Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Epitome of Desolation

The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
Proverbs 15:25 (Webster's translation)

Today I am blogging about that which I know not of (personally).
Tho, if I outlive my precious husband, that will be my title, "The Widow Hood", I suppose.
Sigh!  Not a title I ever wish for.

I have a good friend who lost her husband recently.  It has been my honor and privilege to minister to her during this terrible stage of life.  But, it is impossible to truly put myself in her shoes.

The Bible describes widows in various verses (Deuteronomy 10:18, Psalms 68:5) as being in a place of most extreme desolation.  Those who have undergone such a powerful loss can surely testify to the truth of that statement.  Here, at the holidays, it can seem to hurt the worst. 

In biblical times, widows were utterly defenseless, unless cared for by their children.  Barren widows were the most at-risk.  They then went to their nearest kinsmen for aid.  Land-hungry, unscrupulous men would seek to take advantage of widows, in order to "breach their borders", that is, to confiscate their land and other assets.  The story of Naomi and Ruth in the Old Testament are wonderful illustrations of a widow's situation, although both trusted in their Lord to ultimately rescue them, to provide.  He surely did!

The Lord promises in today's proverb that a widow under the protection of the Lord is safer and more secure in all her ways than is the proud, haughty, self-sufficient person who trusts in his or her own strength.

Although many modern-day widows have either made financial preparations themselves, or their late husbands did on their behalf, we are wise to trust, not in our own financial preps, but instead in the Lord who "establishes the border of the widow". 

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
Psalm 3:3 (ESV)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Who Moved My Juicy Fruit?!

Uncharacteristically, I am writing this post in the afternoon.  Most of my RDM posts are written in the morning, large mug of covfefe in hand.  (Please pardon the Trump-ism.  I thought it was such a funny one that I hardly ever say "coffee" anymore.)

Just before starting this post I was digging around in my purse (which my mother says is the first sign of dementia - - - digging endlessly through one's purse.  I don't know what the male corollary of that would be....).  Anyway, I was digging in my purse for a contact form and found instead a pack of Juicy Fruit gum I had bought.  It being around 4:00, a piece of Juicy Fruit sounded pretty good.  So, here I sit, blogging and chewing and smacking and popping.  I don't chew gum very often, but when I do, I certainly do make the most of it, usually to the chagrin of those around me.

BUT, my Juicy Fruit is not right!!  Someone, somewhere, somehow convinced the manufacturer that the iconic Juicy Fruit gum would be "improved" if some of the sugar were removed and a sub-standard artificial sweetener were added.

Now, I have a thing about artificial sweeteners.  I hate them.  And, I can spot them a mile off.  They are simply...repulsive tasting, as far as I am concerned....all of them.  Furthermore, I think they are Frankenfood which will kill you.  But, I digress.

The point is that someone, in my exalted opinion, gave the Juicy Fruit gum people some bad advice (counsel).  The classic Juicy Fruit of my childhood is gone, corrupted, never more to return in its pristine, sugary state.  It used to be you could smell the sugary flavor as soon as you opened the foil.  No more.

Here's our verse for today (in case you thought I'd forgotten it...):

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

The Juicy Fruit folks should have done more research on whether or not to alter (ruin) their gum.  They should have asked a more diverse group to advise them on such a bone-headed move.

We have all made the same mistake, at one time or another. 
We get a "bright idea" and, instead of vetting the idea properly, we seek the answers we want to hear.  Once we hear what we wish to hear, off we go with our big plan, confident that we've "checked that box" signifying "vetting".

Every one of us needs at least one cheerleader, at least one Eeyore and several variations of both in between to help us vet our ideas. 
I'm particularly bad at this.  I usually don't seek counsel at all, sometimes not even God's.
And, the results are predictable.
At best, I have a "long row to hoe" - - - translation: a tough go of it.
At worst, well, as the verse says....plans fail.

