Pro-Choice

This month, we recognize two very sad days in America’s history. Oroe-v-wade-death-pie-chart (1)n January 22, 1973, our supreme court made its landmark decision promoting abortion. Since then, in the United States alone, 16,000,000 children have died because we gave their mothers choice to have it be so.

On January 27th, we remember the eleven million people who died because one man believed that their lives were somehow inferior: some because of their religious beliefs, others because of their sexual preferences, and still others because of their mental state. His beliefs concerning Nazi eugenics made the conclusion that these people were not fit to live, and Adolf Hitler led in the mass murder of millions of innocent men, women and children.

One man decides that his way is the best, and somehow, he is able to convince an entire army of Nazis to agree and carry out his plan—we call that insanity. Sixteen million men and women chose to end the life of their babies—we call iAuschwitzt pro-choice. The freedom to choose—it’s a powerful right, and I’m thankful for the rights that we have in America, even though many seem to be eroding away as fast as the moral fiber of this great land.

What can be done? Were there people living within ten miles of Auschwitz who felt as helpless as I do concerning the death of the innocent? Probably. Thankfully, we do have the power to vote.  This is not a political blog, so I’ll leave the rest to you, but think about it when you cast your ballot.

We can’t do everything, but we each can to something. I chose to write a book. It was the product of a heart filled with an unusual burden concerning the Holocaust. The research I needed to do for the book still haunts me, but the burden I carried for the Jewish people needed an outlet! Stepping away from the book, I realize that it also became a cry to any person who is very religious but lost.  Religion may be a powerful force in our lives; however, like Esther Ruth Raul, the main character in my book, each of us must realize that only the Living Water of Jesus Christ can quench the thirst of a parched and tattered soul!

Twelve Smooth Stones (also available as an ebook)tells her story of trials and tragedy which ultimately led her to redemption.  It’s a historical fiction. I hope you’ll take a look! In spite of all that, it is does contain a romance and is an easy read.  My purpose in writing it was not to expose all the grim details of the circumstances surrounding the Holocaust, but to focus on the people and their tenacity to live and overcome those obstacles.  Above all, it’s a book about the Gospel, because when it is all said and done, is there really anything more important?

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.

2 Corinthians 4:3

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Shocking Reality

FireBIGAs I observe the times in which we live, I sense almost a dread at the shocking reality of Christian beliefs.  Our times are filled with Christianity, in all shapes and sizes.  Some churches which would place themselves under the umbrella of Christianity deny that Jesus is even God’s Son.  To me, that is a shocking reality; while others pick and choose which teachings of Christ they will embrace and trash the others as archaic or irrelevant.  That is also a shocking reality.

However, the most shocking reality is the beliefs that people embrace about salvation.  There are those who feel that they will safely arrive into heaven’s domain because they belong to a certain church, or have completed a course, or have practiced a religious activity.  And then there are the myriads of humanity which have been “born-again,” and that also comes in all shapes and sizes!

Salvation: What does it mean to be saved, born-again, converted?  Of all the doctrines of the Bible, it is understandable that Satan would work the hardest at distorting this one!  What a price we pay for not embracing the whole truth about salvation!  What do I mean by that?  Read on…

Let’s say that you live in a community that has a wonderful community group, which does a lot of wonderful things.  They are very organized, not just a loosely banded group, and they require members to fill out an application.  You have attended some of their meetings, have even joined in with some of their activities, but you haven’t filled out the application.  Are you a member?  No.  When it would come time for any votes to be taken or any major decisions made, you would not be included.  Why?  Because you did not fill out the application.

You may really believe in their cause.  You may like them.  They may accept your presence happily and wish that you would join “officially.”  They may even give you the application and urge you to join; but for whatever the reason, you just didn’t do it.

Salvation:  Is it just believing in God?  If so, then according to a recent poll 74% of Americans are saved.  If you believe that, I have a great deal on some land in Florida I’d like to sell you!  🙂

Is it asking Jesus to be your Savior?  I would think that most of you would say, yes.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10: 13

The above scenario about the community group creates the problem concerning someone who purposely did not fill out the application.  The spiritual equivalent: someone purposefully no asking Jesus to be their Savior.  Why wouldn’t you do that?  Maybe you just never got around to it.  Maybe you don’t think it’s necessary.  Maybe you know the commitment it will involve and you’re not ready to commit.  Maybe you don’t believe in that sort of thing. Maybe you think your way or your churches way is good enough. Whatever the excuse, just know that there are consequences for not making that commitment – a big one called hell.

Is it possible to ask Him to be your Savior and still not go to heaven?  Yes – it’s not the words, it’s the heart.  Is it possible to really, really mean it and not go to heaven?  Yes – if you really, really mean it because you just don’t want to go to hell, but you will not admit your sin and forsake it – be saved from it, in Jesus name.  How could someone be saved from sin if they don’t want to let go of their sinful life and seek holiness?

