What Is This World Coming To?

“Hurricane Harvey Death Toll Hits 70”
“Hurricane Irma’s Death Toll Now 73”
“In Puerto Rico, Death Toll from Hurricane Maria Reaches 16”
“Death Toll Rises to 360 in Mexico Earthquake”
“Massive wildfires in U.S. Northwest destroyed habitats, threaten wildlife”
“At Least 59 Killed, 527 Injured in Las Vegas Shooting”

These headlines read like an Apocalyptic book on the New York Times, Best-Seller List. But unfortunately, they didn’t come from a popular page-turner. They are the actual headlines from news stories posted in the past 30 days!

Since waking up and reading of the Las Vegas shooting at the Jason Aldean concert, I’ve been at a loss for words. When finally I found a couple of them to string together, all I could manage was, “What is this world coming to?”

Honestly, it’s a little scary. It makes you want to lock the doors and stay at home. And those of us raising children right now are taking lots of deep breaths.

In my quiet time, I’ve been reading in Revelation. It is written by the Apostle John, and in it he describes some visions where the Lord has revealed some information about the end of times. In chapter 4, John sees God on his throne. You need to read the description for yourself. It’s incredible. As a fellow writer, I imagine he had a hard time using mere words to describe what he saw. As we move to chapter 5, John tells us that in the hand of the One on the throne, God, there is a scroll with seven seals.

And an angel asks, “Who is worthy to open this scroll?” Revelation 5:3 says, “But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.” NOT ONE WORTHY PERSON.

You can imagine how excited John was to hear and see what was inside God’s scroll. But then no one was worthy enough to open it. John was so sorrowful, the Bible says, he “wept and wept.” That’s how I’m feeling about the world right now. I want to weep and weep. Are we that evil? That full of sin? That perverse?

The answer is yes.

Our world is so broken. There is sickness and sorrow beyond the grasp of my mind.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10 NIV

But before we fall into complete despair, we need to read on in our passage in Revelation.

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. Revelation 5:5-6 NIV

The Lion of the tribe of Judah is Jesus. Jesus is worthy of opening the scroll! Then John heard the voices of “thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand” angels as they circled the throne. They sang in a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12)

Let’s stop for a minute and let that sink in because what’s coming next is equally as good. First let’s focus on that number – “thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.” I recently attended a football game, and the stadium held 103,000. So, I imagine at least that many angels if not more. But catch that I said “angels.” It’s one thing to have that many people, but we are talking about heavenly beings.

And these heavenly beings are singing “in a loud voice,” the Bible tells us. They are singing praises to Jesus. Can you imagine if you were John and seeing all of this? It gives me chills.

Then it gets even better. Here’s what the Word says:

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13 NIV

I need you to fully comprehend this. First we have over a hundred thousand angels singing praises to Jesus. But then John hears EVERY creature praising God (“to him who sits on the throne”) and to Jesus (“and to the Lamb”). John didn’t just leave his description at EVERY. He goes on to say, “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them.” In other words, every man, woman and child, as well as every animal and living thing will praise God.

So first you have a huge number of angels singing praises, then you have literally EVERY LIVING THING praising God and Jesus all together.

It. Is. Amazing.

So why do I share this with you in light of these recent events?

Your enemy, the devil, would have you focus on the division between the people of this world – the blacks and whites, democrats and republicans, conservatives and liberals, Christians and Muslims. He would have you focus on everything wrong with the world. He will discourage you and incite fear. But don’t accept his lies.

Because just when you feel like there is no hope, just when you feel like there is no good person left, there is Jesus. And HE is worthy. He is worthy to save us all. And that, my friends, is good news. It’s the best news of all.

So, if you are struggling with the events in this world or just the personal events happening in your life, don’t weep and weep. There is hope – and it’s Jesus. To Him be all the praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever.

Carol

When Someone Gets in Front of Your Miracle

He was desperate.

Yet in that despair came a glimmer of hope. He’d heard stories of the one they called Teacher. He’d never seen any of the miracles, but there was talk of him healing the sick and even raising the dead.

So with a modicum of faith, Jairus went in search of Jesus to help his daughter. When Jairus found him, the pomp and circumstance that usually accompanied synagogue leaders such as himself, crumbled as he fell at Jesus’ feet. In despair he cried, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:23 NIV)

So Jesus went.

The Bible states it simply. Christ didn’t ask questions. He didn’t give instructions for the disciples to pass out tracts while he ran on his miracle errand. He just went.

