Endurance

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly GOD Loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Love.” – Romans 5:3‭-‬5 (http://bible.com/116/rom.5.3-5.NLT)

I find myself exhausted from the problems and trials we face today, as I am sure many others are facing the same. So much killing and mayhem and disrespect, and for what? We certainly don’t live in a perfect world, and in the United States, we have problems… but we also have choices, more than any other place in the world. If certain actors and athletes, politicians and business people, Trust-fund babies and others have such a problem with living here, then why don’t they leave? It isn’t as though there aren’t enough people trying to get in to our nation that we couldn’t replace those who want to leave. Seriously, think of all of those outspoken people who publicly expressed their intentions of leaving the country if Trump won the Presidency…. And horror of horrors, he did win, but those same people are still here. Why? It’s not like they can’t afford to leave. The truth is that they can’t find another place on earth where they can spew their messages of hatred and evil with the freedom they have here. It’s just too easy for them to remain, plus they have their soapboxes already prepared here. The truth is, it would require to much effort on their part and they aren’t prepared to expend it.

Personally, there isn’t another country on earth where I would rather live. Oh, I would love to be able to travel and visit more places; getting back to Europe, going to Canada, traveling to the Middle East and the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, Africa… it’s all on my bucket list. Before all that, though, I would like to travel these United States and explore it from New York to California, and Alaska and Hawaii. (Dream on, sister!)

Take all of the problems we face, and they are many, and there’s no way we can deal with them on our own. They are too heavy to carry on our own, and when we try to handle all these things by ourselves we become physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to do it alone. We have access to the One Who can carry it all for us; however, in order for Him to take it, we have to let go of the burdens. I’m not saying it’s easy to let go, because I know firsthand how difficult it is. Remembering that the GOD of Creation is waiting for me to relinquish my burdens, and reminding myself of how much greater He is than anything or anyone in this earth…it’s often a full-time job! He is Capable; He is Mighty.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials….” (verse 3). This is the most difficult verse. Rejoice, Rejoice, REJOICING in adversity and trials. My human nature would rather destroy the thing (s) that hurts me, but our God says to Rejoice. Rather than wallow in the anger and frustration, the depression that stalks us (ALL sent by the enemy, satan), lay it all at the bottom of the cross, at the feet of Jesus. He is our sole source of Salvation. Not a priest, not Buddha or Vishna, not Mother Earth or any other gods. “Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.” – 2 Peter 2:2 (http://bible.com/116/2pe.2.2.NLT)

The TRUTH: “Jesus told him, ‘I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the FATHER except through Me.’ ” – John 14:6 (http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.6.NLT)

AMEN.

Words of Life

What a wonderful, life and love filled world it would be if we could just follow a few simple words!

“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the LORD, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them …. ” Ephesians 6:1-4 NLT

Simple words, easy to understand; not always easy to follow when the parents don’t honor the LORD with their lives. I know so many struggling people, in church, in the recovery programs, and in life, whose parents were far beyond anything worth honoring. Parents who sold their children for sex, parents who abused and brutalized them, even parents who used their own children in satanic rituals. It’s incredible that a parent could treat their child in these ways. Difficult to believe? Absolutely. Even witnessing the physical scars and permanent injuries, and seeing how hard it is for these children, who are now adults, share their stories…. first one-on-one, and then in small, safe groups of people with similar backgrounds, I find it almost impossible to comprehend that a parent could even imagine abusing their child in such a way. Yes, it’s incomprehensible, but it is real.

How do you tell a woman who has been abused her entire life by her earthly father, and often her mother as well, that there is a heavenly Father Who loves her beyond measures? A Father Who will protect her soul for eternity? I have a couple of friends who struggle greatly with this. For one whose parents sold her as a sex slave, and another who was forced to participate in horrific satanic rituals and sacrifices, it’s almost impossible to comprehend a loving Father. So many women (and men) use sex to cover the pain. It becomes a power thing, where she (or he) controls the act, and can even offer a fleeting few moments of physical pleasure. It is a brutal addiction that Satan capitalizes on. He thrives on the pain and addiction, and pushes for more. He is the father of lies and deceit, and he promises the pain will go away if the addict does as he whispers to them. He feeds the lies that she/he is worthless for anything other than the continued abuse. To stop the voices, many sex addicts use alcohol and drugs alongside the sex. Suicide beckons as a permanent escape.

