“WAIT” He says……

“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? Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not Your Face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You Who have been my Help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O GOD of my Salvation! Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 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, ‬7‭-‬9‭, ‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

That may be my least favorite word in the English language. “Wait.” I’ve been waiting. I’m tired of waiting, so very tired of waiting. “Wait,” He says. If it were a clear “No,” maybe it would be easier to accept. I’m tired of being strong, and my courage fails me.

I’m not strong. I’m weak. I’m not courageous. I’m afraid. My heart is on the ground. My prayers fall with my tears. Why me, LORD? And He answers me, Why not you? I surrender, LORD.

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Religion Is Dirty Word

I don’t really like the word. It almost has a negative conotation to me, so I thought it would be good to do some research on the word. What does the word ‘religion‘ mean to you?

Merriam-Webster defines religion as

1 : (1)a : the state of a religious – a nun in her 20th year of religion. (1)b : the service and worship of God or the supernatural. (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

3 : Archaic : scrupulous conformity. Conscientiousness.

4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

Examples of religion in a sentence:

*Many people turn to religion for comfort in a time of crisis.
*There are many religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion)

Even though they list ‘scrupulous conformity’ as the archaic definition, I feel like it’s the one meant by most people today when they speak of religion – like it’s a curse word, almost. ‘Scrupulous conformity‘. Do you even have a reason to believe as you do, or do you just go through the motions? Is just habit to go to mass / communion / confession / Sunday (or Saturday) service? Are you consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD? This is a serious question, not just for the lay people, but for the church leaders as well. It doesn’t matter what your title is: from the newest Sunday School teacher and nursery worker to the most well-known evangelist, and even to the Pope – are you consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD?

Having religion is much more than keeping the ‘rules’. It is more than being spiritual. To me, real religion, real spirituality, is the conscientiousness of consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD.

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 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 1:26‭-‬27 NASB (Read all of James chapter 1)

Race Wars!

“Race” – an absolutely polarizing issue that is being force-fed to us through media, politicians, and lawyers. Why can’t we have relationships with people based on our commonalities rather than our differences? To be considered politically correct (the All-Powerful “PC”), we – the public, everyday citizens, the “proletariat” – are expected to embrace each other regardless of social or economic status, lifestyle, clothing preferences, age, religion (with the exception of followers of JESUS, whom it is PC to harass, persecute, and prosecute) ….. but we are divided by race? King Solomon of Israel is reputed to have been the wisest man to have ever lived. Even Christians who are told to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matt 22:39), allow ourselves to be divided by the color of another’s skin. There is nothing wise in allowing this to happen!

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:1‭-‬7 ESV

Let’s go back to the beginning:

“So GOD created man in His own Image, in the Image of GOD He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27 ESV

Have you ever noticed that GOD repeats the really important stuff? He created us in His Image; in His Image He created us. Period. There weren’t a bunch of different couples created as Anglo, African, Mexican, Asian, or any other “race”. There was one couple; Adam and Eve were created in His Image. So what did they look like? Since they were created to reflect GOD’s Image, we won’t know until we meet them in Heaven. In the meantime, what we view as separate “races” are merely years – thousands of years – of the human race adapting to climate and the environment around them. I believe that “race” is simply an invention of man as a tool for rulers to control their people. You might argue that GOD used His people to wipe out other “races,” but I maintain that this is a word used to simply designate people of other cultures, not of other skin colors.

“For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” ….. “You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ ” – Ezra 9:2‭, ‬11‭-‬12 ESV

Ezra, one of GOD’s prophets, called GOD’s people the “holy race” as a means to distinguish it from the other cultures and kingdoms, not because they were a separately created race. It was an intentional separation of that culture from all others. I guess we could say there is the “holy race,” GOD’s Chosen People, and then there is everyone else. (So what are we? If we become Christian, a follower of JESUS, then we become a part of GOD’s Holy race.) The prophet Daniel, interpreting the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, talks about people from different cultures and kingdoms but not races:

“As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. And in the days of those kings the GOD of Heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever …..” – Daniel 2:43‭-‬44 ESV

“Race wars” are absolutely unnecessary and redundant. In CHRIST JESUS, we are all brothers and sisters. We all have the same Father, the Creator GOD and the FATHER joy our LORD JESUS CHRIST. A friend of a profoundly different skin color from mine used to call me his “sister from another mother.” I like it. To all of my brothers and sisters from other mothers, in all of the shades of the rainbow, I love you. “Race” doesn’t enter in.

