Caught in the Crossfire: A Letter to the Youth of America

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Dearest Young Heart,

There is so much to say that I don’t really know how to begin.  I was thinking of you while I drove my own children to school this morning.  I was thinking of how our world is changing right before our eyes and how soon you will be taught many things that may not help your life become any easier.  I was thinking about how just a simple change in curriculum can dictate a whole new culture.  I was thinking about the chaos that is now your world and the conflicting emotions that you probably feel on a daily basis.

Truly you are a generation caught on the middle of a battlefield.  The bullets are whizzing all around your heads and many have already fallen prey to the war going on around you. You are being pushed, pulled, used, and abused in the name of “progress”.  Truly you are suffering the worst from the enemy’s attempts to obliterate the family.

So this morning, I just want to help clarify a few things.  This is a confusing time of life for you.  It was meant to be that way.  You are created to struggle with your identity…to seek answers…to be passionate about causes.  You are created to speak up and to reach out and to want more from life.  You are created to be curious, to soak in knowledge, to be trainable.  You are created to belong, to desire love, and to seek out attention.  All of these things are certainly crucial to your future and you cannot get to where you are going without them.  But this is also why it is easy for you to be confused, to feel rejected, to wrestle with conflicting emotions and feelings inside, to sometimes not know how to act…how to live…how to be.  To often search out and listen to any and all voices that seem to accept you or that claim to love you.  It is so easy as you are growing up to get thrown off the track and into the fire.

This is why God created the family.  The family is a place to wrestle with this confusion, to be safe, to be guided, to learn the things that will transition you into the adult you were created to be.  The family is a place to belong no matter what, to be able to lean on, to come back to when the world out there gets tough, to depend on for answers.  Your parents were entrusted with the gift of you and they will have to give an account to God of how they have stewarded such a treasure.

So no wonder the enemy would want to destroy the family.  This is a way for him to get to you before you have a chance to learn how to fight.  This is a way for him to recruit you into his dark world before you know that it only leads to destruction.  This is a way for him to take you out execution style so that you never have an opportunity to foil his mission.  If he can destroy the family, he can have you.  He can devour the next generation.  And his blood thirst is unquenchable when it comes to that.

His first strategic move was to convince you that you are an accident…that you aren’t created…that you have no purpose here.  So he deceived people into believing the whole universe is one big cosmic accident.  He made sure that they believed it so desperately that they exalted it over all reason.  He made sure that every other idea was shut out of education.  So now you are taught that BOOM and there you were.

For his second strategic trick, he decided to go after your life before your first breath.  This would do three things…first, it would work to prove to you that you are without purpose and even expendable depending on who actually wanted you…second, it would cause you to devalue your life and the lives of others so much that you would either live in anger or despair…third, it would kill MILLIONS of you totally legally and without much second thought at all.  Abortion has become the leading killer of the next generation under the guise of “a woman’s right to choose”, but it has also said to you that you could have so easily and perfectly legally been thrown out with the trash.  It says to you “your life is unimportant”.  The enemy loves anything that steals your value and worth.

His next strategy involved making it against the law to even communicate with God.  He convinced and connived and deceived until the powers that be were determined to lock God out of schools entirely.  So now, even though you might be taught about the Muslim god, you surely will not hear about the God who created you.  You can’t pray to Him and you may certainly be in trouble if you are brave enough to tell your friends about Him. This enemy knows the power of prayer and the weakening that comes when it is banned.

Into this chaos, he dropped another bomb.  He started to use the glamour of Hollywood, television, and media to make it desirable to give away the precious gift of your body whenever you felt the time was right.  So sex became just another rite of passage for you…how early and at what point was totally up to you and totally acceptable.  He successfully hid all concerns about this…about the soul ties that it creates to another human being…about the shame that can overtake when all is said and done…about the other consequences that can alter the family and future relationships.

And now, even today, he continues to believe you aren’t confused enough.  He wants you to believe that not only you were an accident, but you are a mistake as well.  He wants you to wrestle with whether you are even a certain gender at all….whether those passing lusts of the flesh mean that you are meant for the same sex…or both sexes.  He wants you so confused and focused inwardly that you are without the means to begin a healthy future family.  That instead you pursue ways outside of God’s design to satisfy yourself and you are completely destroyed before you realize that these ways are broken and only lead to heartache.

He has deceived the whole country into believing that these things are true and right and good and that anyone who disagrees is a hater, a bigot, and an antiquated fool.  He has successfully created a society against the family.  We don’t need families…we have our rights…we have our individuality…we have our feelings and affections.  He has essentially broken the one thing that you do NEED.  He knows that all these things work together to raise children who have never experienced the love and safety and fulfillment of a family…of boundaries…of God’s design for life and freedom.

Cause you see, my child, the things that they are telling you will make you free…they actually chain you up.  They chain you to sin and to shame and to hate and to anger and to despair.  You get so confused with yourself and the world and in the lack of guidance of a family, you start to wish you were never born…wish you didn’t live now…wish that all the pain would just go away.  Or you get angry and bitter, so you bully others or you just hate until it rots your insides and there is nothing left.  Or you join the cause and you use the passion given to you by God for His purposes to war against those purposes and to deceive other young people into the same monster of a system that has overtaken you.

If I could speak one thing into you…if I could just cut through all the voices and all the crowds and all the crossfire…if we could pause the battle for a second and I could speak and my voice would be heard by all. If I could be your family for just a second. Here’s what I would say:

You are greatly loved by your Creator and you were uniquely fashioned for His Plan.

This society doesn’t love you.  This agenda of the enemy, it seeks to do nothing more than marginalize you, destroy you, keep you from being a threat in any way to the kingdom of darkness. It’s a trap.  Don’t fall for his lies.

The One who made you…He is the One who loves you…He is the One who can rescue you…He is the One who can guide you through this confusing and challenging part of life even if your own father and mother have forsaken you.  He is the Way.  He is the Truth.  He is the Life.  He is the ultimate Father and He knows how to redeem.

And He is your way out of the crossfire.

May you come and join His family when He calls,

Candace

 

 

 

3 Questions to Ask when You Reach a “Dead End”

I often walk my neighborhood.  It is a virtual circle with a road that cuts straight through it.  At the end of the straight road is a “Dead End” sign, which I had never really noticed until today.  Only if you pass this sign, however, do you get to see my favorite part of every single walk I go on.  The road continues into a private drive that leads to the prettiest little chapel you have ever seen.  And though the property is private, it is always worth it to continue on and catch a glimpse of the beauty beyond the fence.

I’ve come across more than my fair share of “Dead End” signs in life.  You probably know what I’m talking about before I even explain.  Those situations in life that seem impossible or seem like there is no way out or seem like they will destroy every little piece of your heart.  Those places where all you can see with your eyes is darkness, distress, and the gloom of affliction.  Whether you have hit that place because of your own choices, the choices of others, or circumstances entirely outside of your control, there is a huge “Dead End” sign taunting you at the end of the road.  “This is the end. You’re done. You’ll never recover from this.”

