Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grading Yourself On A Curve

We've all most likely heard someone quote the verse, "Judge not lest ye be judged".  It's likely the most quoted verse in Christian scripture.  It's easy to see why this is so.  I mean, who really wants to subject themselves to the scrutiny of someone who might be less merciful than God Himself?  I would guess that not many of us would volunteer for that.  But you know, I have often said that if you love me you will not leave me to my sinful devices.  If you really love me, if I fall into temptation and succumb to it you will snatch me from the flames.  This is a biblical mindset.  But how many believers are willing to subject themselves to the scrutiny of others so as to be made accountable to them for their behavior?  

If you are a person who studies God's word you are probably familiar with the Apostle Paul and his ministry to the people of Corinth.  I'll be candid with you and just say it plainly, in my opinion the people of Corinth seem like a completely depraved and nasty people.  These guys were into things that to me seem so extremely vile that I can hardly believe they could call themselves Christians, but they did.  From adultery and debauchery to orgies and the like, these people (at least some of them) seemed so far given over to their sinful flesh that I often wonder at the fact that God spent so much time reaching out to them through the Apostle Paul, but He did.  

What my eyes and mind would cling to is the fact that at least I'm not a sinner "like those sinners".  And in the spirit of hypocrisy I would cling to some ill-perceived saving worth within myself when compared with these people.  But I would be wrong.  While it's true that I am not a sinner like these people were sinners, I was equally in need of a Savior, and I am still.  

My sinfulness and equal need of a Savior does not negate the fact that there was great evil being practiced in the church of Corinth, nor does it negate the fact that God was not pleased with it.  When Paul wrote to these people his words were full of judgment and warning, rebuking them for the sinful things they were into, and sending the clear message that those who do such things are to cease and desist, or suffer for not doing so.  From being cut off from the church, to succumbing to death, Paul makes clear that consequences would follow the unrepentant.  How would these people be cut off from the church without judgement?  Surely God didn't come down and mark each unrepentant individual so as to segregate them from the rest of the church.  No, these people were marked by their lifestyles....and they were judged within the church for it.  

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5  "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"  Just before he said it, he warned that he was coming again and he was going to do some discipline in the church, complete with witnesses and judgment.   He even said, "I will not spare them" when speaking about those who were living sinfully while claiming to know God.  He meant business, and it was serious not just to him, but to the entire church.  God says, "Do not be deceived, God can not be mocked.  A man will reap what he sows".  Paul intended to come to Corinth and set up court in which brothers and sisters in the Lord would not only have to make a judgment about each other but actually witness to what they knew of each other and yield themselves to the scrutiny of the body of Christ as a whole.  And there were consequences attached to this hearing.  Paul, in challenging these people, told them to "examine yourselves" and "test yourselves" prior to his coming.  In order to take an examination or a test there must be facts and standards.  That means there is definitive criteria by which a person can KNOW if they are in the faith....and it most certainly includes an assessment of behavior, not just a confession of faith.  And those who are not walking according to the rules of faithful Godly behavior most certainly fail that test.  

Unfortunately, anyone who wants to can claim to be a Christian.  This is nothing new.  It happened in Corinth and it happens today.  It's the reason so many horrible things have been done in the name of Christ.   But unlike in the days of the early church there is no longer an expectation of accountability or a strict standard by which men and women are judged.  Instead, a large percentage of the body of Christ has bought into the "judge not" rhetoric and consequently the "test" is no longer administered on demand.  There is no fear of being turned out of the church or cut off from the rest of God's people.  There is no push to change behavior.   There is only the all inclusive call to "just have faith", and condemnation is believed to be averted!  The church began grading on a curve and the standard is zero judgment, zero mention of proper behavior or of condemnation (because that just isn't loving or pleasant and it makes people feel bad).  No, the test that is currently being used to "examine yourself to see if you are in the way" has one and only one criteria, "Claim you are good and it will be so".  But God says, "Woe to those who call evil good..."!   Of course, you know how that kind of test turns out for the church.  Every Tom, Dick and Harry, Sally, Jane and Sue is welcomed with open arms and open minds into the church, regardless of his or her lifestyle and this is how the culture of church has changed so much through history.  Unlike the church in Corinth, there often is no challenge to forsake sin.  No longer is sin an abomination, but rather, it is just a "poor choice" or a "struggle", nothing shameful.   It isn't unusual for sin to be considered just an "alternate lifestyle".  Adulterers, thieves, homosexuals, bisexuals, abusers, neglecters, the lazy and the indifferent....all are welcome without challenge and without judgment...all because there is ONE scripture to which the masses cling, "...judge not...".  

Unfortunately, for those who refuse to "examine" or "test" themselves truthfully according to God's standards, judgment is coming.  And though many believe they are free from damnation simply because they've learned to think well of themselves and cheer themselves on with encouraging scriptures about there being "no condemnation", it would be wise for the all tolerant masses to take seriously the command to examine themselves to see if they are in The Way.  I challenge you, like Paul, to search out what that test includes!  It's important, because when God said, "there is therefore now no condemnation" He was referring to those who are "in Christ" not those who live in sin!  Paul's letter should give men a clue that it isn't only a matter of laying claim to being a Christian.  Anyone can say they are a Christian.  But if you are someone who is living like the Corinthians lived, you should be afraid, because more severe than the judgment of men is the judgment of Christ Himself!  When you stand before God and make your futile claims to Christianity, He will not be swayed by your mere words or claims aligning yourself with Christ.  He will not grade you on a curve.  A man is either with God and living like it, or he is not with God and living in sin.  Examine yourselves to see if you are in The Way, both in body and mind.  And don't think that you will benefit from grading yourself on a curve.        

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Easily Offended

There is so much to take in and consider when trying to understand love from God's perspective.  People have a natural form of love that comes with ease and at first consideration it might seem to be sufficient in regards to the command to "love your neighbor as yourself".  But in truth, the natural love or affection that comes without much effort to humans is never quite enough to satisfy the "as yourself" qualification of that command.  

For instance, it is easy to bring a hot dish over to a sick or grieving family, but it does not come easily to serve the same family to the full when their grief creates a physical need for an extended period of time.   The days following the death of a loved one might be filled with good food and well wishes, even a show of support with help in lawn care and other menial tasks of the like.  But indeed one or two months later when the initial shock of loss has passed, there surfaces a deeper more lasting form of grief and challenge that is often faced alone by a grieving family.  This is just one such instance where the easy natural love people have for one another proves to be insufficient to meet the mark of "loving your neighbor as yourself".  I'm convinced that the love spoken of in what Jesus called the second greatest command is something entirely beyond what comes naturally to man kind.  It is a deliberate, selfless, enduring kind of love that has only been demonstrated by God Himself.  Yet we are commanded to do it.

