A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In

November 30, 2015

We Are Family...

     As I sit here contemplating what I have discerned during my brief time away from this blog, I would say it is this.... That I have realized just how important it is to never lose my focus on loving people and God.  As I reread those words, I know they sound overused and appear to lack originality or a fresh perspective, but let me elaborate.
      For the last four years I have dedicated each day to being alert and aware of what is happening on the world stage, because like all of you, I see what a scary place it is becoming.  I have felt a calling to try to bring both clarity to what I see, and a reassurance that God is still Sovereign and in control.  I have tried to look at events and situations through a Biblical lens to try to understand the implications for our spiritual lives and how we are to glorify our Lord.
      But for the last 5 or 6 days, I have intentionally shifted my focus away from the world and centered it on individual people.  I refused to let the mounting tensions of terrorism, racial division, government corruption, or any of the other news stories that permeate our everyday existence interfere with connecting with the people in my life.
     I was aware that all the disorder and mayhem was still swirling out in the world, and could not escape references to Russia, Syria, Planned Parenthood, gun control, and tension in Chicago, but I refused to let it permeate my sphere.  In effect, I took a mental and emotional break, and I found that concentrating on Jesus's two great foundational commandments -- loving the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind; and loving others before myself -- transported my soul to a place that transcended all the world chaos.  And what peace and rest I found!
     Instead of having one eye on family and one on world events, I was able to immerse myself into deeper engagements with people -- not news headlines, not current events blogs, and not the actions of those who would destroy my country or way of life.  It was a time of real connection with neighbors, individual family members, and my husband.  And it was all independent of how the world was effecting us.  It was deep conversations about goals; it was sharing intimate moments and memories; it was engaging in activities for the sheer fun of it, and most importantly it was about exploring our God and discovering new insights for both old Believers and new Christians.  I think I was experiencing real thankfulness and the true human experience.
     And in the midst of it, I received such blessings and saw God at work!  I watched Him work through the people we chose to surround ourselves with; both those related by flesh and blood and those linked through the blood of Jesus.  Friends who are going through some changes in their personal life were invited to join in our Thanksgiving celebration, as were friends who have become like family.  And the greatest blessing of all for me was the presence of my cousin's son, who spent the entire weekend with us.  I have just recently "found" him, so to speak.  His mother and I were part of a close family growing up.  We both grew up in Illinois and then I went off to college in Texas.  The last time I saw her was at my wedding nearly 29 years ago, and before she moved to California after her own college graduation.  Needless to say, life then got in the way, and our paths just never seemed to cross.
     Then out of the blue, she calls me in September and says her son is going to school here in Texas on a football scholarship.  Naturally, I was more than excited to reconnect with her and get to know her son.  When I saw her walk through that door, it was like all the years melted away, and I have since been so sad at all the wasted time.  Her son said he was glad to know he had family in Texas and it was a foregone conclusion that he would spend his Thanksgiving break with us.  Needless to say, I know that God does things in His own timing, and I am now convinced that our reunion was a Divine Appointment!  My husband and I spent the weekend getting to really know him; laughing together; relating family history; and best of all, many long conversations about our shared faith.
     I have been given so much hope that God is still at work in our youth and our nation.  His inquisitive mind is asking all the right questions about God and about the purpose for his life in these times; about the bigger concepts of God that he has not heard in the Church; his knowledge that God is a God of not only Love, Grace, and Mercy, but of Justice and Judgment; and yes, even questions about the relationship of the fallen angels, the Nephilim, and the space aliens that his generation is so interested in.  At 21, he is light years beyond what my understanding was at that age and wants more knowledge about the God Most High.  He is an exceptional young man and I'm looking forward to having him in our lives.
     So, as I reflect back over the weekend and my "time off", I am not only grateful for the rest and respite, but so thankful for the opportunity God gave my spirit to revel in the renewed connections with my family and friends.  And I want to extend that concept of family, because it not only included those in my physical presence, but those of you who take the time to connect with me through this blog.  Because you are family, too.  I really know what the term "the family of man" means now, and I am so appreciative to God for allowing me to see where my priorities lie.
     I needed these few days off.  I am refreshed and revived and full of hope.  Yes, I will continue to engage in our conversations about what is going on in the world...  in effect, we need to because, after all, we cannot ignore the plans, lies and deceit perpetrated by the Enemy.  But I have a greater sense of our purpose, and how we are to live our lives to glorify our God.  I hope to maintain this new sense of optimism, even as I know I must immerse myself back into dissecting the world and its ramifications for God's kingdom.  I will continue to look at the ugliness with which Satan is infusing the world, and I will persist in revealing how I think God wants us to take our stand.  But, at this very moment, I am at peace in my spirit and I know this is where Jesus wants me.  So, we will move forward together, knowing that the presence of God is ever before us.  We will be grateful for each day He gives us, showing His love toward others and appreciating the Divine favor He shows us.  The giving of thanks .... that is what it was all about, and I don't want to ever lose sight of that.

Psalm 26:3    "For Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in Your faithfulness."

