Friday, December 27, 2013

Embracing Accusation

Embracing Accusation (by Shane and Shane)

It is one of my favorite songs. It speaks of Satan singing a song of guilt and accusation over us. And the conclusion; Satan's right. But Satan has forgotten the refrain...JESUS SAVES!

When we are exposed as being sinful and caught in sin, when we know we are guilty and deserving of our guilt, we must NEVER deny it or down play or try to make it seem less of an offense. The only things we can do is own and confess our sin and Jesus will be faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But to the one who embraces the grace and mercy of God without embracing his guilt, you are missing a crucial step in God's plan of forgiveness.

Numbers 32:23b "... you may be sure that your sin will find you out."
Genesis 4:7b "But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."
Isaiah 59:12 "For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities"
Job 34:22 "There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness, where evildoers can hide."
Psalm 139:11-12 "If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, And the light around me will be as night,' Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."

The remedy;

Psalm 32:1"Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Psalm 32:5 "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.' And you forgave the guilt of my sin."

What a joyful hope we have when we come to Jesus on HIS terms and receive His mercy!

Have a very blessed day!

Friday, December 20, 2013


Lying is nothing short of rebellion against the Creator God who is the only one capable of speaking into existence what is. And like Satan, who also tried to usurp God's throne, the liar's rebellion is rooted in his Pride.

Friday, December 13, 2013

To Justify Myself is to Condemn Myself

Psalm 51:15-17 "O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise..."

As Job says,

Job 9:20 "If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse."

If I have a broken spirit and contrite heart I do not continue to justify or remove blame from myself. If I am broken and contrite I will cease to use my lips for anything except the prayer of repentance and praise. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sufficient Grace, Perfect Power

In my years of ministry I have found this to be true;

"You actually minister more out of your weaknesses than out of your strengths." Rick Warren

2 Corinthians 12:9   

Dethroning God In The Hearts Of Men

Any matter of hatred, whether it's gossip, character assassination, strife, sowing discord, making malicious assumptions of other's intent, disparaging comments about others (public and private) etc., all of it is intended to dethrone God in the hearts of men to keep them from worshipping Him and being about eternal things. It seems that some do not understand this. For if they did, they would be more inclined to resist this temptation. Unless they just don't care.

But for those who have been doing this and never realized Satan's goal... and care enough to want to overcome, consider this passage;

Colossians 3:2-3
"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

Don't be the distraction.  Don't be the pain.  Don't be the one to steal another's attention away from praising God.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Colossians 3:5-7

5). Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature;

---sexual immorality (sexual activity outside of a God ordained marriage)
--- impurity (this goes beyond sexual acts of sin to encompass evil thoughts and intentions as well)
--- passion (the acting out of an evil thought or intention)
--- evil desires (lustfully wanting anything that God has forbidden)
--- greed (which is idolatry)

6). Because of these (the things listed above), the wrath of God is coming.

7). You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

*Without looking at your neighbor, consider verse seven again. Is it true about you?

Or are you STILL walking in these ways?

For those who say, "I'm a Christian", these things should ONLY be a part of your history...not your current way of life. These are the obvious sins that even the non-Christians can discern and they rightly cry "hypocrisy!" because of those who call themselves "christians" who haven't left these things behind.

Don't give occasion for God or the church, or yourself to be mocked. Leave these things behind and move on to verse eight and nine (anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and lying). And when we've mastered these...there's always pride.

Friday, November 22, 2013

All That Is Necessary

She sat at the feet of Jesus and simply listened intently to what He had to say. It was all that was necessary.  It is still necessary.  Be still and know that He is Lord.

Luke 10:42
"But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Friday, November 15, 2013

One Lord

"I could never do what you do..."

I've heard this so many times I have lost count. In general when someone says this to me it is in reference to their assumption that I have been blessed with a better gift because I am able to get on a stage to sing and speak. But this a wrong assumption.

It isn't a matter of having a better gifting or calling from God. God has equipped each and every one of His children with a set of gifts and callings that are perfectly tailored to the person He ordains for any given ministry.

It is important to remember that HE is the worth of every gift and ministry, not the person who carries it out.  To God be the glory!  There are many gifts, many callings but One Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons."

My Joyful To-Do List

Proverbs 3:3-6
"Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday."

My responsibility,
Trust, do good, dwell, cultivate faithfulness, delight in Him, commit my way to Him.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Walk With the Wise

It's good to be a "fruit inspector". If the fruit of someone's life is rotten and sinful, chances are, their counsel is too.

"Sin causes spiritual blindness; the blindness causes a darkening of their understanding; and the ignorance that results breeds even more sin." John MaCarthur

So if someone's life reflects a sinful lifestyle, chances are, their understanding about Godly things is darkened by the very sin to which they are enslaved.

Ephesians 4:17-18
"So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart"

Walk with the wise and grow wise.  Walk with the wise and be in good counsel.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sorrow Is Not Enough

Sorrow for sin is not enough to atone for it. And denying the severity of our offense does not diminish our guilt. To lie about it, blame others, or dismiss it will not excuse us either. The only way our guilt can ever be removed is to confess it and repent of it, placing our trust in the work of the Cross alone, where Jesus gave all that was ever needed to atone for our sin.


The Apostle Paul when speaking of his ministry and the afflictions and trials that accompanied it said,

"For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 4:15

My heart is most filled with thankfulness when it is bowed low with the understanding of the wretchedness of my sin and the extreme mercy of the Cross. That He loved me and saved me is the most humbling gift for which I am filled with eternal thanksgiving.

