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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Posts tagged “religion

Psalm 91: The Lord Protects Me

I live in the shelter of the Most High
And I find rest in the Shadow of the Almighty
This I declare about the Lord on High,
He alone is my rock and my safety
He is my refuge and where I go to hide
When my enemies surround me
And a thousand fall at my side
Traps and snares try to grab me
But the Lord rescues and I rejoice gladly
Deadly diseases and a world of evil things
Yet My God covers me and protects me under His wings
His promises are yes and true
Our armour, protecting me and you
I will not be afraid of the terrors in the night
Though the world tries to fill each heart with fright
The Lord goes before me, He strengthens me with His might
No evil can touch me, my prayers reach His heights
For I know He hears each word I pray
Protecting me each night and every day
I have made the Lord my refuge, a shelter is He
Therefore He’s promised no evil can conquer me
Plagues cannot touch those I love
His angels protect me, commissioned from above
They hold me up with their hands
And protect me as I walk through this land
I love my God, whose throne is on High
And Jesus, His Son, on His right Side
He is with me through all my troubles and fear
Always besides me, always near.

 

Lessons I learned reading Deuteronomy 1-2

  1. Don’t fear the giants nor be dismayed with their strength
  2. The Lord goes before me and fights for me
  3. I remember all He has done for me – and I strengthen myself as I remember His good works
  4. Deut 1:17: Do not be afraid in any man’s presence
  5. Deut 1:21 Do not fear nor be discouraged.
  6. Do not speak words of doubt or fear – nor allow yourself to worry and ponder on them in your thoughts
  7. Though the evil that has begun to show itself in the world seems powerful and mighty,  we can trust in the Lord to fight for us- and protect each one of us from evil
  8.  The Lord does not want us to be terrified. He goes before us and He will fight for us
  9. “and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you cam to this place” – and so he will carry us though the times that lie ahead, as a father carries his son.
  10. The Lord was angry with all those who worried, doubted and were full of fear. Fix your thoughts – Phil. 4:8
  11. Don’t fear – even if they are mighty and powerful
  12. Treat your brothers and sister’s right. Be fair and kind
  13. Stand up! For the Lord you God goes before you.
  14. ” This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you” Deut 2:25
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The Blessedness of Forgiveness Psalm 32

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no guile.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old

Through my groaning all the day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

 I acknowledged my sin to You,

And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said,

“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

And You forgave the iniquity of my sin, Selah

 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You

 In a time when You may be found,

They shall not come near him.

You are my hiding place;

You shall preserve me from trouble;

You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will guide you with My eye.

Do not be like the horse or like the mule,

Which have no understanding,

Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,

Else they will not come near you.

 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;

But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;

And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!


God in a Box

One challenge we face is to get God out of the “box,” by which we mean our preconceived restrictions concerning what He can and can’t do. However, the idea of “God in a box” did not originate with us, but with God Himself!

How could a king woo and win a peasant girl’s heart? If he showed up in his limousine, accompanied by his body guards and told the woman that he wanted her for his wife. She would go. After all, he is the king, and what the king wants, the king gets.

Would she love him? Ah, there’s the dilemma. How would the king ever know she was with him by choice, not by obligation?

If, instead, he dressed the part of a peasant, he could let her get to know him. He could court her without any reticence on her part. By the time she knew he was a king, he would be certain of her love for him. They could live “happily ever after.” It would take humility on his part, and patience as well. The result, if he was successful, would be well worth the effort.

We have a God who took this approach.

Israel’s time to leave Egypt had come, but by then the relationship between God and man had become strained. There were so many gods, malevolent in nature. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob seemed no different.

At Sinai, God, the King of kings, called the people near. He was loud; all lightning flashes and thunder. Fire and smoke covered the top of the mountain. Understandably, the people stood afar off and told Moses, “Yyyooou ggo speak to Him. Wwee’ll wwwait here!” (Exodus 20:19)

On the mountain, God told Moses, in essence, “I love every one of you. I want to be with you. If they won’t come to me, then built me a tent – I’ll camp with you.” He humbled Himself, desiring to be more approachable. He “tamed” Himself…put Himself in a “box.”

