Throwing Stones

We are so quick to judge and condemn! Actual stoning might not be practiced or legal anymore – except under Islamic law – but the verbal stones we throw are just as deadly. Most recently, the young artist Lauren Daigle has been harshly criticized for her response to the question “do you feel that homosexuality is a sin?” in a radio interview with Domenick Nati. I have great respect for her answer, and I love that she ends the comment with “I’m learning too.” Here is her full response:

“I can’t honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God. So when people ask questions like that…that’s what my go to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out let me know, because I’m learning too.” (Emphasis mine) I identify with her answers. I can’t say that I love that someone is a homosexual, but I can certainly love the person. When you read Lauren’s statement, she is encouraging the questioner(s) to study GOD’s Word and discover the Truth for themselves! Isn’t that what we all should be doing? Why do we start throwing stones, instead of encouraging another Christ-follower in her walk with the SAVIOUR? If she is on going on talk shows and sharing her faith with the non-Christian world, who are we to criticize? Why are we so anxious to negate her testimony?

“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” ” – John 8:7 NASB

When I hear that statement from my LORD, my hands immediately drop the “stones” I’m gripping. I find myself praying for Lauren Daigle in her walk of sharing JESUS with the world. Christian artists are hit by the same temptations that we are – even more than us, because they are such a prominent target for the enemy. Just like any other man, woman, or child, they can slip. It doesnt mean they don’t love the LORD; it just means they are human. If something that we consider inappropriate speech happens, or in our eyes they don’t stand firmly enough, are we, you and I, worthy of passing judgement? Better read John 8:7 again, and consider our own lives before grabbing that stone. In fact, take that pile of stones you have stockpiled and turn it into gravel, then spread it out to make their path a little smoother.

I am not worthy of judging anyone, based on my life. I still do, but lately I find myself dropping more rocks than I throw. I personally have been judged and found guilty by man. The first time I shared my testimony in front of a large recovery group, I was approached by someone who had known my sister for years, and whom I had known for about 6 months. He knew about “that sister,” the one who was fallen and broken ….. but he didn’t know that I was that sister. He had judged – harshly – the person he knew only because of the prayers and his friendship of my family. He was shocked to be introduced to the before sister, and trying to reconcile it with the present sister. When you meet someone new, they only see the now. Would they be shocked at finding out who you were before you surrendered to the LORD?

Sometimes, actually too often, I find myself judging someone without knowing them. We are all flawed, broken, and undeserving of GOD’s Love, yet He still freely offers that unconditional LOVE to us. The only difference – the only difference between me and the rankest, darkest sinner is that I have asked for and received the forgiveness of my LORD JESUS. I still deserve too be stoned to death, but He reached out and washed away all my sins with His Blood sacrifice. How can I judge anyone else? We are not perfect, and instead of condemning the talk or behavior of a missionary to the world, perhaps we should do as Lauren Daigle says and read the Bible. Admit that we aren’t GOD (Thank You, JESUS, for showing me that Truth!) Spend time in prayer for that person. Christians have no need for trash talk!

Go out into the world, Lauren Daigle, and continue to spread the LOVE of our LORD JESUS CHRIST to the world. Praying for you, sister!

Photo credit: https://texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/images/ap15.html

Can’t We Be HONEST With Each Other?

I have discovered that there are people close to me who gossip about me behind my back. Knowing the tendency of all humans to gossip it probably shouldn’t surprise me, but it struck me – hard – right in the heart to find this out. These people believe that my joblessness over the past few years is because I haven’t looked or wanted to work. They consider me a freeloader and a complainer, but haven’t been honest with me about their feelings. Ouch. I would rather have a person for a friend who gives me their honest opinion, and who doesn’t gossip about me to others. How do you feel about this?

As I contemplate this, I sincerely apologize for using this blog and my friends to complain. That was not my intent! I confess to using friends and family as a sounding board; to bounce my concerns and prayers to help me in my decision making about relationships, job opportunities, and life in general. Their – and your – thoughts and opinions matter to me. Why is it so often after the fact that people tell us we made a poor – or a bad – decision? Should we have to plead with our confidante to be honest with us?

“And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” ” – Luke 24:25 NASB

We are, indeed, foolish men* who are slow to listen and believe! (*The fundamental ‘man’ consists of both male and female, man and woman, as humankind.) Betrayal comes in all forms and from all sides …… except from Above. The only One in all of the heavens and on all earth Who will not betray us, in word or deed, is our LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS, the CHRIST. He will never betray us or lie to us. Remember, a lie of omission is still a lie.

