Kayla’s Story, an Allegory: Chapter 7 Appearances

It was every bit as hard as she had thought it would be. As she stepped over empty soda cans and broken beer bottles, maneuvered around discarded electronics, furniture, and bags of trash, and avoided the holes that seemed to be all over, she realized there was a good reason people warned about crossing this vacant lot. It was not only full of dangerous traps, but it smelled as bad as it looked. The rancid odor of decaying food mixed with the musty odor of rotten wood filled the air. Kayla tried not to breath as, through sheer strength of will, she slowly limped her way through the maze of obstacles. Finally, reaching the halfway point without falling even once, Kayla rewarded herself with a rest stop. Spotting an abandoned armchair, she checked it over for signs of rodents, and seeing none, gratefully lowered herself into it. Exhausted, but proud of her achievement, Kayla sat back and looked at the sky. Gray clouds still swirled, blocking most of the sunlight, but every now and then a tiny sliver of light managed to break through. A longing rose in Kayla’s heart as she focused on those tiny beams of life. She knew, above the clouds, the light in all its fullness was still there, but that wasn’t enough. She wanted to feel the warm sunshine on her face again. She wanted to bask in the light as she had been doing before the phone call. She wanted those clouds that separated her from her beloved light to be gone.

“She’s here somewhere.” The man’s deep voice shattered her thoughts. Kayla froze as she listened. Maybe they weren’t talking about her. The voice had come from her right side, but as from a distance. Maybe they were talking about a stray cat. Please let it be about a stray cat.

“Are you sure it was her?” came another voice. This one sounded familiar. Too familiar. Chills rose along her spine as she realized it belonged to the man in the black hoodie who had glared at her earlier that day. Panic stricken that it might actually be her they were after, she looked around for a place to hide, but the only thing nearby bigger than her was the green armchair she was sitting in. Stuck where she was, hoping her green sweatshirt would blend in with the green of the armchair, she quickly pulled her knees up to her chest and tried to disappear into the chair’s soft, worn out back.

“Yeah, it was her. She had the same limp. Look, here’s a footprint.”

“There’s more. They look like they’re heading for that green chair.”

“Maybe we’ll find more footprints on the other side. Let’s go check it out.”

Kayla closed her eyes as heavy footsteps approached. “I’m invisible. I’m invisible.  I’m invisible,” Kayla thought as loud as she could. “Nothing to see here – just a green chair.”

“Hello again.” The voice came from directly in front of her. “So glad we found you.”

Kayla didn’t know what to do. Open her eyes and face what was coming? Or play possum and hope they lost interest and went away? Not ready to face anything, she slowed her breathing as much as she could.

“Is she dead?”

“I don’t think so. I think I saw her arm move. I’m going to try to wake her.”

“No, don’t touch her. She might be sick.”

“But we can’t leave her like this.”

“No, we can’t. I’m going to try something.”

Kayla’s heart raced and she almost lost control of her breathing. What were they going to try? Did it involve hurting her? She remembered the times she had used twigs to poke at insects to check if they were alive. Were they about to do the same with her?

There was the sound of things being moved around, and then a voice. “This should work.” Kayla forced her body to relax, anticipating a jab on her leg. She was not disappointed. The jab came, hard enough to be felt but not hard enough to hurt. Kayla was able to ignore it, as well as several more jabs in other parts of her body.

“Let me try. You’re not doing it hard enough.”

Suddenly a sharp jab to her side caused Kayla to gasp.

“See? I told you.”

“See what? I didn’t see anything. She’s still not moving. We need to call 911.”

Kayla remained still. Why hadn’t she thought about calling 911 herself as soon as she knew she had been spotted? And why on earth would they call 911 on themselves? Something wasn’t making sense.

 “Want me to jab her again?”

Not if she could help it. The first hard jab was bad enough; she did not want to experience it a second time. If ignoring them didn’t’ work, maybe acting tough would. She opened her eyes. “Leave me alone,” she told them through gritted teeth.

“We can’t do that.” The taller one answered.

“Yes, you can.” Kayla said. “Just walk away.”

“Naw, can’t do that. Wouldn’t be right,” the second man responded.

Kayla’s heart raced, but she covered it by demanding, “What do you want? I don’t have any money.”

“Don’t want your money.” Larry said. “Buster and I just want to help you, like we tried when we first saw you limping on the sidewalk. This lot is too dange-“

Kayla interrupted, “It didn’t look like you were trying to help, not with those daggers in your eyes.”

“Daggers in my eyes?” Buster asked, sounding confused.

“You do look pretty mean when you get frustrated,” laughed Larry.

“Sorry,” Buster said. “Those ‘daggers’ were not meant for you. I was just frustrated to see that Rory guy grab you. He’s bad news.” Buster said.

“Pastor Rory’s not bad news. He tried to help me.” Kayla declared, crossing her arms.

“He tries to help lots of people – only not for their sake. Rory only does what’s good for Rory,” Buster said.

Larry added, “Many people are fooled by Rory’s false promises. That is no place for you, and neither is this place. If you’ll let us help, we know the safe way through this mess.

Kayla looked at the rest of the vacant lot that she still had to cross. There were even more pitfalls and obstacles on the second half, and with everything placed haphazardly, she couldn’t see a straight path. In fact, she couldn’t see any path. She sighed inwardly at the difficult journey ahead. She had made this far by herself, but she was tired and wasn’t sure if she could make it to the other side. At least not without falling. Turning back to the men, she looked from one. With their faces hidden by their black hoods, they looked every bit as dangerous as the trip across the lot. Maybe they were members of some gang, looking for a target in which to prove themselves. Well, she didn’t want to be a victim. Not if she could help it. She’d rather face the possible injuries of walking by herself than the probable attack by these two, if not their whole gang.

“It’s okay. I can find my own way,” she finally told them.