1 Corinthians 13 chisels away the likely misconceptions of love one might have, describing in great detail it's meaning according to God's desire.  It defines God's expectation of love so pointedly that I find myself in wonder at my inability to comprehend it and live it out, yet I cannot deny it.  I must confess that as a Christian woman of thirty plus years I grapple with loving my neighbor as myself quite often.  As the example I gave earlier shows, I believe I am not alone in this.  

Today, however, I want to focus on one aspect of love that seems like a no brainer to me, but apparently is quiet challenging to many people in the church, particularly women.  And when I say this, I am not pointing fingers at a specific church or situation in a church.  I am merely bringing up a matter that I've witnessed myself and that women have questioned me about on a number of occasions.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that "love is not easily offended".  But I wonder how many of us have become "offended" in our church experiences.  I'm guessing that every single one of us is guilty of this failure.  And you know, the World is not ignorant about this either.  Believers have, on a number of occasions, given reason for the World to mock and scorn because we demonstrate a propensity to be offensive and to be easily offended.  

For example, we could name the stereo typical "Women's Ministry" dynamic that is so often scorned by unbelievers who have "tried doing the church thing".  You know the one I'm talking about.  Ladies gather, ladies talk, ladies try to organize something for any given ministry and one or two ladies assume the role of Bossy Bessie.  When Bossy Bessie rears her ugly head all hell breaks loose in the kitchen.  This kind of sinful, self serving, self exalting behavior makes people want to run from women's ministry.  It is offensive and people become offended and they pull away.  

If we take seriously the words of 1 Corinthians 13 then our behavior while we serve should reflect the kind of love God prefers.  Otherwise we are nothing but resounding gongs and clanging symbols and our service has no worth.  All too often I've heard women use the word, "hurt" to describe their response to the offensive behavior of "Bossy Bessies".  They respond with personal indignation to the sinful behavior of those who want to rule the roost in women's ministries becoming easily offended.  I'm guilty of this myself.  I must confess that I've done my fair share of avoiding serving at church functions because of Bossy Bessies.  But I've realized that head on love inspired confrontation of the sinful lording of others is best.  Any other response just lends itself to more sinfulness.  

Love is not easily offended.  God tells us this.  So if we respond to the sinfulness of others by "licking our wounds" and "feeling hurt" and all the other gossipy destructive responses that typically go hand in hand with being easily offended then we do not love.  We become just as guilty as Bossy Bessie who insists on having her own way.  To what end does this lead?  It leads to lack of unity and gives reason for the world to mock and criticize, depriving them of the witness of God's love between us, even causing others to stumble.  This is to our shame.  The only remedy is repentance all around.  And God will help us do it.  Love your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest command.  By paying attention to God's description of love we will be better equipped to keep this command more faithfully.   The state of being offensive and being easily offended will lose its grip on people's hearts, and believers will become the unified witness God desires them to be.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No Power of Hell, No Scheme of Man

You can probably name the song that this phrase comes from.   It's one of my favorites.  Of course, I have a few.  But In Christ Alone is one of the best.  For some reason this phrase in particular plays in my mind from time to time.   I don't know why, but it just pops in and repeats in my thoughts.   Perhaps it's the swell of the melody.   Perhaps it's the promise that I cling to.  It's comforting to know that as formidable as any foe can be, even if it is Satan himself, the truth is, nothing can pluck me from God's hand.  

With as many hurting people in the world as there are, and as many stories as any one person might have regarding adversity, it's not uncommon to hear people ask the question,
"If God is a good God, why does He let (insert any possible problem here) happen?"  

I've answered this question many times for both believers and non believers.  If we all look back over our years and consider things that have happened, we might all find something formidable that shakes us.  These things might come for any number of reasons.  But, no matter why they come, there are two things certain.  Satan would use them to destroy us and God would use them to refine us and inspire His praise upon our lips. 

It's true even regarding the current wickedness our nation has embraced.  Homosexuality is not a new thing.  The only new thing is that the Supreme Court has now placed homosexual relationships legally on par with God given marriage calling them equal.  But there is no equality with the wicked and the righteous.  And there never shall be.  It shouldn't surprise any of us that the wicked act wickedly and celebrate such things.  But please don't for one moment believe that wickedness and righteousness have anything in common.  

It may be that some of God's children are reeling from the ruling, but in truth, Jesus said these things would happen.  None of what the wicked do or push for should take any of us by surprise.    I did cry when I heard the news.  Not because I hate gays.  Not because I want to hinder anyone's "love", though I will not equate lust with love ever because they are just not the same no matter what anyone would have us believe.  I cried for my nation that increasingly heaps God's wrath upon itself.  I cried because of the great deception that has come and will only get worse.  We are told in scripture that many will be deceived and that they will be deceived because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved.  My sorrow was like that of Jesus when he wept for Jerusalem and her blindness.  But my sorrow was not one of defeat.  Nor was it one of resignation.  It was one of great longing for the salvation of the lost.  Including those who once believed themselves to be Christians but have turned away.  

I want to encourage true believers everywhere not to become downcast within themselves during this current swell of wicked pride.  This is another step toward the defining line.  There will come a time when the wicked will no longer be able to freely and successfully blend in with the righteous children of God.  Even now you can see the lines becoming clearer.  Those who believe God and His word are standing strong for righteousness in many ways, not just regarding the matter of homosexuality.   
Those who have convoluted their minds and embraced doctrines of sexuality that do not align with God's are even now becoming bold enough to show where their allegiance truly lies .  If you don't believe me, just take a look at all the rainbows on Facebook and the news.  These people have hijacked a symbol of promise from God and applied it to their profile pictures and even the White House to represent their rejection of God's will and plan for sexuality.  They flaunt their chosen path with pride and those who "like" and support their choice are no less accountable for the wickedness that is going on.  

Believers, this should not hinder your praises.  God is still a good God, even when He hands the wicked over to their delusions.  God is still a good God even when the wicked revel and rejoice in what they fail to see is God's patience with them.  

