Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US. And it’s the 55th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. People are gathering at their relatives and friends homes to celebrate and reflect on what they are thankful for. But today, I am still struggling to make sense of the recent death of one of my daughter’s good friends, Tara, age 34. She died in a car wreck – she was on her way to see a friend. And today, so many are traveling. I’m praying for all of them, especially our daughter and her family. Continue reading
The Lord, Our Helper
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth for ever.
How blessed, how happy, How fortunate we are, who’s help comes from the God of Jacob, who is also the God of Abraham and Isaac. He is the God who appeared to Moses, who lead Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Happy are those who trust Him, for they shall never be disappointed, ashamed, or confused. He is not only our present help for today; He is our hope for eternity.
He is the Lord! He is always there; He never sleeps; and His promise to us is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Because of His presence, we have hope while others are in despair. We know a happiness that is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond imagination. How blessed are we to know that our God is our present help and our eternal hope. Wise is He who puts his trust in the Creator. He who made the heavens and the earth makes us fit for heaven. He who is the creator of all life has given us eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ!
Thank you, Lord, for all you have done for me. Thank you for the joy of my salvation and for the promise of eternity with you forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.
by Dr. Bob Zinn, Immanuel Baptist Church, Highland, CA
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
How do you know when you don’t have deep spiritual roots? Worry, fear, anxiety, stress, guilt, shame, resentment, bitterness and so much more show up in your life. These are the results of not having deep spiritual roots. That is why Paul says he wants us to be “rooted” in God— rooted in His Word, rooted in love, rooted in faith, rooted and hope.
The Bible has a lot to say about having spiritual roots. Jesus told a parable about seeds falling to the ground. Some of the seeds never developed deep roots’s, so they withered away once they encountered problems (Matthew 13:6). But Jesus wants us to deepen our faith in Him so we can “produce a harvest of 30, 60, or even 100 times much as has been planted!” (Matthew 13:23 NLT) Continue reading
I am re-blogging this from my dear friend Diana Furr’s blog/website. She has been a spiritual mentor, prayer partner and dear friend for years! Please visit her website to read her previous post here about her blog’s new focus and plan to start following her series on Championing Religious Liberty: Kingdom Purpose/Kingdom Persecution/Kingdom Power. I’ve previously posted about her first book written about her Victory in the Valley after a five year battle with breast cancer. She’s sold out to the Lord for His Kingdom Purpose in her life!
Yes. Right here. Right now.
Two days ago, I introduced my new Monday-Wednesday-Friday blog format: Championing Religious Liberty. (See November 20, 2017). Here’s my first Wednesday post under the NEW category of “Kingdom PERSECUTION.”
Some say we are at a Tipping Point in America… that our Religious Liberty — the free expression and exercise of our faith in any and all areas of life — is at stake…. that Religious Persecution — “hostility or ill treatment because of religious beliefs” — is significantly on the rise.
Each Wednesday, I will share cutting-edge facts about who is opposing Religious Liberty and why, and how they are going about it. As a lifelong businesswoman, my focus will primarily be the marketplace.
Why? Because I (and others, including Billy Graham) believe it is the next great mission field for Christ. It’s the place where we ALL interact daily — as business owners, employees, suppliers and/or customers.
These posts are meant to be a source of LEARNING and LEVERAGE. So we can all become…
1) more aware of what’s actually happening today (not usually reported in traditional news sources); and
2) empowered to take effective and fruitful action as Ambassadors for Christ, within our respective spheres of influence… in the midst of a culture of increasing compromise.
In the future, I will post about specific business owners and employees whose workplace expression of faith has provoked “hostility or ill treatment” — from bullying or harassment to firings, regulatory and/or legal action. Today, here’s an overview of religious persecution in America.
The International Christian Concern (ICC) — a respected global monitor of persecution — assists international Christians victimized by it. (http://www.persecution.org/) ICC’s annual “Hall of Shame” report citing offending nations included the United States for the first time in 2017, noting America’s alarming rise in hostility toward Christians.
“… the courts, in defiance of the Founders, are pushing religion out of the public square, and into the small space of private expression… deciding that you only have full religious freedom and expression in the church and your home. In the public domain, your religious views and thoughts must be restrained and controlled… While there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the U.S. with persecution overseas, ICC sees these worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States.” http://www.persecution.org/persecutionnl/2017-01/ICC%202016%20Hall%20of%20Shame%20Report.pdf
In the 2017 edition of its annual report, Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America — 420 pages long! — First Liberty Institute cites more than 1,400 religious liberty incidents… up more than 15 percent over 2016, and 133% in the past 5 years. https://firstliberty.org/rights/undeniable-the-survey-of-hostility-to-religion-in-america/
Sociologist Dr. George Yancey published in October 2016: “… with the increase of [progressive] economic power, individuals who dislike conservative Christians are able to harm them in ways they were not able to accomplish in 1988.” https://www.christianpost.com/news/anti-christian-hostility-hasnt-risen-but-has-changed-secular-progressives-hold-more-wealth-power-201806/
In September 2016, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sent a 306-page report to President Obama — Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties — declaring that “the phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ are nothing but ‘code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.’” http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/Peaceful-Coexistence-09-07-16.PDF
Really? Is this what YOU mean when you advocate for religious liberty and religious freedom? Please post your comments!