“Look, we’re not going to hurt you. We just want to give you what we have – our knowledge, experience, and strength – to get you to a safer place,” Larry said. “We really want what’s best for you.”

Buster nodded. “It’s not about us. If you insist, we can go away like you want and let you make your own way. It’s not like we need to help you. We just know what could happen and want to save you from it.”

 Kayla wished she could believe them. It would be so nice to have their help. But their black hoodies…

Suddenly Kayla realized if she looked past those hoodies, if she took her eyes off the obvious outerwear and focused on what lay underneath, she could see their eyes which seemed to glow as if reflecting a light. Excited, she looked up at the sky. Had the sun broken through the clouds? No, the clouds still covered the sky so the light wasn’t coming from the sun above. Looking back into their eyes, Kayla felt drawn to the peace that radiated out from them. It was a peace that went beyond anything she had ever experienced before. Evil could not possibly exist in a peace like this. Allowing the peace to seep into her, Kayla sighed as she relaxed. “I could use some help.”

Within minutes, Kayla was once again on her way home, this time supported on each side by strong arms. Navigating around the larger debris, and lifting her over the smaller ones, they made short work of what would have taken Kayla three times longer if she had had to do it herself. When they made it to the sidewalk, they stopped to celebrate. The men high fived each other while Kayla tried to pull out her wallet from her backpack. But they refused any payment, saying they were just happy to help.

“Where do you need to go from here?” Buster asked.

“Oh, just a couple of blocks. I’ll be fine now that I’m out of that hazard trap.”

“Here’s my number,” Buster said, handing her a card. “Call me if you need more help.”

Kayla took it. “I will. Thanks again.”

With a smile on her face, she watched them head back across the not-so-empty lot, amazed at what had just happened. Then she turned and headed towards her home. As she limped along, she thought about how those men were not at all what she had feared. And how the two well-dressed men in the florist shop were not what they appeared either. She sure had misjudged all four of them. And if she had misjudged them, then maybe she had also misjudged Lisa. The only way to tell was to actually get to know her. Kayla made a mental note to call Lisa once her ankle healed. Maybe they could go out to lunch or something.

Suddenly the light broke through the clouds and beamed down on Kayla. She looked up with delight as most of the clouds scattered and disappeared, leaving just a few behind. She took a deep breath, face upturned, and let the warmth of the sun fill her. This was more like it. She wouldn’t have any trouble getting home now that she was strengthened. Not even that pile of dirt was going to stop her.


Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. (Prov 4:14-15)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Rom 16:17)

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)

Fight Like a Christian

Photo by Maria Pop on Pexels.com

Many Conservative Christians I know are struggling with how to respond to what’s happening in our nation, especially these last few months. Do we fight – or do we passively submit?

I truly don’t know.

However, after weeks of prayer and searching, I have discovered some things and made some tentative conclusions.

These are my thoughts and I make no claim that God gave them to me. In fact, He seems pretty quiet on the subject. Maybe because He’s already told us.

Here’s what I found.

Almost all the scriptures that talk about fighting – meaning actual fighting with weapons and aggression – are in the Old Testament. And most of those seem to be when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. They fought to take possession of the land and to resist enemies that came against them. But here’s the interesting thing: they only fought when and where God said to fight. They attacked cities as God led them to, and left alone the cities God said were off limits (Deut 2). Here’s another thing: they were told to take possession of the land because of the evilness in that land (Deut 9:5), and not because of their self-serving ambition.

In the New Testament, the picture is not as clear. Jesus spoke of not resisting an evil person. Even if mistreated, His followers were not to resist. He said, do not “repay evil with evil” (Matt 5) and to “put your sword away for who takes the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26:52). He also said to do to others what we would want others to do to us (Matt 7:12). Paul and Peter both said to submit to authorities and governing bodies (Rom 13, 2 Peter 2). Nowhere in the Epistles could I find a reference telling us to fight other than spiritually.

And yet, Jesus told His disciples that if they didn’t have a sword, to sell their cloak and buy one (Luke 22:36). He said He didn’t come to bring peace to the world but a sword (Matt 10:34). He never told soldiers to stop being soldiers. Several soldiers are even described as devout and faithful men (Acts 10:7, Matt 8:5-13). Jesus also showed a bit of violence when He threw out the sellers and buyers and overturned tables in the temple (Matt 21). If He never sinned, then fighting and violence of itself can’t be a sin.

My tentative conclusion? Fighting as a Christian is not a black and white issue. There will be times that fighting is to be avoided, and other times when fighting is necessary. Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The word ‘if’ implies there will be times that it won’t be possible to live in peace. Eccl 3:8 says, “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

When would fighting not be appropriate?

When it’s all about us – our pride and desires. When we want our way over others for selfish or self-centered reasons. When we want to avenge ourselves (Rom 12:19), or when we want what others have (James 4:1-3). Paul calls that being in the flesh (1 Cor 3:3). When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we became spiritual beings. We are called to live as such. Our focus needs to be on Jesus and His kingdom, not on our earthly lives and possessions. He said in Matt 5:40 that “if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:7) “to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” That is a hard thing to do when we see life is all about us, or when we believe we are in charge of our lives. Jesus said the Father provides all we need if we seek His kingdom first (Matt 6:31-33), and that He will make “…all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28), which I interpret as living for His kingdom. Instead of fighting, we are called to trust God’s sovereignty and care. Micah 6:8 puts it this way: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Nothing is there says we are to fight to make others do this.

Fighting is also not appropriate when it’s focused on people instead of on evil. God loved and died for us while we were His enemies (Rom 5:10) – and He died for those we call our enemies too. He calls us to “… love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)  And in Matt 5:44-46, He says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  We fight evil – not people – just like we love the sinner but not the sin. Anger directed at people, calling names and insulting our enemies are good indicators that we are focused on people, which is not right nor will it end well for us. Jesus said, “everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt 5:22).