May your Thanksgiving Day be filled with much rejoicing!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I'm Living Proof of God's Redeeming Love

Most of you only see what I've become. But you don't know the struggle I've had in getting here.

You know Amy Redding to be a godly wife and homeschooling mother of seven children who loves to sing and talk about Jesus. Yep, that's me...TODAY.

Growing up, for the most part, I was a good kid, compliant and obedient, wanting to please my parents and live rightly. I was saved at a young age so God was with me convicting me when I was wrong and teaching me to do right. But I haven't always prioritized being holy. There are moments I wish I could erase. But alas, I'll have to be content with the fact that God has redeemed me and can use my testimony about those moments.

I was thinking last night about one of them. It was something I said as a teen to one of my music teachers. It's ironic really, given the title of my last album.

Mrs. E. wanted me to sing in an ensemble for music contests. I grew up singing with my family, so singing songs of faith was no new thing to me. But for some reason when she asked me to sing, with an ornery huff, I replied, "Ok fine. But I don't want to sing any of that 'Holy Holy Holy' stuff". Mrs. E's eyebrows raised, her lips parted and she was speachless. Mean while, the other kids in my class also reacted to my out of character retort with laughter, gasps of astonishment and smirks. The rest is a blur.

I don't know why I said it. The truth of it was, I earnestly desired to be holy back then, just as much as I do today. But for some reason, it seemed harder and more unattainable during those years. It might be because there were other things running in the background of my childhood that colored my view of who I could and would become. Those things seemed to damn me to a life of unworthiness, and I felt I would never escape them.

Fast forward to today. Holiness is an ordinary way of life for our family. The chains of condemnation that once hung heavy around my neck are now gone and I'm living a picture perfect, ideal life with a wonderful, loving husband and multiple blessings that grace each day. If anyone would have told me that day, when I mouthed off to Mrs. E., what my life was going to be, I wouldn't have believed them. I would have wanted it to be true, but I wouldn't have believed them.

You maybe didn't know that at one time, my life seemed hopeless and damned. But I'm living proof of God's redeeming love. So, today, if you feel like you'll never rise above your current situation, I would encourage you not to give up on Jesus and to pursue a godly life. He is able to pull you through.

Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Proverbs 17:4 "A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue."

Matthew Henry's commentary on Proverbs 17:4
"One who is himself mendacious listens with avidity to any tale that may injure a neighbour, however monstrous and improbable it may be."

You know what they say about birds of a feather...

Friday, October 11, 2013


Post Dramatic Stress Disorder

I wonder how many of us are struggling with this.

There is no place for drama in the body of Christ. It would be better if everyone made it their goal to do these things;

Psalm 34:13 
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 15:2
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Romans 14:19
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Some of My thoughts about Psalm 64

Poor David!  What must he have been subjected to in order for a prayer like this to come from his heart and lips? 

Psalm 64

1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;preserve my life from dread of the enemy.2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,from the throng of evildoers,3 who whet their tongues like swords,who aim bitter words like arrows,4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,shooting at him suddenly and without fear.5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;they talk of laying snares secretly,thinking, “Who can see them?”6 They search out injustice,saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep!

7 But God shoots his arrow at them;they are wounded suddenly.8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;all who see them will wag their heads.9 Then all mankind fears;they tell what God has brought aboutand ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORDand take refuge in him!Let all the upright in heart exult!

This is some pretty weighty subject material don't you think?  He's totally pegging...ur...uh...dare i say, judging some people here!  Not only is he freely and openly expressing (and obviously recording) his assessment of these people, he's also looking forward to the day when these cowardly, loose lipped, bitter, evil, liars who are bent on crushing him are pierced with God's own arrows. 

He's looking forward to their ruin!  He's waiting for their humiliation and day of disgrace!  That doesn't sound very "christian" of him...does it?  Shouldn't he rather embrace the common notion that a good Christian wouldn't "judge someone else simply because he sins differently than he does"?    Or how about the one that's circulating Facebook recently?  "Before you judge me make sure you are perfect"?  

Here we have David, a lying, adulterous, selfish murderer...crying out to God for justice!  And he's banking on it...even taking comfort and hope in it.  He says, "Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!" 

Obviously he assumes he's in that camp!  But why?  Isn't he just as big a sinner as those who are lying in wait for him?  Those who seek to destroy him with their lying tongues?  Where then do you suppose he gets off "judging" these guys and even waiting for their condemnation?  

When David was confronted with his sin he didn't shrink back and deny it.  He didn't hide it.  He didn't justify it or blame someone else for it.  He repented. 

How would it have gone for him, do you suppose, if he had blamed Bathsheba for bathing in public on the roof instead of owning his own guilt in his adulterous affair?  And after she was found to be with child he called Uriah home, giving him the opportunity to merely be deceived as opposed to being murdered.  He could have blamed Uriah for not sleeping with his wife when he had the chance...after all, David wouldn't have had to kill him if he'd have just gone to his wife while he was home.  

But even though he committed adultery, tried to cover it up and in the end, killed Uriah, he repented when he was confronted by Nathan.  He did not deny it or cover it up.  He did not cling to it.  He didn't hurl quip phrases at Nathan because he called out his sin and made him face it.

There in lies the difference, if you ask me.  

He left his sin behind.  He pursued the path of righteousness rather than deception and hatred.  He humbled his royal self before God and submitted himself to His chastisement and discipline.  