November 29, 2015

Romans 6:23

"For the wages of sin is death,
 but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

     After a period of rest and re-inspiration, I am happy to be back and sharing what is on my heart.  I was so blessed to be able to revel in the spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude for what God is currently doing in my life and the lives of those who have answered His call; many for the first time.  How great is His Grace and Love for all who seek Him!
     But, I write this post today with all those in mind who refuse to respond to that invitation from the Lord.  My heart is heavy as I think of those whom I love who cannot see beyond the false spoils of this temporary life.  For some reason, surrendering to Jesus threatens to destroy what they perceive as the fun and rewards of living a carefree life in pursuit of the finest material possessions the world can offer.
     I've heard all the excuses... "I just don't know how to approach Jesus; and I don't want to do it wrong" ... "I just can't believe in a God who stands by and allows (fill in the blank)"... "It just doesn't make any logical or scientific sense" (this reasoning usually comes from intellectual and academic atheists)... and, of course, there is the popular excuse of "I know there is something out there, but I just want to discover it on my own.  You know, people need to come to their own conclusions."  
     But in each of these cases, I always have one question... "What do you think happens to you the very second after you die?"  And invariably, I see a moment's hesitation, filled with either grief, pain, or fear.  Because, instinctively, they know.  They know that there is something more.  It just seems like there is too high a price to pay now for what they know is a future certainty.  There is still time to enjoy the pleasures of a life without Jesus before they think they need to give up the pursuit of worldly treasures.
     But we all know that this is the irony of their arguments.  Our rewards and treasures are not to be found on this earth.  What's more, each of these people know they are not living perfect lives; they know that there is sin in the world.  But they have somehow convinced themselves that their sin will be overlooked; or that relatively speaking, it is far less worse than those who have murdered, robbed, or abused the elderly and children.  Some think that God will recognize that they have tried to be a good person, and that is all that is required.  Their efforts are better spent accumulating wealth, or traveling the world, because, um, "life is too short not to have fun."  (I can't tell you how many times I have heard that!)
     Others deliberately live in a "fantasy" world because of past sins, and so they live behind a facade of community involvement, job titles, big houses, and European vacations; while carefully crafting a life that is merely masquerading the fear that comes when they contemplate my question about death. Because that moment after death will happen for each of us.  That will be the moment, when you either behold the shining face of Jesus as He welcomes you into His arms, or you know with frightening sureness that you traded eternal life for a few minutes of futile and unfulfilling emptiness.
     When the Bible says that "the wages of sin are death", the meaning is really very simple.  It means that our sinful lives bring us no profit.  We gain nothing from a life lived in sin.  We can only reap death, which in this case means not only the physical end of our human body, but a termination of the chance for our spirits to live with God.  It is very real, and it is a separation of our spirit from God for all of eternity.  I cannot understand why anyone would trade that for a few years of ignorant bliss celebrating the empty promises of this world.
     But it is exactly as the Bible states in Romans 6:23 ... the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  The invitation that He extends to us to believe in His Grace and the atonement of Jesus's death on the Cross (paying the price for our sins against God) is truly A GIFT.  And all we have to do is recognize that we are sinful and can do nothing on our own to gain God's favor; that the price we owe Him for our sinful rebellion and disobedience was willingly paid for by His Son; and that if we will only have trust and confidence in what Jesus did for us; our faith will result in His recognizing us the moment we leave this world and stand in His presence.  His resurrection is proof that if we follow His ways and commandments, our resurrection is assured, along with a life spent in eternal relationship with Him.  Then all the treasures and wealth and abundance we accumulated on earth will be seen for what it was... hollow and worthless.
     Time is running short for all these people who are important in my life.  I do not want to see them squander one more minute in pursuit of vacant victories.  I pray that they will answer the knock on the door before it is too late, and that they will share, with me, the abundant joy of being in His presence in Heaven for a time that has no end.  

November 23, 2015

It's Only A Slight Pause....

     This has been a really difficult decision for me to make.  But after four years and 1,453 daily posts I am going to take the next few days off to rest my mind, enjoy time spent with family and friends, and commune with my Lord as I contemplate where He is leading me.
     In case you thought I was going to say that I'm shutting this blog down... that's not the case.  I haven't received that message from the Holy Spirit yet.  And besides, I feel that I have developed a very real and intimate relationship with those of you who take the time to listen to my thoughts and commentary.
     I know there are not legions of you.  My number of loyal readers is quite small compared to the superstars in the blogosphere.  But we know, don't we, that we are connected through a Higher Power?  We know that God has set us apart from the world and that we see events and people and circumstances through a different lens.  We know that we were born for this time and that there is a calling upon our lives to do Kingdom work; even as we are still trying to discern what that looks like for each of us.  All we know is that He wants us, and serving Him is our highest goal.
     I want to assure you that writing this blog is one way that I am striving to follow Jesus's two great commandments: that I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength -- and that this love is enough to hear His voice, and to try to point a way to Him in each day's writing; as well as wanting my words to touch each person, in love and compassion, who are trying to see Him through the daily circumstances of our lives.  And I must confess that, while inspired and committed, I am often exhausted by the effort.  I often feel as though I have not given my best to either God or you.  And, after four years, I think I just need a little time of rejuvenation.
     When I said that these next few days are to "rest" my mind, I want you to notice that I did not add the other word that usually accompanies that idiom ... "relax".  You see, by rest, I mean that I need a few days of peace and refreshment... Peace from all the turmoil that floods my mind and makes it difficult to filter out only what I am to share with you.  And I need a time of refreshment; a time to get revived and to receive a new influx of spiritual inspiration.
     To me, relax means to loosen up or become less firm in my motivation and purpose; and to have a milder manner.  Make no mistake, I am feeling that our future will call for a renewed firmness and a bolder stance on the part of each of us.  So, after praying and listening, I have discerned that it is OK for me to take this small break; in fact, it is necessary that I do so.
     My plan is to continue my writing next Sunday, at the end of our Thanksgiving holiday.  And of course, if the Holy Spirit inspires me to share some of my thoughts throughout the week, you can be assured, I will be eager to do so.
     I also want you to know that I am under no illusion that this blog, or my words, are anything to be glorified.  If this page disappeared tomorrow, God would still reach you through His Holy Spirit, and through the words and actions of someone else.  I am not the center of His plan of reconciliation, by any means.  But I am blessed by this opportunity to share how He has worked in my life and to encourage you in your walk with Him.  I will be keeping you in my prayers this week, as we each celebrate our gratitude and thanksgiving for His presence in our lives and in this sinful world.  May your week be full of rest and peace and revival.  May God bless you and your families, and reveal Himself to you in His fulness and greatness.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Isaiah 26:3     You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].