We listen to our friends and family before we listen to GOD and His Prophets, who wrote GOD’s Words of instruction and guidance into the book we call the Bible. It’s no wonder JESUS calls us “foolish men!” If I want to complain, I should probably turn to JESUS in prayer. I can let Him know how I really feel, and He won’t judge me! Sometimes we need a human face in front of us that we can vent to, but we need to know that that person is safe. No repeating, no gossip. Do you have that safe person in your life; are you that safe person for someone?

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He Who searches the hearts knows what the Mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the Will of God.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NASB

He protects us, He intercedes for us, He will never betray us,
He will always be honest with us. Thank you, JESUS!

Even our closest and best friends and family don’t know…..

#NOT_Entitled

“And [JESUS] said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” ” – Luke 22:35‭ ( also read v. 36) ESV

“Places in the Heart,” a 1984 movie with Sally Fields, Danny Glover, and John Malcovich was on last night. It was my first time to view it, and I found it to be poignant and moving; a story of suffering, strength, and overcoming. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. Set in 1938 rural Texas, a homeless man and a blind man set out to help a recently widowed Mrs. Spaulding (Sally Fields) save her farm. Moses (Danny Glover) showed up on her doorstep without anything (“no moneybag or knapsack or sandals”) – but he was willing to do whatever needed to be done. The blind man, Will (John Malcovich), had been put out by his well-to-do brother-in-law and had very little with him, yet he was also helping however he could. Mrs. Spaulding’s sister was betrayed by her husband’s infidelity, and Moses was brutally beaten by the Ku Klux Klan (self-professed Christians and deacons of the church in the movie).

Moses, Will, and the sister are great examples of the way we should be reaching out to those in need around us. The last scene in the movie is a church service where the preacher reads 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love passage.”

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭, ‬4‭-‬7 NASB

Although it didn’t excuse the bad behavior of those pious, so-called Christian men against a widow, a black man, a blind man, and a wife, you could see the guilt on their faces; the shame and embarrassment for their actions. They thought they were entitled to their behavior because of the color of their skin and their social status. No matter the skin color, from whitest white to blackest black and every shade in between, discrimination and judgement are far too common among us. Example: I am discriminated against because I am a divorced, radically conservative, Christ-following white woman …… I could join the marches, screaming obscenities (or wearing obscene hats), but I won’t, because to me, it appears that the most vocal, most discriminatory, and most judgemental are the most entitled. (Yes, I’m judging, but look for yourself at the designer clothes, expensive hairdos and manicures, and the cars they drive….. )

As a Christian, a Christ-follower, it is expected of me (of us!) to show the LOVE and the Mercy and the Grace that I (we) have received. Not expected by the world, but expected by our SAVIOUR. I confess, I struggle with it! My faith is tested whenever I know I need to step out of my comfort zones. To literally let go of every material thing, and to embrace what JESUS said …… where is my faith? Letting go – not so much, but holding on? Now, that I’m good at!

Remember the two criminals being crucified with our CHRIST? One was mocking JESUS and rebuking Him, telling Him to save them all from the death they were facing. The other criminal replied to the first with these words – and we are that other criminal: “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” ….. #NOT_entitled, but Forgiven ….. Hear what JESUS said! “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” ( – Luke 23:41‭-‬43 NASB)

Lauren Wells sings “Fully known and Loved by You….. ” Listen!

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ” for Your sake we are being put to death all day long ; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35‭-‬37 NASB

From Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

God having manifested his love in giving his own Son for us, can we think that any thing should turn aside or do away that love? Troubles neither cause nor show any abatement of his love. Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough. All other hazards signify nothing. Alas, poor sinners! though you abound with the possessions of this world, what vain things are they! Can you say of any of them, Who shall separate us? You may be removed from pleasant dwellings, and friends, and estates. …… the soul that is in Christ, when other things are pulled away, cleaves to Christ, and these separations pain him not. Yea, when death comes, that breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it carries the believer’s soul into the nearest union with its beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him for ever.

Well said, Mr. Henry. (And nope, not a relation 😉 )

Follower of Christ, Lover of those who don’t know JESUS – the unlovable, picking up my sword to follow Him; deserving the absolute worst and receiving, instead, unmatched, unimaginable Love and an eternity with Him ….. that’s my goal. What’s yours?

Image from:

https://www.heartlight.org/articles/201305/20130527_feetofjesus.html

Misled; Sleeping From Sorrow

Oh, come worship with me! The radio is playing Christmas songs interspersed with gospel and contemporary Christian songs – Living Hope, All Is Well, Carol of the Bells, Chain Breaker ….. How can we not worship the SAVIOUR?