Diana Furr (a.k.a. Abba’s Girl)
This blog may have raised questions for you. If you’d like to connect, engage, or get further help from me, you can… EMAIL me at firstname.lastname@example.org; CALL me at 863-446-1660; or request a complimentary initial CONSULT with me at http://tinyurl.com/DianaFurr.
We had a substitute Pastor today (October 22, 2017 at Pirateland, Myrtle Beach, SC). He didn’t actually name the sermon from Mark 10:46-52 this but it is the best I can do. Although the heading in my Bible says, “Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight.” It spoke volumes to me. Continue reading
There isn’t a “reblog” connected to this blog post on the Gentle Reformation site by Kyle Borg, but here is the link and here is the text. EXCELLENT post!
Many of us woke up this morning to the absolutely tragic news of a mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Videos show the fear and horror as gunshots can be heard breaking through the noise of the crowd. So far, reports indicate a lone gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel into a crowd. The initial numbers are nothing short of devastating. Fifty-eight dead and more than five hundred injured. Fifty-eight people. Fathers. Mothers. Sons. Daughters. Brothers. Sisters. Friends. Almost sixty people who will not walk past the threshold of their homes today because their lives have been snuffed out by an act of violence. Events like these trigger our collective memory—Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and the list goes on. My heart is broken and so is the heart of this nation.
Hatred. Yes, that’s what it is. Hatred. There’s no other word for it. We can see it. We can feel it. We can hear it. To deny its presence or pretend it’s something less is to willingly ignore the obvious. It would be like closing your eyes and insisting that the sun—bright and warm as it is—doesn’t exist. To admit hatred is to admit that something is very wrong. In response, Country star Jake Owen said: “This isn’t what our America is supposed to be like.” No it’s not. But more, it’s not what our world is supposed to be like. There’s a big problem.
And, in displays of hatred like this, many well-meaning people want to find a cure for the hatred. Gun control. Less political rhetoric. Stricter laws. Statements of solidarity. Positive feelings and well-wishes. Are these cures? Well, a cure depends on knowing the source. When doctors deal with sicknesses they don’t simply treat the symptoms they have to treat the source. Without knowing the source a cure for hatred can only address the symptoms. So, what is its source?
The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus taught, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of a man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). What if that’s true?
If it’s true then it means we need a cure that goes more than skin deep. We need a heart cure. Politics can’t change hearts. Laws can’t change hearts. Psychology can’t change hearts. Positive vibes and well-directed thoughts cannot change hearts. Rather, the Bible says, only the gospel of Jesus Christ can—only it can address the problem of the heart. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). The gospel offers a cure for the sickness of the heart. The gospel is a message that does heart surgery and gives a heart transplant, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Today, I grieve the hatred I see and hear. Even more, I grieve the hatred that is in my own heart. But I’m also reminded why we need the Great Physician, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). So let us mourn with those who mourn, and do so for as long as it takes to bring the heartsick to the Physician and the life-giving medicine of the gospel.
Finally, I finished the four day – stretched out to two weeks – devotional, “Speak Life” by Brady Boyd. I have relished each day, over and over, hoping it is finally entrenched deep in my soul. I’ll give an update in a month or two. I can say, I feel myself holding my tongue more and more and working on “Speak Lord” on my lips. I’m grateful I have a few role models. If you missed the previous three posts, you can click and start them here.
So here is the final devotion followed by Hawk Nelson’s “Live Like You’re Loved” – a great way to end this!
Speak Life Day 4
Self-Talk That Is Tuned Into God
I want to return to the scenario of the negative-self-talk morning, the one where you find yourself waking after a restless night saying, It’s going to be a long day. What if instead of indulging gloom-and-doom tendencies, you were to say to yourself, I’ve had better nights of sleep, but it’s a new day, and I’m grateful for it. I have everything I need for life and godliness this day. Let’s see what unfolds?
I’m guessing things would go better for you.
I know they go better for me when I do that.
When we make a habit of communicating with God, we start believing that what he says about us is true. When we don’t, we allow the other, louder voices to capture our attention and frame the course of our days.
I distinctly recall when my kids were twelve and ten that parents of teenagers would eye me pityingly and say, “Hope you’re ready for what’s coming, Brady. The teen years are tough.” Once Abram and Callie were bona-fide teenagers, new acquaintances— also parents of teens—would discover the ages of my kids and the naysaying would escalate: “It’s like aliens come down and inhabit them, right? Like, what happened to my sweet, loving kids? All of a sudden they’re selfish, entitled brats who just want money! I bet you know just what I mean!”
I never really understood this tendency to declare awfulness over a seven-year-long period of time. That’s a long time to eat the bitter fruit of negative self-talk, don’t you think?
Instead, as my children entered their teenage years, I meditated on thoughts like these:
This is going to be our best era yet. Pam and I are going to love parenting teenagers. Abram and Callie are smart and funny, and our family is going to have an awesome time while they’re teens. Whatever challenges we face as we parent teens, we will overcome together, and with love on our side.
Today Abram and Callie are seventeen and fifteen, respectively, and proof positive that experience flows from expectation. If we expect awfulness from life and loved ones, awfulness shows up every time, but if we expect greatness, then greatness tends to emerge instead.
So far the teen years have been great.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:8-9 ESV
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.”
Romans 12:1-2 ESV
When I heard this song, I knew I was ready for this final post!