Work commenced, and soon God was happily situated in their midst. All were invited to drop by for a visit (Exodus 33:7). Instead, whenever Moses went to the tabernacle, the people stood at their tents’ door and watched.

For forty years God led them round and round in the wilderness. He stayed with them, no matter how they treated Him.

In time, the Israelites were situated in the land God promised them. Because they were no longer wandering, a permanent “box” was built for Him – the temple. There He lived for hundreds of years.

This wasn’t close enough for the King, though, so one day He moved into a much smaller “tent” – a human tent. They called Him “Jesus.” It was a perfect disguise. Many loved Him, talked to Him, and touched Him. He was free to interact with them – almost like in the Garden of Eden.

Then came the day of the great unveiling. In John 14:9, Jesus tells His followers, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Tada!

And yet, being close to us in this way had its restrictions. He could only be in one place at a time. It was not quite satisfactory. Jesus left His earthly tent behind…

…and sent His Spirit…

…to live in our tents with us! (1 Corinthians 6:19)

***

I will dwell in them

And walk among them

I will be their God,

And they shall be My people.

(2 Corinthians 6:16)

***

And they shall call His name Immanuel,

Which is translated

God with us.

(Matthew 1:23)

God created us because He loves us. Love cannot be forced, though. How patiently and humbly He pursues us, His heart on His sleeve. He longs for us to know Him intimately, and to love Him deeply.


In Your Wildest Dreams

Night after night I lay in bed, tears coursing silently down my cheeks. Deep pain burned through my heart, which no longer held a steady beat.

Kathump, kathump, kathump…

Silence…

…when your heart does not beat for several seconds

…is very loud.

I wonder if it’s going to….

tat, tat, tat, tat, tat

Yes it is; I guess this isn’t the end.

It had been a very long and trying month, which came to a most unexpected end.

My mother lay in the morgue, awaiting cremation.

During our ordeal with her heart surgery, followed by complications, the Lord had been closer than I’d ever experienced Him. The Christian radio station I played in my car seemed to have been cued into our  situation, for every time I left for the hospital or to return home, the DJ would say something like, “If you’re struggling today, stay tuned. (Pastor’s name) has a message of reassurance and comfort for you.”

Or songs like “Praise You in this Storm” would be playing. I never felt so “buffered” in all my life.

The vision my (“unsaved”) father had the night she had to be taken back to the hospital was the Lord’s way of forewarning us that she would be going Home.

He was wide awake, praying for her (something he didn’t do), and saw my mom standing in a white robe. A large angel came behind her and enfolded her in his wings until all that could be seen was her head.

“Tam, I felt so comforted when I saw that,” he told me later.

I’m glad you feel comforted, I thought. I know what that means.

My dad’s vision was the first of many, many amazing things that happened during that month. I could fill this entire post with them.

But that is not my focus today! Back to my nightly grief sessions…

After weeks of aching, and nightly anxiety attacks (the goofy heartbeat thing), I told the Lord,

“I can’t do this anymore. To stay in the reality that she is gone hurts so bad. Abba, can we decorate my home in heaven?”

(Earlier in the year I’d talked to the Lord about heaven:

“Lord, the idea of sitting on a cloud in a white nightie, strumming a harp for ages to come; or laying at Your feet in worship for years and years…um…I’m sorry, but that sounds incredibly boring. You know me, I can’t sit idle for very long. I love to be making something new, or learning new things, or going to see new places. I guess I lack the ‘worship gene.’ You’re going to have to put that desire in me and do away with my curious, creative self, ’cause if You don’t, I’m going to be a miserable failure in heaven.”

Not long after that, Steve Berger from Grace Chapel in Lieper’s Fort, TN lost his son in a car accident. Suddenly interested in what heaven might be like, he began to study the topic – then preach it from the pulpit. I highly recommend his sermons. These weekly messages were God’s response to my earlier conversation with Him!)

