Broken Promise

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

(Romans 1:16 ESV)

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“In conversation, the disciple who is truly poor in spirit always leaves the other person feeling, my life has been enriched by talking with you.  This is neither false modesty nor phony humility… The poor in spirit are the most non-judgmental of peoples; they get along well with sinners.”

–Brennan Manning

The above quote from Brennan Manning was the initial spark which lit the flame of my now persistent and burning desire to serve Christ and become His evangelistic servant bathed in His everlasting mercy and grace.  It would be untrue to lead anyone to believe this did not come without great struggle and outright debate with my Savior by trying to rationalize every reason in my finite mind to explain to Him why I am not the best and most qualified candidate for this sacred position but the flame persists and He fuels my flame with daily doses of increasingly greater intention.

Servant Evangelism, in my personal opinion is the only effective way to evangelize the lost and hurting among us.  It was refreshing to learn there has been a shift from the fire and brimstone type of evangelizing to a new relational, authentic, and transparent approach.  I desire to serve Christ as an authentic and transparent servant as I begin to embrace the brokenness of my own shattered past.  For it was in my broken past where I learned to become dependent on Him and His words of promise for a brighter tomorrow.  My great dependency on Christ grew more intense from the struggles and challenges of my own personal life and now I am willing to share my past to brighten someone’s tomorrow with hope in a Savior and eternal life. 

“Jesus was transparent. True, He did not have any bad to reveal, but He grieved, and expressed it; He sorrowed, and He wept.”

–Jerry Pipes

My only desire is to simply be His transparent servant.  In spite of our weaknesses and imperfections, God still chooses to use people to communicate His message.   The knowledge of my past weakness and imperfections forces me to be a humble and non-judgmental servant to others. It allows me greater understanding into the lives of people who struggle with sin and despair. I have no Christian subculture to temporarily exit from for I have never known the boundaries of “perfect” Christian living void of challenges, hardships, and struggle.  Perhaps this is the very reason He is calling me to join Him in His mission, His prodigal with enduring wounds and intense regret.  I only have to recall the price He paid to reconcile my rebellion and I’m left kneeling at the foot of His cross begging for His mercy.   There is no greater reward this side of heaven then to join with Christ in sharing the gift He gives so freely to those who only have to receive.  How can I possibly keep this gift a secret? 

I will still wrestle with Christ regarding the requirements of this sacred position.  The responsibility of representing Him to a fallen world is significant and causes me to panic.  My greatest fear is misrepresenting His love and grace.  How could I possibly take on this type of responsibility?  The testimony we have around other people is of utmost importance.  People are watching how we react in the normal ebb and flow of life.   And I love Him so much and only desire to please Him so how can I continue to say no to a Savior who gave His life to allow an unworthy, unlovable, and unclean soul like me to have one?   There is a world just outside my door that is hurting and lost and I know without doubt Jesus loves them as much as He loves me.

 “It is not the prostitutes and tax-collectors who find it most difficult to repent; it is the devout who feel they have no need to repent, secure in not having broken rules on the Sabbath.”

–Brennan Manning 

How can I remain silent and not share with them the good news?   …What began simply as a spark and turned into a flame, which has now become a persistent and burning desire is beginning to slowly engulf my panic and fears…. 

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It has been well over a year since my promise was made to You…and yes!  I now feel and now realize Your strict discipline to my broken promise….

Jesus…Please help me believe I can do this!

“Fear not, for I am with you; for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 (Isa 41: 10 ESV)

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The Facebook Dilemma

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“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

(Proverbs 15:1 ESV)

I remember fondly as a child the children’s rhyme … “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  My childhood friends and I would sing it in complete unison…with a seemingly perfect flowing melody…as it filled us with fabricated fake courage in the face of yesterday’s more innocent bullies and playground taunts.  But even as we were singing its albeit short but encouraging and uplifting lyrics in perfect unison…I knew deep within my heart…that words hurt…that words can damage the soul….that words sting hard the unsuspecting heart, for even as a very young child…I already played victim to its ugly persistence…the ever hurtful words of a bully….the only existing words that echo through our very skeletal and temporary existence and deeply penetrate our souls with everlasting consequences….

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

(Proverbs 21: 23 ESV)

Today there exists a new brand of bully…a growing and global phenomenon where cyber animosity protects the worst of bullies….and encourages the very worst of filthy tongues to defile and spill over in mass destruction….its ugly words still sting with penetrating persistence….its consequences remain the same yet are more far-reaching…. much more damaging….Blatant evil spewed from the mouths of complete strangers and directed toward anyone who disagrees with them…disagrees with their ideology…disagrees with their political platform….disagrees with their current “movement”… disagrees with their absence of faith…their total denial of absolute Truth…. and/or is willing to cyber bully back and engage in a hateful war of words…using vulgar terms…derogatory names….demeaning tones….attacking the very fabric of our civilized society….our mothers, our brothers, our sisters, and our grandfathers… even our youngest and growing childhood future are not exempt from its dangerous vice…..the crippling words of a bully who hide cowardly in the complete and secure animosity of Facebook….