So when is fighting the right thing to do?

When it’s about oppression. God hates oppression. He freed the Israelites when they cried out from their oppression (Judges 6, 10); He used the Israelites to destroy nations for their oppression (Deut 9); and Jesus came to free the oppressed (Luke 4:18). In Is 58:6 God says, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” Fighting to end evil strongholds and to free the oppressed are sometimes necessary. But we should not engage in such fighting unless and until God leads us. Moses found this out the hard way when he defended an oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. That man turned on him resulting in Moses fleeing. Due to his action, Moses couldn’t live with his people or with the Egyptians, and ended up living in exile (Acts 7:23-29).

Without God’s support, we will lose every battle. And just in case we believe God supports us because we think it’s the right thing to do, He has made it clear that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Is 55:8). Sometimes He called the Israelites to fight, sometimes He called them to stand while He fought for them. I believe it’s the same way today. 1 Sam 15:23 says, “…presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” We can’t presume to know what God wants because it’s what we want. And we can’t know what God wants in specific instances until we pray and ask Him.

So here’s my bottom line.

With evil advancing and causing oppression to increase, we need to humble ourselves before God, get on our knees and pray. Pray like David did. Pray like Jesus taught: “deliver us from evil”. Petition God to save us, fight for us, and free us.

And then we need to listen.

If He says fight, then we fight. But not like the evildoers do. According to the NT, we need to stay honorable so that the world “…will see our good deeds and glorify God…” (1 Peter 2:12), and correct our opponents with gentleness with the hope that “…God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Tim 2:24-26). God will give the battle plans and we need to stick to them whether they make sense to us or not. He is our Commander-in- Chief. We listen to Him and no one else. We need to do things His way and not the way of the enemy. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We won’t learn God’s mind by copying the enemy.

However, I don’t believe God is calling everyone to fight. I believe God is calling some of us to fight, and some of us to pray. Pray that all eyes remain steadfast on Him, that all Christians heed what God tells them, and that God protects us all as we follow His lead.

Whether or not called to fight, none of us should judge the other. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Rom 14:4) That is not to say we shouldn’t call out when the fighting is not done honorably. I believe riots resulting in death and destruction are not honorable and completely detestable. I call that behavior sin and believe it should be judged. But protesting and resisting peacefully can be both honorable and gentle. Rallies, marches, and actions such as protesting censorship by deleting Big Tech are just a few examples.

On top of everything, I believe God has called ALL of us to fight spiritually because this is ultimately a spiritual battle manifesting itself in the natural. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). We ALL need to be on our knees daily, praying 24/7, and fasting if called to do so. God heard the cries of His people in the OT and delivered them. He can do the same today – if we let Him and not try to do it all ourselves.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Eph 6:10-18)

If anyone sees anything unbiblical in what’s I’ve written, please let me know. Also, I welcome other opinions and thoughts. I’d love to hear what you believe and what God is telling you.

For more reading, see https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-fighting.html

Kayla’s Story, an Allegory: Chapter 6 The Phone Call

Thoughts of the park intruded into Kayla’s light-worship as she limped toward the corner. She had been so intent on getting home that she had forgotten about the people expecting her there. It was well past the start time and most likely everyone was well into whatever the event entailed, which was probably picking up trash. Hopefully enough people turned out that she hadn’t been missed. Tending to her injuries was more important than participating in some kind of work day. She was doing the right thing by going home, which was closer to her now than the park. And yet, guilt was quickly replacing the peace that had flowed through her just moments before. Maybe she should call someone to let them know why she hadn’t shown up. But who? All she knew was that the invitation had come from her church which she only occasionally attended. She didn’t have any members in her contact list, nor did she want to. Those self-centered people held no interest for her, and she had resisted every attempt they made to include her in church business. Kayla had only agreed to the go to the park event to build her reputation with a few influential and powerful members. She had even hoped to be photographed by the newspaper reporter who was going to be there. Having her picture on the front page would show everyone how altruistic she was, and it would ensure that those powerful and influential people would remember her should their memories fail. She might be a nobody right now, but one day she would be rich and powerful herself.  It would ruin everything, though, if she lost standing for missing this dumb event without an excuse. She couldn’t allow that. She had to make sure they knew she had tried to show up. If she could contact the church, the secretary would be able to provide a phone number of two. Kayla couldn’t remember whether the pastor was going to be at the park or not, but the secretary would know that as well. The thought about her pastor reminded her of Pastor Rory, who was still way too close for her comfort. What if he decided to try to find her? And then there were those two guys in black hoodies, probably lurking somewhere nearby, waiting to ambush her. Looking around, she admitted she didn’t feel safe. Better to keep going and make the call when she got home. But between there and where she was now lay two big obstacles. The large pile of dirt blocking the sidewalk, and a large empty lot located just around the corner. Actually, the empty lot was not really empty. Rocks and pebbles, along with all kinds of litter lay scattered all across the uneven terrain. Typical litter such as rusty cans, broken bottles, and empty packaging were joined by the not-so-typical tires, crushed boxes, old mattresses, and dilapidated furniture. Getting across this lot was hard enough with two good legs, but her sprained ankle made it an even greater challenge.

Kayla reached the corner just as her phone rang.

“Hey, it’s Lisa. Where are you? I thought you were coming today. We waited as long as we could, but finally had to start in order to finish by noon. The others are still working but I keep getting a sense that something was wrong, like you need help or something. So I decided to call you. Are you okay?”

Lisa. That obnoxiously friendly busybody that everybody kept talking about. Kayla listened to the torrent of words, delighted that she had been missed but wishing it had been anyone else on the phone other than Lisa. A feeling rose in Kayla’s heart, one she wasn’t very familiar with. It was almost like she had done something wrong. But that was nonsense. The only thing she could think of that she could possibly have done wrong was not calling the church group. And that was no big deal since she had planned to call as soon as she got home. Maybe that was it – she should have called before someone from church called her. Well, that was an easy fix. She would just apologize.

