You Were In My Thoughts Today…

When you’re going about your business on a daily basis and a friend or loved one comes to your mind, assume the Lord brought them to mind and do two things:

  1. Pray over them. You don’t have to know why, but they came to your mind for a reason.
  2. Reach out to them – pick up the phone and call or video message, write a note, letter or email or maybe just send them a quick text to let them know that you’re thinking of them in your conversation with the Lord.

I know many people say “I hate texting. It’s so impersonal” and you’d rather just wait and talk in person or on the phone. And that’s okay. You’re welcome to your preferences. I personally often send a text RIGHT THEN because, when God brings that person to my mind, I’m in the middle of something that needs my attention or I’m somewhere that I can’t have a lengthy conversation nor am I sure when I’ll see the person again. I’d rather send an impersonal text to let you know that I love you, I care about you and I am bringing you before the Lord than to let hours, days or even weeks go by or maybe get busy and forget and never follow up to let you know that God put you on my heart.  I have so many perfect thank you notes, lunches, dinners, dates, coffee conversations, etc. that never happened because the perfect opportunity to do it was never convenient or never presented itself.

On the flip side, I’ve received so many text messages out of the blue that have changed the trajectory of my day…they came at just the right time, from just the right person. I make every effort to do the same for others.

As a recovering perfectionist and as someone who has family who lives all over the world, I’ve learned that doing something is often better than doing nothing, at least in this context and especially when it is God’s Spirit who is doing the prompting. Do your best with what you have rather than waiting until you’ve got the perfect moment for the perfect conversation.  Those rarely happen and as a result, we often deprive others of the gift God wants us to share…someone being conformed to the image of His Son.

The Greatest Attack I’ve Personally Observed By the Enemy…

Listening to pastors and other believers attack one another in discussions about effective ministry.  Nearly every pastor I know (including myself), and thousands that I don’t know, have felt the excruciating pain of divisiveness and loss in their body over Covid and masks. It makes no difference what position the church or Pastors/Elders take, other leaders and a small contingency of each congregation vehemently and passionately disagree.

The greatest attack I’ve personally observed by the enemy (the world, the flesh and the devil)  on the oneness and unity of the body of Christ and therefore on the potency and effectiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (according to John 17) has been the divisiveness over Covid 19 and mask mandates. The church has endured the carnal infiltration of me-centered, self-indulgent and idolatrous behavior from time to time but never in my lifetime have I observed such divisiveness in bodies of professing believers.

Differing opinions and perspectives are normal, even healthy. Even the greatest marriages have them. But we hear one another out, we talk it out and we work it out…together.  But the current loveless stalemates of divisiveness and judgment among professing believers is grievous and shameful.

Believer, If God‘s Spirit cannot harmoniously unite you and your church over something like this in spite of your personal opinions, how does the church have any hope to share something as seriously eternal as the power of HIS death and resurrection for forgiveness, repentance, redemption,  reconciliation and restoration as God‘s workmanship created in Christ Jesus?

If we cannot be gracious and loving toward each other in this manner, how DARE we call ourselves followers of the ways of Jesus? You have to love humanity enough to allow people who completely disagree with you to have value, in your opinion.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’D DIE FOR, YOU CAN’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LIVING FOR

Regardless of your physical preferences in participating in community during the last 10-12 months, whether you’re scared, guarded, cautious, carefree or reckless, whether you believe we’re in the last days or just the lost days, how have you redeemed the time? How have you leveraged who you are and what you’ve been given to reach your neighbors, your city and your world with the Gospel — so others may hear…and live?

We live in a time where the Gospel has either been shelved for personal safety or it gets used more as a weapon than a healing salve. Do you think the great commitment (total surrender to Jesus) to the great commandment (love God by loving others) and the great commission (go and make disciples) has been set aside by God for our personal safety and care and or has the urgency been intensified by worldwide fear, panic and chaos among those who have eternal hope and peace that passes understanding?

