Jesus is not a White Supremacist

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hatred has been growing in this world for some time. It first reared its ugly head after the fall, ultimately being responsible for the murder of Cain. It drove Joseph's brothers to both plot his death and then to settle for selling him into slavery. It drove the Egyptians to slaughter babies born to the Jews. It drove Haman to plot the destruction of the Israelites who were being held captive in Persia. It showed its ugliness in Israel's treatment of the Gentiles, the Gentiles’ treatment of Israel, and the treatment of both toward the people groups who were the products of mixed marriages between Jews and Gentiles. It was displayed when women were mistreated in marriages and discarded by arrogant husbands who used them and tossed them out like the evening garbage. It was displayed in the way the Old Testament society viewed women as second-class citizens. It even showed its ugly head when fathers desired sons and mourned the births of the precious daughters God gave. It showed its ugly head in the legal system of that day that often failed to serve justice on their behalf. 

Today, it continues to grow rampant in all sorts of ways as we see on the news. Hatred has roots running deep in human hearts. It is sometimes birthed when fear becomes so intolerable that the power of hatred feels safer. It is sometimes birthed in hearts filled with insecurities when hatred becomes a way of calming anxious hearts that long to feel secure. It can be birthed by deep longings--the longing of acceptance, of notoriety, of supremacy, of prestige, and of significance--when one mistakenly believes hatred somehow ensures one can get or keep those things longed for. It can also be born in a pride-filled heart as one seeks to elevates oneself over others. It can be born out of a heart deeply wounded by victimization, providing a destructive hot protection that sadly kills loving relationships. It can be born out of a heart given over to evil when one's conscience has become seared by one hateful choice after another.  

Hatred can also take root when distorted thinking rules our hearts. When we exaggerate, or minimize the importance of events, experiences, and mistakes we can breed hatred. When we employ catastrophic thinking, we see only the worst possible outcomes, keeping us from seeing possible life lessons, possibilities, and the call to grow love at deeper levels. And fear caused by catastrophic thinking breeds self-protective, self-destructive hatred. When we are given to making broad generalizations, we can develop hate-filled viewpoints. If we were abused by a man, we can grow to hate all men. If we were ridiculed by a teacher, we could grow to hate all teachers. If we were assaulted by someone of another race we could come to despise all people from that race. We see this in all the different movements that have come out in the last couple of years. One Christian votes for Hilary, so all Christians are scum, murder-loving hypocrites. One Christian speaks in favor of Trump and we are labeled as racists and hate-mongers. One experiences racism at the hands of whites, then all white people are labeled racists. Because of the black lives movement some white people label all black people as violent, anti-whites. Then there are all the other races and the other prejudices to consider such as, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Middle Eastern, different economic levels, different cultures, and different levels of education.

What is worse is some people wear crosses while they take videos of themselves spewing hateful tirades on you tube. And there are white supremacists wearing crosses claiming they are Christians, and now all Christians are now being blamed and lumped into that small hate-filled group. It sickens my heart! Even people who know us and know we aren’t like them assume we are.  

Hatred can also grow when we take everything we see and hear personally. I even find myself doing this. If I allow myself to read the comments posted under the articles I read on Facebook or News sites, I find myself taking the hateful comments personally and they are written by people who don't know me, don’t know I am reading the article, and don’t know what I believe. Before long I find myself feeling defensive and my defensiveness gives way to seething anger and my seething anger gives way to hatred and I find the thoughts forming in my head are every bit as hateful as the hate speech which offended me. I can’t allow myself to tale things personally and focus on that stuff or I begin to sound like those I don’t want to be like. I notice that people who don’t like Trump are beginning to sound just like him. Those who are taking a stand against racism sometimes come across like racists. I wish we would all pause and take a step back so we can emotionally decompress. Hate is never going to be changed by more hate; it is changed by love, humility, grace, and forgiveness. It is changed by trying to know the hurting heart behind the anger.  

And, jumping to conclusions and mind reading causes so many misunderstandings and fights and hateful responses. I went through long rough patch with someone I cared deeply about. She had seen a cross stitched picture hanging in my home that someone had given me and she assumed I stitched it and assume I believed something I didn't. I lost thirteen years of relationship with her because she jumped to conclusions and thought she could read my mind. She chose not to clarify her perceptions and chose to be offended by something she imagined. After thirteen long years, she told me she had been offended by the Bible verse on the picture and allowed me to tell her the story behind the picture. Her anger dissipated as she realized the picture had nothing to do with her and I grieved. I grieved that she had experienced so much needless pain, and I grieved the lost years of close relationship we had once had. It is often in the replaying in the mind of such imagined offences that hatred grows.

Fortune telling also stops grace giving and stops us from reflecting our God who really is a God of a million chances--our lives prove that! Sometimes we see only the negative aspects of situations or people, but all people are made up of both strengths and weaknesses. And if people are made that way, groups of people are too. All races, all genders, all cultures, all social groups—all have strengths and weaknesses. All can contribute good and all are in need of grace. When our thoughts are filled with "should have’s" we've placed on others, hate can be the result as it covers disappointment we feel when others don't fulfill our expectations and demands that would not be there if we replaced a “should” with a desire. All or nothing thinking keeps us from seeing the good in people and the sin in us--even more fodder for hate. 

This latest event in Charlottesville initially left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was soon followed by a deep grief that we people get it so wrong so often, and fear that we humans will never learn to love better. It was also followed by a righteous anger that has been burning hot. When white supremacists claim to be Christians, I get angry because Christians are supposed to be in the process of becoming more like Jesus and supremacists do not reflect the Jesus of the Bible. Ephesians 2:14-21 makes this so clear. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of the commandments express in ordinances that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in who the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a Holy Temple in the Lord. 

