Even If

standard October 18, 2017 20 responses

Sometimes you’re walking through life and it all makes total sense. A fall breeze is blowing and you’ve got your windows down and your favorite song is blasting on max volume.

And then there are times when absolutely nothing makes sense. You were minding your own business, but suddenly your legs were kicked out from under you, landing you flat on your behind wondering what in the world just happened.

How could your circumstances have changed so drastically within a 24-hour period? It’s a valid question and it’s one that I wish I had the answer to.

I’m sure Martha and Mary felt somewhat similar when they were just trucking through life in the quiet town of Bethany, enjoying being a part of this new movement called “the Way” that heralded Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah.  When all of a sudden their beloved brother falls ill. And it’s not a “he’ll sleep it off and be better by tomorrow” sort of sick, but it’s evident that he has a life-threatening illness that requires immediate attention. They do some quick thinking and send word to their friend Jesus and ask Him to come on the double!

Jesus receives the message and this is His response: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:5-6)

Wait. What??

One of His very best friends is sick, SO He stays put?  What kind of sacrificial love is that? That seems a little counterproductive, wouldn’t you say?

By the time Jesus gets there Lazarus is dead. Not just any kind of dead either, but dead-dead. Like four-day-old-stinking-in-the-grave dead. It’s bad. And Martha let’s Him know it.

Where have You been? If you would have been here, He would not be dead!

Adding to His mysterious behavior, Jesus replies in the most cryptic way. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Umm, yes…I think I do. But my brother’s still dead and I’m beyond devastated.

To say that we believe when life is good doesn’t take much faith.  But we have to be willing to ask ourselves this question when life throws us that inevitable curve ball.

Do I believe this?

Because believing Jesus is the truth is easy enough UNTIL…

your brother dies;

you miscarry that baby that you waited and prayed for;

your spouse confesses the unthinkable to you;

…THEN it’s personal.

But faith is believing EVEN IF…

your brother stays in the grave;

your arms remain empty;

your spouse refuses to come home;

…Trusting in His sovereign plan.

Jesus never said that life would be fair. In fact, He was perfectly straightforward when He told us that in this world we WILL have trouble, but we are to take heart because He has overcome the world! (John 16:33)

He is still the Resurrection and Life, EVEN IF life does not work out the way we thought it would.

Jesus eventually kept His promise to raise Lazarus from the dead with the purpose that God would be glorified through the act (take time to read this incredible story in John 11 if you aren’t familiar with the details). Both Martha and Mary received their miracle that day when their brother was resurrected and reunited with them. However, this was not the case for my sister and me.  Why did God allow Lazarus to live and Jeremy to die? This is a question that I have often pondered and I still do not know the answer to. Nevertheless, I had a choice to make, just as you do.

When He says that He is the Resurrection and the Life and He then asks me, “April, do you believe this?” I answer Him wholeheartedly:

Yes, Lord. I believe You are the One who holds the resurrection power.

I believe You are the only Way to eternal life.

I believe You are the Truth.

Even if…

(“Even If” by Mercy Me)

Thank you, Donald Trump, for reminding us that “Words Are Spirits”

standard October 12, 2016 3 responses

My mother always told my siblings and me that we better watch what we say to one another because “words are spirits.” She said it so often that I grew up believing that this exact phrase could be found word-for-word in the Bible and I was shocked when it produced no search results.

Yet the spiritual principle of our words carrying power remains.  And not just any power, but the power to invoke life or death.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)

I am sure that when Donald Trump spoke those extremely vulgar and sexist words eleven years ago, he was not thinking that they would bear the consequences that they have in October of 2016.  He saw himself as a reality star with such popularity and fame that whatever derogatory statements he said against women in general was perfectly fine and acceptable. After all, it’s just “locker room talk.” Right?

Well, not exactly, Donald.

You see, when we allow our tongue to boast, we are not only considered immature, but also filled with corruption setting “the whole course of one’s life on fire,” (see James 3:6).  Please hear me. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is going to hell for what he said eleven years ago, but I bet that he is feeling like his life has been set on fire right about now due to his lewd and loose tongue. The comments that he so carelessly spoke concerning women will have eternal implications for him, as they should. Women are not objects to be used and thrown away. They are precious in the sight of their Creator.  But please also hear this: if we want the respect we deserve, we as women have a responsibility to carry our body in a manner worthy of respect. The halt of the vicious cycle of the objectification of women starts with us!