I've been asking and praying for the Church to become obvious.   And so now it it upon us.  Those who accept God's word and believe are becoming more and more noticeable as the wicked masses who at one time have been able to blend in are now openly displaying their lack of wisdom and love for God's truth.   

Fear not.  No power of Hell, nor scheme of man will ever pluck you from His hand.  I encourage you to maintain an attitude of humility while at the same time maintaining God's standard of holiness outlined for us in scripture.  The world will have you believe that you are wrong and merely being hateful for agreeing with God that sin is sin.  The world will call you a bigot and hypocrite and hater and many other things.  It will push to stifle the truth spoken from your lips and will seek to put it's foot upon you socially.  The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  This is not new.  Believers will become more and more defined as wickedness becomes more and more promoted and accepted.  You may even now have noticed the "good christian friend" you thought you knew so well has all this time embraced and condoned the perversion of homosexuality, making her stance clear socially via Facebook.  This is a good thing to notice. She was a good blender before now.  You knew not how to pray for her.  But she's come out of the closet and openly aligned herself with the wicked.  It may grieve you as it has grieved me many times in the past.  But it should never cause you to feel afraid or lost.  No power of hell or scheme of man can ever pluck you from His hand.   And if your friend truly loves God and belongs to Him, she will set aside her wickedness and agree with God, even if it takes great hardship and sorrow to bring her to that point.  Until then, we must pray and continue to speak the truth in love so as to snatch people from the clutches of Death.  

May God continue to guide His children in all love and faithfulness.  May His Spirit fill each one of His children with the knowledge of the Truth.  May we humbly repent of our sin and seek His face and do His will even in the face of blatant wickedness and frenzied worship of perversion.  
God Bless you!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

God's Word is Not a Oui-ja Board

"She Said Yes!"

It's happened a thousand times in my house if it's happened once.  Children are so cute and innocent and willing to hear what their hearts desire to hear.  Their minds are so fixed upon what they desire that they see answers and resolutions where ever they look, even when there is no answer given to them.  

There have been times when I've been speaking to someone on the phone and one of my little ones will run up to me and ask something simple such as, "Mama, can we have a treat?".  Then in my conversation with the person who called me, I might say something like, "Sure" or "Yes".   My children, in hearing my answer to the person on the phone then turn around with great excitement and yell, 

"She said yes!"

Without a doubt I said yes.  But my answer was to the caller, not to the child pulling on my leg.  But that child, hearing my answer to another, took that answer for him/herself and not only that, shared it with the rest of his siblings, who rejoiced to hear it.  It creates quite a messy situation at times.  

When it comes to my kids, this scenario seems precious and cute, albeit frustrating.  But even though I love their innocence, I've had to teach my children the dangers of doing such things.  And I hope they keep this wisdom close to their hearts as they grow into adult children of God, because the same lesson must be learned for each one of us who believe.   

To many times young and old believers have shared with me stories that mirror my children's so closely that I'm left utterly amazed at the folly.  They tell me of their prayers and their search for the answers from God and how they read the bible and found a verse or two or several that God spoke to an ancient nation thousands of years ago.   Then, adopting the recorded words as their own, they excitedly proclaim, "He said yes!".   How can we continue to make the same mistake that small children make?  How can we not see the folly in this?  

The answer to that question is less condemning than a person might understand, but it boils down to simple ignorance.  But when we consider the concept of doing this as we first did regarding my own children, we can see the folly of it.  Anytime someone asks a question and adopts an answer not directly given to him, the answer the person believes to be for him is a mistake.  It's kinda cute when it's a four year old asking for a treat.  But it's not so cute when it's a believer who mistakenly believes that the Bible is a magical mystical book of answers randomly applicable to any plea he might have.   This is not the function of the bible.  

God teaches us through His word. We learn who He is and how He operates.   We learn about sin, human nature, the world, God's will and many other things.  But it's not a Oui-ja Board.    We can't ask it a question and then point, expecting the words to be God's answer.    Are their times when the adopted promises line up with God's will for a person's life?  Sure.  But it's a dangerous game to play and many an ignorant believer has suffered from failed expectations because of his misunderstanding about the role of God's Word in his life.  Simply put, there are times when the words a person adopts as his answer don't line up with God's will for his life.  Believers innumerable have suffered for making the mistake of thinking that every word in the Bible is a personal word randomly applicable to their lives however it is desired.   

Rather than looking mystically at the words printed upon the pages of our Bibles, we need to look truthfully a them.  God's recorded words are about Him and for His glory for our edification and education.  It is living an active and sharper than a two-edged sword able to divide between soul and spirit.  Are some of God's promises recorded in the Bible for us personally?  Absolutely!    Can we claim the promises God made to a different nation?  Sometimes....but it greatly depends upon the promise.    

Knowing that God Is, and that the Word He's spoken for us is living and active should definitely give us hope and comfort, but it shouldn't bring confusion or disillusionment, or even disappointment.   If confusion and disillusionment are the results of having taken God's word out of context, we must never shake our fists at God as though He's failed us.  Rather, we should consider that we've misapplied His word and created a god or the will of a god to suit our own desires, and then we should repent.   

I've had many conversations with people who've said, "I used to be a Christian, but..."  and then they go on to list some failed expectation they had as the result of misapplying God's word.  But most of these people fail to acknowledge that the god they've worshiped and the words they've applied to their lives as "God's broken promises" are actually no different than a child misapplying his mother's answer to his own situation and claiming it as a "personal truth".  God does speak to us and reveal things to us through His word.  But His word is to magnify Him and His will, not our own.  And therein lies the problem.  You see, when a person engages in scripture mining, what he does is fashion an answer according to his own will.  

God speaks to us and teaches us many things through His word.  But we must always, always, always be mindful that it is Him and His will that is magnified through His word,  not our own.  It is His testimony, not ours.  His word creates what He wants it to create, not what we desire to create by adopting signs and coincidental phrases as confirmation of the leadings of our own hearts.   The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all else.  Do not follow your heart!  Seek first the Kingdom of God and the rest will follow.  

God's word is not a Oui-ja board.  It glorifies and exalts Him and His will alone.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Please, Shake My Faith

Mark 9:42
Image result for little dorrit mr. pancks stills
Mr. Pancks, who embraced the reproof of his friend
-from BBC's Little Dorrit
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea."

God's children are precious to Him.  He makes this clear in His word and with this verse in particular.   The consequences of causing someone in The Faith to stumble will be severe, I'm sure.  But the title of this blog post really has nothing to do with this verse.  I began by quoting it so that we could get that fact out of the way.   

