What Remains

“But the Word of the Lord remains forever.” -1 Peter 1:25

I was blessed enough to take this shot overlooking my parents neighborhood after a spring storm. I knew a rainbow was going to appear, everything was right; the sun was bright and the rain was falling beyond it, God’s promise was going to manifest and I didn’t want to miss it.

As I type this I realize that we often do “miss” it. We don’t walk in His promises and the farther we walk away from them the harder it is to find them again.

For months now I’ve been faced with a mountain. A, what should be, simple problem to fix has made me furious with God and confused beyond reason as to why I can’t seem to overcome it.

My problem is just one example. I know many people who’ve struggled their whole lives looking for the answer, whether that’s healing of the body, restoration of a relationship, or a dream come true.

I want more than anything to answer that deep seated question of “why?” And I know the response is always the same and never satisfying: “we live in a broken world and Jesus promised us we’d have trouble.”

But what did He mean by trouble? Didn’t He demonstrate with His own life what He meant? Trouble existed solely in the devil’s schemes, in the persecution of Christians and those who believe in Jesus.

He said the world wouldn’t accept us because it didn’t accept Him. That we may just have to face (and turn the other cheek) to verbal/physical abuse all in the name of Jesus. Many believers even suffer death at the hands of unbelievers weekly.

As far as I know and from what we’ve seen Jesus do. He never suffered illness, nor deformity. Never turned away someone asking for healing of such. And never dealt someone an ailment or injury in return.

No one can fully understand exactly what took place when Jesus died, what He did in death, and what it really signified when He arose from the grave. Likewise, no one can fully walk in all that He paid for.

You see He gave us back what was stolen from us in the garden. He bathed us and washed us white as snow, and He tore the veil, opened the symbolic gates of Eden and called us His new Holy temples!

Despite this, our minds are still caught up in the past. We spent so long as lost sheep, as slaves to sin, separated from God that we can’t readily/easily believe the Truth of the New Covenant.

We live our lives in the “in-between”, feeling broken and sinful and looking forward to eternity free of it. God wants you to live in the now and experience the freedom and gifts that Jesus has ALREADY given us.

Yes, Heaven and the new Earth will be amazing! But we are called to bring Heaven down today. To release the Holy Spirit to move through us in the Earth. What a privilege it is that we get to serve and demonstrate the love of God.

His love remains. Whether I am angry, confused, broken, and when I’m not seeing Breakthroughs. God is the same. I am the one who changes, the one who fails to get it right and see clearly the things of God.

For the first time in my life I began to experience what it felt like to pull away from God. And let me tell you that in pulling away I never felt so alone. Demons didn’t wait to torment me with thoughts and feelings that I used to never entertain.

I felt like Peter, taking his eyes off Jesus as he stepped out of the boat and stood upon the water. In no time at all he was sinking and afraid. Alone.

I’m still angry, I’m still hurting. And I still don’t have the answers I seek. But I know that pulling away from God isn’t the answer but the final blow. I won’t find my answer outside of Him, and so if I really want to have my answer I must do the opposite and run to Him.

Thank God He remains. He waits for us to return with open arms and forgiveness. I saw myself for what I am apart from Him and I really am nothing. If He isn’t the core of my being I don’t want this life, nor do I deserve it. I don’t even deserve the answer that I seek.

The rainbow in the sky signifies more than anything how lost we are. How God could very easily and rightfully have destroyed all of us. But instead He chose for us to continue. He wanted us to continue and to someday be reunited with Him.

Show Him that you aren’t done yet. That He can rely on you. That you love Him regardless of what you see and experience. Thank Him for all He has done and all the things He does that you don’t see. Thank Him for your life, your time here to fulfill your destiny and call. And know that you can never get “too” close to Him. There is always more, so much more.

After Easter

This Easter was the very first I spent at home.

I can’t even remember a time when I missed both Good Friday and Easter service! But there I lay in misery (very sick with a sinus infection), as my husband took our baby to church without me.

I knew the church would be packed, the kids ministry filled. And that America at large would be handing their children Easter baskets filled with toys, eggs, bunnies, and chocolate. After attending church (possibly for the first and only time this year).

Being stuck at home gave me pause to contemplate Easter. As a new mother I’ve come to think more deeply about matters I once overlooked. I want my son to hold Easter and Christmas sacred. I don’t want him to get swept into a sugar rushed frenzy thinking, “what’s in it for me?”

