Throwing Stones

We are so quick to judge and condemn! Actual stoning might not be practiced or legal anymore – except under Islamic law – but the verbal stones we throw are just as deadly. Most recently, the young artist Lauren Daigle has been harshly criticized for her response to the question “do you feel that homosexuality is a sin?” in a radio interview with Domenick Nati. I have great respect for her answer, and I love that she ends the comment with “I’m learning too.” Here is her full response:

“I can’t honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual. I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God. So when people ask questions like that…that’s what my go to is. I just say read the Bible and find out for yourself. And when you find out let me know, because I’m learning too.” (Emphasis mine) I identify with her answers. I can’t say that I love that someone is a homosexual, but I can certainly love the person. When you read Lauren’s statement, she is encouraging the questioner(s) to study GOD’s Word and discover the Truth for themselves! Isn’t that what we all should be doing? Why do we start throwing stones, instead of encouraging another Christ-follower in her walk with the SAVIOUR? If she is on going on talk shows and sharing her faith with the non-Christian world, who are we to criticize? Why are we so anxious to negate her testimony?

“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” ” – John 8:7 NASB

When I hear that statement from my LORD, my hands immediately drop the “stones” I’m gripping. I find myself praying for Lauren Daigle in her walk of sharing JESUS with the world. Christian artists are hit by the same temptations that we are – even more than us, because they are such a prominent target for the enemy. Just like any other man, woman, or child, they can slip. It doesnt mean they don’t love the LORD; it just means they are human. If something that we consider inappropriate speech happens, or in our eyes they don’t stand firmly enough, are we, you and I, worthy of passing judgement? Better read John 8:7 again, and consider our own lives before grabbing that stone. In fact, take that pile of stones you have stockpiled and turn it into gravel, then spread it out to make their path a little smoother.

I am not worthy of judging anyone, based on my life. I still do, but lately I find myself dropping more rocks than I throw. I personally have been judged and found guilty by man. The first time I shared my testimony in front of a large recovery group, I was approached by someone who had known my sister for years, and whom I had known for about 6 months. He knew about “that sister,” the one who was fallen and broken ….. but he didn’t know that I was that sister. He had judged – harshly – the person he knew only because of the prayers and his friendship of my family. He was shocked to be introduced to the before sister, and trying to reconcile it with the present sister. When you meet someone new, they only see the now. Would they be shocked at finding out who you were before you surrendered to the LORD?

Sometimes, actually too often, I find myself judging someone without knowing them. We are all flawed, broken, and undeserving of GOD’s Love, yet He still freely offers that unconditional LOVE to us. The only difference – the only difference between me and the rankest, darkest sinner is that I have asked for and received the forgiveness of my LORD JESUS. I still deserve too be stoned to death, but He reached out and washed away all my sins with His Blood sacrifice. How can I judge anyone else? We are not perfect, and instead of condemning the talk or behavior of a missionary to the world, perhaps we should do as Lauren Daigle says and read the Bible. Admit that we aren’t GOD (Thank You, JESUS, for showing me that Truth!) Spend time in prayer for that person. Christians have no need for trash talk!

Go out into the world, Lauren Daigle, and continue to spread the LOVE of our LORD JESUS CHRIST to the world. Praying for you, sister!

Photo credit: https://texasbeyondhistory.net/plateaus/images/ap15.html

Perfection!

I am the middle child. Actually, I share that spot with my next younger sister, because out of 6 kids (poor Mom!) I am third and she is fourth – 2 ahead of me, and 2 after her. I am the baby of the first 3, and she is the eldest of the last 3. We have also concluded that most (all!) of us are ADD, and some are ADHD as well, starting with my parents- and it really goes back further than them. My life is an oxymoron 😎 …. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with us!

Whatever spot I choose for the moment, baby or middle-child, I must admit that I have been guilty of pride and perfection much of my life. Is that an affliction? Perfectionism stems from many things, both internal and external. I think that on a subconscious level, we make the choice to be prideful and conceited. I chose both, to hide the damaged, broken parts that I am comprised of. Whatever I did, I did with the attitude that if I did it, it was the right thing to do. Whatever I decided was the right decision, the only logical conclusion in my mind; therefore, anyone else was obviously wrong. I had the attitude that I was invincible, hard and sharp-edged – and I was hard and cut people like a knife with my words and actions. I sound like a bad person! If I was told I had a heart of ice, or that I was hurtful or mean, well, guilty as charged. I was full of pride and could do no wrong because I was perfect. Seems like we all have the tendency to judge others based on our own perceived perfection. For years, I was really good at being perfect, at least on the outside. My ‘inside’ was pretty messed up!