JESUS spoke to those gathered around Him, “And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My Name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.” ….. Later, when He arrived at the Mount of Olives, He said to the three Apostles who had accompanied Him, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “FATHER, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Luke 21:8; 22:40‭-‬43‭, ‬45‭-‬46 NASB

Misled, lied to, misrepresented. We have all experienced these things, just as JESUS was. Authority figures; politicians, mislead and lie to us constantly, and that is a sorry fact. Worse, though, are those people who claim to represent the Promise of the Messiah; to be the fulfillment of GOD’s Word. They make it all sound so good and true, and we are often duped by it all. How depressing! When we can’t trust the people who lead us, who then can we believe? Test them. As Paul said: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good …..” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21 NASB

We bow our heads to pray, and fall asleep from the exhaustion of trying to discern Truth. Let the Holy Spirit guide our words. Scripture tells that even when we don’t have words, He will carry our groans to the FATHER OF ALL and translate for us. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the Will of GOD.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NASB

Sometimes I feel like I am sleeping more than I am praying, but ‘sleeping’ can mean more than closing our eyes and being in an unconscious or less than conscious state. Metaphorically, it refers to our hearts, and how we become unresponsive to the LORD and His prompting. In forgetting to pray, we are allowing ourselves to be drawn into temptation and sin. One way to pray is to listen to Christian music. It doesn’t matter if it is old time gospel, hymns, Praise and Worship, rap, contemporary, pop, or bluesy and rockin’. By hearing the Message in the songs, our spirits are put into a better alignment with the LORD. Reading and studying His Word is also a way to pray. Singing – making a joyful noise – is a beautiful conduit to GOD’s ears. “Joy to the world, the LORD has come, the SAVIOUR reigns!”

LORD, we pray for Your discernment in showing us False Prophets and teachers. We ask for the strength only You can provide to keep us emotionally and spiritually awake. In JESUS’ Name, we pray that we will not be misled and that we will not sleep the sleep of sorrow. I love this Truth that Hillsong sings, “In my Father’s House, there’s a place for me; I’m a child of GOD …..” AMEN.

http://www.graspinggod.com/jesus-praying-in-the-garden.html

Just as I am

I am reasonably intelligent, and I believe I have at least a bit of common sense, yet I still tend towards depending on me and not GOD. I’ve been blogging a lot lately about my frustration and irritation; my fears and doubts arising from the major changes going on in my life. Yesterday, late afternoon, I received a call from my realtor that closing has been postponed for 7 days due to issues with the buyer’s financing. Keep in mind that by that point, in preparation for the movers, everything except a picnic basket, toaster oven, and French press for my coffee (an essential!!) – AND all my clothes, except 2 changes (I was moving today!) was packed and sealed in boxes.

Sad, broken hearted, sorrow; definitely a dark spot on my heart!

“Come out of sadness wherever you are, Come broken hearted let healing begin ….. Earth has no sorrow Heaven can’t heal …. Come as you are ……” by Crowder, on the album Neon Steeple.

Just as I am. Just as you are.

Are you stumbling over presumptions on the way to a better relationship with Jesus? What simple truth in your life have you made so complex that you can’t see God anymore? Are you not good enough? Need to straighten out your life first? Sins too great and too black; too broken for healing? Too much anger? Presumptions, every one – False presumptions that are fostered by the enemy to keep us away from the healing Mercy and Grace of the LORD!

“Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy Blood was shed for me ….. Waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot …… With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fighting and fear within without ….. O Lamb of GOD I come!” (Written by Charlotte Elliott and published in 1849, this is a hymn that has been sung in churches and Christian gatherings ever since.)

My first instinct upon receiving the call was to scream in frustration and cry out WHY!??? I wanted to rant and rave, possibly curse everyone involved, and jump onto someone’s desk – or some one – and physically beat on them. It would be so easy to fall into the anger and despair the enemy was pushing on me and to sin in that anger, separating myself from the LORD. All of that negativity was welling up, and for a minute (okay, more than a minute) I surrendered to it.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 ESV

I was not feelin’ it.

Some would say that by surrendering to the enemy, even for a minute, would cost me my salvation. Au Contraire, my friends! The sacrifice of JESUS on the cross washed away the sins of whoever accepts Him as SAVIOUR, Once and for all, and for all time!

I have His Salvation, the Hope for Eternity with my LORD, and nothing I say or do will change that; however, I can – and do – disappoint Him in my sinning. I have come to the cross on my knees, just as I am, in sadness and with a broken heart. I will always sin, but no worries! He has given me the Living Water and the Bread of Life.

“Jesus said to them, “I Am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. For this is the will of My FATHER, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have Eternal Life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ” – John 6:35‭, ‬40 ESV

HALLELUJAH! I will trust in Him, my Rock and my Salvation, and He will carry me through this mess, too. 😊

Photo credit: https://fccdm.org

Chaos!