“But I believe that God will accept me just the way I am.  That’s just your interpretation of the Bible.”   Another shocking reality: God loves each of us more than we could ever understand.  His love is completely unconditional – I can’t do anything to make Him love me more or less.  In fact, He loves us SO MUCH that He willingly sent His Son to die in our place – He, God the Father, placed every one of our sins on God, the Son – His ONLY Son!  Wow!  That’s beyond my comprehension!  And then someone will say that God would accept a person because they are good, even though they refuse to bow the knee and ask forgiveness – asking Jesus to save them?  The shocking reality is that many people think that way.  How do I know, because I see lives that talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.  There’s no sense of “God” in their lives except when they are in church, IF they even go to church.

Am I talking about sinless perfection?  No, just a heart for God, the rest will follow!  We, as born-again believers, all have a walk to walk.  God knows what it is that He wants us to do to glorify His name.  What a wonderful thought!

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to make a decision for Christ, don’t continue to ignore Him!

Revelation 22:7 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

 Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821-1902),James Martin Gray, chorus (1851-1935)

If you have never made that commitment to Jesus Christ, and you don’t quite understand what salvation is, maybe it would help to read “What is Salvation” at the top.

Twenty-five years ago today…

Life is filled with defining moments.  Twenty-five years ago today, we left our little house in the orchard fields of Adams county, PA and headed for Greenville, SC.  Twenty-five years!  It doesn’t seem possible.  We packed up our belongings and left our house of dreams with our two little tykes – Tom was three and a half and Jennifer was almost two.

I still can see that little tow-head as he stood watching the Century-21 man drive the ‘for sale’ sign into the front lawn.  He came to Mommy and asked what he was doing.  I’m not sure how I explained that one!

We had been in Latimore for four years, brought our two babies home from the hospital there, and planted our first true garden. We walked the ‘block’ – passing cows and fruit trees, made home improvements and strawberry jelly together.  But Tom was sensing the call to preach, and after taking a Bible course at the local Bible institute as suggested by a visiting evangelist, he knew he needed to heed the call. Life has never been the same!

Twenty-five years, and four different ministries later…

It’s been quite a ride!  For those of you who will read this and are sitting on the other side of the pulpit, your thoughts about the pastorate may vary according to your experiences.  For me, I always held the pastor in high regard and can’t recall ever having a ‘bad’ pastor.  (Well, maybe one was a bit undesirable, but I wouldn’t call him ‘bad,’ and only my dear mother would know who I’m talking about!)  For the most part, they were all faithful men who served their Lord with a servant’s heart.  I never really thought about their struggles or heartaches, never understood the burdens they carried – every parishioner’s burdens.

Someone (Spurgeon?) once said, “Of all the things that I’ve had to sacrifice for my Lord, my reputation has been the most difficult.”  Slander has no place in God’s family. The ministry is not for wimps.  It often requires “standing in the gap,” and I have found that that is the place where the battle is the thickest. Sadly, too often the bullets are coming from fellow soldiers and not from the enemy.

I don’t think I had any idea of what we were getting into when we pulled out of that driveway. Certainly, I knew life would be different, but had we known the awesome weight of responsibility, I wonder if we would have taken that step.  I recall thinking that God had pulled the curtain close on my emotions or I never would have been able to let go and trust Him.  I’m so glad I did!

It may sound as though the ministry is a bad thing – not in your life!  I cannot praise Him enough for allowing us to serve Him in this way!  Yes, it has been a bit rough at times, but then there are those joyous moments when someone has gained the victory, understood the Gospel or taken the next step that God has for them, and then all the trials vanish like the verse says:

“A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child,     she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” John 16:21

Defining moments – those times when you stand at the crossroads weighing your decision. It may be at a crucial point in your life or just a simple step of faith, but each decision needs to be made with prayer – lots of it.  We may never know the outcome, but we can trust the One who knows the future!  He sees it all, dear friend!  Trust Him!  The whole world may think that you are mad, but if God is in it, it will be the best thing you ever did.

What tho’ the way be lonely
And dark shadows fall;
I know where’er it leadeth,
My Father planned it all.

Chorus
I sing thru the shade and the sunshine,
I’ll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent –
My Father planned it all.

There may be sunshine tomorrow,
Shadows may break and flee;
‘Twill be the way He chooses,
The Father’s plan for me.

He guides my faltering footsteps

Along the weary way,
For well He knows the pathway
Will lead to endless day.

A day of light and gladness
On which no shade will fall;
‘Tis this at last awaits me –
My Father planned it all.

Chorus
I sing thru the shade and the sunshine,
I’ll trust Him whatever befall;
I sing for I cannot be silent –
My Father planned it all.

