Sister to Sister: Caught Praying on the Monitor

13344646_911796716419_9022849487098569765_nCaught on the video monitor the other night, Ezra, who was twenty months old, at the time, was praying. In his own crib, in his nursery, door closed, and darkness gathered round him, he listed his little litany of people , ending with Baxter (his cat) and ended with a simple, but very audible “Amen”.  I know God heard little Ezra, because he’s the God who takes time for the little ones (Mark 10:14). 

What makes a twenty month old talk to God when He’s all alone? You know what does. It’s pretty simple. It’s night after night of “practice”. It’s doing it when he’s not alone each night. It’s story time with parents who know it’s important, for the development of faith in God, to talk to Him every night. It’s intrinsically knowing that, in his daddy’s arms, hands folded talking to God, all is right in his simple little world. That’s why Ezra knows how to pray. That’s why, however simply and trusting, he talks to God when he thinks he’s all alone. 

One day you will think you are alone. There will come a time when you are facing your own alone-ness and darkness. You might not know yet exactly what that darkness will be. It may be the loss of someone you love. It may be that someone you love disappoints you deeply. It may be the loss of your health or wealth. It may be the fall of your freedom or encroaching national enemies. It might be loneliness or divorce or addiction. It might be sin.

When your darkness comes, will you be able to talk to the Father, even from the darkness—when you need Him most? The answer is yes…if, like Ezra, you’ve been talking to Him every day in the light; if you’ve spoken with Him daily from your safe and happy place when surrounded by those you love. 

The simple faith that gives us the solace and strength of prayer in the dark times of our lives is not instantly gained when we need it. It’s developed during the good times. It’s having a relationship with the Almighty that’s constant and secure through the ups and downs of regular and normal days. That’s what gives us the peace and assurance of knowing He hears us when life gets irregular and abnormal…and sometimes even, very nearly, unbearable. I have friends  who use prayer as a panic button. I have other friends who never need a panic button because they’ve got the security that comes with a life time of communication through prayer and Bible study. They deeply understand and cling to the promise of Romans 8:28…that He’s making every day, and even the darkest night, turn into ultimate blessings for them, as His children.   They are secure when they are alone and life is dark, because, like Ezra, they’ve  “practiced” when times were easier and gentler. 

“Amen” is a very comforting word. It means “let it be so”. I’m glad “amen” is in little Ezra’s limited vocabulary. I’m glad he says it already to the One Who transcends everything Ezra will ever learn or know in both majesty and power. But that One is also the One who knows how many little red hairs are on His head (Luke 12:7). He knows his down-sitting and his uprising (Psalm 139:2). He knows Ezra’s litany of loved ones and He even knows His cat, Baxter. Are you talking to the One who loves you that much? You should be living in that kind of sweet security right now. Someday, when night falls, you will very much need the sweet security of prayer. 

Sister to Sister: Peace and Silence… NOT the Same Thing

brigitteIf you haven’t seen the following video, you should watch. Brigitte Gabriel’s  point is well articulated and her logic is irrefutable. Radicals are the movers in society. The peaceful majority within any movement which contains a violent element quickly becomes very irrelevant.

As I think about her statements about Russia, Nazi Germany, Japan and China, I strongly agree with her logic  If the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and opposed to terrorism, why are they (the peaceful majority) not rising up against their own people, in the name of peace, to save innocent lives?  At the very least, they should be publicly descrying the frequent ongoing attacks by Muslim terrorists around the world. But such a public outcry by peaceful Muslims is rarely occurring. In its silence, the majority has become irrelevant. The radicals…the killers…are the ones who are making a tragic difference in the world today.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the “peaceful majority” of God’s people can, with its silence, become irrelevant? I am not suggesting that we should be a violent people as we oppose sin in the world around us. I am suggesting that we must be doing spiritual battle all the time. Paul said as much in Ephesians 6:10-12.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We must never be satisfied to be silent as the devil seeks to destroy our families and congregations. We become irrelevant to the lost people around us if we fail to stand up and be counted for truth and righteousness. It is not enough to just “think” that the world around us is becoming more vile; to be sad in our hearts that our culture is given over to immorality. We must continue to speak the world-changing message of the gospel even when it is vehemently opposed by a segment of our society. We have to continue to say that homosexuality is vile affection (Romans 1), that those who are have left their spouses for reasons other than fornication and have remarried are living in adultery (Matthew 19), that abortion is murder, that Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to the Father (John 14), that faithfulness to God involves faithfulness to His church, and that there are indeed New Testament laws (absolute requirements) regulating worship and daily living for those in that church.

Bottom line: Being peaceful and being silent are two very different things. I can believe all the right things, but become irrelevant in the battle for holiness in my community and in my congregation if I am not willing to speak truth at every opportunity to my sisters and friends. If I know truth, but I am afraid to post, speak, write, tweet, and/or text truth, then I, by default, contribute to the victories of evil. Granted, there are varying degrees of opportunity for God’s women. But all of us have some venues in which we can and should be, peacefully but vocally, standing for truth, whether in a blog or simply in a conversation with a friend who is straddling a politically correct fence.

The relative silence of 2.3 million Muslim people living in the United States when 19 radical Muslim hijackers destroyed the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon and took the lives of 2,996 people is still deafening.

Let us be peaceful, but let us NOT be silent.