“I’m sorry. I ran into a problem.” Kayla turned the corner and kept walking as she talked.

“What kind of problem? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Kayla wanted to say, “Yes! I would love a ride home,” but she couldn’t trust Lisa. Rumor had it that Lisa had a way to twisting the truth to make everything sound much more melodramatic than it actually was. Kayla was sure Lisa would spin her failure to call as irresponsible and inconsiderate. Although Kayla had a good excuse for not showing up at the park, she suspected Lisa would exploit any information she got as much as possible. On the other hand, it was possible Lisa was made to call against her will – maybe the pastor asked her to call – and that she didn’t really want to help and was hoping that Kayla would refuse. So Kayla bit back what she wanted to say and said instead, “No, it’s okay. I don’t want to further inconvenience you any more than I have already.”

“It’s no inconvenience. I want to help. What can I do?”

Lisa sounded genuinely concerned, but then, so had Pastor Rory. No, this had to be a ploy to poke her nose into Kayla’s business. Kayla preferred keeping her life private. She didn’t want a busybody like Lisa to spread all kinds of lies about her, especially if she found out what had happened in the florist shop. It was better to refuse help now than to be let down later.

“Thanks, but everything is okay.” Kayla winced as her lie added to the sense of guilt in her heart.  “I appreciate it though. I’m sorry for not calling earlier, and that you all waited on me. Please apologize to everyone for me.”

“Certainly. Well, you’ve got my number now. Call me if you need anything, even if it’s in the middle of the night.”

Kayla said she would and then ended the call. Feeling chilled, she looked up at the sky. Clouds were gathering, blocking the sunlight. Just what she needed. Now she had to go through that hazard filled lot without the strength of the light she had begun to depend on. Where had those clouds come from anyway? One moment the sky was blue without even a hint of whiteness, and the next moment the blue was almost completely enveloped by swirling gray clouds.

Disappointed, Kayla limped the few remaining yards to the lot, where she stopped to reconsider. She could take the longer way home and avoid this lot altogether. It would add almost a mile to her walk, but all of it would be easy sidewalk walking, and just as importantly, there would be people around. She didn’t know where those two thugs had gone and she would feel safer staying on the sidewalk. But would her ankle handle the extra distance? As if in response, her ankle began throbbing almost as bad as when she had first hurt it. The sooner she got home the better. Danger or no danger, this lot was the better way. Mind made up, she entered the lot and began making her way across it.

So intent on her thoughts, Kayla didn’t see the man in a black hoodie standing across the street.

But he had seen her.


For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matt 15:18-19)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37)

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

Kayla’s Story, An Allegory: Chapter 2 A Pile of Dirt

The rising sun, hidden by a thick layer of clouds, seemed cold and distant. Kayla shivered as she hurried to her car, key in hand. The sooner she got out of the cold brisk wind the better. As the door slammed shut, Kayla shoved the key in the ignition and turned it. Click. That was it. No motor sound, just a click. Eyebrows raised, she tried again. And again, just the soft click that she had grown to hate over the last few months. She had delayed buying a new battery until she could find one at a deeply discounted price, and had gotten used to demanding someone jump her car each time she found it dead. But she thought she had fixed it after cleaning the connections with a homemade cleaning formula she found on line. For the last two weeks it had started right up. How dare it quit working again now! Frowning, she pulled the key out and punched the steering wheel. Without the use of her car, she would have to walk in this gloomy weather. It would make her late, but she could save some time by cutting through some empty lots. Sighing heavily, she opened the door, climbed out, slung her backpack over one shoulder, and began trudging down the sidewalk.

 As she walked, she contemplated the voice mail that had come from her church last month, inviting her to a special gathering at the park. The person had not given many details, just to dress comfortably, preferably pants and a t-shirt, and to be there by ten. Probably some kind of clean up event, but that was okay with her. Helping would help her standing in the church, and she enjoyed strengthening her connections to certain members. She didn’t need their favors right now, but who knew what the future held. There may come a day when she will be glad she took the time to cultivate these relationships.

Turning the next corner, she abruptly stopped. The sidewalk disappeared under a large mound of dirt which had spilled out from the driveway of a small brown house. What were they thinking to bring in that much dirt? Didn’t they realize it would encroach upon the sidewalk, hindering those trying to complete their walks? Or didn’t they care? How was she going to get past it? The traffic had not gotten busy yet, but there were still enough cars to make street walking dangerous so going around the dirt wasn’t an option. She looked across the street. Maybe she could walk on that side, but the lack of a sidewalk over there deterred her. She didn’t want to walk through the tall weeds, probably picking up prickly hitchhikers along the way. There might even be snakes in there. Shuddering, Kayla looked back at the dirt pile. As much as she hated the idea, climbing over the mess seemed to be the lesser of three evils. She gingerly began taking some steps, placing each foot carefully, and shifting her weight slowly as she tested the stability of the dirt. Expecting to sink with every step, she was surprised when she didn’t. The hardness of the dirt suggested that it must have been there a good while. As the dirt held, her confidence grew, and her steps became firmer and faster until she was cresting the top. Standing at the top reminded her of one of her favorite childhood games, and she yelled out, “King of the Hill!”

