How can I love?

LOVE is a strong word yet used so freely in our society. Young girls think they LOVE a pop star, little kids think they LOVE candy, a tired employee thinks he LOVES a vacation. (Well that one might be true to an extent. LOL). Expressions and explanations of  LOVE could fill a book. Even website meanings are slightly different as the word seems to evolve and conform to different circumstances. It is like it is alive and takes on many forms.

When I attended a Sunday school class in my junior high years our teacher read the “love chapter” from the Bible. If you have been a follower of the Lord for any amount of time you have probably read it or at least heard about it. It lists what love is supposed to look like and what it is not. The love message is found in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. The explanation goes from verse 4 through the first part of 8.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  (NIV)

After my teacher finished reading the material she asked us to insert our names in the place of love. Well, that was disappointing. I suppose she was trying to prove how far we are from loving others. She did a good job because I fell extremely short.

Eons later and that message has never left my mind. Still whenever I read that chapter I tend to put my name in it and again it seems to have the same effect. I suppose it is similar to the commandments. It shows our humanity and our need for a savior.

The message of love is obviously not contained in that one chapter. It is riddle throughout the Word of God. It is the purpose God created us and sent his son to this earth. (John 3:16) It is the purpose Jesus died for our sins–stole the keys of sin and death from satan– and THEN came back to LIFE. It is the purpose for our lives.

In the gospels we find one of the teachers of the time wanting to test Jesus and asked him what the greatest commandment was. Again the word LOVE appears.

Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matt.22:37-39 (GWT)

What struck me was AS you love yourself. Hmm. How much do I love myself? I mean, I take care of myself, right? The question is: do I take GOOD care of myself? Do I want what is best for me–not selfishly– but do I actually feed myself what is healthy, am I careful what I watch, what I agree with, or who I hang out with? I think the thought of loving oneself has been considered selfish at times. But how can we really love others IF we don’t even love ourselves.

In Ephesians we read that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. It continues by stating that husbands are to love their wives as they love THEMSELVES.

A man who loves his wife loves HIMSELF. Eph 5:28b (GWT)

So to love others really we must begin by loving God. Then continue the process by loving ourselves. Out of that will flow love for others. So I regress to the “love chapter”.  Instead of putting my name in place of LOVE, I actually checked to see if I even love myself. I began by stating, “I am patient with myself, I am kind to myself.”  It is obviously important to the Lord to learn to love ourselves so that we can love others.

But back to the greatest commandment: to love God with ALL our heart, soul and mind. That sounds wonderful. And I want to love him. But really even that is a gift from God. We can’t even love without him giving us the ability to do so in the first place.

1 John 4:19 ” We love BECAUSE God loved us first.”

In fact, though we state we love others, things or events those statements are just a show of affection towards something else. Perhaps LOVE is not just a show of affection. Perhaps it just is. Perhaps instead of a verb or even a common noun it is a proper noun.

LOVE = GOD. God isn’t just showing affection. But he IS the affection. It isn’t JUST one of his attributes, but WHO he is. The Word states as much in 1 John 4 :8b and 16b.

“GOD is LOVE.”

So back to “love chapter”. Replace love with GOD.

GOD is patient.
GOD is kind.
GOD is not envious, nor boastful or proud.
GOD does not dishonor others, nor is self-seeking.
GOD is not easily angered, nor keeps record of wrongs.
GOD does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
GOD always protects
GOD always trusts.
GOD always hopes.
GOD always perseveres.

GOD NEVER FAILS.

I know I fall short of the above description of LOVE but I also know that when I surrender myself to my heavenly Father he covers the area of my failures and begins a beautiful work in me. We are always being changed into his image as we allow God to work in our lives. It is a process. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Lord,
Thank you for your love. Teach me to love as you do. Teach me to love myself. Teach me to love others. And ultimately teach me to love you with all of my heart, soul and mind. Amen.

God bless.

And, now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

 

The Warrior

The battle blazes and the fight continues. The warrior looks up and sees another flaming arrow flying towards her and her comrades. Without hesitation she maneuvers her shield high into the air, stopping the arrow from piercing her or those she has grown to love and admire. It almost knocks her off her feet. She is not wounded, but exhausted.

