Conducive

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  – Psalm 139:5

This past Friday, God’s presence manifested for me and one of my friends while we were praying.  We pray almost every school morning.  Most of the time, we say pretty much the same things and it is all nice, we know and believe that God hears, and we go about our day.  I have no idea what was different about this day, but when we started praying, God just devoured us.  I was in tears just sobbing.  I didn’t want to leave . . . ever.  

Every other time this has happened, I have tried and tried to recreate it.  Never does it repeat itself in the same way.  This is the first time that I’m aware of this fact and the first time that I will make no attempt to recreate God’s presence in the exact same way.  I will appreciate that moment for what it was and appreciate how it is still affecting me this morning.

I so want some more of that presence.  I’d love to get in it and just hang out for hours and hours.  When will I experience it again?  I don’t know.  But here is what I do know . . . it happens when I least expect it, and it happens when I’m doing things that honor Him.  I might be listening to praise and worship, I might be praying, I might be in a Spirit-filled church, I might be listening to a sermon, and I might be just thinking about Him.  I believe He is teaching me this morning that I don’t need to go presence chasing, I just need to keep my environment conducive for Him to show up.

Lord, there is nothing on this planet that compares to feeling You.  I can’t imagine how awesome Heaven will be.  Thank You for making Yourself real to me, Lord.  Will You make Yourself real to others?  Change people by the power of Your presence.  There is nothing like it, and there is no one else like You.  Amen  

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Be Careful What You Allow

You know when I sit down or stand up.  – Psalm 139:2

For a ton of random reasons, I have gone to more concerts these past couple of months than probably at any other time in my life.  Some of the bands I really liked as a kid, and I knew that the guys in them were getting on up in years and it might be the last chance to get to see them.  Other bands are simply in their prime, and I’ve learned that prime doesn’t last long.  One band I saw was Megadeth.  I liked them back in the day and remember seeing them at Cowboy’s Night Life in Greenville.  In 2002, I read that the lead singer, Dave Mustaine, had become a born-again believer in the Lord.  I thought that was the coolest thing ever.  Many religious people obviously trashed the guy, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  I still give him the benefit of the doubt.  Growing relationships with Christ are all over the place, but they should trend towards holiness and being different from the world.

There was another band that I saw called Fit for a King.  They do claim to all be Christians.  I bring these two bands up because I had high expectations for them as far as being a light in the darkness and, at the very least, being different than everyone else. 

I don’t know about you, but when a person casually and frequently cusses, I discredit them as a follower of Jesus.  I’m not talking about slipping up, I’m talking about regular use when around a comfortable crowd.  I’m also not talking about newer converts . . . I remember how hard it was to get this under control.  I’m talking about someone who has claimed to follow the Lord for years.  

Now to Fit for a King’s credit, they never cussed.  There was a moment where I felt like they normally speak about the big deal that the Lord is in their lives.  The crowd, however, wanted nothing to do with it.  Several of the attendees yelled, “C’mon . . . keep the energy going.”  So, that is what they did.  I felt like they missed a huge opportunity to tell them about Jesus.  

To both bands’ discredit, it is what they allowed in the opening acts that was far worse.  There were very frequent uses of the f-bomb.  I kept thinking, “at the very least, I would not allow this.”  Please don’t get me wrong, I could not care less if a person cusses or not.  I don’t necessarily like to hear it, but as soon as you become a Christian, you go to war against what comes out of your mouth.  I distinctly remember saying a cuss word after being saved.  I heard in my spirit, “Adam, you don’t talk like that anymore.”  I know now that it says so straight up in the Bible (Colossians 3:8), but I didn’t know it back then.  In fact, there was one day that I had committed to no foul words.  When I got around my friends, it took about 5 minutes before they said, “What is wrong with you?”  I said something lame like, “I just think you aren’t very smart if you have to use that vocabulary.”  Being able to stand up for the Lord was a whole other issue I’d have to deal with later.  

Lastly, I don’t know the hearts of any of those band members.  I’m simply making an observation.  Strangely enough, I’m making the same observation that many religious folks make about me.  Judge not lest ye be judged, right?  But here is the thing . . . the Lord knows.  He knows their hearts.  He knows my heart.  And here is the best part, and the whole point I’m trying to make . . . He knows if I’m standing up for Him, or if I’m sitting idly by doing nothing. 

