Bitter, Wrath, Anger, Chaos, Slander

Sounds a bit like today’s society to me! Seems like every time I turn around, someone is spewing these at someone or something. How did the 1975 song by the group War go?

Why can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends

The color of your skin don’t matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony
I kinda like to be the president
And I could show you how your money’s spent
Why can’t we be friends
Sometimes I don’t speak right
But did I know what I was talking about
I know you’re working for the CIA
They wouldn’t have you in the mafia
Why can’t we be friends

I thought they raised a really good question then, and it’s still a good question. Why can’t we be friends, and look past our differences to find our similarities? Skin color is probably the most divisive thing on the planet, whichmakes no sense whatsoever to me. We all bleed the same red blood, and although there are physical characteristics associated with certain societies and ethnic groups, they’ve come about to help us adapt to different climates and surroundings….. NOT because we are different races! Remember learning about the human race? How about that? And country pride….. for years we were simply American. Now, leaders are dividing us by insisting we call ourselves by country-origin, even if it was distant ancestors who came from that country. I could insist people refer to me as an Anglo-Saxon-American, or an Irish-American, or a German-American, or a Heinz 57-American. Why do we have to be hyphenated Americans? How many African-Americans or Chinese-Americans, Mexican-Americans or Vietnamese-Americans do you know who weren’t born in the U.S.? Doesn’t that make them just plain American? If I move to Bolivia, do I become an American-Bolivian? I don’t think so!!

As a nation, can’t you just imagine how much nicer, how much more peaceful it would be if we actually practiced the following verse in our lives?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31 ESV

Maybe you could try not reacting with any malice once today. See if it makes a difference ….. in your attitude. “Don’t worry; be happy!” How many times have you seen that on a bumper sticker, or said those words to someone? Mindless, really…. And it’s straight out of scripture!

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matthew 6:26 ESV

The less we worry, the more peace we have. Since True Peace is from CHRIST, the more we worship and praise Him, the more peace we have! Getting rid of the bitterness and wrath and anger and slander and malice….. the more peace we have!

Sounds kinda like a no-brainer, right?

Artwork by my friend John Lawton, of Edmond, OK.

LET FREEDOM RING!

“For the Spirit GOD gave us does not make us timid, but gives us Power, Love and self-Discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the Gospel, by the Power of GOD. He has saved us and called us to a Holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His Own Purpose and grace. This Grace was given us in CHRIST JESUS before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our SAVIOR, CHRIST JESUS, Who has destroyed death and has brought LIFE and Immortality to light through the Gospel.” – 2 Timothy 1:7‭-‬10 NIV

Okay, you are probably asking what in the world does this scripture have to do with our celebrating the freedom of our country today? Without the Freedom of our LORD, there is no other freedom. We are Blessed to live in this great country (yes, great, despite all of her problems) where we can believe and worship and give testimony to our beliefs without fear of government retaliation. It is nearly impossible to do this in many countries around the world. It is unfortunate, though, that even in the U.S.A. many followers of CHRIST are singled out and persecuted, while any and every other belief system is tolerated, and encouraged. Our soldiers and sailors, fly-boys and marines and other maritime services have given life and limb to ensure our freedoms….. yet so many citizens spit on them and ridicule and revile them for that service.

Today, I celebrate my freedom as a citizen of this great nation, and I celebrate my freedom from death through JESUS CHRIST. Both of these freedoms came with tremendous sacrifice! Not my sacrifice, but the unbelievable and incomprehensible sacrifices of our country’s men and women, and most importantly, the sacrifice of my LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. Grace and Mercy abounds, Amen!

“If My people, who are called by MY Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I WILL Hear from heaven, and I WILL forgive their sin and WILL heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Time to hit our knees, people!!

“A Wise Person Once Said …..”