Even now I will find those feelings of pride and perfection, perfectionism and judgementalism, stealing back into my life. I cry out “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, in the Name of JESUS!!”

When I came to be under the Shining Bright Light of my LORD JESUS through His saving Grace, all of my cracks and brokenness were illuminated. His illumination shows everyone who looks what a messed up person I am, but the LIGHT also shows how He has put me back together. My prayer for us today:

LORD, show us our brokenness. Shine Your Great Light on us and let the world see YOU in that Light. Use my brokenness to illustrate how beautifully You can put us back together, if we just ask You. No matter how shattered we are or how much ugliness we contain, help us to see the beauty of Your Handiwork in ourselves. You alone can take all of our messes and all of the junk we accumulate in our hearts, and create something beautiful.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the LORD JESUS, to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of GOD.” – Acts 20:24 ESV Amen.

And the ONE who was seated on the throne said, “See, I Am making all things new.” – Revelation 21:5 NRSV

Friend – Oh! What A Friend

Can you imagine GOD, the Great Creator, saying this about you?

“I was overjoyed when some of the friends (brothers and sisters in CHRIST) arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the Truth, namely how you walk in the Truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the Truth.” – 3 John 1:3‭-‬4 NRSV

Yes, I am aware the John wrote this about own his feeling of joy upon hearing that people he had taught about the LORD were continuing their walk with JESUS. So many stumble and slip, it truly is a joy when we know that someone we have worked with and taught about JESUS, and who has accepted Him as their Saviour, is continuing in their walk with Him. I know it was not written to describe how GOD feels about HIS childen, but can’t you just imagine Him saying it about one of us? We know that Heaven rejoices when a sinner is saved, so why wouldn’t He be happy to hear a new ‘arrival’ in Heaven testify about His children’s faithfulness? I pray that after all the years I spent parched in the wilderness of sin, perhaps one person will testify for me in His Presence.

Not to give me pride, because that has finally left me, but just to know that I have given the Almighty GOD a tiny sliver of the incredible JOY that He has given to me with His Love. As I write this, I realize that I do have a Friend like that, a Friend Who will testify for me in front of the Almighty! That Friend is JESUS, and I can testify that there is no better Friend to have than Him. What a Friend we have in JESUS…. Joseph Scriven wrote a poem by that name in 1855, and it was set to music in 1868 by Charles Converse. It has been sung in churches worldwide, and numerous recording artists have performed it, including Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, Alan Jackson, and many more. My favorite, though, is a new rendition by Matt Maher. Both songs tell of the incredible love JESUS has for us, and how He willingly takes our sins and our burdens so that we no longer have to struggle under them. (You can get get the lyrics and the music on Google and YouTube.)

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:13‭-‬15 ESV

JESUS is not only our best Friend, He is the Sacrificial Lamb, the High Priest, and our Advocate! He will stand up to the prosecutor, that great liar – the Father of Lies, Satan, when we all (no exceptions) stand before GOD for the FINAL Great White Throne Judgement; Revelation 20:11-15. You might also read Hebrews 4:14-15, 8:6, 9:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6, and 1 John 2:1. There is an an article online on the Advocacy of JESUS written by Amazing Discoveries, titled “Christ’s Mediating Ministry – He is our Advocate,” published August 13, 2009. It goes into great detail and was quite interesting. If you have questions, or doubts, I hope this will encourage you to do your own research, and search the scriptures for the answers. If you leave questions in the comments, I will do my best to help you find the answers, but first, read the Bible – it’s a fascinating book of Truth!

Just a Friend? No, WHAT a Friend! Is He your Best Friend?

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those which are least supported by devotional feeling…these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.” – #CSLewis

Truths, Halftruths, or Lies?

