A Time to Pray, Not Protest

I know that many who will read this disrespect, disregard, and even despise President Trump, but I am compelled to call on us all to pray for him, the First Lady, and the entire administration as they face the growing needs of our nation.

“This is an unprecedented situation.”

How many times have we heard that in the past two months? Yet, once again. If ever there were a time for us to put our grievances against President Trump (and those associated with him) aside, shouldn’t it be now? This does not mean we ignore our political differences with him. It only means that we choose to not make them a priority right now.

Despite the ardent efforts, hopes and even prayers of some, he is still the President of the United States. He is still the one who is making very important decisions. He is still the one whom these burdens all fall. He needs our prayer support. He and his team need wisdom, strength, courage, and discernment. We must not hope he stumbles in handling these crisis, but pray he is most successful. The needs in our nation today are not going to be aided by his failure to lead well.

Please, pray for our leaders through this season of crisis. I have a strong feeling it will not be over soon.

PrayForOurLeaders

How To Impress The Devil

There is a popular, Christian colloquialism that says: Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the Devil says, “Oh, no!” You may have seen this, or something close to it, on a mug or plaque. It’s a very popular meme* on social media. I guess it’s meant to be motivational, but every time I see it I get kind of bothered.

Why is anyone trying to impress Satan?

Hate to burst any bubbles, but even at our best—our most devout and faithful—Satan still thinks we’re easy prey. Remember Job? What about Peter, whom he asked to sift as wheat? Satan wasn’t impressed with these great men of faith, and he isn’t impressed with us. What does Peter say to his fellow Believers later in life? He warns us all:

Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the Devil
walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8, NKJV

Peter knew. He learned the hard way. Our authority against Satan is not because of our great faith in God or love for Jesus. No matter the good works we have done for the Lord, no matter how righteously we may live, it is only by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ that we are saved, and therefore called children of God. And, it is only as children of the Most High that we have the right to declare the name of Jesus over every power and principality of the Enemy.

OK. That was a mouthful. But, it’s important to remember the chain of command, so to speak, when discussing spiritual matters. And, isn’t that what that silly phrase is really about, anyway? Remember, there is only One who makes demons tremble, and it isn’t us.

There is one thing we can do.

As far as I can see, there is only one place in the Word of God that speaks of Satan fleeing from us, the Believer, and that is in James 4:7. However, it’s critical we read the whole verse.

Therefore submit to God.
Resist the Devil,
and he will flee from you.
James 4:7, NKJV

 

Note the instructions.

STEP ONE: Submit to God.
STEP TWO: Resist the Devil.

If we’re giving into Satan’s temptation to sin in any way—fear, doubt, lust, pride, anger, etc., the Devil will not flee. We can beg God and curse the darkness as much and as loud as we please, but the Enemy will never be impressed. It is our surrender to God and His will and Word that gives us the power to resist the work of the Enemy, and sends him away with his tail between his legs. That’s what I like to see!

So, dear friends, let’s be the kind of women and men of God that when we wake-up in the morning our knees hit the floor—figuratively, if not literally—in surrender. That is the only posture that will earn us the power we desire over our great Enemy. Through that yielded life of humble submission, we will find ourselves walking in spiritual authority through Christ Jesus. And, that is His will for us.

 

 

*I did do some research on meme. A meme is a symbol or social idea that people share with each other. These days, memes are most commonly shared via the internet, however, memes have been around since before world War II. Who remembers “Kilroy was here,” with the big-nosed face peering over a wall? That was an early meme.  

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Guest Post from TSP: “The Question of Authority”

A guest post from The Saxophone Player. Feel free to comment, or leave questions. He will be glad to respond.

