Walking on Water

  Here I stand in a swirling ocean, a dark and terrible storm blowing all around me, the water is icy cold, and the howling wind and the churning waters are overpowering.  My footing is uncertain, at times my feet sink deep and it seems I will surely drown. The voices of darkness can be heard, through the howling wind, they laugh, they mock and they gleefully announce my defeat. Like the voice of Job's wife they call out "curse God and die".

 Step by laborious step, slowly I move forward. The waves splash over me and sweep away my breath as the darkness calls out its constant taunting. I hear voices in the wind  laughing and crying out, "you are done, you are finished, you have nothing left to give."  And I acknowledge the truth of their words.......and laugh....I am done, but He is alive! I am finished, but He fights for me!, I have nothing left to give, but He holds ALL things! 

  There's an ocean of turmoil all around me, cold dark waves sweeping over my head, my tired feet stepping across the waves, sometimes with sure and certain footing, sometimes sinking right up to my thighs. And slowly, ever so slowly, I raise my hands to the King of Glory, to my Father who sits on high, to my Savior who has bought me with His blood, to my Redeemer who holds me, to the One who can tell the waves to "be still" and to the One who has already defeated the taunting voices screaming out through the wind. Yes........Yes....... I raise my hands and I laugh out loud, in praise and thanksgiving, for I am His and He is mine and no matter what comes, no matter how hard the winds might blow, no matter how tall the waves become, no matter whether I sink or swim or walk right through it all........I AM OKAY, for I am His.

  All that comes through the terrible storms, every bit of wind and rain and every wave that sweeps me off my feet is in His power and has been allowed. Nothing can touch me, nor the ones I love, apart from His allowing it, and if He allows it, He will bring us through it, for His great glory and for our ultimate good. Whether I have only today, or a thousand tomorrows, whether all that I have is swept away or whether it is kept. None of it matters. All that matters is that I am His and He is mine. All that matters is the knowledge that He has me and He has the ones I love. We are safe.

 So I raise my hands in the storm, and I dance upon the churning water, and I sing at the top of my lungs, "it is well with my soul, it is well! IT IS WELL! WITH MY SOUL!

  And the voices cease and I hear the song of grace........

  So here I stand, with waves all around, with the icy water sweeping over my head and my breath swept away. Here I stand in the midst of the storm, here I stand in the darkness and cold......here I stand, safe and secure.......for He is with me and He is enough.

"

The wind is strong, the water is deep
My heart is heavy and my mind won't sleep
Oh can you heal, my fear it breathes
I need to know if You're the shadow I can see
I wanna run to You when the waves break through
I wanna run to You and not turn back
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water
The ocean's singing, the song of grace
But if I'm honest with myself, I am still afraid
I wanna run to You when the waves break through
I'm gonna run to You and not turn back
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got…
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water
I was sinking like a stone again
I was halfway in the grave and then
I looked up and saw Your face again
You pulled me out of the water, water, water
There's no turning back
Nothing in the past
My eyes on You again
Can't see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water
Though I falter
You got me walking on water, water, water
You got me walking on water, water, water, water"


Walking By Faith

    This morning, as I sat looking out over a dreary, wet landscape and gray, rainy sky I meditated upon the morning's reading, Numbers 12 and 13. I pondered Caleb, a leader of his people and a man of great faith.

     Caleb and eleven  other leaders were sent into the promised land, to spy out the land, to see if it were fruitful and to see if it could be taken. These twelve men found a fruitful land, abundant with crops, fertile and lush. But eleven men came back with tales of woe and terror. They saw an impossible task. They saw the fear of tomorrow, they dwelled upon the "what ifs" and in so doing they reported back that it was impossible to go forward. Victory was impossible. Going forward was certain death and destruction. They had gone in, and spied out with earthly eyes.

   Not so with Caleb. He saw a future bold and bright. He saw victory. He saw a land promised to him and he saw the God of glory marching forward before him as he marched to take it.

