Let's stay in touch!
Subscribe to my weekly blog posts!
Let's stay in touch!
Subscribe to my weekly blog posts!
Do you believe that anybody can change the world? Do you think it is even possible, and do you think it has ever happened before?
I mean, yes, we all know and believe that Jesus changed the world. But what about His people; can an ordinary Christian person change the world?
Let me introduce you to a group of people that you might never have heard of that did just that.
First, a little background to remind us of some British history. England went back and forth between being Catholic and Protestant for about a hundred years after the Reformation, and sometimes things got violent. For a brief time in the 1630s, there was a Civil War in England, where people actually killed the king and were ruled by Protectorate. When the monarchy was restored twenty years later in 1660, the new king (who happened to be the son of the murdered king) wanted very little to do with an active Christianity. By the early 1700s, England was really tired of the back and forth fight of “Are we Protestant or Catholic?” People wanted the debate to end, so they could get on with their lives.
Not surprisingly, then, it did not take long for morality to tank. English society got really, really bad. We can make a good argument that it was even worse than our own society is today. In the 1730’s, the infant mortality rate was seventy-five percent. The favorite public sports were dog-fighting and bull-baiting; animals were killed in awful torturous ways for fun and sport. One out of every five women were prostitutes. Alcoholism was rampant - people were afraid of the water because of the plague, so they drank gin instead, and they gave it to their kids! By law, poor people were not allowed to learn to read or write; the government was afraid that if they were educated, there would be revolution. Society was horrible, without hope. This was a nation that called itself Christian, but forgot to act like it.
But then, a couple of brothers named John and Charles Wesley came along. They actually had read the Bible and got very serious about living out their faith. They got very serious about holiness, about reading and knowing the Scriptures and praying, about sharing their faith with people who did not know God, and about living life in community with other believers. Slowly, the tide actually began to turn as they shared the true good news.
By the time the Wesleys were elderly in the late 1700s, thousands and thousands of people in England and America had been influenced by their teachings and methods. It is a particular grouping of these people that I want to introduce us to.
They were various individuals who believed that Jesus was real, and that His power could change one person’s heart as well as the heart of a city, a nation, and the whole world. They were called by God to take part in doing just that. They were politicians, writers, preachers, actors, singers, teachers, bankers, and artisans who dared to believe that real Christianity could be lived out. They all had huge dreams individually, dreams to make a real difference. God had empowered each of these people with incredible creativity and skill in their respective fields.
Meet Hannah More, a best-selling author, also a teacher by trade (yes, both were unusual for a woman at that time), who believed that all children should be able to read. She had the incredible idea to invite all the children of her village to church on Sundays, the only day the children did not have to work, and then invite them to stay for school all day. She gave them a meal and reading lessons.
Meet Henry Thornton. He was a banker and economist, and was quite wealthy. Before he married, he gave eighty percent of his income away to help the poor and to spread the gospel. After he married, it was about fifty percent, which is still incredibly and challengingly generous.
Meet William Wilberforce, a member of parliament by age twenty-five. He had hundreds of good ideas to improve society. He started the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, so people could be informed to treat animals kindly and not cruelly, as was the fashion. He wrote a best-selling book called A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in this Country Contrasted with Real Christianity, which is a great title. He also had a personal conviction and agenda that the slave trade must end.
In 1790, Henry Thornton bought a house in a town some five miles outside of London called Clapham. Within a few short years, Thornton, Wilberforce, Hannah More and about thirty others had bought or built homes all around this first house so that they could live in proximity to and in community with one another, to pool their talents, ideas, and resources, and get serious about changing the world. They never gave themselves a name, but people noticed them and their absolutely enormous influence and called them the Clapham Sect.
So, when William Wilberforce’s first bill to abolish the slave trade was defeated in 1791 (when he was only thirty-two!) the Clapham bunch decided to band together to change the earth.
-Hannah More wrote books and plays about the evils of slavery and about the dignity of every man, woman and child.
-The poets wrote beautiful poems; the singers sang catchy, memorable songs about the evil of the slave trade; the actors staged plays.
-The potters crafted gorgeous vases and plates and porcelain brooches with the image of a slave and the captions, “Am I not a man?” which were best-sellers. Ever hear of Josiah Wedgewood, famous for Wedgewood pottery? He did that.
-The painters made posters depicting the evils of the slave trade and sold them to shopkeepers for their windows.
-Olaudah Equiano, a freed slave who had been blessed to learn to read in captivity, wrote his life story, revealing the horror of slavery from the inside. It was a runaway best seller.
-The politicians worked together tirelessly to get the votes.
-Essentially, they commandeered popular culture with anti-slavery sentiment. And they pooled their own money together to pay for all of this.
It took thirty years of organized effort, but we know today that slavery is a thing of the past for most of the world. In 1826, the slave trade was abolished in the British Empire and these are the people who made it happen - ordinary Christians who dared to live their Christianity and do extraordinary things.
Is taking down the slave trade - an ancient, wicked practice - not enough for you?
-They started and financed the missions movement and effort into India.
-They reversed the rampant alcoholism problem.
-They started Sunday schools and regular schools and made the literacy rate go through the roof.
-They reformed prisons.
-They started orphanages.
-They organized homes and shelters for the poor.
-They helped return dignity to women.
-They fought for better conditions for workers.
-They brought back decency to popular music, literature and the stage.
They were a passionate few who lived in community on purpose, and who changed the entire Western World.
Now, what about you and me?
It actually says in Genesis 11 that if we work together, there is nothing we cannot do. How powerful it could be if we all took our faith seriously, and determined in our hearts to make our lives count for eternity! The social justice issues that frustrate so many would be naturally eliminated if the good news of Jesus were really proclaimed again. The poor would be cared for, the overlooked would be welcomed and encouraged, the broken and confused would be set free, and the evil practices of greedy, selfish people would be eliminated.
