Letting Go of the Past…Three Times

fishnet“Peter, do you love Me?”

“Yes, Lord, You know I love You.”

“Feed My sheep.”

That conversation was deeper than we realize. Peter had messed up in a moment of panic, fear, and haste. He had denied the Lord 3 times, cursed, and swore with an oath to hide his identity and save his own skin. And then he had to make eye contact with the very person he had betrayed, and have the realization hit him…everything Jesus said would happen, did happen. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself. There was nothing left for Peter now. The crowing of the rooster may as well have been a bugle sounding Taps over Peter’s dying ministry.  He just fled the painful scene, wept bitterly, and separated himself from his band of brothers and any association with what it meant to be a follower of Christ.

Go back to what you did before, Peter. Go get the boat. Launch out there in the deep, where you don’t have to talk to anyone, look anyone in the eye, feel others looking at YOU, judging. You didn’t mess up with the boat…it was YOUR boat. Even though…you were catching nothing that day until Jesus told you where to toss that net!

Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me” three times. I like to think He did so because He was giving Peter a VERBAL chance three times to undo those three denials. Peter, normally the loudest mouth of the twelve, couldn’t bring himself to say “I love You” on his own, not after what he had done.  The outspoken one, overcome in his guilt and deep shame, now needed help from the Master just to say what was bursting in his heart.  How could those mere words ever undo what he had done?  So, Jesus, Who knew exactly what Peter was wrestling with, showed him where to lower the nets once more. Jesus proved to Peter that He could forgive without humiliating and ostracizing.  He could restore him without putting him on probation, without demoting him, without dismissing all those times when Peter was part of the inner circle of His circle.  And that command, “Feed my sheep?” He was saying, “You don’t belong back in the fishing business, Peter. Your heart is to serve Me. I can see right through your weaknesses, and I know that in your heart, you would rather be close to Me than anything in this world. Come back. There’s still very much a place for you here. You belong in ministry. You belong to me. I forgive you. Let’s turn a page and finish this thing better than the chapter we’re on now.”

Have you made some mistakes that make you feel as if you are unworthy to receive Jesus’ forgiveness? Do you feel disqualified to follow Him, or specifically, disqualified to lead others to Him? Jesus is asking YOU today, “Do you love Me? Oh, I already know the answer, but I want YOU to think long and hard, past the guilt, past the self-loathing and regrets. You KNOW you love Me, and I know you love Me. Let’s turn a page. I’m far from finished with what I am going to do through you, and I want you to know that you are NOT damaged goods. You are not going to be left on the reject pile, forgiven but left broken. I am fixing you and I want you walking close to Me again, as My friend, as My confidante, as someone that I TRUST (yes, I TRUST you!) to love others like I’ve loved you!”

Pray with me: “Father, I’m putting aside my own feelings and the urge to run away. There is no place else I’m at peace but in Your presence. I can’t even go back to life as before and do it the way I did before I knew You. I need You! Forgive my sins, my mistakes, blot out anything that stepped between us. Fix me and if You want to use me, I’m here. Lord, You really DO know my heart. You know I’ve always loved You even when I let my flesh do the decision-making. Help me rise above my own will. Cleanse me and help me say no to whatever causes distance between us. I don’t want to feel like I can’t come near You anymore. I receive Your forgiveness and I am going to have a good finish–like Peter! In Jesus’ name.” Amen.

Guilt-Zilla: No More Sequels

claw.jpgTHEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (Romans 8:1 | AMP)

One of the hardest revelations about my shortcomings has the potential to become one of my greatest victory testimonies, if I can succeed in letting it shape me into a better person!  The Lord revealed to me, on what was pretty-much a sleepless night, that one of the biggest taskmasters and tormentors I have is Guilt…and that He wants me to do something about it.  This big Guilt-Zilla monster has chased most of the other motivators off the block and kept me all to its gnarly, ugly, hellish self.  I’m just being transparent with you, friends…allowing you to see the very human side of me that occasionally needs an attitude adjustment!  All of us are in desperate need of God’s grace.

