Category Archives: Proven Path Ministries

Always Be Kind

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I have had this post on my heart for several weeks. I had originally planned for this to be a video post, but I have to “get ready” for one of those. I simply can’t bring myself to make a video in my make shift pajamas, puffy eyes, and bed head before I have had at least two cups of coffee in me. This early morning time is usually the only time that I am not on the go so opportunities for a live video are slim with me. Then yesterday, when I was reading in the book of Job as I waited on one of my girls to check out some research material from our public library, I was reminded again of this being on my heart…

The verse in Job that I read was:

He who withholds kindness from a friend
    forsakes the fear of the Almighty.

Job 6:14, ESV

Kindness. It’s a simple thing. Yet it appears to be so difficult for us to put into action. It’s difficult because it is an attribute of God. It is a fruit of the Spirit of God. This is why God does not simply recommend it, but demands it of His children.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8, NASB

A little more than a month ago I got blindsided by a question like accusation that came out of left field. I was taking a friend to meet someone and drop off some information about Proven Path and our women’s conference Relentless. This person looked at us both and asked, “Are you Genesis people?” We just looked at one another not really sure what they were asking. I reminded this person that I had written a book on Genesis and we both responded that if they meant did we believe the book of Genesis, then yes we were “Genesis people”. This person went on to question us about the new Ark exhibit at the Creation museum because they were very concerned about the dinosaurs and the age of the earth and they shared how they refused to even go see this exhibit because the whole thing was crazy.

Let me remind you this person professes to be a Christian. Therefore, in that moment I had a choice to make. I could begin an argument or I could choose kindness.

I chose to grab this person’s hand and look them in the eye and say, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He came to this earth born of virgin, that He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day and it is only through Him that we can be saved.” They said, “Well yes!”. I then said, “Then that’s all that matters. None of this other stuff is a deal breaker with God.” She looked at me, then said, “But for some people it is.” I said, “I know.” At that moment peace was restored and we left with smiles and see you next times and talk to you soons.

Then just a few weeks after this encounter I had another. Our family was visiting at a church that is not of our denomination. I do not know if the one preaching knew the denomination that we attended or not, but apparently within his message of sharing he talked about another pastor that he met with regularly that others questioned why he did so. He claimed he met with him, because all he could do was teach the guy and hopefully one day he would learn.

The preacher he was meeting with was of our denomination. Several years ago, I would have awakened to this conversation and would have jumped to the defense with Scripture upon Scripture. However, somehow God chose for this comment to sail right over my head. My children said they held their breath waiting on me to say something, but I never even knew he said it until the ride home.

I have had to stop reading several bloggers that I used to enjoy because I am saddened by the amount of sarcasm and the lack of kindness. Please know that I am very much aware that if you were to scroll through the earlier years of my blogging days you would find posts that could be seen as unkind. I have been the “unkind” Christian who just so wanted you to know my Jesus that I became frustrated and irritating when I couldn’t get you to see and believe what I wanted you to see and believe. This was wrong of me and I have prayed that the Lord would forgive me and redeem my sad attempt and immaturity and bring those individuals that I possibly could have scared away to salvation in spite of me.

In 1 Corinthians 4:6 Paul writes,

that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you maybe puffed up in favor of one against another.

Most of our denominational differences is due to us going beyond what it is written. We actually think we have been given some special insight and it is our mission from God to make sure that everyone else sees it the way we do. We can become quite nasty and forceful with this mission and will even disassociate ourselves from anyone that we cannot convince to see things our way.

I have learned that most of the time it is better to be kind than proven right. When being right becomes more important than the relationship, or potential for relationship, then we are walking on dangerous ground. Even, and especially when, we are talking with someone who is not simply of a different denomination but a completely different faith. The gospel is here because of a pursued relationship and it continues because of relationships. We are supposed to be ministers of reconciliation not confrontation. No one has ever been quarreled to Christ.

In Proverbs 20:3 read,

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
    but every fool will be quarreling.

We look like fools to the world when we as brothers and sisters in Christ argue with one another. What does it say about us to a watching world if we are willing to destroy one another over things that are temporary.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.

Romans 14:20

Have you ever been at a family’s gathering, and you were not a member of this family, and then the family begins arguing with one another over something that you know nothing about and are not a part of? How did it make you feel? How did it affect the way you saw them?  Did it make you want to come back and visit again?

When I read the Scriptures there are things that are clear as crystal to me and then there are things that are clear as mud. There are things that I thought I understood perfectly and then God opened my eyes and I realized that due to my own personal environment and perspective I was missing something beautiful that when it was shared with me from someone who saw it through a different eye I was finally able to see. However, had I not been willing to listen to their perspective I would have missed it completely. 

In the book of 2 Chronicles we read of King Uzziah. Uzziah was a good king. He loved the Lord and walked in His ways and the Lord blessed him because of it. Then in his blessings he became arrogant.

But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.

