A Tale of Two Kings

Two kings. One was a conqueror and mighty man. The other his grandson. Both ruled the most powerful nation on earth at the time.

Two chapters in the book of Daniel. One filled with the personal testimony of the first king and how God had caused him to become a madman–a beast in the field–until he recognized Him as the one true God. The second details an evening of debauchery and idolatry–with no thought of God–until terror struck and suddenly God was very real and powerful.

Every  single time I read through Daniel, I am amazed by the contrast between King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar.

” ‘Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you.
I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation…

“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.’ ” ~ Daniel 4:1-3, 34-36

This prideful king had the power to execute anyone who did not worship him, who did not strike his fancy, or who was just plain annoying. He was the Alexander the Great of his time. As he recounted his testimony, he admittedly declared, in Daniel 4:30, ” ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’ ” And then he shared, in between the “bookends” of praise (above) how God immediately struck him mad, and he lived as an animal for seven years! This powerful and honored king did not have to tell us of his humiliation. Why did he do it? So that we would know that he had been wrong, that he was lost but now was found. He had been blind but now could see that the Most High God was “the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice”.

Turn the page to chapter 5, and you find a very different ruler, Belshazzar. Scholars believe he actually ruled as vice-regent in his father Nabonidus’ absence, and he likely was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.

“Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand…
Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.” ~ Daniel 5:1, 3-4

Quite suddenly, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote a very disturbing message on the wall, ruining the festive party mood and causing Belshazzar to be absolutely terrified. His mother calmed him and reminded him of Daniel, ” ‘a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God.’ ” ~ Daniel 5:11a

Daniel obediently appeared before the king, and, with God’s wisdom, he told him what the writing on the wall meant. But first, he gave him a history lesson, recounting the testimony of Nebuchadnezzar from chapter 4.

“…’Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven…and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified…
This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.’…
That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.” ~ Daniel 5:21-23a, 23c, 26-28, 30

Two kings. One proud man, brought low until “he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men”, and then restored to glorify, praise, and testify of the King of heaven. Another proud man, who knew the truth that his grandfather had learned and passed on to him, yet willingly chose to reject that truth and the Most High God, and instead worshipped false gods, and who was found wanting and lost his kingdom and his life.

Two choices. Recognize and believe in the Most High God and His Son Jesus, who came to die for our sins so we are redeemed, and who also conquered death and rose again so we have life eternally and abundantly. Or reject the truth and the Most High God, be weighed in the balances on your own merit alone and found wanting, and lose your life eternally. 

What will you choose?

Posted in August 2016, Babylon, Blessings, Consequences, Daniel, Faith, Family, Fear, Heaven, History, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Knowledge, Life, Men, Mind, Nebuchadnezzar, Obedience, Praises, Pride, Repentance, Salvation, The Father, The Son, The Spirit, The Truth, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Storm Debris and Fresh Beginnings

A terrible storm raged through our area yesterday, bringing with it damaging wind and hail, torrential rain, and even a couple of tornadoes. The accumulation of hail was so great that it looked as though it had snowed in July. A neighbor even shoveled some of it, and sixteen hours later, there are still traces of the icy pellets in a flowerpot.

The storm may be over, but the effects of it linger. Area crops were damaged. Branches and leaves are scattered throughout streets. Muck and grit came down off of our roof, and there are no more petals on my roses. 

As I spent the morning in the yard, and raised our flag from the half staff position once again, I was struck by the thought that the aftermath of storms in our lives lingers, also. We may safely weather the storm, but often we are never the same. Wounds heal eventually, but scars remain. We will bloom again, but that piece of our heart is forever missing, like a branch torn from a tree. The trauma becomes a part of our souls, and we have to learn a new way to grow, to be.

In the tumult of this life, my soul yearns for rest. For the peace that passes all understanding. For calm amid the chaotic new norm of this warped and ruined world. My soul longs for Jesus.

Do you feel that way? It is too easy to become weary, even in doing good, when the storm rages, the hate is palpable, and the darkness is overwhelming.

Dear God, the storms have been dreadful. We are a lost people in desperate need of a Savior.