So, why on earth, you may ask, are you plagued by guilt, Lisa? I feel guilty because:

  • I work all the time and have provided for myself a virtually nonexistent family life.
  • When I actually am working, I get interrupted countless times and then I sit there in a daze trying to get my concentration back; therefore time is wasted and I then feel like a bad employee.  I have less to show for my work than I believe I should.
  • I need to spend more time in God’s presence than I do on His payroll.  The to-do list isn’t getting me any closer to Him and it therefore keeps getting bigger and more out of balance.  I’m sorry, Papa.  You and I both know there are days when I’m running on fumes and You’re not the one to blame.
  • I get zero exercise and very little recreation, which means I’m not a good steward of my body; but when I’m out walking or taking a break or doing something I enjoy, I worry that people think I’m wasting time when I should be working.  Two-sided guilt. Ouch.
  • I am in considerable need of weight loss which means I need to move more and worry about what other people think a whole lot less.  I know I’m cheating myself and my husband by not taking responsibility for my body.  So yeah, guilty.
  • I find myself bitter and resentful that the only time I truly have to myself is when I’m asleep; so I dread checking answering machines and emails because I know there’s stuff in there that will further cut into time I don’t have.  I also resent the worry that robs me of said only time I have to myself–my sleep.
  • My house stays a mess; and without a plan to keep it from getting that way, it isn’t going to change.  Even though I work long hours, I feel I should be more on top of this and therefore–you guessed it–guilty.
  • I have done a less-than stellar job of managing my own finances.  Someone with an IQ of 137 should be debt-free with a sizable chunk in savings. Someone with that IQ should also have more to show for her accomplishments than a year and a half of college education.  Achievement quotient:  not impressive.  Guilty.
  • I never feel as if I’ve done enough.  I can’t please everybody.  I can’t please myself and I wonder sometimes if I’m actually pleasing God or if I’m just trying to appease the guilt monster within.
  • I am burned out, and in this moment I want with all my heart to disconnect from my job, the ministry, and life in general.  I am empty and so dissatisfied with my messy, substandard life.  I am the poster child of imbalance and I feel guilty about that too.

Ok, so I have been painfully transparent with you.  I have been drowning in a sea of my own making, held under the water by Guilt-Zilla and allowed to surface every few seconds to take a deep, desperate gasp of breath.

So am I a hypocrite and a fraud?  No, not really.  I’m just in a state of chaos and in need of the grace of my Savior.  My greatest sin in all of this is allowing that little pet tadpole of guilt to grow and take over my life, until he is bigger even that my dreams.

So today Lord, I crawl up into Your lap and humbly ask You to take me through a Romans 8:1 refresher course.  Matter of fact, erase what I actually think I know and start from scratch. I need You to show me how to put Guilt-Zilla out of my misery.

  • Help me to find room for both career and family, where I don’t feel like either is trespassing on the other.  I need some safe compartments and boundaries.
  • Help me multitask less and focus more.  The guilt monster has very little to feed on when I am doing whatever I’m doing (one thing at a time) with my whole heart and not on autopilot.
  • Help me to draw some realistic separation between working for Your church and really having relationship with You.  I keep forgetting that You don’t expect me to be on the clock 7 days a week just to prove that I love You.  You’d rather we just hang out together, job or no job.
  • Help me to regain control in the area of personal discipline, and to actually value the body You gave me.  Help me do more than just think about taking care of myself; I need to go there in more than just my wishes.  Help me to make better food choices and to get to whatever weight You know is my healthiest.
  • Help me to be a better steward of my house and my finances, so that the Proverbs 31 Woman doesn’t look like a lady I really despise for all her efficiency and um-attainability.
  • Help me to find some quality time beyond a few hours’ sleep each night.  Sleep shouldn’t count as my “me time.” You wired me to be a deep thinker and I need silence to do that.  Help me also to have time to be creative.  Help me to find a little fun too.  I don’t have much of that these days,  not like I should.  Help me to stop “working even when I’m not working.”  Help me to add the word NO to my vocabulary.
  • Help me to just get back to enjoying Your presence.  I’ve been Martha so long and I really miss getting to be Mary.  I’m way too careful and troubled about many things; help me to choose the better part that won’t be taken away from me.
  • Help me to feel a separation from what I’m not involved in at the moment, so that all my responsibilities have their own respective places.  I want to feel once more as if my job, my family, my ministry, and the people around me are truly gifts and not one more straw on the camel’s back.  Teach me to decompress by meditation in Your Word.
  • Help me to actually like being me again.
  • Help me to put You—just You—first in my life again, and help me find somewhere appropriate on the list for me, too.  I feel lost in the shuffle.
  • Help me to know when I’ve worked, served, given enough for one day, and to be at peace with enough being enough.