What are you doing to live a life saturated by the Gospel, sharing the GOOD NEWS of who Jesus is and what He’s done so that those who are hopelessly lost might find the hope of eternity? Are you going into the highways and hedges, in person or virtually, and compelling them to come to Jesus or are you waiting for them to come to you? If so, why would they?

This is a great post from a friend, fleshing out the question “How have you leveraged who you are and what you’ve been given to reach your neighbors, your city and your world with the Gospel — so others may hear…AND live?”

It is difficult for those who cannot confront their own mortality to share a country with those who can.

When the focus is on the present, as if it is eternal, and the assumption is a permanent continuation of circumstances, you make a lot of bad personal choices and a lot of bad policy choices.

The heroes of faith counted the sacrifice of their lives as nothing but gain in pursuit of the glorious object of their contest.

The words of Paul ring clearly on this subject – “…to live is Christ, to die is gain…” The exceeding shortness of mortal life, when weighed against the never-ending eternity, meant that no sacrifice would be “too much” in the service of God’s Kingdom.

Similarly, the patriots at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Yorktown, and the dozens of other battles of the Revolution knew that their lives and fortunes might be forfeit but that their sacrifice was the only means by which to gain freedom for themselves and to secure the “…fate of unborn millions…”

I don’t mean to compare the two in terms of ultimate value but only in terms of mechanism – some things cannot be gained by a single person in a single lifetime. Some might have to lay down the immediate comfort and benefit and take up the pain and suffering so that the nameless and unknown in the future might enjoy the blessing.

It was by faith that the Apostles braved the fire and the lions of Rome, knowing that the result of their testimony in the face of persecution unto death would be great reward in Heaven and an expanded Kingdom of God on Earth.

It was by faith in their righteous cause before the Almighty that the patriots of the Revolution bravely placed their lives and fortunes in jeopardy. Many knew they would not live to see the fruits of their sacrifice in this life.

The point is succinctly summed up in this phrase – “If you don’t know what you’d die for, you can’t know what you are living for.”

–Jacey Buckles

Don’t Speak for God Unless God Has Spoken

Putting words in the mouth of God is a very, VERY SERIOUS OFFENSE. We are to speak humbly, meekly and yet boldly where God speaks. We remain silent on God’s behalf where God is silent. That is not to say that we can’t have preferences, opinions and ideas of our own based on what we see and read, BUT we must be OH SO CAREFUL when speaking FOR God himself.

Be so very careful not to let your culture and self-centric preferences, values, fears, biases and opinions to become the filters through which you read and quote God’s Word. Our purpose, our culture and our values must be defined and determined by God’s Word.

The Church is Our Spiritual Family

How can we take something that is so simple and pure and make it so complex and consumeristic?

“The elements of a true church are few and easy to possess. They are a company of believers, the Lord, the Spirit and the Word of the Living God. Let the Lord be worshiped, the Spirit be obeyed, the Word be expounded and followed as the only rule for faith and conduct, and the power of God will begin to show itself as it did to Samson in the camp of Dan. The church will produce a spiritual culture all its own, wholly unlike anything created by the mind of man and superior to any culture known on earth, ancient or modern. God is getting His people ready for another world, and He uses the local church as a workshop in which to carry on His blessed work. That Christian is a happy one who has found a company of true believers in whose heavenly fellowship he can live and love and labor. And nothing else on earth should be as dear to him nor command from him such a degree of loyalty and devotion.”

A. W. Tozer Sermon: The Church is Our Spiritual Family

A PRAYER FOR OUR NATION

Oh God, have mercy on the leaders and the people of this nation. I pray against the godless and destructive ideologies and agenda pushed on our innocent and impressionable minds. Lord save us from ourselves.

God I pray for parents and community leaders to walk in righteousness, humility and the fear of the Lord, to seek the Ways of their Creator and instill them in their children.

I pray for honor, dignity and respect to be restored in our lives for all people because we are each Your creation, created in Your image, from the womb to the tomb. I pray that we each understand the awesome responsibility and accountability that comes with bearing YOUR image.

I pray for The Church, Your bride. Oh God, she needs cleansing. She needs purified. She needs health. She needs YOU!

