Finding Peace in the Storms

A dark line of clouds in the distance, unusual calm outside, sudden darkness and roaring winds all alert me to what I experienced so often growing up – a possible tornado approaching.  Growing up in Alabama, part of “tornado alley”, I have a strong sense of knowing when a tornado is coming. Thankfully, I know what to do. In our schools we would have tornado drills in the hallways, and at home I knew when to run to the basement for safety. We always took the warnings seriously. Because I was prepared in knowing what to do, even though my heart pounded with some fear, I had peace.

Often we experience storms in life, some small and some with tornado force winds that bring a path of destruction. If we are not prepared we will not know what to do when they come. And they will come at some point. Our minds will become confused, our hearts will be stricken with fear and we will panic if we are not prepared.

When a sudden storm came on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus’ disciples panicked in fear:

“But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”   Mark 4:37-40

When storms come into our lives, we often do all we can to survive, then we panic, like the disciples, waiting for God to respond. Perhaps, we too become frustrated at God and ask Him, “Don’t you care?” Before we get to that point, though, there are ways to prepare for the coming storms in life so we can have peace instead of fear.

  1. Know God and read His word daily. Memorize Bible verses about His character so you can remember these when you become fearful. Keep your mind focused on God daily trusting in Him.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3

Know that God is good:

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Know that God loves you and rejoices over you:

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

Know that God is in control:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

  1. Make prayer to God a daily habit. Spend time talking with God and listening to Him also. Thank Him for His blessings, rejoice in His love and goodness and ask Him for your needs. Make it a habit to give him your cares and concerns.

If we haven’t been talking to God daily and rejoicing in Him at all times then we will not know His peace in difficult times. Paul wrote these words while experiencing the storm of being in prison for his faith:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:4-6

King David often prayed to God. He gave his fears to God then rested knowing God would take care of the storms in his life.

 “Answer me when I call to you, O God…Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer… The LORD will answer when I call to him…In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” Psalm 4:1,3,8

So are you prepared for storms? Are you in one now? Go to God in prayer and read His word daily. He DOES care. He hears and will answer. Ask Him to replace your fears with His peace. Jesus told his disciples these comforting words:

 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

What Is Missing This Christmas?

 

It’s December 24th, Christmas is almost here.
Things are still missing. Hurry! Bring them near.

Candy for stockings, bows for the gifts,
Presents for neighbors and others on my list.

Ham for dinner and cookies to bake,
Trips to the store, how long will this take?

But there’s other things missing, what can they be?
Things more important than those gifts that I see.

A hug, a smile, a “Merry Christmas” too.
Kind words instead of curt remarks, an “I love you”.

A call or a visit to a lonely one, a family kin?
The gift of forgiveness in order to make amends.

Or have you forgotten a “thank you” from your heart?
Appreciation for family and friends, the list is long, where do we start?

And Jesus, God’s Son, born to save us, where is He?
Is He included out front or hidden under the Christmas tree?

Will you be singing and praying to Him on Christmas day?
Reading His words, talking about Him in conversations of praise?

Its December 24th there is so much to do!
Will we only think of ourselves or Jesus and others too?

The list is not that long, you’ll see.
If you just think of Jesus and others instead of “me”.

Christmas is the celebration of love from heaven came down.
Of God’s forgiveness when His Son Jesus is found.

Don’t let Him go missing this Christmas day.
Ask him into your heart for there He will promise to stay.

One Man, One Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the debates continue. Not the current political debates or the debates over social reform or world order. But the debates focused on one man in history. This man caused uproar over 2 thousand years ago. And that battle continues today– in the market place, the center of governments, among religious leaders of various faiths and among worldly scholars and educators.

One defining day in history has changed the world and it’s thinking forever– “Good Friday”, the day that Jesus’ died on a cross. His followers understood the purpose of the cross. Paul, a follower of Jesus, wrote to the first Christians:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…the world through its wisdom did not know him…but we preach Christ crucified” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22, 23

Why is the cross so important?  It was the moment in time when Almighty God in all of His love, grace, and justice allowed the death of His Son Jesus to be the payment for the world’s sins. Jesus said he came “to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Colossians 1:21-22

But His death then led to the most miraculous event in history– His resurrection from the dead. Yet, without the power of His resurrection from death, those who believe in Him would not know this resurrected new life. Peter wrote to the believers about this death and resurrection:

“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3

And Jesus defined himself to his followers:

 “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live even after dying.” John 11:25

That is why on this day, a sad day of death and evil crucifixion on a cross, we can say it is “good”. It was and still is “good” for every person who will trust in God’s love and forgiveness through his Son Jesus. Jesus suffered for our good.