As a believer in God's Word and in Jesus Christ as my Savior I have to confess that I've constantly wrestled with the issue of Truth.  From the creation of the world, Satan twisted God's Word and His intent in speaking it in order to cause men and women to stumble.  The sad part is, many people have succumbed to his deceit and fallen for "faiths" that are not rooted in truth.   Even those in the Church who are actual children of God can fall prey to lies and begin to believe things that are not true.  Their "faith" earnest though it may be, is rooted in doctrine that is false.  

When someone is confronted with opposition to his "faith", it is not uncommon for him to resist it.  Anger may rise.  Emotions may threaten to get out of control.  Relationships can even disintegrate all at the instigation of opposing beliefs.  Some people fear this and actually shy away from conflicts such as this like it was a deadly plague.   But I say, "Bring it on!". 

Having my faith challenged has done nothing but cause me to dig deeper into the Word of God in order to know what is really true.  And I've found that sometimes, I've placed my faith in a doctrine that is absolutely wrong.   I spent the first twenty years of my life believing something that was wrong that I was taught in Sunday school as a child.  My "faith" held me in the bondage of paralyzing fear.  When I was in my early twenties, this matter came to an ugly head and dealing with it became a matter of life and death for me.   How I wish someone had rocked my world earlier, and shaken my "faith" sooner.  I think of all the years I lived in fear, dreading meeting God the Father and I wonder at the waste.   How much praise was forsaken?   How much joy?

God was kind to bring the error of my beliefs to a point where I had to deal with it.  But after twenty years of believing what I was taught it was pretty engrained into my way of thinking.  And it was difficult.  I felt like I was betraying truth just for considering the opposing theological doctrine.  But, when everything was stripped away, all I really ever wanted was the Truth, not a counterfeit.  God did not want me to believe a lie either because to know the Truth is to know Him.  

Charles Dickens wrote a book called Little Dorrit.   I love the story and BBC did an excellent job of dramatizing the tale.  One of the characters in the book is Mr. Pancks.  He's a quirky little guy who's very smart, but he makes a very big mistake.  He convinces Mr. Clennam to invest his money and the money of his company with Mr. Merdle, The Man of The Age. The investment turns out to be a very bad investment and Mr. Clennam looses everything.  But Mr. Pancks, knowing he was wrong, does not just walk away.  He goes directly to Mr. Clennam with great remorse for his advice and begs Mr. Clennam to express his displeasure saying,  "Come on, at me again!  At me again!".  He desperately wants the confrontation because he feels so badly for his role in Mr. Clennam's ruin. He didn't want to plug his ears and run away from the confrontation.  He didn't deny that he was wrong or insist that he was right merely because of the sincerity of his faith in his advice.  

You may be wondering why on earth I'm bringing that scene up in this post.  I love the scene because I can relate so well to Mr. Pancks' willingness to embrace the facts even if it exposes and highlights his error.  The world would have you believe that truth is subjective, that you can hold to something you sincerely believe in even if others disagree with you and it will be true for you.  It would have you believe that no one is ever wrong and that every thought or opinion is equally valid.   But there is only One truth, and that Truth will set you free.  It doesn't matter how passionately someone holds to his faith if his faith is wrong.  Fervency and sincerity will not lend credibility to it in the end.  Those who sincerely believe a lie will only be sincerely wrong in the end.  I never want to be sincerely wrong, but if I am, I would beg for someone who knows the truth to shake my faith.  In the spirit of Mr. Pancks I say,  "Come on, at me again! At me again!"  

One problem I see regarding this subject is that people seem to be to easily offended.  I don't equate confrontation with personal attack.  No one should.  But I can't even begin to count all the times I've heard people say they "feel attacked" by others merely because someone in the church doesn't agree with them.  Their pride gets in the way and they are unable to glean wisdom from listening to others.   

God says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).   I've said it before, sometimes sparks are just gonna fly.   But sparks do not necessarily indicate a battle or an attack.  It might just be that God is chiseling away doctrinal error.  Believers should embrace the privilege of speaking truth to each other, even when it takes some work in finding the common ground.  After all, Jesus is the Truth, so if we are seeking to know Him, then we will not shy away from investigating what God's Word has to say about any given matter.  

Please, shake my faith.  I believe it's rooted in the Word of God because I've searched it out.  You may have noticed something I've not yet noticed.  It might even be something crucial.  So go ahead and rock my world if you know something I don't know.  But be advised, words and opinions do not hold weight with me just because of the sincerity of your "faith".  It's got to be rooted in God's Word and it's got to be consistent with His character.  And if you're wrong, be ready to have your faith shaken.  Because sometimes when we think we are going to teach someone else something we know, God might just be bringing them into our circles so that we ourselves might be taught.  Are you humble enough to listen or are you too proud or afraid to allow your faith to be shaken? If your faith is rooted in Truth, you have nothing to worry about.  It will stand.  But if it's rooted in something other than Truth, you still don't need to worry.  The loss of an errant "faith" is nothing to mourn.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

"God Told Me..."

There's something that has never set well with me in the "Christian culture".  It's the tendency for people to ever so casually, yet ever so dangerously use God's name in vain.  I'm not talking about people and their use of  "om_"  or the typical form of taking God's name in vain by speaking it as an explicative.  Both those are wrong, but right now I'm talking about the way people say,

 "God said to me..." 


 "God told me..." 

and then they add His name to the thoughts or feelings they have.  I believe this is a very dangerous thing to do, but it's also a dangerous thing to believe, if you really believe you can think a thought and attach God's name to it as though He said it.  Think about it!  The voice that spoke the universe into existence would have significantly more impact and clarity than those who do this are considering!  Or maybe they think He's just being gentle with them, I don't know.  But I do know that God says our thoughts are NOT His thoughts.  So when someone is praying and a thought comes to his/her mind, it would be wise to resist the urge to try and add value to it by telling others that God said it.    

I do believe the Holy Spirit can lead people to learn something or make decisions, if their decisions are rooted in prayer and founded upon actual truth.  I also believe God does still audibly speak.  But if someone says to me, "God told me...(and then adds their convictions or impressions about any given thing)"  they instantly lose credibility with me because I know that when God speaks it's big, it's powerful, it not only rocks worlds but creates them.   To hear God's voice is a life altering experience.  And it isn't something anyone should or would casually reference.  

