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Last week, in Part One, I wrote about seeds of rage. Seeds we see harvested on the nightly news and in the headlines. But these aren’t the only kind of seeds growing and being harvested in America.

Bundles of Bales 4

A friend read the following article in the Wall Street Journal and passed it on to me and now, I’m passing this on to you. ‘Cause you certainly won’t hear this on the evening news. But could you imagine what would happen if every town U.S.A. adopted the attitude and actions of the citizens of North Platte, Nebraska.

While the story in and of itself is wonderful and amazing, be sure to catch the information this wasn’t the first generation of North Platte citizens who planted seeds of a town united…when called on this isolated town in Nebraska again repeated what they had been taught for several generations.

Thank you, Wall Street Journal, and  Author, Bob Greene, for carrying this very important story on July 22, 2018. To see photos of this story go to Wall Street Journal and type in North Platte, Nebraska.

*          *          *          *          *          *

We were overwhelmed,” said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski. “I don’t really have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were. I had never even heard of the town before.”

Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base.

A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack?

North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.

The community welcomed more than 700 service men and women, North Platte, Nebraska.

During World War II, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to take on water.

The townspeople made those 10 minutes count. Starting in December 1941, they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending after midnight. Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day. They presented them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them. Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot. They never missed a train, never missed a soldier. They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war. Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The soldiers never forgot the kindness. Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are dead. And now, in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast-food joint.

“We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up,” Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center, which had been opened and decorated especially for them.

“People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way,” said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitors’ bureau. “Hundreds of people, who wanted to help.”

The soldiers entered the events center to the aroma of steaks grilling and the sound of recorded music: current songs by Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, Florida Georgia Line; World War II songs by Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey. They were served steak sandwiches, ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads and fruit; local church groups baked pies, brownies and cookies.

Mayor Dwight Livingston stood at the door for two days and shook every soldier’s hand. Mr. Livingston served in the Air Force in Vietnam and came home to no words of thanks. Now, he said, as he shook the hands and welcomed the soldiers, “I don’t know whether those moments were more important for them, or for me. I knew I had to be there.”

“It was one soldier’s 21st birthday,” Lisa Burke said. “When I gave him his cake, he told me it was the first birthday cake he’d ever had in his life.” Not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask him how that could possibly be. “I was able to hold my emotions together,” she said. “Until later.”

When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.

This is on North Platte.”

Mr. Greene’s books include “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.”

 

*          *          *          *          *          *

These seeds are called KINDNESS, GRATITUDE, CARING, RESPONSIBILITY, OBEDIENCE, AND LOVE!

Fence and bales

The parents and grandparents during World War II planted seeds these next generations in North Platte would harvest, and their children and their children’s children will continue to harvest these seeds as long as they are careful to plow and reseed as God instructs.

The people of North Platte didn’t ask these young men and women if they were liberal or conservatives—Republican or Democrat—they were Americans—American soldiers who were giving their lives so we can be free. The people from this generous city chose to stand in the gap for these young heroes, knowing united we succeed, divided we fail.

We might want to ask all news media why they didn’t cover this story? I guess without   violence or name calling it’s not an attention getter…well, this story certainly got my attention and changed Part Two of this series.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJ).

He also said, “As you go preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8 NKJ).

But God’s Word said, “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7 NKJ)

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of whirlwinds, I think it is time to plow the prairie’s, fields, cities, and towns of America planting Gospel seeds in each and every metropolis, city, town, and county in this nation before America follows Venezuela down the path to suicide.

Part Three…next week!

 

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 Last week would have been our celebration of 43 years of marriage. But God chose to take Dick home on the 22nd of August, 2019.  No surprise to God, but I was overwhelmed with grief…and the past weeks have been difficult to say the least. Yesterday, September 6th, we celebrated Dick’s life with friends and family. And the peace of God’s presence have calmed the waters of fear that threatened to drown me. I don’t know what’s ahead…but God does. Dick’s with Jesus…seeing Him face to face…how can I do anything but praise my Lord and Savior and thank Him for the years He gave us. What about you? Where does God find you today. A treasured friend reposted my blog from three years ago…might want to read it….

Dick and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and while it was a great time of celebration, I paused to ponder some of the things God has taught me along the way. Things, in light of our current culture, I’d like to share with those of you who think y’all might not make next year’s anniversary, or those of you who’ve decided marriage isn’t your cup-a-tea.

