bad. I was alternately worshiped as the answer to all her dreams, or vilified as the devil incarnate.
  • Fear of abandonment. "I hate you; don't leave me". Borderlines live in a constant fear of abandonment. If you do leave them, they are likely to harm themselves, then call the police and report that you tried to kill them. She told me she would kill herself if I left her. When I told her I wanted a divorce, she started a meticulous plot, with her attorney, to have me arrested for domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to involve CPS early in our marriage, at a time when I realized she was becoming a danger to our child.
  • Projection. A borderline will project their inadequacies, their dysfunction, onto you, making you the bad guy.
  • Short, intense, unstable relationships. Early in their life, borderlines are rarely able to maintain intimate relationships. Before she met me, she had no relationships longer than six months. One of the signs I should have noted was that she could not say a single good thing about any of the men she had been in relationships with.
  • Sense of entitlement. Borderlines have an extraordinary sense of entitlement as if the world owes them something, and that they don't have to earn their place in the world.
  • Bizarre, paranoid delusions. Most people know of individuals who buy into all sorts of conspiracy theories, like the Obama birthers. But her paranoia, her delusions of persecution, were way beyond the limits of normal.

08 December, 2016

When All Is Said and Done

When all is said and done, what will be remembered of your life? I had one of the saddest conversations this evening with someone who was talking about a loved one who had died a few months ago. I made a comment about the person had been so faithful to their church and had been so good to so many people. I was stunned when she said, "he put on a good act in public, but I saw him in private and how he really lived." The spoke about several things in his life which, let's just say, would not reflect the life of a Christian. I attempted to defend him by saying that I'd never seen any of that type behavior or attitude and she said that what mattered was that God saw the real man too and that this why she did not attend church because she'd seen too much hypocrisy and that she figured no one really believed what they said they did.  After the conversation ended, I found myself wondering, "how do people really see me?" I have to ask if my actions and daily life align themselves with what I say I believe and preach. I know that some people will always be critical, but the fact remains that the old saying is true, "actions speak louder than words." Time to do some serious soul searching as I wonder, when all is said in done.... what will people have to say about me? 

04 December, 2016

Signs of Spiritual Famine

Signs of Famine

2 Kings 6:24- 7:5

The king of Syria had "besieged" Samaria. Cut them off. There was nothing going into Samaria, nor coming out.
This lead to a famine that overtook the land.

When Satan sets a besiege against us and our church, it is not a frontal assault, but he has set up camp around us, to cut us off. This speaks of separating you from your source, where things start drying up. It stops both the inflow and the outflow.There is nothing flowing in or out. The Holy Spirit is not getting in, there is no ministry going out. This leads to a spiritual famine. 

There are signs, indications of famine in the natural that parallel in the spiritual realm.

In this story, the famine was so great that they began to sell and eat unthinkable items. 

One was a donkey’s head, which sold for 80 pieces of silver. 
The donkey is a stubborn animal, and they were eating a donkey’s head. One of the things that people develop in times of spiritual deprivation and famine is a stubborn mentality.
In fact, as was the case here, that’s what they were feasting on. 
But, it always costs you when you have a stubborn mentality.
One of the worst things that could possibly happen is for you to develop a spirit of stubbornness. 

The second sign is seen in their selling, buying and eating doves dung. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Dove's dung is not where the dove is, but where the dove WAS.
A sign of spiritual famine is people seeking dove's dung... where the Holy Spirit WAS, not where he is. Always looking backward... looking at the past, instead of seeking to be where the Holy Spirit is moving today. Living off of yesterday's blessing or move of God.

The third sign of famine is seen when the king is walking on the wall and a woman cries out for help. She and her neighbor made a pact in which they would eat one another's children. They had eaten this woman's child already and now her neighbor had hidden her son.
The kings response was: " If the Lord do not help you, how can I help you?" 
What I see here is that when there is a spiritual famine, there is a sense of desperation that leaves those in leadership feeling helpless.
How many church leaders and pastors do we see discouraged and quitting because the inflow of life has been cut off, leaving them stressed and depressed with a feeling of helplessness? 

Another aspect seen here is that in times of famine, "spiritual cannibalism." People begin to chew on one another, to devour them.

Yet another aspect is seen in the covenant between these two women. They promised to work together to survive, to provide for one another. Yet, one was willing to eat her neighbors son, but not to give up her own.
When there is spiritual famine, people want YOU to be responsible, but THEY ARE NOT WILLING. They want others to get the out of the mess, but they are not willing to do their part. 
This is a huge sign of famine in the church today.
They want you to give, to work, to sacrifice... but they are unwilling to do their part to bring the famine to an end.

They will vote "yes" to certain activities, but they will back out.
They want you (or others) to do, what they themselves are not willing to do. 

The last sign is seen in chapter 7, verse 2.
When the man of God says that the famine would end tomorrow... the kings right hand man said, "even if the windows of heaven were to open, this thing you speak could not happen."

This speaks of the unbelief that God's people have.
One of the most troubling things I see in this passage is that in the famine, it is not recorded that one person sought God. Not one prayer is offered. No one calls for a prayer meeting or a fast. The people were content to live in the condition of famine.

How often we see this in the church today! When an individual or a church are in a state of spiritual famine, they become inward focused... concerned with self, our church, not others... there is no outflow of what has been given to us. No ministry!
And when we become inward focused, we become upset with God because we don't see him moving... but God is still moving... we just cannot see it because we are focusing on "our house" and not looking outwardly. Notice in this story, the move of God, the provision was taking place outside the city gates... in the camp of the enemy!

This speaks clearly to me that to get out of the spirit of famine, we must get outside of ourselves and reach beyond our walls! God is already working out the answer, the deliverance... but it will become ours when we believe enough to leave our camp and go into the camp of the enemy!