Saturday, October 21, 2017

Racism: Let's Not Talk About It

A battle is raging, and it is fierce…but as long as we continue to think we are fighting flesh and blood, we will never have a resolution.

Discussing racism is dangerous territory.  Emotions run high, and most everyone feels as if they have been just as mistreated as the next person.  Disagreement comes early in the conversation, and not long after, the name-calling begins.   Neither side agrees on exactly what racism is.  But it is rampant, and it affects everyone.  So many Christians don’t talk about it, at least not for very long.

Gatlinburg Overpass
Racism is much more complex than just the way people are treated, and people want to keep the problem white vs black.  While it is true that both sides have room to grow, to change, to understand, to concede, and to forgive, those things do not come from a behavior change, but a heart change.  The tactic of the devil in this thing called racism is to get our eyes on each other instead of God because he knows the only way to conquer the misconceptions about what is truly going on is by the revelation of Christ in the hearts of His people.  A lack of knowledge will kill us. 

The need is so very great for Christians to focus on Jesus and not be so attuned to the world around them.  We cannot afford to keep looking to the left and to the right.  Now, more than ever, we need to seek His face. 

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Psalm 27:8

When we come together seeking His face and not outside acceptance, we will find that vengeance really is His and the battle belongs to Him.  Justice poured out from a righteous God is infinitely better than any worldly imitation of justice.   Counterfeit justice is all the world can give.   When we come together as one body, putting God first in our lives, the blessings that follow are far beyond social justice…it is supernatural justice!  And believe me, once mercy and grace is received, we want justice!

If we heed Jesus’s commandment to love one another as He loves us, lives will be transformed.  We can’t continue to let how we feel drown out the voice of the Father who is no respecter of persons.  
  • If there is hate and mistrust against a brother or sister in Christ, skin color is not the issue, the heart is.
  • If feelings are hurt, skin color is not the issue, the heart is.
  • If unforgiveness is in the heart, skin color is not the issue…it’s the heart.
  • If lies are believed about who you are, or who someone else is, skin color is not the issue! 
Who can change hearts?   God.  

Unfair is unfair.
A hurt is a hurt.
Discrimination is wrong.
An injustice is an injustice;
It doesn’t matter what body God placed you in. 
And rest assured, God does not like injustice. 

Until God’s people realize the origin of racism, we will never put out the spreading flames or stop the destruction.  It is a tactic of the one who kills, steals, and destroys, and when we try to fix the issue by keeping it in the ugly box of flesh and blood, we are helping him.

If we really want to stamp out racism for good, we must start with PRAYER.  Then we must continue with PRAYER; and more PRAYER.

You know what happens with much prayer?  Repentant hearts.   What comes from repentant hearts?  Relationship with our Heavenly Father.   When we have true relationship with the Father, it will spill over into the rest of our lives and our relationships with our brothers and sisters.  Then it will spill out of the church and into the world.  A coming together of the Children of God!   The church should have always shown the world how to love each other.  But we aren't.  We're showing the world more of what they have.

The only way to stand up to racism is on our knees.  Our altars need to full of people without labels calling out for Truth so that we see each other as God sees us, not as how some other human being is telling us we should see each other.  I wish churches would begin having old fashioned prayer meetings, with people who are willing to fast and pray the price for victory.  A meeting of people who have the sole purpose of praying God's will, a change in hearts, unity, love, and change in the body of Christ.  A meeting for prayer, not discussion, without loud music, but with scripture reading.  Sadly, too people do not like to attend prayer meetings, but they do like to talk, and the devil really likes that in us.  

Discussions about racism = argument.
God's Truth in any situation = healing, light, love, peace.
The choice is ours:  Talk about it or pray about it.

So let’s not talk about racism.  
Well, not until we’ve come together for much prayer.

Gatlinburg Overpass



If you've never watched Wintley Phipps talk about the old black spirituals and sing
Amazing Grace...you must see this!    Grab a tissue, you'll need it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Finding Faith in a Weary World

Huntsville Botanical Garden
What does a Christian do when faith is hard to find? World injustices or the evil days in which we live can make it harder to believe Christ is on the throne and in control. Maybe your pain is much closer to home, a divorce, a financial disaster, the death of a loved one for whom you diligently prayed over.

