Tag Archives: Christianity

Into All Truth, Part 2

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s story

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Nneirda

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Nneirda

The next part happened quickly. A black shadow seemed to burst from the pot and flow over the half wall separating the kitchen from the great room. The motion light outside the kitchen window flashed on as the darkness fled. After an initial moment of shock, I darted into the kitchen. The vent on my greenhouse window was ajar. On impulse bordering on absurdity, I cranked it shut and grabbed a garbage bag from under the sink. I shoved the horrid pot deep inside, tied a knot, and continued out to my back porch where I smashed it against the concrete without hesitation. Had neighbors witnessed my fervent display, they would likely have kept their distance. Like a woman scorned, I marched it out to the roadside. I watched the bagged and shattered pot from my son’s bedroom window until the garbage men picked it up the following morning.

After that evening, my son enjoyed restful nights of uninterrupted sleep, and so did I. Yet it wasn’t a story I would have shared with anyone at that point in my life. Just. Too. Weird. Did others have similar experiences, keeping it to themselves? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

I can only speculate on the intricacies of what transpired that night — or the other odd events that took place during the years I displayed that hideous pot on the shelf outside my son’s bedroom door. I am far from an expert in such matters, but I can assure you that I now believe evil spirits move among us, plaguing unsuspecting believers and vulnerable innocents with dark intent. Prior to that event, I’d been numb to it. Blasé even. It was the stuff of movies. Not my concern.

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:3-4)

So there it is. Not something that will come up often in casual Christian conversation, but perhaps something one of you needed to hear today. I’ve only told this story a handful of times before now and only to those close to me, but for some reason, it seemed important to share. I’ve learned to surrender to such nudges. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice to rescue us from the evil of this world. Faith in that truth will shield us from whatever form of evil Satan sends our way.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Do I believe there are strategies and tricks of Satan at work in this world? Absolutely. Do we need to examine every object with suspicion? Probably not. But the prince of darkness rules this world and the Bible tells us there are huge numbers of wicked spirits in it. We need to be alert. We need to be ready: armed with faith and knowledge of the word of God. Nothing is worse than being deceived by the evil one. We must knock down his strongholds whenever they are revealed to us.

“It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds.”
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Do experiences like mine happen often? I hope not! It’s embarrassing to confess. Most people aren’t going to bring this kind of thing home, but those of us with non-Christian pasts may have some things around the house we need to get rid of. When things don’t seem right, view your surroundings with a discerning eye. We need to be alert, but we don’t need to fear. As believers, the Spirit is with us.

“The Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.”
(1 John 4:4)

Are you ready to stand your ground in the face of evil?


Into All Truth, Part 1

Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know I don’t post often, or even on a schedule, but as the Spirit leads. This morning, I woke up at 1:46 a.m. with the urge to share this, and although I would rather return to sleep, I’ll obey the prompting. Perhaps someone needs to hear this. This information isn’t what you’ll hear in the average sermon or Bible study, but seems to be common knowledge among missionaries. Why don’t we hear about it more often, I wonder? This was my experience as a new Christian, and an unusual part of my journey …


 

Photo credit: Nic McPhee via photopin.com

Photo credit: Nic McPhee via photopin.com

“If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, for it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, for he lives with you now and some day shall be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

I’ve always loved primitive pottery and I’m fascinated by ancient cultures. Early in my Christian walk, I traveled to Belize and Guatemala. One hot afternoon, I ducked into a dark doorway to escape the heat. It was little more than a hovel, lit only by what few rays of sunlight dared to penetrate it from the doorway behind me. Once my eyes adjusted to its sparse and dusty interior I turned to leave, but a man emerged from a back room and lured me in by bringing attention to his coral earrings. On a shelf farther in, a lidded pot attracted my attention. The shopkeeper seemed pleased by my interest and told me his brother in Guatemala had made it. This piece was about as primitive as a pot can get, unglazed earthenware with tiny sculpting on its sides. I ended up buying it and taking it home, placing it on a shelf in my living room where it sat pretty much off my radar for three years.

Fast forward to the early years of motherhood and the many nights my infant son would wake up screaming. His disturbing shrieks would wake me in the dead of night and I would run to his bedside, heart pounding and unsure how to calm his mind when we couldn’t yet talk through it.

