SHINE!!!

The news today… you would have to be hiding under a gigantic rock to not see what is going on. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not so out with it, I have been a avid Trump supporter this past election cycle. I’ll admit that four years ago he would not have been my cup of tea, but these past four years he has proven himself, presidentially, over and over.

I have found the censorship on major social media platforms maddening, the left wing agenda driven news media scary, and myself, little ole me, insufficient to really do anything of substance to change any of it. Really at times it can be scary. BUT GOD!!

It just so happens that my husband and I have been reading 2 Kings in the Bible on our YouVersion Bible App Plan (if you don’t have it get it!!!) 2 Kings is a history of the Kings of Israel and Judah as they were a split Kingdom. So you guessed it, division, good kings and then bad kings, actually really horrible kings, are accounted for. Times of peace and prosperity, times of oppression, and horrific injustices, blatant evil are all recounted in that book. In light of our current events in America and around the world, some of the accounts can seem eerily familiar. Which is something my husband and I have been discussing on the regular lately. We’ve almost got to the point, in the Bible, where God’s chosen people have chosen evil over God so much that they end up in exile. Oppressed by foreign rulers and taken away to a foreign land. Through a series of events and several hundred years they end up in the time when Jesus appears on the scene as a baby.

This scene has been playing in my mind a lot this morning. In particular a verse written by the prophet Isaiah centuries before that is about Jesus has been resounding in my heart.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/isa.9.2.niv

Jesus came to the world in a time of great darkness of hearts. Brutality, oppression, injustice, inequality, dishonesty, etc abounded by those ruling a majority of their world, the Romans. Sadly the religious institutions weren’t too far behind them on their abuses as well. But into that scene Jesus appeared. That light broke through and began a revolution that has changed the world and will continue to do so until God’s Kingdom is fully realized. “Your kingdom come, Your Will be done”.

I have no idea where this will go. I have no idea how all this will affect my life, but I also know that the light of Jesus has not been snuffed out by all these events. It cannot be. It goes forward and it fills the earth with God’s glory!

So what does all this mean for little ol me, Midwestern, middle class, mid aged woman in the Middle of the USA? SHINE!!! That light that burst on the scene is still shining and it burns brightly through every Jesus lover on the planet. This is not the time to cower in fear of all the what if’s of the future. This is the time to display the love, the joy, and the peace that won my heart so many years ago. In the end whether Trump is able to prove the allegations of fraud true and the results of the election are turned around or Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take the reigns of our country. I am not to fear. God has always had a plan. I must trust it, and I must do what I was created to do by Him all along. SHINE!!

Orphan No More

Back in the early 90’s the world became aware of the Romanian orphan crisis. I remember, as a college student, surfing channels late at night on my parents TV and stumbling across a news report about it. In 1989 communism fell. Things hidden in the darkness came to light as the world watched news reports of hundreds of abandoned children left in orphanages that were poorly staffed. The bare minimum was done to keep these babies and children alive. I was captured by images of one year old infants in institutionalized baby beds rocking themselves back and forth. There was no one to hold them, no one to comfort them, no one to sing to them, tell them stories, or even call them by name. They had adapted to such cruel circumstances by soothing themselves the only way they knew how. Rocking back and forth with a blank stare on their face.

This morning as I spent my quiet time with Jesus, the image of these children came to my mind. So I open my YouTube app and did a quick search of the Romanian orphans of the 90’s. The first link that caught my eye was a short BBC report of a young man who survived the Romanian orphanage. He was adopted at the age of 11 by an American couple from California. What struck me about his interview was a quote that he said, “I could not adapt to a family environment. My mind was just so used to living in an institution. I was desperate to go back to Romania…” Institution, abuse, neglect… that was all he had ever known. A loving family with his needs being met was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. He talked about how easy it is to spot those who had survived the orphanages. “When you see a grown adult, sitting or standing rocking back and forth or doing something only an institutionalized person would do, you can instantly recognize that person grew up in an orphanage.” The final phrase that stuck with me, “I miss the orphanage. It was my home.” The young man in the report went back to Romania to visit his birth family and he had found that his mother wasn’t able to be the mom he was looking for and he went back to the United States.

