The Mask

I have shared this before, but as I continue to watch the lives of hurting people, it is more relevant today than ever. Most of us have a mask we wear. Hiding what is really lying on the inside of our hearts. To be free, we must remove the mask and the only way we can be free is through Jesus Christ. He heals what is behind the masks we wear.

I read this poem on Sunday. I pray it ministers to you today and causes you to think. Let Jesus have all the pain you are carrying on the inside. Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.

The Mask
Please don’t ask
What’s behind the veil
No one can really tell

What am I hiding?
Why am I crying?
What is it that I cannot tell?
The Mask
Please don’t ask

What I am covering up?
Why I have had enough
Enough of the pain
Why is it always the same?
My sin holds me down
In it I am going to drown

The Mask
Since you had to ask
Shows me all smile
When behind it all the while
Is my hurt, my toil, my shame
On the inside is nothing but pain

The Mask
Please don’t ask
I can’t take it off
It’s all my fault
I drowned my pain with sin
I can’t get free within
The Mask

The Mask
It only hides the void in my soul
I need someone else to take control
Is there a savior? is there a God?
Who on my soul will not trod?
But take my pain, take my hurt
Take my sin and give me some worth

The Mask
Jesus I ask
Take my life, take all of me
Heal my pain so I can finally see
This person behind the mask

-Danny Cheney-


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Hungry For God

When I have a little free time in the office, I generally take a look back at some things that have impacted my life.  Years ago, my grandfather was in ministry and carried a loose-leaf Bible with sermon notes inside of it.  I enjoy reading through these notes to see if I can glean anything from his words of wisdom.

In his sermon on a passage in Ezekiel, he made an insightful statement that cut me to the heart.  “Remember, if you are hungry, you are healthy.  Hunger is a sign of health and if you have no hunger for God, you are sick.  May God create in us an appetite which only Jesus can satisfy. Down, Christian, down on your knees, if you want the blessing that God will give to you.”

Are you hungry for God?  If you are not hungry your spiritual life is sick.  The only remedy for hunger is to take the path to blessing.  On our knees is the place to find hunger.  On our knees is the place to have our hunger satisfied.

In this life we have so many things competing for our affections. It is hard to keep our hearts hungry for more of God.  If you find yourself in a place where you are not hungry for Him, you need healing from your spiritual sickness.  God will place in you a hunger if you will only ask Him.  May we hunger for the Bread of Life!


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Patient In All Seasons

Your love is patient beyond all reason
Ever merciful regardless of the season

In Spring’s glory when the flowers begin to bloom
In the essence of its beauty, I oft forget you

 In summers fun where we busy our day
I pass you by with little to say

Then when fall comes, the trees beginning to bare
I finally call, weighed down with a load of care

 In winter times when my doubts do assail
At last, in hopelessness, I seem to fail

Through life’s seasons whether good or bad
Your patience endures, in mourning you make me glad

 How can you love me with such patient love?
Its origin can only be from above

It is your patience for me that gives me strength
That I can lean on you especially when I am weak

 But when I am strong, humble me to always remember
Your patience is from the spring and lasts through the winter
-Danny Cheney-


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Prayer Through The Winter Seasons

DISCLAIMER: This is a lengthy article. Since, we are not having church because of the weather, I thought I would share what was on my heart for our message tonight.

Monday, we drove out to the Buffalo River area and gazed at the beauty of God’s creation. The rising bluffs that create a marvelous backdrop for the Buffalo River. The water was flowing freely, and the rapids were rushing, not turbulently, but at least steadily. I love this area of Arkansas. Truly, it is a gift from our Creator.

Sonya and I have frequented this area many times. In all four seasons, yet it is in winter that you notice the lack of life. The trees look dead. The leaves have fallen, the grass is brown, and apart from a smattering of evergreens, there is little color in the wintertime.

One thing we must remember, however, is that even though it looks lifeless, it doesn’t mean it’s dead. The trees are very much alive even though there are no leaves on their limbs. Winter, in itself, holds its own beauty. But one oft overlooked blessing in the cold season is that you can see things you never saw when the trees were teeming with life. With the tress full of leaves, you cannot see at a distance. The view is blocked. Therefore, the winter season produces a greater vision than the summertime.

