“Death begins with bad feet…”

man wearing military uniform and walking through woods

Photo by Specna Arms

The older experienced soldier watched as twenty new young men were milling about the base. He knew they had no clue what they were in for. The Korean “police action” at the 38th parallel between South Korea supported by the  United Nations  (largely the United States of America) against North Korea supported by China and The Soviet Union. The older soldier was still recovering from the unexpected and brutal Battle at Naktong River. That is where his best buddy’s feet went bad. The wet boots along with pouring down rain never allowed much time for drying out. His buddy didn’t even try to get his feet dry and by the time the battle ended his feet were black. Three weeks later he was dead. The Koreans have a saying, “death begins with bad feet.”

My take away from this wisdom is that I have learned to pay attention to where my feet are walking on this journey of life. The small things. My feet get soggy with the cares of the material world of what people think of me. According to scripture we are in spiritual warfare as believers who follow Christ…

For the follower of Christ Jesus  we are taught to put on the armour of God for the daily warfare with an evil , fallen world. Part of that armour described in Ephesians 6 encourages us to Shod our feet with the Gospel, the Good News that the Savior of the world has come.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation…Isaiah 52:7

 

The Solution to your suffering is not what you think it is…

window church crucifixion church window

Photo by Pixabay

 

So Truth for me came as a shock. I grew up in a well meaning Christian and Bible following home and Church but I believe there was a message given (without malice) that if “we all just come give our hearts to Jesus, everything will be good!’…

And we who have lived very long know this is absolutely untrue. Being a preacher’s daughter I went to tons of youth events, revival, camp outings where this was the mantra.

I believe what these well meaning loving people were saying (be it naive) is that we all are in need of a Savior for we are born enemies of God and  dead in our sin without him. They were trying to present the Gospel but they left out one important Truth…suffering.

You see, the young girl who gives her life to Christ at your youth camp still goes home to her alcoholic mother when all is done. The boy on the football team that everybody loves still goes home to a Dad who tells him he is useless because he isn’t starting quarterback. So what occurs is the seed of their “moment” with the Lord (which I believe can be real but often is not) falls on the rocky, painful  soil and is quickly plucked away by the pain of this world!

I believe that Truth is a person. Truth is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus even tells us he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Truth is not pretty and tied up all in a bow. The Truth is not a Hallmark movie.

The Truth is a snot slinging, earth shattering  cry of repentance and pain and sorrow into a bloody, brutal battle and only Truth can win that sin battle. Only Truth has the Sword of the Words of life and that sword must pierce you right where you are but know this He, Jesus, Truth suffered more than your mind can comprehend. He despised the shame, our shame. He scorned our sin that he would have to bear for us to live in the presence of the Holy One! Truth got slaughtered and hung on a tree for us!

So if after you accept Christ you still have your alcoholic spouse, or a son on drugs, or a daughter date raped and pregnant, or a Church that hurts you, or a failed missionary vision…you see where my heart is going here…people Jesus came to save us from these messes we have made that have caused Him so much suffering. Life without Jesus is NO LIFE AT ALL but make no mistake Life with Jesus is the Way you get through the suffering of your broken sinful life and gradually you realize the suffering is how you really know who Jesus is and that your suffering is nothing compared to the Matchless Glory of His Grace! Do not be surprised by suffering friend. Follow closely beside The Christ, who is the Truth because he has walked this path before us. Follow Him.

 

Kneeling at the idols of burning dreams…

man kneeling in front of cross

Photo by Pixabay 

No I didn’t worship as the pagans do or did I? That realization was a rude awakening for a girl raised in the knowledge of Christ and the Bible. Hey, those false, other gods had nothing to do with me or did/do they?

I have always been curious and believe I now know why John the Apostle wrote in the last verse of his book “children, be aware of idols.”

I have read and read that Gospel of John’s and that verse always convicted me.

