Archive | October 2015

Love or Hate? You Choose.

The shop was unusually quiet.  But, what began as a quiet day rapidly deteriorated into a nightmare of gigantic proportions.

My wife and I run a lovely little shop where we sell china and dishware for the home.  We are getting up in age and have thought about retirement, but we so enjoy the people who come through our doors that it has not been an easy decision.

All of that changed today.

Rena and I were getting ready to open in the morning.  We were admiring the new sets of Christmas plates that had been put on display,  There were beautiful and unusual figurines of angels that matched the sets of dishes, and Rena had carefully and beautifully arranged them with the dishes.  The Christmas colored cloth they sat on enhanced their beauty.  Rena and I loved Christmas because the family would all gather at our home, it was a little bit of Heaven on earth.

Our granddaughter Emily was home from college and was helping us in the store; we were delighted to have her with us.

Emily was the middle child of three that our son John and his wife Carina had blessed our family with.  She was to graduate the following summer, and was following her heart into the medical field.  She hoped to be a pediatrician.  Her love for children abounded and they followed her like the Pied Piper.

We opened promptly at 10:00.  As I said, it was unusually quiet; we even commented on it.  In retrospect, it was eerily quiet, almost like holding your breath because you knew something was not normal.

Around 11:00 we got a phone call.  The caller asked if it was possible to see a sample of the new china that we had received for the holiday.  Normally, we did not do that, but as the caller was known to us, we condescended to send Emily over with a piece from each set.  She asked if she could meet one of her friends for lunch, saying she would be back by 1:00.

It was around 1:30 when the world came crashing down upon us.  Emily’s body was found in an  alley by the driver of the local disposal company. She had been gang-raped and left to bleed to death.

This morning I woke up with a dream.  A dream about dishes.  Think with me about dishes for just a moment.  There are many uses.  We use dishes to eat our food on, this would certainly be the most common use.  But, there are also dishes that are strictly decorative.  

I have several depression glass dishes in yellow.  They give me much pleasure.  I think of the Sun and, I think of the Son, when I look at them.  My cabinet has a light in it and when it is on the dishes sparkle and shine.

Some dishes are functional, used for every day, some dishes we use only when we have company over and others bring delight to the eye because of their beauty. 

In the Bible Paul talks about dishes that are used for every day and those that are just for company use.  This is to show us that not everyone is the same, there are giftings and there are callings that set us apart, like the china in my story above. 

King David said, I have been young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.  Sometimes we want to cry out, “Why did you allow this to happen God, I don’t understand!  It looks like you abandoned me.”  I remind us that God does not lie.  Whatever He said is Truth, because Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the life and the truth.”. 

People are like dishes.  Some have a great capacity, the hold a lot and can feed a lot of people.  Other dishes are delicate, pretty and a delight to be around.  In my dream I saw some pink dishes that were made for every day use, like Emily in my story.  She wanted to be a doctor and to serve children.   But, I saw that the dishes had been thrown down and were chipped and broken.

I thought about those who perpetrate their hate upon women in the way that Emily was murdered.  There are some that rape and kill in the name of their god.  Can we not contrast the one true God who declares that He is love with this god who kills, steals and destroys?  Who then is the real God?  Who would you want to serve?

The Bible tells us that the children of God are to love as He loves and in so doing we will be children of our Heavenly Father.  Love does no harm to another.  Love is patient and kind, it is not envious or jealous, it is not selfish of self-seeking, it is not touchy, fretful, or resentful, it believes the best of everyone, it’s hope never fails.  Paul finishes his letter to the Corinthians regarding love by saying that love never fails.

Can we love like that?  Can you?  No, not on our own, not in our humanity.  But, with and through the Holy Spirit indwelling us, yes, we can.

Our family was devastated, as you can imagine, by what had been done to Emily.  She was so bright, so beautiful, so loving. She had a wonderful future.  Her desire was to finish med school and set up her practice in our small town where she could serve the community that she loved so much.  She looked forward to the time when she would marry and have children of her own.

We were angry, we grieved; the wound to our collective soul seemed too hard to bear. We doubted, we were filled with unbelief, disbelief….so many questions.  “God, where were you, why didn’t you stop this?  You said you are Love, this makes no sense.  Help!”

It seemed that this nightmare had no end.  The investigation moved forward and then the trial.  As the story unfolded, an eyewitness, someone who lived in an apartment above one of the buildings saw what was happening and called the police.  Unfortunately, they did not arrive in time.  It came out in court that a group of young men were sitting around outside an ethnic grocery store near where Emily had parked her car.  She just happened to be walking past them, to go to the restaurant to meet her friend for lunch.

I have no doubt that she smiled at them, maybe even said, “Hi.”  That’s how she was.  In her mind God loved everyone, no matter their culture or religion.

The eyewitness said that one of the men grabbed her by the hair, covering her mouth with his hand, more than likely so she would not scream, he dragged her into the alley where the men took turns raping her, after they were finished, they knelt down as if in prayer.

Emily was left to die. When the police arrived on the scene, no one was around.  The eyewitness was too traumatized by what she saw to be of any further help.  She was paralyzed with fear.  Eventually, she was convinced to testify in court, but as soon as the trial was over she moved away.

Our family drew together, we cried, we prayed and sought God for His help.  We came to understand that sometimes there are things that are mysteries, things we cannot understand this side of Heaven.  We know where Emily is, she waits for us to come there to be with her.  She does not hurt anymore.  I also believe that she has no memories of what she went through, how she died here on earth.

