Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Friday, July 31, 2009


That's a question that we ask a lot. It starts as little kids. Really little. I have a two and a half year old niece. She's very inquisitive. She likes to ask questions. One favorite is 'Why?' You answer that question, and it's 'Why?' From her age on, we ask that question many times in our lives.

One of the biggest questions in the world today; why do bad things happen to good people? I've heard people who don't know God personally ask it. I've heard Christians ask it. So why is it?

Unfortunately, I don't have the final answer. I do have a couple of things to input on the subject, however. First, we live in a fallen world. Plain and simple. Ok, so not so simple, but it's the truth.

God never intended us to live like we do. Nope, He intended us to live in the Garden, walking with Him in the cool of the evening. Adam did. Eve did. We were created to have relationship with God. But, man (that means both male and female sides) screwed it up. See, God gave us this cool thing that is called free will. We have the ability to make choices. He doesn't make us have relationship with Him. He wants us to choose Him. And, silly us, we chose wrong. We thought it would be cool to have our eyes opened and see good and evil like God. Hind sight is always 100% better than foresight. The fallen world is a consequence of that first sin. (Read Genesis 3:14-19 for the consequences of Adam and Eve's choice.)

Because of that choice, sin now has a place in this world. It tries to have a place in our lives. We all sin. No matter how hard we try, we fall.  Romans 3:23 NLT "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." However, we don't have to let it have a place in our lives. We're still going to screw up; we are human after all. But remember that free will I told you about? Yep, we can choose not to let sin have a place in our lives. How, you may ask. Continue your relationship with God. Become more intimate with Him, and we won't want to do any of the sin that tries to have that place. We don't have to let sin rule over us. We repent quickly. We become completely vulnerable to what God is doing. We live under Grace. We imitate the example Jesus set before us. Jesus was completely human, but because of his completely intimate relationship with His Father, He lived a sinless life. However, He is also God, so we can't expect to actually live sinless.

I know it's a lot to get the mind around. I can't get my mind around it, so I don't expect you to wrap yours either. God doesn't expect us to. We are only expected to Trust and have Faith.

Now, back to the question of the hour. Look at your life. Are there things that have happened that you've asked why? A sudden death in the family? A job that was lost? A divorce that happened even though you gave it everything you had? A miscarriage? The list goes on and on. Why did these things happen? You've trusted God. You know that he provides. Why did it happen?

First, you need to know that GOD is not the one that did it!! It is NOT in His character. He doesn't have an evil or mean bone in His body. Matthew 7:9 NLT "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?"

But, Romans 8:28 NLT "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." So, even though we have bad things happen, God can work them for good. We just not may be able to see it at the moment.

Look at Jesus. One of the worst things happened to Him. He was betrayed, beaten, spit on, rejected, and killed in the most humiliating way. Even though He chose to die, for the people in the moment, it looked bad. The worst! But, God had a plan! He knew what was going to happen. He worked it for the Good, by Jesus' death and resurrection and it's through Jesus that we have Salvation! Now, how does our 'bad' compare?

There is a lot that happens just because we live in the world. We are IN the world, but not OF the world. Remember that. So even if things look bad, God is still in control. He still knows what's going on. He doesn't miss anything. However, just because He is in control, it doesn't mean that He has done anything to bring about the bad.

Second, these things are the consequence of sin. Some things are unrelated to choices we make. It's because of choices others make. The car our family member was driving was hit because someone was drinking and driving. That type of thing. But, we also have the consequences because of choices we have made.

There are doors that we have all opened, knowingly or unknowingly, that have let things come into our lives to wreak havoc. We continue to make bad choices, even after we know something is wrong. Look at the sexually transmitted diseases going around. Maybe it's the consequence that comes from the sexual sin people choose to be ensnared in? Because it's fun, and it feels good, and everyone is doing it? Not sure it's really worth it.