I know that the only escape from the vicious cycle is to surrender everything to Jesus. Stop fighting Him and let Him have the burden. One particular friend wrote that she was tired of fighting, and tired of the constant struggle. I can only encourage her to stop fighting. Stop the struggle. I know it is almost impossible for her to see past the hurt of the past, but I also know that until we let go of the past, we can never move forward. It’s okay to mourn babies we never got to hold or only held for a very short time (and I believe we have to mourn in order to let go) and it’s okay to mourn loved ones who have passed on. There is a season to mourn, and then we must begin to live. She has been holding on to the tragedies and losses of her past so tightly, and for some long, she doesn’t know how to let go.

Come to Jesus, girlfriend. Let Him have your burdens. Open your hands and your heart and allow Him in to clear out the cobwebs. It’s okay to grieve, but move on to the good memories and live life in the now instead of in the past. Revenge is not the answer. Prayer and praise for our deliverance, and thankfulness for our salvation… these are the answer. Come to Jesus.

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” – Romans 15:4 NLT

CREDITS:

John Lawton, for his glorious, happy paintings; and

http://bible.com for the Scriptures.

Promises, Promises

Our lives are full of broken promises. When I turned 5, I was supposed to get a pony for my birthday…. in my mind, at least! Instead, my Dad accepted the pastorate in a small town miles away and we had to move away from our little farm. How dare he! I’m very proud of my Dad for doing this, because he had to stand up to hisparent’s very strong objections. I didn’t get my pony; I got a father who had courage and conviction and a strong faith. People continued to disappoint me as I grew up. My first boyfriend went away to college and ended our relationship. At my college, my first roommates lied and snubbed me – I was naive enough to believe that they were going to welcome me and we would be friends. Not a promise, per se, but definitely an expectation. I broke, have broken, more than my share of promises. A marriage vow is a promise, and I went into my first marriage having received the promise of a faithful husband who would care for me, protect me, and stand by me.

With those promises all broken, it broke me, for many, many years.

Look at Cain and Abel, Noah, Enoch, Abraham and Sarah. (Read Hebrews 11 for the background). Issac, Jacob, Esau…. Job. The list continues, through the entire Bible.

“All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. ….. It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command. How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.” – Hebrews 11:13‭, ‬23‭-‬23‭, ‬32
(http://bible.com/116/heb.11.13-32.NLT)

God has promised that anyone who believes on the LORD Jesus Christ will be saved from eternal damnation and the fires of hell. Why should we believe that God will honor His Promises? The next time it rains, look for the rainbow. God created the rainbow as a sign to signify His promise to Noah that the world would never again be completely flooded, and it hasn’t been. God promised the prophets of old that He would send the Messiah to bear our sins, doing away with the need for a blood sacrifice. He sent Jesus, His Son – His SON – as the Messiah to die for the sins of the world, and to conquer death forever.

When I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired, I accepted that I couldn’t fix me. I had to let Jesus and the Holy Spirit into my heart to begin the healing process. I’m not “fixed” by any measure, but I am getting better. In this world, I accept that life will continue to be a struggle, BUT I know, through faith, that whatever happens here, I will spend eternity with Jesus and many loved ones.

It’s HARD to keep our faith during struggles with broken promises. Broken marriages, lies and cheating, test our faith. Bosses and friends who lie and backstab, betrayal from all sides… these things are so difficult to see past when they are happening. All I can tell you to keep faith is to look UP, not down and certainly not around, and place your trust in God. We will be hurt in the life. We will be lied to and cheated on and betrayed by other people. We will lie and cheat and betray people at some point; it’s inevitable as humans. (Thanks, Adam and Eve!) The LORD will never let you down. He doesn’t lie or cheat or betray us – those honors go to the enemy, Satan.

Be thankful for the little things. Do you have food to eat? Toilet paper? Plenty of things to be thankful for if you just look. Pray. Pray often, praising God for our blessings (remember, LITTLE things count!) Pray, Praise, Thanksgiving.