Suddenly her right foot plunged down on nothing as the dirt gave way. Flinging out her hands, she desperately tried to keep her balance. For a moment she thought she had won, but then the dirt under her left foot shifted and she hit the dirt face first. Her vision dimmed as pain erupted from her nose. She wanted to cry out, but the musty taste of dirt filled her mouth making her gag instead. She sat up slowly, spitting repeatedly, and took stock of her injuries. Her nose was still pulsating with pain, but the rest of her seemed to be okay. At least she thought so until she tried to stand up. This time she did cry out as her right ankle gave way and she fell again. She had to get help, but first she had to get off this pile of dirt before more of it collapsed. Not able to stand, she resorted to crawling. Small landslides flowed around her as she painfully pulled herself along, sliding one inch at a time. Holding her breath each time she shifted her weight, she begged the dirt not to collapse.  When she finally reached the bottom, she heaved a huge sigh of relief and reached down to examine her throbbing ankle. She manipulated her foot, turning it in all directions and wincing at times as pain shot up her leg, until she was satisfied it wasn’t broken. A sprain was bad enough, but at least she wouldn’t have to call 911. Her minimal insurance policy wouldn’t cover an ambulance. Somehow she was going to have to get to walk-in clinic on her own. She scooted to a nearby speed limit sign, and used the pole to pull herself to a standing position. A cautious step, and then another, and Kayla was relieved that the pain, although painful, wasn’t too extreme.  Maybe her ankle wasn’t that bad after all. If she could just get back home, she could treat her injuries herself without having to incur a huge medical bill. However, climbing over that pile to return home was out of the question. She would have to continue to the park, where she shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to drive her back home.

As she limped, she wondered why no one had seen her predicament. In fact, she realized after a few moments, there had been no traffic while she was on that dirt mound. That was strange. It almost felt like that dirt had been placed there deliberately to catch people off guard, and that this whole thing had been planned to cause her to fall. She shook her head. No, that was crazy thinking. Who would do such a thing? Still, it was strange that no one had seen or heard her. Or maybe someone did and chose not to get involved. That was more likely. The emotionally painful feeling of not being good enough to warrant help by strangers intensified her physical pain. Soon her tears made tracks down her grubby cheeks as she made her way to the place where she was worth someone’s attention and help. Her church owed her at least that much for being willing to help clean up the park with them.


For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. (Jer 5:26)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

The arrogant one will stumble and fall with no one to raise him up (Jer 50:32)

Part 9: Turn From Evil and Do Good (Christian But Not series)

Photo by mododeolhar on Pexels.com

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:16-18)

For “whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12, quoting from Psalm 34:12-16) 

This is a crucial time in the U.S. for everyone, but especially Christians. I believe God has been sending us warnings for many years that He’s going to pour out His wrath on our country for our sins. As a country, we have turned our back on Him in favor of the ideology of the American popular culture. We have compromised, turn our eyes, remained silent, or even totally sold out to ways that are not God’s ways. And God’s not happy with that.

There are many individual Christians within the church body that have not sold out, nor hidden. Their lights are shining bright. But there’s so few of them, comparatively speaking, that they seem to be swallowed up by the rest of the country, just like those few campfires in the analogy in my last post. The rest of us have banked our fires or let them go out altogether. God is saying no more. No more sleep. No more compromise. No more hiding. It’s time to choose which side of this spiritual war over our country we want to be on. The fence is shaking and we will fall on the enemy’s side if we don’t jump to God’s side first.

So how do we do that? How do we choose His side? How do we stoke our fire? Is it a matter of words? Do we just say “God, I’m on your side,” and go about out life as usual? Many Christians will no doubt find this adequate. After all, they accepted Jesus and have eternal life. But disciples – the Christians But Nots – those who are…

– Christian But Not satisfied with the minimal requirements of salvation

– Christian But Not satisfied with living a self-centered life

– Christian But Not willing to compromise with evil anymore

– Christian But Not lukewarm in their love and commitment to Jesus

… back up their words with action. They search their hearts and lives, and ask God to show them anything that is not pleasing to Him. And when areas are revealed, they turn from them. They don’t make excuses. They don’t try to justify. They don’t pretend they hadn’t heard. They don’t compromise. They don’t try to interpret them in the light of their American world view. They humble themselves by acknowledging them, asking forgiveness, and turning away from them.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14)

and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. (Jer 18:8)

Does God want us to pray for Him to relent from the wrath He has warned us about and to save our country so that we can go back to our comfortable lifestyles? No. He wants His Name glorified. He wants to draw as many people as possible to Himself, to save them from the evil one and to live with Him forever. He wants our fires to burn brightly 24/7. He wants that fence permanently gone and our fires to penetrate the enemy camp. That is what Jesus called us to from the beginning.

The war is intensifying. The enemy is on the move and it’s time for the rest of us to join the battle. It’s time to repent and to rekindle our fire and let it burn brightly along with the faithful ones already burning. The future of our country depends on it.

Turning From Evil

What is the evil we need to turn from? Some of it is easy to detect, but most of it has crept into our lives and hearts in deceptively subtle ways.

The sins of some men are obvious, going ahead of them to judgment, but the sins of others do not surface until later. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even the ones that are inconspicuous cannot remain hidden. (1 Tim 5:24-25)

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:12-13)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

Let’s look at what God considers evil based on a few more passages of Scripture.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.(Rom 1:29-31)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Col 3:5-10)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Eph 4:30-32)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

Those lists are quite detailed. The funny thing is, if we just knew how to love each other the way Jesus loves us, we wouldn’t need lists like these. But we don’t, and so we do. How many of the sins listed by Paul to these four churches do we engage in but dismiss because we are “under grace”? Paul addressed this in Romans 5 and 6. Just because we are under grace doesn’t give us permission to live a sinful life. There are other numerous reasons we excuse our sins.

How often do we laugh them away, such as saying, “I know I’m not supposed to gossip but…”?

How often do we compromise in order to fit in with our colleagues, such as obscene jokes, boasting, or sexual immorality?

How often do we do them secretly, such as adultery, having a haughty attitude towards others, or entertaining impure thoughts?

How often do we do them for power or to be noticed, such as slander, swindling, or being ruthless?

How often do we use the excuse “everybody does it”, such as obscene talk, dishonesty (deceit), or stealing (like small office supplies from work)?