November 22, 2015

Psalm 95:2-3

Let us come before His presence with a song of thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with songs.
For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods

     I have a feeling that, like me, you are viewing this Thanksgiving season with a bit more reflection, and giving pause to think about all the things you have to be thankful for.  The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  It is easy to give thanks to those things that come easily -- our family, friends, our health, our job, God's provision.  But notice that Paul said everything!  
     So, we're supposed to give thanks for the minor stuff like our aches and pains, the difficult people in our lives, the mounting bills on our desk?  And, Paul couldn't possibly mean that we're supposed to give thanks for the sinful world we see all around us -- the immoral culture, the apostate Church, and the escalating evil that was so apparent in Paris last week?!  
     Instead of focusing on all the pain and sadness and anxiety that all those things -- both great and small -- bring to our mind and hearts, wouldn't it be nice this Thanksgiving to actually put into practice the words of Psalm 95?  To come before His presence with shouts of joy and songs, in full spiritual recognition that no matter what is going on in our lives or in the world, He is a great God and a great King above all gods?
     You see, I think we tend to give thanks for all the things that we can see or have taken notice of.  But when we thank Him for EVERYTHING, we begin to see Him for Who He is and all that He has done.  So what does that really look like?  
     Have you ever thought about thanking Him for all the times He said, "No", and for unanswered prayer because it not only made you depend on Him more, but humbled you to admit that He knew what was best for you?  What about thanking Him for the things He withheld from you, and for protecting you from things you may never realize ... and the closed doors that may have frustrated you, when, in fact He mercifully kept you from going places He did not want you to go.  
     Do we give thanks for the lonely times, the tears, the uncertainties, and the personal losses; recognizing that all these seasons have brought us closer to Him and deepened our trust and relationship with Him?  
     As we gather around the Thanksgiving table this year, will we see it as more than just family, friends, and food?  Will we take advantage of this one day out of the year that is designed to give thanks and dedicate it to our great God -- to the LORD who has given us an inheritance in the heavenly places, which is something greater than all the possessions of this world?  Will we thank God for the greatest gift He could ever give us: forgiveness through His perfect Son's death on the cross on our behalf?  
     This Thanksgiving, it needs to be all about HIM!  We need to thank God for our eternal salvation, and for the salvation He gives us every day of  our lives as He saves us from ourselves and our foolishness.  We need to thank Him for His power and strength that are ours to call upon in our moments of human weakness.  
     And for me, personally, I will thank God that I can still pray in the name of Jesus, as I dedicate however many days are left to me on this earth to fulfilling His purpose for my life in glorifying the LORD, who is A GREAT GOD and A GREAT KING above all gods!  My prayer for each of you this Thanksgiving is that you will truly come into His presence; that you will experience such spiritual joy that you want to shout of His greatness and goodness in your life ... in all circumstances and in all ways.
     Finally, I want to leave you with an additional Scripture that will inspire you on the day we call Thanksgiving.  It comes from the Old Testament, but joins with our featured verses today to give us special inspiration for the times in which we live.  It is Isaiah 12:4 ... In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted."  I wish you and your families a most Blessed Thanksgiving; a day filled with gratitude for all that our Great God has done, is doing, and will do in your lives.