This particular battle has been raging for some time. She has been using all her training techniques but lately she has been distracted by other cares. Her mind is on things that take her thoughts to places that her commanding officer has warned is a distraction. Lately it seems she cannot focus.

She knows she has to learn to think about things that bring hope and not allow thoughts of despair to paralyze her. The commander has warned her to think about things that bring peace, especially while in battle. She must stay sharp.

Whoosh…another burning arrow flies right towards her. Suddenly a shield swoops in front of her and she hears the thud of the arrow bouncing off of it. This time the shield belongs to her friend. She turns towards her friend. They lock eyes. A smile crosses her friend’s face.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “I got this one.”  They nod at each other as they turn to continue the fight.

The warrior thinks to herself, “My commander is right, my thoughts are distracting me. That arrow could have hit me.”

“Charge!” demands the commander.

The orders produce a power that shakes her from within. With no more distracting thoughts filling her mind, the warrior and those with her charge the enemy with all of their strength. The battle turns from defense to offense. The warrior does what is second nature to her and begins the hand to hand combat with her sword. Strength infuses her weary body.

Suddenly the enemy runs in terror. The hooves of horses can be heard pounding away from the battle ground. The warriors holler in unison as they chase the enemy away. The slaughtered enemy that lay at their feet begin to disintegrate into black smoke, then disappear. They are not of human form but come from devilish soil. At that moment a shout of victory echoes throughout the camp. Another battle has been won. 

Joy fills the air where despair once resided.

Tonight there will be a celebration, a celebration of victory and hope. The tired soldiers can rest for a time. The grateful warrior turns to thank the commanding officer for the training and the tenacity he has taught her. As she reaches out her hand, he pulls her close for a huge papa bear style hug.

“Well, done my child,” he says patting her on the back. “Well done. You didn’t give up when you wanted to. You didn’t quit.”

“But I was distracted by despair. An arrow could have hit me when I lowered my shield,” the warrior says embarrassed by her actions.  The commander simply laughs a hearty laugh as if it isn’t a big deal. “But you weren’t hit. Your friend shielded you. That is why you need one another. Besides, I already won this battle. Did you notice how fast the enemy ran?” he said in triumph between deep chuckles.

She did.

“They always run when they see me pull out my sword. They know that I will only allow my children to go through just so many trials. Once I pull out my sword they screech in their tracks, abruptly turn around and run in fear.”

She knows that his sword is extremely sharp and destructive. As he swings it  in demonstration a brilliant light radiates off the metal causing the entire land to flood with the light.

No wonder the enemy runs away with such speed. There is nowhere to hide. They understand they can be annihilated by the commander at any time so they cower at his greatness. 

A thought rushes through the warriors mind. “If  the commander is for me, then who can stand against me?”

As she lets that sink in, peace floods her mind and her heart.

The battle was his all along.

_________________________________________________

That is a synopsis of a moment in the spiritual realm of a warring believer in prayer.

As believers we will always be in some sort of battle. Here are a few things we must remember as we fight in the battle of prayer.

  1. Ultimately every battle belongs to the Lord.
    Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NIV)
  2. We do not fight people.
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
  3. We need one another.
    “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.”
    I Corinthians 12: 20-21 (ESV)
    “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (GNT)
  4. There is a time for rest.
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

God is merciful but also fierce. He will defend his own. We have to trust him. We may be warriors but we are also his children.  Be strong, fight diligently and rest in his grace.
God bless

What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31  (NIV)

 

“The Warrior is a Child”
Twila Paris

Lately I’ve been winning
Battles left and right 
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
“Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because his armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at his feet.

They don’t know that I go
Running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child.

 

 

 

 

The Eye of the Storm

Photo Courtesy - Morris Goen / Palestine Hearal-Press

Photo Courtesy – Palestine Herald-Press Morris Goen

 

I woke up with these words on my mind, “you are in the eye of the hurricane”.   I know that there is a lot of craziness going on in our world and a lot of turmoil. And there are times lately that I have felt I was in a storm, but as I opened my eyes to the new day peace swept through my being.