Everyone has a past. Everyone has things they wished had never happened or that they had never done. We all are very much like the Romanian orphans of the 90’s. Due to the condition of our hearts, before Jesus, we have become used to the methods to self soothe that we developed through the years (addictions and coping mechanisms), and unfortunately we have let the conditions we came out of become our home, where we feel we belong, deep inside of our hearts. The labels we were given, engrained in us, are what we believe we are. So much so that we find ourselves searching back in where we came from trying to find the missing piece instead of embracing the “New” that Jesus died to give us.

I’ve spent the last week reflecting about my own identity, who I am. It’s not an easy task. Because just as that Romanian man looks at himself as an orphan, at times I tend to view myself as a spiritual orphan, left to my own devices. God speaks to me in His word about how I am to renew my mind, my thoughts, by thinking about the truth of the Word. I am not what I’ve felt like I was. I am who He, God, says I am. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people…God’s special possession…” or as the Passion Translation puts it “But you are God’s chosen treasure…” When God came to my Spiritual orphanage and found me in deplorable conditions, rocking back and forth trying to feel some kind of comfort for my broken and lost soul, God picked me. He took me out, He cleaned me up and put medicine on my wounds, changed my filthy, sin stained, rags out with His beautiful, righteous garments, and in that very moment Zephaniah 3:17 says the One who Delights in me, God, my Heavenly Father “sings” over me, His chosen treasure. God sings…

It is at this point, the truth of us being His treasure, that you and I have to make a choice. Will we accept the gift we have been given, new life, new identity in Christ, or will we wander about unable to take it all in because we cannot shake the image of ourselves that we have seen for so long? Only to find that what we thought was our “home”, our lives without Jesus, was nothing more than a cold and lonely place far from where God, the one who loves us, wants us to be, with Him, held closely by Him.

Keep the Main Thing The Main Thing: Response for Uncertain Times

Several years ago my husband and I attended a smaller church that sat on top of a large hill in the middle of a small city. The Church was two story and rectangular(kind of looked like an ark in my mind) and situated right in the middle of a questionable neighborhood. It was the kind of neighborhood that I would get uncomfortable the nights we would be there if I didn’t know the door was locked. One Sunday we drove up the hill and noticed the SWAT team for the city surrounding the house next door to our church. We opted to drive around for awhile until the arrest was made. There were many Sundays that I would sit during service near a window and watch the neighborhood people walking up and down the hill on the way to the stores on the main strip. I would often think about how comfortable I was sitting in my padded chair, dressed nicely, surrounded by my family and friends. Then look out the window to see someone who looked desperate and alone walking down the hill. The image of Noah and his family sitting in the ark would play through my head. “Is this what they might have felt listening to the world fall apart while they were safe in the ark?” Lately, I’ve felt that feeling again. As I’ve watched the evening news drone on and on about riots, unrest, virus totals, statues being demolished, etc. Then I look around me in my nice country house, acreage, and miles from the closest conflicts. “Am I sitting on the ark again?” Even Noah in his time was a preacher of righteousness up until he got on the ark and it started to rain, why would I just sit here… The discussion with friends I’ve met up with lately has centered around “What on earth is going on in our country?” There’s anger and sadness over the changes that we’ve seen, and the biggest question of all is “What are we going to do?” I’ve thought of that a lot too. “What is my response?”