One of the first amazing facts, I’ve learned to ponder what God has taught me. God tells us over and over to remember—remember what? Remember what we’ve gone through. Remember how He carried us through the bad times. Remember the joy of the good times. Remember His promises to those who love and obey Him. Remember who He is and who we’re not. Remember and act upon what He desires us to become. But remember, you can’t remember what you’ve never learned.

michelle-and-ashton

 

Expect difficult trials and times. These forty years the hurdles have been many and varied: Job loss, several times. Critical illness. Heart attacks. Death of a daughter. Parenting grandchildren for a year after daughter’s death. Change in family dynamics. Destructive thoughts and behavior patterns. No job, no income, lots of bills. Anger. Rebellion to God. Caring for elder parents in our home. Death of both sets of parents. All of which lead to the third thing I’ve learned.

God never leaves us or turns His back when the going gets tough. He carried us through many of these harsh life experiences and guided us through the rest. God is faithful—even when we’re not. He is my Rock and He’s taught me to lean on Him. Doesn’t mean the grieving wasn’t hard. Stretched me to the limit. But He has never failed us.

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Keep the main thing, the main thing. Today’s culture tends to encourage us to be attentive to the urgent while by-passing the important. Sometimes at the end of a day I just wanted to jump off the crazy train—too much of everything, not enough of me. Then I began to learn about seasons of life and God’s order. Remember, seasons come and go, they don’t stay forever. What we ought to do, we ought to do now. Like education, college and graduation. Career choices. Marriage. Parenthood. Then your teen’s years swiftly turn into empty nest years. And finally retirement and old age. How’s that for a quick, sweeping  broad brush stroke across the seasons of life?

God tells us to do all things decently and in order. He is a God of order. We don’t see a flim-flam creation do we? No. Down to the last intricate detail, God orchestrated all of His creation and freely gave us life. We’re the ones who embrace confusion rather than order. We become bored with order or tantalized by the haram-scaram voice of deception. And that’s where God found me.

Hold your hand in front of you and consider, what would happen if your thumb were replaced by your pinky? Or how about if your index finger took your ring finger’s place and your thumb nestled in beside it to bump the middle finger to the thumb’s place. The answer is weird, fumbling, chaos.

And many of us have experienced fumbling, chaotic points where we by-passed stages of life or jumbled their order. Like an un-wed single mom attempting to get a college degree. Or grandparents forced to take over parenting the grandchildren because the parents rebelled against God.

papa-noah-ashton

All of us have, in one way or another, violated God’s deliberate order of life and many of us end up with a diagnosis of terminal heart failure…stuffing too much, too soon, into an unprepared vessel. God is always in the business of forgiveness, but the consequences of wrong choices or sin continue to trail behind us like super sleuths.

Whether you believe it or not, God is Sovereign over all things. He knew me and He knew you before we were formed in our mother’s womb. I can’t even comprehend that, can you? Not only did He know us, He granted personalities, skills, talents—gifts, to each one of us. We are all unique.  Created for the purpose of glorifying Him. Do you know He loves to hear the sound of your voice—but is the sound He hears from me pleasing or full of discord? He gives me the right to choose.

I don’t know about you, but much of my life brought shame, not glory to God. I knew He was God, but had no clue what His sovereignty meant.  But because God never changes and is always ready to grant us mercy when we change our ways and accept Jesus’ gift of salvation and choose to obey Him—when I came to Jesus and confessed my sin and shame, He forgave me. Then the key word is surrender. I surrendered my will to His will. My wants to His wants. My choices to His choices for Dick and for me. My obedience to God brings order and peace to my life and my home.

Sovereignty means whatever you’re going through did not catch God by surprise. He’s not pacing the heavens shouting, Oh no! What am I going to do now? He’s in charge of what’s happening—sets the limits of your trials and temptations. Before you were born He knew you. Before a word is on your lips He knows what you’re going to say. And He loves you anyway. Jesus died because of your and my desperate need for a Savior.

And it also means I don’t have the option of allowing my temper to run rough-shod over people. I can’t carry a grudge and be pleasing to Him. I’m accountable to God for every tiny word that comes out of my mouth and every thought I allow to fog my mind. I’m accountable to Him for each minute of every day, whether I choose good or evil. And I don’t get the choice of defining what’s good and what’s evil. God makes the rules. And they’re not old-timey words. His Word will stand forever.

michael-graduating-flite

 

Next week Part Two: It’s Not All About Me!