Jairus must have been thrilled. I imagine him trying to move briskly in the direction of his home suppressing the urge to break into a sprint. But there were all those people. I would have run, shoving men and women as I went. Shove now, apologize later. There was a life at stake after all.

Then this woman showed up – hoping for a miracle of her own. The embarrassment over her “unclean” condition was perhaps what motivated her to touch Jesus in secret. She probably thought, I’ll keep my head covered and just touch his clothes. He is so powerful, even the fibers woven to adorn his body will be enough. No doubt, she intended on slipping out of the crowd as soon as she was healed, but Jesus was aware of her presence.

He knew that power had gone out from his body. (v. 30)

“Who touched me?” Christ asked, wanting to look upon the face of the woman with such faith.

Let’s freeze that moment and talk a minute about those around Jesus and what they were thinking. We know the disciples were thinking their Lord was loco (crazy). The Bible doesn’t tell us their tone, but one can only imagine.

After Jesus’ question, their response was, “You see people crowding against you, and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (v. 31) I can almost see the sarcasm dripping from the words.

What I want to know is what is Jairus doing? This man is desperate for his daughter to be healed and is afraid she is going to die. If it were me, I might have been silent on the outside, but I’d be screaming on the inside, “Let’s go! Okay, okay. She’s healed already – besides the fact she totally jumped in the ‘I need a miracle’ line. Let’s go!”
Back to the situation at hand.

In terror, the woman came forward and collapsed at Jesus feet. The same feet Jairus gazed upon mere minutes before. Her story came spilling forth, and instead of criticizing her, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

But before Jesus can even finish speaking these words, some men from Jairus’ house approached Jairus with the nightmare he had been trying to avoid. “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Can you imagine the agony? He succeeded in getting Jesus to come only to have his daughter die before they could arrive. Once again, the Bible is silent on Jairus’ response, but we can infer from Jesus’ next words that Jairus was upset.

“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” (v. 36)

Can I share with you the words that struck me? “Ignoring what they said…”

How many times have you heard the worst? Perhaps the doctors have given no hope. Maybe your family laughed when you shared your dream. You thought you heard the voice of God, but now you are not so sure.

Take Jesus’ advice – ignore what they said. Then don’t be afraid. Just believe.

Sometimes in order to achieve the impossible, we have to disregard the obstacles. When God is in it, all things are possible.

You see, Jesus went on to Jairus’ house, telling the people there the girl was asleep. And guess what the people did? They didn’t fall down and worship. They didn’t even run in her room and place a mirror under her nose. Instead, “they laughed at him.” (v. 40)

But Jesus went into her room and brought the child back to life. She got up and had a fruit snack. (Just a guess. Dried figs would qualify as a fruit snack, right?)

So today I ask what impossible task are you facing? Perhaps you need to ignore the discouraging words and the laughs.

Then don’t be afraid. Just believe.

 

**Re-post from 2012. I ran across it today, and it ministered to me. I hope it does the same for you. 

Carol

When You Don’t Know What to Say


As the elevator doors shut, a hand darted in between and stopped them. The doors slid open, and I saw my college roommate and her mother. “Oh, hi!” I chatted “How was the funeral?”

They got on the elevator, and I pushed the 7th floor button so we could head back to our dorm room. At my question, my roommate and her mother shared a look. I could almost feel her eye roll as she told me, “Sad. It was a funeral. What did you expect?”

I shut up quickly knowing I had done something drastically wrong. We had a long awkward walk down the seventh-floor hall for me to think on it. I opened the door to our shared room and held it for her and her mother to come inside. I darted over to my desk and busied myself shuffling through notebooks and folders for Monday’s classes while my roommate and her mother spoke in hushed whispers.

Soon, her mother left. I would throw out an occasional “Do you want some popcorn?” or “Are our suitemates back yet?” just to test the waters. She mostly answered with one word replies.

I knew she must be sad as her young cousin had just passed away. She found out the week before – from me. Our suitemate, who lived in her home town, got the news before my roommate’s mother found out and could call her. When our suitemate came through our shared bathroom to tell her the news, she wasn’t there. Just me. So, I was put in charge of letting her know. After I told her, she quickly called her mom and headed home over the weekend for the funeral.

When finally I worked up enough nerve to ask what I had done wrong, my roommate let me have it. “My cousin died in a car crash, and I had no clue. So, when you told me, you said it just like that, ‘Your cousin died.’ You could have shown some sympathy or let my mom tell me or something.”

