For those Lost and those Found

daniel-jensen-UDleHDOhBZ8-unsplashImage by Daniel Jensen

I never actually read through, “ A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, but it could be that the first paragraph of the entirety of the book struck me so deep:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

My friends, we are currently living a tale of two groups of people, and the above quotations can largely describe what we are all feeling like as a nation.

There is a lot of anxiety and fear right now, there is a lot of people that are afraid of the virus and anxious from being out of work that they will not know how to provide for their family.

There is a lot of hopelessness too, and people who just cannot see how if there is a God why He would allow something so horrible into our lives and uproot us fully from everyday life.

There is a blame game of the origin of where the virus began, and also blaming politicians in every nation for not doing, “ more,” to keep it from spreading.

Fear is mostly the culprit in all of this though, because store shelves are not just empty locally but all over the world there are shortages of items that people just hoarded and some of it has no real necessity at the very present moment.

We laugh at memes, we watch news stories, we mock people who do this or did that…

But fear is the real deal, and we should really stop and just check on people daily or weekly, our families, are friends and our neighbors.  Everyone is going through some sense of fear right now, does not matter who you are and does not matter what you believe….it is real, and we are all feeling it.

We do need to further discuss what are healthy and unhealthy fears though, because there is a difference.

Healthy Fears:

I am someone with a history of pneumonia more than once in the last 5 years, and I have asthmatic allergies that can easily bring that on if I do not take an allergy pill daily, but even more so, I have a mother with Crohn’s disease, who I have seen go through more than several surgeries in her entire lifetime, and once with Mrsa that left her in the hospital for a good few months and we almost lost her.  When she goes to the hospital they place her in the cancer wing, because she cannot take any chances of infection happening to her body.

Which is why if she receives the coronavirus it would be really difficult for her recovery.

In this healthy fear though, we just do what we need to do to keep us safe.

I am working from home, I stay indoors, and I have chosen not to see my mother right now, or my friends that need to be away from people because they have other health issues, because I have been working call center and have been around other people that I am not sure whether or not they could have been carrying it, and where I live right now has more “presumptive,” cases then the entire county, and so it is wise to be inside and use precaution as now it is necessary.

People have said, “ I will not let this virus run my life,” but honestly, not everyone has that choice, and we can make a choice to protect other people just by letting our daily routines change for awhile.

Unhealthy fears:

This is also a time that people will be preyed on to create unhealthy fears, and I would say the media is a great example.  It is a virus, we are not living in bomb shelters, and a hurricane is not coming straight for us.  The parks, beaches, Disney etc, they were not closed because you can get the virus from sitting on a piece of grass, they were closed, because people do not know how to stay far enough away and not cough or sneeze on others, and apparently many do not know how to wash hands properly and let us not get started on people who do not know how to use a toilet property…It is the sad truth.

Again, I work in a call center, and I already know that once you hear someone cough, then what ever the virus is at the current moment will travel through the air, it is what happens when you work closely with people, or are too close to people who are sick.

Putting both of these fears aside I want to speak a little more on what I have observed as I have paid attention to people all over the world, and it is not something I know for fact, but is something I have often thought of through the course of watching this virus consume different parts of the world…

Personally, I believe according to my own faith that this is God’s judgement on our world, we can agree or disagree, but it is my belief.

When Donald Trump took office it revealed some deep rooted things in the hearts of the people everywhere, but especially in America.  I am not talking about because he as a person became the president, but the reaction and the response from people since that moment.

I was raised to respect authority, my grandfather would not let me have something unless I said, “ Thank you, May I, or Please?” My parents used to tell me that when I went out into the world I was a reflection of them, at the time I did not really understand that, but now I realize it meant that I am to be in the world who I have been taught to be at home. (No home is perfect, but there are morals and values that are good that all of us have been taught at some point.)

I was taught to stay quiet when adults around me were having a conversation unless it was important.  I was taught to respect people of all cultures and races, I was taught to have respect for the elderly and listen to their stories of the wars, and where they came from…

I am not saying by any means that our president is a stellar example of character, but I am saying if my grandfather was alive today he would say he may not agree with the man, but he would shake his hand because he was the president.

When I think of the authority over our nation right now I think back to the book of Daniel, and how because he honored the Lord so much that even though he was under the King of Babylon as  prisoner he still showed honor to him too, not because he agreed with him, but because he trusted in God, and God wants us to give honor and respect to all authority.