I have seen many such signs.  There was the time in high school when my parents’ marriage ended and my dad moved 8 hours away…there was that time when my siblings and I had to check our mom into a hospital and leave her there so she could get help that we could no longer give…there was that time when my sister’s heart was broken into a million pieces by evil and she laid on my floor crying her guts out…the time that I laid on my face in the closet begging God to take my life because I couldn’t face anxiety another day while my beautiful baby boys laughed and played in the living room… the time that we left our long time church, the place where we grew up and got married, and it literally felt like divorce…the time that I carried my lifeless child in my womb for a week because there were no operating appointments for the D&C…the time that I felt trapped in our marriage and wanted a divorce so bad that I could taste it…the time that they told us we would never make it in time to get our teenage child in China and all our money would end up wasted…the time that company financials were so bad it looked like bankruptcy was the only way…  I could go on, but I know that many of you could top my stories with yours.

“Dead End”  “Turn back.” “Give up.” “There’s no hope.”

 

Let me tell you.  There are no “Dead Ends” in Christ.  None.  Every road leads somewhere, even if it is the beginning of another road.  Beyond every “Dead End” sign, there is a glimpse of glorious hope if you will choose to trust God in the middle of that place…this place right here…while it still seems hopeless.

The first step to doing that is to ask yourself these three questions when you notice the first sign:

First. “Is this the enemy’s attempt to keep me from God’s promises?”  Many “Dead Ends” are really not ends at all, but Satan’s attempt to move you onto a different road because God has something for you on the one you are on.  He will make it look like if you continue on this road, it will be useless because it ends in (as my Kate would say) “Nowhere Land”, but really it is exactly the road that God has ordained in your life and if you fight past the signs, you will get to see some amazing thing that He is doing on the other side.

I have faced these “Dead Ends” more often, the closer that I get to the Lord.  The enemy gets scared.  He tries every tactic in the book to get us to back off, to choose another path.  He knows the detriment to his kingdom if we continue on the road that we are on.  We saw this clearly when we were in the adoption process.  The roadblocks sometimes felt like closed doors, but they were really just roadblocks.  I see these signs often right now in building a company in the business world that will one day reach nations.  He throws “Dead End” up all the time in defense.  He hates it when we are on the right road at the right time for the right Kingdom plan.

If your “Dead End” is the enemy’s attempt to keep you from something that God is doing in your life, you have to fight through.  You have to stay in that marriage.  You have to keep crawling through that adoption process.  You have to hold on to that relationship.  You have to walk right past that “Dead End” sign and smile, because on the other side, you will reap if you faint not.

Second. “Am I on the wrong road?” There are no “Dead Ends” in Christ, so if you are truly coming to one, you are pr0bably not on His road. Sometimes the Lord will draw us by letting us come to that painful end of ourselves so that we will realize how much we truly do need Him and how much He desperately desires that noone perish.  Places of hopelessness are prime opportunities for us to see the Hope of the World and what better place to be able to see the Light then when our own lives have become too dark to see.

These places bring us to the end of ourselves so that we can more easily change directions.  When I realize that I am not in control, I search for someone who is.  Don’t be deceived here.  Yes, there are wonderful support systems out there…great spouses, dear friends, incredible counselors and therapists, but they are not in control either.  They can help and encourage, but they will never be able to “fix” what needs to be changed and adjusted.  He is the only One with the blueprints for your life.  He knows the exact path to the right road.  He is the only one that can be trusted with this journey called life.

The last question. “Is this a God-ordained new beginning?”  “Dead End” signs can be warnings that you are actually on the wrong road, but they can also just be the beginning of a new road.  While we get stuck mourning the end of one road, the new one is waiting up ahead inviting us to walk forward.  Yes, we should grieve and mourn losses when we need to, but we should ALWAYS grieve with hope.  It isn’t over.  Our journey does not stop here.  It doesn’t stop until we meet Him face to face.

As painful as each end has been, continuing to walk hand in hand with my God has been the best decision that I have ever made.  Through ends of all kinds, He has been the comfort, the strength, the hope, and the reward.  He is faithful, even when we…others…circumstances…are not.

Last night I began writing out some of my favorite verses in Isaiah. This morning as I began to share this with you, I remembered two of them that fell together perfectly for this post.

“They will look toward the earth and see only distress, darkness, and the gloom of affliction, and they will be driven into thick darkness.” Isaiah 8:22

“…the people walking in darkness have seen a great Light, on those living in the land of darkness a light has dawned. For You have shattered their burdensome yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian.” Isaiah 9:2, 4

Do you face a “Dead End” sign today?  Run to Jesus.

Human and sinful are not the same thing.

This weekend many Christians reflect on centerpiece of the Gospel message: Christ.  Though we benefit from His death and resurrection all year long, there is something about taking time out of our year to feel the weight of this gift that still beckons to believers and unbelievers alike.  Sunday will likely bring the fullest churches and some of the most meaningful sermons of the year.  Some of them will focus on the heinous crime of His death.  Many will focus on the glorious miracle of His resurrection.  I would like to take a moment to focus on something often skimmed over in the story…something that caught my attention in a season when I just needed to be reminded that it is not sinful to be human.

Between Jesus’ celebration of Passover and His arrest in Gethsemane, our Savior spent some very important moments with the Father in prayer.  As a matter of fact, these moments, though barely half a chapter long, are spoken about in 3 of the 4 Gospel accounts of His life.  This prayer is an intricate part of His story, but also of ours and I have missed the lesson in it until recently.

Jesus was fully human and fully God, at the same time.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder how that could even be possible because it seems like complete opposites.  When someone says “I’m human.” they are often referring to mistakes or sins that they have committed or are committing.  We tend to think that being human is what makes us sinful.  In this line of thinking, we are even content to stay bound to sin because we excuse it as the normal human condition…after all, human = sinful.  But actually, this is not the case at all.

Humans were created in the very image of God.

Jesus came to remind us of that.  He could come in human form only because it isn’t sinful to be human.  And He showed us throughout His life that moments of weight, weakness, or suffering are not sinful in themselves.  It is the choices that we make in the middle of those moments that can lead us to sin.

That’s why I have come to love this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Here is Jesus, Son of GOD, fully aware of His mission and His call…yet dreading and struggling with the physical, mental, and human requirements of it.  He, too, had to count the cost.  He, too, wanted an easier way.  He shows us here that it is okay to struggle to embrace the Will of God.

“If it is possible, take this cup from Me.”

I don’t know of any other place in the Word, where Jesus shows us more pure humanity than in these words.  Do you remember all the other prayers that He prayed throughout the Gospels?  Prayers for the Father to show Himself through the Son…for Him to be glorified…for Him to fulfill His plan for the world.  Yet, here He is in the Garden knowing that God is about to answer all those prayers and He chooses these words to the Father.

