Weekly Devotionals

Written and shared by the membership of our church

Kill Them With Kindness

Killing Them With Kindness
  “Do not let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:21.   Ya’ll might need to prepare yourselves for this one. It’s a doozy! I was recently convicted about something that I have all my life believed was a good thing. I can hear you saying, “do tell!!” Ok, ok, you’ve pulled my arm long enough, let me share.   First off, the truth of, “the Truth shall set us free” is real life stuff folks! When the light is shined, when Jesus speaks in loving correction it can change a multitude of perspectives. Here’s the recent scenario. My oldest son and I were in the drive thru at McDonald’s this past weekend. When it was our turn to order, I of course pull up to the speaker and begin placing my order, which took no more than probably 60 seconds to complete. As I was finishing up my order I hear loud, vulgar screaming outside my window behind me. I instantly thought there was a fight breaking out in the parking lot so, naturally, I stick my head out the window to look towards the screaming and my eyes turn to the carload behind me when the driver sticks his head out the window, points at me and says very rudely, “yea! I’m talking to you 🤬 (insert a not nice word, use your imagination, make it fun!)!!!!” 😳😳


Now, mind you I am COMPLETELY caught off guard. Like, completely! So…very flabbergasted (haha, that’s a good word), I say…“excuse ME?” He appeases me and makes sure I can hear him loud and clear this time, how very thoughtful of him. He throws his hand up and says, “are you done placing your order yet you 🤬(insert the same fun, super unkind word!)?!” 😳    Oh goodness!      NO.     He.        Didn’t.     Deep breath. Jesus take the wheel!   ——Pause for effect——-(note to set the scene: all time came to a screeching hault. My praise and worship music, “It Is Well With My Soul” 🎶instantly changes to “ya’ll gonna make me lose my mind, ya’ll gonna make me act a fool”…everybody…”up in here, up in here❗️”  My inner thug came out, can I say that in a church devotional?) 🤷‍♀️   Now, I realize at this point I have two choices. The fleshly part of me, you know, the evil one, was immediately wishing I could shank a fool right there in the drive thru parking lot, and still be back home to catch it on the 6 o’clock news before my fries got cold. Dang! I hate that don’t you?! But darn it, I claim to be a Jesus girl and well, that wouldn’t look so good, so…”I forgive you” came out of my mouth instead, and I meant it, confirmation that I am a Jesus girl I guess, minus the desire to shank my enemy. 😬 But this man was feisty I tell ya. He then very sarcastically shouts back, “Bahahaha! I forgive you TOO! Wuhahahaha!” Everyone in his car laughs and before I pull forward to the window, I imagine what it would be like to “accidentally” slam back in reverse as hard as I could. Oops! Wuahahahaha! 😈   Ok, I’m mostly kidding. What happened was real, but if ya’ll could actually see my inner thug you’d laugh. Picture me in Kristy’s T-rex costume bobbing and weaving, bouncing around trying to throw punches, falling on the floor not able to roll up out of a position to get myself on my feet, kicking in the air. In the face of confrontation I can put up a pretty weak front. Be afraid! Very afraid!    Now, here’s where I knew Jesus’ power was real, because I, Leah, the flesh and bones of me can take absolutely NO credit, zero, zilch, nada for what came to me next. There were four words that instantly, as quick as a blink of an eye were impressed upon my heart…”pay for their meal”. Have you ever been caught off guard by the Holy Spirit?      “YES!!” I scream, snapping back to real time, making my son jump half way out of his seat. “Yes! Thank you Jesus” as I high five the air. 👏🏻🙌🏻 I was so excited that it could NOT have been any part of Leah because it came as a total surprise to my spirit. I was still stuck reeling inside, like, my brain was trying to catch up with real world time and make sense of what just happened. Doing something nice for them was the farthest thing from my thought life, it just absolutely was the Holy Spirit. The whole time my son is looking at me like I’m crazy! I giggle at the thought of it now. I look over at him and say like a crazy lady, giggling hysterically, “I’m going to pay for their meal!” 😄 His face was confused and stuck in that position. 😟 Like he can’t believe all that has ensued in the last 2 to 3 minutes. Lots of lessons were taught in that short ride, for both of us. His version may have me locked up in a straitjacket.    So, here I am, super excited about blessing them instead of cursing them because I knew that’s exactly what Jesus told me to do. There was absolutely no question about it, no second thoughts, no trying to talk myself out of it, I was going to show love instead of hate. So I roll up to the young lady at the window and tell her, “I would like to pay for the car behind me and would you please speak some kind words to them for me?” I should have just left it at that, Jesus would have been proud. But…I didn’t. She says, “oh that’s so nice!” I reply with, “yea, they were super rude to me so I would like to kill them with kindness.” The manager overhears and walks over and says, “Good, now they’ll feel like real jerks!” And I drive away, leaving it at that.


“Now they’ll feel like real jerks”, stuck in my head and that’s where the conviction and loving correction part came in. I was good up until I began to feel justified in my “good deed” because I had hoped it would make them feel bad. Jesus again, instantly yet ever so gently impressed upon my heart, “Leah, I never said to kill with kindness.” I repented on the spot and prayed that my “good deed” would actually be planted as “good seed” to ripple for the Kingdom, knowing ONLY God could take my flawed intentions and turn them into good seed. I had trampled all OVER grace instead of freely offering it out of love, just as it has ALWAYS been offered to my undeserving self time and time again from my Heavenly Father.   It’s one thing to be obedient with love, but it’s another to be obedient with your own evil twist on it. In my heart of hearts I knew paying for their meal was the right thing to do because it came from Him, it was an act of kindness to stop the hate and ugly being spewed, I was more than happy to do it, to be used by Him in such a way was an honor. But…when I realized that my wanting to kill them with kindness shifted other’s perspectives from what should have been the love of Christ to a shaming game, I knew my heart wasn’t pure in that situation and I had snatched His glory right back.
1 Peter 1:22, “having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” 1 Timothy 1:4, “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” ✝️    I recently heard an amazing and beautiful truth explained by a favorite online pastor of mine. He was talking about when Jesus stopped the rebukers for throwing stones at the adulteress woman saying, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”. Pay attention here, this is GOOOOD stuff. In that situation Jesus wasn’t just disqualifying all those that wished to stone her, but he was at the same time qualifying himself as he was the only one there without sin, yet he didn’t even think of bending over to pick up a stone. What he did instead was show grace, mercy and love by giving her a path to walk in freedom, “go and sin no more.” POWERFUL stuff right?! Jesus is such an excellent teacher. When we actually do allow him to “take the wheel” in situations in our lives where our own humanness would possibly create more havoc than peace, it doesn’t just make things easier, it actually transforms our hearts for the next time we find ourselves in a similar situation and it leaves trails of grace for those least expecting it. That transforming power is what bleeds out and touches others.
You see, I let those McDonald’s employees believe that my “killing them with kindness” was actually a good deed, I drove off leaving them in a frame of mind that says, “doing good things for mean, ugly people will make them feel really bad” instead of lovingly teaching them as Jesus did me, that no, actually, it’s ok. Don’t hold it over them. Just understand that hurt people, hurt people. I forgive them for they know not what they do.