Not only could our own communities be transformed, but we could band together to send missionaries to the ends of the earth. There are millions of people who have still never heard the gospel, and we can no longer hide behind the excuse that it is impossible to get there; the world is more connected than ever. The reason so many have never heard about Jesus is because we do not give enough money or prayer support to send those who are willing to go, nor will most of us go ourselves. We could be the generation who finishes the task of letting the whole world know about the saving power of Jesus, if we just will. History tells us that a passionate few, living in community and on purpose, can change truly the world - will we accept the challenge in our generation?
*The facts and statistics in this post are all drawn from three different books that I love and highly recommend to you:
-England Before and After Wesley by J. Wesley Bready
-Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More - Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by
Karen Swallow Prior
-7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
This post is an excerpt from a chapter in my book - to read more, use this link to order your copy today!
2020 is certainly turning out to be a year for the history books, isn't it? Every day it seems that something new and more wild than yesterday happens. Pandemic, fires, storms, riots...the list keep going and growing.
We have a new intern class this fall semester, and in spite of everything happening, we are having a lot of fun. This 2020-21 class consists of nineteen young men and women - all have had a tremendous experience with God during their university years, and are exploring the potential of a lifetime in ministry.
Each year I have the joy and privilege of introducing a new class full of recently-awakened young Christians to the wonders of two thousand years of Church history. Very few 22 year-olds have much knowledge of history at all - let alone Church history. Oftentimes history is viewed as boring, put-you-to-sleep kind of stuff, but I disagree. It is fascinating, and we can learn so much about ourselves by studying it carefully. There are quite a few patterns - good and bad - that emerge with a long look back.
One recurring theme throughout the last 2000 years is a particularly tragic spiral. It begins with one generation that has a real, amazing, fresh and life-changing encounter with the God of the Universe, and surrenders whole-heartedly to the ways and plan of Jesus. We can read about this happening time and again, in nations and people groups all over the world. These are the people that would throw themselves in front of one other as they were being killed for sport in pagan arenas, or who would risk life and limb to protect others from a wicked ruling class. They had an undeniable encounter with Jesus, and no amount of persecution could change their minds about Him.
In such a generation, their faith in God is highly contagious. Their lives impact many others; the very hearts of men and women are renewed, and families are made whole. Commerce is often impacted as the vices of society are abandoned and holiness is joyfully pursued. When a group of people truly turns to God, governments have even been seen to shape up - ceasing to be about the pursuit of power for a moment, turning temporarily for the good of the many. The foundation for true peace and fruitfulness is laid and strengthened, and the people flourish.
But the danger of this cycle is that in a time of peace and blessing, things get easy. And prosperous. And taken for granted. The children and grandchildren of the ones who had a real encounter with God enjoy the blessings and steadiness of a peaceful and prosperous society very much. They are safe, and they might have plenty of time and money to spend however they see fit. As always, even since our original grandparents walked in the glorious Garden of Eden, the grass begins to look so much greener on the other side of the morality fence.
Seemingly new voices emerge from the growing shadows and whisper, “Why shouldn’t you eat taste that/say that/do that?” Very few can remember a time when things were not safe and sound, and people begin to question why all of these rules are in place to begin with. They suddenly seem so restrictive and really cramp our style. It becomes high time to stop worrying so much all the time about our kids and their futures - it is time for some “me” time.
“Obviously it is not going to hurt anything if we tear down this big fence right here - it is just in the way and has always kept us from running as fast as we want to run,” the people say, as they tear down the fence with a flourish and promptly fall off the cliff. They did not realize that their great-grandparents built that very fence to keep people from falling to their deaths.
This accelerates the downward spiral. Reaping the bitter fruit of a selfish life makes people even more angry at God, so they do even more selfish things to try to fill the void in their souls. They especially resent responsibility, and do not want to have to spend their own time ensuring the health and well-being of anyone else. So they outsource the tough jobs like teaching their kids and governing their cities to anyone who will do it, refusing to admit or believe that anyone might take advantage of this.
Generally speaking, what happens next is that an enemy army of some kind marches in and violently rolls over everything. Then, at last, people begin to cry out to God. Only when things become the darkest can men and women once again fully understand their great need for the Savior. God, in His infinite patience and with His tremendous heart to see people really know Him, allows the cycle to begin anew.
When you take some time to read a book covering the scope of Christian history, you could almost stand up and shout by the time you get to the modern era, “Oh, no! Please look ahead and see what is about to happen!"
In generations like that, there comes a real tipping point when it is suddenly too late to change things. Don’t believe this? Ask some of the Christian nations of the past...ask Rome of the 400’s AD. Ask the Byzantines all over the Mediterranean Basin and Middle East in the 700’s-1000 AD. Ask 1400’s Constantinople. Ask 1780’s France. Ask 1910’s Russia. Ask 1920’s Weimar Germany. Ask 2020….whoa, wait!
THERE IS GOOD NEWS AND HOPE!
I have been referencing Christian peoples, but of course history began long before Jesus left Heaven and came to earth as a man. There is so much that happened before the birth of the Church. Millennia before, God chose a man named Abraham in order to show the world what it looked like for a people to be in covenant relationship with Him. The history of Israel that we can read in the Old Testament is frequently so similar to that of the Christians. They love God and serve Him, then get prosperous and lazy, let in false thinking and practices, and eventually get steam-rolled by an enemy. Repeat. And again...
But God never leaves them or forsakes them. He made a covenant with them, and He is not a covenant-breaker. Of course, He will allow them (and us!) to walk away of our own accord and face the consequences of such a foolish action, so that we can remember our great need for help and salvation. God gave us all free will, and He will not force us to do anything. But when any of us come to our senses and call out to Him, He is always there, waiting with open arms.
When Abraham's descendant Solomon built and dedicated the beautiful temple in Jerusalem, God Himself came and reminded Solomon of His wonderful promises to His people. The whole passage in 2 Chronicles chapter 7 is both sobering and encouraging, and I encourage you to read the entire thing as a timely message to all of us in 2020. Verse 14 of that chapter reminds us of God's promise to help in dark times...