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;

wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;

he deposes kings and raises up others.

He gives wisdom to the wise

and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;

he knows what lies in darkness,

and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:

You have given me wisdom and power,

you have made known to me what we asked of you,

you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

(Daniel 2:21-23)

King Neb (I can never spell his name, so we are nicknaming him), had a dream and asked for magicians and astrologers to interpret it, but they could not.  Daniel was able to interpret the dream because the Lord revealed it to him.  King Neb, fell down in front Daniel and worshipped him.

Daniel became honorary to the king and lived many years in the palace through king after king.

God does things to help his people rise up, He did not interpret Neb’s dream for the benefit of the king but for Daniel and the Jews.

It is possible that the church was never meant to be a building for worshippers that already know God, but possibly a place for those to go who do not, but want to know there is somewhere to find hope. As Christians, we are to rise up, and not waver under the fears that surround us all right now, we need to be strong for those who really are scared, and really cannot see hope from where they are.  We need to speak encouragement to people who have lost things during this time, jobs and graduations, ceremonies and other events that are not happening because of the quarantines.

People all over the world who are in quarantine are having time to sit and open their Bible for the first time, to listen to messages online, and people are praying who have never before.

We want them to keep reading, we want them to keep listening and we want them to keep praying.

“ If my people who are called by name, would humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I would hear from heaven and I will heal their land.”

(2 Chr 7:14)

God is talking to those who already BELIEVE in the verse above. Yes, he is mainly talking to the Israelites, but  He is calling US to humble ourselves, to pray, and seek HIS face MORE than we have in the past, He is calling US to turn from the ways we have allowed the world to influence us and PRESS IN, and from our example, we will then be able to teach others around us how to do the same.

Whenever God gives judgement He will also bring about grace through it.We will get through this TOGETHER, as long we all stay together.

LSOF: The Language of Love

We speak out on unfairness, We speak out on cruelty, We speak out on “freedom of speech” breached, We speak out on our beliefs, morals, values…We speak out against what we don’t agree with…

How often to do we speak of fairness, How often to we speak of kindess, How often do we remember that we are still standing on free soil, How often do we just share our beliefs, morals and values with respect to the stranger standing next to us…How often do we just let the silence speak louder than the noise around us?

We know what we should say, but how often do we? How often do we speak in the same language as the grace that redeemed us?

I know I’ve been guilty of this just as we all have.

My church statement this year is, “ Real love revolution,” — I think its time to look at what that means to my own heart, what it means to all of us.

Real love to me is about knowing where a person came from, but not seeing them like they still live there…

Real love to me is recognizing the heart of the person in front of you, and not their appearance…

Real love to me is having a conversation with someone who completely disagrees with everything you believe in, but still trying out a flavor of Starbucks they recommend, or a movie they told you they liked.

Speaking the language of love sometimes does not take as much as we claim it does….So what stops us?

I think what happens is that we get wrapped up in structuring our day from beginning to end that we forget there are other people. We forget everyone comes with a different culture and background.

When a widow only has two pennies, you can’t exactly expect her to have three…right?

I remember when I was in elementary school and I thought all families were Catholic, because I was never told otherwise.

Love is not blind, y’all…it goes beyond labels, it goes beyond new stories, it goes beyond song lyrics, television shows, and even what we think we know…Love is still love, even when we forget it exists .

You can’t force fairness, you can’t force kindness, You can’t force beliefs, morals or values to someone who doesn’t have the same, You can’t force someone to agree with you when you don’t agree with them…

And if we could do that…we would be communist socialists.

We forget that one day we might not be allowed to share religion at all, We forget that there are bigger evils that exist in the world then what we place value as important, we forget that this life we live now is a privilege given by God himself, and He can take it all away in an instant.

I think its time that we change the language of love we’ve known to be side by side by the One that created it in the first place.

Put the stone down, and write on it on how Jesus showed how much He loved you.

LSOF: Responding to God’s Will

When I moved to Savannah, I had everything in the bag. I had a place to live, a job, and a new great church.
Everything was going so well for me.

Fast-forward a few months: I am living in a completely different part of Savannah, I don’t have a job right now, but
I still have an amazing church.

The interesting part being that although I was thrown out of my comfort zone not just once moving to Georgia,
but again once I was here a few months; I still have a really good church. I still have a good group of people
that are here for me.

I like the Celine Dion song, ” Love can move mountains”, and just that particular lyric alone, because that is what it has felt
like for me being here in this new place.