While I was “loving” them with one hand, I had a stone in the other. I believe that’s what we do when we say let’s “kill someone with kindness.” There’s an ulterior motive there that isn’t pure and that isn’t who Jesus is. As Christians, we should be very cautious to represent the Kingdom in a way that puts our own spin on the cross. The cross is a finished work, it doesn’t need any of our help or editing. It is finished! Jesus said it himself. So why then do we sometimes make it so hard or tweak it just a little to fit what’s comfortable for us instead of what’s right for the Kingdom? If we are truly walking in the Spirit, we aren’t looking for justification for our actions or behavior because our actions will justify He’s truly in us. His presence speaks for itself as we allow it to freely flow through us out of humble, submitted hearts and lives.
I’m talking to myself first when I say, let’s put our stones down and love people from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Let’s leave a sweet fragrance and be salt of the earth kind of people. Let Jesus be who He wants to be through you, don’t be a reason others are seeing the Kingdom through a skewed view because you feel that your way is better. That’s a heavy responsibility we carry when we write our own doctrines. Killing with kindness is not in the bible, but turning the other cheek is, treating strangers with hospitality is, putting away wrath, anger and slander is, forgiveness is, overcoming evil with good is. By doing these things out of purity and love we’ve no desire in us or reason whatsoever to be looking to “kill someone with kindness” because when it comes from a pure heart it instead comes out as “blessing someone with love”. As ugly as people can be, He still sees a future of salvation for them just as He did for us, and to Him we ALL are worth much more than just a kind gesture, we are worth Him laying down His life. So, as His children who recognize and have been touched by such grace, we should feel compelled to want to love on others, apart from our own ideas of what it should look like, but straight from our most perfect example. If you don’t want to do it for them, do it for Him. 😉 Blessings friends!
 
Leah Parkin, 3-11-19


The Value of a Life

“The Value of a Life”

An Apologetics view of NY S-240

About 15 years ago I began to speak and teach on the creation account found in Genesis chapters 1-11. It wasn’t a big deal back then, more of a topic I was just interested in. I would use it to get people thinking about the authority of God’s Word in a broader and more robust manner, and it was a lot of fun. In the past 7 or 8 years, it has taken on a much more critical role in my personal life and ministry. I teach on it as often as I can and will go anywhere I’m invited to talk with believers about the importance of Genesis 1-11 in our lives and faith. Unfortunately, many Christians just blow it off as a non-issue, or worse they begin to teach extra-biblical, or more to the point, secularized, compromised theories that try to marry certain theories on life’s origin with the Biblical timeline. This forces them to teach Genesis, as well as much of the Old Testament as fable, allegory, and metaphor, but certainly not as real history. Honestly, I am not sure which one is worse. For those of us within the creation ministry, there tends to be common reasoning that drives us to teach in this area. Our goal is to preserve and uphold the authority and integrity of the Word of God. The Word of God is plainly the foundation for all that we do and are. If we reduce God’s Word to a collection of “stories” and “metaphorical moral teachings,” as many denominations and individuals try to do on a regular basis, we also remove the authority of God’s Word in the minds of man.

This slow erosion of the authority of God’s Word has been taking place in the USA for decades and has found mountains of support in recent years. Not only from atheist groups who would love to see every shred of faith removed from our once blessed nation, but also from within the church itself. For instance, ministers like Andy Stanley proclaiming from his own pulpit that the Bible is not the source of our faith (look it up yourself, the video is available on YouTube and it’s not hard to find). Or Pat Robertson, who has said on the air that “you would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to think that the earth is only six thousand years old.” Another big name would be John Piper. He openly supports the anti-biblical group Bio-logos. This organization’s single goal is to help ministers make peace in rejecting the teachings of Genesis in favor of a Darwinian view of origins. The frightening part of this is the number of ministers who have joined without even questioning the paradigm. Not to mention the number of believers who have walked away from the faith because of the willful compromise of those lost shepherds. I cannot even think of the judgment that awaits them.

I am sure that for many people even hearing someone speaking on the topic of Biblical Creation causes an involuntary eye-roll. I understand why, but I would challenge you to ask yourself a straightforward question: have you really looked into it, or are you just believing what someone in a white lab coat has written in a textbook? In my experience most people scoff at anyone who seems to challenge modern science. How dare we be so arrogant. What is so often overlooked is the fact that no one is questioning the science itself. The issue is the interpretation of the data. Science is not a black and white field of study. Those within the field draw conclusions from experimental data. More often than they are willing to admit, the conclusions are framed by their personal worldview. For example, in 2005 a T-Rex bone was found with intact red blood cells, soft tissue, and other biological fragments that simply should not exist in a sample supposedly 69 million years old. When the data was published, the researcher was publicly ridiculed for publishing anything that questioned the age of dinosaurs. After multiple attempts to discredit the findings, an article was published stating that, through some currently unknown process that also violates all known standards of biology, red blood cells and soft tissue can survive in a completely open system for 69 million years. For anyone to say that questioning that decision making paradigm is anti-science is just preposterous. What I have found is that when people actually begin to do the research and learn to think critically, their eyes are opened to the bias within the published scientific community to suppress anything that questions the Darwinian viewpoint. As David Burlinski once said, “you have to question any paradigm that is so violently protected against scrutiny”.

God’s Word tells us that our existence has a purpose: that we are here, on this earth, in this life, intentionally. The Darwinian view wants you to believe that we are nothing more than a cosmic accident. Your life is nothing more than the result of a random chemical spill mixed with time and chance. Your existence has no purpose, no meaning, no future, and above all no value other than what you can produce in the service of society. If you invent something useful or rise to a great place of leadership, you have value. But, if you are just an unborn fetus, you have no value, and are infinitely expendable. The unborn are nothing more than a tax on already limited resources. As Ken Ham has said, “you get rid of spare cats, why not spare kids.

What happens when a nation begins to believe that life is nothing more than chemistry? Existence becomes meaningless and death is without consequence, penalty, or judgment. Death is just the end result of a meaningless, undirected, chemical process of electrical impulse. You get a generation without conscience, without remorse, without a sense of self-worth, and that cares only for its own selfish pursuit of pleasure. If life is all there is, live it up while you can. As for the unborn, they become an inconvenience to the pursuit of happiness. They are the unfortunate side effect of the pursuit of sexual fulfillment. You can have a child if you want, but if you do not feel like you are ready, or change your mind in the middle, and now even at the end of the process, just abort. It’s not like the child was doing anything useful, and according to some in the medical sciences it’s not even a real person, so there is no reason to feel bad. If that makes your skin crawl you should look up the 2013 article from the “Journal of Medical Ethics” titled “After Birth Abortion.” It’s available online and I will place the full text on my FB ministry page, “First Five Ministries.”

The unborn rely on the rest of us to be their voice and protection. A responsibility that, sadly, we have not lived up to. The unborn in our nation have had a consistently diminishing voice for many decades. In the last five years, that voice has thankfully grown louder than ever across our nation. The problem is that our nation’s leadership has grown tired of that voice and now just refuses to listen. The majority have lost their voice and the minority opinion now rules our political system. A nation that has historically valued and protected life has now become a nation that values and protects the wants and desires of the most offended. Nowhere is this more apparent than in New York State’s recent passage S-240, which they are calling a “Women’s Healthcare Act.”

