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Following Christ is not easy!

It isn’t easy, but Jesus made all the difference in our lives, and his teachings enable us to live out his love for others, even when people attack us.  Jesus told us that if we followed him, we too would be persecuted.

“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” John 15:20.

By “persecuted,” Jesus meant all levels of attacks that will come against us, from verbal to physical, from the loss of our businesses and income sources, to the loss of every possession we have, including our lives or the lives of our loved ones.  We see this in the United States today.  Then we read about some of the persecution of Christians in other countries and know we are still living mostly normal lives, but the times are definitely changing.  Here is an example of how one Christian couple is handling the media attacks they have been bombarded with.

I read an interesting letter written by Chip Gaines, on behalf of himself and his wife, the “Fixer Upper” couple, who had come under strong criticism because of their Christianity.  The correlation made by an independent digital news feed was that, since they attended church which adheres to the Biblical teachings such as those Bible passages about sexual relations are to be solely between a man and a woman, they, the Gaines, must have great hatred towards homosexuals.  This seems to be the accepted train of thought by people who are consumed with proving that the Bible teaches hate and breeds homophobia.   Since the article came out in November of 2016, this couple has faced a new type of public exposure that has been enough to make most want to fight back.

So, today when I read the letter they had written, I was moved deeply and filled with joy.  Their letter is the perfect example of living out God’s word in the divided world of today.  First compare what Jesus said, and then read the words from Chip Gaines.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40).

“If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow – we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love. Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith. That’s all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we’re already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don’t ask us to cause we won’t play that way.”   (

I have been saying the same thing in different words for a long time now.  If a person is a true Christian, then the Holy Spirit of God has come to live in them.  If that is true, and it is, then we should be growing in Christ-like character.  Our mind, will, and emotions must change over time to match up more to God’s/Christ’s.  This means, that if God loves all people, and I believe that is Biblical truth, then I must learn to love all people.  I have prayed that God will allow me to see people through His eyes, and I can tell you judgment has left my soul, and been replaced with a much stronger love for people. In fact, this love sometimes feels like it is bigger than my heart can hold, but I think God just keeps expanding my heart just enough each time.  This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, and I am only at the beginning stages of this growth in godliness.  This is what it means to live a life as a Christian.  This is what Chip and Joanna Gaines are doing, and their letter brought me real joy.

Let me simply allow them to conclude this blog post.  Great job Chip.  Thank you for making this choice.

“This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can’t recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgement, fear and even hatred. Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand.”

Thank you Chip and Joanna for your strength to continue to shine Christ’s light in our darkening world.

What can we believe anymore?

I read a disturbing news article today and it made me think about how little of what we hear and read can be believed with certainty.  Here are a few clippings from the article I read. Both of the following quotes were from the same article from the Daily Caller, Journalists Exposed By WikiLeaks Will Now Cover Trump White House,  Peter Hasson (viewed 01/02/2017   10:29 AM).
CNBC chief political correspondent and New York Times political writer John Harwood demonstrated clear partisanship in his many email exchanges with Podesta.

Harwood told Podesta to “watch out” for Dr. Ben Carson during the Republican primary. “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general,” Harwood warned, including video clips of Carson’s political positions. [screen shots from Wiki/Leaks were then included in this email.]

Emails released by WikiLeaks showed Thrush sending stories to Clinton staffers for approval before publication. (RELATED: New York Times Hires Reporter Who Sent Stories To Clinton Staffers For Approval)

“Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to [you],” he wrote in an April 30, 2015 email to Podesta, including five paragraphs from a piece titled “Hillary’s big money dilemma.”

“Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this,” Thrush added. “Tell me if I [!@#!] up anything.”

“No problems here,” Podesta replied.

Basically we are surrounded by lies.  In the US today, the word “lie” is a not used.  Instead we are told someone “misspoke,” when in all actuality they lied.

We have read plenty about “fake news” that is found all over Facebook and other social media sites as well.  It is not a good thing to trust what you read on Facebook or even in the news without doing your own research.

Is there anything in print that can be trusted anymore?  Great news!  Yes, there is.

It’s the Bible.  As much as the Bible has been railed upon by those whose world view cannot tolerate its teachings, the Bible has been a steady light through the darkest of periods.  It has been a solid rock for those who stand on its principles.  The Bible is not just a book.  It is the very word of God, and as such, has the power to change lives.  We become better people, more patience, more forgiving, kind, loving, trustworthy, gentle, honorable, and giving.  We have hope, joy, and peace in good times and bad.  It is because we have the rock of God’s word on which to stand, and the light of God’s love as a guide in our lives.


In the Bible God has made many promises, and God has held to those promises ever since.

God is alive and active in the lives of those who choose to believe in Him and put their faith in Him.  This is true, has always been true, and will continue to be true forever.

In the next several posts I am going to compare the lives of some people from the Bible with real life stories from history and today.  You will see for yourself that God was, God is, and God will always be the One we can trust and believe in.

