Paul: Of Whom I am Chief

This past Sunday at church, I sang the Natalie Grant song, “Clean”. I heard it for the first time a couple of months ago, and then was blessed to hear Natalie sing it live at the Lifeway Abundance Conference in Memphis last month. That song has both haunted and encouraged me ever since…

knows your nameI’ve been thinking a lot lately about what redemption means deep down. You know the saying, “The devil knows your name but calls you by your sin, but God knows your sin and calls you by your name.” They don’t call that old serpent the Accuser for nothing, y’a know?

I’ve also had Paul on my mind as well.  Any time someone encounters Jesus, they are forever changed. From what I understand, Paul (originally named Saul) was trained to be an expert in the law… a very devout Jew… a Pharisee. He was raised from an early age to understand God’s law and to aggressively defend and zealously promote it. It is hard to fathom, how he didn’t recognize the Lord Jesus as the long awaited and prophesied Messiah when he was so well studied, but he didn’t. He was so determined in his understanding of his faith, that he felt it necessary to persecute Christians. The first time that Saul is mentioned in the New Testament, it was in his role as a persecutor of Christians:

57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.                                     Acts 7:57-59

There are several more instances thereafter:

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.                                                                                                                               Acts 8:1-4

1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.                                                                                                                      Acts 9:1-2

And in Paul’s own words:

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Acts 26:9-11

So, some may say that Saul was the lowest of the low, the cruelest of the cruel, the most radical and fanatical of his faith, an extremist even. Lots of us, if we didn’t already know the miraculous story of his conversion, would say that Saul was irredeemable… too dirty… too hateful… too far gone to be of any good ever in God’s kingdom.

saulIsn’t it something though, what Jesus can do with just such a person as Saul?  The Lord miraculously converted Saul as he traveled the road to Damascus.  Jesus appeared to Saul on that road and Saul was struck blind at this encounter and for three days couldn’t see and did not eat or drink.  The Lord sent Ananias to lay hands on Saul and the scales fell from his eyes and his vision was restored.  Saul of Tarsus took on a new name… Paul. From that point he became one of the Lord’s servants who spread the gospel to the Gentiles, their kings, and the people of Israel.  God took this man who had literally jailed, tortured, and killed God’s people and redeemed him to be His own.  Redeemed him to plant the seeds that might convert others, and used his hand to pen a majority of our New Testament.

Once we realize that we are all sinners and all of us fall short of the mark God has set for us, we can appreciate that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.  It is today, and it always has been.  The conversion of Paul should be enough to convince us of this fact. If The Lord Himself could forgive him for the persecution of His own people, and not just forgive him, but use him mightily to save others, then what things do we hold against people that we can’t forgive?  Are we better and our feelings more important than God Almighty?  God forbid that we ever think that!  I know most of us do not feel that way consciously, but is that the message that we telegraph to others by our actions?

When we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, others are watching us.  They are studying us.  They are analyzing what we do and say to see what is so different about us?  They want to see why we need Jesus.  We should be so different from the world that they recognize how peculiar we are.  Furthermore, they should see our joy, and our faith should be lived out in a way that makes them want to be a Christian too.

of whom i am chiefPaul knew that he had persecuted the Lord Jesus Himself in his past.  He had hurt and caused to be jailed, tortured and killed his Christian brethren.  He could have just been thankful to be saved, and faded into the background, but that is not what he did. He could have decided that he had been so sinful and horrible before his salvation that God would never use him.  He could have been afraid that someone might even call him out for his prior sin and question his motives. What he DID do as opposed to those things was remarkable. So thankful for his salvation, and so full of remorse for his past behavior, Paul became a mighty evangelist intent on spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth, no matter what happened.  He surrendered his will, and indeed, his very life to the Lord and was obedient to Him. He endured sufferings unimaginable to us Christians of today. He pressed on, though.  He tirelessly spread the gospel, planted churches, mentored ministers, encouraged his brethren and even in all of that, he remained an humble servant of the Lord.

Grace Romans 12-3So, the next time you are tempted to think more of yourself than others, just remember Paul.  The next time you think that someone is hopelessly lost, just remember Paul.  The next time you think that God cannot use a sinner like you and me to spread His word and glorify His name, just remember Paul.

“There’s nothing too dirty, that You can’t make worthy. You wash me in mercy.  I am clean.”*

*Songwriters: Natalie Diane Grant-Herms / Bernhard Herms
Clean lyrics © Music Services, Inc

His “Sissy”…

the-lord-is-close-to-the-brokenheartedw620I was his “Sissy”.

I loved him, and I love him still. Today my little brother, Eric Wolfe, would have been 40 years old. Forty. That is nearly impossible for me to imagine. He is forever 16 to me. He left us for heaven, and it altered our lives in so many ways – both good and bad.

There are always the things I wonder about. For instance, how many kids would he have had? Would they have called me Aunt Sissy? Who would he have married? Would we have tagged each other in all the “sibling day” stuff that goes on on Facebook? Or would he have thought that a little too goofy? I know how he loved Justin, I wonder what he would have thought about all the rest of my boys? Would he have become a marine biologist? A veterinarian? Zoologist?

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Mostly, though, when thinking of him, I have thought about how wonderful heaven must be, and how I wouldn’t wish him back and away from there for anything. My goodness, he is with our precious Jesus, and with so many of our loved ones who have gone home already. I always imagine that they are just standing on tiptoe looking to see if any of the rest of us are coming through the gates yet. Then I realize that heaven is so beautiful and perfect that they aren’t missing us at all probably. They’ll just be glad when we do get there. I don’t know if shenanigans are allowed in heaven or not, but if they are, I bet he and my granddaddy are really having a ball! Eric and he always claimed to know everything while here on earth. There’s no telling what they’d say now that they are up there!