After reading the entire text of the new legislation, it is apparent that opportunity for the pursuit of happiness is being made for every person except the unborn child. Even the term “person” has been redefined in this new law as “A human being who has been born and is alive.” The key term being “who has been born.” If the birthing process is not allowed to conclude, then a child has not been born. Therefore, life has not been terminated because the fetus was not an actual person. The matter of fetal viability is not a factor in this equation. The law is disturbing at many levels, but not surprising. As I have said, when you reduce life to chemistry then life has no real value. As I was reading the law, I noticed a few things that I did find interesting. To become a person one must be born, but the process of birth has not been defined. Traditional birth is an obvious option, but what about a C-section. This is considered a medically assisted birth. In a manner of speaking you are not “born naturally”, a medical professional has to assist. This brings up the question of botched, late-term abortions where the child is actually alive after the abortion attempt. The new law allows for the child to be literally left to die, because that was the original intent of the procedure. Interestingly NYS homicide laws state that medical negligence resulting in the death of a person is murder. This is why the definition of “person” was adjusted for this law. Our state’s legal system has redefined what it is to be a person in order to justify murder by a failed abortion procedure and medical neglect. A procedure that no longer needs to be carried out by a licensed medical doctor.

The disturbing part of this is not that it happened in NY. Anyone who thought Cuomo would act in a moral, ethical, or in any way resembling the faith he claims to have, is fooling themselves. The part that bewilders me is the response I am seeing from around the state: anger and frustration from one side of the state to the other. I am sure that rallies and protests will come up to show our disapproval of this legal travesty and, in the end, they will accomplish nothing. People’s frustration will eventually fade and this law, just like many others, will become a regular part of life. I am always saddened by our willingness to protest what has already been done without giving a second thought to how we got here in the first place. How did we get to a place where life no longer has value? How did we get to a place where sex is viewed as a simple physical transaction? How did we get to a place where sexual fidelity has become a prison and immorality has become a personal freedom? How did we go from being a nation that cared about the sanctity of life, to becoming a nation that can turn a blind eye to the over 1 billion global abortions since 1980 alone? The answer is surprisingly simple. It begins in every public school in our nation around 5th grade. This is when your child begins to be taught that life is an accident. Taught that they are nothing more than complicated pond scum, the result of random chance. Taught that their life does not, and could not, have meaning or purpose. In a world where we allow our future generations to be taught a doctrine of hopelessness for 12 of the first 18 years of their life, what more should we expect? How can we be surprised by the immorality of our world and not examine how we got here in the first place.

When I read God’s word I see a loving Creator who has taken great steps to lead, guide, preserve, and restore the creation to the creator. I see purpose in life and hope in death. I see value in every breath, and every life, born or unborn. I see a forgiving God who valued my life so much that He willingly stepped out of heaven to become a man, live and teach us His truth, then die for the sins of His creation. I see a God who did all this when He could have easily just started over with a word. He didn’t have to go through all that He did, but he did. The reason is that He values life. All life. Even the life of those whose moral and ethical bankruptcy lead them to draft this unbelievable legislation. May God one day open their eyes to the damage they have done, and may they find and receive the forgiveness and renewal of spirit that they so desperately need.
 
George Gray
21/24/19


Fasting

“Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” -John 12:25-26.

 

The new year is fast approaching and once again begins another time to look back and reflect and forward focus. In preparing myself mentally and spiritually for our upcoming fasting season, I found some encouragement for my soul in the above verse and figured it would be a good one to share for a devotional to help others who may be feeling the same way this time of year. I’ll allow myself to be a bit vulnerable and share that though I’m planning on fasting, I’m fearful because it will be a struggle for me. I am going to be facing some suffering and trying times. But, just the very fact that I’m fearful about it tells me I absolutely MUST lay my vice down and trade it in for my Savior. I have to do some rearranging, prepping, reprioritizing, praying. It’s not an easy thing. And…it shouldn’t befriends. If we aren’t willing to give God the hard things (whatever that may look like for you), then what are we really giving up? What are we really gaining? If it’s not easy then that tells me it’s RIGHT! I want to commit wholeheartedly and fear is a dead giveaway that I’ve become much too comfortable in this area and big time change needs to occur. Fear is likely to ensue when any type of change is on the horizon, but I do not have to partner with it and let it control me. Boy that’s easy to say when I’m still in the prepping mode. But once that first day of fasting comes, well, that’s where I’ll see just how strong my reliance on Christ really is, and it’s proven to need some work in the past. The good news is, it’s not in my strength, but His and I don’t have to go searching for some supernatural powers or strength to get me through. I already possess that as a child of God. His resources are always full and able to help me endure in my weakest of moments just by saying His name, “JESUS”!

 

It’s evident in John 12:25-26 that Jesus is basically telling us we have a choice. Do what you want, but here’s your options. You either follow me or you don’t. What you chose will have eternal consequences or eternal rewards and if you chose the right one, it will definitely be a good thing for you but not only that, I will be with you when you say “YES” to me! By knowing Jesus’ character and His immense love for us, we don’t have to even wonder which one He’d have us choose. That’s already clear all throughout His word. Without a doubt, He’d say, “Choose to follow me!” Actually, He DOES say that over and over and over again all throughout scripture. I’d bet, even if we choose not to follow a rigid New Year’s resolution, some, if not all of us will at least ponder where, how, and/or what we can do or change in our lives to better ourselves even if we don’t follow through with it. It’s simple human nature isn’t it, to naturally assess where we are in life at the beginning of the year? When we pull back the dusty cover that has shadowed those hard areas of our lives for far too long, when the light comes in and we see all the dust spiraling in the air and floating to settle on the ground we are awakened to the fact that it’s time for change to ensue, much past time for some of us. Don’t cover that area back up because you feel fear creeping in and it looks too daunting of a task to you. Don’t let it sit one more year. Allow God to uncover you in that hard area you’ve been pondering giving to Him. He will restore it, He will make it shine and your testimony from it will help others uncover their hard areas too as He beautifully and carefully weaves you into newness.  

 

What do you hear God speaking to you in this season? Are you even letting Him speak to you? Or are you trying to block it out because maybe you feel like you’ve just stepped out of a year that was filled with way too much change already? The out of control type of change, change that you would have never asked or hoped for, not the good kind of change but the life altering, take your breath away, “I’ll never be the same” kind of change. The thought of even considering making an intentional on purpose change stresses you out to no end because you’re still processing it all from the past year. It overwhelms you as you realize with the ringing in of 2019 that nothing is going to go away, it could possibly get worse before it gets any better. Maybe the thought of facing a New Year makes you want to curl under a rock and wait until after everyone else has fallen off their wagons before you come out. So, what…a couple weeks you should be good right? That’s completely understandable, not just to me but especially to Jesus. Think about all the changes He went through. Whether it was leaving His spiritual body in Heaven to come to Earth in human form, or coming to be a loving and kind teacher and servant but then tossed and whipped and treated like a criminal just to die at the hands of those He was there to save. Now if that’s not change, I don’t know what is. Sure, He had the upper hand, He knew about it before it happened, but knowing of the immense suffering He’d face, HE STILL CHOSE IT!!!! He chose the awful, ugly and painful so that we, as we sit here today, can freely chose to not chose him at all…if we wish.

