buildingbodies4christ

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Archive for the category “Faith”

In the Valley

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the
Lord
forever.
Psalm 23

When King David walked through the valley, he said it all. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. He also knew the strength from His God. We can know the strength that comes from the Lord. It’s available to all.

I have avoided writing about the devastation over the last six weeks (is that as long it has been?). We have seen three major hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, fires on the west coast, Mexico has had two large earthquakes, and now the tragedy of the terrorist attack on the music festival (did I miss anything?). What in the world is going on?

Jesus said that the labor pains would get more frequent as time grows closer to His coming back. Evil will continue to have rule of the day until He returns. We are to press through it with our eyes focused on Jesus. His love pursues us. He comforts us when tragedy strikes. But we have to turn to Him. He can pursue us all day long, but until we turn to Him we will never find Him as long as we keep going as we have been going.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” is not possible. It never has been great – I’m not dissin’ America. I love it. This is my home. My family has been here since the 1700/1800’s. I’ve checked. Our greatness came from God for His purpose. However, we have chosen to remove God from about everything that is public. Prayer is a thing of the past when it comes to certain venues. The Ten Commandments are gone from the courtrooms. If people would have it, Scripture would be erased from the governmental buildings throughout this land. The engravings would be removed.

If America wants to remove God, He will let us. And I am not saying all these tragedies are God’s judgment; but we have removed Him from our public lives, so He will remove His hand of protection from us. He will allow tragedies to happen so that we will once again come back to Him. We saw it with 9/11 and the turning back to God that happened for the next couple of weeks (maybe month), but it didn’t last. Things will continue to happen.

Isaiah (55:6) said it best:  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. One day, He will no longer be found. One day, all hell is literally going to be released, and He will not stop it. Matter of fact, Scripture says in that time, people will curse God. It’s going to happen like we have never experienced it before.

We might not like to hear this, because we believe God is good and loving; and He would never allow it to happen. But we fail to realize that God is a righteous judge, and He will not let sin continue as it does. Read the Scripture. There was always a point when God would send judgment on Israel for her sins. Over and over again. They would sin, time would pass and then judgment would come. Again, I am not saying God is judging us – He could be – but I am not saying this is judgment. But it is His pattern of warnings then judgment to get people to turn to Him. He always warns before the judgment – and He will tell us when its judgment – there will be “writing on the wall” to let us know this is it. It will be obvious.

I know, this isn’t a “feel good” blog posting. I believe we need to examine our hearts. I think the church should examine the Body. We need some movement to get this Body going again. We are in desperate times and the people of the times need a strong Body. The Holy Spirit needs to breathe life into us again. There are things that need to be cleaned up and cleaned out so that the Body will thrive again. The Body of Christ needs fire in the belly. The Holy Spirit has been absent too long. The breath of God has to be in the Body to bring fire back into the church.

Dr. Tony Evans spoke a couple of weeks ago on giving the Holy Spirit free reign to worship. We need the Holy Spirit to be unleashed. We need the “awe” back in our worship, to focus solely on God. When the people in the Book of Acts came together, Jesus was their focus. When the disciples of Jesus focused on Him, it drew the crowds. There was something different about these people. They were committed to following Jesus in such a way that it could not be mistaken. We need that again. This is my prayer for us in this time.

We need the Holy Spirit back in our lives in such a way that it would draw others to Jesus. We have to point others to Jesus. He is our only hope. Pray with me for His Spirit to make a difference in the church; pray for the people who have been affected by these tragedies. Pray for their hope and salvation to be found in Him, and they will be comforted by His loving embrace. Pray that God would return to our public lives before it’s too late and hearts will be turned to Him again like never before. Let His Spirit be poured out!

We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 1 John 5:19-20

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Good Enough Standard

Sometime in my life, I adopted the “good enough” standard. I am not a perfectionist, although I do have a tendency to lean in that direction. When I get to that point of wanting that thing to be perfect, I have to remind myself it can be just good enough to get it done. I want the job to be done correctly, but all the “i’s” don’t have to be dotted as long as the “t’s” are crossed. There’s a point when the standard has to be “good enough.” That might go against someone else’s OCD, but it might be time to just let it go!

