Fathers – What They Really Need

Father’s Day is somewhat complicated today. Gone is the simple joy of picking out the new tie, cozy slippers, or warm sweater. Our culture of confused gender roles and sexual identities disparages traditional role of fathers. Single parenting and strained marriages often make stressed parents.

So what do fathers really need?

More than ever fathers – our sons, brothers, and husbands – need the undergirding strength of fervent prayer.

My parents, ages 90 and 92, visited the grave of their only son who tragically died years ago.  At 38, my brother Paul was a strong believer, heartbroken to leave his young family but spiritually ready to meet the Lord.  Not so my beloved parents who stand grieving without hope of seeing their son nor eternal life unless they repent and receive salvation.  

Father’s Day is June 19th.  In anticipation, perhaps as a community of readers, writers, and believers can we commit to pray starting Sunday June 12th for fathers and would be fathers – sons, husbands, and brothers?  May they rise up to know the Lord, pursue righteousness, and take authority in their homes as spiritual leaders, lovingingly drawing their family to Christ.  Will you join me?  

The older I get the more I like lists…perhaps you will also make a list of those you will vie for, beseeching our Father in heaven to intervene.  May they find and fulfill the call of God upon their lives and know eternal hope at their jouney’s end.

Let’s give fathers what they really need.  

Hayer Miatsek!

Hayer miatsek, miatsek Hayer! Armenians unite!

Once again, on April 24th, Armenians gathered for Armenian Martyrs Day, commemorating the onset of the Armenian Genocide perpetuated by the Ottoman Turks on April 24th, 1915.

Bob and I waving flags high (under awning “surreal”) in Times Square on April 24th. Ts4-1024x768

Year after year we gather, members of Congress and local leaders speak, proclaiming support for Armenia and stirring up their constituencies. Religious leaders also speak. Our pastor, Pastor Haig Kherlopian, spoke about the resiliency of Armenians, even after attempts to desecrate and annihilate, we still stand by the grace of God to prosper and testify.

As we gather and proclaim, rally and commemorate, we must check our hearts and assure that they are aligned with God. Why must we gather and rally?

Although 1.5 million Armenians perished and thousands were set upon death marches, exiled from their homeland, Turkey continues to vehemently deny these atrocities. Those who dare teach these truths either disappear or languish in Turkish prisons – Turkish prisons hold more journalists than any jail system in the world. We gather because the truth matters – especially for those who died with no voice to proclaim it.

After the recent war – the onslaught of Azerbaijan upon Armenian enclave Artsakh, Armenia lost much historical land and villages which they inhabited for thousands of years.

“The Greek geographer Strabo, who is estimated to have lived from 64 BC to 23 AD, included Artsakh in his geographic description of Greater Armenia, writing that the entire population spoke Armenian by the second or first century BC, an observation confirmed by archaeological finds.” (Read More: https://www.grunge.com/260893/the-long-and-tragic-history-of-artsakh/?utm_campaign=clip)

Armed with the wealth of military weapons supplied by Turkey, Israel, and Ukraine, Azerbaijan now salivates with prospects of further aggression once the ‘cease fire’ period is over. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, believed responsible for supplying the Phosphorus bomb that devastated Armenian environment, openly celebrated with Azeri President Aleyev’s victory. Thousands of Armenians died, thousands are displaced, suffering as the world does not look on. We gather to be a voice for those who suffer in silence – we will plead your cause; we will lift you up in prayer. We will not forget you.

Ultimately, we gather to encourage one another and reaffirm our faith in God, regardless of outward situations. While possibly tempted toward vengeance, we must pray for our enemies – may the Holy Spirit convict them, take away all their false peace, and cover them with a shame and godly sorrow that will lead to repentance. As our people suffer and homeland is stolen and destroyed, we must be the serving hands and feet of the Lord to help them and above all, encourage them that “Հայկական հողէ” – Armenian land- is not their forever home – our heart must be set upon the Kingdom of God.

Armenians unite! Let us honor those who died for their faith by living for our faith for the glory of God.

The Caravan Keeps Going….

caravan

A lively discussion of current events ensued during a recent stay at my parents’ house, voicing critical and disparaging opinions of political leadership. Sensing its futility, my father put the kabbash on the debate, “There’s an old Armenian saying” he said, “‘Շունը հաչէ, կարավանը կը քալէ’, The dog barks, the caravan goes on…” No matter how loud our complaints and objections, none will not stop or change anything!