 

Jesus said YES! He said I will take the cup, I will do my Father’s will. John 12:27-28 clearly explains that there is purpose for which He came, and there is purpose for us too. The ultimate purpose being to glorify our Father in Heaven and when we decide to not pursue Him and allow ourselves to miss an opportunity to sacrifice our worldly pleasures in exchange for His tremendous blessings then we aren’t just hurting ourselves but we are hurting the purpose of God within us. We are suffocating the fire of the Holy Spirit as we let that dusty cover lay. It can be scary, difficult, daunting, but He understands! Jesus’ humanness showed in asking His Father to save Him from His coming torment, but ultimately He knew He HAD to go through with His ordained suffering and He so loving and willfully did. What love!  As Christians, most of us are aware some way or another that we need to either spend more time with God, change how we spend time with God and/or allow God control in areas where we ourselves have held the reigns for much too long. And most certainly, when we choose to join forces with Him we are aware that the path it takes us down could possibly bring us to a season of suffering. That’s where fear can come in, as I allow myself to suffer at the feet of Jesus by laying down what my flesh wants so badly to hang on to. But we must remind ourselves that fear is a liar! Fear knows and sees the greatness that lies on the other side of our suffering or struggle. It’s a deterrent to keep us from stepping out in faith and if we could see it too, we’d laugh hysterically in the face of fear. Know that it is there and laugh your way through! Recognize fear as a deterrent and step right over it. Are you prepared to say YES to the change, just as Jesus did, in spite of knowing that His will will almost always takes you down a path of pruning that will leave you feeling vulnerable? Exposed? Uncertain in the season? As Christians, we know we will face suffering and struggle, it’s just a matter of time. They hated Him, so they will hate us too. They persecuted Him so they will persecute us too. He was alienated, so too will we be. Let me encourage you though, as I’ve had to encourage myself, that in preparing for a fasting season, we must remember Romans 8:17…”if we share in Christ’s suffering, we will also share His glory.” That verse alone makes the unknown future worth it all, does it not?

 

The key take away I’d like you to get from this though is not that fasting equals suffering, but instead that the suffering we allow ourselves to go through for the glory of God will push us into new levels of faith and blessings with our Heavenly Father, and you shouldn’t let fear keep you fenced out from that. When we intentionally choose Him this New Year, whether it be for the first time ever, or whether it be in a more intimate and rightly prioritized setting, we aren’t being pushed off a cliff to do so. No! We are actually being gently coaxed by Our Heavenly Father. His hand is out stretched just waiting for you to grab hold. Even right now as you read this, and you’ve been questioning or pondering if you should consider just doing it. Maybe you’ve never fasted before, maybe you are unsure of what it will mean for you specifically. He wants to take your hand and help you along, He wants to take what you have to put down so you can you can freely follow Him. We can’t do that with baggage stored under dusty covers. Trade your hard stuff, your yucky stuff, that thing or those things that are choking the lifeblood out of you for the treasures He has stored up for you. Ask yourself what that looks like in your life? Choose to not partner with fear and don’t let fasting become “just a good idea” with no effort to follow through. I encourage you while there’s still time to pray and prepare to consider dying to self this new year. We cannot possibly imagine what’s on the horizon for us when we make that decision. Things so great we can’t even fathom! And don’t fall for the lie that you have nothing to trade in. It will keep you from much excitement and blessing!

 

May His grace and peace be with each of us as we make conscious and prayerful efforts to fight the good fight of faith!

 

By. Leah Parkin

December 28, 2018



Be Prepared

“Be on guard! Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going on a journey, he leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone, watch!” -Mark 13:33-37

 

As I was driving into work this morning I noticed that the winter plow crew put up their snow stakes along the road and parking lot entrance. I remember when we first moved here, four short (or long depending on how I look at it) years ago and seeing the stakes along the road. We arrived to the North Country right at the beginning of winter, and apparently, according to all you local yocals, it was a pretty rough winter that year, 2014. We had LOTS of snow in the first part of November, keeping the kids out of school for, I think a week or more. I remembered looking at how tall those snow stakes were, with their orange spray painted tips. I wondered if the snow really got that high…it was just a few short weeks before I realized, yep, it sure did. What a winter wonderland we live in!

 

My family has lived in a lot of snowy, wintery places over the years, Alaska, Colorado, Germany…but until we got here, we were never forewarned to “be ready” like we were when we arrived that snowy November. Specifically, we were told no later than October 1st. “You better be ready by then or you may be sorry”. A laundry list of chores came with prepping for the approaching season, which is not news to any of you. I’d never seen so many well-seasoned professionals until we got here. We’d never had a wood stove before so having to buy wood, split it, stack it and eventually haul it to the basement was all new to us. I prided myself in being the newest frontier woman, the Laura Ingalls of the North Country. Hahaha! Yea, that excitement lasted a whole month, if that. The usual routine, as you know, every year is to tighten everything down, store all your equipment, put away the patio furniture and flower pots, pull out your A/C units, clean out the chimney, get the shovels and salt out and have them handy, winterize your vehicles and snow blower. I never knew winter would be so much work…until it was. As children, we looked forward to the joys of building snow men and sledding then coming in for hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. Now, winter doesn’t seem so fun and it seems much colder than I ever remember, and windy. Playing outside is a distant memory, now I do just as the bible verse suggests, I keep watch, wondering if we should believe the weathermen or not. It’s sad really, to think how the innocent and carefree attitude of our childhood passes away just as quickly as Old Man Winter moves in and steals away our gorgeous, yet short Spring, Summer and Fall.

 

We spend SOOO much time talking and thinking and prepping and planning to get ready for the coming season change. And we have a pretty good idea of a round about time when it’s coming. We set our clocks by the seasons, there’s never any question as to when winter is coming and usually we are always forewarned ahead of time by the cold breeze or rain that creeps in and takes all the beautiful leaves with it. It’s a pretty consistent timeframe (give or take a few weeks depending on the year I’ve learned) that you can drive down the road and see smoke bellowing from every chimney, imagining families warm and cozy inside, hunkered down as the first snow starts to fall. It becomes eerily quiet outside the heavier it falls and the deeper it gets. Boots, coats, gloves, hats all pulled from the closet and ready to put on at a moment’s notice. The first sign of a chill in the air we are locking windows and cranking the furnace.

 

What came to mind as I drove into work this morning was something we’ve probably all considered at some point in our lives. But what if we spent as much time prepping for the return of our Lord as we did to get ready for winter, or anything else that we invest much time and effort into for that matter? What would it look like if we stayed within the boundaries (like the plow trucks have with the stakes) that God has given us in His word to keep ourselves on the road less traveled. We have all the instructions we need for preparing right at our fingertips. We don’t have to go shopping for anything, He’s given us everything we need to “be ready”.

 

The Bible tells us that not one knows, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son knows when He will return, only the Father knows. We have a pretty exact time frame for winter’s approach every single year, it’s not typically a surprise. Even though the Bible tells us that we will begin to see certain things happening in the last days and lays out a list of things that will take place before His return, we still are unsure of the exact day and time. So we should be living expectantly towards our Savior’s return but not in a dreaded sense like most of us do (I won’t say all of us because I know there are many people who aren’t bothered or even look forward to it with joy filled hearts) with the gloom and doom approach of winter. No! We should have a joyous outlook for what’s to come when He arrives. I know I do not want to be left unprepared, but if I’m being honest, there are days that I live as though I am, taking the passing days for granted. Let’s not wallow in shame and pity, but instead put on the Armor, step into the race, and be on guard! Just as a child watches so diligently out the window for the first snowflake to fall so they can run outside to enjoy it, we too, child and adult alike should be ever so watchful and joy filled for His return. It’s certainly those who are ready that will find joy and excitement in that day, those who are not will remember the above verse and wish they’d prepared as well as they did for the coming winters. Will you be left out in the cold unprepared or will you be joined up in the clouds, warmed by the glory of His light and love?

 

If Jesus came back for us today…would you feel confident that you’ve forgiven those you need to forgive? Would you have done well investing more in people than in purchases or wasted idols? Would you have asked for forgiveness where you need to? Would you be caught on a slippery slope spiraling downward, possibly taking others with you who didn’t even know they should be preparing? Or would you have already shoveled and salted the walkway so you don’t fall as you step, ensuring others that walk with you don’t fall either?