However, the standard of “good enough” doesn’t relate to the Kingdom of God. There isn’t a standard of good enough but of perfection. Scripture tells us no one is good. We could compare ourselves to each other, but we would still fall short of God’s perfection. There’s only one who met His perfect standards – Jesus Christ. He is the standard God set before us.

There are many who believe in the standard of good enough. “I am better than my neighbor or the murderer on death row.” Many believe they can “earn” their way into heaven by doing good works. Many believe this life is it. You only live once, so live it up. Still others say that since they are good, then they will end up in a good place. Many believe the Bible is outdated and not worth the paper it’s written on. Some say that it’s just a crutch for those poor, unstable folks.

Heaven and hell are hard topics to wrap our heads around. I mean, what loving God would throw good people in hell? If there is no hell, then we wouldn’t have to worry about what happens next. We could all live happily ever after. We could have our cake and eat it too! We wouldn’t have to worry about laws. We could kill whoever we wanted to; we could steal anything our heart desires. We could live a life that throws all caution to the wind. It wouldn’t matter. There are no consequences to our actions. But there are rules of the land, and we have to abide by them. God has rules as well whether we believe it or not, and we have to live by them or face His consequences.

Jesus set the standard that we cannot meet, unless we have His salvation that clothes us in His righteousness. I like the illustration that Joyce Meyer uses about our sinful lives. She had an old dirty coat that she wore on stage. The dirty coat represented her sins. There was nothing she could do to make that coat clean. However, her husband came out on stage in a white coat. He played the part of Jesus. Jesus took off His white coat and gave it to Joyce in exchange for her dirty coat. That is the exchange that was made on the cross. Jesus took on our sins and in exchange gave us His righteousness; not because of our goodness but because of His.

I heard that there are no good people in heaven, only forgiven ones. If there was a different way to get to heaven, He died in vain. Jesus even asked if God would take the cross from Him, but in the end said “Your will be done” – and it was. Jesus was nailed to a cross as the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world. The sacrifice was made. If there had been another way to heaven, God would have opted His Son to take a different route to get there.

It’s interesting about the symbolism that the Old Testament uses throughout to prophecy the coming of Jesus Christ as a Lamb to be sacrificed. One of the best symbols is Abraham and his son, Isaac. Abraham was told to sacrifice his son just as God would sacrifice His own Son. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice like Jesus carried His cross. Isaac was bound to the wood like Jesus was bound to the cross. Isaac was ready to be sacrificed, but God stopped Abraham’s hand and gave him another to sacrifice in Isaac’s place. But God did not stop Jesus from the sacrifice.

There was nothing else God could put in Jesus’ place. Jesus came for that mission. His eyes were set for the cross. If there was another way, it would have been taken. But the good enough standard was not met. It had to be a perfect sacrifice, and Jesus was perfect. The Bible tells us so. Not only that; but the ones who walked with Jesus for three years, told us the story. They witnessed and proclaimed all that happened.

Not only that; but the story has lasted for two thousand years, and it still changes people’s lives. I am one of them. Jesus changed my life. I know myself pretty well, and I can tell you I will never be good enough for heaven. But I am forgiven; I know that because of Jesus and what He did on the cross for my sins, I have been given a place in heaven. He told me so in His Word, and I believe it. I stand on that promise: wherever He is we will be there also (John 14:3).

Where do you stand on the topic of heaven or hell? What’s your measuring stick? Are you good enough? Don’t believe the lie, you will never be good enough, but God said that Jesus is. Trust Him and have faith in His dying on the cross for your sins – He was raised to a new life and you can be too. Believe it and confess it; and I’ll see you in heaven!