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Not only have we witnessed the increase of cyber-bullying over recent months… we now have witnessed the horrifying live streaming of recent murder and bloodshed….the ever growing recruitment tactics of a global terrorist network…. The unsuspicious flowing infusion of a sensationalized media between its posts….and of course… the constant stream of words…pure hateful words….paralyzing words… words meant to attack and degrade…..words meant to divide and conquer…words meant to deceive and confuse….words that will eventually cause us to ruin as a people….as a nation… and as a civilized society….

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

(Proverbs 13:3 ESV)

Isn’t it ironic … (smh…) that a global platform such as Facebook… a platform unheard of just a short time ago… and could be used to promote peace…and unify differences….and encourage greater understanding between the nations…between various people groups… has been slowly defaced and demoralized…and will continually be used for an ever growing evil intent…. by a fallen humanity….a fallen humanity who denies the very existence of a Savior….but are quick to blame God for all the ills in their society….

Do you continue to blame God for this new and growing travesty?

and then there are those who still insist… in a frightening growing majority….this sacred and ancient book which warns us all that harsh words will stir up anger….is mere fiction of an unknown source… in an unknown time…and by an unknown Savior ….as they continue to spin their web of deceit and destruction….

 And they are completely blinded by the only Word!

The only Word which penetrates all time and space!

The only Word which has withstood the test of time!

The only Word which saves us from ourselves!

(lol)…..

lol…..lol…lol…lol…

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Sticks and stones may break my bones….

But words?…….

Do they harm you?

Black vs. Blue

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

(John 5: 24 ESV)

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The hopeless state of my country…how very disheartening it truly is to me… and our world is in complete disarray…a vast multitude of empty voices crying from within a deepened and divided bottomless pit of pure helplessness….revenge and sorrow add additional hot flamed fuel which is poured over long existing festering wounds of past wrongs and wrongful undoing… of unpaid vendettas…. seemingly only to be paid in full from the current lives of complete innocence…

The constant bloodshed in our inner- city streets… the increase of anarchy and civil disorder….the ever- threatening global terrorism… and now sadly, a new domestic terrorism… a killing machine of extreme militancy outside our borders and now even within ….and the endless debates and political rhetoric….existing everywhere…a constant reminder of the sinful hearts which exists in all of us…it exists within me! It also exists within you!  It knows no color barrier…no ethnicity or racial barrier…. Prideful sin forcing sides in shameless conceit and wanting its own way….insisting on strict conformity and nothing else will please… and this results in even further division…and further unrest…..civil unrest… racial unrest….

I will continue cling to Jesus’ promise…that’s really all I have… for there is no other promise so fulfilling….so real…so gratifying….so complete!

  Jesus promised….For those who believe…they will be given eternal life….

From death to complete paradise… where no color exists….no racial disparity exists…no discrimination exists… no hatred…no sorrow…and every tear (from every skin color) will be wiped dry…

“…Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise…”

(Luke 23: 43 ESV)

In honor of some racially diverse, Christian… and unfortunately… forgotten martyrs of the American Civil Rights Movement….

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Clyde Kennard

Wanting admission to the all-white Mississippi Southern College…he faced roadblock after roadblock…but Clyde, a devout Baptist man had an impeccable life and school record…they couldn’t dissuade him. So they framed him with a felony…convicted by an all-white jury…he was sentenced to seven years of hard labor…while incarcerated, he became seriously ill and was denied medical treatment…he died six months later of an intestinal cancer… but died never bitter or angry…

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Rev. James Reeb

A white Unitarian minister who answered the call of Dr. King’s call for clergy to join him in Selma… he left for a diner and was accosted by a trio of white men…he was beaten with a club and slipped into a coma, dying the following day.

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Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley

These children were getting ready for church services when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing all four of the school-age girls.

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Johnathan Myrick Daniels

An Episcopal Seminary student, he came to help with black voter registration….he was arrested…jailed… and then released…moments after his release from confinement, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.

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Christ’s sacrificial death paid the penalty for sin….

It guarantees the final escape from the very presence of sin…

These Christian Civil Rights Movement martyrs instantly awoke into the arms of their Savior!! 

We Must believe this!

Sin exists!