  Can you imagine how difficult that was? Here he stands with eleven men, all leaders of the people, all, presumably men he respected, and every last one of them is reporting that this land they just returned from was impossible to take. Everyone of them spoke against going forward, and everyone of them promised certain destruction if their words were not heeded.

  Have you ever stood alone? Stood believing on a course of action when everyone else was opposed? In times like that you start second guessing yourself. You begin to falter, you begin to think maybe they are right.

   Not so Caleb. He stood firm, he believed in the God who had gone before him every time past, the God who had delivered, the God who had sustained, the God of the impossible, the glorious, amazing, terrifying God of glory. And God had said this land would be given to them. So Caleb didn't see fortified cities and mighty warrior's with earthly eyes. Instead he looked upon this promised land with eyes of faith.

  Walking by faith and not by sight isn't easy. Everyone around you will often be clamoring about the certain destruction that is coming, how the situation before you is an impossible one, and without meaning to they will encourage you to be cautious, to stay put, to accept the lesser and to stop dreaming about the impossible.

  How do we walk by faith? Personally I believe we learn to walk by faith when we keep our eyes on Jesus. The God man, the One who left glory and majesty and took on flesh, the One who walked on water, the One who quieted the storm with a word, the One who said "Lazarus come forth!", the One who touched lepers, the One who freed captive souls, the One who's touch caused the blind to see and the lame to jump up and dance. 

  God's promises are sure. Caleb knew this truth. Caleb was willing to stake his very life on that truth. He did not allow the fears of the other eleven to discourage him. He knew the God of glory, he remembered the amazing feats of deliverance, strength and provision that had come from the very hand of that God of glory. 

  We can learn much from Caleb.

.

A Sure Foundation

      I have heard some folks preach a gospel that seems to imply that if a person would only accept Christ as their Savior all their troubles will be gone and life will be like a never-ending  trip to an awesome amusement park on a sunny day when your pockets are overflowing with money. That is not the case. Following Christ is a wonderful journey, and He is good and He blesses and He comforts and He carries our burdens and He leads and guides and loves. But He never promised that this life would be without obstacles and trials, He never said there would be no sorrow, nor pain.

      Perhaps that is why there are disillusioned people out there wondering why Christianity didn't work for them. I have been a Christian now for over 26 years and I have had my share of trials and troubles. Many of them were self inflicted and due to a lack of wisdom and obedience on my part, and many of them were through no fault of mine at all, they just happened. Life is like that. In this world you WILL have troubles, you can guarantee it, after all it was our Lord who said those words. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Those are the words of Jesus to His disciples.

     In this world we WILL have trouble, but in JESUS there is PEACE because He has overcome the world. I can only speak to my own experience, but for me I often get overwhelmed with things, with my troubles and the troubles of others. I get discouraged, I get sad. But when I examine myself I can easily see why this is. If you recall the story of Jesus as He walked across the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, you will remember that as the disciples in the boat saw Him coming they were afraid, and then He spoke to them, saying "Take courage! It is I"  and Peter yelled out "Lord if it is You bid me come to You on the water!", and Jesus said "Come", and Peter did just that. He stepped right out of that boat and he walked on the water. But he made a mistake, He took his eyes off of Jesus and he put them on the water and the waves and when he did that he began to sink.

  Life is like that, if we as Christians keep our eyes on Jesus, if we seek after Him with all our hearts, if we pray, study and commune with Him and as the troubles come into our lives, be they ours or someone we care about, we will have peace, we will be effective and we will get through the trial and in the getting through it we will bring glory to God and good to ourselves and others. It is when we take our eyes off Christ and put them on the troubles that we begin to sink. When I do this I can feel myself sinking, I begin to despair, I get really sad, the weight of the things going on around me become impossible to bear, to even tolerate, and I want nothing more than to run into a dark room and hide my head under a pillow to turn off the constant suffering I see all around. But when I place my eyes fully on my Lord, I am strengthened, I have joy and hope, even in the middle of painful circumstances, and when I keep my eyes on Him, I am able to be used of Him to help others. My calling is mercy, that is what He has called me to do, I am to care for others, to pray for them, to help them in a variety of different ways, all in His Name, in His strength and for His glory. Your calling might be different from mine as we all have different gifts and therefore how you feel when your eyes come off Jesus might be different than how I feel, but regardless the principal is the same.