I’m not saying that Easter baskets are bad, or egg hunts and other games. So long as when you ask your child what Easter is about they don’t answer, “getting gifts, eating candy, bunnies and eggs…” etc.

I know it’s hard to grasp what Jesus did for mankind. It was bloody, it was unselfish, but it was the only way to cleanse us.

We protect children (and should!) from the dark horrors of evil. But sometimes I think we shield them too much or even unnecessarily.

Working with children I’ve learned that many of them are very aware of this world. They see it on the news, on the computer, through video games, and even from their parents and life situations.

They need tangible real truth in order to find a real hope that never leaves them, and that they never outgrow. The truth can be messy but there is a way to get the point across without going into every detail.

I mean making your kids watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ, probably isn’t a good idea. But showing them a crown of thorns and explaining that what Jesus did wasn’t joyful for him like what their coloring pages represent, but quite painful and hard.

Making them aware that evil does exist and we truly needed a savior to save us. That the devil is real and he is defeated. But he does still roam the earth seeking to destroy God’s people in many ways.

Teach your children not to fear but to put on the full armor of God. That they are powerful and have authority that makes demons flee because of the Holy Spirit within them.

As time passes, year by year, this world only darkens. And our walls of protection around our children are crumbling in its wake. It’s so vital that they don’t crumble with them. Unprepared for what’s out there.

Would you rather the world teach them what is right and wrong? Why things are what they are? Who the enemy is?

As my son went to church I cried.

You see I know a little about the pain of letting go. He’s never really been apart from me for more than 4 hours or so, and not with his dad, at church.

It might sound silly, but as a first time mother you go through this a lot. Every time you let go of your child you are letting go of control. You are letting go of your heart and believing and trusting it to come back to you.

Someday my little man will be a man, and I’ll still be feeling this weight as he walks out the door and gets behind a wheel. As he faces this world and its many temptations and fleshly desires. It’s lies and persuasions masquerading as truth and goodness. I’ll have to trust him and know that I did my best to prepare him for it all.

I titled this post After Easter because every day we should thank Jesus and remember His great sacrifice for us. Every day we live in the “after” days, the new covenant. And that is something to celebrate! Jesus is alive!

And now I get to feel an even greater depth of this sacrifice as I hold my son. Jesus died for him before I ever knew him, before his first heartbeat, his first cry…his first sin. God paid for it all.

May God bless you all, as you continue to remember Jesus and as you bring up the next generation in truth. May the Holy Spirit guide you in all things and fill your hearts and homes with peace that passes understanding. Amen.

Dependency

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” -Isaiah 41:13

The word “dependency” is often tied with negative emotions. Who really wants to be dependent upon anyone? Sure, there are moments when we are grateful for help, but at the end of the day, we would often rather have not needed it at all.

Even children wish to grow from their dependency and become independent adults. But what children don’t realize is that though they will out-grow their dependency on their parents they will never out-grow their dependency on God, nor should they.

Mankind was created to depend on God. But God did give man a measure of power and responsibility; to tend and rule over the garden and its many creatures and to subdue the earth. But most importantly, God gave man a free-will.

The kind of dependency God wanted was the kind we see in a marriage relationship, in which both co-labor together in love. He wasn’t looking for slaves but friendship. And the only genuine friendship exists purely on choice, just as a married couple chooses love, even when the feelings of love aren’t always present. Love and dependency on God is a choice.

The devil knew that he could persuade Eve into believing the lie that God was unfair. That she didn’t need to depend on Him but could depend on herself and become “like God.” He taunted her with the promise of a freedom that was really a chained cell that would bind mankind for generations. Until Jesus came, died, and unlocked the prison door.

Now, we can restart and make the right choices. We can depend on God and He can depend on us (since He has limited Himself to working through us), and we can resume our assignment to subdue the earth (light up the darkness/take back the kingdom).

I don’t know if this word spoke to you today, I do know that we all struggle at some point with this desire to do it all by ourselves. Though our sin is forgiven we cannot erase the thoughts or ideas that the devil placed in our minds, just as we can no longer be ignorant to this world and it’s horrors like when we were children.

The devil is still whispering spiritual independency into the ears of sons and daughters of Adam and Eve today. He asks, “is God really all-knowing?” “Is He really good?” And those thoughts spiral into, “does He really exist?”