The danger in saying that God told you something when He didn't is that you are lying.  You are bearing false witness against God Himself and taking His name in vain.  And you break several commands of God in scripture that tell us that we are not to add to His words.  For instance;

Proverbs 30:5-6

"Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar."

I wonder how many people have said, "God told me to do this..." but then later claim that He's leading them in a different direction.  Does God change His mind like a man would change his mind? Does God mess up and need to make a recovery plan?  Never!  We can see from all of scripture that when God speaks it is powerful and true and it carries a weight unlike any man's words.  We can see from scripture that when God speaks it brings HIM glory, not typically bringing glory to any man.  

But when people claim that God told them something that they didn't hear Him say audibly or that they didn't read in a scripture that was directly spoken about them or to them, then usually what they are claiming is for the glory and exaltation their own will and plan.  Usually it's because something he/she is saying needs the weight of the unseen God for people (or even themselves) to believe it.  But God never needs men to add weight to His words.  And not one of us should be trying to add God's weight to our own words or thoughts by claiming He said it to us and us alone.  By doing so, we deceive ourselves and others.  And we become participants of Satan's age old game of twisting what God has said.  

If God ever literally speaks to you, I'd be so glad to listen to what He said.  I'm sure it would rock my world.  I'm sure my heart would burn within me and the Spirit of God within me would respond with confirmations and I would be cut to the heart.  When God speaks, men are greatly humbled and even fearful.  Yes, I said fearful.  You may want to argue with me and quote scripture to me telling me that 'perfect love casts out fear'.  But I would counter that with the fact that God says we are to fear Him and keep His commandments (Ecc. 12:13).  Trust me, if God speaks to you, fearing Him would not be a challenge, it would come naturally.  But I never hear anyone have even the remotest hint of the fear of the Lord when they claim He told them something.  Instead, their words are usually followed by lengthy explanations or qualifications for what they'd like God to have said in answer to their prayers.  

But consider, this is how seriously God takes this matter; 

Deuteronomy 18:20
"But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die."  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hear Humbly, Gain Wisdom

 Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

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

Proverbs 15:22
 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. 

Proverbs 13:10
By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Proverbs 11:14
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 19:20-21
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 27:6
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 15:31-33

He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility. - 

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Have you ever wondered why God hardened Pharaoh's heart?  I've grappled with that more than a few times.  It seems so contrary to what most people consider to be "loving".  I mean, after all, If God was a "loving God" wouldn't He want someone's heart to soften and believe?  

2 Thessalonians 2:10 tells us that those who are perishing are doing so because "they refuse to love the truth and so be saved".   Pharaoh's heart was not a heart that loved the truth.  He may have become convinced and fearful of the truth after God send plague after plague, but in no way did he love the truth.  He refused to love the truth, inspite of the fact that it testifies completely to The One True God who is sovereign over all.  So when he seemed ready to concede, it's no wonder why God would harden his heart.   You see, Pharaoh not only worshipped many many gods, he also thought he was a god.  To the rest of the Egyptian and Hebrew world looking on, it probably just seemed like a simple ordinary match between dualing gods.  I can almost hear it now, "Ding! round two!"  But there is nothing ordinary about what happened between God and Pharaoh and his gods.  There is nothing ordinary about God at all.  

When God hardened Pharaoh's heart I believe He did so for the purpose of making it clear that the God of the Hebrews is the One and Only God worthy of worship.  He can not be expected to receive the same lame praise and adoration that the masses would give a demonically empowered god.  No.  God has always been distinguished.  Pharaoh was merely a testy little defiant cockerel who dared to challenge God by shaking his fist in His face and puffing out his chest, calling upon his magicians as if they could contend with God's power.  Their tricks, though empowered by demons were only good for wowing the masses.  But God, in harding Pharaoh's heart, laid low every Egyptian and Hebrew soul that had breath in the land.  And every single one of them saw God for the distinguished Sovereign that He is.  

God is still distinguished.  And He still demands that those who represent Him be distinguished.  There shouldn't ever be a "Christian" who easily blends in with the wicked.  Like the Hebrews, God desires that you be free.  Nothing should have mastery over you.  And when you allow yourself to become compromised with sin, when you allow your life to take on the appearance of someone who does not have a distinguished all powerful sovereign God, you make God out to look puny, like any other deity  who is so unimpressive that he's easily ignored.   God is not your God if you live such a life.  But God is a God who will distinguish Himself, even if you refuse to acknowledge His Glory.  

Dare you be like Pharaoh?  Will you shake your fist at God and refuse to love the truth?  Or will you be like the chosen, who humble themselves under God, obeying His rules and commands?  He will be distinguished. The question is, are you?  Do you obviously belong to God, or do you spend your life blending in being indistinguishable?  God has never been interested in being compromised in such a way.   

Colossians 1:22     
"He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him"


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Git Ur Eyes Off Me!

Made you look!  Ok ok, no more dramatic plays to suck you into my thought life.  From now on I'll stay on topic.

Have you ever been told by your parents, "It's impolite to stare"?  I would guess that every single one of us were taught this as children.  Yet, it's really sometimes hard not to glance twice at someone who's maybe lost a limb or been scarred by fire.  It's just natural for our eyes to to notice things and even for our eyes to maybe do a double take when we see something that gets our minds working and wondering.  I'm guessing it's just curiosity.  But maybe it could be fear too.  I don't know about you, but when I see someone who's got scars I find myself praying for those I love and myself that God would spare us such a painful ordeal that would leave any of us horribly scarred.  I also pray for the person who's plight caught my attention.  

You know, the same thing happens to us when we notice someone who is spiritually compromised in an obvious way.  Just as it's a discipline to not stare at someone with a physical deformity, so it is a spiritual discipline not to fixate upon someone who is in an obvious state of spiritual compromise.  I mean, it's really hard not to notice the unwed woman with the baby bump.  And it's hard not to notice the blood shot eyes of an alcoholic, or the fact that your friend or family member now has another new last name because they have divorced their husband or wife and got remarried.  These things are just right in front of us, and they are obvious testimonies to the moral failure on the part of the one who's caught our eye.  Yet, still, it's impolite to stare.  