That night, I began by imagining what Mom was doing at that moment. She’d been there for a while. Was she still standing at the entrance, mouth agape at the splendor? In awe of the majesty of God? Was she skipping and dancing and getting reacquainted with my youngest brother who only lived for three days? With the many children she’d lost through miscarriage?

(She had nine miscarriages before me; I was the first to be born live…that makes me a 10. Eat your heart out, Bo Derrik!)

My thoughts turned to my “room” in heaven.

“Lord, I hate to vacuum. Could I have moss instead of carpet…maybe a little creek running through the living room? I love the sound of babbling brooks.

“Plasterboard walls aren’t much fun. They have to be cleaned. How about if You make the walls out of vines – ooh! – with beautiful flowers that change colors from time to time?

(I was on a roll…)

“Windows…hey! We won’t need glass windows because bugs won’t bug us, and there will be no burglars to burgle. I can have openings and fresh air all the time.

“If the rocks would have cried out in praise, that must mean they have that capability – and everything in the universe resonates…emits sound. Awesome! Would You line my yard with trees and bushes that can play the songs I have in my heart for You, but lack the skill to write on paper so others can play along? We could have nightly jam sessions and sing new songs every day!”

My thoughts turned to the concept of forever:

You’ll hear me ask from time to time, “What do you think you’ll be doing a million (billion) years from today?” I don’t know what that might be, but I know this…It’s going to be AMAZING!

Do you ever wonder what you’re being trained for while here on earth? Death isn’t “Game Over,” it’s the doorway into real life. In 2 Corinthians 5, we read that this mortality (what we consider to be real living) will be swallowed up by life! Now, that’s good news!!

****

“Who wants to go to Epcot Center?” I cheerfully asked two of my sons one morning.

Barely looking up from their schoolwork, one replied, “Uh, no thanks.”

The other said, “Not me.”

“What is Epcot Center?” I asked, a bit confused.

“I dunno. Sounds like a business complex…one of your ‘fun-filled’ field trips for homeschool. No thanks, Mom.”

They had no idea what they were turning down.

They’d never heard of the place, and so hadn’t given it a second thought.

Isn’t this what we can be like when we think of heaven? Having never thought much about it – or worse – believing the lie that it’s the isolation of being perched on a cloud, nighties and harps, singing forever, it’s no wonder we aren’t anxious to get there. (This, by the way, is a more accurate description of hell – isolation, monotony, hopelessness…forever.)

1 Corinthians 2:9 reads, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” When I read this verse, I hear, “Honey, use your wildest imagination…it will be fun for now, but won’t even come close to all I have waiting for you here!

I become thoroughly Homesick when I imagine what lies ahead (however inaccurate I may be) …

…in my wildest dreams!

***********

(Don’t miss the companion post. You can find it here: Now That’ll Wreck Your Day.)

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Is Your Skirt Flapping in the Breeze?

The battle was fierce, and I was losing ground.

Correction, I had no “ground” anymore, and was getting my butt royally kicked by the enemy!

The fight, to the outsider, seems to be a silly one. I hesitate to reveal it for that reason. However, it’s not over and I’ve discovered that the best way to fight is in the light of confession, not the darkness of my mind, so here goes!

Since infancy, I have loved music. It’s what inspires, encourages, and comforts me. I am never more alive than when singing with our worship team as we exalt our Lord on Sundays.

As a young child, play often involved music. My bed became a jeep, the records being played on my phonograph the score for the “musical” in which I was the star. Elvis and The Monkeys were often co-stars in my mini-productions!

My mom had an apparatus for hanging freshly-ironed clothes. It became my microphone stand. I would push one handle of my jump rope onto its top, and use the other handle as my microphone. We had one of the big console TVs that also had a radio in the top on one side, and a phonograph on the other. The record player became my “band” and I would sing along with Chubby Checkers, the Beatles, and a host of others.

In fifth grade, I joined the school choir. The songs I recall from that year were “Both Sides Now” and “Obla Dee Obla Dah.” We learned parts, and I loved it!

In sixth grade, my mom bought me a clarinet so I could join the school band. I quickly removed it from the case, assembled it, and in no time was playing songs on it (before my first lesson!).