It’s a lot to ask, Father, but I believe You can help me to make sure that the Guilt-Zilla movie has no more sequels.  I know it’s time to deal, and if You’ll help me, I know I can reclaim my peace!  I ask all this in Jesus’ name…

Healing: Miracle for All Ages

Age hourglass As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now for war, both to go out and to come in.” (Caleb, at age 85 – as recorded in the book of Joshua, Chapter 14)

As many of you wait for healing to manifest in your bodies, let me dispel a myth that the enemy may be trying to circulate in your reasoning. God doesn’t grant healing based on age; healing was purchased in the Atonement, and manifests in our bodies as we exercise faith to receive it. Period. God is not like our modern healthcare system–not even a government-run healthcare system! “The system” would say that you don’t deserve a new liver because you were an alcoholic. They would say that based on your age, it’s not feasible to do heart surgery or give you a transplant. At your age, cancer treatment is beyond the acceptable practice; or dementia and clogged arteries and failing kidneys are to be accepted. You need to just accept that you are approaching end-of-life and that you aren’t as worth saving as, say, a 20-year old.

Don’t be upset with them…they’re mere humans. They are working with limited know-how, resources, and only so much money. They also have some among them who are also motivated by greed; maybe even a few who would like to play God…but not all. They operate in the carnal, natural realm. They’re good; they do a whole lot of good in their element, but their scope is limited.

But! When you approach God’s throne of grace to obtain help (and health) in your time of need, God is under no such restrictions. He will hear and answer prayer whether you have 50 more years to live or 50 more hours. When you have been satisfied with your number of days, you can transition out of a healed body into eternity instead of allowing the enemy to chisel you away to nothing.  Wouldn’t it be something to pass from a healthy body whose organs were viable enough to donate to the next recipient?  Think about that!

If no one’s ever reinforced that with you, then hear it now! It’s a real game-changer! God will continue to invest in you when you’re 95 just like He did when you were 15, because it’s impossible to waste what comes from an infinite supply. There’s not “only so much” healing to go around. And you–yes, YOU–have the same grace to walk in it as someone younger, more productive, more socially upright, and better-insured!  Don’t bow your head in shame and say, “I don’t feel right asking for healing when others are so much worse off than I am.”  Ask for yourself AND for them too!

When as an “old man” receiving the commission to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, Moses presented his terrible stuttering (and the self-conscious shyness resulting from it) to God as the reason why he wasn’t an ideal candidate. The Lord cooled his jets really quick by asking, “Did I not make men’s mouths?” The same God Who makes men’s mouths just so happens to also unclog arteries, restore sight and hearing, quicken damaged limbs, dry up cancers, and repair a diabetes-ravaged pancreas! He’s perfected making something out of nothing, and He doesn’t have to wait for someone to die to give you a transplant…wait, Jesus already did that!

Don’t listen to wicked spirits who would taunt you and say, as Job’s wife did, “Why don’t you just curse God, die, and accept it!” Rather, why not approach God’s presence today, having cleared your heart of doubt, unforgiveness, secret sins, and all hindrances…and present a claim ticket for that healing which is already been provided for you. God will not make you fill out any forms, put you on a waiting list, or ask you any health-related questions. He will not grant your request based on a limited pool of resources. Your answer is only restricted by how much you are willing to ask and believe for–so do exactly what the Word says you can do. Approach His throne boldly! Walk in your full potential, in Jesus’ name!

