Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Thank God For Easter

In the beginning, God created man in His own image.
God maintained camaraderie with man through friendship with man in the Garden.
“Should God have fellowship with man? I don’t think so,” said the devil.
So the devil devised a plan to destroy the friendship between God and man.
Through the devil’s scheme, man disobeyed God, and lost friendship with God.
The devil was ecstatic. He had succeeded. He beamed with pride. 
But God said, “Not so fast, Satan! It’s not over until it’s over.”    

God was grieved of course, but in order to satisfy His justice, sin must be redressed.
So God became Man, in the Person of His Son Jesus, and lived among men.
Through his Son Jesus, God showed man how to restore friendship
Through faith in His Son Jesus.
The devil incited the people against Jesus. They hung Him on a cross, He died, and He was buried.
Again the devil thought to himself, “Finally, I have done it! Man will forever be estranged from God, and be my partner in hell.”
“Not so fast, Satan! It’s not over until it’s over.”

Now, after Jesus died, Satan was so overjoyed he threw a party.
Who was at the party?
Satan and his demons of course!
They slapped each other on the back and congratulated each other.
“We did it, we did it! The tomb is tightly sealed, what good is a dead Savior?”
Not so fast. Not so fast, Satan! It’s not over until it’s over.

On the third day, as the party was going on, there was a big earthquake.
All back-slapping and celebration stopped abruptly. “What’s going on?” Satan asked.
Before any could answer, he saw the stone at the mouth of the tomb roll away.
Jesus walked out with angels worshiping Him!     
“O, Nooooooo,” said the devil, “JESUS IS ALIVE, MY ENEMY IS ALIVE!!!  
“This wasn’t supposed to happen. Man will find his way back to God through faith in Jesus!”
“What can I do differently now?” asks the disappointed Satan.

Slow down, Satan. Now it’s really over! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Socialism and the Ten Virgins

by Lorilyn Roberts

"An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "Okay, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade, so no one would fail, and no one would receive an A."

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D!

No one was happy.

When the third test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them, "Socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

It cannot be any simpler than that."

* * *

The above story quoted from several sources on the Internet may be spurious but it's an interesting analogy on the mechanics of socialism.  None of us are so "Godly and self-sacrificing" that we are willing to work our behinds off for the welfare of the State without regard to our own personal sacrifice and what the cost is to ourselves. Socialism takes away the hard-work ethic that Americans historically have been known for and equalizes available resources for "the good of all."

Socialism runs counter to my Christian beliefs because my freedom and ability to choose have been taken from me and what's "good for all" has been forced on me by a godless government. The government is not wise enough to make the choice about what is best for me or my family, and when they rob from me to give what is rightfully mine to someone else, most of the surplus ends up in the pockets of those who least deserve it.

In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, found in Matthew 25:1-13, the five young women who brought extra containers of oil for their lamps were not "forced" to share with those who didn't. Why? Because there would not have been enough "capital" or oil available to take care of everyone who came to meet the bridegroom.

The five virgins without sufficient oil were not disabled-they could talk, walk, think, and reason, and it is implied by the context, they could take care of themselves. Jesus called them "unwise." The wise virgins instructed them to "go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves." Implicit in the story is a free market economy where there are resources available to be bought, showing that the foolish virgins could have bought some earlier but didn't.

The foolish maidens preferred to depend on handouts from the wise who had planned ahead, much like many today are looking for the government to take care of them in the form of bailouts for fiscal mismanagement; free money for cars, houses, and education; entitlements for government welfare; funding social issues like abortion; and now free health insurance that could bankrupt our country.

Jesus admonished us to help the poor, saying they would always be with us, the thought being, no matter what a nation does to equalize wealth, it goes counter to God's natural law. Everyone is not guaranteed the ability to own a home, have health insurance, or whatever else our government decides should be funded by those who have more. The government will end up robbing its citizens to pay for what is not affordable. Socialism is not sustainable because fewer and fewer will be able to survive economically at a high enough level to provide for those who are unwilling. Many will be duped into thinking they can't to validate our government's desire for ultimate control. The whole system will collapse into its own waste of misallocated resources and broken dreams. 