God bless you!

My Heart-Wrench for the Persecuted

This morning as usual I woke up early and met with God, thanking Him and praising Him for the gift of Jesus and the gift of His grace, that one  such as me, could be grafted into His family.  What an honor!  What a privilege!  My heart, the core of myself, is so filled with gratitude that I can feel it in a way that I cannot describe.  Maybe you understand what I mean.  Thanks just has to come out, and so it erupts from the center of my being.  Thank you Father.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Holy Spirit.  Our Trinity God, 3 in 1.  Amen

All that being said, as I moved into prayer I could not help thinking about the persecuted Christians around the world.  I was drawn deeply into prayer for our brothers and sisters who are suffering pain, fear, homelessness, loss of loved ones, hunger, thirst, cold, and loss of all their possessions.  I prayed and I prayed, naming countries, and praying for the Christians and Jews and even for those who will become Christians, and as I did so I realized that there are very few countries where Christians are not being persecuted at some level, the United States and Canada come to mind.  Even Europe is beginning to see persecution, not at the level of the Middle East, Africa, N. Korea, China, India, and so many other countries, but persecution is on the increase there.

This then led me to the thought, “the strong must support the weak,” followed by the questions, “What can we do? What can I do?”  Oh Christians in the US are certainly mocked by many people, but we are not persecuted, and we have brothers and sisters who are suffering at levels we would find hard to believe.

In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

My eyes were opened wide as I read Charles Morris and Craig Borlase’s book, Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus, which is a book about the strength of the Christian faith in the Middle East despite of, or ever maybe because of, persecution.  In the book I read first hand accounts of people from several of the countries that we read about in the news every day, countries where Christians as being beheaded and crucified, and where women and girls at very young ages are being raped continually by many men.  Yet their faith holds!  It is amazing.  It can only be through Jesus, himself, that these precious people can face each moment of their days.

Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20)

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Jesus final words in the book of Matthew (chapter 28, verse 20b)

God and son2

And so, I realize what I can do best is to continue to pray for these members of our Christian family, as well as for the Jews.  But I also need to pray for their tormentors, that Jesus will continue to reach them through visions and dreams, and that their hearts will be transformed from hearts of pure evil to hearts that serve our glorious King, Jesus.

For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I persecuted God’s church to an extreme degree and tried to destroy it.  (Gal 1:13)

He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he once tried to destroy. (speaking of Paul in Gal 1:23)

Will you join me in prayer?

Holy and Almighty God,  I can only feel a drop of your intense love for these people, both your children and their persecutors, and yet what I can feel is strong.  I know you love the sinner, no matter how great their sin, and long for them to turn to you for forgiveness and the grace of salvation through your son, Jesus.  Please hear our prayers as we pray that your Holy Spirit will fall with power over the Middle East, Africa, China, N. Korea, India, Vietnam, Philippines, and all other places where persecution of Christians and Jews persists. Let thousands and thousands of hearts be changed, Almighty God.

Jesus, savior of the world, forgive me for every moment that I forget about my hurting brothers and sisters.  I lift them up to you today.  Please fill them with the strength they need to get through this day.  Fill them with a strong sense of your presence in the midst of their fears.  Ease the pain of grief  their carry.  As the families lose all of their belongings, their is shame that fills the hearts of the men, especially.  I am not sure what it will take, if not a miracle from you, Jesus, but release them from these feelings of shame.  Let them have joy and love in the midst of their trials, and for those who are in the process of torture, give them supernatural strength and peace.  Hold them strong, Lord Jesus.  Hold on to them just as you have promised.

Thank you for hearing our prayers.  In your holy name, Jesus, we pray. Amen

Israel deserves a closer look

star14cThe country of Israel, its government, and its people are the victims of some rather disgusting, one-sided publicity.  I have decided that enough is enough, and have prepared a sampling of seldom reported items to help balance the rhetoric.

First, who is really the “bad guy” when it comes to civilian casualties as battles and skirmishes are fought?  The Israelis are always reported as the killing civilians in large numbers.  Consider this though…

Israel’s approach to bombing enemy targets is unique in the history of warfare. Making use of modern technology, it sends text messages, or calls the target several minutes before striking, to warn the occupants to move to safety.

Then it sends a flare or similar device as a final warning before actually dropping the bomb. The success of this strategy can be measured by the numbers. In striking 500 targets in Gaza, only around 20 civilians have died, with about another 20 Islamic militants. In terms of what is euphemistically called “collateral damage,” those figures are extraordinarily low.

When a government cares about civilian casualties, they are NOT the bad guys.  Bad guys are the ones doing exactly what the media loves to report that Israel is doing.  If you read the full article you will find this is an Israeli to Palestinian kindness only.