  Keep you eyes on Jesus and everything will be okay. It might be hard, you might have to walk in some difficult places, but if you keep your eyes on Him you will always be standing on a firm and solid foundation and you will not sink. It will not all be sunshine and roses in this world. There will be many days when being a Christian hurts. If it doesn't hurt then you might want to consider carefully whether or not you are truly following Christ. As a Christian you will be misunderstood, you will probably be ridiculed on occasion, you will be burdened and pressed with the needs of others, God will ask you to do things that seem very difficult to do, things that stretch you out of your comfort zone,  but through it all, if you keep your eyes on Him, and follow Him,  you will  have the joy of knowing Him, the pleasure and comfort of His company and His care, the knowledge that He is using it all, every last bit of it, for His glory and for your good and/or the good of others. 

  Following Christ is not easy, He told us very clearly that it wouldn't be easy. But He is faithful in His promises of a peace that passes understanding, joy that is evident even in hard times and a hope that does not diminish when circumstances are not as you wish they were. There is no greater pursuit in this life than following Jesus, there is no better way to spend your life than in His service.

   Following Jesus does not remove you from the troubles and trials of this world, but it does give you the sure and present assurance of His presence with you as you walk through those troubles and trials and His strength and power to get through them in a manner that brings glory to Christ and that shouts out the message of the gospel to a world that is hurting and broken, because that is what Christianity is, it is walking through the troubles and trials and sorrows of this world with Jesus as your Lord and Shepherd showing forth the gospel of His good news of forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation to a lost and broken world.

   Jesus is worth everything, absolutely everything this world has to offer. As the apostle Paul said, " Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." 

Keep your eyes on Jesus and off the waves and everything will turn out okay, and remember, this life here is just a tiny piece of an enormous tapestry. 




Save Now!

 

Save Now!

 

  I was chatting with a friend this morning, someone who like me loves someone with PTSD. Our conversation led me to think about how often I have desired for the Lord to save now, to not wait, to not tarry even one more minute, how often we all do this, we who follow Christ.

  We may be fully and completely convinced of His sure ability to save, we may have complete faith in Him, and yet we desperately want Him to come RIGHT NOW, to remove this pain RIGHT NOW, to save RIGHT NOW! It is terribly difficult to walk through pain and sorrow, to watch the ones you love so very much suffer. It is, and remains the most awful thing I have ever felt. I would rather suffer my personal sorrows one hundred thousand times over; than to watch the ones I love most suffer theirs.

  As my friend and I chatted, I begin to think about the day the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.  The crowds were so exuberant. They had seen Him heal the sick, seen the blind given sight, seen the lame get up and walk, seen the demon possessed set free, and even seen the dead walk out of their tombs! The people were convinced, they needed no more proof. This was their long awaited Messiah! The kingdom of God was at hand! Their King was entering the gates of the city, seated on a donkey, as so many kings before Him had ridden in. Hosanna! Hosanna! Save now!

  I thought about those people, the ones who had stood at the gates, waving their palm branches and throwing down their cloaks and crying “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna! The word means “save now” or “Please save! I believe they were convinced that He was the One and they were convinced that things were going to change now! Their King had come…….,Yet  how devastated they must have been and how utterly confused when the very next day, they watched Him stumble through the streets carrying a cross, His back beaten bloody, Him so weak that another had to be pulled from the crowd to carry His cross…….save now! Save now! Seems such a foolish cry at this point, for He does not even attempt to save Himself.

 And yet all this had to come to pass, it had to go down in the bloody and tragic way that it did. He had to die in order to pay the price for sin, and He had to die in order to rise alive, and defeat death. But at the time, they certainly couldn’t see it. How downcast and afraid they must have been. How disappointed.