Somedays I am SO worried that I’m going to run out of money before I find a job, but my group of people here, they are always the first to encourage me to just continue to trust God.

I also want to share that the group of people that I say are here, some of them don’t even live in my state!

I received an email from a friend that simply said this,
” He had allowed you to be surrounded by many to hold up your arms during this time.”

This is where I can receive people within social networking….in 5 days I actually will meet the dearest of them:)

We have to have people in our lives that will encourage us to follow God’s will…to remind us to just believe, and trust Him.

I do have an awesome church, and the people there they have definitely been so great about praying for me, and just standing at my side during a lot of rough times here.

But the thing I learned today in the message really hit me, because it also provides a word of “warning” to those who do encourage us in our lives.

It was really a word for me.

We have to stop trying to let other encourage us to do what they ” think” is God’s will for our lives. We have to stop being so impulsive, and not give God a chance to respond if we really are doing as He asks of us.

It’s easy to be swayed when you start to know people who are at different ” positions”, I have a professor, event director, An actress, a writer, a counselor, a radio dj, and two women in the church ministry who I look at their lives and think,
” Wow God, it would be awesome to be in their position.”

And for them, it is cool to be in their position. For me, or for you..it may not be what God has called you to do.

So I go back to my gifts that come most natural to me…and I find ways to use them now…and I pray to God and ask Him to reveal to me what my calling really is. I have an idea, but I think I need more confirmation from Him.

I have a heart that really cares deeply for people, I care about their situations and everything they go through on a daily basis. It breaks my heart to watch people struggle, I can’t stand to see anyone in pain.
I am able to talk to anyone pretty easily, but I am sensitive in talking to them. I love to see what makes people tick, I love to look in their eyes and see who they really are in their heart. I love to listen to people tell me stories about thier lives, every little detail is such a treasure to me. I take when someone is ill very seriously. It may be due to my mom having an illness, but regardless, you will find me on my knees praying for someone as soon as I know their is something going on with them.
I love to teach others about God’s mercy, and share with them how He made me into the person I am today.
I also sometimes feel things in my heart deeply that I have to share with someone, and I DO make sure I share it.

All these things do show my spiritual gifts, and I can recognize what they are in myself. So I know its a start, do I know where it will take me…not sure. But I do know, I have to be on the right track if I am seeking after
seeing my spiritual gifts instead of my talents.

We are here to impact the world in someway…its WHY we are here, maybe you are like me and haven’t yet found your “place”, but I want to tell you something….we are exactly where we need to be, until God’s reveals what to do next.

Again, it’s little steps of faith, its’ what its all about:)

LSOF: Rooted and Uprooted

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I am sitting here writing this as I look out my window and view the forest. It rained and the wind blew heavily last night, so there are puddles everywhere; water has surrounded a good batch of trees.

I remember during the hurricanes in Florida. The ground would be come so saturated, and the wind would blow so hard,
that it would literally uproot the trees and they would fall to the ground.

Have you ever been uprooted?

When the roots were in the ground: life going well, great people in your life, job going well, family so close, you had a great church, or just a perfect place to go where you could ease your mind, and your focus could just be on God, and the life you were living?

When the roots could no longer hold: People you thought you trusted in your life turned their back on you, family situations became really bad, a church you attended you can no longer face, your job on the line, a child goes wayward,
and you really began to feel ” suffocated” by the deep waters around you.

I was reading the book of Job this morning. And this guy so had his share of just constant pain and anguish in his life.
He was actually considered blameless in the sight of God. And one day Satan came and asked God if he might try to prove that Job wasn’t as blameless as thought. God allowed Satan to test Job; he allowed him to test him as long as he spared his life.

Job’s family, and his servants all died in tragedies, and everything was one thing after another, and his wife saw what was going on in the beginning and told Job to curse God, but he refused.

THAT TAKES FAITH.

As I read on in Chapter 9-13 or so, it was just so interesting to me how many times his friends would tell him what their idea of how God was, and everything, but even though Job was just in so much turmoil; he still kept the truth right at his side.
He spoke up to his friends, he did defend God. I thought that was really interesting, but such a lesson to all of us as well.
And actually, his friends were just as lost as he was.
One friend was all about saying that is was because of sin that their was suffering…Job knew this wasn’t true
Another friend said it was about humility, and that if Job would accept his suffering as sin, that He would be okay,
but the issue was the Job didn’t believe his suffering was a result of sin.
And yet another friend spoke that Job didn’t have the right to complain about his suffering, because he believed traditionally
that the sin was just…that basically Job had no right to question…
That’s so wrong!