THE QUESTION OF AUTHORITY
by Doug Gregan

The most astounding thing about the subject of Christians drinking alcohol is the narrow focus that both sides of the discussion tend to stay on.
The spiritual root of drinking is one of authority, and friendship with the world; neither of which do I ever hear discussed. The very nature of an intimate relationship with God is one of increased presence, resulting in increased holiness. This question of whether or not a Christian should drink, or if drinking is sin, is shallow and weak. The real question should be:
“Why aren’t Christians more Christ-like?”
We are called out from among them, to be separate. Friendship with the world is enmity with God, and brings us under the authority of the world and its spirit. The spirit that drives alcohol is undeniably of the world, and under the authority of Satan. There is no man or woman alive who can tell me of a time when drinking brought them into a greater intimacy with Christ, drove them to love God more, or brought them into greater holiness and sanctification.
Does not the scripture tell us from beginning to the end that He is calling us out and unto Himself? Consider Romans  6:18-22:
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves.
“Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:18-22, NIV)
This is the key to the whole issue, whether it be drinking, watching anything that exalts the flesh, gluttonous eating, dressing like the world, or engaging in any behavior that opens the door for the flesh to be strengthened.
“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21, NIV)
And, it does result in death.
Complacency, laziness, a lack of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, a lack of compassion towards those who don’t, can’t, or won’t “handle” the same things you can—it is all death. It produces a self-righteous, self-centered attitude evidenced by the countless defensive comments that come up in these type of discussions.
Then, there is the subtle, but incredible importance of spiritual authority mentioned in verse 16:
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16, NIV)
Those who drink are yielding a measure of their spiritual authority to the flesh and to the Devil. Alcohol, by it’s very nature, deadens sensitivity to Holy Spirit and weakens our ability to control the flesh as we should.
The angry man is more susceptible to anger.
The lustful man is more vulnerable to lust.
The proud man is prone towards pride.
The depressed man more inclined toto be depressed.
The jealous man more easily made  jealous.
And, on it goes….
This all takes place when one “walks in his freedom to drink.”
I’ve served in prison ministry for fourteen years and cannot begin to tell of the devastation and carnage left in the wake of alcohol. This includes Christians, men and women becoming casual with drinking, declaring their freedom to do so. I have yet to have a drug addict tell me that their addiction was not preceded by alcohol use.
Yet, we proudly demand and defend our right to drink. It is sad and shameful. The Devil mocks and laughs at the impotence of the Church to touch our generation with Christ-like love, life, and POWER. We would do well to heed the call of James 4. After exposing the Lord’s attitude towards worldliness, James says in 4:7-10:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:7-10, NIV)
I understand fully the emptiness of imposing restrictions and not trusting in the transforming work of the Spirit to bring about abundant life, balance, and control. The emphasis of my sharing is on the yoking of ourselves to spiritual forces and influences we have no business being in agreement with. Light has no agreement wih darkness. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:12:
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12, KJV)
We interact with this verse only on the level of the substance or behavior in question, but it transcends that. It speaks to every spiritual dynamic that is associated with those elements.
Where are those who are broken, weeping between the porch and altar, for the souls of those bound and enslaved? One can defend the biblical right to eat and drink. I get that. But, who can show me a man who is ministering in power and authority, yet allows himself to be brought under the authority of the spiritual forces connected to these worldly elements? They are not profitable. We will never step into the realm of darkness, addiction, and brokenness with any authority to bring genuine deliverance, if we are yoked to these things.
Should this be the shining prize I declare to the addicted and their broken family? “One day, you’ll be able to drink in freedom, like I do.”
I am deeply concerned by the absence of genuine discipleship that prepares God’s people to be ambassadors of reconciliation, walking in the power of God to bring the lost, broken, and hurting into freedom. Please, take a few minutes to read Ephesians 4:11-27, and prayerfully consider the life you are living today.
I welcome your comments and questions.

Truth and Freedom

Yesterday, as I was thinking about the freedoms that have been fought for and died for by the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces, I found myself thinking about the freedoms that have been surrendered by the American voter.

Once upon a time, America was “one nation under God,” and we all knew there was no God but Jehovah. However, today we are a nation more divided than ever in history.

How did we get here? 

The values of the Judeo-Christian faith were once the standard by which we measured our laws and conduct in America. The Golden Rule——a biblical passage!—was the rule of the day, something every child learned in school. However, that godly standard has been rejected. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I know it was a slow process that began to accelerate on the day we elected a President who proudly declared we are no longer “just” a Christian nation. He said that long before he was even nominated, but we voted for him, anyway.

In fairness, he likely thought he was being inclusive, but his spiritual blindness made it impossible for him to understand that unity outside of the grace of Jehovah God is impossible. The simple truth is that our nation was only inclusive, because of Him. 

Our nation was only united, because of Him. 

Our nation was only free, because of Him.

Dear friends, please, pray for our nation. Please, take a moment today, in the midst of your celebrations, to gather together and pray. Can you imagine if we all would be willing to honor Jehovah this afternoon with a moment of prayer, repentance, and consecration on behalf of our fellow Americans? Imagine if, united in prayer, we plead the mercy and grace of God upon our nation once again?

