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

Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

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!” I bet he worked up a little dirt cloud, tapping his impatient sandal.

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.

 

*photo credit

Carol

When You Can’t Find Your Way

My hubby and I were almost lost in the abyss of the Georgia backwoods never to be heard from again because of Google.

Okay, I may be exaggerating just a little.

When traveling, Alan and I frequently use our smart phones with Google maps to find our way to places. So we were following the directions last weekend to find our way to a hotel for our 15th anniversary get-away. We were driving down a dark, lonely road looking for our turn. According to the phone, we were quickly approaching the street where we were to turn right.

But when we got to the street to turn, it looked more like a dead-end or a driveway. It was a dirt road. And we weren’t in a great part of town. But we turned anyway, apprehensive.

We bumped down this gravel road deep in the woods with thick lush close by on either side of the car. It was late and the headlights illuminated just what was ahead of us. There were no streetlights anywhere. We drove past a cast-away mattress and some other trash. My heart raced. The road was so narrow we probably could have reached out and touched limbs on either side of the car. Nervous, I held my breath hoping not to run into another car or the boogieman or South Georgia’s Big Foot.

Finally, we came out of the woods to a paved road. We were supposed to go straight across, but there were large barricades keeping us from going the way my phone directed. Thankfully, we were able to navigate another route and found our way to the hotel.

I tell you all this to tell you one important thing. Maps aren’t all that.

During a time in my life where I had drawn close to God, many doors opened (lots to do with writing). I caught a glimpse at where God was taking me and I ran with open arms through the doors.

There was just one problem. I became focused on the map, asking God, “Where do You want me to go? Which direction should I go in?” My focus was on asking God to show me the right way.

But recently I read this verse: I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6 NIV

And I realized Jesus doesn’t point me in the right direction; He IS the right direction. The first time I caught a glimpse of what God was doing with my life, it was because I was looking for God, not because I was looking for the life map.

It’s easy to get focused on what God wants to do in our lives – which doesn’t really seem like a bad thing a first glance. But the problem is this – the focus is on us, not Him. When we realize that Jesus IS the way. The focus is put back on Him.

It’s not about what I can do for God. It’s about what God can do through me. See the difference?

So if you are bumping up and down on a backwoods road and are feeling lost, don’t focus on the map so much. Stop and look up instead.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV

Carol

When You Can’t See God’s Plan

Do you ever stop and ask yourself, “How did I get here?” Sometimes the situations and circumstances in our lives are a lot to bear. I’ll admit to questioning God at times, wondering if He hears me when I pray, not understanding how He could allow me to endure such pain.

But sometimes the plan IS the pain. Through the pain He teaches me where to draw strength. I learn who I am. I discover the I AM.

The plan for Christ was pain, too. Through His pain and ultimate death, we can have  life. Today, as I reflect on the cross – the blood, the anguish, the tears, the holes – I am strengthened. Because even when we can’t see it, God ALWAYS has a plan.

It may be Friday in your life, but Beloved hold on because Sunday is coming.

 

 

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.  

Luke 23:44-46 NIV

 

Happy Easter to from my family to yours!

 

Carol

Palm Sunday

The sound was deafening. Eager bodies pushed past to get a closer glimpse. Some threw palm branches down in the road – an ancient custom to honor one so great. Others laid their own garments in the dusty path.

As He approached on a borrowed donkey, those in the crowd shouted with jubilance, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

All who were near felt the presence of the Lord. One couldn’t help but shout praises and join in the joyful celebration.

But the political climate was unsteady. Jesus’ presence made others nervous. Some Pharisees made their way to Christ and thought they would admonish him and tame the crowds.

“Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” (Luke 19:39 NIV) They hissed, hoping to keep control.

“I tell you,” [Jesus] replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (v.40)

As you begin this Holy Week, take time to reflect on the Christ’s great sacrifice. Read the Easter story with your family.

 

Here is a link to a fun cooking activity to do with kids. Who ever thought you could tell the Easter story while making cookies? Click HERE to give it a try.

Have a blessed week!

*This was originally posted on 3/28/10. But I found it as I was thinking about Palm Sunday today. I hope you enjoy it again!  Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the April Service Calendar!!

 

Photo credit

Carol