I’ve been contemplating Philippians quite a bit the past couple of months, and this week is no exception. The verse I’ve been chewing on is Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” NIV Actually the Passion Translation version has been resounding in my heart, “But we are a colony of heaven on earth as we cling tightly to our life-giver, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “colony” stood out. I figured it was quite a jump from “citizenship” to “colony” so I checked it out in the Greek. (It’s that deep thinker side of me coming out.) And sure enough the word “politeuma” was used which could be a state or a commonwealth, “colony” would work. Why all the fuss? Simple, it is easy to get caught up in thinking there’s nothing we can do. Our citizenship is in heaven. The earth will go to pot, and we will get out of here. We will sit on our ark and watch the world drown. But when I look at my life as a colonist of heaven. My viewpoint of today’s events changes. Colonists of Rome during Paul’s time “were expected to promote the interests of Rome and maintain the dignity of the city.” As a colonist of heaven I am to “Promote Heaven’s interest on earth and lead a life worthy of heavenly citizenship.” (notes from Life Application Study Bible on Philippians 3:20). My home, my brothers and sisters in Jesus are all Colonist of Heaven. We are here to plant heavenly citizenships all around us (make disciples) and influence the world we live in. Not hide our allegiance and wait for the great escape. We must not get our eyes off of the main thing. What is the main thing you may ask? Jesus gave us the main thing, the mission, after His death and resurrection right before He ascended into Heaven. The Main Thing is this: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew 28:18-20 NIV.

The American Christian, really the American anything, waits for a program. We want our kids to play in organized sports as opposed to organic sports that occurs in our neighborhoods. We want our relationships to start in organized groups and clubs as opposed to organic relationships that occur when we talk across the fence to our neighbors, smile at the cashier at Walmart, leave a significant tip for our waitress, etc. We don’t have to have a program to do what we are commanded to do! Look at who is around you and get started. “Make disciples!” Look at the tools you have around you, your home, your food, your social media, etc. and do what looks obvious to do. As colonist of heaven and ambassadors for Christ, all we have to do is represent. Represent by listening, praying, giving, and teaching others about how they too can become part of the Everlasting Kingdom that will not fail.

The other thing the American Christian is prone to get hung up on is numbers. “Great I’ll make disciples, how do I make the most?” Start with the one. The one who is in front of you. The one you run into on the regular. The one who listens when you share and when you point the best you know how to the King of your Kingdom, Jesus- who started the Colony of heaven in your heart. Simplify it even more, the one can be the ones who live in your own home, your kids/ grandkids (they are great disciples).

It is easy for me to get caught up in the drama on Social Media and the nightly news. But our current situation has not changed the mission that as a Heavenly Colonist I have embraced. I am not called to get caught up in the name calling, blame games. I am to proclaim the answer, Jesus is King over all and His Kingdom is the only one that will stand in the end.

Follower of Jesus- Shining Star in Dark Times

Corrie Ten Boom has been one of my more modern heroes of the faith. I’ve read her book “The Hiding Place” and watched the movie several times. Her courage as a middle aged woman to hide Jews in her home during the occupation of Nazi Germany and her survival of Ravensbrück concentration camp have long struck a chord within me. I’m not sure why. As I’ve watched the news unfold the past few weeks I’ve thought often of how she must have felt as the Germans began to occupy Holland and she was confronted with the reality of going with the flow of society or doing what is right in the eyes of God. I’ve spent this evening relaxing and looking at quotes from Corrie. There have been so many that have shaped me through the years. In my searching, I found one that has resonated greatly in my heart tonight. It is from a letter Corrie wrote in 1974. I was 3 years old when this was written, yet it holds so very true today. “The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers. Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.”

Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place in her home that saved Jews during World War 2

I too have been horrified at the murder of George Floyd, and I am greatly disturbed by the chaos that seems to spin more and more out of control, add all this to a global Pandemic. We are in the middle of “the Perfect Storm”. I have often referred to 9/11 as being one of the saddest times in my life as my heart ached for my nation. But I am sensing that the times we are in are starting to compare if not surpass that horrific event. The division, lawlessness, hatred, etc. It is heart breaking. It is as Corrie wrote 46 years ago, a world that is “deathly ill.” and “dying”. I’ve often told those around me things similar, but probably not with the urgency I feel for it today, and as Corrie wrote, the followers of Jesus are the ones with the cure for this death sentence because we are the “representatives from Heaven.” We have the antidote!! We have the cure!! The question that plays in my mind is “How do we administer this cure that our dying world desperately needs?” Really it is, “What am I to do?”