(This is a prayer for our nation by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn on the National Day of Prayer 2016. I strongly encourage you to watch it.)

https://youtu.be/fL7QFD9fNdM

You Scream, I Scream…Um, guys, we all really need to stop.

 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, KJV)

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words cause quarrels.”
(Proverbs 15:1, TLB)

A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath,
But harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger.”
(Proverbs 15:1, Amp.)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” (Proverbs 15:1, MSG)

Self-Examinations Are Always Graded On A Curve

I answered this question 15 years ago, almost to the day. My answer surprised me, and changed my life.

Over the years, this question has become a self-examination I like to take again from time to time. It’s become a way for me to just take inventory of my life, and confront places of spiritual neglect, unbelief, and disobedience.

Bear in mind, you can’t think about, or contemplate, your answer. You have to say the first thing that comes to mind.

And, you have to say it out loud. That’s absolutely essential.

Blurt it out!

You don’t have be very loud, but loud enough for your brain to hear you. Trust me on this.

OK. Here we go. Are you ready?  If you want to share your answer, please do in a comment. However, I’ll understand if you want to keep it private. As this question has a way of revealing the deep things of the heart, I like to keep my answers private until I’ve had a chance to process what they mean.

Here is a pretty picture to cleanse your mental palate.
Remember: first thing that comes to mind.

2016-02-19 00.00.34-1

 

If

you

knew

for

a

fact

that 

six

months

from

now

the

Rapture

would

happen,

what

would

you

do

differently

now?

This Is The World

I read this story today:

“16-Year-Old Florida Girl Held Down By Classmates, Raped On Videotape”

It is a horrific story. It is an act of wild beasts, creatures without a conscience; without compassion. These were girls and boys—youth—who viciously attacked their classmate. They beat her, terrorized her, and violated her. She will likely suffer the trauma of this wicked cruelty for the rest of her life.

And, they were her friends.

As the words is this report were assaulting my mind and soul, I heard these words in my spirit:

“This is the world.”

Immediately, the passage of scripture that says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God,” came to mind. Here is the entire verse:

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, NKJV)

It’s pretty clear what is being said here, but a scene began to fill my head as I considered this article and these words from James. Imagine it with me.

Our heroine, let’s call her “Caroline,” has just been enjoying a picnic of tuna fish sandwiches with her coworkers. Their Boss, who is really more like a Friend, invited them to lunch with Him. We shall call Him “Jesus.”

It’s a beautiful day for a picnic, and Jesus prepared a delicious meal. Caroline has been having a very nice time with Him, as she always does love His company. Yet, for a moment, just a second, she takes her eyes off of Him and looks around at the others in the park. She’s just curious. 

I wonder what everyone else is doing?

Across the greenway from where her group is sitting, Caroline spots an attractive and rather mysterious-looking gentleman. She tries not to stare, but there’s something about him that’s just so…appealing. Caroline looks back at Jesus, and He is saying something about His Father. That’s interesting, she thinks. She nods, and tries to focus on His words. She wants to hear; she is interested. Still, her mind keeps wandering. She is hearing Jesus, but is now thinking about this mysterious stranger. He has captivated her attention. She can’t get him out of her mind.

Just one more peek, she tells herself, as she looks back in his direction. But, he’s not there. Her eyes dart across the park. Panic rises. Where is he? Did he leave? Then, she sees him. A sigh of relief passes her lips. He’s walking across the greenway. He’s walking towards her! Her heart beats faster. He’s getting closer. She sits up taller, and tucks a stray hair back in place. Her fingers flit up to her ears. Did I remember to wear earrings? He has made his way to her side of the park. She somehow knows he won’t come near her circle, but that’s OK. He’s in a better position now, where can see him without turning her head away. This is perfect. Everyone around her thinks she is looking at Jesus, when in reality her eyes are beholding him.

She hasn’t realized that Jesus can see her eyes, and He knows exactly where she has set her focus.

As she catches the eye of her mystery man, he smiles and makes a faint gesture. He beckons her to follow him. Where is he going? She cranes her neck. Now, her coworkers realize something is wrong. She doesn’t care what they think anymore. They don’t understand. She’s tired of being judged. Oh, no! He’s getting away!