In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is walking through a winter season of his life. He is missing the house of worship, being around God’s people, and we even catch a glimpse of his thought that perhaps God is absent during these moments. Things had changed drastically in his life. So much so that he reveals his heart is breaking because he misses the times of singing for joy and relishing the celebration.

The Psalmist then begins to question, “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Have you been there before? Walked through a winter season of depression?

Our tendency in those seasons is to focus on the gloom of the winter. No sign of life. Things look and feel dead or at least, as if the presence of God has escaped us. This is when the Psalmist changes his perspective. Why am I discouraged and feel so sad? Yet, I will hope in God! I will praise Him again! He is no longer looking at the lifeless winter, but the God who is full of life. When our season feels like a long winter, we have to change the way we see things. We have to look up, rather than around.

In verse 8, the writer gives us the greatest shot of hope while also giving us instruction.

“But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.”
-Psalm 42:8 NLT-

The Psalmist shows us that God is always pouring His unfailing love on us. This gives us a reason for living. But here comes our response to that unfailing love. It should cause us to have a song in our heart. “Through each night I sing His songs.” When we are embraced by the unfailing love of God, we should have a song. It gives us a reason to sing.

Our next instruction tells us that if we are in winter and lack life, we need to pray to God. “Praying to God who gives me life.” Life comes when we are connected to Him in prayer. In Psalm 43:4 it tells us that we should build our altar to God, who is our source of joy. These verses remind us of the power of prayer to get us through the gloomy season.

As I was thinking on these verses, it sparked a way that we need to pray when we need life. I’m not talking about our next breath, but rather life in our soul, spiritual life. If that is what you need, try patterning your prayer this way:

LISTEN TO GOD

Psalm 46:10 tells us to “be still and know that He is God…” We must slow down our lives long enough to listen to His voice. Listening for Him to calm us, lead us, and draw us to Him.

In his book, Getting Your Life Back, John Eldredge writes about the One Minute Pause. Taking just 60 seconds to stop, breathe, and listen to Him. During the One Minute Pause, Eldredge says it is a time to release to God whatever is weighing us down. He gives a couple of questions to ask that will help us focus during these 60 seconds. Simply, ask and listen.

1. What do I need to let go of? (What is weighing me down?)

Pause and give it to God. Let it go.

2.  What do I need from God today?

Pause and ask Him for it.

Eldredge encourages everyone to do this multiple times throughout the day. I challenge you to make this a part of your daily life.

INTERCEDE FOR OTHERS

Nothing helps us take the focus off of our own situations like praying for others who are in need. The Bible is emphatic about our need to “stand in the gap” for others. (Ezekiel 22:30, I Timothy 2:1-2, Matthew 5:44, Ephesians 6:18)

If you have trouble finding things to pray about, just take this summary from the verses mentioned above.

  • The nation and our leaders
  • Other believers 
  • Family and Friends
  • People who are going through hardship
  • Our enemies

There are needs all around us, and the way to breathe life into your winter season is to focus on the needs of others. If you focus on their needs, it will help you to not be glued to all the troubles you are walking through.

FOR YOURSELF

The Bible does tell us that we are to pray for ourselves. It is not unselfish. We are instructed to pray for our own needs.

  • “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7 NLT)
  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”  (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
  • “Commit your future to the Lord.” (Psalm 37:5 NET)

The word commit in Psalm 37:5 carries the idea of rolling your burden onto the Lord. It pictures a camel loaded down with cargo, kneeling down, and rolling to its side to unload its weight. This means that we are literally to roll our burdens off on to God. We do this by praying for our own needs.

EXALT THE LORD

Remember, the Psalmist in Psalm 42:8 said that he sang songs throughout the night. We are also told in other places that we are to exalt the Lord. It is during our time of prayer that we should take time to worship the Lord for who He is and give thanks for what He has done. The Apostle Paul connected letting our requests being made known to God and giving thanks. When we are thankful for what He has done, it helps us have faith for things He hasn’t down yet.