My father was born and raised in Syria, lived in an Armenian community, amongst Arabs and Jews. He speaks Arabic, Armenian, Turkish, English and French – and also remembers wonderful cultural adages.

Though the debate ended, this particular proverb stayed with me, bearing spiritual significance. How many Christians ‘bark’ at social and political movements and protest immorality and corruption? Are we ‘barking’ at the caravan, at the multitudes marching upon that ‘broad road that leads to destruction’? Will that bring about any real change? Is that what the Lord did, what the apostles did?

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.

Believers, above all people, should know that this world is on a course; the fruition of sin, the rampant rebellion, and grievous apostasy are all prophesized with detail. The utter futility, if not devilish snare, of protesting and vying for political power has no place as we serve our King.

I pray to live as a “stranger and sojourner” here in this condemned world. May I resist every fleshly temptation to change the course of this world. With resolve I pray not to bark at the caravan but may God help us to rescue those marching in it.

In The Fowler’s Snare For Real!

After refreshing fellowship at church and a tasty lunch at home, FedEx rang the bell with Starry’s Chewy package, yay! I headed down the stairway to the lobby and, as is my habit, I glanced out the stairway windows as I went. I did a double-take at the 4th floor window, my heart quickly deflated. The roof of the next building had a large net surrounding a generator and a big pigeon was fighting wildly to get free.

Caught in the fowler’s snare and no way out!!

pidgeon stuck in net

When owner Columbia University evicted our beloved Bodega to install their own deli, nothing seemed right. I marched into the deli, photo in hand, and approached the cashier.

“I need to see the manager. Look here,” I flashed the pic, “there’s a bird caught in your net on the roof. We need to get up there…”

“Oh, the manager’s not around, probably back tomorrow…there’s no way to get to the roof”

“This can’t wait til tomorrow, this bird will die overnight! Someone must be able to get to the roof.” I went to the back and met with the sandwich guy who shook his head and referred me to the stock man. “Sorry, there is no access available to the roof. It has a special lock and no one can open it”.

“No one” can open a roof door? That’s a building violation.

Already late on a Sunday afternoon, I had to act fast, first contacting the main NYC complaint line, 311 to report Animal Abuse in progress. They referred me to NYPD who did actually show up within an hour. I was so hopeful, so sure they would be on that roof. But subsequent follow-up yielded the same response,

“Sorry, we couldn’t get access to the roof, no one is able to open that door.”

“Can’t you break it down? That bird is struggling so hard, he will surely die a slow death!”

“No, sorry, that’s how we get into so much trouble! We referred this case to ASPCA”

The sun was setting and now Mr. Pigeon is well enmeshed into the net, hanging upside down. I tried every possible intervention, even calling PETA. Bob and I prayed for God’s help. Lastly I turned to the neighborhood social media and posted the situation. Now it’s dark. I need not check on the bird again, my mind played its own tormenting video of the net swinging in the wind, pigeon upside down, and then it started raining hard...

With the wind blowing and rain pelting, the night was restless. With all the suffering in the world, why, I asked the Lord, can I not escape this pigeon? The Snare of the Fowler, by Charles Spurgeon, arose in my mind and gripped my heart. It is an excellent message from this great preacher, in which he quotes a song,

“Satan, the fowler, who betrays unguarded souls a thousand ways….”

The devil’s crafted snares are not for unbelievers – they are already subject to him. His cunning allurements, his deceit and secrecy is reserved for the unsuspecting believer…how could a light weight, nearly invisible net be of any harm anyway? Nothing will happen! Just go near and touch it, fly into it if you’d like!

I tossed and turned, wondering, as I viewed this tortured pigeon on the roof below, what must God’s view be like, seeing His people, called by His name, carelessly toying with sin and compromise – an invisible net that will surely disable and destroy. With love and urgency our Father warns us of danger, and yet so often we near the net, touch the net, believe that it is benign before we’re trapped.

It was still dark when I got up. I prayed but partly hoped the bird died quickly overnight to end his suffering. The media posting was growing with responses and suggestions. The care of unmet neighbors was very encouraging. Bob was leaving for work and I called another friend whom I know to be a ‘fighter of good causes.’ But he was sick and could not help so I offered to help him! But he urged me to check on the bird, “use binoculars” see if he’s still alive and call FDNY.