Prayer Against Metastatic Cancer

800px-Breast_cancer_metastasis_to_liver_(1)I feel strongly impressed this morning to pray for those suffering with cancer. The Lord is moving me to pray specifically against metastatic cancer in any form. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of someone already afflicted with this dreadful disease like the word “metastasize.” You may ask, “well, why not just pray against cancer, period?” I can’t answer that question! I keep seeing little fragments floating around in the bloodstream when I pray, and I believe the Lord means for me to pray specifically against cancer which spreads and infects the whole body. Would you bless someone suffering with this disease by sharing this prayer with him or her?  Please join with me in declaring health and healing over yourself or a loved one:

“Heavenly Father, we come before You today in the strong, all-powerful name of Jesus on behalf of those whom the enemy would afflict not once, but multiple times through cancer which grows and spreads to other organs and body parts. Father, we declare in agreement that cancer is an intruder not welcome in the body of Your children. For those who have already been diagnosed with cancer, we speak Your Word over that mass and contain it now in the Jesus’ name. We surround that diseased tissue with the sinless blood of Jesus, in which there is no death element. Disease cannot pass that sacred blood barrier. We speak to antibodies and white blood cells to attack and destroy whatever is not native to this body which was created in perfection by God Himself. We declare that cancer CANNOT hide, hibernate, or disguise itself from the blood of Jesus! We speak to our blood and command it to become an inhospitable environment where disease cannot remain. We command our blood to become alkaline to its original normal levels, rather than imbalanced and acidic, because God’s Word says that LIFE is in the blood! We declare that the very breath of God sends oxygen coursing through our bloodstream to nourish healthy cells. Our lymph nodes are not relay stations for cancer to bounce from place to place. We call to the abnormal cells in the body and say, “you must die and not multiply.” We speak a supernatural “Teflon” effect to manifest in the bones, blood, tissue, and organs which makes them impervious to metastasizing cells. Those cells have no choice but to die without finding a host to feed on. They cannot attach, they cannot feed, they cannot multiply, they cannot destroy. We activate by the words of our mouths YOUR WORD into our situation. Your Word is alive, and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword! Take Your two-edged sword deep inside of bodies, souls, and spirits; and, like a scalpel, do surgery to remove what has no right to contradict Your will for our lives! Pierce through what does not belong and root it out, we ask by the authority of Your Word! As we free Your Word to perform this operation, we release to You any attitudes, fears, unforgiveness, or unbelief which might be lurking within us. We reject them now so that disease has no legal ground to operate in our bodies!

We make some Scriptural declarations now and apply them to this situation: Proverbs 26:2 says that the curse without cause shall not come. We bind any activities set in motion through idle, undeserved, or maliciously delivered words in Jesus’ name. Jesus delivered us from the curse of the law according to Galatians 3:13. He became the cursed so that we might be freed from it. The law of the spirit of life IN HIM therefore frees us from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:2) We, as children of the Most High, rest in the shadow of His wings. Any attack against us to vex Him will be dealt with by His strong and mighty right hand, because when the enemy attacks God’s children, it is an indirect attack against God Himself! Our Father is a protective and nurturing Father and He will defend us! We claim Nahum 1:9-10 over ourselves, and say that, though the enemy may have stricken once, he gets no further opportunity to afflict a second time. We know that unless we stake a claim with the Word of God, the enemy can run rampant…BUT WE HAVE JUST CALLED HIS HAND! We file a grievance against Satan and his minions now. We declare that GOD’S WORD says that Satan’s devices against us are like tangled thorns, a drunk consumed by his drink, and stubble completely withered. Satan’s devices have no hope of a successful end because we are ENFORCING what God’s Word has already declared on our behalf!

Thank You, Father, not because the demons are subject to us, but because our names are written in Your Book of Life! Yes, LIFE! Thank You, our shield and protector, our Jehovah Rapha Who heals us. Thank You that You have empowered us to call a halt to rogue activity in our bodies. We treat these temples of the Holy Spirit with respect and we steward our gift of health. As You reveal what we need to do to care better for our bodies, we WILL obey Your revelations! We receive Your healing now, and we thank You for withering, tangling, incapacitating, and killing out any disease (known or unbeknownst to us) which may try to afflict Your children. In Jesus’ name, we deactivate cancer’s power to grow and spread. Amen and Amen!”

