Tuesday, August 27, 2013

At the Sound...

Greetings, Songbirds!

     "Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me"...REALLY??? I wonder who came up with that one!?! Speaking from my own experience, I am here to say that could not be FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! How about you?
     Today I want to talk about the power of our words. Or maybe more importantly, the power of  God's  Word(s). I may never get this thought wrapped around my "thick skull"...that by the power of God's Word creation came into existence. We see it in Genesis 1 NKJV starting in verse 3..."THEN GOD SAID...THEN GOD SAID...THEN GOD SAID..." all the way through the end of the chapter. It boggles my mind!
     Not just that, but just the very breath of God had the power to breathe life into the first man Adam according to Genesis 2:7 NKJV.  We catch a glimpse of the breath of God bringing forth life!
     The book of  James NKJV, specifically James 3:1-12 NKJV speaks about the power that our own words have, both to good and to bad. I want to focus on the good for today. As an example, Antoinette Tuff became an "everyday hero" by helping to thwart a school shooting in Decatur, Georgia...keep in mind the power of our words.
     "Everyday Hero" indeed. The power of her words, that I believe were God given, saved many lives that day. Her words to that young man that day were more powerful than any bullets, any confusion, any fear, any evil intent, any hopelessness, any circumstances that were taking place, even any force of weaponry our own police and s.w.a.t. teams had available JUST OUTSIDE THOSE DOORS. Her words were more powerful ONLY because they were God breathed.
     That young man fully intended to leave collateral damage strewn all across that school campus, ultimately ending even his own life. BUT GOD fully intends collateral healing be strewn across the heart of every man willing to turn to Him. I think He displayed it that day.
     Antoinette Tuff did not have any way of knowing the gunman's deepest need, BUT GOD did! She was used by God to reach him through that great need, which was love.You know, in the past when I have heard the phrase "love conquers all"" or "love is more powerful than hate"...etc., etc.. it sounded cliche to me, BUT GOD's love IS exactly that. We just witnessed it on that tape. You have probably witnessed it in your own lives. I have witnessed it in mine. There is no denying it. God has saved me, mostly from myself, more times than I can count...how? THROUGH HIS WORDS of love to me (and to you).
     She shared with the gunman some of her past struggles...do you think she has a clearer understanding of why God may have allowed some of the devastating events in her life in the past? She surely sees now how He was able to use those hurts of hers to minister to the gunman! Genesis 50:19-21 NKJV What was meant for evil, God meant for good and in the process many lives were saved. I pray that this lesson does not go by us!
     Antoinette Tuff became a sort of Esther, "for such a time as this" August 20, 2013. Esther 4:13-14 NKJV. Just an ordinary woman in her ordinary life, called in an instant to do an extraordinary task for God...she obeyed and God was able to show Himself through her in a mighty way because of her obedience.
     My prayer and my song for us today is that we never forget that God is for us. If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:30-32 NKJV There is hope, there is ALWAYS hope. It can start with just one word...JESUS. And who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:31-39 NKJV
      I do not want to bombard you with video clips today, but if you would like to see the story behind the song "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant, I think you would be blessed by it.
     Our song for today is Your Great Name .

      JESUS...at the sound of Your great name, every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that You are Lord. Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV  BTW, the first word out of Antoinette Tuff's mouth when she knew her ordeal was over was "JESUS"...through her tears of relief. Amen.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Redemption...is it Worth the Cost?

Greetings Songbirds!

     I apologize for being away so long, I hope you will forgive me! It's been a busy Summer and I just can't seem to write amidst a busy schedule. As much as I have thought of you these last couple of months, I was unable to put pen to paper. So, here we are much later than I wanted, but here none the less! Thank you, if you haven't given up on me! I pray that we all get a touch from God through this post today. I want to share this article written by Trevin Wax and passed on to me by one of my sons-in law:

      For many skeptics, the problem of evil is the biggest hurdle to believing in God. David Hume put it memorably:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?
Christians have a difficult time with this too, no matter what response we offer.

  • If your answer is free will, then why did God create a world in which, through His foreknowledge, He knew people would reject Him and cause untold suffering?
  • If the answer is “to bring about a greater good,” then why is so much suffering (so much of it seemingly gratuitous) necessary?"
Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov didn’t think either answer satisfying. In one of the most poetic descriptions of the end of time, Ivan imagines the Christian answer:
I have a childlike conviction that the sufferings will be healed and smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage… and that ultimately, at the world’s finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened with men.
But then, Ivan adamantly rejects this vision:
Let all of this come true and be revealed, but I do not accept it and do not want to accept it!
Why? He can’t imagine a greater ending that would make present suffering worth it – particularly the suffering of innocent children. He tells the story of an abused little girl and then makes clear his reasons for rejecting Christianity:
Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to dear, kind God’!
“It costs so much.” For many, that is the rub.
Even Christians have a hard time with this.
  • Why does God permit human evil to spread?
  • Why did He knowingly create a world He knew would be broken?
  • Why did He knowingly create people He knew would turn against Him and bring destruction upon themselves and the world?
Whether the response given is the “free will” defense or the “greater good” scenario, the heart of humanity still wonders, Is it worth it? Is it worth the cost?

The angels seem to think so.

In 1 Peter 1:12, the apostle tells us the angels long to look into the gospel reality we experience. We don’t know why, but God chose not to provide salvation for the fallen angels. They fell and remain fallen.
But the innocent angels, those who didn’t bow the knee to Satan’s schemes, those who didn’t join the heavenly revolt against the Maker of all things – they look wistfully at the experience of redemption that we know through the gospel. 

In other words, there is something greater about being fallen and raised again than merely being innocent.
There’s something more beautiful about redemption than innocence.
There’s something more attractive about grace to the undeserving than reward for the meritorious.
There’s something more amazing about restoring peace to a shattered world than maintaining peace in pristine conditions.

Maybe in our heart of hearts, we can’t get past the problem of evil because we don’t know the full extent of the beauty of redemption. We have a hard time drilling into our hearts the eternal perspective of Paul, who said the sufferings of this present time – as horrific as they are – cannot be compared to the glory of the future (Rom. 8).
Sometimes, you feel like you’ve got to turn from preaching to poetry. To that end, here’s how Andrew Peterson reflects on this question:
And when the world is new again
And the children of the King
Are ancient in their youth again
Maybe it’s a better thing
A better thing
To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love
Maybe this old world is bent
But it’s waking up
And I’m waking up
‘Cause I can hear the voice of one
He’s crying in the wilderness
“Make ready for the Kingdom Come”
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?   End Article.
     Oh, the beauty of redemption! One of the best "take aways" among others, for me from this article is this: 
"But the innocent angels, those who didn’t bow the knee to Satan’s schemes, those who didn’t join the heavenly revolt against the Maker of all things – they look wistfully at the experience of redemption that we know through the gospel." 
     My song for us today is titled "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave. This version is integrated with the redemptive testimony of  Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. My prayer for us all today is that if we are believers that we realize the beauty of our redemption so that non-believers around us may see that beauty and realize it (He) is WORTH IT.