I really did not want to call the Fire Dept. I knelt and earnestly prayed, “Oh Father, send someone to help me! I can’t save this bird without You!”

With binoculars and a heavy heart I headed to the 4th floor window. Agh, looks dead….but as I watched…he’s ALIVE!!!

JUST THEN the building super came up the stairs to continue work on the 4th floor. “Radames!”, I immediately called out to him, especially since I appear to be spying through the window with binoculars! “Radames, come quick and see what I’m seeing!!”

He peered out, “Ohhh…..”

“Radames, that poor bird’s been fighting all night! My only last resort is FDNY! Do you know the store manager? How can we save that bird??”

“Wait here, just wait here…”

Five minutes later he called out, “I’m up here! I’m up on the roof!!!”

W H A T!?!

radames on roof

My ‘super’ super rescued the bird and held him up to me, wonderful!!! I shouted out the window, “Try and bring him down, I’m taking him for a check up, he’s injured!” I had the Wild Bird Fund ready to take him. Alas, as he loosened his grip the bird flew/tumbled down…Radames came back up the stairs.

“Radames! How did you get them to open the roof door!!”

“Those people don’t know anything! I climbed up the roof myself!”

W H A T!?!

I went outside with him to look for the bird, which had landed upon a high window sill. Impossible to get him, might he mend on his own?

But then I saw how he got up the roof….

back alley

He used two 10′ ladders! Up a narrow passage way, totally death defying to me!!!

Now dozens of people are chiming in on the media page, waiting to see the bird’s fate – the shared joyous relief was so uplifting!

The Fowler’s Snare, let us be alert and discerning! It is crafted to look harmless, even inviting, don’t even touch it! Against this powerful foe, in our own strength, we will end up enmeshed and upside down! But our Father sees all things….

Thank You Lord, our Deliverer and Rescuer! “… Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare….”

Lunching in Bollywood – Again!

Admittedly, I really enjoy my Bollywood lunch breaks in fact, I actually find myself in conversations doing the head ‘bobble’. While it may take a week to finish a film, I have two that I must share, both produced by Aamir Kahn, both starring an endearing teen actress, Zaira Wasim.

In 2017, ‘The Secret Superstar’ casts Zaira as a talented young school girl, Insia, who sings her own songs and plays the guitar. Aamir Kahn often presents pressing social issues into story plots and here we find domestic violence and female oppression. Under her father’s rule, Insia secretly creates and performs online. I won’t tell you the rest, it is an uplifting family movie which you may want to see. “Nachdi Phira” is a beautiful love song that Insia sings. It’s hardly possible not to like this song!

The year before “Secret Superstar”, 2016, Kahn starred Zaira Wasim in his blockbuster film, ‘Dangal’. The movie dramatically portrays the real life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an aspiring wrestler whose life lost all joy after abandoning athletics, never reaching his highest goal – the Olympics. Resigned to live a hard working life supporting his wife and two daughters, one day everything changes – determination grips his heart to train his daughters for greatness. Kahn captures the cultural beauty of family commitments, village life, and the challenges of confronting social barriers. ‘Dangal’ ranks in the top 20 of India’s highest grossing films – it is surprisingly engaging, amusing, and suspenseful. Not one boring moment! I will not tell you what happens!

dangal girls training

What really impressed me….

I was intrigued by this award winning teen Zaira Wasim and looked at her real life situation. What I found really surprised me. At the pinnacle of success in 2019, at only 18 years old, she announced a total resignation from acting and entertainment. She pleaded with fans to remove all photos and videos of her, dismantled social media accounts, and scrubbed what was not copyrighted from the internet. Zaira shared her heart and elaborated to those who loved and followed her, in part:

“5 years ago I made a decision that changed my life forever. As I stepped into Bollywood, it opened doors of massive popularity for me…though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.…This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applaud my way, but…” Zaira describes how fame and accolades derailed her faith and devotion to Allah and added, “I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of imaan” (her inner peace).