“And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” Acts 10:42-43 (NLT)

Five More Minutes

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a woman’s testimony on YouTube. She spoke of a message the Lord had given her about the time we’re in. She said she saw a clock with the hands set at five minutes before twelve. For the next few days/weeks, that time would come up over and over. Someone would ask her the time, and it would be five minutes before twelve. She said it happened more than once.

I think most of us agree that the last days are upon us, but are we in agreement we’re in the last hour? How about the last five minutes? We see severe events happening now with great frequency. I mean these are not just 100 year events, but 500 and 1,000 year events. Earthquakes have been happening throughout history, but not to the scale we are seeing them today. Flooding, yes these too have been happening throughout history. But the scale of things today is truly biblical. This should not surprise us though. Jesus told us these things would happen in greater intensity and greater frequency in the last days like birth pains (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8).

Unfortunately, things are going to get worse. I have not made up my mind about the timing of the rapture. I see there could be evidence of a pre-tribulation rapture because we aren’t children of wrath, but I also see that God has never taken Israel out early from their tribulation. Israel has had to endure everything to the bitter end before God rescued them. Usually it was because of their disobedience – they brought it upon themselves. Are we any better at this obedience to God thing? Is the church ready to meet Jesus?

I don’t know how long five minutes is to God. Scripture tells us a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day to God. Time is irrelevant in God’s view. His timepiece is totally different from ours. But if He showed this woman we are close to the end, then maybe we need to pay attention. Maybe it’s time for our hearts to be aligned with God and get on His timetable and His plan.

Last night began Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew civil New Year. It is first day of the month of Tishrei and also the start of the Feast of Trumpets which is for approximately two days. The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts that are considered one of the seven in which the people were to go to the temple to offer sacrifices to God. Jesus Christ has fulfilled the first four spring feasts – his death, burial, resurrection and sending the Holy Spirit all occurred on Jewish feast days. The last three are said to be fulfilled with His second coming and the rapture of the church. The Day of Atonement could be when Jesus sets up the 1,000 year reign on earth and the Feast of Tabernacles could be when we all dwell with Him for eternity.

The Feast of Trumpets could be the day of the rapture. Tradition says that the trumpet or shofar is blowing 99 times and then one long blast at the end. We are told the church would be taken when the last trumpet is blown (1 Corinthians 15:52). Sounds like a possibility. Rosh Hashanah also begins the “Days of Awe” which lead to the most holy day of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

From Jonathan Cahn’s book The Book of Mysteries, the days of awe are days of repentance. The “trumpet signals only ten days remain until Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is linked to the sealing of one’s eternal destiny, as on the Day of Judgment. All ten days are considered holy. Observant Jews do everything they can to get right before God, to make things right with others, to forgive and be forgiven, to repent, to seal up loose ends and to right what was wrong.” All this has to be done before the eve of Yom Kippur (September 30th this year).

So what’s the takeaway for us in this time? We need to be ready. We don’t know the time or the hour of Jesus’ return – when that last trumpet will blast. There is an appointed time for the end. Until then, we’re going to have to go through some stuff. The ride is going to get rougher. Do not be afraid in this last hour. God takes care of His people no matter what. Trust the Lord knows what’s best. Keep looking up. Keep the heart open and receptive to the Lord. Be obedient to what you hear from the Lord. Love others even when they aren’t very loving toward you. They have a mess too and most of them don’t have the Lord to help them through it.

We have been warned time and again by signs and wonders. Everything in the Bible yet to be fulfilled will be fulfilled. Buckle up! It’s really going to happen just as the Bible said it would. Trust God to fulfill His plan in His way and let Him use you in the process. God can and will use you in these last five minutes.

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NLT)

Payment Needed

Last night, I listened to a preacher who spoke about North Korea. It was a random video I ran across, but it stayed with me. He spoke of the people of North Korea. He spoke specifically about the brothers and sisters in Christ there who wonder if anyone sees their plight. They look up and wonder if God hears their cries.