It is no wonder that the world keeps seeking all knowledge, keeps redefining what is good and keeps pushing toward relativism, the idea that we are gods.

When we do life on our own it’s very messy. We start to feel weighed down, exhausted, burned out, depressed and powerless…sounds like bondage doesn’t it? If you are carrying this weight today lay it at the feet of Jesus and say:

“Lord I’m tired of going it alone, I renounce the lies of the devil and reclaim my freedom in you, in the shadow of your wings I find rest, strength, and power. And unconditional love. Thank you God for never leaving my side, for helping me and blessing me more times than I can count. I no longer chose self, I choose you.”

You will accomplish so much more with God than you could ever accomplish alone. I promise you.

Destroying America

Those who seek to destroy America seek to destroy God.”

When we first stepped foot on the rich and wild soil of America we did so in the hope of establishing a foundation of freedom and equality. We weren’t looking for a tyrannical leader or government to lord over us anymore. We wanted a democracy, a ruling body whose powers were limited and in the sole hands of the people. The government existed merely to serve and protect.

Gone are the days when we could embark with them in memory. History books used to be the source of trusted knowledge but our country has destroyed knowledge, labeling it as evil. Now, not even a simple google search for truth is easy, and the voices of young troubled minds seem to scream louder than that of our true historians or scientists.

They say America wasn’t founded in God, that our forefathers were evil men who rebelled and fled from a just society. That the tyranny and religious persecution which led often in burnings and countless slaughter were in fact the more acceptable society over this free and equal one.

When our forefathers sought religious freedom they sought freedom from the Roman Catholic Church, at the time. The crusaders killed hundreds and citizens were forced to bow and obey, to pay taxes and follow rigid laws. That is what they wanted to escape from, as Christians they wanted to worship freely. To branch into other sects of Christianity and yet all live together in harmony as sisters and brothers in Christ. It wasn’t freedom from God or even the Catholic faith they sought, but from man, and what mankind had twisted for personal gain and power.

Beyond historical text we see the proof of their faith in how America progressed and how society was formed. People today forget that equality wasn’t man’s idea but first and foremost God’s. Our foundation as a country has always sought to mirror the Word of God. It’s morality and laws come from His Word. And no matter what people try to say, they can never erase this truth. Our country was built upon God.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of they United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Does that mean we mirrored His Will perfectly? Absolutely not. We owned slaves for many years, we forced the Indians to live in harsh conditions and treated them as less than human. The past era represented a different mindset, shared throughout the world. What we would be appalled to see today was quite common and acceptable back then. The world was young, sinful, and barbaric.

Remembering how we were and who we’ve become is vital. Otherwise, our sinful natures will drive us backward in development. America was a newborn but I am proud and thankful that we founded her and can enjoy all the sacrifice and freedom today because of it.

Israel is a prime example of what the world longs to do to our Faith. They are often attacked from every side merely because they exist and hold fast to their beliefs. America is strong but that doesn’t mean she is safe. The same hatred that longs to crush Israel is after us as well. 9/11 which is already being erased and forgotten by our youth is a prime example of this hate.

It may seem like a hatred for America on the surface but dig deeper and it’s a hatred for God, the Christian God we stand for. Why? Because if you truly saw the world for what it is you would know that this is a battleground, a kingdom that belongs to the devil. And wars are being waged over hearts and minds even in times of peace. The Lord God rises us up and the devil manipulates and brainwashes others in order to tear us down.

Today, America is being transformed from the inside. The devil is undermining everything we worked so hard for. But he’s smart, he knows that outside attack makes the country unite, like Israel. If America falls it will be because we let it fall from the inside.

That happens in many ways:

1. Destroying the Bible, its historical ties to America, and its inner meanings and morality in which we built our society upon.

2. Destroying/erasing our historical past and figures which were quite radical in their beliefs for their time. With their destruction we destroy their legacy and wisdom which propelled us to change.

3. Glorifying pagan beliefs and societal views. As creatures of worship if we remove the Christian God from the throne room of our hearts another god will surely seat himself. In other words, the devil.

4. Dehumanization and persecution of all who differ in belief. They might wave the flag of equality, but really they demand conformity. Instead of celebrating differences they erase them…by any means necessary.