Too many of our young people have been hoodwinked into believing they are entitled to "more." Someone insisted in response to my arguments on Facebook, "the government is going to take care of me." Good luck with that thought. The problem is somebody has to pay. In the end, we all pay because we all suffer when the truly poor suffer, and there will be more who are truly poor. When limited resources are squandered by propping up those who deserve to fail and the available capital is used by the government to equalize all there is, everyone suffers. We see this now and will see more of it because we are now using capital that doesn't exist. 

The future earnings of our children, borrowed money from other countries, fiat money created by our government, our Social Security, and probably, eventually, our retirement accounts, will be used to fund our fiscal irresponsibility. There will be a continued shrinking of the private sector as the government takes over more and more of the economy. A day of reckoning is coming. God's law is a natural law. Those who have been deceived will receive their just reward.

As in the parable of the Ten Virgins, the wise virgins had enough oil and those who were foolish didn't. Those who seek the truth will be prepared. God said in the end times He would send a strong delusion. I see a lack of discernment everywhere; sadly, most of all in our young people. Too many of them have bought into the lies fed to them by the educational system and powerful bureaucrats in Washington. I blame both the Democrats and Republicans. In many ways, I hardly even see a difference between them except when it comes to the issue of abortion. I wonder if they do not know history or if it's just easier to believe the delusion rather than to seek the truth. Even Pontius Pilate, who represented the powerful Roman government, asked "What is Truth?" as the Author of Truth, Jesus Christ, stood before him. The question is, do you know?  

I implore you to seek the truth while it can still be found. Who knows when the last bastion of freedom of information will be taken from us. In China, much of their news is filtered by the government. There the Google search engines remove "propaganda" that the government doesn't want the masses to know. In Russia, South Korea, and Vietnam, Christians are imprisoned and martyred for speaking the truth; and now in Europe, Islam is the fastest growing ethnic minority and Sharia law is becoming the norm. The Muslims make it no secret what their agenda is by their attacks on our country, our faith, and our way of life. How long are we going to be in denial of the truth for the sake of political correctness?

While the government may think Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, and others are "too big to fail," perhaps they don't realize a free United States is not too big to fail. It is not even a question if you have enough oil.  Don't blink or you might miss the bridegroom. It is happening that fast!


You can read more of Lorilyn's writings by visiting her blog at http://LorilynRoberts.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Four Words that Keep Me on My Toes

Newsworthy end-times signs and the real reason for great anticipation.

Of all the news stories from the past couple of weeks posted and tweeted by prophecy followers, none has caused my heart to skip a beat. The significance of Netanyahu’s win. I read that our president doesn’t love Israel. Blood moons. Human gene editing. ISIS. Nukes in North Korea. I got a good look at the new Prime Minister of Greece. Some people think he’s the big A-C. He’s an Assyrian descendant ruling in the former Greco-Roman Empire, and his swift uprising and appeal have people talking.

But he’s really not someone we can point to and declare, “The end is near!” As for the other notable reports, I assumed the guy in North Korea would engineer himself some nukes, or at least claim he had. The science of remaking the human race is not news to me—my fiction is built on that frighteningly real possibility. If not for the furious speed of communication, I wouldn’t know the moon was having issues. I haven’t seen any sign of it in sunny Florida. The president doesn’t love Israel? Whaaaat? As for the political win in the Promised Land, I’m glad the man is still standing. God be with him.

None of these matters are any more notable than the multitude of happenings during the last several years. Or the last decades or centuries. Or millennia. The most important indicator of “the end” was a brief statement spoken by the Promised Messiah who died, then showed up alive again. Some sixty years after His death on the cross, he gave a message to John the Revelator. And to the world.

“I am coming soon.”

Since those four words were declared two thousand years ago, they shouldn’t cause any fluctuation in the rhythm of our collective hearts today. Right? What did the God of the universe who never makes a mistake or gets held up in doing anything at the perfect time mean by soon?

Some modern translations replace “soon” with “quickly.” A study of adverb/verb usage in the New Testament clearly indicates Jesus was not saying, “I’ll see you next month.” Rather, he was saying, “I will show up suddenly.” This is a statement to kick start the apathetic heart.

The last church rebuked by Jesus in the book of the Revelation was the church of Laodicea—an actual church at the time of the writing, which had fallen into an apathetic pattern. But the scripture, according to most New Testament scholars, also refers to the last church age—the age of apathy. This doesn’t mean
every church and every Christian is apathetic about all aspects of their faith. But the representation is there, and our age-aligned propensity toward indifference is irrefutable. Wealth and enlightenment have dissolved into poverty and blindness, just as Jesus said they would (Rev. 3:17).

