Do you want the bad news or the good news?

I’m new to wearing glasses. After the first day of trying to adjust, I was convinced they made my vision worse rather than better. It seemed everything was actually blurrier than before. I pulled the glasses off my face and held them to the light. That’s when I noticed the problem. The lenses were plastered with smudges. After giving them a thorough wipe down, I felt like I was seeing with perfect clarity. It was amazing. Now I’m slightly addicted to cleaning the lenses. The smallest smudge brings out the spray and cloth. After realizing the small shift required in seeing better, why would I ever choose to look through dirty lenses?

There are points in our spiritual walks where we encounter that moment where we see something with a new perspective or greater clarity. From that moment forward, it’s hard to look at circumstances through old perspectives.

A friend and I discussed the issue of hate we see in the world. Both of us are Christians, so naturally our hearts break because God is love. He hates hate because He is love. We are His image bearers. Therefore, our hearts are broken over what we see happening in the world. As it should be.

She and I discussed the Atlanta murders in the Asian massage parlors. While some of the media portrayed a race hate crime, the murderer actually said he targeted the parlors because what they represent to him – his sexual addiction. His sin caused him to murder.

 “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25

Before any of us come to Christ, we are slaves to the sin nature that lives inside of us. It looks different for everyone. Not everyone will go murder out of their sin natured self. But all of us have a sin problem. The good news is the answer is with us if we are willing.

As my friend and I discussed the issue of hate, she was bothered about this issue close to her heart she feels no one is talking about. My initial response is that our world is so weighed down right now with so much that we can’t possibly talk about all of it. The world is weighted heavy these days. We all feel it.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22

I continued pondering our conversation long after it ended.

Not all will come to Him, we know this. But His heart is that everyone will. So we see His patience, kindness, and mercy.

Why aren’t we shouting this from the rooftops?

“My mouth will tell about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up.” Psalm 71:15

The world needs to hear about His love. The media is out to get a reaction out of you. They want you to feel angry and outraged. They want to scare you. The media loves to tell a bad story. But God tells a good story. A very good story.

Let’s tell His story to all who will listen. This is how to combat hate. This is how to fight evil. With love and truth.

 

 

 

 

 

Conspiracy Captive to Prisoner of Hope

As a young girl, I could often be found curled up on the front porch swing with a Nancy Drew mystery. I can’t say I was always patient waiting for the truth to unfold. I’d sneak a few chapters forward for clues to help me solve the mystery before it was time to be solved. I simply had to know. I love a good mystery, and admittedly, a good conspiracy as well.

The last year has provided multiple real-life situations leaving many of us confused and feeling as if we are living inside complete mysteries. A global pandemic, shut-downs, election year drama, and riots have wearied us to the point of seeking understanding and answers.

We are people who want to see truth prevail, justice win, and mercy reign. When layer upon layer of events leave us confused, we naturally set out to solve the mysteries. At the same time, in an age of information overload and experts presenting conflicting information, we are left wondering where the truth lies.

Conspiracies abound.

The era is upon us where anyone can make a video or post of anything they want. Many of these claim a special knowledge from God or a secret insider knowledge they want to enlighten the world with. This knowledge becomes both captivating and addictive. Thus, we must fine tune our discernment radars.

After the inauguration, I began to see videos circulating claiming “It’s not over yet.” Looking back over the past several months, I noticed a similar theme running through social media threads. Conspiracies and internet rumors about the pandemic, child pornography rings, child sacrifices, political party coups, and the list goes on. My intrigue was piqued because I saw something within the human heart worth exploring.

Hope Cravers

Many of these conspiracies continue to escalate and hold people captive as they promise a false hope. A hope that the mysteries will be solved, a cure will be found, the bad guys caught and punished. As hope cravers, we continue watching because we want to see all the mysteries solved. This isn’t a bad thing, but possibly an area which needs a realignment.

As believers, our hope is in Christ, yet we see this desperation for earthly hope ramping up. This is nothing new to human history. Jesus brought a heavenly kingdom to earth, but the people demanded earthly solutions to their heavenly problems. They desired immediate relief.

Secret insider knowledge

Eve ate from the tree that promised a secret knowledge, one she believed had been withheld from her. Today we are seeing a hunger for secret knowledge which culture is believing has been withheld. The enemy is crafty but not creative.

The serpent appealed to Eve’s curiosity for wisdom and knowledge while casting doubt about God’s goodness. Did God really say? No, you won’t die. (Gen 3:1,4) “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen3:5)

Once Eve considered the lie that knowledge had been withheld from her, she saw the tree, which God had instructed Adam to leave alone, differently. “Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom….” (Gen 3:6)

God wanted to protect Adam and Eve, and He wants to protect us. We don’t need to see all there is to see about good and evil. Only God can carry that type of load. Yet, we continue reaching for the internet of knowledge that will not feed us what God desires for us.

We are hope hungry with appetites for knowledge, answers, and wisdom. How do we filter through the conflicting messages and conspiracies flooding our world?