Jesus, the Jesus talked about in Scripture, was a Jew born in the Middle East. He wasn't even someone white supremacists would follow. He broke through economic barriers. He left heaven and was born to a poor carpenter. He turned over the tables of money changers that were making it difficult for the poor to worship. He broke down cultural boundaries when He rubbed shoulders with the blind, crippled, deaf, mute, lepers, and a woman unclean because of constant bleeding. He changed the religious culture by allowing all sorts of people to sit under his teaching--from boisterous fishermen, doctors, tax collectors, business women, homemakers, and prostitutes. He even allowed children to come into His presence, which was unheard of in that day. He laid His hands on them and blessed them and called people to have the faith they had. He cast out demons who were destroying people. He gave the gospel to the Samaritan women who was of the mixed race and then remained to teach those living in her town. He was a bridge builder, not a divider! He was bridging the hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles and the Gentiles are all the other races that exist. He was humble. He was loving. He was servant who washed His disciples’ feet, rather than pridefully setting Himself up as a judge! White Supremacists are driven by the Enemy who is trying to convince people Jesus is something He isn’t. As they claim to belong to Him and to be His representatives, they are being used by the enemy to distort God's image and to stir up the hostility that Jesus came to destroy. That seems like pretty serious sin to me.

So, what do we do in light of growing hatred? We spend time with the One who loves and came to kill the wall of hostility. We continue build a church comprised of all nations and all races. We build a church full of people who are reconciled to God, unified in Jesus, being led by the Holy Spirit to do the ministry of reconciliation. Our Jesus preached peace. Our Jesus reconciled people to the Father and granted people citizenship with the Saints! We would be wise to examine ourselves and clean out any residual of bigotry and racism and Pharisaical judgment we might possess as individuals and as churches because those things destroy His peace, divide the body, and keep others from knowing God.

I must guard my heart so in my passion I don't take on the very hatred God hates. My anger and my hatred can never bring about repentance. Only God's goodness can! I don't want to spend hours stewing over recent ugly events, because I know God is just and His Name and character can’t be changed by those who hate. I praise God that His very nature is love and He sent Jesus to kill hostility. I pray my heart will be sensitive to His work so my heart and life are a true reflection of Him who died in my place, satisfying God’s wrath for my sin. I praise God that His Son was not, is not, and never will be a White Supremacist. He was a Jewish baby born in humble conditions, who in an act of supreme humility lay down His life, breaking the barriers of hostility between me and God and me and all other people—barriers that stood in the way of people getting to know Him. These horrific events have painted an ugly backdrop that allows our love to shine even brighter. We want to make sure we stay deeply connected to the God whose nature is love and that love is what will melt hatred. 

The Conqueror

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Last week a song-writing friend asked her friends to fill in a blank describing God, "He is the___________," She got a lot of awesome responses from her friends, however, one response really grabbed my attention. It was written by Betty Noyes Smith. "'Conqueror' is the word that comes to mind. The Love that conquers hate, the Light that conquers darkness, the Life that Conquers death, the Truth that conquers falsehood...you get the idea." I loved Betty's answer because as I read it, my mind went directly to God's attributes and His power. I also liked it because I was convicted by its truth and began to wonder if my thoughts, words, attitudes, actions, and life reflect someone who believes in God as Conqueror. 

I think back on Israel's history. As they left Egypt, they had the privilege of seeing God conquer Pharaoh's hard heart through the plagues He brought about. They got to see God conquer the Egyptian armies when He split the Red Sea, giving Israel time to walk through it on dry land. God had caused confusion in the Egyptian armies. He caused their chariot wheels to become unstable and He caused the Red Sea water to flow back into place drowning Pharaoh's army. Yet, it wasn't long before they began to complain and to doubt God's goodness, love, and plans for them. It wasn't long before they openly rebelled against His instructions, delaying their entrance into the Promised Land. Years later, they learned as they walked in trust and obedience, God defeated armies in miraculous ways on their behalf and blessed them with abundance of goods and peace. Yet, Israel continued to spend years fluctuating between absolute trust and mistrust and between obedience and disobedience to Jehovah God! 

When Jesus came, Israel had been without a prophet and they were looking for the Messiah to rise up and defeat the Romans who were occupying their land because of their disobedience. They were so limited in their view of God that they failed to see that Jesus came to conquer so much more than just a human army. During the time He physically lived on earth, Jesus conquered all that ravaged human bodies. He healed diseases, eyes that were blind, ears that were deaf, and limbs that were crippled. He showed that He could conquer by raising dead people from the grave. He also conquered demons that were dwelling in the souls of men, as they sought to destroy people through their sin and self-destructive behaviors.

He conquered when He dissolved gender barriers, saving both men and women, calling both to ministry. He conquered when He dissolved the social and cultural barriers by sharing truth and offering salvation to the Samaritans and other Gentiles as well as to the Jews. He conquered by tearing down economic barriers as He ministered to both the wealthy and the poor. He conquered when He gave freedom to the poor to worship by chasing money hungry vendors from the Temple. He destroyed the false religion that had been created by legalistic Pharisees that had left people either living in terror or so filled with pride that they could no longer see their need of a Savior. 

In His death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered spiritual death for us when He faced God's wrath for our sin. In His Ascension and gifting of the Holy Spirit Jesus conquered the power that sin has over us. That is where many of us tend to forget that Jesus is a conqueror.  I say “us” because “US” is the alcoholic trying so hard not to give in to the craving for just one more drink, finding it hard to remember to call on God who is a conqueror over his addiction. “Us” is the drug addict who is trying hard to stay clean who finds herself driven by her compulsive need for a pleasurable high, forgetting that God is the conqueror over that self-destructive drive. “Us” is the compulsive eater trying hard not to binge again, the compulsive shopper trying hard not to blow her budget this month, and the compulsive talker trying hard to control her tongue; all forgetting in the battle with the flesh that Jesus is the conqueror when their compulsions grow strong. “Us” is also the individual committed to forming healthier relationships who struggles to remember God, with His everlasting love, is the Conqueror when something triggers his or her fear of abandonment. “Us” is the woman committed to developing godlier speech patterns who feels the ugly, angry words rising up in her in the middle of a heated conflict, forgetting in the moment that Jesus is the Conqueror over her tongue, her anger, and her pride that is the root behind the rage she spews. “Us” is the porn addict who promised his partner that he would not look at porn again but finds himself literally shaking with the craving that comes when his stress levels rise, forgetting that God is the conqueror over the fleshly desire. Any of “US” caught up in that battle between the flesh and the spirit tend to forget that God is the conqueror and in Him we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). We would do well to surround ourselves with humble, gracious, and truthful people who will help us remember God in the middle of the battles in which we find ourselves.