November 21, 2015

Glorifying Satan

     If you read my post yesterday, you know that I questioned if God is going to give us one last chance to turn from our sinful ways, repent, and embrace Him.  I found myself wondering if the brief glimpses of some of our political leaders'  honesty and forthrightness regarding the evilness of humanity that is found in ISIS, could be the starting point of hope for this nation.  Oh, how I want to believe that we honor and revere Him enough to see through the lies and deception that permeates our culture!    
     And then the Enemy throws his intentional and false depravity square in our faces!  And it's all right there for the entire nation to see; couched in the emotional and fictional lives of a popular TV show -- yet cleverly portrayed using a storyline right out of our national headlines.  It happened two nights ago, on an episode of the ABC show, Scandal.  The character was the mistress of the U.S. Republican President, and she was depicted undergoing an abortion as the religious hymn "Silent Night" washes over the scene.
     The outright blasphemy that was on display made me sick to my stomach.  But just in case you didn't get the message, the woman on the table recalls the words of her father telling her that a family is merely "a pressure point, soft tissue, an illness, an antidote to greatness.... it makes you weak, pliable... family doesn't complete you; it destroys you."  Then the choir swells to its apex, and sings "Heavenly hosts sing, 'Alleluia' ", as the character exhales, the abortion complete, and she stares serenely at the ceiling, with a hint of a smile on her face.  She is later shown sipping a glass of red wine as "Ave Maria" plays in the background.
     Oh, and let's not forget what preceded the depiction of the abortion.  In true TV fashion, just prior to entering the operating room, the producer has the character watching television coverage of First Lady and U.S. Senator Mellie Grant, who launched "the longest filibuster in modern history" to kill a bill reducing Planned Parenthood funding. The impassioned speech, on the eve of the Christmas recess, made Grant - a Republican senator from Virginia - a feminist hero and inspired the hashtag "I Stand with Mellie."  The sad thing is that there are millions of people across this country who will pay more attention to the actions of these TV characters than they do legitimate legislators!
     I am so disgusted with the arrogance and irreverence of Hollywood, and the fact that they think they speak for the rest of us!  But I guess it should come as no surprise, since the creator, producer, and head writer of the show, Shonda Rhimes, serves on the board of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, according to Time magazine.  Therefore, I guess PP felt emboldened to make this statement immediately following the airing of the episode:  "Tonight, the millions of people who tune into Scandal every Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care are under attack. Never one to shy away from critical issues, Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception counseling, STI testing, cancer screenings, and safe, legal abortion — millions of people would suffer. And this episode wasn’t the first time one of Rhimes’ characters had an abortion, yet tonight we saw one of our favorite characters make the deeply personal decision that one in three women have made in their lifetime. We applaud Shonda Rhimes tonight — and every Thursday night – for proving that when women are telling our stories, the world will pause and watch. We just hope those in Congress — and throughout the nation — who are steadfast on rolling the clock back on reproductive health care access are taking note."
     Maybe it IS a woman telling that story, but producer and creator Shonda Rhimes does not represent me, nor is she telling my story or the millions of stories of women like me.  We do not see fetuses as "soft tissue", nor do we think "family destroys you."  But sadly, her ability to pluck at the heartstrings of women who choose to base their moral principles upon prime-time soap opera fantasies will persuade more of my fellow females than I would like to admit.  
     And even sadder is the idea that the website Life Site puts forward:  This abortion-themed episode airs as the real Republican-controlled Congress seeks to deny Planned Parenthood most of its taxpayer funding for one year after undercover videos showed abortion industry officials discussing the harvesting and sale of aborted babies' organs and tissue. The reconciliation bill must pass the U.S. Senate, currently bogged down in debate over the Syrian refugee crisis.  
     I find it incredibly tragic that this carefully crafted TV piece of propaganda will likely have more influence in the coming days than the sickening real-life videos of gleeful procurers of dead baby body parts.  I'm sorry to be so crass, but I can no longer stomach the lies from those who will stop at nothing, nor stoop so low, to justify their wicked ways.  
     I guess the final blow for me was what happened in the abortion facility's waiting room as the character contemplated her upcoming abortion.  You could hear the TV announcer breaking away from the coverage of the Congressional filibuster of Planned Parenthood funding, and saying, "We now return to 'It's a Wonderful Life,' already in progress."   It was as if to say, let's get this abortion over with, so your wonderful life that is in progress can continue.  When the truth of the matter is this: in It's A Wonderful Life, the main character, George Bailey, is allowed to see just how worse off the world would have been had he not been born.  The movie shows us that each life is precious and touches so many others.  Yet, again, the truth is distorted and twisted into a lie that benefits Satan's agenda.  
     Shonda Rhimes might be a talented TV writer, creator, and a successful producer, but one day she is going to have to stand before the Divine Creator and explain why she used her talents to glorify death over life... why she chose to write a scene having a choir sing a song that glorifies heavenly angels announcing the birth of the long-awaited Savior of the world, while a precious life He created is ceremoniously destroyed.  
     So let the media and the feminists applaud this TV show and it's writer/creator.  Let them call this blasphemous display "awesome" and "no-big-deal" and "revolutionary" and "honest".  I see it through the eyes and heart and spirit of someone who loves the Lord and abhors their callousness and desecration of His Holiness.  My heart breaks for the pain we cause Him.

Job 33:4    "The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."

November 20, 2015

The Veil Is Pulled Back -- But For How Long?

