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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Holy Land Experience

Mention the name Orlando, Florida and the first thought that comes to most people's minds is Walt Disney World. Now there is another park, of a different kind, known as  The Holy Land Experience. Last Friday, I joined a busload of people on a tour organized by Trinity Broadcasting Network, owners of the park. It was an experience - a very good one. From immaculate landscaping, elaborate artistry and stellar dramatic presentations, the Holy Land Experience embodies the words, Give God the glory. 

Unfortunately, our tour only lasted one day and therefore we could not do and see as much as we would have liked. However, the little we did get was more than worth the cost of getting into the park. We began our day with a visit to an outdoor presentation of The Sermon on the Mount where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes and His disciples distributed to the crowd.

Next, came a stop at the Church of the Nations where a dramatization of Where Heaven & Earth Meet was in progress. If you have ever asked yourself why does God not answer our prayers to save our loved ones from death, or what happens to them after they die, this presentation answers those questions in a poignant but Biblical way.

To appreciate The Four Women Who Loved Jesus, one has to look past the great acting and beautifully embroidered costumes to the manifestation of Jesus' grace portrayed in this little drama: the woman with the issue of blood; the Samaritan woman; the woman caught in adultery and Mary of Bethany. Each of these women showed real reasons why they loved Jesus. Do you know why you love Him?

After a hurried snack, we made a quick stop at the Jerusalem Model, a miniature of the city of Jerusalem, where a guide gave a narrative journey of the city, explaining such things as the temple mount, the Eastern Gate and other famous Biblical sites.

But the highlight of the day came at the end when we sat in the packed auditorium and viewed The Passion. I think this dramatization surpassed the Mel Gibson movie with the scope of its content. While the movie focused only on Jesus' life and death, the play went on to show His resurrection, ascension into heaven and his victory over Satan.

I came away from The Holy Land Experience with a renewed sense of hope in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And a promise to myself to return to this enchanted place where His Name is glorified in the best way possible. If you are ever in Orlando, this is one park you must visit.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This Is Christmas

"This is Christmas
not the tinsel, 
not the giving and receiving,
not even the carols, 
but the humble heart
that receives anew
the wondrous gift, the Christ."

- Frank McKibben

This Christmas let us open our hearts to receive God's unspeakable gift, and once we have received it, let us share it with others so that they too "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3 : 18 - 19). 

Merry Christmas



Monday, December 03, 2012

The Lady Behind Christmas

Whenever we as Christians think of Christmas, we focus on Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season, and this is why we call it Christmas. But have you ever stopped to think what Christmas would be like, or whether we would have Christmas at all, if it was not for a certain lady. I'm talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

We all came into this world as a result of our mothers carrying us in their womb for nine months and then giving us birth. God chose this selfsame method to bring His Son into the world. But it would not have happened if Mary had said "no" to the angel. I imagine the conversation going something like this:

Angel: Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.
Mary: Huh?
Angel: I am the angel Gabriel and I'm sent to tell you you're going to have a Son and you will call His name Jesus for He shall save the people from their sins.
Mary: Are you sure you're an angel? Because if you're an angel, you would know that I'm still a virgin. I'm engaged to a good man named Joseph and we have not had sexual relations.
Angel:  With God nothing is impossible.
Mary (turning away) : I don't know about that. This is impossible. I'm not having a child out of wedlock. They will kill me.

What would have happened then? But instead, Mary said to the angel, " Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her," (Luke 1 : 38).

And we know the happy ending of the story. Mary gave birth  to a beautiful baby boy and laid him in a manger, so that we can have eternal life through Him and celebrate His birth this Christmas season. Are you doubting God, saying 'no' to something He asks of you? Mary had every reason to say no. First, what the angel told her sounded impossible, not just from a biological standpoint, but from a social standpoint as well. Virgins don't become pregnant and if by some miracle Mary did become pregnant, she would face dire social as well as physical consequences. Her fiance would break off their engagement and she would be put to death. 