It's so easy to say that we are all sinners.  And I know I've talked about this before, but the simple truth is, not everyone is a sinner like some are sinners.  Some of us have managed to steer clear of obvious sin.  One could really congratulate himself for the way he manages to stay away from the door of the adulteress if he wanted to.  And to a point, his self praise would be valid.  But at the same time, if we could look into that man's heart, we just might find something shameful that he's managed to nurse in it's quiet chambers.  This obviously is impossible for any of us to do.  But with God, it is not only possible, it most certainly happens moment by moment.

How fortunate we, who have "kept our way pure", are to be able to skate through this life with our sin neatly hidden away from appraising eyes.  "Phew!"  Right?  What a glass house that is!  On one hand we are commendable.  Yet I hope we all know that in reality there is NO ONE who is righteous.  So I guess we can all wipe our smug little smiles off our faces and fall to our knees in repentance just like those who bear the obvious shame of their sin.  

When I think of this subject, I can't help but think of Psalm 119.  The perfect prayer.  It is filled with confession and repentant pleas for mercy.  All of them made by the man said to be "a man after God's own heart".  I wonder if I'm a woman after God's own heart?  I do.  I wish I could say that I am.  Because I'd like to be.  Like the psalmist, I'd love for my eyes to be kept from worthless things.  And I'd love for God to teach me, and give me understanding.  I'd love for Him to love me with His everlasting love and find no fault within me.  But there is fault in me.  It's just as blazingly obvious to God as the baby bump on the unwed woman is obvious to me.   

In Psalm 19 the psalmist asks the question, "Who can discern his errors?"  Sometimes our sin is so sneaky within us that we don't even get it that it's sin. But following that question the psalmist says, 

"Declare me innocent from hidden faults.  Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!  Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression."   Psalm 19:12-14

There is one advantage that the one caught in sin has over the one who's sin is secret and undiscovered by others.  Those who's sin has been exposed are directly confronted with it and their need of forgiveness.  The rest of us, who's sin is secret and less obvious are dependent upon God to search and destroy our hidden faults.  I'm so thankful that He's willing to do this.  I'm so thankful that He didn't just leave me thinking that because I don't have an obvious scar from my sin that I'm ok.   Because I'm seriously not ok.  My heart is sick with the evil He shows me.  And I never knew I was capable of such things as He's shown me.  But to see what the psalmist prayed and to pray them myself, I know that like him, and anyone else who repents, God will have mercy on me too.  Though I do not deserve it any more than anyone else.  

It may be impolite to stare.  And it may be a discipline to turn your eyes away from the obvious moral failures of others.  But the greater discipline is to look inward and do some soul searching with God.  What an endeavor!  And what a relief when He purges your life of the sin that is blazingly obvious to Him.   

Monday, March 9, 2015

No Rival Thrones

Recently my sister showed me this beautiful song;

"To Keep Your Lovely Face"
by Graham Kendrick

To keep Your lovely face
Ever before my eyes
This is my prayer
Make it my strong desire
That in my secret heart
No other love competes
No rival throne survives
And I serve only You

I first heard it last Wednesday and loved it at once. I've been singing it ever since, so much so that as I lay in bed last night I couldn't help hearing it play in my mind. While the melody is beautiful, it's the lyrics that resonate so strongly with me.

I've been told by a few that I'm intense (really what they mean is they think I'm fanatical). If I am, it's because the God I serve is completely amazing! His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. They are so far above my own that when someone tells me such a thing I can't help but laugh a little inside. Here I am, just barely skimming the surface of His greatness with my tiny thoughts and people think I'm intense? These kinds of judgements will never dissuade me from endeavoring to know Him more! The reason? God is so majestic in holiness and wonderful in mercy that I can not help but to dwell upon His greatness! There is NO competing love and no rival throne to compare.

I'd like you to consider something. I'll begin with a short story about a woman I know. She's been married for thirty some years to a man who is less than loving. She's shed many tears for him and because of him, but still she stays faithful to the vows she made on her wedding day. Her commitment is a rare find these days. And I'm sure many will scoff when I say that I applaud her devotion. Most would think her justified in divorcing her husband. She does not "feel loved". There is no passion. Her husband treats her indifferently and he's condemning and rude, dismissive and mocking of her faith. Yep, seems like a just reason to divorce, to most people. Yet she stays and perseveres.

Are you wondering how such a thing can be done? I tell you, it's because she has her eyes fixed on God so much so that no competing love (or in her case desire to be loved) and no rival throne survives in her heart of hearts. Nothing stands to overrule God's commands and nothing usurps His wisdom or will. He is God and He is sufficient for her. Because of this she's able to bear with the failings of her unsaved husband and endure loneliness and heart break even when the rest of the world would condone a divorce.

The secret place of the heart is where all idolatry begins. When a man gets his eyes off the One who is worthy of our complete and total surrender and begins allowing rival thrones and competing loves to survive and thrive, the compromise that follows seems reasonable to him. These rival thrones take various forms, but all of them in the end are nothing but idolatry. God says, " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength". But it's so easy to be lead astray in our heart of hearts, to embrace basically anything and everything upon which we set our affections. It's when that happens that our affections overrule what God has said and choosing to be faithful to Him regardless of the circumstances seems fanatical rather than reasonable. But what most don't realize is that it's an oxymoron to say, "No, Lord".

This song is the prayer of a man given over to God. And he's asking God to always let him gaze upon His loveliness so that no other love competes and no rival throne survives but God's alone. This is the premise for all faithfulness in every situation. Many martyrs have withstood much painful torture because of the fact that they are gazing intently upon God's lovely face. His word, His promises, His love, His justice, His holiness, His peace, His wrath and His mercy and grace are all so entirely compelling that when a man comes face to face with Him, it is possible to endure many things simply by keeping your eyes fixed upon Him. What would seem fanatical or intense to the world is a completely reasonable response.

Now this might sound ridiculous to you. You may even be scorning my words at this very moment. But I know that if you knew God as LORD, you'd understand the things of which I speak. And you'd join me in encouraging people like this woman to remain faithful even when they don't get their "happily ever after". And you'd join with me in admiration of the martyrs who refuses to denounce the name of Jesus, because you'd understand that it is His face upon which they've set their eyes. These and so many other hard situations in life are able to be endured because God Himself gives the strength and faith to remain faithful.

