Willful Disobedience

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay.” And again, “the LORD will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NASB

We can know the truth, but sometimes in the moment (oftentimes?) the reality is that we think we know better and that what we are doing isn’t really a sin. Anytime – any time – we are willfully disobedient we sin. Did that strike a nerve? It did with me. I sin many times daily, but I don’t (usually!) consciously choose to do so. If I know the risk, and do it anyway, is that being willfully disobedient? If I choose badly, no, when I choose badly, especially in big decisions, my body immediately tells me. My stomach clenches. I get crazy butterflies….. or an angry swarm of bees….. in my gut. An indescribable ache starts up betweenmy eyes. Then when the error manifests itself and becomes obvious, my heart drops and fear tries to overtake me.

My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….. I could listen to this, and sing along with Josh Baldwin, all day, but right now, my heart is on the floor, and Mercy Me’s lyrics to Even If resonant within me.
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul. I know it, but I can’t feel it. I know to let God lead. His hands are holding me, no matter what. I know this, but right now I don’t feel it, and that’s on me. All He can do is offer. It’s up to me to accept His help. Amen.

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GOD is My Refuge and Strength

“GOD is our Refuge and Strength, A very present help in trouble.” – Psalms 46:1 NASB

Big Daddy Weave sings this song called Alive. Here’s an excerpt:

I am far from being perfect
There are days that I regret
On this battlefield I struggle
With the lies that I have lived
I have fallen short of glory
I can’t make it on my own
If You kept record of my past
I’d be sinking like a stone

But God, rich in mercy
You came to save me
Now I’m alive**

Without Him, where would I be? Probably not alive! Oh, God, how I need You in my life! There is nothing I can do or say that can negate that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. His Mercy and Grace sustain me. Everyday life gets to me sometimes, tying my stomach in knots when siruations spiral out of my control….. which means my stomach is tied in knots a lot!

Can the God Who created the Universe care about me and my everyday concerns? Can He, does He, care about my feelings? Jesus says that not only He can care, He does care about each and every single one of us!

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ….. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NASB

Whenever I catch myself getting tense and anxious, these are the verses I need to be thinking of. No matter what is going on, He is with me.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” – Psalms 56:3‭-‬4‭, ‬8 NASB

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NASB

What are you anxious about today? What twists your mind and your stomach into knots; what are you afraid of? Spend time in prayer, just talking to the LORD. It still amazes me that I can have a conversation with Him!

Thank You, LORD, for sending Your Son so that I can have a life in eternity with You. All the petty things in this life that I get twisted into knots over – I know in my heart You have it all under control! Now, if you could just get my head to follow along….. The relationship I pray for is in your hands. My home, my finances, my health. Thank You for removing those burdens from my soul. In Your Precious Name, I lay my heart. Amen.

**Alive by Big Daddy Weave Publishing: © So Essential Tunes / Fellow Ships Music (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music., Be Essential Songs / Anthems of Hope / Westeria Drive (BMI). Admin by Essential Music., So Essential Tunes / Hickory Bill Doc (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music / Writer(s): Jason Ingram, Zach Williams, and Jonathan Smith

In The Eye of The Storm

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55:6 NIV

In The Eye of The Storm is a song by Ryan Stevenson that really speaks to me right now. It’s not my walk, necessarily, that is stormy, but that doesn’t make it less real – or deadly. Whenever someone close to us finds out they are dealing with cancer or another health issue, we feel so helpless. What can we do? I’ve heard people say “I can’t do anything else, so I’ll pray…..” (or some variation of it). I wonder why we say that?

Praying is the most powerful thing we can possibly do, especially when the affected person might not be a Christian!

Seek the LORD. Call His Name. Search the scriptures. Pray. Pray more. Talk to GOD. He is there. Always. Whether you whisper to Him, or scream at Him; carry on a conversation…. all He wants, all He is waiting for, is us asking for Him. Of course we all want our loved one healed, the sooner the better. Isn’t that what we ask for, plead for? I don’t know why we have to go through these things – only, wait, I do know.

It’s called consequences, and just for the record, I despise that word. I hate that we have sin and evil in the world. So am I saying that that the person who has a diagnosis deserves it? Well…… yes, actually. Even the tiniest baby, the newest newborn. We are flawed, sinful beings, and we deserve much worse than anything we see on this earth. Why? Because we have taken the free will our Creator gave us, and we have rejected Him and chosen the world. Thank GOD that He has seen fit to deliver us from what we deserve through the sacrifice of His Son for each of us!

