Untruths Which Can Unhinge Your Faith Series - Part 1
The conversation began hesitantly as one of the women asked, “How do you minister to a mom whose child has chosen to take his/her own life.” A collective moan arose from the circle of women as each of us wrestled with the weightiness of this topic.
The tragic death of a child is one thing, but when one’s child chooses to take his/her own life and commit suicide? Unfathomable. We quietly leaned in as she shared the mom’s sorrow. The “What ifs?” The “Whys?” We all grappled with what we’d say if we were in the same situation ministering to a mom with a shattered heart. Providentially, two untruths (lies) sifted to the surface and became the focal points of our discussion.
Lie #1 - Suicide is an unpardonable (unforgivable) sin.
This lie about "those who commit suicide are damned to hell forever" has pretty much planted itself as truth in the mind of many Bible believers. The evil one does not want us to know the truth, especially when grappling with life’s tough questions. How slimy of him to plant the lie that suicide is unforgivable.
- It empties the grieving of any hope of a glorious resurrection of the lost loved one.
- It causes us to question God and His goodness if there is no hope of seeing a loved one again because they chose to commit suicide.
- It creates a chasm between God and us in our thoughts and beliefs when we need to be leaning into Him most.
1. Truth exposes the lie.
Scripture states in Matthew 12:3, "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."
To the point, the only sin committed by humanity which will not be forgiven is to reject Christ as Lord and Savior. Henry Morris states, “The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ.”
Yes, I believe suicide breaks the heart of God just like lust and envy and pride and gluttony does. But the act of taking one’s life does not permanently separate us from Him, only rejecting Christ as Lord does.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, He stated one of my favorite, full of hope sayings, “It is finished!” John 19:30 Because of that statement, God forgives my sins and your sins if we call Him Lord even if we choose to commit suicide.
By faith, I believe Christ’s death on the cross paid for all our sins including suicide.
2. Hope replaces the lie.
Renowned pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay lost their son, Matthew, to suicide in 2013. Kay said, “Matthew’s body was buried in brokenness, but will be raised in strength.” That’s hope, my friend. That’s truth found in 1 Corinthians 15:43:
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
By faith, I believe Christ rising from the dead on the third day promises a glorious resurrection for those of us who call Christ Lord, despite our sin, because of the cross.
3. Jesus defeated the lie!
I want to show you a nugget from my morning reading of Christ's death in Matthew 27:52. After Christ gave up His spirit in verse 50, look at the cool events God orchestrated to show He kicked death in the teeth:
- The veil in the temple separating man from God was torn from top to bottom.
- The earth shook and the rocks split.
- The tombs were opened.
Yes, you read that correctly! The graves were opened. You know which ones: The ones of the saints, those who believed but died. Not all of them, but just enough to show God’s power over death!
I bet those raised again were sinners just like you and me with a myriad of physical and emotional issues. I don’t know nor do I claim that one might have committed suicide. All I’m pointing out here is God’s love for all of mankind and His power over death. The day Jesus died, God raised a group of believers to live again, just like Lazarus.
Remember my post about the demon-possessed man? Jesus crossed a sea to rescue one deranged, out of his mind, senseless man. That shows the heart of our Savior. Even those whose minds are sick are precious in His sight, including those who choose to end their life with suicide.
He is the God of hope who does not change nor does He lie Hebrews 6:17-19.
The only unforgivable sin is denying Jesus as Lord. The tragic choice of suicide has not nor will it ever separate us from the love of God. Remember 1 Corinthians 15:43. That is hope you can bank on, my friend. How kind He truly is.
Next week, I’ll uncover the other lie we discussed that day, Lie #2 - God never gives you more than you can handle.
How about you? What has been your thinking on suicide and eternal life? Do you know the only one who can give your life meaning and hope? Oh, friend, Jesus loves you and longs to have a relationship with you. If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
“Daddy, will you please let me drive down the back roads?”
“Daddy, can I help you mow the yard?”
“Daddy, I promise I will be careful on the four wheeler! Please let me ride!"