So, this Christmas season, examine your heart and say 'yes' to Him. It might be as simple as accepting Jesus as your Savior, or as complicated as leaving your home for the mission field. Whatever it is, say yes and leave the rest to God, as Mary did.

You can learn more about Mary and other women who trusted God by clicking on any of the links below:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why Do People Celebrate Christmas?

In another forum I belong to, someone asked the question why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas. The responses were both eye-opening and discouraging.Most of the respondents took the opportunity to point out that Christmas was of pagan origin and to more or less insult Christians and Christianity. I was stunned and saddened. There was a time when the name of God was revered and respected, even by non-Christians, but now people speak of Him as if He doesn't even exist.

Why have people become so anti-Christian? 1 John 4: 3 says, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come ; and even now already is it in the world." (KJV)

 This is so true. The spirit of antichrist is already in the world. Some people may profess to believe in God, but they have a serious problem with Christ and anything to do with His name. This Christmas, let us pray against this spirit of antichrist. According to Bible prophecy the antichrist will make his appearance soon, but we can still pray that the Holy Spirit will turn men's hearts to Jesus Christ. That those of us who still call ourselves Christians will, by our example, draw men to Him. 

I addressed this question about Christmas being of pagan origin in a blog post last year. Maybe it will help you respond to people who try to decry Christ and Christmas.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

We Have So Much To Be Thankful For

As I always do at this this time of year, I have been talking to my patients about Thanksgiving and asking them what they are thankful for. Not surprising, some of them said they have nothing to be thankful for. Others said they were thankful for their friends and families, some said they were just thankful to be alive. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?

Psalm 100 : 4 says, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 says, " In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." So if you're reading this in a hospital bed today, give thanks. If you are reading it after stuffing yourself at the Thanksgiving table, give thanks. If you are like the thousands still without power after Sandy, give thanks, for it is God's will for your life. He is still on the throne.

Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How Do You Handle Rejection?

Rejection can be a very painful experience. Ask anyone who has been rejected either through a broken friendship, engagement or marriage and I'm sure they will tell you it hurt. In the Bible, there's a story of a woman who suffered rejection. I'm talking about Hagar, the Egyptian bondwoman who bore a child to her boss, Abraham. Most of you know the story.

Abraham and Sarah were an elderly couple whom God had promised great things. Among them that he shall be "the father of many nations." Abraham believed God, but there was just one problem - Sarah his wife was barren. So this is where Hagar came in. Sarah gave her to Abraham so she could have a child through her. The plan worked. Hagar had a son, whom they called Ishmael. But God had the final say. Sarah also became pregnant and gave birth to a son - Isaac, the promised heir.

Some years later, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac. She became angry and told Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac" (Genesis 21: 10). Hagar and Ishmael were thrown out with just some bread and some water. Rejected. Discarded. Confused.

How did Hagar handle rejection? She cried out to God and He heard her. He showed her a well of water she'd not seen before. Ishmael grew up to become the leader of a great nation -the Arab people - as God had promised. If you are suffering rejection today - in your relationships, on the job, even in the church - cry out to God. He promises us that "He will never leave us or forsake us" (Hebrews 13: 5). 

If you want to read more about Hagar, why not download a copy of my book Women For All Seasons from Smashwords for only 99c. Here's the link: If you prefer a print copy go to


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

After The Elections

One week ago today the world watched as the people of the United States voted to elect a new president in what I think will be one of the most memorable elections in history. From the campaign to the debates to Sandy and right down to the elections themselves, we will remember them for some time to come. Some may say that Christians should not meddle in politics, but the Bible says we have a responsibility to be involved in matters of government and that includes the electoral process.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God : the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  Romans 13: 1 - 2.

Therefore if you voted for President Barack Obama, now is not the time to gloat, and if you voted for Governor Romney, now is not the time to be bitter. Instead, let us band together to make this great nation the best it can be, for at the end of the day we all take shelter under this canopy called the United States. If one corner sags, the whole thing is in trouble. With God's help we can do it. It matters not whether you like or do not like the president. What matters is that you "render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour" (v 7).

