Virus Mania

I know that all of us can share stories of the incredible behavior we are witnessing around us during this media-inspired panic.  People die every day.  From the flu.  From cancer.  From heart failure.  From diabetes.  In car accidents.  In home accidents.  In bar fights.  In swimming accidents.  In abortion.  Assaults.  The list is endless.  Yet, for whatever reason (can you say poor journalism?) people are panicking about the possibility they might catch the virus and then, that they might actually get sick from the virus, and finally, that they might die from it.

I have seen selfishness and mania in the marketplace as people who normally would never think of stealing, steal things from someone else’s shopping cart while the ‘owner’s’ back is turned. (put it back, please!)  Fights breaking out at Costco and Sam’s (really?  over toilet paper?  do you not own any washcloths?)

Let’s just say that COVID-19 is exposing the basest of human natures in so many people, it is nauseating and heart-wrenching.

BUT!  I have a different story to tell!

I was standing in the grocery store check-out line, having inched my way forward to third in line, when the lady in front of me turned around and handed me a five dollar bill.  “What’s this for?” I asked.  And the man in front of her turned around and said, with an incredulous look on his face, that the woman who had just checked out had handed him a wad of bills.  It turned out to be $30.00, and he was sharing it with those behind him in line!  Do you believe it?  God is soooo good!

This man, in a wheel-chair cart, was well-dressed and well-groomed.  Yet the woman in front of him had been moved, in the midst of the chaos of the store, to share her bounty with him.  And he, in turn, shared it with others.  As I stood looking down at the bill, a scripture verse came to my mind:

Luke 12:30

“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

We walk by faith, not by sight.  The God of the universe sees His children and He takes care of us.  No matter what is going on in the world, it is one of His promises.

John 11:40  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Beloved, be encouraged.  The Lord is fully aware of what is happening around us and He will not abandon us in the midst of this trial.  Stay strong in the Lord and lift up your heads, children of the living God, for your redemption draws near!

Fear or Faith

What a world we live in!

Like the rest of the world, I have watched the unfolding pandemic crisis with interest.  I’ve read the stories about it being a Chinese plot to destroy America.  And then there’s the rumor that the billionaires of the world got together and decided the population was getting too large and they needed to reduce the numbers worldwide, so they unleashed this plague upon the world.  Or how about the one that says the U. S. took vials of this deadly substance and released it in China?  My personal favorite is the rumor that it is a biological weapon designed to eliminate the weak, infirm, and elderly — a ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of weapon.  And there are others, but who wants to repeat all of that speculation and feed the demon fear.

I know there are plenty of people who don’t believe in God.  And there are plenty of people who believe in God but not in the devil, demons, or hell.  Amazing, on all counts.

I am particularly amazed when I see people who profess to be Christian operating in fear and panic in these trying times.  God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)   So if God has not give us the fear, who do you suppose is pushing it upon mankind?

Here is what I know from Holy Scripture:  Satan (the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc.) came to steal, kill and destroy.  Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the enemy (the one mentioned in the previous sentence).  So if Jesus Christ, savior of all mankind, came to destroy the works of the enemy, why is the enemy still in there pitching and causing panic around the world?  Simple, right?  Because mankind, in his own infinite stupidity, refuses to accept that Jesus Christ is who He says He is.  So Christ continues to give mankind — every single person — a chance to accept Him and His finished work before it is too late (too late being the day He returns for His own and everyone else gets left behind).

I want to encourage you today, first and foremost, to accept the finished work of Jesus Christ (if you haven’t already) and, secondly, to walk in faith, not fear during these next few weeks.  Yes, it looks bad to our natural eyes, but God is bigger than any virus, any plague, any biological weapon, and any government entity. GOD will get us through this.  LEAN on Him, not your own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding).  Watch miracles take place.

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

MERCY!!

I read an article in the news this morning about child sexual abuse.  This particular article dealt with rape of an 18-month-old baby.   A BABY.  Left in the care of a parent who is supposed to provide safety, security, and love.  A baby.

My heart broke.  I am a survivor of child sexual abuse.  My daughter is a survivor.  My granddaughter is a survivor.  But NOTHING that we endured even comes close to the depravity, the evil that the small baby endured.  And if MY heart is breaking, imagine what the Lord is feeling about these little ones that He considers to be blessings in our lives!

IT HAS TO STOP!  A video of that small baby’s rape was circulated on social media.  The depth of evil is almost more than I can comprehend.  And certainly greater than people are willing to talk about.

