Tag Archives: faithful

When Evil Shows Up

We were all shocked yesterday when we heard that a gunman entered a little Church in Sutherland Springs Texas and killed 26 people and injuring more.

I can’t even begin to fathom what was in that young man’s mind when he walked into that church. Understanding something like this is beyond us. What I absolutely know though is evil is rampant in our world and when it comes in to a place or personal life, the results can be devastating…even to Christians.

For some reason God’s people think we’re entitled to a pass from devastation and destruction. Exactly the opposite is true. Exactly the opposite is true (according to Jesus Himself) and that encompasses inside the walls of the church as well. Evil can exist and does exist literally everywhere. I wish God would protect us from horrible things happening, I wish we were all exempt from the experience of evil and sin. There was a time in my life when I expected God not to let me suffer anymore; I thought since I had been through some stuff, I’d had my turn and ‘land of milk and honey’ was my destination.  It shames me to admit that but after all, that’s what I was told when I got saved! Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Romans 8:35) I thought I’d failed as a Christian when bad or horrible things happened because I didn’t understand – now I understand better and I know that just because bad, evil things happen to us doesn’t mean God loves us less or has abandoned us in any way. (Romans 8:35-39)

Our hearts break just like everybody else’s. We lose people we love just like everybody else. We lose jobs and finances, material things that are important to us, and we feel it just like everybody else does. There is only one difference between us and people who don’t know Jesus and that difference IS Jesus.

I don’t pretend to understand how people will cope with what happened yesterday. I just know that Jesus is with them. I believe God weeps at the atrocities (He’s in us, with us, for us – he feels our pain, of course He does!) playing out now but I also believe He will comfort his people. He promises to do so, we must believe He’ll be true to His Word. In times like these His promises are all we have. Jesus himself said we will have (not might have) trials and tribulations but He’s overcome it all (John 16:33).

When we have pain we can go straight to Him and when we do, we can have that peace that passes all understanding – the peace only He can give. (John 14:27)  Miraculously through His Spirit that lives in us, His comfort comes. Those of us who have lived any time at all can testify to the fact that He eases our pain, He comforts our broken hearts and helps us by giving us His strength when we’re at our weakest so we can carry on through this Valley we’re walking through (2nd Corinthians 12:9). He will do the same for His precious people in Texas because he’s 100% faithful. He died so He could have a connection with us and that His Spirit could live inside of us for moments like these. He’s the Difference Maker. I’m quite sure many hearts are broken and many tears will be shed but I’m just as certain that the many hearts turning to God, seeking His touch will be comforted by His great presence and His matchless love.

In this world of uncertainty where evil seems to be out of control, where morals are definitely on the decline, and where there is nothing solid to hold on to we can rest assured, God is with us, walking us through these times of the unfathomable.  Jesus feels our pain and He’s right here to help us through it.

That’s all I know and today, that’s enough.

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Witness Protection Program

Close your eyes and think of the most unthinkable thing you’ve been through.  Remember it.  Feel it.  Got it?

Tell me why it happened.  Can you? You never saw it coming, right? Never in a million years would you have even conceived the thought that it may happen…but it did.

I know from experience God can use anything – ANYTHING for His good.  After all, if we’ve professed our loyalty to Him it’s ultimately His goodness and character that are at stake – not just our reputations, feelings or plans.  Ultimately it’s His love for His child that you and those around you will see.  It isn’t always pretty or comfortable and certainly it’s not what we expect as His beloved!  We expect wonderful, good things – we’ve somehow convinced ourselves bad things shouldn’t happen to us because we’re His!

What if we changed our focus to try to see through the pain in a godly perspective?  What if what we’ve been through or going through has very little to do with us?  What if God CHOSE you to suffer just so you can show the lost ones around you that no matter what He’s good? He’s faithful?  He won’t abandon us when we’ve messed up, fallen short or been devastated by events we had nothing to do with?  What if there’s someone in our lives who needs to see someone they love and admire handle things with faith in Him when everything else has been torn away?

We’re called to be witnesses – not just to the corners of the world but right in our neighborhoods!  That’s our Jerusalem; that’s as real as it gets.  When we dare to swallow our pride, to stop worrying how we’ll be thought of or talked about and live out our faith, God will bless us. He’s the ultimate witness protection program – you’re being used to show Him and share Him with someone else.  If He allowed it to happen, how can there not be good come from it?

Maybe we’ve been selected to suffer for His glory. If so, we can believe He will protect, comfort and heal us all the way through it.  Do we dare trust Him that much?

 

“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.” Isaiah 43:10

The Place of Nothingness

I’ve never heard anyone celebrate the fact that they lost, their prayers weren’t answered or what they were expecting didn’t come.  Have you?