Honestly, He and I both know.

Lord, I want to stand up for You.  I want to be a light in the darkness.  I want to be holy.  I want to be different.  Will You empower me to be that light?  Let me be a contrast to the world.  May people ask why I do the things that I do the way that I do them.  May my answer always be the same, “I’m just trying to follow Jesus.”   Lord, please fill those Christians who have an incredible platform with Your Holy Spirit.  Give them boldness like never before to tell others about You.  I could totally see You start the third Great Awakening in the concert halls through people that religious spirited people can’t stand.  Lord, in whatever manner You choose to do it, please awaken Your people and send revival soon.  Amen.

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Not of This Pen

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.  I must bring them also.  They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  – John 10:14-16

I have this theory.  I believe that right now there are very few Americans making a real deal attempt to follow Jesus.  If Pew Research Polls are anywhere near accurate, then in the last 10 years we have lost 12% of people who simply say they are a Christian.  The number was 75% 10 years ago, and it is 63% now.  Many people have simply not returned to church since the pandemic.  Youth pastors are reporting that the overwhelming majority of kids simply will not attend group anymore.  

So here is the theory:  If there are a finite number of demons (1/3 of the angels), and the number of Christians in America are declining, then evil can concentrate its efforts on the remaining followers.  The devil already has the sinners who reject Christ.  Evil already has the religious pew warmers who sit and criticize every detail of the church service and complain that it isn’t to their liking.  This leads to a question that we must answer:  Is it worth the devil’s time to come after me?  Am I making enough of an impact on this planet for Jesus that I am worth demonic effort to bring me down?

I read back through some of my posts, and it is crazy how up I am one morning, and completely down the next.  One day I’m on fire, the next I’m feeling sorry for myself.  At first, I beat myself up for this roller coaster ride.  But then I thought, “I just might be worth at least some of the devil’s time.”  People who love their sin more than salvation for the most part are indifferent towards me and the path that I try to lead them to take.  To them, I’m just an old-fashioned, crazy, religious guy missing out on fun.  Church people, mainly those with a religious spirit, despise me and my attempts to draw lost people to the Lord.  I have let these two facts discourage me, when they should be encouraging me.  I am worth demonic effort.  

I know the Good Shepherd.  Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd.”  I’ve never noticed the rest of that verse before where He talks of people that aren’t in “this sheep pen.”  That must mean the Gentiles.  He says, “I must bring them also.”  God is speaking to me in this right now.  I believe He wants me to do most of my work outside the American church walls.  I have been so preoccupied with the possibility of getting back into ministry and preaching inside a church building.  The truth is, there are so many souls outside of those buildings that need to be won.  There are many lost lambs that need to be brought back home.  The more I think about it, I would rather do it this way.  When we read the mighty things that happened in the book of Acts, there were no church buildings.  Why wouldn’t God use me to help win them and bring them back home?  I am willing!  I am available!

Lord, help me to honor You with my life.  Help me to be holy.  Show Your mighty power in me and through me.  Your word says that the harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few.  I’m signing up to be a laborer.  Help me do my job for You.  Help me turn off the internet and television and meet with people who are willing to talk about You.  Time is short.  It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this to face judgment.  I want to be ready.  Wash me, cleanse me, and make me new again as I go forth this day.  Amen.

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A Big Mistake

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  – Hebrews 11:6

When I began my faith journey, I certainly believed that God existed.  This verse plainly says that this is a requirement for coming to Him.  I came to Jesus purely because I did not want to go to hell.  I believed that God existed, and without Him you don’t get into heaven.  This led me to halfheartedly do things for Him every once in a while.  At best, I would “tip” Him occasionally, and think I was doing something awesome.

A few years later, I would read the Bible for myself.  I realized that God was exceedingly good and wanted the best for me.  I found myself trying new things out of a sense of obedience.  I would say that the first several things that I did simply because I felt like God asked me to resulted in this trust relationship that I never thought was possible.  I didn’t know it at the time, but God had become a rewarder of me simply because I diligently sought Him.  