Is that you?  Are you being like King David?  Have you laid aside your pursuit of sinful lusts, pleasures, justifications and excuses and bowed in humility to God?  Have you chosen, without looking back, to follow God's path of righteousness? 

OR are you like the wicked?  Bitter, angry with someone, plotting harm and destruction or the demise of his reputation? Are planning your next night of debotchery?  Are you waiting with anticipation for your next high?  Are you still flirting with that married co-worker or friend?

Who are you?  And with whom are you REALLY aligned?  Do you have a right to judge?  Is your right to judge rooted in your repentance and God's righteousness or is it rooted in your own desire for power and control...or worse yet, your desire to get the heat off yourself?

Not one of us has the right within ourselves to judge the person next to us.  BUT believers have every right to cling to the righteousness they have in Christ (Just like David).  And in His power and Name they have the right AND the responsibility to hold each other accountable to God's standard of holiness so that when we are failing, we can help each other get back in line.  Not only that, but they have every right, because of the sacrifice of Christ, to look forward to the day when wicked, unrepentant people are put in their place...and we all know where THAT it.  Though we would rather see their repentance (just as I believe God would) if they refuse, we rejoice in The Lord and their just condemnation.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Agape Love Triumphs

It's alarming to witness in social media, what has been happening in the church for centuries in a much less blatant way. And its effects are very destructive.

Non-Christians (they may be atheists or theists) often pose as "christians". They troll through Christian and Atheist sites debating and spewing horrible things in the name of Jesus; things that someone, who has truly become acquainted with the mercy of God, would never say or believe. But those who do not know God do not understand this, and instead they come away believing that Christians are horrible judgmental people who are condemning and enjoy condemning others, eagerly awaiting their destruction, or they come away with a false gospel, believing the false doctrines spread by these impostors.

Those who masquerade as Christians are not doing anything new. Read the book of Jude and you'll see that ever since the early Church these men have "crept in unnoticed". This is because they dawn the language and often the life style of the Redeemed and try to blend in among them in order to be stumbling blocks. And they do it well. Do not be deceived. They may be in your church today and they may serve on various committees within the church, but they are divisive and often caustic toward others, and what love they do show is inconsistent at best. Those who belong to Christ, when seeing their behavior, often "look the other way" because they want to "be at peace with all men" and they give the benefit of the doubt not wanting to be "judgmental". Most often these people go unchallenged in our church circles. And they gain more credibility the longer they go unchallenged because they look like long time church members...yet the entire time they've been in your midsts they have continued to divide and berate and spread gossip and disunity amongst the brethren. Their offensiveness does not go unnoticed, just unchallenged.

These men and women are able to be rooted out. Not only can you tell them by their fruits (hostility, divisiveness, bullying, denying or resisting the God given authority structure within the Church, to name a few), you can also tell them by their doctrine. They preach a different gospel than that of Jesus, twisting the gospel of grace entirely. These are those who would encourage and excuse the licentiousness of others, using partial scripture such as, "there is no condemnation". But they leave out the powerful key words of that verse, "for those who are in Christ Jesus". They cling to parts of scriptural doctrine, and even have a kind of "wisdom" about them that is very convincing. But their version of grace is severely lacking in godly love, personal discipline, and the pursuit of holiness. And they most certainly do not encourage accountability or unity.

The other thing these people do is swing to the other side of the pendulum and deny the grace of God by implementing a religion of legalism. But there is no root in actual faith in the sacrificial love of Christ, nor the redemption that is by faith alone.

Encountering these kinds of people can at times be discouraging. I must admit that this is something that has hindered my ability to trust people.  It might be that I have seen to many false forms of "faith", "friendships" or "christianity". I will definitely say that I've lost my idealistic belief that everyone in the church actually loves God and belongs to Him. That was a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary one, because, simply put, that belief wasn't grounded in truth at all. And honestly, I was not a better person for holding to it. I was merely ignorant, and believing it only opened me up to hurt and disillusionment.

But in the life of a believer,  Agape Love triumphs. This is the love that flows down from Heaven, through God's children toward others. Agape love is what continues to motivate me to sing, speak and write about the truth of God's redeeming love. It is not dependent upon your faith in me, nor is it dependent upon my own efforts. It is God given and flows even when there is nothing inside of me to offer.  It is what enables a Christian to do as Christ says,

Matthew 5:44 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you."

These impostors in our midsts are not capable of doing these things, because Agape Love does not flow through them. At best, they can mimic what they've seen God's children do. But their "love" is inferior in that it is only offered to establish or save their reputations and it is done in their own strength and for their own purposes. God's love is never selfish or self motivated.

I would encourage all of God's children to do as God says,

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Do not give yourself over to bitterness, and do not hold condemnation for anyone. Neither give credence to a false gospel nor a false form of godliness that lacks the power of God. You are not a better person for it. Looking the other way when someone is doing the wrong thing does not equate with "loving your neighbor as yourself". It is not only destructive for the church to look the other way, but it will only lend itself to the destruction of the unity of the Body of Christ. Whether on line, in your church, at the coffee shop or any other place, if there is hatefulness or a false representation of the gospel being given, call it out and speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect, but stand firm.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Forbidden Forest

This is a picture of the woods behind our house. We call it "The Forbidden Forest". It's beautiful back there but a few years ago we had a major fire rip through these trees and several of the old cottonwoods were burned out in the center. To look at them, they look beautiful and strong, but when you walk up to them they are nothing but a shell. My children would love to play back there, and on occasion, when the wind isn't blowing we'll follow the path to a safer place that wasn't burned, but they know that The Forbidden Forest is forbidden for their own safety. Some may conclude that I'm over-protective, but I've seen these trees fall. Even those that look strong have surprised me by coming down in a thunderous crash unexpectedly. 