Where Do We Go from Here? A Spiritual Perspective on Recovering from Loss of a Leader

CrossroadsTruly, it is a demoralizing thing when a good person is taken from us in the act of doing good.  There’s been an exhausting, heavy blanket of grief over our region ever since our Sheriff was taken by this act of senseless violence.  Have I asked, “Why?”  Of course I have.  You probably have, too.  In this quiet hamlet of Southern Appalachia, things like this just don’t happen.  We may or may not ever receive answers that fully satisfy our questions about why this happened, in the natural realm.  But to the born-again believer, we know that the enemy of mankind was the mastermind of this attack on our county.  I say ‘on our county’ because that’s what it is.  Eugene was the one ultimately who died, but this tragic sin of murder has marred us all.  The devil’s intent was to take out someone doing good, and to discourage and leave in despair all others who might follow in good’s footsteps.

I don’t know how each of you felt about our elected leader personally, but please, even if you did not support him or even like him, keep an open mind to what I’m saying.  If you know anything about me, you know I would be heartbroken if this had been any of our other leaders past and present too.  I’m so not the political type…but that said, I AM very much aware of God’s stance on figures of authority and how we are to respect and come under authority.  This man was an authority whom I respected, but also a good and trusted friend.  He was a friend to our community, a schoolmate to some of you, a coach for your kids, maybe a member of your same church.  Some feel as if we’ve lost a member of our family.  It will take some time to mourn his loss and to heal from the gaping wound it’s left.

I beg of you, believers, please choose your words carefully no matter how full of grief or even anger that you are.  The Word says that the power of life and death is in the tongue!  We have an opportunity in this tragic time to declare healing and restoration over Mingo County, or we have an opportunity to pronounce curses and doom, all by what we allow ourselves to say.  Just think of what you’ve heard on the streets or in groups of friends over the past few days.  Perhaps you too have said things like, “This place is going to pot.”  “There’s nothing here anymore but a bunch of crazies and dopeheads.”  “The law will never be able to get rid of these dope dealers.”  “Before you know it, we’ll be another Detroit.”  If you’ve said something like this, I beg of you, repent!  Ask God to annul the harmful, idle words you’ve spoken and to usher in blessing in their place.  Begin speaking LIFE to our region and LIFE to Mingo County.  If you’re a Christian, it’s actually even your DUTY to speak the Word instead of agreeing with the status quo.  You have a good opportunity to sow seeds of peace and hope here.  Set a watch upon your heart and upon your mouth!

I’m not trying to be spooky or mystical, but there is something very spiritually significant about the fact that someone in authority has been slain, not for being a tyrant or for doing something wicked, but someone who was trying to do good.  As a body of believers, it is our duty to recognize the spiritual connotations and act accordingly to usher in healing and a cleansing over this bloodshed.  We, as Christians, must adorn ourselves with the prayer shawl and cry out in intercession for our land.  We must repent on behalf of our people for the events that have escalated into the killing of someone assigned as our leader and protector.  You might say, “Why should I have to repent?  I didn’t do it.”  The people who are dealing drugs, taking drugs, and even those who would kill to maintain this lifestyle are not likely, in a lost state, to feel the need to cry out for forgiveness, unless the Holy Spirit conviction sways them to confess and forsake their sin—and they heed His voice.  In the meantime, our land bears the curse of innocent blood spilled.  As when Cain slew Abel, that blood cries out from the ground for justice.  The life is in the blood; it is considered such a sacred thing that God commanded the Israelites not to consume the blood of the animals they sacrificed.  Un-repented sins, such as this slaying of our Sheriff, leave innocent blood crying out for redemption.  Believers have a priestly duty to initiate a cleansing of this act that stains our land and leaves us all under a scourge.