Let me just tell you, Mama.  It is not sinful for you to say to God “if it is possible to accomplish Your purpose without taking my child, can we do it that way?”.  It is not sinful, my brother, to say to God “if it is possible to accomplish Your purpose without my wife walking out and taking my children, can we do it that way?”  It is not sinful to say to God  “If it’s possible, can we do this without all the pain and suffering?”

Jesus did.

In that Garden, He got “real” with God to show us that just because we are human does not mean that we are sinning.  Not as long as we ultimately choose to trust Him.

“Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.”

Ummm, Jesus, did you forget that You ARE God?  Aren’t You and Your Father’s will the same?  Of course they are.  But in this scene, I see Jesus laying down all of His Godly emotion protection and entering fully into what this would be like for one of us…for you…for me.  He literally put Himself in our shoes.  He exchanged His capital “H” for a little “h”. And He showed us exactly how to handle those moments that we feel we just can’t handle.

He made it clear that we are allowed to ask for an “out”.  Y’all.  Listen.  We are allowed to ask for an “out”.  We don’t have to just assume that the suffering and the pain is necessary to accomplish His purposes.  We are allowed to look up and say “Can You PLEASE rescue me from this???”  That IS NOT SINFUL…and that is NOT resisting the Will of God.

But He didn’t stop there.  He then gave us the key to submission.

Think about your will…your idea of life…your decisions over the course of your days…how have they worked out for you?  How many other people have they helped?  How much eternal treasure have you stored up doing it your way?

Now think about a time when He intervened in your life…when something happened that you weren’t expecting…when things seemed to be falling apart and then suddenly He was putting them back together.

Whose will is better?  Whose will takes into account every bit of the future?  Whose will plans for all the potholes in the road?  Whose will gets you to finish line?

Maybe I should ask it a different way.  Who loves you much, much more than you love yourself?  Who knows every single time what is best for you?

Praying for the Will of God to be done is only praying for your own good and His glory.  We can trust His plan because He loves us entirely.

But we expect way too much from ourselves as humans if we think that the goal is to never struggle with the Will of God.

JESUS struggled with the Will of God.

As a matter of fact, even AFTER He had prayed and submitted Himself to God’s Will and decision, He was troubled so deeply that He began to sweat tears of blood.  His prayer for the Will of God to be done did NOT end His struggle with the suffering ahead of Him.  It did not immediately give Him peace.  NO.  He actually still wrestled within His human self.

Jesus sinlessly wrestled with what God had called Him to do.

Are we better than Jesus?  Certainly not and never.  We, too, will wrestle with obedience sometimes.  We might plead with God to do it another way.  We may have to say “not my will, but Yours” over and over for months or years to stay on the right road.  And that is okay. It doesn’t make you sinful.  It doesn’t make you a weak Christian.  It doesn’t make you less spiritual.  It doesn’t make you less pleasing to God.

As long as you let His Will win in the end, it simply makes you like Jesus.

“This High Priest of ours understands our (human) weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.”  Hebrews 4:15

 

 

 

 

Just in case you still don’t believe there is a God

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I remember the weirdest things in the middle of the night.  I don’t know what it is, but I can be sleeping soundly and suddenly be awake, brain in high gear, thinking of stuff.  Most of the time it is stuff that I haven’t done, need to do, or should have remembered the day before, but every now and then, it is something like what I will write this post.  Last night, I laid awake for at least an hour telling you this story in my head.

Easter 2004, I was sitting on my mother-in-laws front porch when I felt the Lord speak to me in a very tangible way.  I would describe it as a vision, but I know that half of you would stop reading right here and I don’t want to scare you off.  Suffice it to say that I felt the Lord give me a promise that I would have a daughter.

Fast forward to 2005…I got pregnant.  I was so very sure that God was fulfilling His promise to me.  After all, I had waited almost a YEAR.  I purposed in my heart from the very beginning that this was a promised daughter and I was determined to enjoy every single bit of the journey…even the puking.  From the beginning, we were set on naming her Sydney.  Of course, we had no way of knowing definitely that I was carrying a girl, but isn’t faith pretty much like telling God how He is going to get it done?  I dragged David to baby stores to pick out furniture.  I bought little clothes and hung them up in the closet.  Y’all, I was seriously a nutcase.

Which is why when they couldn’t find a heartbeat at 12 weeks, my faith took a knock out punch.  I was devastated.  Did God even exist, because I sure knew that His promises were not true.  And if He didn’t keep this promise to me, how in the world could I trust Him to keep any of His others that were written down?  I went through a SERIOUS trial of my faith, realizing that everything I believed up until then had come as a result of head knowledge from growing up in the church…but I didn’t really KNOW Jesus.  I didn’t trust Him.  I got by with a little help from my church friends, but I was a saved “lost” person.  I wanted to know Jesus.  I prayed to know Him.  But I didn’t really know Him.

Aren’t you so thankful that He answers our prayers to know Him?  This tragic circumstance was my first step in coming to know Him as Savior AND Lord.  LORD.  Meaning “YOU are in charge, God.  You tell me where we are going with this.”

Well, many of you know the basics of the rest of this story.  In 2012…8 YEARS after His promise to me…we brought Kate home from China…despite MANY impossibilities that I still wonder how He overcame.  Two years later, we lived an even more impossible story with Naomi, who was born on my mom’s birthday…and Jessica, who we received 6 days before she would have been an orphan forever.

You would think that it’s enough, right?  He fulfilled His promise…like 3 times. He worked it all together for good.  He made something out of nothing.  He BLEW OUR MINDS every step of the way.  Surely that is the end of the story of redemption.

But it’s not.

Our God is an “OVER and ABUNDANT anything you can ask or think” God.  He did something else that I woke up last night thinking about.

Last year I became CEO and owner of Ascend Technologies, the company that David and a partner founded in 2000.  This is a story of impossibility all its own, but I took the position because I believe that the Lord has called me to it.  I believe that Ascend is going to be a force to be reckoned with, not only in the technology world, but in tearing down the kingdom of darkness.

Even though we are in a rebuild of the company, I have strongly believed from the beginning that we needed to give out of our need so we can be trusted to give when we have extra, so I began looking for a way to step out on faith and trust in God with our resources.  Several needs and opportunities immediately presented themselves and though I was eager to be able to meet them, the Holy Spirit said “wait”.  “Wait to give? Is that really a very Christian thing to do?”  Sometimes it is.  When we aren’t connected to the Holy Spirit, we are totally susceptible to seizing the wrong opportunities at the wrong time and wasting the resources that God has given us for something else entirely.  It’s a thing.  I didn’t know either.  But it’s a thing.

About six months ago, one of my very dear friends messaged me.  This is a friend that I met through a church that we only attended for a couple of years.  She and her husband were in between ministry assignments and just “happened” to come to rest at this 20 person church during that time.  Our hearts and personalities connected immediately and we became the kind of friends that embarrassed our kids because we were always so loud and obnoxious when we got together…it was a blast.

