Friends,
Once upon a time, a young man proclaimed that he could woo a certain beautiful girl to be his wife. He spent 4 minutes a day attempting this.

Once upon a time, a young marine proclaimed that he would become the strongest and best marine on his sub. He spent 7 minutes a day attempting this.

Once upon a time, a fledgling artist proclaimed that he would get his art work into a notable gallery. He spent 9 minutes a day painting.

Once upon a time, a Christian proclaimed she would follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. She spent 12 minutes a day reading the Bible, praying, and doing “something sacrificial” that she thought God would be pleased with her for.

Besides hours spent working, sleeping, eating, and doing other necessities, they all set aside time for THEMSELVES (of course.) They all spent 2 hours a day watching T.V., 1 hour a day on the phone with friends, 1 hour a day on a hobby of choice –shopping, cooking, gardening, swimming, etc., and 1 hour a day primping for their looks.

Each failed to achieve their proclaimed goal. (Of course.)

Sincerely,
Rachel

Friends,
WHERE are the preachers?! –Those who are supposed to have been telling the Body of Christ all along to FLEE from sin? –Those who should be teaching the sheep how to live a holy life? –That is, by daily feeding off God’s Word? Oh, no. Instead, almost everywhere, we’ve got whiners in the pulpits who continue to take sin lightly because they themselves hold on to their own pet sins! THAT’S why they aren’t preaching holiness! Do they not see the grievousness of what nailed Jesus, God’s Son, God in the flesh, to a painful cross?

C’mon! Let’s all insist upon holiness in each other! Let’s insist that no believer tramples God’s lovely, precious grace that was extended to us through that very high price. If YOU had allowed YOUR child to be tortured in someone else’s place and they just trampled that gift with their flippant attitude toward what had caused your child to have to die a torturous death, would that not cause you some wrath? Well, it does God too!

Speak up! Tell your pastor and the congregation that YOU insist on holiness in them. Oh? -there’s those who don’t want to do this…? –Why not? Is it because you would then feel like a hypocrite? And why’s that? Because you also are holding on to some pet sins that you just love too much? Um-hum…

May this “Christianese nonsense” stop –with us!

Sincerely,
Rachel
(Heb. 10:26-29 –“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left… but only… raging fire… [for you are] treating as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified [you]…” You are insulting the Spirit of grace and trampling Jesus Himself underfoot. (v. 29) And v.31 says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” As Jesus says in Luke 13:3, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”)

Friends,
It never ceases to amaze me how so many people, rather than having an eagerness to maturely debate the Bible, instead desire and attempt to promote some favorite “Emperor’s New Clothes.”

For those who don’t remember that childhood story, it was about an emperor who had two tailors come to his city who said they were such esteemed and gifted tailors, that the elaborate gowns they were accustomed to sewing were always so magnificent that only the very elite –that is, only those who were “worthy” or “had the wisdom” would actually be able to SEE the gorgeous new clothes the emperor would be wearing. So, thinking this “wondrous”, the emperor had the exquisite clothes sewn and fitted, paying a handsome price, of course. And even though he, ever-increasingly mortified, could not actually see the clothes himself, he was assured by the tailors, as well as others who came by to favorably hail the tailors’ talents, that the clothes were magnificent. Unbeknownst to everyone, was the simple fact that NO one could see the clothes. However, not one person would admit to this for fear that they were the only ones who were not up to the “worthiness” or “wisdom” of being able to do so!

So… the big day finally arrives: The emperor is going to parade down the city streets in his new clothes –for everyone to honor him for his grandness. The people line the streets and here comes the emperor… yet still no one can see ANYTHING on the emperor, save his underwear and crown. Even so, they all wave and praise and speak glowingly of the “superb” pleats, the “splendid” jacket, the “beautiful” frills… The emperor, hearing some of the exaltations above the din, smiles ever more pridefully and continues to strut. All of a sudden a young boy squeals, “But Mother, he doesn’t have ANY clothes on!”

Too late the mother tries to hush the “foolish” boy… for another boy yells to his friend, “The emperor is naked!” Soon boys and girls are laughing, pointing, mocking. Parents are aghast. The emperor’s crown tilts, but he quickly adjusts it. His eyes flutter, his heart beats in panic. The townspeople are starting to mumble, others are quiet, but others keep praising the “glorious clothes.”

What does the emperor decide to do? Does he run? Does he ask someone for a cloak to cover himself with? No… He just makes up in his mind that the foolish townspeople are too ignorant to see the clothes. And he continues to parade down the street.

Unbelievable.

Yet… This is exactly what happens in many board rooms, courtrooms, chat-rooms, websites, bookstores, schools, universities, capitol buildings, conventions, and churches.