“I continued to put myself in a vulnerable position where it was always so easy to succumb to the environment that damaged my peace, imaan and my relationship with Allah…”

“My sincere advice to everyone is that no amount of success, fame, authority or wealth is worth trading or losing your peace or the light of your ‘imaan’…Success is the accomplishment of the purpose of our creation. We have forgotten the purpose we were created for as we ignorantly continue to pass through our lives; deceiving our consciences…”

zaira pose III

“Though I may fit here perfectly, I don’t belong here…”

I immediately wondered, how many Christians would give up wealth, popularity, and notoriety for their faith? How many Christian leaders secretly covet the spotlight and accolades of their venue and beyond? Do we boast about having a ‘Grammy Award winning’ choir? Doesn’t every mega church now thrive on celebritieson talented, famed, ‘worship performances’?

I had to search my own heart, do I turn away from everything that would interfere or diminish my relationship with my Savior? Am I willing to follow Him, away from everything in this world, to obey His call and declare to unbelievers that Jesus is worth forsaking all? How much do we care about others’ opinions and approval?

We too may “fit here perfectly” but we don’t belong here. I pray that we, as God’s people, can uproot and guard our hearts from this world. Only separated can we hope to be a beacon that lights the way for others to enter into God’s Kingdom.

I am moved by this young now former actress. Her conscience was pressed and her heart ached to be right before ‘Allah’. She guarded her faith and ‘relationship’ with ‘God’. I pray her diligence takes her further, compels her toward deep and living truths, and leads her to her only Savior, Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy to forsake all.

God Doesn’t Need a Yard Sale

This past weekend we took off for the country, Amish country actually, to enjoy some activities and relaxation. I reviewed churches in the area, hoping to find brethren to join in worship and grounded scriptural preaching. One church seemed very conservative and doctrinally sound. I called them and learned that their worship is not flashy or entertaining but prepared to exalt God. They are a large congregation, with two services to accommodate hundreds of attendees.

I also learned from their website that one of their families had incurred a great loss. Their barn, with all their animals, had burned down. The church website posted a ‘Yard Sale’ to address the great need to build a new barn. People could donate things to sell. I myself do not have a yard but know enough about yard sales – they are a source of extra income, not a windfall. Perhaps this is just a ministry’s kind gesture. Surely the Body will rise up to the need of the members!

My heart recalled the days of Times Square Church, where the Holy Spirit pressed forth through the pulpit. The greatest joy was seeing His redemptive work as drug addicts, prostitutes, the broken and despairing were called to repentance and new life. Broadway actors found their way to the Truth, tourists dropped in and found something of Life to bring back home. I often invited ex-convicts whom I supervised.

Serving the Lord was a great honor, as was providing for His servants. There was never a time of ‘convincing’, ‘cajoling’, or pressuring the Body. The Holy Spirit would move hearts without hesitation. Once, for example, a beloved pastor known to our church, was in need. He was a pastor in Siberia, serving God amongst many drug addicts, alcoholics, and impoverished. Pastor Dave Wilkerson came to the pulpit and said, “We learned that the church in Siberia needs a new roof, if anyone feels led to contribute.” Bob and I were not prepared at that moment to give but would surely bring an offering later. Too late! Before the service was over, the need was met. Bob and I were actually disappointed, we missed the honor of providing for a beloved servant.

Before our trip I went to the bank to get some checks. This time, we would be prepared for the Lord to call upon us!

We arrived as the worship service started. It was a large, modern sanctuary for a congregation of about one thousand. The songs did indeed exalt the Lord, one I had never heard bowed my heart and teared my eyes…

However, when I opened my eyes and looked around, everyone else was singing like statues. Ok.

Sermon outlines were available and, when a pastor rose to preach a message, it was clear he would be preaching on persecution. He followed the outline and the scriptures therein however, the sword seemed dull and the waters stagnant, my mind wandered and Bob fell asleep in his chair. Ok.

I was still thinking of the ‘Smith’ family, living next to the ashes of their barn. Was there room at the pulpit for the Holy Spirit’s plea?

Although there were happy events and fellowships happening, there was no plea – perhaps this family were not really members? After the service we left the sanctuary and went to a big counter called INFORMATION. A woman greeted us and, learning that we were visitors, began reaching for ‘welcome’ brochures and information. I asked about the ‘Smith’ family barn…

“I saw that the ‘Smith’ family’s barn burned down recently. Are they members of your church?”

“Oh yes!”

