Floating Fish

Lately, it seems like everyone is being attacked. The world and, more specifically, the church is being shaken down to its core, it’s foundation. People are being forced into taking a side and standing firm in their decisions. Evil is rampant and no longer concealed within the confines of the shadows.

The deepest, darkest fears, sins, spiritual failings, and doubts are floating to the surface.

Quite honestly, I’m tired of the endless trials that I’m being bombarded with from within and without. When will the shaking cease and the dust finally settle? What will happen next before it does?

As I’m typing this, I can see my dying fish floating to the top of its tank after I painstakingly tried to save it from ick only a few days ago. Sadly, a few other fish are also acting odd and I don’t know what or if I can do anything. (This is after I finally was able to finish my tank—after several weeks of waiting on guppies to hit the market again).

This feeling hits me so often these days you would think I’d be numb to it by now. But no, you’d best believe I will do what I can to salvage and protect, even if it’s in vain.

Will I see the fruits of my own efforts? Probably not. I haven’t exactly “done” life with God lately at the helm. I feel often like someone has unplugged me from the source…that “someone” is me of course, but I can’t seem to find the outlet again in the darkness.

I’ve had to choose God—quite possibly for the first time, without the “feeling” driving it. I’ve always wanted God in my life, always loved Jesus, always wanted to please Him more than anything or anyone else.

I know I still want those things, but life has hit us so hard that I’m just kind of numb to those wants right now. I set expectations on God that I shouldn’t have set (just like in marriage sometimes). I’ve doubted God for the first time, not His existence, but His Character…His willingness. An equally idiotic notion on my part, I know, but here we are.

It’s like I’m lost on the battlefield, shooting and running, unable to clearly see my Commander in the chaos. And man is it chaos!

Between the pandemic, the evil political agendas surrounding it, our presidential failure, the ensuing bloodbath in our country and in the world (some are still in the making), the constant lies and fear-mongering media, the stirring of hatred between races/genders/religions/classes/and parties, the death and depression hanging on everyone, and our own personal battles in the midst of it (being a new mother to a willful boy, health issues, relationship and financial struggles)…..

….yeah, I’m pretty spent. And feeling a lot like my floating fish, gasping for air.

I’m constantly chasing that breath of relief in between the chaos. Surviving but not exactly thriving….is this where the devil wants me? Does he think that if he keeps knocking my legs out from under me that I’ll never really stand up?

Aaron and I have made two conscious decisions amidst our shared feelings. One is that we would be more social at our church. Like make an effort to get to know others and be friends, join groups, etc.

For the past several years we’ve typically remained close to only a handful of people and haven’t exactly went out of our way to invite people over or anything. It’s been difficult for us as introverts to really branch out more. But now we see that we were just being selfish and really robbing ourselves and others of so much more.

In other words, now more than ever—-we all need each other. The church “body” must be a body again. We experience the love of God and meet our needs for connection only through each other.

This is huge for me considering that the reason I felt unloved by God was because I was denying His love that could’ve been mine if I had only reached out to my church family. They are a conduit in which His love reaches us!

Depression is really a demonic hold in that it tries to pull you away from what could heal you; friends and family.

Second, was that we had to make a decision. We had to count the costs of that decision or lack thereof. And that is, “will we continue believing what we believe despite what we see or feel?”

For once in my life, I choose God unconditionally, and to believe He is Good apart from what my eyes have seen, apart from what I feel, and apart from what I have yet to believe. Or perhaps, I do believe but it is without faith.

Nevertheless, I openly stand on what I know to be right, not easy. I see now that the Christian walk is not easy, that it paints a target on your back for every kind of spiritual attack…but I didn’t choose this path because it was easy, only because it was right.

God is God. I am not. This world is broken and evil. I must stand apart from it. I am not here to live for happiness. But to serve and grow and overcome. I do not live for myself but for others. I refuse to live this life for myself because it will only end in destruction and an eternal death. I seek eternal life.

I live for love. I stand for love. And maybe, someday I’ll die for love.

Maybe…it isn’t that everything is chaotic but finally clear. Maybe this is what it’s like when the dust has actually settled and we see things for what they are. The good and the bad and even the floating fish in our spiritual tanks.

What side will you choose to stand on? Come hell or high water, what do you believe?

“Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Note: Even when I am not.

A Legacy of Love

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.

This picture always gets me. The way he pulls out that once burning cross which had become a symbol of racial hatred. He doesn’t react with outrage, or even with sorrow. He doesn’t tell his son to stay indoors but allows him to come out and watch. He removes it gently from his yard, and you can almost feel that he had already forgiven those who committed the crime.