How many times in your life have you heard a sentence that started with those words? Maybe the better question is how many times did you listen when you heard those words? Remember what GOD said:

“It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” – Ecclesiastes 7:5‭, ‬8‭ NIV

If you were like me, you didn’t like being told someone else was smarter or knew better than you (still a problem for me sometimes!). I read these verses and heard lessons and sermons on the words from Ecclesiastes. In school I learned that Abraham Lincoln, a very wise man, said “Do we not destroy our enemies when we make them our friends?” How can that even be possible? I mean, when someone hurts me, whether intentional or not, or physically or mentally, you are telling me to make that person my friend? Even JESUS teaches us:

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …. ” – Matthew 5:44 NIV

I don’t want to pray for those people, let alone be friends with them! I want to take revenge. I want them to hurt more than they hurt me. I tell you the truth, if I had listened, had really heard my parents and my teachers, I could have bypassed so much of the hurt in my life. Being associated with and influenced by peers who are not Christians leads to a lifetime of pain. I never wanted to be rebuked for the things I did and said that went against the teachings of JESUS. I wanted to have ‘fun’, and to ensure that I did, I chose to listen to the siren song of fools. I was so busy having fun I didn’t have time to think about how miserable I was. Thankfully, for all of us sinners – and that term encompasses the entire human race – there is Grace and Mercy offered freely to us. We have the choice. Do we live with gratitude and love, or do we stumble and flail our way through life? Do we keep a sober mind (having a glass or 2 of wine or a beer can actually be good for you; it’s the excessive drinking that gets us into trouble)? Is it our choice to satiate our minds with excesses of ‘fun’ and business and even family to the point of putting the LORD in the background?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” – 1 Peter 5:8‭-‬9 NIV

Pray for your enemies. Love those people who make you angry and who hurt you. Seek out the ones you don’t want to forgive and make them your friend. Sound impossible? That’s because it is impossible in our human capacity. It is only with GOD’S Love and GOD’S help that any of this becomes possible. Pray for me that I may walk the walk. Amen.

I Shot The Law and The Law Shot Me

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers….. ” – 1 Timothy 1:8‭-‬9 NIV

Life lessons taught when I was a child: Obey the law. Respect the office of those charged with making and enforcing the laws, regardless of what you may think of the person in the position. As American’s, whether by birth or immigration status or naturalized, we have unprecedented freedoms and riches in this world. We have laws designed to lift up and protect us, and each one of us gets to choose the who, what, how, and when we obey them. By our choices, we get the consequences of our decisions and actions.

Whatever country we occupy, there are laws to be obeyed and officials to be respectful of. For every human law, GOD’S Law supersedes it with a divine directive. As Paul wrote to Timothy, the laws aren’t made for the people who obey the law, GOD’S Law. Laws are made for the lawbreakers. Here on earth, the thought of having to live in prison is enough to keep me (for the most part!) on the right side of the law. Our choices with GOD’S Law, the consequences of breaking His Law, determines our eternity, and I certainly don’t want to spend eternity in the prison of hell! Living the Ten Commandments is a good thing, but just doing that still isn’t enough to keep me out of there. GOD provided us with a way to be with Him, and it is a simple decision; a choice that should be easy but often isn’t.

I wonder about that, but then again, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me. Looking around at the overcrowded jails and prisons and the crammed full court dockets, it becomes apparent that many people have made the choice to disobey the laws of the land. There are millions of baby boomers reaching retirement age with no funds to live on, because we were immersed in living for the present. If it is so easy to choose to take a chance for a future that is imminent, then I suppose it is even easier to ignore a future that you can’t imagine. I hope that my writing will encourage you to take a closer look at your future, immediate and long term.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of GOD! How unsearchable His Judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” – Romans 11:33 NIV

Choose CHRIST today and assure your future, immediate, long-term, and for eternity!

Who Is That Man?

Who do you say Jesus is? People, scholars, have been debating this question since Jesus lived. He has been called liar, fraud, lunatic, and more. I believe we need to take Him very seriously. He can’t be considered a “good man” or “just a prophet” – He is either completely deluded, insane …. or He is truly the Son of GOD made flesh as He claimed. When the Pharisees questioned Him, He answered them with complete confidence and assurance:

“Even if I testify on My own behalf, My testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.” – John 8:14 NIV

“This made the Jews ask, “Will He kill Himself? Is that why He says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” But He continued, “You are from below; I am from Above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent Me is Trustworthy, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about His FATHER. So JESUS said, “When you have lifted up [crucified] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the FATHER has taught Me. The ONE Who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” – John 8:22‭-‬29 NIV