What is that? You, the great I AM, have called me to reach these lost people? But what good am I, when my own life is filled with flaws and failures, wounds and scars? If You look closely (oh, please don’t!), You will find little flecks of hate, prejudice, self-loathing, doubt, worry, fear, despair, selfishness, pride, envy, strife, and other muck and debris in my heart. I’m fighting the urge to curl up in the corner and hide from Your presence, dearest LORD.

Come to the Fountain of Life, and begin again, You say? Oh, sweet Jesus, thank You for extending yet another chance to start afresh. Thank You for taking my shame, my guilt, my stain, upon Your righteous and holy and perfect Self. Thank You for paying it all on the cross. Thank You for forgiving it all, by Your grace, through my faith in You. And thank You for bending down to lovingly wash my feet, tenderly wiping those flecks of filth off my heart once again.

And so, with You, my Lord and Savior, walking with me, leading me beside still waters and restoring my soul (Psalm 23), I will begin again. I will eagerly partake of Your mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), Your grace that is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), and Your love that never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

I will shine this little light of mine (Matthew 5:16), and shake my salt (Matthew 5:13), until the whole world has seen and tasted of the goodness and glory of Jesus, Who loves them all so very, very much… and Who is in control of every storm.

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” – Psalm 107:23-31

Posted in Faith, Faithfulness, Fear, Forgiveness, God, Grace, Hatred, Healing, Heart, Hope, Jesus, July 2016, Lamentations, Life, Light, Living Water, Love, Matthew, Men, Mercy, Mind, Mourning, Obedience, Others, Peace, Prayer, Pride, Psalms, Redeemer, Repentance, Rest, Salt, Salvation, Self, Submission, Thanksgiving, The Gospel, The Past | 4 Comments

Setting Aside Personal Rights For the Sake of Others

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” – Psalm 33:12

May we humble ourselves and pray for our country, that our God would once again be the LORD of our nation! 


I am blessed to be spending time at my dad's place on the river. Who wouldn't love to study the Word with this view? 🙂

We celebrate today the freedom declared–and subsequently fought for–by a brave group of men and women. Thankfully, 240 years later, we are still free. And my fellow believers in Christ, we are free indeed! Free from the bondage of sin and the grip of death. Free to live by grace through faith in Jesus and declare His good news to the world around us. So, how are we doing with that?


Such a beautiful sight, to see Old Glory flying boldly!

I have noticed a sobering trend among Christians–that it is all about our “rights”. While I recognize and understand our need and desire to retain our freedom and the right to be able to defend ourselves and live and worship as we choose, we seem to be applying this to our everyday lives in other, more subtle ways. Take, for example, a little thing called tipping…

My husband shared an article on social media stating that Christians unfortunately aren’t known for being generous tippers. When a friend of ours shared that same article, it seemed as though all hell had broken loose–from self-proclaimed Christians. There were comments ranging from ridiculous to selfish, angry, and downright hateful. It was all about how we have the right to choose, and no one should tell us what to do or how much to give. How dare you!

But wait a minute… we are free to choose how we respond, how we give, how we spend our money. But as believers in Jesus, we must not use our freedoms to harm others or to harm our witness. How does it look to the restaurant employee, who most likely is struggling to make ends meet (we have a ministry in our area that specifically helps those in the hospitality industry with basic needs like food and shelter) when you are stingy with your tip? How does it look to the same employee when you give generously, with a grateful and joyful heart? I guarantee they notice the difference and the name of Jesus is not sullied.

And guess what? We set aside our own personal “rights” when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, picked up that cross, and followed Him. It is no longer about our own selves. It is now about Jesus, about others. How can we love Him and love others? We already love our own selves plenty.

” ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ “- John 15:12-13

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

We should be willing to “lay down our lives” for others. This means setting aside our own rights and feelings when they might hurt others or our testimony.

Another thing happens when we give generously and joyfully: we are blessed by it. It feels really good to share with others, even when we ourselves are struggling to make ends meet. My husband and I both work in ministry, and money is tight. Yet God makes sure we have enough to give away. It is His money, after all…

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

God loves a cheerful giver! Don’t begrudge others. Choose to share out of the abundance that God has given you–time, talent, money–whether or not you have “extra”. I guarantee you will be blessed!

And may God bless America! Land that I love.