Several years ago, I was in counseling for an eating disorder with roots that ran deep. One night I had had a very long, hard struggle with the desire to use ugly behaviors, that I despised, but I eventually gave into them. The next morning, I went for my walk and was listening to praise music and praying about the struggle I had experienced the night before. I was so full of remorse and frustration and was so focused on the music and praying I didn't even realize I had passed a lady. She hollered at me, and I turned around. She came toward me and placed her hand on my shoulder as I took my ear buds out. She looked at me, square in the eyes, and said to me, "In Jesus the victory is already yours! Believe it and take a hold of it!" Then she turned on her heel and walked away. To this day, I’ve never seen her in my neighborhood again. She saw my struggle and had the courage to remind me that in Christ I was already a conqueror. I just needed to believe it and act on it.       

When I looked up the word conqueror I was excited to find that Revelation had a lot to say about us being conquerors in Christ. We conquer the evil one by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies! As we speak aloud we defeat the lies, the doubts, the fears, and the enemy behind them because we are living protected by the blood of Jesus. God will feed us from the tree of life, not allowing us to be hurt by the second death. He will feed us with His manna and give us a new name written on stone that no one knows except the receiver. To me, that indicates an intimacy that we have - a name, only He will call us. Maybe that name will be indicative of all that He created us to be. He will give us authority over nations and confess our names before his Father and his angels. He is our defender when the Enemy hurls his ugly accusations of not being good enough, not being worthy, not being obedient enough. He will refuse to blot our names from the book of life when the Enemy accuses us.

What hope we have when we worship the One who is the Conqueror. He has conquered sin with His righteousness, death with Life, darkness with Light, anxiousness with Peace, weakness with Strength, depression with Joy, despair with Hope. If we keep our eyes on Christ we can live the victorious lives to which we have been freed to live. He conquered the enemy at the cross and we strip the enemy of his power with God's truth and with our testimonies. When my old friend ED (eating disorder) comes knocking, I can have victory by defeating the enemy, attempting to entice me, by remembering the cross, by speaking Gods truth, and by giving testimony to what God has done for me. It doesn't matter what the besetting sin is, WE each can be conquerors in Christ by remembering, speaking, and testifying. 




The God of the Impossible

Monday, June 26, 2017

What do we do when we face an impossible situation? Maybe it is mounting bills in a time when pay raises don't keep up with inflation. Maybe it is a diagnosis of stage four cancer and limited funds and little hope given. Maybe it is dealing with a child who was born with a defective heart that will require many surgeries and life-threatening bumps in the road ahead. Maybe it is being trapped in a marriage in which domestic violence occurs, wanting to honor God and be safe at the same time. Maybe it is the realization that one's marriage is dead and needs to be resurrected, but the patterns of relating are so set in stone that they seem impossible to change. Maybe it is relational difficulties with extended family members who don't take responsibility for the part they play in creating havoc when the family comes together. Maybe it is the struggle with an addiction to pornography, alcohol, drugs, or food where the spirit is willing but the flesh is so weak. Maybe it is waking up with persistent depression that runs deep and just getting out of bed feels too hard. Maybe it is the loss of home due to flood or fire. Maybe it is the loss of one's country being ravaged by war. Maybe it is the need to escape an enemy, but having no place to go and no means to get there. Maybe it is standing at the side of the grave and wondering how one can survive the pain of the loss. Maybe it is the longing for a child with a body that is infertile. Maybe it is the sharing of the gospel with one whose heart is stone cold. It doesn't matter whether the impossible is physical, emotional, or spiritual, it creates fear as well as feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.

How we respond to impossible situations we face often has its roots in our past. If we were lucky enough to grow up in a healthy family, we may have gained some coping skills and navigate the impossible quite well. However, if there is a history of childhood trauma and family dysfunction it is not likely that we will respond well to situations we view as impossible. Early childhood trauma can even leave us with a limbic system that is hair-triggered, leaving us in a panic, wanting to respond by fleeing, fighting, or freezing. When we feel overwhelmed we are more likely to panic and that fear will make it hard for us to remember God and what He has done in the past, what He may be doing presently, and what He is fully capable of doing in the future. We can learn a lot from Israel's story in Exodus 13:17-14:31, which tells the story of the Jews when they were caught in an impossible situation. They had the Red Sea in front of them with Pharaoh and his army was quickly coming from behind.  Israel responded to their situation with panic just like we do! 

So, how can we overcome the panic in the face of impossible situations? For me, it begins with acknowledging that what is going on inside of me is a physiological response, designed by God who wants me to be able to take care of myself. My response is flawed because of past trauma, and it is helpful to understand that the feeling of panic is just a feeling that will subside if I don’t fuel it. It feels extremely uncomfortable, but it really isn’t unbearable and it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

Second, I can overcome panic by acknowledging God's sovereignty, resting in the fact that His sovereignty is ruled by every aspect of His godly character. It is ruled by His goodness, His love, His mercy and grace, and His justice. In addition, He is ever present. Even though my emotions might tell me I’m alone, the truth is He is with me and He is all powerful, having infinite understanding of every situation I face--even the ones I believe to be impossible. Though they seem impossible to me, they do not surprise God, nor do they render Him powerless. There are times the panic I feel is so strong that the only way I can get my focus back on God is to take a walk and listen to praise music--the walking releases the physical energy of the panic and the music reminds me of who my God is. 

Third, I remind myself who I am in relationship to God--His child, bought with Christ's own blood. I can trust that God doesn't want me to be in bondage to sin or to fear, nor does He want to do me harm. In the impossible, I can remind myself that Satan wants me to believe the impossible proves God doesn't love me or have my best interest at heart. I can rebuke his lies and cling to the truth found in God's Word. I can step out in obedience and faith just as Israel stepped onto dry land with mountains of water heaped beside them. I can trust my ways are not His ways. His are infinitely better. 