Job 14:7
” At least there is hope for a tree;
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grown old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of the water, it will but and
put up shoots like a plant.”

but then he adds this,

Job 19:10
” He tears me down on every side until I am gone,
he uproots my hope like a tree…”

These two verses are interesting, because you can just see the fight that Job is having with God,
and he is SO confused, in one instance he believes that God will bring hope to a tree and help it flourish,
and in another he compares himself to being uprooted like a tree.

I very much believe that he speaking of himself here; his world around him, People perhaps, or things in his past.
Let me suggest to you that perhaps Job in his anguish was trying to make sure God heard him,
and also that perhaps he was trying to also make his friends just leave him be.

In any case, this story though very rough to read, it makes such a good point.

Job may have had faith in God from the beginning, but something we have to realize is that God is never done teaching us.
We all have something He wants to teach us about our lives. Especially if He sees we are in a comfort zone.

I have experienced so much since I’ve moved to Georgia.

This past week alone has been such a learning experience.
God really felt I needed to learn something.

I have been so lonely, and just didn’t have anyone here really.
I almost went out with my roommate and her friends one night, but I pulled up in the driveway
after work and sat there saying to God, ” Lord, I don’t think you want me to go there.”
Well, I was probably right. Because I would have felt uncomfortable, and would have had
to drink to be comfortable. I shouldn’t have to drink to feel comfortable around people.
Its important that while I am here in Georgia now, that my foundation is set. And that did not include going to a club until 2am.

Something you should know if you don’t. There is no set time that God says to obey Him or not obey Him, we must always obey Him. He knows we are going to mess up, but we don’t want to get ourselves so far that we are an uprooted tree.
We can knock ourselves down on our own.

We need a firm foundation to keep ourselves going.

I had to get out of the living situation I was in for many reasons.
I had been looking for a place to rent.
And then I went to bible study tuesday night; My friend Lori told me I would enjoy it.

Another girl had just started coming to the church, and in conversation just mentioned
her roommate and she were looking for a third roommate.
My mouth dropped wide open.
I was at the study for a reason that night.

Its always so interesting if you look back on the timeline and can sort of see the battle between God and Satan with our lives.
Even though I had found a place to live, stuff was still happening that wasn’t so great.

My tire was flat when I came out of work, I found out the next day that someone had gouged a hole in the sidewall.
The night after that I had planned to move some stuff over, but was really tired…and due to other reasons, I found myself
moving EVERYTHING to the new place. My pastor, a sweet lady from my women’s group, my new roommate all were moving
me to my new place. We did it in 4hrs!

My foundation wasn’t just being set in a new home that night, its been being set since I’ve moved here. God just started showing me little bits what He had planned.

If you have been following this journey it all began truly beginning of 2009 to now…and looking back, I can’t believe all that God has done.

I love my new church, I love the people, and am really connecting with quite a few of them.

I remain teachable.
We all have to.

LSOF: Colorblind Faith

I’m sitting here watching CNN about a story on landmines in Afganistan.

The news reporter shares a shot of video with a truck going by some some children on there way home from school, suddenly there is nothing but an explosion of fire filling the video screen.

In the war, our troops are taught all sorts of things; to be prepared for anykind of danger that they might encounter.

In another video clip, it shows the troops being taught how to look for landmines.

They are taught to pay attention to a ” red” wire. If they see it, to avoid getting any closer to it, or anyone around them.

Knowing the color could save their lives, or someone around them.

My best friend Kat, she was born color-blind. She is unable to see blues and greens.

Her son and her husband both have blue eyes. She can only see bright diamonds when she looks into them.

Can you imagine for a moment, knowing what color to look for, but it being impossible for you to see it?
To know what color your loved ones eyes are, and hearing what others say about them, but not being able to experience it for yourself?

She has her own way of deciphering colors though. She uses her wedding ring, and she holds it up to the color she is looking at. She taught herself how to see the colors she can’t see.

I’m looking out at the blue sky right now, and realize how very blessed I am to have been able to see it.

I don’t see it, because someone told me that it was blue. I see it, because I was born to see it, the way God wants me to see it.

