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

See Me ROAR

There’s a lot to take in and absorb in the following scriptures. Only 7 short verses, but extremely important for us to pay attention to as followers of Jesus Christ. 

  “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For GOD has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my Helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” Remember your leaders who taught you the Word of GOD. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” – Hebrews 13:1‭-‬7 

There is so much emphasis throughout scripture on how to treat others. Love and honor, being hospitable, respect, learning to be content…. common themes, but how well do we put them into practice? So many people have left the church because of the way they were treated. Maybe we don’t dress correctly, or smell nice; we don’t have the right type of job or we aren’t driving a good enough vehicle or live in the nicer neighborhoods. Could be we’ve done time in prison, or committed adultery or openly lived in sin. Perhaps we have left and abusive relationship, or suffer from some type of disfigurement…. Too many churches are strictly superficial and can’t abide anyone who doesn’t meet their standards. Those churches may have Christians in the membership, but they are not biblical churches. Hypocrites and the pious are not representing Christ, but we have to keep in mind that we are ALL hypocrites who have fallen short! The very best church – in my humble opinion  – is that church that is full of sinners and the fallen; the people who have accepted that they are sinners saved by Grace and God’s Mercy.

As the saying goes, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” You may be the wealthiest person alive, but that won’t save you. Money, power, and prestige mean absolutely nothing without the saving power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I’m getting all preachy, and if you don’t like it, well, it really doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is the Truth of GOD’S Word. I have to take care daily that I am receptive to the Word, and I have to be conscious and vigilant of my thoughts. I fail constantly! Peter reminds us:

  “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”- 1 Peter 5:8‭-‬9 ( All scriptures quoted are from http://bible.com/116/1pe.5.8-9.NLT)

Whether entertaining angels or ministering to the elderly, widows, or orphans; being respectful to the person you really just want to spit on; remember WHO we represent…. and HELP each other! LOVE really is the answer, when we realize Who Love is.

Father of my Father

Father of my Father

Oh, I pray this day comes soon!

  “Rise up, O GOD, and scatter Your enemies. Let those who hate GOD run for their lives. Blow them away like smoke. Melt them like wax in a fire. Let the wicked perish in the presence of GOD. But let the godly REJOICE. Let them be Glad in GOD’S Presence. Let them be filled with Joy. Sing Praises to GOD and to His Name! Sing loud Praises to Him Who rides the clouds. His Name is the LORD – Rejoice in His Presence! FATHER to the fatherless, DEFENDER of widows – this is GOD, Whose dwelling is Holy. GOD places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them Joy. But He makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land…. Praise the LORD; praise GOD our SAVIOR! For each day He carries us in His Arms. Our GOD is a GOD Who saves! The SOVEREIGN LORD rescues us from death. But GOD will smash the heads of His enemies, crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.” – Psalms 68:1‭-‬6‭, ‬19‭-‬21

Many of us are saying “When, LORD? When will we be free; when will we have this Joy You speak of? And when will our enemies be crushed and perish, since so many of them seem to be the ones who prosper th most in this world? ” A thousand years to us is but a day to the LORD, so consider that it has only been a couple of days since Jesus died and rose from the grave. 

  “LORD, through ALL the generations You have been our Home! Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are GOD. You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” For You, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.” Psalms 90:1‭-‬4 

When you feel most hopeless, completely mired down with despair, you are not alone…. IF you have accepted Jesus as Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit into your life. I’ve dealt with those feelings, and it was only through the Grace of our Glorious GOD that I made it through them (with a lot of help from the doctors that the LORD has given the talent to help others). I absolutely cannot imagine experiencing all that without GOD on my side! Even when our spouse cheats or abandons us; losing our livelihood, our home, our “stuff” through experiences out of our control; losing a child or beloved family member to death…. The LORD will sustain us, IF we allow Him to. Far too often, we react to bad things by blaming GOD, when we should be looking at the enemy and swath of destruction, Satan’s joy. Satan’s excitement and satisfaction comes from us rejecting GOD; from us blaming our LORD, rather than him. When we turn away from GOD, I imagine he and his demonic beings are doing a little happy dance. BUT, he will get his just rewards:

  “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse [see, I TOLD you there are horses in heaven!!] was standing there. Its Rider was named FAITHFUL and TRUE, for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war…. On His robe at His thigh was written this title: KING of all kings and LORD of all Lords. And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast – miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16‭-‬16‭, ‬20 

  “And He (The LORD) also said, “It is finished! I AM the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the Water of Life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their GOD, and they will be my children. But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Revelation 21:6‭-‬8 

Have you received the Water of Life? Because if you have, we’ll get to meet in heaven with Jesus and all of the saints and our loved ones who have gone before us. HALLELUJAH!
 (All scriptures quoted  http://bible.com/NLT)

Warning…

Paul gets pretty down and dirty with his letters to the churches…. Honesty and truth can be difficult to hear.