Image is from Pinterest

Trust …. In GOD, or Man?

When I finally stopped my busyness this morning, and realized I was pushing GOD behind all these ‘pressing’ matters of daily life, I opened my ears and heard this song by Unspoken on the radio:

You brought me this far
So why would I question you now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving you control

Immediately following was this song, sung by Tenth Avenue North:

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

How many times do we do just these things that are addressed in these words, feeling stranded, abandoned, and alone; feeling hopeless, in pain and in tears? Every day? Right now? This minute? I confess to all of these feelings and more, sometimes. I have HOPE, though, because I know that my GOD is here and in control. He never left me to deal with all the junk in the world by myself, but instead, He has always been right beside me, even when I was blatantly ignoring Him! The song by Unspoken goes on to say this:

If peace is a river then let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear you calling out I follow now wherever the road may go
I know you’re leading me home

And Tenth Avenue North ends their song with these words:

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

What a promise! When we stop running from GOD, and we call on Him to save us through our faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST, He is right there. Remember what Paul said when writing to the church in Philippi?

“Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: REJOICE! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of GOD, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS.” – Philippians 4:4‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

What an incredible TRUTH is spoken here! Once we become a child of the Living GOD, Creator, Architect, Great Physician; the real Master of the Universe, we are set free from the worry and angst of this world. We receive His Perfect Love and His Peace; a Peace that is inconceivable and incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t received it. It doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will come up roses; rather, I believe that it means that we will come under heavy attach by the enemy, Satan. He doesn’t want us to find contentment in our circumstances, and he does everything possible to get us to blame God for the bad, the evil in the world, and especially for anything that has happened (is happening) to us.

Again I ask, are you feeling stranded, abandoned, and alone; are you feeling hopeless, in pain, and in tears? It isn’t easy to rejoice in horrendous situations, or when things are falling apart around us, but I promise you, when you lay whatever it is at the Feet of JESUS, He will give you Peace! In recovery ministries, we suggest writing (yes, picking up a pencil or a pen and a sheet of paper, and actually writing as a tangible, visual reminder!) a Gratitude list. Nothing to write down because life is just that bad right now? You say nobody loves me, I’m alone, no job, sick (sick and tired of being sick and tired yet???), and etc….

Here’s a little help. Number one on your list could be: Toilet paper.

Okay? Now, go from there. I had to start with some real basics when I began the journey, and toilet paper made it on my list! I can add that I am alive, reasonably healthy, have transportation, I can drive, and I have my animals. Does that help you get started? By myself, by ourselves, we are not enough. With JESUS, we are. Trusting in man, and trusting in myself only gets me into trouble. Trusting the LORD may not get out of my trouble, but He does carry me through it. I am not alone.

AMEN.

Loss

I lost my Tigger today. He joined my Rascal and Sugar, and all the other companions I’ve had the privilege to take care of in my life.

He was the first of the feral cat colony I worked with in Oklahoma City who would come to me to be petted. When I moved to another part of the state, he was the first I brought inside to take with me. I got to bring his younger – and much bigger – brother with me as well. They adapted quickly to living indoors and being spoiled, but Tigger was never a really robust, healthy cat. I’m thankful that his brother Patrick is both. I’m glad I got to have given him what I hope was a good life. It makes me sad that he’s gone, but I’m happy he’s no longer sick.

R.I.P. Tigger 2010-2018

Tigger and Patrick

The Day the Music Cried…

It was with sadness when the first thing I saw on my newsfeed this morning, was the announcement that the Reverend Billy Graham has passed away from earth this morning. Sad for us left here, because for decades, he has been such a godly example for us to see. A man whose life reflected his love of the LORD, who was truly a follower of CHRIST and not the world. Such a dynamic man, one who was not afraid to take a stand for his God. Every Christian alive should take note of that. It is sad that his family has lost his earthly presence, and it is truly difficult for those of us who are left behind.

