Monday, November 4, 2019

Evil did NOT win!

Tomorrow marks two years since the evil stormed through our community and a church building became a memorial for the 26 lives that were taken. Shortly after the shock numbed and the mayhem left town, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs embraced a slogan that would give them strength and focus through the dreaded months to come; "EVIL DID NOT WIN". 

The words were posted high above the church on the sign by the road, it was the title of many newspaper articles, and the slogan on their t shirts last week at the Sutherland Springs Old Town Days. In the aftermath of the facts; all the loss, all the pain, all the challenges, all the family members who don't show up for church each Sunday, how is it that evil did not win? News reports are filled with the graphic evil that occurred on Nov 5th, 2017. Some Facebook posts are transparently raw about the pain of loss after that day, others are sadly silent in their grief and anger about things that can never be undone. How did evil not win?

There is a phrase in The Lord's Prayer that millions have prayed for thousands of years, "deliver us from evil," or, "deliver us from the evil one," either one is true. Deliver us, rescue us; this is not a suggestion or a request, it is an imperative command. "HELP!" No please or thank you, just the plea, deliver us! "Deliver" assumes that the danger, the evil, the need is already present. There is no need to deliver from a hypothetical or future situation. Deliver us from evil, a very real evil, and the evil one.

That dread-filled day has passed, and the evident danger is also in the past, but what of the evil, has it gone? Or is it continually knocking at the door of the survivors, the responders, the community, the world that reads and reels from the perpetual bad news? The apparent evil has passed but the temptation to let it remain is still here, still daily apparent. 

Looking back at Jesus' prayer the phrase that precedes "deliver us from evil," is, "lead us not into temptation." Lead us not! Don't let us go there! The evil that is in front of us every day is the one from which we need deliverance. Evil may have burst through the church door and delivered destruction but that evil is gone. The evil that remains is the temptation, by the evil one, to destroy everyday with evil. The temptation to let our peace be destroyed by anxiety, the temptation to let our love disappear into fear, to let doubt eat away at our faith. "Lord, lead us away from temptation." 

When the news tried to distort the grief of the remaining church members, they said "NO," evil did not win. When the conspiracy theorists stood at the edge of the church property taunting the pastor to engage, he said "NO," evil did not win, when depression threatened to drown survivors, they said "NO," and they supported each other, got counseling, and prayed for each other. "Lord, keep us from that temptation, and deliver us from that evil." That is why EVIL DID NOT WIN!
  • the evil of hate did not win.
  • the evil of unforgiveness did not win.
  • the evil of self-pity did not win.
  • the evil of hopelessness did not win.
  • the evil of fear did not win.
  • the evil of defeat did not win.
  • the evil of offense did not win. 
Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. 
"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory; 
because of your love and faithfulness." (Psalms 115:1, NIV) 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

For God's sake, forgive!

Fall, I love fall for so many reasons. It's beautiful, it's cooler, it's sweater weather, and of course there's some pumkin stuff. Really fall is about letting go. Letting go of the old leaves to make room for the new growth. Forgiveness is like that. 

Forgiveness frees us from so much when we let go. I'm talking about those wrongs, injustices, cruelties, that were done to us and we hang onto them thinking that justice will come and we will feel better. Not! As long as we don't forgive we are tied to that memory, that pain, that time in the past. 

By forgiving we release all that stuff and making room for new growth. There is freedom in that.  Forgiving may not even affect the other person but it changes me, it frees me. Listen to what God says, "He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25 NKJV
Did you get that? FOR MY OWN SAKE. God forgives us for His sake. He doesn't hold onto our sins but removes them as far as the East is from the West. For God's sake, forgive! For your own sake, forgive. Stop holding onto the cancer of unforgivness that polutes our everyday.  If you need words to help letting go try this. 
"Jesus forgive me for holding on to the past, it's sin. Teach me forget the things that are behind and reach for what is ahead. Because you have forgiven me, I chose to forgive____. I release them from my judgement and the emotional dept I feel they own me. I forgive them and release them. And God, I ask you to bless them. Yes, bless them. Please remove the pain and the past from my life and bring new life where the old has left. All because of Jesus. Amen."
Now enjoy the fall for new life is on the way.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Flow of Words