     Based on news reports in the U.K.'s Daily Mail, and our own national media sources such as Breitbart, The Blaze, and The New York Post, the threats of terrorism on our home soil are greater than ever before.  In fact, all these sources report that terrorist suspects have not only been arrested over the past 18 months, but officials are openly admitting that terrorists are crossing our borders, and are, as a matter of truth, already in this country.
     Why all the transparency and truth-telling, after so many months, and even years, of denying that the threat is real?  Has God pulled the veil of deception back for just a moment -- for one last opportunity for us to get this right?  It certainly feels like that as The Daily Mail reports that over the last 18 months, nearly 70 people have been arrested for ISIS-related terror plots, including a handful of so-called "refugees".
     The frightening aspect of these arrests is that they include such unlikely suspects as a young nurse, a pizza parlor boss and schoolgirls tricked into becoming shrouded ISIS brides. They also include a husband and wife team, both of St Louis, MO,  who face trial over allegations they gathered cash to buy military equipment for ISIS fighters in Syria; six Bosnian immigrants -- three from Missouri, two from Illinois and one from New York -- who conspired to support ISIS with money and equipment.  According to the US Attorney's office, three have become naturalized citizens of the United States, and the remaining three have either refugee or legal resident status.
     There are refugees from Kenya, Somalia and Syria.  There are homegrown Muslim converts, and even an Air Force veteran who is accused of joining the ranks of ISIS to wage war on the country he once served.  The bottom line is this... what we have all sensed for so long is now being revealed -- in spite of the continuous denials of those who are charged with keeping us safe.
     We are also now seeing representatives of the Middle Eastern communities in our nation revealing what they know.  The New York Post ran an article in which Aarafat “Ralph” Succar of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (and a member of the Bay Ridge Community Council) said that ISIS terrorists have “absolutely” sneaked into America by posing as civil-war refugees — and joined sleeper cells just waiting to be activated.  “I believe the terrorists from Syria have been coming into the United States, not only in the past few years, but way before that,” he said.  “I think they’re already at work.”  Who, of us who are awake, haven't instinctively known that?
     Then there is Breitbart.com, who is reporting that Border Patrol agents are now coming forward to report that groups of illegal Middle Eastern immigrants are crossing our southern borders.  Such is the case of the five Pakistani men and one man from Afghanistan, who were captured by U.S. Border Patrol agents after having illegally crossed the porous U.S.-Mexico border in the Tucson Sector of Arizona.  We also have the two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who are claiming that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector.  The question is why such crossings in the past were not prosecuted by the Department of Justice, and were dismissed "due to circumstances?"
     I truly want to grasp on to the hope of yesterday's vote in the House of Representatives, which overrode the President's veto, in regards to strengthening the vetting process of Syrian and Iraqi refugees admitted into the U.S.   According to The Blaze, the measure, which in effect would suspend admissions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, would require the FBI to conduct background checks on people coming to the U.S. from those countries. It would oblige the heads of the FBI and Homeland Security Department and the Director of National Intelligence to certify to Congress that each refugee “is not a threat to the security of the United States".
     But can we trust that show of defense on behalf of the American people?  Does this action on the part of Congress, in reality, speak of hollow promises -- especially in the light of testimony from foreign officials and intelligence officers that say there is no way to compile adequate information on any of these "refugees" from their home country?  Haven't we heard such words and rhetoric in the past that have given us a false sense of security?  Remember, the legislation still must pass through the Senate, and these bills have a habit of changing radically by the time they get to the vote.  And I think the aspect that bothers me the most is that those of us who are concerned about the possibility of a Paris-style attack (which has been promised by ISIS), are accused of somehow abandoning "age-old American values."  Is it against our values to want to protect the lives of our families and innocent victims?  Is it against our values to take a stand against man's inhumanity to man?  Is it against our values to be bold in the face of Evil?
     I am not exactly sure why it seems as if, for once, many of our leaders are refusing to play the politically correct game, and actually seem sincere in their warnings and desire to speak the truth.  How long will it last?  Will God have mercy on us; and will we, as a nation, turn to Him in repentance and hope?  I know that He can protect us, if it is His will -- even as the odds are stacking up against us.  He is Sovereign and Mighty in His power.  May He honor our obedience as we pray in the name of His Son!

Psalm 147:11     "The Lord favors those who fear and worship Him [with awe-inspired reverence and obedience], Those who wait for His mercy and lovingkindness."

November 19, 2015

What Do You Know About "Grave Sucking"?