FullSizeRender_2The good things – yes there are good things about losing loved ones – well, it is hard to step back and see them, but they are most assuredly there. Eric always, and I do mean always, hugged and told his loved ones that he loved us each time we parted ways or hung up the phone. Sometimes it was almost aggravating, but because of that habit of his, I can literally see and hear in my mind him telling me, “I love you, Sissy,” the last time I saw him. I told him I loved him too. I’ve never had to wonder if he loved me, or if he knew that I loved him, because of his taking the time to do that. And, because of that fact, I nearly always hug and tell my own loved ones and friends that I love them. (There are some of them who I don’t think like mushy words or displays, so I leave them be ha) I hope when I’m gone, they won’t wonder about my love for them, or that I knew of theirs for me.

FullSizeRender_4Another good thing is that by losing a brother when he and I were so young, I had to prioritize my grief and resolve his dying with my living. I really had to cling on to the promises of God. I had to look hard to see and find the good in all of this. I had to dig around to grasp hold of something for which to be thankful about it. We know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. We also know that we are to give thanks in everything.

I learned not to question why he left us so quickly and needlessly, when I learned to thank God for the time that we did have Eric. You see, Eric wasn’t really supposed to live when he was born. He was two months premature back in 1977. Little hope was held out that he would survive, yet he did. Not only did he survive, he thrived. He was so smart and knew so many things. He always seemed wise beyond his years. When we were kids, he was stung by a bee and nearly died because unbeknownst to us, he was highly allergic. Later, when we were teenagers, he nearly drowned on our vacation. So, I turned my questioning about why Eric was gone into thanking the Lord for letting us keep him as long as we did.

I learned that no matter what we all feel like when we lose someone dear to us, life marches on. I could have climbed into bed and covered my head up and cried and cried. That’s really what I wanted to do, but when I looked at those big brown eyes of Justin’s I realized that I did have to keep living life and living it well. Our loved ones don’t want us to tear up and cry whenever we think of them. I decided that it is almost an insult to Eric’s memory if that is what thinking of him does to me. I know that he would MUCH rather me laugh about all the things we did, and places we went, and songs we sang, and fights we had, and secrets we shared, and all the good things. You see, his life wasn’t about his death. It was his LIFE. And, his memory should not be about his death, but rather what a great life he lived and all the love he shared.

Moreover, we [Christians] don’t grieve as those who have no hope. We have the promise of the resurrection! When we trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, we share in His victory over death and the grave. Our victory is indeed in Jesus! I know that Eric is with Jesus. I know his testimony. And, I wouldn’t wish him away from the arms of our loving Savior for anything! Thank you Lord Jesus for blessed assurance.

Happy birthday, Eric. I love you, and I’ll see you by and by.

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PS One of the other things I learned (and this is kind of funny) is that obviously there is no such thing as ghosts, or Eric would have been one for no other reason than to scare me and laugh about it! Ha ha

National-Suicide-Prevention-Hotline

Just Passing Through…

Minolta DSCA couple of months ago Christian, Hunter and I were coming back from Grenada. As we got on the interstate to come home in the distance I saw storm clouds. It was blue skies and sunshine where we were, but ahead it was very dark. I said, “I don’t know if we are going to have to go through those storms to get home or not… I think we do, but they might move along before we get there.” Hunter said, “That sounds like one of your blog thoughts.” I laughed when he said that, and asked him what he meant. He said, “That just sounds like something you’d blog about. You know, like even though there are storms ahead we will get home safe and sound.”

The truth is that I haven’t blogged in quite a while. Not because I haven’t had a few “blog thoughts,” but because I just haven’t been able to organize my thoughts well enough to write much since my heart attack in June. So, when Hunter gave me that idea… I tucked it away for another day when I felt like thinking about it a little more.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. It was one of my days off. Brandon called and asked me if I would like to meet him at the truck stop to eat lunch. I agreed. We ordered our lunch and visited with a couple we know while we awaited our order.

Once we began to eat, we noticed two couples come in that didn’t look like they were from anywhere around here. That’s one thing that I love about the truck stop. Being right there off the interstate, there’s no end to the interesting people that come through there hungry. It’s fun just to “people watch” there. Anyway, the four people looked at the food bar and kind of put their heads together – kind of like a football huddle. One of them peeked back at the bar and apparently reported back to the group what she observed. We could just hear enough to know that they were not speaking English, but we couldn’t hear well enough to get a clue as to what they were speaking. I looked at the bar and there really wasn’t anything very exotic on there… spaghetti… corn… okra… salad fixings… a few other things… all of it looked good and nothing looked like it necessitated a conference.

The visitors looked very happy when one of the waitresses offered them menus. They took them and sat down at a table next to ours. As they talked with each other, Brandon and I both realized it was French they were speaking. I took quite a bit of French in school and even took private lessons. In fact, I used to be able to interpret fairly well. I even read and understood “Le Petit Prince” all by myself.. however, that was long ago and far away. Nowadays, my brain can’t think as fast as my ears can hear. So, I had NO idea what all they were saying. We all exchanged smiles and nods.

The waitress returned and asked them what they wanted to drink. Brandon and I were immediately caught up in the game of charades going on across from us. More help from the kitchen was summoned to try to figure out the order, and even though we weren’t trying to be nosy, we really had gotten quite interested in solving the mystery of what they wanted to drink. Finally, Brandon figured it out… I’m not sure HOW he did… but he finally told the waitresses and cooks that he believed they wanted three sweet teas without ice and one glass of water. Ironically enough, Brandon did not study French in school other than as it pertains to fries… yet he was quite confident in his translation. The French and the kitchen staff all smiled and nodded and looked quite impressed with his skills as well. The cooks went back to the kitchen to cook and the waitress scurried off to get the three teas and the water. The French folks smiled at us, and we at them, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that their thirsts would finally be quenched.