I realize that the Christian life has its ups and downs . . . just like any life.  Right now, I’m on the downside.  Not because there is anything horribly wrong, but because I realize that I’ve made a big mistake.  For some time, I don’t know how long, I have changed this verse up a little bit.  My version reads like this, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently do things for him.”  I have been doing a lot of things for him lately, but I haven’t done a lot of seeking Him.  I even wonder if I’m typing this out because I love Him, or out of some sense of obligation.  

I went outside last night to burn some boxes.  I sat next to the fire and just watched the flames.  It was as peaceful as I’ve felt in a long time.  I simply said, “God, you are so good.”  It was like in my mind I could see Jesus walk over to me and sit next to me.  We didn’t say anything to each other.  We just sat as peacefully as one can possibly sit.  

Lord, help me get this right.  I want to get back to the simple art of hanging out with You.  I’m doing things for You that You aren’t asking me to do . . . no wonder my peace is gone.  But even as I type this prayer, I feel Your presence and just want to hang out there.  It seems like so long ago that this was the pure motivation of my life . . . to get into Your presence and stay there for as long as possible.  Lord, there is and never will be another like You.  I don’t really know what to pray right now.  Will You search my heart?  If there is anything that does not belong, will You reveal it to me?  Will You lead me to true repentance?  Will You fill me with life, and life more abundantly?  Amen

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It Takes a Village

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.  – Romans 12:1

This verse follows the “Hall of faith” chapter that mentions so many giants of the faith.  It mentions Abel, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David, Samuel, and other Judges and prophets.  I think this verse is basically saying, “Because they did it, we can too.”  This really got me to thinking this morning about all the people God has placed in my life that helped me become a follower of Jesus.

My first memory of anything to do with church, God, or the Bible came at Salem United Methodist Church.  We memorized the books of the Bible in Sunday School.  Being the overachiever that I was, I only memorized the first five, but for the first time in my life, I thought that the Bible must be an important book.  

Steve James, a youth pastor, would be the first to tell me about heaven and hell.  He told me that I needed Jesus to go to heaven.  I was too scared to receive Him in front of my friends, so he came to me, picked me up, and led me to the Lord.  

My friend, Scott McGaha, would purchase me my first Bible.  Even though it took a few years, it is the first Bible I ever read cover to cover and is still the Bible that means the most to me.

A good ‘ole southern preacher by the name of Ronnie Hodge would be the first preacher to captivate me by telling Bible stories.  For the first time in my life, I wanted to read the Bible and know what it said.  

I will always be grateful for Rev. Don Vaughn and youth pastors Mike and Laura Worsham at Salem Baptist Church.  They taught us, showed us, and put us in many situations where we learned what it looked like to serve God.

Later, a guy named Jimmy Boggs would sit down with me and teach me how to read the Bible and apply it to my life.  He was the busiest guy on the planet, but he always took time for me.  

I would go on to college and get far away from God.  An invitation to an old school Church of God revival by Larry and Betty McGaha would be the catalyst that would fill me up with the Spirit of God and help me never look back.  

My wife, Tonya, would be the one to show me what it looked like to put the past in the past and move forward.  Mark Bagwell would invite us to Golden Corner Church where I learned the value of having a church family and being in a life group.

I hate when I start naming names.  I know I miss people and leave them out.  Of course, I don’t mean to.  It would be easy to mention Shaun Watkins, Jeremy Garrett, Tony Grant, Jeff Rankin, and mention the parts that they either played, or are playing at this moment.  I have been surrounded by my own “great cloud of witnesses.”  

Right now, I just want to help others on their journey.  People are all over the place . . . just like I’ve been.  Maybe they need to hear about Jesus for the first time.  Maybe they need to grow.  Maybe they need to come back to Him.  Who knows?  God knows.  If you truly know Him, what are you doing to help them?  Take the time to look back over your own life . . . who was your village?

Lord, help me help people in the same manner that you have used others to help me.  If I can preach at a park, play a song that honors You in a bar, counsel troubled teens, lead a Bible study, or simply pray with someone who needs You to move on their behalf, help me to do it.  By the power of Your Spirit help me to truly live for You and be a vessel that is used to pour into the lives of others.  You have sent so many people to pour into me . . . How can I not pour into others?  I just want to do my part.  I just want to follow You.  I just want to hear the words, “Well done!”  Place people in my path that I can help.  Thank You for all that You do, have done, and will do.  

