Pay Attention!

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” – 1 PETER 5:8‭-‬9 NASB

The devil, the adversary. The word Satan means adversary. He is also called the god of this age, god of this world, deceiver, camouflager, Father of lies ….. he goes by many names. The words used here, seeking to devour, mean to gulp down. He wants to DESTROY us. Where is he? Is he real?

“Now there was a day when the sons of God [angelic hosts] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” ” – JOB 1:6‭-‬7 NASB

It amazes me to hear that people don’t believe he exists. I read an article online by Phil Zuckerman, Ph.D., professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College, on the existence of the devil from his book, The Secular Life. Some excerpts:

How can people seriously believe in the devil? The year is 2015, not 1315. And yet, the fact remains that tens of millions of Americans continue to believe that there is a magical, wicked, evil — oh, and smart — being out there doing magical, wicked, evil deeds and presiding over a fiery realm, where demons crawl and witches cackle. Oh, wait. No cackling witches. Just demons, right?

According to a 2013 YouGov survey, 57% of Americans believe in the devil. And yes, that is 57% of American adults — not kindergarteners.

But there is no such thing as the devil, just as there is no such thing as fairies, imps, or goblins. The two largest religions in the world — Christianity and Islam — teach that there is a devil. And they are wrong. There is no evidence for such a thing. Not a shred. It is simply something that germinated from the unscientific, irrational minds of early humans who tried their best to explain why bad things happen to good people, why good people sometimes do bad things, and why there is so much needless suffering in the world.

He also included this:

In October, 2013, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia declared that, yes, he most certainly believes in the existence of Satan. But why don’t we see him? Well, “you know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and what not. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore…It’s because he’s smart….What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.” (Emphasis mine)

I belong on the side with Justice Scalia. Why? Because, like Dwight L. Moody, “The Bible says so, and I have done business with him.” May I add, it is not a pleasant experience. Does this mean I have dealt with Satan, the adversary, himself? Probably not. He has many fallen angels and demons who work beside him. Paul said:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – EPHESIANS 6:12 NASB

He is sneaky; he is a liar and a thief. He incites persecution against followers of Christ, and he hinders the work of Christians. He sows doubt and distrust anywhere he can. How can one created being do all this and create such havoc in the world, when he is NOT omnipresent? He relies on his demons, his followers and all of the other fallen angels (back to Ephesians 6), but he is also a spirit and can travel quickly. The ultimate power behind persecution is Satan.

Even many Christians don’t believe Satan exists. If we can’t see it, it can’t be real….. but, we can’t see God, either. Does Satan exist? If not, where does the mayhem and evil come from? He is as real as you and I. An interesting note: the devil, Satan, is not currently residing in hell; he is very much alive and living here on earth. During the Tribulation period (still to come) he will be permanently expelled from heaven, although based on scriptures, he currently has at least limited access to heaven, to have conversations with God. He is seeking and stalking his prey, and his prey is anyone aligning themselves with Jesus Christ!

“But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” – 1 PETER 5:9 NASB

The Good News is this: JESUS has already defeated him, on Calvary! Calvary is our Hope, because it is where Satan was defeated. We don’t fight FOR victory, we fight FROM victory, and we apply it in everyday life. Be ready! Don’t focus on Satan, focus on Christ, but don’t underestimate the deceiver. After all, if an actual lion gets loose, do we ignore it, or try to get away from it? Don’t be ignorant of the devil, just be aware and stand firm; submit to the LORD in every aspect of our lives. (Ephesians 6:10-18) We are not alone in this battle. We – all Christians – are all in the same spiritual battle, and we need to be, and should be, watching each others backs.

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – JAMES 4:7 NASB

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of Lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” – REVELATION 17:14 NASB

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah defeats the lion known as the devil, aka Satan!

Lest We Forget

July 4, 2019. 243 years ago, a group of men gathered, in secret, to forge ahead with actions that would end up costing many of them – literally – their fortunes and their lives. They did it in the name of freedom. Freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion, freedom to decide their own fates. Freedom to escape the rule of ‘class’. Were these men perfect? Far from it! Did they make mistakes? Absolutely! Yet they forged ahead, determined that their children and their children’s children and so on would have a place to live in freedom.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People. No country, no nation before us was ever started with a Populous government! With all of the controversy over the Betsy Ross flag and Nike’s decision to pull their shoe that displayed it because it is a “slave” flag, let me refer to Article XIII of the Bill of Rights:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Was there slavery? Yes. It was in the form of both outright ownership of persons and indentured servitude. Was it against the Constitution? Yes, it was. Is it still occurring in the United States? Yes, I am sorry to say, although it is to a much lesser extent than in other countries. Our ancestors fought wars to prevent undue rule and unjust rule. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War; WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan, the Middle East….. We are still fighting over unjust practices and inhumane treatment. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery; it was about States rights!