By eighth grade I was “first chair first clarinet.” I had conquered the instrument and eager to learn something new.

My brother received a guitar for Christmas, but really had no interest in learning to play. My seventh grade teacher played guitar for a weekly sing-along, so I asked if he would teach me. He kindly gave me one of the lyric packets we sang from, along with chord diagrams. Within six months I could play them all.

On and on it went. By the end of High School, I was playing clarinet, guitar, piano, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, baritone, drums, glockenspiel, and flute. I took private singing lessons as well, and sang with the school choir and the small choral group called “Der Menga Singers.” I’d also written several songs.

Did I mention that I love music? I “knew” it was what God created me to do.

However, very few saw this in me.

My parents were tolerant of my musical pursuits. They had purchased my clarinet, and we later acquired a piano (free). Any of the other instruments I learned to play I got myself, and paid for my voice lessons too.

Mostly they would tell me to quit playing around and do something useful with my life. To follow my dreams was a colossal waste of time and effort, and I was sure to end up living in a cardboard box, they assured me. I had to produce something that people actually needed if I was going to have value to society.

My dad was especially critical of my musical talent. (This is a long story, and one I’ll save for another day.) Suffice it to say that at every opportunity, he tore me down, and ripped my musical heart to shreds in the process.

By the time I was twenty, I began to see the “truth” of their counsel. Add to that one preacher’s well-meant, but theologically inaccurate message about killing the thing we loved the most to prove our love to God. (You can read the story on my blog: I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice) I quit playing instruments, quit singing, and quit writing songs.

Thirty plus years later, I was recording a CD for my nurse friends in Nicaragua. Between takes, I would break down and cry, sure that something “bad” was going to happen if I continued. This went on for three weeks.

During the recording of my last song, I began crying out to the Lord, asking Him for help. What came next took me by surprise.

In a stern voice I “heard” Him say, “Get up!” 

“What?” I asked, stunned.

“I said, ‘Get up!’ I have given you Armor to wear. Do you have it on?”

“Yes, Sir.” I rattled off the various pieces so He’d know that I had them.

“Okay, you have all the components. Then what are you doing hunkered down on the ground?”

“Lord, despite your armor, I’m getting my butt kicked by the enemy. I don’t understand.”

At that moment, a mental picture showed on the screen of my mind. There I was in all my armor, on my knees with my face to the ground…

…my skirt flapping in the breeze…

…with the enemy behind me, kicking for all he was worth!

“I didn’t give you armor for that part of your anatomy. Stand up!”

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. When I saw this one, the problem became instantly clear.

Standing to my feet, my shield before me, I raised the Sword of the Spirit…the Word of God…and fought this enemy in the power of God’s might.

He fled. What else could he do?

Like me, are you engaged in a battle? Have you put on the armor God provided for our protection? Having done so, are you standing firm…

…or is your skirt flapping in the breeze?

Want more on the importance of our armor? Don’t miss Lions Eat Christians? What?

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I Am Invincible

Until the Lord calls me home, I am invincible. No one, and nothing can take me out before it’s time for me to leave this rock!

More often than not, the person to whom I make the above statement comes back with something like, “Oh, yeah? Well, don’t step in front of a train to see if it’s true.”

Duh! Do I look that stupid? Why do people always want to “rain on our parade?” Who knows?

Think this through with me.

There is much freedom to be obtained through this truth.

We know that every day of our life has been written down – recorded before there was even one of them (Psalm 139). God knows exactly when we are going to die, and how. We won’t suddenly appear in heaven, only to have the Lord exclaim, “What are you doing here? I wasn’t expecting you for many years!”

There is a day appointed to us for our death; and nothing can hasten that day – not cancer, not an accident, not murder…NOTHING!

This means that until that time arrives, I am invincible.

So are you!

Understanding this gives me courage to go places and do things I might otherwise avoid for fear of putting myself in danger.

For instance, I’ve gone on mission trips to foreign countries where “bad things” could happen – even death. The enemy runs rampant in many third-world countries. Weird things happen and it can get really freaky.