EVERY Person

This might be the absolute best, most exciting verse in the entire Bible!

“But EVERYONE who calls on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” Acts of the Apostles 2:21 (http://bible.com/116/act.2.21.NLT)

Not just the elite of the world. Not only kings or queens or politicians. Not just the most wealthy or the smartest or the most educated. EVERYONE; ANY one. You. Me. The poor, the helpless, the hapless. The worst of the worst criminals can do it. It doesn’t cost us anything, so economic status is irrelevant. It doesn’t require any physical strength or ability, making Jesus available to the weak and the ill and the impaired. Skin color, age… non of these things matter. I’m human, and wildly imperfect, and it really bothers me that vile, wicked, inhumane people can be forgiven and saved. Pedophiles, adulterers, cruel people. They should be glad that GOD is their judge, instead of me. I know we all be judged according to our lives, and frankly, it’s a scary thought. I don’t pretend to understand how it will all come down; I rely on scripture to explain the Judgement of the LORD. We will all pay for our sins. Every person and every sin, from the the smallest sins of omission to the most egregious sins of commission.

“And I saw a Great White Throne and the ONE sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before GOD’S Throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. ….And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11‭-‬12‭, ‬15 (http://bible.com/116/rev.20.11-15.NLT)

How can we get our names into that book? Call on the Name of Jesus. Accept Him as your Savior and acknowledge Him as the One True God.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16.NLT)

“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to Life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at GOD’S right hand, pleading for us.” Romans 8:34 (http://bible.com/116/rom.8.34.NLT)

Sinful Nature. Truth.

“So now there is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the Power of the Life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1‭-‬2 (http://bible.com/116/rom.8.1-2.NLT)

So, WHY do we keep on sinning???

This is a question that really bothers me. I know the answer, and it continues to bug me. We sin because we are human. We are created in God’s image, and we were created to be companions; to worship and fellowship with Him. Our fatal flaw, AND our saving grace, is the free will God gave us. He didn’t create robots to follow Him without question or thought. He made us with the ability and the desire to know Him and to Love Him because we choose to. He gave us bodies so that we can can see the beauty, hear the music, taste the bounty, and feel the creation. He gave us hands to create, and minds to comprehend. We can build incredible buildings and carve things from solid rock that defy imagination. Hearing nature’s music and the music we make with instruments from our hands and our breath can transport us into beautiful places in our minds. And even with all of this incredible talent and ability our God imbued us with, with all of the intellectual ability He created in us, we continue to turn our backs on Him???

We are selfish. We want what we want when we want it. We are snobs to those who don’t meet our standards. We are petty and hold grudges instead of forgiving. We take advantage of the weak and we have little compassion for the hurting. We are cruel when it suits our purpose, and we despise those who threaten us. WE choose the ugly over the beauty, time after time after time. WHY does God allow this to go on? The answer, though simple, is not pretty. He allows it, because we choose it. Free will.

Yep. We CHOOSE the ugliness and the hatred and the despair. We choose the things of the world over God. There’s no one else to blame; it lands squarely on my shoulders and on yours. (Told you it wasn’t pretty.)

“He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand.” #CSLewis | #ScrewtapeLetters

It is up to us…. no, it is up to ME, to choose to walk (stumble, crawl) with God. No one else can choose for me, and no one but you can choose for yourself. We all know how, too:

“For this is how God Loved the world: He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16.NLT)

Not believe that Jesus is real, but believe IN Him. Even Satan and his demons acknowledge that He is real! Believe IN Jesus Christ as your Savior. Make the RIGHT choice.

Amen.

Be Still

He [The LORD] says, “Be still, and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (https://psalm.bible/psalm-46-10)

I love how God decides what I’m thinking and writing, sometimes mid-sentence. As I sit outside on the back porch this morning, I was considering how beautiful and unusual it is for the 1st day of August in central Oklahoma. It’s raining; a soft, gentle rain with no wind or lightening, and the temperature is hovering around 70°. More like early March or April, really. Whatever the date, I am grateful for the cooler temps and the rain, and enjoying being outside with the pups. So, gratitude is on my mind…..