Fourth, I can remind myself that God is a God of order even in what feels like chaos. Everything we face is either designed by Him or allowed by Him and has purpose. As we face the impossible in faith, God can use it to strip us of false securities. This enables us to view our lives through an eternal lens, grasping that this is not our home and we are Christ's ambassadors temporarily living here. 

God can also use the impossible to strip us of pride so that we quit living independently of Him and begin to fully recognize it is in our weakness that His strength is made known. He may put us in situations that cause us to have to exercise faith and trust in His promises in order to make our faith more than matter of head knowledge. 

God can use the impossible to strip us of the idols we have in our lives. Remember, when Israel wanted to leave Egypt, God used a series of plagues to get the attention of Pharaoh. Each of the plagues was designed to show Egypt's false gods were powerless, but the living God was not. When Israel was facing the sea Pharaoh, who was viewed as a god, and his armies were approaching and God used the impossible situation to expose the last false god by proving that Pharaoh was just a man. We may have idols that we use for security, for peace, for hope, and for love and God will lovingly strip them away so that He has our whole heart.  

Fifth, I try to remember that God may use the impossible to reveal Himself experientially to me. The Word says He is all powerful and I can't experience His power unless I am rendered powerless. The Word says He is a Healer and I can't experience His healing without illness--physical or emotional. His word says He is our protector and I can't experience His protection without experiencing what feels unsafe. His Word says He is our comforter and I can't experience His comfort without pain and loss. Because we are all so human, it just may be that we would not fully experience His presence without being stopped in our tracks with no resources of our own that we can realize all we ever needed was just Him.

In the aftermath of the impossible, we want to praise God through worship and through thanksgiving, building monuments of remembrance so that we don't grow complacent or forget God and what He has done. If we are living God's will, we will face more of the impossible and monuments of remembrance made of stone, or prayer journals, or praise reports spoken aloud will help us remember God is the God of the impossible. 

http://www.riverlakeschurch.org/index.php/rcc/sermons/facing-an-impossible-situation




No Empty Words

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Most of us know what empty words are. Some had their first exposure to empty words in childhood when Dad frequently promised to attend school plays or soccer games, but never showed up. Sometimes his failure to show wasn't even acknowledged and when it was discussed, there was a promise to come next time or an admonition to not be a crybaby about his absences. Or maybe Mom repeatedly promised a trip to a favorite ice cream parlor after chores were done, but trips never materialized and when asked about them, she was too tired or claimed it was too close to dinner. And to add insult to injury she would usually add, "Maybe next week!" Some had their first exposure to empty words, when a noncustodial parent never showed up for visits. The excuses were many--new wife needed him, the dog was sick, got home too late from work, or maybe there was just silence with no excuses offered. Some had their first exposure to empty words when a parent's addiction was the root of broken promises. They promised repeatedly to stop drinking and to be a better parent, but the roots of addiction ran too deep and words--they were empty and couldn't be trusted. Some experienced empty words that were threats of disciplinary actions that never followed through and Mom and Dad still wonder why their kids are so unruly or got in trouble with the law. 

Some grew up in healthy homes where words were kept, but they were exposed to empty words outside the home. Maybe it occurred when a friend repeatedly failed to fulfill the plans you made together. Maybe she left you hanging at the Mall, the Basketball game, the movie theater, or just didn't show up for planned sleepovers. For some it occurred when they were dating a guy who repeatedly double booked or got caught up in the moment with his friends, failing to show up for dates, and promising to do better while expecting you to be "understanding." After all, isn't that what good girlfriends do? After all, don't Christians have to show grace? For some, it happened in a job when a boss promised a raise that never materialized. He was good at convincing workers to work until the project was finished so the company could make enough money to give you the raise you hoped for--the raise that never came to be.  

For many, empty words came in the form of apologies. Oh, the apologies rolled so easily off the tongue. "I am sorry I missed your game." "I am sorry I pushed you so hard to "do it," it won't happen again." "I am sorry, I didn't make it home in time for dinner again." "I am sorry I forgot to fix that leaky pipe this weekend, I'll do it next Saturday." "I am sorry I forgot to call you when I knew I was going to be late." "I am sorry I can't pick up the kids this weekend." "I am sorry I got drunk and made a fool of myself in front of the kids, it won't happen again." "I am sorry I was viewing porn again, I promise I won't do it again." But the apologies are made of empty words and the people saying them are saying the words only to alleviate his or her guilt and the behaviors, but they never change. 

But, with God, there are no empty words. In a world filled promises broken, vows not kept, pledges retracted, and assurances quickly given and even more quickly forgotten, God remains true to His Words. History proves it:
  • "Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers." (Joshua 21:43a) 
  •  "And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers." (Joshua 21:44a)
  • "Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:45} 
These verses are important verse because they show the partial fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham in Gen. 12:2-3, "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonor you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 

And the complete fulfillment of them is found in Jesus. In Him, every person has the possibility of redemption. We have a truth-minding, promise-keeping, covenant-fulfilling God. And this is important as we live out our faith in a broken world filled with fear-inducing events, debilitating illnesses, broken promises, and sinful people who fail to love well. 

God's faithfulness is how the parents of a child who is suffering with heart defects or cancer makes it through the day. They hold on to the Psalmists words, "The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness You restore him to full health."  (Psalm 41:3)

Those grieving can find comfort and hope in Psalm 30:5b, "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." 

Those struggling with loneliness and fear of abandonment can hold onto the Lord's promise found in Hebrews 13:5, "I will never leave you or forsake you." 

Those wondering if the sin they just committed is one sin too many sins to be forgiven can hold on to 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Those afflicted from every side can hold onto the promise found in Psalm 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."   


Those struggling with fearful hearts can trust the words of a prophet in Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." 

Those facing death can hold on to the promise Jesus made in John 14:2, "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" 

And those feeling distraught over the immoral, hate-filled climate in which we live can hold onto   1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God." 