Sunday, November 04, 2012

A Child's Wisdom

My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by hurricane Sandy. I pray that God will give you the strength and the means to make it through this trying season and, despite your suffering, show you that there is a brighter tomorrow.

I composed this post four years ago, but its content is relevant for these times. I trust that you will be blessed by it.

My seven-year-old granddaughter looked out the window at the swaying trees, driving rain and darkened landscape, and uttered these words: "Tomorrow will be a sunny day." I remembered this remark when, about half an hour later, the clouds lifted, the pounding rain became a drizzle and the trees were still. What wisdom from a child's lips!
Her words led me to think about the storms of life. They come in all their fury, with little or no warning, scaring us, reducing us to trembling shadows of our former selves, and then, they are gone. We breathe a huge sigh of relief. Why were we afraid? Why did we worry?

It's only natural. The human mind reacts strongly to any kind of stimuli to which it is unaccustomed. We crave the familiar comforts of everyday life. We do not want anything to disturb the normal rhythm of our existence. But what is normal? Is it never having dark, gloomy days and stormy nights? Is it always rising with the sun and trying to outdo the birds with our singing? Is it always having our eggs done exactly right and finding the right pair of socks?

I think not. Life comes at you fast, to quote a modern cliche. Lightning flashes out of a clear blue sky, the postman brings a packet that you want to hurl out the window, a telephone call sends your world spinning. Life comes at you fast. Storms happen. Your boat threatens to overturn. And Jesus is asleep. You wake Him up. He comes. "Peace, be still," He says-and peace returns.

It's that simple? Well, almost. First you must have Him in your boat. If you have someone else, it may not work. Then, you must stay close to Him. During the storm my grandchildren put away their books, play stations, everything and huddled close to me. That's what you do when the storms strike. Draw near to Jesus, and tomorrow will be a sunny day.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Versions Of The Bible

According to the American Bible Society, there are about 900 English Bible translations, some of them regarded as incomplete, depending on the religion of the readers. With such a wide variety of translations available, most people may possess more than one version, or they may prefer one over another. I was brought up on the King James Version (KJV), and it remains my favorite to this day.

When the New International Version (NIV)  came out, I found the modern language helpful in understanding some parts of the Bible more clearly. I have since acquired a Devotional Study Bible for Women (NIV) which contains devotionals written by women. Each devotional is placed in the book dealing with the scripture on which it is based. Some of the devotionals have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to me and I go back to them from time to time. I also  came across another version of the NIV called the Student Bible. Each book is preceded by a modern application of  the book along with cross references to similar scriptures and study questions.

Another Bible translation I have in my possession is the New Inductive Study Bible. The language is closer to the New King James Version, however, the layout of this Bible is for the person who wants to do a really in-depth Bible study. From maps, pictures, timelines and insightful passages, this Bible will make you feel like a seminary student. The study method of this Bible is observation, interpretation and application. In observation, the reader is instructed to find out the who, what, why and when. Interpretation deals with grasping the meaning of the scripture and application has to do with what the scripture means to me personally. I have learned a lot from studying the Bible this way and from what I've seen so far, there are no inaccuracies as in the NIV.

So which is my favorite Bible translation? It is still the KJV. Mine is the Scofield reference Bible which provides a lot of wonderful background information on the scriptures.  It has helped me to see that Jesus is not just referred to in the New Testament, as I heard someone say recently, but the WHOLE Bible points to Jesus, from Genesis right on to Revelation. It was also an invaluable resource to me in writing my book Women For All Seasons. But when I simply want to read the Bible without studying, just reading for the pleasure of reading God's word, to feel as if He is right there with me, I take up my KJV. For sheer poetry and imagery it cannot be beat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rape: Is It Ever Legitimate?