When we walk through life seasons that are heartbreakingly painful, we have to make the conscious choice to believe what the Word of God says. In the bad times, clinging to the scriptures is crucial. It is just as important in the good times, but when we are brokenhearted, often the last thing we want to do is pray.  We may open the Bible only to find the words bouncing off our eyeballs and into the abyss.  Find one scripture that speaks to you and believe it, hold on to it; it is your lifeline.

Fear plays a big part in our moods and emotions. Fear doesn’t always creep in, often it walks up and slap us, stopping us dead in our tracks. We can’t let these days filled with divisiveness, threats of North Korea bombs, war, or people doing unspeakable evil to each other cause us to forget that God already knew about such things. He said there would be wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines and earthquakes in various places, and he warned us that because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But He also told us not to be afraid.

Not being afraid isn’t easy, but the more we learn to put our trust in Him, the clearer things become. When we are clearly thinking, we can see things for what they are. We aren’t fighting people…flesh and blood…we are fighting satan and his evil crew, and they use people as tools to kill, steal, and destroy.

________________________________________

I saw this on Facebook: 
Fear does not stop death, it stops life.

The Bible tells us repeatedly, “Don’t fear.” But how do we do that when faith is slipping, and there are real threats surrounding us? How do we trust Him?

The answer is relationship. When we draw near to Him, he draws near to us. The closer we are to our Source of life, the more we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the less fear we have, and we are able to love Him with our whole hearts. The more love and less fear we have, the more we are willing to do the things we are commanded to do for the kingdom of God:

Love our neighbor as ourselves
Feed the hungry
Care for the orphans and widows
Proclaim the good news of Christ

________________________________________

We know life isn't easy, and we don't always understand our heartaches. But God promised to save us, to be our peace, to comfort us, and to hold us in His hand.   We have to not only read the words written in the pages of the Bible, we must believe them with our entire being.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are attentive to their cry

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
He delivers them from all their troubles

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all
(Psalm 34)

Don’t focus on the problem. 
Focus on the Solution. 
His name is Jesus.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Stolen Identity...

Who are you?

Too many of God’s children are in the middle of an identity crisis.  It’s not that people have forgotten who they are in Christ…many have never known.  There is a famine of God’s word all across the land, and it is not because it isn’t available, it’s because people are not partaking of the bread of life.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35), and John 1 tells us that Jesus is the word, and has been since the beginning.

But we have to read it to truly know who we are! 

Do you know what happens when people don’t know who they are?   They take on a persona that is not who God says they are.  Why do you think there is such an epidemic of men who think they are women and women who think they are men, or why we are having an explosion of homosexuality? 

It’s because satan himself hones in humanity’s self-will and convinces people (even at very early ages) into believing that they are the exact opposite of who God has called them to be and who He says they are.  It’s a complicated case of mistaken identity; complicated because people truly believe lies about themselves.  They grasp those lies with all their might until they totally accept the deception.  It then becomes a case of identity theft. 

To put it as plainly as I can:  The devil twists God’s truths and convinces people that they are who he (satan) says they are instead of who God says they are.   They are perishing from lack of knowledge…the lack of knowledge of who they truly are! 

And it’s not just happening in the world.  It’s going on in the church, in our youth, and even in our own lives.  We (or maybe I should just say “I”) believe we are not worthy to do what God called us to do because of the way we look, or not able to do God’s will in our lives because of our current circumstances or situation.   God has a plan for each and every one of us, and the thing holding us back is a lie…or more specifically when we believe the lie. 

Read God’s word about who you are, and get in your rightful place.  If you have accepted Christ as your savior, you are a legitimate child of the One True God.

John 1:12
…to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.




On Calvary’s hill of sorrow
Where sin’s demands were paid,
And rays of hope for tomorrow
Across our path were laid.

I see a crimson stream of blood,
It flows from Calvary,
Its waves which reach the throne of God,
Are sweeping over me.




Sunday, October 8, 2017

Confessions of a Reluctant Church-goer


I’ve been doing a lot of confessing lately.

I really don’t know how people will perceive me after I say this:  I don’t get excited about going to church, and there are times I just don’t want to go.

::::There, I said it::::

I go because I know I should.  I don’t want to forsake the assembling together, but if I miss a service, I don’t feel guilty.