And what does this condition of the church come to at its end? A state of being lukewarm. Under committed. Apathetic. The words of Jesus were spoken for all ages, but was He specifically addressing the Church of Perpetual Laziness when He declared his arrival would happen soon…quickly …suddenly? With little warning? We’ve been on notice for two thousand years, but somebody’s going to get taken by surprise.

How long is the age of Laodicea? Only God knows. When will the long-awaited, forewarned, plenty-of-time-to-get-ready event suddenly happen? Sooner or later. Why does that make my heart skip a beat? Because it’s an indisputable proclamation about the Second Coming. Because it’s closer today than it was yesterday. And because I need a little cardiac arrhythmia to pull me out of my lethargic, stand-around-and-wait-for-it mindset. Sometimes I can feel my sluggish feet sinking into the dull ground of Laodicea. But I think I’d rather be dancing when “soon” happens.
Poor and wretched company I keep
And keeping brings me closer to unmoving
Shake the burdened dirt from off my feet
For dancing keeps me ready for His coming
Suddenly He’ll come if I am standing still or dancing
But dancing keeps me ready for His coming

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Does He Really Understand Our Trials?

“Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John along with him. He began to feel despair and was anxious. He said to them, ‘I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert’”—Mark 14:32-34 (CEB).

Distressed? Agitated? Afraid? Would you use these words to describe Jesus? Most of us would not. However, in Mark 14:32-34 above, we read that Jesus experienced emotions just like the rest of us.

I’m participating, along with other church members, in a 40-Day Lent study by Adam Hamilton. In Day 10 of Hamilton’s “24 Hours That Changed the World: 40 Days of Reflection,” he reminds us that Jesus was feeling what any human should feel when facing what He was going to face. “In Jesus Christ, God experienced anguish, sorrow, and suffering as human beings do.”

In Hebrews 4:15-16, Paul wrote, “For we do not have a high priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but, we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Have you ever been distressed, agitated or afraid? I have. I recall a time in February 2007 when I received a phone call from the wife of my oldest son. My son was being transported by Life Flight to a Tulsa hospital for an injury he’d sustained in an accident.

It was in that moment that I understood, really understood, how much God loves us.

 My son, who is what you would describe as a “horse whisperer,” had been picking up a horse from a client when the animal spooked. Whirling around, the horse kicked, striking my son in the side of the face and knocking him unconscious.  Thank the Lord, my son was not alone. A friend called 911.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015



The Bible is full of promises that assure us of God’s love and our position in Christ. We need to keep some basic promises at the forefront of our minds all the time to keep us hopeful in our walk with Jesus and enable us to encourage each other.
Our Security and Safety
First and foremost, we need to remember that God’s love for us will never fail under any circumstance. The apostle Paul states it clearly, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV84). (Also see Isaiah 49:16).
We are His Children
Out of His love for us, God has adopted us into His family and calls us His children. Even though the world does not recognize us as such, God does, and we recognize each other as brothers and sisters. The apostle John calls our attention to this truth, “How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1 NIV84).
Assurance of Our Sins Forgiven
We have the assurance of our sins forgiven, never to be mentioned again. Unlike us, God does not lie. He has promised to let go once He forgives. He never brings issues back to accuse or shame us —
·         “Your sins have been forgiven on account of His name” (1 John 2:12 NIV84),
·         “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12 NIV84).
Ongoing Cleansing
Since we don’t cease to be human after conversion, our old nature still presents a challenge. It is in constant opposition to our new nature, resulting in occasional falls. God made provision for those times as well, and no matter how many times we fall, we can go back to Him for cleansing and restoration. John clearly states, “If anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1 NIV84).
We are Never Alone
God assures us of His constant presence through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit:
·         “This is how we know that He lives in us: we know it by the Spirit He gave us” (1 John 3:24 NIV84).
·         “The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you” (Romans 8:11 NIV84).
·         “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14 NIV84).
Assurance of eternal life
We have the assurance of eternal life. We shall be with Him forever and ever:
·         “This is what He promised us—even eternal life” (1 John 2:25 NIV84),
·         “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11 NIV84). (See also 1 John 2:17; 1 John 5:13; Titus 3:7).
·         The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed for His disciples and all believers (present and future). In His high priestly prayer, for us, Jesus asked that God would guide our walk in this life, keep us safe from the evil one, and pave the way for us to be where He is to see His glory someday. Would God deny Jesus anything? Of course not! (See John 17:1-26). Hence we are all set to be with Him forever.
Promise for Answered Prayers
God has given us a blank check we can cash any time the need arises. That check is not drawn on a financial institution, and doesn’t necessarily refer to physical cash, even though it could sometimes. The name of Jesus is like a blank check to get us whatever we need from the Father, as long as the request is in accordance with His will:
·         “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name … Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:23-24 NIV84).
·         “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us –whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV84).
Employees expect to get paid and even receive bonuses every now and then. Believers are not employees; we are bond slaves with no rights. We cannot demand payment for anything we do. Yet without our asking, our Father has taken the initiative to reward us from time to time, and He has reassured us regarding the big finale—eternal life with Him.
·         While predicting His death Jesus said to His disciples, in regard to His return, “The Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27 NIV84).
·         Also, in Revelation, Jesus reminds us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12 NIV84).

