Wolves at the Gate

wolf eyes

Long ago, in a time much like our own, there stood a kingdom on a hill. It was vast and strong, with large fortified walls and guards keeping post. They didn’t guard against invading countries or even against man. Surrounding the bright and glorious kingdom was a wood, and concealed in its darkness was an unspeakable fiend. Wolves.

Every child in that kingdom knew how to raise a bow, aim, and fire. Every woman knew what to do should a wolf find its way past the mighty gates. And every man was vigilant and brave. The king himself tarried not, and if the very sound of a howl reached his ears, be it day or night, he would lead a hunting party himself into the wood to destroy the beast.

They weren’t ordinary wolves you see, not the mild type that eat only woodland creatures, they had a different hunger, a thirst for man, a hatred for the kingdom on the hill. It was an evil thing, that made the wolves appear larger than normal, darker than night, and with eyes as vicious as a snake. The kingdom never suffered a loss, however, because they slept with their swords in their hands, and woke up aware that they were fighting a battle.

After many years of this, it seemed that the number of wolves appeared fewer, and the howling altogether ceased. The woods were silent and still and the kingdom began to lower their defenses.

It was then that idleness took over.

The children were no longer taught to shoot a bow, the women became plump and content, turning their attention to parties and dances. The men slept, ate, and turned their eyes away from the woods and the gates. And the king? he thought highly of himself and his kingdom saying, “what could ever come against my perfect kingdom, who could ever break down my mighty walls?”

It was night, and not a person stirred, everyone was asleep.

The panting of many wet tongues and the pattering of paws ran across the open grass towards the mighty gates. Dirt flew, and the gate rattled and still, no one stirred. The gate was all rusted from neglect, and the ground was soft as it hadn’t been pounded down by guardsmen feet in many years.

The wolves climbed under the gate and broke into pairs of three, threading themselves throughout the sleeping kingdom. And just as the sun was about to rise above the horizon, casting an eerie red glow over the face of the stone houses, a chorus of screams rang out through the land.

The king awakened with a start and gasped as he took in the view from his window, people were running to and fro with large beastly wolves nipping and snapping at their heels. Already, half the kingdom lay in bloody waste, with unused weapons tucked safely and forgotten in closets and cupboards. Not a single man raised his sword out of fear and shock, never had they prepared for this moment, and never had they seen a wolf. It was larger and more terrifying than they could imagine.

The king wept. He had brought this upon himself, he had let his great land fall to the wolves of the wood. He had grown idle and unfocused, had believed that his kingdom was invincible.

He wandered through his quite castle in defeat, walking down the hall he hadn’t much traveled soon brought him to the library. He reached out towards a red bound book covered in dust and opened it. He skimmed the many pages and stopped just as he reached the final page. It read:

“Lo to the kingdom that forgets to watch the gate, lo to the people that forget their enemy the wolf and turns their faces from the wood, lo to the guards who drop their shields and lower their swords, and lo to the king who watches it all unfold and holds his tongue. This kingdom will not stand in courage, this kingdom will not taste victory, for when there are wolves at the gate and no one to greet them, the battle will be decided. The kingdom will fall.”

The king placed the open book down and with it, he laid down his pride. The wolves never slept, while he ate and drank, they plotted and devised. While he sat on his throne, they moved about, becoming stronger and more agile. While the gate rusted, their teeth and claws were sharpened, and while he slept, the wolves rose up and the kingdom fell.

Never let yourself become this king, and never step foot inside such a kingdom as this. For the bible says, “whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” -Proverbs 18:9

Advertisements

Like A Child

zoo and child.jpg

“He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 18:2

I’ve always loved the zoo. From the moment I could walk I have been captivated by God’s creatures. Going to the zoo so often has made me accustomed to their appearances. My husband grew up differently, he only vaguely remembers going to the zoo when he was very young and so one day we both went to the zoo together. I thought he would be impressed, after all, the last time he went he was too young to truly appreciate God’s creatures. I was wrong.

He looked at the elephants and giraffes and said, “they are much smaller than I remember.” The wonder had left him, and reality had set in. As a child, the world was a lot bigger, the days much longer, and the animals much larger and incredible. I looked at the large elephants chewing on hay and wondered, “did they ever become smaller to me?”

At home, we have a very large Alaskan Malamute, I remember the first time I saw her at the shelter, she was so big and fluffy…and intimidating. But I fell in love with her and now three years later I still appreciate her beauty, but I no longer feel she is that big, or that she is intimidating, at least to me. I know she is big and that her bark can be scary to those who don’t know her, but I have grown used to her. 