I saw a Facebook post asking, “What do you like about your church?” I didn’t have an answer.  I mean, I don’t dislike anything about my church.  The preacher has a good word for us each service, the singing is fine…I don’t know most of the songs, but that’s not so important because I was never very demonstrative in public worship. Although if there’s a song sung that touches me, I may get a little teary.  Everyone is pleasant, though most of the folks with whom I was friendly left when our former pastor retired.

Are you thinking I need to find a different church? Nah. I think it has always been this way. It is not a phase I’m going through. My walk with Christ isn’t determined by where I go to church, and my lack of passion for attending a service doesn’t affect my salvation. I talk to the Lord all through the day. I spend most of my lunch breaks in my car praying and reading the Bible through. (I probably won’t make it to 100% because after Leviticus, I’m thinking seriously of completely skipping Numbers, Deuteronomy, and 1 & 2 Chronicles.) I listen to sermons online during the week.

But I’m just not enthusiastic about church. 
Am I alone in feeling this way? 
::::raised eyebrow:::: 
Would you admit it if you aren’t always enthralled with the experience? 
And maybe you are. 
I hope you are.

When I was a child, if there was a church service, we were in attendance. If there was a revival, we were there every night…even if it was a six-week revival in the summertime. Every service. For some reason, I still remember that evangelist’s name: Jerry Ramsey.

Preaching was different then. My pastor preached salvation hot and Hell hotter. He could tell you in excruciating detail the agony leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, until you could almost feel the pain yourself. There were nights when everyone, saint and sinner alike, was on their knees at altar call.

This morning I am missing the old hymns and a 
good old-fashioned Hellfire and brimstone sermon. 

I am also missing my childhood preacher and his family…people to this day I consider my own family, though they live many miles away. I am missing the little church on Tuscaloosa Street that was such a huge part of my youth.

I wasn’t excited about going to church then, either. 
I never knew there would be days I would really miss it.



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Did God do That?


Nate is headed to North Alabama…or what will be left of him by the time he gets here.

Have you ever noticed when someone suggests that earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc., could be God’s judgment, some folks lose their minds.   They indignantly say things like “God doesn’t do things like that!” and “That’s not the God I serve!”

I don’t argue with them because truthfully, I don’t know.  

But I do wonder why they think that’s not the God they serve.  Reading through the Old Testament, we find stories of God commanding complete and utter destruction of people…men, women, and children, too.   At times, livestock as well.   Then there’s the time He told Joshua to hamstring the horses…

Sending earthquakes and hurricanes?   It could be the God we serve.   
  • He hardened hearts then made them pay for being hard.
  • He allowed kingdoms to defeat the Children of Israel for their sin, then punished those kingdoms for doing so. 
  • Nehemiah called Him a great and terrible God.   
  • Then there’s Job…

But did He purposely destroy Puerto Rico, flood Houston, or send earthquakes to Mexico?   I don’t know.   But I do know He allowed it.  The Bible tells us the wind and the sea obey Him (Matthew 8), He makes lightning for the rain (Jeremiah 10), He rained down hail more than one time to kill people (Exodus 9, Joshua 10), and plans to do it again (Revelation 16). 
 
It’s kind of hard to think about, isn’t it?
But He loves me...and I love Him, even
when I don't fully understand.
The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the Heavens
and on the Earth, in the seas and all their depths.
(Psalm 135:6)

And I will serve Him.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
(Joshua 24:15




Praying for protection for all from the coming storm.  


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How are you sleeping?


After waking up to the news about Las Vegas on Monday, I found myself doing my normal functions, performing my duties so that other people could do theirs. Every time I heard something about Las Vegas, I shut my eyes tightly so that I only teared up a little. Oddly, I noticed an irritability with others that normally isn’t there.

I am thankful to be alive; thankful my family and friends are fine…yet my heart still breaks for a place I’ve never desired to visit, and for people I don’t know.

With the hurting people not far from my mind, life went on. I ate, I talked with others, I did what I was supposed to do. Something was different, though. As the hours went by, when Monday turned into Tuesday, and now Wednesday, people are thinking of Las Vegas less and less. But I am mindful that while today I am exempt from the heartache others are suffering, tomorrow is not promised.

We are bombarded with information every day, and precious little of it is good news. Story after story of destruction and evil, people bickering, hurting each other, killing each other. Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Hate. My mother said people are desensitized. I believe she is right. We watch TV and scroll through social media, blasted with the evil deeds of the day, and then as a new story develops, we forget about the last one.