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
There is very little most of us can do right now to physically bring change to the chaos around us. Many of us are pretty normal folks, not in positions of great power or opportunity. But, even so, we are not helpless!
There is One who can help and save, and that is God. He reminds us that He is right there to bring help and healing to His people IF AND WHEN...
-IF we will humble ourselves. He is God and we are not - we must lay down our pride, listen and obey.
-IF we will pray. Not worry, or grumble, or fuss, or put out frustrated messages on Facebook and Twitter, but pray. He hears and helps when we do.
-IF we will seek His face. It is election time, and we all have so many opinions about what ought to happen. But we must remember that while government is necessary, it does not actually hold the answers to the problems of the world. Neither does education or money or power. The hearts of mankind need a change that only God can bring.
-IF we will turn from our wicked ways. Statistically speaking, many Christians do not act like Christ. We must stop doing wicked, selfish things and start obeying God.
-THEN He will come and forgive our sins and heal our land! Both things that we desperately need.
I have mentioned several generations that let their guard down too far and faced the tragic repercussions. In my next post, I would like to revisit several generations that rose to the occasion and saw tremendous, miraculous change sweep across their land. Oh, that we would be such a generation!
Happy anniversary to us! This week marks two years since the first post on this blog, and it has been such a wonderful experience. Thank you so much for spending time here with me, thinking about the goodness and faithfulness of God. I look forward to many more encouraging visits together.
As I write this, my husband and I along with many hundreds of our friends are in the throes of what we all affectionately call "Welcome Month" on the university campuses of America. This is the season when all of the students return to campus and when the freshmen land for the first time. Though this year is certainly unique in so many ways, it is still a wonderful time of fun and activity and of making new friends on purpose for Jesus.
I know that we can all see many awful and concerning things in the news lately, and there certainly are so many dark things happening, but I want to tell you that there is so much hope yet! The light of Christ shines brightly in the darkness, and many young people are hungry for real love and truth. In honor of the great work of God that is beginning in so many young hearts and lives on campuses all over the country, following is an excerpt from my book Kingdom Minded that I hope will encourage and inspire you today...
March 2019 - Huntsville, TX
Today is actually my birthday, and I am now forty-seven years old. Thirty years ago, I was a high school senior, finishing up that last semester and preparing to start a new chapter of life in college. I had no idea the wonderful journey that God was taking me on, or how radically my life and viewpoint were going to shift over the months after I arrived at university.
It has been the blessing and honor of my life to be able to serve Jesus alongside my husband for all these years on a college campus. The things that are in this book are things we have learned firsthand as we began to walk with Jesus ourselves, and things that have been refined as we have been priveleged to help so many others while they were students here.
This has proven to be a special place; many hundreds of people who were a part of this group are now in ministry and missions positions all over the world, and many thousands more are serving Jesus faithfully in the marketplace. Thirty years of data are in: practicing spiritual disciplines helps us walk with God for the long-haul and helps us be transformed into the image of Jesus. I could tell you story after story of people that I first met when they were eighteen years old and rather selfish, who are now some of the most godly people serving Jesus faithfully and fruitfully in some of the most challenging situations you can imagine.
There have been so many young men who came here angry and broken after being abandoned at a young age by their fathers. A student befriended them and brought them into the fellowship, and their hearts were changed by the love of God. They were set free from years of bitterness and hatred, and learned to apply the same things we have just been through in this book. They learned how to have a real devotional life, and real brothers, and real responsibility, and began to be transformed day by day. Now so many of them are the best husbands and fathers any family could ask for. Their own children will never know the sting and devastation of abandonment, just the care of a loving father.
I can think of face after face of young men and women who struggled with life-gripping substance or pornography abuse, and who were set free by the power of God. They learned to make drastic choices and changes in their lives, choosing to fill their minds, bodies and spirits with only healthy things. So many learned to walk in solid new habits of temperence and self-control, and have never looked back at their old life. Their families are healthy and free from the chaos such addictions bring into a home.
More people than you would believe have overcome the shame and confusion resulting from sexual abuse in their childhoods. Jesus set them free and healed their hearts, and these young people learned to walk in health, with their sexuality surrendered to God. Hundreds of men and women who were harmed by abuse that should never happen to any child are now married with children of their own. The terrible cycle of abuse has been broken and their children will grow up safe from harm.
Angry people have become kind and hopeful; selfish people have become generous and giving; destructive people have become full of life and encouragement. People who never gave a thought for anyone other than themselves are now living lives of service that help others all over the world also know the great love of God. Knowing Jesus and surrendering our hearts and wills to Him changes everything, and walking in discipline with Him helps us to become more like Him every day.
Sadly, I have also seen so many people come close and then walk away. They came right up to the line, but for whatever reason did not want to trust God enough to cross over and really walk with Him. I hope that one day they have another opportunity to meet God and know Him.
There is no distinction in the sight of God between these two kinds of people - God made them all and deeply loves each one. It is not that some people are more favored and special to Him, and therefore have an easier time of walking with God their whole life. No, each of us has a choice and we are responsible for the life and time we are given. God has done His great work, and His free gift of salvation is available to each of us. Now it is up to us: His hand is extended, will we choose to walk with Him into the abundant life He created us to live?
I pray that this book has been an encouragement and blessing to you, no matter whether you are just meeting Jesus or have been walking with Him for many years. I hope that you have been challenged to learn and grow in spiritual discipline, and to keep learning and growing all your days. You were created by God for this very time and place, and there are people all around you who can be greatly impacted by your walk with Him. There are people that you could reach and disciple that might be the very ones to open a heart, city or nation that has been previously closed off to God.
Let the great love of God fill you and shape you and change you. Let everything He is doing in your heart and life spill out and impact your family, your friends and your neighbors. No matter what your starting point, I encourage you to start seeking the Lord with all of your strength. Let the word of God wash your mind and the hope of God encourage your heart. In every way, may the Lord bless you and keep you, all the days of your life.