How often do we refuse to acknowledge them for what they are, such as murder (abortion), hating God (choosing the world over God), or idolatry (worshipping something other than God)?

How often do we just flat out enjoy them, such as foolish behavior, sexual immorality, or greed?

How often do we feel the other person deserves them, such as wrath, maliciousness, or being heartless?

How often do we dismiss them as not as important as others, such as lying (you know, those little white lies), disobedient to parents (they can’t tell me what to do), envy, or an insolent attitude?

How often do we do them because they bring us some kind of relief for our pain, such as stirring up strife, getting angry, being a drunkard, or joining with revilers?

How often do we side with our society which considers them human nature or the way we were born – and thus excusable, such as acting haughty or engaging in homosexual acts?

Struggling with a sinful behavior is not the same thing as living in it. In our human weaknesses, we are not capable of living a sinless life. We will and do fall at times. However that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about sin that we hold on to, refuse to acknowledge, or refuse to give up. We justify that it’s not really sin, or we buy in to the idea we were born with it and can’t do anything about it, or that the good we do in our lives outweighs the sin. We might even feel guilty and ask for forgiveness over and over and over again, knowing deep down in our hearts that we’re just going to engage in it again. We live in our flesh instead of living in the Spirit. We prefer the pleasure of the sin over the displeasure of God.

It’s time to stop making excuses. It’s time to love what God loves and hate what God hates. It’s time to judge ourselves so God won’t have to.

If we were judging ourselves correctly, we would not be judged. But when the Lord Jesus judges us, he disciplines us so that we won’t be condemned along with the rest of the world. (1 Cor 11:31-32) [Note: I’m aware that Paul was addressing the Corinthians behavior at their Lord’s Supper, but I think what he said about judgment and discipline applies to any wrong behavior we consistently engage in.]

Doing Good

Once we turned from sin and returned to Christ’s ways, we can’t hide away in our homes. We need to shine our light into the darkness by doing good whenever we get a chance. God calls us to do both – turn from sin and do good. And not just to those who love us. We are called to do good to everyone, including those who hate us.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)

But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-28, 33, 35-36)

Just as God was clear on what He calls evil, He’s also clear on what He calls doing good.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Is 1:17)

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. (Matt 25:35-36)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thes 5:12-22)

If we, as the Body of Christ, cleaned up and got busy doing good wherever we could, our country would see such a difference. I’m reminded of a city in the Old Testament who was also given a warning from God.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles; let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:3-10)

If a great city like Nineveh could do it, certainly we can do it, too. And maybe, just maybe, we can save our country and avoid the judgment of God.

Let’s all turn away from evil and toward the light of kingdom living.

Let’s all be Christian But Not.

Turn Back to God? But I Never Left.

 If you say, “Turn back to God? But I never left.”

Are you sure?

Let me tell you a story.

There was once a man and a puppy. The man loved his puppy with his whole heart, and she loved him in return. He took care of all her needs: a comfortable bed, the best food, plenty of water, and lots of fun toys. He was quick to take care of any physical ailments, and spent many hours playing with, grooming, and cuddling her.

The only thing he asked for in return was her undivided love, and for her to stay in the yard he prepared for her, which would protect her from danger, and would also keep her from becoming separated from him. She happily agreed because the yard was beautiful and contained everything she needed.

Every time she heard her master coming to spend time with her, she would run from wherever she was and jump into his arms, kissing him with her puppy tongue, and wagging her tail so hard her whole body wagged right along with it. He would laugh and hug her tight, and then put her down to start their favorite game of chase. It was a great relationship which they both treasured.

One day while he was away, she noticed some loose boards in the fence. Curious, she pushed on them and found that she was able to peek into the next yard. She couldn’t see much, but she could hear excited barks. She pushed on one of the boards a little harder, and was able to make out a group of puppies chasing each other. That looked like fun, and she wanted to join in, but she remembered that her master wanted her to stay in the yard he made for her. So she resisted the temptation to call out to them and just watched them instead. Day after day, when the man was away, she would sit with her face framed between the loose boards, and watch. Eventually the other puppies noticed her.

“Hey, would you like to play with us?”

“I wish I could, but I can’t. I’m not supposed to leave my yard.”

“Why not?” asked a tan puppy with black spots.

“My master says it’s not safe.”

“That’s just dumb,” said a scruffy brown puppy. “We’re here every day and nothing has happened to us.”

“Yeah, your master sounds too strict,” chimed in another scruffy puppy, this one white.

“But he loves me and wants what’s best for me.”

The tan puppy ran closer to her. “Really? Then there’s no problem. He wants you to be happy, right?”

“Yes.”

“Would you be happy playing with us?”

“Yes, I think so. It looks fun.”

“Then what’s wrong with having a little fun with us? Your master will be glad that you’re happy. Besides, he’s not home. He won’t even know.”

She frowned. Something didn’t sound right about this, but the tan puppy made sense. “Okay, but just for a little while.”

The other puppies barked excitedly, welcoming her as she pushed past the loose boards.

Looking around, she immediately noticed this yard wasn’t as beautiful as her yard. It was dirtier, and crowded with all kinds of things. Some looked nice enough, like the wading pool, colorful balls, and yummy smelling chew toys. But others, like the thick chains, dirty muzzles, and rusty cages, were kind of threatening. “Don’t worry about those,” they assured her. “Just play with what you want.” So she did, and found being there as much fun as it had looked. Chasing the other puppies, fighting over toys, splashing in the muddy puddles, and barking at nothing were all amazingly entertaining. When she got tired, she rested under the tall, spreading trees. When she was thirsty, she drank from the community water bowl, gradually getting used to the taste of the discolored water. And when she got hungry, she shared the synthetic food the others ate. Eventually she began to worry about the time.

“I think I need to go now.”

“Sure, thanks for joining us. Will you come back tomorrow?”

“Maybe,” she said as she slipped back into her yard.