I live in the country. The other night, after a trip to the closest city and it’s Menards, we arrived in my circle drive and I stepped out of my car into the darkness that our few lights around our house provides. I looked up at the sky and breathed in the fresh air and was amazed by the stars. I can never get enough of them. They are so bright and they feel so close in the darkness that surrounds my rural home. I immediately thought of a couple of verses in Philippians that I had read recently “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” Philippians 2:14-15. My generation is “warped and crooked”. No right or wrong, good is bad, bad is good. Our hearts are far from God and this is a dark time. But those of us who know Jesus, are the children of God and we shine like the stars in the sky. When the darkness is great, His light shining through us is greater. When we shine the light of God’s hope, we are just as the stars I gazed upon that night, fascinatingly beautiful to a world that needs peace and answers. It also occurred to me as I gazed at the millions of stars on that clear night, It’s not just one star that makes me pause and breathe in a moment of peace. It is a sky full of them, doing what stars do best, shining. My dark world needs my star shining kindness to the cashier, shining generosity to my waitress, shining compassion to the lonely and hurting, shining assurance and peace to those around me rocked with uncertainty, shining love- God’s pure love to those pillaged and left to die in hatred’s wake. That is the light that when boldly joined by all the other Followers of Jesus, stars shining, breaks the power of darkness that cannot overcome God’s pure light even when the night seems to be as dark as our world has been lately.

Defining Moments- Pentecost Sunday

I awoke this morning earlier than I wanted to, it’s Sunday I should be able to sleep in a little. First thing to cross my mind was checking the status of the violent protests that have erupted in cities across America, specifically a city near me. One of my close friends has a son who is a Highway Patrolman assigned to a particular hot spot in that city. I have been in prayer for him.

My heart is broken for the sin sickness that began this mess. The cruelty and utter horror of watching a video of a policeman kill George Floyd during an arrest. There is no excuse for such a cold hearted atrocity. But on the same token, protest meant to cry for justice have spun out of control and erupted across our nation. Looting, violence, innocent businesses destroyed, people being killed, etc. my heart aches as I watch this unfold.

All of this occurring as the Church celebrates a traditional holiday- Pentecost Sunday.

I have always held an optimistic view of Church history. I believe the Church is not a wimpy, irrelevant organization of do gooders. The Church is the messenger, the courier of the Cure for the madness we see escalating by the hour. In the midst of this great darkness our world is spiraling in, we are the light! Church history is the world’s History and in this case the Church is what will define this moment of American History. We cannot take our role lightly, nor can we believe we are powerless and defeated by foes too great for us. Now is our time to shine!

Yesterday morning my 19 year old daughter had a friend over. They were at our table in my kitchen when I walked in to get my morning coffee going. After some light conversation, the events of the news began to be discussed. My daughter asked me my thoughts on all the craziness in the world she is just now starting to step out into adulthood within. It was then I quoted the words of Jesus from John 4:35, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” I then told them, “What we are watching is sad and horrible, but this is also a sign of a good thing. The anger, violence, hatred, etc. are a reflection of the heart of our nation. These people need an answer that political powers cannot provide. They need what we have, Jesus, and they are ‘ripe for harvest’. The question is how do we as the Church get the Cure to them?”

On this Sunday 2000 plus years ago a group of men and women waited in an upper room in Jerusalem. They were familiar with unrest, police brutality, cruelty, racism, pain, etc. They lived it. Roman’s occupied Jewish territory. The Romans were unfair/ unjust. This particular group in the upper room had watched as these oppressors’ subjected their leader, an innocent man who did nothing but good, to death on the cruelest of torments, the Roman Cross. They also experienced the joy of knowing that the current events around them could not stop Jesus. He was not confined by torture and death. He conquered them! He told them that the things they had seen Him do were going to be surpassed by the things they would do once the Holy Spirit came upon them. So it was in this environment, they waited.