 

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This week I’ve met a new friend in Kokomo, Indiana…you know, the town where the tornadoes struck and most news media failed to even report on national news because they were so busy promoting or trashing the two presidential nominees.

The following is what Amy Brock McNew posted on FaceBook the first day I met her:

 

Prairie Creek 2016 2

 

“I’m tired.
Tired of watching my friends suffer and sift through their homes.
Tired of seeing my stepdaughter sick because it’s all finally hitting her.
Tired of seeing my son cringe and get that look on his face when there’s red on the radar moving toward us again and the thunder starts crashing.
Tired of dealing with an insurance company where the only man responding is an auto claims assessor who is going above and beyond, doing things outside of his job description to help us because no one else will.
I’m tired of the migraine that attacked Monday with a vengeance and hasn’t stopped splitting my skull, making it near impossible to focus.
I’m tired of throwing stuff away, and watching water cause more damage to our home my husband worked so hard for.
I’m tired of the smell of wet wood and insulation and yuck.
I’m tired of having to shell out more money from a dwindling reserve to get his truck fixed because a state employee backed into our driveway, and then having to wait God knows how long to get the money back from the state.
And I’m tired of feeling so tired and sick and guilty because we got off easy compared to others whose headaches make mine look like a day at the beach.
Today is one of those days where joy and beauty and peace seem nonexistent. Today is a day where my armor feels so heavy it’s dragging me to the ground. Today is a day I’m trying not to think about dropping my sword and saying to heck with it. Today is a day I’m clinging to hope with my broken fingernails and drawing blood.
We covet your prayers. Especially for my precious friends who find out today if their home is a total loss. Especially for those on the next street over where I’m at this moment watching a bulldozer push through what’s left of what used to be their house.
And while you’re doing that, I’ll dig in the mud and gunk for my joy and the beautiful hope I know is under there somewhere.”

 

Amy received many responses, all with promises to pray for the people of Kokomo. And many of you have, in the past, experienced the pain and heartache going on in Kokomo.

The following post came from Amy today and I chose to put it here, so you could see the enormity of the damage and the amazing fact there were no deaths. God is indeed our Helper in times of trouble!

 

“Here’s an aerial view of part of our neighborhood. At the end, the Starbucks my stepdaughter was inside during the storm.
Remember, no serious injuries and no deaths. One of many blessings we’re counting right now.

19,044 Views

Jason Fechner RTV6

August 24 at 9:25pm ·

Some incredible images of what’s left after one of at least 8 tornadoes ripped across central Indiana today…
This is a neighborhood in Kokomo, Indiana– watch to the end where the Starbucks was completely leveled.
Unreal that no one was hurt there…
Complete team coverage ahead on The News at 11:00 on RTV6 (WRTV – Indianapolis)…”

 

This next post came the day after the first one I read and if I had to put a title on this one I’d call it How To Survive When Disaster Strikes. Notice the difference in Amy’s tone.

 

“Been an interesting day. Interesting. Yeah, that’s the word for it.

Spent the better part of the day cleaning my fridge & freezer. When stuff thaws, melts, turns rancid, & refreezes, it creates a four kinds of special mess. I learned frozen bread dough melts, then turns into a part crispy, part spongy, gooey ball of not so delicious. Yum.

Spent 2 hours & more money than I care to think about in the grocery store replacing it all.

I then put in some more time cleaning debris out of our yard & the neighbors’. I entertained myself by cranking the tunes & playing the “Guess where these pieces came from” game I mentioned yesterday. It’s okay. By now I’m a professional at both the game & debris picking. Don’t try this at home, folks.

It was a good thing I cleaned up the things that could turn mushy, because then the rain came. Poured cats, dogs, & chinchilla babies. The tidbits I learned from that are: 1.) When you have a hole in your roof & a separated wall, it creates some amazing indoor water features. 2.) Blown insulation drips & splatters when wet, making your walls & now cockeyed door look like a toddler had a blast throwing mud pies. We won’t talk about the floor. 3.) It’s best to just throw towels over the whole mess & forget about it ’til the rain stops. If it does. We’ll see.

But there were high points.