This morning I talked with my friend from Georgia. The language that flowed from the phone was an immediate give away of who the caller was. The tongue gives away who you are. Even if you are not from England or Texas if you spend enough time there your accent will change to sound like the land in which you live.
     In the same way the language that flows from our mouths sounds like the land in which we live spiritually. If we dwell in the place of criticism out hearts get critical and the sound of the words we speak is critical. If we dwell in the land of sarcasm or complaining then out of our mouths flows the language of sarcasm and complaining. We always speak our mother tongue with ease. The heart of the matter is what makes the difference. What flows out can only flow out if that is what is inside.
     If you spill a glass of water, water comes out. If you spill a cup of coffee, coffee comes out.  What would happen if our heart were so full of thankfulness that thankfulness spilled out everywhere we went? What if we learned to make thankfulness our mother tongue.  Can a mother tongue be changed?
    In Genesis 1 God gives mankind dominion to rule over everything on the earth. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion…. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion ....” Man is given dominion (rule, power to control) over every creature, bird, animal, and over the earth, yet according to James 3:7-8 “Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no one can tame the tongue. (CSB)
James 1:26 "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives himself."
     So are we doomed? Must we live with a tongue we can't change? Look at the flowers of the field that God clothes in color, they can't change their color unless something supernatural takes place. If someone takes that flower and places it in colored water the color of the flower changes also.  The only way the petals of a flower can change color is if the food coloring travels up the stem and goes to the petals.
    In the same way the only way our mother tongue can change is if the Holy Spirit flows up from our heart to our tongue. Don't hold your tongue, you can't change that, but do hold your heart. Let your heart be filled with the Holy Spirit and the fruit of holiness will flow up into your mouth. Then love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control will come from the Holy Spirit filling your heart, moving up the stem and changing the color of your words.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My passion for 2018


My passion for 2018? It hasn't really changed since I read and memorized this when I was 14. I have grown,  my desire has grown and become more intense, but the goal is the same. 

THAT I MAY KNOW CHRIST AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURECTION, BECOMING LIKE HIM IN HIS SUFFERING AND DEATH SO THAT SOMEHOW I MAY EXPERIENCE HIS RESURECTION FROM THE DEAD! Philippians 3:10.

Everything else is worthless compared with knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For that goal I shake off every other goal. For that prize I run the race lightly, letting go of everything that weighs me down. I make it my single focus to pursue and really know Him. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Our friends in First  Baptist Church  Sutherland Springs shared, and are sharing, in that experience as are many in the community.

What does really getting to know and pursuing Christ look like? Does it look like reevaluating my priorities? Reorganizing my time and energy to reach that goal of knowing Him intimately?  Or does it mean I will have to know Him in my suffering through grief and loss? Jesus loved us SO MUCH that He chose the suffering and death so we could be with Him. Jesus says it in John 14, "I'm going to prepare a room/ mansion for you.  So that when it's ready,  and you are ready,  I'll come get you so that we can be together!" God really loves us that much. That being with us makes Him happy.  In other words.  Jesus will do anything and everything to be with us. 

My prayer for you today is from Ephisians 1. That you may know the hope of His calling for you, the richness of His glory in the saints who have His inheritance in them, and the incredible greatness of His power toward those who believe in Him, that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in us, today!!! WOW!  WOW! WOW! So as I contemplate the sorrow and trouble and death around me, I place over that the picture of Jesus dying and rising from the dead so that we could be like Him, so that we could know Him in our earthly experience,  so that He could come get us when our room is ready and we could be together! Now that's a great thought for my heart to start this day.  ♡

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

UPSIDE down - see life differently



Looking at the clouds from the top side is one of my favorite moments during flight. They are huge, fluffy, endless, and appear solid and strong. Like a huge playground where weightless bouncing is normal and 'hide and seek' takes on a whole new challenge. We imagine we see animals and giant figures but they are not real. What is real is the blanket of pure white that looks solid enough to walk on. But is that real? Is that the truth? The truth is that the moment we step on this blanket the law of gravity will pull us down, down, down through miles of clouds to inevitable disaster.