But, OH! The rejoicing, the singing and dancing and Glorious welcome Mr. Graham is receiving in heaven! He is united at last with his beloved Saviour, JESUS, and with his sweet wife, Ruth. I’m sure my Daddy was standing there, too, waiting to welcome him Home. The hosts of Heaven rejoice, while we on earth grieve the loss of his physical presence. This is a man who was instrumental in leading thousands of people to the Saving Grace of our LORD, Jesus Christ! On earth we cry for the moment, and feel as though the music has died…. but in Heaven, I think the songs, the music, must be loud and alive! I think this verse shows how Mr. Graham lived his life, just as though the LORD was speaking directly to him, just as we fellow Christians should be living:

“This is My Command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NLT

The loss of our earthly fathers is heart-wrenching, because they have left us here on earth without them. I miss my own, but I just can’t get past the image of how incredibly happy and excited he must be right now; now, because he is finally with his JESUS. Where will you be, where will your soul be, when your earthly body dies? Is death something you are afraid of; will you be reunited with loved ones, with you SAVIOR, or will you be lost in eternity with no hope of anything except damnation?

I pray today the even in death, Billy Graham will continue to show people the way to real salvation. Strength and courage belong to those who choose and follow the LORD. HEAR the Words of Jesus:

“I have come as a Light to Shine in this Dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear Me but don’t obey Me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject Me and My Message will be judged on the Day of Judgment by the Truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on My own authority. The Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it. And I know His Commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells Me to say.” – John 12:46‭-‬50 NLT

Thank you, Reverend Graham, for doing and saying what God commanded.

Trust and Believe

Trust and believe. These two words are different, but I find them used interchangeably in the English language. To trust someone, we must believe that person, and to believe in that person, we must trust them. I found this quote while researching these words and their meanings at http://www.englishstackexchange.com:

“If someone gives you an [sic] information and [you] find out that the information is true, then you will believe. Belief is to accept something as being TRUE …

On http://www.dictionary.com, Trust is defined as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something,” while Belief is defined as “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” Interesting how they overlap. Can trust exist without belief? Can you believe without trust? In scriptures, especially in the Gospels of the New Testament, we are admonished alternately to trust in God and to believe in God. Example: Jesus is speaking with His disciples at their last Passover meal together, and He answers Peter with these words:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in GOD, and trust also in Me.” – John 14:1 NLT

Trust. But in the ESV, NIV, and the KJV, the word believe is used in place of trust. “Believe in GOD, and Believe in Me.” I don’t see how it is possible to have the one without the other. You have to trust God to believe Him, and you must believe in Him to trust in Him. Maybe, it is easier to unstand it this way:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe and Trust in GOD, trust and believe also in Me.”

I believe that GOD is Real. I mean, look around you. Do you seriously believe this world and the stars and planets evolved from nothing? (If you say “space dust,” I reply, “And where did the space dust come from?” I could go on all day! 😎 ) Like l said, REAL. See, easy to believe. I trust God; I trust in GOD. Sometimes my trust waivers, because of all the ugliness and hopelessness I see and experience in the world….. but my belief holds firm. Maybe, just maybe, the scholars who worked so hard to translate the scriptures in English under King James had it right when they used believe, rather than trust. With GOD, belief for me comes easy. Trust, on the other hand, is difficult at times because man (men) has broken trust with me so many, many, times.

“Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the Eternal Rock.” – Isaiah 26:4 NLT

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” – Psalms 118:8‭-‬9 NLT

The LORD is the Rock. Man will always fail us and hurt us and disappoint us. The LORD will not abuse your trust, but you must believe Him, believe in His Son, and believe His Words in order to gain that trust. Sometimes, like the father whose son was desperately ill, we just have to say, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 NLT

It is our choice to stay in our state of not trusting anyone, or we can open our hearts and arms to the only One Who will NEVER hurt us or stab us in the back….. don’t blame me for my trust issues, just show me the One to Trust.