2 Chronicles 26:16

Uzziah grew strong and he left kindness at the door. He quit listening to others who were serving the same Lord and decided that he had the direct line to God and everyone else and their knowledge and voice was invalid.  He would not listen to the correction of the priests.

But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged…

2 Chronicles 26:19

Beloved, there is a problem with our hearts when we become enraged with one another. The Scripture is quite clear that those who are walking in the Spirit are exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So if something said or done has led us to check any of those off at the door then there is a problem. The problem is usually our own pride. 

If the majority of our religious conversations is to prove our interpretation and denominations doctrinal stance over another’s then we are way off base from what Jesus commanded us to do and we have lost focus of our calling.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

We have a hurting and dying world at our fingertips that needs the gospel. It was the kindness of God that brought us to repentance not someone proving their denominational stance. When Paul was discipling Timothy he said,

I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:

He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

1 Timothy 3:15-16

Paul also sat down in counsel with the early apostles as they sought the guidance of the Lord as to what they needed to require of those who believed the gospel and were coming from a non-Biblical background and in the book of Acts we read,

“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 15:28-29

I read some comments on blogs and I cringe. I read them and I know that if that thread of commentary was the only piece of Christian interaction that I ever experienced, I would not want to be a Christian. This is not how we are to represent Christ to the world.

Let us not be guilty of laying burdens on others that the Holy Spirit did not lay. Let us not become guilty of becoming so arrogant that we refuse to listen to others. Let us not become guilty of being unkind simply because someone does not agree with us. Let us not become guilty of being a stumbling block for the gospel because we are quarreling with one another.

God doesn’t need us to fight for Him. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of convicting a soul. Jesus didn’t ask us to make converts. He asked us to make disciples.

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Romans 14:19

Therefore, precious one, always stay humble and kind because Jesus said that we would be known as His disciples by our love for one another.

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Dear Momma Sending Your Child Into Their Next Unknown

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It’s August! It’s back to school month for most children everywhere in our area. This month Mommas will be sending their kids into school firsts. Perhaps this will be your baby’s first day at preschool, or kindergarten, or elementary, or high school, or even college. Maybe this month will be your child’s first day at a new school or just a first day at the next grade in an old school. Perhaps you are jumping into a brand new adventure and this month will be your kids first day to homeschool. Perhaps you already do homeschool, yet your kids are moving up into the next group in your church or school co-op. A new minister, a new Sunday School class, a new group of kids… so many influencers that you do not yet know surrounding them and becoming their leaders and/or peer group.

It doesn’t matter what your August looks like you can still feel it. The angst of the new, the apprehension of letting go, the wondering of are we making the right choice. The mix of joy as you see them growing up and the deep strange sorrow of knowing that they ARE growing up. Oh how we can see the so many things that will be left behind in the land of smiling tear-filled memories as we watch them take each new step into the world of firsts. Yet, how proud we are as we see them walk into those firsts. How desperately we pray that they will make wise choices while they are there. Or at least quickly learn from their mistakes so that they don’t have to spend forty years circling the same mountain!

As I spent time in the Word this morning I read a passage in 1 Corinthians that spoke to my heart concerning my children and I wanted to share it with you…

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 3:5:17, ESV

Now let me share with you how this translated to my heart this morning…

Dear Momma,

Yes, you are sending your child into their next unknown. It’s unknown to you and it’s unknown to them, but it’s not unknown to Me. You, dear Momma, are my fellow workman. You simply plant or water, as do the others that are in your child’s life, I alone am the One who causes the growth. 

Your child is My field and My building. According to My grace that I have given you, like a skilled master builder, you have been laying a foundation. Now you have to sit back and watch others build on that foundation. Do so in the trust of knowing that no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.

You have taught them and are teaching them the truth of My Word. You continue to plant and water. You continue to be a workman with Me. Remember that we are One, you and Me, we are in this together. It’s not all on you. You are actually nothing apart from Me. So trust Me to guard the foundation of Christ that has been laid in the heart of your child. 

Know that others will build on it. Some will build with gold, silver, and precious stones. Some will build with wood, hay, and straw. Trust that I will reveal what is of value and is strong enough to become a part of the foundation. There will be moments when others try to place wood, hay, and straw on that foundation, but I will remove it. My fire will test it and what cannot withstand the test of My fire will be burned up and cleaned away, so that only what is of Christ will remain. If I have to burn it down to the foundation itself, I will, but the foundation will never be destroyed.

Dear sweet Momma, do you not know that your child is My temple? My Spirit dwells within them. Do you not know that if anyone, ANYONE, tries to destroy My temple, I will destroy them? My temple is holy and your child is My temple. So please, just keep planting and watering and working My field and trust Me to protect the building and bring the harvest. 

And Momma don’t forget that you are My field and My building too. You too are My temple, and I will also be watching over You. 

I love you,

Your Heavenly Father 

 

But I Murdered My Sons And Walked With Demons

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But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.