What’s my point?

There will never be a perfect place to live on this earth, because humanity is flawed to the core. No man or woman is perfect, and we will all do and say offensive and stupid things. Bearing that in mind, and knowing that in these United States we are all responsible for ourselves, we are Blessed! What other country allows such blatant disrespect to it to flourish within it’s borders? Where else on earth can people publicly make fun of and disrespect their leader without experiencing dire consequences?

Since 1776, millions of men and women, United States citizens, have given everything for our freedom. There are currently hundreds, thousands, military personnel putting their lives on the line, every single day, for our freedom. Ditto for the Police officers, Sheriff departments, Border Patrol Agents, every type of Law Enforcement; all First Responders – Fire, EMT’s. Where else in the world do these freedoms and protections exist? Nowhere, to the extent of those in the United States.

It’s a day to be thankful. We can worship how and when we please, we can speak out – and act out – against our government in freedom.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.

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Restored

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” – MATTHEW 28:5‭-‬6 NASB

The cross couldn’t hold Him, death couldn’t retain Him, and the grave couldn’t keep Him. The cross and the tomb shall remain empty for the rest of eternity, and then forever more. He is Risen, Restored to His Glory, restored to His Throne! Jesus Christ, the LORD of Heaven and Earth has conquered death and hell, and He has arisen, Victorious and Glorious!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

‘Tis the Season!

And what a season it is for me! JESUS is the reason I love Christmas and all the trappings. It’s such a fabulous celebration of the birth of the SAVIOUR of the world, even when we have to do some serious digging through the overwhelming and rank commercialism and secularization of what should be a holy time.

Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! No internet access for a week, and I felt like I had been abandoned in the middle of the desert…. a very cold desert! A full week ago, the closing of the house I was selling and the one I bought finally happened, after being delayed and postponed for weeks. (Long story; not really relevant except to say that I was leaning heavily on my LORD to get me through it with my sanity intact – such as it is!!) The internet provider turned off access at the old house, then couldn’t get me scheduled for install at the ‘new’ house – for a solid week. Oh, the frustration of it all….. Please, GOD, in all seriousness, please I don’t ever want to move again! Then, just for the joy of it, the furnace quit the day I closed. 44° in the house with below freezing temps for the weekend, and this was on a Friday afternoon. Really? I mean, Really? I am so blessed to have family who are well-established in the area, and got a repairman out – only to discover that the furnace was toast. Caput. Finished. Again, thanking GOD for family! Four borrowed heaters kept the house a toasty 60° degrees (bwahaahaahaa!) until they could get a whole new HVAC system installed on Monday. Ah, the absolute joy and blessing of heat! Again, I am so grateful to the provision of the LORD that I could access the funds to pay for the new system.

So, finally, everything I own has been moved. Not moved in and settled, but moved. There’s still a storage pod half full in the driveway to be unloaded today (It’s being picked up tomorrow!) and my helper hasn’t shown. I’m not complaining (okay, yes I am, at least my body is – a little!) because I’m really happy it’s all here. The radio has been blasting K-LOVE and beautiful CHRIST-centered songs since the first day here – yet another blessing! I don’t know how people make it through each day without Matt Maher, We Are Messengers, Danny Gokey, Matthew West, NEEDTOBREATHE,” Big Daddy Weave, Phil Wickham ….. sweet Christmas music, too! (Addendum: the pod is unloaded, cleaned out, and ready for pickup tomorrow!)

The thing about this move I’m most thankful for? Instead of being 35 miles and 45 minutes from my sweet 92 year old mama, I’m less than 5 miles away! As a bonus, a sister and her family (all 13 of them!) are also within 5 miles. Much easier for getting together. I can attend Sunday services with my Mom, and see her much more, just in time for the celebration of our LORD’s birth! Are you excited to celebrate His birth? Not His birth date, per se, but His birth. What a fabulous gift the GOD of the Universe gave us in the baby JESUS!

“The Adoration of the Shepherds,” Gerard van Honthorst, 1622 AD

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!