Around this same time an older woman in the church was mentoring me and happened to mention missionary lore of demon-possessed items. It gave me pause, but didn’t prompt any particular concern. Then, one night as I dashed to my son’s bedside, I noticed it. The pot from Guatemala. It was as if a shroud of ignorance lifted and I could view the piece with fresh eyes. In short, it was hideous. A nagging concern clung to me as I held my son, soothing away his night terrors by rocking him in my arms.

After putting my sleeping son back in his crib and heading back to my own bed, my mentor’s words returned to me. Destroy objects if they seem threatening. But why would I do that to my souvenir of a trip filled with wonderful memories? It had to be my imagination, fueled by a mind torn from sleep by horrifying screams. I turned back to eye the object in question. Most primitive artwork has a rustic beauty. This did not. I peered at the sculpting on its rough hewn sides. The shapes registered in my mind: arms, legs, heads. Body parts decorated the pot. As I took an involuntary step back, my breath caught in my throat. Why had I brought this thing into my home and what was I supposed to do with it now?

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18)

Out of a growing sense of panic, I did the first thing that came to mind. I recited the Lord’s Prayer, memorized in early childhood, aloud. My love for my Savior flowed through me as I spoke the comforting words … deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever

“Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

Have you ever experienced an evil attack? How did you handle it?

I once considered such beliefs paranoid, but now I see my previous standpoint as naive. Where do you stand? Can an object pose a threat?
Is it something we, as Christians, should be concerned with?


What happened next??

To keep my posts brief, this story will be done in installments.
Return tomorrow for part 2, or subscribe to my blog for alerts.


Trust Issues – Part 2

Of Trust and Trees (When Trust is Misplaced)

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kosmos111

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kosmos111

Once burned by misplaced trust, many will turn inward, trusting only in themselves. I tend to withdraw and disengage for a while when I have been betrayed. I take a step back and watch the world through wary eyes. God doesn’t want us to go through life suspicious, angry, or resentful — but he does want us to place our trust in him alone.

“With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment.”  (Proverbs 3:5 CEV)

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”  (Psalm 9:10 ESV)

Trust placed in God will never be betrayed. He will not let us down. Not only can we trust him in all things and in all ways, he will help us. We can let go of our vengeful attitudes, knowing that God will make it all right in the end.

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:5-6 NLT)

“Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Romans 12:19 MSG)

God wants us to put every bit of our faith in him — not in our family members, or our closest friends — or even our spouses. Every relationship in our lives should be secondary to our relationship with him. While we know this in theory, it’s not as easy to put into daily practice as we’d often hope. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. (Luke 10:27) All of it.

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” (Psalm 40:4 ESV)

Unlike the desert wastelands we experience when we place our trust in flawed humans, if we trust in the Lord, we are like lush trees surrounded by life-giving water. Our obedience will be rewarded. There are no worries if our trust is placed correctly. Instead of struggling to get by, our growth will be constant and we can focus on bearing fruit.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)

Do you have unresolved trust issues? What can you do today to trust God more? 

 

 


Trust Issues – Part 1

Of Trust and Trees (When Trust is Betrayed)

© Can Stock / kamchatka

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / kamchatka

Have you ever been betrayed by someone close to you? Someone you believed you could trust? A parent? An employer? A pastor? A mentor? A good friend? A spouse? All of the above? I’ve been let down more times than I can count, yet I am repeatedly surprised when my trust is betrayed. The closer we come to placing our faith in a trusted friend or family member, the deeper the treachery cuts. Trust seems like a good thing, but is it?

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.”
(Psalm 118:8 NIV)

When the betrayer is in a position of authority, it’s particularly disturbing. We want to be able to hold those in leadership — especially Christian leadership — to a higher standard. It seems like a right we should be able to claim, but is trusting others what the Bible teaches us to do?

“Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.” (Psalm 146:3 NLT)

“Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.” (Jeremiah 9:4 ESV)

Love your neighbors, yes. But trust them? Not so much. We can’t put our faith in mankind. When Jesus walked among us, he performed miracles and people began to believe in him, but he knew better than to trust in men — even his closest friends and disciples. He knew they would ultimately betray him.

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25 ESV)

There are times in our lives when we must rely on others, but we must be very careful where we place our confidence. God likens those who place their trust in humans to a bush in the wastelands. It’s not a pretty picture.

“Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.” (Micah 7:5-6 NIV)

This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.” (Jeremiah 17:5-6 NIV)

Ouch — harsh! If I put my faith in an earthly source, I will always be disappointed. Always.

When is trust good? (Return tomorrow for a more uplifting view of trust!)