2 Kings 21:9

This morning in my quiet time with the Lord I was reading in the book of 2 Chronicles about Manasseh. Manasseh is the son of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a mostly good King of Judah, but he went through a time of being too big for his britches and unfortunately the pride he walked in during his old age greatly influenced his son Manasseh.

Manasseh began to reign as king when he was only twelve years old. He was more wicked than any king that ever sat on the throne of Judah. He rebuilt all the altars of idol worship that Hezekiah had torn down and added new ones. He even built altars INSIDE the temple of the Lord that Solomon had built to honor his father, King David, and to honor the One True Living God. Manasseh sacrificed his own sons to demons and practiced witchcraft and divination and dealt with mediums and spiritists (2 Kings 21:6).

Basically, if God was for it, then Manasseh was against it. Manasseh murdered his sons and walked with demons and was proud of it. He was so proud of it that he encouraged an entire nation to do the same. One man with the influence of darkness and deception through the power of seduction was able to turn the hearts of thousands away from the God who had faithfully delivered, redeemed, and provided for them over and over again.

Surely God was done. Surely these sins that Manasseh had committed were unforgivable, Surely there was nothing but wrath left for this king of Judah that walked in such abominable wickedness. After all, the Lord had tried. He had spoken to Manasseh over and over again, yet was ignored. For Manasseh nor the people paid any attention to the Word of God (2 Chronicles 33:10).

That is until the Lord sent the Assyrians. Manasseh was taken captive with hooks and bound with bronze chains and was brought to Babylon. Here Manasseh’s pride was humbled. Here Manasseh cried out with all his heart to the God of his father. The God that he had rejected, ignored, and abhorred was the only one who could deliverer him from his chains.

(There is something about visible chains that helps us realize the invisible chains that held us all along but we were too deceived to see.)

Do you know what the crazy thing is? God heard him! This one that murdered his sons and walked with demons and encouraged an entire nation to follow in his ways, God heard him. God heard him and God forgave him.

When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

2 Chronicles 33:13

From that moment on Manasseh set out to destroy all the idols he had built and he ordered Judah to serve the Lord. He turned his heart fully to God and tried to encourage the nation to do the same. I can imagine the tear filled prayers of Manasseh as he entreated the Lord to protect his sons from his mistakes. I imagine this was his prayer because of what I see in the Word of God after his death.

After Manasseh’s death his son Amon became king. Amon was going to lead the people right back down the path of destruction. The Lord gave Amon two years to repent and return. When he continued to refuse, then the Lord allowed him to be removed from the throne. This is when Josiah, at eight years old, would become king and the greatest revival that Israel has ever known would begin (2 Kings 23:21-22). God would honor the prayers of the humbled heart of Manasseh through his grandson.

So beloved what does this recorded information mean for us?

  • There is no sin too great that God’s grace cannot reach. So never write anyone off! Keep praying.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20-21

  •  Our choices come with consequences but God’s is able to redeem our consequences for His glory. Keep praying!

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Titus 2:11-14

  • It doesn’t matter how bad the situation seems, how lost the nation appears to be, nothing is impossible with our God. Keep praying!

They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Mark 10:26-27

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Stone By Stone And Brick By Brick

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So those who were engaged in the work labored, and the repairing went forward in their hands, and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it.
2 Chronicles 24:13
 
In Luke 10:2 Jesus looks at His disciples and says “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…” Therefore beloved, let us look at our hands and ask, are they engaged in the work of the Lord? Are my hands a part of the repairing and restoring and strengthening of the house of God? However, in order for us to ask this we must first consider where is this house of God, or what is this house of God, or who is this house of God.

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

Hebrews 3:1-6

The house of God are the people of God. Those who trust in His Son and call upon Him for salvation are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those who are filled with His Spirit “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5). In order to be a worker on His house, a laborer in His field, we must be a preacher, a proclaimer, of His gospel.

And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lordin whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:17-22

The purpose of my hands is to be engaged in the work of the Lord. As a part of His house my hands are to be a part of the repairing and restoring and strengthening of the house of God. If the house of God is built by the living stones of people who are alive with the Spirit of God, then the only way I can lay a brick is to share the truth of the gospel. The only way I can repair, restore, and strengthen a stone is to minister to a living heart that has been laid in the constructing of His house.

The bottom line is that if I am to be a worker of the Lord then I must be engaged with people. I must be willing to proclaim the hope of the gospel of Christ. I must be willing to go out and gather the stones that the Lord Himself will breathe life into and cause to call out His praise. I must be willing to get down on my knees in the muck of the lives of broken people and apply the mortar and grout of the Word of God that binds us to each other and to Him. I must be willing to search for the cracks and fill them with the truth of His love through the power of His Spirt that seals us for all eternity to His house.

Oh, let us be engaged in the work.

Let us be laborers.

Let us remember that Jesus died for people.