Would you like to learn more about walking with God in a life-changing relationship? Order your copy of Kingdom Minded today - we just went into the second printing of the book!
Against all odds, Back to School time has come! As we all continue to pray for God's help and healing through this strange virus, we also prepare for a great season of opportunity. All across the nation - and truly around the world - university students are heading back to campus over the next few weeks. The darkness is indeed great at most universities, and too many wicked snares await young minds and hearts.
However, there are also Christian ministers, missionaries and students on many of these campuses, ready to share the truth, love and power of the Good News of Jesus with as many students and faculty members as they can. Please pray for these brave men and women, that God would protect them and give them great courage as they bring the light of Christ into the darkness.
In honor of our campus ministers and missionaries, following is an essay that Eli and I wrote several years ago for a missions journal. Throughout the ages, the question has always been, why bother trying to help and rescue people living in darkness? Duty or pity alone cannot sustain anyone for very long. The heart for purposefully going to the darkest, hardest places to share God's love can be found in Luke 19:10...
For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.
Several years ago, our family attended a conference on a university campus. One afternoon our three year old went missing from the student center where we had been working. As it became apparent that our little girl was lost, my heart sank and with each passing moment I began to feel more and more nauseous and anxious. Words cannot describe the depth of anguish and despair we felt that day. With the help of university police, we frantically searched all four floors of that building, eventually spilling out into the parking lot and covering the four city blocks of the campus. She was completely lost.
In Luke chapter 15, we read Jesus’ three parables about lost things – the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost sons. Contextually, however, the emphases lay not on the things which were lost, but rather on those to whom the lost things belonged – the shepherd, the woman, the father. The third parable is frequently called the Parable of the Prodigal Son – but as G. Campbell Morgan suggested, perhaps a better name would be the Parable of the Father’s Heart, for in this story we see the broken heart of God revealed. This father was actively watching, waiting and yearning to be reunited with his lost child. That is exactly the way God feels about every one of His children who are lost and separated from Him.
To quote G. Campbell Morgan, “It is well now to remind ourselves that when we speak of a lost man or woman, the final emphasis in our thinking should not be on the lost person, but on the one who has lost that person. When we speak of a man being lost, do we think most about his suffering, or of the suffering of God?” When the devil has kidnapped a child of God, it is God who hurts the deepest, who suffers most. His heart is broken as He can foresee the inevitable consequence of lost relationship - eternal separation. When I remember the way we felt about our one lost child, I cannot begin to imagine the Father’s exponential pain over the multitude of His lost children from every corner of the earth. When our daughter was lost, I wanted everyone, everywhere to drop what they were doing and help us find her. It was inconceivable to me that anyone, especially those I loved most, would be able to rest until she was safely found.
In 2 Samuel 23, we read about three of David’s Mighty Men who heard a sigh from their king’s lips - his simple longing for a drink of water from the well near the gate at Bethlehem. Risking their own lives, they crossed enemy lines in the dark of the night and retrieved the drink of water for their king. It is clear that these three men were close enough to their king, in proximity but more importantly in relational intimacy, to hear the longing of his heart. They were never given a command. Their king’s longing became their immediate, voluntary and dangerous mission.
After the longest hour and twenty minutes of my life - in which every passing minute felt like an eternity - we found our daughter. The moment I saw her, I had an instant understanding of the joy in heaven that erupts when a lost person is reunited with the Father. I cried out with happiness and could not stop hugging her. The intensity of the darkness which had accompanied her loss was matched only by the elation I felt when I held her in my arms again.
Today as you pray, rather than pouring out your heart to God, ask Him to pour His heart to you. Our King is a wonderful and loving Father who suffers deeply at the loss of His children. If we love Him, we will listen. Eventually we will feel His broken heart. If we love Him we will, like the mighty men of old, make His longing our mission no matter what the risk. What is the cry of God’s heart? He is weeping over His lost children; watching, waiting and yearning for them to come home.
As I write this, I am flying home from an incredibly restful and refreshing respite in the mountains - blessedly removed for a moment from the troubles and strains of 2020. My heart is tugged in so many directions as I look out the window and over the miles of wilderness. How beautiful and glorious is God’s great creation! Everything He made He called good, and He made it for His own pleasure and ours. But how frustrating that the world is so confused and chaotic. Too many people are not aware of His goodness, or have been fooled to think that God is not real and this is all just random, purposeless chance.
If you were an evil enemy of God, what would you do to take as many people away from Him as you could? Not very many people are so easily led to outright devil-worship or murder or other wicked acts - trying to catch everyone in that trap would be a terrible waste of time, even for an evil enemy. The fastest and easiest way to draw people away from God has proven from the very begining to be to sow confusion about God’s character. Is He really entirely good and completely unselfish, or is He just controlling and self-seeking like everyone else?
Remember what happened in the Garden of Eden - we read in Genesis 2: 15-17…
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Next, fast-forward to chapter 3: 1-5…
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say,
‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Do you see what the crafty serpent did there? The enemy took the word and law of God, and twisted it up to confuse and trap God’s beloved children. Our good Father does not want automatons for children - He has given us each the blessing of a free will. God could have blasted the serpent out of existence right then and there, but then real love would have been cheapened. Only when the risk is there to not choose relationship can love really be love. God wants each of us, all of us, to choose to be with Him, and to enjoy all that He has made.
But the enemy hates God so much, that he really does want to keep everyone from knowing their Creator. Not because that serpent cares or feels anything for us in any way, but because he wants to hurt God as much as he can in the time he has left before his own horrible end. So, the enemy’s preferred method since the beginning has been to cast doubt on God in the minds of His children.
It is a highly effective method - beware.
“Did God really say…?” that wicked rascal whispers, again and again. “You won’t really die - He just doesn’t want you to have what He has.”
