January 10, 2016
If every there has been a time to be awake, to pay attention, to speak up for the Church of Jesus Christ, it is now. It is not a time to be asleep, to turn away from what is being mocked, or to keep silent. In my 68 years, I cannot recall a season quite like this one across our world. Persecution of Christians is taking place in numbers reminiscent of the days of the days of the Roman Empire. Whole communities have been slaughtered, others driven from their homes to live as refugees. Here at home, our rights are eroding even as name calling and bigot branding are used as effective weapons to silence preaching basic Bible beliefs about life and marriage.
We must not be in a stupor nor give in to our human frailty of growing tired quickly when confrontation is the call of the day. We do not match ugly rhetoric, nor get drawn into tit for tat arguments that only lead to heated shouting and relentless frustration. It will be necessary for steadfastness to truth and focused responses that do not compromise but remain compassionate. Our firm tone must originate from humble hearts and minds.
Our message should be clear, concise and deliberate: not spin or self-righteous defenses are necessary. If we speak the truth in love, bow to no unholy politically correct idol of man's creation, we will have heaven's defense that will ultimately break the chains that are choking the very life out of our world.
We must recognize the true enemy and not be led into needless skirmishes that suck our strength and render us defeated. Our fellow human beings who spew false accusations and irrational arguments are not the ones at war with us. Our enemy is the same one who taunted our ancient ancestors Adam and Eve with questions steeped in envy, pride, and falsehood. He is the one who makes irrational puppets of those he lures into his mindset. He tricks them into believing htey alone are the masters of their own creation...gods, if you will.
The only way to defeat this true enemy, the devil, known also as 'the father of lies' and 'the accuser of the brethren' is with the truth and wisdom of God's Word and His supernatural weapons of warfare. It is not enough to be schooled in the Bible: we must live from the Bible. Our eyes and ears must be sharp to discern the presence of the real enemy from decoys and pretenders. Our mouths must be trained what to speak and when to speak. If we will pray in private, we will know what to speak in public.
Next, it is significant to know what our position is and how to hold it. Our fist position is made privately: it may be prone, bowed, or prostate...to our Father God. We will be dressed in the humility of a broken and contrite spirit, lifting our hearts in prayer and praise to the Only One who deserves glory. Our public position, however, is a standing one, dressed from head to toe in spiritual armor, wielding the supernatural weapons God has provided in the training room of His presence.
We are ready to face our enemy when our internal soul is surrounded by the belt of truth. We cannot dress in any righteousness, no matter how good it looks, other than the robe of righteousness God provides. It is the only garment He will recognize. It is precious because of what it cost Him to botain it for us through His beloved Son's death on the cross.
Further, we are ready to go into the public arena when we are well-soled in the gospel shoes of peace that never wear out. The bring 'good news' wherever our feet go. The shiled we carry to defeat every inflammatory lie, each intimidating accusation, and all cleverly designed arguments is victory prone and fail-proof; it is our faith.
My Hope For These times
I took time the earlier today to play 2 of my favorite music boxes, to look at mementos gathered while on past vacations. Those mementos include my antique inkwell and pen collection. One of the joys of owning them is to realize that in another time, someone dipped his or her ancient pen into ink to record thoughts, feelings, and responses to their assigned days just as I am doing today in mine.
In a few days, I will be sixty-eight years old (or young if you view things from an eternal perspective as I do!) I am mindful of all the beauty and great blessings God has permitted me to enjoy My heart is in a celebratory mood despite the decisions that my country has just made through the Supreme Court that will affect every area of society. "Freedom " is the banner waved, the slogan spoken over tv, the internet and radio. I fear there will be greater bondage to the human soul than America has ever known in our collective history.
How paradoxical this age is to live in: a day of clearly the greatest of human achievements ever made and a day of the confusing results of man's self-guided ways. We are experiencing the marvels of man and the madness of man.