Stop It Now! is a world-wide organization in the fight against this horrendous crime.  I pulled the following from their website:

The impact of sexual abuse does not end when the abuse ends. Survivors of sexual abuse are at significantly greater risks for severe and chronic mental health issues, including alcoholism, depression, anxiety, PTSD and high risk behaviors.

  • One in 10 children will experience contact sexual abuse in the U.S. before age 18[iii]
  • More than 50% of sex abuse survivors were sexually abused before the age of 12.[iv]
  • One in 25 children (10-17) will receive an online sexual solicitation[v]
  • Of substantiated reports of child maltreatment in the US, 9% were unique survivors of sexual abuse[vi]
  • The average age for a minor to enter the sex trade is 12 – 14.[vii]
  • Globally, prevalence rates show that a range of 7-36% of women and 3-29% of men experience sexual abuse in childhood.[viii]
  • More than one-third (35.2%) of the women who reported a completed rape before the age of 18 also experienced a completed rape as an adult, Thus, the percentage of women who were raped as children or adolescents and also raped as adults was more than two times higher than the percentage among women without an early rape history. [ix]
  • 42.2% girls experiencing their first completed rape did so before the age of 18 (29.9% between 11-17 years old and 12.3% at or before age 10) [x]
  • Over one-quarter of male victims of completed rape experienced their first rape at or before the age of 10. [viii]
  • Children with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely than children without disabilities to be sexually abused.[xi]
  • Children with intellectual and mental health disabilities appear to be the most at risk, with 4.6 times the risk of sexual abuse as their peers without disabilities.[xii]
  • At least 31% of girls and 7% of boys involved in the juvenile justice system have been sexually abused.[xiii]

The Situation:

  • In as many as 93 percent of child sexual cases, the child knows the person that commits the abuse. [xiv]
  • Males made up almost 88% of perpetrators [xv]
  • 60% of children who are sexually abused do not disclose[xvi] [xvii] [xviii]
  • Up to  50% of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by someone younger than 18 years old[xix]
  • 12 – 24% of sex offenders are known re-offenders [xx]
  • Most are acquaintances but as many as 47% are family or extended family.[xxi]
  • Juveniles make up 20% of those arrested for sex offenses [xxii]
  • The 5-year sexual recidivism rate for high-risk sex offenders is 22% from the time of release, and decreases for this risk level to 4.2% for those who have remained offense-free in the community for 10 years. The recidivism rates of the low-risk offenders are consistently low (1%-5%) for all time periods. [xxiii]

Today I am crying out for mercy for every child.  Protection for every child.  And for an ARMY to rise up against this evil and take it down!

Matthew 18:6    But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

If you are a victim or know a victim who needs help, or want more information, or want to volunteer / donate to help stop this evil curse around the world, I’ve listed some web sites below.  Some localities also have local organizations that have stepped into the fray.

In the USA:

Stop It Now!   https://www.stopitnow.org/

Voices for Children  https://voicesforchildren.org/

In the UK:

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation  https://www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk/

Stop It Now!  https://www.stopitnow.org.uk

In Canada:

Red Cross  https://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/violence-bullying-and-abuse-prevention/youth/sexual-abuse

Europe:

Council of Europe  https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-channel/stop-child-sexual-abuse-in-sport

Worldwide:

Stop It Now!  https://www.stopitnow.org

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation  https://www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk/

 

 

Tightrope

Life is a balancing act.  Between home, work, school, family, kids, spouses, friends, and church there has to be some pretty strategic planning and on-hands management happening to make everything work smoothly — forget smoothly, I’ll settle for just getting things all headed in the right direction!

I know I am not unique in this, but I’m going to say it anyway — I’M SELFISH!  I WANT ME-TIME!

In the days of small children and career, I actually never got “me-time” unless you count the ride on the subway 🙂    I used to try to take a bath and call that “me-time” but with the kids, one and then another, banging on the door, I soon switched to showers.  After I retired I thought “NOW my time is my own!”  And it was — for about three months.  Then the family began to close in with new needs and I discovered an entire world of people who need help and encouragement, and I jumped back in the fray.

I have come to realize that my personality type is a helper type.  If someone needs help — with anything! — and I have the ability to help, I’ll do it.  Consequently my days are relatively full and my nights, well, who needs more than 7 hours sleep, anyway?