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The Promise

This is now:

“…. but [JESUS] said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for Power is made perfect in weakness.” ” – 2 Corinthians 12:9a NRSV

His Power; my weakness. His Grace; His Mercy, is what has kept me alive – literally – this far into my life. I am lost without Him. My decisions, my “best thinking” is the primary reason for the troubles and hardships in my life. You’ve probably heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I lived it for years. Life is so much better when I say “Your Will be done, not mine.”

This is GOD’s promise:

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:2‭-‬3 ESV

The SON of GOD said that He will prepare a place for me. Can it get any better than that? I may live in a hovel on earth (I don’t, presently, but very little separates me from homelessness. It’s just a fact of living on earth), but imagine what awaits us when we leave here! I know that JESUS left His heavenly throne to live and die on this earth to atone for my sins; that He walked out of His tomb after 3 days and that thousands testified with first-hand knowledge to the fact of His Resurrection. I know that He died for ME. Do you? Can you say with certainty that you have accepted Him as your Saviour? If you have, then you have His promise, this future, to look forward to.

And this is my future:

“See, the Home of GOD is among mortals. He will dwell with [us] as [our] GOD; [we] will be His peoples, and GOD Himself will be with [us]; He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3‭b-‬4 NRSV

Can you picture it?? Without GOD’s Promise for my future, life would, indeed, be bleak. My heart cries out for all the people who don’t understand that there is a hell, there is a heaven, and we will spend the rest of eternity in one of them – NO exceptions. Just reading the descriptions of hell in the scriptures is bone-chilling. Hell, Hades, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire…. it goes by many names, just as the “ruler” of hell has many names. Don’t be fooled! He and his demons start out making sin look so innocent and pretty, but it is all lies, deceptions, and untruths. I promise you that it is just a front that they hide behind to trap you. I was snared once. I couldn’t escape his claws and chains for years, and it was ugly. I would see glimpses of light, and I believe they use that to help keep their captives in line.

JESUS saved me. No one and nothing else could. Just JESUS. Call His Name anytime, anywhere, and He will rescue you! When you can’t reach out, He will reach for you. When you can’t see, He will guide you. When you can longer walk, He will carry you. When your burdens are too great to bear, He will take them. He PROMISED. He is the Deliverer, the Great Physician, Saviour of the world. Do you know Him?

Perfection!

I am the middle child. Actually, I share that spot with my next younger sister, because out of 6 kids (poor Mom!) I am third and she is fourth – 2 ahead of me, and 2 after her. I am the baby of the first 3, and she is the eldest of the last 3. We have also concluded that most (all!) of us are ADD, and some are ADHD as well, starting with my parents- and it really goes back further than them. My life is an oxymoron 😎 …. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with us!

Whatever spot I choose for the moment, baby or middle-child, I must admit that I have been guilty of pride and perfection much of my life. Is that an affliction? Perfectionism stems from many things, both internal and external. I think that on a subconscious level, we make the choice to be prideful and conceited. I chose both, to hide the damaged, broken parts that I am comprised of. Whatever I did, I did with the attitude that if I did it, it was the right thing to do. Whatever I decided was the right decision, the only logical conclusion in my mind; therefore, anyone else was obviously wrong. I had the attitude that I was invincible, hard and sharp-edged – and I was hard and cut people like a knife with my words and actions. I sound like a bad person! If I was told I had a heart of ice, or that I was hurtful or mean, well, guilty as charged. I was full of pride and could do no wrong because I was perfect. Seems like we all have the tendency to judge others based on our own perceived perfection. For years, I was really good at being perfect, at least on the outside. My ‘inside’ was pretty messed up!

Even now I will find those feelings of pride and perfection, perfectionism and judgementalism, stealing back into my life. I cry out “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, in the Name of JESUS!!”

When I came to be under the Shining Bright Light of my LORD JESUS through His saving Grace, all of my cracks and brokenness were illuminated. His illumination shows everyone who looks what a messed up person I am, but the LIGHT also shows how He has put me back together. My prayer for us today:

LORD, show us our brokenness. Shine Your Great Light on us and let the world see YOU in that Light. Use my brokenness to illustrate how beautifully You can put us back together, if we just ask You. No matter how shattered we are or how much ugliness we contain, help us to see the beauty of Your Handiwork in ourselves. You alone can take all of our messes and all of the junk we accumulate in our hearts, and create something beautiful.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the LORD JESUS, to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of GOD.” – Acts 20:24 ESV Amen.

And the ONE who was seated on the throne said, “See, I Am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5 NRSV