Caroline is suddenly desperate for him, desperate for his presence. Thinking quickly, she blurts out, “Lord, I think I’ll go throw our trash away.” She has interrupted what He was saying, but He isn’t angry. He looks at her with concern, and reassures her:

“I can take care of that later, Caroline. Don’t worry. Just stay here, and let’s enjoy our time together.”

“No, no. I need to do this now. Right now. It can’t wait, Lord.” She tries to control the panic in her voice. She is trying to keep one eye on the Lord, and one on her mystery man. It’s not working. She sees him looking back at her, but he doesn’t stop. He won’t wait for her. I have to go now. He’s leaving without me!

Jesus is saying something to her, but she can’t hear Him now. Hastily grabbing the remains of her meal, Caroline hurries after this one who has tempted her away. Completely captivated by her own imagination, her paces quickens and she begins to run toward the thick wood. Stumbling along dark pathway, she leaves a trail of rubbish behind her.

“You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, Amp.)

 

(This is a re-post from my old blog, two years ago today.)

In Praise of Coconut Oil

Over the summer, I developed a case of eczema (contact dermatitis?) on my hands. It was not improving, no matter what I did. Instead, I was getting a taste—a small taste, but a bitter taste nonetheless—of what the Saxophone Player has lived with his entire of life. My hands were always in pain. Water made them sting. Lotions did not help. It kept getting worse every day.

By Tuesday night, I was actually starting to despair. It had been the worst day yet, and I imagined it spreading up my arms by October. I was kinda freaking out, but it was disturbing enough that it compelled me to finally try something new: coconut oil. I have heard people tell me how great it is for our skin, but it just seemed so weird to me.

Misery won over my brain, though. I had an unopened jar, so I scooped some into a clean container and decided to give it a shot. Well, immediately I noticed it did not sting when it touched my skin. It also DID NOT make my hands itch. That was amazing all by itself. The next thing I noticed was that the moisturizing effect lasted. I have always had very dry hands, so not being able to use lotion (because it made the eczema itchy) was pretty bad. By the next morning, I definitely felt an improvement. Doug has talked about how he can feel his skin is better or worse on the inside, and I never understood what he meant. That morning, I totally got it. Seriously, night and day. There was a difference!

As of right now, it has been less than 48 hours. It seems a little premature to be calling coconut oil a miracle cure, but I am just so impressed! The skin is changing. I am pretty shocked. It may take a month for my skin to recover, but I have hope it will now.

This is the oil I am using:

2015-09-17 12.34.05

I know that it is important that it be expeller-pressed or cold pressed. I don’t know if it’s important that it be unrefined. (If you know, please let me know, too.) I liked that this was organic and non-GMO. Also, FYI, this does not smell like coconuts, which is great. (I do not like that smell—ugh!) If I suddenly have a terrible side effect, I will let you know. However, I expect my hands will be back to normal soon.

Has coconut oil been beneficial to you somehow? I’d love to know! I have started using it for my face, too. How do you use it?

7 Questions You Should Be Able To Answer About Your Children

And, by “Your Children” I mean all the children at your church.

There is a good chance you attend church with a sexual predator who is targeting the children who attend church with you.  That does not mean you should be suspicious of every man or woman who walks through the door on Sunday morning, but it does mean you should be suspicious of the safety protocol your church has established to protect their youngest congregants. Unless you know for a fact that children’s leaders are diligently upholding a standard of safety, ask some questions and hold your leaders accountable. If they don’t like your questions, get even more suspicious. It’s right for you to care about what is happening within your church. In fact,  Galations 6:10 exhorts us to activism on behalf of our church family:

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].”

That is the Amplified Version, and I like it best, but any translation will say the same thing: do good to everyone, but especially your Brothers and Sisters in the Lord! The children in your church count as “everyone,” and as your Brothers and Sisters.

So, what do you ask the leaders? What should they be doing to keep your children safe?

1. Is There A Policy In Place?

  • This means that when you bring the first question to the leadership, they are prepared to give you an answer.
  • This means there is an information packet or brochure.

2. Is There Transparency And Accountability?

  • This means the leadership will tell you of any past offenses that may have occurred under the church’s jurisdiction.
  • This means you are assured that anyone in the congregation who is a recovering abusers is in an accountability relationship with the church leadership.
  • This means you will feel free to bring your concerns to the leadership.
  • This means the leadership will tell you how to hold them accountable.