HH Pierson

Birdie, Birdie in My Window

This morning, while my husband and I were praying in the living room, a loud bang at the window got our attention.  We looked at each other, wondering what it was.

“Do you think it was a bird,” I asked.  Tom went out onto the porch, and there lying on the ground was a little chickadee, very still.  I went to it and picked it up – he was still warm.  Poor little thing.  (No, I did not give it mouth-to-beak resuscitation, but I did get a towel and laid it up on the porch, just in case it wasn’t dead.)  Sad to say, he’s still lying there.

As I thought about that little bird’s life taken so suddenly, I couldn’t help but think about the brevity of life.  There are still plenty of birds at our feeder – all alive and active, but what happened to this little guy?  He was deceived.  He thought he was flying through empty space, but a plate of unseen glass stopped him short. He did not intend to die today!  He didn’t mean to fly into my window – HE JUST DIDN’T SEE IT!

During Sunday school this past week, my husband-pastor had us read this verse:  “Who can understand his errors?  cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12) He then asked, who knew about our secret faults.  In my mind, I thought what several others said: God and me.   He smiled that knowing smile and said, “No, only God knows.”  Wow!  That was an eye-opener for me!  We call those secret faults blind spots – the sins in our lives that we do not see.  If you are like me, I’m quick to SEE everyone else’s blind spots and proclaim that I am too spiritual to have any!

How often we are like that bird –

we don’t see the very thing that is going to kill us spiritually!

I’m convinced that the term “blind spot” is a bit of a misnomer for the Christian; for God tells us that He will show us the way. “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” (Psalm 25:4) If we want to know our blind spots, God will reveal them to us.  IF WE WANT to know – that’s the defining factor.  This isn’t a half-hearted prayer where we don’t really expect to hear from God.  In fact, I’m convinced that most times, in the back recesses of our minds where we hide those sins  that we don’t want to face, we are able to see our blind spots.  What we don’t see are the far-reaching consequences stacking up ready to pour forth if we do not make the necessary changes.

If that little birdie would have just changed his course ever so slightly, he would have missed my window and could be sitting at my bird feeder right now instead of lying dead on my front porch!  I see so many lives on the brink of ruin only because that person or persons will not deal with sin!  Is it because they cannot change or will not?

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23) …the answer?  NO, but by the grace of God!  Praise the Lord! He will give us the grace to choose and to change if we but ask!

Satan’s Biggest Lie

ID-100127433Actually, he’s not very original – he’s been using the same lie ever since the beginning of what we call time: “Yea, hath God said…”  (Gen 3:1)  That statement comes in all different shapes and sizes but always boils down to the same lie: Did God really say that?

Does the human race really have to worry about what Satan says?  Well, considering that he’s the most powerful force that we will ever encounter, except for Almighty God, I would say, “Yes!”

So, what lie does he whisper into your ear?  The most deadly lies are the ones that, if we believe them, will condemn our souls to hell for all eternity.  They look something like this:

  1. There is no God. This one doesn’t really work for the average thinking person.  Most generally, people have no trouble accepting that there is a greater power out there than the human mind.
  2. A loving God wouldn’t sent someone to hell.  Now this lie catches more people.  Actually, God does not send anyone to hell.  You or I choose to go there by rejecting the truth – the truth that cost God the Father his Son’s life!
  3. That’s just a Baptist belief.  I swallowed this one for a while … until I read the Bible!  It’s all in there folks: salvation, hell, born-again, sinner… the list is endless and they’re all Bible terms.
  4. I believe my ‘good’ will outweigh my ‘bad.’ Let’s think about this one for a moment.  If I could get to heaven by being good enough, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?  Can you imagine the insult such a statement is to the Father, who SACRIFICED His ONLY Son to pay man’s penalty for sin, for a human being to say, “No thanks, I’m working my way to heaven?”

I’ve come to realize that the biggest reason that people refuse to listen to the Gospel is this: if they accept what someone is telling them: that they are a sinner (which most thinking people have no problem accepting), that sin keeps us out of God’s perfect heaven, and that only by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice will I get to heaven; it will require a decision.  It is much easier to ignore the truth than to deal with it!

I said earlier that the greatest force which we will encounter in this life other than Almighty God is Satan – there is one other powerful force: our own will.  It is the only thing more powerful than the Creator of the Universe.  We have the free will to choose salvation or reject it.  Wow! God gave man that free will, and then Satan sowed pride into the heart of man!  Our stubborn pride couples with our free will to make a deadly combination which keeps more people out of heaven than any lie Satan could ever fabricate.