5. Hyper emotionalism- feeling offense at everything, zero tolerance, a mentality of anything that causes discomfort is bad. Entitlement breeds from this.

The list goes on and you can see the destruction we have wrought already. The great divide in our country over party, race, religion, wealth, and age. If left unaltered, we will have the exact tyrannical society we escaped from years ago.

The future they seek is very bleak. But God isn’t done with America yet.

Just as He isn’t done with you or me, He isn’t done with us as a country. We just need an awakening, a revival…and perhaps you and I were placed here for such a time as this.

Don’t give up on America yet, this is your assignment whether you like it or not. We are Americans and if we carry that title we carry that responsibility, the same baton that our forefathers carried has been passed on to us. It’s our job to make sure their sacrifices and struggles weren’t in vain.

Unstoppable Love

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” -Matthew 8:1-4

I used to believe that every miracle Jesus did was to demonstrate to the world that He was the Messiah. That each act of power had a purpose in mind. To spread His ministry, challenge the Pharisees, or even propel Him toward the cross.

I guess I never really realized that many of Jesus’s first miracles were done in secret. Often we see him telling those He healed to keep quiet about Him. He even shuts the mouths of demons who knew He is the Christ. Mary even gets the “it’s not the right time, mom!” treatment for asking Him to do something at the wedding they were attending.

And yet, despite all of this, Jesus still healed everyone who asked for healing. He still turned water into wine at the wedding so that the celebration could continue. And He still cast out demons, knowing they would recognize Him.

The Leper who was healed in the passage above didn’t do what Jesus asked and instead told about Him all over town. This hindered Jesus’s impact in the city and He had to continue healing people outside its walls.

And so why did he risk it? Why did He heal people, like Peter’s mother-in-law who had a fever, or the paralyzed man by the pool of Bethesda? Surely, He could’ve waited and healed them when the time was right instead.

“Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.” (Matthew 20:34)

“I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” (Mark 8:2-3)

“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)

“Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,He said. Be healed!”’ (Mark 1:41)

Jesus carried the all-consuming love of God inside Him. It was this great love that drove Him to heal and help whenever opportunities presented themselves. It was a selfless love that cared not what would happen so long as people were completely restored.

He didn’t heal from afar but got right down in the muck with people. The leper is a great example of this because lepers were considered the “untouchables” of society. They even had to yell, “unclean!” If people came within six feet of them unawares.

Six foot distancing sound familiar? Jesus didn’t just reach out toward the man, He took those six feet toward him and touched him! Can you imagine? Living for years with the identity of being unclean and never feeling the warmth of another human’s touch?

We’re to be moved by that same compassion toward today’s “untouchables.” Because we are God’s hands and feet in the world. How else will people know His love if we fail to demonstrate it? You may just be the only Jesus someone ever meets!

Notice also how Jesus never once went down the healing line like, “you’re healed, you’re healed, you can wait because God wants to teach you something through your illness.” Or “you can be healed, but to you I’ll give cancer to so that I receive some future glory from it.” Is that love? Does that sound like Jesus? And yet, these kind of beliefs are in our churches today.

The truth is in the Word. And in the Word we see the heart of God which holds nothing back and doesn’t hesitate to pour out love and healing upon us. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the true heart of God on the earth.

If ever you find yourself doubting, turn to Him, read Matthew/Mark/Luke/John and place yourself in the story. You are the leper, the tax collector, the paralyzed man, the bleeding woman, the adulterer, etc.

Jesus wants to climb over your walls, and into your pit, into your pain. And pull you out. He has compassion for you, so much that He would’ve died just for you.

Never forget that.

Doubting Thomas

“But he (Thomas) said to them, unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” -John 20:25

There is a reason the disciple, Thomas (also known as Didymus), is labeled as “doubting.” The passage above points to the fact that he was a man who needed to see in order to believe, and yet he was one of the 12 apostles that Jesus had chosen to be His followers and closest friends.

Apparently, he died much like the other disciples, being martyred for his gospel of Jesus. So why do we use the phrase, “don’t be a doubting Thomas,” which overlooks everything else the man accomplished for Christ?

“So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “let us go, so that we may die with Him (Jesus).” -John 11:16

I find it interesting that Thomas still performed miracles with the others when Jesus sent them out in Matthew 10:1-42 and Luke 9:1-6. There was no mention of his doubting then, and if it existed, even in his heart….miracles still took place.