Doesn’t God actually reveal secret things to some? Yes, He does, but not to all who claim it. As discerning humans, we recognize that viewers equal profits, and many of these video creators and platform builders are making enormous profits off our consumption. So, we must become greater discerners in an age of growing deception and confusion, realizing our God is not a God of confusion.

Let’s pray for discernment in greater measures.

3 Principles for navigating conspiracies, secret knowledge, and information overload

In the book of Zechariah we see themes we can apply today as we discern what do with the onslaught of conspiracy-laced information.

  • Speak truth“These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another; make true decisions within your gates.”Zechariah 8:16.

Hitting the share button is easy. Much of what we read or watch in regard to modern day conspiracies is full of lies. Since we simply don’t know what is true and what is false, maybe we should slow the spread of potentially false information.

Stop and pray. Is the information speaking truth? If in doubt, don’t spread.

  • Do not plot evil“Do not plot evil in your hearts against your neighbor.” Zechariah 8:17

Many of these conspiracies are stirring anger and bitterness in hearts not normally prone to such. They strike at the core of us that seeks justice and mercy. While most of us don’t go around “plotting evil”, we can harbor evil thoughts in our heart. Above all we should guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).

  • Love truth and peace – “…Therefore, love truth and peace.” Zechariah 8:19

Truth and peace go together. The truth sets us free (John 8:32). We are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We love truth and peace (Zech 8:19). Some of the swirling conspiracy chaos claims truth but lacks peace. Even as a consumer rather than a sharer of this information, it robs us of our own personal peace. Within our own hearts we lack peace. And we certainly see in the current cultural climate true love is waning.

Desperate times calls for desperate hope

In this addiction for secret knowledge, this clinging to conspiracies, is a desperation for hope. Hope that truth will prevail. Hope that justice will rule. Hope that evil will be dispelled. We are surrounded by people desperately desperate for hope. Many are digging for anything to offer some sense of the chaos. They’ve placed their hopes in the ones pumping out videos and posts.

From Hope Craver to Hope Bringer

We can bring the change the world desperately needs. The world needs hope, love, and peace in larger doses. My pastor often says, “Be a bringer,” when he encourages us to invite. Let’s be bringers of what the world needs.

Hope. We all want it, all need it. And it has already come.

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

Our king came. And He is coming again. We don’t need to fix our eyes so intently on this world and what is swirling about. Let’s lift up our eyes to our King and share the true truth with the hope-starved world.

We’ve been set free to become prisoners of hope.

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” Zechariah 9:12

 

 

 

 

 

On Forgiveness and Integrity

Today I share posts I’ve shared on social media this week.

On Forgiveness

The enemy, the accuser, stands to remind us of all our past sins so that we bow down under the weight of shame and guilt. But God, full of full send forgiveness, stands on our behalf and says, “Forgiven. Forgiven because of me. I remember those sins no more.”

The enemy, the great liar and deceiver, stands to bring to mind the hurt that person caused us, what that one stole from us, how that one intentionally inflicted wounds on us. He tells us it’s ok to “forgive but hold onto never forgetting.” But Jesus stretched his arms out for the very ones who literally murdered Him and cried out for the Father to forgive them.

Who am I to hold sins over anyone’s head? If even JESUS didn’t do that, dare I?

Lord, the knowledge of this is overwhelming. May I not stand as judge over anyone and refuse to offer full send forgiveness as you have given to me. When I’m tempted to let the enemy take me back to remembering hurts and telling me I need humans to make it right, may I remember that you gave your blood to set me free. May I walk freely forgiving because I’m freely forgiven. Jesus, make us like you more and more everyday. Amen.

On Integrity

I wish I could remember where I read this thought, but in one of the 100 books I read last year, I came across this idea that a person who practices keeping their word, even to their own self, develops into a person of integrity.

It’s caused me to pay attention to what I tell myself I plan to do. If I plan to write, I need to stick to the promise I made myself. If I said I planned to exercise, I need to hold myself to the promise I made to me and my health.

I’ve watched Steve do this really well over the last 2 years as he’s routinely gone to the gym 3 days a week. If he chose to sleep in, no one would be let down. But he’s keeping his promise to himself to care for his physical health.

Psalm 51:6 reminds me how much God desires we grow into people of integrity ready to receive His wisdom deep inside our hearts. His wisdom leads us toward being a person who does what is “right” even when no one is looking.

 

The Holy Ground You Stand On Each Day

“I move away from the windows to stand in my living room, the one where I spend many hours each day. But this moment is different than many others; in this moment I’m aware that I am standing on holy ground – right within the walls of my own home, the world in which I live, move, work, and breathe.

This holy ground is ordinary, yet it’s not. It’s quiet. It’s sacred. Standing barefoot on this ground, I am in awe of His wonder. I’m silenced by His Presence. I’m stilled by the realization that while I sleep, He moves. While I dream, He creates. I stand in the place of ordinary. His whisper reminds me it is holy ground.

My ordinary, His holy. I see ordinary. He sees holy.

Seeing the ordinary of day in and day out dulls my senses to His holiness. I need to see that my ordinary ground is anything but ordinary. It is holy.