Amen

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The Ticket

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.  – Psalm 9:10

I have a family member who got a traffic violation.  I won’t use names because I didn’t get permission.  It was a $75 dollar fine and a 3-point violation.  The officer who wrote it up told this person, “If you show up to your court date, I will drop this.”  A month later while nervously standing in the courtroom, this person watched the cop be true to his word and left with a clean record.

Here is the thing:  The person was guilty.  They did the crime.  They violated the law.  It did not matter how much good they did before the incident or after the incident.  There was no balancing out the act.  There was no doing enough good to cancel it out.  They were on trial for a specific violation.  All this person had was trust that the law officer would do what he said he would do.

You and I are guilty.  Go through the ten commandments.  Have you ever loved someone or something more than God?  I have.  This means that I have violated commandments one and two.  Have you ever used God’s Name as a cuss word?  I have.  I’m guilty of breaking commandment number 3 when I stand before the Judge of all judges.  I have dishonored the Sabbath, dishonored my parents, and hated someone which makes me guilty of murder according to 1 John 3:15.    I’ve committed adultery according to Matthew 5:28 and by fornication.  I’ve stolen, lied, and coveted.  This makes me guilty of all 10 commandments.  What will happen to me on Judgment Day when I stand before the Judge? 

Make no mistake, we will all stand before the Judge!!

It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this to face judgment.  – Hebrews 9:27

As I typed out and remembered my sins, great fear and great regret came over me.  I don’t think I have been this aware of my sin in a long, long time.  This feeling of despair wells up inside of me.  It does not matter how much good I do; it cannot cancel out the fact that I broke God’s law.  I can’t even play the ignorance card.  I might could on some of it, but I’ve broken all 10 commandments willingly and knowing better.  I type that last sentence in much despair this morning.  When I stand before the Lord, I’ve only got one card to play.  Just like my family member had to put their trust in the officer . . . I’ve got to put my trust in Jesus.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  – Romans 8:1

God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  – John 3:17

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.  – Acts 4:12

Jesus Christ is all that I have.  I will go into that heavenly courtroom trusting that He will do on a much, much grander scale, what that cop did for my family member.  

Please, please, please . . . put your trust in Him.  

Please, please, please . . . share this with everyone you know.  

They’ve got to know!!!

Lord, I felt the fear in my family member awaiting trial.  I feel the fear right now as I await trial before you.  You are all that I have.  I’ve got nothing else.  Blessed are the poor in Spirit?  Then here it is.  I’m not coming to You with a resume that talks of how I played on praise and worship teams, sat in church, preached in church, wrote WMD’s, stayed married to my wife, stopped lying, or any list of other “good” deeds.  I’m coming to you with one play:  The Bible says that You so loved me, that You sent Jesus to die for me, and if I put my trust in Him, I will not perish, but have everlasting life.  Please make all the readers feel the despair of standing before You without Jesus being their police officer.   Let them feel the full weight of it.  Then, if they know You and Your Word, give them peace that passes all understanding because they know in Whom they have trusted.  I ask that You put a special blessing on that police officer who was a picture, even if just for a moment in time, of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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The Waiting

Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel.  But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.  So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offering to me.”  And he offered the burnt offering.  – 1 Samuel 13:8-9

Israel’s first king made the biggest mistake of his life right here.  You want to talk about some consequences? 

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed.  “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14). 

I look back at just how much trouble I’ve gotten in by trying to solve my own problems and refusing to wait on the Lord.  I don’t think I consciously refused Him, I just went with my instincts and tried to take care of things myself.  So many times, it never even crossed my mind to pray and consult God.  I am getting better at it as I get older, but when I have a quick fix at my disposal, it is so difficult to wait on God.  

I want to be a pastor again.  I know it will happen in God’s timing.  In the meantime, it is difficult for me to not force it to happen.  I know I could.  I could build the resume, submit applications, say the right things, and I could make it happen.  In fact, I did interview recently.  As I was being asked questions, I was incredibly aware that I could tell them exactly what they wanted to hear.  I refused.  I told them my honest answers.  I even told them that if they wanted references from my former church, then I would give them the names of people that would more than likely say negative things about me.  This way, if they still wanted me, I would know that it was God placing me there. 

I didn’t get the job . . . shocker.  But when I do pastor again, there will be no doubt that God has placed me.

