When I Cry

“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalms 34:15‭-‬18 NASB1995

I’ve done a lot of that in my life. Crying, I mean. Not as a righteousness person, either. Although I grew up in the church, when I left home for college it only took a few months for the enemy to seduce me away from God. Boys (because they certainly weren’t mature enough to be called men), recreational drugs, alcohol, the thrill of being kissed and touched and told how beautiful I was…. I would go home, back to my parents house, for breaks and pretend nothing had changed with me. Reflecting on that time, I’m sure the only one I was fooling was myself. After just 2 years, I left school and married the man of my dreams. It quickly became more of a nightmare than a dream.

A miserable pregnancy, an unfaithful, abusive husband, and I was still pretending to the world and my parents that life was good. The facade was thin, and I think more people saw through it than believed it, but I wasn’t giving up. Pull yourself up, girl! Stand by your husband, submit to your man, and keep up appearances. I couldn’t allow my parents, let alone God, to know how badly I had fallen, so I stayed, the great pretender. As the abuse became more severe, I became more angry and belligerent, especially towards God. How could He allow this to happen? So I turned further away from Him. He didn’t reach down and fix my life, so I rejected Him. But I still pretended to my family.

After eight miserable years, I divorced him and gave up my daughter to a family member. Anything to keep him from having custody. It was like tearing out my heart, but I knew it was the best thing for her. My life didn’t get better. It seemed that I was destined to stay with abusers. The enemy led me to another one. I was mesmerised; in a trancelike state for months, subject to his ….. what? Desires, whims, abuses? I can’t describe what happened, because it was like a dream, or more like a nightmare, that I couldn’t escape from. Ironically, it was my abusive husband who rescued me from that situation.

Was life with him different than before? Not really, but it was better than the nightmare I had been in. For years, I moved from man to man, looking for my Knight in Shining Armor, my Saviour. I lived in a homeless, hopeless state. For a period of time, with my third husband, life improved greatly. Together, we became active in church, putting God in a prominent place in our lives. I’ll tell you now that it’s critical to put God in a prominent place, but unless He is FIRST, it won’t last. It was good, until the enemy got a toe hold into our lives, and pulled my husband away from God and from me.

After that, I spiraled. It wasn’t pretty. Outwardly I looked like I had it together, but inwardly I was angry at God and refused to let Him have my heart. That’s a dark spot. I allowed abusive men back into my life, and several years passed as I pretended to be a Christian but couldn’t allow God to have control. I was going to do it myself. God got my attention. Husband five was my breaking point; my “bottom”. I took him to a Christ-centered 12 step recovery program so that he could get his act together (because there was nothing wrong with me. Ha!).

God has a sense of humor. The husband left, rejecting the program, God, and me. I stayed in the program. Funny thing, my biggest lesson was that I wasn’t so perfect after all!

Life is full of the good, the bad, and plenty of the ugly for all of us. It isn’t easy for anyone, even our children. That’s just a fact. Rich, poor, any shade of color, every continent, every nation. Life is hard. So why bother with living? Because God gave us life through His Son Jesus! Because of Jesus, I can face all the ugly in my life. Because of Him, I can face today. Every. Single. Day. Living with Jesus, and putting Him first means that I am never alone, and it means that when I can’t take the next step, He will hold me and carry me through it.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NASB1995

Are You Assembling With Like Minded Christians?

“…. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB1995

Our walk with Christ is personal; it is not private or individual, and it is critical for our spiritual health to come together with fellow believers. Are you too lazy to get up and get ready to attend a service? I have been, too many times. We can be conceited or arrogant, and think we don’t need the church. It’s possible to worship when out in nature, and as uplifting as it can be, it can never replace meeting with others of God’s people. Worldliness will also cause us to abandon Christ. When sports or shopping keeps away from church, we are hurting not only ourselves, but others who rely on us to be an example of Christianity. Willful sin cuts us off from the lifeline of the church.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 NASB1995

A passion for Christ, Who is the head of the church, is a passion for the church. Just as it was the custom of Jesus to attend services (Luke 4:16), it should be our custom, our desire, to attend church and be with God’s people. Gather together in God’s Presence, His “church”. Christ promises to be with us, when 2 or more gather…. it is a time of renewal; a reference point that helps us define where we are in our lives. Being together helps us to consider and encourage others. When we are active and participating, we help the church to be all that it can be by encouraging others through our attendance, and through praying for each other.

We are preparing for the end of the world as we know it: there is wide spread apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), a move toward a one world government, and the pandemic. We need to gather today in preparation of the ultimate gathering at the Rapture. We aren’t going to live here on earth forever, but know this: everyone will live SOMEWHERE for eternity. Will you live in Glory with Christ, or will you be stuck for eternity in agony with the enemy of Christ? Only you can decide.