What did I mean by an "Eeyore" in the paragraph above?  At least one of our human counselors should be like the character Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.  Eeyore, you may remember (or not) was the floppy-eared donkey who spoke in a morose tone and had a dismally pessimistic attitude about virtually everthing.  Eeyores will tick you off with their consistently negative advice, but they will also temper your expectations a bit.  They will at least make you think about those other perspectives.
Unless you are like Eeyore, in which case you need a few Tiggers.  ;)

You also need "detail people" and "big picture people" to advise you.  Most people are either one or the other.  If you love to focus on the details you need more "big picture" advice.  If you are a visionary, you need folks to rein you in with their practicality.

The important point is to realize you don't know it all, nor are you the "complete package".  Practice attracting to yourself those folks whose life missions are like yours, but whose tools, whose strengths are different.  This life, as my pastor is fond of saying, is not meant to be lived in isolation.  It is meant to be lived in community, with the members of the community, the tribe, supporting each other and complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses.  TOGETHER, individual Christians represent Jesus Christ, because He created us to serve and love one another.

So, now, while you chew on that, I'm going to go spit out this abominable piece of awful gum!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

In Perpetua

I’m not much of a Christmas girl.
Yes, I know.....most women are.
The other day I was in a local store to buy some ribbon, which they had on sale.  The madness there that day - - - the oppressive array of glitz and chirping machines and twirling gadgets, the crowded aisles and press of people.  I found my ribbon, saw the checkout line was at least 20 people deep (no lie!) and I put my ribbon back and left.  Not feelin’ it.

But, Thanksgiving....ah!  It has always been my favorite holiday of the year, right behind Easter, which is my all-time favorite for reasons you can probably deduce.
Today’s verse for meditation is Proverbs 15:15, yes, that same proverb where we’ve been for a few days.

...a cheerful heart is a continual feast.
Proverbs 15:15 NIV

A continual feast.....another word for continual is “perpetual”.  I titled this post “In Perpetua”, because I love the Latin phrase from which our word, “perpetual” comes.  And, eternity is the eventual outworking of perpetuity, the God-ordained perpetuity.

Today, families will be gathering to swap stories, share experiences, encourage one another, advise one another, and hopefully not argue over opposing political points of view.  In addition to your turkey (no pardon for that bird!), dressing, Southern Baked Pies (I love you, Amanda!) and sides, I hope you serve up a heaping helping of cheerfulness, along with your thankfulness.

Human life is not perpetual in our physical forms.  Several of my loved ones will be facing their first Thanksgiving without a huge part of their hearts physically present.  Yesterday, we marked the 20th anniversary of my father’s death.  The pain of such a loss never truly goes away.  It is hard to be cheerful at such a time as when we are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Christians, we have so much to be cheerful about and thankful for....perpetually.  A glorious eternity with the One our soul loves and longs for being chief among our many blessings.  Let’s resolve to be cheerful and thankful today, but not only today ... perpetually, as we enjoy the continual feast of this resplendent walk with our Savior.

I am thankful for each of you who support my ministry, and I’m grateful for the privilege of walking this walk on earth with you either in person or through this blog.  My earnest prayer is that each of you either knows my Savior or will come to know Him, so that in eternity, we can continue to fellowship and praise the King of Kings together.  Much love to you all!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Abomination and Delight

Song of Solomon 5:2 (NIV)

What do you think pleases God?
If you were asked that question, what would you answer?

Some would say an obedient heart devoted to Him.
Others would say behaving oneself, that is, avoiding evil practices.
Still others would say winning the lost to Jesus Christ.
For others, pleasing God takes the form of giving money to charitable causes.

Proverbs 15:8 is a fascinating proverb, giving us some insight into one thing that pleases God and one that most assuredly does not.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, hateful and exceedingly offensive to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight!
(Amplified Bible Classic Edition)

Let's start with the abomination section of this verse.  What is an abomination, as it is used in Scripture?

