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.

Penciling in God

I pencil God in on Sundays,

10:15 is when I’m bringing my crew.

I pencil God in on holidays,

It’s the right Christian thing to do.

I pencil God in at bedtime,

Falling asleep before finishing my prayers.

I pencil God in the next morning,

To finish telling Him my worries and cares.

I pencil God in when my life,

Brings me crashing down to my knees.

My mirror breaking into a million shards,

No longer reflecting a life full of peace.

I pencil God in when I’m concerned,

And control no longer seems mine.

I pencil God in when I’m pleased,

And life seems to be going just fine.

I pencil God in when I’m driving,

And a song reaches into my soul.

I belt out and sing of His praises,

My voice wavering out of control.

I pencil God in when it’s convenient,

Or when my mind wanders over to Him.

But my God’s pencil is broken,

His thoughts of me never a whim.

He carries no lead or eraser,

His calendar cleared open and wide.

Waiting for me to turn and see Him,

But my schedule makes me push Him aside.

My pencil is fervently writing,

All that I am required to do.

And time is just too precious,

To sit quietly and listen to His truths.

So the day my pencil slows to a standstill,

And my life is nearer to the end,

Will the moments I scheduled be remembered,

Or the times I introduced Christ to a friend?

Will the deadlines be oh so important,

Or the marks I made when they were complete?

Or the times when I faced my Savior,

While I sat and listened at His feet?

It’s time that I broke my pencil,

Making it look exactly like God’s.

No eraser or lead to speak of,

No appointment getting all of my nods.

I need to look up to my Savior,

Every minute of every day.

And put my life on the path He has chosen,

And throw my calendar away.

The Battleground

Well, I did it again.  ­­I stepped onto Satan’s playing field without wearing any protection.  Man, do those fiery darts hurt.  It seems like when one or two are flying in my direction, I can easily put up my shield and take cover.  Lately, I have had dozens blazing a trail aimed directly at my heart, and I think I’ve chucked my shield, shoes, and helmet thinking I could run faster without them.  My face is in the dirt, and they are hitting me at full force. 

Why are these lessons always so difficult to learn?

I wish God’s armor was a one stop shop deal and when I put it on, it never comes off.  Just as Christ’s grace is renewed each day, so is our decision as to what we put our faith and trust in.

I always seem to forget that part.

These fiery darts can take any shape.  They can look like a stressful workday, a sick child at home, a pile of laundry sitting in the corner with no known date in mind when they can be touched, a wet and muddy dog that had a blast outside and made mud art on your carpet, or crazy clusters of happenings that seem to be occurring just so you can develop whiplash wondering where they are all coming from.  Some of these darts Satan orchestrates, and some are just the fallout of the lives we live in a world that is not Eden.  Eden didn’t have laundry or illness.  It certainly didn’t have internet—the powers that be at the large phone company accidentally canceled mine when they meant to switch over my TV service—or hour long phone waits to get things straightened out.  I sure wish we lived in Eden.  It sounds nice there.

My mornings have been hectic, and I’ve jumped on the hamster wheel again.  Do you have one in your house, too?  I hate that thing.  It makes me tired.  As I’m running around my bedroom trying to figure out my day and battling emotions that are bubbling up from everywhere, God told me to sit down.  I thought I was imagining it because seriously?  Do I have time to sit?  I felt His presence tell me again to stop what I was doing and sit.  I slowed down the wheel with one foot and jumped off reluctantly.  I really didn’t think this would do me any good, but I sat.

My feet dangled over the side of my bed, and then my head began to bow.  My hands came together with my fingers intertwined and rested on my lap—I began to pray.  I gave up to God my heart’s fears and worries.  These He already knew, but He needed to know that I was going to unpack them and hand them over to Him.  He needed to give me the drink of water from the ever bubbling well of Jesus’ sacrifice because He didn’t die so I could keep riding my wheel.  I relented and humbled myself before my Father.

As I spilled my guts, I felt like God was pouring out His love for me.  You know those moments in your life when you have the flu and are too sick to get out of bed let alone shower?  When you finally are on the mend and take that first shower, you feel like you washed off a week’s worth of dirt.  That’s how I felt.  Even though I showered for work, I felt like I showered for the first time in a while.  God’s love was washing over me, and it felt amazing.

Take a moment to stop and be still.  Wherever you are, find a quiet spot in your world to just sit.  Be with God and let your Father wash his love over you.  Ignore the fiery dart that you don’t have time for this or being still won’t help.  God’s been waiting a long time to spend a few moments with you.  Let the creator of the universe, the ever-present and ever-powerful Father of your life have a few minutes of your time.  He is watching you on the wheel, and it breaks His heart.  You were meant for so much more than this.  Let Him show you through His eyes what He sees for your day.  I have a feeling it won’t include wasting time boiling over canceled internet service.  His visions and ideas are of far greater worth and so are you.