Wash Your Neighbor’s Feet

“So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

In the days that Jesus lived, people wore sandals and walked to get where they were going. As you can imagine, that made for dirty feet! Typically, it was a lowly job, and the lowest servant’s job, to wash the feet of anyone who came into the house. Jesus took on that role to make a point. Let me ask you, have you ever had anyone offer to wash your feet? (It would be unusual to visit someone today and have them offer to wash your feet. We wear shoes, so it’s not as if we need the dust washed off.) Years ago, my pastor and his wife illustrated this story by asking a couple of members of the congregation to allow them to wash their feet. I was one of those people. It was an honor, but also very a humbling experience. To have someone I honored and looked up, washing my feet. Servants who lead; leaders who are servants. The very best and most effective leaders are servants.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:12‭, ‬14‭-‬18‭, ‬34‭-‬35 NASB1995

We fail mightily today at following this commandment. Remember, Jesus gave us the most important commandments.

“One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35‭-‬40 NASB1995

I think, if more of those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, would claim and live these verses, our world would undergo a dramatic change. It starts with me. What do you think?

Seek HIM First

“This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:23‭-‬24 NASB

I think every part of my body hurts this morning; every muscle, every joint, even my brain. My eyeballs hurt. I am weary. I have to be thankful, though, because it slows me down so that I can see what a beautiful morning God has given us. It’s a very unusual morning for Oklahoma in August. At 7am, the temperature is in the high 60’s, and it is calm. There’s only an occasional breeze that floats by like a whisper. The birds are singing, and other than the birdsong, it is quiet. Since I live in an urban neighborhood, that’s pretty unusual, too!

“Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:30‭-‬31 NASB

Move forward. Remember that God is in control. No matter how bad it gets. Frustration, aches and pains, irritations, aggravations will all pass well. Look for the good in everything. I am alive. I’m not unhealthy (well, mostly!!), I have a home and 2 dogs who think I’m the best thing since sliced bread – especially when I share it with them!

Will life get tough? Oh, yes. Will bad things happen? Without a doubt. Will people disappoint you, betray you, let you down? Absolutely.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASB

GOD will never disappoint, He will never betray, He will never let you down. When everything looks black, when everyone has let you down, turn to Jesus.

Listen to Casting Crowns’ song East to West. Here’s part:

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From you leaving me this way

Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west?

‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other
I know you’ve washed me white
Turned my darkness into light
I need your peace to get me through
To get me through this night
I can’t live by what I feel
But by the truth your word reveals
And I’m not holding onto you
But you’re holding onto me
You’re holding onto me

JESUS is the answer. No one else will get through this life with you without hurting you. He is THE Way. THE Truth, and The Light. He is LIFE.

Can I get an Amen?

I Waited Patiently. ….. NOT

“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of Praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD. How Blessed is the man who has made the LORD his Trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” Psalms 40:1‭-‬4 NASB

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2 NASB

Picture two vultures sitting on a branch, hungry, waiting on something to die so they can eat. One turns to the other and says “Patience my ass, I want to kill something.” ….. Yes, it’s crude, but very descriptive of how we often act when God doesn’t deliver WHAT we want, HOW we want, WHEN we want. I don’t like to wait. It’s often painful, and aggravating. We are God’s garden. Ask anyone who grows things, and they will tell you that plants often have to be aggressively pruned in order to get the best fruits and flowers and vegetables. They have to be patient, and wait for that plant to produce and mature. God is patient with us, and He is training us to produce the best. I’M not patient, but I’m very grateful that HE is.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

This is so true. I married young because I wanted to. Emphasis on “I WANTED.” There were lots of reasons, but I was in LOVE. God wasn’t in that marriage, and it was a disaster. I spent years trying to “fix” my life without God, using human men as a poor, poor substitute. Ladies, pay attention to those who love God and who love you. Listen to their counsel. Pray about any relationship. If you feel ANY hesitation, STOP. Same for you guys. If GOD isn’t first in the relationship, It. Will. Be. A. Disaster. Might takes years, but without the LORD, no relationship will prosper. It’s no fun, seeing friends in relationships when you/I am not ….. but, back to that “patience” thing. Trust the LORD. He knows. He KNOWS.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven….” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB

God knows. He knows what we want, but more importantly He knows what is best for us. Really. We don’t. As difficult as it is, listen to Him, even when it isn’t what we want to hear. God is in control. Don’t be a backseat driver!

Where Did Love Go?

“31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 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. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:1-3 NASB

Do you know GOD’S Love? It is Essential, it is Effectual, and it is Eternal to Life. Not life, but Life. Without God’s Love, there is no Life. Without it, we are just going through the motions; living through emotions. Love and hate. The emotions we base our lives on, the feelings we base everything on. Emotions aren’t bad. God wouldn’t have created us with them if they were. Emotions, like everything good on earth, have been distorted through sin and the enemy’s manipulation of Creation. Love was twisted into envy, despair, jealousy, malice, prejudice, ill will, covetousness, rivalry, resentment….. hate. We are all guilty, and I am guilty above all else.