Dire, desperate situations, it seems, customize themselves to our lives.  We all have them. The Bible says to wait on the Lord so we do, believing as best we can He will somehow make a way.  When the time comes when we think it should be over and it’s not, decisions must be made.  Do we continue to wait?  Take matters into our own hands?

That place of nothingness can be good or it can be bad. If we resort to desperation, desperate decisions can produce devastating consequences.  Desperate people do desperate things. However, if we bring forward what we’ve learned from God during the times He has provided, consoled and comforted in times past…miraculously or otherwise, we could save ourselves from piles of regret.

When the answers don’t come; when all seems lost and hopeless that’s where our faith-talk meets our faith-walk.  I’ve found myself in countless situations over the past few years similar to those I had helped others through.  When you walk a road yourself that you’ve watched someone else walk, the view is certainly different! Truth is, until we find ourselves in something, we have no idea what we’ll do. That’s why Jesus warns us to never judge anyone else.  We may think we know how we would handle it but we don’t!

During those “nothing”, waiting times, I’m learning to draw on my past experiences with God.  I remember how we got through then and believe Him for now.  Nothingness is a place where our faith can grow…or die.  The choice is ours.  After all, haven’t we been taught to “walk by faith, not by sight”?  Will we, when the rubber meets the road? Nothingness is the OPPORTUNITY to believe His ways aren’t our ways; His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.  Sometimes he has to bring us to “nothing” to see for ourselves how big (or little) our faith in Him is when there is nothing to place hope in but Him.

Give your faith a chance to manifest itself for what it is. The only way to do that is to get to the place where there is nothing left but faith. Faith isn’t just a word and it’s not just a feeling; faith is a Person.  Faith IS Christ. At the end of the day in the horrifying place of nothingness, we’ll see how real He is to us…or how real He isn’t.

 

(For we walk by faith and not by sight.)  2 Corinthians 5:7

“And Jesus answered and said to them,”Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to his mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” Matthew 21:21

Waive Your Rights

(Based on Genesis 13)

Abram was the called one.  God spoke to him one on one.  He got the directions straight from the King Himself.  He decides to be obedient and off he went taking his cousin Lot with him.  Along the way, they ran into conflict with their livestock and boundaries so Abram decided it was time to separate.   He went to Lot and let him decide which way he wanted to go to set up his homestead.  Abram assured him he wanted peace and he allowed him to choose.  Lot, of course, like many of us, chooses the land that resembles the Garden of Eden, lush and pristine.  Abram was good with that so they put distance between them.

Abram had the right to choose the best. After all, he did Lot a favor by bringing him along…actually God told him to leave everyone but his immediate family behind and for whatever reason he chose to bring Lot.  Things could have gotten really ugly between them.  “Hey! You’re forgetting your manners, boy.  If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be here at all! I’m the leader, you can’t have the plush land of Jordan.  God called me – I deserve the best…”.  It could have gone like that.

I’m the oldest of my father’s four children.  I have rights as the firstborn…yet I find myself with nothing that identifies me as my father’s child except my last name.  I could fight for what is rightfully mine.  For years I struggled to find and establish my place in my family and found myself deeply wounded and disappointed at every turn.  I was always the outcast and never treated like the others.  When my father died, I chose to let go and move on.  I shook the dust from my shoes.  I decided what went along with what I “deserved” is in no way worth any more heartache.  I waived my rights to myself.  I’ve never regretted that decision.

I left behind “good and right” for the best God has for me and I don’t regret it.  Some say I’ve cheated myself.  Maybe that’s true, it depends on perspective.  Everything affiliated with what “should” one day be mine is laced with terrible pain, a lifetime of lies and scars it’s taken a lifetime to heal.  So.

What are you fighting for?  Maybe it’s time to reassess.  Look at what the fight is doing to you…not for you.  Is it worth it?  A life of faith – a walk of faith sometimes will take us to the place of choice where we REALLY have to let go and give it to God.  Sometimes faith begs the question, will you let go of what you think is rightfully yours?  No, it’s not right or fair and no, it shouldn’t even have to be a choice, but it is what it is.  Do you dare have that kind of faith in God, that one day He will heal you and make all the wrongs right?

I choose to have 100% complete faith in my Father.  I choose to believe He will do exactly what He has promised, restore that which was lost.  I believe He will heal me of every single hurt and heartache.  As a matter of fact, He’s doing it right now.

Think about what happened to Lot and where he made his home.  It was all utterly destroyed. Abram walked on and walked into EVERY promise God made him.  Will you?

It Is There.

 

I knew someone who had a farm that used to be a thriving southern plantation.  Every year when he would break ground for the garden he would always find remnants of treasures that had been left on the land by the previous owners.  One time, a spot of ground caved in and underneath was a slave cellar left completely intact with shackles on the walls. In that room were some valuable antiques hundreds of years after the plantation had existed.  No one had ever dealt with and completely cleaned up the property so everything was perfectly preserved and the current owner was the one who received the rewards of the accidental find.