I can’t imagine what my brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing today. I can’t imagine their hardships; the persecution they face. Theirs will be a greater reward for what they have endured while here on this earth. I am sure they would love to see God’s glory in the land of the living though. I am sure they would love to see Jesus high and lifted up in this time and in that place. Ultimately, suffering is a temporary thing; but it could take forever to be relieved.

The time is coming when all evil will be vanquished to hell, but we still have to live with it for a while longer. Many are saying the end is near. Many think Jesus will return in the next few years, if not sooner. The evilness that is exhibited in North Korea will be destroyed as well as every area where evil rules. The brothers and sisters in Christ will be avenged. Jesus is coming back as a lion, not a lamb. The Lion of Judah will roar. This is not good news for those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Matter of fact, the majority on this earth will perish when Jesus returns.

There are consequences of sin that will have to be paid in full. Scripture tells us in Romans 6:23 the wages for sin is death. No one can be good enough to get to heaven. I was told that good people don’t go to heaven – forgiven people do. The people who recognize their sin and recognize the holiness of Jesus and realize they can’t meet Jesus’ standards; these people humble themselves before Jesus and ask Him to forgive them, ask Him to take away their sins and seek His righteousness and holiness. These people will be in heaven. Thanks to Jesus, He paid the price of our sin. He received our death. Jesus said at His last breath – it is finished or it could be translated as paid in full.

When Jesus comes back, He is looking for payment. When He comes back, He will look for those who are His. He will gather them together and give them entry into heaven. There will be some who come to Him, but He will tell them He does not know them. They thought they had done everything right – they had been good enough. However, they never gave their hearts to Jesus; they never sought His forgiveness; they never humbled themselves before Him. I can’t imagine the pain they will experience in that moment when they realize they have missed their chance of eternal life and will receive an eternal death. The rest of Romans 6:23 states the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can’t earn it – it’s a gift.

I listen to several speakers concerning many things, especially on health topics. The other day, I listened to a secular speaker who normally speaks about health, but this time he spoke on a topic concerning end time events. Someone had given him a movie or documentary to watch on events occurring right now and how it aligns with Bible prophecy. He marveled that what we are experiencing today was prophesied (my word, not his) in the Bible. He spoke of Israel becoming a nation and how it was foretold in ancient times.

It was sad to hear him say that his great-grandfather was a minister. His grandfather actually instructed him to read the Bible, but his grandfather died early in this man’s life and the influence was broken. He said that as a child he had been baptized as a Christian. It just makes me sad to think that there are many like him. They may believe they are Christian because their parents sprinkled them when they were infants or may have been baptized as a child. As my pastor said many times, all this did was make them wet.

It’s a conscious decision to follow Jesus that makes a person a Christian. It’s a heart change. It is recognizing sin as sin, turning away from it and turning toward Jesus. That’s what makes us Christian. That’s what makes us followers of Jesus. We’ll never be good enough, but just turning to Jesus, putting faith in what He did for us on the cross, believing that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of mankind – my sin and your sin, that’s the payment that will get us into heaven.

Thank you, Jesus for your sacrifice as the Lamb of God for dying for us in our place and paying the price for our sin. May all come to know you as Lord and Savior before you return. Amen.

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” John 3:19-21 (MSG)

In the Gap

We are just days away from another catastrophe, at least that’s what is projected. A hurricane has its sights on Florida or the east coast. I sit in my little home in a safe distance from the coast of North Carolina, but that didn’t matter for Hurricane Fran. I didn’t live here at the time, but heard of its destructive path. What will Irma hold for us? Part of North Carolina was under flood waters last year due to Hurricane Matthew so it could happen again. We just never know which way it will turn and what will be the destructive path.

I watched a video on YouTube yesterday afternoon from a prophet from India. His message was delivered in 2015. During a prophetic conference in Houston, the Lord gave him a message for the people of Houston that devastation would be coming by flood. The prophet reminded the audience that we are here for such a time as this. This is our time to stand in the gap just as Esther stood in the gap for her people.