It is a moment of starkest contrasts of belief. Absolutes based on time-tested Judeo-Christian laws have been publicly abandoned in favor of what every man deems correct in his own eyes. In this atmosphere, there is no limit to moral decline. We vilify the guardians of order in our society while lauding the lawless. We are presently stirring up a hornet's nest in a place of well documented 50 year progress of race relations.
Of the several incidents of terrible tragedy we have experienced this spring and early summer, two come to mind that had decidedly different outcomes. Baltimore's reactions led to a travesty of destruction-Charleston's monumental display of spiritual unity and forgiveness left a bridge of justice and forward-moving discussions to yet unsolved problems. How strange to me that not everyone understands what they view when the comparison should be so obvious.
On one hand, Godly wisdom offers solutions with a map clearly marked to begin at the heart level. On the other, assorted, often open-ended thoughts launch out in rafts headed in a thousand directions that seem to do little more than add waves to our problems. Futility for sure.
It is strange to be both disturbed in my soul over the mindless acceptance of evil for good and yet to be at peace in my spirit. That is because I know the One who is ultimately in control no matter how things may appear now. Although humanity's wisdom is bankrupt, God's will never be.
Now, I look forward to actually seeing the great signs of God's promises manifest in these most unstable days of great uncertainty. Even the smallest flicker of His light will be seen across acres and miles of darkness.
Among the beauty, the mementos I started considering earlier today, nothing is as beautiful , nor more memorable than this hope I
For the Display of His Glory
By: Sharon L. Patterson
We went out for a walk early this morning as is our usual custom when weather permits. My husband exclaimed, “I just love Christmas time!” as he eyed a beautifully lit home to the right of us. Even in the morning light, the brightness of Christmas celebration was still glorious.
“There aren’t as many homes that celebrate Christmas in our neighborhood as there once was, are there?” I queried back. Then a realization overshadowed the slight sadness of my question. No, there are not as many houses with decorations or lights. However, it makes the ones that are ever so much more apparent.
Instead of comparing who has the “best”, our eyes searched simply for the “next”. We delighted in each one no matter how elaborate or simple. Of course, as a writer who looks for encouraging tidbits to blog about, the special moments of our walk expanded to something greater to share.
The days we are in are not easy ones. The news is dotted only on rare occasions by a story that elevates our hearts to perceive the good that is around us. We have come to expect the subjects of our public discussions to be more negative than positive. The lights offered by the world appear to be on a dimmer switch that keeps diminishing what light there is.
Then, suddenly, God makes an appearance through a selfless story reported on the news or a simple act of kindness that lights up the world. It is somewhat like the discovery on our walk this morning when we spotted the beautifully lit home. Our hearts lit up because we know the story behind the Christmas decorations and gorgeous holiday lights.
For those of us who recognize it, Jesus was and still is the light that shines brighter in our dimly lit world. God sent Him to be the Light of all mankind. Not everyone walks in His Light, but oh, what joy while on our daily journey when we spot one who does.
And it doesn’t have to be Christmas time for that to happen. It can be anytime along life’s journey. May others who walk by us daily be delighted by His light and may it cause that passerby to search for the “next” display of His glory. Best of all, may that journeyman be so affected by the Light of Jesus that he becomes that “ next” for the display of His glory.
I feel that I have had a fresh word from the Lord for the past few weeks to become "sharpened." My spirit's pencil point had become dull. Of course, that fresh word followed a knowing in my heart that it was time to once again seek the Lord in depth of both intense personal and intercessory prayer.
July dawned with a sense of heaviness I have not experienced in a very long time. Serious world events and grim news paraded across headlines and blared from the mouths of reporters. It was almost as if we could not catch our breath. Scandals, terrorism unmatched in my lifetime, lawless abandon of timeless principles and endless waves of known and unknown hoards of people crossing the sacred borders of the state of Texas that I call home, came day after day. Then, there were the numerous phone calls and internet messages from personal friends facing incredible personal crisis that raised the level of intensity and my own anxiety.