The waitress returned with the drinks. They all looked quite surprised, tasted their teas, and all began speaking fast again. The cooks were again called in to help. Brandon and I were again drawn into the gestures that were the only hope of figuring out what the problems were. The man with the water began to reach into his glass and take out pieces of ice and act like he was throwing them away. One of the cooks looked at us and asked what they wanted (like we knew). Well, “Monsieur” Brandon announced that the man obviously did NOT want ice in the water. One of the cooks took his glass and disappeared into the kitchen, next the waitress took the three tea glasses and whisked them to the kitchen. Soon they returned with what must have been tap water in glasses. The French would dip their fingers into the water and say something. We finally thought that maybe they wanted very cold water but without ice. The kitchen staff was looking more and more put out about the whole thing, but finally the French decided to make do with the water they had been brought, quieted down, and began to study the menu. The lady closest to us looked at us and smiled again. I asked where they were from and she said, “France” (but in that cool sounding Frenchy way they say France) I tried to relay to her that long ago, I might have been some help to them, but my French has pretty much gone the way of most of the algebra and chemistry I learned in school. She smiled. I smiled. I’m quite sure she had no idea of most of what I was saying, but I think she at least got the spirit of it.

As we were leaving, I stopped at the table and said, “Bonne chance” or “good luck.” They all smiled and laughed. I don’t know what brought them from France to Vaiden, Mississippi but they seemed like a nice enough bunch. I hope they had less trouble ordering their food than they did their drinks.

As I drove home a blog thought torpedoed my brain… as I drove further, it combined with Hunter’s blog thought suggestion. I thought about the citizenship of those Frenchmen we saw. Their citizenship is obviously in France. That is where their home is. They are just passing through Vaiden. More than likely they will eventually return home safe and sound.

I next thought of a quote attributed to Billy Graham, “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” I figure he got the idea from the Apostle Paul, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20 NIV.

citizenship-in-heaven

As Christians we know that we do not belong on this earth. My goodness, the longer I live the more foreign I feel here. There is so much evil and hurting in this old world. I think that is why one of my favorite songs right now is “Even So Come”.

Again, I think about the French in the truck stop. They really were only passing through. Even though they probably knew no one would speak their language, they entered the truck stop and furthermore did their best to try to communicate their message. There were those of us who wanted so badly to help that we did our best to understand so that maybe we could help the others know what they were saying. There were yet others who went about their own business eating their lunch and wanting no part of the whole thing. Everybody was nice though. I wondered how long they might be visiting our country, and wondered how many times they will have the same scene play out in other restaurants and places they visit. Unless their next stop is Canada or maybe Louisiana, or unless they hire an interpreter they will have to repeat it over and over again throughout our country. They have to eat, and that will require them to communicate with others their wishes.

We are taught that the Gospel is “foolishness” to those who are perishing (For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18) This world that we are passing through is most offended by the power of Jesus. This world is confident in its own power. It cannot understand – or maybe more simply put it refuses to understand the simple Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Whom so many of us have trusted in for our salvation. Oftentimes when you try to speak of your faith to people who are not saved, they will agree with you and smile and nod. Not because they understand what you are saying, but because they don’t want to understand it. They really just want you to shut up. They don’t want to become a Christian because they think that it may interfere with their fun. Or they may smile and nod because they are thinking what a “foolish” thing it is in which you believe. Some will just act like you’re not even talking – and yet others will get put out with you and might stomp off or give you a piece of their mind. You may even run across those who “used to” understand, but think that they are so far from their previous understanding that they shouldn’t even try to understand now.

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As Christians, it is our duty to be persistent in trying to communicate with a lost and dying world. Even when they don’t understand; even when they try to ignore us; yes, even when it seems totally and completely hopeless. We also should not neglect those who may have fallen away from the Lord.

Just as those visitors must eat, we Christians must feast on the Word of God and share the Gospel with those we come across over and over again. God will supply us the words to speak, we just have to be willing to allow Him to use us. On our journey through this world… on our way to Heaven… we may go through storms. We may sometimes feel that nobody understands us or cares for us. There will be times when all we want is to go home. We have to remember to press on, however. This life is but a vapor. When we trust in the Lord Jesus and His finished work at Calvary we can rest secure in the fact that we will spend eternity safe and sound in His presence.

 

The Apple of My Eye…

usToday is our anniversary. Brandon is a “low-key” kind of guy. He doesn’t like a lot of attention, and I hope that this post doesn’t totally embarrass him. I just had to write it though. I want him to know how special he is, and I want everyone else to know too.

Brandon is a simple guy. He’s highly intelligent, fiercely loyal, honest, hardworking, loving, and has a dry humor that can turn even my tears into laughter in an instant. He’s not the kind of man who is out there waving a banner around wanting people to see what all he is doing. He seeks no praise. He’s got his priorities in order… he loves the Lord, his wife, his children and family above all else. He is humble enough, that he truly doesn’t realize how remarkable that is in this day and age. He has no vices to speak of, unless you count Ole Miss Football as such. He’s not real big on long romantic moonlit walks on the beach… but when he proposed to me, that’s exactly how he did it.. under the moon, on the beach, and down on bended knee. Be still my heart!

micah-6-8Unlike most, he chose his children to be his. He came into our lives and filled our hearts with love. He is the perfect role model for our boys. One of my uncles said recently that he is in awe of Brandon as a daddy. He summed it up by saying, that he has the perfect balance of love, fun and discipline that all boys need. Brandon works hard for our boys, and he plays hard with them. He never shirks his duty to them, and is always there for them to know that they can depend on him and that most of all he loves them. He makes sacrifices that they will probably not understand until they have children of their own, but I do. I know what he does for them, even when he’s worn out tired. I see the goodness in what he requires of them, even when they can’t until they’re older. He knows that faith, integrity, kindness and love has to be modeled to kids for them to become good Christian men, husbands, and daddies. I couldn’t have asked for more in a father to my children. The kids and I are blessed beyond measure that the Lord sent him to us, and we thank Him for Brandon each and every day.