Houston is known for floods so maybe it was brushed off as just another flood. I remember a time when I went to Houston in the midst of a tropical storm. I remember how deep the waters flooded the streets and the underground area beneath the large buildings. It doesn’t take much for streets to flood. So I can see the people who heard the message thinking we’ve survived thus far, it couldn’t be any worse than what we’ve already seen.

So from the message in 2015 to the hurricane that brought the devastation in 2017, the gap could have been filled to keep this prophetic word from coming to pass. Even as the hurricane was forming, people could have dropped to their knees and cried out to God to keep this from them. Maybe some did. But maybe it was too little, too late. Houston was not spared from devastation. Maybe God needed to send the warning. Maybe He is still sending a warning to us with this next storm.

The prophet said that devastation is to wake us up. It’s a shaking to drop us to our knees. Devastation always comes before destruction. God always warns us before He destroys. He sent the prophet Jonah to the city of Nineveh and gave them forty days to repent before the destruction would come. The people dropped to their knees and repented. God delayed the judgment for a couple more centuries because of their repented hearts.

The prophet also stated that he has seen the US divided in two. Politically, we are already there. Physically, could be an earthquake that divides the nation. However, he said we could be captured and this would divide America. North Korea, Iran, and Russia all have an agenda for America. All eyes are on North Korea, but it could come from any direction, if God allows it. The prophet said that with Trump as President, we have been given a grace period. If his tenure ends early, captivity will come early.

The message I received from the prophet was to stand in the gap and plead with God to keep these destructive things from coming to pass. The prophet made a comment that we are good to hear the word and just walk away. It might not really affect us so we let it go. Or we just don’t care or believe it could happen to us. I am just as guilty to hear these things and do nothing with it, but maybe write about it. Or pray half-heartedly.

Last week, Pastor James MacDonald spoke a word about Jesus’ return. He said that God’s justice is coming. Pastor Tony Evans had a series based on the churches in Revelation. Every church was told to repent. And every church was told to have ears to hear. We are not to get comfortable with the status quo. We are not to compromise on God’s principles. I know this won’t be popular, but we are not to tolerate sin – especially in the church. We need to repent, now more than ever.

On the Jewish calendar, we are in the month of Elul which is the month of preparation. From August 21 (the solar eclipse day) until the Day of Atonement on September 30 is the time of preparation – a time of repentance. Forty days. I think we are in a very significant time. Not one but two historic hurricanes in this one month – maybe even one more before the Day of Atonement. Wouldn’t that be significant? It’s time to get on our knees and cry out to God to keep this from coming to pass. This is our time.

Oh Lord, have mercy on us; please keep this hour of destruction from us. You are the Lord Almighty – Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. You speak and storms cease. You are the only One who can save us from this hour. Please forgive our apathy and our complacency. Please help the church be cleansed and made pure. Help us to see ourselves as you see us and let us repent of our sins. Oh Lord, keep Hurricane Irma from touching our shores, drive it out to sea by Your mighty hand. Lord, let Your will be done as You see fit for this time. Whatever we need to get us where You want us to be; let Your will be done. For this we ask in the mighty name of Jesus – our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT)

Making a Difference

It’s very encouraging to watch the people in Texas come together and help one another during this disaster. After all the mess we’ve seen on television over the last few months, it’s good to see people banding together – no matter the race, no matter the political preference, no matter the economic status. Everybody was affected by this storm. People were walking away with nothing, but still praising God for saving their lives and their families. One lady looked right at the camera and told everyone “God is good, ya’ll.” Just that small testimony said it all. Even in the midst of the storm, God is still good.

The first part of the month, a family friend died. She was the oldest sister in this family. She was much older than me so I have very few memories of her. I only remember the teenage version of this lady. I never knew her as an adult. However, the son of this family is my age, and he has been the longest sustained friend of my life. We were crib mates in the nursery. There are many good memories of the things we did as children when our families got together. We haven’t been together as a family since we were both teenagers. Thanks to Facebook, we have reconnected. It’s through Facebook that I heard of the sister’s illness and then passing.

