Love God, Hate Evil

I love that when I go to Facebook to put my thoughts out there, it always asks “What’s on your mind?” This is on my mind: Loving God, Hating evil; Living as God would have me to. Put another way: Love God, Love people, Love yourself…. Hate evil.

“As I learn Your Righteous regulations, I will thank You by living as I should!” – Psalms 119:7 NLT

How does that translate into our lives today?

“Jesus replied, “My Light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the Light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. Put your trust in the Light while there is still time; then you will become children of the Light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them.” – John 12:35‭-‬36 NLT

But, WHERE is the Light? How do we find it? It is so simple, many people can’t accept it. They want to make it complicated, but here is the simple, unadorned Truth: There is ONE source for the Truth; one source for the Light. That source is made available to anyone – ANYONE – who wants it. That source, the Handbook for life, is called the Bible. God-breathed, God inspired, God given. Paul gives us great instructions on sharing the Light of Jesus.:

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:9‭-‬10‭, ‬13 NLT

It’s all about Love, Light, and freedom from an eternity in hell – and yes, Virginia, there IS a hell, an actual physical place that bleeds over into the world. I have seen glimpses, and it literally almost destroyed me, physically, mentally, and especially spiritually. Just as that evil still tries to destroy me, Satan, who embodies pure evil, strives to destroy us all. “HATE what is wrong.” (verse 9b)

The ONE thing that God is adamant about is the LOVE Him; to accept Jesus Christ as the One Way, the ONLY Way, to true contentment. If we love Him, and give HIM the priority in our lives, we are more likely to recognize evil. If we read His Instruction Manual, we are more likely to recognize the “wrongs” in our life.

Are you willing to turn your back on the things the world deems acceptable? Are you ready to have friends and family tell you that what they are doing is all in fun, and not at all sinful, in order to justify their actions?

Loving God and following His Word is often difficult because of the people around us, but the joy and contentment He provides is well worth it! Jesus taught His disciples and entrusted them with His profound message, which they shared with the world through their teaching and preaching. Most importantly, they wrote it all down, so that all further generations would have the Words of Jesus to follow, too. We have heard the Gospel; now, what will we do with it, in light of the current state of the world?

“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My Name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.
If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both Me and My Father.
But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.’
When the Advocate comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of Truth Who goes out from the Father – He will testify about Me.
And you also must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning.” — John 15:20‭-‬27

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Pretty powerful stuff…….

Forget Religion

“When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the [Holy] Spirit, using the [Holy] Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, “Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach Him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 2:13‭-‬16 (http://bible.com/116/1co.2.13-16.NLT)

SPIRITUAL truths, not religious; no, the Apostles are spiritual, and they have religious fervor when teaching and preaching the Gospel.

As defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary:

Spiritual –

1: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity; a religious person, religious attitudes
2: of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances; joined a religious order
3a: scrupulously and conscientiously faithful; b: fervent, zealous

Religious –

1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit :incorporeal ;

spiritual needs
2a: of or relating to sacred matters; spiritual songs, b: ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal; spiritual authority
3: concerned with religious values

4: related or joined in spirit
5a: of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena; b: of, relating to, or involving spiritualism :spiritualistic
1: the view that spirit is a prime element of reality; 2a: belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living usually through a medium; b: capitalized: a movement comprising religious organizations emphasizing spiritualism

There, under the definition of religious, are the words I take issue with. To be more ecclesiastical than lay is (to me) to give my Christianity over to be defined by a priest or other ecumenical leader. To participate in spiritualism, as defined above, I am surrendering my very soul to the enemy, satan, the father of lies. In order to understand and love the Christ, I believe we need to take Paul’s words to the Corinthians to heart. There is too much “Religion” in our world, and not enough Spiritual Love shown through us to the world. Not spiritualism, but the love of the LORD; the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

He Knit Me Together

I LOVE this! Before I was even a thought in my mother’s mind, GOD was with me.

“YOU {GOD} made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” – – Psalms 139:13-14 NLT

Imagine! Marvel at His creation! He takes 2 cells, which alone are nothing, and He joins them together to create the complex and incredible thing we call life! Man can join the cells, and man can manipulate the cells, but only GOD can create the life within; what a MARVEL, what IMAGINATION, what CREATIVITY!

My puny little mind has trouble grasping the sheer magnitude of it all. Every single day in this country, thousands of babies die through abortion. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the AGI (Guttmacher Institute), in 2015 there were over 900,000 babies aborted. Killed. Of those, less than 2% – 2% – were from rape, incest, or the mother’s life was in danger! That’s insane. Basically, that means that 98% of babies who are murdered each year is because the mother doesn’t want to deal with it, for whatever reason. According to the CDC, in 2013, black women were 3.75% more likely to have an abortion than white women. Where are the pro athletes standing – or kneeling – on this issue?