Thankfully, someday the debates will end and every person will have to acknowledge the truth:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11

But until that day we who know Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and Savior of the world, will continue to “preach Christ crucified”. We who follow the True Vine, Jesus, may continue to debate with others, be persecuted for our faith in the cross, and even die through beheadings. The message is still the same for each generation, and I for one, will continue to write about this message with joy.

Have a blessed Good Friday! It is a good day!

Disease in the Vineyard

Book Photo 3

Did you wake up this morning to more bad news?  More killings around the world? More political disappointments? Are you mortified over the continual celebration of corruption, deception, vulgar speech, rage, slander, and mockery of God and His people?  As Christ’s followers, we understand the world condones this type of behavior. But, like me, you may be shocked to see many of God’s people, who claim to follow Jesus, succumb to this indwelling evil. They, like the world, support and encourage leaders and political figures that have no respect for God or His laws. These leaders are depraved and full of arrogance, rage, slander, and division.

There is bad news in God’s vineyard; a disease is spreading and the branches are becoming weak and fruitless. Some have no interest in remaining in the Vine, Jesus. Worldly thinking has taken their thoughts captive. Perhaps, these members in the church accept such behavior because it reflects their own behavior.  They are not bothered by their own acceptance of deceiving to get their own way and using anger and slander to bully others. They have left God’s standards and embraced the world because it feeds their selfish desires. Their acceptance of worldly pride in others is a mockery to God.

Paul warned the new believers in Colossae of following after worldly godless leaders:

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” Colossians 2:8

Jesus told his disciples to “remain in me” but he also gave a warning to those who chose not to remain and joined with the world:

“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” John 15:6

Yet, Jesus continued to remind his followers of God’s love, even in the midst of warning:

“’As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.’” John 15:9 

God the Father, motivated by His love, is warning His people and desiring for the prodigals to return and remain with Him. Consider His words that still speak to His people today in the midst of their sin and turning away from Him:

“Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2:13

 “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us…” Hosea 6:1

“…let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him.” Isaiah 55:6-7

There are dire consequences for continuing down the path of worldliness, away from God – in our personal lives and our nation. God is calling those who have left His side to return back to Him again. It is time to wake up and return to God!

My book, Wake Up! Return to God- a call to personal revival from God’s Word is now on sale at amazon.com. God is using this book to change lives and encourage those who have strayed away to return to Him. Are you ready for a change in direction? Do you know others who need that change in their lives? The time is now to wake up!  We can’t wait any longer while evil continues to rule our land!

Returning to God

white church

 

Locked doors, empty darkness, silence, a for sale sign out front – these describe the buildings which once were vibrant places of worship to God for Christians in our country.  For decades, there have been reports that people in America are leaving the “church”.  Not just young people but people of all ages and backgrounds. Why have they left?  Where did they go? If church is not the answer then what are they looking for?

You see, they really haven’t left a church building. They have really left God.  They have no interest in God since they are “in control” of their own lives. They want a god that fits their lifestyle, their time or their morals. Those who once followed God and worshiped Him have walked away searching for purpose in other places but not finding it.

And perhaps those who still attend a church service weekly, monthly, or once a year only do so because they always have. They attend social gatherings and events but their heart for God has grown cold. Going through the motions, they take no thought of having a close relationship with God or having Him direct their lives. It’s not that people could care less about going to a church building but they could care less about God, about knowing His Word.

Walking away from God hasn’t brought happiness or a better life. Instead for many it has led to hopelessness, fear, pain, brokenness and absolute darkness. When we miss out on God we also miss out on His blessings, his goodness, His love and forgiveness. We forget who God is:

“But you O Lord, are a God of compassion, and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

People don’t need to return to a church building. They need to return to God. And God in His love is calling those who once knew His closeness to come back to Him.  Then as they fall in love with God again, they will come flocking to meetings and gatherings to worship Him.

Five years ago, God asked me to pray for American’s who call themselves believers in Jesus to return to Him. God longs to forgive and show them His grace and love again. He is sad that their hearts are cold and they love this world and it’s evil. God once told His people:

“…thus says the LORD: if you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me…for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 15:19-20

Out of my prayers I recently wrote a book called, Wake Up! Return to God.  After much prayer and guidance from others the book is now available on Amazon.com . It will soon be available on ebook and audiobook as well. As I wrote in the book:

“God’s deep desire is for us to return to Him. However, too many Christians are missing out on His goodness and peace because of an apathetic heart that has strayed from Him. They have been put to sleep by the world and its desires…and have lost sight of their Savior and God. He is forever calling His followers who have strayed to return to Him. His love and grace motivate us to return so that He can revive us and bring us back to life…”

Perhaps many closed church buildings will be open again, packed with Christians praising God because they have returned to the God who loves them.  It is time to wake up! Have you left God? He wants you back with Him.  Do you need to know God personally? Turn to Him who offers forgiveness.