In dealing with religion for a moment, to supposed to a real true relationship with God; there are colors that God wants to show us, within our faith. And if religion plays a role in this, if there are a myriad of traditions, and rituals…we may miss the part God wants us to see entirely.

I hope this is starting to make sense, I know its a tough concept, but it has been waring on my heart for awhile.

I have to encourage others to make their ” faith” their own, I actually plead with anyone to.

I had to learn through the deepest wilderness who God really was to me. It was horrible. I was in the wilderness of ” false prophets” before I would begin to see God the way He wanted me to.

Are you the sort of person that ever says, ” My Pastor said this..or my Pastor said that…and that we should do this…or we should do that…”

Yes, we do learn about God through Godly people, BUT we have to remember that talking about them more than what God SAYS; it places them higher than God.

I didn’t really know anything other than what my parents, or my church taught about God. My Pastor and his wife taught me so much over the years; but it was more of what they TOLD me I should believe instead of me KNOWING the WHY I should believe it.

Because I didn’t BELIEVE God for HIS Word; Because I didn’t know it in HEART knowledge but only MIND; I missed out on the true color of salvation, I missed out on knowing the actual color of Jesus’s blood.

I created a landmine for myself, and I stepped right in it; because I didn’t recognize the color. I didn’t recognize the color of danger in front of me.

We have to have knowledge that we need to see life in the color God wants us to. We have to acknowledge the traffic light in front of us; and GO only when its green, and so on.

And when the Holy Spirit, that is also that still small voice inside us tells us to STOP to NOT GO ANY FURTHER; we need to heed that warning; and PAY ATTENTION!!!

I fell into the religious trap, because I knew when there was warning when my church told me, but I didn’t know when I was all alone, on my own, 25 miles away.

Eventually, this faith I had; which now I look back on it, was a make shift idea of what I thought, ” Faith” was; it wasn’t enough to save me. I had fallen victim to who I THOUGHT God was, and there were people who took advantage of that.

I would constantly here these ” people” tell me that I was worthless, and that I couldn’t be used by God, because I wasn’t a Jehovah Witness, they told me my blog was evil, and that the people in my life were evil, and of the world, and that i needed to break my association with them. They told me my favorite things such a Precious moments, and my angel figurines were ” Spiritualistic” and that I had to get rid of them…

I had fallen into such a deep pit, that the only way I could escape was through fire, figuratively speaking.

I ended the relationship with this religious cult, and they did all they could to mess with my life after.
I ended up losing my job, and being forced to move from the area. God physically removed me.
What Satan tried to use for EVIL, God used for GOOD.

I have an amazing job now, and I am back close to my home…I back close to my church.

But what I am trying to share with you here is, so many times you hear God placed into a box.

I love what Beth Moore quotes in Believing God, ” You say you want to send your kids to a Christian school to learn a little something about God, but what if they just learn that God is a little something?”

If you are an adult who teaches about faith, or mentors others; I am sure you know that it is very serious to make sure you don’t ” influence” others in such a way that doesn’t make everything they learn from you not, ” Biblically” sound.

I have been taught for the last 11 yrs the right and wrongs according to the Bible, but I was taught according to the Bible by what my Pastor and his wife taught me.

That was my fault. I should have opened the Bible and saw for myself.

It was actually a prayer someone prayed for me, to make my faith my own. But I don’t think they had any idea how that would come about.

If it wasn’t for facing the false prophets…I would not have found myself so deep in the wilderness that I would have no choice but to hear God’s voice Himself.

I let myself doubt a little of what I was learning, and then it took off like a tidal wave.

So today, instead of thinking back to the message you learn from church, or your favorite bible teacher, or maybe even some radio host…think back to what YOU know about the Bible, about God, and about His story.

There is so much He wants us to see, that unless we allow ourselves to see Him, without the help of holding someone’s hand…we will never get the full measure of.

Start by looking at the blue sky…and then go ahead and read Genesis.
and then go here…
” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever shall live in Him,
will not perish, but have eteral life.” (John 3:16)

“The journey is long, and it doesn’t matter what it takes to get there, as long as you get there.”

This is something my very dear friend said to me yesterday, and it holds a lot of truth.

There is always hope. There is always love. There is always God.

And there are always second, and third, and zillionth more chances…to get it right.

John 9
True Blindness
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” 3-5Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

6-7He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.

8Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”

9Others said, “It’s him all right!”

But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”

He said, “It’s me, the very one.”

10They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”

11″A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said.

When I washed, I saw.”