The eye of the hurricane appears very peaceful, so much so that it can deceive a person into believing all is well, and the storm has passed. Unfortunately the backside of the storm is just behind the deceitful peace.  If a person goes out into the elements without being aware that the storm is not over, they can get broadsided.

I enjoy the Weather channel and watching storm chasing shows. It is amazing how extremely powerful weather systems and nature itself, can be. During a particular weather show the narrator was sharing his adventures via video during a ferocious hurricane.  The winds were horrendous and they were getting quit concerned about their location. Soon the “eye of the hurricane” reached them. It was during that time that he and his crew decided to take cover in a safer location. They were glad they did. When the backside of the hurricane hit they continued to video tape the area where they were originally standing and it was destroyed by the winds.

Have you ever personally encountered a tornado or hurricane? We were hit by a tornado in the fall of 1987 when we lived in Texas.

My family and I just left a restaurant on a warm fall Sunday afternoon. Walking to our car we noticed that the sky had sort of green haze and an ominous quiet filled the atmosphere. Today I would have been more aware that those signs can proceed a tornado.  Then I wasn’t. We casually got into our car oblivious to the impending doom that was approaching our town. One of our sons went home with some friends while we drove out of town to check out a piece of property.

We didn’t get too far down the road when we were caught in an unimaginable hail storm. We had to pull over because we couldn’t see in front of us. Quickly we decided to turn around and head back home. As we entered town we approached a nightmare.  It looked like the town had just been bombed. Semi-trucks had fallen onto their sides, a lumber yard was destroyed and wood was scattered for miles. Gas stations were obliverated and a church was demolished, as was part of the elementary school, a motel and several businesses. Debris was scattered in yards and in the streets. Houses were pulled off of their foundations. Many houses that still stood had no roofs. I heard that the tornado traveled 4 miles and was 1/2 mile wide. I was in shock — what happened?

Of course the main thing on my mind was my son’s well-being. We headed in that direction. The subdivision was thrashed. The national guard was already at work helping people and was not letting anyone enter the area. After I frantically explained that our son was in the neighborhood and probably looked like a crazed woman who was out-of-control, the guard let us pass.  I was overwhelmed with relief when I saw that our friend’s house was still standing in the midst of the debris. My 6 year-old son ran out of the house and jumped into my waiting arms.

We have all seen the images on the news of the aftermath of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis etc. It is devastating. Someone told me a couple of years ago that there was a tornado warning in their area. They were advised to seek shelter as best as possible. She watched the news after the tornado devastated a neighborhood. A woman said in the interview, “There was no warning. This hit us out of no where.”

The individual telling me the story knew that they were warned over and over regarding the intensity of the storm that was approaching.  A thought suddenly entered her mind, “There has been warnings for over 2000 years regarding the return of Christ. But people ignore it.”

Those of us that are looking for Christ’s return will not be caught off guard. But those who think that God is slow or that they have heard this over and over and it hasn’t happened or simply think it is a hoax, will be surprised and say as the woman did in the interview. “There was no warning.”

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 (NLT) 

Perhaps the time it has taken for our Lord to return is for your benefit or for those you love. Peter writes, “Think of our Lord’s patience as an opportunity for us to be saved.” 
Peter 3:15a (GWT)

But there are other storms in our lives that catch us off guard and hit with such intense power that it can be devastating! Other people may not see the storm that you are walking through. What if someone we love dies, we lose our job, we are dealing with an illness or are emotionally hurt by those we trust? Or perhaps things just do not go as planned. Will we be prepared for the storms that hit our lives?

My question: will I be prepared?

I thought about that question when I heard the words, “you are in the eye of a hurricane”.  What do I do to prepare for the backside of the storm or for other storms that are sure to come? What can I do while I am sitting in the “eye of the storm” while there is peace?

I can only run towards safety and hide in a shelter. Where is that hidding place? Where is that shelter? Many places in the Book of Psalms states that the Lord is our shelter, our refuge and our hiding place.

Being hidden with him is walking in the will of our Lord. In his will there is safety and peace in the midst of the storm. It is taking time to know him through reading of his Word, through spending time to talk with him in prayer, through listening to words of hope from other believers and rubbing shoulders with those who speak life into our lives. In that place I am prepared for any storm that may come.