These are wonderful promises that solidify our position in Christ! Let us review them often for encouragement, growth, and victory over the enemy!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What Is A Church Supposed To Do?


Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together ... Hebrews 10:25

I suspect that if I asked 100 Christians, even mature, Bible reading, daily praying Christians, what the church is supposed to do, I would get 100 unique answers. While much has been written about the church becoming just one more consumer product or service, the question goes deeper than that.

There can be little doubt that many Christians are shopping for the "church that will fill my needs." Pews or chairs need to be padded, greeters friendly, parking adequate and music to fit my taste. Sermons need to be outstanding, but not too long, and leave me feeling like I got my tithe's worth. Nursery needs to be cute, run professionally, safe, and the teachers not too tough on my kid.

If the church I'm attending isn't meeting those needs, there is another church close by. As long as the doctrine is pretty close, meaning the folks in the service worship like I'm used to, I'll go where my worldly needs are met. I'll stop now before I move from critical to cynical, assuming I haven't already crossed that line.

If we look at the first church, Jesus and the 12, and then the churches in Acts, there seems to be a few things we can glean about what a church is supposed to do:
  1. Make disciples - by this I mean a serious effort to work with individuals to grow them spiritually into mature believers who are then discipling others.
  2. Send out missionaries
  3. Share the good news
  4. Make sure the widows and orphans are fed among the believers
  5. Meet more often that an hour on Sunday 
  6. Have real fellowship. I think there was intimacy among the members
  7. Be an example of Christ in the community
  8. Expect there to be a high cost in money, time, even flesh.
  9. The more mature holding the less mature to account
  10. The entire body holding each member to account
Does this look like your church? There are many great churches in the US. But I would love to join one that looked like the above. How about you? What would you add to the list?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What Do Beavis and Butt-head Have to do With Jesus?


"Writing to Inspire"

by Lorilyn Roberts 

(warning: some people may find this post offensive)

Last week I took my ten and a half‑year‑old daughter, Joy, to Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia, for a special overnight mother‑daughter trip.  After spending the night in a comfortable hotel, we arrived shortly after opening at 10:30 in the morning. The hot Georgia sunshine beat down and wet, humid air soaked our skin. As we lathered on the sunscreen and headed toward the gated entrance, I hoped there would be lots to do besides get sick on roller coaster rides. We were already dripping with perspiration by the time we got to the water park. 

At Splash Island we found a haven from the heat and climbed up the voluminous steps to ride on the Kalani Blasters, two sets of slides that intertwined and lasted thirty seconds, dumping the rider into a large, cool pool at the bottom. 

As Joy and I waited our turn in the long line at the top holding an oversized inner tube, a little boy who couldn't have been much older than three forced his way through the crowded line and positioned himself at the top of the open flume. He wanted to be the next rider down.
I looked around and thought to myself, where is this kid's parentWhat is he doing cutting in line? I wasn't sure whether to speak up as I was in shock at his boldness to ignore all the others waiting patiently ahead of him. After several seconds when it was obvious he wasn't leaving, several politely spoke to the young boy, "You must wait your turn. You can't break in line like that."
The same sentence was repeated to him several more times. I added my few words, too, just to support the others who had already spoken. The boy just stood there.
The park attendant who had been monitoring the flume looked up and saw what had happened. He spoke loudly to the young boy, "You must go to the back of the line. You must wait your turn."
Everyone gently encouraged him to leave but he continued to ignore us. I looked around for his parents again who were no where. He had brought the entire procession of sliding down the open flume to a complete halt as he stood there defying the world.  