Anyway, since we have moved to Albany, this friend and I have had a really hard time staying in touch…because well, life (mostly mine) gets in the way of the best of intentions.  So messages between us were few and far between and when she messaged me it was fairly “out of the blue”. This message was about a young girl that she knows who had been called to the mission field in China and was trying to finish raising her funding.  She was wondering if she could give this girl my information so that we could connect and talk about China.

The girl’s name?  Sydney Faith

Unbelievers have to try to explain away circumstances that seem to “fall into place” so they come up with things like “luck” and “coincidence”.  It’s just luck that the sun comes up every day at the same time.  It’s just coincidence that you run into a person that you haven’t seen in years at the exact moment that you need their encouragement.  After all, isn’t it “a small world”?  Those of us that KNOW Jesus see life from a totally different perspective.  We KNOW that there is a Designer that is continually working all things together for our good.  In this perspective, moments of pain and suffering become opportunities for God to do amazing things and “coincidences” become moments that God ordained from the beginning of time for our good and His glory.

So Ascend is a small part of supporting Sydney Faith in China right now.  Sydney and I communicate regularly through email and Facebook.  She has prayed me through some things. I have prayed her through some things.  I had never even seen this girl until two days ago when she was able to send pictures with her update from China. We could certainly be related. In the update, she described in detail how God is moving and how as a direct result of their work, three people have recently accepted Christ…three people that until Sydney and her team went to China had no idea who Jesus was… three people who are now excited and won’t stop talking about what they have found in Jesus to all their friends in a part of China where Christianity is unheard of.

Redemption.  Multiplication.  He’s the Author of the most amazing stories.

So I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Sydney Faith and about the weeping that has been turned into complete joy by a Father that I don’t deserve…and I realized what the date was as I was thinking about this.

March 17th.  The exact date of the procedure I had to endure 11 years ago to remove our 3rd child from my womb.

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.”  Psalm 30:11

 

 

The Danger of the Donald

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

While I don’t necessarily love to write about angry things like politics, there comes a time when exposure to the truth is necessary enough to risk polarizing people.  I believe that we are living as Americans and as Christians in one of those times.

My jaw dropped open on Saturday as South Carolina handed a decent sized win to Donald Trump.  A state smack in the middle of the “Bible Belt” saying that Trump is the best candidate to lead our country forward.

And it spurs me on to write because we are all the sitting frogs in the pot of boiling water and we just keep sitting here enjoying our “hot tub” oblivious to the danger that is about to make us dinner.  I can’t sit in this pot any longer without screaming a warning.

Now I don’t suppose that I will convince any unbelievers that Trump is a dangerous man.  My arguments are Biblical in nature and will likely be spurned by those who believe that building a wall and kicking out anyone who is a different color than us is going to solve our problems.  No, I write rather to Christians.  The ones who should know better.  The ones who are playing with fire here.  The ones who seem so blinded to Donald Trump’s biggest problem and most obvious sin.

Pride.

God HATES it.  It’s what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven.  It’s what took Nebuchadnezzar from king to animal.  It’s what destroyed Solomon’s legacy and divided the Kingdom of Israel.  It is what caused the Pharisees to crucify Jesus.

Pride is NOT an “innocent” sin.

It is the root of ALL sin.

So why are evangelicals able to so easily overlook the seriously obvious Biblical issues of Donald Trump?

Not too long ago Republicans shamed Bill Clinton for sexual acts in the White House, how do they now justify a man who profits off of strip clubs, cheats on his wife openly, and poses on the cover of Playboy?  If they condemn Al Sharpton for not paying his taxes, how do they now support a man who has bankrupted his companies 4 times, leaving millions of dollars of debt for someone else to clean up?  If they call Hillary Clinton a liar, how in the world do they believe a man who just two years ago claimed to be pro-choice, pro-universal healthcare, pro-tax, pro-Pelosi, pro-immigration, etc. etc?

 

He is arrogant.  He is condescending.  He is disrespectful.  He is power hungry.  He loves money.  And he makes his money by exploiting the addictions of other people.  He is a cad, through and through.

Yet he is drawing the evangelical vote.  It’s shameful.  And I think in some sense separating sheep from goats. How Christians can so easily convince themselves that Donald Trump loves Jesus, I do not understand.  Some of those “cameo” prayer moment things have made me more uncomfortable than he looked.  Jesus is just another marketing tool to him. Donald Trump loves and worships Donald Trump.

And in that sense, he is a very dangerous man.  He lacks character.  He lacks foundational beliefs.  And he is driven only by his own pride.

Pride DESTROYS.

Pride is the only thing needed to come before a fall.

God is opposed to the proud.  Do we really need more opposition from the Lord in this country?

Barack Obama has severely weakened American leadership in the world.  That was his agenda.  He believes that American exceptionalism is a problem.  He would rather see us hanging out with the rest of the world than leading it.  This would not be such a horrible thought IF good and evil did not exist, but good and evil DO exist and someone has got to stand up for the good.  It just so happens that America has been that country in many cases, which is much of the reason that God has blessed America and made it great…a shining beacon of hope…the hope of freedom.  Obama does not believe America should be greater than other countries.  He believes it is unfair for America to be on a pedestal while the rest of the world looks at it as an example or hates it for its exceptionalism.  And this is what his 8 years of service has worked to dismantle.  In a sense, he has created a new foundation for America…one of “we’re just one of the guys”.  The world is fairer that way(pay no mind to how safe it is)…so he believes.  Yes. He believes.  He has a foundational belief that is guiding his decisions and actions. A very wrong set of principles for sure and his core beliefs have damaged our country, but in that sense, he is predictable and he is fightable.

Donald Trump does not have beliefs.  He does not have a foundation that will lead to an agenda or a strategy.  He has a bunch of off color, straight talk, sometimes inappropriate words.  He says what people want to hear because that is what wins elections and he is a reality star after all.  Anything he has said this election in any of his speeches, you only have to go to YouTube to find something exactly opposite that he has said in the past…on camera…without apology.  He is a master at leading fools (which is why he makes all of his money off of lust, gambling, leisure, and pleasure)…and unfortunately too many Americans…and more disappointing, Christians…have become foolish.  He said in a speech recently that he could walk into the street and shoot someone point blank and his voters would still follow him without question.  And sadly, he may be right. Where does this leave us when he gets elected?  In serious danger.  Because Donald Trump is not out to make America great…Donald Trump is out to make Donald Trump great.

And that is why I believe Mr. Trump is spending millions of his dollars running for President (pocket change when you are worth billions). Likely, the only thing he feels like he hasn’t been is President.  He wants to brand the White House too…because in doing so, he brands America.  Everything he has, he has named after himself… Trump Enterprises, Trump Towers, Trump Entertainment, Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, Trump Marina.  Trump Carousel (yes, it exists), I could go on, but you get the point. Where do you go from there?  Trump’s America.

His unabashed pride should be enough disqualify him from the candidate list of every Christian who claims to believe the Word.