I can’t imagine taking an approach like this at any previous point in my life.  I just want to know without a doubt that it is God lighting my path.  I want His timing.  I used to believe, “God helps those who help themselves” was in the Bible.  I was astounded when I found out that it wasn’t.  It looks like Saul believed this saying as well and it cost him the kingship.  I’d rather say, “God helps those who place their complete trust in Him.”  To me, that summarizes Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding

In all your ways acknowledge Him 

And He will make your path straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

I have talked with two people already this week struggling with very different problems.  Both have the means to do something in their own power with their own resources.  After contemplating 1 Samuel 13, both have decided to place it in the Lord’s hands and wait on Him. 

Lord, I’ve gotten into so much trouble by doing things my way instead of trusting You.  Impatience has cost me time, money, energy, and resources I will never get back.  Selfishness has brought unnecessary pain that I did not have to experience.  Help me from this day forward to truly learn to wait on You.  I want to trust You and lean not on my own understanding.  In all my ways I want to acknowledge You.  And what a promise that You give me for doing so . . . You will make my path straight.  I love You, Lord.  Help and bless all who choose to read today.  Amen.

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Awesome God

Repent and do the things you did at first. – Revelation 2:5

Can you tell me of a time when you felt the closest to God?  What songs did you have in your heart?  Did you truly hunger and thirst for Him?  How old were you?  When did you fall in love with Jesus and want what He wanted for your life more than what you wanted?  Whatever you remember, please tell me . . . I would love to know. 

I look back at a time when I asked God to help me feel Him.  I asked Him to make Himself real to me.  The first time He really gave me a sense of His real deal presence was in my truck listening to “The Best Thing” by Big Tent Revival.  It was so wonderful to just sit there and cry from being so overwhelmed.  When I hear that song, it takes me back to a specific time and place.

This past weekend, my daughter and I played music at a wine bar.  I love to go fishing for men every time we get a chance to play.  I usually only throw the line out once or twice, but when I get a bite . . . it just ends up being a story I couldn’t make up if I tried.  This one is no exception.

We had played for about three and a half hours, and I was wrapping up.  I had not played any praise and worship song or Christian song, which is what I usually do.  I prayed and asked the Lord, “Lord, what would You have me play?” Nothing.  I clicked on my iPad where all the songs I can play are listed.  The very first Christian song on the list was “Awesome God.”  I said, “That’s bold, Lord . . . really?”  I just felt it in my spirit, “Go for it.”  

When He rolls up His sleeve, He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz

Our God is an Awesome God

There’s thunder in His footsteps and lightening in His fists

Our God is an Awesome God

The Lord wasn’t joking when He kicked ‘em out of Eden

It wasn’t for no reason that He shed His blood

His return is very soon so you better believing that 

Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God

He reigns from Heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love

Our God is an awesome God

I looked over in the corner and there was a woman who lit up the place singing along and being in obvious disbelief that I was playing it.  Afterwards, I went over to her and her boyfriend/husband.  She said, “I can’t believe you played that song.  It took me back to when I was a little girl in church.  I just loved it.  I sang it all the time.”  I told her that I remember being at Calvary Baptist in Salem hearing a guy named Frank Smith play it.  It was one of the coolest things I had ever heard.  We just talked about church and the Lord for a bit.  It was that simple, but it made the whole night more than worth it. 

Lord, truly You are an awesome God.  You do things in and through my life that I would have never thought to do or even thought possible.  Thank You so much for working in me and changing me.  I know I’ve fought You a lot, but everything You have done has only served to make my life better and draw me closer to You.  I pray for this young lady who was taken back to a different place and time.  Draw her close to You, Lord.  May each person reading this make the most of our opportunities, for truly today is the day of salvation.  Bless us, lead us, keep us, guide us, sanctify us, and fill us with Your sweet Holy Spirit.  Amen!

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Surely, God Will Let Him In

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” – Numbers 20:12

Back when I was a kid, I loved the movie Rocky III.  There is no telling how many times I watched it.  One day, my mom asked me why I watched it so much, I said, “I’m hoping Mr. T will eventually win that last fight.”  I guess with the A-Team being one of my favorite shows back in the day, I was more of a Clubber Lang fan than a Rocky fan.  To this day, every time I get to numbers 20 in the Bible, I think, “Surely God will let Moses in anyway.”  Just like Rocky III when I was a kid, something in my adult mind thinks I’m going to see a different result.  But the result is always the same, Moses gets to see the land from a mountaintop, but does not get to enter.  