You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength. He is to be loved even above our own consuming desires. Intense, fanatical, obsessive and surrendered, every man is called to love God above all else. Competing loves and rival thrones are seen for all their inferiority by those who gaze upon His lovely face. The world looks on with non-comprehending eyes, scorning what seems foolish to them, but believers all over the world and all throughout history have willingly surrendered to God's will by keeping first and foremost in their affections His Lordship.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Royal Screw Ups"

1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles are packed with accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah and the events that occurred in their lifetimes.   It's sad to say that there is a longer list of kings who "did not do what what right in the eyes of the Lord" than there is of the kings who "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord".  It's actually fascinating to me to read these accounts and consider the kind depravity of mind these men had to have in order for them to do such horrible things as are written in these books.  If you study them you'll see what I mean.  

Most Christians know and live by the knowledge that every single one of us sins and that there is no one who always does right and never sins.  But I find it strange how by instinct all of humanity tends to qualify sin by degrees of wrongness.  We know from scripture that if even one commandment is broken we are guilty of breaking them all.  But in reality we all know by nature that some things we do are worse than others.  I can't help but believe it's because God Himself qualifies sin, even eluding to greater degrees of judgment for some.  For example:  

-Matthew 11:20-22 
“Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.  'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you . . . I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.'”
-Luke 12:47-48 
“And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
-John 19:11
“Jesus answered [Pilate], 'You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin.' ”
-Hebrews 10:29
“How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

No matter how any of us qualifies our sin the fact remains that we're all guilty, and we all need The Fathers mercy.  It's one thing to say with our lips that we sin.  It's another entirely different thing to believe with our hearts that our sin is unquestionably disgusting to God. The kings of Israel and Judah were like a pendulum of good and evil.  But those who were evil were truly royal screw ups in every sense of the word.  They sinned in ways most of us would never consider sinning.  But did you know that for these men to be saved all it took was a repentant heart that was yielded to God?  Some of you may think you're a royal screw up, and maybe you actually are.  Maybe you've even killed your own children as many of the kings did.  Maybe you've given yourselves over to things you'd never want to admit to, but if you will repent and turn back to God, confessing all that you've done He will accept you in the name of Jesus as readily as He's ever accepted anyone who's sinned and repented.  

If you want to see this for yourself, just read the account of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33.  He was a very wicked king (yes, I'm qualifying his sin).  He was VERY evil and he lead the entire nation of Judah into sin with him.  But God brought such devastation upon him that his pride and rebellion were broken so that he sought the Lord and prayed for mercy.  You can do that too, no matter how great your sin.  When God heard Manasseh's prayer and saw how he humbled himself, God was "moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom".  Verse 13 says, "Manasseh knew that the Lord was God".  

It isn't necessary for any of us to be as wicked as Manasseh to understand God's great love for us.  But even if you are a person who has sinned as greatly as he did, God will have mercy if you repent and call upon Him.  God heard Manasseh and forgave him, even restoring him to his throne.  And after Manasseh was restored he purged the land of all the idolatry and wicked things he had set up and he lived a righteous life before God.   If God would save a man like Manasseh, He would save a person like you, if you repent and trust in Him.   We may qualify our sin, and be justified in doing so.  But God's mercy is unquestionably greater than our sin.  And all we need do is turn away from it, call upon Him and know that He is God.  Even after all you've done, your life can be restored to you and you can live a righteous life before God by His grace, even if you feel like the biggest royal screw up.   

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Still Sacred

I've been reading a lot in Kings and Chronicles lately.  The stories of the disobedience of God's people and the kings that ruled them are fascinating and sad.  It's strange how they would follow God and things would go well with them.  Then a bad king would come into power and rule without integrity, leading the people into idolatry and rebellion, and God would give them over to their sin and as a result He would often let them fall to ruin.  Then afterward, a godly king would lead the survivors back to God and He would restore them.  Over and over this happens.  Sin, rebellion, destruction and death, repentance, forgiveness and restoration of the remnant few who were preserved from God's wrath because of their surrender, humility and obedience...over and over again.   

The children of Abraham all identified as God's people.  They all laid claim to being chosen, yet very few of the people of Israel or Judah actually loved God and worshipped Him.   Only the remnant few would remain faithful and pure in their faith and observance of God's ways.  When His people would live in such a way as to bring dishonor upon His name, God's anger burned and He would swiftly purge the nation of those who were rebellious.  His name, for all it's power and fame, was often subjected to mockery and ridicule among the nations because of the behavior and unfaithfulness of God's people.  And God took that very seriously.

I read these accounts and I tremble!  I wonder if people who call themselves Christians, but live their lives in drunkenness and rebellion consider that God's name is still to this day sacred.  I wonder if they consider their sin AFTER Sunday morning, when they are done singing and bowing their heads to pray with the rest of the congregation.  I wonder if they know that God is still not open to being mocked by the behavior of those who align themselves with His name.  Like the children of Abraham, many people today call themselves children of God, yet they are completely and totally given over to drunkenness, carousing, dishonesty and rebellion if the opportunity arises.  Some merely participate, others facilitate and participate.   But like the children of Abraham who lived in rebellion to God in biblical times, those who live in rebellion to God today will not be shown mercy unless they repent (stop their participation and facilitation of sin).  

"But what about Jesus?", you say.  Drunkards can bank on Jesus.  Jesus really can save a drunkard.  He can save the sexually immoral, the glutton, the adulterer, the thief, the liar the murderer....Jesus can save anyone!  But He will not save the unrepentant.  That's as simple as it gets.  The remnant few today are those who are repentant just the same as the remnant few of yesteryear were the repentant ones in those days.  

Out of one side of their mouths some people praise God on Sunday, expressing love to Him.  And out of the other side of their mouths (any other given day) they speak about hateful, lustful nasty things.  Their mouths are filled with filth and lies and half truths (which is the same as a lie).  And they readily spew condemnation for those they hate.  Even the sound of their laughter is reserved for the crude, rude, provocative and coarse things of life, or the mockery of others.  Those who sing to Jesus on Sunday and run to Satan with their lust and thirst the rest of the week are not going to be named among the righteous.  Shocking right?  Are you thinking, "How judgmental"?   Hate me if you like.  Accuse me of being judgmental if that's how you comfort yourself.  But the plain simple truth is this; God does not save those who will not repent.  So go ahead and talk about Jesus to all the people you seek to impress.  But the next time you allow yourself the worldly pleasure of getting stoned or drunk, or having sex outside of a marriage that Jesus himself would attend, you can go ahead and let reality smack you in the face.  You are not repentant.  And if you are trying to bear the name of Christ while you live like that, you better wise up and realize that the holiness of God's name STILL matters to Him.   And for those of you who DO belong to God, who continually affirm the salvation of these unrepentant ones, you had better rethink your role.  NO ONE gets to rewrite the rules God Himself has put in place.  Not even if you think your motives are rooted in "love".   