There are boundaries that God has set. It's not because He doesn't want us to have fun. He's a fun God. However, the rules and boundaries God has placed for us is to protect us. Not to be the party crasher. He never wants us to get hurt. And He's still there when we make those dumb mistakes, either out of stupidity or ignorance.

Think of a teenager. They just got their license. They saved up and got a car. It's a clunker, but it's a cool car to them. They get pulled over because they were speeding. Mom and Dad aren't happy with the choice their child has made, but they are there to help them through it. The teenager still has to face the consequences, but they don't have to do it alone.

God will never leave us or forsake us. He's given us that promise. And he has a perfect track record. We know bad things happen. We know that we have someone to count on when it does happen. Now, we have choices to make ourselves. But remember, when we don't make the right choice, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 NLT

Friday, July 17, 2009

Is it in You?

Friday started as any normal day. Drag my butt out of bed, get to work, chat for a minute with a coworker. I fired up my computer and started on my 'pending' orders. It's the orders I have that I wasn't able to make contact the first time.

To make a really long story short, I called a patients mom that we finally got a good phone number for and she yelled at me and then hung up on me. OK, no big deal. It's happened before. Probably will happen again. I cancelled the order and went on with the other orders I had. Then, a funny thing happened. Not 'ha-ha' funny, but funny in a 'you don't have that happen everyday' funny. Right before lunch, the patients mom called back to apologize. I can't say that in the two years I've worked there, I've had someone call back to apologize after they were mean and hung up.

Not only was that incredible in itself, she told me that God wouldn't let her go on another moment until she apologized. Talk about an incredible witness. She laid her pride down, humbled herself before God and called back.

Now, I wasn't hurt by it. But after the apology phone call, I was affected. I was faced with a question. Would I be strong enough or obedient to God and call someone back?

The story, however, doesn't end there. I told her that she was forgiven. I forgave her. No harm done, it's all good. Now, I work in a call center, and I have a voice that is loud (I'd make a good megaphone) and I can be heard by the people around me. When I got off the phone, someone laughed at what I told the lady who called. "You're forgiven?!" she asked. It was a scoffing tone, like it was a stupid thing to say. She understood a little more after I said the person apologized, but the fact that it sounded like a stupid thing to her was sad.

Why? you may ask. I don't know all she believes, but the fact that 'forgiveness' is foreign to her is . . . I'm not sure I even have a word. Sad, heartbreaking, disappointing are a few words that come to mind. I know she goes to church on occasion. How much teaching she has is a good guess.

The person that sits next to me believes in Buddha. He has a little statue on his desk. Buddhism teaches on the principle of not holding a grudge, or forgiving someone. Karma and all that. He even said he would hold a grudge. I don't know how close his following of Buddha is.

Colossians 3:13 NLT "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. "

We all have faults. I'm sure there have been many people that have had to forgive me. I've had to forgive myself. We all have opportunities to forgive someone. I was, for all intents and purposes, engaged several years ago. We hadn't made it official, but everyone knew we were planning on getting married. Then he crushed me. He was out of state and I went to see him. He dumped me the first day I was there and I spent four days alone, in a far away state. It took me a year to finally get over the numb feeling and get angry about it. Then he pulled a couple other crappy things. A real messed up situation. But I had a choice. Forgive him, or become bitter. I had to do some counseling, but I did forgive him. And I know I'm better off without him.

You see, forgiveness isn't all about the person you need to forgive. It's also about you. If you don't forgive, you will become bitter and hard and God can't work in you. It's not easy. It's something you have to make a choice to do. It's something that you will have to do over and over and over again, most likely for the same person. Luke 17:4 NLT "'Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.'”

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 6:14-15 NLT "'If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.'"

Jesus paid the ultimate price for our forgiveness. He died for us, so our sins would be forgiven and we can spend eternity with Him. He rose again to crush the hold that sin has over us so we can be free. How little of a price do we pay when we forgive someone? We don't have to die for it. We just have to make a choice. How is it that we have lost sight of that?