No one says a word. …Even if the whole idea is naked.

Speak up.
Put an end to nonsense.

Sincerely,
Rachel

P.S. Let’s remember this: Jesus said, “…anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Jesus in Matt. 18:4) “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. FOR THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD IS FOOLISHNESS IN GOD’S SIGHT.” (1 Cor. 3:18,19) Are you weary, like I am, of politicians, economists, professors, AND big-name “prophets”, psychologists, authors with doctorates, preachers, and “revolutionaries” touting their secret, mysterious, or elitist “wisdom”? I thought Christians believe that wisdom comes from God and His Word and the fear of the Lord. Can we please get back to THAT?

Friends,
Keep believing, standing firm in faith. Do not doubt or faint, for God’s deliverance is indeed on it’s way, if we do not give up. 1 Cor. 10:13 tells us that God will allow no temptation beyond what we are able to bear. Is not one of our biggest temptations –unbelief? –Unbelief in God’s words, His goodness, His ability to deliver? Doesn’t the temptation to disbelieve God in our sufferings and trials slide us into even more grief? Let us not succumb, for He promises us in this same verse that He will always provide a way of escape.

Read these encouraging quotes from the blind Scotch preacher, George Matheson: “There is a time coming in which your glory shall consist in the very thing which now constitutes your pain… It was the seeming absence of his God… The hour of thy loneliness will crown thee. The day of thy depression will regale thee. It is thy DESERT that will break forth into singing… The thorns will be roses… the ruts will be level. The shadows will be shining… The tears will be tracks of gold…” Let’s believe it and use all seemingly obvious defeats as stepping stones to the joy and peace which is sure to come –IF we but believe God! (Not faith in faith… no, for that can crash often… But faith in GOD.)

Here’s an anonymous quote I found: “If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than a conqueror, and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name.” Yes, the exercising of our faith is necessary in order to get stronger…

So let us not attempt to cut our cross in half, or attempt to make our burdens lighter, or beg Him to have “this cup taken from us”… For later we will most certainly be grateful for the training we received from the cross, the burden, and the cup. They are the very methods by which we will have acquired maturity, strength, and faith in God. They are that which will help us over the huge trials that later are bound to come, and will actually be the cause for our future afflictions seeming to be easy and light! For God uses the cross, the burden, and the cup to not only teach us to “walk on water”, but He often turns them into blessings for us and are the means through which He is glorified!

So may we always remember that what seems hopeless, can always, with God, be turned into victory! As 2 Cor. 2:14 says, “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” And we could add Romans 8:28 & Gen. 50:20.

May faith, strength, and victory be yours,
Love,
Rachel

Praise Brings Deliverance

August 27, 2009

Friends,
Here are some of my favorite verses. Quoting them, or reading them aloud, can uplift you as it has done for me.

Ps. 22:5– We cried to You and were saved; in You we trusted and were not disappointed.

Ps. 119:116– Sustain me according to Your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered.

Ps. 34:19– A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.

Ps. 57:1– I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.

Ps. 130:5– I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.

Ps. 145:9,19– He has compassion on all He has made… He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.

Ps. 120:1– I call on the LORD in my distress, and He answers me.

Ps. 66:19,20– God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!

Ps. 6:9– The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.

2 Cor. 5:7– We walk by faith, not by sight.

1 Sam. 1:16,17– I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief… Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.

2 Kings 3:18– This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD.

Zech. 4:6– Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD Almighty.

Ex. 17:15– The LORD is my Banner… For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD.

Remember too the Jericho story: “March around the city…” (Josh 6:3) And the Naaman story: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” (2 Kings 5:10) To us, these seem silly things to do, but, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (v. 13) So I believe we would see “mountains” collapsing (Matt. 21:21) if we would hear from the Lord on what to do and then do it– even if it seems too simple. And one of those “simple things” is to praise.

“As they began to sing and praise, the LORD…” brought victory. (2 Chron. 20:22)

“As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning…” (Ex. 17:11)

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today… The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex. 14:13,14)

Ask the Lord for a promise from His Word and hang onto it. The Lord can surely and completely deliver!

PRAISE CHANGES THINGS!!!

Love,
Rachel

Trust in the Storm

August 26, 2009

Friends,
Keep casting your cares upon the Lord, looking straight at Him, not at the wind and the waves. Remember the song that says, “Even though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm”? Or how about the hymn that says, “Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ”? Our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter does offer to cover us with His wings. Psalm 57:1 says, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.”

For those in chaos, in exhaustion, in despair… a friend’s words can seem so inadequate–like a tiny drop of comfort in a huge barrel of grief. It can help, but real help comes from God’s Word. His Word is powerful and living and active and healing. (Ps. 33:6 / Heb. 4:12 / Ps. 107:20) Read it. Use it. Believe it.