How is this example different to the first? With our dog, familiarity with her changed how we saw her. My husband at the zoo was not familiar with the animals like I was, he just remembered things from a childlike perspective and that expectation came up short once he saw them as an adult. It’s like when we were little we believed our parents were superheroes, nothing could stop them and they were strong enough to protect us from anything, including the scary monsters under our beds. Now, we still respect them, but we know they are just humans, and that we all battle monsters and can easily fail.

In both these examples, the wonder wore off as time passed. Our perceptions changed and that change made what we saw less exciting and “big.”

How does this relate to how we view God?

As a child, I knew God was powerful, He was like a superhero to me. He was big, but not vast, not multi-faceted. I didn’t understand the depth of His love, I couldn’t fathom His goodness or righteousness. As I have grown, God has only become bigger and better. Though I draw closer to Him and become more familiar with Him, there is just so much to Him that instead of figuring Him out, I find that I have more and more questions, more and more wonder at Who He is, instead of What He is.

It is good to think and see like an adult, but we must not forget that we are to be like children in our faith and trust. The truth is, as a child we naively trust people, we view the world as a safe place. Evil acts of violence and suffering are, or should I say “should,” be beyond a child’s ability to comprehend. They are full of the need to be guided and taught and corrected. They simply believe the best and hope for the best, and they know that God is real without a doubt in their minds.

I love children for this, this ability I find difficult to re-capture. It goes back to my previous post, how can I go back to being naive, how can I go back to not knowing or understanding things the way I do now? God does not desire for us to try and be naive, that is denial. And denial hurts both the world and us in the end. Denial grips the church and the nation, it re-directs blame and causes numbness in our hearts. Hearts that were made to carry the love of God to others. We simply can’t go back in that way, and God shows us that He is bigger than what we know.

The more we know, the more mature we are equals the more we see God’s hand at work, the more ways He can demonstrate His awesome power and love. A veil is lifted from our eyes and we can choose denial at what we see, or we can look around and see God in everything while before we saw Him work only in our own lives. Our God is very active, He isn’t sleeping, and He just wants us to trust Him.

“Be like a child in this way,” Jesus said, honoring your parents, trusting and hoping, joyful and free. We are to honor God for He is our Father, we are to trust and hope in Him and His goodness, and we are to live joyfully in praise, free from the weight of sin. 

 

 

 

The Garden

walking down path.jpg

I was traveling down a winding trail unawares when suddenly a man appeared before me. It was quite a shock as I had been lost in thought and looking at my feet. He smiled warmly yet his eyes were serious. “The path you are looking for is this way.” He pointed to the tangled mess of trees and vines to my right, I noticed no path through the chaos. “What do you mean?” I asked confused, “there isn’t a path through that mess.” He laughed and shook his head, “It is the only path my dear, the one you walk only looks clean and bare because many have walked it, just as unaware that they were traveling the wrong way as you.”

In silence, I stepped closer to the path which he pointed to, “If this is a path, not many have traveled this way, why should I?” His face softened as he replied, “because it leads to life, at the end, you will find the beginning.” I took another step, “the beginning of what?” I glanced over again at the man and realized that a light seemed to radiate from him a little. He held out his hand, “come with me, and I will show you.”

I began to feel afraid, the man felt both safe and wild, his eyes flashed like fire and soothed like water. I swallowed and asked, “Can’t I go alone?” His smile faded and was replaced with sadness, “You could, but you would never find the garden, and you would wander back to this path, the one that you know and trust.” I sighed in resignation, “So you are saying that I need you?” And then I gasped and added quickly, “…a garden?” He reached towards a large oak tree and ran his hand down the rough bark in thought. “Yes, however, it’s not “a garden”, but thee garden.”

I couldn’t help but feel excitement and wonder rise up within me. In response, I held out my hand to the wild man. And he turned from the tree and grasped it as though it was what he had been waiting for all along. He smiled warmly and his joy was contagious. He led the way through the brambles and vines.  I had to push and fight my way through every step, at times I stopped and he stopped with me, looking back expectant yet patient. A few times I longed to go back altogether and he would say, “to go back would be more painful than going forward, you wouldn’t have me to lead the way.” And so we continued and as we walked and fought together, we trusted and grew closer to one another. After a while, I asked him, “Why are you helping me?” He now was covered in many scratches and bleeding, he sat down and said, “because I love you.”