I suddenly realized what the Lord was saying. HE IS THE EYE IN THE HURRICANE.  He was encouraging me. I have found that place of safety and peace BECAUSE I am already seated with him. (Ephesians 2:6)

What a fantastic thought!

We can experience peace though the winds are howling and the mountains give way. We can experience peace though the world is crashing down around us. HE is our EYE in the storm. HE is our PEACE.

Shortly after hearing those words, “you are in the eye of the hurricane,” I heard the song, “In the Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.  The Lord promises to never leave us. He will walk WITH us through many storms. I believe there may be stronger storms coming in the days ahead. NOW is the time to prepare our hearts. We do not know what our futures may hold but I rest in him.

Do not be discouraged or afraid because the Lord has your back and the backside of the storm. He IS in control. He is the EYE of your storm.

This is the first few lines to the song. Click the link to hear it in its entirety. It is beautiful. God bless each of you.

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

in the eye of the storm

 

Celebrations of victory on the altar of my life.

To those who may use FACEBOOK you might be familiar with the “On This Day” memories. They are memories you posted on your account the same day a year or more before. It is fun to view the change in your life or memories shared from year to year.

Some monumental moments may be that of a wedding, a birth or even the memory of a loved one who has gone on before us. Other memories are those of individual victories; perhaps the day your son took 1st place in a track meet or your daughter took her first step.  I followed a couple whose daughter was seriously injured. Thousands of people stood with them in prayer and watched her progress as she began to miraculously recover. That victory was celebrated by total strangers.

Like FACEBOOK, there are memories that come up year after year in our lives. Some memories are filled with moments of God’s miracles. If we took a personal inventory of what the Lord has done for us in our individual lives, we might be surprised of his greatness and compassion and love.  I could write a book of his faithfulness in mine; how he came through for me in hopeless situations, how he miraculously healed those around me, how he supplied my needs when my pockets were empty and delivered me, even from myself.

These personal inventories are testimonies that inspire us and ignite hope in our hearts.

One of those times was during our futile attempt to sell our house. It needed so much work. Either we needed to have a lot of money poured back into it or sell it, as is. It seemed simple enough but I felt trapped because we were paying on a mortgage for our house while living elsewhere. The day it was sold was so exhilarating.  I felt like heavy chains were broken off of me. I knew the Lord had a hand in leading a buyer to us who was willing to buy it, as is.

Each March I remember that miracle and I thank God again for his provision and goodness. It is a celebration I place on my altar of remembrance.

Another time we had a car issue. Since we bought our car new, we assumed it would be trustworthy for several years. Vehicle hunting was exhausting but necessary as we were without transportation. My husband and I came to a compromise. He wanted a pickup and I wanted an SUV so we decided on a car that we both liked.

Not long after we purchased it, it quit when I approached a stop sign. I mean it completely shut-down. I didn’t think too much about it as it started again. We brought it to the shop anyway. They didn’t see anything wrong with it. Then it happened a couple more times within the next couple years. Everything would simply shut down at once, without warning.

Twice I was on the highway when it “shut-down” and once I was almost hit by a semi-truck. Each time we brought it in nothing was ever found wrong with the vehicle. We couldn’t claim it under the “lemon law” because we had to have an issue repaired first. The problem was that there seemed to be no issue to be repaired.

We still owed money on the car and though we just wanted to trash it, we couldn’t.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. It was my only vehicle but it seemed dangerous. Each time I drove it I felt like I was gambling with my life and whoever was riding with me.

I prayed about it for some time and felt that I was supposed to go to the dealership and speak with one of the managers. I visited with him and explained my situation. He was very understanding, so much so that he had it thoroughly gone through without any charge. Again nothing was found.

I sat in his office, knowing that I could not leave without something being done. We both looked at each other in contemplation. I was praying under my breath while he sat quietly in thought. Suddenly he asked me if I would like to talk to the sales manager.