I tried to dig my young self out of the hole where I stood. But there was no use. The damage was done. I hurt her. In my concern for myself (“You mean I have to be the one to tell her?”), I spit out the words like I was giving a weather report and didn’t consider how it would sound. Then when she returned, I asked, “Well how was it?” Not in a hushed calm, “Did everything go okay?” way. Instead I asked like you’d ask someone who attended a wedding, in a “Okay, give me the details” kind of way.

I can tell you this now, as a forty-three-year-old woman, and see the error of my ways. But at nineteen, I was completely clueless. My roommate eventually forgave me, and we moved past it. But God used it to teach me something – what we say is important. And it’s important to say something.

So, as I’ve been watching the news and reading the news feeds over the events that happened in Charlottesville, I’m reminded of the importance of my words. What I’ve learned over the years since that experience, as I’ve walked through the deaths of family members and friends, is the best thing to say is, “I’m sorry. I am hurting with you.”

Instead, we second guess what we say because we’ve seen how people respond on social media, and we are worried we will be attacked. We are concerned for ourselves. But the focus is never supposed to be on us. It’s supposed to be on others.

Friends, people are hurting. They are afraid. They feel unheard, unseen, unimportant. And all of those are contrary to what God’s Word says. God sees us, hears us and we are chosen by Him. We are to treat each other with love and mercy. MERCY!

That mercy should extend both ways. For those who are speaking out and are wondering why their brothers and sisters are silent, show them mercy. For those white supremacists who spew hate? And some of them even claim to be Christ followers – know they are not. “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20 NIV) But we must show them mercy, too.

Sometimes showing mercy means keeping your mouth shut. But other times it means opening it up. When you want to say something, and you just don’t know what to say, open your mouth and say, “I’m sorry. I’m hurting with you.” And leave it at that.

Friends, we need Jesus. All of us. Let’s start lifting each other to Him.

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:13-14 NIV

Carol

How You are Slowly Killing Your Marriage

My son begged me to play a video game with him. I’m not even certain the name of it, but we could call it “Everybody Shoot Everybody,” and you’d probably get a mental picture of what it was like. You pick a weapon, point and shoot at the bad guys. I figured, “How hard could it be?”

Umm. Hard.

I picked the biggest gun and tried to figure out how to make the guy walk. I pushed a variety of buttons until my man started to move forward. Only in pushing all those buttons, I accidently pushed the “put your gun away in your oversized pocketbook” button. Okay, so maybe they didn’t have purses. Backpacks perhaps?

Before a full sixty seconds had passed on the game, I found myself blinking. No, not my eyeballs. My man on the television screen.

“What just happened?” I asked my son.

“Mama,” he couldn’t hold in his laughter. “You just got killed. Now you are regenerating.”

Sixty seconds. I was dead in sixty seconds.

When I wasn’t looking, the enemy snuck up and shot me dead.

It sure seems marriages have been playing the same game. Everywhere I look, the enemy has taken out another marriage – another covenant before God has been broken. He’s sneaky, the devil, and will come after your marriage, too. I don’t mean to freak you out, but he probably already has you in his sights.

And the crazy thing is, so often, we reach into our hand bag or backpack, whichever you prefer, and hand him the ammunition. I know you think I’m being a little overdramatic right now. But hear me out.

Let’s play out a scenario that happens in households all across the nation. The husband does or says something to upset his wife. It could be anything from leaving the toilet seat up to not finishing the home project he started weeks ago to focusing more on his job than his wife. The wife, frustrated, calls her best friend to vent. After getting off the phone, she doesn’t feel better. She actually feels worse.

So, she gets on Facebook. As she scrolls through her feed, she notices all the vacation pictures, anniversary pictures and date night pictures from all her friends. Seeing how wonderfully perfect those husbands are make her even angrier at her own spouse.

She gets off Facebook and calls her mom. Again, she recounts all her husband’s annoying habits, looking for justification in her anger. Her mama, of course, gives it to her. It is her mama after all. She temporarily feels better, until she hangs up.

By the time her husband walks in the door, she is brewing for a fight.

Is there anyone who can relate?

So, how does that kill my marriage, you ask? Thanks for asking. Let me explain. You see, no one is perfect. NOT you! And NOT your spouse. Two imperfect people can not have a perfect marriage. It is impossible. There are going to be times where your spouse gets on your ever-lovin’ last nerve.

Consider the irritated thought about your spouse a small spark. Every time you recount that irritated thought to a friend or family member, or even just to yourself in your mind, you are adding fuel to the fire. That one small irritation grows. With each time you tell it, your feelings of anger grow. By the time you are finished “venting,” you’ve created a fire bomb.