 “(3b) Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (16) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (19) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.” ” – Romans 12:3‭b,16‭,‬19 NLT

I’ve studied these verses before, but they are never easy to read when I consider how I have lived most of my life. Being the third child, I struggled with following a “perfect” older sister who did everything right (my perception – sorry, Lu!), and an older brother. Instead of being obedient and compliant, he rebelled, leaving me in a limbo of achievement (to gain approval) and rebellion, because I wanted to be accepted by him, too. It’s a weird place to be. Now, I realize that my sister had more expectations to live with as the oldest sibling than we did, but we couldn’t see it while growing up. Then to that, add the perceptions and expectations that were added on to us since we were the “pk’s” (preacher’s kids). A lot of those pressures came from outside the family, both in the church and the community. 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not making excuses or placing blame. My parents did the best they could, and we always knew we were loved. Despite their best efforts, I – as well as several of my siblings – responded very differently than was expected. Rebellion became a big part of my life once I left home for college. A good Christian girl goes off to a respected Christian college (hmm, could be the title for a book!) and was immersed in a society that this small town, naive girl had  never really imagined. Something like going in the deep end before you learn to swim! It didn’t take long for the seduction and temptations of the the enemy swept me into the rapids of life where I was rather quickly caught up, spun out of control, and unable to escape. 

It’s human nature to try to control our situations and surroundings. When our lives spin out of control, oftentimes we react by focusing, almost with tunnel vision, on the things we do have power over. I couldn’t be honest with myself or my family, because to do so would shed light on things in my life that I couldn’t stand to see. My self worth had already been beaten up pretty well by my brother. According to him, I was ugly and stupid…. and regardless of how many times I was told the opposite by others, his comments hit me the hardest. How did I cope? Attitude, baby, pretentious attitude! I quickly discovered that men wanted me. Not only any permanent basis, but they could make me feel beautiful and desirable for a few minutes. I took advantage of this, and married the first one that asked… and egotistical, completely self-absorbed misogynist. I lost the little bit of myself that was left under his “reign.” After years of his abuse, I managed to get away, where I took on the attitudes he taught me. My hard protective shell was one of being better than others. I discovered that if I acted as though I knew the answers, people believed me. I was a snob, a know-it-all, and quick to plot revenge on anyone who did me wrong – real or perceived. 

In short, I was miserable, so I maintained a near constant “party” so I didn’t have to feel. I married my best friend, a good man who actually treated me well, and lost him because of my attitudes and inability to believe he could truly love me. It was messed up. Sadly,  after that I spiraled deeper. I was mad at God for allowing all of the abuse and garbage into my life, and determined to lay ALL the blame on Him. To prove it, I looked for another man to save me. I found another one who loved me and married me, and we continued to party together. Long story…..

Eventually, after losing him to drug addiction and death, I set out to rescue lost souls, because you know I was so healthy myself. It took two more abusive husbands to get it. Humility can be a harsh lesson to learn. As I slowly began to learn it (progress, not perfection), I also realized that over all those years of searching for Mr. Right, He was standing right next to me! Jesus provides me with all that I need. He doesn’t denigrate me or abuse me. He loves me as I am, uncompromising and unconditionally. That’s AMAZING!! Not only did Paul point out the attitudes we don’t need to carry as Christians, but John says it perfectly for me:

  “Such Love has no fear, because Perfect Love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His Perfect Love.” – 1 John 4:18 NLT

I spent years in fear, hiding behind ego and perfectionism and plotting revenge. I hurt others, and I especially hurt myself. We create these prisons in our hearts for other people, but the truth is that we are locking ourselves up instead. As Peter saysYou have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” – 1 Peter 4:3 NLT 

Jesus made sure that we will never be alone if we accept His gift of eternal life. He has sent the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us as a constant. We are never alone. Jesus said: And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, Who will NEVER leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” – John 14:16‭-‬17 NLT 

The Advocate lives with me. Thank You, Jesus!


(All scriptures quoted from  http://bible.com )