God I beg these things of You and I ask that You begin this work in me.

NOT MY PRESIDENT…OR IS HE?

I am not a fan of President Joe Biden and certainly not of Vice President Kamala Harris. Unfortunately neither of them care to represent my convictions, values or beliefs in one nation UNDER GOD or in government in general. I cannot agree at all with most of their personal or platform policies and issues for which they campaigned. However, my heart is joyful for the symbolism and the perceived step forward for women and children of immigrants. Twelve years ago, I choked up and tears streamed down my cheeks over President Barack Obama’s victory speech and inauguration for the same reason. But as of January 20, is Joseph R. Biden President of the country of my earthly citizenship, one that I love and thank God for? Yes, absolutely. Why? Because I am an American. I refuse to act like a child.

Do I think President Biden will be a good president for our country and our future? Sadly, no. But do I wish for his failure? NO. Why? Because I am an American and I don’t want to see America fail.

Do I wish DEATH upon President Biden just because I don’t like him? Oh my goodness, NO! Whobwoild do such a thing? I grieve for the hearts of those who prayed for Trump’s demise and death over the last 4 years, just because they didn’t like him.

Do I think the election was manipulated and abused? Do I think that extremists used President Biden for their agenda? Oh, most definitely. But that won’t stop me from voting again because every vote should count, but I will be watching closely as should all Americans.

Do I trust our government? Unfortunately, NOT A CHANCE. I’m concerned for the next 4 years. I’m concerned for personal liberty. I’m concerned for religious liberty. I’m concerned for our economy. I’m concerned for small business owners. I’m concerned for our healthcare. I’m concerned for what’s to come after these next 4 years. I’m concerned about the country in which my children will raise my grandchildren. I fear for the fate of this country.

BUT MOST OF ALL… I trust in Jesus, my Lord and my Savior. He is King of kings. I KNOW that no matter who is President… HE REIGNS! My faith will NEVER be in a man but in My God, Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and End…for HIS glory and the good of HIS people. God bless the USA!

I saw the above in various versions on a few posts this week. For my own uses, I did copy, edit, add and delete before posting. I have no clue who the author is. I just kept seeing “copied and pasted from a friend”. There were things in the “originals” I saw and tone carried that I felt needed edited or deleted for myself as they didn’t not convey my own thoughts or concerns.

Here is another great article on the subject posted by my good friend, Dr. Kevin Carson. And here is an Inauguration Prayer for our President, also written by Dr. Kevin Carson.

WHO BENEFITS FROM OUR DIVISION?

So many of my dear, kind, generous friends who once treated one another with honor, dignity and respect are feeling or being told…

…you are under attack
…if you don’t choose a side, you’ve chosen a side…and it’s not mine
…if you don’t agree with me, you’re my enemy
…’the other side’ is threatening your way of life
…you need to find your tribe and pledge your allegiance
…you need to defend your position
…you need to attack, while claiming you’re only defending those who can’t speak for themselves
…when you don’t get your way, you need to remove yourself from ‘the enemy’.

And then they’re further being told it’s dangerous and life threatening for you to come together in person to talk it out and find common ground.

Many have gone into seclusion.

Many are suffering from depression and isolation.

Who wins this battle?
Who loses?

God have mercy on us all!
This is not from You but I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that You will use it for Your glory AND the good of Your people.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Testing the Spirits

Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God. They timidly remember how the Pharisees refused to accept Christ when He came, and they do not want to be caught in the same snare, so they either reserve judgment or shut their eyes and accept everything without question. This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality.

But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit. Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. Try the spirits is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine. And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. And the more as we see the day approaching.

A. W. Tozer Sermon: Testing the Spirits

Behind the Airbrushing

Images and video tell the story that the photographer/videographer wants to tell from the angle they want to tell it…even before Photoshop. We tell the story that we want heard.

We’ve each seen far too many “selfies”, Instagrams and Tik Tok’s of distressed, insecure, jealous, depressed and miserable people living a “seemingly” full, exciting, airbrushed life on social media to NOT know this to be true.

John 12:43 ESV for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV …For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”