One, I was able to go to the grocery & replace the food we lost, even though we ain’t seen hide nor hair of our insurance adjuster. Some either don’t have the money, or wouldn’t have a place to put the stuff if they did. We are blessed.

Two, we have cable & internet again. A simple thing that brings a piece of normal. Again, not all have it or have a place to use it. Plus, I made friends with the cable guy Tim, of course, & gave him a signed copy of Rebirth. He left us a note that said how much he enjoyed working in our home & spending time with us. We are blessed.

And finally, the Ball State women’s basketball team showed up & asked where we needed them. I was able to direct them to some folks who still have massive cleanup left, & some friends who have to move all their belongings out of their damaged home. We hugged them, thanked them, & cried a little. They blessed us. Again, we are so blessed.

One thing you have to do to get through all this without losing your marbles like Toodles is to find the joys & blessings. Though at times they’re hard to ferret out, they’re present. In everything. Some days you have to slog through mud, & melted dough, & unfrozen strawberry juice at the bottom of the freezer to find them, but I guarantee you’ll discover them if you search diligently enough.

Even if they’re hidden under the brown, goopy insulation you covered with a towel.”

 

Folks, it’s not if but when trials, trouble, and tribulation will strike each one of us. Today I ask you to think about how you’ll make it through to the other side when they arrive. There’s only one way—through the Lord Jesus Christ and His ability to give you an attitude of thankfulness if you’ll allow Him to replace the fear and despair with His hope!

And that takes time in prayer and in His Word. Time to prepare. Beforehand!

America stands at the threshold of God’s judgment because we’ve spurned Him. Perhaps we’re already there with tornadoes in Indiana, horrific floods and fires in Louisiana and across the western states. Riots against law and order ripping our country apart. Abortion. Lawlessness. Crime. And a famine of God’s Word in the schools, homes, and yes, even in churches.

Where is your hope—under the floods or burned by the fires or ripped away in the storm’s funnel?

The only lasting hope comes from God, through the life, death, and resurrection of His Only Son, Jesus Christ, through the power of His blood shed at Calvary. If you don’t yet have a relationship with the Only Hope, please ask Him to show you so you can turn to follow Jesus while there’s still time

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40 NKJV).

These FaceBook posts used with permission of Amy Brock McNew

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It’s Spring in Texas and farmers are plowing ground, getting ready to sow seeds. Seeds that will produce whatever they plan to harvest in the Fall. If it’s a good year and we get a balance of enough rain and sunshine the farmer can reasonably expect a bumper crop. But once that seed is planted, the crop can’t change. Whatever seed germinates will produce after its kind.

Plowed Ground 2

We lived in Florida for a number of years and I promise, I’ve never seen cucumbers or tomatoes hanging from the limbs of that orange tree. Have you? Of course not, that’s against the law of reproduction commanded by God “In the beginning— “

 “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them on the earth; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:11-12 NAS).

But the old saying, “You get more than you sow and later than you sow,” is true. It’s a cyclical law of nature. And these same laws apply to our lives.

Anacortes Farm land

You and I are planting seeds today that will yield a greater harvest at some point in our future. So I ask, what kind of seeds you sowed last week? Or yesterday? Or today? Seeds of kindness or seeds of chaos? Seeds of hope or seeds of despair? In the process of life, we continually sow and reap. Every day. Are you satisfied with your harvest? If not, why not?

Do you know you can sow different seeds? Regardless of age, creed, or color, God stands ready to implement those seed changing attitudes and actions in your life and mine into a new and better crop. But perhaps you’re having trouble understanding and identifying what kinds of nasty seeds should be eradicated.

Reaping and Sowing

Seeds of anger, left to flourish, will choke out every other helpful and hopeful seeds your heart may attempt to cultivate. These stinky seeds must be yanked out by their roots. No tolerance. Because every day these boogers are left unattended, the second generation of anger seeds grow stronger and more resistant to extinction. And unfortunately, if left to reproduce, this generational crop will morph into bitterness.

God is very clear about this toxic crop.

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15 NAS).

Oh, but you say, you don’t know what (you fill in the blank) did to me. Maybe not, but I know what our Lord Jesus Christ did for you. And how fitting we should talk about this today, Good Friday, the day when Jesus, a little over 2,000 years ago, took every sin you ever committed against Him into His sinless body. He chose to take God’s judgment and punishment for you. He was crucified so God could forgive you.