Friends, I encourage you to build an altar and pray to the God who gives us life.

Listen to God
Intercede for others
For Yourself
Exalt the Lord.

When you do these things, you will find clarity and spiritual life even in your winter seasons.


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Resolutions That Should Never Expire

Of course, it is the first day of 2022 and I know we are all thinking about the resolutions we should be making for the new year. I believe, however, that resolutions are outdated, and we would be better off forming new habits.

I have always heard it said, “New Year, New You”, but honestly, you are the only you that you will ever have. My goal should not be a new me, but a better me. In studying for my first sermon of 2022, I came across a list of perpetual new year’s resolutions that will make all of us better people. To be frank, these are not a pick and choose list of resolutions. Every one of these should be a must in our lives. No options. Our world would be a better place if we all would all just follow these ideas for a better you, and a better me.

PERPETUAL NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge and replace it with some pleasant memories.

Vow not to make a promise you don’t think you can keep.

Give a soft answer.

Free yourself of envy and malice.

Make a geniuine effort to stay in closer touch with family and good friends.

Resolve to stop magnifying small problems and shooting from the lip. Words that you have to eat can be hard to digest.

Find the time to be kind and thoughful. All of us have the same allotment: 24 hours a day.

Give a compliment. It might give someone a badly needed lift.

Think things through.

Listen more.

Apologize when you realize you are wrong. An apology never diminishes a person. It elevates him.

Try to understand a point of view that is different from your own. Few things are 100 percent one way or another.

Lighten up. When you feel like blowing your top, ask yourself, “Will it matter in a week from today?”.

Avoid malcontents and pessimists. They drag you down and contribute nothing.

Don’t discourage a beginner from trying something risky. Nothing ventured means nothing gained.

Walk tall, and smile more. You’ll look 10 years younger.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I love you”. Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.

(SOURCE: Ann Landers, as quoted on Pastors.com, http://www.cse.fau.edu/~mahesh/quotes/newyear.html.)

There you have it. Let’s all make the world a better place in 2022. HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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POEM – The Glory of God

This week, I finished the book, The Garden of God by Andrew Peterson. It was a great read on trees, of all things, and the lessons that they teach us. It was a book that caused me to think, as the author related the life of the trees and how they are all the Garden of God. I wrote this after finishing the book.


On the inside, something I have missed
Not noticing on earth, God’s glorious kiss

In my heart, yearning for so much more
Eden’s garden, near Heaven’s shore

All too often, I overlook the glory of God
Along the path of life, everywhere foot does trod

It is evident that He is everywhere
Yet life goes on, as if we do not care

Perhaps the busyness, makes us look past
All the creation, God has graced us with

The water flowing and falls many feet below
It runs so much more, after winter’s snow

Though winter is long and the cold is blight
Though our sins are as scarlet, He does make them white

Winter gives way to spring when it all shall bud again
Flowers bloom, the grass will grow, when we get spring’s rain

Why do I miss the forest in the midst of all the trees?
But in the thicket, I feel the Spirit’s gentle breeze.

God is present and in all things good.
I cannot help but be grateful, like I always should.

-Danny Cheney-


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The Mirror

I am pretty sure that most of you who are reading this, have looked in a mirror today. Perhaps to fix your hair, shave, or make sure you look presentable before leaving the house. After all, one of the habits the majority of people have, is looking into the mirror daily.

Just think of where we would be, if we never looked in the mirror. Disheveled hair, overgrown or unmaintained facial hair, a lack of make up for the ladies, or even makeup that doesn’t look right, because who can put on makeup without a mirror? A mirror is important to our lives as it has been for centuries.

A mirror in our bathroom is a habit, but it shouldn’t be our only mirror. In fact, the most important mirror for our lives which should be a daily habit for us, is the Word of God. The Bible is a mirror that we gaze into in order to see how we need to clean up, fix up, or change our heart and lives.

Paul told Timothy that the Word of God corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right (2 Timothy 3:16). In essence, Paul is saying that the Scriptures are a mirror to show us how to live. This is a thought that I have been mulling over for quite some time. I have a daily habit of reading the Bible. It is one of the first things I do in the morning, but if I only read it and never look into it as a mirror, it will not have an effect on my life.