Finally, the little boy got the point that nobody in the line was going to let him break in front. He dejectedly headed to the back to wait his turn.

I said to Joy, "He might be cute, but he's not that cute." We all looked at each other thinking the same thing. Something is missing from this picture—the parent. 
Later that afternoon, when Joy and I had our full of the water, we headed over to the dreaded roller coasters. While Joy enjoyed getting dizzy and spinning and being centrifuged to oblivion—after all, she is a gymnast—I held on and tried not to die. My stomach screamed even louder. Fortunately I did survive to live another day.
Our final event was the Gold Rush, a smaller, family-sized roller coaster which Joy talked me into riding. I hope it will be my last one.  Of course, I said that the last time at Disney when she talked me into experiencing the Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I will spare you the bodily details on that one. If you are curious, you can watch it on YouTube—the full three minutes and eighteen seconds worth. 
I stepped through the car of the Gold Rush and exited out the other side to place our personal belongings in a holding compartment. As I returned to my spot behind Joy, two wide‑eyed blond‑headed young girls were sitting in my seat.
All the other cars were full and everyone was waiting for me. I spoke to the little girls who might have been about eight years old, "You have taken my seat. You will have to wait till the next time to ride. My daughter is in front of you and I'm riding this with her."They stared at me but refused to budge.So I tried again. "I was setting our belongings in the storage compartment. You need to let me have my seat back."

Unflinching they continued to stare. Joy stared, too. 
I said it again, this time a little louder. By this time I had gained everyone's complete, undivided attention and felt all eyes glued on me, but I wasn't going to give in.
"I'm sorry, but you have taken my seat. That is my daughter in front of you and I am riding with her."
Then one of the little girls yelled at me, "You mean you're not going to let me ride with my sister?" 

"No, I am not." I glanced over at the other people waiting impatiently, one lady in particular. Are those her kids, I wondered? Nobody came to my rescue. I said it again more loudly, "You are in my seat. I was putting my stuff over here and you need to get out of my seat."
Finally, they reluctantly got out. The Gold Rush ride attendant walked over and seemed to be happy that the confrontation had ended peacefully without his becoming involved. Then he added, "And you can't ride the Gold Rush with only a swimming suit top. You must have a shirt on." The girls glared at him disgustedly and promptly walked away.
I took my seat and enjoyed the easy ride thinking about the famous comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, who used to say, "I get no respect."

After the Gold Rush roller coaster ended, the young lady who had been watching the conversation intently between us asked, "Do you know those kids?" "No, I don't." 
She shook her head in amazement as she walked away.  

I thought about these two incidents at the park later. Where were the parents? After all, these were young kids. I didn't let my ten and a half-year‑old out of my sight and these children were much younger than my own daughter. And how could these kids have such disrespect for authority and adults?
Perhaps the answer is no further away than the Beavis and Butt‑head show I had captioned a couple weeks earlier that was broadcast on MTV-2. Let me share some script from the episode that aired on June 17, 2009. Brace yourself. 

- - -






- - -
In the 1960's there was a hit song with a profound message, where have all the flowers gone?  I wonder today, forty years later in 2009, where have all the parents gone? Where has all decency gone? Where are our children and teens learning their values—from MTV 2's Beavis and Butt-head? I hope not. 

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15:  "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child."  If parents don't teach and guide their children, they will get their values from somewhere. Opportunities abound for the evil one to snatch up our precious little ones and hurt them.
The words of Jesus are vastly different from the script of Beavis and Butt-head. His words do not degrade our bodies created in His image, diminish our self-worth for whom He paid the ultimate price, or tear holes in the fabric of our hearts that need healing. 

Jesus is our ultimate example of love. He admonished his disciples in Mark 10:14: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:16 tells us, "...and he [Jesus] took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."
These references and many others translate into "time." Jesus took time. We must take time to be with our children. Not just take them somewhere and drop them off for a day and leave them to their own devices. As a single mother, if I don't take that time, who will?
I don't want to leave the reader with an uninspired view of today's parenting world. As Jesus often did in His parables, I want to give "the other part of the story."
It was Mother's Day morning and I was on my way into the adult class for Sunday school when I received this text message:  "I want to wish you a happy Mother's Day." 

