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Archive for October, 2016

“Utopia, Texas?” My husband and I quipped in unison as we sped toward the sign pointing the road to Utopia was left at the next intersection.

“Hey…” I scrambled in my travel bag for my latest edition of Texas Hill Country magazine. “…I think that’s the place we were gonna eat lunch.”

“Are you hungry right now?” Without waiting for my answer, he turned where the sign indicated. “Utopia, huh? Wonder if it really is?”

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Who in the world would name a town Utopia? What town could possibly live up to that name? Roget’s Thesaurus identifies the word as meaning “good times, hope, paradise.” While I love the Hill Country, don’t think I would use those words to describe any town I’d seen there. Dry, rocky, scenic—sure! But Utopia? However, the picture in THC magazine of that gorgeous, mouth-watering coconut cream pie sent my taste buds into a shimmy. “Yeah, let’s eat before we go to Lost Maples.”

Have you ever set your heart on something you’ve seen in pictures only to be disappointed when the object of your imagination is placed in front of you? As we traveled the winding curves over the hills toward Utopia I hoped this place would be the exception to that rule.

Twenty minutes later my husband slowed to allow a car to pass. “This sure better be worth the diversion. I’m ready for a hike in the park.”

I gave his belly a pat. “After that scrumptious pie, you’ll need that hike.” Oh how I hoped The Lost Maples Café would be as good as it looked in the magazine. Didn’t want to hike with a grumpy husband.

As we neared our destination the landscape opened into a valley with lush ranches, lined with numerous rolls of plump, second-cut hay, a beautiful river and water fall that set the stage for our arrival in this quiet Hill Country town.

utopia-waterfall

The streets were neat, clean, and picturesque. Then we spied the café. The birds sang, the angels sang, and the peace of this quiet town filled my spirit—now if only the food were equally good.

A buzz of conversation filled the air as we walked into this quaint, but delightful place. The sound of  “Hello, sit wherever you’re comfortable” met us at the door. And we spent the next hour or so enjoying the benefits of country pleasantries as people who knew each other and strangers alike soaked up the friendliness, great food, and decompressed atmosphere.

This town was definitely Utopia! But what about the food?

Lost Maples Cafe.jpg

The hamburgers were homemade and grilled to perfection—no out-of-the-freezer patties or in-a-hurry waitresses here. Half-way through lunch I noticed our waitress cutting one of those lucious pies! And oh, my! The meringue was high and perfectly toasted, but I also noticed there were several other kinds of pies, each more mouthwatering than the last—coconut cream, cherry, pecan, and chocolate pecan. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

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My husband chose cherry. I had to have the coconut cream with the mile-high meringue, but my mouth watered at the thought of chocolate pecan. So, we ordered all three! The chocolate pecan would hold for a midnight snack. Maybe!

yummy-cherry-pie

Those dancing taste buds of mine sighed “Ahhh,” with the first mouthful of the creamiest, yummiest, filling—but the meringue was special—creamy too. And the crust? Best ever! Oh, just wonderful!

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As we left Utopia I thought about two other destinations. Destinations each one of us will choose—one or the other—Heaven or Hell. The length of the trip for many is long and full of years. Plenty of time to make up your mind or change your mind over which path to take. For others, in our reality, the trip ends far too soon, no time for a change in destination.

Which direction are you headed today?

You can know for sure.

Jesus left His throne in heaven, came to this earth to sacrifice His life so you could choose to be with Him forever. He promises if we accept His payment on Calvary for our sins and believe He is the Christ, the Son of God, it’s enough, and like that thief on the cross, we will be with Him forever. And there is no wondering if Eternity with Christ will be good—it is beyond our ability to conceive.

But there are many Jesus tells us, a bunch more, who choose the darkness of hell. Cut off from God forever. Those who choose to live life their way. Those who mock and forsake the holiness and righteousness of God. Those who live for the moment and the pleasure sin provides for that moment.

The choice is yours.

God is not willing

I’m so glad Dick and I a glimpse of life in Utopia, Texas, a few weeks ago, and know because we love Him and obey Him, we have an eternal utopia with our Lord Jesus Christ. Forever.

“A glorious throne on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord. Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise!” (Jeremiah 17:12-14 NAS).

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Two weeks ago I replied to a political post on Friday and my reply was shared and agreed to by a multitude, but apparently the social media police didn’t share my followers’ opinions. The next day, with no questions or warning, social media shut me out—for eight days.

I was in jail.

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There was no email address or phone number I could contact to reason or discuss the situation. Someone without a face, or voice, or identity, controlled my access to cyber life. It was if a thief sneaked into my house and sliced my communication to the outside world.

For the next eight days I ping-ponged between irate and grief stricken. My world shaken. I’m a writer. What would I do if I lost all those friends I had worked to gather into my circle of friends? My career would be diminished. And anxious anger multiplied.

Until God spoke to my rebellious, haughty heart and reminded me the number of times I repeated I. Really? Oh my, yes I had. I had taken credit for everything God had set before me. And then the learning part of difficult began. Thoughts rushed through my mind as reality settled in.