Jesus used stories, parables, to teach us how we should behave, and to demonstrate how much our FATHER Loves us, but sometimes He spoke plainly so that there could be no mistaking His meaning. Are you confused by these verses? The next verse is quite clear:

If I Glorify Myself, My Glory means nothing. My FATHER, Whom you claim as your GOD, is the One who Glorifies Me.” – John 8:54 NIV

Jesus was humble, never boastful. Everything He said, everything He taught, everything He was, He attributed to His FATHER; all the GLORY was given to the Creator GOD. To me, there is no mistaking the Truth. He is not a “good man.” JESUS is indeed the Son of the Most High GOD. He is the Commander of the Angel Armies, Second-in-command to the LORD and Creator of the Universe. He made the ultimate sacrifice to leave heaven, to bear my sins and to die for me, and He conquered death to redeem us all. He is my Advocate; He will stand beside me when I face GOD at the great white throne judgement. He sent the HOLY SPIRIT to me, to reside with me so that I am never alone. He has saved me from a most horrific eternity, one that I surely deserve, and is preparing a place for me with Him instead. Hallelujah!

I am convinced in His Deity. Are you? Have you opened your heart to His Saving Grace, the Peace and the Joy beyond description? If not, you are missing out! Do you need to delve into more? Search GOD’S divinely inspired book we call the Bible. Start with the book of John, and use a translation that you can understand – I use both the NIV and the NLT, and there are others like the ESV that are excellent as well. Read commentaries such as C.S. Lewis’s Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. Search for the Truth, because if you do, you will find it.

Listen to The Proof of Your Love by for King and Country on their album Crave.

The empty tomb, looking at the empty cross ….. because He is not here; His RISEN!

(Photo from Pinterest)

What Is LOVE?

Seems like “love” to the world means sex, money, position, and prestige. We are constantly on the prowl for this elusive feeling. Once you have experienced even a tiny taste, it is something that is an instant, instantaneous, addiction. Love is more addictive than heroin or cigarettes or alcohol, and it is so much more than just a feeling. We spend our lives chasing “love” and in most cases, missing it entirely. A mother’s love is both fierce and protective, and it is gentle and nurturing ….. at least, it should be. Satan has screwed it up, just as he has perverted every single thing, every single place, every single molecule on this earth.

Should I find out that anybody is messing with any of my kids*, I transform into a mama grizzly! (*My kids consist of any person who is vulnerable or fragile, my nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, even my Mom. It also applies to my 4-legged buddies.) I’ll never know just how fathers love (since I’m not one 😁 ), but the men whom I admire most are providers and protectors, and they will go to almost any length to care for their loved ones.

The Bible, the Words of our Creator, speak on love in a number of verses and contexts. The Songs of Solomon are beautifully written, telling about the sweet love between two people. (Men, pay attention to those verses! They are dynamite for the love of your life. You can melt her heart, using it as an example.) Paul wrote to the followers of CHRIST in Corinth and Colossae about love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬8a NIV

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13 NIV

That last sentence of verse 13 is such a critical part of true love. Without forgiveness, how we possibly be patient or kind to that person? Being unforgiving is so harsh. It ruins relationships at work, between friends, within families, with our children and parents, and our spouses. Whatever was done to you (real or perceived) is nothing to what we have done to JESUS – and yet, He FORGIVES us, 100%, no grudges or plots for revenge. I would lay down my life in a heartbeat, putting myself in harms way to protect my loved ones. The BIG question is this: would I lay down my life for my enemies, for the men who have hurt me? JESUS did.

“This is how we know what LOVE is: JESUS CHRIST laid down His LIFE for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16 NIV

No Matter What (sung by Ryan Stevenson and Bart Miller)

No matter what the end is
My life began with you
I can’t deny what I believe
I can’t be what I’m not
I know, I know
I know this love’s forever
That’s all that matters now
No matter what

(Photo credit Love Dare – WordPress.com )