The law of gravity is hard to avoid, impossible some say. Some have managed for a moment on a trampoline, wind tunnel or parachute, but in the end gravity won. The law of gravity remains in effect until a stronger law overpowers it.  For instance, stepping into a plane changes everything. As the engines roar the law of aerodynamics overpowers the law of gravity and I am free to fly above the clouds. I am not afraid of falling nor do I feel the pull towards the earth when I look at the clouds from the Upside down.

Can the same be true of my life? Is there a law at work that keeps me down and below my true potential? Is my past, my pain, my circumstances holding me back? The law of sin and death is real. When we sin we die, not instantly but since that first garden sin has been at work in our bodies causing us to die one day at a time and eventually law of death will overtake us all. Experiencing that dreadful moment from this side is hard, very hard. We think we will not survive, the sun will never shine again, the birds will never sing again, and yet they do. The very next morning whether we hear them or not, the birds are singing. The truth is that the sun still rises radiantly in the morning, flowers bloom and the birds still sing.  Even when I "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" and that is all that I know, there is another truth at work. God's Word reminds me 2 verses later that “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Like the law of aerodynamics, I am reminded of another truth, a stronger truth than death. I will rise above the law of death and live again. Eternally? Yes! But here and now as well, for God "has put eternity in our hearts." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He has offered us His perspective on our lives, His eternal perspective. When we allow His law of everlasting life, of eternity living in our hearts, to overpower the law of sin and death we can see our circumstance from His perspective, from the UPSIDE down.  "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 THANK YOU JESUS!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Empty heaven, empty manger



It is not Christmas. It is the morning after.  All the boxes are empty. The tree is no longer crowded with gifts. And then I see the empty manger and my mind begins to wonder. What was heaven like without Jesus? Was it like a child away at college? You know they will be home for the holidays. Or was it like a death in the family? A gapping hole in everyday where His amazing presence had been. 

He was God unlimited! He was everything, had everything, knew everything, could do everything, yet He emptied Himself of all that was super-human and became confined to a small body in the hands of simple humans. Humans who didn't really know who they were holding, wrapped in swaddling cloths. His birth opened the heavens and made the angels sing, the stars align, wise men worship, and kings angry. But that's what His presence does; it disrupts the darkness, it brings alignment to chaos and angers evil, it changes everything. 

An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb. He emptied Himself of all that was His so He could fill the earth with love, peace, joy, and make a way for every fallen human to have their place in heaven with Him. He made a way where there had been no way. He made a reservation for me by giving up His own place in Heaven. 

Jesus left heaven, left the manger, left the cross, left the tomb so that He could call my heart His home. An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb has filled my heart with unspeakable joy, unquenchable light, everlasting life, and unconditional love!

Read more in Philippians 2:6-11
The song my heart is singing  What a Beautiful Name



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

God is watching but maybe not like you think.

 "For the eyes of Yahweh roam (go to and fro) throughout the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely His." 2 Chron 16:9
The Lord is actively watching you, looking for those who will totally trust Him, wholeheartedly! If you read the rest of the chapter it is obvious that each choice, toward or away from trusting the LORD, has consequences.  He tells His people, "You depended on the king of Syria instead of depending on the Lord your God. And so, you will never defeat the Syrian army. Remember how powerful the Ethiopian and Libyan army was, with all their chariots and cavalry troops! You trusted the Lord to help you then, and you defeated them. The Lord is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him. But you have done a foolish thing, and your kingdom will never be at peace again." 2 Chron 16:7-9 NKJV
God is watching, looking for ways to help us when we agree with and depend on Him. God is not passive watching us waiting for a mistake or misstep so He can catch us in our misbehavior. He is however, watching us every second. Watching us intently and actively looking for those who will trust him completely. Watching so He can help us, strengthen us and show His strength in our lives. He promises that He will show up strong for those who completely trust and follow Him completely. He is for us, always. He makes us braver than we can possibly be in our own imaginations. This song remind us of His intention for us. 
"As Your love, In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us, You are not against us
Champion of Heaven You've made a way
For all to enter in...You make me brave"  
You make me brave  by Amanda Cook.