“It sounds like a tremendous loss, esp with their farm animals and equipment…”

“Yes, they’re farmers, it’s their livelihood, a terrible loss…”

“Oh. I noticed that the church is having a Yard Sale next week. But I also read online that they need $150,000 to build a new barn. It doesn’t seem that a Yard Sale could possibly meet that need….is it just a stereo type or is it true that the Amish do ‘barn raising’ in one day for each other?”

“No, it’s true, they do. But we’re not Amish”, with that she slowly shuffled the ‘Welcome’ brochures away from us and mumbled, “If you want any more information, you’ll have to call the church office.”

“Oh, ok. thank you.”, I smiled on a cheery note, “By the way, I’m Lisa, this is my husband Bob”

She stared back in silence. No name given, welcome appeared rescinded!

Bob and I were baffled, “She didn’t want to give us her name.” “I know, and she pushed aside the brochures, out of our reach!” We didn’t plan to ‘raise the whole barn’ but wanted to partake in the Lord’s work for brethren in need. But was the Lord working?

What happened to the Holy Spirit? To the kinship of brethren? Do we believe the words we sing, that God “holds the oceans in His hands”, that He is “full of wondrous deeds”? If the Amish, working in the flesh, can gather and build a barn for their community in one day, what might the Holy Spirit do if the Body of Christ cries out to Him and believes?

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13

Surely the Lord calls upon His brethren, irresistibly moving their hearts to give with joy. The Holy Spirit can call various strangers to a church with open hearts to give. Great need is God’s opportunity to display His faithfulness and His life in our midst!

There’s no scriptural call to bring your unwanted possessions before the Lord. God needs no Yard Sale. All He needs is a faithful believing heart, even with a few fish and loaves, to demonstrate that He is our Father, He will provide, and He will never fail us. That’s where His testimony shines in the world!

‘Ingenuity’, ‘digital marketing’, ‘fundraising ideas’ and ‘fun small groups’ are good for social affairs, not supernatural affairs. Are our plans God-led plans? If so, they will not fail – He’s in charge and His purposes will prevail.

May we as a people hunger for and call upon God, depending upon Him, that we may be a God-led people that fulfill His will and glorify Him as we pass through this world.

Introducing….Starry!

As in Starry Night of course.

It was a blustery cold January, just two months ago, when Bob mentioned a kitten around his work facility in the Bronx. The babe’s mother was nearby, frozen to death. This little one kept pawing at Bob’s ankles, even climbed up his pant leg -easily winning him over. Bob and his co-worker decided, “This will be our office mascot, we’ll take him in and care for him!” After two days, that commitment was inadequate. The hurdle at home was, admittedly, me.

For two years since Maggie died, ( Maggie and the Gospel Truth) her 1/2 feral Becky notably grieved and then became increasingly malcontent. Our vet did not recommend getting another cat as Becky (now over 17 years old), never liked anyone except Maggie and was very antisocial. Every night for the past two years, Becky would wake up between 2 and 3am yelling and crying for me to sleep with her. She never liked Bob!

After two years of poor sleep, I insisted about 100 times, “We’re never getting another cat. Becky is the last one, don’t even think of it!”

One hundred proclamations dissolved within 5 minutes of meeting Starry.

He was first named ‘Star’ after the facility name, ‘Starhill’. “But”, I said, “animal studies find that they like and answer to names that end in vowel sounds like eeee….that’s it, STARRY. Like Starry Night!”

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Dreamy Starry Night!

Starry stirred up love everywhere, a real cuddle master! Everyone wanted him, “Can we share custody?” “NO!”

The odd bend in his tail, flopping down like a broken branch, only endeared us more until one day…..it fell off!! And he was playing with it like a toy!

Away from home, we brought him to Urgent Vet Clinic where it was found his tail had suffered damage most likely from frostbite. This led to his first operation….a partial tail-ectomy! What a trooper!

That did not stop him at all…

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Simon Pierce bowl, very comfortable!

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“Here I am, someone call me?”

After five weeks at my parents house, time to head to the city…and prepare for operation #2!  Starry is no less of a boy for it but you know…

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“Grrr…the lion sleeps tonight!”

How did things go with baby Starry and crabby Becky?  Starry loved Becky right away, was anxious to play!  Becky surprised us all…after a time of growling, paw swiping, and hissing there was blissful tolerance!  Who knows, it may even lead to friendship!