Talking Heads. That’s one way of referring to reporters. I remember when we believed that the reporters told the truth, and we didn’t need to second guess them, or research to determine the real truth. We trusted that whatever Walter Cronkite said was right; true. Unfortunately, it is no longer true that we can believe whatever is said. The news now is full of blatant partisanship, outright disdain, lies, and halftruths. Nighttime talk show hosts are among the worst offenders, and are so prejudiced that I refuse to watch them. Making a couple of offensive jokes is one thing, but making the entire monolog about disrespecting our elected officials is not acceptable. Even when I cannot stand a person or their politics (and there have been many!), I still should respect the office they hold.

There are reporters whom I hold in great respect, and they are the recorders and reporters of the scriptures; the writers of the Bible. When GOD spoke, they listened and accurately recorded His messages alongside first-hand accounts of their history. In the New Testament, the Gospels are eye-witness accounts, and well researched accounts, of the Life and Testimony of the One known as JESUS CHRIST, MESSIAH. Luke, a physician, began his account:

“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” – Luke 1:1‭-‬4 NRSV

“Then He [JESUS] said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the SON of MAN, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the SON of MAN be in His day. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.” – Luke 17:22‭-‬24‭, ‬33 NRSV

We should give serious thought to who we listen to, whether on the nightly news or in the pulpit on Sunday, or on social media, 24/7. What is the real TRUTH? Are we listening to GOD’s Truth or the half-truths and lies of the world? I try to follow Luke’s example and investigate, but we all fall victim to the propaganda and outright lies being promoted, at least part of the time. A couple of days ago, we had the opportunity to vote for a number of political offices. For months beforehand, there was a huge amount of rhetoric (i.e. lies and halftruths) that went on from the candidates, their PAC’s, and the groups who supported – or opposed – them. Lines were drawn between parties, and I think people failed to look at the candidate’s records, choosing from emotion rather than fact. As a result, I believe our country lost people who were much better suited for the job at hand than some who were elected. We desperately need to look to GOD for guidance through His Word, rather than looking to the news pundits; the Talking Heads.

JESUS is coming back, I believe sooner rather than later. The earth and all of her people, all of humankind, are in the throes of great trials and tribulations. Just look around! Research it! Matthew 24:4-29 describes how bad things will get here on earth, and it is all happening now. John was a great reporter, and in his book of Revelations, chapters 6-18, he tells in detail everything that will occur before JESUS returns, and in Revelations 19 reveals how JESUS returns:

“Then I [the Apostle John] saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its Rider is called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness He Judges and makes war. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name inscribed, “KING of kings and LORD of Lords.” ” – Revelation 19:11‭, ‬16 NRSV

What does this all mean to me? It means that I need to take everything I hear and carefully weigh it against GOD’s Holy Word, the Bible. I need to be quiet and listen, try to discern the truth behind the rhetoric, and look to the recorders of Truth. Remember this:

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

October 31, aka Halloween

In Psalm 11, David is lamenting on the crumbling of society around him. Despite his despair, or maybe because of his despair, he begins and ends this psalm with the LORD, his – and our – Refuge and our HOPE. As followers of JESUS, we can look at the state of our society and flee; run away from it, isolating ourselves into polar communities. Another option, and apparently the most popular choice, is to assimilate into the culture, becoming less visible as Christians, seemingly camouflaged from the enemy. Tolerance and acceptance of the things GOD hates are mostly easier than standing against the stampede of the Enemy’s forces.

Our final option is to infiltrate, but not to assimilate, into the culture around us. Infiltration means that like JESUS with the most despised of the Jews and Gentiles, the tax collectors, we are in the culture, while standing against sin. As our LORD counted tax collectors as friend, we should count the poor, the sick, the addict as friend, and show them JESUS in us. Spending time with the SAVIOUR showed the tax collectors where their salvation lay. JESUS didn’t sin, He showed sinners how to live in this life by His example, and to anticipate an eternity in Glory with Him. As flawed humans, we sin every day, and it is through our brokenness that we can let the LIGHT of the LORD shine into other’s lives. This is by far the most difficult option, and it requires daily foundation building with GOD. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NRSV) Like JESUS, we are to “go into the world.” (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20)

Are we surviving the stampede, participating in the stampede, or being trampled in the stampede? To survive, we need to take heed of David’s words: “In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains; for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” ” – Psalms 11:1‭-‬3 NRSV