I was full of both awe and shock as I looked at this bleeding yet wonderful man before me. “Why do you love me?” He reached out and pushed the hair out of my face, “I love you without reason and without end.” I laughed now completely content, “that doesn’t make sense and yet I think I’m beginning to understand the more time I spend with you.” He chuckled too and stood up, though tired and sore he seemed to radiate life. I stood up as well and noticed that the trees and brambles were beginning to fill with beautiful flowers, the wind picked up and to my right, I suddenly saw a whole open field of grass and mountains beyond that. The sound of a stream bed and the musical tones of birds filled the once silent and staleness of the brambled path. And yet in that amazing moment, I longed only to hear the man’s voice, to feel his hand in mine, and to look at his face.

I turned and in an instant, the garden disappeared and before me stood the man I love. And yet now a name came to mind, “Jesus.” His name is Jesus! I fell at my feet before Him, He was clothed in white and the light coming from His being was so bright I could barely see. “Forgive me, God!” I called out in fear and shame. Jesus knelt down beside me and lifted my face, “daughter, I am the garden and you have found me!” He kissed my head and hugged me tightly. With tears in my eyes, I said, “I didn’t know it was you, Jesus, beside me all along…I’m so sorry.” He wiped away my tears and said. “You took my hand even when you didn’t know me, you took a leap of faith and trusted me even though you were afraid and unsure.” He lifted me up on my feet and took both my hands in His. “Welcome to the beginning, welcome home.” I laughed and cried and shouted in joy and Jesus celebrated with me.

Never again would I wander down the beaten path, for I knew that the greatest and wildest destinations are only found on the paths less traveled by.

And never would I go down a path, without Jesus’s hand in mine.

My Lucy

my lucy

 

Lucy, Lucy where are you going?

Called the great Aslan to me

I turned in delight at His glorious sight

And He smiled back at me.

Aslan! Aslan! I’ve been looking for you

Following your paw prints, you see?

I pointed and placed my hand  in His mane

And He wrapped His paws around me

Lucy, my Lucy, I’ve never left you

My footsteps appeared by your feet

I turned and I noticed for the very first time

His paws walked in stride beside me

Aslan, O Aslan, how did I forget?

It’s a great and terrible thing!

I knelt and I wept but my tears never fell

For with one lick, my face was clean

Lucy, dear Lucy, why are you crying?

I hold no anger towards thee

He laughed and He danced

And Narnia joined in

As we played and splashed by the sea

Aslan! Great Aslan! I love you so

“I know,” He replied to me

Lucy, my Lucy, remember this

You love because I first loved thee.

 

 

The Burden of Knowing

HelpThem.jpg

“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

-Ecclesiastes 1:18

I remember the first time I heard about Human Trafficking, it was quite a shock to know such hideous crimes were taking place right in my hometown. Innocent women and children, seemingly ignored by society, taken away while we hid behind our picket fences and tv screens. I remember feeling the weight of the problem on my shoulders, a shame at having let something so big occur, as if I could stop it.

I vowed to fight the injustice, to make everyone else aware so that they too would feel it’s weight and take action. As time went on I started a group at our church and researched Human Trafficking statistics in America, and in the rest of the world. I bought the documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls and played that to my group. It’s one thing to list the facts, it’s another thing to show real footage of the crime, to put faces to the numbers.

I was impassionated for a few years…as time went on I began to feel that I couldn’t do anything, I felt pulled and torn by other things that needed fixing in this world. And at the end of it all, life took my attention and passion away. But deep inside I still feel the pull because no matter how hard we try to forget, we can’t go back to not knowing.

Knowledge means responsibility. Once we know something, we make a decision right then and there about what to do with that information. Do we store it away in the deep corners of the mind? Do we discard it as useless? Do we meditate on it, and take action? We decide these things the moment we see someone in need. And what we do with the knowledge may mean everything to someone.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:2-3)

We are to remember those in prison as if we were together with them! Do you know how many brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering at this moment for Jesus? Every month 160 Christians are put in prison, and 255 are even killed! (opendoorsusa.org) I can’t go back to not knowing that…every month.

So what are we to do with our ever increasing knowledge? In such a world where the internet and media advances have connected us all so much, what can God expect us to do about all the many needs and problems?

First, we pray.

Can we pray for every single thing? probably not, unless we truly take 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to heart;

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It says we must also rejoice and give thanks. I take these verses to mean we are to be constantly aware of God, not necessarily talking His ear off. But talking when something comes to your heart as if He were standing beside you. It’s like being with your spouse or a close friend, you don’t have to talk to be close to one another, and when you do talk it’s a two-way conversation from the heart.

That’s the key to praying, don’t feel pressured to pray for every single person or problem as if your one prayer may be the key to saving them, granted our prayers are powerful, but as Romans 8:28 says;

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

There have been times when I forgot to pray and realized that God had still worked in that person’s life. God works through us, but remember, He isn’t limited in resources to work through.