With the presidential elections just a few days away, both sides have already made their voices heard on a number of topics, including women's issues. One topic that always comes up during election time is the question of abortion and contraception. This year it went a little further when one senator used the term "legitimate rape," which, quite frankly left me scratching my head. Where is the legitimacy in rape?

One thing I love about the Bible is that it tackles every subject known to man. The Bible is relevant today as it was when it was written thousands of years ago. And so the Bible addresses the subject of rape. Deuteronomy 22: 25 says, "But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die." 

Fast forward to the story of Tamar, King David's daughter. She was raped, not by a stranger and not in the fields, but by her brother, Ammon, in his own house.
"And when she had brought them unto him to eat , he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. 12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly ... Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her" (2 Samuel 13 ; 11 - 12; 14).

Did Ammon have a legitimate right to rape his sister? No, he did not. The Bible says that immediately the act was completed, "Amnon hated her exceedingly ; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise , be gone" (v 15). No apology, no word of comfort, nothing. She was thrown out like a dog. King David was wroth at the news, according to the  Bible, but he did nothing about it.

The Bible says that Tamar tore her clothes, put ashes on her head and went out crying. From that time, no man would look at her, because she had been violated. She would be a desolate woman for the rest of her life. Not so Ammon. His life went on as usual. Until finally, as cunningly as he had plotted to rape his sister, his older brother, Absalom, plotted and had Ammon killed. 

Justice was served, you might say. But what about poor Tamar? She is never mentioned again in the Bible. Her life had just about come to an end. Society is much more lenient now. A woman who has been raped or abused may still get married, have a family and try to put her past behind her. But do the scars ever heal? 

The words "legitimate" and  "rape" could never belong together. They are on opposite sides of the coin. But if you have suffered that unfortunate experience, God can heal you. He can turn your scars into stars. He promises to give you  "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isaiah 61 : 3). Won't you call on Him today?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Separation Anxiety

My almost-four-year-old granddaughter has what I call separation anxiety. Jen does not like being separated from her mother for any length of time. She had a very difficult time adjusting to starting school and has only recently grown accustomed to her new routine. She no longer cries when my daughter drops her off. Still, at home Jen seldom stays far from her mother. Yesterday, we attended a wedding, and while the adults enjoyed the cool atmosphere on the front lawn, Jen ran around the lawn, swinging on a post here, stopping to admire something there. But ever so often, she would return to her mother before running off again.

As I watched my granddaughter at play, I thought how great it would be if we had the same anxiety about being separated from God. What if we could go about our daily routine but always kept Him in sight?  Psalm 16: 11 says, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (KJV) Do we feel joy at being in God's presence?

"Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms" (Psalm 95 :2).  Jen shouts, "Mama!" when her mother enters the room and her eyes light up with love and joy. Do we react that way when we are in God's house, in His presence?  David said, "Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me" (Psalm 51 : 11). That should be our prayer day and night. Let us show God how much we love Him and never want to be separated from Him.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stand Still

Have you ever noticed a bird standing still? I have the good fortune to live in a lakefront community where I can watch the birds as they skim over the water, perch on trees or rest on the bank. It is a very calming and restful sight. One of the things I always wonder about birds is why do they stand still at times. As I write this, there's a group of four white ibis standing still on the lawn just outside my apartment. What are they doing? Are they thinking? Contemplating their next move? Or just enjoying the view?

Birds are very intelligent creatures. They know how to forage for food, where to find the perfect living conditions and how to protect themselves and their young from predators. Man is also very intelligent, but sometimes I wonder if that intelligence isn't undermined by our constant busyness. When was the last time you stood (or sat) still without doing anything? And I don't mean while you are sleeping. In Exodus 13: 14 Moses commands the Israelites, "Fear ye not, stand still , and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever."

There are other places in the Bible where people were commanded to stand still so they could hear from God. Elijah had that experience after Jezebel threatened to kill him because he had slain the prophets of  Baal. Elijah became afraid and fled to a cave. Elijah, great man of God who had performed so many miracles, wanted to die because of fear. The Lord appeared to him and told him to stand on the mountain before the Lord. Now see what happens.