So, before this gets too mushy and long, let me just tell you that he is the perfect compliment to me. I tend to be fairly loud and emotional – he’s quiet and steady. You’re more likely to see us together sweating at a baseball game or football game than out to eat in a romantic restaurant. You probably won’t see us on a second honeymoon, but you might find us swatting mosquitoes by a lake somewhere roasting weenies with the kids and camping out. More often than not, you’ll see us together with our kids working on something, or at church worshiping, or building a chicken coop, or blazing through cotton fields on a four wheeler, or sitting in a tree stand waiting on a deer to come out, or maybe even jetting down the river pulling trot lines… and that’s good with me. Nobody makes me feel happier, safer or more loved than Brandon.

When Brother Leon Holly pronounced us husband and wife, we were so happy. As much as we loved each other then we had no idea how much that love would deepen through the years. We’ve had good times.  We’ve been through battles.  We’ve been up on mountaintops, and we’ve been down in the valleys of life. Through it all, we’ve been together. Brad Paisley has a song called “Then.” That’s how I feel about Brandon. No matter how much I have loved him on any given day, I love him more and more with each day that passes.

Now you’re my whole life,
Now you’re my while world,
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you.
Like a river meets the sea stronger than it’s ever been.
We’ve come so far since that day, “And I thought I loved you then.”

I love you, Brandon.  Happy Anniversary!  See y’a on the baseball field tonight!

 

Holding On….

not aloneLast weekend, I was stressing over what to sing Monday night for our church’s first prison ministry service, Operation Grace. I just could not figure out which song to sing. I sing in church fairly often, but never before at a jail. For some reason, the usual type songs I sing just didn’t really seem to be right for this event. Brandon often picks out songs for me to sing at church. All last weekend, he kept asking which song I would sing. I would settle on one, and then change my mind. Finally, Sunday night I thought I had picked the perfect one. Oddly enough, though it wasn’t hard, I just couldn’t get it together… but hard-headed as I am, I was determined to sing it anyway. I mean, I had determined that the words were just perfect.

Brandon knew that I was frustrated. So, around lunch-time Monday, he called me and said, “Look up the song ‘Just Be Held’. I think it would be good.” To tell you the truth, I almost didn’t even listen to it. I mean, I only had a scant few hours, between running carpool, driving back and forth from Greenwood to Vaiden, dealing with baseball practice etc… how in the world would that work out with so little time to practice? Long story short, I pulled up the lyrics before I did anything else. The words really spoke to my heart, in fact they both convicted me and encouraged me. Maybe they would help someone else that night. I downloaded the music, and did the best I could with it in a limited time. One of the inmates that night told me that the words really did move him, and he asked me if it came on the radio so he could hear it again.

The service that night was such a blessing to me. I have noticed that oftentimes when I set out to minister to others it is I who really ends up with the blessing. Daniel did an awesome job leading the worship music. Shannon sang one of my favorite songs. Mrs. Jo played her keyboard beautifully – as always. John did a wonderful job leading things, and what marvelous testimonies Mr. Orr and Mr. Horace shared with all of us! I looked around the room and was overwhelmed with the love of Christ that was being shared. So many of our church members were there that night. They could have been anywhere – at home resting, watching TV, or doing anything else on a Monday night. They were there, at the jail, ministering to the inmates and helping to be the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus.

I over-think many things. Sometimes, I figure that is why it is so hard for me to choose songs to sing, or which direction a Sunday School lesson should take. I’ll spend so much time, analyzing each lyric, or thinking out different paths that sometimes I forget that it isn’t MY power and authority that I am to operate under. I am to allow the Lord to work through me, by surrendering my will, thoughts and ideas for His. Every now and then, I just work myself nearly to death on something before it hits me in the head that my works are never ever going to be good enough. I have to get out of the way and let Him take over.

Likewise, during the storms in life there have been times when I was clinging on to the Lord with a white-knuckle grip. Praying, begging, holding on with all I had. Think of how hard it is to hold on to something or someone when it is dependent on YOU to do the holding. It’s just work work work! Sometimes it will lead to panic. What if your grip slips? What if they don’t want you to hold them? What happens if you let go?

As believers, we should seek Him and hold fast to his word, but even better… we can trust the Lord to hold on to us! We may not be strong enough to hold on to something, but He is strong enough to do anything. With Him, nothing is impossible. The words to this song reminded me that the Lord holds us. Scripture tells me that He will never let me go. Jesus said in John 10:27-30, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Also, in Matthew 11:28-30 I am reminded that rest and peace comes from the Lord. Jesus said, “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Sometimes we just need to rest in His Love and be held by Him.

These verses and hundreds of others give Christians peace, comfort, hope and assurance. The “peace of God with passeth all understanding” is ours when we have trusted in Jesus. That peace is not something that is easy for us to explain. It is a deep ever-present knowledge that only comes from the Lord Himself. The Lord God who spoke this world into existence loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son, born of a virgin, as a sacrifice for you and me. None of us are good enough. None of us can do enough good works. None of us can minister apart from God. It is only by Him and through Him that salvation can be attained because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. The blood of Jesus has covered our sins so that we can stand before God blameless, and live eternally with Him where there are no more tears, no more death and only complete and perfect happiness.

Please call out to Jesus and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior today. Admit that you are a sinner. Believe that He is the Son of God, who walked this earth without sin for over 30 years, and willingly lay down His life for you – though He had done no wrong. He was buried and three days later arose from the grave conquering death and sin for all time. Confess that Jesus is Lord, and repent of your sins, and trust and follow Him for the rest of your life. Seek Him with all your heart.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12 KJV

You are never too lost to be saved. You can from then on be held in the palm of His mighty hand.