That's why the concept of forgiveness is so foreign to the world. We've lost sight of the ultimate forgiveness and we figure the world deserves what it gets. Without Jesus, they will get what we ALL deserve. We ALL deserve death. It's only because of Jesus that we have life.

Grace plays a huge part in this as well. When Jesus died and shed his blood, it covered all our sins and the law. We now have a way to God. And it's because of God's Grace and Love that He sent His Son to die for us to make that way. We have the perfect picture of Grace and Forgiveness. Why do we make it so hard? Why can't we follow the example that Jesus lived?

So now, we all need to look inside ourselves. Knowing that we pull on the Grace of God every moment of life, are we willing to extend that Grace to others? Are we willing to humble ourselves before God, be obedient to Him, and either apologize or forgive someone? Are we willing to do it, even if we get mocked? Is it in You?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Even the Demons Believe

Mark 8:36 NLT "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?"

This last week, the news has been focused on the loss of Michael Jackson. He was an international icon. There are people all over the world, especially in America, that mourn the loss of him. Besides the fact that I don't understand it, it grieves me. Why? I've seen a picture of a woman worshiping him. Holding onto a child, I'm guessing, she had one arm raised, eyes closed and looked as though she was singing. I was sick at seeing it. Michael Jackson is dead and cannot save her.

Another story was about a guy who found a picture of Michael Jackson in a tree stump. Like people find pictures of Elvis and the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich or a potato chip. A neighbor was quoted saying that this man looked up to Michael Jackson and that M.J. is more important to him than Jesus. Here again, Jesus should be the most important since He's the only way for Salvation. I'm sure the list goes on.

My cousin, who's eighteen, has hopes of setting me up with someone. She told me that this person believes in Jesus. I asked her what exactly he believes. She didn't know. I was thinking, That's great. He believes in Jesus. So do the demons and Satan. (I still don't know what he believes.) I have another friend that told me that a girl, we'll call her 'Sally', wanted to date him, but she didn't believe Jesus is the Son of God.

The difference between 'Sally' and the demons. The demons know the Truth. They know for a fact, they don't have to go on Faith, that Jesus is the Son of God. That's heart breaking.

James 2:19 NLT "You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror."

Michael Jackson was raised Jehovah Witness. He then, in recent years, started studying Islam. Both religions believe in Jesus. Neither has the Truth. M.J. gained the whole world, as it seems, but if he didn't know the Truth, he lost his soul.

Mother Theresa. I met her. She was a cute little lady that had a great heart and a great sense of humor. She was funny, telling jokes, passing out St. Christopher medals, blessing everyone over and over. She had some incredible insight to God and incredible wisdom. She did some amazing things in her life time. She sacrificed her life to help people. However, if she did not know Jesus as her personal savior, she didn't go to Heaven.

John 14:6 NLT "Jesus told him, “'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'"

The Church today is more interested in being right, being bigger, being better than anyone else that we've lost the true sight of the Call. What is more important; people knowing who you are and what you do, or people knowing the Truth?

Unfortunately, the Truth has taken a back seat. Because of that, there are people exploring other ways because we've been a horrible representation of Christ and His Church. Recently, there has been some that are huge in the Christian world that are turning and searching out other avenues. These avenues are the things that the world is turning to. And there are people from the Church, knowing the Truth, that are following because it sounds good for the moment.

James 1:5-8 NLT "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do."

I have no way of ending this nicely or wrapping it up. I'm a missionary. My calling is overseas. That doesn't mean that I don't have a heart for America as well. I live here. I was born here and raised here. America is on a fast track to hell. A hundred years ago, our government would never had dreamed we would be at the place we are now. We were founded on Christian principles. Those principles are now just a memory.

Look inside yourself. Where do you stand? What do you believe? Are you going to let only the demons believe? Are you going to take a stand for Christ and let the world know that He's the only way?

Do you care?