How many people have told YOU to make room for yourself?  Perhaps even as you read this you said to yourself “It isn’t selfish to want time to myself.”  Maybe someone counseled you with words like “you can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself first”.  Or perhaps “all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy”.  (I guess that depends on who Johnny’s friends are!)

These adages, and others like them, sound great to our natural selfish desires.  In fact, secular counselors push putting yourself first, taking care of yourself, getting your needs met, etc. etc. etc.  The ‘me-first’ generation.  And they exist in every generation.  Unfortunately for us, those adages do not mirror Christ or His Holy Word.  The Holy Scripture calls for sacrifice, laying aside our selfish desires to follow the One who saved us.  He expects us to live a lifestyle of constantly pouring out — our time, our treasure, and our talents — to further His Kingdom.  And as we pour out, He pours in, filling us to overflowing with His love, peace and joy, and strengthening us and providing for us so that we can keep going on the path He has chosen for us.

Don’t get me wrong — even Jesus took a night off from the disciples to go commune with Father God.  But then He got right back at it.  Which is just what we need to do.  Every day.  Set aside time to be with Father before we set about our day and see how much farther our energy and strength take us — and how much more peace in which we dwell.  When we start the day with Father, He gives us wisdom for completing everything we have before us and understanding for dealing with the people and unexpected circumstances we encounter.

How about joining me in climbing off of that tightrope and into the arms of the Father?  It’s a great place to dwell.

Isaiah 26:3  “You [God] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

 

Prayer Request

I received a text message that said a close friend needed prayer.  She didn’t say why, just pray.  I receive prayer requests frequently, via text and email and telephone call.  Sometimes they tell me what for, and sometimes, with tear-filled voices, the caller will simply say “Please pray”.  Sometimes I pray right then, on the telephone with the caller.  Sometimes I send a prayer back via text or email.  And sometimes, like this morning, I take it to the Lord privately.  Just Jesus and me, interceding for the need.  My prayer list is so long, I no longer write the requests down.  I pray right now.  Because if I write it down it might wait until the next morning during my quiet time, and that might be too late.

This morning I awoke knowing someone was in dire need.  I could barely lift my head, and it took quite a few seconds to actually get my body out of bed.  The sheer magnitude of the fatigue was almost overwhelming.  And then I dissolved into tears, crying over the fatigue, the tiredness, and the desire to just quit.  By the time I got to my prayer chair I knew the need was was desperate, and someone was in horrible circumstances.  And I began to pray.  Eventually, the feeling passed and I was right-as-rain again.  But it still nags at me. Someone so debilitated this morning that they wanted to give up.  And again, I pray.

This is the life of someone gifted by God with a spirit of intercession.  Most times I do not have any idea who I am praying for, but I do know the need and so I lift that “one” to the throne, in prayer and supplication.  It isn’t an easy life though others looking in would think so.  Even after so many years of intercession, there are still times when it might take me 3 or 4 hours to remember to pray for someone else — that the sickness, the pain, the emotions I am experiencing are not mine — they belong to someone else in the body of Christ.  And as I pray for others, those things leave me.

So I just want to encourage you today, if you are feeling ‘not well’ in any area of your life, pray for someone else.  It doesn’t take much, usually.  Sometimes I have to pray for several hours before the impression leaves me, but usually just a couple of minutes or less.  Something simple, like, “Father, I lift to you whoever is feeling these symptoms of a head cold, and I ask for your healing touch upon them, in Jesus holy name. Amen.”

Let’s pray for others, rather than carry these burdens around unnecessarily.

James 5:16 — Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Lonely Road

A close friend asked me once, “don’t you ever get lonely?”  I responded without even thinking about it–  “No, I don’t”.  Then, with her disbelieving look, I decided to reconsider and think about my answer.  Do I get lonely?  I searched in my recent memory and finally confirmed my previous answer —no, I don’t.

It’s true that I am alone.  It doesn’t necessarily follow that I am lonely.  I enjoy my alone time — what there is of it — and I enjoy my own company.  I’m a busy person.  Someone once said if you want something done, give it to a busy person.  I like being busy and ministering the love of Christ to others.  I like being out and about interacting with others, and I like helping people.  And believe me, there are plenty of people around who need a helping hand!

I have chosen this solitary walk with Jesus.  The pain and destruction of my past make being alone the most enjoyable of experiences. Even when I am alone, I am not alone–I get to commune with Jesus, resting in His presence and recharging my batteries for the next day’s adventures.  It isn’t a lonely road — it’s a solitary walk.  Occasionally someone will come alongside for a time, and we will walk and minister together.  I enjoy those times, but no more than I enjoy walking and ministering beside Jesus.