We do not want to become a place destitute, impoverished, and conquered by sin!  This has always been a place where the majority of our citizens, even those who don’t go to church, are peace-loving and law-abiding.  Though far from perfect, we’ve managed to stay at least one generation behind the mainstream metropolitan areas in the growth rate of criminal activity.  Though we’re often joked about for being like “Mayberry USA,” it’s actually a badge of honor that we wear—this being different and to some, this being “outdated.”

I heard lines of a poem read by one of the officers in the memorial service, where the writer referred to law enforcement as a “thin blue line” dividing good and evil, wrong and right.   God bless them for the role they play in securing our safety.  However, we must not ever assume that a war that’s meant to be engaged in the heavenlies can be won merely in the realm of the physical.  We need an angelic guard standing even in between the thin blue line and that evil!  Our protectors need protected as well.

Only God can heal and restore our land and our people, but He delegates the responsibility of the spoken word to us, His children.  Will you pledge to begin speaking life words over our region, our State, and our Nation?  Will you counter the negative declarations with positive words of affirmation that God has His hand on this place for a special purpose?  He can yet bring about good in spite of this nightmare of injustice that’s left us all reeling.

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we stand depleted and without words to describe the agonizing loss we feel.  We ask You to do the miraculous and bring about good where the enemy meant evil.  We ask healing and restoration for Eugene’s family and closest friends and coworkers, as those closest to him are no doubt feeling the pain on an unimaginably greater level.  Do what we cannot, in ushering in a sense of peace in spite of the uncertainty that lies before us. We repent before You on behalf of the vile thing which has happened here among us.  We repent for all acts of lawlessness that have even required men and women to stand in harm’s way to serve and protect us.  We repent for grieving Your Holy Spirit by our sense of complacency.  We repent for the shedding of innocent blood, and we ask You not to leave its stain upon our people and upon our place.  Forgive us this unthinkable sin against You and against a fellow human being, and cause us as a people to stand before You no longer under the deluge of darkness.  May our county not bear this mark as a definition of who we are; may we instead, be branded a people who fear and serve You, and who have “Zero Tolerance” for anything that offends You or that breaks the laws which keep our land peaceful and prosperous.  Bring salvation and change to all those who may have in some way been responsible for what has happened; may they feel the full brunt of this grave error and come to repentance.  May they make an abrupt turn toward You, that even in the process of justice, their souls’ redemption would be a testimony that gives You glory…and that our fallen brother’s life might have caused salvation to come in the face of evil.  Bring justice for those who are now without a husband and father.  Godly sorrow worketh repentance…not just sorrow for being caught in our sins, but Lord, bring sorrow that ushers in a change for good.  You can yet redeem us as individuals and as a community.  As a testimony to Your grace, may the conviction of the Holy Spirit work during this time of our grief to corral those in who have strayed from You or do not know You as their Lord.  You can use even our grief to awaken the need for right change.

Help us to please you with our own attitudes about this incident; and while we pray that You will bring justice and closure, we relinquish the right to bear unforgiveness.  Help us to release this into Your hands and to give You permission to right the wrongs done to this family and this county.  May the aftermath of this incident come in the form of justice, due process of law, and not merely a need for us to have revenge.  Only when we surrender the right to recompense to You, can we be assured that You will step in and swiftly act on our behalf.  Though it’s hard, and we want to hate and feel anger when something like this happens, we still choose to please you above satisfying our own carnal desires.  You know our hearts and You know our limitations, so meet us where we are; and be strong in the face of our weaknesses.  We believe that even the strength to forgive, to resume living after such a devastating blow, it all comes from You.  We trust You to help us in these areas, whether You bring deliverance instantaneously, or whether we must walk through it as a gradual process of releasing it into Your hands.  Help our hearts to remain tender, innocent, and our vision unjaded.  Help us to see the good which remains in our people and not only the evil that needs to be weeded out.  We are far from a lost cause!  We pull down every such notion that would suggest that we are without hope.