God’s hope does not disappoint! HE came that Sunday! HE filled everyone in the room with His promised power to be a witness, and it was there that the world began to change. Men and women, boys and girls, were no longer confined by their mortality. God’s very Spirit had filled them to overflowing to take the Cure- Jesus to the world. And that is exactly what they did. A once cowardly denier of Jesus became a man of boldness and preached a sermon that preceded 3,000 conversions, and what was a tiny group of twelve disciples has exploded to millions and millions through the centuries.

Have we seen dark times in history before? Yes! The church has endured much. But it is time. This is our defining moment. We are to take the power of Pentecost to the world! We are to do “the greater things” John 14:12-14.

John Wimber once said, “When do we get to do the stuff? You know, the stuff here in the Bible, the stuff Jesus did, like healing the sick, raising the dead, healing the blind- stuff like that?”

Now is the time to do the stuff! Our job is to boldly proclaim Jesus, pray for those He puts in our path, and Shine our lights. As we do these things, “the stuff” will come! Because once again the Church is celebrating a Pentecost Sunday during a time of great darkness, heartache, and oppression. And just like that day so many years ago as we seek God’s Pentecostal Power and step out in it, our world, our nation will receive the much needed cure, Jesus!

Midnight Revival

There’s been a few times in my life I’ve been able to get a little taste of what heaven is probably like. When I was in 9th grade my best friend and I spent a night talking about God and praying. It probably wasn’t typical behavior for a couple of High School Freshman girls, but we were hungry to know God more and He was very willing to fill us. We stayed up most of the night laughing and then crying and talking about how cool God was and how much we wanted to know Him.

My second year of college a couple of friends and I ended up talking about God. Late in the night we started praying for each other and crying. It was just an impromptu prayer meeting in a College campus house that ended up with us “spreading the joy” to others on our floor. We were amazed at how real God was and how close He felt.

Early in our lives as young parents, my husband and I were discussing God and suddenly began to feel His touch. What was a simple car ride from one side of town to the other ended up with the very real presence of God with us. Tears, laughter, and a trip to his brother’s house for a time of prayer there.

I’ve seen it happen more than once. Not necessarily something experienced in a church building with the right people at the right time. Although He’s met me there too . Just someone hungry for more of God experiencing Him in a new way.

Acts 16 shares a story of an experience just like that. What started out as persecution of Paul and Silas for freeing a slave girl from tormenting demons turned into a prayer meeting that started at midnight and went until the sun came up. It started in a jail cell bound in stocks. Songs of worship for a God who has all things in His hands. It went to a jailer frightened by a supernatural earthquake wanting to know the God these men had been singing about. Then on to the jailers house for all night long discussions about God and His word. Baptisms in the middle of the night. A meal prepared and served and joy filling the house. Not an ordinary church service, not a bunch of holy people: prisoners, jailers, a common household, and a couple of men who had an encounter with Jesus- full of the Holy Spirit, and they were ready to share. All before the sunrise on what seemed to the rest of the world to be just another ordinary night.

Me in my middle aged state values my head hitting the pillow before 10pm. An all night prayer meeting seems like it could be a daunting task. Until I remembered, There’s nothing like the times I’ve spent in the past when God for some reason chose to let me experience His presence and reality those years ago.

I think God allows us to experience times like those as anchors. It locks us in securely in just how real He is. Paul experienced the reality of the presence of God in times like that night at the Jail/ Jailers house. The testimony I’m sure sustained him, Silas, the Jailer and his family for the years to come.

The times I’ve seen the hand of God move in my life have done the same. When my focus has been off and I’ve “forgotten” God reminds me of those times.