One evening as I grumpily wondered why my prayers weren’t being answered, I remembered Thomas and realized the truth. He believed more than me.

It wasn’t a matter of Faith, we’ve all been given a measure of Faith. It is all in how or if we use it. We are never lacking in Faith to the extent that miracles can’t occur. Jesus clarifies this by saying even a mere mustard seed of Faith is adequate (Matthew 17:20).

Faith only requires action, otherwise without works it is dead (James 2:17). And Thomas has surely walked by Faith more often than not. He lived with Jesus! I’m sure his deeds also far outweigh my own. What have I truly accomplished for Christ?

And so I say, BE a Thomas. Don’t let your doubts stop you from seeking truth and exercising your faith. Follow Jesus even if you don’t have all the answers because let me tell you, “you never will!”

We are today’s disciples. And although we are very different than the 12, from the clothes we wear to the way we speak. We carry the same Holy Spirit. And if He is the same yesterday, today, and forever than I don’t think He changed His mind about miracles either.

I don’t know what it takes. I really don’t. There are days when I feel like prayers are mere wishes, days when I start to place more faith in myself or doctors. Sometimes I don’t even want to try anymore because my hope is so deferred. But at the end of the day I refuse to believe an easy lie over a difficult and painful truth.

The problem isn’t prayer and it isn’t God. It’s us. Something has taken what was simple and made it feel impossible. Or rather, someone. The devil doesn’t want us to release the Holy Spirit in power on the earth (his kingdom). And so, I believe the problem in our hearts began with the creation of the “religious spirit”, that is mere works without faith, condemnation over conviction, rituals without love. It forces all low but never rises up. It robs our hearts and minds of power and true wisdom and stagnates the growth and impact of a Christian on the world around them.

We all have this false doctrine engraved in our hearts to some extent. But I’ve tasted the freedom of truth and have seen that there is so much more we are missing that Jesus paid for. That we aren’t merely sinners saved by grace but coheirs of the kingdom, given power and authority to do even greater works than Jesus on the earth! (John 14:12)

Once you experience truth, no one can take it from you, and no amount of falling, no amount of demonic attack can make you forget that truth. You’re allowed to doubt my friends, you’re allowed to have days when you can’t take a step further. But you were not made to rest in that state of mind. Dust yourself off and start over, because you know the truth and the world needs the truth to come alive.

I can’t deny who I am in Christ. I will always come around, full circle, back to Him. He is the only way, and my only hope. He is the reason I live, do, and someday, die.

Thomas wasn’t perfect and neither are we. God shines brightest in our weaknesses and there wasn’t a soul God partnered with that didn’t need Him, nor didn’t need repentance. He likes to work through us broken vessels and that in and of itself is a miracle. He transforms us and that is miraculous!

I don’t know if this word is for someone else out there. During this pandemic, I just see a lot of people falling prey to this thought of powerlessness. Stop asking God, “what will YOU do?” And ask yourself, “what will I do?” Speak aloud the reality of heaven you want to see on this earth, in your workplace, in your home. Stand on the truth and speak it until you believe it!

Put that God-given Faith to work and you won’t have time to doubt.

May God bless you all ❤️

Official 8 Month Old!

Oh boy! Where’s the time gone?! You barely fit in my arms anymore and lifting your car seat carrier feels like a feat for Superman. Those cute little baby sounds have formed into your first word, “dada.” And I know someday, I’ll be hearing a “mama” too.

Your once gummy grin is now filling with tiny teeth, and that bald head is filling with blonde hair. Your eyes still remain brilliant blue, a rarity, considering our eyes of hazel and brown.

You love to stand and bounce, and every morning I wake to your squinty little smile and baby giggles which light up my life like no other sound.

You are finally enjoying the world of flavor, and it’s a joy to see your pallet grow. I wish you would love veggies more but boy do you love sweet things and mashed potatoes! Gravy all the better. 👍

I see you learning and growing, reaching new heights, and wanting to do more and more without my hand to guide you. I see a look of pride as you stand up straight, or reach that far off toy. And so I count the days and savor each moment, and give one last glance at each pair of clothes outgrown, before tucking them away in bins alongside toys and baby gear you no longer need.

I hold your tiny hand, and rock you as I sing, watching the sun rise and set on another day and memory of this chapter called “James and Me”, and excitedly await what memories summer will bring to us both.