I did not recognize the name or the phone number. I sat through the entire Sunday school class reminiscing about who had sent me such a wonderful text message. My two daughters had already made me feel special but to receive a message from somebody I didn't know wishing me a happy Mother's Day lifted my spirits even more. I felt very special to have been remembered by an unknown person.

Later that afternoon my curiosity got the better of me and I text messaged back the person, "Who are you? I don't recognize your name."
As it turned out, a young girl had tried to text message her aunt and had mis-entered the number and I received her text. We sent many messages back and forth sharing the blessedness of Mother's Day and how much we appreciated our mothers and aunts and how we had quite so unexpectedly met in cyberspace. My daughters were quite amused at the flurry of words that were exchanged. I was sad when the text messages finally ended. A parent had taught their child how to love and the blessing had been "text‑messaged" to me.
I want my children to be a blessing to others. I don't want someone to look at my children and say, "I get no respect." It's wonderful when a parent unabashedly tells you, "Your child is a joy to have overnight at our house." 

After a day at the Wild Adventures Park and seeing three children who did not know the meaning of respect, I am convicted of my need more than ever to be a loving mom. 

That translates into time. That might mean riding more roller coasters and flumes. Hopefully, at another time and place, a person standing next to one of my daughters won't be thinking, where is this kid’s parent? 

More importantly, I will be where God wants me to be, and it won't be captioning Beavis and Butt-head. I look forward to pushing the delete button and sending those nasty words to the recycle bin. That show needs more than recycling. Our children deserve better.                

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wold You Rather: Hold a Spider or Tend a Grave?

These guys?
I am fascinated by insects. Yes, I like them. They are interesting to watch, amazingly varied, and just plain cool. You know the odd thing, though? Add two legs and subtract one body segment, and what does that make an insect?

A spider.

And they are decidedly not cool.

I cannot explain this.

Are awesome.
All I know is, there is family lore about me involving a bathtub, multiple shoes, and one large spider. Also another involving me and a spider on the shower wall and a subsequent non-family-friendly dash through the house, but that is another story . . .

I do not like spiders. I used to hyperventilate going down the aisle in Petco where I know they are kept. Actually looking in the aquarium would have required an EMT situation.

So what, oh what, could have ever inspired the picture below? (Warning—graphic picture below. No, not of the shower dash. Worse.)

A refusal to give in to fear.

Not. So. Much.
I know I've told the tarantula story before, and some of you have read it. But there's more. We need to know the power of fear to take our identity from us and keep us from moving toward growth.

We fear too many things that steal our identity.

I forced myself to stop in front of the tarantula cage one day and allow that nice young man to put a spider in my hand because I knew my fear would hold me back from being what God wanted me to be. It sounds silly, I know, to say that fear of spiders can get in the way of being used by God. But whenever fear, whatever the fear, controls your choices, it blocks who you were made to be.

In this case, it would control my choice to lead a team to Costa Rica to minister. In the middle of convincing other team members to cast off their fears and go for the trip, I had to face mine or be a hypocrite. After all, they grow some big spiders in Costa Rica. (I never actually saw one in two weeks there. Only a hole where the tour guide told us we could see one if we looked. I did look. I didn't see.)

The older I get and the more I go through, the more I am adamant – I do not want to give control over to anyone but God. Certainly not an eight-legged critter with a brain the size of . . . I don't know . . . do spiders have brains? Conventional ones? No clue. But I do know they have to be smaller than human brains, based on fundamental laws of physics.

“Get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike 'What’s next, Papa?' God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” (Romans 8.14-15, The Message)

What do grave tenders do? They make graves neat and lovely. They ensure pretty, clean plots. Over dead things. Past things. Things with no life and no future. I don't want to be a tender of dead things. I want to live adventurously expectant.

So why don't we? Why don't we feel like we are created for incredible purpose? Why don't we wake up every morning asking, “What's next, God?” Why don't we expect wonder?

See what I would havee missed in Costa Rica?
Because we fear. Rather than jump into our days, we dread them. We look at our lists and groan. We plan our next escape. We're terribly afraid to step into identity as those children of God, because it might mean risk, conflict, change. We may dread mornings, but at least we know them. Being God's representative – Stepping into our identity as His children and taking on whatever that means? That's a scary unknown. It could involve things I'm not ready to give up, risks not I'm ready to take, changing values and ideas I'm not ready to reexamine.