God knows that sin, though alluring and seemingly harmless, is a deadly thing. He has placed boundaries upon His children that may seem extreme, but He knows the dangers that lie beyond. And He disciplines those He loves to keep them safely within His will. Like my own children, who know and trust my word, we can know and trust God's word. He has given us the warning. It's up to us to believe and trust that He speaks His warnings with love and not for the sake of oppression.

Proverbs 3:11-12
"My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights."

This is a picture of the woods behind our house. We call it "The Forbidden Forest". It's beautiful back there but a few years ago we had a major fire rip through these trees and several of the old cottonwoods were burned out in the center. To look at them, they look beautiful and strong, but when you walk up to them they are nothing but a shell. My children would love to play back there, and on occasion, when the wind isn't blowing we'll follow the path to a safer place that wasn't burned, but they know that The Forbidden Forest is forbidden for their own safety. Some may conclude that I'm over-protective, but I've seen these trees fall. Even those that look strong have surprised me by coming down in a thunderous crash unexpectedly.

God knows that sin, though alluring and seemingly harmless, is a deadly thing. He has placed boundaries upon His children that may seem extreme, but He knows the dangers that lie beyond. And He disciplines those He loves to keep them safely within His will. Like my own children, who know and trust my word, we can know and trust God's word. He has given us the warning. It's up to us to believe and trust that He speaks His warnings with love and not for the sake of oppression.

Proverbs 3:11-12
"My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights."

Friday, September 20, 2013

I'm Just a Girl Named Amy

I'm just a girl named Amy. Well, ok, I guess I'm a woman now. I'm am a wife, a home school mom of seven children, a vocalist, a songwriter and minister of music and a few other things...but inside, I still feel like a little girl. I'm drawn to laughter, I am unsure of myself, I would prefer to be with someone I can look to for wisdom, strength, protection and security, and there are days when I look around myself and I'm amazed that I am responsible for so much! I can it be? I'm just a girl named Amy!

While there have been times in my life when my surety of my calling has given me confidence enough to carry it out, those who know me more intimately know that inside of myself I'm a bundle of nerves each time I presume to take the stage. Once I'm there and I'm speaking and singing about the amazing truth of the gospel and love of Jesus, I am filled with joy to be able to minister to people and I can hardly wait for the next opportunity. But usually before I take the stage I feel ill, I get panicky, and at times I feel like bailing out on the whole commitment.

When I was growing up I was not so very drawn to the typical things other girls were drawn too. I was a sporty tomboy who didn't care much about what I wore, who loved to play hard and be tough. Girly things like being fashion conscious or popular or famous never appealed to me as much as catching lizards, playing cops-n-robbers or football, building forts, play-fighting or hunting with my big brother. When it came to friendships I liked to play mostly with boys because they didn't care about girly things either. They just wanted to play and play hard and I liked that.

But here I am, a life time later, living a completely feminine life as a wife and mother, being a homemaker, playing with babies (only they're real) and loving it. And even though being a widely known person was never something I desired as a teen, now I'm often on stage in front of an audience and people I don't know come up to me in various places to speak with me and tell me how much my ministry has blessed them. I get messages from people from all over the country, and even other countries, thanking me for the songs I write and the testimony of my life. I would never have imagined my life would be this way. After all, I'm just a girl named Amy. But, even though I didn't plan for things to be like they are, it blesses me to know that God is working through my life to bless others.

Who I am is not determined by my fears or insecurities. Who I am is not even determined by my own thoughts about myself or what I think I can do. Who I am has been determined by God, who has given worth to me and this ministry. Just like he's made me into a girly mama in every sense of the way, He has also called me to proclaim His truth in a public format. So even though I prefer to be out of the public eye enjoying my quiet farm, I am called to live a much different life than I probably would have chosen for myself. And I will pursue God's call with all my heart because THAT is His will right now for me. I'm just a girl named Amy, but I serve an amazing God, who transformed a little scrawny tomboy of a girl into a woman empowered by the Spirit of God to tell the world about Jesus.

Friday, September 13, 2013

All Creation Praises Him...Right?

Anthropomorphism -basically ascribing a human characteristic to something that is not human. 

When I was young if I forgot to kiss one of my dolls goodbye before I left for school I would feel horrible all day thinking he/she would be sad because of my neglect.  I also tend to think of spoons as being female...forks are male.  And all my life I have believed that creation can and does "know" and "praise" it's Creator.  That creation never ever forgot Him like man has.  

It isn't like I believe we live in Narnia.  But if you've ever gone hunting in the wee hours of the morning and sat silently waiting for dawn, you KNOW the sound of the earth waking up.  It is completely silent...and there's a chill over the earth and all of a sudden the trees begin to "stretch"...and you can hear it!  Their leaves begin to rustle (or is it clapping?).  The birds begin to sing (are they singing to Jesus?) and even the air takes on the feeling of being "alive".  The wind resumes it's travel (is it a troubadour?)  and the rest of the animals seem to rejoice in the wonder of dawn at it's Creator's grace for another day.  I've experienced this many times, and it always amazes me!  

I've never thought of this as anthropomorphism, though this is what Paul says it is.  I just took scripture literally rather than poetically when considering verses like,  

Romans 8:22 " For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now"

Isaiah 55:12 "For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

1 Chronicles 16:33 "Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth."

Psalm 65:13 "The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing."