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Ahh, blissful tolerance!

The Lord melted all my proclamations in 5 minutes and perked up our hearts in many ways.  

“I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine.” 

Yes Lord, and You surely know those out in the Bronx streets and they are Yours.   Thank You for calling Starry Night and giving him to us!

God’s Appointed Leader

There is a great American divide arising. Democrats, Republicans and all those falling into such camps are arming themselves with as much clout, money, and free flowing power to manipulate prevailing culture. The fortitude of this divide will surely unravel the nation. Predicted, if not premeditated, calamities are coming to fruition. The elected leader of a world power came to office as a weak, infirm, elderly man. Personal security cannot hide President Biden’s frailty…

biden falling

This is no indictment against frail elderly.  They should be esteemed and cared for in every way, not propped up for political puppetry.  After only three months we are seeing the façade crumbling.  What and who will rise up to the forefront will inflame national division and stir implosion.

If God appoints leaders, and He does, and God appointed Joe Biden, what is God’s call to His body in the USA?  Why is God exposing our national weakness, frailty, and utter folly?  

The greatest interest of Almighty God is His people on the earth.  Through them He determines to be glorified and exalted.  Towards this the Lord can orchestrate events and circumstances to separate His people from this world.  Perhaps it is not hard for believers who live under Communism, Islam, or dictatorship to ‘separate themselves from the world’.  But Christian Americans have interwoven themselves through church, civic duties, and charitable initiatives to their nation.  Our light however, is not casting out the darkness, the darkness is dimming our light.  

Dare we read the scriptures in this manner….

Do not love the United States or anything in the United States.  If anyone love the United States, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the United States – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – come not from the Father but from the United States.  The United States and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.  (I John 2:15 & 16, modified)

Is the USA in the world or isn’t it?

The devil is happy to see the people of God clamoring after a man made constitution, vying for their rights in a condemned world, and diluting their faith with ‘right minded’ unbelievers. That is no threat at all to the powers of darkness! But let the body of Christ fully trust in God’s unchanging word and separate themselves unto God. Then will we, individually and together, be enlivened by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel to both sides of the American divide.

According to the late Art Katz, from his book Apostolic Foundations, “…there is something about the nature of nationhood that encourages patriotism, which is an idolatrous preoccupation with one’s nation.”

Satan loves patriotism. It justifies a defendable self-righteousness and deceives even matured Christians. Gaining the attention of ‘important people’ in ‘high position’ is an irresistible allurement to Christian leadership. And still, Satan is happy, for neither Jesus nor His apostles ever jockeyed up the social or political ladder. Every rung on that ladder requires compromise and with each step we lose God’s presence until we reach ICHOBAD.

Through our nation’s division and discord, God is exposing the idolatry of patriotism. Rallying to maintain prosperity, moral ideals, and our constitutional rights makes it impossible to “pick up our cross and follow Christ”. The crucial message of the Gospel becomes little more than a generic message of God’s love instead of proclaiming Christ’s return as Judge and King and calling for repentance.

We are a nation now led by folly, frailty and a crumbling façade. Reprobate minds will lead us further into darkness. May this grip our hearts toward God, may we wait upon Him daily. He may not lead us into powerful political arenas or exciting rallies but to the ordinary, the broken, and those who hunger as the Good Shepherd seeks out His lost sheep.

“Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me.” Psalm 119:133

Armed for a Higher Battle

Heated battles in Washington spark flames in the hearts of many believers, including me. It takes daily discipline in God’s word and in prayer to rein in the fervor. I first worked on a political campaign as a teen – and that senator is still in office! Most tantalizing for believers though, are the esteemed ‘Biblical’ values touted in this arena. It is a snare however, drawing us in ecumenically with others to fight a worldly battle that holds no eternal victory.

“Surely the nations are a drop in the bucket…Before Him all the nations are as nothing…” Isaiah 40:15

“Be careful”, I warn myself, “not to invest your heart into something that is nothing.”

It is of utmost importance for us as believers to know where we’re placed in in the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:18), His gifts and callings. We’re not honing our skills and sharpening weapons for worldly battles but spiritual battles – those that hammer the forces of darkness while honoring and glorifying our sovereign God.