3. Is There Awareness?

  • This means the church talks about abuse.
  • This means the abused know there is someone they can trust.
  • This means the pastor preaches messages that minister to the hurting.
  • This means parents are educated in how to protect their children at church, at home, in school, and in their community.
  • This means parents are taught how to recognize signs of abuse, and how to report it.

4. Are Workers Screened? 

  • This means anyone who is going to work with minors in church, host them at home, or chaperone them at events will have a criminal record screening for every state where they have resided.
  • This means prospective workers are thoroughly researched online.
  • This means references are required and contacted.
  • This means there is a waiting period.
  • This means there are no allowances for people of reputation or position. No one is exempt.

5. Do Workers Follow Proper Protocol?

  • This means, first and foremost, that there is regular training for workers, so that they know and are reminded of the Safety Protocol.
  • This means there are two workers present with minors at all times. (Husband and wife teams don’t count!)
  • This means workers never meet with minors privately, or drive them anywhere alone.
  • This means workers and minors do not share private emails or texts.
  • This means physical contact is restricted. (Not prohibited, but restricted.)
  • This means workers dress appropriately and modestly.

 6. Are Workers Protecting And Defending?

  • This means alter ministry is gender-specific.
  • This means minors are escorted to the bathroom, with the worker on guard outside.
  • This means minors are signed-in and out of class, and only released to approved guardians.
  • This means workers are trained to detect signs of abuse, and given a protocol to follow.
  • This means workers are alert and on guard.
  • This means charges of abuse are not handled internally, but reported to the proper authorities.

 7. Is The Whole Church Working Together?

  • This means every worker is screened, not only those working with minors.
  • This means every leader knows the reporting protocol.
  • This means ushers make the rounds during Sunday School.
  • This means the pastor follows smart practices, too. No exemptions.
  • This means church computers have porn-filtering safeguards in place.

If you are looking for more information, there are many resources available online.  Start by going to your church leaders, though, and getting these questions answered. You may find out that one of the biggest hindrances to your children’s safety is a lack of workers. In that case, I hope you will consider becoming a volunteer yourself. Is there any better way to be sure your children are safe?

Dear Mr. Grisham

After listening to this clip (John Grisham Excuses Child Porn), I just had to respond. This is an open letter to Mr. John Grisham, posted on his Facebook page. I would encourage you to write your objection to his statement on his wall, too. 

Mr. Grisham:

I have just listened to your comments in regards to men who download child pornography, and I am absolutely stunned. I have always respected you, Mr. Grisham, but the statements you made leave me deeply troubled. I fear you have been blinded to the truth by your own good impression of your friend. I appreciate that he may have made a tragic mistake, but to draw the conclusion that our society is wrongly imprisoning “sixty-year-old white men” is both ignorant and racist. However, it is not as egregious as suggesting that downloading child porn is a victim-less offense.

My husband and I serve on the prison and aftercare mission field in New England, and we have ministered to many sexual offenders. I know very well that these men are not animals. I have great compassion for their brokenness. Yet, I recognize they have committed an offense against a child, a family, and our society. To deny that is the same as suggesting that child’s life has no worth at all. I hope that is not what you really think.

Mr. Grisham, I would encourage you to take the time to educate yourself on this subject, before speaking about it again. I would also urge you to apologize to the many victims and families of victims of child pornography. In order for an image to be viewed, a child’s life must be sacrificed. And, it is never a willing sacrifice, sir. It is taken by force, leaving a devastated and wounded soul who sometimes can never recover. I plead with you to reconsider what you have said. Your words were insensitive and oblivious to the human suffering child pornography causes every day. No one should ever speak so nonchalantly about something so horrifying.

And, I must add: it doesn’t matter how old a child appears. She is still a child, and a grown man has no business looking at her with lust in his heart. Any man aroused by a child needs to seek counseling. As you do not seem to know anything about this subject, I will tell you that all pornography use has the potential of leading the user to eventually acting out. Your friend should thank God he was stopped, before it went any further. Studies have shown the impact of internet pornography on the human brain. This is nothing to speak of lightly, especially for a man of your position and influence.

Thank you very much for your time. I sincerely hope you will read this message, and receive it with the same good will with which it is being sent.

Sincerely yours,
Caroline Gregan
New Brothers, Inc.