He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, February 23, 2015

Casting A Spell

My husband and I were riding through a small town some time ago with the top down on the car enjoying the warm sunshine.  The street was lined with all kinds of shops and the sidewalks were busy with shoppers.  On one corner, just before going out of town, there were three older teenage girls dressed in what I would have dubbed Halloween witch costumes even though it was in the middle of the afternoon and not Halloween!

As we passed, one of the girls stretched out her hand toward our car in a dubious gesture and said something.  It might have been nothing at all, but it gave me a very uncomfortable feeling. I shared the incident with my son later and he said, “Oh, yeah!  Satanic worship and cults have become a real big deal around here.”  Personally, this is frightening!

Many people will tell you they’ve heard of some kind of religious miracle.  It may be from the Bible since Jesus performed quite a variety of miracles, but there are those in France and Mexico and even in the United States who believe they’ve seen the Virgin Mary.  Other miracles include witnessing a weeping or bleeding statue.   Additionally other religions like Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism maintain to have documented miracles.

So who can perform miracles?  We know, as Christians, Jesus can.  The Bible recounts many instances where He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, walked on water, calmed the storm and cast out demons.

What of demons? What power do they have?  Obviously, if they can enter a body and torment, there is evidence of some type of power.  We know satan is the ultimate deceiver.  As the angel of light he has the ability to make sin look appealing and good.  We know he was able to perform signs to Pharoah when Moses and Aaron were asking for Pharoah to let the people go.  We also know during the time of Tribulation counterfeit prophets “will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive.”  (Matthew 24:24)  What frightens me is knowing there is an actual “official” satanic worship website.  This means our children have immediate access to something vile and evil.

What’s as frightening as this, is the suggestion that many of our country’s leaders are so wrapped up in greed and power, there is an underlying of “cult-ship” which defies imagination.  Even back in 1913 Woodrow Wilson made this comment:  “Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

I suggest things have worsened a great deal since the Wilson era.  Are we as a country being deceived by a satanic power which will ultimately rule our nation?  Is this the “New World Religion” which is on the tip of many people’s tongues?  I don’t begin to have the answer to that question.  I do know we are nearing the end times, and satan and his demons are scouring the countryside and abducting every soul they can for their army against God. 

I challenge you to consider your feelings about satanic cults and the “dark world.” Are you being deceived by a power that entices and casts a spell on you to belong to the things of this world?  It’s time for prayer.  It’s time for deep prayer, for country, our leaders, the world, our neighbors, communities, families and ourselves.  We need to be strong to fight the evil one, because he too, is strong. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Fight For Life

          “I married young,” she said, “and ultimately felt cheated.  I loved my husband and kids, but felt lost.  I was searching for something, but I didn’t know what.  I made bad decisions and even when I tried to change what I was doing, it never seemed to work.  Oh I never did anything horribly dishonorable, but I wasn’t nearly the wife I could have been.

            “It wasn’t until my sister had cancer that I began to see how futile my life was.  Here I am trying to find a way to do something extraordinary and my sister is fighting for her life.  When she died, part of me did, too.  But it put me in a really dark place.  It seems life is just ugly and I’m having a hard time getting past that.”       
As my friend shared her heart, tears flowed down her cheeks.  “I guess that makes me a horrible person,” she said.  “I don’t know how to move forward.”

Have you ever felt like my friend?  I know in my own life, there have been difficulties and I’ve found myself in a dark place.  It’s really hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel, not to mention work toward it.  I’ve been blessed with friends and family who care enough for me to look past what I think is “ugly” about me and encourage me to follow my dreams.  I’d like to think I could be that kind of friend to someone else.

When my mother-in-law passed away some years ago, I was broken.  We watched as Alzhemier’s stole her zest for life.  I remember one day, before she got really sick, standing in her kitchen, she grabbed both sides of her head and said in despair, “Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.”  With an illness like cancer or Alzheimer’s or any number of others, it’s very difficult to look past the “ugly” of the disease and sometimes, like for my friend, it can steal the joy from more than just the victim fighting the disease. That dark place can leave us feeling drained and cheated, even as my friend felt from circumstances, not all of her own doing.

I think when we are emotionally drained because of bad choices or even bad circumstances, we lean toward the ugly in us.  We gravitate toward what is “misery” rather than what is good, because that is what is easier to believe.  That is satan working in our lives.  He is the great deceiver and he’s very good at it.

It is so important to have a right relationship with The Father.  It is He who ultimately can put us in “recovery mode” so we can get on with life and be productive adults.  When we are children of God, He doesn’t see the “ugly” we see.  His perception of who we are is completely different, because He sees us through the blood of his Son, Jesus.  He sees the good we can be.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is, how we choose to “fight for our life.”  We can search like my friend, making bad decision after bad decision, or we can give in to the illness attacking our body.  Either way we will likely find ourselves in a dark, ugly place, because we aren’t looking in the right place.  We must look to someone greater than ourselves, greater than the problems before us, greater than anything.  We must look to the Lord, who promised to fight the fight for us when we believe in Him. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Who Is My Family?

Webster defines family as  “a group of persons of common ancestry” or “a group of things having common characteristics.”

Families come in all sizes and varieties including the traditional mother, father, child, to single parent families and families incorporating step-children and half brothers and sisters.  Each in its difference, shares a bond of common ancestry or common characteristics.