James beside his newborn shirt

You are my sunshine ❤️ and nothing will ever change that. I pray that above all that you will ever learn, and before all the great things you will ever do, that you will know that you are loved, you’re here on this earth for such a time as this, and that this world is a temporary plain, just as you are only temporarily mine.

But that is good news son. Because beyond this life lies eternity, and beyond my love is the love of God, and the woes and pain that this world brings will someday cease. And we will all finally be home as one. But until that day, I will wipe away your tears and do my best to fill your life with light too.

I may not be perfect, we’ve had our share of tough times. But son I want to thank you for changing my life. ❤️

I love you….never lose your wonder, keep reaching, keep growing, keep becoming who God made you to be. I am so blessed to watch it all unfold and to be entrusted with raising you. Thank you God, for choosing me to be your mom.

Sleep tight, my little love ❤️

Time Well Spent

It is a joy spending time together as family. Aaron and I will watch some anime together or cooking show while James plays on the floor. Or we will all laugh together, as James tries to say his first words (which happens to be “dada”), or practices standing.

Our evenings generally look like that, but Aaron has to sleep all too soon so that he can get up early for another 12 hour day at work, and then it is just me and James again.

Eventually, I long for time alone with Aaron, just as we did before welcoming our son into our family. I long for intimacy and connection with the man I married. And when we do get a few hours time to ourselves during our date nights I then begin to miss my little boy again.

This cycle of spending time together, as a whole and alone got me thinking about how God longs to spend time with us. If we are made in His image, I’m sure we also reflect His Heart and desires when it comes to quality time as well.

Maybe, He also desires…

1. Intimate time (just the two of us)

2. Family time (kids/spouses)

3. Fellowship time (as a body/church)

It isn’t enough to just have a personal relationship with God that doesn’t also include family and church time as well. We should have a healthy schedule of meeting with God alone, and meeting with Him together. Whether that looks like devotion time as a family, reading to your child as you lay them down for bed, praying together before meals, worshipping at church or attending a class…

You name it, God wants to be a part of it. In fact, He wants to be a part of everything. He wants you to do life hand-in-hand and step-by-step with you. His love is patient yes, but it is also passionate and all-consuming. You’ll never meet a more dedicated lover, a more intimate being than our God. He IS love after all (1 John 4:8).

So don’t confine Him to your closet or Bible time. Don’t just spend time with Him when your family is all together or a couple hours on a Sunday. You can’t live your faith through other people, eventually it will have to become real for you and personal and vice versa if you never spend time together as one.

The devil despises your relationship with God. He doesn’t understand it because he only loves himself. And so he will find any way possible to inch in between you. That is why it is so difficult to find ANY time for God.

He gets you thinking that everything has to be perfect in order for you to spend time with God.

“I’m busy now, maybe tonight before bed I will read my Bible.

“I’m too tired today, I’ll go to church next week.”

“Our schedule is too full this month for family devotions, maybe once our son’s soccer season is over.”

Insert your own excuse. I’ve fallen into the same busyness scheme and it never feels healthy to be stuck in it’s vicious cycle. Honestly, we would only be doing ourselves a service and accomplishing so much more if we gave God our first fruits in time. What you give to God first He gives back tenfold. Don’t believe me? Try tithing.

It can be dangerous to separate yourself from the body and it can be equally so to separate yourself from alone time with God. Each scenario you leave yourself open to attack.

Those who distance themselves from the counsel/correction/teaching/ and support of the body may become deceived and are like sheep that’s escaped the safety of the flock. God didn’t design you to live out your faith alone, but to be a part of His family.

If you only meet with God as a whole then your faith will never grow on its own. You may just place people on a pedestal and live your faith through them or behind them. Your faith must be become real and alive to you or the devil will cut you from the safety of the flock like a weak sickly lamb and take you out.

Healthy relationships are dynamic and flexible. They aren’t one-sided or controlling, and they aren’t forceful. God is patient and waiting, and always speaking. He doesn’t hold the use of your time against you and He never condemns you.

Some tips to help spend more quality time with God:

1. Nature walk: Take the dog/kids or just go by yourself with a journal or devotional. Just being in nature can declutter your mind and help you to feel one with Him.