As I read and take in the words of Psalms 46, it strikes me again that we humans worry too much. I am all for peace between countries (“Peace on earth!”), and I am adamant about conservation and management of our God-given resources; the plants and animals and the earth itself. It is all here for us to use, not to abuse… and it is critical for us as Christians to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout our neighborhoods and cities and countries.

But be still and read these words from the psalmist:

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging….. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our fortress….. He says, “Be still, and know that I AM GOD; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD ALMIGHTY is with us; the GOD of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:2‭-‬3‭, ‬6‭-‬7‭, ‬10‭-‬11 (http://bible.com/111/psa.46.2-11.NIV)

Whatever natural disasters occur, when nation fights nations, He is reminding us again to be still in our hearts, and to take the energy we would spend worrying to instead, worship Him. I really do understand how difficult it can be, and how difficult it IS, to praise God when our lives are in turmoil. I have experienced and witnessed things I couldn’t wish would happen to anyone, but I know that worse things happen to people. There is much evil in this world, and the enemy uses it to try to destroy our faith. It almost worked on me. Years – YEARS – of my life were spent in the enemy’s grasp. It was ugly, at best. Beyond description at the worst, and there are still millions of people caught up by it all. As difficult as it is, I go back to the Psalms to remind myself of God’s power… and to Revelations to see the punishment of evil when God sits on His Judgement Throne. He will reshape the earth and come to dwell with us in the new Jerusalem, the City of God.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” … Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 (http://bible.com/111/rev.21.5.NIV)

LORD, if I am anxious about anything, let me be anxious for Your Return! Amen… He will return like a roaring lion!

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Guilty  – or Innocent? Today I Rant!

I can guarantee that someone, today, will be offended by this post, and that’s fine by me. Here goes!

  “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” – Proverbs 18:5 NIV

This is the dilemma we find ourselves in today. There is the “political correctness” crowd, who insist that those who are in prison should be treated with respect and have access to creature comforts such as air conditioning and televisions and radios. They should be allowed to wear their clothes and their hair the way the want, gangbanger style or redneck or white supremacy or whatever. They “deserve” a variety of food and snacks….. 

And right here is where I stand. Prisons should be just that; PRISON. Oh, I know the arguments for their “rights.” I’ve heard them, and I soundly reject them. I also that that if you listen to the inmates, they are all innocent and deserve better treatment…. Right. As a society, we have bent so far over making sure that the incarcerated receive what they are “entitled ” to, that we have shoved the innocent, the victims, to the side and deprive them of justice. Sheriff Joe Arpaio had the right idea, although he let his ego get in the way and hurt the campaign he started for justice. Convicted criminals don’t deserve amenities. Dress them the same (jumpsuits or scrubs and shoes suitable to their job), shave their heads (yep, even the women), give them a cot to sleep on and maybe one hot meal a day, with sandwiches for lunch and dinner. They should be out working on our roads and bridges, picking up litter along the road, and tending the prison farm so that they can eat. Think that’s too harsh? Then explain to me WHY a prisoner should have better living conditions than thousands upon thousands of our veterans and our elderly? I know there are truly innocent people in prison, and I am sorry they are there. I also believe those people are few and very far between.

  “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” – Galatians 6:1‭-‬6 NIV

As a Christian, I am responsible for my own behavior. Even non-Christians must take responsibility for theirs. I am special in that I am a child of the King, but that does not exempt me from being counseled or punished for what I do. It is also my responsibility to help other Christians who may be straying from the path. NOT judging, but GENTLY showing them through scripture and my actions. It is up to me, and it is a responsibility as a Christian to forgive the sinner. Just note that we are commanded to FORGIVE, NOT forget! I have been pushed and prodded and judged by other Christians when I have strayed, and it was often unpleasant and unproductive. When I am pushed, I push back. It was through gentleness and love that I was able to respond, and return to my Lord. That is the ONLY way to Salvation.

I’m not perfect; I’m far from it. I fail every day in my walk with God, but thankfully, He has washed me clean and lifts me up. He is my Strong Tower. Amen.

  “The NAME of the LORD is a Fortified Tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NIV

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/NLT