Many things were posted about this woman’s life. I went to the memorial service and came away with the feeling that I wish I had known her as an adult. According to the reflections offered by her family and friends, she loved life and lived it out loud and to the fullest. She was an amazing teacher – it wasn’t about the subject with her – she loved shaping these students into their potential. Students that had no hope to succeed became incredible adults. She was an adventurer; she loved to travel. She spent two years in Turkey, and it was mentioned these may have been the best years of her life.

It was said that she never met a stranger. She went back to Turkey a few years ago with her daughter and son-in-law and someone she knew from her time spent living there, spotted her on the street and called out her name. She was that impressive for people to remember her. She made a difference in people’s lives. Cancer cut her life short. The world has lost a friend. But she planted many seeds throughout her time here that will outlive her. She loved well.

We can all be like my friend. I wish I had known her as an adult. I wish a teacher had been there for me like she had been for her students. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the choices I made back then. And maybe I would have found my calling earlier. But it is God’s timing in all things.

We can all make a difference in someone’s life. We can help out our communities even when there is no disaster. We can love well and plant the seeds of hope around us. Wouldn’t that be a better world to live in? We need to realize this life is really short, ya’ll. And God is good all the time, no matter what is going on around us. God loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. We need to believe that in our heart, mind and soul. We need to drive it deep.

When we grieve, He grieves with us. He is personal with us, knows us and loves us anyway. Each member of the human race is an image bearer of God Himself. We need to respect that and respect each human being on this planet. If there is no respect, all hell breaks loose as its doing today. We need to make a difference. We need to plant seeds and love well. This is my prayer today. For the people of the disaster, my prayer for them is to see God’s glory making good out of something so bad.

Trust Him in the process, ya’ll. He is our good, good Father. He will do amazing things, and He’ll let us be involved where He is involved. It’s possible, ya’ll. The Apostle Paul said it well, all things are possible through Christ’s strength, not ours – no matter what. Let’s make a difference today and love someone well.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

Season of Preparation

For the last two years, I have been working with a natural, functional practitioner. She began her practice as a chiropractor, but her practice has evolved over the years. I am just fascinated at all she has learned over the years, and I am so encouraged by the way she helps others to better health. For the last thirteen year, I also have benefited from her practice. She is the one who diagnosed me with an autoimmune disease, and the one who pointed me to a healthier lifestyle that I still practice today. She has been instrumental in my healing journey.

Over the weekend, my sister asked me what I plan to do with the knowledge that I am learning from the doctor. I really don’t know what I am going to do with all that I learn. I just know this is preparation for something to come. It has to be since I want to benefit others by what I know. My doctor gave me a seed of knowledge that has grown into a full passion for the health and well-being of building up the body of Christ. I want the body of Christ to be healthy and whole. I can’t say that we are right now, but I hope that one day we will be a picture of true health. I want to be a part of that journey.

So the eclipse happened on Monday. I saw glimpses of the path of totality but my location only gave 93% totality. I started noticing the change in light about 1:45 pm. I noticed an eerie light and had to see what was going on. My colleague had a pair of glasses so I was able to actually see the moon crossing the sun. However, the 93% still gave enough light to drive out the darkness. Isn’t that amazing?

As the body of Christ, we can bring just a sliver of light to drive out the darkness around us. We’re actually supposed to be more than a sliver, but it really doesn’t take much to make a difference. Monday evening was also the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul. I don’t know much about the festivals of the Jewish calendar, but I have learned a few things over the last few years. The month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year. This is considered the month of preparation before the Day of Atonement which happens forty days later.

As I listened to different speakers concerning this eclipse, I learned a couple of interesting facts about the time of Jonah. Before Jonah found his way to Nineveh, they had already experienced several signs of destruction. They had already experienced a couple of plagues and a civil disturbance. But most notably, they had experienced their own total eclipse that was just a couple of months before Jonah showed up preaching repentance.