Posted in 2 Corinthians, Anger, Blessings, Faithfulness, Family, Freedom, Galatians, Giving, God, Grace, Hatred, Heart, James, Jesus, John, Joy, July 2016, Life, Love, Love one another, Men, Mercy, Others, Philippians, Pride, Psalms, Sacrifice, Salvation, Self, Sin Nature, The Gospel | Leave a comment

My Shepherd Restores My Soul

A Psalm of David.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” ~ Psalm 23

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

This is such a familiar Psalm! I memorized it when I was in the second or third grade. I think it perhaps became too familiar to me. Until I woke up this morning feeling that my soul had been restored.

There are times in life that everything gets too busy. People and/or jobs put crazy hard demands on us, and it feels like it is just too much. These past two weeks have been TOO MUCH. And my soul was worn and weary. Empty.

But God knew all that was coming. He sees our crazy, overbooked calendars and busy, busy lives. And HE sends us just what we need. When we need it. In His perfect timing. Like the Good Shepherd…

“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep…
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.’ ” ~ John 10:7-11, 27-30

My Shepherd has restored my soul. He  is my Door, my Savior, my eternal Life, my Leader, my Protector, my Song. Is He yours? Do you know His voice? Listen and follow Him beside the still waters. He will restore your soul!

(I thought I’d share some pics of my morning writing this outside. God uses His creation to restore my soul. Flowers, food, family, faith, animals, sunshine, music, REST. Working in the soil, reading His word. How does He restore yours?)








How marvelous! How wonderful!  And my song shall ever be: How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my Savior’s love for me!
(The refrain from My Savior’s Love by Charles H. Gabriel)

Posted in Blessings, Contentment, Creation, David, Faith, Family, God, Healing, Heart, Heaven, Hope, Jesus, John, Joy, Life, Love, May 2016, Men, Mind, Others, Peace, Praises, Psalms, Refreshment, Rest, Salvation, Shepherd, Singing, The Father, The Son | Leave a comment

All Is Not Lost

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity…
Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as at twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places. We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us… So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” ~ Isaiah 59:1-4, 9-11, 15a

This paints such a vivid word picture of our culture today! Innocent blood shed, lies and perverseness spoken. Justice and truth have fallen by the wayside, and empty words and deceit have enticed the masses. We are lost, blind, walking in darkness. Like dead men, growling like bears and moaning sadly like doves! We look for justice and salvation, but it is nowhere to be found. And those who speak out and stand against the evil become targets, plunder, prey.

But wait! All is not lost!

“…Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries,
recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ says the LORD” ~ Isaiah 59:15b-20

God the Father didn’t leave us to our own devices, to rot and perish in our sin. He loves us too much to leave us without hope. He sent an intercessor for us– “His own arm brought salvation”– Jesus, God the Son. He came to earth, died on the cross, and rose again to save us out of the darkness– into His light, His life, His righteousness. God made a way for us– Jesus!

Jesus is also our just, righteous, and true Judge. If we choose NOT  to believe and be saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, and to be clothed in His righteousness, we choose instead to stand before Him on our own hopeless merit, condemned by our choices and clothed in our filth and shame. We can never be good enough, clean enough, righteous enough, apart from Jesus Christ. But in Jesus, we put on His goodness, purity, and righteousness. And then we can stand before Him, unashamed. Jesus did– and still does– it all for us!

” ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.’ ” ~ John 3:16-21

Jesus is the answer, every time.

A side note: I love, love, LOVE that we are told Jesus is wearing the same armor that He calls us to put on in Ephesians 6:13-17 ~ the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation (Isaiah 59:17). If you search, you will find other places in Scripture in which the various pieces of armor are mentioned. ❤

Posted in April 2016, Armor of God, Atonement, Condemnation, Consequences, Ephesians, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Hope, Isaiah, Jesus, John, Lies, Life, Light, Love, Men, Redeemer, Repentance, Salvation, The Father, The Son | Leave a comment

Quit Looking Back!!

“Don’t look down. Whatever you do, don’t look down!” We all can appreciate those times when perhaps looking down would not be in our best interest.

But what about looking back? “Don’t look back. Whatever you do, don’t look back!” What??