When the man arrived, she wasn’t quite as eager to greet him. A sense of guilt interfered with the joy she normally felt. Would he know that she had not stayed where he told her? But he didn’t say anything so she put the feeling behind her as they began their daily game of chase. Usually he chased her first. As soon as he touched her, he would run off, laughing and calling to her as she chased after him. It usually didn’t take long for her to catch him, and then they would roll around on the ground with lots of delighted laughter and happy barks. But this day was different. For some reason she could never get quite close enough to catch him.

The next day she couldn’t resist the urge to join her new friends again. The fun was just as intoxicating, and again the man didn’t say anything. Maybe he didn’t know. Maybe he wouldn’t have to know. Or maybe the other puppies were right. Maybe he didn’t care where she went as long as she was happy. So as the weeks went by, she not only joined them each day but arrived earlier and stayed later until she was spending most of her time over there.

Without being aware of it, her joy in her own yard slowly faded. She still loved her master, but found her new friends and their yard much more enticing. The more she played with them, the more she wanted to be with them. Chasing and digging and barking filled her days, and she returned to her yard guilty and exhausted each evening.  Her run-and-jump into the man’s arms was replaced with a crawl, sometimes even reluctantly when she was especially tired. She still enjoyed her time with him, but sometimes had trouble staying focused on him as the thoughts of the other yard filled her mind.  She still ate her good food, but it became more of snack because the cheap food kept her stomach full. And the more of the dirty water she drank, the less thirsty she was for her own clean water.

The man saw the difference – in her attitude, in her lack of cleanliness, and in her health as slowly the unhealthy food and water took its toll. He knew she had been leaving the yard, but he had been waiting for her to realize the consequences weren’t worth the disobedience. And he was hoping her love for him, and his love for her, would be stronger than the pull of the other yard. But one day he couldn’t wait any longer.

“Where have you been going?”

“Nowhere,” she lied, looking away from him.

He shook his head sadly. “Don’t you know that the filth of that other yard, the filth that now covers you, separates us?”

Convicted, she whispered, “I’m sorry. I won’t go back. I don’t want to be separated from you. Please clean me up.”

He did, and their relationship was restored. But the pull of the other yard was strong, as were the voices of the puppies calling to her. So again and again, she continued to leave her yard to join them in theirs. And again and again her master cleaned her when she asked. Eventually though, she came to think like the other puppies. “My master will always be there. He loves me and will always forgive me. So what’s wrong with having a little fun?”

Now for the big question… did that puppy turn away from her master?”

And for an even bigger question… have you turned away from your Master? I know I have. We all have. It’s just a degree of how far into that other yard we’ve gone.

God’s calling us to come back. Can you hear Him?


Deuteronomy 10:12  “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (emphasis mine)

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

What If?

0808202219

 

What if all those warnings over the last 40+ years were true –

warnings of a coming darkness?

warnings of God’s wrath?

warnings of judgment because we (Christians) have turned from God?

 

What if you knew those days were here?

How would you live differently? Or would you?

How would it change your prayer life? Or would it?

 

Individually and as a Church,

would we use God’s Word to look within ourselves, to see where we’ve compromised with the world around us?

Because we have compromised.

Would we ask God to reveal our sin; where we’ve strayed?

Because we have strayed.

Would we repent, and pray for God’s mercy?

Because that’s what He wants most of all.

Or would we point our fingers at each other? Or at those outside the Church for bringing this upon us?

 

Each time the Israelites strayed from God’s commands, incorporating pagan lifestyles and beliefs into their own, God sent warnings through His prophets. God gave the people plenty of time to return to Him. Sometimes it was years, sometimes decades, sometimes even centuries. But each time the warnings were ignored. Since the wrath didn’t appear the next day, or the next month, the Israelites believed it wouldn’t happen at all. Instead of turning to God, they turned on the prophets with ridicule, imprisonment, even murder. Until the wrath fell on them.

 

What if we as a Church are no different? What if we have adopted the mind sets and life styles of the world around us? What if we no longer hold God first in our hearts, but  seek after the gods of this world? What if we have been warned repeatedly by courageous modern day prophets, but treated them the same way the Israelite treated the prophets of old? Have we dismissed those who have called out for us to repent? Have we belittled and criticized warning “prophecies”, believing, maybe, that God doesn’t do that anymore? Or that the prophets “got it wrong”? After all, we go to church. We give our money. We try to live good lives. We’re fine, right?

Are we?

 

God told the Israelites to…

worship only Him, and with all their heart,

to follow all His commands which involved their relationship with Him, and with each other,

and to keep His ways, not the ways of the people around them.

 

Didn’t Jesus tell us the same thing?

worship God with all our heart,

love each other, treat each other fairly and justly

obey the Holy Spirit inside us,

and not conform to the world around us

 

God poured out His wrath on the Israelites for straying – wrath that included…

Confusion, frustration

Diseases, afflictions, pestilences, and illnesses

Defeat by their enemies

Oppression and robbery instead of prosperity

Sojourners among them would rise higher and higher while they were brought lower and lower

A nation from far away come against them

Crops consumed by insects

So hungry they end up eating their own children

Be in darkness as if blind

Be left few in number

 

Scary, isn’t it?

What if He did the same with us? What if He’s already doing it? The New Testament warns of a coming wrath. It’s not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN it will happen.

 

Yet, God also promised blessings instead of curses if the Israelites turned back to Him…

Set them high among the nations

Defeat their enemies

Establish them as His holy people, causing all other nations to fear them

Prosper them in every way

Send rain in its season

Open to them His good treasury in heaven

They would lend to other nations, and not borrow

 

What if we listened to the prophets this time?

What if we turned back to God with all our hearts?

What if the time was now?

