Tragedy. Evil. Love Trumps Hate.

A few days ago, singer Christina Grimmie, of Voice-fame, was gunned down as she signed autographs after a concert. Then, today, Sunday, June 12th, a gunman, shouting “Allah Akbar”, murdered at least 50 people, and injured another 53 people in a packed Orlando Florida nightclub during a nearly four-hour siege from 2:00-6:00am Sunday morning, before the SWAT teams stormed the building and killed him. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack calling the gunman an “Islamic State fighter”.

One event is a senseless murder, and the other is another, equally senseless, radical Islamic terrorist attack. It was the worst terrorist attack on our soil since 9/11. Whether it’s a national-level tragedy like today, or the personal, more private tragedies that happen every single day, evil knows no boundaries. We live in a broken, dark, depraved world.

I cannot imagine the level of evil required to walk into a packed nightclub, or to a signature line, or a school, or an office party, etc and just start shooting. But I do know evil obviously exist and is intent on destruction.  I have lived in a small town (Carlinville, IL) for the past 16 years.  In that time, even our small, safe, friendly town has seen tremendous tragedy.  Beyond the young people who have died WAY to young due to car accidents, suicide,  drugs, drunk driving, or disease, we have had shootings and murder here even.  Sheer evil exist in every corner of the world, even in small hometowns where “nothing ever happens here”.

In Revelation 12:10-12 the story is told of a war in heaven, and Satan being thrown out.  It says Satan was “hurled to earth, and angels with him”.  God’s commentary was, “The accuser (Satan) has been hurled down. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

Evil will not end.  More laws, including gun control ones, do not change the human heart. Only Christ can change the human heart.  Hope is found in Christ, and in Christ alone.  Everything else will always come up short.

The best response you can make to rampant evil expressing its ugly reality is to start chasing after the heart of God full speed!  Some of you who are reading this post feel the Spirit of God stirring you right now.  You know you need to make a decision about living your life a little more intentionally.  You know God is turning your heart toward Him.  He feel him right now.  Turn tragedy into triumph!

Bring your anger, fear, and broken hearts to Him.  He is broken-hearted by what happened today too. In the midst of tragedy and absolute darkness, there is ALWAYS hope in Christ.  That doesn’t mean evil stops or goes away.  It means that the light of Christ is greater than the deepest darkness evil can create.  It doesn’t mean that the pain goes away.  It means that   Love wins!… Hope wins!… Peace wins!… because Jesus has already won!

The best way to overcome evil is to give everything to Christ.  Total, and absolute surrender.  How that passage in Rev 12 says it is “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Take something Satan mean for destruction and let God use it to transform you!

 

Feel Like a Failure? God ALWAYS has a Plan

Failure. Have you ever experienced the kind of failure that you thought you would never be able to recover from, or maybe even where those closest to you told you could never recover? And maybe, it was so devastating that is changed your reality, and circumstances. And furthermore, maybe you are still paying a high price for your failure.

There is rarely a week that goes by I don’t receive a message from someone who has messed up in some huge way. One of the first things I always remind a person is that “everything Satan wants to use to destroy them, God wants to use to make them the person He wants them to be”. God is not done with them. And God is not done with you either.

We all need to deal with the issues and failures we are facing. We are personally responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices. Taking personal responsibility is the first step on the path. God being willing to forgive, heal, and restore does not remove consequences or the need to take personal responsibility, it just means that God is wants to restore you.

Each of us has had those days when all needed to be reminded that the Bible is full of messed up people who God used for great things. Noah was a drunk. Abraham was too old. Isaac was a daydreamer. Jacob was a liar. Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused. Moses had a stuttering problem. Gideon was afraid. Samson had long hair and was a womanizer. Rahab was a prostitute. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. David had an affair and was a murderer. Elijah was suicidal. Isaiah preached naked. Jonah ran from God. Naomi was a widow. Job went bankrupt. Peter denied Christ. The Disciples fell asleep while praying. Martha worried about everything. The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once. Zaccheus was too small. Paul was too religious. Timothy had an ulcer…AND Lazarus was dead!

So today I’m sure there is someone reading this article and you think you are done because of something you’ve done; that your failure is beyond forgiveness or recovery. You are not done because God is not done. Do not walk way. Do not give up. God always has a plan.  It might be a painful journey, but God always has a plan.

I just wanted to remind you today that God is for you. God will use every single thing the enemy wants to use to destroy you, to make you the person He wants you to me, if you will just let Him. Surrender to Him. Trust Him. I’m for you. They are many people rooting for you. This is not the day to give up. This is the day to dig in, come clean, get honest, embrace the pain, and begin your journey toward hope, healing, and restoration.

Surviving the Storms of Life

Life is full of figurative storms. Some of the storms we face are financial, some are relational, and some storms regard our health, and so on. We each realize that we have either just weathered a storm, are currently in a storm, or are about to endure a storm. Storms are simply a normal part of our reality. In light of that allow me to make nine observations about the storms of life using the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water found in Matt. 14:22-33.

  1. Storms may come into the lives of Christians even though they are obeying Jesus (v.22). Life happens! God always wants to “give you life to the fullest”, and the enemy always “wants to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). Everything life and the enemy want to use to destroy you, God will use to make you exactly who He wants you to be; the testing of our faith develops perseverance. And “perseverance must finish its work so that we become mature and complete and lack nothing” (James 1:2-4).
  1. Sometimes what starts to be a routine journey can become a real battle (v.24). Have I mentioned that life happens yet?! No matter how perfect our planning process may be, we really have no idea what a day may have in store for us. Sometimes we see the storm coming…sometimes it catches us unaware and unprepared. The good news is that God is never caught off guard. He is already in your tomorrow.
  1. Times of crisis are merely opportunities for God’s intervention (v.27). God specializes in things once thought impossible! Miracles only happen in a place I call Miracle Territory. Peter could walk on the water until he got out of the boat. Get out of the boat of your comfort zone… God’s got everything under control.
  1. Sometimes God calms the storm, other times God chooses to calm the person (v.29-30). Trust Him! He knows you better than you know yourself. Good day or tough day… God always has a plan.
  1. Fear and doubt will cause a Christ-follower to sink into their circumstances (v.30). As true Christ-followers develop spiritually they learn to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Fear and doubt always paralyzes God’s redemptive potential in and through you!
  1. Jesus will respond immediately when a believer calls (v.31). When you can’t see God’s hand working on your behalf, you can always trust His heart. God will never leave you or forsake you. In your darkest moment He is there.
  1. How we respond to life’s lessons showcases our spiritual maturity (v.31). When you squeeze a lemon you get lemon juice because that is what is inside the lemon. We can present ourselves to be sweet on the good days but when we are squeezed by the storms of life what comes out is what is really inside of us.
  1. When the lesson is over, Jesus will calm the storm (v.32). What a truth!!! By the way, the lesson is over when the lesson has been learned.
  1. The level of trust you have in Jesus depends greatly on whether you see his deeds or you know His ways (v.33). God is always faith and true! His grace will always be sufficient and His power will always be immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine! You can trust Him!