Jesus said “Take up your cross and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24) not “form a posse and camp where you are.”  I know that works for some people.  I’ve observed people who must have an audience, and others who have to belong with a group.  I’ve prayed with those who insist they need a mate —  a life-partner to complete them and catapult their ministry (whatever it may be).  I’ve listened to the “it is not good for man to be alone” and “two can keep warm” and “share one another’s burdens” messages.  All really good stuff.  Just not for me.  Not now.  I am not alone, I have Jesus.  His presence keeps me warm and safe, and He carries my burdens for me.  I belong to a group called the Body of Christ, and I assemble weekly in a place called church, often multiple times a week.  I have a few very close friends and many acquaintances.  For me, it is enough.

So I’ve said all of this to hopefully break through to someone who thinks they are incomplete without another person in their life.  You are complete in Jesus Christ.  And if you are searching for a mate to complete you or if you tell yourself that once you find a mate, then you’ll be happy, trust me when I tell you NO, you won’t.  If you want to be happy with a mate, you must first learn to be happy in yourself and by yourself — content with your own company and completely at ease being alone.  Find something that you love to do, and DO IT.  Find friends that you can trust and enjoy their company.  Get involved in something bigger than you are and find fulfillment in serving others.  And perhaps, when you aren’t looking, that perfect mate will be standing right in front of you.  But don’t live your life for that moment — live your life in a way that puts a smile on Jesus’ face!

Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Empty Is As Empty Does

Silly title!  But it gets the attention, doesn’t it?

Empty — defined by Worknik as:

  • adj.
    Having nothing inside or on the surface; holding or containing nothing.
  • adj.
    Having no elements or members; null.

That’s the word that kept coming to me today as I was running errands and at work and at lunch.  Empty.

Have you actually looked into the eyes of the people you casually encounter on a daily basis?  Try it.  Empty will come to you, too.  Oh, occasionally I run into someone who is half-full; but the best of the best is running into someone who is totally full–it is all over there faces, in their body language, and mostly, flooding out of their eyes.  These are the ones who are full to overflowing with life, light, love — the Holy Spirit of God.  They are full of life and their life is full.

What about the others?  The empty ones?  Their life may be full but they are not full of life.  Their eyes tell the whole story.  Just making it through one more day.  Or perhaps the desperation of planning a getaway in the hopes it will bring them some contentment.  Or the ones you know are hurting and helpless, and because they don’t know Jesus, hopeless!  So many opportunities to share the love of Christ.  So many opportunities to pray and encourage.  So many opportunities to share the truth before it is too late for them.

These are all pretty easy to pick out and relatively simple to minister to as led by the Holy Spirit.  The people who give me the most angst, however, are those who are empty but think they are full.  Try ministering to those people.  You can see it all over them — the emptiness, the lack, the desperation hidden behind the mask.  Yet they won’t admit it.  They are fine!  They know all about Jesus!  Why, just last Easter they were in church (or Christmas, or last month.)  Hmmm…what is it the Word impresses upon us?  Ah — there are none so blind as those who will not see.  Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’)

Empty lives, empty hearts, and empty souls.  How horrible to think of all of those people missing out on spending eternity in the light of the Savior!  So today I am comforting myself with the thought that I can plant seeds, I can water seeds that someone else has planted, and maybe, just maybe, those seeds will produce a harvest for the Kingdom.  And those empty lives pursuing empty dreams and an even emptier eternity will be turned around and filled with the love and light of Jesus!  One at a time…..

Haters

There are none so intolerant as those who want to silence others’ voices.  The haters who shout down their opposition.  The haters who insist we all go along with their ideas or be labeled, bullied, and branded.  The haters who quote non-existent statistics, “facts” and research to bolster their position, all the while denegrating others.  (If you’ve been around a few months, you’ve heard the “ok, boomer” references — a good example of what I am talking about.)

Haters — those who want what others have and will use any verbal weapon at their disposal to get it.

Haters — those who are so blind, or ignorant, or stubborn, that they can’t (or won’t) try to see any point of view but their own.

Haters — those who will destroy reputations and property to silence the object of their hate.

No matter the reason, they all have one thing in common — haters hate.  They hate you.  They hate me.  They hate themselves.  Their own low self-esteem, inferiority complexes, megalomaniacal tendencies, and/or social adjustment issues have left them ill-equipped to deal with a world in which they are not the center of the universe — and in which temper tantrums seem to work.

