Church Shooting in Texas: Choose to Focus on the Light

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 5:14-16) NIV
My heart and prayers go out to the many affected by the decision of one man to hurt many during their time of worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
Mr. Roger’s mom was so right when she told him as a young boy to look for the helpers when bad things happened. During this tragedy, there were so many wonderful helpers/heroes. Evil came into that church, but good outshined any of the darkness.
The two men who chased down the shooter risked their lives so he couldn’t hurt anyone else or escape from facing the devastation he left behind. Many people flooded that church to offer whatever help they could and the people within that church loved and cared for the brothers and sisters in Christ they just spent the morning worshiping with. The first responders walked into the unknown to help in a situation none of us could ever comprehend, and to the country as a whole poured out their love and prayers for those who were lost, wounded, or a part of that harrowing experience.
Jesus’ light is not made from earthly materials. The Pharisees tried to snuff out Jesus’ light on the cross only to have it supercharged, multiplied, and returned as the Holy Spirit that now resides in you and me.
Darkness can only occur when there is an absence of light. What this man tried to do was force his absence of light on other people. He walked into a place full of light that exponentially became brighter as others came to help. Darkness is fleeting even in the presence of the tiniest of flames or the tiniest of creatures like the lighting bug who dots the night sky.
I am choosing to focus on the light, the helpers, and the heroes in this tragedy. I am choosing to focus on prayers of comfort, peace, and healing for all who are involved. I am praying for this man who chose to keep light out so he could remain in the darkness that speaks only in the language of evil. This is becoming more prevalent as these tragedies keep occurring but Jesus’ light can permeate any wall—even one encased in darkness.
Be the light of the world today. You never know whose flame you will light just by showing them yours.

Peace-Who Wants It, and How Do We Get It?

I search for peace day and night.  I can tell when it eludes me because I begin to feel anxious and my thoughts are jumping over multiple tracks never landing on the one that will bring me peace.

Trying to catch a lightning bug across a yard after his light goes out is easier to do than catching peace.

My peace escaped through my fingers recently because I’ve taken the worries of the world upon myself again and left God out.

Why is this so easy to do? I am able to slip back into this pattern so effortlessly that it materializes undetected.  The increments are so tiny by which they occur, a turtle could pass faster than my sliding.

The last few days I have let life take over, it has a funny way of doing that, so my soul thirsts for what I’ve lost—my peace.

I sat down with God’s Word this morning with this heavy on my heart.  Truthfully, when I open His Word I sometimes think, “Wow, that is just what I needed,” or “God, I’m not really sure I get what you are saying here,” or simply, “Huh?”

When we read the same scripture multiple times, what was once a, “Huh?” can turn into a “Wow!” Those days are the best days.

Proverbs 3:17, “Her ways (wisdom’s ways) are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” NIV

The first time I read this, I had a neutral response. I thought, “Okay,” and went on to read the subsequent verses.

Since really soaking up Proverbs this last month and gaining understanding that wisdom develops by fearing (revering) the Lord, I read this verse again with my peace hanging out to dry and thought, “Wow! I get it!”

Our peace is interwoven with reading His Word every day. When we do, we take up the sword of God’s armor which is the only offensive piece we are given. Might I add, it is the only piece that is needed.  His piece brings peace.

Without God’s sword, we are merely accepting the hits of life and standing there taking them one by one.

Pick up your sword found in the pages of the Word of God, revere Him, learn His truths, and the author of peace and wisdom will erase every other track that does not belong in your life and reveal the only one that does.

In order to gain peace, we need to gain God.  The choice is ours.  We can either allow life to continue serving uppercuts, or we can utilize the gift of God’s sword.

He is the author of peace, so why do we try to read self-help books or any other book to find it?  Why try to catch a lightning bug a yard away when there is one right by your side?  His light never goes out.  We just need to be willing to catch it.

Don’t Confront a Fool

Proverbs 17:12, “It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness.” (NLT)

I loved reading this in Proverbs today. It just struck me funny how an analogy of cubs being taken away from their mama bear stirs the same fearful picture in our hearts today as it did when it was written in the tenth century BC.

This proverb also hit home because of one of my greatest faults–desiring fairness and justice in all situations. I have always viewed my world as black and white. It is either right or wrong. Shades of gray were never my strength.

