A Little Reminder…..

HALLELUJAH; OH GLORIOUS DAY!! Good Friday is over; Black Saturday is past us; Sunday has come – HE IS RISEN! The grave could not hold Him; death has NO power over Him!

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the LORD descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE HAS RISEN – just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” ” – Matthew 28:1-6

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Prodigal, Sinner, and Hypocrite

Someone said that if he were to find the ‘perfect’ church and join it, it would no longer be perfect. I wonder at the churches – and church members – who think they are perfect and better than others. Why, how, could anyone think that an assembly of humans could possibly be perfect? Then there’s the other side, the person who refuses to be a part of any church “because they are all made up of hypocrites.” Um, duh. (Sorry. My sarcasm slipped out!) Seriously, how can a church NOT be made up of anything besides prodigals, sinners, and hypocrites?

The only thing that separates the church-goer, the true Christian, from the world is JESUS CHRIST, The LIVING HOPE!

In Luke 15, JESUS is disrespected by the Pharisees, those men who were stuck so rigidly to the Law that they were unable to see the MESSIAH Who was right in front of them.

“Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ “
Luke 15:1‭-‬2 NRSV

Horrible horrors, GASP! JESUS sat down to eat and commune with these despised Jews. He spoke to the people there and told them these stories. There was a woman who had 10 silver coins. She lost one and searched her home until she found it, then celebrated with her neighbors. He tells of the shepherd who has 100 sheep, and leaves the 99 sheep in the wilderness in order to find the lost one. He rejoices because he found it. Finally, He tells the story of the prodigal son, a story I think we have all heard. This son took his inheritance and left his home, then wasted and squandered the fortune. Even though he had sinned against his father, when he returned home in defeat, his father ran to greet him and celebrate his return.

“…. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” – Luke 15:32 NRSV

Every person to ever draw breath is a sinner; a hypocrite. Maybe we are all prodigals. I am all of these and more. I’ve shared my story of growing up in the church, of being raped and abused, and consequently turning my back on the GOD Who allowed it all to happen. I was a sinner in the lifestyle I adopted; I am a hypocrite, because I know the Truth but I often forget to live it. I need to allow the LIGHT of my LORD shine through my ‘cracks.’ I am a prodigal who has squandered much before finally returning to the LORD after my 40 years of wandering in the wilderness of sin and the Enemy.

Oh, that we would welcome every prodigal, every sinner, and every hypocrite into all of our houses of worship! We, as the Body of CHRIST, should be running to greet ‘those people’ as soon as we see them. Unfortunately, much of the time, we – the prodigals, the sinners, the hypocrites who make up the church – run away from ‘those people.’ I have witnessed it over and over, and I confess to having done it myself. When I truly returned to my LORD – and I had many false starts – I was Blessed to land in a church that wholeheartedly supported a great recovery program and pastor. I am one of ‘those people’ ….. but because I don’t show how ‘bad’ I had been in my outward appearance, people in the church are often shocked when I share my testimony. I have been found; saved through the Grace and Mercy of our LORD.

LORD, show us how to be the woman searching for her lost coin, the shepherd searching for his lost sheep, and especially the father running to meet his child. JESUS is our Shepherd, and we are like the sheep. We should share His Love and Mercy and Grace, and welcome the lost with open arms as they are brought in by the Shepherd. Do you open your hearts, or do you shut the door in their faces?

Rembrandt’s painting of the prodigal son’s return.

I Stand At The Door And Knock

The LORD said to John: “I reprove and discipline those whom I Love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear My Voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with Me. …. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the SPIRIT is saying to the churches.” – Revelation 3:19‭-‬20, 22 NRSV

JESUS is a gentleman, unlike His/our enemy who will slither into our lives through the slightest opening – just like the cockroach he is! Here in these verses from Revelations, JESUS is inviting us to the greatest banquet of all time! There’s no entrance fee, no tickets to buy, no bribes to be paid; just walk in through the door He is knocking on, the door to our souls that He is anxiously waiting to hold open for you – for me. No tricks, no lies, no fooling. Those things belong strictly to the enemy, who constantly bombards us with them. Why should we enter with the LORD now, rather than waiting? We need to be prepared, because we have no way of predicting exactly when JESUS will return and shut the door forever. He tells us what will happen if we aren’t ready when He returns in Luke 13:25 (NRSV).