Jesus gave us power over all the power of the enemy, though. (Luke 10:19) He also gave us armor (Ephesians 6). If we get our butts kicked by the enemy, it’s our own fault!

Knowing that I’m indestructible gives me the guts to go into homeless camps and walk city streets at night, reaching out to people.

After all, if it’s my night to die I’m going to be killed in a car accident, taken out by some disease, stabbed to death by some maniac…or drop dead of a heart attack in the security of my home.

Whatever the means, I’m dead! It was my time.

Until then – yep! Invincible.

If we are forewarned of imminent death, we can plead with God for more time (I’m sure He doesn’t get this!). He may be gracious and grant our request. There is a case of this very thing recorded for us in 2 Kings. Let’s see what happens when we live beyond the time God has allotted us:

We discover, in 2 Kings 18, that Hezekiah began to reign in Judah when he was 25 years old. He was a great king, and did what was right in the sight of the Lord like David (a very high complement). He tore down all their high places, and destroyed their idols…including the bronze serpent of Moses’ day. We’re told that the Lord was with him; and he prospered wherever he went.

Hezz was a good and godly man; a man of great faith. (2 Kings 19:20).

When he was about 39 years old, though, he became very ill. Isaiah told him to set his house in order, for he would die from his illness. (2 Kings 20)

Hezekiah begged the Lord to let him live, using all the things we say: “Look how I’ve served You. Do You remember how faithful I’ve been to You?” In other words, he told the Lord, “How could You take my life? You owe me.”

God relented, and granted Hezekiah another 15 years. He knew it would come to pass, for God made the day longer to prove His word to ol’ Hezz.

Then we find out what happens when God does things our way:

Having gotten his way with God, no doubt Hezz was feeling his oats, as the saying goes, so when the “good ol’ boys” of Babylon showed up, he gave them a grand tour of all his treasures. You can bet they took copious notes!

They went home and reported all they’d seen, greed set in, and the plan to overthrow Israel was born. Isaiah came to tell Hezekiah that captivity for Israel

In addition, he sired Manasseh during these 15 years (Manny was only 12 when he became king – next chapter).

Manasseh was one of the most evil, vile king to ever reign in Judah, leading the nation back into idolatry – even set up idols in the Temple of the Lord, and shed much innocent blood.

(In 2 Chronicles 33, I’m happy to report that Manasseh came to his senses after being led into captivity with a hook in his nose – OUCH! – repented, and set things right in Jerusalem before his death).

My point is this, though: If this is what lays beyond the appointed time God has for me, no thank you. I don’t want to outlive my usefulness her on planet earth. If I’m only going to do evil if my life is extended beyond God’s plan for me, then I’d rather he take me out!

I believe this story was placed here to show us that God knows when it’s time for us to go Home.

Until then, however, no matter what comes our way, there is a plan and a purpose for our existence. No one can cut our lives short; no illness either.

We are invincible!

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The Day I Died

I have a grave – and a tombstone. It was a long, slow, painful death; but I finally laid down and died!

The process began with a counseling session with my pastor’s wife, Barbara. She is a sweet, compassionate and gracious woman. She’s also very courageous, wading into the mire of people’s lives dressed in the Armor of God and armed with the Sword of the Spirit.

I would tell her about some mistreatment or other that I was experiencing. She would commiserate with me for a few minutes, but then with pursed lips, she would slightly shake her head and say those words I hated to hear,

“What do you think the Lord is trying to teach you in this?”

It was like having a needle “scritch” across a record!

“No, you don’t understand. This is what they did, this is how they are treating me.” I felt hopeless, confused, like I was sinking.

“Tami, is God in control?”

“Yes.”

“Then, while He did not cause this to happen, He allowed it. If He allowed it, there must be something in it for you to learn, don’t you think?”

Ugh! I hated those conversations. In the end, I would see the truth of what she was saying and have to agree that there was indeed something in me that needed to be changed.

Another phrase she often stated was this:

“But it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus.”

This always came on the heels of a confession that I had not received validation from people for whatever it was I thought I was called to do: teach, write, sing, etc.