Let us remember that this world is not our home. We are not to be consumed with laboring for the things of this world, but for the eternal souls of those created in the image of God. We are to remember that better is one day in His courts, in His house, than a thousand elsewhere. Our hope, our confidence, is in Him whose house we are if we hold fast firm until the end. Let us hold fast. Let us stay focused on our calling and on our work and keep laboring, one stone at a time, brick by brick, until the builder of the house, our God, says that it is complete.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, but remember that in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9

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Relentless

A Crown And A Cross

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But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Mark 8:33

The phrase “setting your mind” in Mark 8:33 is the Greek word phroneó and it means I think, judge, observe. The HELPS Word-studies adds:

phronéō (from Strong’s 5424 /phrḗn, “the midriff or diaphragm; the parts around the heart,” J. Thayer) – properly, regulate (moderate) from within, as inner-perspective (insight) shows itself in corresponding, outward behavior. 5426 (phronéō) essentially equates to personal opinion fleshing itself out in action(see J. Thayer). This idea is difficult to translate into English because it combines the visceral and cognitive aspects of thinking.

Visceral thinking is related to our deep inward feelings and cognitive thinking is related to or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering). This Greek word combines both of these as one. That’s a pretty intense word when you really think about it. Thus the reason that it would be more than a thought, but would always show itself through actions.

Let’s place ourselves in the skin of Peter in this moment. He thinks he is coming to bat for his friend and teacher and in return he is rebuked. Can you imagine the halt of his mouth and shock on his face as Jesus identified him as Satan himself? Jesus related Peter to Satan because of the words that came out of his mouth and it was these words that led to this rebuke.

The rebuke that Jesus gave to Peter was the exact rebuke that He gave to Satan when in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry. In Mark 8:32 we read, “And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.” When you look at the Greek tense of the word rebuke in this verse we learn that this was not a rash emotional statement that came flying out of Peter’s mouth in response to Jesus teaching of His arrest and death. This word tells us that Peter kept on rebuking. Peter basically was telling Jesus that He didn’t know what He was talking about and that He needed to stop saying crazy stuff like that because it would not happen. Therefore, Jesus called him Satan because Peter was demanding the very same thing that Satan had offered… a crown without a cross.

After Jesus rebuked Peter He called the crowds and the disciples to Him and said:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38

There would be no crown without a cross, not for Jesus, not for Peter, and not for us. A crown without a cross is a lie and lies come from Satan, because he is the father of lies (John 8:44).  Yet, how we desire a crown without a cross! We don’t want the cross. We despise the cross. We want to point to Jesus’ cross and say that’s enough. Why should I have to have a cross?

When we bow our knee and lift our prayers up for our nation, how many of us pray out of our fear of the cross? How many of us pray with the voice of Satan, requesting a crown without a cross? How many of us pray that God would never put us (or our children) in a situation that we would have to choose the cross or deny Christ? Do we lift up prayers that really are focused on our own interests rather than God’s?

Oh, let us brave!

Let us be strong and courageous!

Let us take up our own cross and throw down the world’s crowns!

Let us set our minds on the things above not on the things of this earth (Colossians 3:2). Let us not seek after our own interest but seek first the kingdom of our God! Let us not bow to the temptation of Satan and his offer of a crown that comes without a cross. Let us follow Christ… even to the death… even to death on a cross.

This can only be done in and through Christ. We can not will ourselves to carry a cross. Our hearts and our minds have to be transformed and renewed and only God and His Word can accomplish this miracle. Human wisdom and might will never give us the ability to walk this out. Fear of death will win every time.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself [Jesus] likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Jesus took up His cross so that we might have the power to take up ours. Jesus took up a cross that bore the wrath of God so that we would be able to have the power to take up a cross that bares the wrath of the world. Jesus came and endured His cross so that we could endure ours, not avoid it. There is no crown without a cross. Satan simply offers the crown first and then leaves you with the cross. Jesus offers you the cross and then leaves you with the crown.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 2:10

It’s Time To Get Real

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I have just heard of a new bill that is being presented to Russian leader, President Putin, for signing on July 20th. Mission Network News shared that,

The bill, coining the name, Yarovaya Law, is actually a response to last October when a Russian plane, carrying passengers over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, was bombed and killed all passengers, a total of 224 people. ISIS had claimed the attack as its own.

But, if this anti-terrorism bill is not amended before being signed into law, the already mention parts of this bill could be very damaging for churches. Slavic Gospel Association’s President, Bob Provost explains why.

“The difference in this wording is that all religious activity is restricted to a building that’s registered as a church. Ninety-percent of all evangelical churches in Russia, dating back to the communist days, when a church wasn’t allowed to own property, and so all the church buildings were registered in the name of one of the member families,” Provost says. “And that hasn’t been changed much. And so 90-percent of the evangelical church buildings in Russia today are not registered in the name of a church.”