The greater population of the United States moves at least once in their lifetime.  Career changes, health, and discontent with a given area, ensures this more each year.  Because of this mobility, the “common biological” family is scattered to the winds.  Therefore, another type of family has emerged:  our church family.  It is vital both emotionally and spiritually.  Even when our biological family is near, the church family often proves very important.

When I look at my own family, I see geographical distance, culture and even, belief systems separating me from my extended family.  This is also true in my husband’s family.  My background is Amish/Mennonite.  Much of my mother’s family is still “Old Order Amish” which means horse and buggy for transportation, no electric lights and church services in German.  There is family here of this tradition, (even locally) on whom I could call if I needed them, but since lifestyle is so different, it would certainly be temporary!

My family on my dad’s side is scattered from the east coast to the west and while I still see them on occasion, to call on them in a crisis would be difficult.  Then there is the family who doesn’t hold to the same Faith, as I.  In fact, faith beliefs are so different in some instances it cannot be discussed.  And in other cases, it’s the lack of Faith that would make “closeness” difficult.

So where does a person turn when circumstances threaten to crumple your world?  I suggest it is our church family.  It is in this environment where understanding seems to govern even when life is in an upheaval.  There seems to be a core of people who will support us, lift us up in prayer, lend a listening ear, offer advice when asked, offer guidance from the Scriptures, and hug us while we cry. 

I’m not even remotely suggesting we forgo our biological family when we need them, but there are times when our ‘blood’ family can't meet our need.  They are too close to a situation, choose to take sides, are so far away aid is impossible, or offer advice they expect us to take even when we disagree with their thought process, creating a whole new bundle of unsettling issues!

I challenge you to look closely at your church family.  Are there those with whom you find you have a bond where the relationship is stronger than even a “Christian brother or sister?” Do you confide in them when things are turned upside down and call them when you are rejoicing over an accomplishment?  Would you consider them closer than your biological brothers or sisters?  I suggest we all have friends like this in our lives.  There may be a single friend in this category or there may be several.  And beyond that, there is often a core of people within your church family, even if they aren’t your “closest” friends who wouldn’t think twice about coming to your aid, having a picnic, sharing joyous news, or offering a shoulder to cry on should you need it.

 God is good and I’m grateful I have the blessings of a wonderful church family. How do you feel about yours?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Who Is God?

Anyone ever ask you how you can serve a God you can’t see? This may be an odd approach to my blog, but it speaks my heart!

I begin at the beginning. 

God is the Alpha.  He is the first that is and was, and above all else.  
God is Benevolent.  He gave His Son so I may have life eternal.  
God is Caring.  He cares about all that happens in my life whether it be large or small.  
God is my Deliverer.  He delivered me from a world of sin.  
God is Eternal.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He will always be there for me no matter what my circumstance.  
God is Forgiving.  Only God is capable of forgiving my sins.  There is no other power available, only God.  
God is Good.  It doesn’t matter what I may be going through, God’s goodness prevails.  All evil will pass and it is with this knowledge, I can endure.  
God is Hope.  It was the birth of his Son, Jesus, who gives hope to the world for a better tomorrow!  
God is Immense!  His “bigness” is beyond the scope of man.  He knows each of his children individually right down to knowing the number of hair on their heads. 
God is Just!  God knows each of our circumstances and knows how to work things out for our good.  He is “fair” and will not give us more than we can bear, yet will discipline us should the need arise!  
God is Knowledgeable.  He is a God who knows everything; going beyond the scope of man who can only know what he thinks and occasionally man isn’t necessarily even sure of that!  
God is Loving.  He loved us so much he sent his Son to die on a cruel cross.  
God is Majestic.  He is the King of Kings and his Glory is beyond what a mind can imagine.  
God is Noble.  He possesses outstanding qualities way beyond what a man can envision.  
God is Omnipotent.   He has unlimited authority and influence over all men.  
God is Perfect in all things, with his Son and the Holy Spirit.  
God is Qualified.  Only he has the power and authority to forgive sin.  
God is Rest.  He says in his scripture if I’m tired to bring my burdens to him, and he will give me rest. 
God is the Good Shepherd.  God knows his “flock” by name and calls all those who know him to follow him.  
God is Triumphant and this is uniquely displayed in his Son, Jesus, who rose from the grave after three days.  
God is Understanding.  There is none other who can understand all the issues that I or any one else can have.  He understands even when we, who have the issues, do not.  
God is Victory.  God has victory over Satan every day and we who love him, follow him and know him, know one day we will reign with him.  
God is Worthy.  He is the only one worthy to be called the King of all heaven and earth.  
God is Xmas.  He gave his Son so we might celebrate the season of “Christmas.”  
God is Yearning.  He desires for every soul on earth to receive Him with a tenderness beyond what a man’s mind can encompass.  
God is the Zest of life.  It is he who enhances the enjoyment of life and gives it meaning.

            It would be easy to say our culture shapes our views of God.  That may have been the case a few generations ago.  I believe now, however, our society is consistently “watering down” the image of God by rejecting those things specifically in the Bible and those inferred, as being no longer important and necessary for living good lives. Further, behaviors are being accepted that the Bible condemns as wrong.  I’m not condemning the offenders, but the behavior. 

That being said, I will look to Him as the Master of my life and know it will not be long before His return and the Rapture of His children.  It is with this mindset I live my life.  It is my intent to live according to His Word, despite the culture around me that daily attempts to find ways to eliminate Him from our everyday lives.

So I challenge you to consider how you would tell someone you know God.  How would you answer?