The biggest problem this poses is during a situation when I am treated unfairly. We bought a used hot tub to help with my Fibromyalgia, and the store clerk touted the model he was showing us as completely refurbished by the company and is in like-new condition. We paid extra for this thorough thumbs-up and all-clear but when it was delivered, there were at least 10 things wrong with it. Some were very obvious things that were not easy to overlook, and some were very expensive fixes like clearing out the bacteria in the pipes until the water was safe to use. I try to treat others as I would like to be treated, but when this rule of thumb is not reciprocated, it drives me crazy.

Have you ever had someone speak poorly of you to someone else, and you can’t fathom why because you don’t even know the person speaking ill of you very well? Has someone spoken untruths about you to a coworker or boss? Has a family member turned their back on you and tried to bring the rest of the family with them? The unfairness examples are too numerous to count, but we have all felt their sting one time or another in our lives.

In the sixth grade my class switched classes for reading with another sixth grade classroom. When reading ended and I was headed back to my classroom, I noticed a boy eating sunflower seeds and sticking the shells inside of the desk that he was borrowing for that hour of reading. He noticed that I noticed him, and he asked me not to say anything.

Soon after I went back into my classroom and sat down at my desk to start a new lesson, a student from the other 6th grade classroom came down and asked me come with him. I was stunned, and I couldn’t think of why I would be summoned back to reading.

The boy who owned the desk that now contained a pile of sunflower seed shells was standing by the desk of his teacher. The boy who committed this offense was also there, and He pointed a finger at me and said, “She did it, I saw her!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! All of the sixth grade students in the class were staring at me with eyes blinking and wondering why I would do such a thing.

Normally being the kid who likes to blend in with the wall paper, I now found myself at the front of the class in the middle of a major controversy. I stammered at first because of the shock, but my sense of injustice kicked in. I pointed my finger back at this boy and told the teacher I saw him eat the seeds and put the shells in the desk, and he had asked me to keep quiet. The boy retorted back that it certainly was me but like a dog with a bone, I wouldn’t let it go. I wouldn’t back down all the while declaring my innocence until the boy relinquished his lie and told the truth that he in fact was the sunflower seed eater. The whole class said, “OOhh!!” It was quite the scandal.

I still have that sense of justice in me and wasn’t surprised when the college career interest test came back 90% law. I didn’t pursue that career choice.  I think if I had it would have made me crazy.

The sunflower seed finger pointing doesn’t end as we grow into adulthood. It only becomes more sophisticated as we grow older. There will be moments we have to defend our truth, but I have found some people won’t admit fault no matter how much we point back. Their personalities are such that if we stick our heals in to defend ourselves, the more they will stick their heels in and rev up their accusations.

Proverbs tells us that in these cases, step away from the situation. We may never be able to convince the person they are wrong, but by living a righteous life and continuing on the path of God, our silence to their slander will speak more about who we are and less about what they say. Trials will come and as Proverbs 17:27 tells us, “A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even tempered.”

When we seek justice with a fool, we’ve essentially given away our peace. They will defend their view like a mama bear defending her cubs. Walk away and give it to God. He sees all truths and knows the hearts of every person. He will defend us and that’s the greatest justice of all.

The Sword of the Spirit

sword-of-the-spiritWe carry a very powerful sword—the Word of God.  It can do so much more than a typical sword, but how many times have we left it untouched, hidden under the laundry collecting dust?

It can do so much more than a sword hammered out of metal, but how many times have we left it untouched—hidden under the laundry collecting dust?

For many years, my sword seemed awkward and cumbersome, and I dreaded dragging it wherever I went.  What was its purpose?  Did reading His Word really do anything extra special?

Satan did a work on me, and I believed him when he said it didn’t.

God’s Word is the only offensive gift that He has given to us to do battle with our enemy.  He didn’t outfit us with multiple weapons because He couldn’t think of anything else to give us; He gave us one weapon because it is all that we need.

When I began to actively open His Word and lift up my sword, what I deemed cumbersome, He revealed freedom.  What I assumed was awkward, He unveiled strength.  When I feared conviction, He enveloped me in love.  Why did I listen to the lies of my enemy?  Why do any of us?  He will say whatever and do whatever to convince us our sword is not needed and it is a pain to carry.  He knows intimately that when we open our Bibles, even a few words will make him flee.  Of course our enemy will whisper to our tired and weary minds that our weapon is of no consequence.

Ignore him!  Dust off your sword and fight.  It will only take a few seconds to read a sentence or a phrase in God’s Holy Word and this alone will take down your enemy.

When was the last time that you picked up your sword?  Your enemy wants you unproductive, worn out, fearful, and to stay hidden.  Are you letting him win or are you ready to fight?