You’ve been through a horrible storm.  There were times when you were sure your life would be taken and perhaps a moment when you wish it would be.  Now it’s over.  The sun has broken through and you’re left with the remnants of your life.

What will you do with what’s left of your life?

You could just walk away and leave the mess for someone else to clean up and receive the rewards of what should have been yours.  You could just leave it as it is and walk over what used to be, never dealing with it but always remembering until it’s packed down and invisible yet ever-present.  You could pick up the big pieces and dispose of them leaving the little things to bury themselves. Or, you could sift through it finding what’s underneath the surface.

Those living in tornado prone areas know when destruction rams through homes, the treasures of what survived are found underneath all the trash and destruction.  It’s heartbreaking and physically trying to remove what’s destroyed to get to the protected treasures and keepsakes underneath – the little things.  Although they may be dirty and sometimes unrecognizable when they’re found what joy and gratefulness they produce.

That’s your word my friend. Choose to dig through and find the preserved good and God in your aftermath.  Search purposefully and intently and you’ll find remaining blessings and you’ll discover that what remains is all that matters; what was lost may break your heart but if you trust and believe in God, you’ll be thankful all was not lost.  You’ll find among all that has been stripped away and destroyed there are still many good things.  Deal with and let go of what pains you, the reminders of the storm and diligently search for the good that remains.  Believe as you sort through that what’s most important is still with you.  They may not be easy to find, but find them you will, if you look.  For He who promised is faithful.

Yes. Every Time.

Three times.  He asked Peter three times if he loved Him.  Three times.

How many times has He had to ask me? How many times has He spoken to “get me right”…to get to the core of me?  You?  How many times has He spoken to you?

You know, that whisper that silences everything else; that touch that stops you in your tracks; that cuts to the person you really are.  The voice that gets down to the truth of what is really going on.

When you hear it, you know that from that point on, you can’t be the same.  You know that conversation will change everything: the way you feel and think, how (if) you go forward from there…how you see things, how you respond.  Everything.  You know the significance of the question, and the response is critical.

This is no normal “do you love me”.  Peter had been with Jesus throughout His ministry years.  He had witnessed the power of the Messiah.  He thought he knew what it meant to “follow” Jesus.  He thought he loved him and was faithful and “sold out” – he even said he would kill or be killed for Him…then it happened.  He denied Him.  He followed at a distance and watched him be tortured and crucified. His Jesus – the one he had left his life for was dead.  Until that moment on the shoreline he thought it was over.

Then the questions.  “Do you love me?”  I suspect with every answer the realness of love became clearer.  The requirement of what it meant to say yes became deeper and deeper. With the third question, the deal was sealed and the proof is in the Bible.  This man, with his yes, was never the same and was completely devoted to Christ.

As hard as Peter’s life was – he was tortured, forsaken, probably hungry and without many times, imprisoned, chained up, beaten (on the list goes) he never wavered again.  His dedication and love for Jesus was undeniable.

I want a love like that.  I want to stand firm and follow Him regardless of the cost.  If my hands are empty and I have absolutely nothing material to prove He loves me, I pray I will still say yes.  If my life is hard and I’m destitute I still want to love Him.  I still want to lift my hands to praise Him. I pray I will.  Yes, Lord.  I love you.

Am I Enough?

Long after the music fades, the sounds of laughter have been silenced I’ll be there.  Long past all the goodbyes, the heartaches and pain, I alone will remain.  Is that enough? Am I enough?

You’ve abandoned me for fame and fortune, for the love of others, for selfish desires and when they’re spent and you’ve had them, you come back.  Why don’t you stay?  All you seek is found in me, who I am, what I have for you.  Is that enough?  Am I enough?

I pick up your pieces, I alone steadfastly stay faithful to you and you’re a harlot to Me.  Come and go, to and fro. I mend you and love you back to health and you leave Me again.

You ask Me why I am always there, why I continue to care when you forget Me, abandon Me, forsake Me.  You call to Me when you’re in lack or need, in your selfish greed and yet…My love for you never diminishes.  You’re grateful I know when I mend your woes, but is that enough? Am I enough?

My love for you never changes, I never punish you for going away…for putting me on a shelf while you’re all about yourself.  I never will.  That’s not how I love.  I love you completely without recompense or regret.   My arms are ever-opened, waiting, longing for you.  I’m the best you’ll ever get.  Is that enough?  Am I enough?

Why not take Me with you, why must you separate Me from you?  I enrich everything, even your desires and take you beyond anything you could ever even think of.  Is that enough? Am I enough?