Some would accuse me of being a little overly-religious and old-fashioned here; perhaps even repressed or leaning on some sort of old crutch that mankind invented long ago to keep everyone “in their place.” I would say that such accusations only add more evidence to my belief that God is who He says He is, and that there truly is a battle for the soul of every human. What better way to keep people blind to reality than to cast doubt on everything that is true?
So many Christians today find themselves confused or wondering if maybe they are not a little off-base and intolerant, like everyone is accusing. Maybe we shouldn’t be so rigid and uptight about sin and selfishness. Maybe it really does not matter how anyone chooses to live their life. Maybe God actually is just cruel and selfish, and doesn’t want everyone to have fun in their own way. “Did God really say…?”
We have a good friend who has frequently told the story of a young man with a chemistry lab. This fictional person is highly trained in their field, is already has several advanced degees, and keeps a working lab with all of the right chemicals and compounds that any serious chemist would have. He is proud of his set up and loves to invite friends and family and any interested persons to visit and check things out.
Imagine if this young chemist decided, just for fun and to be free from convention, to change the labels on some of the chemicals in the lab. For instance, what if he took the jar of cyanide, which as any reader of mystery novels knows smells like bitter almonds, and changed the label to read “Almond Jelly Beans?” The next time visitors came to his lab, he could show them this container with its pristine new label and invite them to sample the contents.
Clearly, the new label says “Almond Jelly Beans,” such a harmless and innocous thing. Almond jelly beans pose no threat to anyone. What is the big deal?
Tragically, no matter what this young man chooses to call the substance in the container, it is still cyanide. The moment his visitor opens the lid to take a smell of the harmless little jelly beans will be their last moment - no matter what you call it, cyanide is deadly.
This story is such a perfect illustration to describe what we can see on the news and in our neighborhoods every day. Changing the labels doesn't ever work - sin will still kill you every time. God’s laws are not just arbitrary rules: He does not make up things on a selfish whim, or just to keep us ‘in our place.” Rather, God’s laws are a description of reality from an infinite persepective. His laws are truth, and they are inviolable.
He does not instruct us not to do things to keep us from having fun or living our best, carefree life. From His timeless and limitless perspective, God can plainly see the train wreck that is coming down the line with selfish and willful choices. He wants us to have a good life now and forever, so He tells us the truth about what will help us truly live and what will make us surely die.
Be encouraged today, and do not let confusion be sown into your mind and spirit. Read the Word of God and spend time in the presence of Jesus through worship and prayer. Rejoice in God's truth, and take comfort in the fact that He holds everything together - now and forever.
We must not fall into the the mistake of becoming angry with the people around us who do not yet know the love of God. More than ever, everyone needs to know the peace and confidence that comes from a relationship with Jesus. The world is giving off plenty of fear and anger - we must have lives that radiate joy and hope. We know that the laws of God do not squash the life out of us; in fact, they set us free to live a truly abundant life! The enemy has fooled so many of our friends and neighbors, but no one is too far gone that the love of God cannot reach them. This season is a wonderful opportunity for the Church - the deeper the darkness, the more brightly the love of Christ can shine.
For further reading on God's Laws, please see Winkie Pratney's 21CR resource - a real treasure!
In our younger years, I taught elementary school and loved it. Kids are amazing and so much fun to work with, and it is so inspiring to watch how just a little love, care, and positive attention can help them to bloom. However, the elementary school classroom is also a wonderful place to develop and maintain a firm understanding of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Contrary to popular modern teaching and opinion, groups of people living and working together day after day in close proximity are not going to magically and organically treat one another with care and respect - in fact, left to their own devices, most school classrooms would quickly devolve into a Lord of the Flies situation.
Any serious study of the history of civilization will testify to the fact that without some sort of outside influence, chaos reigns. The problem is, of course, that just about all of the outside influences are little better than chaos themselves. Injustice is rampant, power is corruptive, and the strong devour the weak - every sort of kingdom that humans have managed to produce in our own strength are tainted by these truths.
This is why, when a truly unusual young man from a little town called Nazareth began teaching and preaching about a new kingdom over 2000 years ago, so many people had questions. The next time you read through the Gospels, notice two things - first, how many times Jesus mentions the Kingdom of God. The two are inseparable, Jesus and His Kingdom; you cannot have one without the other. Second, notice how many of the conversations recorded in the Gospels are of Jesus answering questions that people had about His Kingdom. What is it, where is it, why can't I see it, and how do you get into it? The more Jesus explained His Kingdom, the more questions His listeners had.
His hearers then were almost exclusively Jewish people. At that point in time, they alone had the revelation of who God really was; yet, when He came to them in the flesh, many could not recognize Him or His Kingdom. It is thought-provoking to note that the priests and the teachers of the law had taken the beautiful revelation of God and over the centuries created an elaborate system of rituals and of complex lists of do's and don'ts. Their system became more precious to them than their God - it lost the heart of God and became a new standard for righteousness: Self-righteousness.
When confronted with the real King and His Kingdom, many could not make things make sense. He did not do things the way they thought He should. Jesus was born in a stable, not a palace. He came from a backwater town and hung out with the lowest of the low, little kids loved Him and wanted to be around Him, and He made time for anyone - man or woman, rich or poor. He preached that if you want to be first, you have to be last; and that you cannot say you love God without also loving and forgiving your neighbor, and treating everyone else as you would like to be treated. He taught that people of His Kingdom would be known as meek, merciful peacemakers. He taught that if you want to save your life, you have to lose it. And instead of delivering with an army, He delivered by laying down His own life.
Since Jesus came and revealed to the whole world what HIs Kingdom was like, civilization has been radically changed. It is actually amazing and revolutionary that now there are entire nations in which slavery is illegal - that is because of Jesus and His people. It is also amazing that in many nations, women and children are treated with dignity and respect, and given every opportunity to have a full and purposeful life - that is because of Jesus and His people. In many nations touched and influenced by the teachings of Jesus, the poor are looked after and the downtrodden are lifted up. His Kingdom looks very different than anything humans could produce on our own - His Kingdom is entirely motivated by real love and selflessness.