The times He’s allowed me to feel the reality of His closeness, the power of His presence, and the personal touch of His hand, those are the things that create a hunger for more. May I be willing to be inconvenienced by the place God chooses to show up, the time He appears, and the way He brings it about. God’s ways of showing Himself to us are not always our convenient, preconceived ways. They may involve a midnight revival with some ordinary people that just want to know “what must we do to be saved?” Or “what must I do to know you? Because what little taste I have had of You God is not enough. I want more.”

Bring on the Midnight Revival in my crazy world that makes little sense at times. When You step in, God, a prison becomes a pathway to freedom. Shackles become instruments of worship, and in the darkness and pain of a trial filled night a table for a feast is set before me.

Enough Already…

I’m about done with this whole Quarantine deal. We’ve been at it for about 4 weeks I believe and are only about half done. Although I’m not really sure half done is accurate. It may be more…

I’ve been doing all the “right stuff”. Exercising, projects around the house, gardening, going outside, spending time in prayer and meditation. Honestly, the pressure from the changes of my life are starting to get to me. It occurred to me last Saturday after a day of straightening my pantry, cleaning out cabinets, and probably the most shocking thing to me- alphabetizing my spices (Not a natural organizer, never done before). It hit me… “Enough Already”. I’m tired of this change. I’m tired of the nightly news. I’m tired of the conspiracy theories. I’m tired of trying to get up, show up, and continue doing the same thing over and over again like I’m living the movie “Groundhog’s Day”. And honestly, unlike the majority of this world I really don’t even have it that bad. I’ve got room to roam out in my little corner of the world. Death rates are low, and so far the financial impact of this has been minimal to my family, with exception of a bigger grocery bill. So throw a little guilt on top of all the other emotions I’ve been feeling…”Enough Already”.

Usually at this point in my blog entries I make the turn towards the light at the end of the tunnel, or the deep spiritual point I’m trying to convey begins to become more clear. But if I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how to make the turn this time or turn on the light switch that makes the light at the end of the tunnel appear. Right now the light doesn’t seem to be there, and the point seems to be hidden from me. Not exactly the best place to be, or is it?

It’s times like these in my life that I appreciate David’s Psalms he wrote. I can go to the Bible and see that on its pages are feelings similar to mine. Psalm 13:1-5 The Message expresses these sentiments.

“Long enough, GOD — you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.Take a good look at me, GOD, my God; I want to look life in the eye, So no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face.”

David is saying the equivalent of “Enough Already”. That gives me hope. David saw situations that surpass my temporary inconveniences that aggravate me. He lived through situations some placed upon him without his ability to control, others from bad choices he made. He found God someone He was able to run to and pour out the feelings of his heart without fear. God loved his honesty calling David “a man after His own heart.”

Honesty, laying it out to God is the best policy. He knows it all anyway because He sees what’s in our hearts. If I am afraid, if I am discouraged, if I am angry, if I am… God knows. I am assured of that. Not only does He know, He listens, and He cares. I can take my “Enough Already” to Him, and soon I will find as David did that God hears and He answers. The last two verses of Psalm 13 MSG declares just that. “I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms— I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.” I can look back on some of the darkest times in my life and see now how God was at work. It may have taken time, but He turned it all around, as God promised in His word: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There I’ve found it again. “The light at the end of the tunnel”, the “deep spiritual point” I can make.

I may currently have the feelings of “Enough Already” rolling around inside of my heart and mind, but God… God is exactly that. He is “Enough Already” for me. He will not leave me here. I may not see the changes that put my world back to where it was before Covid 19. But I will see God’s Goodness in my life as I continue to run with my “Enough Already” to Him.


Responding to the Signs of the Times

(WARNING…Big word usage for End Times theories ahead. Stick with me there is a point in it.)

