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!!

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.