Psalm 69:34 "Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them,"

Psalm 96:12 "let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;"

Psalm 98:8 "Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;"

And when Jesus' disciples were praising Him and the pharasees told Him to silence them (Luke 19:40) "He answered, 'I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.'"

I always just assumed that the same knowledge that COMPELS me to praise God compels creation to praise Him.  Every morning my mind is turned toward my Savior and irresistibly I call out to Him in praise and wonder and adoration for His grace and mercy in the new day.  And it seems to overwhelm me and consume me to a point where I feel it doesn't really originate from within me but instead is the due response (something creation itself has not forgotten) to God's presence.  And yet...there are many people who go on about their lives and business in complete disregard for Him.  They seem unaware of His presence, where creation seems completely aware.  They seem lost and misguided and empty where creation knows it's source of beauty and strength and worth.      

One day, God will make the truth known to me whether creation truly does express it's knowledge of of Him or if it is simply anthropomorphism that I am perceiving.  Either way, God is worth praising.  Will YOU praise Him or will you leave that to the rocks and trees?  

We Must Use Words

Hebrew 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Jeremiah 23:29 "Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

That's powerful. So many people react very poorly to hearing scripture. It cuts right to the tender spots and offends what we have accepted as our version of truth, and we react strongly to that offense! 

In other regions they react with strong vocal opposition, even violence. In my area the cultural response is usually to ignore and keep silent on the issues that bring about this kind of discomfort. "Live and let live" . 

Getting our toes stepped on is never comfortable. And stepping on other's toes is not fun. But speaking the word of God and teaching others what we know it means should never be something a Christian avoids for the sake of comfort. 

1Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect".

There are many scriptures that are difficult to swallow...and yet they are there. God's word is never beneath us. His words are never not worth our consideration. They are always worth our exploration! And we can all learn to do this with "gentleness and respect". We should all be willing to do this for the sake of others who may not know what we know. 

I have been tempted so many times to just shut my mouth and quit my ministry. I have succumbed to the fear of man more times than I care to admit. It is so easy to believe the lie that it isn't our place to be vocal about our faith, that we should keep our faith to ourselves and avoid offending others. But the truth of it is, the Word of God will ALWAYS be offensive to the mind of natural man. It exposes our weaknesses and failures. It reveals our true nature and our sin. 

I've been determined to keep quiet so many times in order to avoid haughty eyes and unfavorable reactions. But honestly I can not contain the Word of Truth that I know! And I'm not the only one to ever feel this way! 

Jeremiah 20:9 "But if I say, 'I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

The truth we know should not be a taboo subject. Your faith is not your own! It is THE FAITH. And it isn't only for you. So don't be stingy with the Word of God or the understanding of it. Be willing to be taught and be willing to teach. And be willing to do so in love and patience. Weigh your answers and speak with wisdom. And as we all know:

James 3:17 "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."

So rather than avoiding speaking the Truth, all of us need to learn to speak the Truth in love. Our words should be seasoned with grace, but in order to do this...we must have words.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Thoughts on John 2:23-24

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to lie in wait for an opportunity to "get the goods" on someone else?  For others they need a little more coaxing but their interest is just as high.  Their sense of shame (not that they are ashamed) seems a little bit more intact.  They, too, desire to seek after those juicy tidbits of knowledge so instead they "confide" what they know or think they know under the guise "needing counsel" or "prayer support" or someone to "vent" to.  It's sickening really.  But Jesus is wise to this wickedness, and He always has been.  

I think these verses are super interesting.  I'm beginning to understand.  

John 2:23-24 "Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men."   

Even though they "believed" in Him...He would not entrust Himself to them.  Jesus "did not need man's testimony about man because He knew what was in the heart of man"(vs. 25).  We, on the other hand, have to learn this through experience. 

I know I've blindly trusted many a professing believer only to find that he/she was not worthy of my trust.  Even today, there are professing "believers" who spew hateful stories about me and my family, actively trying to destroy my witness in any way they can.  I've even had facebook stalkers single out my fb "friends" and private message them with hateful testimony of my character.  They spread rumors, bearing false witness about me without shame or hesitation, twisting reality to satisfy their insanely jealous lust for the destruction of my testimony.  Does any true believerever  desire to silence the song of redemption in another person's life?  No.  I can only imagine the demonic influenses behind such hatred.  But it so reeks of the stench of pure evil that it seems impossible that such hatred origionates from it's human host.  Though in saying that I do not deny it's possibilty...for some people so heartily seek after sin that I can not dismiss the probability that they are in fact children of the devil, seeking only what their "father" desires.  

 Sure it stings a bit to hear the things being said.  But it's more astounding than anything.  To think that others are so wicked in their imaginations as to conjure up such damning testimonies as have flown through their lips is amazing!   But it's comforting to know that Jesus does not underestimate their wickedness.  He is wise to them.  And He is wise to those who would speak evil about you too.  

So if you are one who is struggling today because of the betrayal of someone you trusted, be at peace.  God can not be mocked.  Your redemption is not effected by their gossip.  Your worth as a believer is not dependent upon their affirmation of your testimony, ministry or devotion to your faith.  HE is the one who leads you in the Way Everlasting.  He is the one who establishes your faith and testimony.  And though your enemies try to drag you down other paths...those that lead to destruction, your ways will be established by The Lord when you seek Him and only Him.  