If you remember the story, Jonah began to tell the people “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Word says that Nineveh believed God (Jonah 3:4-5). Everyone in that city humbled themselves – from the least to the greatest. The king made a decree for all people to fast and pray urgently for God to relent and have compassion on them. And God did. God saw they had repented and turned from their evil ways. God spared that generation from the destruction that would eventually come.

So this month of Elul, the month of preparation before the Day of Atonement (begins at sundown on September 29), the people of God repent of their sins and do what is necessary to become clean so they will be ready for that Day. It’s a season of calling out to God that He would forgive them and cleanse them. Maybe we as the Body of Christ should do this as well. Maybe we should be on our knees before God asking for forgiveness for ourselves and our nation. Maybe God would hear our prayers and would spare this generation from the destruction that will eventually come. Maybe judgment will be delayed if we humble ourselves before Him.

Maybe it starts with me. And you. We need to come into agreement as all of Nineveh did that we need forgiveness and plead with God to send the Holy Spirit flowing boldly through this land. We need Him desperately. He is the only One who can bring a revival to His Body that would change this nation. But it takes us getting on our knees – humbly – before Him. This is the season of preparation. Are you willing to prepare for that Day?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” John 3:19-21 (MSG)

The Only Answer

Can I be honest with you? The things going on in this country hurts my heart. I don’t know what the answer is, except Jesus. I don’t know how to fix all the strife, but Jesus does. Why doesn’t He do it? Why has God given us this free will when it drives us so far from Him? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus?

Mark Lowry has written a new song about Jesus called What’s not to Love? “Jesus took my place. My sins have been erased. It’s about amazing grace.” Yet, in this world, Jesus’ name is a curse. People would have you talk about anything else than mention the name of Jesus. Why? I just don’t understand.

Over the last few weeks, I have been researching my family tree. I recently connected with a long distant cousin through a DNA test. The company I used for the test links DNA relatives and gives us the option to connect. One of the DNA relatives contacted me to share ancestry information. She was high on the list as far as segments matched, so I thought why not?

After connecting with her, she put me in touch with her mom who had been researching the family for years. The mother had a nugget or two that I did not have that has led me to my family roots from the turn of the 18th century. I found the link all the way back to England.

What’s really fascinating about all this (in my opinion) is that after coming to America, my family line lived in the south. Every part of the south – from Virginia to Texas. I know my Dad’s family was all southerners too. Now, I know I have southern blood through and through. I’m sure with the southern roots, someone in my family fought in the Civil War. Maybe. I don’t have any proof that they didn’t; I assume some son had to go and probably died. I don’t know what they were thinking if they did, or even if they even had a choice.

I now know my maternal side of the family comes from farmers who had lots of children. They weren’t rich. They kept moving south every couple of generations or so. I don’t know what they were searching for – maybe free land. I do believe most of the people in my family line were Christians. There seems to be evidence of it. It’s probably why the first family came over from England to escape the “state run” religion. That’s speculation. They were good, hard-working people. Again, speculation.

But this I do know, they were not perfect. They had their sins as I have my own. Sins run in my family line – both sides. Yours too. We are an imperfect, sinful people. And nothing will change that fact. We all need Jesus, whether we like to admit it or not. He is the only One who can change hearts, even now in this mess we have going on today.

Jesus said though, that He did not come to bring peace but division (Luke 12:51-53). Families will be split because of Him. Every person will have to choose for themselves whom they will serve. There are only two options. If they do not opt for Jesus, then the default is the other. Most people will not agree with that statement. They think there are many roads to heaven. I wish that were true. But if it was true, Jesus gave His life for nothing. If it’s true, He died a horrible death, not only that, but was beaten until He was unrecognizable. Jesus could have sent for angels to come and rescue Him from all the suffering. But He didn’t because He knew the truth. He is the only way to our Father in heaven. And we are only saved from our sins when we believe in Him.