Truly, GOD doesn’t want any of His Creation to suffer, especially the innocent. When we ask for His deliverance from our consequences, He always answers. Always. His answer may be yes, it may be wait, and it may be no. We don’t ever want to hear anything but yes! As harsh as it may seem to you, we don’t often (ever?) get our happily ever after on this earth. We will suffer. I hate it, but it’s true. There is only one way to get the real happy ever after. Ready?

“JESUS answered, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 NIV

“For GOD so Loved the world that He gave His ONE AND ONLY SON, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NIV

Once more, the words of JESUS. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but He knows that we will because of where we live (i.e. earth).

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV

Like Paul, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…… that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of GOD. In the same way, the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the SPIRIT Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And we know that in all things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:18‭, ‬21‭-‬21‭, ‬26‭, ‬28 NIV

AMEN.


Hurricane Irma. Image from the Daily Express.

Overwhelmed by Life

Lately, it seems to be my primary feeling, and I know where it comes from. I’m going to tell you a story – a true story; one that is difficult to write and might be difficult to read, but it is a story that needs to told because it is a story of Hope.

I am single now, free of the ups and downs and the drama of the bad relationships I have spent the majority of my life entangled in. The last one ended just short of a year ago (he walked out, “not going to do this anymore,” 3 days after Christmas – but that’s a story for another time).

There has been much good in my life. I grew up surrounded by siblings and family, and we had many good times and made many lasting memories. There was a lot of drama, but with 6 kids in a small town preacher’s house, could it be any different? 😊 From a very young age, I knew JESUS loved me and died for me, and I loved spending time in the church with my Daddy – both of them! (If you need an explanation, Daddy, my earthly daddy, and Daddy, my heavenly Father, Abba.)

As a teenager, I suffered all of the traditional angst and uncertainty, but being surrounded by a (mostly) Christian youth group, I survived it. Leaving my birth family and my church family for college was where I began to stumble. Having spent my life immersed in and protected by he church – and I mean the church, not the building – there as an element of culture shock when I got to the school. Except for family vacations around the western United States, I had never been out of central Oklahoma, and I was suddenly surrounded by people who had been all over the world! Attending a Christian – no, a Baptist college, and I was introduced to the world of dancing (gasp!) alcohol, smoking, and more.

It is frightening, now, to realize how deep and tight a hold the Enemy had on that little school. Christian schools are not exempt from the troubles of the world; I believe that our Lord’s enemies specifically target them. They don’t need to focus on the non-Christian entities because they already own them.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices in front of me. Just a tiny sample of these ‘forbidden fruits’ ….. but for me, the tiny samples weren’t enough, and the enemy took that and ran with it. From being immersed in the church, to submersion in the world. Overwhelming. For those of you who have dealt with any kind of hurt, habit, or hangup, you understand. I came very quickly to rely on man to fulfill my wants, rather than the GOD Who Loved me. Ladies, women, girls – MAN, whether a man or men in general, will never hold you with the exquisite love and care that JESUS will! They promise the sun and the moon and the stars, but they cannot deliver. The One Who owns the sun and the moon and the stars is the only One Who can deliver, and you know what? He wants to give it all to you!

Like Moses and the Israelites, it took me (almost literally) 40 years of wandering in the wilderness of the sin of the world to recognize where I was. There were moments of clarity when I could see the LORD and worship Him, but then, like the Israelites, the world (the enemy) would again prevail and my ‘golden calf’ would take my attention. It was never riches or worldly things, not drugs or food or other addictions that took my attention, it was men. I was a relationship addict.

Functioning without a man by my side just wasn’t something I could envision for my life. That’s ridiculous, you say? Would you say to a heroin addict that needing heroin was ridiculous? An addiction is an addiction and can take many forms. Drugs and alcohol are probably the most recognized, followed by food – anorexia, bulimia, chronic obesity. The self-inflicted pain of cutting is an addiction, and you can be addicted to the pain of the losses of your past, refusing to let go and move on with your life. The fear of change, and the fear of more, different pain, keeps us frozen in place. Overwhelming fear.

Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed, having to make momentous, life-changing decisions by myself, without the input of a partner. Maybe it’s easy for you, but for someone who has depended on her partner’s approval for much of her life, it is hard. Whether single by choice or widowed, separated, or divorced, show compassion and understanding to your women friends, and include yourself in that compassion! Whenever possible, offer your assistance, not your judgement. Listen to your friend, then listen for the LORD’S answer. Pray for clarity…. and Peace. The Bible tells us to be merciful:

“I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.” – Luke 19:26 NASB

I have been given much, and I have lost much. Does that make me a bad person? No, just a person who has made many poor (bad) decisions; relying on self and man, rather than the LORD GOD, ABBA, Father. I don’t like asking for help. Most of my life I have been physically able to do just about anything I chose to do. That is no longer true, and it is quite irritating. We – the entire Christ-following community need to be more aware of those in need. Single women, for whatever reason they are alone, and the more obvious elderly, should be at the top of our prayers….. and actions. I am guilty of inaction myself, and it is only because I have joined those ranks that I see the needs more clearly.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:27 NASB

GOD IS GOOD. In spite of my poor decision-making skills, the Father has always provided for my needs. Not necessarily my wants, but always my needs. When I look to Him, the feeling of being overwhelmed begins to recede to the background. The pressing decisions don’t go away; I just recognize that GOD is in control – and I’m not god! “Forever and ever His Heart is my home!” Thank you, Matt Maher, for those uplifting words!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, my prayer is that you will be able to tear your eyes away from whatever it is that is causing your anxiety, and fix your eyes on the LORD.

The NAME

“The Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name in a curse. And they brought him to Moses—now his mother’s name was Shelomith, daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan— and they put him in custody, until the decision of the Lord should be made clear to them.” …… “Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin. One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death.” – Leviticus 24:11‭-‬12‭, ‬14‭-‬16 NRSV

Walk around any public venue today, and you will hear GOD’s Name used every way possible, except in Praise. Blasphemy isn’t a term we hear or use much anymore, but that is exactly what we are doing. I’ve had my stint at cursing, and was good enough at it to make people reel at my words (years ago, and it was a terrible habit to overcome). Despite the garbage coming out of my mouth, subconsciously my mind prevented me from cursing GOD directly. Even in those days of shaking my fist at Him, I feared His wrath. WHY, do you think, that so many people curse GOD, but you rarely hear Satan’s name used to curse? Perhaps we are afraid of him, but primarily, I believe it’s because the enemy is already cursed and he encourages blasphemy as part of his plan to subvert us.

Judging from the current language standards, I’d say that the enemy is succeeding in a huge way. It has become the norm to curse and be disrespectful of the LORD; so much so, that we hear it from newscasters, athletes, politicians, teachers, actors, and bosses; on tv and in movies. Even people professing JESUS as LORD use foul language as part of their every day, ‘normal’ speaking patterns. I shudder to think of all those people (including myself) facing the Day of Judgement and confessing our use – no, our misuse – of our language, especially for those who don’t have an Advocate in JESUS. This verse from Proverbs states it well:

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” – Proverbs 13:20 NRSV

We have to determine who we will walk through life with. Most, if not all, of us chooses badly at some point in our lives, or maybe many times, like I did. Without choosing JESUS as our primary partner in life, I’m not even sure it’s possible to walk with the wise, but I can testify to the folly of keeping company with fools! Do you choose life with the companionship and wisdom of the LORD, or are you past all that and making your own choices? I promise you, choosing to walk through life with JESUS may seem to be more difficult than life without Him, but the Peace and Joy – and Mercy! – more than compensates for our difficulties. The thought of having a Glorious Eternity with Him keeps me going!

Are you confident of your eternity? Take a Salvation check – are you ready? Let’s be Radical Christians together.

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have Eternal LIFE. “For GOD so loved the world that He gave His Only SON, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” – John 3:14‭-‬16 NRSV

Image credit: http://www.charlesspecht.com

Fool Me Once, Shame On You

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!”