After bowing down to man made works (supposedly for God), after walking many miles in my journey with Jesus I have come to know that everything and everyone put before God in my life is an idol. Sounds simple yes but it is gut wrenching because my idols come in the love of grandchildren, love of admiration, love of being right, love of caring for the sick, the love of (fill in the blank)…

As a young woman I believe my idols were rooted in the identity given me by birth. Later I believe my idols were turned to the insecurity of fitting in so I would do what everyone else was doing. Just to fit in. I could list them all but the one in my older years that finally got my spiritual attention like no other was when my first grandchild was born. Oh how God has lavished his love upon those of us who are given grandchildren!  It is a good reward undeserved but  I began to put that love above everyone and everything. I didn’t even realize how deep I had waded into that “good” idolatry.

But God… in his purity and fury thundered through to me one sleepless night as I was telling him that he felt so distant lately. I had taken a gift of Joy and great love and delight and turned it in to a god!

How could that be I said? I am following you Lord. I felt His Spirit say, “if you follow me then you must put no other gods before me…”

So I knelt down before my Lord had one of those snot slinging, sobbing moments of repentance…

Paul wrote, “for what do you have that you did not receive? If you received it then how can you boast about anything?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

 

“…but what comes to you contrary to your choosing, thinking, desiring, that is where you must follow, there He is calling.”

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees

Photo by Josh Willink 

For many years I have tried to manage Christian “doctrine” and the “Truth of Jesus and His Cross.”  I write about this a lot because following Jesus Christ and being used by Jesus Christ to further his Kingdom has been the greatest longing in my life. I was basically and literally born into it. I am more than grateful for my raising, even the hardest parts where I learned what a mess I am.

I say this because while my deepest and strongest desire in this world is to be a disciple of Jesus I am now in my sixth decade and feel I am just beginning to understand what that means.

It is really quite simple. Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we could be put “in right relationship with God.” Which is marvelous in and of itself however God’s plan is to put the whole world right as well. Not just you and me. Salvation is NOT just me and my loved ones but ALL the people in ALL the world. 

This  has been quite diluted in the Church since  the moment Jesus ascended. This Revolution Jesus started on the Cross, this most powerful declaration of God’s love for us cannot be reduced to formulas or catchy slogans or politics or religious formulas and traditions. 

Again this quote from Martin Luther says it so much better than I can…

“things must happen NOT according to your own knowledge but rather immerse yourself in the abandonment of understanding and Jesus will give you true understanding. You cannot find the way of the cross. Jesus must lead you there like a blind person. Not the work you chose for yourself, not the sufferings you think up for yourself, but what comes to you contrary to your choosing, thinking, desiring, that is where you must follow, there He is calling. There you are the pupil, there is where your teacher, your Savior has come and is found.”

You see, our LORD has walked this path before us as a human. His Holy Spirit is here walking this path with us, teaching us, guiding us…

As we walk so closely to Jesus, like a blind person. Trusting Him (Jesus) the way He trusted God, our Father, becoming a true disciple is about these things… giving up control, not being my own god…Yes Lord.

Oh how all the Kings have fallen

war chess

Photo by Gladson Xavier

Oh how all the Kings have fallen

From their high and lofty thrones!

The white Knights are soiled with black death

none of them call upon Almighty God!

All the people lie constantly so the innocents die

Their evil makes a mockery of Almighty God!

 

Oh if only they would cry from deep hearts

and give up their ego and selfish ways!

I, Almighty God have made a way to redeem them

Only I have saved them with my own right hand!

I desire mercy and compassion above all else

I, Almighty God have spoken for all to hear!

The Great Rescue

wrecked ship

Photo by Aneta Foubíková

To be rescued one must have a solid knowledge from what we are being rescued. In the case of humanity we need to be rescued from Sin. We do not like to admit sin. We do not like to talk about sin. We definitely spend a lot of time trying to hide our sin so why would we not receive rescuing? Because being rescued portends that we give up all of our own control and humble ourselves.

As a child growing up in a Christian home and church I was taught often that I was a sinner. I did not however understand the nature of Sin nor did I understand  The Fall of human kind that occurred one black day in the Garden of Eden. I did not realize I was born an enemy of God and that I hated God and was in rebellion toward God!  

The good news of God’s grace is that he loves and came here for his enemies. He did not wait until I was all cleaned up outwardly. He did not wait for me to pray the “sinner’s prayer or walk down the aisle of my church. He did not wait for me to study theology or memorize the Bible.