“When once the Owner of the House [JESUS] has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘LORD, open to us,’ then in reply He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ”

Are you willing to take the chance of being locked out; left behind? Satan is busy busy busy these days, filling our ears with the lies that there’s no hurry to give up our sins or to go to JESUS now; after all, He’s been promising to return “soon” for over 2000 years! If you listen to the father of lies, he will convince you that it’s fine to stick with whatever we are doing, however sinful GOD says it is, because we are here, and JESUS isn’t. Lies; Liar! I tell you the truth; I lived that way for years until I finally recognized the deceitfulness and ugliness of the enemy of GOD. When we open our hearts to the LIGHT, all of the lies are illuminated in all of their darkness, to be seen for what they are. Being human, we want to slam the door shut so we can hide the blackness within – but it doesn’t work that way. Once seen, we cannot “un-see” the ugliness, but we can ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. (I tried that way, too. Tried and failed.)

Part of our journey with our LORD is to be transparent with others and to let the LIGHT of JESUS, our Salvation, show through all of our cracks and brokenness. He puts us back together, but I believe He leaves those imperfections on purpose. How else could we serve Him effectively when we are reaching out to sinners like us? We have the opportunity to let His LIGHT shine – or we can throw a blanket over it to hide it. It is a beautiful sight when that covering we put over the Light catches on fire. Talk about the LIGHT of the LORD! Where are you in your life journey? It’s said that there are two types of people: those who are in recovery, and those who need recovery. Let that LIGHT Shine! Open the Door quickly, before it is too late.

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?

Oh, SNAP

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 NIV

Read that again! Several times the scriptures talk about the tongue, and how it is the most powerful weapon we own. From the Psalms to the book of James, there are multiple verses that tell us how dangerous and damaging – even damning – the tongue can be if we don’t control it. I can testify to that! It can be a little comment, like “oh, you look so much cuter that way,” or “wow, you look really nice today.” Was the recipient not cute before? Does that person usually look bad? I know those are the kinds of thoughts that have gone through my mind when I get what I call ‘backhanded compliments’. Other times, we can be quite deliberate in our put-downs. “You really need to lose that extra weight. That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen! Why do you stay with that loser? Your place looks so much better without all your pictures and clutter/junk around.” Really? My body, my ‘stuff’, my home. If our choice of partners are such losers, and we, as friends see it but don’t say anything before the relationship gets too involved, what gives us the right to be ugly about it later? Who are we to critique anyone else?

“Follow GOD’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of Love, just as CHRIST Loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to GOD. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for GOD’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:1‭-‬4 NIV

What a Friend we have in JESUS… Forever and ever! He will never give a ‘backhanded compliment’, only Truth in His unchangeable, unfailing, incredible Love. My prayer is that GOD will open my ears so that I really hear how my comments sound, before they leave my mouth! Guard my heart and my tongue, O LORD. AMEN.

WHAT? Me, Worry??

I grew up hearing my parents and grandparents say different derivative of this phrase, usually in the form of not to ‘borrow trouble’ or to ‘bring tomorrow’s troubles to today’. According to Wikipedia, the phrase debuted in 1954 in Mad Magazine as a slogan for the character Alfred E. Neumann. Although Mad used it as sarcasm and in derision, the source is actually from scriptures. JESUS taught the crowds who followed Him, saying to them:

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? …. So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear? ’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly FATHER knows that you need them. But seek first the Kingdom of GOD and HIS Righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬31‭-‬34 HCSB

Worry comes so easily to us. I was having a conversation with my sister about circumstances we are facing, and she said that whenever she starts to worry how the situation will work out, she hears this little voice reminding her that GOD is in control of the situation. I hear that same voice whenever I begin to worry about my own situation. GOD isn’t telling us to just lie back and let the world run over us, or that we should expect to be taken care of without doing any of the work. Contrary to popular belief, He also doesn’t say anywhere in scripture that He ‘takes care of those who take care of themselves.’ I’ve found that when I’m ‘taking care of myself,’ I’m not leaning on Him!