I guess this shouldn’t surprise me.  I look back on my life, especially as a teenager going to church and making the commitment to live for the Lord.  Like Moses, I did not trust Him enough to demonstrate his holiness to the people of my school.  You know what?  He isn’t letting me go back and do what I wish I would have done.  That time is past.  I had the chance to do the right thing.  I even knew the right things to do, but I chose my way over His way.  

As a teacher, I’ve seen kids allowed to blow off 40 days out of the 45 in the nine weeks.  They didn’t come to school and certainly didn’t do any work.  They beg, and even their parents call and beg for them to be able to do something so they can receive a passing grade.  I’ve even seen a young person passed who did nothing all year long.  What does this teach the rising generation?  I think it teaches them that there is always another chance.  But according to the Bible, eventually you run out of chances.  Sometimes, your wrong choice has serious consequences.  

What I can do is not blow today.  If you have breath in your lungs, you don’t have to blow it either.  I can pray, ask God to fill me with His Spirit, take a deep breath, and walk in His ways making every effort to demonstrate His holiness to the people.  

With all my heart, I want this.

Lord, make me Holy.  Give me the power to live this stuff out.  Like Moses, in anger I think, say, and do things that I know I can never take back.  Each time is a missed opportunity to show that I’m learning to be more and more like You.  Help me, Lord.  There is no one like You!  You have demonstrated Your holiness to all of us.  Thank You for living the perfect life and making the perfect sacrifice that I might be saved.  Help me live for You for the rest of my days.  Amen

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Shogun

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come to those who are treacherous without cause.  – Psalm 25:3

You may or may not see this WMD.  I think I’m writing it more for a chronicle for myself than as a help to others. Recently, something strange happened, and I mean all in the same day.  First, I was greatly offended by a non-believer who I feel lied to me.  I’ve been good to them for years, but for whatever reason, I was ready to give up.  Later, I saw someone who I thought was my sibling in Christ for years.  This person totally blindsided and betrayed me.  I haven’t been able to stand them since.  In fact, when I simply walked by them on that particular day, I felt a darkness I haven’t felt in a long time.  Looking back, I can only describe it as a demon taking its claws and sinking them into my brain, keeping it dark, and keeping the negativity flowing.  I knew what was happening, yet I hardly even fought it.

When I got home, I wanted to do something aggressive.  I went for a run.  I usually run listening to the Bible or a sermon.  I wasn’t feeling like that at all.  So, I listened to a book I started a few weeks ago called Shogun.  It is about a shipwreck in Japan.  In the chapter I was listening to, they were talking about the Samurai.  The thing that stuck in my head was the words, “those barbarians will kill you simply to test the sharpness of their blade.”  As I listened to it, darkness and rage just kept rising.  After about 2 miles, I was pretty tired.  I started walking.  I started realizing that I really needed this darkness out of my head.  I started thinking about the things I needed to do to make things right with the people I was angry with.  

I slowly walked to the church near my house.  When I got there, I just fell on the steps like it was an altar.  I just laid everything down that I could.  I sat up straight.  I prayed, “Lord, what do I do with all this offense?  I will do whatever I need to do and fix whatever I need to fix!”  The answer in my Spirit was simply this: “the first person who offended you is an unbeliever who doesn’t know me . . . always be merciful to them.  The second person has a religious spirit and would kill you, simply to test the sharpness of their blade . . . make no moves around them.  Forgive and move forward.”  

Instantly, I felt relief.  I felt the perfect peace that surpasses all understanding.  Just moments before, I was so angry and bitter.  How great, wonderful, mighty, compassionate, and ever ready to give His children peace is our God?  How does He manage to use everything, and I mean everything for our good?  He is amazing!  We really need to reserve that word for Him and only Him.

Lord, I want to make every effort to live at peace with all people.  I have been so hurt by people.  Yet, at the same time, I know that I’ve hurt people.  I guess there is no healing without hurt.  Thank You for allowing me to feel Your healing power flow through my heart and mind.  Every hour I need You.  My one defense, my righteousness . . . Oh God how I need You!  Amen!

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