Here are the lyrics to “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns:

“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

I Knew You Before…

before i formed youMaybe this doesn’t happen to you… but sometimes the Lord will impress a theme upon my heart again and again and again, until I finally pick up on it. I’m so hard-headed and busy that I will not really pay attention sometimes. The leading of the Holy Spirit is a powerful thing, though. No matter how dense I am, I will eventually stop and say, “OK, Lord, I’m listening. What do You want me to do?”

Lately, through one circumstance or another, prayer and its power has been brought to my mind again and again. For more than a year, I have been praying that good friends of ours would be blessed with a child. This prayer was answered several weeks ago by the arrival of a bouncing baby boy. Several months ago a friend of my children was in a terrible car accident and I joined hundreds and even thousands in praying for his recovery. He is now recovered. My family and I went to see the movie “War Room”, several weeks ago – which is about a woman who begins to pray earnestly that the Lord would save her marriage and family. When I taught Sunday School a few weeks ago, the lesson was titled “Pray Fervently.” It was about Daniel and his friends praying for the Lord to reveal a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel along with its interpretation.

I have sent up thousands of prayers throughout my lifetime. Some have been answered in the way I hoped, and some have been answered in other ways. I know, however, that each situation and each answer will play a part in the furtherance of the Lord’s perfect will and for His Glory and I trust Him in his eternal wisdom. You see, we humans are just not smart enough to know what we need. We’re egotistical enough that we often think we do, but our foresight is not eternal as is the Lord’s.

When I taught the lesson about the fervent prayer of Daniel and his friends, I shared a time in my life that probably deepened my faith in the Lord more than any one event in my life to that point. I don’t share it very often. I have always worried that maybe women who were in the same situation that I was in and made a different decision that I did might be hurt by my story. However, the further in time I get away from that event… the more the Lord seems to impress on me to share His mighty movement in my life. So, I have decided to share it here.

When I was 19 years old, I was expecting my second baby boy, Phillip. I was going through a stressful time in my life – aside from being a pregnant 19 year old with an extremely active toddler named Justin who was nearly two years old. When I was around 20 weeks pregnant, I woke up one morning with the unmistakable signs and symptoms of miscarriage. I was rushed to the hospital. After many tests, ultrasounds, etc, the doctor told me that I was going to lose my baby. He explained that “mother nature” has a way of taking care of nonviable pregnancies of less than healthy babies, and that unfortunately I was carrying a very defective baby. He told me so many things that the ultrasound had revealed was wrong with Phillip that to this very day I cannot remember them all. Some of them were that he had an open neural tube defect which would cause him to have virtually no quality of life. One of his organs, I was told, was on the outside of his body, and he only had one kidney. It was predicted that he would never walk, talk or even know he was in this world. I was absolutely devastated.

Also, I was diagnosed with placenta previa which had resulted in very severe hemorrhaging. The doctor told me that I could bleed to death which would also cause the baby to die. Back in 1993, and I’m sure it’s probably so today, there was no way for a baby to survive after only 20 weeks in the womb. The doctor recommended that the pregnancy be “terminated” immediately. Terminated? That sounded like more of an intentional action than miscarrying. So, I asked him what he meant. He said that it would technically be an abortion, although it would be “medically necessary” not only to save my life, but also to keep my unborn child from a life of misery and suffering should I not miscarry and he survive being born at a later time. This medically necessary abortion would allow me to continue mothering and nurturing Justin who needed me so. He said that he could tell me to go home and put my feet up and hope for the best, but that really that was only to help me know that I had done everything I could. The end result was more than likely going to be that either I terminated the pregnancy, or did nothing and delivered a more than likely stillborn baby, all the while hoping that I did not bleed to death in the meantime.

What? Did I hear that right? Surely this wasn’t happening to me! Why was this happening to me? What had I done to warrant putting myself and my other little boy in this predicament? My family and I had just suffered the death of my little brother, Eric, only a little over 6 months before this. I surely didn’t want them to lose me too. I didn’t want them to lose me and Phillip. I didn’t want Justin to grow up without me. What in the world was I supposed to do?!?!?!

I was taught from a very early age to respect authority. I was taught to respect my elders, teachers, coaches, pastors, law enforcement officers, military members, and…. yes, doctors. Doctors were there to make difficult decisions to promote and prolong life. I was under the impression that doctors swore to “first do no harm”. Certainly if he recommended this drastic course of action it was well thought out and… well… necessary. Was it? Was it really? I couldn’t get past that word. The abortion word. The “medically necessary” part just didn’t dress it up enough for me to immediately go ahead with his recommendation. I told him I needed time to think and to consult with my loved ones.

Again, I was only 19. My loved ones often made decisions for me (whether they realized it or not) that I deemed too hard to make without a hefty dose of advice. So, I talked to a few of my trusted family members. Some of them thought that certainly THIS was one of those “exceptions” that people must have to hang their hats on sometimes. After all, this medically necessary procedure did concern the life of the mother – in fact this medically necessary procedure might be the only way for the life of the mother to continue. Doctors don’t make those recommendations lightly or without just cause. Did they?

Like I said, all of my family and friends were still emotionally raw from my brother’s death. Everybody was dealing from a deck of emotional chaos while helping to counsel me on my imminent and most necessary medical decision. They were miserable about the news of the baby, but the subject of me being in danger even seemed to trump that. I had just seen them face loss. None of us handled it very well… but then again… how many of us do? I’m not saying that they all encouraged me to go through with it, but I felt the added pressure to make this decision one that would comfort them with the assurance that I would remain here on this earth, loving them and taking care of my Justin. But there was still that abortion word to deal with. It just kept sounding in my head, flashing like a neon sign… and still the “medically necessary” part did nothing to dress it up for me.

I finally told the doctor that I could not agree to that right then. I begged him to just please please let me go home to see my sweet smiling Justin, and that I would come back to his office first thing the very next morning to announce my decision. He was very angry at me for not following his advice. He was very angry at me for insisting that I be allowed to go home. I honestly believe – even to this day – that he truly believed in what he was saying to me. I don’t want you to get the idea that he was doing this flippantly. I think he really thought that it was what was best for me – his patient. Yet home I went!