Satan is using that, friends, to destroy our marriages. When your significant other does something to frustrate you, satan is the one who whispers in your ear saying, “Did he do that again? Why do you put up with that? You should go call a friend to talk about it.”

But you see, every time you re-tell the wrong that’s been done to you, it only upsets you more. So how should you handle it?

1. Take captive your thoughts
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

Lock the bad thought away and replace it with truth. You might say to yourself, “Yes, my husband works a lot, but I know he does it to help provide for the family. He works out of his love for me.”

2. Find an iron-sharpening friend
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV

While you don’t need to run to tell every friend what your husband did to upset you, you may need to go to a godly friend to get biblical advice. For the most part, when we share our story, we are looking for someone to tell us we are right and the other person is wrong. Iron sharpens iron by rubbing off the burrs. Find a friend that isn’t afraid to rub off your burrs with the Truth. But even then, be careful what you share.

3. Take it to God
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

God knows every single thing about your spouse and every single detail about what has gone on between you. If you need to vent, vent to God. He will always listen and you will walk away from time with Him feeling better.

What do your friends know about your spouse? Are you continually bad mouthing them to anyone who will listen? If so, you are slowly killing your marriage. You are handing satan ammunition, and trust me, he will use it to destroy your relationship.

I have friends who are currently struggling in their marriages or are in the process of divorce. I am not pointing the finger and saying that they are the cause of the demise of their relationship. But sometimes all of us, me included, can fall into the trap of focusing on the negatives. I don’t want to lose my husband. I don’t think you do either. Let’s not give satan a foothold in the covenants we made before God.

Marriages are falling right and left. Don’t let yours be one of them because you failed to do something as simple as keeping your mouth shut (says the lady with the biggest mouth of all). My quick minute playing “Everybody Shoot Everybody” taught me a life lesson for my marriage. Always be looking over your shoulder and walk with a big gun – God’s Word.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Carol

Are You Bold Enough?

Do you consider yourself bold?

Yesterday I was reading in Acts about Peter and John. After Jesus went back to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, the apostles did some amazing things. Peter healed a beggar at the temple gate. When the Sadducees and the priests heard Peter and John speak and saw the power of their words, they felt threatened and put the two in jail.

The next day after questioning the men, the rulers and teachers of the law couldn’t solidify any accusations, so they told them not to speak any more in Jesus name and let them go. Upon the release, Peter and John went back to their own people and prayed what I like to call the “Boldness Prayer.”

“Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29

They had just been released from prison, but prayed for God to help them speak with great boldness. The next verse says, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the world of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31)

In the very next chapter, we find them arrested again for sharing the gospel. But God sent an angel in the night to lead them out and direct them to go in the temple courts and tell the people the good news of Jesus. Now consider this – they’ve been arrested twice. The second time, an angel led them out and told them to go and do the very thing that caused their arrests.

The next morning when the elders gathered together and sent for the men in jail, they discovered the jail doors locked and no one inside. When the apostles were discovered at the temple, the rulers seized them once more.

This time the priests and teachers of the law were out for blood. However, a well-respected Pharisee named Gamaliel made a convincing argument that if the apostle’s purpose was from man, it would eventually fizzle out. But if their purpose was from God, it could never be stopped. So the chief priests and rulers flogged and released the men. Here’s the part that got me. After the disciples were flogged, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” They REJOICED! These men had been arrested again and again and were severely beaten, but rejoiced. When released they were told not to speak in the name of Jesus. But do you think they stopped?

“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” Acts 5:42

Let’s take a closer look at that last verse. First, the apostles have just been flogged. Flogging wasn’t like a spanking; it was much more brutal. After the flogging, they were told not to talk about Jesus anymore. But they did it anyway – day after day. Not once. Not twice. Continually! The verse says they never stopped.

If I was flogged for talking about Jesus, IF (and that’s a very big if) I was bold enough to speak about Him again, I’m sure I would be secretive about it. But the apostles did it in the temple courts where everyone could see. But there’s more. They also went from house to house! They continually shared the good news of Jesus. When God answers a prayer, He goes all out. They prayed for boldness, and they certainly got it.

There are two huge lessons that stand out to me in this story. First, when you pray for boldness in Jesus name to further the kingdom of Christ in any way, God will answer in a big way. Then, as Gamaliel said, “But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men: you will only find yourself fighting against God.” (Acts 5:39) If God is in it, there is no stopping it.

Do you need a little boldness to accomplish what God has put in your heart to do? Just pray and ask. You just might be amazed at what God can do through you.

Carol