Monday, August 31, 2015

Brandon Ms, How Great Thou Art

Last Friday, Brandon’s high school band was told by the court system they could not play their halftime show. The show that the have worked all summer to perfect includes the hymn “How Great Thou Art” and they were told that if they played it, they would be fined $10,000. So…they didn’t.
Brandon is our neighbor city and the Bulldogs are our greatest rivals, but we found absolutely no joy in the situation they found themselves in. At our game a few towns over, what was going on in Brandon was the topic of conversation. How sad and frustrating for the students who’d practiced so hard for so many months to no not be able to perform. Would the same verdict have been handed down if a Christian group complained about some other type of song? Will the Brandon band be forced to change their show for competitions or are they only forbidden to play at games? Are they only forbidden to play in Brandon…or in Rankin County School District? Can they play at away games?
Shortly after Halftime, we all started to get messages on FB and via text telling us what was going on in Brandon. If you haven’t heard or seen it on the news,  it is better that you see for yourself…

This is what happened at Half Time... Click the link

I am so proud of the way the fans chose to take their stand. I am so proud of the Bulldogs for the way they chose to make their voices heard. I don’t know how this will play out. I hope that the other Mississippi schools make a point to showcase the Brandon Band at their games, if it will not more negatively impact Brandon.
At this point, many are standing with the Bulldogs. On the way to work I saw several cars with “How Great Thou Art” painted on their back windshields and the thought that occurred to me as I sat in traffic was simply…
“Do you realize how great He truly is?”
I pray that the citizens of Brandon Mississippi and the students of the Rankin County School District will continue to stand in a manner that reflects the God and Savior they represent. I pray that the School Boards and legal systems will see that there are still professing believers in Jesus Christ and that, while we are not as outspoken and loud as the groups that oppose our Savior, we also have a voice. I pray that it is made abundantly clear that we believe that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ and that the only alternative to belief in Christ is eternity in hell. I pray that it is made abundantly clear that our only objective is to share the message of Jesus Christ so that every person we meet has the opportunity to choose to follow Christ...or not to. We want to make sure that everyone has that choice, just as we have the choice to follow or not to follow Mohammad, Buddha, or any other god, profit, religion, or doctrine.

How like God to use a court order against Christians to spread His name and His message. How like God to use this to unite Christians and give them courage to take a stand? I hope and pray that this story will continue to  spread. I am interested to see how it all shakes out.
Until then, I am one of the...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

No Matter What Tomorrow Brings...

So, I go see Doc for my annual “let’s see if the cancer is back” check up tomorrow.
I made this appointment months ago and have fought everything in me not to cancel it several times each day over the past few weeks. I’ve often said that I should have let the Preacher make the appointment and then have him tell me the day of the appointment rather than have it hanging over my head for months. The anxiety is almost unbearable. .  If it goes well, I will celebrate 4 years cancer free on the 31st. If it doesn’t go well, I will be plummeting into the valley again.
 Logically, I know that everything is fine. I have no reason to think that Doc will give me anything but good news. The cancer shouldn’t come back. We caught it early. Attacked it and for 3 years I have been cancer free. Logic tells me that going to the see Doc doesn’t make me sick. Either I am or I am not. If I am, I need to be treated. If I am not, I can stop worrying. I know all this and tell myself this over and over every day. Problem is, my fears and feelings are not logical.
I am hoarse again. People…complete strangers… have been asking about my voice. My neck hurts and I feel…unwell. No matter the physical things I can notice or imagine to give me anxiety, there is one question that is near to sending me over the edge.
What if it’s back?
What if it is? What am I going to do if he says there is something he’d like to take a closer look at? What am I going to do if he gets that look on his face that reveals more about his concern than his words do? What am I going to do if it’s back? Whether I like it or not, it could be. Every time the thought “what if it is back” crosses my mind, my chest tightens, I get sick to my stomach, I have a hard time swallowing or breathing, my ears ring, my heart races, my head swims. Cancer is a vicious nasty monster and the treatments to keep it at bay are not much better. I do not want to face it again….but there is always a possibility that I might have to.
So today, before tomorrow, I need to decide how I will handle it if my visit with Doc does not go like I want it to. I am tired of just being anxious. It is time to address this and figure out how I really feel about it all.
I am standing on the edge of the cliff again. Before me lies a dark valley full of shadows and unknown dangers. Behind me is my normal happy cancer-free life. Tomorrow, one of two things will happen. Either I will turn from the valley, step away from the ledge, and return to my happy, normal, cancer-free life OR I will close my eyes and leap off that ledge into the darkness of the valley below, knowing that my Savior will be there waiting to catch me…just as He was before.
I suppose things are the same as they were the last time I stood here. I do not want to have cancer again. I do not want to revisit that valley. BUT if God entrusts me with this battle yet again, I will fight it. I know that He will not leave my side. I know that He will carry me when I am weak and weary. I know that He will put people in my path who need to see more of Him and who need to know Him. I know that all things will work together for good, because I love the Lord. He has a plan and a purpose and I trust that his plan is best.
I don’t know what else to say about this. I just wanted to record my thoughts today…before tomorrow…because I really am expecting Doc to give me the all clear and a high five and I will go home feeling like all is right in my world again. It’s so easy to say I trust God’s plan when it agrees with mine. I need to say today that I trust His plan no matter what it is. I will follow Him into the valley if that’s where my life will bring Him the most glory and I will serve Him cancer free if that is where my life will bring Him the most glory. Either way, when it is all said and done the only thing that will matter is that I serve the one who saved me...and I will do that no matter what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In Between