The point of the Cross of Jesus is that on that Cross hung the vehicle of my rescue. The man of Jesus would provide the greatest rescue of all time. Understanding and receiving the Cross of Jesus is not so  we can congratulate ourselves for solving theology or religious formula but that we may understand the cost and the humility of the Great Rescuer in it’s heinous, bloody, awful Glory. We have not been rescued from sin so that we can be great thinkers of abstract ideas or to make sure everyone around us is doing what they should be doing. We have been rescued by being put right with God and becomin part of God’s family and God’s plan to save the whole world. That is how The Great Rescue works. Once we are put right with God we then go and share with kindness and compassion how while we were sinners and enemies of God he still loved us.  There is a Rescuer and His name is Jesus! His rescue is final and perfect.

 

All the garbage and the pearls…

brown and green grass field during sunset

Photo by Jonathan Petersson

 

There is something Holy about the Sunrise

 I picture angels filling the heavens behind the Sun’s rays and even more angels among us on earth

All of them singing in worship to God each day

Like a daily Resurrection of His Glory evident to humans once again

I see the center of my own self

.All the garbage and the pearls

My heart opens up like a bleeding Rose cleansing me from within and once again The Holy brings peace out of chaos

I am reminded the well -designed small life I live is not by chance and this is a new day…

Jars of Clay…we were enemies of God

blur broken ceramic clay

Photo by Fancycrave.com 

 

The heavy burden of baggage, the relentlessness of clocks. No none likes to see something break. It would not be normal if we liked to see something or someone break yet we are all broken. The day we are born we begin the journey into decay. Some see this as morbid. I see it as part of the “fall” or disobedience. The brokenness that had to be reconciled. The healing that had to happen in such an earth shattering, heaven and hell kind of way. Complete light and complete darkness collide and God’s light wins.

Everything about us, our appearance, the miraculous functioning of our bodies and brains are designed. Some of us dress plainly. Some wear costumes of bright plumage. Some of us are Primary clay. Some of us are transformed by miles of rain, wind, and ice.

I was once broken but have been transformed into his marvelous light.

 

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of  your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.  Colossians 1:24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Heron

grey heron reflection on body of water

Photo by Leigh Jeffreys

She said what she first noticed was that images were spinning around her frontal lobe like those old 1950 children’s lamp shade night lights. As the lamp would spin around different nursery rhyme stories would glow in the dark. This is what she noticed first.

These scenes of life from childhood to ancient-hood would spin in her mind but then she would immediately forget what she saw. She said it was tremendously frightening at first.

She said with in a few months the the children started coming more often. Telling her what she should do more often. She just smiled and ignored them and worked in her garden. She managed dozens and dozens of tulips and daffodils around her large home built with field stones.  A beautiful home that once was in a country meadow but with human progress was now in the middle of a large city neighborhood. She said she loved to prune the bulbs and separate them each year. She used her little garden mat for her creaky knees and wore the hat which was her Mother’s. She said her Mother bought the hat in China where her family were missionaries until the Communist kicked them all out of the country.  The hat was perfect for long days in the Texas summer and was constructed so well that it looked as good as new instead of forty years old.

I would drive by her house every day on my way to work or to the market and everyday she could be found in her garden. I often stopped to chat.

One day we were talking and she said, “you know children can never know their parents young. That is why it is so hard for them to understand them as adults. They have never seen me run a relay race like a gazelle or fight with my sister. They have never seen me with skinned knees and pigtails. They surely cannot picture me as a lovely teenage girl going on her first date much less enjoying a healthy sex life at least until they were born! I also think they have forgotten that their Father always brought me tulips and daffodils our wholes lives together.”

As fall approached I would see her out there tending the bulb garden with her head bent over and her knees on her mat. It gave me a sense of comfort I think.  Then, of course, that inevitable day came when I did not see her for a week or so but had been too busy to stop by. The next week I saw a for sale sign in the front yard and stopped.

I was surprised when a nurse aid let me in and I knew this must be a bad sign but she was actually looking quite spry. I noticed when she stood up that her back was a tiny bit bent like trees whey they finally wear the shape of the wind. We sat together in some worn but comfortable chintz chairs by the front window. The gray-blue light of winter slanted through the stillness. She said, “Death’s cruel pluck is coming.” She was right.