 

Blessings as we prep for both winter and the much awaited sound of trumpets!

 

Leah Parkin

Oct 30, 2018

 



The Sweeper

The Sweeper

 

God gave me a vision as clear as day while I was sitting at my desk reading His word today. I think in sharing it, it will help you see too just how passionate He is for us to reach our ultimate glory goal, to meet The Mark. He brought to my mind, an Olympic curling team. “Odd”, I had thought, but He knows me best and it was an excellent visual to help me understand how much He truly cares that I do this life well. He has me in a season of preparation I believe. For what, I’m not sure just yet but…that shouldn’t matter. I’m choosing to trust Him through it and in the meantime allow Him to show me things in my simple minded ability to understand.

 

The interesting thing about the sport of curling is that if you read the description through spiritual lenses you can see just why God showed me this sport specifically. I had to do some research because, though I had a general idea of what curling was, I knew there must be a reason for the very specific sport He brought to mind. His amazing love for me/us is overwhelming!

 

The key components in the sport are the stone, the brush used by a sweeper, the delivery stick, a playing field called the sheet, and a goal called the house. The ultimate goal of the game is to get the stone down the sheet and to land in the house as accurately and as smoothly as possible. The sheet is covered with drops of water that cause the stones to deviate from a straight path. In curling, the universal rules are explained that an intentional push of the stone is made by the delivery stick and the desired direction the stone travels is to wherever the person holding the stick decides to push it. Silly us! Are we ever really in control? The brush is used by the Sweeper (or Jesus in my vision) to diligently sweep in front of the stone to smooth the traveling surface and this job is described as CRITICAL. Sweeping changes the path of the stone after it’s thrown down the sheet. As the sweeper works fervently to do his/her job, the ice warms and melts and friction is reduced, which hinders the stone from deviating from the desired path and in turn allows it to move straighter… towards the final mark…where it counts, where all the hard work performed ahead of arriving at the mark is finally justified and clear. The Sweeper needs to be skilled and have an accurate knowledge of whether or not it’s the right time to sweep as that intuitive action will lay the terrain of the foundation upon which the stone travels to it’s final destination.

 

Have you ever watched an Olympic curling game? The Sweeper is in a deadlocked, hyper focus, not on the mark at the end, but on the stone that he/she’s leading down the sheet. The face of the sweeper is so intense as you can see their only and immediate goal is to help that stone land on the mark, not just before the mark, not beyond the mark, but dead center. That’s where the most points come from. That’s how you win the game. The stone would never make it to the mark without the Sweeper. See, God doesn’t need to keep His eye on the mark, He’s already been there, He put it there and He knows how to get us there without even focusing on it. It’s not the mark that will move, stray, hide, or run away. The mark will always be where he set it from the very beginning. It’s immovable just as His love for us is. Instead, His focus stays on us and how to best get us to the goal.

 

If it’s left up to the stone to try and navigate the playing field without the Sweeper, it would keep getting stuck on the ice that formed in front of it. With intense sweeping, the ice is melted and those jagged edges are smoothed away. Our God is a mountain mover! He never stops working on our behalf! The stone would go too far left or too far right or it might completely stop and not be able to move again without the help of the Sweeper. Our God goes before us on our journey, confident of the mark and how to get us there, and as we keep our eyes on Him, He’s keeping His eyes ALWAYS on us. We may detour (we will at times), but He stays one step ahead of us, sweeping, sweeping, sweeping to make our paths straight, getting us to the House in His perfect timing. Now, that’s not to say that our Christian walks will be trouble free but it does mean that we can be confident that as long as the Sweeper is there and we are working together with Him as a team that we will always meet the mark, reach the House. The mark may seem far away right now, but none of us really know how far our marks are. It’s those daily choices that, if we stay on His team, eventually will have us dead center when we draw our last breath, even if we are struggling on a daily basis to get there right now. Isn’t that exciting? Reassuring? Hope filled stuff folks!

 

Team is a keyword here. We are a team with Jesus. It’s not just Him over there and us over here. No. We are wearing the same color, Crimson. We are striving for the same goal, we are not opponents unless we decide ourselves to stop being part of His team and go play against Him. What a perfect example of sportsman like behavior He is though, am I right? Because even when we do chose to leave His team, He is still willing to take us back when we realize the error of our ways, that we left the winning team. He never left. We did/do. He didn’t say, “eh, forget her! She did me wrong. I’m done”, and then stomp off the ice throwing his equipment. Nope. He just patiently waits, never dropping the brush (the most important piece of equipment in the game of curling). He’s still sweeping, working on the path to keep it clean for us. He is interceding to the Father for us on our behalf while we are out there acting a fool. Putting walls of grace and mercy up so we are bumping into Him everywhere we go. He is sending help and angels to go and protect us while we are making efforts to score for the other team. Why? Because He sees what we’d be missing out on and He hates the idea of not getting to celebrate the victory with us.

 

He wants so badly for us to reach the goal that’s set before us. So much so that He’s willing to go before us and prepare the way. It’s not a guessing game. He’s prepared a room for us in His House. The path has been set, the destination is there in the future and we have the instruction booklet, the GPS, the Sweeper and His Helper to guide us there. It’s not as if we have to be wandering around in the dark unsure if we will ever actually reach some uncertain place. NO! It’s certainly there. And the exciting part is there’s potential and blessing in pursuing His path. A goal to be achieved gives us purpose in the act of achieving it. If we didn’t know what we were working towards or weren’t even sure if there was anything out there to work towards then we’d feel hopeless, (imagining all those who don’t know Him, we have a lot of work to do brothers and sisters) but in God we are given an unmeasurable amount of hope because we already know that there is so much more out there than we could ever imagine on the other side of this earthly journey. God is not just waiting at the end for us, He’s also running right next to us, bringing us cups of water, walking with us when we can’t run, carrying us when we can’t walk, pushing us from behind as our rear guard and He’s even on the sidelines shouting, “You’ve got this!” “Keep going!” “Don’t give up!” “You’re almost there!” “I know you’re tired!” “I know it hurts!” “ I know you think you can’t go any further, endure anymore disappointment and pain, I know! You will overcome because I am IN you! All that I have is yours and there’s so much more you can’t even see or begin to imagine if you would just…keep…going!”

 

How about you? Would you allow God to come in and sweep you off your feet? Would you allow Jesus to invade your space and sweep away all the cobwebs?  It’s up to you, He won’t force himself upon you, but He’s always there waiting to guide you to your eternal Home, His house. Join His team, get off the bench and get in the game. Your sheet is full of faith building opportunities, let Him help you make the mark. We can’t do it without the Sweeper! 😉

 

Leah Parkin

Nov 9, 2018



Peace

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

 

Do you ever feel like you’re walking along in life, doing what you are supposed to be doing, or at least you think so anyway, and yet you wonder why you aren’t receiving any confirmation from God that you are on the right path? I’m reminded specifically of my Statistics class in college on test day. I was struggling on a particularly difficult problem on my midterm. I was pretty sure I knew how to start figuring out the answer but if only the teacher could just give me a nod, a wink, just pass by and give me an indiscrete thumbs up, you know, something to reassure me that I was at least on the right track. Boy, I’d sure have felt a lot better about the direction I was going. If I didn’t start this problem off on the right step, I could have went in a whole different direction and came up with an entirely different answer that wouldn’t have been accurate. It may have looked good, but sure wouldn’t have landed me where I was supposed to be. But, on test day the Professor was silent. No winks, nods or thumbs up. Just silence. Sitting behind his desk trusting we’d all make him proud as he’d been teaching us this stuff all semester. Darn! Why hadn’t I paid more attention? Why can’t we have more than just an index card for notes? I couldn’t even read my tiny handwriting as I tried to write the entire chapter on my 3×5 index card. I had to pass this test, it carried so much weight for my overall grade and it was a prereq for my next semester course. Talk about pressure. But…we were calmly reminded by Professor Randall before we began our exam that everything we needed to pass this test had already been given to us. He set the timer and said, “begin.” All the math nerds got right to work and were on page two while I was still biting my nails trying to figure if he wanted us to write first name, last name or last name, first name. I finally start and it isn’t so bad until I realize I forgot to write the rules for figuring out the margin of error for standard deviation on my index card at which point the only statistics I was sure about was that there’s 100% chance I’m not going to get this answer right. But…a week later, and after scanning over all the red marks, I found out I actually passed with a 92%. So I didn’t get every question right but…I still hit the mark.