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hope For The Harassed

Matthew 9:36
"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd."

I recently discovered that the Facebook page I deactivated was reactivated without my permission.  I'm feeling a bit harassed right now.  As it turns out, there is an "option" added to the deactivation page that will reactivate your page automatically after a certain number of days.  That option was not there when I deactivated my account long ago.  So, Facebook reactivated my page for me without my consent.  I feel completely stalked and harassed.  

You know, there are many reasons a person may feel that way.  I've felt harassed many times.  It's one thing when it comes from a persistent web site.  It's another when it comes from a living person or persons.  There are laws that make stalking and harassing less defensible now, but still, there are tenacious people out there who have given themselves over to defaming the character of others, or making their lives miserable somehow.  They usually start with gossip and it progresses.  They are so persistent in being destructive and divisive that I can't help but believe their actions and intentions are completely driven by demonic influence.  Should we wrestle with these people?  I guess it's always appropriate to defend yourself.  But It's important to remember that at the core of our harassment, "people" are not the problem.  We do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but something more sinister, though at times it seems unthinkable that there could be something more sinister than certain harassing people out there.  But it's true.  

So what is the Christian to do?  We pray and wait and praise and hope in God, who will avenge every evil deed.  Oh the comfort this knowledge brings!  We need not "wrestle" with people who contend with us.  It's really more of a spiritual battle.   Eventually, even though people may even slay us, God will have His way.  This thought really does bring peace.  At least for me it does.  That's because I recognize that any justice that is worth seeking will come from God and will come complete with the perfect balance of mercy and truth. 

Did you know that Jesus calls Himself the Great Shepherd?  Did you know that one of the jobs a shepherd has is to anoint the heads of his sheep with oil? 

"You anoint my head with oil..."

Do you know why a shepherd does that?  I'm told that it's for the purpose of protecting the sheep from the harassing pests.  Yep.  That sums it up right there.  And some people are indeed pests.  They are as persistent as gnats, who if left unchecked draw blood and cause infection.  They are people who seem to be going for blood.  We do the best we can to defend ourselves against such people, but truly, Jesus, our Great Shepherd, will indeed anoint us.   He doesn't just leave us to these harassers or the demonic ones who embolden them.  Everything that comes to us must pass through the hands of both the Father and the Son and God removes them in due time. 

Now, let's not get carried away here.  I know that Facebook is a voluntary site.  And I did open up that account.  But I also closed it.  Yet today by chance I discovered it was up again.  Do I think this is some big conspiracy?  No, not really.  I don't like it, but it's just an annoyance.  

However, when there are individual harassers who malign our names, seek to frustrate our plans or interfere with our efforts to minister to others by tearing us down verbally or otherwise, there most certainly is a need for intervention.  And yes, their harassment is part of a conspiracy, though the conspiracy began long ago when Satan set out to destroy those God loves.  Because of this, our defense must first come from God.  After that, we take actions rooted in righteousness to defend ourselves. Sometimes it comes in the form of church discipline.  Other times legal help is necessary.  But in the end, when push comes to shove, our help comes from The Lord.  We leave vengeance in His hands and wait for His justice to prevail.  And you know what?  It's always a good show, sometimes complete with least from my lips, that is.  I do not rejoice in the fall of fellow men, but I definitely rejoice in God's righteous hand of justice.  And I look forward to the day when justice and mercy are settled once and for all. 


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Quiet Places

I've deleted more articles in the last 20 days than I can count.  I start writing things that are on my mind only to feel strongly compelled to keep them close.  I guess it's good that I don't earn a living by writing.  Still, in times like this it's easy to feel like a dry well.   We are told in scripture that there is a time to be silent.  So rather than forcing out words, I wait and be silent, being careful not to speak without wisdom, being careful to listen rather than to speak.  And it always does my heart good.  

Ecclesiastes 6:11
"The more the words the less the meaning and how does that profit anyone?"

In quiet days, my heart still ponders the things of God.  And I still find myself searching scripture for answers to the myriad questions I have.  But those quiet days also give me a push to simply rest and let God's leading of my heart and understanding just be for me.  Sounds selfish, right?  I mean, to want to keep the secret things God teaches me to myself sounds completely selfish to my mind.  But I think sometimes it's ok just to enjoy the intimate moments I have with God without feeling pressure to regurgitate every little good thing I glean from my time with Him.    I liken it to my relationship with my husband or his relationship with me. 

We have our public moments that you all get to be a part of.  The bantering, the harmony, the tender stories of our courtship, love and trials...we often share them with you for the sake of building you up and allowing you to enjoy a taste of what God has given us as a family.  And we love to do that!  And we've shared laughter and tears with many of you as you in turn tell us your own stories.   We love to let God use any part of who we are to draw you closer to who He is.  We do this because we want you to feel His love for you as much as we've felt His love for us.  So we share.  But there are things that are between us that we keep.  Though you have the privilege of seeing us together on stage, hearing our stories, we do know there is a place for personal intimacy that is exclusive.  I believe my relationship with God is the same.  

As can be seen through my years of writing and performing, I have been willing to be vulnerable to the public by sharing my thoughts and testimony.  Anyone who has lived a life like mine knows this does not come without a price.  But I'm still here, trusting that if anything I could say would lead you to seek Christ then I am willing to speak, even if it means I die to myself by not allowing myself the simple pleasure of being unknown.  But there is a time for silence too.   I have quiet thoughts I share solely with Him.  And there are things He teaches me that I keep close to my own heart because I have a personal relationship with God that is mine alone.  So I seek Him in lonely places, being quiet with Him, keeping close the things He reveals, until such a time as He would have me speak freely.  

My encouragement to you today is to allow yourself the pleasure of enjoying intimacy with God, without feeling compelled to reveal everything He shows you.  Take the time to own it, understand it, love it and worship Him for it.  It's true that we are one in Christ.  It's true that unity is one of the most important things Jesus desires for us as His Church.  But it's also true that you are of personal interest to God.  Yes, you.  Group bible studies are good.  Prayer groups are good.  Sharing with your sisters or brothers is good.  But it is also good to seek out the lonely places as Jesus did, just to spend quiet time with the Father alone.  And keeping what He teaches you close to your heart until He releases you to share it is good too.