2. Podcasts/audio books: make your trip into town/ or to work meaningful and listen to the Bible audio book or a sermon by your favorite preacher. Let the message sink in as you go about your day.

3. Morning Bible verse/passage: For younger kids I’d start with a single daily verse and then have them think about it throughout the day. Before bed, bring up the same verse and talk about it as a family. This is a good way to begin devotions and prayer time.

4. God in the passenger seat: If you find it hard to incorporate God into your daily grind, imagine Him as a friend in your passenger seat. He follows you wherever you go like a spouse/friend. Talk to Him just as you would them, remember, He just wants to be with you. And just as you let your friend/spouse talk back/reply, do the same with Him.

5. Anytime is worship time: kids love to dance and you will find them enjoying even doing chores if you put some music on and worship while you work. Whether you can sing or not, just praise Him anywhere; in the car, in the shower, or even as a quiet lullaby before bed. Your kids and you will feel peace and happiness flow.

The Wrath of God

God is serious business.
He won’t be trifled with.
He avenges his foes.
He stands up against his enemies, fierce and raging.
But God doesn’t lose his temper.
He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power.
Still, no one gets by with anything.
Sooner or later, everyone pays.
Tornadoes and hurricanes
are the wake of his passage,
Storm clouds are the dust
he shakes off his feet.
He yells at the sea: It dries up.
All the rivers run dry.
The Bashan and Carmel mountains shrivel,
the Lebanon orchards shrivel.
Mountains quake in their roots,
hills dissolve into mud flats.
Earth shakes in fear of God.
The whole world’s in a panic.
Who can face such towering anger?
Who can stand up to this fierce rage?
His anger spills out like a river of lava,
his fury shatters boulders.
(Nahum 1:2-6 MSG)

…This is what the Lord would still be doing if it weren’t for His Son. God had a plan from the beginning, a way to save us from what we deserved. He couldn’t deny Himself or His righteousness that demands purity. Light could never meddle with darkness but always drives it out. That is God’s design.

And so the Old Testament remains as a reminder of our past, our great need for a Savior. Because who could ever completely purify themselves before God? Or follow all the ancient rules perfectly?

Jesus was the fulfillment of the law and the bridge between God and man, that we might walk with God again like in the Garden of Eden. But the serpent is still loose, though his days are numbered, and our garden needs pruning and constant care, or it withers and succumbs to thorns.

Because of Jesus, who drank the wrath of God on our behalf, the judgment of the Lord now comes with a choice. Do we repent and follow Jesus, who took the punishment of our sin in full? Or do we decline His free gift of salvation and forgiveness and reclaim that wrath and just judgement upon ourselves?

There are many who would rather cling to their selfish pride, even to the point of eternal death, than surrender to a higher power. They live this life as they wish, and deny all that would truly set them free. You see in their minds they think they are free, and that the church and Christianity is a rigid cell, when in actuality, they are bound by many chains. A sinful life is a life filled with bondage. Not only to darkness but to the flesh, who rules their every thought.

But that aside, what have we done as New Covenant believers to reach those bound by such darkness?

On Facebook, I see post after post about the wrath of God on our nation. I see fire and brimstone preaching that may lead some to God in fear, but turns many others away. Imagine how differently the Story of the Prodigal Son would have ended if the father never welcomed him home. Many children are driven away from their fathers in rebellion and further still by their father’s continued wrath at their disobedience.

The truth is that we flee from guilt, discomfort, and judgment. We can only truly experience guilt and overcome it if we first feel loved. A son who knows he is loved can heal and move on from his mistakes because he knows that the father only disciplines out of love.

Discipline goes from, “how dare you do that!” To, “I can’t let you do that, because I love you too much.”

Our job has never been to condemn the world or say, “you better repent or God will unleash His fury on us all!” But to show the world that our God loves them so much that He gave His Son so that we could be with Him again. All He ever wanted was to be with us. He did everything He could possibly do short of taking away our free will, to do exactly that.

Granted, our free will got us into this mess but I think we all can understand that choice is important because it reflects the heart of a person. We go to work because we have to, not because we want to. We go to church because we love God and call Him friend.

God isn’t angry with you. The world or your actions don’t surprise Him, He saw it coming and loved us anyway. The world is what it is because it is the devil’s kingdom and God has relinquished control of it, temporarily. He chose instead to work through us.