 

Isn’t that just how life is? We enter into a season of testing from God and all of a sudden when we need Him to be clear for us, when we so badly want Him to speak, He’s silent and we can’t get the answers from other people. But, just like my math Professor, God hasn’t left the room. Infact, He’s watching us with much intent. He’s set a timer and in His perfect timing our test will end. It won’t last forever, He promises that to us! So, are we going to do well and pass the test, acting and relying on all He’s already taught us, reading His love notes to us to keep us on track when we feel like we don’t know the next step? Or…are we going to throw our pencils down and say we can’t do it and give up? The thing with that is…the timer can’t be reset. It’s still ticking and your test is either going to come again because you refused to take it and take it well, or your time is going to be up and you’ll have missed the opportunity to take it at all. There aren’t always redo’s in life. Sometimes, but not always.  I’m eternally grateful for those times when God has given me a second chance at my screw ups but it makes my heart very sad to think of all the time I’ve let pass where I just chose not to perform or I performed very badly. You see, it’s in the quiet moments of our relationship with God where we really get an opportunity to rely on Him in faith. As Christians we are called to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, He already knows we aren’t. All He asks is that we at least follow Him into the storm. Step out of your comfort zone. Maybe you can’t hear Him, maybe you can’t see Him but you know He goes before you. His hand reaches out behind Him, like a mother as she reaches back for her child to grab hold so she can be sure he’s there as they walk through a crowd. He’s prepared you for such a time as this. Be confident in Him. You can’t fail with Him on your side. You’ve been warned that a test will come, we all will have them but you will never miss the mark if you’ve been listening to your Teacher before the test even began.

 

Whatever you are facing right now, as you read this, know that you’ve been given a test because there is greatness to be revealed in you that will only come from your trials. You aren’t called mediocre, you aren’t called a failure, you are called a child of the Most High King. To Him, you are an A+.

 

Leah Parkin

October 17, 2018



World View Pt 2 – Meaning and Purpose

Worldview Conflicts: Question #2 – Does My Life Have Meaning?

    Question Number 2 is not just a fascinating discussion topic it is a very clarifying question for all those who would call themselves believers. To address the issue, we have to clarify what we mean by “meaning.” Are we talking about lasting value in the lives of others, significant contributions to society, or are we merely wondering how quickly we will be forgotten when our life comes to an end? 

    Now, if you think back to our last post I asked the question: can a random cosmic accident ever have true meaning or purpose? The answer to this is a bit more complicated than a simple no, but no is the correct answer. The slightly longer answer is that from an evolutionary viewpoint life can have no true, lasting, meaning outside of its permanent societal benefits. So, if you haven’t done anything significant, then you haven’t really done anything other than use up resources that could have probably been put to better use. This is the plainly stated view of many Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc.  These are the same men who believe that unborn children who have genetic issues like Downs Syndrome should be aborted in order to maintain societal resources for the productive and useful. In their minds, meaning and purpose are directly tied to your ability to validate the number of resources you consume. This is a sad, but growing viewpoint in our world.

    Throughout my life, I have met many people from all walks of life, as most of us have. I have never met anyone who desires insignificant, meaningless, existence. I suppose that people like this do exist somewhere. My prayer for them is that they meet the risen savior and find their true purpose through Him. That being said, the vast majority of people want to know that their existence has some kind of meaning or purpose. The knowledge that their life has something more to it than existence, fear, pain, and death. 

    If we were to explore the conventional definitions of meaning and purpose we would find the following: 

Meaning: 

noun

– what is meant by a word, text, concept, or action

– implied or explicit significance

    – important or worthwhile quality; purpose

adjective [attributive]

– intended to communicate something that is not directly expressed

Purpose:

noun

– the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists

– a person’s sense of resolve or determination

– a particular requirement or consideration, typically one that is temporary or restricted in scope or extent

verb [with object] formal

– have as one’s intention or objective: God has allowed suffering, even purposed it.

I hope you will agree with me that these definitions are not much help when it comes to finding purpose and meaning in life. However, if we pay attention, they do direct us toward the answer. Notice some of their defining terms: meant, implied, intended – reason, created, requirement, objective. These are all terms that demand an external source from which true meaning and purpose in our existence are derived. This would imply an outside entity. This same entity is responsible for our existence. This entity would naturally be outside of our influence or control, and only through communion with this entity that the true meaning and purpose of our existence can be discovered. This is the foundational premise of Christianity. That is it only through a relationship with our creator that we find out why we are really here. More on that in another post. 

    Obviously, there will be those who deny this premise, and that is their prerogative. However, those who do will need to answer a few questions. The first is from which of the few remaining sources do they find meaning and purpose. If you are going to rest on the idea of life as a cosmic accident, then you only have two options. Do meaning and purpose come from societal approval or is it self-determination?

    If self-determination is the actual source of our meaning and purpose, then we have to deal with the standards, or morals, by which we judge a person’s actions. We will cover this in more detail in the next post. For now, consider what that would mean to history alone. If we go the route of self-determination then we have to acknowledge that men such as Hitler, Mao Tis Tung, Stalin, and Pol Pot, who together are responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people through the 20th century, were successful men who lived their life in full pursuit of self-determined meaning and purpose. Methods aside, they mostly accomplished what they set out to do, even though history chooses to remember them as cruel and horrible men. In a twisted way, you could also make the argument that they gave their lives for their causes. So, who are we to judge them so harshly. What about Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. Today she is heralded as a hero of women reproductive rights. History has chosen to lift her up as an example of greatness and courage. However, if you look into her own past, her reasons for starting an organization that has ended the life of more unborn children than every casualty, of every war in recorded history combined, you find a disturbing and often overlooked truth. Her goal was to provide a place where the races she determined to be unwanted, undesired, and unworthy to reproduce could be sterilized or reduced in population to a point where they could be controlled through the science of eugenics. Should we view her life as one of significant and lasting value just because she was able to bring her self-determined purpose into reality? History judged those men as tyrants because of the deaths they caused, yet holds her up as a hero in spite of the deaths she caused. If we went by numbers alone, those tyrants don’t hold a candle to Margaret Sanger. So apparently the self-determination path is not a valid one.