"And, behold, the LORD passed by , and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" (1 Kings 19: 11 -  12). 

There's a lesson here for us. God does not speak to us in all the noise and confusion. We have to escape from the busyness, the hustle and bustle of today's life to a place where we can "be still and see the salvation of the Lord." Many times during His ministry when the crowds pressed upon Him, Jesus would call His disciples aside so they could "be still" and then return refreshed and renewed. 

What about you? Do you make time to be still so you can hear from God? Impossible, you might say. But there may come a time when you have no choice but to be still. What if you were lying in a hospital bed? The world will go on without you. Make time now, if only ten minutes out of your day when you turn off the ringer, close your door and be still. Quiet your mind and let the Holy Spirit infuse your soul, your spirit and even your body with His peace and calmness. Be still. You can do it.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Lord Shall Fight For You

The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace …Exodus 14: 14.
The Ten Commandments Pictures, Images and Photos
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that seems difficult and insurmountable? Have you been fretting and complaining and telling yourself there is no way out? Such was the position of the children of Israel. They had been toiling under Pharaoh for four hundred and thirty years, and they had become sick and tired of their situation. Have you been in a place for so long it seems it will never end? You may have even become so used to your discomfort that when deliverance comes you hesitate, you look to the right and to the left,  shake your head and say, “No, I think I may be better off where I am. At least I know what to expect under Pharaoh, but I don’t know what may happen if I leave here.”

Such must have been the position of the Israelites as they followed their leader, Moses, out of Egypt and into the wilderness. The Lord Himself went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to give them light, and for a while everything seemed fine. But they were still in the wilderness when the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he decided to go after them. And when the Israelites saw the Egyptians in hot pursuit, they lashed out at Moses. “Are there no graves in Egypt? Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die out here in the wilderness.” (Read verses 11-12). 

Photo credit: greyerbaby from

How easy it is for us to give in to fear, anxiety and anger when the chips are down. When God’s promises are not immediately fulfilled. When, in spite of the pillar of cloud and fire, we think God has deserted us. But Moses said to the Israelites, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord … The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace” (13 – 14).

Photo credit: elvin_jacob from

So, are you in the wilderness? Is the Red Sea before you and the Egyptians after you? Do not be afraid. Do not murmur and complain. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He is ever present in the time of trouble. He will fight for you and He will deliver you.

Photo credit: xenia from

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do You Know The Lord?

I wanted to touch on something from my last post about the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. When Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh to tell them what the Lord had said, Pharaoh replied, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go ? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go" (Exodus 5: 2 KJV).

Those words are significant. I know not the Lord. Do you know the Lord? Here are some ways you can tell if you know the Lord.

1. You listen and obey His voice. You might say you do not hear God's voice. God may not speak to you audibly the way He spoke to Moses, but He may speak to you in so many other ways: through His word, through another person, through a sermon or even through an incident. Moses first saw a burning bush before he heard the voice of the Lord.

2. You fear the Lord. Some say we should not fear God because God is love, and since He loves us we have nothing to fear. Proverbs 1 : 7 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" People who know the Lord fear His punishment, His judgement, His wrath. Most of all they fear being separated from Him as a result of sin. Jesus said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10: 28 KJV).

3. You love the Lord. To know the Lord is to love Him with an all-encompassing love. A love that goes beyond anything you can feel for your spouse, parents or even your children. It is a love that makes you almost impatient to be with Him. Paul said, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart , and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Philippians 1: 23 KJV).

4. You trust the Lord. Moses and other great men and women of the Bible knew the Lord and trusted in His goodness. He is the God who says, "And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalms 50: 15 KJV). It is what made Paul say, "Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver : in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us" (2 Corinthians 1 : 10 KJV). And when the children of Israel grumbled against Moses he was able to say with confidence, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD" (Exodus 14: 13).