Eschatology (end times theology)  has not been my forte… I was raised in a church that was amillennialistic, I’ve attended churches that were Post Millennialist, and I am currently going to a church that is Pre Millennialist.  If I sit there and give it some thought, I can see where each one of them is coming from and I can find things I agree on and disagree on.  So when it comes to End Times Theology, I land on this point. I believe Jesus is coming again.  I don’t know when that is or how it will all go down, but I know that I am ready and the last instruction Jesus gave to his disciples before He ascended was for them to receive the Holy Spirit and to be a witness of Him to their local home area, those areas around it, and then to the ends of the earth. Acts 1.   That is plenty for me to keep busy with in my area of the world and everywhere I may go.

Probably the one thing that really gets my goat when people start talking about Jesus coming is they approach it with this attitude that you feel like you should be hearing “Twilight Zone” music in the back ground and a spooky voice saying, “You know, Jesus is coming…”  It’s like they’ve got to scare you with the fact.  Major earthquake occurs, “Jesus is coming…”(scary tone applied to quote).  Giant tornado rips through a major city, “Jesus is coming…”(apocalyptic fear applied) And now the current news, a global pandemic… “Jesus is coming… BOO!”  To me the fact that Jesus is coming is not something to scare my neighbor with.  It is something I should eagerly anticipate. Something I should be so excited about that it leaks out on those around me.  He is coming, I am excited, time to prepare.

When my husband and I were dating 28 years ago about this time of the year, he lived in a town about 1 1/2 hours from where I lived.  It was the dinosaur age of phones.  There was this thing called long distance, that if he called me or vice versa, we would have to pay large fees just to talk for 10 minutes each night.  In fact, we learned that one the hard way.  He had to sell his favorite guitar to pay a phone bill that we racked up talking each night.  We just wanted to be together.  So every weekend as soon as he could get free, he would hop in his car and drive to where I lived to see me.  I knew he was coming sometime that evening.  So I would try to be ready.  Hair fixed just so, make up on, the cutest outfit I could find.  I would watch and wait to see his little red car driving up.  I wasn’t scared in the least bit at his arrival. I anticipated it.  THAT is the kind of feeling I want to find in myself as I anticipate Jesus and His return.

I have been reading a weekly devotion this year, Secrets of the Secret Place  by Bob Sorge. This week I have been contemplating chapter 14 “The Secret of Watching”. Watching for Jesus… It’s just like me watching for my love 28 years ago.  Watching is not out of fear that at the last moment I get my ducks in a row because the past 49 years I have wanted to do my own thing and now the signs of Jesus coming has increased. I better get ready… Watching is “I am soooo in love with Jesus right now.  I want to be with Him.  Is that the possible sound of Him coming my way?”  Interpreting the signs of the times is for me to have a better perspective of how to show people this Jesus I am so enamored with.  in Luke 12:54-56 Jesus talked about how the people of his time were able to “see a cloud rising in the west, and immediately say ‘It’s going to rain’ and it does.” Or they could feel the “south wind blow and say its going to be hot.” and it was.  But they could not interpret “this present time”.

Global Pandemic, National unrest, International Terrorism, Natural disasters, etc.  That’s what preoccupies our news.  Going to the grocery store in my town, shows the fear and unrest that preoccupies my corner of the world.  I can look at the “clouds and the winds blowing” in a figurative speech.  It is time for me to interpret “this present time”.  My interpretation is that this is not the time to scare your neighbor to repentance.  Now is the time to be the light.  Now is the time to show the Hope, the Peace, the Love that has been inside of us ever since we encountered the Lover of our souls, Jesus.  “It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.” Romans 2:4.  People are scared. Offer them the cure for the fear that is eating away at their broken hearts.  Let them know how you have found the One who not only holds peace for today, but who walks with you no matter where you go.  The power of sickness and death are conquered in Him.  We don’t have to fear. That is what the world needs to hear now.  Not “get right or get left.” “Turn or burn”.  But show them the love that conquered death on Resurrection Sunday so many years ago, and now He has given us GREAT Hope in a time when uncertainty and fear abounds.