Unfortunately, the ones who do not opt for Jesus will keep this world in chaos, and even more so as the day approaches when Jesus will return for His church. The signs are getting closer together to demonstrate that time is short. It might take another twenty years, but I don’t think so. I think we are about to run out of the grace period, which is what we have been living in since Jesus left us the first time. Jesus will fulfill the prophecies of His return. Count on it. Make sure of your election to serve Him as the One and Only worthy of serving. What’s not to love? Good question.

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)

Time Will Tell

Over the last couple of days, I have been pondering a few things. I know, I ponder quite a bit. Every blog posting is attributable to my thought processes. However, God is stirring my heart for change. Change in me and change in this country. I heard about a mission trip to the green hills of Vermont that had me contemplating a move to those hills to help plant a church. Then I recognized my lack of ability to acclimate to cold weather and I thought better of it. But it still left me feeling a bit uneasy to leave that thought alone. After all, Vermont is the second most unchurched state of the union. There are a lot of lost souls in those beautiful hills.

I grew up in the south. I have lived in this state all my life. I have moved from one end to almost the other. Churches are on every corner in the city, with very few miles in between in the counties. Growing up, gathering on Sundays was just the norm. Sunday nights too. Even Wednesday nights, with our covered dish suppers that were a kid’s delight (after all, who could resist all those desserts!). It’s just what we did. Today is a different story. I think much of that is my generation’s fault.

We have a watered down Gospel. Much of us have decided we don’t need God. We’re doing fine on our own. We do the Sunday thing, because that’s what we do or not; depending on what else is going on. I think one of our problems is we didn’t see God working. We put God in the “out there” category. He just doesn’t get involved in our lives. We did the church thing because that’s what we were taught. But is that all we’re called to do? Just do the church thing a couple of times a week? Where’s the fire that the early church had?

Beth Moore wrote a blog posting this week called: “Is this it? Is this what Jesus meant?” (Check it out HERE.) Her words gave my heart a check. I want to see this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I want to experience God working through me. We are told that we would have more of that in the “last days.” Where is it in America? Why are we not experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this American soil? Are we washed up – so far gone that we just can’t muster enough gumption to do what we’re called to do as Jesus’ body? Where’s the fire? Aren’t we supposed to experience these things like before? Are the kids in Vermont just going to be lost forever?

Anne Graham Lotz also had a blog posting concerning this American Eclipse that is about to occur August 21 (check it out HERE.) God said in the beginning that He put the sun, moon and stars in the sky as a sign and to mark the seasons/festivals (Genesis 1:14). I have heard that God uses the sun as a sign for Gentile nations and the moon as a sign for the Jewish nation. So, if this is a sign for us in America, what is it about? Here are a few interesting facts that I have learned over the last couple of days.

It starts on the west coast at the exact minute that the sun goes down in Israel – which is the start of the last month (Elul) of the Jewish year 5777 (considered the year of completion). Also, there will be another American eclipse seven years later in April 8, 2024; the first day of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. There is a point of intersection between the first and second eclipse path at the intersection of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. X marks the spot. Time will tell why this spot is marked.

There was a European total eclipse on August 21, 1914. Two months later with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand World War I began. The war ended on November 11, 1918 which was just a few months after the American solar eclipse on June 8. In 1918 was the great flu pandemic that killed more people than the Great War. The flu killed over 50 million people from 1918 to 1920. There were also sixteen earthquakes throughout the world that year that registered more than 7.0. There were thirty with a magnitude of 6.0 to 6.9. What does 2017 American Eclipse hold for us and the world? Time will tell.

God is gracious to us to warn us before events take place. Time will tell what this eclipse and the one to come will bring. But we are not to be a stiff-neck people who do not pay attention or heed the call to change. The church is called to repent. We cannot be the light and live like the devil. I think God is calling us to a new level of commitment or I should say back to the same level as in the days of old. Time will tell.

Are you crying out to God yet? Time may not be on our side. If the clock is ticking, let’s be faithful in this last hour. Let’s teach the children about this great God and our loving Savior. We may be forewarned, but we have to heed the warnings and do something now. God, give us the boldness to tell others Your Story to save lives for your glory.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Acts 2:37-38,40

His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

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