When I am driving and see a fly-encircled pile of animal remains in the road in front of me, I have an instinctive, gut-reaction of "yuk!"  There is nothing attractive about road-kill, nothing which draws me to it.  I don't even want the tires of my car to touch it.  It is an abomination to me.

Various translations of the word "abomination" almost always use the word in relation to God's reaction to evil deeds.  It's variously translated as loathsome, detestable or, as you see here in the Amplified "exceedingly offensive".

Now, let's go back to our answers to the question at the start of this post. 
One would think that if even an unrighteous person gave a huge sum of money to a charitable cause, this would please God, right?  I mean, what if the giver gave enough money to build a wing of a children's hospital?  Wouldn't that be good?
There's no doubt that God would use that situation for good, as He always does.
But, would that act from an unrighteous person please God?
No.  In fact, it makes Him want to hurl.

Astounding, isn't it? 
To get a hint, we need to consider another verse:  1 Samuel 15:22, where the prophet Samuel tells Saul "to obey is better than sacrifice".
Otherwise, the "sacrifice" without the "obedience" is merely ....well, The Message bible calls it "posing", pretending to be something you are not.
It's akin to the child who raises all kinds havoc at school and then on the way home stops to pick his mama a big bunch of beautiful daisies on the walk home, in hopes of presenting them to her before the negative report from school arrives. 
Or, it's like the church member who smiles and quotes Scripture to your face, when you know what he or she has done behind the scenes to steal, kill and destroy.
Posing....pretending to be something you are not.  God hates it.
No amount of "good deeds", springing from an unrighteous heart, will please God.

So, let's get clear about righteousness and obedience.
Of all the "answers" listed to the initial question, the first one is closest to the truth.
God desires a redeemed, obedient heart, a person who longs for more and more of Him.
We become that person by becoming a new person, only by experiencing the new birth, the salvation that comes from inviting Jesus Christ to be our Savior.  This is the only obedience that leads to eternal righteousness.

When I was a teacher, I had an initial teaching certificate.   It was a baseline which certified me to teach in my chosen field.  In public education, you can't teach professionally without that teaching certificate from the state in which you choose to teach.  But, along through the years, I added fields to my baseline certificate.  We called those "add-ons".
Your initial salvation experience is your baseline certificate.   It is the one which enables the Holy Spirit to access your heart and make you righteous forever.  You can't be righteous, right with God, without the Holy Spirit, without this initial decision, which involves contrition, humility, repentance, a total change of heart to seek God, rather than to be a "poser".
From that point on, "good works" are your life's add-ons.  They adorn your salvation.  We read about these in 2 Peter 1:3-8 (NET) - - -

3I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.4Through these things he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature, after escaping the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. 5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; 6to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; 7to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. 8For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately.

The two key words are in verse 5"add to" .  This passage speaks of the irrevocable decision to know Christ, to know Him intimately, it says at the end of verse 8.  And, then, the adjectives describing the resulting good works - - - those are your add-ons!  They are not poser attempts to earn salvation or to please God.

Now, let's get to the latter half of Proverbs 15:8, lest you think I've gone hopeless down a (albeit wonderful) rabbit trail.  Here's the kicker.  Note the beauty here.  I just love it!

... the prayer of the upright is His delight!

Do you see it now?  When we love someone, we talk to them. We spend time with them. We share our lives with them.  This is why our God delights in our prayers!  Do you want to please Him today, Christian?  Talk to Him today, throughout the day.  The verse at the very top of this post pertains to being wakened by the Lord in the wee hours of the night, to talk with Him, commune with Him.  Sometimes, He calls to His beloved ones at odd times.  Be open to His replies to you, from His Word, in that whisper to your heart.  Deepen your relationship with Him, through prayer.  Prayer is so often neglected, but it is central to your relationship with your beloved Savior.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Nearly 25 years ago, Bette Midler put out a huge hit called, "From a Distance".  The basic theme was that God was this dispassionate Being who had set the world into motion and was merely observing humans in all their goings-on since the dawn of creation.

