Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No King? No King.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”[1]

God’s heart is breaking and His Spirit is grieved over the tragedy and chaos this nation has experienced just in 2018. Some say from January 1st to February 14th there has been eighteen school shootings. Snopes website, quoting The Washington Post says, “No, only five”[2]. But even one is too many. My heart also breaks, not merely for the Parkland, Florida school shooting victims and their families, but for every school shooting victim since the first, Columbine.

Last week this insanity came closer to home. A Jackson Middle School student shot himself in the school restroom and he has now succumbed to his wounds. At first the shooting was thought to be accidental, but later being labeled a suicide.

Sadly, it seems the panic arising from the Jackson Middle School shooting may have spurred a social media threat to at least one of our local schools causing several schools to go on lock-down. My twelve-year-old granddaughter told me the day after this shooting, she was afraid to go to school. The Jackson boy wasn’t even in high school yet – he was a seventh grader just like my granddaughter. These shooters are getting younger and younger.

We are shocked, frightened to send our children or grandchildren to school. I’ve even heard some mothers considering home-schooling for the first time. We scream, “When will this craziness stop?” But maybe our question should be, “What is the cause?”

Revenge for bullying may be the motivation, but despair, most likely, is the root cause. It has overwhelmed them and at such a young age.  No hope.  No one they feel they can turn to. And their parents are left, shattered, grieving, and blaming themselves.

But why despair? Doesn’t despair come from a sense of what you believe is right and wrong in your life and the realization you can’t change the wrong things? So they do something unthinkable to force a change. They play God and get rid of the hurt. They want the person or persons who “wronged” them to suffer, feeling these people have no right to live. From where does this mindset come?

I have a theory. Did you know it has been 71 years since our, oh so wise, Supreme Court took Thomas Jefferson’s “separation” metaphor out of context? In 1947 they applied it to the Emerson v. The Board of Education case stating, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” This was a lie. Keeping Jefferson’s private letter quote IN context actually proved the First Amendment PROTECTED religious rights FROM governmental control.[3]

Fifteen years after this fiasco, the United States commenced reaping the consequences. In 1962 the Supreme Court began systematically removing Christianity from the schools, ruling it unconstitutional for a student to say a voluntary prayer in school.[4] Free love and flower power was born – and now this.

Unbeknownst to the Supreme Court, their rulings were doing exactly what Israel did when they demanded the prophet, Samuel, make them a king to judge them like other nations. Of course this displeased Samuel, but the Lord said, “Do it. They have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”[5]

Over one thousand years later, Jesus told a parable about a nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom. Before he left, he gave ten of his servants a mina or talent and commanded, “Do business until I come.” But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’[6]

This was Israel’s mindset when Jesus was on trial. “Let Him be crucified…His blood be on us and on our children,” they cried.”[7] And when Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”[8]

For too long our nation has sown the wind. Now we’re reaping the whirlwind.[9] We’ve rejected the rule of our heavenly King, as did Israel. And when there is no TRUE King in the land, alas, the people do what they deem right in their own eyes.

Oh Lord, be merciful to us sinners![10]

[1] Judges 21:25
[3] David Barton, Our Godly Heritage video
[4] Ibid.
[5] I Samuel 8:5-7
[6] Luke 19:11-14
[7] Matthew 27:22-25
[8] John 19:15
[9] Hosea 8:7
[10] Luke 18:13

Friday, January 26, 2018

Had Your Faith Tested Lately?

Consider all the scripture we so confidently stand on when we are healthy, job secure, and happy, does it hold true when we are sick, in need of financial aid, lonely and sad? If we are genuine believers, we know the answer is YES. Nevertheless, in the midst of trials, sometimes it’s hard to keep the faith and believe.

I’m going through such a test right now. I have been diagnosed with Vertigo, a deep inner ear inflammation that causes dizziness and nausea. The ER Doc says it has to run its course. But when will that be? I’ve prayed for healing, yet I’m still waiting. I’m a busy, energetic, working woman reduced to lying flat in my bed and sleeping most of the time. I can’t serve the Lord this way and He knows it. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know when I will be better. I’m tempted to fear. But I know, deep down in my soul, God is good, no matter what. He has not given me a spirit of fear. No, He’s given me a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. God loves me and I believe He will bring me through this trial once I’ve learned all He has intended.