God can change things. Continuing in Ps. 57… “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me. He sends from Heaven AND SAVES ME… God sends His love and His faithfulness. I am in the midst of lions; [This may be disease, abuse, slander, rejection, uncertainty, fear, etc.] …BE EXALTED, O GOD, ABOVE THE HEAVENS; LET YOUR GLORY BE OVER ALL THE EARTH… My heart is steadfast, O God… For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (v.2-10)

Yes, He is loving, faithful, and mighty to save. Praise Him for this. Stand confident in these truths. Believe in His Word. In Mark 4:39,40 we are told, “He [Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?'” This was Jesus’ response when, in verse 38, “The disciples woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?'”

He does care. He is full of compassion. (Ps. 145:8,9) But we need to call out to Him, and when we do, He will have mercy. “Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your love, O LORD, supported me. WHEN ANXIETY WAS GREAT WITHIN ME, YOUR CONSOLATION BROUGHT JOY TO MY SOUL.” (Psalm 94:17-19)

“Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles…” (Psalm 105:4)

Yes, praise Him –for what He has done, and… for what He is still going to do.

Love,
Rachel

Believe and Praise

August 25, 2009

Friends,
Wait with patient faith, with confident hope, with grateful praise. Look up at God in total trust, saying, “Shepherd, God, without Your intervention, I am HELPLESS! …Thank you so, so much that You are in control and that You love to grant good things to us.” For we can be assured that for those who love and serve Him, He works to bring about the best for us. Ps. 84:11 says, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” “Blameless?!” you say. Yes, we can be considered blameless in God’s sight –if our hearts are constantly turned toward Him in an attitude of humble obedience.

Ps. 145:19 says, “He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.” Thank Him that He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” (Eph. 3:20) Remind Him of His promises that tell us that “whatever we ask –we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:15) For our God is mighty to save. He is compassionate. He is forgiving. With Him as our Father, the calf is always the “fatted calf”, the robe is always the “best robe.” (See Luke 15:22,23) However, we must take our hands completely off the steering wheel. We must believe with certainty that we can rest in His hand –in His plan– and relax.

I, for one, want to always be willing and ready to do everything He tells me to do. However, I’m realizing that my eagerness can also become impatience or fretfulness. Like, “There’s got to be something more I can do about this,” when actually, I have absolutely NO idea what to do about it. And if I act in presumption, I could ruin everything. Let’s not forget what Abraham and Sarah did. They heard God correctly concerning the promise of a son, but then by getting impatient and trying to help God along, they added only trouble and harassments for themselves. (Gen. 21:8-13) Or think of how Moses, correctly impressed that he was to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, went ahead of God and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. (Ex. 2:11,12) Because of that act, God had to then send Moses to the wilderness for 40 years to wait there for God’s timing concerning the promised deliverance.

Yes, sometimes we are to stop talking and huddling and get out there on the field, but often our “deeds” are to praise, pray, wait, and trust as we continue serving at our present post. Until God Himself brings the promise our way, we are to do exactly as He’s had us doing. We are to remain faithful. Faithfulness is key. Then with His perfect timing, that promise or assignment or reconciliation or deliverance or healing, etc. will just fall into place, with joy, peace, provision, and the necessary strength. Let’s believe this to the point that we can actually see it with our spiritual eyes and praise Him for it –as well as for all His mighty workings! Thank Him that He is God and that He knows everything. Praise Him for His presence –that He stoops to listen –and care. Do you believe He is right there with you now? Examine your level of belief. If it’s low, ask for an abundance of it!

So, with certainty, confidence, and faith, may we all pray and praise without ceasing. For every single statement of faith to God is indeed piling up; not one is wasted. Believe it. And wait. JOYFULLY thank Him for what He is preparing for you! The promise may seem huge and impossible, beyond our ability to reason out how it could ever happen, but He wants us to leave the outworking entirely to Him. That actually should be easy. “You mean, God, that all we have to do is keep our eyes steadily on You and believe with grateful hearts?” “Hmmm…” speculate the doubters. “That just sounds a little too simple.”

Yet this is what TRUE Christianity is all about: CHILD-like faith. As Jesus says in Matt. 18:3– “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Yes, that can be difficult, especially for hardened, worried hearts which many people have allowed to grow within themselves. But the Holy Spirit can change us, and He wants to! It’s a simple thing for HIM! As God says in Jer. 32:27, “I Am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?” The answer is: “Absolutely NOT!”

“Then they believed His promises and sang His praise.” (Ps. 106:12)

Let’s believe. And praise.

Love in Christ,
Rachel