I Don’t Believe In Ghosts

I don’t believe in ghosts. (I do, however, get a kick out of going on ‘ghost tours’ and visiting ‘haunted’ places, and reading and watching ghost stories.) I have seen spirits. Not ghosts, spirits. What’s the difference, you ask? According to Wikipedia, a ‘ghost’ is defined as “the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living,” and a ‘spirit’ is defined as “a supernatural being, often but not exclusively a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel.” I do believe in spirits, and I believe that once your earthly body dies, your soul either goes to GOD or to the enemy. The soul does not stick around to ‘haunt’ or ‘communicate’ with us…. but we’ll get into that a bit later. The Bible talks about them, and categorizes them as either angels or demons. GOD created angels, and when Satan, (Lucifer, the Morning Star) rebelled, he took a third of the angels with him to become the demons we are familiar with. These demons possess people, animals, and places, and they manifest themselves in different ways. They are the haunted places that we hear and read about, and they are the ‘ghosts’ we see and feel.

I believe in spirits, in demons, because I have experienced them. I have felt the evil in a room that was used for satanic, demonic reasons; I have seen ‘ghosts’; I have had my person hijacked by demons who controlled me and caused me to do things that would have normally been abhorrent and against my principles and beliefs. Satan and his minions have had thousands of years to find the best ways and means to subordinate humans and lead us away from the LORD. They aren’t mind-readers, but they are very practiced and astute at reading people; they are very good at discovering our weak points to exploit.

What can we do about this? The first, and absolutely most important thing we can do is to accept JESUS as our LORD and SAVIOUR. Really open our hearts, our minds, and our souls to him. I am convinced that the demons were able to work themselves into my life by a couple of things I did which opened doors to them. In junior high, a group of us experimented with an Ouija board. When I asked the board to tell us who it was, it rapifly spelled out ‘s-a-t-a-n’. Of the girls who were there, I know of several who have rejected GOD in their lives. It scared me enough ghat I immersed myself in church for the next few years, but let me assure you, the enemy is crafty and patient. When I left home to attend college, I was drawn into groups who played on the edge. My faith wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the onslaught and I succumbed to the ‘fun’ we were all so busy having. I believe that because my Dad was a pastor, I became a particular target. Playing around with Ouija boards or Tarot cards, seances, contacting the dead…. these are dangerous tools created by the enemy to suck you into his nefarious scheme. There is no ‘playing’, they are intended to be deadly – literally. The enemy’s stated purpose is to turn people from GOD, and when he succeeds with a ‘Christian’ there are demons everywhere doing the happy dance. Despite attemprs over the years to get back to church and a spiritual relationship with GOD, I was drawn deep into the abyss. I almost died a couple of times, but my GOD stepped in and literally saved my life. I suffered, physically, emotionally, and spiritually because of my choices, and I suffered (and still suffer) the consequences of my actions. Angels, sometimes in the form of people and sometimes invisible to me, kept physical death away so that I had the time and the opportunities to find my way back to my SAVIOUR. Not everyone gets that chance, but I have met many survivors of the evil one in my journey, and they know how blessed they are to have escaped. We are NOT victims; we are survivors.

Ghosts? No, not so much. Spirits? Absolutely. I know they exist, both the good (angels) and the bad (fallen angels, aka demons). I have experienced both, up close and personal. The HOLY SPIRIT is one who is always with me now, listening to every word and thought, and gently (okay, sometimes NOT so gently when I veer off the way!) guiding me in the way the LORD GOD would have me go. The LORD GOD, His Son JESUS, and the HOLY SPIRIT are real, alive, and well. They will never, ever steer me to danger, but They will keep me safe when I allow them control of my life. Satan, the enemy of GOD, and all of his creepy little minion spirits are also real and alive, and are constantly harassing and searching for any little crack in our lives to grasp and take us into sin and danger.

Believe in JESUS. He is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life (John 14:6). There is no other way to GOD the FATHER, the Comforter, and to the HOLY SPIRIT, and Eternal Life. Your choice – an eternity of Life and Love with our LORD, or an eternity of death and suffering with the enemy. Do you believe? Even more, do you accept JESUS as your LORD and SAVIOUR?

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, JESUS came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the LORD. A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, JESUS came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to Him, “My LORD and my GOD!” Then JESUS told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” JESUS performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that JESUS is the MESSIAH, the SON of GOD, and that by believing you may have LIFE in His Name.” – John 20:19‭-‬20‭, ‬26‭-‬31 NIV

AMEN and AMEN!