It is good to remember Solomon's words.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 "Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others."  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Prayer and Spiritual Warfare

Prayer Warriors

Eph. 6

"Put on the full armor of God..."
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Did you know that prayer was listed with the armor of God spoken of in Eph. 6?

The book of Daniel also gives us a glimpse into the spiritual battles that are going on around us.

The angel Gabriel comes to Daniel a time or two to bring answers to his prayer.

"Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.  As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed."

"Do not be afraid, Daniel.  Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God your words were heard, and I have come in response to them."

These two verses have something in common.  The angel tells Daniel that the answer was given as soon as Daniel began to pray in the first verse and as soon as Daniel set his mind to gain understanding and to humble himself before God in the second one.  Daniel was seeking God and his  heart was bowed before Him.  His prayer came from an earnest desire for God's will to be known.  

So many times others have expressed their doubt to me that God hears their prayers.  Many are of the opinion that God is fickle and is not inclined to answer our prayers consistantly.  But the verses below tell us otherwise.  They show us that when we are seeking God and calling out to Him because we trust Him, He not only hears but He also answers. 

Isaiah 65:24 "Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear"

Psalms 9:10 "Those who know your name will trust you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Ps. 34:15 "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer."

2 Sam. 22:7 "In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears."

Ps. 94:9 "He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?"

Isaiah 59:1 "Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear"

Psalm 145:19 "He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them."

1 Peter 3:12   "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

What I find interesting is that Daniel was praying and fasting for 21 days without evidence of an answer.  But he kept trusting that God heard his prayer and his hope was in The Lord, who he knew could save him.  The testimony of the angel was that God indeed had sent His answer from the moment Daniel had sought The Lord.   Why then, did the answer not come immediately?  The angel gives the answer to that question.   He said he was detained by the "prince of the Persian kingdom".  This "spiritual ruler" had detained the angel Gabriel and the answer he was sent to bring.  But Daniel kept praying and fasting and finally Michael, one of the the chief princes, came to help Gabriel. 

Eph. 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  

So we are instructed;

Eph. 6:18 "pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"

1 Thes. 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."

James 5:16b "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."  

Our enemy, Satan, will try any way he can to undermine your faith and crush you.  More and more I am becoming aware of how many people have believed the lie that God does not hear or answer the prayers of His children simply because they do not see the answer immediately.  But God is always faithful.  And He always answers.  There is a battle that we can not see going on around us.  We must be faithful to do as God has said and pray CONTINUALLY.  Your prayers of faith are powerful AND effective.  And God IS faithful to answer.  Be like Daniel.  Do not give up praying and seeking God even when you do not see the answer that God sends right away.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Be Not Weary

I believe wholeheartedly that God is still offended by sin. I do not believe for one minute that we get a free pass to keep on in sinful behavior/lifestyles simply because the blood of Jesus was shed for us. From time to time I see things and hear of things going on and I think to myself, "What use is it to ever say anything to anyone? What use is it to put yourself out there and be vocal about the truth you know, taking social risks and setting yourself up to be hated for standing up for righteousness?"

Most of the time people politely listen to the truth. Most even nod their heads in agreement.  But shamelessly later they go back to doing the very things that God abhors. I get so discouraged when I see people who claim to know God do this.  It is so easy to think that encouraging others to be holy is a hopeless cause. But these verses keep telling me to push on.

2 Corinthians 4:1 "Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart."
2 Thessalonians 3:13 "As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good."
1 Thessalonians 4:1 "Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more."

I never wonder why there are so many of the same kinds of commands. Don't grow weary, do not lose heart, do this more and more...Those of us fighting the good fight need this same encouragement today. It is all to easy to become discouraged, especially if you lose friends or family members because you stand firm for what God says is true.

I know there will be many that reject God and the Way. But I also know that not everyone who keeps turning back to their sin is someone who is lost. These next verses show me that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ choose to be rebellious and refuse to obey.

2 Thes. 3:14-15 "If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother".

As a believer I am not only supposed to live a holy life but I am also not to associate with those who refuse to commit themselves to becoming more and more holy. I speak of those who refuse to stop doing what God has said is sin, whether it's filthy thinking or speech, gossip, gluttony, envy, drunkenness, sexual sin, fraudulent activity, lying or spreading discord,hatefulness, any sin a brother refuses to forsake.  If a brother or sister in Christ refuses to stop doing sinful things we are to correct them and hold them to God's standard of holiness.   This is a hard thing to do. It's easier sometimes to believe the one verse the world knows and keeps screaming, "judge not!". But in reality the whole point of proper judgement within the church is to restore a brother or sister to a right way of living. The goal is not to feed our own sense self-righteousness or of personal indignation over sin, but rather it is to restore faithfulness and to actively love someone (not just with words and tongue, 1 John 3:18)  potentially saving them from the harm and sorrow that comes with living a sinful life.

Psalm 141:5 "Let the righteous strike me, it is kindness; let him reprove me, it is like oil on the head; don't let my head refuse it; Yet my prayer is always against evil deeds".

Here the psalmist demonstrates what the proper response of a believer should be to correction.  Pride often causes a person to refuse correction.  Pride discredits a rebuke by answering it with a rebuttal in defense.   It says,  "When you take the log out of your own eye you can take the speck out of mine." or  "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you."  Pride would have a person focus on the fact that no one is sinless and uses it to disqualify "the rebuke of a righteous man".  But Jesus has already condemned sin.  And it is the righteousness of Jesus that qualifies each believer to see sin for what it is and rebuke it.  It is up to each believer to submit to a life giving rebuke and turn from sin. We should model our responses after the psalmist who considered even the strike of a righteous man a kindness.  The strike of a righteous man reminds us of the Lord's hatred for sin.  His wrath for sin is still mounting.