 And yet, if we look back upon that day, as we do today, and we see the majesty of it all, how God did so very much more than what they asked Him to do on that day so long ago, when the King of glory rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. They wanted an earthly king, they wanted an end to the Roman oppression, they wanted their bodies healed, their bellies to be full, but He was busy bringing eternal life to His people, He was busy crushing the head of the serpent and buying passage to glory for a multitude of souls. He was busy with the work of defeating sin and death once and for all. They just couldn’t see it.

 

  I too have tasted their disappointment. I have cried out with all that is within me, SAVE NOW! I was convinced without a shred of doubt that He was able to save, that He was my only hope, my faith in Him was sure……but He tarried. He did not come on my timetable, He did not save immediately. I too was devastated.  I too cried out for the pain to stop, for the healing to come, and I too wept at the foot of the cross thinking that all that I so longed for, was not coming.

  And yet as I look back, over some six years of the most intense struggles of my life, I see His hand at work. I see how He was doing so much more than what I had asked and longed for. He was saving, and He was building, and He was working. He still is! While I pleaded for the salvation of my loved ones, for their pain to stop, for their healing to come, He was bringing about a change in me, and a change in them, and the salvation and restoration of many, and He was using all that pain, all that hurt, to reach others, and to change lives.

  Hard times will come. Sometimes I wish that the positive movement, the name it and claim it people were right, that just having enough faith will see you heaped with monetary blessing and worldly happiness and that there will never be a single day of pain, or sickness, or mental anguish. But they are wrong. Hard times will come. Trusting God is not easy when they do come. Watching someone you love dealing with a depth of pain almost beyond comprehension is not easy. Laying them down on the altar of God is not easy. Believing that He has it all in His hands and that He intends good for you and yours is not easy. The hard times HURT. Losing people hurts, seeing them make grievous mistakes hurts, making grievous mistakes yourself hurts, being utterly helpless while everything around you is crumbling into pieces hurts.

  But God is faithful. If you can just hold on to that, cling to it with everything in you, and pray like you never prayed before. You will see, like the people who shouted Hosanna, and saw their King crucified, their hopes crushed, and yet lived to see Him rise from the dead, and start His church, and they turned the world upside down, He will turn your world upside down too! He will be victorious in your life, He will and has heard your prayers, He hears your cries of SAVE NOW LORD, but He is working, He is working to do so much more than you could imagine.

  I eagerly await the end of our story, for we have not reached it yet, but I am excited to see what He will do. I see Him moving! I see His hand in so very many things, I have seen people, so many people, blessed by the things that have come out of our struggles, and I can only see a little bit of what He is doing, and He isn’t done yet. It’s gonna be awesome for He is an awesome God.

  So if its hard right now, if it feels like it’s never going to let up, if you, like me are watching things crumble and are helpless to stop it, pray, pray and believe, and in your unbelief ask Him to help you. Fall on your face before Him when you cannot go another step, and then get up and get out there and tell others about Him, share your struggles, share your triumphs, ask for prayer, and pray, pray, pray. The King is coming! He saves! He is faithful!


The Woman at the Well

    Five times married, and the scriptures do not say whether her husbands all died, or whether they divorced her and moved on, all we know is that she had gone through five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband.

  Regardless of what happened to her husbands, that's a lot of grief and suffering. Death, abandonment, infidelity (hers or theirs) all take their toll upon a soul. I expect it is reasonable to say that this woman had experienced more than her fair share of sorrow.

  I expect that she had her moments, face down on the ground, weeping and crying out to God her "why me's" and her "how long's". Since she didn't even bother with the formality of a marriage ceremony with the man she was currently with, I expect she had perhaps given up on things ever changing. Perhaps she thought that she was beyond the hope of her prayers being heard and answered.

  I doubt she had very many friends, if any. She went to the well in the heat of the day, the other women of the village would have already come and gone in the early hours, when it was cooler. She probably avoided them. I can certainly relate to the desire to avoid others due to fear of judgment or rejection.