We ask You to help our public servants fight the war of good versus evil; and as they act in the earthly realm, we ask You to engage Your angels in a war against the spiritual wickedness in high places, the powers, the principalities, and the demonic influences that manifest the evil we see on earth.  Protect our protectors, O God, and grant them Godspeed to do their jobs with integrity, for Your Word says that they do not bear the sword in vain.  In times when we, the ordinary citizens, have opportunity to help our uniformed brothers and sisters in this fight to reclaim law and order in Mingo County, give us courage to do the right thing always!  We ask You to save those on the force who don’t yet know You or who haven’t yet put their trust in You.  And as they strive to do good and act nobly, place a special mantle of anointing on them to enforce the law with godly excellence.  Give them a spirit of discernment to sense when danger is imminent; in times when they can be spared a bad incident through merely hearing and obeying Your voice, we ask that You help them to have ears to hear and eyes to see.  We ask that you uncover the hidden things and to shine bright light into the corners where darkness lies and where plots against our protectors are made.  We ask You to close any doors of evil that may have been opened through this taking of a life.

And Father, we ask that you will keep us all united in the fight to keep our county clean and safe.  Help us to disregard political divisions of the past and present, and to honor all of those in authority over us, regardless of party affiliations and the like.  Our job is to pray for them and to treat them with respect, so if we are obedient to You in this way, You will honor our faithfulness to obey.  Help us all to take personally the responsibility to pray and to act nobly in obeying the laws of the land.  And if we cannot help someone, help us always to purpose not to hurt him or her…beginning with our words!

Finally, Father, we appeal to You to send a revival across our region, that permeates every church and every home.  May it begin with the fathers and spread to the children.  May Your Spirit manifest in a way that shows how much more powerful You are than the vices of addiction, sin, pornography, adultery, and every other evil.  Cause a work of renown to happen to where people will see the change in our region and that they will say, “Surely it was the hand of the Lord.”  And in Jesus’ name, we reject and break the spirit of Mammon off our region!  The love of money that drives drug dealers to enslave their victims, and the spirit of rebellion that causes men to call evil good and good evil, we reject them and say that they have no place in Mingo County!  Set angels around our borders with flaming swords to drive back drug dealers and instigators of sinful enslavements.  And those who will not fear You and live in an honorable, peaceful, law-abiding way, we ask You to move those people out of our county.  May this be a place where evil trembles and cannot rest until it leaves.  One can put a thousand to flight, and two can put ten thousand to flight…so raise up an army of intercessors to cover those who serve and protect us..  Your Word assures us that You will never suffer the righteous to be moved.  Give our new Sheriff, Rosie, the ability to fulfill every last aspect of the good work You began in her husband. 

 Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord!  In Jesus’ name we pray and receive strength in due time.  Amen.

Hold Out for Your Eternity

A cloud of sadness has hung heavy the past couple of weeks over our close-knit, rural area.  We’ve seen the death of a teenager, a child, and an infant within days of one another, and it’s painful to hear the stories of families and friends coping with unexpected losses.  I can’t imagine what agony they’re navigating through right now; it’s one of those times when there seems to be so much we should be able to say, and yet the words won’t come.  It’s like that when there are no easy answers.

I’m reminded of several stories in the Bible where parents had to cope with the unthinkable.  A mother, Rizpah, who spent months standing off the wild birds and beasts after her sons were executed to exact vengeance for a broken covenant; a grieving King David, who had fasted and prayed for days that his young son might live…but still had to bury him; Job, who said that the thing he feared most had come upon him when he lost all of his children in a single tragic accident; and finally a mother, Mary, who had to stare up helplessly at her dying Son Who’d been born for the very purpose of giving His life a ransom for many.  To these parents, hope would find its way in time, but as some of you may well know, there’s nothing a mother and father can do but just swim against the riptide of immeasurable sadness when a child is lost.  There’s no detour around the grieving process; and whether your child is 3 months old or 70 years old—when it’s your child—the only thing that comes to mind is “too soon.”

I wish I had the perfect soothing answer to fill the gaping wound left in these families’ lives, but since I’m of only finite wisdom, I’ll keep my answer to this:  sometimes the worst things happen, even to the best of people.  Even to God’s elect.  Does it mean that our Father doesn’t care about us…that He is absent, indifferent, or caught by surprise at our misfortune?