I read the most inane comment on Twitter this morning. Avery Edison @aedison tweeted this “Remember babes, there’s nothing moral about work, and you are have {sic} basic human rights to food, water, shelter, health care (among other things) whether or not you work.” (Emphasis mine.) Now, I also read that she’s a comedian, and I suppose the comment could have been made solely for the purpose of getting people to respond – which it definitely achieved – but…… really? Someone has to work to build shelter, someone has to raise (or hunt) food and find a good water source, and someone has to acquire the knowledge to care for people. Sounds like ‘work’ to me. I’m also guessing that ‘among other things’ she’s including clothing, which also requires work. The truly sad thing about this tweet is that even if it is, indeed, made tongue-in-cheek, there are so many people today who assume that it is a truth; that they can coast along and expect society to take care of them.

What an apt analogy for socialism and the state our world is in today. While GOD doesn’t want us to waste our time in worry, neither does he intend for us to sit around and expect to be waited on. Look at Proverbs 12:24, 19:15, and 26:15, and Hosea 12:12. These are just a few examples of hundreds of scriptures referring to work and lifestyles, and especially in Psalms 107:

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His Faithful Love and His wonderful works for all humanity. They saw the LORD’s works, His wonderful works in the deep.” – Psalms 107:21‭, ‬24 HCSB

Even the ALMIGHTY, the LORD GOD works! He spoke the universe into existence, but then He put His Hands in the dirt to create the clay and mold Adam, the first man, and He reached into Adam’s side to take the rib to create the Eve, the first woman, always to be at man’s side. Who are we to expect that we can do any less than the LORD?

(Photo credit to Vocations Journey – WordPress.com)

Angel / Son

For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. ” God also said, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” – Hebrews 1:5 NLT

I believe that we are constantly in the company of angels, both exalted and fallen. God sends His angels to watch over us and to protect us from the enemy, who goes by many names. He was named Lucifer, the morning star and the shining star. Because of his rebellion against GOD, he has become known as the devil, the enemy, Satan. This fallen angel took a third of the angels in heaven with him when he fell from Grace, and their entire beings are eaten up in the ugliness of envy and pride. We have to constantly be on guard sgainst them, and we (humans) cannot fight them off on our own.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of GOD: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the MOST HIGH. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” – Isaiah 14:12‭-‬15 KJV

Can you imagine how incredibly angry he became over that? Being kicked out of heaven….. the closest thing I can imagine is this: born to an incredibly wealthy family, raised in opulence and beautiful surroundings, never knowing hunger or thirst or loss – to be escorted out by security and thrown out because I wanted to control it all, to take it over in my greed; suddenly thrust into poverty and pain and want. Revenge? Anger? Envy? I think I would feel all of those things and more! In this imagined place, I would want to harm the other occupants; to turn them against the Father.

That’s exactly what the enemy and his followers, the falllen angels, are doing. In the process, all the evil has twisted them into hideous caricatures of their original forms. If you think about anyone you’ve ever known who was angry and bitter, you know that it transforms their entire being. A good actor can hide all that ugliness for a time, but truth always comes out. ALWAYS. The enemy is a great actor. He can appear as a beautiful, empathetic being in order to turn you / me from the LORD. He’s been doing it for millenia, so he’s had lots of practice in the arts of deceit and persuasion; he is the father of lies.

I believe God has assigned His angels the task of guarding His Children, the ones saved by His Mercy and Grace through the sacrifice of His Son, JESUS CHRIST. I believe that the day JESUS returns to earth, He will be surrounded by His Angel Armies, and He will defeat the enemy. I want to see the defeat of the creatures who have given human-kind hell (pun inteneded!!!) since the beginning, when our Almighty LORD, CREATOR of all things, punishes them for the remainder of time. He will claim revenge and Victory! Come on, JESUS, let’s get this party for the Father started! Hallelujah!

What is JESUS to you? Angel, prophet, a good man ….. SAVIOUR?