     Strange question, huh?  If you're like me, you knew nothing about it.  But apparently this is a distorted view, among some Christians, of the spiritual powers that are available to us through our faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
     I have shared with many through this blog, and through personal relationships, the direction that God is taking me in regards to spiritual matters.  Both my husband and I have discerned from our many hours of Biblical study, and listening for the Lord's guidance, that we Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare, whether we acknowledge it or not.
     This new awareness has led us to the Scriptural knowledge in the Gospels and throughout the New Testament, that Jesus has empowered us with the Holy Spirit to partner with Him in continuing to carry out the works He did in the Father's will, while on earth.
     This is oftentimes (actually, most of the time) met with skepticism or resistance by the traditional Church.  I can understand that... this insight has not been taught nor encouraged in the Western Church.  The thought of real demons afflicting Christians is a foreign concept, and one that just doesn't fly in the face of our "God is Love and Grace" and "Prosperity Gospel" messages.
     Yes, God IS Love, and He DOES pour out His Grace and Mercy on us, but the Devil is real, too, and if he can deceive us into dismissing this piece of our Christian walk, then just think of all the havoc he can cause in our lives!  Or better yet, if he can substitute a false teaching... but one that mimics (and resembles) our authority from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then he can lead Christians down a path away from true Biblical instruction and towards an unholy indoctrination and empowerment.  Such is the case with a phenomenon known as "grave sucking", or "grave soaking".
     It even sounds evil, doesn't it?  And to be honest, I had not heard of it until my husband brought it to my attention, and apparently it is a very real practice among those who think that it is Biblical.  Just what is it exactly?  I found the following description on a website called Youth Apologetics Training, which seeks to help teens understand and defend Christianity -- which tells me that this strange practice may be gaining popularity among our younger Christian population.  The website debunks the unscriptural and unholy exercise, and explains what it is:  Grave sucking, or "mantle grabbing", is the belief and practice of pulling the supposed Holy Spirit powers from the dead bones of a previously empowered believer.  It is taught that when a Spirit-empowered individual dies, their mantle or mission dies with them.  In other words, God’s mission for that believer was thwarted when that believer died.
     Maybe that believer had a gift of healing.  Maybe they were an apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, had the gift of serving others, or of encouragement.  From my understanding, there are those in the Christian community that believe, with that person's death, God’s plans for that particular anointing are placed on hold.  So, how does God correct this and get his plans back on track?  They actually suggest that we, as believers, must find a way to retrieve the mantle, or anointing, from the rotting corpse six feet under.  Only then can we get God’s plans back on track.  This is achieved by placing hands on the gravestone of the deceased, or lying on top of the grave.  Sometimes a prayer will be offered to God to aid in this perceived power transfer.
     How perverted and unholy is this exercise?  As if God Almighty actually needs us to intervene and claim His lost anointing, and bail Him out and get His plan back on track!  What happened to the Sovereignty of God in that whole messed up scenario?  And doesn't it suggest that the Holy Spirit is trapped inside that dead body, is confused, and doesn't even realize the person is dead -- that is, until He senses someone above ground seeking that untapped spiritual power and just decides to give them the supernatural God-given abilities?  Doesn't that belittle the Holy Spirit?
      How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian believe in this?  But, remember, our kids have grown up in a generation that promulgates wizards, vampires, zombies and the soft-sell of the occult. This would make sense to them.  And where do they find the evidence that this bizarre understanding is Biblical?  The whole foundation is based on one verse in Scripture:  (2 Kings 13:21)  And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.  Supporters of grave sucking suggest that the man lived because there was power left in the bones of the prophet Elisha.  But this "charismatic" teaching is reaching way too far; even to the point of being ludicrous.
     First of all, it distracts from the One True Source of our anointing.  All anointing comes from God, and it cannot be "transferred" from one person to another.  Secondly, the idea that any God-given gifts can be imparted from the body of a dead person is taught nowhere in the Bible -- no matter how hard someone might try to distort 2 Kings 13:21.  I'm not saying that God couldn't extend a generational legacy from one person to another, but it would be a Divine appointment, not obtained from "sucking" the power or gift from the grave!
     Then, there is our Biblical knowledge that when believers are absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).   Doesn't this tell us that our spirit leaves our body when we physically die?  The Holy Spirit that was imparted to a believer is no longer on the earth, and thus that Divine power is no longer in the grave.  Any attempt to retrieve a spirit or power from the dead comes perilously close to necromancy, which is defined as communicating with the spirits of the dead, which in turn involves witchcraft, sorcery and black magic.  Who would want to take the risk that you could conjure up a spirit from the dark side?
     Furthermore, this unholy practice threatens to further divide the Body of Christ by discrediting any experience of the power of the Holy Spirit in a Christian's life.  I have personally witnessed the Holy Spirit at work in a person's life, and the power He has over demonic spirits.  But it was all done through the authority of Jesus, and the power came from the Holy Spirit --- not from power being summoned and transferred from one person to another.
     There is nothing in the Bible that tells us we can "absorb" the spiritual gifts from another.  And I like how the Apologetics website for teens disproves this unscriptural teaching:  "In this view of the Father [and "grave sucking"], we have a God who both gets His plans foiled because His Holy Spirit-empowered followers die; and then to make matters worse, He forgets to tell His believers how to resume His plans by retrieving the powers from a grave site.  Then, it takes God several thousand years to realize He goofed and reveal this new information to His modern day “prophets”. "  See how ridiculous the whole concept sounds?
     The sad thing is that kids (and some adults) are being easily deceived to follow this unholy practice.  If they would just study their Bible, they would realize that there is no foundation for this concept in the Bible, and that it does not fit the Divine Nature of God.  Why would God tell His followers to lie down on an unclean grave site to receive a lost portion of the Holy Spirit?  He is Greater than that and does not need our intervention to fulfill His purposes here on earth.  I find it incredible that people who call themselves Christian could be so deluded and confused about who God is and how He acts in our lives.  This is just another sign that Satan's power to deceive is getting stronger ... even in the Church.

Isaiah 8:19     And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

November 18, 2015

WARNING! Beware of "Mindfulness" and "Mindful Intervention"!