Speaking of the Word… I’m just gonna leave a few of them right here…

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:5

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 29:23

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Galatians 6:3

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Proverbs 27:2 

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

James 4:6

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Proverbs 26:12

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Jeremiah 9:23

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,

1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Romans 12:16

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Proverbs 8:13

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

2 Timothy 3:2

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

Proverbs 12:15

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

1 Peter 5:5

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Romans 11:17-21

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.

Proverbs 11:12

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.

1 Timothy 6:4

He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Proverbs 30:12

There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.

Proverbs 25:27

It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

2 Corinthians 10:12

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

2 Corinthians 12:7

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Obadiah 1:3

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to the ground?”

Proverbs 21:24

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.

Romans 15:17

In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.

Matthew 23:10-12

Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Proverbs 25:14

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

1 Corinthians 10:12

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Psalm 101:5

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

Romans 1:22

Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Proverbs 6:16

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:

Revelation 3:17

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Proverbs 21:4

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

Daniel 4:30-34

And the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

2 Corinthians 10:5

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Ezekiel 28:17

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.

Isaiah 5:15

Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low.

Proverbs 15:12

A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.

2 Corinthians 10:18

For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

1 Samuel 2:3-5

Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.

1 Timothy 2:9

Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,

1 Corinthians 3:18

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

Luke 1:51

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

Mark 7:21

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,

Psalm 138:6

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.

Proverbs 18:12

Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 16:19

It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Esther 6:6

So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”

Jeremiah 13:17

But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord‘s flock has been taken captive.

Proverbs 28:25

A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

1 Peter 5:3

Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

1 Timothy 6:17

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

2 Chronicles 26:16-19

But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the Lord who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LordGod.” Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the Lord, by the altar of incense.

1 Corinthians 15:31

I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!

1 Corinthians 10:30-33

If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 1:29

So that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Luke 11:43

Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

Proverbs 29:8

Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.

Luke 18:9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ …

Jeremiah 13:15

Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord has spoken.

Proverbs 6:17

Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

Psalm 9:20

Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

Job 13:5

Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!

1 Corinthians 8:2

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.

1 Corinthians 5:6

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

Luke 1:52

He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;

Psalm 75:4-6

I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’” For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,

1 Corinthians 4:10

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.

Proverbs 17:19

Whoever loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction.

Revelation 18:7

As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’

1 Corinthians 14:38

If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Proverbs 12:9

Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.

Job 18:3

Why are we counted as cattle? Why are we stupid in your sight?

Ephesians 4:17

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

1 Corinthians 4:7

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Jeremiah 9:24

But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Proverbs 28:11

A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has understanding will find him out.

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

2 Timothy 3:4

Treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

Leviticus 26:19

And I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

1 Timothy 3:6

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Romans 1:30

Slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

Job 37:24

Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

1 Corinthians 8:1

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

1 Corinthians 4:6-8

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!

2 Kings 5:11-13

But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

Revelation 3:18

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Matthew 23:6-8

And they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.

Mark 12:38

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces

Matthew 20:26

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

2 Kings 14:10

You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”

Luke 14:8

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him

Wasted.

The longer I live, the more I become passionate about purpose.  The enemy is trying to steal it from this earth and in many arenas, he is allowed and even handed our purpose without a fight.

What were you created for?  Believe it or not…like it or not…God took time to form you because He has a purpose for you.  He created you for a specific reason at this specific time and you have shoes to fill.  Now I am not advocating for a kind of “finding your calling” type of frantic search that causes more frustration and anxiety then Kingdom building.  I am simply saying that each of us should wake up EVERY morning with an awareness that if we are breathing, there is a reason.  We have a mission to fulfill in the Kingdom.

Even those who do not believe have purpose…those who fight God and mock Him and rebel have purpose.  Romans 9:17 says that God raised up Pharoah against the Israelites in Egypt… “for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Those that rebel against God are used for his purposes too, although it is His Will that none should perish and all should come to the saving knowledge of Him so that they can have their intended purpose of good works that will glorify the Father in heaven.  Nevertheless, God does not create without purpose.  He is a God who wastes NOTHING.

So we need some mobilization in the Body of Christ, because many of us are wasting our time.  Many of us are on track to come to the end of our lives and realize that we spent so many days, months, and years in futility.  And when we stand before that throne, it is finally too late.  We will have to look Jesus in the face and try to explain why we could spend a week without sleep to watch all 6 seasons, but were way too tired to pray.

Ephesians 5:16 says “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  We were created for a purpose and we will never find that purpose until we start living “carefully”.  I don’t mean buying the latest version of the safety car seat or setting the security alarm more often…many of us put more effort into keeping our physical lives safe than we do our spiritual lives.  I mean that we must stop living as though we have all the time in the world to complete our mission…to make His Name famous.  We have a LIMITED time.  We don’t know how long that is or how short, but we do know that we aren’t guaranteed even our next breath.  Therefore it is crucial…CRUCIAL…that we understand what God’s Will is and that we walk according to it in as many minutes as possible of this life.

We are WASTING TOO MUCH TIME.  Too much time that is meant to be spent on praying curses off the nations. Too much time that is meant to be spent gaining a clear understanding of the heart and character of God from His Word.  Too much time that is meant to be spent working with God and watching Him work to redeem and restore and revive.

Jesus said something that should set us straight in Matthew 12:36. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they will have to give an account for it at the judgement…”  

Y’all.  If God cares about wasted words, He certainly cares about wasted moments.

What could be done if the people of God were mobilized and focused on the mission before them?  How many lives could be changed?  How many cities could be revolutionized?  How many nations could be turned for good?  We might never know…because most of us are waiting for someone else to do it…or we are sitting around judging and criticizing how the people that ARE doing it, do it.

But what if YOU (and I am talking to myself, so you talk to yourself here) went to work for the glory of God…if He was the priority and His Kingdom being built was your only mission.  What would change in your workplace?

What if YOU used your paycheck(s) for the glory of God…if building His Kingdom was the top priority and passion of your spending?  What would change in your finances?

What if YOU made your decisions for the glory of God…if His Will being done on earth was your entire basis for making decisions?  What would change in your circle of influence?

I’m not making this up.  THIS is how we are supposed to be living for Jesus.  THIS is how we were created to live out our days on this earth.

“Whatever you do in word OR deed, do all in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corin 10:31

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

I could go on, but I think we all get the point.  We weren’t created to live by the philosophies of this world, by its patterns, or even by its steps and milestones.  We were created to live out the purpose and the plan God has made us for to contribute to the building of His Kingdom on earth.

Now I’m convicted.  And in some ways this feels impossible…to live EVERY. MOMENT. to the glory of God…who does that?  Who CAN do that? We know in these imperfect bodies and minds that we will fall…that we will fail…that we will mess up.  Yet He is still looking for hearts whose direction is set on Him…whose waking moments are spent running the race…and getting back up and running again…whose desire is to not waste another minute. THAT is a heart that God can put into the position that He created it for.  One who feels the weight and responsibility of His calling and His choosing.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  2 Chronicles 16:9

People of the Most High God!  It is time to find our place in the ranks of the Lord’s army.  It is time for us to be “on mission” ALL the time and EVERYwhere.  It is time for us to willingly take this fight to enemy territory…to step into darkness with light…to quit protecting our futile lives and instead do with them what we were created to do with them.