Would you submit to God?  Would you pray to the God of the Universe and accept His free gift of salvation; or will you believe another of Satan’s lies: I’m alright. A simple prayer given with a broken and contrite heart is the greatest action we could ever choose to make:

Dear Father,

I know I’m a sinner.  I know that I deserve hell for the punishment of my sins.  Please, take away my sins; come into my heart and save me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9.10.13

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Bear Choices

Choices – we make them every day. Years ago (like 15!),  I remember telling my senior high Sunday school class during prayer time that I wanted them to pray for our family because we had an important decision to make.  I can’t remember what the decision was but I do remember one of the young men asking, “What, you’re changing peanut butter brands?”

It is Monday morning and for you non-ministry readers, that is the preacher’s Saturday.  Tom and I had already planned to have a date today instead of doing the usual “off-day type” errand runs.  At 7:05, the phone rang with a serious difficulty.  At 7:30, phone rang again.  I had decided to do my aerobics but the TV wouldn’t work.  In the fifteen minutes that we were together, two “conflicts” occurred.  So, we regrouped and made some tactical choices because we know from experience, that Satan loves to ruin our off days! I decided to walk instead of doing the aerobics.

I love to walk our dead-end dirt road and usually take Pepper, our fierce little cocker spaniel with me; but after last nights torrential downpour, I go it alone.  As I’m walking, I’m thinking about the bear that one of the men saw last night on the property – a big bear, he said.  Should I turn around? I’m picturing the bear I saw last night on facebook.  (Thanks, Joan for the photo!) Yes, I turn around; but then I decide God can protect me.  As I continue to walk, I’m thinking though all the worst scenarios.  Dying by a bear attack wouldn’t be pleasant!  So I stop and talk to God, and  as I look down both ends of the road, I realize that this is exactly what we do when we make choices.  This choice is driven by two thoughts: fear and common sense.  I fear the bear and it’s foolish to tempt God.

The other alternate route is down Route 184.  Now we are in the epicenter of the gas drilling.  There are trucks coming in every direction, SO… I decide to jump the little stream and walk through the neighboring business’ front yard.  There’s a small incline and as I jump I feel something pop in my foot.  As I’m hobbling home, I’m thinking again, “Great, Tom and I just decided to walk the PA Grand Canyon today!!!  I should have opted for the bear!”

Have you ever made a choice – prayed about a choice, and then everything seemed to go wrong?  We all have.  Did I make the wrong choice?  I don’t believe so.  Well, maybe the choice to jump the stream was a wrong choice!

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Pro 3:5,6)

coupled with Romans 8:28

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,”

are the two guideposts in helping us to make and accept wise decisions.  It was a small decision, but I did pray there in the middle of the dirt road and sought God’s guidance.  I was trusting God and not leaning on my own understanding.  I acknowledged him, and I believe He directed.  Now, after a day at the doctor’s office and the hospital for x-rays instead of the quiet walk in the woods (which was also to include Bible reading and prayer), I lean on Romans 8:28.  Was it the day I would have planned, absolutely not; however, choosing to go through it while continuing to acknowledge my God and keep a smile on my face WAS God’s will for me in this one!

Leave it Alone!

My grandson is ten months old.  He can crawl to any destination he desires.  One of his favorite spots is the dog’s dish.  His parents wisely moved some things out of his reach – choose your battles – but the dog dish remains in place to teach him one simple word: no.

When he touches the dog’s dish, Daddy or Mommy says no.  He understands their meaning, but sometimes CHOOSES to touch the dog’s dish anyway.  That’s when his cute little patty gets a little smack.  It does hurt him; there are no bruises – the only thing that is bruised is his sin nature.

So what happens as he nears the dog’s dish the next time?  He stops.  His little hand reaches out and then he pulls it back.  He reaches again, wavering – you can almost see the thought processes!  “I want to touch that dish, but I know Mommy and Daddy don’t like it, and the action will cause me pain.”  Does he understand why they don’t like it?  No.  Does he understand germs?  No.  He only understands that his little patty hurts and his parents do not want him to touch it!

Why are the things that God has placed in the “do not” category entice us so?  Why are we drawn to those things that God has labeled “sin”?  Why do we wrestle so much with deciding what is sin and what is not?  Let’s blame Eve! 🙂 Do you see her hand hovering over the forbidden fruit as she makes her choice?  God and Adam have said ‘no’.  Satan, disguised as her favorite pet, says ‘yes’.  We read about her choice and suffer the consequences.

Dear Christian, are you wrestling with sin?  Has Satan tempted you into doubting God?  I just read an article written by a gay man who attended BJU.  It broke my heart.  He experienced all the dark sides of that institution and others; and many gray areas were tainted because of his mindset.  If only we could see where our sin will take us – it is NEVER closer to God!  Sin will always cost more than you want to pay and take you further than you want to go.  (Thank you Rand Hummel!)  Keep your hands out of the dog’s dish!

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7: 24,25