Even if this were not a moral issue, it should be a financial issues. 17 states use public funds to pay for abortion, and about 14% of all abortions in the U.S. are paid for with public funds. That’s our tax dollars at work, people. Putting aside both of those objections, think on this for a moment. There is a tremendous outcry for more gun control because there were 59 people killed and over 500 injured this past week in Las Vegas. The hurricanes this year have taken 34 lives (so far) in Puerto Rico, and over 1oo in the Florida and Texas hurricanes. There has been a vigorous response to all of these tragedies, as there should be. I am by no means making light of these because they are devastating. I’m pointing out that lives lost due to overt violence or through natural disasters are next to nothing when compared to the over 2,400 lives lost every day through abortion. Where is the outrage; the outcry? I don’t hear it.

Did you know that at 45 days after conception, the heart is formed and beating? At 9 weeks, well within the first trimester, there is a recognizable baby, and at 52 weeks, babies have retinas, feet and hands? Check out this fascinating, eye-opening video – https://www.ted.com/talks/alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_birth_visualized .

Not just fascinating, but fantastic, awe-inspiring, breathtakingly beautiful, or to quote Alexander Tsiaras, “The magic, the mystery, the divine that is us.”

Thought provoking? I pray so.

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.

In Christ Alone

From the Catholic faith comes this beautiful prayer, called St. Patrick’s Breastplate, from which I pulled this excerpt:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today.

God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I am not Catholic, because I know that the only intercession I need with God comes through Jesus Christ, not a man. No matter what church name is over the door, it is the belief in Jesus’ saving Grace that we need in our lives. If the Catholic Church, or Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Church of Christ or of God, Southern Baptist or any other Baptist, or Methodist, teaches that the only way to God is through His Son Jesus Christ, that’s all that matters to me. The LORD will judge people’s hearts, not me.

This prayer touches my heart, and I pray that it touches many others. It reminds me of the 23rd Psalm, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want… ”

Paul wrote to the Ephesians on the power of faith and prayer:

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the FATHER, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.

Then CHRIST will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His Love is. May you experience the Love of CHRIST, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from GOD.

Now all glory to GOD, Who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever!AMEN.” – Ephesians 3:14‭-‬21 (http://bible.com/116/eph.3.14-21.NLT)

End Times, or Chicken Little

Remember the story of Chicken Little? He ran around yelling “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” He did it so often that when the sky actually fell, no one believed him since he had yelled in error so many times before. That seems to be happening today in our world ….

I won’t be one of those people who stand on the street corner, brandishing a sign, proclaiming “the End is Near!” Well, I say that, and then I remind myself that I don’t know what God has planned for me. Let me rephrase. I don’t expect to be a street corner prophet…. but perhaps I am, in an electronic sense. Still, I find the following scriptures to be fascinating, especially in lieu of the nature events going on around the world.

” ‘In the last days,’ GOD says, ‘I will pour out My Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out My Spirit even on My servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ ” – Acts of the Apostles 2:17‭-‬21 (http://bible.com/116/act.2.17-21.NLT) Also read Joel chapters 2-3

Fascinating, and quite scarey. Watching videos of the record breaking fires in the northwest, in California, and in Canada, the sun is darkened and the moon looks red from all of the smoke in the air. People who were interviewed stated things like “It seems like twilight at noon” and comments on how red the moon appears. Is it time for the second coming of Jesus? I defer to these verses:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” – Matthew 24:36 (http://bible.com/116/mat.24.36.NLT) Also, Mark 13:32, and Acts 1:7

Despite all the people screaming about the end of the earth as we know it because of wars and pollution and global warming, the truth is that this is all a part of God’s plan. Yes, the damage we humans have done to the earth is irreparable; at least, it is for us. Nothing is beyond God. NOTHING. When Jesus returns, whether it is today or in another 2000 years, and after He defeats the enemy (and He will defeat Satan, no doubts on that score!), we will see a new heaven and a new earth. All of the damage with be gone.

“But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with GOD’S Righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13 (http://bible.com/116/2pe.3.13.NLT)

What a promise! I highly recommend reading 2 Peter chapter 3 in it’s entirety as well as the rest of the above noted scriptures. In fact, sit down and start reading the whole New Testament. I know it can be difficult to get through all the genealogy of Jesus, but cross reference some of the names with their stories in the Old Testament. Jesus wasn’t born with a silver spoon, and His human ancestors were a motley crew. Just goes to show you that God can use anyone, no matter how broken, to fulfill His plans.

You have to decide for yourself whether you think we are in the end times, or if we’re all Chicken Littles. Whatever you decide, remember this. No man, I reiterate, NO MAN, can say when Christ will return. Only God knows, and He isn’t sharing the information. This is why Jesus tells us to be ready at any moment. Personally, I believe we are well into the end, and I know without any doubt that He will return. Someday, time and date unknown and unspeculated by me. Chicken Little? No, just a believer.

Side note: I haven’t seen this movie and I am not advocating for anyone else to see it; the image is strictly for illustrative purposes.

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.