I have to admit that my eyes and ears temporarily began to question the reality of what I perceived. Fear tried really hard to rear its head like some Goliath, taunting my faith as to what the near future would be like if all this continued.
Is it any wonder that the Lord had awakened my hungry heart, sent me to the prayer closet, and directed me to His Word to see, not as I was seeing, but seeing as it really is. He has been faithfully restoring my spiritual eyes and ears.
Today, I revisited 2 Kings 6: 8-23 to read the story of the prophet Elisha and his servant when Israel was subjected to invading Syrian bands who were making constant border raids. God kept revealing the enemy plans to Elisha who then relayed them to Israel's king thus interrupting Syria's former raiding success. All attention then turned to Elisha who did not run as the Syrians surrounded him and his faithful servant in Dothan.
Rising to go outside in the morning, Elisha's servant asked a familiar question we also ask when encompassed by bad news and overwhelming presence of our enemies: (Verse 15)" ...What shall we do?" I love what the Bible says next as Elisha's answer: (Verse 16) "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those that are with them."
Now, what comes next ignites the stone in my slingshot against the pesky Goliath of current events taunting my faith: (Verse 17) "Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
Yes, that servant saw as it really is...so did this sevant. So may you!
Will the Real Parents Please Stand Up!
By: Sharon L. Patterson
Most of the time, I write things of a more affirming nature. Today, my heart is in a more trumpet like mode, so what flows from my fingers is still affirming, but truly summoning serious thought of a stance I believe we must take. The news has been full this past month of “trouble on every hand” not just in our own country but all over the world. I am concerned about my children and my grandchildren maneuvering this present time.
If you noticed, I used an exclamation point rather than a question mark for the title of this blog. I am speaking of parenthood of our children even symbolically of our nation at this crux in our nation’s history. It is a sobering time for child rearing, a difficult era requiring hearts that are brave and resolute. We must find purpose based on unflappable principles, beliefs founded in absolute truth that passes more than the present test of political correctness. We are in the “standing time” spoken of in Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (NIV)
Opinions are bellowing “hear me, read me” over all available communication waves of the air. More and more, parents are being told that they need governmental help in rearing our own children. What they eat, what they learn, what they can and cannot say and where they can and cannot say it is subjected to restrictive new measures penned at the hand of a power grab unprecedented in my remembrance of 67 years. Could it be that the government believes it is the rightful guardian, the REAL parent of all our society’s children? REALLY?
It is time that we stand our ground as Christian parents, grandparents, guardians of our American Constitution, teachers of her true history, not the remanufactured , redacted politically correct copy now being forced through texts into the formative minds of our children . We have truth to teach, and Godly principles to instill.
Political correctness is enforceable but it is not based on the truth of God’s Word. It is built on the shifting sands of double-mindedness. Surely it is heavy pressure, enforced with verbal bullying. It is not absolute, but it is powerful. It can cause me trouble. Hence, my dilemma as a parent and a grandparent: Will I stand in broad daylight and be obedient to God’s truth or will I bend to the demands of man’s laws made in the shadows of political correctness.
My allegiance is to God’s laws first and man’s second. I have Biblical examples that offer firm ground on which to stand. One of my favorites that comes to mind is Daniel. He stood in his day against a politically correct law written in the shadows of evil jealousy that demanded the only recognizable object of worship was to be the king. The penalty for disobedience was death. Daniel continued as he did, faithfully, several times a day, to worship and pray to God alone. He faced the full penalty of the law but God delivered him. Because Daniel stood in his time, so I can stand in mine.
Government is not the parent…that is a position given by God alone. The times are difficult and that may increase, but God’s faithfulness to His children, His parenting of us makes us able to “stand our ground, and after we have done everything, to stand.” So, will the real parents please stand up! Another exclamation, not a question.
Love...from One Generation to the Next
I do not think that any other generation spoke about love, experimented with it, exploited it and tried to define it more than mine. The all-inclusive 60's Hippie culture of love offered its off-beat, anti-establishment, contractless, drug-enhanced, mind-bending philosophy to everyone-freely, with no retraints or obligations. You could drop-in or drop out. It was at its zenith in my late teens and early twenties.