This is why the writer of the letter to the Hebrews was so insistent that we not miss the real King and be satisfied with our own systems of self-righteousness. See this strongly worded passage in Hebrews chapter 12...
See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire."
- Hebrews 12: 25-29
Everything that can be, will be shaken. If ever there was a time that this seems very likely, it is today in 2020! Nothing that humans have created outside of God and His Kingdom will remain - no structure, no system of governance, no religion, nothing.
Listen to the profound and prophetic words of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in a sermon preached in 1963. He was writing in a time and place when, for the first time, no one laughed at the idea of the earth being literally shaken and melted - it was the dawn of the Atomic Age and everyone was very aware of the power and fear that had been unleashed with nuclear weaponry, and this after a half century of brutal world warfare...
"In other words, we can put it like this: the uniqueness of this message lies in the fact that there has been One in this world who really did not belong to it. The world has thrown up its great men, its great philosophers, its great scientists, its great statesmen and great musicians and many other great men, but Jesus of Nazareth was not a great man, He was God-man!
This is the appaling thing, is it not, that two thousand years later, He is still being ignored. The world has always been a place of trouble and of pain, and the whole story of civilization is that of the human race trying to solve its own problems...trying to put an end to war, trying to make people live amicably together, trying to order life so that men and women might live as it should be lived and that they might enjoy it. But they failed yet the world is still trying, still turning to the same kind of idea...doing everything except listening to this one thing. This is why this writer puts it like this: "See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks."
Friends, we know that everything will be shaken, and that only God's Kingdom will remain. Do not allow the things that are happening now to discourage or frighten you - keep your eyes on Jesus! As one old preacher said, Jesus and His Kingdom are God's total answer for man's every need. By His grace and forgiveness can people learn to live peacefully together, now and forever.
This is our wonderful opportunity to share with all of our family, friends, and neighbors the Good News of Jesus, who alone can lift our burden of sin and bring real help to men and women. It is our honor to tell everyone how much God loves them and wants them to be a part of His great, unshakeable Kingdom.
2020 has been full of surprises, to say the least. It is really beginning to seem like God might be trying to get our attention. In His infinite wisdom and mercy, and in His perfect timing, He has seen fit to give us ears to hear what He can always hear- the terrible weeping and groaning against the injustices committed, in both attitude and action, by the peoples of the world. God hears the cry of every heart, in every street, in every land, and is deeply grieved. Injustice is not imagined nor is it a problem of the past; it is very real and terrible and painful, and very present in modern times in so many ways.
When we are forced to face this problem as we are right now, and not just ignore it or pretend it is not there as we so often do, it can seem overwhelming. What can any of us actually do? The problems of society here in America and across the world seem so immense and devasating that we can be tempted to freeze into inaction, or to play the blame game and shift the responsibility for help somewhere else.
As we find ourselves in a time of upheaval, we recognize that injustice is not limited to America, but is rampant throughout the world. Again, God really does hear the cry of every heart, in every street, in every land; He is moved with compassion and His unexpected answer is to send help through His people who respond to HIs call. The great love of Christ compels us - not just to hear the cry and to see the need, but to be like Him and do something about it. As followers of Jesus, we must live our lives in such a way that we bring not just empty words, but real solutions, and we know that the beginning of real change starts in the heart of every human. Jesus alone can bring healing and hope, restoration and reconcilliation; “He died for all, that those who live in Him should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor 5:15)
The problem is the human heart - filled with selfishness, sin, and pride.
The solution is a heart change - through Jesus, who alone can give us new hearts. He takes away our bondage to sin and selfishness and fills us with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)
Where do we start? Of course, we must all start with our own hearts. We must surrender our own wills to God, have our own burden of sin lifted, and receive forgiveness and a new heart. That is a good start, and probably everyone reading this has already done that. But then what?
Jesus told a great story about this…
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13: 3-9
This is a story about the Kingdom of God. When the good seed, which is the good news that Jesus has brought salvation, lands in good soil, it produces a beautiful, bountiful crop that has far-reaching impact. When Jesus changes one good-soiled heart, an entire family and community and even nation can be impacted. Sadly, when the seed falls on unprepared ground, it often just dies.
Here is the point - there’s nothing wrong with the seed, and we cannot believe that only the smallest minority of hearts will ever accept the truth. Someone just needs to take the time to prepare the soil.
It brings to my mind the myriad stone fences found in the part of New England in which I spent my childhood. Everywhere you look, there are miles of rugged old fences made of big stones, surrounding beautiful farmland. Someone, sometime had to dig up all of those rocks so that the land could produce fruit. This could not have been easy work; in fact, it probably included a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and time.
In agricultural terms, very few fields are ready to farm right away; rather, they need to be tilled and prepped and the trees, roots, stones, and thorns must be removed to ready the soil. In human terms, very few hearts are ready for the good news right away. The layers of hurt and bitterness and the carefully constructed walls around their hearts have to be broken through so that the seed can flourish.
How can we prepare hearts to hear the good news? In decades of university ministry, we have noticed that many hard hearts can be softened when we can show them real love and laughter - these two things can plow the hardest of hearts. Here are some thoughts along those lines:
May God help us today to renew our committment to Jesus and His Kingdom. May He grant us strength and wisdom and vision to stay the course and see hearts won for Jesus in the places He has sent us. May the Spirit of God fill us afresh and anew today with power to be His witnesses and with hope for the people we meet. May we boldly declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light, and may we have the patience to gently till the ground of hard hearts all around us so that the work of God can flourish in their lives.
A year and a half ago, in the old days before the virus, I was teaching an introductory class on spiritual disciplines to university students at a fall retreat. I love to open eyes to a whole new world of walking with God, and it is no secret that I am especially fond of working with college students. Now that I am older than most of their parents, I really enjoy filling them in on what life was like in the Old Days. I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder explaining pioneer life.