What a lie.

Proverbs 15:3 (ESV) DOES say this:

3The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

This verse speaks to the characteristic of God we call "omnipresence".  But, "watching" or "keeping watch" are not the same as "omnipresence".  Omnipresence is more than watching from a distance.  Omnipresence is "being there", being present everywhere at the exact same time.

But, omnipresence is merely one of the aspects of God's amazing character.  He is not merely present either.  He is actively present in every aspect of every human's everyday life.

Psalm 77 and Genesis 14:18-23 are but two of many examples throughout the Bible which show the penitent soul asking for God's intervention and then recounting the many times God has in the past shown His mighty hand in the affairs of men.  Benjamin Franklin referred to this aspect of God's stewardship and utter sovereignty when he made his famous speech (about prayer) to the Constitutional Convention in 1787:  " I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it. "1

(How far we have fallen as a country from the standard Mr. Franklin put forth!)

As a child I was told that my parents had "eyes in the back of their heads".  I knew that was a figure of speech, and it was told to me to keep me in line (a difficult task, to be sure).  But, behind the warning, I knew there was benevolence and tender love.  As parents, we long to watch over our children every single moment.  Today's technology has made that more feasible, with phone apps and baby monitor cameras and so forth.  However, only God, through His divine omnipresence, can truly be with us and our loved ones continually.

Non-Christians find this ever-present aspect of God's character extremely troubling.  The ungodly have no desire to be either observed OR interfered with, as they go about their daily practices of sin.  The only sanity-saving alternative for them is to deny the existence of God completely, which allows them to dwell comfortably in their sinful practices.  The proliferation of atheism always goes hand-in-hand with personal or national debauchery.

Christians are more comfortable with God's ever-presence, bringing feelings of peace (for His steadfastness/guidance/love) and humility (for the times we lapse into sin in his presence ... because we are always in His presence).

Today our world is increasingly challenged by ever-encroaching depravity.  Every news story seems to bring new, horrible tidings of sinful behavior.
What a supreme comfort to know that, no matter the circumstances, God remains in control of this world and of our individual lives.  And, that no matter what happens to me in this earthly existence, nothing nor anyone can snatch me from His loving hand.

They will never be lost, and no one will tear them away from Me.
John 10:28 (Aramaic Bible)



Monday, November 13, 2017

Bone-Breaking Words

There's an old saying that goes something like this:  "It's not what you say; it's how you say it."  My goodness....that is SO true!  Now, of course, sometimes the content is toxic, granted.  When that's the case, well, it's just time to "throw down", you know what I mean?  (I could go all "Judge Roy Moore" here, given the current political kerfuffle...but won't.  Those of you savvy in current events will get the reference.)

But, I'm talking about when the content is wise, sound, good stuff!  If even the best content is said with either a condescending, prideful, manipulative or sometimes even a well-intentioned "tone", it is not well-received.

On a more humorous side note, "voice texting" trips this Southern girl up constantly.  Recently, I sent a text concerning my niece's pie shop, and before I proofed the text sent "pot shop" instead.  Raised a few eyebrows!  Routinely, voice text converts my "as" to "ass" - - - makes for some interesting convo...

Some of us have God-given beautiful-sounding voices.  Lovely resonance, beautiful intonation - - - and it is a pleasure to listen to those people! Some of my relatives are "in radio".  Their voices are glorious!  Others of us do not, by nature, have such pleasant-sounding voices.  And, then there is that special club, of which I'm a member - - - that group with the harsh-sounding vocal tone AND a warrior spirit.  We have to constantly bear our predispositions in mind when we are speaking, no matter what we are saying.

I thought about this the other day while planning a presentation for a business event.  I came up with the idea of doing a storyboard, not the electronic kind, but the hand-made kind.  So, I devised the content and had Office Max print each blurb on an 11x17 card stock sheet.  The idea was that, while lovely music played, I'd flip the cards to my small audience, thereby communicating my "message", untainted by my voice.  And, do you know why I decided to try this approach?  Because it is so easy for my voice to sound "preachy".  Well, it did not work out very well.  Right in the middle of the presentation .... the doorbell rang.  Sigh!  Best-laid plans, and all that.