That means our faith (power of the Holy Spirit) must be released onto the earth through works. Prayer is powerful but a believer who understands that they are the conduit through which that power flows is even more so.

What does that mean?

YOU may be the answer to the prayer. Stop begging God to do something He can only do through you! Stop looking up to heaven as if all the power is shut up behind it’s gates! You are carrying the power within you, the Holy Spirit is alive and waiting for a chance to move! If only you would move…

The world is radical. We need to meet their passion with our own. Turn it up a notch! Demonstrate the love that no darkness can extinguish. Only then will people start to see that the church isn’t fading or there to rain fire upon them, but to offer them true life, purpose, and freedom in Christ Jesus.

God isn’t angry or sleeping, He’s simply waiting…waiting for you to answer His call.

Star Trek: Quotes

“I do not approve. I understand.” -Spock

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these! In my search for good quotes with lengthy words and deep meaning I overlooked the simplicity but equal importance of others. This one from Spock in reply to Anan in A Taste of Armageddon is one of such quotes that I feel has relevance today.

For those that aren’t familiar with this series, Spock is a half human/half vulcan that prizes himself on logic. However, even he has said that logic is only the beginning of wisdom, not the end.

In today’s society, the amount of illogic would probably lead to this iconic expression.

Fascinating

My point today, however, isn’t to raise my eyebrows at the state of our world, but to try and understand the “why” behind it.

I believe that no one is born evil. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t readily say that those who do evil things do it with the thought of, “I want to be evil and turn against God.” If we really looked into it, I’m sure you would find that most people think they are good and feel a sense of guilt over those actions which they believe to be bad.

Character and civility still mean something, and that is a good thing! Though it’s importance and definition is slowly fading, most of us still have a moral compass which directs us. That is why the devil has his work cut out for him when he seeks to twist a person to his will.

You can’t take a good person and turn them toward darkness in a day. It would be like trying to get a doctor, whose spent his whole life healing and helping others, to kill and destroy. It would be unnatural and disgusting to him, and yet doctors are doing this in abortion clinics throughout the world.

The only way to twist a man is by one thought, or rather, half-truth, at a time. The devil is good at being that subtle voice, like the serpent he is. He knows that a snare can’t be too obvious or we would avoid it, and so he spends years laying the trap and training us to step into it unawares. In fact, by the time he’s done with you, you’ll believe that his words are truth and his trap a warm embrace.

If you allow this way of thinking to take hold, he will get you to believe anything.

Maybe it isn’t a baby…maybe it is just a lump of cells

I don’t like who I am, God must’ve made a mistake when I should’ve been born a boy!

The list is practically never-ending. It’s these slippery slopes of deception that I can very easily understand. We have all been tested and have believed these lies (maybe not the ones listed above) but others…

Maybe God isn’t all good

I don’t see miracles, they must not exist today

Do these ones hit closer to home? Can you see that we are all in the same boat, being attacked by the same enemy. Like any battlefield, you’ll see injured, broken comrades, alongside those who get back up and keep fighting, some retreat, others lose heart, and others still are killed.

We are all on this battlefield fighting the same battles and one enemy.

It isn’t Biden, world leaders, the wealthy, some ethic group, a political party…rewind and keep rewinding…it all started in that garden. The serpent.

Jesus understands. He came down to live as a man, but died to free us from death. He is now our mediator but just like the quote above His understanding of our condition didn’t equate to approval. If that were so, we would still be lost and damned without a savior.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse with this topic but my final example is the clearest one in my experience.

Behavior in Children.

I’ve worked with young children for awhile now and have seen my share of illogical behavior. Most of which, are normal developmental phases of learning boundaries, though not all.

In the normal cases, children learn quickly and the problems are easily managed with discipline. In cases of abuse/neglect they tend to spiral and react poorly to discipline.

It’s easy to get annoyed by bad behavior but once you hear the story behind it, suddenly you understand the why to their behavior all the while wanting them to overcome the obstacle and to heal.

It is this heart of compassion, of understanding that I believe will reignite our passion for the lost. We’ve grown used to arguing and judging and have forgotten to love like Christ. He died while we were still sinners, and though He understood our condition He loved us too much to leave us there.

And so let’s attempt to be an understanding church, so that we can be a compassionate one. That our love and commonality would unite us and press us toward the fulfillment of the great commission, to lead people to Christ and bring Heaven to earth.