Because a life lived any other way is simply…wasted.

Wasted – used or expended carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose

Is God GOOD?

The check didn’t show up.  I had worked all week… I had practically groveled to get the customer to overnight it.  Without it I couldn’t pay our contractors and get them back to the job site the next week.  I had vocalized my faith to the staff and told them not to worry because the check would be on time.  We got confirmation that the customer had sent it and were expecting delivery 10:30am that Friday.  I was so sure that God had come through that I made a point of telling the staff that this was His doing and His faithfulness.  Yet at 10:30am the next morning, the check was not there.  The staff contacted the carrier and they admitted that they could not find the package…couldn’t find a priority overnight package!!  I once again noted my faith to our frantic staff that God would come through and they would find it by 5pm.  I waited by the phone from 4pm to 5pm and was so SURE that I would receive the call telling me the check had been located and all was well.  At 5:30pm, it didn’t matter any more…the banks were closed and there was no way to make the deadlines.

It’s then that it socked me in the gut.  Disappointment.  Anger.  “How could You let me down like that, God? I thought You were GOOD?”  I felt a bit like Nacho Libre when he says “I looked like a fool last night!”  But none of it was funny.  I was devastated because I felt like, in that moment, that God was anything but GOOD.

Disappointment is the worst isn’t it?  That painful sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that someone has let you down…it hurts.  It especially hurts when you feel that the only One who can be depended on is undependable.  When God disappoints us, we have nowhere else to turn.  And that was what I had to wrestle with that Friday afternoon.  I felt like in that moment that God had abandoned me…and I hated that feeling more than anything in the world.

As I worked through this questioning of the character of God, I realized that many times I have avoided hope and faith altogether.  It is just less risky and less painful to expect the worst…to be shocked if something actually does work out because you never even considered that it would.  And I realized something else…that this was not only cowardly, but often a sinful attitude of distrust and unbelief that God is who He says He is…that He is GOOD.

I specifically remember the weeks before I miscarried the first time.  I remember BEGGING God not to take my baby.  One particular moment, I was in the car at a stoplight (and I could tell you the very one to this day) and the song came on the radio that declares “You give and take away.  You give and take away.  My heart will choose to say ‘Lord, blessed be Your Name.'”  I choked up at the words as I told my Father, “I won’t be able to make it through if you take this child.”   I was caught on the “You give and take away”, but not quite willing for “my heart will choose to say”.  I wanted instead to talk God into doing things my way, so it wouldn’t hurt so bad and so that I didn’t have to question the goodness of God.  I was afraid that our relationship would not make it through that question.

I lost that baby a couple of weeks later.  Even as the shock of it wore off, I realized that God had provided grace and peace that I did not believe would be there.  I was afraid to count on God because I would rather have not had a reason to at all.

And isn’t that what it all boils down to.  God doesn’t do things our way.  Most of the time, He doesn’t follow the status quo… He jumps out of our box… He takes the long way when we prefer the short cut.  He is a God with a massive, incredible, intricate, and undeniable plan and in order to work it out, He often requires that we let go of our own narrative and let Him work His.  Only when we are willing to pray and MEAN, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”…only when we get to the point that we believe with all of our heart that His way is better…only when we can be walking through the valley of the shadow of death and still declaring loudly “But even still You are GOOD!”…will we find the kind of hope that doesn’t disappoint

The world waited for the Messiah through 400 years of darkness.  After 400 years, you better believe that they expected Him to come riding in on a white horse with His sword drawn to wipe out all the bad guys after which He would sit on a golden throne and wear a jewel filled crown.  Instead, He came in the most defenseless form available on earth.  He was laid in a trough that animals eat out of.  He was sought out by men evil enough to kill hundreds of babies to make sure He didn’t survive.  What in the world kind of plan was this, Lord?  Oh, but it only got better.  He walked the earth with not even a permanent home while He lived among common people, many who treated Him as if He too were common.  He was run out of towns, lied about, and plotted against.  And in the end, He was arrested, beaten, mocked, scorned, and crucified.  Surely Jesus must have been disappointed at how His Messiah life turned out.  I mean, how can God be GOOD when He allows all of this to happen to His own Son?

I think we all know the answer to that, because this wasn’t the end of the story.  As a matter of fact, the story still hasn’t ended.  God is still saving the world through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And in the life of His Son, He has shown us what true hope means.

“We know that all things work together for the GOOD of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Y’all, sometimes “all things” includes some very hard and ugly and painful and confusing things.  But our hope is in the fact that things like that do not limit the ability of our God to work them together for good.  I have to tell you, it makes all the difference in the world what we decide to hope in.  If it is our own dreams of how life should be and how things should turn out…if we hope in our own desires and outcomes…we are sure to be disappointed, because God doesn’t do things our way.  He does things His way…because His way is better.  However, if we will hope in the fact that whatever the circumstance, whatever the outcome, whatever our eyes see at the moment, that He can take THAT and work it until it is GOOD, we will never be disappointed, because He is faithful…Because God’s Son did not stay dead.  He arose.

After the check didn’t show up that day, God and I had a meeting.  I wasn’t happy and I didn’t like Him very much. I told Him that through crocodile tears, because I was livid at myself for my reaction to the situation.  And as He always is, He was so gracious to listen and to let me cry it out.  I crawled up into bed that night and turned on Netflix.  I wanted something lighthearted to make me forget all my troubles.  Instead, for no particular reason, I turned on a documentary called “Where was God?” (that I had never heard of before), a film reliving the tornado that devastated Moore, OK. Throughout the documentary, there were segue scenes of a man who was combing through the rubble, picking out pieces, and building something with them.  It wasn’t until the end of the film that the camera zooms out and the audience is able to see a tremendously beautiful work of art that he created from nothing but pieces of rubble.

Our God.  He is GOOD.  He is GOOD when you can see that goodness.  And He is GOOD when you can’t.  Tonight, I can think of a multitude of tragedies just in my circle of Christian family and friends that seem unfair, hopeless, and plain out BAD.  Can I just challenge you?  Right in the middle of that ugliness, just begin to declare “You are GOOD. I don’t know what this is… I don’t know why this is…I don’t know how I will get through it, but I DO KNOW that You are GOOD. And because You are GOOD, I can trust You to take even this and work it together for GOOD.”  That’s what He promised…not that He would do things our way, but that what He does in our lives will work together for GOOD.

The day after God settled it in my heart that He is GOOD no matter what I think about the circumstances of life, the check was found.  As late as I thought it was, in God’s book it was right on time.  And He worked it all together for GOOD.