In this world filled with empty words, we can remember God speaks no empty words! Every word is trustworthy, powerful and life-sustaining. Our struggle with unbelief often has had its roots in man's failures, not God's. 

Is it really a Great Big Wonderful World?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I come from a line of women who cared deeply for pets who were down on their luck. When I went to visit my mom and grandmother, it was not uncommon to find a new pet with special needs. At one point, they had a dog who was blind, one who was epileptic, and one with severe arthritis. While two of them developed their conditions after they had adopted them, the blind one they chose, knowing full well he was blind. It seems that those genes of compassion have been handed down to some of my children. Our youngest son recently bought his first home and after getting settled he decided he was ready to get a puppy. He went to the pound and was somehow smitten by a sweet female dog. He named Sweet Dee.  

Recently I got a chance to meet and experience Dee and she is a sweetheart. I also got to watch my son nurture and care for her. During our visit, he told me her story. She was in the womb when her mother was confiscated in a police raid. The mom and the puppies she was carrying could not be adopted out until after everything was settled in court. So, Dee was born in the shelter and then lived it in for fourteen months. Though her physical needs were adequately met, some of her emotional needs weren't and to her the world was a small kennel. When he walked her out to the car, she was terrified. When she rode in the car to his house, she was terrified. When they walked into his house, she was terrified and didn't understand she could roam around the house and explore it like most puppies would. When he took her outside and showed her the backyard for the first time, she was overwhelmed. And when he went to bed the first night, he invited her on to the bed, and she wouldn't come. It took her awhile to understand she could climb on the bed and sleep with him. 

She quickly bonded with him and a whole new set of issues popped up. She would get so anxious when he had to leave her alone that she would get sick all over the room. So, he had to crate her and smart as she was she learned to undo the crate so he had to keep her in the bathroom where he could easily clean up after her. With his consistent love and provisions, she is slowly and surely adjusting to life outside the kennel. Now she is a bit more comfortable getting to experience new things like parks, beaches, and people who are loving and kind toward her. Oh, she can easily revert back to old fearful behaviors in new situations, but each time she seems to overcome them more quickly. He shared that once she has done something wrong and realizes it, she gets so anxious that she has blown it that her bad behaviors escalate. While he disciplines her, he has to lavish her with love at the same time so she will calm down and stop the behavior he is correcting. It does a mama's heart good to see a son's love, patience, compassion, and discipline helping a neglected pup with a hard start in life overcome fear and anxiety, making it possible to live a good life. 

As I sat and watched my son and his Sweet Dee interact, it reminded me that sometimes churches don't know what to do with people who have suffered emotional trauma and emotional neglect. Fortunately, my church is different. It has given me the freedom to build a support group ministry that serves women who have been emotionally traumatized, some through neglect and some through all sorts of abuse. Many of women who come into our groups come in full of anxiety and fear much like Dee did. In some of them it is very visible, but in some of them it is well hidden by confusing, self-protective behaviors. Sometimes those behaviors cause others to view them as an EGR--a person who needs extra grace. Maybe in home group their anxiety causes them to be overly talkative or abrasive and defensive. Maybe they seem to be overly sensitive and everyone in the group gets exhausted because they feel they must walk on eggshells around them so they don't say something that wounds or offends them. Maybe they appear to be so quiet or so closed off that the majority of the group is uncomfortable, because they can't connect with them. Maybe they are the people that always have huge drama going on in their lives and are constantly eating up prayer time with overly dramatic narratives, and yet they can't seem to make changes to end the drama. Maybe they are the people who come across as rigid and unbending, needing everyone to agree with their opinion to be okay. Maybe they are the ones stuck in sin they can't break out of--you know the ones who the group doubts their salvation because they just keep giving into sinful behaviors and addiction again and again--be it alcohol, drugs, food, porn, people, shopping, or self-harm, drama, etc. Or maybe they are the people in a community group that have trouble fully trusting God, who has really already proven Himself trustworthy. 

Oh, I get it. I have been that EGR person and people were either trying to fix me or ignoring me because I was so needy that they felt overwhelmed. I have been that person who readily smiled but who was so closed off that little was known about that state of my heart or the dreams I dreamed of fulfilling. I have been that person who struggled to trust an awesome God to help me for fear I would find out I wasn't worth helping. And I am ashamed to say I have also been that home group member irritated, confused, and impatient with peers--the ones who ate up time telling stories instead of talking about the lesson, the ones addicted to drama who presented the same prayer request over and over instead of confronting in love or setting godly boundaries that could evoke change, or who continued to wallow in victimhood instead of putting on their big girl panties and choosing to live in freedom and joy. 

To be honest, I spent years in a Christian counselor's office. As I began to become more self-aware, I went through a stage where I was so frustrated at how I reacted and responded to different situations. I truly wanted to be a person who wasn't as socially awkward as I was, who didn't interpret events, words, and body language through a lens of trauma. I remember saying to my counselor that I didn't understand why I did what I did. My therapist suggested I read the book, A Child Called "It." I read it fast because once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. When I went back to the therapist, she asked me what I thought of the book. I told her what I liked and how I felt about Dave and the story he lived. She then asked me what I thought of his behaviors once he was rescued. It hit me then that his behaviors made perfect sense in the context of his story. She pointed out to me that she viewed me the same way. Even though my trauma wasn't as severe as the boy in the story, it was still trauma and I developed behaviors that served to protect me. Some were wise behavior and some were maladaptive behaviors that weren't really serving me well anymore. I now realize those were deeply ingrained in my brain and because they were tied to trauma they can, even now, still pop up when I feel unsafe. I don't have to shame myself or act on them, I can choose more wisely how to respond most of the time. The more time that passes and the more practice I get, hopefully I will continue to act and react out of the person God created me to be. But the truth is that for the majority of traumatized people, recovering is a life-long process. It is, in my opinion, the Biblical process mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." Traumatized people spend a lifetime giving up childish ways because the trauma sealed those ways deep within them.   