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

In other words, if the bill is signed into law as-is, 90-percent of these evangelical churches won’t even be able to hold a service without being in contempt of the law. The same would go for ministries, such as SGA, and all others working to further the Great Commission. But, there’s hope.

President Putin has the final authority to amend this bill and save what so many have worked so long and hard for: religious freedom. He could easily become the Russian churches’ hero by sparing them this blow. For this reason, SGA is asking for prayer.

“From our standpoint, we want to ask God’s people, from all over the globe, please start praying right now,” Provost asks. “That God will intervene, that God will move in the heart of Mr. Putin and cause him to not sign this law, so that the Gospel can continue to go forth all across Russia.”

And even if Putin signs this bill into law to protect the Russian people in the only way he may know how, pray for the Gospel to continue to be heard, for lives to continue to be changed, and for Putin to see that the word of God is anything but terrorism. It is a redeeming love story written for all person, including Putin himself.

Just this past week I was talking with my daughter and my mother about the tribulation. My youngest daughter asked how we would know what the “mark of the beast” was that we are told about in Revelation 13:16-17. With all the new technology that our world is facing she questioned whether or not these new implanted chips would be that mark. She was afraid that she might one day take the mark mistakenly.

My mother and I assured her that she would not. God is not out to deceive His people. His people will not have to question “the mark.” It will be clear. I shared with my daughter that “the mark” whatever it might be, will be in direct opposition to the Word of God. It will in some way represent and proclaim a denouncement of Jesus Christ.

Our great grandparents feared that the introduction of the Social Security Card was the mark and today we fear that an identification chip implanted under the skin will be that mark. Personally I don’t believe it matters whether it’s a card, a tattoo, or a chip. It’s not the mark, but what the mark represents.

As we read our modern day headlines anyone with any Biblical knowledge at all has wondered, are we drawing nigh the end? I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question, except to know that today we are one day closer than we were yesterday. Knowing this should be enough to cause God’s people to get real. I don’t mean get real and fight politics. I mean get real and fight for hearts.

Never before in history has the entire world experienced terror as in our day. One centralized united group with the goal of destroying the freedom of others to believe differently than they do. Their actions are causing nations around the world to rethink their government in order to protect their land. ISIS is after territory. They are not out to simply terrorize.

Due to the reality of their intent on our world, leaders are making hard calls. Hard calls that not only affect the terrorist but affect everyone. In the meantime, here we are today in America, still free. In Russia, at least until July 20th, they remain still free. Yet, in a moment that could change, both in Russian and here in America.

So what do we do today?

We must get real. We must get ready. We must be responsible with the hope that is ours in Christ. There are things in this world that are too great for me and no matter how loud I shout I have no voice. I have learned that those are not my battles to fight.

However, when I look to my left and to my right and I place one foot in front of the other and I take the time to open my eyes and my heart… I see that within my reach there are battles raging against souls. Souls that the Lord has called me to suit up in my armor and to stand firm and fight for in the name of His Son and for the glory of His Kingdom. Yet I am not to fight with terror, hate, arguments, or force. I am instead to fight with truth, hope, peace, love, and prayer.

From faith, by faith, and for faith I am to live for the kingdom that I belong and to the One who reigns over it. I am to live for this kingdom in the way that I treat others, as human beings created in the image of the God I claim to worship and belong to. I am to live it in the way that I keep my word and honor the authority figures that the Lord has allowed over me. I am to live it by demonstrating the love of my God for me by demonstrating His love to others, especially to my spouse, my children, other believers, my coworkers, and anyone else I see on a regular basis.

It’s time get real and be serious about our Father’s business. There was never a time not to be, but if there ever was a time that we needed to be… it is now.

So, let us pray for Russia.

Let us pray for our America.

Let us pray for the Kingdom of God and our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

Let us pray for His Kingdom to come and for His will to be done.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
     tremble before him, all the earth;
    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
 1 Chronicles 16:23-31 (ESV)

The Scapegoat of Mental Illness

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This past Sunday our topic in our small group class was anger. We were asked by our teacher if we lived in an angry city, nation, etc. I responded emphatically with a yes. My husband felt that we were not as angry of a nation as the media wanted to portray us to be and I agree with that as well. The media tends to stir the pot and usually does not share the whole story until they have already introduced both fear and anger. There where others in the class that felt that some things were more of a result of mental illness rather than anger issues, and I agree that mental illness is indeed a reality that needs addressed, but mental illness is not an excuse for actions of anger. Therefore, I still answer that question with an emphatic yes.

Last night we watched “No Man Left Behind”, the story of the men in the Battle of Mogadishu (or as we better know it as “Blackhawk Down”) on the National Geographic Channel. Mike Durant, the pilot of one of the Blackhawks that went down, was taken captive by the Somali rebels. In this special he shared how it felt to have this angry out of control mob descend upon him and how he witnessed human beings doing things he had never seen them do. Were they all mentally ill? Or were they just plainly and simply filler with anger?You might say “this is war”, well let’s bring it a little closer to home.