Proverbs 16:6 "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil".  The blood of Jesus saves us from God's wrath.  But the blood of Jesus does not make God "ok" with sin within us.  He will have our obedience.  One of His merciful ways to correct us is to use the life giving rebuke of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  If we refuse this He will find other ways to remind us of His holiness and His wrath for sin. Hebrews 10:31 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God".

As it has always been, most people criticize Christians for their obedience when we do what society thinks is unthinkable and actually dare to not only speak out against sinfulness but also to disassociate ourselves from those who refuse to stop sinning. I know from personal experience what it is like to be rejected by family, friends and acquaintances because I have stood unwaveringly in the truth. And I'll be honest, sometimes I get very discouraged. Jesus said that we would be persecuted. He warned us that we would be hated. I didn't realize how hard it would be when the hate would come from people I love.

A good friend reminded me recently of the verse, Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I am so thankful for faithful friends who speak truth to me and encourage me. 

Proverbs 27:9 "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel."

One of God's greatest gifts is the fellowship we have with other brothers and sisters in the Lord. The testimony of the Spirit of God within someone often times causes me to want to seek God more. The world and our enemy actively seek to stifle this gift.  Satan wants to isolate us.  He wants us to succumb to our pride and reject godly counsel.  He would have us believe that meeting together is not necessary but can be replaced sufficiently and without consequence by viewing sermons on tv or having "online church".  He wants to remove everything that causes us to seek holiness together because he knows that one of the strongest forms of inspiration is the testimony of the Spirit of God within us to each other.  He wants us to become discouraged with each other, causing us to focus on our failures and in this way make us want to avoid each other and effectively stifle the edifying sharpening that happens between men when they come together face to face regularly.  He uses our pride to bring this about and justify it.  

My purpose in writing this is to confess that I am often times so tempted to succumb.  I am tempted to isolate myself and remove myself from all areas of vulnerability and that includes sharing what the Lord has taught me.  I am tempted to keep silent about the things I see and hear and restrict my conversation to shallow niceties.  But I know that if I truly love you, I will deny my instincts to be self preserving and rather, be willing to give an answer for the hope within me.  I will tell you what I know God has said.  I will give you advice and counsel as best I can to the level I have learned.  And if you have learned something I have not or feel I need to be reminded of something I may have forgotten, I ask that you be willing to share your wisdom with me. 

That is my other purpose in writing this.  I want to encourage you, my brothers and sisters, do not withhold the gift of your counsel from each other. 

 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."  1 Peter 3:15

Keep seeking God together.  Do not grow weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.   Press on!   Keep the faith.   Keep speaking the truth.   Be not weary.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Language

Some see Him in the stars.  Some see Him in the sky.  Others wear His beauty on their faces.  However He has displayed the beauty of His love there is a language that anyone can hear.

If you have ears to hear open your heart and receive Him.  If you have heard His voice, don't waist another day.  If you've ever seen evidence in creation or if ever you've felt His mercy, don't throw it away.

Some hear Him in a song.  Some understand through tears.  Others see through the hands that reach to help them.  However He has displayed the wonder of His love there is a language that anyone can hear. 

If you have ears to hear open your heart and receive Him.  If you have heard His voice, don't waist another day.  If you've ever seen evidence in creation or if ever you've felt His mercy, don't throw it away.

Taking a walk one fall day I was impressed by the beauty of the sky.  In the north there were storm clouds dark and scary.  To the west of me the sun was beaming through the blue sky.  It was just so beautiful that I couldn't help but glorify God.  Then it occurred to me that God inspired my love and my faith in Him by speaking to me in a language He knew I would understand.  As I pondered this it dawned on me that He wants all of creation to know Him and to see His beauty and that He speaks the languages of every person He created.  He doesn't leave it to chance that we will "get it".  He actually gives us eyes to see and ears to hear so that we can know Him.  What is your heart's language?  How does God speak to you?  For some it's the beauty of the other times it may be a sorrowful moment that drives you to Him.  However it is that He is speaking to you, listen.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On My Own

I'm running to you Lord.  This burden is to great to bear on my own.  I'm scared of what I've seen, a wickedness in me that I can't overcome on my own, not alone. 
Lord I don't have the strength.  And I don't have the will to overcome my secret shame.  And I don't understand  why I keep returning to what causes me such pain.  And so I run to You, the Author of my faith.  And I will wait upon You for the strength to carry on.

Remind me once again, renew in me the love that I first had for You.  Release me from my fear.  Release me from the shame that I can't overcome on my own, not alone.
Lord I don't have the strength.  And I don't have the will to overcome my secret shame.  And I don't understand why I keep returning to what causes me such pain.  And so I run to You, the Author of my faith.  And I will wait upon You for the strength to carry on.

Writing this song was nothing more than a confession to God.  When faced with the reality of my wickedness and my inability to conquer the desire that was threatening to consume me I became afraid.  I became aware of the fact that even the desire to want  to resist seemed far from me.  Standing on the edge, faced with a choice...the wisdom was clear but my will  to choose rightly was compromised.  I knew I couldn't do it.  I knew if left to myself I was going to fail.  I was grieved and cut to the heart by my betrayal of the Lover of my soul.  After all that He had done for me, after all that He had born for me, still I didn't even trust myself to make a choice that would honor Him.  It was then that I cried out to Him to give me the strength and the will to follow Him.  And once again He reached down and saved me from myself and from the clutches of wickedness. 