It is Essential that we who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ give His Love a priority within ourselves. No matter what we do, if we do it without God’s Love, it means nothing. It is all ashes.

There are 4 Greek Words for love: eros, storge, philia, and agape. Most people know that eros is erotic love, the physical. Storge is familial love. It refers to the natural and instinctual love of a parent towards their children and vice versa. Philia is the love we have between good friends. Agape is the most important, because that is God’s Love. It wasn’t a common word for the Greeks to use, but it is the word for love that the Bible uses and it is the essence of Love, the kind of love that Jesus personifies.

“4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. …… 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬8‭, ‬13 NASB

We would do well to focus on these verses, especially in light of what is going on around us today. I’m talking to myself. When I see rioting and destruction, and hear the hate filled rhetoric that is being spewed across all forms of communication, it’s so easy to fall into judgement. Those things aren’t right, but I still need to love those people. Not agree with them, but love them in spite of their actions. People in positions of influence and authority have a huge burden to do the right thing, and they are failing miserably. I think that’s why it’s so important for you and I to do our best to emulate Jesus today.

Remember, “the greatest of these is love.”

Never Alone

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 NASB

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18‭-‬19 NASB

Not if, but when bad things happen, how do we handle them? “Why me, God! What did I ever do to deserve this horrible thing!” Isn’t a better question, “Why not me, God?” I don’t deserve anything good; I deserve everything bad…. I am a sinner, and the only good thing in me is the Love and forgiveness of my Saviour, Jesus Christ. When we experience the bad, what do we do with it?

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17‭-‬18 NASB

Elizabeth Elliot, missionary, faced many dark times while on the mission field, including losing her husband. After one experience, where a friend was killed, she wrote this:

Now if I had had a faith that was determined God had to give me a particular kind of answer to my particular prayers, that faith would have disintegrated. But my faith had to be founded on the character of God Himself. And so, what looked like a contradiction in terms: God loves me; God lets this awful thing happen to me. What looked like a contradiction in terms, I had to leave in God’s hands and say okay, Lord. I don’t understand it. I don’t like it. But I only had two choices. He is either God or He’s not. I am either held in the Everlasting Arms or I’m at the mercy of chance and I have to trust Him or deny Him. Is there any middle ground? I don’t think so.”

What a statement! He is either God or He’s not.Will you stand on the side of the ALMIGHTY, alongside Elizabeth Elliot, Daniel, Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego, Paul, Peter, John…… we either stand with Him, or we are against Him. Jesus said “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15‭-‬16 NASB

Where are you? With Him, or against Him?

Mockers Will Mock Us, But JESUS WILL Return, Despite Their Mockery

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the Commandment of the LORD and SAVIOR spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers* [the OT Patriarchs] fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water [All but 8 people in all the earth were killed. There are over 270 flood stories across civilizations. In the 1880’s, Hugh Miller researched stories and similarities]. 7 But by His Word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you* [*you = Believers, the Elect. Romans 11 – somewhere out there, the last person, the last elect, will come to Jesus, and at that moment, Jesus will return], not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance [Psalm 90:4; God is outside of time, because He created time].” 2 Peter 3:1-9 NASB

The Bible can be summed up in 3 phrases:1. Jesus is coming (OT),2. Jesus has come (NT Gospels),3. Jesus is coming again (NT).”The Commandment”: Be prepared for the Second Coming, the Return of Jesus Christ. The “last days” are all of the days between the Advents: the First Coming and the Second Coming. The mockers and scoffers grow louder in a crescendo of sound, denying the Second Coming. By doing this, they are fulfilling the prophesies of the Second Coming. Beware of False Teachers! Just because it seems slow to us (i.e. humans), God is not slow. His time is not our time. Remember verses 8-9: “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the LORD one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”God is Power, God is Sovereign. God has an Eternal Perspective. God is Timeless, God is Patient, God is Merciful.“Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved .” Romans 10:13 NASB“He* [*JESUS] Who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 22:20‭-‬21 NASB

Good From Evil

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but GOD meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 NASB

Right now things appear pretty overwhelming. How can a pandemic possibly be the precursor to something good? Like Joseph, when his brothers sold him, life feels helpless right now. I look at the current situation as an upheaval in the road of life. It is difficult and time consuming to get past it, but God has a good thing on the other side. We have to remind ourselves of that truth. As bleak as it seems, God is in control. Just because I can’t see past this doesn’t mean God doesn’t have something great on the other side. Hold on to His Promise. He is Faithful to deliver us.

“Do not fear, for I Am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I Am your GOD. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My Righteous Right Hand.’ ” Isaiah 41:10 NASB

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

Praise GOD. Rejoice in the little things.