I knew we weren’t currently at a place to purchase another vehicle and I explained that to him. He still was convinced that was my best option. He had me sit in his office while he spoke with the sales manager. I thought, “Ok, God, I really don’t know how you are going to work this out, but I trust you.”

After I told my story again to the sales manager, he explained that he was going to do a miracle for me. “Okay”, I thought. He then asked me what kind of car I would like. I was assuming he was going to lead me to the used cars on the lot. I answered, ” I want one that doesn’t quit on me while I’m driving.” He laughed. “No really, what do you want?”

I boldly told him that I wanted a SUV. (Remember I had wanted that in the first place.) He left me in his office for a moment. Then he returned and brought me out to the new cars in the lot. Parked right in front of me was a brand new SUV.

“Do you like this color?” he asked. I couldn’t believe it. He was offering me a NEW vehicle. I was flabbergasted!

“Really? But..I don’t have the down payment.”

He asked again, ” Do you like it?

“Sure!”

I don’t know how it happened but I walked out of the dealership that day with a brand new SUV! NO down, NO credit check. I was amazed.

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It was during the Christmas holidays and I knew it was my Christmas present from the Lord. I didn’t deserve it, but God heard my pleas and met my need. Actually he went over and above what I thought I needed. My husband laughed when I pulled up in my new SUV.

“Well, I guess you got what you wanted after all,” he said in disbelief.

Each December I remember that miracle, placing another celebration of victory on the altar of my life.

There are several occasions mentioned in God’s word when an individual or a group of people marked a certain event in their lives. As a reminder of his faithfulness and their victory, God had them build an altar or mark the event with a day of celebration.

In Genesis 35, Jacob built an altar to the Lord because God had heard his pleas of help when he was in trouble. He wanted a reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness.

Most people know the story of Moses leading the children of Israel onto dry ground across the Red Sea. That was a significant time of celebration, remembering God’s power and faithfulness. But God did a similar thing when Joshua crossed the Jordan river. It was such a miraculous event that the Lord told him to set up an altar to remember how he opened the river for them.

Joshua 4:6, ” This will be sign for you. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?'”

Each time they looked upon the altar they could remember the time the Lord miraculously made a way for them and could explain it to their children.

There are many more monumental events scattered throughout the Bible. The Jewish faith if scattered with days of celebrations and feasts to remind them of God’s miracles and his deliverance in their lives.

As believers, we take part in communion to remember Jesus’ greatest sacrifice. He encouraged us throughout the gospels to continue to take communion in remembrance of HIS sacrifice and of OUR victory. That is why the cross is so extremely important to believers. It is a reminder of God’s victory in our lives.

We need to REMIND ourselves and those around us of the faithfulness of our Lord. He promised that he would never leave or forsake us. He will meet our needs no matter how small or how big. I have several testimonies of God’s goodness. I thank him each time he has met my needs or given me my heart’s desire. It encourages me as I look into my unknown future. What he did before, he will do again. He is a faithful.

How about you? What miracles has he performed in your personal life?  Celebrate his goodness. When you remember what the Lord has done for you or for others it can give you strength during the times when you feel frustrated or overwhelmed.

Remind yourselves of his faithfulness in the past as you walk through the doors of the future.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

God bless.

 

 

The Masterpiece

I enjoy painting during any free time I might have. I don’t necessarily consider myself an artist though. I paint just to relax and my paintings stay in the privacy of my bedroom. My niece once introduced me as her aunt, the artist. That seemed odd to me as she and her siblings are extremely talented artists, you know, those people who actually sell their artwork! I laughed and explained that I wasn’t really an artist. She asked if I enjoyed painting? I told her I did. Then she said, “If you enjoy painting and are expressing yourself through an artistic medium — you are an artist.” That stayed with me. I guess it is like my enjoyment of writing. I may not always be a paid author, but I enjoy writing.

Last night was one of those nights that I had an urge to paint. But unfortunately I didn’t have a new canvas on hand. So I looked at my wall and took down one of the paintings that I considered less desirable. I had tried to paint something on it before and didn’t like it so painted something else over it which was not much of an improvement. This time I thought I would simply paint it white so I could start with a fresh background. After I was done I hung it back up on the wall to dry. As I viewed it hanging on the wall I noticed some of the dark color bleeding through and the different textures that were visible from previous acrylic paint. Then the word, “whitewashed” came to my mind. Didn’t the Bible mention something about being whitewashed?

Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (NIV)

I could visibly see the mistakes that were under the coat of thin white paint. It made me think how we sometimes try to cover our sins by acting righteous, but the Lord sees through the coat of paint where we try to hide our sins . He sees into our hearts. Yet since he is so full of love and grace, he desires to completely blot out our transgressions. We just need to ask.

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“Come now lets discuss this.” say the Lord. “Though your sins are bright red, they will become as white as snow. Though they are dark red, they will become as white as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 (GWT)

I sometimes struggle with the concept of truly being forgiven of past mistakes in my life, as I am sure so many people do at times. But what about….? Can God truly forgive? I want to be pure, but past sins sometimes knock at the door of my mind and haunt my soul like green mold on cheese. You think the entire chunk of cheese is no longer good to eat because of mold. But once you cut off the moldy part of the cheese – the rest is fine. If God has taken away that darkness from my life, why couldn’t I trust him with the rest of my life?

Once when I was struggling with this concept and was calling out to the Lord he revealed his truth to me while in prayer. I saw him standing in front of me as I was trying to explain to him the reason why I wasn’t able to be used and each time I would try to explain, he would put his finger to my lips to stop me from speaking about my faults. I’d try again and again he’d put his finger on my lips and whispered “Shhh”. He ignored my whining because he already was in my future and knew my past. He knows the plans he has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The blood he shed doesn’t just cover our sins so they are not seen anymore, it literally erases our sins. He throws them into the sea.( Micah 7:19) I don’t understand how that is possible. I don’t understand his grace. I don’t understand his forgiveness. I don’t understand why he loves us so much. But HE DOES!

We become as clean as a new canvas that has never been painted as soon as we ask him into our lives. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He can then paint a beautiful picture about our lives. He can use the darkness of our past, the brokenness of our hearts, the foolish of our choices, the hopelessness of our souls and mix it with his blood and by his Spirit a masterpiece is created. How? Because he is the master of our lives and we are his artwork.

His masterpiece is YOU!

His masterpiece is ME!

How awesome are his masterpieces. We have been created by the hand of the Lord.

There are many emotions that are rocking our world lately. We have seen another shooting in America, another tragedy on our soil. It goes without saying that many different opinions follow these tragedies. This follows the crazy weather patterns that seemed to plague our country last year. And of course the ring of fire that is always sure to bring shaking to our world. We often hear of earthquakes and volcanos in that ring, and recently there has been shaking outside of it. But when I heard that the great legend, Billy Graham passed, I felt that an era had passed and all the other things filling the news suddenly became silent. I meditated on the thought of this man, known as the American Pastor, passing on into eternity. I thought about the great celebration that he was experiencing. Then I began to think what this means for us that are still sojourning in this world.

Does his death represent more than a great man who had succumb to age and illness in this dying world? The Lord tends to use natural circumstances to help us understand spiritual meanings. An example took place during the last plague that the Egyptians encountered. The angel of death passed over the Children of Israel, as well as the Egyptians. But the Children of Israel obeyed the Lord by placing the blood of a spotless lamb on the sides and the tops of their doorframes. (Exodus 12: 12-13) This represented the blood of Christ that would later be shed for our sins.

Then again, during the “last supper” (which was also during the celebration of Passover) Jesus shared a last meal with his disciples. During this time, he demonstrated the suffering he would endure and the blood he would shed for our sins. He expressed that things would be different, a new covenant, a new era.

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them. saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying ‘This cup is the NEW covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:17-20

So how is this similar to the death of the American Preacher? In my spirit I feel that a door has closed regarding the way things use to be done regarding spreading the Gospel. Now a new door will be opened regarding sharing the Gospel. In times past great leaders went before us, preaching the gospel and spreading the truth. Many people flocked to these great leaders and came to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Today is a different era. I feel the new era is up to you and me. We are to take the baton, so to speak. We (you and I) are the next great leaders. We may not be in a pulpit preaching salvation to a host of hungry souls, but we are lights in a very dark world. I recently heard someone describe the God-head as three different candles, each with their own flame, but when the candles come together, one flame burns; and how bright that light is! It is also the same with each believer. We all carry the light of Jesus in us, but when we walk as one with our Lord AND one with other believers that light is extremely bright.