By spring she was gone. By summer the children sold her house and the lot behind it. The new construction destroyed every single tulip and daffodil. All the lot taken up by a McMansion. They didn’t tear down the beautiful stone house but to me tearing up the garden was the cruelest act. I wonder if the children had no idea what it meant to her. I wondered why they did not see the hours she labored and loved in that garden. I wondered a lot of things.

The last time I saw her she talked about how the night Heron with it’s silver soft plumage was the most beautiful in all the marsh. She said she that the Heron had been visiting her each evening in the shadows of dusk. She said she was stuck in a memory of growing up on the Bayou of Houston and couldn’t remember a lot of things about being an adult.  The last thing she said to me with a gentle smile on her face was, ” thanks for coming to visit me Mama. I will see you soon for good.”  I just smiled and told her goodbye and thanked her for the beautiful tulip and daffodil garden.  She waved and I was gone. She was gone too.

Every time I drive by the property I go through a run of emotion from anger at her children for what seems carelessness to realizing I am not their judge. I feel sad that the beautiful tulips and daffodils no longer dance there in the breeze. I remember her smile and think of the Night Heron. I picture her in heaven with her Chinese hat on bent down on her knees with her mat working in God’s garden.

You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of the aged, and you shall revere your God. Leviticus 19-32

 

Reckless Endangerment

photo of child reading holy bible

Photo by nappy

 

Reckless Endangerment is a law that states “wrongly recklessness of wanton conduct that is likely to produce grievous harm or death to another person.”

I read an article recently that a young lady is being charged with Reckless Endangerment because she pushed another girl off of a sixty foot bridge and caused her to be severely injured. According to the article Reckless Endangerment is a misdemeanor which carries a monetary fine and possible time in prison. I do not believe the one who pushed the other intended injury, nevertheless she did cause injury.

What stayed with me the next few days was the sobering thought that as a follower of Jesus Christ I must be diligent in my words and deeds as His Ambassador. I fear any Christian’s speaking “out of context” or just plain “lie or twist the truth”  may do so at our own peril. There are many false teachers that I am aware of today because of social media. I am also sobered at the words of Jesus himself when he says that it “would be better for a millstone to be around your neck and you drown than to lead any of these astray.”   

Jesus warns those who are Shepherds of his people (and religious leaders)  strongly about misleading others in any way away from the simple truth that “those that believe on His name and that he is the Son of God shall be saved.”  We cannot add to Jesus or take away from Jesus. John the Baptist preached the simple act of repentance and humbling ourselves to the One whose sandals he was unworthy to tie…

However, there are those called by God to shepherd and lead and teach in the context of the Body of Christ.  I  believe there is  accountability like no other if or when we speak for or of God wether we speak in large groups or just to a spouse or our children.  I am reminded that Jesus said in a field of healthy wheat there is also growing weeds that look just like the wheat  in the same field and when the harvest is brought into the threshing floor the fake wheat would be separated from the real wheat and destroyed by fire.

Over fifteen million women follow other women speakers, Bible teachers, and preachers on social media…this tells me two things. One is perhaps these women’s spiritual study needs are not being met in the local church and secondly, how do they know who to follow or does that matter?  It is reckless endangerment, in my opinion, to teach that gay marriage is a holy ordinance of God. It is also reckless endangerment to let a man who has sexually molested  children and/or women be leading anyone. Another reckless teaching is that if you are ill and God does not heal you then you must have sin in your life! (Hello Job’s best friends), and one of my old favorites, which a young woman actually told me this week, she was told that if she doesn’t have sex with her husband every single time he wants to she is sinning against God. Reckless endangerment!

I think about this in my own life and take a posture of being down on my face before Holy God and somehow relaying to anyone any Word of God incorrectly. I tremble at the thought.

That is what concerns me as a teacher, mentor, writer, Mom, Grandmother, and wife. If I am expounding to anyone on God’s Word I am not playing a game and teaching little cute sayings or formulas.

The wonderful Reverend Billy Graham and my amazing Grandfather, Dr. C. E. Autrey, always said this about their preaching.  They never made a statement in a sermon that could not be prefaced by these three words, “The Bible says…”

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  2 Peter