It could involve holding that spider. And we hyperventilate at the thought.

Sadly, I could not get over fear of spiders by thinking about them. Pondering their purpose. Looking at photos of them. I just had to jump in and face that stupid fear head on. It's the only thing that works. And it's in doing that we realize the anticipation was far worse than the actual execution.

We're more afraid to start than to follow through. So just start.

Observer or Participant?

Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” In is fullest definition, “rich and satisfying” means “over and above, more than is necessary, exceedingly, abundantly, supremely, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon, beyond imagination.

Wow. That's a whole lot of satisfying.

So the question as we work through Lent and prepare to jump into the power of Easter is: Do we want to observe an extraordinary, uncommon, abundant life--or do we want to participate in one?

If the latter, how are you being a timid grave tender today? How are you listening to voices that steal your identity by telling you to be less than extraordinary? (Extraordinary is not, by the way, always newsworthy and show stopping. Extraordinary is simply getting yourself off center stage and looking for all kinds of ways to love like Jesus loved.)

God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to Terminate your Testimony

A few subjects not pertinent to the Gospel.

Last week I wrote about the witness of a pretend Christian. A laughing matter—said Christian was a sitcom character. Her testimony of forgiveness and her dependence on God rallied my hope in network TV’s ability to present Christianity in a truthful manner.

But the make-believe believer failed the test. Or rather, whoever wrote the script didn’t know a Christian from a crow. But it was a comedy and it served its purpose, I suppose, of entertaining the viewers. The motivation of the collective writers, directors, actors, producers, and sponsors was not to share the Gospel. That’s somebody else’s job. The TV preacher, right? The independent channel airing one show after another directed at a Christian audience? Who do you think watches those shows? Some Christians do, but it’s typically not where my finger stops when I’m station hopping. Occasionally an unredeemed soul ends up on the right channel at the right time. God can use those airwave missionaries if He wants to. But…

You know where I’m going with this. Real people giving it straight to other real people is what it takes. We’ve got an opportunity the pretend Christian didn’t have. When the half-hour tale supplied all her desires, those around her found their reason to go to church. God was a good idea after all. Say a prayer, sing a song, and get yourself a new car. But the TV Christian’s misdirected focus terminated her testimony.

Okay, most of us aren’t that out of touch with true Christianity, although some TV preachers come across like sitcom characters. But if you’re living in God’s grace, you aren’t going to suggest to the lost that God is nothing more than a means to get their wishes fulfilled.

However, there are others ways we mislead people, or shut down their interest, or brush them off. Or tell them they’re not worth it. Some of the things we insinuate about Christianity terminate our testimony. Here are a few subjects NOT pertinent to the Gospel: Money, music, race, religious upbringing, habits,
body art, hair style, clothing, belief in a young earth, the number of children at your dining table, the number of Bibles on your coffee table. Church attendance? No. Morality? No.

Are any of these matters redirected in the minds and lives of the redeemed? Sure, some of them. Obviously redemption doesn’t change everything. You’re still who God made you to be and race still doesn’t matter. If your tattooed, come as you are. If you want a tattoo, talk to your mother. Will your financial focus shift? If God leads you in that direction, then yes. Music? Old hymns are great. But they were a movement in Christian culture just like the post-contemporary praise & worship style is today. The Bible teaches that whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31). Just respect others while you’re doing it. The age of the planet? Don’t even bring it up. God didn’t. (I know, I know, it’s an interpretation thing, but seriously, save that conversation for later.)

As for church attendance, better to tell the unredeemed you don’t care if they go to church—you care if they go to Hell. As for being moral, if I can’t live up to God’s standard, I can’t expect anybody else to. God will deal with every part of the redeemed soul’s life. And it will take a lifetime.

So how do you converse with the unredeemed? What kind of person deserves your judgment-free, sweet time? Well, he needs to be alive. Doesn’t he need to be called by God? Are there some people we just shouldn’t bother with because God probably isn’t calling them? The lip-pierced freak? The evolutionist? No, and here’s why: We don’t know what God knows!

Any other requirements at all? None. The work of redemption is Christ’s. Nothing else matters. Change in any life is meaningless until this change precedes it—you give up the idea that you’re reasonably justified in God’s opinion and admit absolute reliance on the One sent to redeem you.

So there’s your focus. Forget the other stuff. Don’t be a terminator.