We came to understand that Jesus death was not unlike Emily’s death.  He too was innocent, He too was wounded unto death, His blood pouring out of His bruised and broken body, even as Emily’s was.  Some would say, “Small comfort that!”.  Maybe for some, but not for us.

The breakthrough for us came when we began to understand the lost condition of the young men who had done this to Emily.  They had been conditioned to believe a lie.  They really did not know any better.  They had been deceived by the enemy himself.  We then could have compassion upon them and begin the process of forgiving them.

In time, we were able to move on with our lives.  Rena and I sold our store to someone from town who loved it as much as we did.  We enjoyed our days tending a little garden we had, visiting with friends and family and preparing our hearts for the time when we would “go home”.

It is written in the Word of God, “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Mark 11:26 

As we forgive and learn to lean the whole of our care upon Him, we can walk in the glorious liberty of the sons of God.  Maturity in the Kingdom of God is to be like Jesus.  How do you do that?  Focus, study, that is how.  As you focus upon Jesus and study the Word of God and Jesus life upon the earth you will be changed into His likeness.  This is the will of our Father.

Hard times are ahead.  Hide yourself in God.  He is our Rock, our Refuge, our Hiding Place. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace in the midst of trouble, trial, terror, and trembling…this is my prayer in the name of Jesus.  Amen!

Joy

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Window On The World

Do you know that you have a window on the world?  Your two eyes are that window through which you view it.  I challenge you today to consider, first of all, what you are seeing and secondly, how you are seeing.  Is your view accurate or has it been interfered with?

Recently, I have experienced some physical challenges.  When presented with challenges our tendency is to see them through the filters that we have established through our education or experience.  These two lenses are very powerful, very strong, and they color the decision that we must make in regard to the challenge that has been put before us.

A decision is always required, it is either yes, no or no decision, which is a decision.  Let me explain.  The doctor has just given you a death sentence: You have cancer of the colon and he gives you 1-3 years to live.  He then presents some options to you.  Do nothing or we operate and you do chemotherapy.as a follow-up.  His skill-set, His education and experience, have told him that these are the only options.  They are not.  He may have read about or heard of other options, but they are dismissed as irrelevant.  At this point, the ball is in your court, the decision is yours.

Recently, a friend of mine walked through the scenario that I just mentioned.  She chose another option, She chose to accept prayer for healing and God healed her of color cancer.  God is not dead, asleep or on vacation.  He heals today!

There are times when challenges come to us and the answer to “Why God, Why?” is not answered with a miracle.   Sometimes we must war against powers that come against us from the enemy of God, our own flesh and the world.  These are all lenses that can cloud our judgment, our decisions.

To me, it is abundantly clear that in certain times, certain ways, there is no easy answer. It is at these times that you must war against all of the powers arrayed against you, including your own filters.  It will be no easy battle, but it is a war that you can win because there is a man who has gone before and paid the price for freedom.  The scripture says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  We can’t, but He can.

There is a requirement to walk that road, it is full surrender to God.  Humans find that difficult because Adam, the father of all man-kind, was made to rule and reign, and we all have it in our DNA.  We don’t like being told what to do.

Filters…lenses, they are designed to alter what you see.  In some cases they will clarify, in other cases they will color, or blur, or sharpen etc.  You chose by a yes, by a no or by making no decision, which is a decision.

You have two gates into your soul. (your mind, (intellect) will, emotions)  These gates are your eyes and your ears.  What you receive at the gate will set you free or take you into bondage, what I am calling your yes or no decision.

As you navigate through life, you will accept or reject filters and lenses.  Some will be received because you like the filter, you think that it colors your world.  For example:  alcohol, drugs, cigarettes. Or other choices that are not seen as quite as “bad”, such as Coffee or Tea, but nonetheless contain an addictive substance.

But there is another decision, and that is: no decision; in which case, you are going “with the flow” and whatever comes along you get by default.  This is perhaps the most dangerous kind.  Why?  Because as I said above, God has put into our DNA the rule and reign gene, and when that is not exercised someone will rule and reign over us. That is not God’s will.  He gave us a will so that we could chose freely to follow on to know Him, or God forbid, follow our own fleshly desires or demonically inspired leadership.  It was a risk that He took, but He did not, does not, want robotic commitments.  We have a mind, a will, a heart and we can choose whom we will follow.

As a human ages, there will be challenges.  The body came under the curse of “The Fall” when Adam chose to eat the fruit Eve offered to him, instead of telling the snake to get out of the garden.  According to Psalm 90:10, “The days of our years are seventy years or if by reason of strength they be eighty years yet is their strength labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”.

In our day it seems as though people are living longer.  Many reasons are given, but in my opinion, it is that God is waiting “For the precious fruit of the earth”, meaning the souls of men, and He is giving more time for man-kind to see how much He loves them, time to repent of their sin of rejecting Him and His gift of salvation in His Son, Jesus.

So, friend, what lenses or filters are affecting your window on the world?  What is your world view?  Is it Biblical?  Is it worldly?  Is it demonic?  You will one day give an account to God the righteous judge, but for now He extends His hand, His grace, inviting “whosoever will” to come, and He will not turn away any who come with a repentant heart.  Will you come and allow Him to help you to really see?

Jesus said,  “I am he Way, the Truth and the Life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me.”  John 14:6 Two Thousand fifteen years later, He is still the same, and the truth is that no man can come to God the Father except through the Door, Jesus. John 10:7-9

If you don’t know him today, check your filters, check your lenses, maybe you have allowed things through the gates that were error or outright lies.  Repent before God of the sin of rebellion and ask Jesus to mediate for you with the Father, He will and you will be set free.

Bless you!  Joy