We were doing a brief overview on each of the chapters in Richard Foster's excellent book Celebration of Discipline, and had come to the topic of solitude. For the first time, I fully realized that I was talking to a room full of people with a radically different notion of "regular life" than I have.
They were surprised and laughed when I told them that most of my young life we only had three channels on the television, and even then our house in a little New England town could not quite pick up the third. The television channels signed off with the national anthem at about midnight, and just played static until morning. Not only that, but we actually had to stand up and walk across the room to change the channel or adjust the volume!
They gasped when I told them that stores closed by 5 or 6 pm every evening, and were not open at all on Sundays; banks closed earlier in the afternoon each weekday and were closed all weekend, the impact of which was enhanced when I explained that there was no such thing as an ATM or a debit card, let alone PayPal. They were really amazed to learn why 7-11 is named that way, and I saw many of them looking it up on their phones to see if I was making that up.
I tried to help them imagine life before microwave ovens, VCRs, and video cameras, back when you actually had to wait to cook real food, watch a movie once in a theater, and send off your film to be developed. I painted a picture of what it was like to exist in a time when you could only watch one episode of a tv program per week, and when you might have to actually go to the library or book store to check out the newest book, music album, or book on tape. New songs were played on the radio, and love notes were written out with a pen and paper, delivered in person. Answering machines did not exist, so you had to call again later or just wait until you saw the person to deliver your message.
Readers with more life experience than I - a child of the 1970's - might find this list of the "Old Days" amusing. But the truth is that when the subject is solitude, all of us in 2020 are coming with a vastly different filter than any person could have in 1980, or 1880, or 80. The young people of today have no experience of a life without the world wide web and all it stands for sitting in their hands. They have no memory of a slower world, with a slower pace of life because it has been 24/7 news cycles, shopping, and noise since the day they were born - and all of us of every age have been impacted and affected by this new world.
When we talk about solitude and silence, it is difficult for many of us to even begin to approach the concepts, let alone practice them. Yet if Jesus Himself practiced the discipline, or habit, of getting alone with God in the early years of the first millennia, how much more do we need to in this modern age of noise and chaos?
Solitude is needing nothing but God. It is waiting in the presence of the Lord. It is being still and knowing that He is God. It is taking a break from the pressure for social media likes, from the constant need of affirmation from others, and from noise and chatter and conversation to rest quietly in God. Dallas Willard explained this well...
“Solitude well practiced will break the power of busyness, haste, isolation, and loneliness. You will see that the world is not on your shoulders after all. Your will find yourself, and God will find you in new ways. Silence also brings Sabbath to you. It completes solitude, for without it you cannot be alone. Far from being a mere absence, silence allows the reality of God to stand in the midst of your life. God does not ordinarily compete for our attention. In silence we come to attend.”
In a day where it is difficult to get away from electronic things and constant noise, we must seek solitude and incorporate it into our schedules. One interesting part to the Coronavirus drama was the fact that, for many of us, it temporarily erased our hectic calendars and schedules. There were many days during the lockdown when there were long stretches of time with nothing at all planned. How interesting to realize that the first temptation was to feel guilty for not doing enough. How interesting that, for many, the next thing was to reach for the phone or the computer to fill up the silence with more noise and dubious information. What a beautiful and fulfilling challenge it was to learn to sit, still and quietly, for awhile to just be.
As we move forward, how different the world could be if we as Christians could remember to incorporate solitude and silence into our lives. Our families, friends, and neighbors need us to be different from the rest of the rat race. They need to see the love and hope and peace of God at work in our lives. They need to know the Good News that God really does have a purpose and a plan for all of our lives and for this broken world; that...
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Explore the world of the spiritual disciplines further, on your own or in a small group - follow the link to order your copy today!
Most people are familiar with the imagery of a person walking through life, daily influenced by the presence of an angelic being on one shoulder and a demonic being on the other shoulder. It is a humorous representation of the Christian idea that we all have the free will to choose which influence will guide us. The little guy with the horns and pitchfork wants to push us away from God and everything He represents; the one with a halo and wings is always trying to pull us closer to God. The devil wants us to be stuck in selfishness, sin, and despair, while God wants us to come further up and further into unselfishness, peace, and joy.
Jesus explained this reality in John 10:10...
The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
The devil hates God so much that he does everything he can to make the creation of God fruitless and despairing. He knows his time is short and in the meantime will do all he can to kill, steal and destroy men and women, boys and girls, and to keep them away from God forever. He wants everyone to stay blind to spiritual realities or to give themselves to the gods of darkness, anything but know the true God.
I have such a vivid memory of sitting in an English class at St. Patrick-St.Vincent high school in Vallejo, California, listening to our teacher read those famous, despairing words of Shakespeare's Macbeth...
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Even though I was only sixteen years old, I could tell that William Shakespeare knew exactly what he was doing in crafting this story. Macbeth believed what he was saying in this famous soliloquy, and believing that life is meaningless is the greatest tragedy of all.
So many of our neighbors have never heard that their life has meaning and value. The too-real character represented with horns and a pitchfork laughs as our secular society has convinced itself that all of life is just chance, that none of it has any meaning, and that there is nothing after death except annihilation.
This is why it is so vital that we remember the second part of what Jesus said...
I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
We have been given an opportunity to remember how precious life is. During this pandemic, we have all instinctively wanted to protect our kids and our elders from this terrible sickness, knowing that life at every age and stage is valuable and meaningful. All of us have been vividly reminded that every person is carefully and lovingly made by God in His own image, and that every life is purposeful. It does not matter what race, gender, age, income bracket, or political persuasion any of us happens to be - every life is treasured. Not only that, but we will all live forever in one of only two places, so the choices we make in this life matter. Through Jesus, we can truly live lives full of hope, purpose, and joy regardless of our circumstances here on earth, and forever with God in heaven.