Let’s just bring it to the little league ball field when the umpire makes a call that the parents feel was the wrong call. Let’s bring it to the parking lot and the shopping malls during the Black Friday sales. Let’s bring it to the highways when someone has been cut off. Let’s bring it to a political rally. Let’s bring it to the streets outside an abortion clinic. Let’s bring it to the office when a practical joke goes south. Let’s bring it to the church business meeting when one group wants the pastor to resign and the other is ready to defend him to their death. Let’s bring it inside the doors of our home when things don’t go the way we think they should have gone.

In these situations is everyone mentally ill? Or are all these instances accepted anger that is shrugged off as normal and not worth laying at the foot of the cross?

Or are we just as the Word of God has said…

You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.

Matthew 12:34-35

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But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 

Matthew 15:18-19

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You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

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Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21

Personally, I think its unfair to hand out the mentally ill card so easily. Schools use it as their reasoning as to why kids, who are being required to attend school at way too young of an age, can’t sit still or pay attention in class. Our President hands it out for every mass shooting and uses it as his reasoning for pushing for more gun laws. Hitler used it as his reasoning to begin to put into effect his mass extermination Euthanasia Program.

I know many people who struggle with true mental illnesses and I am not one bit concerned that they will grab a gun and run into a building or school and begin slaughtering innocent people at random. That’s anger and hate induced, it’s not mental illness. It’s the result of unchecked sin, uncrucified flesh, unrenewed minds, and unregenerated hearts and I think it is time that we start calling evil what it is… especially we in the church.

In the book of Revelation in chapter 18 we read of the destruction of Babylon. Babylon represents the kingdom of this world that is antagonistic to the Kingdom of God. In Revelation 18:23 we read, for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. The word sorcery here in Revelation 18:23 and in Galatians 5:20 above is the Greek word pharmakeia and it means the use or the administering of drugs, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it. 

We live in a day when we want to call evil a mental illness and administer a drug for it. We want to diagnose sin as something that is treatable and fixable by our own human hands and measures. We just need more science, more studies, more laws, and we will fix the world without God. We will do it without His Law, testimonies, and precepts, and without His Spirit to guide and teach us, and without His Son to die for us and save us.

We have forgotten that we battle not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of darkness.  We have forgotten that those who know Christ not, walk out the will of the devil and are wide open to his manipulations and deceptions. That’s not mental illness… that’s the nature of man apart from Christ.

When I was in Poland walking through Lodz and then standing outside a cattle car with the claw marks of trapped men, women, and children lining the inside of it, our Israeli guide told us that some want to say that “monsters” engineered and carried out these atrocious acts. He went on to say, but we must NEVER say that because it wasn’t monsters, it was human beings. It was their neighbors, their teachers, their business partners, everyday men and women that they once passed daily on the streets. It was men who were trusted by the vote of an entire nation and were backed by other highly educated men and once considered upstanding citizens. It was husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. It was wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Were they all simply mentally ill?

No, they were depraved as we all are apart from the grace of God. They were walking in the darkness and they carried out what was in their hearts. Evil is among us and evil is within us and it can only be cast out by God Himself.

It’s unfair to those who truly struggle with mental illnesses to lump those who are filled with unchecked anger and rage into the same group. It’s unfair and it’s dangerous and I refuse to do it. There are those who truly succumb to mental illness and take their own lives. There are those who are in such a dark and hopeless place, weighed down with burdens that no one has bent down to help them carry, maybe because they are afraid of being honest and real with those around them, or maybe because no one really cared enough to try and step into their mess with the hope of the Word of God and the hands and feet and heart of Christ, and they may take the lives of their children and then take their own. Yet, they are not those who kill in anger or with premeditated plans.

There is a difference between mental illness and hearts filled with hate, anger, bitterness, and rage. Mental illness is not a choice, it’s the result of a fallen world just like cancer and any other ailment that comes upon us as result of this dying and decaying world. God never commands us to put mental illness away from us. Yet hate, anger, bitterness, and rage He does… which means mental illness is not an excuse for these things.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:30-32

So please, let’s just stop using mental illness as a scapegoat.

 

What Is It To Be Relentless

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In less than fifty days the Women of Proven Path Ministries will be offering our very first women’s conference. Saturday, August 20th we are praying that many ladies will join us as we dig into the word of God together and seek His face. If you are a woman reading this, I implore you to attend. You won’t regret it!

The name of our conference this August is

RELENTLESS

As we prayed over this conference and sought what our focus should be and what the Lord wanted to use us to share with the women who would be attending we were pressed to focus on faith. Not just any faith, but unwavering faith, as the Holy Spirit confirmed when He brought Hebrews 10:23 to my heart and had Bridgette and I in agreement.