My response today is no different than when I first heard its offerings well over 50 years ago. You see, love clearly defined itself to me me at age eleven when I found the love of God personified though His Son, Jesus. Love continued to be defined as I grew in my Christian faith. I found love to be freer than anything offered by those who wore long hair, love beads, lived in communes and traveled in psychedelic-colored volkswagen buses. Under its tutelege, I dropped mean-spiritedness, jealous striving, confusion and bad choices. I found a forgiveness for my ways that I extended toward those who needed it from me. It is a commodity that never runs out.
Jesus' love does operate within retraints: it taught me to obey laws and fulfill my contracts ; encouraged me to pray for and love those who believe differently from me; and caused me to recognize and turn away from evil. It's obligations include loving God first and others as much as myself. The love of God has a much longer track record than any popular cultural philosophy.
So, standing on an ageless love, this now aged Christian woman wants to pass it on, not only to my children and grandchildren, but to this generation in which I am presently living. I encourage you to remain obligated to love God first and others as much as yourselves. Recognize evil by knowing what God says it is so you will not compromise with it. Pray for those who may not only disagree with you but try to persecute you for it. I send you my love...from one generation to the next.
The courage of our simple faith in controversial times
One truth we Christians seem united on is that our faith is navigating very controversial times. We may differ in our responses to the controversies of this age which often clash with even our most basic beliefs held for generations, but there is no disagreement that these are testy times indeed. It is no longer enough to have faith but it is necessary to live in the courage of our simple faith in order to navigate these controversial times.
I have personally lived in six different decades and experienced undeniable changes in every one of them. I became a Christian shortly after my first decade of life at age eleven in 1958. Personal family struggles happened in the middle of the cold war, civil rights struggles, the Vietnam War, and the dawning of the hippie culture. No matter what challenged our lives in the sixties and seventies, we Christians based the hope of our lives and the convictions of our hearts on God's Word. Laws were still centered on the absolutes of our Judeo-Christian heritage: the Ten Commandments were posted on the walls of our schools and public buildings and prayer was the unashamed invocation at our cultural events. At that time, they were part of the fabric and interactions of society. They were the boundary markers that we all understood no matter our age.
Then, the mounting pressure of political correctness, always a contender of simple faith, grew bolder as we Christians fell prey to fear and complacency. The courage of our simple faith waned more and more.
Political correctness became the substitute teacher in place of the real teacher of truth. It took down the laws from our public walls through legislative challenge adjudicated by liberal judges. They rewrote laws from the bench not in the halls of Congress where our Constitution originally determined that action to take place.
Political correctness hatefully shouted down true freedom of speech with techniques reminiscent of backyard bullying. It taught contradictory irrational thinking by disallowing true debate. It boldly introduced subject matter in school books that robbed the innocence of our children. In short, it became a giant.
But we Christians know what we need when there are giants in the vicinity don't we?
No, it is not louder rhetoric, or bigger giants of our own. Surely, we have not forgotten.
It is what a young boy showed up with when he heard a big-mouthed giant taunting his nation's entire army. It is what a young Jewish captive who had been elevated to a high political position in ancient Babylon did in response to an unjust law passed by jealous men who wanted him out of power. They stood courageously in their simple faith. They continued to pray, to stand, to verbally respond in truth that was part of their entire soul. Their convictions did not diminish...they were demonstrated through the actions of doing right no matter what was going wrong. So must we. Let's live the courage of our simple faith in these controversial times.
a scribe for all seasons
I am a retired educator, career military wife, author and mother of three sons, "Grannah" to 4 grandsons and one granddaughter. I am a cheerleader of sorts in that I love to encourage those who have received wounds to their hearts and emotions toward greater wholeness of soul. My books are a reflection of my passion of spiritual encouragement to find healing in the Great Physician of all life...Jesus.