  So the woman goes to the well, in the heat of the day to draw water, and low and behold the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords meets her there. What an amazing experience for her, a life changing experience, an answer to all the prayers, a source of hope that overcomes all the hardships and sorrows, a friend above any earthly friend.....she, the lowly woman with five husbands and at least one lover, the woman who must go to the well in the heat of the day to avoid the other women, comes face to face with Jesus.

 The experience was life changing, for she who came to the well in the heat of the day, now goes out to tell others, Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did. Do you think he might be the Christ?”

 Orthodox Church history tells us that the Samaritan woman whom Christ met at the well in the heat of the day, was later baptized by the apostles and took the name of Photini which means “the enlightened one". It is said that she traveled to Rome, preaching the gospel and that she was martyred for her faith in the year of our Lord 66.

 You can read more of the Orthodox church history on Photini here:

http://www.antiochian.org/st-photini-samaritan-woman

   In my devotional reading this morning I read about the Samaritan woman at the well and how God is not deaf to our groaning prayers. He will come, He will answer, He will do so in His time, and in just the right manner. If the wait seems long, take heart and do not cease to pray, to not give up, press onwards, for Jesus will come. "So keep praying and cultivate patient, long-suffering faith. There will be a day when you will find Him unexpectedly at the well of your deepest thirst."

Quote is from the book Things Not Seen by Jon Bloom


Faith of My Father, the Legacy of a Life Well Lived

  Happy Father's Day in heaven to my dad, Clyde Ottie Hall who was, and is the most influential man in my life. My father brought words to life. He defined them. Words like endurance, perseverance, and faith.

  He was born to a large family, in a tiny cabin in Hazel Creek, North Carolina in what is now National Park wilderness. His father was Marion Spurgeon Hall, and his mother Nola Laney Hall. He grew up in a tough environment, life was hard. The closest store was many miles away, and it only carried basic staples, like salt, and flour. There were no cars to get you there. Basic needs that we take for granted like shoes and store bought items were hard to come by. He often went without. He told us he was 15 years old when he first laid eyes on a store bought toy. He once played for weeks with a tiny chocolate turtle that he received in his Christmas stocking. He told us that for most Christmas's they got an orange and some hard candies in their stockings, but that one year there was the turtle, covered in foil. He learned to farm and to hunt, not for recreation but for life. When he was a little boy, he once killed a groundhog with his bare hands, and his family had food. He told us of one hard winter when his dad trapped song birds so they could have meat for the table. Life was difficult growing up in the Appalachian wilderness. 

  He fought in the South Pacific in many famous naval battles. He was known as a fierce man, and his shipmates were amazed when I informed them that Clyde "Gabby" Hall had been changed by Jesus Christ and was called to be a pastor. One man told me that my father would have been last on the list of shipmates had he chosen one for that profession.

  There were many things in his background that I never saw personally. How he loved to fight, and was a fierce fighter. He had a huge scar on his arm from a bar fight. He once threw several persons through a bar window. He once stood in a ring with a prize fighter for the required time, earning his shipmates huge winnings. He manned one of the big guns on board his ship, and he told of shouting his rage to the heavens as the Japanese pilots swooped down so low that he could hit them with a potato. He had some problems with the law in his younger days and it is said that he helped build the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a ball and chain around his ankle. He never shared that one with us, but it was told me by one of his sisters, He drank a lot in his younger days. I never saw these things, other than a brief stint of drinking when my mother walked away, and a willingness to defend us kids against anyone and anything that promised harm. His life was a living testimony to the power of Christ that can completely change a person, and take them to heights they never dreamed possible.

  In his past he had been a reprobate, a sailor, a moonshiner, a coal miner and a farmer. He married Geneva Wilson, and they had a son James Steven Hall, and a daughter (me). One day he went to work, to the long hard day at the cotton mill, and on that day she left him. My brother and I met him as he walked home. It is a day that neither I nor my brother will ever forget. For a short time my father lost his anchor, and we wandered adrift. But he soon found his strength and faith again. He raised us two children alone and he poured his heart into us. He worked in a cotton mill (brutal work) full time. He always plowed, planted and maintained a big garden, and he pastored a church full time.