For instance, I wanted to sing a solo with our worship team. After all, I have a great heart for worship…it’s what I live for. No one else saw my “potential,” though. As a result, I was passed over time and again. That really hurt. I wanted to hear that I was right, they were wrong…then I wanted her to “fix” the problem.

“Is worship about you? Will Jesus be glorified – or will you? What are you really after here?” She asked these questions warmly, her eyes probed the depths of my own.

Barb is great at getting to the heart of the issue. The Lord has given her an incredible gift of discernment and tons of wisdom to go with it.

I finally had to be honest with myself and admit that I wanted to use worship to gain approval and acceptance from others. Ouch! That smarted.

Once I saw my true motive, she would encourage me to talk to Jesus about what was uncovered, give me a chance to repent, and ask the Lord to give me a pure heart.

We went through this process countless times, and about numerous topics.

“We have to learn to die to ourselves. That’s what the Lord is after. Until we are dead to our sin, we cannot be alive in Christ. Life does not revolve around us. We don’t want to promote ourselves. After all, who can we save? If at the end of life, these people know how wonderful we are, but don’t know Jesus, what will happen to them?”

She has a great way of putting things into perspective.

Dead. Hmm. Mentally, I just couldn’t get there…

…so I went into my back yard…

and dug a grave.

Not a big one, but one big enough and deep enough

to bury a photo of myself.

Then I made a tombstone and set it on top.

Now I have a grave. I can mentally see myself as “dead.”

This is not a move I recommend for the faint-hearted.

Jesus was obviously pleased with my desire to live fully for Him, for after that I began to be passed over, ignored, and overlooked almost daily.

It hurt – but then, dying hurts.

Then glorious things began to come my way. He began to use me in prominent ways. He could because my goal was no longer to promote me, but to make His name known.

Sometimes my stinky old flesh rises up from the grave. I can tell when the “old me” is up running around, though. People are repelled. I’m obnoxiously obvious by the rotted stench of my pride.

The process is repeated: confess, repent, revisit the grave, ask for help to make my life about Jesus and not about me.

Being dead has its benefits:

I don’t have to take things personally anymore – it’s not about me.

I can serve without caring if anyone notices – it’s not about me.

I can tell others how much Jesus means to me – He gets the glory

I don’t have to “do more” or “try harder” – what can a dead person do to improve themselves?

Approval comes from the Lord alone. He is the One I seek to please.  (Galatians 1:10 – Do I now persuade men? Or do I seek to please men, or God? For if I still pleased men, I could not be a bondservant of Christ.”)

FREEDOM! The freedom to become the person Jesus created me to be.

The day I “died” was the best day of my life!

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No Absolutes? Are You Absolutely Sure?

How do we determine what is “good,” and what is “evil?” Personally, I tend to consider those things which are pleasant to me, make me feel good, or add to my pile of possessions as “good.” Conversely, I consider those things which hurt, cause me grief, or deplete my store of stuff as “evil.” It’s pretty subjective, when I look at it in this light.

It works for me.

When I am deciding what is good and evil, that makes me the judge. That makes me god.

What happens though, when what I judge to be good or evil clashes with what my neighbor judges to be good or evil? I like T-Birds. You own one and I don’t. I decide that I want to have a T-Bird, so I take yours. Are you going to see it from my point of view and agree that it is good for me to have your car and let me drive off with it? I don’t think so.

We’ve arrived at the place in history where many people believe they are entitled to their own “reality.” They will say, “What’s true for you is not what’s true for me, and what’s true for me may not be what’s true for you.” They believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.

Really?

Let’s carry that out to its logical conclusion:

If I’m entitled to my own reality, then in my mind, you should not exist. Prepare to die because I’m going to shoot you.

“You can’t do that?”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s wrong.”

“Who says?”

“I do.”

“Well, that’s your reality. My reality is that you should be dead.”

Without a standard by which everyone agrees to abide, we’re in for some serious trouble. Watch tonight’s news and you’ll see what I mean.

If only one person on the planet decided they were going to live according to their own reality, it would be a problem for the few around him or her. Unfortunately, we have an increasing percent of the population who are beginning to adopt this kind of thinking. As a result we see a sharp rise in murder, rape, war, slavery, theft, abuse of every sort.