 

Revealing Christlikeness: The Syrian Refugee Crisis

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When I get upset about something, I write.  It has to come out of me on paper or it just sits in my spirit and festers.  So while I am not sure if the urge to write this is from the Holy Spirit or just out of pure emotion, I pray that my words will bring peace to the Church of Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will overlook my opinion and I will write simply to heal rifts.

Syria.  The country that we all have our eyes fixed on these days.  Millions of people have been displaced from their homes and are running in terror from killers.

But these aren’t just any killer, these are demonic killers.  These terrorists that call themselves “ISIS”, they don’t play by anyone’s rules.  They behead children.  They hang bodies in the public square.  They teach children to kill and commit suicide. They target people based on their beliefs.  They are evil incarnate.

So what are we as Christians to do, to think, and to communicate about this crisis?  THAT is what is being hashed out in front of the world all over social media.  One side has the corner market on compassion and the other has the corner market on wisdom.  Two drastically different viewpoints from people who believe in the same Jesus whom no one can see over the shouting and the finger pointing and the high horses and the anger and the pure ugliness between Christian brothers and sisters.

And the devil laughs because now…not only can he kill, steal, and destroy…but he can divide the only people with the Power to unite to stop him.

Shame on us.  All of us.  Our anger at each other only works to assist the enemy, it does not accomplish God’s righteousness.

Yesterday on Facebook, I went from reading statuses from Christians who absolutely refuse Syrian refugees for any reason to statuses accusing anyone who did not accept all refugees with open arms of being heretics.  Of course these statuses were worded in different ways and some were sneaky implication, but the jest was the same.  And I saw Christ in neither viewpoint…

I don’t care how many Scriptures you throw out there to back up your point…if your tone is anger, condescension, or plain out pride…it just reads as noise to anyone at whom you are supposedly speaking.  I made comments yesterday from my perspective and was pummeled with not only Scripture, but accusations about my state of mind, and even comments about my own children…from people who don’t know me or my life or my children.

Jesus doesn’t speak to me like that. I didn’t hear His voice in these sharp words.  And yes, I stand on the wrong side of issues sometimes, but His voice opens my heart to His call…it doesn’t shut me down into a defensive posture where I find myself wondering how I made enemies of what is supposed to be the family of God.

Shame on us for showing our underwear to the world…for forgetting that by our love for each other we will be known as children of the Most High.  For running over each other with the bus from the high road.  For speaking of the hurting and helpless in vile ways that lump them in with the perpetrators.  

Shame on us for not taking a very real opportunity to show the unity of Christ and His Church.

After being on Facebook yesterday, I got a glimpse of why ISIS is a draw to the lost.  They are unified in their purpose and even though it is hate and murder, they have become a band of brothers and sisters with the same purpose.  This makes them so powerful and it makes them attractive to those who feel that they don’t belong anywhere or have a purpose.

I can’t say that I saw much that attracted me to Christianity yesterday…

I can tell you this.  Every true Christian wants to see these Syrian refugees out of harm’s way.  I don’t believe you can love Jesus and not love people. Every true Christian has compassion for these people. We agree that Jesus told His Church that these people ARE our responsibility.  They aren’t the governments responsibility, they are the Church’s responsibility.  Whether the government allows them here or not, there is much we can do to help.  There are organizations like Voice of the Martyrs, Samaritans Purse, Christian Aid, World Vision, and Open Doors USA have feet on the ground in Syria.  They have connections and access to these people…some of which who will never see the first form to fill out to apply for refugee status.

You have an opinion?  Tell me, have you given?

This morning, I thought to myself.  Where would Jesus be right now?  If He was still walking the earth, where would He be…what would He be doing?  I think He would be in Syria…right in the center of those refugee camps.  I think that He would be praying to the Father on behalf of those people.  I think that He would sharing eternal life with them.  I can guarantee that He wouldn’t be on Facebook lumping innocent people in with terrorists or using His Word to shame His followers into agreeing with a political position.

We should speak out. For sure, we should speak out.  We should bring truth into every conversation, but saints, let’s be so careful that we are doing it with love.  The moment that we start making sweeping accusations of each other, of the people coming here, of the people already here, we show ourselves to be very unlike Christ.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

We don’t have to agree on the political side of this conversation, but let’s unite in doing what ONLY the CHURCH can do for these people and for the world. We have a weapon sanctioned by Almighty God. We can agree in prayer asking that the Lord would work disunity and division in the enemy’s camp. That they would become completely disorganized and chaotic. That every plan they attempt will be foiled and every circumstance will work against them. Pray that their followers will lose heart and give up, that hopelessness will take over in their ranks, and that their eyes will be opened to the deception of Satan who uses them to kill, steal, and destroy. Pray that their dark plans will come to light, that they will make mistakes in their execution, and that the mercy of God will hold back the evil that seeks to rule in this world.  Pray that the people who are running from ISIS will find shelter and hope and most of all Jesus.  Pray that we will find a way to open our doors while refraining from allowing the enemy more territory to kill, steal, and destroy.  Pray that each one of us will unite our time, resources, and talents where they are of greatest use to the Kingdom in this matter.  Pray that we will find peace with God and with each other.

May God have mercy on all of our souls and bring His peace and light back to the conversation.  Only then will Christlikeness be recognizable in this matter.

This One Thing Kills Giants

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3 weeks ago, I asked the Lord how I could give to Him the first fruits of my increase with the company that I own. A short time later, He provided the answer. It was a hard decision and I wrestled with it…it was going to cost me. In the end, obedience is what I chose.

Almost immediately after that, the enemy attacked. He raged. One situation after another spun seemingly out of control for my business. Yet I got to watch Jesus calmly walk on water in the middle of the storm.  Things that should have happened, didn’t. The destruction I expected from the situations that arose was held back by the Mighty Hand of God.

The last 3 weeks have been grueling. His Word to me has been “Watch Me walk on water. It has to be enough that you are content to follow Me. Let me have your goals, your end results, your expectations. I must be enough.”

That’s a hard place to be.  I want to meet my goals.  I want my expectations to be met. Who wants to work towards no result in the end?

It’s here that I realized that He wasn’t asking me to work towards nothing. No, what He wanted to see happen in my life was for my end result to always be HIM.  My labor isn’t in vain when it is in the Lord…when the end result is just a closer walk with Jesus…to be content watching HIM walk on water.  When that is my only goal, my whole perspective changes.

We all know the story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17.  The Philistine giant of Gath would come out day after day to the Israel camp frightening them back to their tents.  That giant stood there mocking them, saying things that I have heard the enemy say to me before.  “Why are you even out here?”  “You think you can defeat me?” “Go ahead give it your best shot.”  We know our best is not even close to slaying that giant in front of us, so we shrink back…we avoid him…we hide from him…we may even come out and pretend like we are going to fight, but the minute he shows himself, we run. So why was David different than ALL of these Israelite warriors put together. Here was a boy… a BOY…willing to face the giant.  Not only was this boy willing to take on the giant, but he insisted on doing it without armor or any kind.  Don’t you know that those warriors of the Israelite camp watched that boy walk out there on his own without armor on and gave him absolutely NO chance of slaying the giant?  Some might have even shed tears at the sight of the Israelite army feeding a young lad to the wolves.