The next thing we are to do is give.

Ask God what you are to give in time, money, or resources. A tithe isn’t “giving”, it is what we are all called to give to God, giving is what we do when our heart is stirred, it can be a set amount of money a month like a tithe, or it can be a one-time donation. And although tithing is only done through money, when we give it can be whatever we want. We can give food or time, or the very shirts off our backs. We can give talents, and kind words, and we can give knowledge, like the gospel. We all give differently, based on what stirs our hearts and what we are called to give.

If every Christian gave what they were called to give, a seemingly small sacrifice, then the world would be changed. Imagine it! a world full of 2.2 billion Christians, all of which are giving and helping and praying, all are doing what they were called to do. I know this would be world-changing, and that the reputation of Christianity itself would change.

The world and its problems wouldn’t seem so overwhelming if we knew that we didn’t have to fight them alone. There are many Christian organizations at work in this world, they do the brunt of the work, they are on the frontlines fighting the good fight. But even they aren’t called to do this alone, every Christian is a frontline Christian. Satan is battling us all, anyone who carries the title of Christian he is out to destroy, we don’t avoid him by doing nothing…by doing nothing, he has already won against you.

There is a reason the bible talks about us wearing the full armor of God, we need it! We don’t wield a teddy bear in this image, but a sword! I believe that many Christians have become numb to the world, they see only what’s in front of them, they tell themselves that because the bible says that the world will get worse, why bother fighting the inevitable?

We fight because it is our call and commision to dispel darkness and bring the world under the authority of God’s kingdom. Jesus said that the poor would always be among us (Matthew 26:11), however, that didn’t stop him from helping the poor anyway. What we do here matters, lives are at stake, and all of heaven is watching us. It is a privilege to give today…in heaven, we will no longer be able to give because everyone will have all they need. Now is the only chance we get to sacrifice, it’s time we rise up and do exactly that. For what is money, or the very man-made treasures we own in the face of eternity with God? The things you cherish today you won’t take with you, it will be swept away with the rest of creation at the end, and from the ashes, God will create something even greater. You will never long for those things again after you enter through heaven’s gates, but you may just feel the weight of regret…imagining all the times you could have given, prayed, helped, healed, said, done…for the sake of those who are most precious to God.

Solomon had it right, he was the wisest man and he knew the weight of knowledge. It brought him pain and sorrow to truly know. And yet he never once asked for God to take away his understanding. He was offered wealth and he chose wisdom over wealth, God gave him both in abundance. Soloman had made the right decision, notice how the right decisions are rarely ever the easy ones.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:10-13)

Do your part, play your role…we are only on the stage of life for so long. Live your life fully, so that when the time comes and the curtains begin to close, you can smile and bow in the wake of heaven’s applause, having fully done all that was asked of you with excellence and honor.

Prophecies: The End Times (Part 2)

new temple

“Then Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you will know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.”

-Luke 21:29-33

 

The pieces are falling into place, preparations are being made to build the temple mount, a mingle of both anxiety and excitement are growing. The Jewish people, once spread out across the earth are continuing to return to Israel as prophesied in Isaiah 11:11-12, Ezekiel 37:21-22/38:8, and Luke 21:29-31, not to mention Israel is coming alive agriculturally as foretold as well:

“The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by.” (Ezekiel 36:34)

There are so many prophecies about Israel that have come to pass! To list them all would take up much space, here is a link if you want to read more. http://www.eternal-productions.org/101prophecy.html

Are we the generation that will not pass away? Will we be the ones to see the coming of Christ? Time will tell us if we follow the signs and remember the prophecies.

Already, the far corners of the world are being reached for Christ, but there is more work to be done in order for Matthew 24:14, Mark 13:10, and Revelation 14:6 to come to pass. All countries have heard of Jesus, however, there are many tribes and groups that have yet to hear the message. Estimates show roughly 7000 people groups still unreached!

Lastly, we have talked about the signs on the earth. Though many prophecies surround Israel, there are prophecies about the world at large that are also listed under the link above. But what about the signs in the heavens?

“There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.” (Luke 21:25)

Other verses like Joel 2:30-31 describe such signs that very much sound like natural yet rare phenomenon such as eclipses or blood moons. Though this is just speculatory, I at least agree that these signs are worth looking into and must have a purpose. God created much of what we see in the sky to help us determine time, it is no wonder then that these rare signs may also be related to time.