I was broken. I was confused. I was afraid. Only the Lord could help me. I knew that He loved me. So, that night I prayed like I never had before. I cried and I prayed and I cried and I prayed some more. This went on all night. I kept begging the Lord to help us. I told Him that I didn’t want to lose Phillip, but that I didn’t want him to suffer if he were to survive. I begged Him to allow me to raise Justin and to remain here for my family too, to make the doctor be wrong, to make my Phillip whole. I told Him that it just was not a decision that I could make. That it was His choice whether I lived or died and whether my child did. I prayed and prayed. It is because of that night that after I was totally out of words that I know personally the meaning of Romans 8:26. Paul said, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Yes, I was completely undone. I would doze off and awake and realize that I was still in prayer. I know that the Spirit was indeed interceding for me. I was blessed to feel it. I am blessed to know it.

Oddly enough, a verse came to me… it was not a verse that I had ever paid much attention to before. Oh, but I turned it over and over in my mind that night. Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 I had seen it before, but never had it come alive for me. I knew the Lord Himself had told this to Jeremiah. I really didn’t know much about the rest of the book of Jeremiah. This verse, though, was more than I needed to answer me. The Lord God knew my baby. He knew him even before He formed him in my womb. I became confident in my decision to not do the medically necessary procedure. I would not abort my baby. I had placed it all in the hands of the Lord.

That peace that surpasses all understanding had come upon me. Suddenly, I realized that I trusted in the Lord to know what was best for all of us. I knew that The Lord Jesus Himself intercedes for me. The Holy Spirit was actively guiding and interceding for me…. and my child was “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I went to the doctor the next morning and told him my decision. Later, he sent me to a perinatologist in Jackson who did not see the same problems with Phillip that my other doctor had seen. Also, my placenta had moved upwards and was in the correct position by the time Phillip was born. After Phillip was born I did find out that only one of his kidneys had developed, but other than that, he was perfect.

So… many people declared that the doctor must have been a quack. They all exclaimed how fortunate I was that I didn’t blindly follow his advice. I guess that could be the explanation for it… however, I believe the Lord healed Phillip in utero. I don’t know why He did it. I just know that both the radiologist had performed the ultrasound and my doctor did one himself and they were both in agreement. I eventually delivered Phillip and he was okay. I really don’t know how or why, but I remember how it felt that night to finally trust Him in that no matter what happened – we were going to be okay, because we belong to Him and He loves us. I understood love. I understood mercy. I understood grace. I understood that I had more to do, and Phillip had more to do. And I understood that while He had plans for us… our eternal salvation was the greatest gift ever given to us.

I know that is not how every story like this goes. I know people who have suffered gut wrenching losses that were bathed thoroughly in prayers of faith. I find myself wondering sometimes how I was granted enough faith at that young age to trust Him so completely in that matter. I wonder why did He do that for me? There are so many people who are far more worthy than I am to get such wonderful blessings. I wonder and wonder and wonder. What I know, though, is that He never leaves me nor forsakes me… not in my darkest hours… not in my loneliest moments… not even when everyone else seems to be at a loss for words.

He loves you that much, too. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Trust Him completely today.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalm 139: 13-18

fearfully

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes….

desktop-bible-verse-isaiah-free-christian1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalm 121:1-8 KJV

No doubt about it, Psalm 121 is one of my favorites. The boys were asking me one day which Bible verse is my favorite. I told them that I really love them all. Among some of my New Testament favorites are: 1 Corinthians 13:13, Philippians 4:13, John 3:16, Psalm 116:15, John 1:29, John 1:14, Revelation 22:20, Revelation 21:4, Luke 2:19, James 1:17, Ephesians 6:10, 1 Timothy 1:15. There are many more in both the Old and New Testaments, this list could go on and on, so I guess I’ll talk about Psalm 121 and save the others for another time.

I think the reason the 121st Psalm really speaks to my heart is because not only is it a promise of what the Lord will do for us, it also reminds me of all that He has done for me. It is a reminder of Who He is, what He can do, and what He will do – not just today, or in the past – but for evermore. Yes. That is more than forever.

All of us (Christians included) have troubles. We have worries. We go through trials. We suffer tragedies. We lose those we love. We fail. We struggle. We cry. We need help. I think of all the times, when I have been at my lowest, there was only one thing that I could do… lift my eyes, and look to Jesus for help. Every single time, and I do mean every single time, He has lifted me up and restored me. I can assure you, it was not because of anything that I did or have done or promise to do… it is because He loves me.

When I was a child of about 12, after a week of helping with Vacation Bible School, the Lord revealed to me that I was a sinner. I became aware that my heart was as black as soot. By the world’s standards, I was a pretty good girl. I made good grades. I obeyed more often than not. I tried to be nice to everyone. I minded my manners, and respected my elders. I went to church with my grandparents a good bit. Could it really be that I was headed to hell? What little I knew about His Word told me that He is so very holy, so righteous, so just, so full of love, so merciful, and so perfect. Because of His perfection, when I died I would be judged by His standards with pure fairness, and therefore I was doomed. I had fallen way short. But wait… I knew about Jesus. I knew that He had died on the cross for sinners. I knew that He could save me. I could recite John 3:16 backwards and forwards. Was that really for a girl like me???

I told my Grammaw Daves what I was feeling. I told her that I needed to be saved. She was so very happy. She called Bro. Bert right away and the next thing I knew I was sitting in his office. I couldn’t understand her joy at the time, because I was so deeply convicted. I was scared and afraid that somehow I wouldn’t qualify. In my sadness and despair I listened as he took me down the “Romans Road.” With Bro. Bert’s help, all of a sudden I realized that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” ALL. Even girls like me. I learned that every single thing I had done or will do was covered by the Blood of Jesus at Calvary. I finally understood that in a way that I never had before. So what did I do? I lifted my eyes to the only One who could help me. The only One who could save me. The only One who loved me that much. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. He saved me that very instant. Later, I professed my faith to the church, was baptized, and accepted into the church.