The One

Finals week of my freshman year of college did a number on me. I was a walking ball of nerves. One class in particular gave me great angst, College Algebra. College Algebra was one of the main reasons I switched my major from computer programming to Spanish. The thought of taking another college level math course sent me into instant panic. It was in studying for the Algebra final I found myself broke down into tears. I was certain of the impending doom and my demise to being a total failure. One of the older girls in the campus house I lived in walked by in my time of despair. She encouraged me with words that have stuck with me through the years. It’s a southern way of saying the age old proverb of “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” She said in her distinct southern drawl, “You know my daddy always told me to remember how the best way to build a brick wall is, one brick at a time.”

One brick at a time, one step at a time, one person at a time, etc. I’m not sure what makes me and probably 90% of Americans think “when you go you’ve gotta go big.” I’ve lived most of my life with a “99 brick at a time” mentality to building a wall. It needs to be done and it needs to be done now. No steps, no process, just “bam!!” Instant achievement. That thought process isn’t very conducive to success when we think “everything is all up to me right now”. It just produces a bunch of anxiety, stress, and eventually I just shut down, “Can’t fix it, so why try.” I forget how important “the one” can be in the big picture of things.

Jesus has always been about the one, the individual. He had great crowds around Him at times, but when it came down to the life changing miracles He did. It was Him touching the one. I think His desire for individuals to be touched was what spurred His statement, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew‬ ‭9:37-38 NIV‬‬. In order to touch the individual lives of so many, a lot of hands would be needed.

The American church has been very fixated on numbers. The more we have in attendance the better. I’ve heard the arguments that Jesus is into numbers as well because he doesn’t want “one to perish”. So go big or go home. But sometimes my focus on how do I reach so many runs over the obvious “one” that is sitting right in front of me “face to face”. Maybe the better approach would be for me to look for that “one”. Pray for that “one”. Offer help to that “one”. So that as “the one” is reached they in turn will see their “one” and reach them too.

So let’s break this down to where I am today. A global pandemic speaks of masses of people being affected either physically, spiritually, or mentally. It’s the elephant that needs to be ate. It’s the wall that needs to be built. It’s the “one” who needs to be found. One person at a time.

Sad to say. I’ve lived here in my house for 12 years. I can honestly say that I don’t know the first names of the women whose houses and land are on each side of me. I’m pretty sure I would have a hard time identifying them as my neighbor at the grocery store if I ran into them. My excuse for not knowing, our busy lives… I’ve been working and volunteering in so many capacities for the past 12 years, all of them noble tasks, that I’ve not had time for my neighbors, and at times, “the one”.

The other day I was on my daily walk up and down my driveway when I noticed my neighbor in his yard. I contemplated what it would be like to walk on by and maybe not be noticed. (Not sure why). But instead I decided to make a point to wave and greet him. There’s been a lot of talk about how the life of Social Isolation has actually brought communities together. Neighbors talking to neighbors (from a distance of course), checking on each other’s needs. People making calls to loved ones and friends, to catch up and make sure they didn’t forget anyone and leave them alone.

Even the churches encouraging their members to be what we’ve always been called to be, family. Call and visit, make sure they have their needs met, give, etc. Since the opportunity to minister to crowds has been reduced greatly, we’ve been refocused on “the one”. I believe when this storm all blows over and we can finally come out of our bunkers we will find something new. All this focus on the one will cause us to grow and people will finally see what they have been needing to see all along. Instead of just one giant light house pointing the way to peace and safety in the storm, the homes of Jesus lovers on every street corner will be shining its light pointing the way. Because when we look all around us there is plenty to do. It’s been sitting under our noses all the time. It’s not only some gigantic move out there that changes the world. It’s also us touching “the one” next to us with the love of God and the truth of Jesus and His power to change a life. Then the next one, and the next, etc. “The one” is waiting, Lord open our eyes to see just how close and easy to touch they can be.