So let’s travel this road together. As I encourage myself with what I know to be true of our God, maybe, in the process, you will be encouraged too.

1. I know God is faithful.

God’s Word says no temptation or trial I have faced or am facing is uncommon. These are the same trials that usually come to humans, since we live in a sin-cursed world. And because God is faithful, we will not be tested beyond what we are able to bear. In the midst of the trial, He will give us the strength to withstand it and provide a way of escape. Even though, at this time, we cannot see one.[1]

2. I know God is willing.

To the leper, Jesus reached out His hand, touched him and said I am willing.[2] To the woman with the flow of blood for twelve long years, when she touched the hem of His garment, He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.”

As I was reading the passage just now, I was struck with this thought:  You probably cannot touch the hem of a garment without being either prostrate, on your knees, or at the very least, close to their feet. What can I learn from this? Maybe in my busyness I’ve sort of left Jesus out. Was I only doing token Bible reading and prayers? The problem is, I know better. I know I am nothing and I can do nothing without Him. So maybe, this is a time to reset and refocus. To remember any work I do in my own power comes to naught. Yes, I truly needed this reminder. Still, He called her, daughter.  I, too, am His daughter. So, I will believe and receive His Holy Word.

3. I know God is Sovereign.

In times like these I identify with Job. He said, “But He [God] is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me...”[3] Almighty God uses everything He allows in my life to mold me into the person He created me to be. And He works all things for my good, whether they seem right to me or not, because I am His child and I love Him.[4]

4. I know God is merciful.

When in great distress, faced with punishment for his sin, King David chose to fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great.[5] Jeremiah, too, understood this. He cried, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”[6]

5. I know there is NOTHING that can separate me or you from God’s love.

Through all our human lives we are going to face adversity, trials, and tribulation. Yes, Jesus has overcome the world and we should rejoice. But Scripture also says, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”[7] We have a role as well. We will suffer at times, but we are to persevere, to believe God in all things and trust His heart even when we are scared. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[8]

I’m encouraged and my faith is strengthened. Is yours?

[1] I Corinthians 10:13; I Peter 5:6-11
[2] Luke 5:13
[3] Job 23:13-14
[4] Romans 8:28
[5] I Chronicles 21:13
[6] Lamentations 3:22-23
[7] Romans 8:37
[8] Romans 8:38-39

Monday, December 18, 2017

Naughty OR Nice?

Have you been naughty or extra nice this year? Will you receive a lump of coal in your stocking or everything you wished for? “You better watch out…Santa Claus is coming to town.” Remember, “He’s making a list; and checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…He sees you when you’re sleeping…knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”[1]

Aww, Christmas fun!  Interestingly, a few days ago I stumbled upon a website where you can actually ask Santa if you are on the “NAUGHTY oNICE” list. Yes indeedy, folks!  Step right up, because at: you will find Santa’s Nice-o-Meter. By typing in your name and then clicking the “ASK SANTA” button, you can see where you stand on Santa’s Naughty or Nice scale.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Thanksgiving Contemplation

So THANKFUL for my beautiful Mom (center) and Aunts.
Driving home from work Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, my eyes caught the McDonald’s restaurant signboard. They were advertising a “Big Breakfast Thanksgiving morning.” A question quickly came to mind. “Who would go to McDonald’s for this big breakfast Thanksgiving morning?” I answered myself almost immediately, with an envious reflection, “Probably anyone who doesn’t have a ton of cleaning, cooking and baking to do.”

I had worked late, I was tired, and a bit cranky. But then, my thoughts were on to something else. I think I reviewed all the ingredients I purchased earlier, making sure before I drove all the way home, I hadn’t forgotten anything.