    If we allow ourselves to find meaning and purpose in society, then we must also agree that society as a whole must agree with and value our contribution. If what we do, or provide, is not agreed with or valued by society than our life was nothing more than a sad string of failures, and then we died. If that was not depressing enough, fear not, it gets better. The efforts and contributions that one segment of society sees as valuable can be viewed as harmful by a different segment of society. So, you can spend your entire life in service to one group of people only to find out that all the other groups couldn’t care less that you are even alive. Not to mention that what is valued in one generation may be vilified in the next. You could be loved and hated in a single lifetime. Does that mean that your life can have meaning while being meaningless? So, which segment of society do we follow, and from which segment do we allow our meaning and purpose to come from? The reality is that we will always support the segment of society that we most closely align with. This means that we are back to self-determination, and we already know that it does not work.        

    True, lasting, meaning and purpose is found in only one place. In a relationship with our creator, and savior. If you came from nothing, then your life will never really mean anything. But, if we are the result of a loving creator, then that creator had a purpose in our creation. As we draw near to Him, learn about and follow His word, we will not only find our true meaning and purpose. We will find salvation for our souls, forgiveness for our sins, and eternal life. Why would I pursue anything else?



Worldview Conflicts

Part Four: Worldview Conflicts

    Okay, so maybe my last post was a bit of a rant, but… it was a good rant…:0) Today I want to take a look at the topic I was supposed to look at in the last post before my frustrated mind found to how to control my fingers. How many in the scientific community believe that censoring, shunning, and intimidating those who promote ID or special Creation and their work, is in the best interest of scientific development. Many even believe that it is the only way to protect children from being indoctrinated by the religious superstitions of their parents. Bill Nye has actually as far as to say that teaching anything other than Darwinian evolution was a form of child abuse. A bit harsh to say the least. 

    The question that I want to address, over the next few posts, is not a technical one. There would be no practical way to direct all of the various arguments between the two opposing views in all the areas of scientific study in a single blog post. At least not one that anyone would actually read. The question that I want to examine is one of worldview. Most people spend little to no time ever considering their worldview or the impact it has on their thinking. However, understanding our worldview is foundational to the process of Biblical Apologetics, and essential to the process of ministering the Gospel in our present world. A person’s worldview is derived from four, fundamental, questions. At some point, like it or not, everyone answers these four questions. The hard part is making sure that your answers do not contradict the others. Sadly, this is all too common, even within the church. The four questions are as follows: 1 – Where do I come from? The question of Origin. 2 – Does my life have meaning? The question of purpose. 3 – How do I know right from wrong? The question of morality. 4 – What happens when I die? The question of destiny. So, Origin, purpose, destiny, and morality. Four topics that shape our worldview, and inevitably shape our lives, both mentally and physically.

    They seem simple enough. Maybe even too simple. However, once you begin to examine your answers, the challenges start to arise. Let’s take a look at the first of the four, the question of origin.

    This question, in my opinion, is the most important of the four. When we are contemplating the question “where did I come from?” there are only two possible answers. On one side of the aisle is the claim that you are the result of a random, meaningless, purposeless, cosmic accident. On the other side of the aisle, you are the result of intentional, purposeful, design. You will find people on both the ID – Creation side, as well as the Darwinian side of this debate who try to marry the two together with concepts like theistic evolution, the gap theory, etc. These ideas may be interesting to some, but they quickly fall apart as they fail to answer the real question. Is our existence the result of an accident, or intent. 

    For some people, this is not an issue that they take seriously, and from many pulpits, it is taught as a non-issue. Something that Christian should just not worry about because it is not a “Salvation Issue.” To be clear, they are correct. Our salvation and the forgiveness of sin is not based on our view of creation or evolution. It is based solely on faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That being said, where do we get the idea that Jesus is our Lord and Savior? We get it from the Bible, and we trust in the authority of scripture. That it is the true word of God. That it has been gifted to us by God, through the spirit of God working through the hands of His servants and prophets. The first five words of this great gift are “In The Beginning God Created.” We take our need for a savior seriously because the authority of scripture compels us to do so. How can we say on one side that the Bible should be believed and trusted in all things, for the eternal salvation of your soul, while simultaneously saying that the accounts in Genesis, as well as anytime anyone else the idea that God created, are wrong? How do we explain the need for a savior to restore the connection between creator and creation for a sin that, according to some, never really happened? In short, why would we trust our eternity to a book that starts out with a lie? 

    This is the main reason why the atheist community works so hard to keep ID – Creation science out of the classroom. It makes no difference to them if the science is sound or the quality of the research. Getting people to deny the authority of the Bible is the goal, not scientific advancement. When kids, plugin along in public school, are continually told one story of how life began; eventually they will start to question the authority of Gods word. That may seem oversimplified, but global statistics show it to be frighteningly accurate. 

    In the next post we will examine question 2 – Does my life have meaning? In the meantime I would ask you to consider this: Can a random, cosmic, accident ever have true meaning or purpose?



Come Alive

The Valley of Dry Bones- Ezekial 37:1

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and He brought me out by His Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.  2 He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry.  3 Then He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I replied, “Lord God, only You know.”

4 He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  5 This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live.  6 I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.”

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  8 As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.  9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath,[a] prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!”  10 So I prophesied as He commanded me; the breath[b] entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.

11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’  12 Therefore, prophesy and say to them: This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, My people, and lead you into the land of Israel.  13 You will know that I am Yahweh, My people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.  14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am Yahweh. I have spoken, and I will do it.” This is the declaration of the Lord.

I really couldn’t just share part of this passage. In my opinion, the entire passage is important. One that I know well but haven’t read in quite some time. I was flipping through the Bible looking for something…anything to encourage my soul as I have recently found myself in a “valley of dry bones”. After some studying on this passage I learned that this part of scripture not only represents God’s promise to bring Israel out of their wilderness and to the Promise Land but this vision of Ezekiel’s also represents God’s Spirit coming to live inside each one of His believers to bring us back to spiritual life. The reason I say “back to” is because God had already breathed life into Adam when he created him, but then he died spiritually through sin so he needed a new life, spiritual life. The valley of dry bones depicts war torn people. An Army after battle. Not able to bring themselves back to life but by the power of God’s Spirit or “breath” one can live again. It’s a foreshadowing to our spiritual resurrection.

Have you ever felt as though you’ve lost your spiritual breath? Maybe you are going through a season right now that has you trying to catch it but you can’t seem to because it’s one thing after another that keeps coming at you. Maybe you’re in a season where the struggle is behind you yet you’re still laying on the ground trying to catch your breath. 

Personally, I’ve been in need of a spiritual resurrection for awhile. I’m not saying Jesus’ death wasn’t enough for me or that I don’t believe that His dying and raising three days later wasn’t real. No. What I mean by this, and maybe you can relate, is that my spirit has been parched and needs new Life and Breath. Spiritually I’ve felt lifeless and honestly, I know it’s for no other reason than simply having allowed myself to get to a place of such comfort that I’ve become complacent in my walk with the Lord. Link by link I’ve allowed myself to become bound. 😉 There’s no rocky boat in a weathering storm, no dark places of uncertainty, not even a crisis, just pure laziness because life is just going along with no hiccups or road bumps. My uneventful, mundane routine has ensnared me into what I describe as being caught in a fish net. My own wilderness. I’ve left myself unprepared. No Sword to slice my way through. Oh, the Sword is there, it’s always there. Stored up in my heart and mind, next to my bedside, even on my phone that I chose to spend more time on. Yikes! Wonder why I’m feeling parched? So, I just lay lifeless in the net. My spirit has been whispering to me for awhile now. Wake UP. WAKE up. WAKE UP!!! I’m not naïve to think seasons of trials will never come and I know I’m certainly not exempt from trials, but if I don’t get up and DO something I will find myself unprepared to fight. I’ve needed some encouragement for my soul and anything I’ve tried to do on my own wasn’t working. Have you been there?

