A Time to Decide

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Understanding the Wounded Heart | Dr. Marcus Warner

In this five-part video series, Dr. Marcus Warner shows how hearts can be wounded—and how they can heal!

Session 1: The Core Model

Session 2: Building Joy

Session 3: Taking Thoughts Captive

Session 4: Forgiveness

Session 5: Listening Prayer

For more information about Dr. Warner and Deeper Walk International, visit deeperwalkinternational.org and check out Dr. Warner’s book Understanding the Wounded Heart!

Father Said

You are not your own preserver;
You are not your own keeper.
Look to me; I will supply.
I’m not a man that I should lie.
Have not I told you in my word,
I would feed the little bird?
You by far are more to me,
Than any little bird could be.
So do yourself a real big favor:
Count on me and do not waver.
Forget the things that are behind,
Mistakes you made when you were blind.
Remember: I have set you free,
So don’t look back, but stick with me.

Margarett Inez Bates

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

Matthew 6:3, KJV

“God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?”

Numbers 23:19, KJV

“…[T]his one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13, KJV

Christian philosopher, Bible teacher, author, and prolific poet, Margarett Inez Bates is a graduate of Mount Vernon Bible College with a Bachelor’s degree from the Christian International School of Theology. Actively involved in Christian service for over forty years, she currently resides in her hometown, Kokomo, Indiana. Margarett has published two books: Poetical Insights: Lifting Up a Standard, and Poetical Insights Vol. 2: A Closer Look. You can read more of her work at Kokomo Poet.

FANTASTIC: Leftist Media Unintentionally Airs Beautiful Pro-Life Message

“NBC allows a wonderful pro-life message of adoption, race relations, and the value of human life to air, which completely undercuts the left-wing narrative.”

Michael Knowles

Watch the full episode here: https://bit.ly/2WLdN0P
Watch full episodes of The Michael Knowles Show here: http://bit.ly/2YOOeev

Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”

Jesus, John 8:34, NASB

“The point of modern propaganda is not only to misinform or push an agenda, it is to exhaust your critical thinking so as to annihilate truth.”

Kasparov

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Jesus, John 8:32, NASB

For details about this sermon and for related resources, visit Pastor MacArthur’s website: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/TM19-1

You can also follow him on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gracetoyou
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gracetoyou
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gracetoyou

Thy Will Be Done

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He [God] wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them. Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy’s will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him – the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say ‘Thy will be done, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided.”

Senior Demon Screwtape to Junior Demon Wormwood, C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Many thanks to the C.S. Lewis Foundation for sharing this quote!

Trust Me on This

“He who trusts in himself is a fool.”

Proverbs 28:26

“…the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:33 (footnote to Isaiah 8:14, 28:16)

Rarely does a sermon, Bible lesson, or a daily devotional not mention some iteration, backstory, or combination of the notion of trusting in Jesus completely while not trusting in ourselves at all.

This is pervasive, standard issue, Christian advice. With Christ living in our own individual Christian hearts, we hope Jesus will help us to shine His light of love, caring, and compassion out into the external world. I can’t help but notice, though, that His bright light also shines into all my own internal darkness. And further, that while His holy light shining into my soul illuminates my sin and error, it doesn’t automatically fix them.

I doubt I’m alone in that observation.

Non-believers in Christ, quasi-believers in Christ, errant believers in Christ, and atheists against any notion of God have the same problem but don’t realize it. Our human default mode – also a sure sign of our fallenness – is that we are ordained to trust ourselves first: “I believe in me.” Then, once we are rich, smart, good looking, and healthy, we feel competent to demand of God why He allows adversity and injustice: “You, God, can fix everything. That’s what the Bible says. So … fix it.”

In my experience, the folks who least understand the Bible and Jesus are often the quickest to blame God for their troubles, trusting Him as nothing more than a temporal Mr. Fix-It. This isn’t a case of a broken light switch; it is a case of blindness to God’s love, truth, goodness, and ultimate mission of Jesus Christ on earth: God’s glory.

Developing the faith to outsource trust onto something we know but can’t see is a sign of a mature Christian. Thinking that the grasp and surety of my faith are a function of my ability to put my trust “in” myself and my intellect presents a contradiction of a fairly high and eternally damaging magnitude: We think we are the light. No. 

Christians spend all this time talking about how much they trust Jesus as their savior, and spend almost as much time worrying about whether they are really saved. I believe this is the manifestation of the tension we feel between the light of Christ shining outwardly vs. inwardly: of His true worthiness vs. our true unworthiness. 