Is it any wonder so few of us are sleeping and so many 
of us are on sleeping pills and/or anti-depressants?

I don’t know if this post could get any more bleak, so I will put this out there for us to dwell on instead of bad news:

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant
of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

…The peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.
Philippians 4:7

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you…
do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27


I came across this video on Facebook. If you haven't watched it, it is well worth 8 minutes and 39 seconds of your time:


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Confessions of a Tired Christian in the Face of a Tool


People are weary.  Distracted.  Over-exposed, overwhelmed, and over football. 


Let me go ahead and get my snark out of the way.   Here are some "Margafesto" definitions you may find useful for this post:

Tool:  to͞ol 
noun:    a person, especially one used by the enemy, blindly carrying out the carefully laid 
plans of the evil one. 

Toolery:  to͞olərē 
noun:   the behavior of a tool.

Tooligan:  to͞oləɡən
noun:   the more obnoxious tool. 


Funny thing happened on the way to a football game…all of America got distracted!

Good grief.  
How much attention can we give tools in uniforms? 

Tooligans who are so dissatisfied with America that they allow themselves to be used as tools of divisiveness should take a mission trip to Haiti, Equatorial Guinea, or Zimbabwe.   Or simply do some in depth research on how people are treated in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, or Sudan.  Knowing what goes on in oppressed countries will make the hardest heart realize that America, even with her problems, is a great place to live. 

Freedom of speech, though.  I get it, and I get tired...I get tired of the one-sidedness of it.  My first inclination is to respond to supporters of knee-takers with pointed comments and a bit of sarcasm.   I refrained from tossing too many comments into the vast abyss we call the internet, but I did give in and slap out a few rebuttals on Facebook.


The thing is, adding my two cents worth doesn’t do any good…in fact, it only adds to the fray.  Just like they won’t convince me that they are doing a good thing somehow making a positive statement, I will not convince them that they are being disrespectful, divisive, and…well, a tool. 

When friction is coming from both sides, we only get chaos and disorder.  Someone must be willing to rise above the toolery.   I say it should be Christians.

The reminder here is that we aren’t fighting flesh and blood.  (Ephesians 6:12)  

While we are focused on the NFL, the enemy is blatantly walking in, gearing up, and taking their places for battle.  But we are ungirded. 

We. Are. Not. Ready. For. Battle
We are sidetracked by the actions of others.

We know who God is, but we are ignoring Him and giving our attention to carefully laid distractions.  God aches to bless us because He loves us…but when we remain focused on devil's deeds and his tools, getting involved with the bickering, we miss out on the great plans our Father has for us. 

Here’s how we gird ourselves:  PRAYER...God’s children praying, all of us, together, and each of us individually...without ceasing.  There's a lot of disagreement between brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are often known for that more than we are known for our love for one another.  Let's stop worrying about who is wearing what, who is playing or not playing music, who is too loud, who prays too softly, or :::gasp::: who is speaking in tongues.   Christians must unite and learn to love one another despite our differences, and maybe even because of them.  Jesus tells us that people will know we are His disciples by our love for one another.  (John 13:34-35)  Outside of our own church, are we there yet?  A house (country) divided can't stand.  (Matthew 12:25)

Christians in heavily persecuted countries aren't debating theology.  They are praying!  We cannot afford to remain separated by walls of denominations.  It’s time to come together corporately and pay the sacrifice of prayer to the ONLY ONE who can turn this country around!  

Stop worrying about that the NFL is doing.   Look up!   Seek His face!  He can handle a few over-pampered, over-paid, over-bearing, spoiled football players.   Pay attention to the real issue:   satan is moving in and setting up house in our own front yard.   

We have the authority to stop him…in the name that is above all other names, the name to which every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, in the name of the One who saves, who delivers, who heals, and He who is coming back again, in the name of Jesus Christ…that’s how we do battle. 

Are you ready to take our country back? 
Let’s do some kneeling of our own!

Pray that eyes will be opened...
so they see,
(and that we see).
That ears will be opened...
so they hear,
(and that we hear).
That hearts will be opened...
so they understand
(and that we understand).


PS:  It's not just the NFL.   There are many well-placed, divisive stumbling blocks being rolled into our paths every day.  Be ever mindful of the hour in which we live...watch carefully so that you don't trip.


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