So, here's today's Proverb which fits this meandering post.  (Yes, we are still in Proverbs, but have at long last left Proverbs 14, where I'll bet you thought we'd be forever.)  Look at Proverbs 15:1 - - 

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 25:15b (ESV) goes even farther: 

... a soft tongue will break a bone.

What?  The blog title didn't convey what you thought it would, did it?  I love this verse!
It's great that using gentleness in speech will tamp down anger, but what does it mean that gentleness in speech will break a bone?

To the commentaries we go!1

Barnes points out how counterintuitive this verse is.  The thing that seems the least capable of an action instead accomplishes it.
Don't you wish you had heard Jesus "speak to" the winds and the waves during that ferocious storm on the Sea of Galilee?  The text does not say He shouted at them.  He spoke "Peace.  Be still." (Mark 4:39).  A rebuke, delivered softly, produced waves and wind calming instantly.

To Matthew Poole, a mild, humble answer soften hearts hard as stone.

Gill, in his exposition of the Bible says this:  "words delivered in soft language, remove hardness  and roughness from the minds of men; and work upon, influence, and bend men, whose wills are obstinate and stubborn, and make them pliable and tractable".  Gill then references David's gentle words to Saul and Abigail's gentle words to David.

A fourth commentator, Jarchi, interprets these "soft words" to be words spoken in prayer and supplication, prayers which break "bones" (spiritual strongholds) that even the strongest "jaws" (carnal weapons) can fail to crush.

I don't know about you, but these verses brought to my mind some "bones" I'd love to see crushed.  Let's make sure we don't allow our words to work against the will of God, to frustrate the very spiritual outcomes which are our hearts' deepest desires!



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Making Jesus a Beggar

Jesus called to me yesterday, and I did not answer.   Instead, I filled my day with good things, which were "lesser things".  And, as the day went on, I became more and more miserable in my spirit.
What?  Did you think that this never happened on the resplendent walk?  ;)

So, I rose from the bed this morning, just as miserable as when I laid down on it last night. 
And, again....He called (louder this time).

Begrudgingly, knowing all along my attitude stank, I met Him in a John Piper devotional, where I received a great, big smack upside the head, followed by a loving embrace.

Let me share, piece by piece, this latest little leg of my journey.

Yesterday, I began to do three things simultaneously:
1.  neglect my quiet time with the Lord
2.  tackle a long list of "to dos", which I believed I was "to-doing" for His glory
3.  focus my emotional energy on troubling circumstances I am unable to change

It did not go very well.  God was not glorified, nor was I very "resplendent".

John Piper made this statement in his Solid Joys devotional for this morning.1
"It is possible to pursue God without glorifying God.  If we want our quest to honor God, we must pursue him for the joy of fellowship with him."

Read that again (I had to.)  Are you getting what he is saying here?  I just sort of sat there this morning, stunned at the reminder....not to mention the "uncanny" timeliness of it.

We do not "glorify God" by all the things we "do out of love" for Him.
We bring Him the most glory by enjoying His presence and worshipping Him there.

Satan is awfully good at activating what I call our "spiritual ADD".  PIper quotes C.S. Lewis, who put it like this:  "We are far too easily pleased."
Satan knows that if he can pull us away from time spent in our Savior's presence, in His word, in prayer, that he can weaken us spiritually, often without us realizing what is happening.
Because, you see, those "lesser things" look so GOOD!  They are so beguiling because often they actually do bring God glory, in some respect. 

But, the point I am trying to make here is that those lesser acts of worship should flow from, actually should be the OVERFLOW from, the primary act of worship, which is to BE with Him, in his presence. 