Exodus 33:7-11 we see Moses pitching a tent and meeting the Lord. Fascinating.

“The Lord would speak to Moses face-to-face, as one speaks to a friend.”

“Moses entered his ordinary tent with complete awareness that it was anything but ordinary. An ordinary tent became holy ground because the Lord was there with Moses face-to-face.”

“We stand on holy ground every day and yet we don’t always recognize it. It’s time we realize these holy ground places into which God invites us to truly know Him and remove our shoes. We have walked too long in the shoes of who we think God is, who the world has told us he is, or who we have created him to be. May we ask him to illuminate our hearts and minds with his word.”

Excerpts from Illuminate-Seeing God by the Light of His Word, Renee Robinson. A 14 day audio devotional to help you see God with fresh eyes.

It takes weakness to experience God’s strength

I stood in church and heard the Lord whisper this to me: Your greatest weakness is your strong capabilities.

Ouch.

Self-sufficiency. I’ve got this. I don’t need help. I will conquer this. Oh the pride.

Who likes to be weak & needy?

But that is right where we need to be to see the magnificent strength of our Savior.

He isn’t our Savior for salvation only, but also the daily battles, the moment by moment needs.

It takes a humble heart to say, “I need help. I can’t do this alone.” And the Lord loves a humble heart. Who does the Lord favor?

“My hand made all these things, and so they all came into being. This is the LORD’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2

You are loved beyond measure.

Lord, create in us a pure heart. Renew in us a steadfast spirit. We confess our pride which says we don’t need you. May we lower ourselves and look up and see our great need is a gift. Thank you that you meet our every single need. Amen.

 

How to Silence the Feed to Heal the Soul

 

Irritation, quick-temper, distracted mind, forgetfulness. These are a few signs I needed more than a social media detox. I was in need of soul healing.

I’ve been writing for years about the importance of removing ourselves from the grips of screens in order to reset our minds and souls. I’m six weeks into my current social media fast and continue to experience healing.

I wrote an article over at Bubbling Brook titled

MORE THAN A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX: HOW SILENCING YOUR NEWS FEED CAN HEAL YOUR SOUL

In the article I share how I realized I desperately needed to silence the feed and the signs that my soul was healing when I followed God’s prompting for a break.

I hope you will find practical steps as well as encouragement to step into a time of healing with Jesus.

Prisoners of Hope

Ready to quit

That’s it. I quit. I simply can’t do this anymore. Maybe homeschooling teen boys isn’t the best idea.

Closing the door behind me, I allowed the churning washing machine to drown out the noise throughout the rest of the house.

Seriously??? Who tossed detergent all over the walls and sides of the machine?

 Scrubbing furiously the mess off the wall, I longed to clean the fury staining my heart.

Screaming at my kids left me exhausted, filled with guilt and shame. This opened a door for a thought-waged war.

  • You should’ve put them in school.
  • They are regressing.
  • You are holding them back.
  • Their attitude is from yours.
  • You’re ruining your family.
  • You should quit.
  • You can’t control them.
  • You can’t write to encourage people; look at your own mess.
  • You are trapped.

Prisoner of circumstance

I confess I’m prone to feeling a victim, a prisoner, of circumstances at times. As I escaped to the laundry room, all my thoughts were condemning messages lacking all hope.

My husband called to check on me. He offered his best effort at encouragement. “There’s hope.”

“There’s no hope. Well, yes, there’s hope in Jesus, but there is no hope for this situation. I’m stuck.” Why couldn’t I simply shut my mouth? Every time I opened it, words flew out that filled me with regret. I knew they weren’t true.

Prisoner of hope.

These were the words I saw in my notes app hours after my tantrum. Prisoner of Hope. I’d typed it exactly one month ago when I read Zechariah.

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” Zechariah 9:12

We aren’t prisoners of our circumstances. We are prisoners of hope. And He calls out to us, “Return to your stronghold.”

Return to your stronghold

I’d abandoned my stronghold while allowing the enemy to build his own.

A stronghold by definition is a well-fortified place. Scripture grants insights to both sides of strongholds.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

I was allowing my fears to run as wild as a toddler drunk on red food coloring.

War Well

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Cor 10:3-4

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

Back to Him I flee. Back to the safety of His embrace.

Return, O prisoner of hope.

We don’t let ourselves become prisoners of the enemy because we’ve been set free. We are redeemed. We are His prisoners of hope.

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

You are a daughter (or son) of the King. He comes to you.

I’d felt a raging monster, yet here He comes to me. Gentle. And I melt in His tenderness.

“Tell Daughter Zion, “Look, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.” Matthew 21:5

Our burden bearing King came toward us riding on a burden bearing animal. We need not carry the burdens, entrapping ourselves under the back-breaking weight.

What burdens do you carry? Your King is coming to you. He came. He is here. He is coming again.

You are His beloved, His prisoner of hope. Don’t let the enemy lie to you. You don’t belong to him. You aren’t his prisoner. You are a prisoner of hope.