 

 

 


Scriptures:

“For the LORD GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

“Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.” (2 Chron 24:19)

 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” (Rom 1:18-19)

“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom 2:4-6)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has not inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceived you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”” (Eph 5:1-14)

 “ Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Col 3:5-6)

“Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” (Jude 1:17-19)

list of Blessings for Obedience, and Curses for Disobedience (see Deut 28)

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you…  and you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of you cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers… (Deut 30:1-3, 8-9)

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil… therefore choose life that you and your offspring may live…” (Deut 30: 11-15, 19)

“if my people who are called by by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14)

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your father served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in the land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

 

Messy Threads

0602201435
As I looked at the wing I just finished stitching, I saw the messy threads and knew I wouldn’t be able to use it like that. It would mar the beauty of the angel bear I was working on.  It also made me think of times when my life felt just as messy.

 

0602201436
This kind of mess required something that could cut threads without damaging the wing. And I knew just the right tool – my embroidery scissors with the curved tip. But that tool had to be used correctly.

 

 

0602201437b
After a while, I was tired and wanted to stop. So many threads had been cut, but there were still many left. The wing was looking better than before, and I was tempted to let it go, but I knew the job wasn’t finished. So I continued.

 

 

0602201439
Finished, and beautiful! Now I could use it for the purpose I made it for. I am always amazed at the how much better the wings look once the threads are removed.

 

That’ when we need to get out God’s scissors and start clipping. If we allow Him to help, and not stop once we start feeling better, we will be amazed at how much better we will be able to do what He created us to do. And we will see beauty where once there was just a mess.

 

Is your life a mess? Don’t get discouraged. Get clipping!

 

Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

 

 

Sin is Like a Bag of Puff Corn

Puff corn is delicious! The strong buttery flavor pops on my tongue as the puff corn dissolves scrumptiously in my mouth. I close my eyes in delight as I savor the first few puffs.

It doesn’t take long before one is not enough and I start putting two in my mouth at the same time. Crunch, crunch. So delicious!

And addicting. My mouth demands more – so I eat three, then four at a time. And then as many as I can cram in my mouth.

More! More!

I ignore all the warnings going off in my head as I feed that monster within me.

Warnings like…

It has too much salt. You’re going to retain water and feel bloated. And it will affect your blood pressure.

It has too much fat. You’re sabotaging your effort to lose weight. In fact, you are going to regret this as soon as you get on the scale tomorrow.

Eating the whole bag will not satisfy you. You’ll only crave more.

You’re going to have to work out harder later to overcome what you’re doing now.

The monster’s demands are stronger, more urgent, than the warnings.

I’m grabbing handfuls of the puff corn out of the bag so fast now that some go flying before my hand can get to my mouth. It’s making a mess, but I don’t care.

0229200945

Before I know it, the bag is empty. Every last kernel is gone. All 3.5 servings of them. As I mournfully look into the empty bag, sense begins to take over. The monster retreats and I begin to regret my actions.

Why, oh why, did I just eat that whole bag? Now I’m going to pay the price. And for what? The momentary pleasure? Pleasure, yes, but momentary is the key word. There is no lasting satisfaction. Just guilt.

So… what’s the best way to avoid this happening again?

DON’T BUY ANY MORE PUFF CORN!

The Lunch Invitation

Nancy looked at the lunch invitation with delight. Meals at her friends’ house were always an adventure. They liked to experiment with their recipes, often finding creative ways to tweak the ingredients to make the dishes unique and unforgettable. This meal, scheduled for the following week, should be no exception.

Each day she tried to imagine what they would be serving.  Probably nothing as ordinary as spaghetti or grilled cheese, unless they added some fun ingredients, of course. Maybe something with lobster, she thought, mentally licking her lips.

Finally the day came and she drove to her friends’ house with great anticipation

“Come on in! I’m so glad you’re here!” Susan exclaimed as she held the door open for Nancy.

“Thank you for the invite,” Nancy replied. “I love your cooking!”

They walked down the hall towards the kitchen. “Bob is finishing the salad right now. We kind of burned the main dish so we added some extra ingredients to make the salad larger. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. Salad actually sounds good.” Nancy knew whatever they served would be amazing.

IMG_20180711_173248056

The large salad in the center of the kitchen table did look amazing. So full of greens with lots of colorful veggies, eggs, and cheeses mixed in.

Bob held the salad fork and motioned to the salad. “We weren’t expecting to have to make such a big salad and didn’t have enough greens so I added some lettuce leaves from our backyard garden. It’s the first time we’ve ever grown lettuce and I’m so excited that they were ready to use today.”

Nancy glanced out the window to the back yard, then stared with horror. A dog was peeing on the bed of lettuce. Was this the same bed that Bob got his lettuce for the salad? It had to be.

“Umm…” she began. “Your dog is… umm… peeing on your lettuce.”

“Oh, that’s OK,” Bob said. “He does that all the time. It doesn’t hurt the lettuce.”

Nancy looked at the salad. Was some of that peed on lettuce part of this salad?

Susan saw her look and said, “Don’t worry. I’m sure Bob rinsed the lettuce before adding it to the salad.”

“Of course,” Bob agreed. “I always do.”

Nancy thought of the quick rinse she usually did to her own vegetables. Surely he did better than that.

“Besides,” Susan went on, “even if he happened to use a lettuce leaf that had gotten peed on, it’s such a little part of this salad that you won’t even notice.”

Somehow, Nancy had lost her appetite and began wondering what excuse she could make to get out of there without eating.

Later, much later, she thought… is this like us and sin? We think we do so many wonderful things that a little sin here or there doesn’t really matter. But is that how God sees sin? That it’s OK to accept small sins as long as we basically try to do the right things? Would that be like Susan and Bob accepting that salad since it was basically all good ingredients? A little contamination wouldn’t be noticed?

No, God was pure holiness. There was no darkness in Him at all. So all sin, no matter how small, must be as despicable to Him as the possible yellow lettuce had been to her.

Wow! That sure puts sin in a whole new light.