No; on the contrary, God loves us very much.  He isn’t sitting up there playing a cosmic shell game with us.  He does, however, have a timetable that operates quite opposite of our comprehension of time.  We can only see the joys and sorrows that are right in front of us.  He sees eternity past and future.  Before time was, He is.  Somewhere on that timetable, there is a set date which only He knows; and on that date, sin’s lease upon this earth will expire.  Sin set the opportunity in motion for perfect lives to go perfectly wrong.  Bad things happen to even good people, because Adam’s fall forfeited man’s lease of our world.  A serpent’s conniving deceit—and that first couple’s desire to venture outside God’s safe boundaries—set the stage for many tears to follow.  The devil had no dominion over the human race until man chose to take his word over God’s, and it’s been a mess ever since.

Prayer will divert many bad things from our path, but not all.  And just because you or a loved one has just experienced the worst thing that could ever happen, doesn’t mean you did something to cause it.  The disciples in John 9 asked Jesus who had sinned, the blind man or his parents, to cause his illness.  Jesus replied that neither had…but that this was an opportunity for God’s works to be displayed in him.  God didn’t strike this man blind, as some might have supposed;  He would, however, bring glory to Himself through the restoration of what was broken. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus came to bring life—filled to the brim and overflowing.

Right now you may be going through something for which there is no answer, no consolation.  As you feel your way through the fog of grief and confusion, I encourage you to talk to God.  Cry to Him, even argue at Him, but don’t walk away from Him.  Even if you feel He has allowed something grossly unfair to happen, talk to Him anyway.  Don’t allow the enemy to drive a wedge between you and the Source of hope, because as badly as you hurt, God is still the only one who can heal the hurt.  The “accuser of the brethren” can’t pull the wool over God’s eyes, but he will often try the angle of isolation to separate us from our Father.  If he can get us to harbor unforgiveness toward God, others, or even toward ourselves, he can cause our healing to be delayed indefinitely.  Don’t give him the satisfaction.

When you can’t find rhyme or reason behind any of it—-and yes, life is not always fair, as I’ve well come to know-—remember one word:  eternity.  That same timetable on which the end of sin’s lease is situated has no finish point itself…because there is no end to eternity.  Whatever has failed or gone wrong in this one fallible, short life, He will perfect in the eternity that follows.  He will take the injustices, the tragedies, the losses you’ve encountered, and will work them toward your eventual good, as Romans 8:28 assures us. Some of it He’ll make up to you in this life.  Some of it, He’ll finish in eternity.  Just know that to the believer, we have His assurance that we won’t have to hurt forever. Clutch onto the reality of eternity, and hold on for dear life…it will comfort you when you feel out of your mind with grief.  Right now, my words may offer little solace; they may even anger you. In time, you will be ready to move out of the most painful place of grief and will seek answers.  There will come a day when your soul will be open to reaching for an eternity better than the present circumstance…and when you are ready, you’ll find God’s constant grace right there.  You’ll even look back and see where He had never left your side.

At the end of Job’s nightmare season, God blessed him with twice as much as the enemy had robbed: double the lost material goods, greater measure of health, more sons and daughters.  But the best part is, when at last he got to eternity, and after he got to behold the God Whom he’d refused to deny, he found that those original sons and daughters (remember, those kids on whose behalf he prayed and gave sacrifices to God just in case they committed any wrong) were also waiting on him.  He didn’t lose a thing, because prayers to our Heavenly Father are never wasted.

Revelation 21:4 says everything I couldn’t possibly sum up about the end to sorrow as we know it:  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (NLT) There will come a day, friends, when for those of us who place our hope in Jesus, all the terrible things we’ve suffered in this life will be faint memories overshadowed by the glory of His resurrection power.  Isn’t it mind-boggling to think that sadness, sorrow, mourning will be obsolete emotions in our eternity, upgraded to peace, fullness of joy, and never-ending pleasure?  Hold out for your healing.  Hold out for your eternity.  A better day awaits you, because God IS good.  All the time.

©May 2012 Lisa Crum