Something else has caught my attention, it all started a few short years ago when people kept posting videos of sounds that couldn’t be explained. The sounds were like trumpets or drums and they couldn’t tell whether the sound came from above or below their feet. One video shows the sound actually causing car alarms to go off down the street. A pastor named Paul Begley had the idea of gathering all these sounds and playing them together and the sound is quite terrifying, like an angelic army marching to battle. Scientists believe they have found the cause, or at least have come up with some possible causes such as our core shifting or weather-related harmonics. Regardless of the actual scientific cause, these sounds are something new and can very possibly be a sign to observe. Here’s a video below of those sounds.

“The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
    for the Lord will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind
    and put the wicked to the sword,’”
declares the Lord.”

-Jeremiah 25:31

I share all this to give us hope and to stir us into action. There is nothing for Christians to fear, but there is much to be excited about. For every prophecy that comes to pass brings us closer to Jesus’s coming. Now more than ever, the churches must unite and fulfill the great commission of reaching lost souls. We must preach the love of God, not the fear of the end times. Fear may motivate people but it is not the tool Christians are to use, love is the most powerful motivator and it is the very heart of God. Therefore, put on love, cast out fear, and trust in God. Jesus is coming soon!

 

 

The Kindess of God

godslove1.jpg

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

-Psalm 36:7

How do you view God?

Lately, I’ve have been thinking about His kindness, something that often gets overlooked. We know God is good, that He is righteous and just, but do we truly know Him as kind? The Old Testament displayed only a jealous God it seems. A God that had a temper and who cared very much for obedience. However, that God is no different than our God today, He didn’t change, the circumstances did.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, the answer God had been paving the way for in the Old Testament, Jesus reflects the very heart of God. All along it was in God’s heart for mankind to be united with Him, to experience His love. After the fall, we were separated, and God couldn’t go against who He is. In order for Him to be with us, there had to be strict rules and sacrifices because man’s heart had fallen from righteousness and to simply be in God’s presence in those days could very likely end in death. His righteousness is so pure that it completely destroys darkness, even if that darkness is in man.

The Old Testament represents an old covenant, a life without Jesus. After His sacrifice, mankind was reunited with God. He can now dwell in us and be with us without the barrier of our fallenness. That is why today, we see a God who is called our Father, who is full of love, and who is kind. He can be who He truly is to us because He has redeemed us into who we truly are. We have all been adopted into His family, have been crowned as sons and daughters in His kingdom. When He see’s us He see’s our completed self, and He see’s His Son.

I have seen His kindness in big ways, and in small ways. The big ways bring me to my knees, the small ways lift me up and fill me with immeasurable joy. Like a father walking with his daughter and noticing she likes something that to the rest of the world may seem insignificant. It is the little things that God does that show me just how kind and present He always is.

Some examples of these little love letters:

-God noticed that I love wildlife, and now every day I see something new or exciting, sometimes right at my window! Never have I had so many birds, and so many types around my yard! Each time I think of God. Even our country house is a testament to God noticing this.

-God noticed that I needed beauty. Working in a hot stuffy factory all day can be draining in more ways than one. I miss the beauty of being outside, the color of life, the intricate creations of God vs. manmade items and machines that surround me. As I work, and start feeling this way, I will often have a dandelion seed float past me, pausing just in sight and dance away. Remember, I’m inside a factory, the only vents we have are a distance away from me and they have fans in them.

-God noticed that I love Star Trek, it was immediate, the moment my interest was sparked I was practically given a whole bag of Star Trek books for free. This continues. Let’s just say I have quite the collection now.

These love letters continue every day. Every inner desire, even the small things, God shows me that He hears and sees me and that He loves how I am wired. He loves how you’re wired too, He made you unique and so His love for each of us is unique and complete. That’s why I love the picture above…it truly capture’s the father/daughter/son relationship we have with Him.

The truth is God isn’t angry, He isn’t shaking His fists at the world, He isn’t numb either. God isn’t sleeping, He isn’t ashamed or full of regret at our existence. Our Lord isn’t unjust, His will isn’t evil…..

God is Love, and what is love? Let’s look at the definition in the Bible, and place God in the blank instead of love. Now it reads;

   God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. God does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. 6  God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.

-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This is who God is. If you still aren’t sure, If you still don’t know, look to Jesus. He walked this earth reflecting the heart of God. Every time he lifted someone up, every time he healed someone (he never turned a single person away in need of healing). He washed the feet of the disciples, He multiplied the fish and bread to feed a crowd, He pulled Peter up out of the water, He quieted the storm, He provided the best wine for a wedding, He cried over Lazarus, He raised Him from the dead! And He died on a cross…stormed the gates of hell and brought back what was taken from us.

That is our God. He is good, He is kind…and He is so much more.