Now tell me again why you can’t forgive everyone for anything they’ve done to you in light of what Christ forgave you for?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31 NAS).

Forgiveness isn’t a warm fuzzy. Nor is it a command to be best friends with the offender. Your anger and bitterness does no harm to the person who has wronged you. No, but it sure is a fatal disease for you.

I can tell you from firsthand experience forgiveness is a choice. A choice to obey God. A choice to release the subject of your vendetta and give it over to God. A choice to plant new seeds in your heart that will produce an abundant crop of joy and love and hope—for yourself and for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Plowed ground

Choosing to hold onto your anger renders what Christ did for you null and void. Is this the crop you willingly choose to produce? The crop you will one day give an answer for? The crop that prevents you from being all God intended for you to be?

“There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. There throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths; and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 NAS).

This is the description of a man/woman, boy/girl, without Jesus. Will this be the final harvest you bring to the Lord in light of His sacrifice for you? You can lay it down today, this moment, by choosing to forgive.

There is great news and bad news about this choice. The great news? The moment you purpose in your heart to forgive—it’s a done deal. The bad news? It’s a life sentence. Yes, because you’ve already given Satan a heads-up on how to sabotage you. So every time that enemy of old tries to punch replay on your old tape of whatever that so-and-so did to me, you immediately punch the off button instead and forgive them again and again and again—seventy times seven. Until Satan sees you mean business and leaves you alone for a season.

Will you choose to let the Word of God plow the hard ground of your heart, and allow the Spirit of God to plant new seeds, for a new harvest? What greater gift could you give our Lord this Resurrection Sunday than to accept His forgiveness and then forgive one (name them) who has wronged you? The Holy Spirit will be faithful to nourish those new seeds of Christ’s love, mercy, and hope in your life that will, if you continue to weed and feed the pasture of your heart, produce a bumper crop!

A Matter of the Heart

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Which is best?
In truth both are necessary, and there’s an old saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” But as fallible humans, we always take everything to one extreme or the other, don’t we?
Take prayer for example. Can you recall a recent prayer time in your church group? Is it an exercise in the power of God or pitiful complaints about our comfort? Most likely it’s a Helpingtime of mopping up the battle field casualties—and goes something like this: Dear Lord, please heal (you fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank again) has lost his job and needs to feed his family. Heartfelt prayers? You bet. Necessary prayers? Of course, we are instructed to pray for one another. But do these prayers ever get to the real heart of God’s will, or are they just an exercise in triage?
We’re kinda like Gideon in the Book of Judges. The Angel of the Lord found Gideon hiding in the wine vat during a time of enemy attacks and addressed him: “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12 NASB). And can’t you just hear Gideon whisper, Who me?
Yet God in fact made that young man into a mighty warrior for the Lord, and that’s His instruction and plan for you and me!David
I was skimming over Paul’s words in Colossians during Bible study this morning,
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…” (Colossians 1:9 NASB).

Bible Reading
And my mind slammed on the brakes and backed-up. Heard of what? My eyes retraced his prior words. “…since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all of the saints;” (Colossians 1:4 NASB). So, Paul’s praying for fellow Christians in Colossae. And I asked the question where was Paul when he was writing this letter to these folks? Short answer—in prison in Rome—a long, long way from Colossae.
I don’t know about you, but if I were in prison I wonder if I’d be praying without ceasing for anyone but me. Nah, I’d be whining, pray for me! But I scanned through to the end of the book and only in the last few words to the Colossians does Paul say, “Remember my imprisonment.”
But the remainder of what Paul said in this letter, written probably two or three years before He was executed, clangs a clarion call through the two thousand plus years of history in between that should jar us to the reality of why we’re here. In 2016. What we are supposed to be doing? And pokes a finger at just how deceived and distracted we’ve become. More concerned with our physical comforts than the mission God laid before us.
Jesus tells you and me, “We have not, because we ask not.” Paul could never be accused of not asking. And with boldness! Listen to how this apostle prayed and ask yourself: Has anyone Prayingever prayed like that for me? Or have I ever prayed like that for anyone else? And don’t Paul’s petitions go to the root of the problems of those he prayed for?
• That you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
• That you will walk in a manner worthy of the LordThe way
• To please Him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
• Strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience
• Joyously giving thanks to the Father
Why?
• He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Because?
• He rescues us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption—the forgiveness of sins.