There is a biblical principle God established with the Hebrews, and which still applies today.  It is the principal of "firstfruits".  You can find it mentioned many times in the Old Testament, and lived out by Jesus and his disciples in the New.  Here is one such passage, from Deuteronomy, when God was re-emphasizing this life principle as His people prepared to enter The Promised Land:

1When you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you occupy it and live in it, 2you must take the first of all the ground’s produce you harvest from the land the Lordyour God is giving you, place it in a basket, and go to the place where he chooses to locate his name.3You must go to the priest in office at that time and say to him, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord promised to our ancestors to give us.” 4The priest will then take the basket from you and set it before the altar of the Lord your God. 5Then you must affirm before the Lord your God, “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor, and he went down to Egypt and lived there as a foreigner with a household few in number, but there he became a great, powerful, and numerous people. 6But the Egyptians mistreated and oppressed us, forcing us to do burdensome labor. 7So we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and he heard us and saw our humiliation, toil, and oppression. 8Therefore the Lord brought us out of Egypt with tremendous strength and power, as well as with great awe-inspiring signs and wonders. 9Then he brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10So now, look! I have brought the first of the ground’s produce that you, Lord, have given me.” Then you must set it down before the Lord your God and worship before him. 11You will celebrate all the good things that the Lord your God has given you and your family, along with the Levites and the resident foreigners among you.
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (NET)

He wants the "first fruits" of our days, not the dregs, not the crumbs.

My dog, Charlie, patiently dogs my steps (sorry...) as I move about the kitchen.  He is hoping for a crumb, a morsel.  He is essentially a beggar on four paws.  And yet, I too often treat my one-on-one time with the Lord the same way.  I make Him a beggar, even though I know I will suffer for it.  ("The carnal nature is strong in this one...."  That was an oblique reference for you Star Wars fans; the rest of you, well, just pretend you never read it...)

This experience, this time with Him, frames our days.  It rights the listing ship.  It keeps the speeding car in the road.  It makes so "thy kingdom come", because where is His kingdom?  It is within each of us, His children!  If His kingdom does not "come" within each of His beloved FIRST, it "comes" nowhere.

Closing now with Piper's beautiful words:
"The enjoyment of God and the glorification of God are one.  His eternal purpose and our eternal pleasure unite in one experience of worship.  This is what the Lord's Day is for.  Indeed, this is what all of life is for."


1    Piper, John. Desiring God: meditations of a Christian hedonist. Multnomah Books, 2017. pp. 306-307.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What Now?

I knew this day would eventually come.

As church-going Christians my brothers and sisters and I have discussed this very thing.

So, now that the abhorrent, this hideous slaughter has occurred, in a house of God, the question is:
"What now?"

The anti-God and/or anti-liberty crowd (often one-and-the-same) certainly have their answers.  What should be the Christian response?

First:  prayers for those who lost loved ones or who were injured in this massacre.  We weep with them because our Lord Jesus weeps with them.  Can we EVEN imagine such horror this community has endured?

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Second:  a renewed commitment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Reading an article in the UK's Daily Mail this morning, I noticed that many were quick to label the gunman as "weird", "creepy", etc.  But, apparently that is as far as it went.  Although it appears this man had had opportunities to hear the truth of Jesus Christ and had rejected Him, no person is ever hopeless while breath is in the body.  Still, as the people of God, we possess the ONLY answer to the rising tide of evil in our communities.  We have the antidote. We need to be much more intentional about sharing it, caring for the hurting, reaching out to the "weird", demonstrating the love of Christ.  Jesus is America's only hope.

Third:  a recognition of the reality of spiritual darkness.  We can talk about physical weapons, and I will in the next point.  But, our most potent weapons are spiritual.  We can't battle evil effectively unless we put on our armor and pick up offensive as well as defensive spiritual weapons.  To naively deny the parts of the Bible which describe the reality of demons, demonic activity and satanic opposition to the cause of Jesus Christ is not only ignorant; it is dangerous.  Study Ephesians 6.  And, not only study it, armor-up!  (Related RDM posts below, a short series on Eph. 6):

Fourth:  this is the new American, earthly, physical reality.  We need to acknowledge it and prepare accordingly to face the evil around us.  We need to prepare our hearts, making sure we are ready to meet the Lord at any time.  And, we must be "wise as serpents, harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16) by making sure our places of worship are physically-protected places.