Today Internet Café has allowed me to be a guest on their site. Please join me there!


cloudy-ocean copy copy

What do you do with God when you are not in some sort of battle or celebrating some victory? What do you do with God when the storm has passes and you are sailing on smooth waters?
Really, I want to know.
When we are in crisis, we rush to God. We seek answers. We long for His presence. We crave His comfort. We pray. We plead. We beg God Almighty to be near to us and hear our prayers.
When we are celebrating some spiritual victory, we tell everyone. We thank God publicly and privately. We praise Him for everything from sunrise to sunset. We easily see and acknowledge His hand in all that goes on around us moment by moment.
So then, what happens when there is no crisis, no pain, and no struggle? What do you do between battles and celebrations? I want to know. Continue Reading...


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Share Christ

It has indeed become a time in which we seem to have no shortage of things, ideas, behaviors, and people to judge. As I have been reading God’s Word over the past few months, I have been convicted. Not for things I’ve done. Not for the life I lived before I knew Christ. I’ve been convicted over and over again for judging harshly, for hating the sin more than I love the sinner, for choosing the sins to take a stand against (and those I will ignore)… for ignoring the plank in my own eye while pointing out the speck in someone else’s.
I am so thankful for a loving Father who reminds me through His word that I am insanely unworthy of His grace.  I am thankful that He reminds me what it was like to be dead to Him and lost in sin. I am thankful that He reminds me that Satan lies, deceives, and manipulates. He strikes fear in the heart of people and causes them to make terrible, life altering, irreversible, unalterable, binding choices that carry unbearable consequences. He feeds insecurities and feelings of insignificance, despair, and unworthiness. He breeds hatred, mistrust, and unforgiveness. He offers choices that lead us deeper into despair, that build walls between us and those we love and that drive a wedge between us and God. I remember all too well what that was like and know all too well how very much I needed a Savior.
My heart aches for the woman who has had an abortion and for the drug addict and the alcoholic. My heart aches for the less masculine guy or less feminine girl who has been told that he or she is gay because they don’t fit our perception of what their gender “should” look and act like. My heart aches for the porn addict, glutton, adulterer, or homosexual. My heart aches for those who feel trapped and helpless to fight his or her demons. My heart aches because they have been lied to...  deceived by Satan into believing that they have no choice but to sin and no hope for redemption. My heart breaks for them because so much of the Christian voice is being used to speak out against their sin… offering much condemnation and very little hope.
Of course we as Christians should live out what we believe and speak against sin...but at what point did we become Pharisees? At what point did we become more concerned with whether people are obeying the rules, “acting right”, and “behaving properly” than we are with whether or not they know, love, and follow Jesus? At what point did we decide that it was more important to police the morals of the world than to share the love of Christ with them?

At what point did we forget that our battle is against Satan and not people?   

When we spend our time talking about how “bad” people are, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Satan is having his way with them and they are very much in need of one thing… a Savior.
There are things that are wrong. There are things that we can never condone because they are in contradiction to the Word of God. There are things that we hate because they are of Satan and they do nothing more than destroy lives. We hate these things for what they do to people…but we cannot hate people nor can we hate sin more than we love the people who are trapped in it and in need of a Savior.
We are servants of the most High God and are called to share the message of Jesus Christ to those who do not know Him. We preach Christ crucified. We should speak and act in such a way that the world will listen.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Your Mission Field

Today was the first day of school for my PKs.
PK2 called after school to tell me about her was "terrible". 
The mom in me wanted to fix it, but a sweet friend reminded me "God is sovereign". She suggested I explain to my sweet little one that God has a reason for her to be in the class she's in, sitting beside the people she's beside, under the teachers she has this year. This is a lot for a 10 year old to digest....but I know she will understand when her heart is ready. 
I know, because I see it in PK1. He's 16. He has been on the football team forever. He doesn't start. He gets promised to play much more often than he actually plays. It's a lot of time and effort to put in for seemingly no "reward". We asked him if he wanted to quit and he did not hesitate in his response...
"That's my mission field"
He believes that and takes it seriously and it shows. Several of his teammates come to church with us now & I would not be a bit surprised if the Preacher baptizes some, if not all, of them before they graduate. PK1 understands that he is where God has put him and he has a job to do...and it is a lot more important than catching a football.
PK2 watches her brother and sees how he lives. She is growing in her faith and her salvation and I have no doubt that God will lead her as firmly as He has led her brother. She is already learning to trust God and work the mission field in which He has placed her.
All this makes me stop and question my faithfulness to MY mission work, at home, at church, in the community. Am I working them? Am I looking for opportunities to let God use me...or do I get comfy in my day to day routine?
As we start this new school year, I am challenged to look at the mission filed God has placed ME in.
I challenge you to do the same.