…and sin will continue to exist!

may I ask …What really has changed over the years? 

Pain and Suffering I

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“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

–Jesus Christ

 (John 16: 33 ESV)

“Even if you were aware of children and felt compassion, when you have your own, it multiplies.  It breaks your heart to know that there are so many children in the world suffering so much.”

–Penelope Cruz

I have heard many people say they do not understand…they simply cannot even comprehend… why a loving God would allow so much suffering and pain in this world…so because of this seemingly perplexing inconsistency, many simply choose not to believe in God.   They conclude there can be no God existing in a world which experiences so much gut-wrenching pain and catastrophic suffering. Suffering is unavoidable.  Suffering does not discriminate…pain and suffering will eventually come to one and all.   Suffering seems to destroy everything in its path… it actually renders the sufferer unable to simply carry on with the very essential basics of life….it destroys….shatters…. overwhelms….it quickly takes life as we know it completely away……it can rob us of life itself….

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“Why Do people hate God?  One, they hate the moral standard.  Two, they hate the way He’s transforming the world even in the midst of suffering and tragedy.”

–Kirk Cameron

Different cultures and religions have attempted to define suffering.  In fact, one way a culture serves its members is to attempt to define ways in which to face horrific pain and suffering.  Some cultures and religions teach pain and suffering stem from the failure of people to live rightly.  The doctrine of karma is an example of this.  Buddhism teaches that suffering comes not from past deeds but from unfulfilled desires and those actual desires are the result of the illusion that we are individual selves.  Some societies address suffering and pain with a high view of fate and destiny.  Circumstances in life are predicted by supernatural forces…as in Islam…the will of Allah.   Other cultures teach suffering is a battle between darkness and light.  Our own contemporary secular Western culture is greatly lacking when it comes to explaining why pain and suffering occurs.  Many Western people of today find the ultimate goal of life is happiness…and suffering prevents happiness from occurring…During the Enlightenment Period, there was a shift from the belief that people were created to serve God to the belief that God made the world for our benefit.  Our ancestors once believed suffering was a part of life…but today we find a world where the belief is that God is obligated to arrange things the way we would like them to be…..When suffering and pain is seen as senseless…victims and cultures of its destruction develop deep anger…and deep hatred…and this growing anger and hatred is known as ressentiment…..

“As I lay so sick on my bed, from Christmas till March, I was always praying for poor ole master.  Pears like i didn’t do nothing but pray for poor ole master.  Oh, Lord, convert ole master, Oh, dear Lord, change dat man’s  heart, and make him a Christian.”

–Harriet Tubman

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“I find the greatest songs in the world come out of pain, and I don’t like it!  Here’s what it does: its strips away all of your facade.  It makes you so honest.  It’s cleansing.”

–Lionel Richie 

Thus…pain and suffering has now become the single and strongest objection to the existence of God…..Why would a loving God allow pain and suffering in this world?

 Christianity differs from all other worldviews…..

Why?

  Because we have a God who Himself suffered and didn’t deserve the pain and suffering inflicted upon Him…..and the most difficult aspect of this to understand….to even begin to comprehend…..

God actually allowed this pain and suffering to happen…..

And what if ( just what if ) our acute awareness of pain and suffering is actually a clue that God does exist?

“Jesus wept.”

(John 11: 35 ESV)

To be continued…

 

Opposites Attract

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

(2 Corinthians 9: 15 NIV)

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Who among us can even begin to describe you, Dear Jesus…..our human limitation restrains us from comprehending and describing all there is to know about You…For You are Three in One….You existed before time began…You are both God and Man…You are the Alpha and the Omega…the First and the Last….the Beginning and the End (Rev 22: 13)…..who among us would dare to even begin to describe Your past, present, and future radiant Presence…..

You had no majesty that we should look at You and no beauty that we should desire You (Isa 53: 2) yet Your endless beauty abounds and leaps greatly within my own heart….I desire You in the morning and I desire You in the evening….. A desire I cannot fully quench….an allure so powerful and a charm so ever-present….who among us would dare to even begin to describe Your majestic splendor and beautiful magnificence….

You are found existing within the darkness, and You are found existing within the light…even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you (Psa 139: 12) ….I have no words to describe You… The Word….I cannot utter a mere sound when my thoughts turn to You daily…. You are indestructible yet personable….indescribable yet approachable…The Master yet a Suffering Servant….humble yet The most powerful….and You shine as blinding light in even the darkest of nights.