  He demonstrated daily with his life the qualities that have kept me whole all the days of mine. He never gave up, I have seen him weep, seen him tired, seen him in such pain, but he always managed to keep going. His life was anything but easy. He never had much, but he was content with what he had. He depended on God and demonstrated faith and how to walk with God through the hard places.

  I can't recall a meal that he didn't bless with prayer, and I have many memories of sitting around the table as he blessed the food. He loved to cook, but he wasn't very good at it. I guess if you survived your childhood on groundhog and song birds, then stew with bits of meat, purple cabbage and walnuts was pretty darn tasty. My brother and I never thought so.

  He loved my brother and I with a fierce love. He wanted us to have more than he did, he wanted us to be better people, he desired to protect us from the mistakes he made as a young man. I felt safe with him. He was larger than life to me as a little girl. He became even larger when I finally understood the things he labored so hard to teach me.

  I loved to see him laugh, and he took joy in simple things.He took great joy in his garden and the planting and harvesting always excited him. He loved God, and God's word. He preached every Sunday and most Wednesday nights in the churches he pastored, and he often preached on the radio.He was never once ashamed of the gospel. Indeed many of the times I saw him cry were when he was talking about the grace of God.He knew exactly who he had once been, and that God, by grace alone was the One who changed him.

  My final memory of him was at his wake. I stood next to my brother at the head of my father's casket and shook the hands of a mass of people as they filed by to pay their respects. They told me they came to Christ through my father's preaching, how he had baptized them, how he had visited them when they were sick, how he taught them the scriptures, mentored them in their ministries, performed their weddings, their ordinations to ministry, person after person declaring how the life of this one man, a terrible sinner saved by grace, a man born, raised, and died in poverty had touched their lives.

  I miss him, would give anything to be able to sit on the back porch with him. I wish my boys could have known him. He would be so very proud of them both. I wish my sons could sit on the back porch with him, hear his war stories, hear him speak of Jesus, for he demonstrated to the world how you can be a strong, manly man, full of fire, fierce and loyal and yet devoted and unashamed of his Lord.

  I miss you dad. I will ever be thankful that you were my earthly father. You taught me more than any other person apart from our Lord.I do believe our Lord has allowed you to look down on us in that great cloud of witnesses from time to time, for my heart has and doth hear you cheering us on. You shall be the first face, after His, that I search for. Until then Papa, happy Father's Day in heaven.

Jesus or Nothing; Reflections on a book I am reading.

Dan DeWitt wrote a little book called, Jesus or Nothing, which I am currently reading. It has brought back many memories. The book is very well written, and concerns the subject of atheism, and the choices many make as to either place faith in the existence of God or to discard it and choose instead to believe in nothing.

  I can relate too many of the atheistic views discussed in this book, and Dan asks some very valid questions of those whose faith is in nothing. Why do we often choose to reject God, to discard the concept of God? One phrase leapt out at me as the author discusses a man named Zach, who has chosen to believe in nothing.

“But I do think Zach should honestly consider whether his trajectory away from Christianity is based on the central claims of the gospel or on the all-too-often ridiculous nature of many who profess faith. These are two very different claims.”

 I personally once called myself an atheist, although in retrospect I believe I was just an angry agnostic, a disillusioned believer. I grew up in Christianity. I grew up the daughter of a pastor. I grew up watching my dad constantly suffer, and be so often mistreated by “pillars” of the church. I experienced very judgmental people, and a lot of “thou shall not’s”. These things, and my life experiences, drove me to reject the church and to develop a disdain for most Christians.

 Fortunately for me, I saw true faith in my father; sadly there are folks out there that did not have that experience. For them, most everything they have experienced has been negative. Consider the words of Paul in the book of Colossians 4:6, where he states “Let your speech always be seasoned with grace, as though seasoned with salt so that your will know how you should respond to each person.” And in 1 Peter 3:15 we have  “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”.  You see, we, the people of the cross, the ones who say that we follow Jesus Christ; we are a type of gospel, to those who do not know Him. We may be the only gospel that some people ever see. If my words, my life, my actions are such a contradiction to the message of the gospel written in scripture, people will reject my message, and may never even make an attempt to understand the true gospel that God has given in the pages of scripture.