Pharaoh was right. He did not know the Lord, therefore he did not listen, he did not fear, he did not love and he did not trust the Lord. He didn't know there was a King far greater than he who would defend the Israelites and give them the victory. Do you know the Lord? If you do, fine. If you are not sure, examine yourself in light of the above. If you don't know Him, ask Him to come into your heart today. He will teach you everything you need to know.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

God's Perfect Timing

I have been reading the story of Moses and how he tried to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go by working all the miracles God commanded him to do. It's a story I have loved ever since I was a child, as it conjures up for me memories of The Ten Commandments, one of the greatest movies of all times.

If you read the story, you may recall that God sent ten plagues on the Egyptians before Pharaoh gave in and released the people. Actually, God had hardened Pharaoh's heart so he would not let the people go. And God knew exactly what had to happen and at what time Pharaoh would cave in. But something struck me as I read the chapter this morning. Exodus 12 : 40 - 41 says, "Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD's divisions left Egypt." NIV

God could have made Pharaoh release the people long before then, but He had a perfect timing arranged for the Israelites to leave. 430 years to the very day. Not a day sooner, nor a day later. Is God a God of order? Is He a God of precision? Over and over God uses expressions like "appointed time", "set time", "at that time", "in the fullness of time." God does nothing by chance. Although it may not appear that way to us, He has "an appointed time" for everything. Ecclesiastes 3 : 1 says: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" And verse 11 says, "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."

Have you been praying and waiting for God to do something in your life and it seems like nothing is happening? Don't despair. If it is His will, He will do it. He may have hardened Satan's heart against you in order to fulfill His purpose. But at "the set time" Satan will have to release you, your son, your daughter, your finances, your marriage. Whatever he is keeping in bondage, he will have to let it go in God's perfect timing. So, don't cease to pray or to praise. Just wait on the Lord.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Running The Race

As the curtain comes down on the 2012 Olympic Games, there are many events that I, and I daresay, the world will remember for a long time to come. But the ones that stand out the most in my mind are the track and field events. Maybe it's because I grew up watching track and field competitions and sometimes taking part just for the fun of it, not minding at all bringing up the rear. Or maybe it's because so many of the winning athletes hail from the Caribbean where I am from. Whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed the track and field events.

But as I watched in awe and delight as "Bolts of lightning" shot to the winning line and one runner with no legs made it into winners row, I was reminded that the Olympics were first held in Greece and the Bible has some comments on running races. Here's what it says in Hebrews 12 : 1 - 2. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..."

And in 1 Corinthians 9: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all , but one receiveth the prize? So run , that ye may obtain . And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things . Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run , not as uncertainly; so fight I , not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection : lest that by any means , when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" ( 24 - 27).

The Olympics are over, but the lessons they taught us will live on forever.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Stay Up Chick Fil A

It's a sad day when a person is ostracized for voicing his opinion in America. No, I take that back. It's a dangerous day. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? This past week Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A came under fire from gay rights groups for expressing his opinion on same-sex marriage. To counter this, anti-gay groups turned out in large numbers - 500, 000, according to one post - on Wednesday to eat at Chick-fil-A restaurants.

I support Mr. Cathy's statement that marriage, as instituted by God, is between one man and one woman. But even if I didn't, I think the man has a right to express his opinion without fear of reprisals from those who share opposing views. According to Mike Huckabee who whipped up support for Chick-fil-A via his radio show, "every American -- has a right to an opinion. You don't have to agree with it. You don't have to like it. But you ought to respect that people have that wonderful right. You don't have that in North Korea. You don't have it in Iran."

This morning I read part of the story of the Exodus where the children of Israel were made to suffer great hardship just because they said they wanted to go and worship God in the desert. Pharaoh piled on the pressure, ordering his foremen to require the slaves to gather their own straw and produce the same amount of bricks as they had previously. The enemy's tactic has always been to frustrate God's people to the point that they either forget about worshiping Him or they bow to the enemy.