“Preserving our way of life” is no threat to Satan or any demon. Jesus didn’t come to live a good life and He never said we were either. We are called, as the Body of Christ, to display the “manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”. Ephesians 3:10 may specifically relate to the profound working of God, making Jew and Gentile ‘one man’ in Christ as Paul proclaims through the chapter. However, the ‘manifold wisdom’ – complex, intricate, multifaceted wisdom – speaks of our mandate as ‘church’, to confound and triumph over “rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

National politics fall far beneath such conquests. According to God, they “…are regarded as dust on the scales”.

Worldly battles ignite our flesh but spiritual battles mandate death to the flesh, gaining ‘strength through separation’, in the prayer closet and shut away into God’s word. Those who ‘pick up their cross’ will become increasingly broken yet stronger and geared up for battle.

What is God’s call? Perhaps we can see that His call is not for us to be dependent upon church buildings, organizations, denominations, or activities. As A.W. Tozer once said, many churches gather together for fellowship unlike the ‘local lodges’ after their ‘coffee hour’. The Lord, however, seems to invest His call to those most dependent upon Him. His commission doesn’t come with accolades but the burdening of our heart from His heart, that inevitably leads us to minister and serve.

The world doesn’t care about spiritual battles or victories. Who cares or even knows when a drug addict finds deliverance through the Holy Spirit? Or when the loneliest souls reconcile to their Father in heaven and join in His family? When elderly meet God through His Body, when the proud are convicted of sin, when the sinner cries out, “how could I have lived like that? Rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world in the heavenly realm take notice when they suffer loss and defeat through the lives of ordinary mortals who serve at the behest and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like most people, I have definite social and political inclination. Still living in NYC part of the time, I have strong feelings which can be impassioned through the media and the willful direction of my heart. But I don’t want to champion candidates or legislation – I don’t want to fight for that drop in the bucket….

I want to be useful to God’s Kingdom, commissioned by Him that He might work through me. No matter how small the assignment may seem, there is no greater honor in all this world.

Press on brothers and sisters!

The Gospel Proclaimed From a Distance

Before opening God’s word this morning I checked some news and recent posts from sites I follow.  In excatholic4christ Tom proclaims the Gospel (along with current events, special topics, etc)  with the hopes of releasing folks from false doctrine.  Today, in Weekend Round-up, he embedded a brief message by John MacArthur who, in part, extolled upon the Corona virus as an important opportunity to proclaim the Gospel.

Then I opened God’s word and, as I began to read II Timothy I realized…Paul was ‘social distanced’ for most of his ministry, preaching from prison and chains.  And wow, through him the Gospel spread throughout the world! 

Last week I read a very encouraging devotional message written by our late Pastor Dave Wilkerson. I frequently create my own cards, and felt inspired that morning to make one from this devotional,  adding personal messages for my family, relatives, and some faraway friends….  March 19th (2)

Each card had a personal message from me, some had added scriptures.  Here are some responses…

One elderly aunt texted me and said, “Amen and Amen!  Loved the reading, thank you!!”

Another aunt, turning 90 this year, called with much gratitude, “Lisa, thank you so much!  I know that Jesus is our only hope through everything, it’s only our faith that counts…”  We had such an uplifting time of sharing, I was so happy and impressed that her faith had come alive since our last contact.

My closest beloved relative, also turning 90 this year didn’t mention it at all.  In a subsequent phone call, when mail delivery subject came up she said, “Oh, I got that thing you sent in the mail.  Thanks”  and went on to another topic.  (I have to keep praying for my mom).

My sister Stephanie however, who is a nurse, called me to share this…as she received and began reading the card and scriptures enclosed, a close colleague called, overburdened and overwhelmed.  Marge* has a completely disabled husband and is the sole supporter of her home.  My sister said, “I just received this encouraging mail, I’m texting it to you now…”  When Marge read it she called my sister back in tears, “That’s just what I needed!  I need to trust God with all this….thank you so much!”  This meant so much to me as I have prayed in the past for Marge.

While I’ve struggled with feeling unproductive during these days, I’m praying for more ways, as John MacArthur preached, to proclaim the Gospel.  I hope to gain more from God’s word as well.

May the Lord stir all our hearts to proclaim Him and grow in Him…social distancing cannot stop the Holy Spirit and the Gospel from dispelling the darkness!