To me, Thanksgiving has always been about thanking God for His blessings in my life the past year. However, this morning, I remembered McDonald’s sign and I got to thinking about the people who just might have attended the “Big Breakfast” feast. Were they people who were much more prepared for this “holiday” than I was? Could this have been their Thanksgiving tradition, to have breakfast out before beginning the day’s activities? Or, were they people without family and the “McDonald’s Gang” was their family? Maybe this was the only Thanksgiving celebration they would have that day.  Maybe it’s all they could afford.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Gray Days

Summer transitioning to fall gives me much more difficulty than any other seasonal change. I mean, winter to spring is a roller-coaster ride. I’m up when the air has warmed, but down when the skies darken and snow flurries return. Still, I know magnificent spring is only days away. Spring to summer is exciting and much easier. The warm weather just gets warmer. I bask the beauty of God’s handiwork enjoying intense sunlight and longer days. Fall to winter also doesn’t seem to affect me as much. I’ve already become accustomed to less daylight and cooler temps and, of course, holiday anticipation keeps me in high spirits.

Nevertheless, when the shorter, gray days of fall appear, I feel gloomy and down. I become very introspective, thinking things need to change in my life, but not sure what or how they should change. Sometimes, I seem to disengage, just going through the motions of living.

Maybe some of you are like me. And if so, what will it take for us to maintain lifted spirits and repel gray day effects? Should we jump on the world’s band wagon and start planning Hallowe’en parties; or should we do something to please and honor our Lord?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Living Stones

Pennsboro, West Virginia
When I was young and still, as I am old, I am amazed by God’s creation, not only flora and fauna i.e. trees, flowers, and animals, but the sky above and the earth beneath.  And I’ve always loved different and unique stones. Some stones I’d find on my hikes were the white or “lucky” stones and others furrowed with colors of tan, brown, and orange, peppered with golden sparkles.

Out the back door, through the pastures greeting curious cows as I walked, finally arriving in the small wooded area perfectly framed by our upstairs window. This was my special place. It was shaded, cool, and quiet. Yet, in spots, the sun broke through beaming its rays like lasers. There, some stones I found were green and almost appeared to be alive. But no, it was only moss. And rinsing them with pond water sometimes yielded treasures.
Northeast Ohio sky

It tickles me now when my grandchildren find stones and say, “Look, Grammy, isn’t is pretty?” For a moment, I’m their age, back in my special place, and again, in awe.

Have you ever noticed how many times God uses the word stone or stones in Scripture? Probably not, since it isn’t one of those words we readily associate with spiritual things. But recently, I’ve been intrigued by Scripture’s stones, ordinary or precious, used to represent people, tribes, and nations. Some are representative like pillar stones[1], memorial stones[2], covenant stones[3], gem stones[4], temple stones[5], and the one that has captured my heart, living stones[6].

Living stones? I thought stones were inanimate objects and even when they appear living, it’s only because they are covered in a living substance such as moss. True.  So, what does God mean by living stones?

Near Portland, Oregon
Let’s first think about the characteristics of a stone:  firm, strong, solid, and sometimes immovable. Stones can handle material piled upon them and not break. Yet a stone is not alive and cannot be moved unless someone moves it. So, how does this relate to us as living beings?

Speaking through Peter God tells us we, as newborn babies, are to desire the pure milk of Living Word of God – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the foundation that has already been laid,[7] the Rock of our salvation,[8] the stone cut out of the mountain without hands,[9] the Chief Cornerstone[10] given to build the Temple of His Body.  He is the original Living Stone.[11] And if we have received Him as Savior and Lord, His Holy Spirit indwells us,[12] making us alive spiritually and physically. We are joint heirs with Christ – adopted sons of God – and we too, in Him, are living stones,[13] steadfast and immovable.[14]  Each of us with our uniqueness, are laid upon the foundation of Jesus and used by God to build the heavenly Jerusalem, the bride who has made herself ready adorned for her husband[15]. This city whose Builder and Maker is God.[16]  Once we were in darkness – a dead stone, but now alive in Christ.[17]
Multnomah Falls - Columbia River Gorge

Still, if you have never been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, yet consider yourself a Christian, you are like the stones I found in the woods – appearing alive – but dead just the same.  Let Jesus wash you with the water of His Word.[18]  Come to Him as to a Living Stone[19] and then you, along with us, will be a living stone adding to this cohesive TEMPLE.  Together we will wait to meet the Lord in the air[20] and not listen to date-setters, who disregard the Word of God.[21]