There will still be individuals who preach to masses, but I believe the era of “the great evangelist” has been changed to the era of several individuals burning as one light for the world. The message will still be preached throughout the world BUT it is up to YOU; it is up to ME to spread that Gospel.

Lord let us each live as Billy Graham lived, deeply in love with you and eager to spread the Word of God. Wake those up who once were changed by his words. Arise in us with new boldness and joy as we shine the light that you gave us, so that others can see that light and be set free. Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Reaching Out

I once knew a man
Named Johnny McGee.
He lived down the road
A couple houses from me.

He worked hard in the week,
But weekend parties didn’t end.
He had so much money
That he was eager to spend.

His house was quite grand;
His car was the best,
On his property: a boat and more
Grown-up toys filled the rest.

He was that man
That men wanted to be,
And women loved to be with
To live frivolously.

After a few years
Watching this week after week,
I noticed action was gone.
Things seemed to look bleak.

I wondered what happened;
Why the house had no noise.
Where were the people
Who played with the toys.

The grass grew tall
Around the house in the lawn.
The boat no longer moved.
The parties were gone.

The quiet was quite nice
But yet unsettling too.
Were things going okay
For Johnny and his crew?

I prayed for my neighbor,
Then I wanted to see
What may have happened
To Johnny McGee.

I took a deep breath
And walked to his place.
I knocked on the door
To see him face to face.

A grouchy voice hollered,
“What?” through the screen door.
I entered into darkness
And saw him sitting on the floor.

“What do YOU want?”
He asked without thought.
“No one comes here anymore!”
He seemed angry and distraught.

He looked thin and sad.
This couldn’t be the same man.
He wasn’t laughing anymore,
And had lost his golden tan.

“I live a few houses down,” I said.
“We’ve met a time or two before,
I wondered if you were ok?
I hadn’t seen you anymore.”

“I know who you are,”
He said with some pride
“You’re that pastor that prays.
We all hear you outside”

He grumbled, ” Why do you care?
All my friends have all gone.
Nothing matters anymore
And everything’s gone wrong.”

Suddenly he began to ramble
Like he hadn’t spoken for years.
And as he shared about his life
I noticed his eyes fill with tears.

“I thought I had it all,” he began,
“The joy that money can bring.
But now it doesn’t have a spark,
It doesn’t mean a thing.

One day I lost it all.
I made a wrong choice.
Lost all of my hope.”
He began to clear his voice.

“I don’t know why I’m saying this
I don’t really know you well.
But I feel I need to speak,
I need someone to tell.

I was driving too fast
Around the bend down the way.
And I lost control of the car
And I crashed it that day.”

He stared in the air
Perhaps remembering the minute
When he rolled his car
And his girlfriend was in it.

I had heard about that crash
Someone told me the next day.
I didn’t think on it more
Now I didn’t know what to say.

“I lost the girl I wanted to marry
The girl who brought me life.
What was my purpose now?
I killed my future wife.”

Silence entered into the room
I struggled with words to say
Suddenly a thought hit me
And I began it this way,

“I’m sorry for your loss.
I’m sorry for your pain.
I’m sorry nothing seems right,
And your life seems insane.

But the Lord loves you dearly.
He knew how this would end.
He knew that you needed hope.
He knew you would need a friend.”

I reached my hand out to him.
He got onto his feet.
He hugged me in tears,
Expressing his hurt and defeat.

That was ONE moment
Of many times we would share.
He opened up more each time
Realizing someone did care.

One day he met someone
Who knew him better than me.
That someone was the Lord
Who eventually set him free.

And in time he met another
Who shared his hopes and life.
That was the time I married them
And they became husband and wife.

Take the time to listen,
Take the time for prayer.
Someone might need to know
They are worthy enough for you to care.

I now know a family
Whose last name is McGee
They live down the road
A couple houses from me.