There are several things churches can do to help people who've been traumatized grow past the trauma. First, recognize people are living redemption stories penned by God. Our church realizes stories are important and has begun to publish written stories and show video clips of people sharing parts of their stories. I love this, because it makes it safe for us to share and it helps us to understand each other in the context of our stories.

This has proven true repeatedly in our support groups. When women come into group and begin to work on their various traumas, we see all sorts of behaviors and protective defenses that in and of themselves don't make a lot of sense. As they begin to feel safe and tell their stories, we find their responses to life and their defense mechanisms make perfect sense. As they continue to do work in a safe environment and experience godly love, acceptance, and complete grace, they reach a place they begin to recognize the changes they need to make and they find themselves in the place Sweet Dee found herself when our son first brought her home. Freedom, healthy relationships, trusting God and other people, joy and happiness, and peace are as inviting to the traumatized as our son's home and back yard was. Yet, as inviting as those things are they are tremendously scary, because they are so unfamiliar and so different from what they know. 

It takes time for traumatized people to really believe they are safe with people, especially when they were traumatized by people who should have loved them and kept them safe. It takes time for them to wrap their minds around the fact that both God's sovereignty over the traumatizing events they experienced and His great love for them are true. It takes times to really trust that God will give audience to their concerns when the people in their lives ignored them. It takes time for them to not be afraid of this strange new feeling rising up in them, that we would define as joy, when that joy they experienced in childhood was crushed in horrific ways. It takes times to truly believe that one comes to Christ for the power to overcome sin when they have been told repeatedly that the way to God is to give up sin. It takes time to trust others when they were so deeply wounded by those most people could trust with their lives. It takes time to trust that people can love them and give them attention when life is calm and good when the only way they got attention as children was to create chaos. It takes time to believe one can truly be so filled with the love of God that they can be more concerned with loving others that trying to milk love out of other love starved hearts. 

I want to be someone that recognizes the hard-to-understand behavior and irritating defenses that seem to invite me in and then push me away often hide painful stories that need to be told. I want to be someone who refuses to judge people's actions and attitudes, instead showing curiosity about the story behind them. I want to be a someone who chooses to walk alongside of people who are "coming home" for the first time and "exploring a great big beautiful world" that feels so unsafe, allowing them to draw on my courage and hope when they need it. And I want to be a person so connected to God that when another's actions and reactions seem to be testing my love that I can love consistently enough that the fears of the wounded are laid to rest and they, too, can begin to live no longer defined by trauma, but by the love of God; and so that the question asked in the title of this piece, “Is it really a great big wonderful world?” can be answered with a resounding, "YES!"

I Want to Throat Punch Me Some People!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

It has been a hard week for me, emotionally and it isn't because of what is going on in my personal life. It is because of what is going on in our world. First, I was invited to host a book table at a Sex Trafficking Symposium at Saddleback Church in Orange County. We've had a few traffic survivors attend our Passionate Heart Ministry support groups and I have worked with a few at the at the rescue mission so I had a good idea of what we would be hearing. However, a couple of the speakers brought video clips with the purpose of helping people see sex trafficking for what it truly is. And believe me, it isn't something done by women voluntarily to make money. Even though they take money from the John, the pimp takes the money from them.   

Just like victims of childhood sexual abuse, victims of trafficking have come to that scene with vulnerabilities that increased the likelihood they would be manipulated into that lifestyle (“the life”). Some of them were vulnerable because they ran away to escape the sexual abuse they experienced at the hands of people who should have nurtured and protected them. Some of them became vulnerable because their parents kicked them out when they got addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some of them became vulnerable when their needs weren't met and they grew up without a sense of belonging to family and a guy or gal from a gang, a bottom, or a pimp befriended and groomed them with the promise of being a part of their family. Sick as that sounds, it fulfills a deep need written on the heart in the womb. I worked with one gal who was a single mom that met a couple at a PTA meeting. They befriended her and she was lonely and began to frequent bars with them. Eventually, drinks were spiked and she was given drugs and became addicted, pimped, and even videotaped without her knowledge. She found out later her videos were posted online.  

What is really scary is that some of the youngest girls were lured into “the life” by men and women pretending to be someone close to the girls' ages on social media pages. They developed an online relationship and soon the kids thought they were in love with the fake person and ran away to be with them. Instead, they ended up in the hands of a pimp, drugged, raped, and trafficked. Some of the videos we saw were posted by the pimps themselves, proudly showing how abusively they treat the women they own. The language, the physical violence, the drugs dispensed, the bragging in the videos - it hurts the heart. I became angry because they seem to think they are so tough, so powerful, and so manly, but all they are is the embodiment of pure evil.  

Sadly, a lot of drug dealers are finding they can make way more money selling humans than drugs. I won't write the words they use in that lifestyle, but believe me they aren't pretty words. Sadly, these women and girls (and men and boys) are stuck because they have no money, are addicted to the drugs provided, desperately want to belong, and rightfully fear for their lives if they run. Some women become bottoms, which is the pimp’s right hand woman, and they become horribly abusive to those under them. They recruit, train, and control through threats and through abuse. They have to do this or be beaten worse than anyone. There is a status in that community that comes with these positions and what they will do to maintain that sickens the heart. 

We are mistaken if we believe they can just leave if they want. It is hard to get out of “the life”, because the conscience becomes seared when one is living only in that setting. To come out of “the life” and return to a more normal, moral setting shines a bright light on what they have done to survive and the shame that rises up within them can be unbearable, causing some to commit suicide. Some of them don't have job or people skills and if they do, they have police records that make it hard to get a job. It is also becoming a generational business as they draw young guys and girls into it. Some are their own children and some are not, but kids that are drawn in know no other life. I came home sad for the victims and the kids being trained, but wanting to throat punch me some pimps. 

Then, on Monday, we heard about the bombing in Manchester that killed and injured young kids, parents, and young adults who were doing nothing but attending a concert. And with the work I do, I know that those not injured will also suffer emotionally from the trauma of having been through. They will never ever be the same again. And these men think they are so powerful, so manly, and even so spiritual because they think they are earning some kind of special reward for carrying out their horrible deeds. Please tell me what is manly about killing a child? It makes me sick to think back on all the terrorist attacks that have been reported. There were the terrorists who carried out the attack out in southern California, who had dropped their baby off at grandmother’s house and went and shot up his co-workers, and then shot it out with the police. And then there is Boston, Florida, and all the European bombings...and it makes me want to throat punch me some terrorists and those who recruit and train them.  