What was different about David?  I asked God this question as I read parts of this story that I had never seen before.  Why did David have so much confidence in God?  Was it because of the bear and the lion that he had killed while watching the sheep?  No doubt that built David’s faith, but I believe that David’s confidence came from the same place that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo’s did when they told King Nebuchadnezzar that whether God delivered them from the fire or not, they weren’t bowing.

Unshakeable confidence in the Lord comes from a perspective that we are here for Him…that our lives ONLY matter because they were created by THE Great God.  We are not here to meet our own goals, to fulfill our own agendas, or to make this our show. We are here for Him.

David’s whole existence was tied up in this fact.  When he went to battle against Goliath, he did it in the Name of the Lord of Hosts.  He did it because he was offended by what he saw around him…people who claimed to know his God, but yet couldn’t even be persuaded to face the giant though they were offered the king’s table.  He did it because He KNEW without wavering that we are here for Him…the battle belongs to the Lord.

It wasn’t the stone that killed this giant, it was that ONE thing.  Whatever happens to me, I am here for Him.  It’s His show.  The battle is the Lord’s.

He walked right up to that giant who was laughing in his face…that giant who was as shocked as the Israelites at who had taken him up on his offer…that giant who had just as much confidence in himself as David had in his God.  “This battle belongs to ME.” thought that giant. “Easy peasy.” He never saw it coming.

These words of David have been my lifeline for that last 3 weeks.  I read them to myself every day and I speak them to some really ugly nasty giants that I am up against almost every night.  These words of David remind me that I am not here to meet goals or produce results.  I am simply here for Him.  The stone of this Word will slay the giants and they WILL fall.  They don’t believe that they will fall, but they will.

“You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the Name of Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies – you have defied HIM. TODAY the Lord will hand you over to me.  TODAY I’ll strike you down, cut your head off, and give the corpses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the creatures of the earth.  Then all the world will know that Israel has a God, and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s.  He will hand you over to us.”  I Samuel 17:45

Hear me, giants.  We are here for Him. The LORD WILL hand you over to us.

Someone DO Something!!!!!

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I can’t help but think, on days like this when my mind is wandering to young people under attack all over the world, that nothing will ever change because WE don’t want to change.  We sit and we wait for someone to do something.  We watch as ISIS kidnaps daughters and uses them in ways that we don’t even treat our meat.  We cry for the families of people who have suffered great loss at the hands of haters and murders.  We “oooo and ahhh” over the orphans who sit waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to do something.  We shrug our shoulders as the world infiltrates our next generation with all kinds of sexual perversion.  We close our eyes and tell ourselves that people are responsible for their own choices…we’ll mind our own business.  We live comfortably…and don’t get me wrong, comfortable is not wrong in itself, but we cling to our comfort while we see our brothers and sisters in need around us…withholding compassion, withholding good, withholding hope.

Each of us has been created to be a different part of the Body of Christ…and I am afraid that the Body is beginning to look like it has seen heavy combat.  We are missing hands.  We are missing feet.  We are missing eyes and ears.  In some cases we are missing heads.  Where are those parts?  “Oh, there was a ball game on!  You know, the kind that’s really important that we can’t miss” while people are playing games with the lives of the children around us.  “Season finale… you know, that show that has us sucked in to it’s fake story lines” while people are actually dying outside.  “Oh, we are really, really busy trying to make money…saving up for a bigger house, you know…”while mothers and fathers around the world pile up mud and top it with tree branches and scrap plastic and call it a home. “Can’t help you…too politically incorrect and offensive…that’s not love you know…let’s just let them believe whatever lies they want and try not to rock the boat” while our kindergartners are taught sex ed and our sixth graders are offered invasive contraception.

I am not writing a message of condemnation.  I don’t believe that it is wrong to be a sports fan.  I don’t believe it is wrong to have a favorite show on television.  I don’t believe it is wrong to make money or buy a bigger house.  On the contrary, God has given us all things to enjoy and I believe He loves it when we enjoy what He provides (granted I think that you are doing better than I am to find a show on TV that He has provided…sheesh, there is a lot of trash on the tube).  I do, however, believe it is blatant sin to let ANYTHING on this earth keep us or distract us from doing what God has created us to do.

What if the Church started being the Church?  What if, instead of 20% of the people trying to do 80% of the work, we all said “YES!”?

Let me ask you this… you may think that you are a pretty good Christian.  You love Jesus.  You go to church.  You are nice.  You invite people over.  You attend when others invite.  You read your Bible.  You pray when appropriate.  You have all the boxes checked, the ribbons tied up, and the present in the mail.  God is so blessed to have you on His team.  As a matter of fact, when you consider your Christian walk, you can’t help but think that you are closer to God than 90% of the population…

But when is the last time you heard His voice?  Seriously.  When is the last time He placed something on your heart and asked you to walk in obedience…by faith instead of sight?  When is the last time that you lost sleep because you couldn’t get a burden off your heart that He had placed there?  When is the last time that vision welled up within your soul and you just KNEW that you KNEW that God was asking you to join Him in building His Kingdom?  When?

If you can’t think of a time, then you aren’t doing what you were created for…you are wasting precious time.

We NEED more laborers!!!  WE NEED MORE LABORERS!!!  If you aren’t laboring for the Lord, you are leaving your brothers and sisters to run themselves dry trying to do all the work.  The harvest is GREAT.  The laborers are few.  We need more laborers.  You have a job to do…whether it is to GO or to SEND or to SERVE or to MANAGE or to GIVE or to CARE or to PRAY or to PREACH or to SUPPORT or to REACH… there should be an action verb associated with every single one of us belonging to the Kingdom…every. day. You might feel like the most unimportant person on this earth, but WE NEED YOU.

Someone has to send missionaries and someone has to go to the mission field.   Someone has to go after our young people in the grip of the enemy and someone has to provide a place for them to grow when they come to Christ.  Someone has to care for the orphans and someone has to work to keep there from being more orphans.  Someone has to preach the Gospel and someone has to pray that the Gospel will be preached.  Someone has to go into the darkness and someone has to be ready to disciple the people they bring out.  But we ALL have something to do.

And this world, the Church, the people sitting in darkness…nothing gets better until we each decide to do what we were created to do…to shine our light…to BE the light.

You were not called to sit and wait and bemoan the world, longing for the day that Christ returns and makes it all go away.  You were not created to lock up your safe little family …”Yay! we all know Christ, let’s hide til the day of redemption”…until Jesus comes back.  You were created to BE the Church… to BE God’s ambassadors as though He Himself were pleading with the world to be reconciled to Himself…to BE the Hands and Feet of Jesus…to BE the light of the world, a city sitting on a hill that can’t be hidden.

You were created to DO SOMETHING!

Please, please, please…on behalf of this world, on behalf of Christ Himself, on behalf of His tired Bride…just DO it!