It is often said that non-Jews have no voting rights in Israel.  This is actually not true.  Consider this…

The Israeli election season began months ago, but the Arab parties have only recently launched their campaign. Unlike other parties that will try to sway swing voters on election day, March 17th, their strategy is getting Arab-Palestinian citizens who have historically been apathetic or who outright boycotted elections to vote. Around half of Arabs in Israel did not participate in recent elections. But this time around, Arab parties are gaining ground. Early polls show the Arab-Palestinians are expected to jump from the lowest voter turnout rate to one of the highest in the country and could become the third largest party in the next Knesset. (viewed 1/2/2017)

The real threat in Israel, as it is in the Western world, is that the Muslim population can grow to outnumber voters in the countries in which they reside, causing an internal, political change in the home country.

Lastly, the whole burden of the failed peace process is always put on Israel.  However, this also is a failure of accurate reporting.  Anyone who understands the real nature of the problem knows that Israel is only asking for recognition of their right to exist.  The Palestinians will never agree, without education in peace,  because to do so would go against everything their Muslim faith and Arab heritage has taught them.  In their eyes, Jews do not have a right to exist.  They are to be conquered, made to convert, pay an exorbitant tax, or die.  (The same is true for Christians, but this article is about Israel and the Jewish people.)

Consider this….

There are two main reasons why Palestinians will not sign a real and meaningful peace agreement with Israel – at least not in the foreseeable future.

The first is a total lack of education for peace. The second is related to the absence of a leader who is authorized – or has the guts – to embark on such a risky mission.

If Yasser Arafat was not able to accept the generous offer made by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the 2000 Camp David summit, who is Mahmoud Abbas to make any form of concession to Israel? Arafat was quoted back them as saying that he rejected the offer because he did not want to end up drinking tea with assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to sign a peace agreement with Israel.

Any Palestinian who dares to talk about concessions to Israel is quickly denounced as a traitor.

These are the two reasons why the “peace process” in the Middle East will continue to revolve in a vicious cycle. In order to make peace with Israel, you need to prepare your people for peace with Israel. This is something that the Palestinian Authority has failed to do. And that is why we will not see the emergence of a more moderate Palestinian leader in the near future.  (viewed 1/2/2017)

Israel has given up land for peace. It did so in 1978, when it gave up the Sinai Peninsula (and all the oil wealth from that land) to the Egyptians who had signed a peace treaty with them.

Israel would give up land for peace again.  The one condition that cannot seem to be met is Israel’s unwavering desire to be acknowledged as having a right to exist.  What group of people, and country would not want that as part of a peace treaty?  It is not asking all that much, one would think.  Oh, but it is….

Peace is not an option for the Arab nations.  Total annihilation of Israel, and Jews, is their goal.   Peace, wanted by Israel, is not the desired outcome of the Palestinians or by their Middle East neighbors.

I have added this link to a wonderful 5 minute video about the history of the land both Israel and the Palestinians are fighting over.  It is also helpful to understand the history of the disputed territory.

I support Israel’s right to exist, and I hope you will also.


Will the New Year be different for you?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23)

Interesting that this series on fruit of the Holy Spirit would conclude just as so many people are considering their New Year’s resolutions, and the final “fruit” is “self-control.”  So interesting…..

What are you hoping to change in the new year?  How are you hoping 2017 will be different?  Are you hoping, along with thousands of others, to lose weight, eat healthier, or change your appearance in some way?  Are you hoping to find a new job and makwoman_4020cnpe more money?  Could you be hoping to get more consistent with prayer time or Bible reading?

Even those who stand up tall and say, “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions!” there is something they would like to do better, do less of, or do more of.  All of us have stuff like that in our lives.  It goes with not being perfect, whatever that looks like.

If we are going to do one thing that can affect all aspects of our life, it would be to draw closer and deeper with God.  By now in the posts regarding all the fruit of the Holy Spirit, I think the case can be said that God can and does make a difference in the quality of life of those who choose to believe in him and believe him. Let’s consider for a moment the benefits:

  1. More peace, even when in stressful situations
  2. More joy, even in times of sadness
  3. More hope, knowing, with assurance, there is a better life ahead
  4. More comfort, knowing that you are standing on the rock and get shaken less and less
  5. More security, knowing that God will provide
  6. More community, knowing that you have a huge family of believers that includes brother and sisters all around the world, and in heaven.   You are part of a huge family, and will be together with all of them in the future.
  7. More confidence, knowing you are living a worthwhile life
  8. More assurance, knowing the truth of right and wrong, and living the right path
  9. More steadiness, knowing God leads and we follow his path
  10. More light, the darkness fades and the light of Christ fills your entire being
  11. More love, knowing God loves all people, we learn to love all people too, even those who hurt or harm us
  12. More strength, knowing we have God’s power within us and it will get us through
  13. And so much more……


So, as you consider self-control, rather than focus on what is wrong with you, why don’t you focus on God instead.  He loves you just the way you are, and will gently lead you into  paths that will transform your life into the precious jewel God created you to be.  Seek God, the one true God, the God of the Bible FIRST, and let all the other things fall into place in the proper time.

God bless you now and throughout 2017.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)



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