Being assimilated by society is easy. Infiltrating is difficult and dangerous. It is so easy to fall into the Enemy’s traps! Paul writes in Romans 1: “…. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge GOD, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, GOD-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know GOD’S decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.” (Romans 1:28‭-‬32 NRSV)

Sound familiar? We Christians need more agonizing and less anger. The world isn’t going to change until JESUS returns, but we can make changes for good, wherever we are, by shining the LIGHT of JESUS on the darkness. New morality celebrates everthing GOD hates – We have become a nation, a world, addicted to hate; we live in ugly, perilous times where Evil is mushrooming. BUT remember this: GOD is sovereign and His Throne is not empty. (Read Psalm 45:6; 15:3; 103:19)

What do we do in these times? How do we as Christians treat this pagan holiday? Are we decorating our houses and our bodies with ghouls, goblins, ghosts, skeletons and zombies? And how does this allow the Glory of the LORD shine for the lost?

“The LORD is in His Holy Temple; the LORD’s Throne is in Heaven. His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of MAN, His gaze examines humankind. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and His Soul hates the lover of violence. On the wicked He will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His Face.” – Psalms 11:4‭-‬7 NRSV

GOD is immovable, the Rock of Ages, the shelter for the righteous. He is the only One Who can make us Righteous through JESUS CHRIST; and GOD credits faith with righteousness.

“The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NRSV

Stabilize your soul with the Sovereignty of GOD, and a solid foundation; find a fresh vision of GOD every day. We should be happy warriors, not sad or longfaced. We have Joy the world doesn’t have. GOD sees to us, He sees through us – His gaze examines us. WE are not the judge, GOD is the Judge, and His Judgement is coming. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 19:24)

Ultimately, whether we celebrate tomorrow with Halloween or with Harvest parties is up to each of us to decide. I personally have witnessed too much of the occult and satanic focused on October 31 to celebrate it as anything except another day to be alive and Praise the LORD. Honestly, I’m fearful of the Judgement of the LORD! We are in the midst of the battle, friends; this is WAR.

“I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the Face of the One seated on the Throne and from the Wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of Their Wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” – Revelation 6:8‭, ‬16‭-‬17 NRSV

Standing in His Love

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

What a beautiful reminder to wake up to! “Stand In Your Love” is a new song by Josh Baldwin, and he sings about the power and strength of GOD’s absolute Love for us, and how His Love breaks anything that binds us to sin. JESUS spoke to His disciples after choosing them and told them this – and I believe He intended this for everyone, throughout the ages, who accepts Him as SAVIOUR.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the SON of Man. ….But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ….If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. ….But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the MOST HIGH; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your FATHER is Merciful.” – Luke 6:22‭, ‬27‭-‬28‭, ‬32‭, ‬35‭-‬36 NRSV

“My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your Love….”

When we attempt to follow our LORD JESUS, but we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, our fears tend to take over and rule our lives. I know this, because I often struggle to love my enemies – instead of standing in GOD’s Love, I keep trying to do it on my own. I don’t have it in me to forgive my enemies. If it were up to me, they would pay for their transgressions in a long and painful way. My judging would have no mercy – and I thank GOD it isn’t left up to me! I have been given freedom from the chains and baggage of sin, and that forgiveness came completely and undeservedly from JESUS. Shouldn’t I then forgive and love on those who really don’t deserve my forgiveness?

I can’t forgive if I am standing frozen in my fear. If I forgive them, aren’t I somehow condoning* their abuse? (*Empathetic NO, it is not.) When we stand in GOD’s Love, HE forgives for us – and He will judge them according to their deeds. The only way to shed fear, to lock the enemy out, is to turn to JESUS and allow His Love to hold us up to bask in His Light. Fear is a liar; it is a jail of our own creation, and it all comes straight from the enemy.

“No, I won’t be shaken, my fear doesn’t stand a chance, when I stand in Your Love…”

Can you claim the Promise of Salvation today and let our LORD throw the fears out of your life? “Likewise the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very SPIRIT intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And GOD, Who searches the heart, knows what is the Mind of the SPIRIT, because the SPIRIT intercedes for the saints according to the Will of GOD.” – Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NRSV