The Israelites, to their discredit, became angry at Moses and Aaron and accused them of bringing trouble upon them. Moses, in turn, confronted God. Listen to him: "Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all" (Exodus 5 : 23). Sounds familiar? Blame God when the enemy persecutes us.

The Chick-fil-A president's troubles began the minute he declared his position for God. So far, government officials from Chicago and Boston have pledged to keep the fast-food chain out of their cities and one of their outlets was vandalized. As if that wasn't enough, gay activists decided to stage a kiss-in outside of Chick-fil-A restaurants. But Mr. Cathy has reacted to all of this in a Christlike manner. He told the LA Times, "...I feel God's going to be with us through this and he'll be with the opposer as well. He doesn't hate anybody."

The Bible says, "Blessed are ye , when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely , for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad : for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5 : 11-12). Mr. Cathy, you are in good company. Thousands have already demonstrated their support for you, but more importantly, God supports you. Stay up!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anger And The Colorado Tragedy

I had planned to continue with the last contributing factor in my series on Anger, but instead I thought I should comment a little on the latest tragedy to shake our nation. As police begin to release the names of the victims of the Colorado shooting, the country is still trying to come to grips with what gave rise to this display of anger. Because the shooter had to be angry at someone or something to carry out such a callous deed.

As I said in my post, "Anger can be a destructive force that prevents you from enjoying God's best and also land you in a lot of trouble." Whether this young man's anger stemmed from fear, frustration, exhaustion, worry or his environment we may never know. All we know is that twelve innocent people are dead and many more wounded.

Can we as a nation do anything to prevent these random acts of violence from terrorizing our society? Our first response to this question might be "Of course not." But think again. In the Bible we see many instances where God's people were besieged by other nations or they suffered pestilence or famine. But the minute they repented of their sins and turned to God, a change came about.

In 2 Corinthians 6 we see Solomon offering up sacrifices and inviting God's presence into the house he had built for Him and entreating God to hear from heaven and forgive the sins of the people. The whole of that chapter is taken up with Solomon's prayer. In the next chapter, fire comes down from heaven, burns up the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord fills the temple. Later in the chapter Gpd makes this promise to Solomon: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray , and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (v 14).

It is still God's promise to us today. We can have an anger-free environment if we would invite God's promise into our homes, schools, workplaces and, yes, theaters. We don't have to live in fear, worry or frustration. We have turned away from God but there is still time to humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. There is still sand in our hour glass but it's running out fast. We must hurry, and pray.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Your Words Contribute To An Angry Environment?

We have all seen news reports on television of people fighting in the streets, throwing rocks or hand grenades, aiming machine guns at each other. We may look at them and think that those displays of anger only happen in foreign lands. We may even think they are justified, given the conditions that exist in those places. We never place ourselves on the same footing with "those people." But if we examine our lives a little more closely, we would realize that we too sometimes throw rocks, hand grenades and even machine guns at our loved ones and the people we come into contact with on a daily basis.

Take this scenario: Jane comes in to work one October morning, spots her co-worker Jill wearing a pair of white pants. Jane turns to Mary, another co-worker, and says loud enough for everyone to hear, "I have learned never to wear white pants after Labor Day." Is that a rock or a hand grenade? Whoever said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me," didn't know what they were talking about.

But throwing hurtful words are not the only forms of anger that we may come across in our environment. There is the body language type of anger. The frigid atmosphere that pervades at the dinner table because Dad doesn't want to be disturbed while he's reading the newspaper. Or, the person who keeps her back turned to you while you are speaking to her. Or the door-slamming, pot-banging, foot-stomping behavior that goes on.

“Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you'll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone.” - Taylor Swift. Do you want your words to bless others or curse them? Lift them up, or tear them down?

Read what James says about the way we use our words: "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things . Behold , how great a matter a little fire kindleth ! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed , and hath been tamed of mankind : 8 But the tongue can no man tame ; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be" (v 5 - 9).