He practiced forgiveness just as Christ did when he died on that same symbolic cross. And like Christ, Martin lived a life of love and selflessness as His disciple.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Godly man. He was a pastor who sought equality, fought against the grain of governmental control, moral relativism, and communism, and did so through the blueprint of Biblical teaching.

Quite honestly, if he saw our America today he would probably weep. Racism is being stirred up by the media to use as a catalyst to acquire more control over its people both black and white!

African Americans are being treated as victims much in the way we later treated the native Americans. Giving them a welfare state of existence—-hardly equality and completely demoralizing! And white Americans (a mixing pot of many nationalities), are being taught that they are inherently evil and incurably racist, which is in turn a bigoted racial belief.

And who is behind this push for hate, distrust, and fear amidst races, religions, and parties?

The political figureheads of our country. Namely the democratic/“woke” extremists who have an agenda for power and wealth.

“For the love of money is the root of ALL evil.”—1 Timothy 6:10

Even on Martin Luther’s day of remembrance, agendas were promoted (as you may clearly see through Biden’s speech) and secretly intertwined throughout the fabric of our country and its spheres of influence: such as media, education, and entertainment.

They claim to want what Martin Luther wanted, however they are mere wolves in sheep’s clothing, standing against what Martin believed and fought for!

They may not erase him as they did many other historical figures because of his color. However, they will do him far worse by erasing who he was….his very legacy of love.

Here are some of his many great quotes:

“Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about the things that matter.”

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

“We must learn to live as brothers or we will perish together as fools.”

“You are not makers of history, you are made by history.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

“To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it.”

“It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.”

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

….the list goes on. Martin was not afraid of the truth, not afraid to stand up for it at great personal risk, or even at risk to his family. He trusted in God and knew that he was merely a vessel to be used by Him to bring about a better tomorrow.

He would’ve stood firm in that truth even today as he was quite accustomed to persecution from every side. Including his own community at times…

And so, let’s truly honor him by living our lives as he lived his. With unshakable faith and love.

God bless you all, my brothers and sisters of Christ, who come from many different lands, speak in different tongues, and all reflect the very image of God.

Responsibility

As we grow, our list of responsibilities grow with us. From the teen being handed the car keys for the first time—to the mother holding a newborn babe—it is both a freedom (power) and a burden. A privilege and an undeserved gift that seems daunting.

Am I really qualified to raise a human being??

Our responsibilities and our ability to keep them are vital….marriage, jobs, upholding laws/rules, protecting our freedoms, caring for our children, paying our dues….

Saving the lost?

Knowledge is also a responsibility in that it requires a response from us. Every time we are made “aware” of some injustice we respond (make a choice).

Do we take responsibility? Or do we pass the baton to someone else? In many ways we are really choosing between either accepting the responsibility to change an injustice or accepting the injustice.

The church has shied from many such responsibilities, namely evangelism—quite forgetting (or denying) that there is no one else to fulfill the job title of reaching the lost. We were the only ones commissioned to do this task and carry this burden….

I say this from a point of conviction because most if not all of my ministry has been focused on those already saved and within our church body instead of the lost outside its walls.

In fact, I was relieved of the burden of evangelism when I was falsely taught that it was an ability, a spiritual gift, that some of us had and others didn’t.

Granted—there are those who are particularly called to an evangelical life (missionaries namely who serve in the very trenches of the darkest regions of the world). But that does not mean we aren’t also called to evangelize in our day-to-day lives.

The great commission was directed toward ALL believers, not a specific sect that has a natural knack for it.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

I’m not denying that ministry within the church body is vital as well. Raising up disciples must come hand-in-hand with salvation (baptism/reaching the lost), otherwise, we haven’t truly fulfilled the Lord’s commission.

Many who give their lives to God after hearing a fiery message at a revival, eventually fall away because they then had no one to show them how or what it means to follow Jesus. The devil quickly devours those young sheep who were left in the wilderness un-shepherded.

I no longer wish to deny that which is also my calling. I no longer wish to see people slip through my fingers that I could have shared the truth with. Our job isn’t to do the saving but to plant the seed in which the Lord could move in their lives. Because once they know the truth—they too must respond and take responsibility for it.

And so I ask myself…what am I responsible for? What responsibilities have I placed aside? What have I ignored or denied? And how can I begin to fulfill them again?

I’m not saying you have to be everyone’s hero. But God has placed things/issues/people on your heart throughout your life…what have you done with all of that? Those inner stirrings of the Holy Spirit…do you know you are responsible for them as well?

Truly…I’m convicted….truly, I have been irresponsible and must take up my cross again.

I am an evangelist. An ambassador of the Most High God.