This stuff is small potatoes. Five years ago you didn’t know what social media was. If you’re this emotional and out of control over small stuff, what are you going to do when real persecution arrives? Will you deny your testimony? Will you cave? Will you forsake Me?

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I confessed my sin of idol worship and my ignoring the fact God is even in control of cyberspace, and I thanked Him and vowed to take my hands off the whole situation. Eight days after being shut off social media returned to my computer and nothing was lost—after I relinquished control and placed myself in the hands of my Father in heaven.

But in the quiet of the moment that still, small voice in my heart asked what are you going to do now?

I’d love to pontificate some marvelous response and lessons I’ve learned, but every day I’m listening and seeking and hopefully understanding God is sovereign over everything in my life—even the bad stuff. The chaotic crisis. But I don’t like bad stuff or chaos, do you? Strange isn’t it, we only learn when the difficulties grow beyond our ability to manipulate.

I whispered, “Help me, Lord.”

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:2-8 NAS).

This morning as I prayed for revival to sweep across our land and turn our nation back to God, He again stirred my heart.  Revival can’t come unless your cold, hard, disobedient heart is shattered and melted to repent of the evil you are doing.

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Unfortunately, we don’t identify evil as God does. But God’s definition is all that matters.

He reminded me when He brought Ancient Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land. A trip that should have taken a few weeks or month—but it took over twenty years. Why? Because they had cold, hard, disobedient hearts. He called them stiff-necked people. I wonder what He calls our American hearts today?

When Israel stood on the banks of the river about to enter this land of milk and honey, God instructed them to utterly destroy the enemies of God. Why? Because the inhabitants of the land were wicked idol worshippers and He was jealous for His people. He knew they would cave, and they did—desiring to be just like those idol worshippers.

The Israelites had several battles, and as long as they followed God’s instructions they were victorious in battle. But they grew weary and decided it would be much easier to dwell with these idol worshippers rather than destroy them. After all, how wicked could they be? And again we all know the answer and the consequences—Israel adopted the ways of God’s enemies. And to be safe, they worshipped the idols as well as God.

 

And so have we! Their perversion didn’t end well for Israel and our perversion won’t end well for America either.

Jesus gave us one instruction after He suffered, bled, died, and was raised by the power of The Living God. “Go and make disciples. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” But we have decided it’s easier to live with the enemies of Christ than to go make disciples of them.

We’ve adopted their idols. Idols that leave us too busy to care about our spouses, children, or neighbors. But like Israel, we pick up our Bibles and go to church every Sunday, don’t we? Like carrying a Bible is our ticket in Heaven’s door. But have we opened The Word during the week? How do we treat our neighbors? Do we even see them? Or speak to them?

“Oh,” but you say. “We’re both so busy—”

Do you even hear Jesus’ command anymore? “Go and make disciples?”

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Yes, it’s much easier to just live with ’em. No fuss. No bother. No love or ability to think about their future destination—separated from God forever—because we don’t really care. Cold, hard hearts can’t care. If you and I gave serious thought to the eternal reality and torment of living separated from God forever—if we could even grasp that fact—wouldn’t we be banging on their doors, dragging them from the flames to salvation? Or have we grown so comfortable with the message we don’t really believe that stuff about flames and separation anymore? Or the darkness?

Sad thing is, it won’t take but a split second of hell’s fire to change our minds, but then it will be too late.

God tells us in Jeremiah, “If we haven’t given them the message of the truth of the love of God and the message of the gospel, their blood is on our hands.” We are guilty of their deaths.

And folks we’re at that time in America.

We are no longer the land of the brave and the home of the free. Our leaders are corrupt. Our churches are preaching their own version of truth. Our homes and our lives are filled with the lusts and lures of the world. We’ve forgotten or perhaps never known God calls us to love and to be holy.

We have forsaken God. We have decided we’d rather live in the middle of the squalor of the enemy camp than to obey Jesus’ command.

Cold, hard, hearts, Lord, so deceived we don’t even realize we don’t know the Word of God, and we’re too busy with our idols to care or spend the time reading, learning, and applying those Ancient Truths that cost the prophets and disciples their lives. But I’m thinking we’re about to find out.

 

While it’s been so much easier to live with the enemies of God than to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, some are beginning to recognize we’ve given the reins of control to the enemy of God. We’ve looked the other way and overlooked the screaming signs. We’ve paid the bill and looked the other way as our children were sacrificed to the ways of the ungodly. And we’ve become more ungodly than the world…because we knew and held the truth. Knew the truth, but rejected the truth of the necessity to be holy and blameless. And that only comes by faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the price He paid for you and for me.

We’ve allowed lies to petrify the dark caverns of our hearts. Like icebergs of cancer, slowly inching numbness, as the penetrating cold creeps, covers, and steals our heart’s affection from the living God.

What will you do to stem the flow of lies washing over us like a tsunami? Stand firm in the Word or drown?

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“Now hear this oh foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear. Do you not fear Me? Declares the Lord. Do you not tremble in My presence? (Jeremiah 5:21-22 NAS).

“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority, and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NAS).

 

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