Yesterday, before the news broke about the massacre, several of us were fellowshipping after church.  The women were yakking around a lovely fireplace, while many of the men shot clays.  Several of the women volunteered that they "pack", acknowledging many of the men in our church do as well.
I believe this incident will be a wake-up call to the local churches and that in the coming days church leaders of local congregations will sit down and formulate a tactical defense plan.
Current circumstances have demonstrated that it is time.  Christian persecution is on the rise around the world, an unfortunate necessity of our fallen world.

I leave you today with the glorious and beautiful promises of 2 Corinthians 4 (NIV).  Those who were killed in Sutherland Springs, TX, yesterday had just finished praising and worshipping the Lord they loved.  They went from worshipping Him here immediately to worshipping Him in Heaven.  And, as I pray for the true Church of Jesus Christ today, my brothers and sisters, I also give Him glory for what He is going to do through these evil circumstances.  He specializes in redeeming awfulness and bringing beauty from ashes.  Praise His beautiful, magnificent Name, forever and ever!

1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”a made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”b Since we have that same spirit ofc faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Amen.  And, amen.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Every Necessary Thing

As I prayed this morning, laying November on the altar before the Lord, its potential for achievement and gain, the Holy Spirit impressed on me the truth that I have "more than enough".

Don't you just love November?  Despite the fact that I lost my precious, best-in-the-world daddy twenty years ago this month, it is still one of my most favorite months of the year.  I just love being thankful and grateful, although I'm not very good at it! 

Most of the time, my prayers are along the lines of "let me be more for You, do more for You, expand Your kingdom with the gifts You have given me...", etc.  Not a selfish, prideful prayer, I hope, but also not a prayer of thankfulness and gratefulness.

I shared with you back in January of this year that God had given me a word for 2017 and that the word was "grateful".  Goodness, I could do an entire post on how He has worked that word through and through my life so far this year.  Oddly enough, it has occurred against the backdrop of loss.

As I stare 60 in the face, this year I've lost several old friends and dear loved ones.  Let me just name some of them here, even though most of you won't know them.
Clifton, Lessie, Mozelle, Ted, Jeanne, Mike, Bob, Al, Jewell, . . . April and May were particularly rough.

God reminds me, through His Word that, despite earthly losses and difficult circumstances, this is the only hell I will ever know.  Because ... Jesus.
In the words of the apostle Peter - - -

I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:3 (NET)

Do we really believe those words, Christian?  You know, yesterday, there was another horrific terrorist attack in our country.  Unfortunately, we become more and more anesthetized to them, as they seem to be intensifying in their frequency.  I heard on the morning news that the perpetrator is in the hospital and is GLEEFUL about what he did.  He is gleeful and giving all the glory to his false god, Allah, for the death, injury and destruction he caused.  The god of this world, Satan, has deceived this man, and others like him, causing them to believe that they are gaining favor through their heinous, deadly, hateful acts.

Do we believe there is hope for him, that Jesus is what this man needs?  Do we believe that Jesus could radically transform his life?  Do we as Christians deeply believe that we truly possess the world's greatest treasure and that He lives within our hearts?  Or, have we acquiesced to Satan's deception - - - that our spiritual treasures (the Spirit, His fruits of righteousness, scripture and prayer, worship and giving) are simply NOT ENOUGH?  For someone like this muslim man?  Or, for each of us, God's very own beloved?

I will not grade my life on my accomplishments, my life events, my perceived "failures" or "successes", because those are transient and illusive.  The truth is this:
Yes, in Jesus, I "have it all", everything necessary.  He is more than enough for me and, yes, I am grateful!