Where have you placed your trust and how has your choice affected your life? 


Loving Others: The Good, The Bad and The…Really?

 

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / sumners

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / sumners

The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) has become almost oversimplified these days. You see it everywhere, reduced to four words: Love God. Love others. Sounds simple enough, right? Not always.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” – John 13:34

Although we are undeserving, we are truly and deeply loved by our Creator. And he has a command for us: to love others in the same way he loves us. Think of someone you have difficulty liking. Now imagine loving them. Visualize loving them with the same sort of passion and forgiveness your Maker has for you.

We must love everyone—not just those who are easy to love or those who return our love, but also our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) When I struggle with this—when I find my mind resisting the worthiness of another to “deserve” my love—I must by mindful of my own unworthiness as a recipient of God’s love. Yet he gives it, freely and unconditionally.

“Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Merely saying we love isn’t enough—we must show it and mean it. Our actions will always speak louder than our words.

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:20

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22

I want to be recognized as a Christian by the fruit of my deeds. As believers, we are called to loving action—to be doers of the word.

Fellow humans, I love you. I love you! While my love may be a work in progress and far from perfect, I will make it my daily effort—my journey toward truth to be sincere in this love.

Challenge for the day: How can you show the people you encounter today that you love them? How can you be a living example of God’s love?

 


Should we follow our hearts?

©Photospin/Krillov

©Photospin/Krillov

I am an emotional creature by nature. I am driven by empathy. I feel things. Deeply. I can be as sensitive to the joys and pains of others as if they were my own. I would say that I make decisions more from my “heart” more than my “head.” So it caught me off guard one day when an acquaintance of mine expressed disgust over the fact that people mention following their hearts. She quoted Jeremiah 17:9 to support her belief that our hearts would only lead us astray.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

I was familiar with the verse and it inspired me to ponder use of the word “heart” to convey the source of our feelings and love—but also to express the source of our worldly desires. Yet, in Ezekiel we learn that God gives us a new heart and a new spirit—a soft, open and teachable heart, enabling our spirit to do his will.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27

It has taken many years to develop what I would consider good discernment. I believe that discernment is an ability to hear and comprehend the leading of the Holy Spirit—an ability that I consider a gift of my heart.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – Romans 10:10

With our heart, not our mind, we believe. We have a choice. We decide what and who is in our hearts. We must guard our hearts and make certain they are centered on God and not our selfish desires. If we love God with all our hearts, there is nothing safer to follow. Our hearts will be moved by His Spirit.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45

When seeking God’s will, would you say you act based on your feelings or thoughts? Your head or your heart?


Stress got you down?

Image

© PhotoSpin.com

If I asked you to close your eyes and envision yourself in a serene and relaxing environment, where would your thoughts take you? Do your picture yourself nestled in the soft sand at a beach? Are you surrounded by majestic mountains or resting by a serene lake? Most of us imagine ourselves in a scenic natural setting. Stressful environments are man-made—but in nature, we see evidence of our Creator and it fills us with awe and gives us peace.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Our Maker formed us from the earth and created a lush garden setting to live in. That was the life we were designed for. It’s who we really are. Only our disobedience or denial of truth takes us away from the beauty of what we were meant to be.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:7-8

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? Job 12:7-9

Playing outdoors takes us back to the innocence of our childhood and from that perspective we can see our beautiful world with all the wonder of a small child. When we grow world-weary, when our faith grows stale and our patience wears thin we have only to seek out the beauty of our natural surroundings to find peace and get in touch with our loving God.

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies! Psalm 8:2 (TLB)

How can you enjoy the beauty and peace of nature today?

Image

© PhotoSpin.com


Change

Speed

© PhotoSpin.com

The older I get, the more I struggle with change. In my twenties, I craved it. In my thirties, it was still new and exciting. But now, pushing fifty … not so much. And it happens faster than ever these days.

I had a great-aunt who was born in 1880s and lived into the 1980s. The child of pioneers, my Aunt Ora traveled across the prairie in a wagon. She also witnessed the advent of television, computers and space travel. Although from my perspective, she always looked the same—with neatly-coifed silver hair, a pillbox hat, a prim dress and no-nonsense shoes—she had experienced amazing change in her lifetime.

Two generations behind her, I have still seen substantial change. My childhood was spent largely playing outdoors, unencumbered by any electronic devices. My first boyfriend did have an Atari Pong game, but it wasn’t enough to distract him for long. I watched my first VHS video at a high school party. My world was rocked when I got my hands on the brand new Macintosh SE my last year of college. I even managed to finish college without once having a conversation interrupted by a cell phone call.