Medical intervention, government, social structures, education, peer pressure, and other man-made solutions are not going to change haters.  Only Jesus can do that.  What is required is a heart change.  And that is just what Jesus Christ specializes in — changing hearts — taking that old, cold, stony heart of hate and changing it into a warm, vibrant, heart of compassion and love. A heart that wants to help, not hurt.  A heart that strives for compromise and peace instead of supremacy and war.

Today is the day.  Our lease on this earth is running out, so let’s use our God-given grace to reach others with the good news — that haters CAN change.  We know the change-agent, and we’d be happy to introduce them!

Ezekiel 36:26  — I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Romans 2:5 — In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

Woosh!

Greetings and salutations, beloved of the Lord!

It’s been a while — QUITE a while, but I’m back!  Praise Jesus!

I’m sure you all know that it is impossible to be in ministry for the Lord and not encounter spiritual attacks.  Some are relatively minor, some are not so minor, and others, like the one I encountered, set me back on my keester for a couple of years — okay, more than a couple.  But GOD!  God is so faithful, He saw me through the entire thing, and I have emerged victorious on the other side of the battle.  What a mighty, loving, gracious Father we have.

I certainly won’t tell you it has been an easy road.  It has not.  I spent many, many months in the depths of the pit, only to emerge into a snare.  And just recently He pulled me out of the miry clay and I am once again standing on solid ground.  I am stronger spiritually, wiser, gentler, and shining like gold.  At least, that’s how I feel.

If I could leave you with one thought today, it would be this:  Jesus loves us just the way we are, and he loves us too much to leave us this way.  When you ask Jesus to change you to be more like him, be prepared!  He will do it — HIS WAY!

Here’s praying I get back on track with daily posts!  Happy Thursday!

He’s Alive!

What a beautiful winter morning!  Cold, breezy, clear, blue skies and high, white puffy clouds.  Gorgeous!  It fills me with delight just to look out the window.  But then, I was already filled this morning.

I just have to share this. If I don’t share it I will burst. My Bible reading this morning led me to John 20. This is an account of the morning following the Sabbath when Christ’s faithful were returning to finish the burial process they had started on Sabbath-eve.

As I read those scriptures they came alive before me.   I could see Mary Magdalene as she went to the tomb.  I could see her there (and still see her), when she got to the tomb and found the stone rolled away.  I see her first running to tell the others the tomb is opened and the body is gone.  I see the desperation in her face, the tears glistening in her eyes, her pleading manner as she hopes-against-hope that one of the others can help — perhaps they know where He is.

And then I see her as she was after the others had come to the tomb and verified that he was indeed gone.  They didn’t stick around to ponder where he had been taken.  They left hurriedly — perhaps to share the news, perhaps to escape what they perceived was a coming purge.  But not Mary Magdalene — she is standing there weeping as the others leave the empty tomb.

She is alone. She is desolate. Not only have they killed her Lord, now they have taken away his body. The body she was set to prepare for burial is gone. There is no other way she can serve her Lord. She has lost him. She is grieving. She is bereft. She was without a comforter because the Holy Spirit wasn’t given yet. Her one peace, Jesus Christ, is gone. Her heart is broken and she doesn’t know what to do or where to turn. She is lost without him.  (Just as we all are.)  I see her weeping. I feel her grief and her pain. I can sense her anguish and her hopelessness. My own heart is breaking. Her one desire was to perform that one last service for him, but he can’t be found. Such anguish of the Soul. Heartbroken Mary Magdalene. I feel such empathy and such compassion.

And then, he is there! She sees him! She talks to him! And he tells her what to do — go, Mary, and tell the others I am risen.  And obediently she does it. This is recorded in John 20 verse 17 and 18.

What I saw this morning is what is not recorded in verse 18 — the overwhelming joy that swept through her.  He lives! He lives! He lives! She runs to the others to tell them. She’s laughing. She’s crying. She’s dancing. As she recounts her encounter with the risen Christ, she grabs their lapels and laughs and cries and tells them HE LIVES! She’s nose-to-nose with each one, sharing the only message that matters —  HE LIVES!

As I read through these passages I recalled my own moment of salvation and the incredible joy I felt because He lives, and how many people I would just overflow into as I told them Jesus Lives. That was my message then and that is the message today. Jesus Lives. Hallelujah!!