It’s also a telling gauge of trust: What’s harder to trust than that Jesus would save even a sinner like me? Being Jesus’s light out into the world while dealing with, addressing, and feeling the shame of what that light makes us see within ourselves seems, at the very least, a bit of a stretch. Yet, it is the most profound dynamic of hope:

Peace, trust, and deep faith come upon us when we realize it’s all the same light.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) figures our fallenness is all the same; it’s just easier to judge the world’s than our own. Good tip: read the surrounding context in the Bible verses listed up top. “Fool” and “shame” describe permanent, not temporary afflictions. May we endeavor to be neither in the New Year. For more of Walters’ columns, see commonchristianity.blogspot.com. For his books, see www.lulu.com/spotlight/CommonChristianity.

Finding Hope in the Middle of COVID

Though the mountains may be moved into the sea
 Though the ground beneath might crumble and give way
 I can hear my Father singing over me
 “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay”

Tasha Layton, “Into the Sea

Many of you have followed our journey over the past year concerning my husband’s health. Steve was exposed to a concentrated amount of mold that landed him in the hospital last fall with double fungal pneumonia. Fast forward to 2020 and a pandemic. After many conversations with his pulmonologist and infectious diseases doctor, we knew COVID would be devastating, even deadly for Steve.

Under Steve’s doctors’ advice, we chose to quarantine before it was a thing, practiced social distancing if we had to make office visits, and masked up when getting out was a necessity.  We did all the right things to protect Steve’s health. We thought we were safe until we weren’t. 

On October 30, I received a call that we had been exposed to someone with a positive COVID test. Our world began to spin with questions, concerns, even fear. We immediately called Steve’s doctor to formulate a plan of action should things spiral down quickly. And they did. 

By November 1, he was symptomatic, and by Nov 3, we were both full-blown COVID. We tried to battle it out at home, taking cues from the doctor. But when you can no longer breathe, your fever will not let up, and one small step leaves you laid out on the floor, it is time to acknowledge this is not something you can push through without help.

On November 9, we fell into our car and prayed our way to the ER. We said, “I love you,” a dozen times on the way to the hospital. When we arrived, I watched my sweetie labor to walk the long hospital corridor alone. I sat slumped over the steering wheel until I couldn’t see him any longer. 

I took a breath and whispered, “Oh God. Take care of my sweetie. And get me home safely.” God must have sent a battalion of angels to usher me home. When I arrived, my head collapsed onto the steering wheel, and my body shook with sobs. Did I get him there on time? When will I see him again? Will I see him again? 

As I wept, a song played gently on the radio, a song that forced me to look at our storm through the lens of eternity. 

It’s easy to sing
 When there’s nothing to bring me down
 But what will I say
 When I’m held to the flame
 Like I am right now?
 I know You’re able, and I know You can
 Save through the fire with Your mighty hand.
 But even if You don’t
 My hope is You alone.

MercyMe, “Even If

In that sacred moment when eternity kisses the earth, and you see life for what it really is, God asks me a question. “Will you praise me no matter the outcome?” This was my “even if” moment. Do I really believe God is good? Can I trust Him when I cannot see the light for the next step? Is he working and moving in ways that are bigger than my temporary trials? Will His extravagant grace and holy love breathe life into hopeless situations? 

By now, my tears flow uncontrollably as I find the strength to lift my hands and squeak out the words, “Even if you don’t, my hope is you alone.”

Steve was admitted to ICU that evening. The doctors said had I not brought him in, he would not be with us today. Three days later, another trip to the ER, and I was admitted with COVID induced pneumonia.

For several days Steve’s life teetered back and forth, while my oxygen levels prevented me from barely taking two steps. Both tethered to oxygen; we found hope in the truth that our very breath is not of our own making. It is in God that we live and move and have our being. Each step I was forced to take in the dark of night, I would clutch my hospital gown and pray, “Father, it is your breath in my lungs that moves me. So, I look to you to fill me with your breath, and I will pour out my praise to you only.” 

Steve and I have weathered many storms. But both confess that this has been one of the darkest times. We have been stripped of all the securities we hold so tightly in this life and are being given the gift of learning that Christ is enough. All else pales in comparison to His glory. 

After a week in the hospital, we are now home recovering. We have repeatedly been told it would be a long, slow, steady recovery that cannot be rushed. We are finding this to be true. Simple tasks that we once took for granted require so much effort. But we are finding God to be faithful, His grace more than sufficient, and His wrap-around presence healing balm for our tired souls. 

I share this with you in hopes that you will find some comfort in knowing that the same God who is walking us through this is at work in your life as well. He loves His children and longs for us to know Him intimately. Unfortunately, the depths of His love are often revealed through the sorrows of life. We all encounter seasons when we are backed against the wall, with no escape plan in view, just darkness. That is when we feel His nail-scarred hand on our shoulder, hear Him whisper “I am with you,” and catch the unforced rhythm of His heartbeat gently guiding us along

Hope for the Journey is a weekly devotional, sent out to my subscribers, and the space where I share my journey about finding God in the struggles of life. If you would like to join the journey of discovering hope no matter the circumstances, I would love to have you along. Just sign up here: Hope Journey.