[1] Genesis 28:18-22
[2] Exodus 28:12; Joshua 4:5-7
[3] Genesis 31:44-48
[4] Exodus 28:17-21
[5] Mark 13:1-2
[6] I Peter 2:5
[7] I Corinthians 3:11
[8] 2 Samuel 22:47,  Psalm 89:26,  Psalm 95:1
[9] Daniel 2:45
[10] Psalm 118:22, I Peter 2:6-7
[11] I Peter 2:4
[12] Galatians 2:20
[13] I Peter 2:5
[14] I Corinthians 15:58
[15] Revelation 19:7-8, Revelation 21:2-3
[16] Hebrews 11:8-10
[17] Ephesians 5:8, Romans 6:11, Ephesians 2:5
[18] Ephesians 5:26
[19] I Peter 2:4
[20] 1 Thessalonians 4:17
[21] Matthew 24:36

Monday, August 7, 2017

Though The Waves Roar...

Have you read the book of Jeremiah lately?  Last month the Lord led me to Jeremiah chapter five. I don’t remember what I was studying at the time or even the reason I was reading Jeremiah five, but when I read verse 22, my breath caught. I’m sure I’ve read Jeremiah 5:22 hundred times in my 30 plus years of walking with God, but that day was different.

“Do you not fear Me?' says the Lord. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence, Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.’”[1]

When I saw the portion, “…Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass over it?” my mind immediately pictured the ocean at Sunset Beach, North Carolina, with its soft, white sand. As I stood there gazing across the seemingly endless blue-green water, I remember the squawk of the seagulls and the hint of salt and fish misting my face.  Waves swelled, peaked, and then toppled over in frothy whitewater hurrying toward the sand.

That day, we probably stayed on the beach longer than we should have and by late afternoon, the tide began to come in with rowdy and boisterous waves. Although it was somewhat unsettling to see the water creeping ever closer to where we were sunbathing, after some time it calmed and came no further.

To my unscientific mind, I just chalked it up to gravity, the earth’s rotation, the pull of the moon, and all the other geological things I don’t understand. I really didn’t give it another thought until I read Jeremiah 5:22. Then it made perfect sense.

It’s not by some fluke that the ocean waves do not overtake the land. No, it’s by the Lord’s perpetual decree. The sand is the boundary He has placed and it must obey. Even in hurricanes, when the waves roar, tossing to and fro, they cannot prevail. They must return to their God-ordained place.

But, Jeremiah lived over 2,500 years ago. And, although I know God’s Word stands true no matter what, I began to think about global warming reports, the ozone layer holes and the polar ice caps melting. Where would all the water go if the ice converted to its liquid state? Should we be concerned?

How would global warming proponents view Jeremiah 5:22? Would they pass it off as ancient words without meaning?

So, I decided to do some research and of course, I found a YouTube video:  Earth Under Water Worldwide Flooding Sea Level Rise (SLR). The promo reads:  “Published on Aug 8, 2013:  Miami, New Orleans and New York City completely under water it's a very real possibility if sea levels continue to rise. In Earth Under Water we'll see these events unfold as leading experts forecast how mankind will be impacted if global warming continues. They'll break down the science behind these predictions and explore ways humanity could adapt, including engineering vast dams near San Francisco, or building floating cities outside of New York.” [2]

What they say is frightening and their video editing of a flooded earth caused me sudden trepidation. But, the Lord brought me back to Jeremiah 5:22 and reminded me of His Genesis covenant:

“Thus I establish My covenant with you:  Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth…I set My rainbow in the cloud and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”[3]

Then God asked, “Do you believe My Word?” Limply, I answered, yes, but quickly pleaded, “Lord, increase my faith!”

How do you feel? Are these words irrelevant in our time? Do they take a backseat to scientific predictions? Or, is the God of the whole universe still in control and His Word stands true until He says otherwise?

I’m holding to the latter. How about you?

[1] Jeremiah 5:22
[3] Genesis 9:11, 13