“So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.’ …Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” ~ Genesis 19:17, 24-26

Now, in most cases, looking back will not cause you to turn into a pillar of salt. When Lot’s wife looked back, she showed a reluctant heart that didn’t want to leave behind sin. Her willful disobedience + her reluctant heart = pillar of salt.

But wait. How often am I willfully disobedient and reluctant to let go of something from my past? Yet God has mercy upon me, over and over and over again. Hallelujah!

Wasn’t that a wonderful time, back when the kiddos were young and all still in the nest? Oh, I wish we still lived at that old house. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back? What if I had done that differently? If only…

Don’t look back. Whatever you do, don’t look back!” What?? Why??

I don’t think it’s wrong to look back on our past and remember the good times– and the bad. Cherish those delightful memories! Learn from the painful ones. Let go and forgive, when needed. Thank God for your past, whatever it holds. History is a valuable and important part of our lives. But we don’t need to repeat it! Instead we should be obediently following God as He continues to write our history.

When we are reluctant to leave our past behind us, and embrace what God has for us in the now, then I think we have a problem. Like the horse who keeps trying to return to the barn instead of obediently walking the path in front of her, we miss out on the great adventure ahead of us! And like that horse, perhaps we need blinders on, also– to keep from focusing on the storm raging around us and instead be looking ahead, with our eyes on our Lord and Saviour.

This has been a particular struggle for me lately– looking back on something in the past with wistfulness and wishful thinking, or looking around me at the chaos and waves. God has been gently admonishing me:  Don’t look back. And don’t worry about the storm. I have a magnificent plan for you and your future. I will take care of the loose ends from yesterday and restore what the locusts have devoured. I am fighting today’s battle on your behalf. You need only stand firm girded with your spiritual armor. Trust Me. Take My hand. Walk with Me. And don’t look back. Don’t look around. Look ahead. Look at the wondrous promises and amazing future I have for you. Look at ME.

What if God kept looking back, at our past? Oh, what a dreadful thought! Yet He has promised us otherwise.

“Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” ~ Isaiah 38:17

” ‘Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert… I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. ‘ ” ~ Isaiah 43:18-19, 25

” ‘I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.’ ” ~ Isaiah 44:22

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” ~ Psalm 103:10-12

So don’t look back. Whatever you do, don’t look back: with wistfulness and longing, with regret and guilt, with reluctance to leave it behind and look ahead. Enjoy your memories, thank God for your past– the good, the bad, and the ugly– and press on toward Jesus, like the Apostle Paul:

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:12-14

Be present in the present, live each day to its fullest, and obediently follow God on the path He has for you. He is trustworthy, always.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Posted in April 2016, Armor of God, Consequences, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Genesis, God, Healing, Heaven, History, Hope, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus, Life, Men, Mercy, Mind, Mourning, Obedience, Others, Paul, Peace, Philippians, Pillar of salt, Psalms, Redeemer, The Future, The Past, The Way, Time, Waiting on the Lord, Worry | 5 Comments

Heaping Grace and Love on the Walking Wounded

Easter. A time to reflect on the extravagant grace and mercy heaped upon us by God through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, our passover Lamb. A time to celebrate new life– in Christ and in our gardens. A time to savor the magic of egg hunts for a child and the blessings of faith, family, and food!

But for some, it’s a time to wrestle with old hurts and anxieties as they attempt to step foot inside a church. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are some of our own worst enemies. We shoot our wounded and judge the broken, rather than binding up their wounds and leaving them with Jesus.

Imagine, if you will, a young teen-aged  boy who is uncomfortable with the topic being discussed at youth group. He quietly slips out and takes a walk, returning a short time later– where he is met by a furious youth pastor. This youth pastor excoriates the young man in front of everyone there. When the teen attempts to respectfully defend himself, the pastor takes it as an affront and a challenge to his own self and bans the teen from youth group. The children’s pastor jumps on board this bandwagon and bars the teen from serving in AWANA. Suddenly you have a fifteen year old young man who loves the Lord having his very world crumble because of the actions of others who love the Lord. But it doesn’t stop there. The children’s pastor then confronts the young man’s older (teen-aged) brother. He, too, is tossed from serving. Now you have two devastated young men. The trickle-down decimates a sister. Enter Dad. He asks for a meeting with the two pastors, hoping to straighten out the misunderstanding. No prayer is offered. God is not invited to this shindig. Pride, anger, judgment. And boom, Mom and Dad are now no longer welcome to serve. (The youngest daughter thankfully made it out unscathed.)