I wish I could say that from that moment on I have been obedient. I wish I could say that I never sin. I wish I could say that I didn’t go through times where I strayed from Him. What I can say, though, is that He has been faithful to me through it all. My place in Heaven is secure, and I love Jesus more and more the longer I live. I thank God for the valleys in my life, because those are what deepens my faith and makes the mountaintops so breathtaking! He promises that he “will never leave nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5) and that when we are weary, He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28). He has gone to prepare a place for us, and will receive us again, so that where He is, we can be also. (John 14:3)

God, in His infinite wisdom knows us. He knows how we are. He knows what we need. He knows that apart from Him we are doomed. He knew all of this before the foundation of time. He knew us before He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He provided for us His Son to take our sin upon Himself and save us. He loves us just that much! Imagine the cost. Imagine the anguish. Imagine the humility. The Son of God wrapped in flesh, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect and sinless life, healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry and was obedient to His Father in all things. He, who could have called on the angels to whisk Him away, willingly lay down his perfect sinless life and took our sins on Himself and suffered our punishment so that we could be saved. The grave could not hold Him, though, and He rose again and is sitting at the right hand of the Father. Now, those who believe and call on His name to be their Lord and Savior will live eternally with Him… and best yet, He is coming again to set up His Kingdom for all time on a new earth… And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

When I am tired… I lift my eyes.

When I am weak… I lift my eyes.

When I am worried… I lift my eyes.

When I don’t know what to do… I lift my eyes.

When I am heartbroken… I lift my eyes.

Where does my Help come from? My help comes from the Lord. My help is the Lord.

Lift your eyes and call on Him today.

total praise

Moses: Reluctant Representative

moses_and_the_burning_bush-large

10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. Exodus 4:10-12 KJV


Excuses. We all have them for ourselves, and other people come up with them for us sometimes. How many times have we avoided doing something, because we didn’t feel equipped to do it… or maybe others thought we couldn’t do it… or we just plain didn’t want to do it?

There is a saying, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.” That is a very true statement that is demonstrated over and over again in the Bible. Abraham and Sara both believed themselves too old to have the children promised by the Lord. Jeremiah told the Lord that he was too young. Isaiah said that he had unclean lips. Jonah just tried his best to run away from the Lord. David was the youngest of eight sons, and not expected to do much more than shepherd sheep. Esther, though queen, was only a woman of Hebrew descent in the Persian empire. The list goes on and on. Each one of those people, both men and women, went on to serve the Lord in mighty ways because HE chose THEM to carry out His plans.

I have always been fascinated with the story of Moses. From his birth in Exodus 2 to his death in Deuteronomy 34, we have a very detailed history of him and his service to God and to the children of Israel.

Born at a time when Pharaoh had ordered that male Hebrew babies be killed, Moses’ mother hid him in a basket in the reeds of the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby, and took him to be her own. She even allowed his mother to become a wet-nurse to him. Moses rose in prominence in Egypt, and was viewed as an Egyptian prince because of his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter.

He was aware, however, of his Hebrew beginnings. The Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptian Pharaoh. After Moses was a grown man, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and he killed the Egyptian and hid the body. The King found out and was enraged at Moses. This led to Moses fleeing to Midian, near Sinai. Moses married the daughter of Jethro, the priest, and started his life anew as a shepherd.

After Pharaoh died, the Lord heard the Hebrew slaves crying out to Him. He remembered His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He had compassion on the Israelites. The Lord God came down to deliver them. In Midian, as Moses tended his flock, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him from within a burning bush. God told Moses that He wanted him to go to Pharaoh, secure the freedom of the children of Israel, and lead them to the promised land that He had vowed to give to them generations ago.

Moses came up with a few questions and concerns:

“Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

In our language today, to me that equates “Who me??? Why Me??? Nobody will listen to me. Pharaoh?? He is very displeased with me. That is why I fled here to Midian. Are you sure, Lord?”

Well, of course, The Lord was sure. He knew Moses before He created him in his mother’s womb. He knew all about Moses. He knew of his shortcomings, and of his good qualities, and even how many hairs were on his head. Yes, The Lord God knew exactly who Moses was! The Lord told Moses that He would be with him throughout it all. The Lord also knew Pharaoh. Even though Pharaoh wasn’t a follower of God, God was indeed the one who created him, and He knew all about him.

Next, Moses asked, “… when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?’ (Exodus 3:13)

The Lord told him to tell them that I AM sent him. He told Moses to remind them that the Lord God was the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that they would know Him as I AM. God told Moses to let the children of Israel know that He had heard their cries for help and that Moses was there to deliver them by the Hand of the Great I AM.

Yet, Moses still had fear, “they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. “ (Exodus 4:1)

Rather than thinking that the Israelites would take his word that I AM had sent him, he told the Lord that he didn’t believe that they would believe him. So, The Lord gave him signs and wonders to show to the Israelites to demonstrate that the power of The Lord was upon Moses.

Finally, Moses had one last protest. “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. (Exodus 4:10)

Again, in our language, “Lord, I don’t know what to say or how to say it! What if I say the wrong thing? I’ve never done this sort of thing. I don’t think I’m up to the task.”

The Lord reminded Moses that He had made the very mouth and tongue of which Moses complained. Though the Lord’s anger was kindled against Moses for his disbelief and reluctance, the Lord did have compassion upon Moses and told him that his brother, Aaron, could go with him and speak for him.