Then, this morning I read a response Leslie Vernick, a godly author and counselor, wrote to a pastor who had given some pretty bad advice to a woman who was dealing with an abusive spouse. The woman’s marriage had started out great and then over time her husband disengaged, withdrew to his basement, and become a very angry man. He started blowing up at her and the kids and verbally assaulting them. Though it hadn't escalated to physical violence, his tongue was extremely caustic and he had thrown both words and objects in anger. I have heard similar stories like hers, and in many cases the husband was battling a sex addition and viewing pornography. The woman sought advice from her pastor who didn't point out the Biblical steps in handling his sin. Instead, he told her she should try harder to be a good support to him and that her emotional pain had at its root pride. That is spiritual abuse at its worst. No one in the church should be silenced when they are being mistreated and abused. The sin needs to be dealt with. It is time for churches to quit blaming victims and deal with the sin in the body.   

It reminded me of the number of women in our sexual abuse support groups. Some of them were abused by parents who were involved in the church or by youth pastors, pastors, or other leadership in the church. Those brave enough to speak out when they were young were often told not to say those kinds of things, or dad would go to jail, the pastor's family would break up, or the reputation of the church would be ruined. It always hurts my heart to think of those little girls too ashamed or too afraid to tell. But, it hurts my heart even more that those who did tell were silenced--literally sacrificed for the false reputation of their families and their churches. It makes me want to throat punch me some abusers, some pastors and some parents who would rather sacrifice kids than deal with sin in a Biblical way. 

I could go on and on with the things that make me want to throat punch. I want to throat punch me some men and boys who think it is manly to objectify women and who think it is manly to look women up and down as they walk down the street or the hallway. I want to throat punch me some guys that think it is okay to grope women in the work place or in a public line. I want to throat punch me some men who think it is manly to intimidate women or withdraw affection if they don't put out. I want to throat punch me some men who think it is okay to drug women and rape them when they can't resist or say no and I want to throat punch me some judges who let them off. I want to throat punch me some parents who are neglecting their responsibilities of loving, nurturing, teaching, and disciplining their children and leaving them to raise themselves, making them vulnerable to abuse, addictions, and trafficking. I want to throat punch me some people behind the abortion industry who make their money performing abortions on women they have deceived into believing abortion doesn't hurt the mom or the child and that the best way to handle one sin is to perpetrate another against an unborn baby.  

But as I have been processing these feelings, I came to realize there is an enemy that is bigger than the pimp, bigger than the John, bigger than the bottom, bigger than the terrorist, bigger than the misguided misogynistic pastor, bigger than the men caught in sexual addiction, and bigger than doctors performing abortions, and bigger than neglectful parents. All of these people have been deceived by the Enemy who is prowling around seeking to devour and to destroy those created in God's image. Every one of these people doing such tremendous harm to others was formed in the womb by God's own hands just as their victims were. They have made choices to harm others partly because the enemy deceived them so they would be in the business of destroying other image bearers and in that process of believing and obeying the lies they themselves seem to have lost the ability to bear the image of God they were created to bear, that is unless God steps in and redeems. 

The Enemy is the one that has deceived men into thinking it is more manly to pimp and create porn, to be aggressive and abusive, and to control wives and children through manipulation and intimidation. It is the enemy telling parents it is okay to ignore their family and parental responsibilities to work and to socialize. It is the enemy telling girls it is okay to rectify one sin with another. It is the enemy telling them “the life” will fill the need of family. It is the enemy that causes people to become so entrenched that it seems normal to live a life of degradation and defilement. It is the enemy telling terrorists that their salvation comes through murder. And it is the enemy that is telling us in our churches that these things don't have anything to do with us.  

We have got to remember the truth. A man is never manlier than when he loves well, respects women, provides for his family, is in involved in his kids’ lives, models morals he doesn't have to hide, and bears the image of His Savior by loving well. There is never a more manly man than the one who controls lustful appetites, wandering eyes, and his temper. There is never a more manly man than a father who teaches his sons to love and respect their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and spouses. and who protects his daughters, loving them well and teaching them to let the Savior be enthralled with their beauty. They are manly when they guard their hearts both as a single and a married man and fight with all of their might to preserve purity and their marriages. 

And women--they are more beautiful when they get their love needs met by God and find a sense of purpose fulfilled as they engage with their kids, taking the time to show them how to love God, themselves, and others. Women are never more beautiful than when they walk in truth and model a modest heart and empower their daughter to choose wisely who and when to date. And they are even more beautiful if they have blown it and own a mistake made, and recognize that grace and community can help them navigate the consequences of their sin, allowing God to redeem even the sinful choices they made. 

And the church--it is never more godly than when it acknowledges sin in the body and deals with it adequately. That means dealing graciously with unwanted pregnancies in a way that maintains the dignity of the mother and preserves the life of the baby while at the same time dealing with the root causes of the sin. That means being willing to deal with pornography, sexual addictions, and calling on men to openly take a stand against sex trafficking and porn use. It means being willing to deal with perpetrators of domestic violence, misogynistic attitudes of men, and teaching young men to respect women and to appreciate God's plan for sex inside of a covenant marriage. It means loving well and teaching our young people to be fulfilled in Christ so that they don't look for love in sinful ways. 

I believe we all have the potential to be deceived and to sin so that God's image in us is no longer visible. That should terrify us. That should humble us. That should bother us enough to want to catch our own sin in its earliest stages and nip it in the bud. It should bother us enough to drive us to the Word to see what God's plan for His people is. It should bother us enough to fall down and worship the one who can preserve His image in us. 