Nothing But Holy

I want to be nothing but holy, pure and lovely just like Jesus.

Make me to be everything beautiful.  Just like my Savior, like my Lord.

For He is the one who is worthy of all praises.  And He is the one I aspire to please.

The lyrics to this song are short and sweet.  They were (and still are) the cry of my heart late one afternoon as I was washing dishes and crying because I was SO angry about a certain situation.  Crazy that such a beautiful prayer and confession could come from such ugly circumstances.  As I stood there madly washing the dishes and replaying the injustice of the situation over and over in my head I was left with a choice.  The bottom line was that I was not going to be able to demand justice.  I was not going to be able to force the person who was wrong to do what was right.  All I could do was manage my own reaction.  God showed me that I was only responsible for myself and my own reactions.  And then the answer a song...with a simple cry for holiness.  As the words flowed past my lips and the melody hung in the air the release I was longing for came with my submission to the will of God.  "It is mine to avenge".  That's what God says.  "Be holy as I am holy". 

Friday, August 2, 2013

It All Falls On Him

I just had to share the quote from John Piper's page this morning;

"'Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.' Proverbs 24:26   This is a love affair with truth."

It stands out in my mind because just a few days ago I lost a "friend" because of Truth.  This woman who went through confirmation in her youth, two years of bible school with me, and went on to Northwestern Christian College afterward, claims to have at one time "known" Jesus but now denies Him.  She also denies the validity of the New Testament as the Word of God and claims that the worship of Jesus is "nothing short of the most practiced form of idolatry of our time".   She has completely abandoned The Faith.

In our short time of discourse it became abundantly clear that "reasoning together" though said to be welcomed, was not welcomed at all.  She even called it a "joke".   Truth was perceived as "threats" and "insulting, demeaning attacks" and she became hostile in her responses basically saying to me, "(her heart has) NO Room for (my) little explanation of god".  Her parting words to me were, " I WILL NOT bow to your tiny god ever again". 

This exchange and many others like it, got me thinking even more deeply about Jesus.  Psalm 69:9 says, "zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me".   During my exchange with this woman it was clear that in her hostility she was trying to insult me and my faith in Christ.  But I was not insulted.  I never became angry or personally indignant.  This is because her insults though intended for me, fell upon Jesus.  He bore them 2000 years ago when he was beaten, insulted and hung on a cross in my place. 

"Let every sin, every rebellion and every rejection of Your will hang over our lives like a notice of conviction upon a cross.  And when viewing that cross, help us to realize that though WE deserve to be the ones hanging there under that conviction, we need not and dare not believe we can bear it.  Help us to see Jesus, having come under that conviction and endure that cross in our stead.  And give us tears to weep and repent of all that He bore for us." 

This quote, from one of my prayer journal entries, came as a result of the realization that though Jesus was perfect in every way and did not deserve the insults and beatings and death He received, nor God's wrath for sin , He willingly subjected Himself to those things entirely.  He didn't even afford Himself the least form of self defense.  Even the most peaceful and non aggressive persons in the world defends themselves by at least withdrawing into a cocoon of self preservation in the form of an emotional disconnect in order to insulate themselves from pain.  But Jesus didn't even afford Himself this option.  Instead He consciously and willingly subjected Himself to ALL of the pain and sorrow that we deserve.  And because He did this, I no longer need to bear the burden of such great sorrow that accompanies the hatred that often times others direct at me personally because of my faith and love affair with Truth.  In my life I have had ample opportunity to "grow" through such situations.  But it wasn't until I realized that Jesus not only bore my sin and the wrath of God, but also the pain of the insults and rejection of others, that I experienced liberation from my battle with bitterness and "hurt".  It was a timely realization too.  For the older I get, the more I see the world changing at an ever increasing rate.  People no longer even hide their evil.  They are openly hateful toward God and His children.  Reality is this; more and more people are rejecting the Way, and the line defining those who belong to God and those who are of the world is becoming more clear every day. 

We are told, "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man." (Luke 17:26)   And scripture tells us that at that time, the thoughts of men were "only evil all the time".  That means that even the good things that they thought, said and did were evil.  Even the love they had for their children and families was evil...because they were without Truth.  Just like many today, I'm sure they rejected God and His word and tried to redefine what IS, to make their own creation of a more acceptable "truth".  I'm sure there were many "religious" people who lived at that time...but their religion was worthless, based on lies and false assumptions, rooted in self will and rebellion.   We are told that we will see more and more of this as time goes on.  Those who call evil good and good evil will do so blatantly and without shame.  Are you ready? 

Can you bear up under the sorrow of seeing family and friends abandon The Faith?  My assertion is this;  You do not need to bear up under such sorrow.  Jesus did it for you.  So in light of this fact, keep on preaching.  Keep on teaching.  Keep on praying.  Keep on loving.  And be willing to extend yourself even as the rejection and insults of others increases. 

Scripture tells us that in the end times the "love of most" will grow cold.  This, I'm sure, will be the result of the unbearable sorrow that accompanies the realization that friends and loved ones are rejecting and abandoning The Way.  We love so deeply and hurt so greatly for them that many of us will withdraw into our cocoons of self preservation causing the "love of many to grow cold".  But Jesus never did that.  He experienced it ALL willingly. Dear children of God, let Him bear your sorrow.  Remind yourself daily of your redemption from even the pain of the insults and rejection of others for His Name's sake.