JESUS said it before it was made generic: “Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:43‭-44 NLT

Shamed because we listen to the enemy; we are fooled by his lies. Ah, but they are beautiful lies! He says to us: follow my way, and I will make you rich, famous, sexy…. whatever we desire, no matter our dreams, the enemy promises it all to us, with a single caveat: turn away from GOD. He doesn’t require us to deny that JESUS is the SON of GOD, because even Satan and his demons know that our JESUS is alive and fighting the Good Fight for us. The liar simply does anything and everything he can to turn us away from our Creator. The same GOD Who created us and the universe created Lucifer, aka Beelzebub, aka Satan; that rebellious fallen angel, who has this mis-guided idea that he is also a god and that he will be victorious over our LORD and that he will be the ruler of heaven instead of GOD.

Note this! Satan will not win, no matter what tactics he uses. He knows this, but refuses to believe it, and he has made it his goal to take as many humans as he possibly can to share his eternal torment in hell. And so he lies, and twists the Truth into a more palatable truth; a truth that cannot save us from GOD’s Wrath.

“But we belong to GOD, and those who know GOD listen to us. If they do not belong to GOD, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the SPIRIT of TRUTH or the spirit of deception.” – 1 John 4:6 NLT

“And you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free.” So if the SON sets you Free, you are Truly FREE.” – John 8:32‭, ‬36 NLT

What is your truth? Is it the ‘truth’ of the father of lies, or the TRUTH of our CREATOR GOD and His SON, JESUS CHRIST?

B.I.B.L.E.

So you like anagrams? Me, too! Here’s another one I have seen:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. B.I.B.L.E.

For several years, I was a leader in the recovery program at my church. We asserted (and I still do) that 1) Everyone alive has Hurts, Hangups, and Habits, and 2) There are two types of people in the world – those who need recovery, and those who are in recovery. The small groups I led were made up primarily of women who had suffered some form of abuse in the lives; some had been in horrific situations. Why didn’t they just leave, you ask? Oh, it’s not that simple, and it’s a subject I have addressd in previous blogs, so it won’t be dealt with today. In our ‘Basic Instructions’, a very important thing I’ve learned is that any situation we find ourselves in, whether by our choices or someone else’s choices, we don’t have to go through it alone. Read all of Psalm 27. These are a few of the verses I like to share with my ‘girls’ – and also with any man who is struggling. Struggles and hurt are not gender specific!

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. You have said, “Seek My Face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” – Psalms 27:1‭, ‬3‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭, ‬10‭-‬10‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

If you are paying attention, I have used these verses in other blogs. They are very appropriate scripture verses to use every day! In verse 10, the psalmists states that his “father and … mother have forsaken” him. I was blessed beyond measure that mine did not forsake me when I was caught up in the enemy’s traps, although they were hurt beyond imagination by my lifestyle. That, unfortunately, is not always the case. For a number of my girls, the abusive lives they were trapped in was, in fact, perpetrated by their very own parents. It’s frequently on the news as well, when parents, foster parents, relatives, and other authority figures are the sources of abuse. I can’t even imagine how an adult can be that way to a child, or another adult. It is straight from the depths of hell. But read on to verses 13-14!

“I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

We read these verses with incredible Hope. I, too, like the psalmist, believe that “I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! I see it every day. The Goodness of the LORD shines through the changed lives of the women (and men) who have sought the LORD in their lives, and allows others to see how Good He is, for:

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised, and His Greatness is Unsearchable.” – Psalms 145:3 ESV

Do you have the Hope, the Peace, the LIGHT of the LORD in your life? He doesn’t care how ‘bad’, how broken you are. He wants us as we are. He is the Great Physician, the Creator and Craftsman. Ony the LORD can repair us and hold us together. Don’t mistake this to say that once you receive JESUS CHRIST as LORD of your life, everything will become peaches and cream. Au contraire, my friends, when we allow Him to Love us as He longs to, the enemy, that prince of everything dark and evil, known as Satan – our enemy will hit us with anything he can come up with to turn our face away from the LORD. It often works, too. When the abuse doesn’t lessen, when our finances get worse instead of better, when illness seems to loom over us and our loved ones, even death…. we can reach for heaven and the Peace of the Holy Spirit, or we can fall into ugliness and despair. It’s always a choice; one that I confess to messing up quite frequently.

“For from HIS Fullness we have all received, Grace upon Grace. …. For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His Only SON, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the Only SON of GOD.” – John 1:16; 3:16‭-‬18 ESV

AMEN. How will you fare when standing in front of The Judge?