Then we needed a one word title for the conference. As we pondered unwavering faith and how and why we can in a nutshell have it, the word Relentless is what came to mind. This word began to play in my heart through the lyrics of a song… “Your love is relentless.” So I did what we do in our modern day, I googled it.

Relentless:
adjective * re·lent·less * \-ləs\
 
Definition of relentless:
showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace
 
Synonyms for relentless:
determined, implacable, unyielding, unappeasable, unflinching, unrelenting

 

Yes! This was it. Relentless. This world, this life, wants us to be the very opposite of this word. What are the near antonyms of relentless? They are: slackening, softening, yielding; impotent, invertebrate, slack, spineless, weak; complaisant, obliging…

Our God has not called us to be slack, or impotent, or spineless, or weak. Nor has He called us to be complaisant. No He has commanded us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). It doesn’t matter the situation or the circumstance we are not to oblige fear.

This morning the Lord brought Psalm 112:7-8 to my heart…

He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is upheld, he will not fear,
Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.

Neither shall she who has become a woman of unwavering faith. She will not fear evil words, fearful news, discouraging information, or despairing communication. Her heart will remain steadfast, RELENTLESS, trusting in her Lord. She will know that her God will uphold her heart and she will not fear, but with her face set like flint she will press on determined, unyielding, and unflinching knowing that her victory is the Lord’s!

The question beloved is how? How shall she become this woman of such unwavering faith? Relentless. How shall we attain to this woman that we know God has called us to be?

We have to know Him. We have to know Him in and through the way He commanded us to know Him… and that is through His Word and THE Word. Os Guinness writes in his book The Call,

With the brief, merciful, and marvelous exception of His Word in human form, God speaks to us in words, and our responsibility, as His creatures is to listen, to trust, and to obey those words… Words are the deepest, fullest expression in which God now discloses Himself to us. So it is in listening to Him, trusting Him, and obeying Him when He calls that we ‘let God be God’ in all of His awe and majesty.

God’s primary call, His address to us, always has two dimensions: summons and invitation, law and grace, demand and offer. Unquestionably the former comes first, yet that side is missing among many followers of Christ today. The result is a casualness in faith and a slackness in behavior that show no sign of having listened to any call from either Sinai or Galilee, let alone Calvary.

If we are to be relentless we have to “let God be God”. We have to know His word and we have to trust Him. We have to respond to His summons to court and plead guilty as charged and accept His invitation for pardon through Christ as we cry out to Him for mercy. We have to acknowledge His law and our inability to keep it as it so plainly and simply points out our depravity and we must receive His grace through faith in the promises of His Word that in Jesus we will be forgiven our transgressions against our God. We have to bow before His demand for righteousness, justice, kindness, humility, and love and accept His offer to provide those things for us if we will just come to Him through the rent flesh of His Son.

Oh precious one, do you want to be relentless? I do. Oh, how I do. I want to be that woman of unwavering faith. I want my face to be set like flint as Christ’s was as He walked the road to Calvary carrying the cross that would bear my sin on His shoulders. I do not want to be shaken by the things of this world. I do not want to be tossed and driven by the wind (James 1:6). I want to be strong in the Lord as I trust in His relentless love for me, knowing that no weapon formed against me can prosper when I am walking in obedience to Him and His Word, knowing that even in death I remain victorious because Jesus overcame the grave, knowing that I am His and because of the cross nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate me from Him ever again.

 

Praying For Orlando

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As I sat the other morning before the word of the Lord and let my heart ponder the recent shooting in Orlando I prayed, seeking guidance from my God. When things like this happen I try not to respond immediately because if I do, usually it will be in the flesh, and it will be a reaction not a response. So I pray and I wait for the Lord to direct my heart.

This morning in my daily Bible reading the Lord had this verse waiting on me.

He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker;
He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 17:5

As a Christian how am I to respond to this appearing Islamic terrorist who went into an openly homosexual club and murdered many?

I think Proverbs 17:5 tells us how…

If I am a true believer, if I truly believe that Jesus Christ is the One and Only Way and that those who truly love Him obey Him, then what I just learned from Orlando is that in one moment 50 souls that were created in the image of God Himself, 50 souls that Jesus died on the cross to save, just possibly perished into a Christ-less eternity.

This should break my heart.

This should cause me to look to my own community, my own neighbors, my own family and see if I have loved enough. Have I shone His light in the darkness of the world around me in my city? Have I been about His business or have I chosen to snarl my nose and be repulsed or just flat out afraid of those that don’t fit in my box of approval?

The state of our nation need not cause me to grow hard and angry, but instead ever more soft and pliable in the refining fire of the Lord. This should be, so that I might become even more useful in His hands, to reach this lost and dying world for His glory. I don’t want to be this cold, unfeeling, bitter soul that finds the “I told you so” more satisfying than the grace and mercy of God.