     As usual, in the busyness and chaos of my life, I manage to hear snippets of the world's conversations all around me, and sometimes the Holy Spirit will "zing" me with a "Pay attention to this" summons.  Such was the case when I overhead a Fox News announcer commenting that the Department of Education is spending upwards of $2.5 million to bring a "mindfulness intervention" to kindergarteners in Chicago, where kids can go to “calm spots” in the corner to watch nature videos.
     What the 10-second sound bite did not tell the audience was that this government program is in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, which has spent over $100 million studying this New Age meditation technique called "mindfulness".  What's more, The Education Department has introduced this “Calm Classroom” program into 3,000 schools through its Investing in Innovation Fund.  What?!?!  Exactly what are all these "government programs" that taxpayer dollars are funding, and what exactly is it that they are trying to accomplish??
     To begin with, Investing in Innovation Fund is "to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access."  And if you follow the rabbit trail, they propose that advancing student achievement can be accomplished through this theory based on "mindfulness intervention".  But what, precisely, is that?  According to the grant abstract, written to acquire funding, "Mindfulness is a secular, psychological mode involving non-judgmental focus on present-moment sensations, and has been shown to have a number of benefits to well-being.  Our project offers an innovative approach not only because mindfulness is unique relative to traditional social-emotional learning (SEL) programs, but also because of added elements designed to replenish children’s focus directly back into the content of school, including always-available ways to take very brief ‘brain breaks.' "  (Please pay attention to the words and phrases that I have underlined; you will see their significance shortly).
      So, if kindergartners in Chicago are the focus group for this grant, just what is the government hoping to accomplish or prove?  According to the written grant, the Chicago Public School System, along with various Institutes and a trademarked program called Calm Classroom, hope to employ a mindfulness-based intervention to increase the self-regulation and engagement in learning of young children in low-performing schools.  Furthermore, the grant states, "The need for this approach arises from two conditions. First, mastery of self-regulation skills during the early years of schooling has been shown to be as, if not more important to long-term academic competence than intelligence or domain-specific knowledge. Second, increasingly younger children are experiencing high levels of trauma, unpredictability, and toxic stress, thus arriving at school with tendencies to either act out or disengage, rather than being ready to participate productively in the classroom community and learn."
     That whole line about "increase self-regulation" says to me that they don't want any original thinkers, or kids who think outside the box, or who might challenge the teacher and other students with their uncontrolled imaginations.  What happened to the psychological motto of "not killing the child's spirit", that was so popular in the 60's?
     Besides sounding like a bunch of New Age hocus-pocus, it seems very clear to me that the public school systems have lost control of their students, and now need to engage in some kind of "brain games" to mollify and reduce classroom disruption.  I don't know about you, but a trip to the principal's office in my grade school days, was enough to keep me from acting up.  I knew that at the end of that hall might be the Athletic Coach with a paddle.
     But it's not enough to point out the lack of discipline in schools, or to lament the decidedly "secular", environmental, and mystical approach to maintaining classroom control.  You really need to know what is really behind this "mindfulness" movement.  Here it is:  The skill of mindfulness can be gradually developed using meditational practices that are described in detail in the Buddhist tradition. The Five-Aggregate Model, an ancient model of the mind and body, is a helpful theoretical resource that could guide mindfulness interventions.  The term "mindfulness" is derived from the Pali-term sati, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassana, satipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati. It has been popularized in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn with his mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program.
     Now, here is where it gets frightening for me.... Did you know that in 2012,  Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio published A Mindful Nation, and has received a $1 million federal grant to teach mindfulness in schools in his home district?  Or, in 2000, The Inner Kids Program, a mindfulness-based program developed for children, was introduced into public and private school curricula in the greater Los Angeles area?  Or how about the fact that The Holistic Life Foundation, a non-profit organization that created an in-school mindfulness program called Mindful Moment, is currently serving almost 350 students daily at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School and approximately 1300 students at Patterson Park High School in Baltimore, Maryland? At Patterson High School, the Mindful Moment program engages the school's faculty along with the students during a 15-minute mindfulness practice at the beginning and end of each school day.  They are allowed to practice an element of Buddhist meditation, but a prayer to the One True God of the Universe is illegal?
     And just to top off the widespread use of the Mindfulness Movement, consider this: One study involved enrolling college students in a course about mindfulness that included guided mindfulness meditation as part of the curriculum. After the semester, pre- and post-levels for different aspects of mental health were compared and students were found to have more non-judgmental stances towards their thoughts and feelings. This is believed to result in better stress-coping skills, improved academic performance and quality of life.  Furthermore, scores continued to improve for the weeks following the end of the course, demonstrating the long-lasting effects of mindfulness meditation.
     Do you see what I'm trying to show you?  For years now, our public schools and universities have been preparing our kids to become robots!  Let's not teach them critical thinking skills!  No!  Let's teach them all to hum a mantra and dull their minds so they are easily contained and mastered.  And it is now instituted from kindergarten to college!  If you really want to see the full scope of what I believe is a harmful movement to capture and control the minds of our kids, read the Wikipedia entry. I know not everyone thinks Wikipedia falls under the banner of incontrovertible truth, but if even a fraction of what they report is true, it should frighten all parents.  Don't be fooled by the claims that  "calm spots" and "brain breaks" are needed elements to help your kids learn better.  Just teach them Readin', Writin', and Arithmetic, and how to think for themselves!

Go to the article at The Free Beacon website for more information on what the Department of Education has in store for your kids.  
2 Corinthians 11:3    "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ."