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You are a sinless friend to even the worst of sinners…. Your love is well beyond any human comprehension…. Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. (Luke 7: 34)  You dine with the recluse and despised… You give hope to the hopeless….and riches to the poor….You grant innocence to the guilty….You came to repair the damage done… from man’s wayward rebellion to gracious unconditional forgiveness…You even continue to mend what is broken… You give eternal life to the dying…. this indescribable gift that is free to all who simply seek it…a bloody sacrifice yet the greatest of all gifts… but still… the unbearable weight of every single human sin was upon You…the only One who did not sin… as You were spit on….ridiculed and mocked….

JESUS… YOU WERE SLAUGHTERED!

…and for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21) You conquered death and now give eternal life to those who do not deserve it. For all of us do not deserve such love as this… I stand before you as filthy as a soiled stained rag… yet You always reach out to embrace me… ….who among us… no, not even I… would even dare to begin to describe Your incomprehensible love…

JESUS…how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Blessed be Your Name forever and ever!

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Will You Forget Me Forever?

“How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?

(Psalm 13: 1 ESV)

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Will you forget me forever….as I struggle to feel Your warmth and protection….the Light of Life has slowly drained once again into a deepened abyss from which I cannot see…this dark and lonely place that questions all unconditional love and entraps its unwelcome inhabitants from Your never-ending Grace and Mercy…

Will you forget me forever…as I have retreated back into blackened nothingness…this complete void of Your love for I no longer feel Your hand reaching out for mine….Your fatherly embrace has abruptly gone…. Oh …how I unwittingly recognize this cliff from which I now stand….the storm clouds gather ahead of me and the rocks below my feet are softly drifting… causing me to free fall into a whirlwind of chaotic motion… a fast free fall into stinging unworthiness…..for I will never be worthy of Your love….

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Will you forget me forever….do You remember my confessed love for You? Or do you only recall my many failures and broken promises?  My sins are great and multiply rapidly as I age…my heart is ever wanting but my flesh is always weak.  My gross negligence is built upon an excess foundation of failures which leads to unrepentance…..and this leads to the unworthiness I am now entrapped in ….oh… how I long to hear You call my name from afar!

To hear You call me “daughter” in this dark and lonely place…

I only ask ….Will You forget me forever?

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Mourning II… “Do Not Weep”

“And the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.  And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”  And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”

(Luke 7: 13-15 ESV)

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What a profound story…indicating just how deep the compassion of Christ really is….Jesus and His disciples traveling to a village called Nain where they encounter another large crowd.  This large crowd though was not rejoicing for they were mourning the loss of a young loved one….and his funeral was already underway.  This crowd….in sorrow and grief over the untimely death of an only son….and his weeping mother already experienced the devastating loss of her husband…and now too, her only young son…. leaving her broken and shattered……alone and frightened……..grieving and in painful sorrow…….and financially and economically destitute….

This healing story found in Luke is quite different from the multitude of others documented in Christ’s ministry.  This widowed and grieving mother was not seeking help from Jesus……She was not searching for Jesus…and her faith was never commended…..She is simply part of the funeral procession for her only son…. there is no written account in the book of Luke that she even speaks to Jesus……or desperately calls out His name……she did not ask for healing as many others did….yet Christ sees her in this large crowd….and He immediately knows her whole life story……He instantly knows how broken and financially destitute she is……He knows she is now at the mercy of the “ever-changing” kindness of her neighbors to  provide for her some means of financial support……….

….And Christ feels compassion for her….and His message to this crying and widowed mother……

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“Do Not Weep.”

—Jesus

Jesus…The Son of the only Living God… the Prince of Peace….the King of kings……the Lord of lords….. He confidently intrudes this large crowd…..this sad funeral procession of last goodbyes… filled with hopelessness and sorrow…the smell of death and the pangs of utter despair……and placing His hand on the young sons’ open casket….. causing the casket bearers to pause and stand still as perhaps they too were temporarily taken back by His seemingly imposing gesture……and miraculously….. Christ not only brings back life to the dead…….He also brings back life to this widowed and weeping mother…..

This story of Christ’s compassion is a beautifully personal and deeply impactful one for me as I once was a child of divorce living in a childhood filled with financial struggle and daily hardship…..and as I watched closely…. and observed my hard-working mother tearfully strive to provide for me… I can honestly now say there is nothing I would change about my childhood days….for I am who I am because of those hard days……and I know without a doubt… Christ was there with me!!

Today, as more and more divorced, widowed, and single mothers and fathers are tearfully striving to provide a safe haven and shelter for their children yet find themselves living on the edge of poverty……If you see yourself as one of these many struggling parents who are tearfully striving……you must ask yourself…..

What message would Jesus give to you?

A Song For Today…..

Flashback to the 1970’s…

Thank you for the beautiful music Glenn!