With this wonderful knowledge comes great responsibility - now more than ever.
Many of our neighbors are suffering - physically and spiritually. The numbers of people that we hear about in the news who have been affected physically by the virus or who have lost employment are not just statistics, they are real people. They live next door, they live in our town, we pass them at the grocery store and gas station.
As Christians, we must not turn a blind eye - we must look for those who need our help. We can share our groceries, we can share our money and resources, and as we share our material things with those in great need, we can also share the love and hope of God. If your church or community is already doing something organized to help people in need, jump in. If not, start something. The more of us that work together to meet the need, the better. A wonderful thing about abundant life in Christ is that there is always plenty of love and hope to go around, no matter what storm or pandemic is raging around us.
A blessed Eastertide to you and yours! In the traditional Christian church calendar, this is not just one day, but an entire season for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, beginning with Easter Sunday and it lasting for the fifty days until Pentecost Sunday. This year, we really need the whole fifty days!
As I write this, we are all still engaged in a worldwide fight against the terrible Coronavirus. No one could have guessed the way this year would unfold. Innumerable people are going through incredibly difficult circumstances, and all of us have been impacted by measures to fight the spread of illness. It has been interesting and thought-provoking to celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Lord juxtaposed with such fear and unknowing in the face of a pandemic.
It has been especially fascinating to read the many social media posts and news articles about how people are weathering the lockdown period. Though no one wants this strange pause in life to go on indefinitely, more than a few people are realizing that the break-neck speed at which life in pre-Coronavirus 2020 was going was not particularly healthy. With weeks now to unwind, many people are connected with their families like never before. Kids are learning to play and use their imaginations again. People are getting enough sleep.
Sadly, this is not the case in every home. Other news articles point out that there has been a sharp increase in domestic violence, in anxiety, and in pornography consumption, just to name a few things. Being home all the time is not easy or pleasant for everyone. It seems that the angry just get angrier, and the selfish become even more indulgent. Many people are acting entirely out of fear - fear of losing income with no hope to get it back, fear of illness for themselves or a loved one, and especially fear of death itself. Faced with a virus no one really understands yet, this last fear is seizing multitudes.
Some might wonder if there might be a way we could take each individual person to a beautiful retreat center, maybe somewhere in the mountains, to refresh and relax. Imagine if this place was large enough that everyone could spread out and have plenty of space to himself. Here, each one would have all the food he needs, and none of the wicked temptations of the modern era like drugs or pornography; in fact, this place would be completely unplugged. The library would be filled with only the best uplifting and informative literature of the ages, and the music selection would be calming and peaceful. Everywhere each person goes, they would find green pastures, fruit trees with every kind of fruit, and crystal clear steams flowing. Surely, if we could create a place like this, everyone could finally find peace and harmony?
But, here is the problem - There is only one place like that, and the way to it is blocked by cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth. We are not allowed to go back into Eden, into that beautiful and abundant place where peace truly existed and where God Himself came down to walk with man in the cool of the day. Nor can we ever re-create such a place on our own.
Our wicked and crafty enemy was not entirely lying to Adam and Eve when he said they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit. In fact, they did not drop over or cease to exist when they took a bite - what happened to them was far worse than that. The true death that occurred, and which God had warned them about, was that we became infused with sin (aka total selfishness) that we cannot get rid of by ourselves, and which results in a horrible, eternal separation from God and enmity with one another. No amount of education, medicine, money, technology, or laws can fix this problem of sin.
The virus that is currently sweeping the earth reminds us all of this universal human condition. While it has been amazing to watch the world rally together in real time to fight the physical illness and to find a cure and vaccine for this particular strain of virus, something unimaginable even fifty years ago, we remain hopeless to save ourselves from sin and from true death. Doctors are learning every day how to combat Covid19, but selfishness remains. Most of the time, we can ignore the fact that our sin separates us from God, but not right now. When faced with this problem, just about everyone would love to know what to do.
Listen to an interesting thought from Dorothy Sayers, writing at the outbreak of the Second World War....
"War (we could say pandemic) is the breaking up of security and habit, and the letting in of energy upon the things hat had become static and corrupt. The great obstacle, in times of peace and prosperity, to improvement in the social order is the inertia that society presents to any kind of change. The reformer spends nine tenths of his energy in endeavoring to make his voice heard above the snoring of well-cushioned indolence, to smash his way into the closed circle of vested interests, to disturb complacency and generally to overcome the disposition of his hearers to let sleeping dogs lie.
But war does this part of his task for him. All the dogs are up and barking very loudly, and nobody can possibly pretend to ignore them. The world is startled awake, complacency is destroyed, and even the vested interests are rocking uneasily on their foundations. His chief difficulty now will be to catch the distracted attention of agitated people and get it focused on what he has to say."
And we do have something to say!
Here is the Good News - Jesus came to save us from our sin! There is real hope and real help. John the Baptist heralded Him, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus does not just hide our sin or cover it - He takes it away. Through His work on the cross, we can be free from the deadliest virus of all - sin. In Christ, we can have peace with God, and with one another.
The Bible is clear that God has made a way for us to be with Him again, and that Jesus willingly laid down His own life for all of us. Remember the beautiful passage of John chapter 11, in which Jesus shows His power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead and proclaims...
I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
As Christians, we have an amazing opportunity this Easter season to share this great news with people who truly might be ready to listen. In times past, we may have found it difficult to begin the conversation to share our faith with family, friends and neighbors for any number of reasons. But everything that the world offers as stability is now shaken - and it remains true that the only sure foundation to stand on is Christ, and the only way men can be reconciled to one another is through Him. The conversation is started! Speak freely and share that in Christ, we can have not only the blessed assurance of forgiveness of sin, but also His peace and steadiness to see us through any storm.
May the love and peace of God fill your heart and home today. Let's be generous with this good news and freely share the living hope that we have in Jesus.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)