I read a great post by Debbie McDaniel (https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/debbie-mcdaniel) on chaos, and she referred to these 13 verses:

Just what I needed this morning!

The movers will be here tomorrow to load, roofers are here replacing the roof as I write this, the dogs are nervous messes because of the noise and the upheaval….. there’s more packing to do, and closings on both the house I’m selling and the one I’m buying is tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention that I have to be completely out of this house by 2:00 tomorrow, but the movers can’t deliver to the new (old) house until the next day? I thank GOD for my 19 year old nephew, who drove the 30 miles to my house (more than once!) to help me load all of my garden and lumber and tools and miscellaneous into a pod before the movers come. I am grateful to my brother-in-law, who made the same trip with his pickup, to take my plants and paints and crates of liquids and flammables that can’t be hauled by commercial carriers. (Yes, admittedly I have LOTS of stuff, even after some major downsizing…) He and my sister have offered a place for me to sleep tomorrow – I give thanks for my best friend, who is going to babysit the pups and Patrick the cat for a couple of days during the real chaos. Yikes.

GOD is Good, providing the help I need – even when it isn’t on my schedule! There’s even more than all this going on, but I know that He is in control, and I need to breathe (and sometimes, I just need to cry for a minute). JESUS said:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:26‭-‬27 ESV

The Holy Spirit works through others to remind us that we are not alone in our grief and our chaos. Any time we have changes in our life, and especially when it is traumatic change, we are going to grieve. Our LORD understands completely!

“….. 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.” -Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 ESV

He gets it. He knows how anxiety can creep in and how easily we get stressed out. He knows.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the Blood of Christ. For He Himself is our Peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility….. ” – Ephesians 2:13‭-‬14 ESV

Thank You, LORD, the GOD of the Universe and all of Creation, for understanding the chaos and anxiety I face, and for offering refuge from it. Amen.

The KING of Heaven Wants ME!!! – ???

Do you believe it? CAN you believe it?

“Thus says the LORD Who made the earth, the LORD Who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His Name, ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ ” – Jeremiah 33:2‭-‬3 NASB

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10 ESV

From the story of creation told in the book of Genesis, to the final chapter of Revelations, the Bible is full of scriptures telling us of GOD seeking us out. We were created to be companions to the Creator, and we muffed it, with a little help from our enemy: THE Enemy; our LORD GOD’s arch enemy, who runs by many names including Satan, Lucifer, the devil…. I prefer just the generic “Enemy.” He doesn’t rate any higher. I doubt that any human who has ever or will ever live can comprehend the depths of depravity the Enemy will go to to turn us away from our LORD. Oh, we can see some of that darkness of the depravities that are lived out by the most rank sinners who have drawn breath, but to understand it? To comprehend it? I shudder just touching on it.

Here’s the most interesting thing about the blackest, rankest sinner: GOD still loves him/her, and wants him to receive Salvation and eternal life – You, JESUS, have broken every chain that binds us – YOU are the Living Hope of every sinner! What a Friend we have in JESUS! We all know this next verse, but have you really considered what it means to you; for you??

“For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His Only SON, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 ESV

He wants us! Despite our continued coldness and defiance and outright rejection, the LORD GOD of Heaven and Earth wants me, and He wants you, to be with Him! He has demonstrated that desire to us over and over again, in scriptures, in person (JESUS), and through other people …. yet we still deny Him. The enemy is happy for our rejection of GOD, because in rejecting the LORD we are accepting the Enemy to rule our lives. I imagine that each time a person chooses to defy GOD through the whitest lies to the blackest sin, the Enemy and his followers are gleefully dancing and celebrating. On the other side, each and every time someone chooses to follow CHRIST, he is furious and begins to torment and attack that person. Anyone – every one – who has accepted JESUS CHRIST as SAVIOUR experiences the attacks and the absolute tormenting that comes from the Enemy. Ah yes, but hear what Paul has written to encourage us!

“What then shall we say to these things? If GOD is for us, who can be against us? He Who did not spare His Own SON but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against GOD’s elect? It is GOD Who justifies. Who is to condemn? CHRIST JESUS is the One Who died—more than that, Who was raised—Who is at the Right hand of GOD, Who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the LOVE of CHRIST? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” …… Paul goes on to say this: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of GOD in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.” – Romans 8:31-35, 38‭-‬39 ESV

GOD wants you, today, as you are, flawed and broken, the blackest sinner. He wants you. Listen to Known from the album Hills and Valleys, sung by Tauren Wells. He knows you, He knows the entirety of your life, and He still wants you.