That was us. Seven years ago our world caved in. We were all shell-shocked. But you know what each of our kiddos did? They opened their Bibles and studied the Word. In the confusion and hurt, we all wondered how this had happened. Were we really so awful? It was a time of drawing near to one another and seeking after God’s heart. We were Bereans:

“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” ~ Acts 17:11

We “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”.

What did we figure out? That we are sinners who had meant no harm. That it had been a terrible misunderstanding. That perhaps the pastors thought they were in the right, though leaving God out of the situation was not. That we needed to forgive them (an ongoing process). And that it was time to find a new church family.

There has been tremendous fall-out. Our two sons suffer from a mild PTSD and panic attacks whenever they attempt to go into a church. Our oldest daughter is completely off on her own road– far, far away from God and quick to attack anything “Christian”. Our youngest daughter and ourselves? We can look back and see how God has worked it for our good, bringing us closer to Him and leading us to a new and wonderful church family.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” ~ Genesis 50:20

Do we think the church leaders meant evil against us? No, they thought they were doing what needed to be done. Did Satan use it as evil. Oh YES, and then some! Did God mean it for good? Oh YES, and then some more!

Why am I sharing this? I asked God the same thing last night when He laid it on my heart. Do we finally get to tell our story and put the rumors to bed? Well, yes and no. Rumors are like feathers– they fly everywhere, cannot be retrieved, and tickle ears.

But God gently reminded me this was not about us. It was about others. Those “walking wounded” who will be in our pews tomorrow, sharing a cup of coffee with us at the sunrise service or community egg hunt. The people who have a hard time separating God from His church.

There is a meme going around Facebook, something about if you walk away from God because the church hurt you, you were only there for the people to begin with and not for God. While there is a kernel of truth in that, when you have been lambasted by someone who serves in authority at a church, the damage is real and the hurt is palpable. You may know in your head that that wasn’t handled biblically, or that it wasn’t from God. But the heart is bleeding, and sometimes that proves to be too much for the injured party.

Trusting God’s people is one of the hardest things for the unchurched to do.

So Church, please listen up. This Easter let’s heap GRACE and LOVE upon all we come in contact with. In fact, how about we do this every day of the year? Let’s reek of Jesus to those around us. And Lord God, help us to watch our words!

“Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” ~ Psalm 19:13-14

” ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’ ” ~ John 13:34-35

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

**NOTE: This is one of the hardest blog posts I have ever written for several reasons.
1.) I do not wish to trash or disrespect our previous church, pastors, or church family. The two pastors mentioned have since asked for forgiveness from our youngest son and my husband (I am still working on forgiving– some days it seems I’ve achieved it, and then other days the wounds bleed fresh yet again– and every day it is a work of the Holy Spirit in me!!). We still have many dear friends from our time in that church family. ❤
2.) Three of our four kiddos are "walking wounded". The betrayal and judgment were severe and inflicted serious damage that only God can heal. The boys still trust God (mostly– don't we all struggle on occasion?), but our oldest daughter blames Him and has wandered far away. My heart breaks for them all, but it is eviscerated by the woundedness and anger of our girl.
3.) I do not want Satan to use this for his benefit. I pray fervently God will keep the enemy from inflicting more damage on our kiddos. I deeply love them and don't want to hurt them by sharing our story.
4.) I strive to "fly under the radar". Sharing this private pain is not something I take lightly. And painting a big target when Satan already has us in his sites is not my cup of tea.

But… "our God is greater, our God is stronger, God You are higher than any other! Our God is Healer, awesome in power…"
(From the song Our God by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman)

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Acts, Blessings, Children, Church, Condemnation, Consequences, Easter, Faith, Family, Fear, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Friends, Genesis, God, Grace, Healing, Heart, Holy Spirit, Jesus, John, Lies, Life, Love one another, March 2016, Men, Mercy, Others, Prayer, Pride, Psalms, Repentance, Satan, Self | 4 Comments