All of us who have read the story of Moses know that he went on to accomplish many many great things for the Lord. He allowed the Lord to lead him and work through him to free the Hebrews. The Lord through Moses delivered the law to His children. Moses was obedient even when his followers weren’t. He was their earthly leader. He listened to their grumbling when they were hungry, and then when they didn’t appreciate the food that The Lord provided for them. He interceded with the Lord on their behalf. Moses fulfilled his calling from The Lord, and when he was 120 years old he died. Before his death, The Lord graciously showed him from atop Mount Pisgah the land that He had promised to His people. The Bible tells us that despite Moses’ age, his sight was still good and so was his health. The Lord buried Moses Himself, and to this day, no man knows the place. Surely, the Lord loved Moses – just as He loves us.

From an orphan to a prince; a murderer to a deliverer; one of weak faith to a confident leader… Moses was a great leader and did mighty things because he did follow the Lord and was obedient to Him. The Lord provided for him and for his followers throughout it all.

We too, can be used mightily for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Let’s not question Him. Believer, know that He knows who we are, what we have done, and what we can do. He will give us the words to speak. He will show others that we belong to Him, and by our obedience, others will indeed know Whom has sent us. Let us be confident in His Wisdom, His Authority, His Perfect Plan, His Compassion, His Patience and His Lovingkindness towards and for His children.

Truly, we know that He loves us. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us, to live a perfect and sinless life, to take OUR sins upon Himself and to die for us, and to rise again – so that we can spend eternity in His presence. He has provided for us the Bread of Life and the Living Water in the perfect Sacrifice to save our souls. All of this, is not because He doesn’t know us… but rather because He does. Trust Him today.

So, are you or not?

Yes-No-Blog

“Yes, I am a Christian.”

We have all heard these past few days about that hateful gunman in Oregon asking his intended victims whether or not they were Christians. Reportedly, if they responded in the affirmative, he would kill them after telling them that they were going to be with God. If they responded negatively, they were spared. How frightening that what has happened for years in other countries and on other continents is now coming home to roost in our own country! This is the very thing – this martyring of our Christian brothers and sisters abroad – from which we have mercifully been sheltered in the United States.

Don’t get me wrong, we have suffered some persecution. We have lost many of our religious freedoms. Wehard pressed have seen the care and upbringing of our children be determined more and more by the government. We have seen our morals and the things we hold dear turned topsy-turvy, ridiculed, and in some cases outlawed entirely. Despite all of this, we haven’t suffered much violence or seen many of our brethren killed on American soil because of our Christian beliefs. Praise God for the hedge of protection that we have enjoyed all of these years!

I believe it is time for Christians to get very serious about practicing, protecting, and spreading our faith. We live in a crazy world. It seems to get more and more wicked each day. Unless our dear Jesus returns soon, our children will rear their own children amid this evil.

Many of us have been guilty at some point of only giving lip service to God… maybe some of us are today. We may become a little squeamish or even defensive if we ask ourselves some of the following questions:

How many of us say proudly, “Yes! I am a Christian!” yet live in such a manner that nobody could tell absent our announcement?

And, sure, you can worship the Lord and study His Word wherever you are on Sunday morning (or any other time for that matter), but do you… will you?

How many of us complain and even “share” on our social media pages complaints about the lack of prayer in schools, yet haven’t earnestly prayed in… well… when?

Do some even encourage kids to take Bibles to school, yet haven’t opened one up to read in… well… how long?

Are there those who want desperately for their children to be Christians… enough that they make sure to drop them off for church services or send them along with someone else, but they haven’t so much as mentioned Jesus in their homes or been in church themselves in… well… do you remember when the last time was?

Who among us sharp-shoots and critiques local churches, and their members, and their leadership but do nothing to improve them because they’re too busy ‘not attending’ to help make a change or to see a change in those “wretched hypocrites”?

Which ones of us disparage our country’s leadership by accusing those we do not like of belonging to other faiths, or being part of terrorist groups, or stomping on our Christian religious freedoms – yet don’t really practice any religious freedoms to be stomped on?

How many of us, if we really are honest, are ashamed of our answers to at least some – if not all – of these questions? I don’t know about you, but this writer has been guilty on more than one of them more than once.

The truth is that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 and “there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:10-11. You see, none of us, apart from the Lord are worthy of salvation. None of us would seek after God on our own. The Lord tells us that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked…” Jeremiah 17:9.

What we are left with is the simple fact that each of us before conversion are black-hearted, sinful, and in desperate need of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. Because The Lord God is a righteous judge, all sin must be judged by him. Prior to receiving Jesus into our hearts, we are headed straight to sinners’ hell which is the very real place where the unsaved miserably spend eternity after death.

Only Jesus can wash away our sin allowing us to stand before God as though we had never broken His laws. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Jesus told us, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 If you have never asked Him to be your Lord and Savior don’t wait, call out to Him now! Repent and be saved. Then you too will be a Christian and your eternity secure in Glory. You don’t have to wait to get your life straight before you accept Him… come as you are. He will change you from the inside out into a new creation. If you need to talk to someone, send me a message. I will do my best to answer your questions, or will put you into contact with someone who can.

What if you have been saved, but you don’t feel that closeness to the Lord that you once did? What if you have back-slidden? Maybe like the Church at Ephesus you have left your first love. Revelation 2:1-7. First of all, repent. Get rid of whatever it is that is separating you from the Lord. Turn away from your sin and turn back to Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He loves you. You are never too lost to come back home to Him. Just as the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) rejoiced when his son returned, imagine how our Heavenly Father will rejoice.

Once you have taken those steps, join and get active in a local Bible believing church, fellowship with other believers, study the Word of God, and tell others the good news! Live in such a way that others see Jesus in you. That way if you ever make the statement, “Yes, I am a Christian,” those who know you or who have watched you will not be surprised. Most importantly, you will be confident in the Lord Jesus that your eternity is secure with Him who loved us when we were unlovable, saved us when we were helpless, and created us anew when we were hopelessly broken. Worthy is the Lamb!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;

old things have passed away;

behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad

is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,

and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Ask, Seek, Knock