Maybe someone around you might need encouragement. Would you know it if they did? Maybe they are just “playing church” on Sunday’s like Pastor George said in his sermon. It’s hard to tell from the outside. The person sitting right next to you in the pew may need you to speak life into them because they have gotten beyond the point of being able to help themselves. Maybe it’s why they came to church, OUR church, because they’ve heard we have a body of encouragers and they thought maybe they’d get that when they came. We all need help at one time or another in our spiritual walks.

Could God have just as easily spoke the word, snapped his fingers, waved his hand or simply breathed into these dry bones himself to bring life to them? OF COURSE!  But He didn’t. He chose to command a mortal man, Ezekiel, to prophesy to them instead. An opportunity to obey. A work to do, that can’t be done right without Him. A glorification of God’s mighty work through an act of obedience. He uses us, His believers, to get to be part of the greater plan. That’s exciting! 

To me, the most important part of this passage is in verse 11 where it says, “this is what the Lord God says”. You see, faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. If we do not allow ourselves to soak in His word then how will we be brought back to life from this valley? No drug, no food, no drink, no entertainment, no person can bring us the lifeblood that our spirits need to truly LIVE. Nothing other than the word of God. This passage also portrays a beautiful picture of speaking life into situations or people where there is none. So let me encourage you friend, to speak life into others, especially if you feel dead yourself, it will pulsate through your own spirit and begin to awaken you.

I was encouraged at work this week by a verse a gentleman spoke while sitting in my office, Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before thee and make the crooked path straight.” I felt a heartbeat again. God sent him. There was no doubt in my mind as it’s not often in a secular workplace people walk in your office, sit down and start speaking the Word. Thank you Jesus! He loves us and knows our needs. He cares enough to keep breathing for us when we can’t breathe on our own.

If you find yourself living in a valley of dry bones right now, or know someone who is, whether it be self-inflicted or God ordained, whether it be smooth sailing or stormy seas, know and remember that we serve a mighty, LIFE breathing and giving God who wants to bring you up from the grave. If your hope has perished, if your strength is gone and you can’t even breath in anymore…it’s ok because He will breath into you, if you allow Him. Word by word, breath by breath soak His Life into your tired, weary, complacent, soul. He’s the strength in our weakness, the joy in our trials. None other than Him!

And maybe, just maybe that fishnet you feel trapped in is actually Him trying to pull you up into the boat so He can set you free. Your struggle may be your protection. He’s stronger than our enemy and will get us to the boat but we have to let Him. Otherwise, our adversary wants to cut us loose after we’ve lost all our air and leave us lifeless floating on the top. Be encouraged friend in these trials of life. There’s still life and purpose in you. Allow someone to speak life into you and rise to life again! You are not alone. 

By. Leah Parkin, Aug 2018



Part Three: A truth we often overlook

Part Three: A Truth We Often Overlook

    Over the last 22-ish years of working in a Christian ministry of some sort, I have seen and worked with some fantastic groups of people. Hundreds of amazing, God-fearing, dedicated people who just want to do the best they can in the service of the Gospel. It has been immensely rewarding, and a ton of fun. At the same time, I have been able to work with a wide variety of churches and denominations. While the foundational similarities are usually there, some of the worship styles and practices can be startlingly different, and that can be a good thing. It would be foolish for anyone to expect anything other than the diversity that we see within the various expressions of worship. Our churches are diverse because we are diverse. We are all drawn to different things, and have differing likes and dislikes. For me, a large brick building filled with stained glass, wooden pews, and a bell tower would never interest me. However, it may be the very thing that brings someone else in the door. Just because I like the blues melodies of an electric guitar during worship does not mean that the sound of a pipe organ is invalid. It’s not going to get my attention, but it may get yours. This is why we have our various churches, and worship styles and they are differences that should be appreciated, even valued.

    As believers, it is not necessarily the church you attend that is the problem. Most of our issues come from either our inability or unwillingness to think through our own beliefs. For many years I have encountered are Christians that have a great deal of understanding on specific theological, or denominational, topics. It might be “End Times” or “The Early Church,” and the list goes on. They may even have well thought out arguments to validate and defend their views. However, when they try to explain them within the broader context of scripture, they end up in theological conflict. For example: I was talking with a young man once about the authority of scripture and he mentioned the heresy of some translations, and how they are ignoring Revelation 22:19 where it says “And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city , written about in this book.” So, anyone who does not use the KJV only is in danger of judgment. This is an unfortunately common view for many Christians. The problem is that it does not mean what they want it to mean. So, I asked the young man if that verse was intended to be applied to the Bible that we know of today. His answer was an emphatic yes. As I began to talk to him about the history of our Bible, where the source texts come from, the dates for the authorship of the various books, and how many times it has been compiled and re-compiled his eyes began to open. Within a few minutes, his entire understanding of the scriptures changed, and he realized that he was misapplying Rev 22:19, and unfairly judging other Christians because of his own ignorance. The worst part was that he began to realize that his ignorance was self-imposed. He was merely regurgitating the doctrinal views he heard from other Christians without looking into it for himself. How many times, and on how many topics, do you think we do the same thing on a daily basis?

    When I hear people like Joel Huston, Mark Gungor, or Andy Stanley talking about why they cannot believe the accounts of the Bible in light of modern science, I am always deeply saddened, but I am never surprised. I have heard the arguments for over two decades now, and they have never changed. 

    You know, I just realized that I am not even close to what I was planning on covering today. When I write, I tend to just sit down and go. I usually stay on topic, but today… not so much. Well, I will try to get back on track in the next post, but for now, let’s just keep going…;0)

    Where was I, oh yes, old tired arguments. It may sound like I am speaking poorly about these guys, but the truth is that I am not talking about them. I have no desire to personally attack them, their publicly declared positions, yes. When someone occupies a role that is very public and maintains the level of influence that they do, it essential that we all have the willingness to stand up and say “excuse me, but I don’t think that is correct.” When I hear leaders in the global church forwarding the views of people like Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens, etc., I just get sick to my stomach. Not because they have those views, but because so many people will just blindly agree because of who they are.

    When I hear someone like Joel Huston say that “God used the Big-Bang,” or Andy Stanley say that “our faith does not come from the Bible,” or those who claim that the Bible is not real history because it talks about things that are impossible, I get sick to my stomach. I cannot understand the willingness to dismiss the accounts of scripture so easily. For example, just think about the Big Bang: That in the beginning, there was nothing and nowhere. Then, suddenly, out of somewhere, enough something appeared into our nowhere… turning our nowhere into somewhere, and our nothing into something. Then, all of this something exploded out into what used to be nowhere, and created everywhere…!!! Then they throw out words like the Quantum Vacuum, which contains nothing other than theoretical science as its foundation. How can anyone say that this line of thinking is any more scientific than “In the Beginning God”? Think about this, on one side they speak about their faith in the Gospels. Which contain the genealogies of Christ, going all the way back to Adam, the virgin birth, which is scientifically impossible, a ministry that continually claims that the entire Old Testament is true, and horrible death as payment for sin, and the resurrection after three days, which is also a scientific impossibility. While at the same time making the claim that creation, the garden, the fall of man, the flood of Noah’s day, the tower of Babel, and the list goes on, are all just made up stories.

    How do those who have had their spirits united with the living God so willingly, and blindly, walk away from the very word that chronicles the journey leading up to their freedom and redemption?  Next post I will actually deal with the topic I meant to look into today… for now, I guess, rant over…;0)