On what grounds can anyone be convicted of a crime if there are no absolutes?

Is that what we really want?

Long ago, we were given a Book that contains absolutes. We call them the Ten Commandments. How different our world would be if everyone actually lived by them.

…Just sayin’ !

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Fearful Flight

Both doors into the house locked, a suitcase hastily thrown onto the couch, I raced down the hall to gather clothes while I struggled to gather my thoughts. My heart pounded. If I was caught, the scene would get ugly in a hurry.

What lay before us, I had no clue. All I knew was that we had to get somewhere safe.

My children were with my mom, who waited for my call. She originally said that she wanted no part of this operation. “He will hurt us, Tami,” she’d stated, eyes wide with fear.

“Fine. Then you need to know that this morning your grandchildren and I will be on the highway. We will hitchhike if we have to. Mom, we have to get out of here! They are expecting us at the Women’s Refuge at 10 a.m.”

The guilt did the trick, and she relented.

Fighting back tears, nearly overwhelmed, I ran to the boys’ room, yanked open the dresser, and began grabbing clothes. I took the armload and hurried to the living room and dumped them into the awaiting luggage.

Next was the girls’ room. I searched for a stuffed toy for each of them as well. They would need all the comfort they could get.

Back in the living room, I turned, ready to get some things for myself when

- for the first time in my life

- I heard the Lord speak.

“Go get your Bible; the one your mother bought you for Christmas.”

You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve got to get out of here!

I started down the hall when, in my mind, heard the voice again, “Go get your Bible – your One Year Bible.”

I don’t have time for this. Besides, I don’t even know where it is.

“It’s in the girls’ closet, up on the shelf, in the bottom box. Go get it!!”

His voice was insistent – not the, “Hey, this might be a good idea,” sort, but rather the “NOW!” tone a parent uses with a child who’s had it.

I charged back to the girls’ room, opened the closet and took down the boxes. I opened the bottom one as I had been told. There, right on top, was the Bible I was supposed to bring with us.

Wow! This is weird.

On my way down the hall, I heard, “Open it. Read it.”

I stopped, and opened the book up to that date’s reading. Here is what I read:

“The Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says, ‘I am the Lord your God, who punishes you for your own good and leads you along the paths that you should follow.

Oh, that you had listened to My laws! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river, and great waves of righteousness…there would have been no need for your destruction.

Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon, singing as you go; shout to the ends of the earth that the Lord has redeemed his servants.’ “

I crumpled to a heap and sobbed. After a few minutes, I calmly got up, finished packing, and called for my mom to pick me up.

[The above passage is from Isaiah 48 (supposedly "useless" because it is written to the Jews - and in the Old Testament, according to my childhood pastors), and from The Living Bible - a "heretic's" version. The Lord didn't seem to care about either of these issues! In later years, this recollection put to rest the "Battle of the Versions" for me. If God is okay with the Living Bible, who am I to question Him?]

For the next several months, that little Bible became like my diary, only written in advance. Each morning, what I read gave me a heads-up for the day. I was amazed at how specific and relevant the Scriptures were. After all, the scenery may have changed, but God does not. His ways are consistent throughout all the ages.

That was the beginning of “hearing” God, both through my thoughts and through His Word. These are His two favorite ways of communicating with me.

How does He speak to you? I’d love to hear your stories!

Our God is an awesome God. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise.

{Note:  if you are in an abusive relationship, you need to know that this is not God’s will for your life. In fact, the “law of the land” states that abuse is illegal. By staying, you are in violation of the law – as much as the abuser, for you aid and abet their lawless deeds. Seek the Lord’s guidance. He will deliver you!

And, if you know someone who’s in an abusive relationship, please don’t ridicule them or treat them with disdain. Without being in a situation like this, there is no way to describe the fear and worthlessness that person feels. Putting them down won’t help. On average it takes seven times before a woman leaves and stays gone. We were no exception, and were reunited within a few months. Thankfully, the Lord completely and gloriously delivered us from this nightmare a little over a year later.}

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