 In the book, the author quotes a minister who said these words; “The single greatest cause for atheism in the world today, is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. This is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

  I can only tremble at the thought of how many folks, across my 26 years of walking with Christ I may have turned away from the gospel, where my actions, my words, my blindness preached something else to them and therefore helped them along the path of rejecting God. It’s a heavy thing to reflect on.

  Going back to the quote that I shared, from the book, I can say for certain that my path away from faith, away from Christianity was based on the all too often ridiculous nature of those who professed faith. It was the judgments, it was watching a deacon in church stand up and pray, and talk about grace, while knowing that it was his voice on the phone that I answered, his voice telling me that “they would run my dad out of town on a rail for hanging out with #$^% (not even gonna share the word used.) Here was a “pillar” of the church, and he was a racist. Also included in my choice to walk away, was the church lady, whose favorite song was “How Great Thou Art” and who informed me that she did not believe black people had souls.

  Now one thing I must point out, before I lose the thought, is not everyone was like these two I have mentioned. There were a lot of decent persons in my youth, who did display Christ to me, my dad being one among them, but the truth of the matter is, and it’s especially true for young folks, is one negative can outweigh a hundred positives. In the mind and heart of a zealous young person, one negative can send a powerful message. For me, the message was clear, decent, kind, uneducated folks, mean well, but they are ignorant of truth, there is no God, because look at how people who say they believe act, look at the pillars of the church. It’s all a farce, a crutch created, because the world is harsh and dark and we need something to believe in. That was pretty much my view of Christianity.

  Fortunately, the God of the universe, the One who spoke all things into being, is gracious and kind, and continued to pursue me across the wastelands, and brought me to an understanding and knowledge of the gospel, and I realized that it is Him that I must consider, it is Him who sets the mark, and that every last one of us, from Mother Theresa on down, miss that mark. As to why we have so many harsh, mean and judgmental people within the walls of the physical church, I cannot say for certain, only that perhaps they are not yet in the place that God wants them to be, in their walk with Him, for it is a process of growth and understanding, or perhaps they are the ones that He speaks of in Matthew 7: 21-23, but for me, it matters not for I know Him now. My faith is firm, it is unshakable. I may falter in walking it out, I may not speak when I should, or as I should on any given moment, but my belief in Him cannot be shaken. As Job cried out, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

  I understand what it is to have no faith in a personal God. I have been there. I have been atheist, I have been agnostic. I pray that all those who struggle, all those who have rejected, will be moved to deeply examine their reasons for so believing.  Do not let life experiences or broken people be the cause of your faith in nothing. Examine the scriptures; examine the historical reasons for believing, examine the scientific reasons for believing in a Creator. Examine and I will trust God to do the rest.

 For “if the resurrection is true, then racist deacons and anti-intellectual Christian teachers don’t negate its authority and power. They do however illustrate that we are unworthy and that we all have a long way to go. At the same time, no faith is more multi-cultural and has motivated more intellectual inquiry than the worldview whose story of creation, fall, and redemption through resurrection wrestles honestly with our failures—and the process of overcoming them.”

 

  It is my prayer that; You will know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death. Philippians 3:10; and I pray that Christ may live in your hearts by faith. I pray that you will be filled with love. I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is. I pray that you will know the love of Christ. His love goes beyond anything we can understand. I pray that you will be filled with God Himself. Ephesians 3:17-19

 

Jesus or Nothing, a great little book and well worth your time in reading it, regardless of whether you are a believer firm in your faith, or a skeptic, or a seeker.

Jesus or Nothing

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 Here is an older post of my personal testimony, for any who may be interested.

http://allisgrace.posthaven.com/confession-is-good-for-the-soul