Any way
Folks, we are hiding in the wine vats of political correctness. Deceived about how love acts. And what love is and does. Choosing to live like powerless paupers while the shroud of darkness seeps, sucks, and smothers our peace and freedom bought and paid for by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We’ve ignored or forgotten our mission.
The Word of God instructs us: “Come boldly before the Throne of Grace to find mercy and help in time of need.” But we have lapsed into a full-time anemic defense, attempting to manage the casualties and bury the dead, forgetting we are valiant warriors for the Kingdom of God—accountable to the King of Kings and Lords of Lords for every idle word—even in prayer. Because, unlike the church in Colossae, we have the manual!
I challenge you, because I’ve challenged myself, to pick up your Sword of the Spirit and begin praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ like Paul prayed for these brothers and sisters struggling under the growing harsh control of Rome and the persecution he knew was sure to come.
And pray like your life depends on it—it does ‘til Jesus comes.Hannah

 

And by what authority can we expect results? That’s the subject of next week’s blog!

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I buckled the seat belt and glanced around the cabin of the plane. Full flight—not an empty seat. And I shifted closer to my husband for take-off. While my son is a fighter pilot who loves his airplane and delights in zooming through the skies at mach speed, no way does that strand of flight genes flow in these veins. Now I just had endure this three plus hours to get home.

Ranier from the lodge
Vacation in Seattle had been wonderful, and I kinda looked forward to the interrupted time to edit my WIP (work in progress) Twisted. Kinda.

About fifteen minutes into the flight the captain instructed the flight attendants to immediately take their seats and buckle up. The voice instructed passengers not to move about the cabin for the next little bit, and those seat-command-lights flashed on.

Dick patted my arm and smiled. Every muscle in my body tensed. I didn’t return his smile.
The bumping began—then worsened. I closed my notebook, stuffed it back inside the bag and grabbed his hand in a death-lock. We dipped and the plane jarred from side to side.
I pushed his hand away and clutched the gray, drop-down tray in front of me, and hung on. But the bumps and rolls continued. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? My hands hurt from holding that plastic so tight. And all that raced through my mind, over and over, “Lord, help us! Please help us.”
“You’re holding onto the wrong thing.” The clear, concise words, sounded in my head and heart.
“What?” I quipped.
“You are holding onto the wrong thing.” The calm voice of the Spirit of God repeated as loud and real as if He were sitting in Dick’s seat.
I stared at my fists clinging to a gray plastic and the stupid absurdity of my actions crystallized. If the plane went down so would I—clinging to that insignificant tray.
The bumping continued, but I loosened my grip and tore my hands away from that false hope of stability and confessed what God already knew. I was wrong. And anxious. And was indeed holding onto the wrong thing.

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Though the bumping didn’t stop, I felt God’s presence and peace wrap me, body, soul and spirit, in His sovereign arms—after I put away foolish substitutes and trusted Him to care for me.
During this Christmas Season, that question has played through my mind many times since that high-flite-testing.

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Amid the hustle and bustle, what insignificant, useless things are you holding onto?
Are you clenching your fists at God because He took your loved one home this year? Are you determined to keep all things as they were before their death—accusing God of taking someone you can’t live without? Are you holding onto anger, anxiousness, and agitation?
Or are you so spun up over the world events crumbling around us you can’t enter into the truth of the Christmas celebration? Are you holding onto the hope of salvation through the right candidate, right political party, or right Congress to set this nation back on it’s godly foundation?

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What shape and color plastic are you holding onto?
What deception have you allowed to creep in and cloud your ability to see the Light of Christ?
What turbulent situation is robbing you of faith, peace, and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ to give you help, hope, and healing?

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Dick leaned over and whispered, “It’ll be over soon. We’re just flying over the Cascades.”
I had no idea flying over mountains in the atmosphere of the afternoon would cause turbulence. Did you? We had flown over them in the early morning and it had been smooth. I was ignorant of the facts.
And many of us, even those who believe in Christ Jesus, and have been washed in His blood, don’t know the facts of the truth of His Word. And, like my ignorance of the cause of the bumps and rolls, they are ignorant of what God tells us about who He is, who we are in Him, and what is to come.
And how we are to behave in the process.