November 17, 2015

Modern Educayshun

      Although I do not wish to minimize the ongoing situation in France or the world's need for security, I thought you might need a break.  So, this is a little bit of entertainment for your morning.  Actually, nothing much needs to be said about it.  It's a masterful commentary on the current state of our Education System in this country -- Cultural Marxism, Political Correctness, Neo-Progressivism, Social Justice, and feminism all rolled into one.
     Sadly, although it was created by Australian comic genius Neel Kolhatkar, the underlying truth in the short video is anything but funny.  It is pretty much the average college student's experience in a Liberal Arts class here in the good ol' USA.  And if you combined George Orwell's Animal Farm and his 1984 into one book on social engineering, then this video would come awfully close to that horrifying collaboration.
     And if you have been paying attention to my rants on Common Core, then this is what your college-age kids are facing.  It is not parody or satire, it is fast becoming reality.  So please take a moment and watch this amazing YouTube video.  At only 21 years old, Mr. Kolhatkar, is wise beyond his years, and he says it better than I can.  I applaud his talent and ability to show us the truth in a serious, yet mocking manner.  Sit up and take notice, parents and grandparents!

Proverbs 4:13   "Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life."

November 16, 2015

How Do We Reconcile the World's Struggle With Refugees and Migrants?

     The nations of the world are grappling with the "problem" of refugees emigrating from the dangers of the expanding Caliphate in the Middle East.  Leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel maintains that no limits should be placed on the number of people allowed to enter her country; that European values of humanity and compassion in the face of terror need to be upheld.
     But the newly-elected government of Poland has announced their country won't accept migrant quotas imposed by the European Union.  And Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders says, "The only way to deal with it (the refugee crisis) is to regain our national sovereignty and close our national borders... We close our borders to migrants, not refugees."
     So, what does that mean?  What is the difference?  Actually, as The New York Times points out, there is a legal difference.    Briefly, a refugee is person who has fled his or her country to escape war or persecution, and can prove it.  More specifically, The 1951 Refugee Convention, negotiated after World War II, defines a refugee as a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
     On the other hand, anyone moving from one country to another is considered a migrant unless he or she is specifically fleeing war or persecution. Migrants may be fleeing dire poverty, or may be well-off and merely seeking better opportunities, or may be migrating to join relatives who have gone before them.  So, in the face of the crisis in the Middle East and the onslaught of Isis's atrocities, you can imagine the political and social implications of these distinctions -- and the ensuing confusion.
     Under the 1951 convention, countries are free to deport migrants who arrive without legal papers, which they cannot do with refugees.  But complicating the immigration of refugees is what is known as "the Schengen policy".  Again, according to The New York Times, this is an agreement to abolish border controls among the European nations that have joined. For the most part, people in any Schengen country can travel freely to any other without stopping to show a passport or visa, just as travelers can between American states or Canadian provinces. Only when entering from outside the Schengen area are a traveler’s credentials regularly checked.
     So, once an emigrant from the Middle East arrives in Greece, and is registered, he is pretty much free to travel throughout Europe under this policy.  So can you see, in the wake of the Paris terror attack, just how significant it is that Greece is swamped with those seeking admittance into Europe.  In fact, the latest United Nations estimates show over 800,000 migrants have passed through the Mediterranean on their way to Europe this year, with 660,700 landing in Greece and 142,400 in Italy. Based on these numbers, it is not surprising that the Greek minister for Citizen Protection, Nikos Tosca, has announced that one of the Paris terrorists with a Syrian passport was "masquerading as a refugee".  And it just as understandable that leaders in countries like Hungary and Austria and Poland feel that the Greeks are not doing their job properly in securing Europe’s borders, but simply processing all that come, and sending them on into Europe.
     So don't you think that as a nation, the US should be very careful how we handle this thorny and dangerous issue of Middle Eastern refugees?  And do you see just how difficult a situation this is?  Naturally, the Middle Eastern Christians, who are being brutally persecuted for their religious beliefs come to mind when considering who should be allowed to enter our country.  But what exactly is the vetting process for all others?  If, as the news agency Reuters reports, our government is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon... shouldn't this be a major concern and raise some red flags?  In the wake of Paris, doesn't this qualify as a national security issue?
     As always, I try to see any situation from my Biblical worldview, and the Bible clearly tells us that, as Christians, we are to accept aliens into our land and help them to conform to our laws and our traditions.  In fact, the law of the Old Testament was that aliens were to be treated with respect and given aid. If things were so desperate in their home land that people would rather move to Israel and live under Israel's strict judicial and ceremonial law, the Israelites were to honor that desire.
     However, this does not apply to those aliens who enter a country for the purpose of crime or violence. The caveat God gave the Israelites regarding aliens is that they needed to obey the laws of the land (Leviticus 24:22), and the Israelites needed to make it possible for them to obey the laws of the land by giving them opportunities for sustenance (Leviticus 23:22). Aliens who came in to steal, fight, or draw the Israelites to other gods were to be disposed of quickly.
     You see, these same laws should be applied and followed today.  Careful investigation and evaluation is absolutely necessary!  But we can all recognize that the world is in crisis, and the sheer mayhem and chaos created by Isis and the schemes of Satan threaten to overwhelm our human abilities.  So, it is in humility and meekness that I approach God, asking Him to show us the way through His righteous and loving nature.  Let us welcome and give aid to those who truly desire it, and repel the wicked plots of our enemies who wish to destroy us.

Nahum 1:7    "The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him."