And therein lies the lesson for those of us who wish to reflect the light of Christ in our everyday lives.  We must aim to control the things that we say and do. Will we get it right 100% of the time? No, not at all.  In fact, James also said that we all stumble, but it is the mature woman who keeps her body in check in action and in speech.

That means that when we are tempted to want to speak that ugly word to our sister/friend we remember how just last week she played with our children so that we could go grocery shopping or listen to the sermon at church.  It could also be that when we are arguing with our spouse, we take the high road and resist the urge to want to retaliate with hurtful words.  Or if we have children and we are trying to get their attention on a certain matter, we speak words of life and encouragement over them instead of words of manipulation.

It’s a choice we are making to see that person as not only a human being, but as someone who has been made in God’s likeness.  We treat him/her with respect and dignity.  It does not mean that we are a doormat or that we accept abusive behavior.  It simply means that we recognize that “words are spirits” and we attempt to speak life over those that we come into contact with, not death.  We strive to let them be filled with fruit, such as kindness and gentleness, so that when we bear the consequences of the things that we have said, it will be a sweet taste in our mouth.

This is not intended to be a political post with a nod for or against Trump as the next United States President.  It is simply a chance for us to learn from a man who allowed his tongue to get the best of him and resolve to not let that same mistake to happen to us.  We will choose to remember that each and every word we utter holds the power of life and death. Words Are Spirits.  

When The Earth Keeps Spinning, But Your World Has Stopped

standard September 9, 2015 5 responses

Sometimes life is incredibly hard and there’s no getting around it. There are times when you go to bed with a broken heart, certain that the earth has quit spinning, only to wake up the next morning and find that it had the audacity to keep going even though your world has stopped.

Have you ever experienced this kind of pain?

Maybe you were carrying your first baby and were thrilled that God gave you the desires of your heart only to find out that you had miscarried and the doctor wants to know when would be a good time to schedule the D&C. ~  No, Lord! There is no good time to let go of this baby!

Or maybe you have spent the past several years building your family, trying to keep things running as smoothly as possible and out of the blue your husband tells you that he’s filing for a divorce.  ~ Please God, don’t let this be happening!

Or it could be that you received a phone call from the doctor’s office saying that they would rather you come in to discuss your test results.  ~ Help me, Jesus! I need You now!

Or what if the unthinkable has happened and you are given the devastating news that your loved one is simply gone. Their life is over.  ~ There was no time to even beg God for mercy.

This is part of My Story and it is now the story of a family in our community. A young man went on the football field on Friday night to play in his first high school game and he left the field fatally injured. It was a terrible accident.  ~ How can this be, Lord? How could it have happened? It’s just a game and now lives are forever changed.  ~ The family members and friends of the young man, his teammates and classmates, the opposing team members…all of these people have experienced their world stopping in an instant.

No matter the circumstance, it still remains that God is sovereign. Yes, you will hurt. Yes, you will cry rivers of tears (and you should!). Yes, your grief will threaten to paralyze you at times. But trust me on this: your God is faithful and you WILL experience joy again.

We serve a big God and He is big enough to handle your hurts and your questions. Take them to Him, like Job did. “If only my grief could be weighed and my devastation placed with it on a scale. For then it would outweigh the sand of the seas! That is why my words are rash.” (Job 6:2-3 HCSB) Call out and be honest before Him. God already knows how you feel, so give Him your pain.

After my brother, Jeremy, died it took me well over a year to begin dreaming dreams again. And longer still to sing “It Is Well With My Soul.” But day after day Jesus held me in His loving arms and slowly but surely made my soul well again. Eventually, I found that I wasn’t mad any longer that the earth was still spinning.  It didn’t bother me quite as bad to see people going about their everyday lives, completely unaware of my pain. I finally submitted to God’s sovereignty and found solace in the Word of God, especially Isaiah 55:8-9:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
“For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

What’s even better is that a few verses later in Isaiah 55:12, we find a beautiful promise from our God:

“You will indeed go out with joy
and be peacefully guided;”

Yes, my friend, there may be pain in the night and your personal world may have stopped spinning, but rest assured there is indeed JOY in the morning and He will once again peacefully guide you.

Jesus, you know our hearts and the pain we are experiencing. Wrap Your arms around us. Take this wrong and make it right. Restore our joy. Amen.

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