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But He has preserved His love letters. His instructions on how to make it through these harsh and barren times. And it’s not too late to educate yourself.
Will you search His Truth?
Will you choose to release your grip on your understanding in order to embrace the truths and peace of His Word?
Will you make a daily practice of focusing on the only One who can deliver you through the storms and tragedies of life? Jesus—born to die so you might live in the joy of His presence—right now and forever.

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“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:5-7 NAS).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3 NAS).

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This past weekend a group of people watched horrified as a speeding vehicle crashed through barriers and flipped upside down, submerged in the Utah River, with three teenagers inside.

With one spirit, in one accord, this group of people jumped into the turmoil, turned the vehicle right-side-up in the water, and rescued the teens who are reported to be in stable condition.

The event made national news and we celebrate this unified selfless act of saving lives. But isn’t that what Christ called the Church to do—rescue rebellious people from their wrong doings and introduce them to Jesus!DSCF2480

Before the foundation of the world God put in place everything we would need to work in the power of His Holy Spirit to do the work He preordained for each one of us to accomplish. And what better picture could we have than the courageous group from Salt Lake last weekend.

I can’t pick up a car, can you? Of course not, but working together with a single goal and one spirit, these folks saved three disobedient teens from drowning. And that’s our calling—rescuing DSCF3049people from the power of the evil one, wrenching them from the claws of sin, and telling them how Jesus died to save them. Forever.

Ephesians 3:16 tells us every believer, according to the riches of God’s glory, will be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. So Church, let me ask, where’s our power? Has the Spirit changed? Or are we the rebellious ones, speeding through life, giving no thought to how far we’ve catapulted into the enemy’s camp?

Paul implores us to “…walk in a manner worth of the Historic Churches 0018calling with which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3 NIIV).

Well now, that certainly explains our problem, doesn’t it? The Church is called to unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace—Uh oh. Peace in Baptists ranks? Or humble, patient Presbyterians? How about tolerance for one another in love by the Church of God folks? Do I need to continue? Does anyone think there’s going to be a special Southern Baptist section in heaven? Or are Bible Churches going to be given top billing? Of course not. We are all being built-up into one body, in Christ. His body. His bride.

And we wonder why we’re impotent? We’re so full of ourselves and our own agenda. Proud. Arrogant. Selfish. Self-willed. We’ve got it covered. We’re upside-down in the flood waters of life, deprived of the breath of the Spirit destined for death, ‘til the doctor DSCF2348delivers a tragic diagnosis. ‘Til a husband, wife, or child dies. ‘Til another 9/11 and we come face to face with our mortality and insignificant, hopeless state without God.

We skip across the pages of The Word, grabbing a morsel here, a snack there, yet never pausing to let the wonder and glory of the LORD God Almighty fill our soul. That’s not belief. That’s not faith. That’s pride. No wonder we’re in the mess we’re in. Confused, weak, tossed about with name it and claim it philosophies and countless other deceptions which have captured the minds of the Body and carried our hearts to a pagan land. We are prattling children. Unaware. Fiddling while our family, our neighborhood, our nation burns. Just like in the days of Noah.

Hell is the apparent destination for many I know. Many you know. They don’t know Jesus. But we refuse to grasp the urgency of their DSCF2344peril, to open our eyes to the finality and horror of separation from God forever. We refuse to tell them about what Jesus has done in our lives. Or is there nothing to tell? Do we really care about lost folks? Are we complacent, thinking whew, I’m safe. Too bad about them? Good thing the Salt Lake City folks recognized the teens would die if they didn’t act right then and in one accord.

Jesus gave us one assignment. “Go make disciples.” Like those folks jumped into the river with no thought for their comfort, their safety, their appearance. With a unified voice we must break down those embassies of hell entrenched in every city and town in our nation. And yank those held in the fierce jaws of Satan into the Ark of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t save them, God does, but we are responsible for the yanking, telling, loving, and nurturing them to hope and healing in the unity of the Spirit in Christ Jesus.

If we come to our senses, see their danger and ours, and come together in the only Holy Spirit of the Lord, the same power that Historic Churches 0007_edited-1fell at Pentecost will sweep across this nation with purifying wind and fire, saving multitudes, and the Holy Spirit will revive, rejuvenate, and transform the Church.

It’s our choice. Yours and mine—one saved sinner at a time–To repent and walk in a manner worthy of our calling or continue grieving the Spirit of God.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIIV).

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