Over the last couple of months, I have been seeking to change my approach to the Word of God from just reading to actually seeking, even more, to allow it to change me in areas I need some work on. I read a chapter of Proverbs every day meaning I read through the book 12 times a year. Believe me, the more I read it, the more I see the things I need to change. One day, I will learn to get my tongue, among other things, under control. 🙂

There are two passages of Scripture that are my starting point. These places in the Bible are the mirror I gaze into that helps me see the many things I need to work on. The first one is a mirror to see how I am loving. Beginning with my wife, then my children, then to everyone else. Looking in this mirror daily helps me keep a constant check on my heart.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wrongedIt does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (I Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT)

Go through each of these traits of love every day and it will give you something to work on.

I also look at the Beatitudes to help me check my attitude. I like the way the AMPLIFIED BIBLE words this passage in Matthew 5. It gives a little more clarity to the things that Jesus challenges us to make a part of our lives. Again, these things are a mirror for us to see how we are doing spiritually.

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted]. “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God. “Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God. 10 “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

If you are like me, there are some of these things that we need to work on. Check this list daily.

I believe every Christian needs to keep a regular tab on their hearts. The only way we can make sure we are living the way Christ intended is by using the Bible as our mirror. Solomon said that we need to guard our hearts, for it is the well spring of life (Proverbs 4). The Psalmist showed us the way that we can guard our hearts; searching it. Search your hearts and see if their is any unpleasing way in there (Psalm 139:23-24). You can start searching by looking in the mirror.


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Is This My Fate?

This morning, I was reading, once again, in the book of Psalms. If you know me, this is my go-to book. I write often from the Psalms. I have preached over a hundred times from the Psalms. It is a book that is raw, honest, yet hopeful. In so many of the Psalms I have seen myself and the words have spoken to me at the very moment I needed them the most. There are other times that I have been talking to someone and they ask questions just like the Psalmist did. I am a firm believer that it is okay to ask God questions. He knows what is in our hearts anyway.

As I was reading this morning, Psalm 77 really spoke to my heart. I thought of the many people who have been walking through challenging seasons and some who are even on the brink of giving up. The Psalmist brings hope to us when we face these situations.

You don’t let me sleep.
    I am too distressed even to pray!
I think of the good old days,
    long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
    I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
    Will he never again be kind to me?
Is his unfailing love gone forever?
    Have his promises permanently failed?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude

10 And I said, “This is my fate;
    the Most High has turned his hand against me.” (Psalm 77:4-10 NLT)

The writer is looking back on the good days and how they appear to be a distant in the rear-view mirror. He is writing from a place of feeling forgotten, unloved, rejected. The wording of this Psalm reveals that they perceive everything that is happening is done with a harshness. He uses words like “permanent”, or phrases like “slammed the door”. You can sense the emotion of this whole passage, especially when the writer resigns to the place that we all get at one time or another. This must be my fate in life.

Have you ever felt that way? Things are always going wrong and nothing turns out right. “It must be my fate in life!” Many have even taken it a step further; “God has turned His back on me.” But nothing could be farther from the truth. Certainly, God has not turned His back on you, nor is it your fate to live a life in the mullygrubs. God has more for you than the current season you find yourself in. This is why the next part of the passage is so powerful.

In the midst of asking questions and feeling forsaken, the Psalmist stops to reconsider.

11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. (Psalm 77:11-12 NLT)

His mind shifts from thinking of being forgotten to remembering how God had done wonderful things in the past. The Psalmist shifts his thinking from the present situation to seeing what God did before. Now, the writer’s thoughts are consumed by the mighty works of God. He cannot stop thinking of them.

This is important for our lives. Remembering what God did before gives you faith to get through your situation and to see a breakthrough in your future. God’s blessings in the past guarantee that He will see you through to another blessing in the future. You just have to hang on and keep going until you see Him move.

Do not allow your thoughts to be consumed with the present crisis or situation. But let God’s great works be constantly on your mind. Consume your thoughts with the goodness of God and His great provision.


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