Now, in a career that has spanned more than 25 years, I’ve owned more computers and software upgrades than I can count. At first, I latched onto each new innovation with anticipation. At any given moment, I could take advantage of a smart phone, my beloved Kindle, my laptop or my desktop computer—or a combination simultaneously. Now, I’m over it. I admit it. I’m tired. I just want to get off the ride. This city girl has moved to the country. We live in a cellular dead zone. And I love it. I crave a simpler life.

In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it’s comforting to know that our God never changes. We can count on him no matter what. Amid the swirling sands of change, we have a foothold.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

In this imperfect world, change isn’t always for the better—but Bible scholar, Arthur Pink, nailed it for me when he wrote: “God cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.” Unlike the shifting environment our lives are tossed by, there is One we can count on—a constant, soothing source of peace we can rely on.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Where you do find comfort when constant change starts to wear you down?

I'll admit it. These days, I'd often rather just stay in my safe, little cocoon.

I’ll admit it. These days, I’d often rather just stay in my safe, little cocoon.


Life, Death and Supernatural Events

© PhotoSpin.com

When my son turned three, my mother-in-law was battling cancer. The doctors had given her all the treatment they could and allowed her to travel back to my in-laws’ home in Florida where we—and more importantly, her grandsons—lived.

Looking back, knowing what I know now, I realize how very brave she was. I can only marvel at her cheerfulness to the end. She cherished her grandsons. On Brendan’s third birthday, she baked him a cake and played on the floor with him, as she had always been known to do. For someone who knew she was dying, she was so very full of life.  Only five weeks later, we lost her.

At only three, Brendan was still new to the world and still possessed much of the purity he came into the world with. Children that young seem to have an innocence of this world that allows them to see a spiritual world we can’t perceive.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16

At Irene’s memorial service, Brendan was fidgeting and crying. We went to the cry room at the back of the sanctuary and watched the rest of the service from there. The windowed room we watched from connected with the outer sanctuary wall of stained glass windows and Brendan kept pointing to the window next to us and saying “Grandma!” I finally stopped to pay attention to what he was so intently trying to communicate and followed his little finger to the window that featured an angel. It gave me goosebumps, but with the emotions of the day, I couldn’t really process it. Later that week, as he was babbling away in his car seat behind me, he pointed into the sky outside his window and said “Grandma!” with a big smile on his face. Did she linger with us for a while? Were Brendan and his grandmother able to see each other after her life on earth ended? I’ll never know for certain in this life, but it gave me something to ponder.

Just this week, I received a book from Bethany House to review: “Angels, Miracles and Heavenly Encounters: Real-life Stories of Supernatural Events” compiled by James Stuart Bell (a collection of similar stories I recommend as an interesting and thought-provoking read). I pounced on this book the day it arrived and blazed through the stories, many of which I could relate to. It brought many personal memories to life in my mind. Over the past few years my husband and I have lost three of our collective parents. Life, death and the afterlife are on my mind more these days. As this book claims, there’s more going on in the world than meets the eye. There is an unseen spiritual realm, and occasionally God allows us glimpses of it.

Have you had a similar experience? Tell your story in the comments.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

In loving memory of
Irene Dubicki Lynch

1942-2004


Honoring a Lost Soldier

My Uncle Stan … handsome guy, wasn’t he?

Every Memorial Day, I think first of my Uncle Stanley, who joined the Army at twenty, was sent to Vietnam, and never returned. He entered the U. S. Army on July, 11 1967, and was trained at Fort Lewis in Washington State where he grew up. He started his tour in December of 1967, turned twenty-one while serving, and died exactly seven months later in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam.

Uncle Stan served as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist

He was a younger brother to my mother, an older brother to my aunt an uncle and an oldest son to my grandparents. I was the firstborn and the only niece he ever knew, two more nieces and two nephews came after me that he never had a chance to meet.

I mourn the man he would have grown to be, the uncle I never grew to know, the family man he never had a chance to be—but I am proud of his bravery and his sacrifice.

He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Each day is precious. Take time to remember our friends who have laid down their lives for us. We honor the many soldiers who have served.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

In loving memory of
Stanley Lloyd Grunstad
1947-1968

Who do you honor on this day? Leave a memorial note in the comments.