As I contemplate how big God is, the desire to throat punch dissipates. I know the Enemy was defeated at the cross, his time is short, and he is angry and writhing like a snake dying. And I want to be found consistently worshiping God, remembering He is more powerful than he who is in this world. I want to pray against the Enemy's schemes and boldly proclaim God's truth to counter the Enemy's lies. I want to get out of my comfort zone and challenge the church to consider if we are doing all that God has called us to do. Are we doing church God's way or guilty of hiding and perpetuating sin? Are we going where sinners live with the gospel, or hiding behind the comfort of the church walls? Are we willing to be around people with "rough edges" to share the gospel and to disciple or are we reaching out only to those resembling us most? Isn't it true that we can render the Enemy powerless by living as God has called us to live? Every prayer spoken, every act of worship, every demonstration of love, every testimony spoken aloud, every heart healed, every knee bowed in repentance, and every relationship healed through forgiveness, and every godly choice made are things that silence and render the Enemy powerless. Could it be that those are the spiritual throat punches God has called us to throw?     


When Mother's Day is Hard

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Over the years I have come to realize holidays can be emotionally hard for people. I can remember the sadness I felt on my first Mother's Day after we had moved all across the country. I was used to spending it with Mom and I found myself overwhelmed and lonely in a new place and felt a sense of loss even though she was still alive. I had become a mom and my husband did his best to make it special, so I hid the sadness I felt. It was years later that I faced the holiday with Mom gone, leaving me and unable to hear her voice, buy her a card, or send her flowers. I was a bit more prepared as I've had friends over the years who grieved Mother's  Day because they had lost their mothers at an early age. Some of them so young they remembered having to tell their teachers they did not have a Mom and didn't need to make a card. They believed they were different and hated it. Every year when this holidays rolls around I still feel a sense of loss. But more than that my heart feels burdened because over the years I've heard many stories and God seems to remind me of them as this holiday rolls around. It is a good burden because it causes me to pray.

I pray for those whom this holiday stirs up longings for a relationship with their mom that can never be fulfilled. It doesn't matter if their mom has died, if their mom has physically left, if their mom is too dysfunctional to relate in a healthy way, or if their mom has betrayed them, the pain of longing is a pain that runs deep. They might be longing to simply to hear her familiar voice speak words or they might be longing to hear her speak words of affirmation that in reality they know probably will never be spoken because of a sinful or wounded heart. They might be longing to hear an apology for harsh words spoken in haste or a fit of anger or for loving so poorly or failing to return or protect. They might be the longing for one more bear hug or a maybe warm hug never once experienced. It might be the longing for another conversation or longing for a conversation that they know will never be had. They might be longing to hear her laugh one more time or the wondering what her laugh would have sounded like had depression not robbed her from it. They might be longing to hear her say she understands, but realizing their Mom can't hear their words and respect their thoughts. They might be longing to having a mom who could have lived brave enough to have protected them from her perpetrating husband instead of protecting the family reputation, the church they attended, or the delusion that the family was healthy and happy. They might be longing for a Mom who was mentally  ststable enough to calm fears instead of triggering them.

I pray for those ladies whose hearts feel empty on this holiday, because they can't remember a time that they didn't long for a child and they live with the realization they will never be able to conceive. Their hearts hurt every month, but they hurt even more on this day. They hurt not only for the unfulfilled longing, but because of the lack of empathy and the people who simply clamor for them to get over their grief and move on or admonish them to simply trust God more, believing their pain is a result of not trusting God more. What do they do with the longing that is written on their hearts?

I pray for the ladies who were able to conceive but lost children before they could breath their first breath. They grieve the loss of the babe they were excited to meet, but will never get to hold. They also grieve the loss of the hopes and expectations they had for their children and themselves. Many of them have suffered in silence because those around them didn't recognize their loss as a valid loss and even those that recognized the loss want them to be over it.

I pray for the moms whose memories include abortion. No matter what the reasons were, they were deceived into believing it would be easier, only to find every year they remember with shame. They find themselves wondering about the child whose life was ended. I am thankful for those who have experienced God's grace and have been able to grieve and repent. I also pray for those who haven't, always hoping they will and at last be able to grieve their child and the decision they made as they cling to the assurance of a heavenly reunion.

I pray for the moms who were fortunate enough to birth children and enjoy them for a season only to lose them way too soon. They have walked a grieving journey many of us will never have to walk. When this day rolls around their hearts are heavy though thankful as they remember past Mother's Days filled with cheer and hand made cards expressing childish sentiments so sweet. Even those with other children remember who celebrate them remember the place setting no longer set at the table.

I pray for the moms who have children incarcerated or who have run away. The shame of wondering where they went wrong is sometimes too much to bear. The worry of wondering if children are alive and safe or cold, and hungry, or in harm's way is constant, never fully going away. As they grieve the choices made by their children, they also grieve their place at the table and the dashed hopes they had for their kids.

I also pray for the moms and the children who lost their relationship through suicide. That death is a hard one to grieve because of all the unasked and unanswered questions--"Was it my fault?" "Could i have done anything to prevent it?" "Why did they want to die?" "Why did they prefer death over life?"

My purpose in sharing this post is not to guilt those who love to celebrate this holiday. It is a relationship that deserves to be recognized and to be celebrated! I just want to remind us that it is not always easy for others. I do hope we can be empathetic as we cross paths with those whose experience is not one of joy. It might mean writing a sweet note to a friend who struggles with infertility. It might mean planting a rose bush with some one who has lost either a child or their mom. It might mean having coffee with a friend and allowing her to talk openly about her loss again without admonishing her to move on. It might mean doing something creative with a friend who has suffered a loss with the intention of blessing another. It might mean having lunch with someone who is spending their first Mother's Day alone, reminding them through the ministry of presence that you have remembered them in their grief.  It might mean asking them if there is something you can do to commemorate the person they grieve. It might mean being willing to listen to a process letter written to a mother who was absent, distracted, or or unloving and the helping them figure out ways to release the pain the feel and to forgive at an even deeper level than they had before. It might mean helping someone put in place some kind of action plan to serve another or connect with someone else who, too, has suffered loss. The truth is that when Mother's Day is hard, it offers us opportunities to love those that hurt well.



Introduction

Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!
 
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