If Jesus could be on the cross and cry out “Father forgive them, they know not what they do…” then who are we to mock or hate anyone. If Paul could be stoned and whipped time after time and still keep coming back for more, then by all means so shouldn’t we who today believe? If they loved people this much because God so loved people this much… shouldn’t we?

Those that perished in Orlando have names. They have families. They have stories. They had hopes, dreams, and plans for their future…

I can’t help but be saddened at what happened in Orlando. I can’t help but be angry… but when I bring my anger to the Lord He reminds me of who I truly should direct it toward. I am not to be angry with man. I am to be angry at the one who put it in the heart of man to do such an evil thing. I am to be angry that so many are so easily blinded and swayed to do his bidding.

During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him…

John 13:2

Who is this one, this devil, that has the ability to put thoughts and intentions in our hearts? He is that very same serpent of old… 

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

I am angry at this evil one who has someone managed to fill our nation with such frustration and weakness and fear. I am angry because we, as a whole, are so distraught and distracted that we don’t understand that the reason why we are frustrated, weak, and afraid is because we have forgotten our God. We have forgotten our Maker. We have forgotten His word.

By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

Daniel 11:32

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I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:14

Knowing our God is what gives us strength. Knowing our God is what gives us courage. Having His word abiding in us is what keeps us sure and steadfast and able to respond in and with love. Jesus said the world would know that we are His by our love. Love is sure. Love is strong. Love is courageous. Oh, and beloved let us never forget that love is kind. Love is all these things because love knows and walks according to God’s commands.

And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.

2 John 1:6

Let us who profess to know Christ never forget who we are really fighting and why we fight. Let us not forget who we ALL are apart from Christ. Let us never forget that we have been called to Christ to call others to Him. Let us never forget that we are the one’s who have the access to the throne of God and are the chosen. We are to be His priests and to declare His excellencies and intercede on the behalf of those who know Him, and those who know Him not, yet desperately need to. 

Let Orlando drive us to our knees. When anger rises up in our throat let it not cause us to sin, but let it cause us to cry out to our Holy God.

But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.

Thus in Judah it was said,

“The strength of the burden bearers is failing,
Yet there is much rubbish;
And we ourselves are unable
To rebuild the wall.”

Our enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work.” When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, “They will come up against us from every place where you may turn,” then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows. When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”

When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work.

Nehemiah 4:9-15

The enemy of our souls wants to put fear in us so that we stop our work… don’t let him. The fields are white for harvest but the workers are indeed few.

The Most Honest Answer

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Yesterday concluded our VBS week at Central. The past couple of years our church has added an event for 7th and 8th graders that coincided with our VBS. This year I helped with this older group. We had over fifty 7th and 8th graders attend a week long event of three Bible studies a day… and they loved it!

Not one time did I see apathy in the eyes of those attending. Not one time did I see boredom. Not one time did I see, “what? another Bible lesson?” Instead those who sat before me were kids with eyes wide open and hungry for truth.

On Thursday we gave those attending an opportunity to make a decision based on what they had experienced during the week. It was the classic decision card asking about more church information, prayer request, baptism, rededication, salvation, etc. Each child filled out a card so that every child could be uninhibited in their answers. I am so glad that we chose this route because on one of these cards I saw one of the most honest answers I have ever read.

One of the kids checked all the boxes and at the prayer request line they wrote, “I want to believe, but I still feel like I don’t” My heart stuck in my throat as I read the words and my mind went straight to the Word of God…

And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Mark 9:21-24

I told my friend how this was one of the most honest answers I have ever read on a decision card and I have read hundreds. As we both stood there in awe of what God had done this week, her reply was that this one was probably more saved than any of us. (Disclaimer: “more saved” was just an expression to capture the joy of our hearts at this young person’s response to the gospel.)

How many of us hear and read the Word of God and our hearts cry out this very same plea.

I want to believe, but I still feel like I don’t.

I do believe; help my unbelief. 

Precious one, if this is the cry of your heart, God is not afraid of it. You are coming to Him just the way He asks you to… honestly.

When Jesus came and taught the disciples they did not understand it all. They really couldn’t process all that He was saying at the time. Jesus was completely aware of this… He taught them anyway.

These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.

John 12:16

The name of our 7th and 8th grade event was “Accelerate”. On our last day I shared with the kids that acceleration, in physics, is the rate of change of velocity of an object. An object’s acceleration is the net result of any and all forces acting on the object.

God’s word and His Holy Spirit are the forces that act upon us, the object. God’s Word never returns empty It always accomplishes the purpose for which God sent it (Isaiah 55:11). It’s living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Therefore when we hear it, we will indeed accelerate. The question is in which direction will we go? Towards God… or away from Him? 

I want to believe, but I still feel like I don’t.

I do believe; help my unbelief. 

These are both heart cries that are accelerating toward God and that gives me reason to rejoice. We don’t have to understand it all to take a step in faith toward and into belief… even if that step is simply acknowledging that we want to believe, but need help to believe.

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