Right Turn

For four days now I’ve been wishing for a right turn. Right is the way I turn now to go to my dad’s regular hospital room and left is the way to the ICU, where he has spent the past three days. I’m thankful for all the turns in life through which the Father leads because I have that wonderful assurance of Romans 8:28. “All things” (the good things and the bad things) “work together” (are assimilated) “for good” (to be in the best eternal interests) “to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose” (for faithful Christians). That makes every turn the right turn for me.

Lots of you already know that my father has been hospitalized since Friday afternoon. For many prayers and kind words and visits and snacks and meals and cards, we are very thankful. Dad’s main problem is pneumonia now and I covet your prayers for some easier breathing. I think the brewing pneumonia and resulting lack of oxygen to the brain last Friday morning was the cause for his disorientation and confusion, As he later said, “Cindy, I have just never been so inept and confused in my whole life.”

I said, “Dad, could you not even think to call me?”

“I could not think of the answers to any questions and I didn’t know what to do.”

So he went to the church building. In all of his confusion, he just put on his coat and tie, grabbed his glasses and his Bible and, in auto-pilot, he drove to the side of the building where he normally parks his car. There are six turns and about five stop lights between his house and the meeting place of the Jacksonville church of Christ. According to the surveillance camera later viewed, he entered the building at 10:24 A.M. and then proceeded to the auditorium. Still confused about why it was empty (apparently thinking it was time for one of the assemblies), he spent the next six hours, likely losing consciousness and falling, struggling to get up and becoming more and more desperate. Thankfully Homer Smith, one of the shepherds of the church, began to wonder about why his car was there and where he was. I was notified and I began asking everyone who might know about where he was until Homer, our new MVE (most valuable elder) found him and called the EMTs, who took him to the ER, where he was later admitted to the ICU.

He’s not out of the woods, but an enzyme count of 14,000–so very dangerously high–has dropped to 800. That’s impressive. He is completely coherent. That’s way better. His breathing is nothing but wheezing! That’s the part, for now, for which we need prayers. It’s really hard to watch and hear him breathe so laboriously.

But there is a blessing trail here. I can quickly enumerate ten of the many blessings about the whole episode:

  1. Win or lose the battle for life on this earth, the battle for life—the real battle–has already been won.
  2. There are ministers of the Father all around His people and they are extremely caring. They are servants with an attitude; the attitude of Matthew 25: 31-40.
  3. Eighty-nine years of relatively good health is a great record. Just being in this hospital or even on this internet makes us aware of so many whose trials are so premature compared to any we might be experiencing. Dad is the only surviving child in a family of eleven children. He’s been very blessed.
  4. When my dad “can’t think of any of the answers to any of the questions,” he goes to the place of worship. (That’s kind of like the Psalmist in Psalm 73.)
  5. There are lots of colder, more desolate places to be unconscious than in the church building.
  6. The proximity of excellent medical facilities in almost any region of our great country is a blessing we consistently count on.
  7. The presence of skilled doctors, nurses, technicians and even smiling volunteers is a very good gift from the Giver of all good gifts.
  8. Cousins, sons-in-law, husbands, fathers-in-law and brothers-in-law who are elders and preachers in the kingdom are double-kin and that’s special. I have about twenty-one of those and they are wonderful.
  9. Dad, the “lost” sheep, was found by a shepherd.
  10. “Clinically improved,” the term used to describe Dad today, is fun to hear and I love turning right.

The Message in the Rubble

It was a couple of days after the tornadoes ravaged and rocked our North Alabama world, when my friends were cleaning up the one tree that had fallen on their property near Huntsville. It actually was rooted on another lot, but fell toward their house and thus lost some major branches on both sides of the fence. Anyone in the vicinity who had damage that minimal was extremely blessed and was quick to give thanks. It had been a rough week for many families we know.

The interesting thing about this particular small clean-up operation was the one piece of paper “litter” that my friends noticed lying among the broken branches. They picked it up and read the words inscribed in the middle of the tattered card. There were only eight words, but they spoke volumes in the silence as they paused in disbelief. The dirty card only said, “Be still and know that I am God.” 

There’s just no telling how many miles the little card had traveled, from whose home it was lifted, for whom it was originally intended, or under what circumstance it had expressed it’s powerful and comforting message before. But now it had come to await those who would be cleaning up the debris deposited by a storm system that left the state of Alabama powerless (in more ways than one).

Sometimes people have mentioned to me that they have received a message from God. When people tell me about messages that have come to them in dreams or on mysterious notes or in still small voices—messages that contain extra-Biblical information, I know that these people are mistaken. God has emphasized that the scriptures contain His final and complete revelation (II Tim. 3:16).  But it struck me that these friends, in this rubble, really did pick up a tattered card that contained a message from God. In fact, he first spoke the words through the psalmist in Psalms 46:10.  Oh, it wasn’t the first time they had heard this message, but its repetition on that day offered comfort and hope on a very dismal day.

It was simply very strong winds that carried this message from the calmness of point A, through the chaos of the journey, and finally, to the once again serene resting place of point B. If we will carry this little message with us through the chaos and storms of life, we too, will come to a resting place where we will rest and serenely reflect. We will be more certain than ever before that He is God and, as the very next verse tells us, that the Lord of hosts is with us and He is our refuge.