These are just a few memories I vividly remember from my childhood. Tomorrow, February 28th, marks nineteen years that my daddy has been gone from this life. Nineteen years! That is really hard to even imagine. I was nineteen when my daddy passed. I have now spent as much time without him as I did with him.
I was a daddy's girl for sure! I would have much rather been outside helping him in the yard than inside cleaning the house! That still stands true today!
Gotta love the old Easter Sunday pictures!
I never dreamt I would have to start dealing with sickness of a parent at the age of fifteen, but that’s what life brought our family. My dad went in for a routine surgery to remove a cyst and he was never well again after that. After so many doctors were at a complete loss, he was finally diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis. It’s a rare disorder (even more rare back then, only 150 cases known when my dad was diagnosed) that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. It is one of a group of blood vessel disorders called vasculitis. Vanderbilt Medical Center actually used my dad in their research to learn more about this disorder.
The next four years was spent in and out of the hospital in Nashville. After about three and half years, I remember my parents sitting my brother and I down and telling us the medication that dad was taking had a side effect of Leukemia. Dad now had another battle to fight. My mom did the best she could to juggle a schedule of a teenager and stay by my dad’s side. My brother is three and a half years older. He turned down a college football scholarship to attend a college closer to home so he could help our mom.
Although life was not dealing us the cards we had planned, we did what we could to make the best out of a difficult situation. I spent the majority of my years playing basketball and softball. My dad was one of my biggest fans and also my toughest critic. He loved pushing me to be the best I could be. He would always let me know what I needed to improve on. The times when he was in the hospital and couldn’t make it to my games, we would record them and he would watch them in his hospital room. Even when he didn’t feel well, he would be sure I knew what I needed to work on! The memories are oh so sweet!
I remember the day he passed. It was only six months after the Leukemia diagnosis. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I received a call right after church that I needed to come to our local hospital quickly. They were losing dad! My mom crawled up in the hospital bed with him, and we all surrounded him. The hurt and the pain that I experienced that day was like no other feeling I have ever experienced. After they told us he was gone, I crawled onto the other bed in the room and just began weeping. At the young age of forty-nine, my dad went to meet Jesus and at forty-two, my mom became a widow. Our lives were turned upside down.
Why? Why did I have to lose my dad at the age of nineteen? Why did all of my friends still get to have theirs? So many questions filled my mind and my heart was full of anger. Life wasn’t fair!
No, life isn’t fair...I just learned it at a younger age than most people. But you know what? Life also is not about me. God has a greater plan and purpose for our lives. It’s so hard to see when you are walking through the valley. But when He gives you a glimpse of the beauty He creates through the trials, it’s a wonderful masterpiece. I am so thankful that I can look back and see how the Lord orchestrated every step to get me where I am today. Would I love to have my daddy back...more than you know, but I am thankful for where the Lord has me and what He taught me while in the valley.
I thought today I would share some things that the Lord has revealed to me over the past nineteen years:
1. Don’t Take Those You Love For Granted
I was fifteen when dad got sick. It was so much easier for me to go on with life and avoid the hospital than to face reality. Would I have handled it differently and spent more time at the hospital? Sure I would have looking back now! But at fifteen, and not very mature, it was hard to deal with.
Don’t take those you love for granted! Are you estranged from a parent? A sibling? A mate? Go make it right! Don’t wait for something to happen. You’ll regret not having that time back.
If you still have your parents that you can pick up the phone and call...DO IT! One day there won't be a voice on the other end.
You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.
And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
2. God Always Provides
No one can ever replace my daddy, but the Lord has been so gracious to give me a step-dad and a father-in-law that love me as their own. If you have lost someone in your life, pray and ask the Lord to provide someone to help fill that void.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
3. Marriage Vows: In Sickness and in Health
I watched as my mom cared for my dad. What a beautiful example she gave me of “in sickness and in health.” Even when she was tired and exhausted, she pressed on. I pray that if a time comes, and I have to be a caretaker for my husband, that I can be as committed to my vows as my mother was. For more on this topic, check out this post from Tammy.
He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9
4. God’s Sovereignty
God knew long before I did that I would lose my dad, so He prepared each step after he was gone to line up with His plan for my life. Soon after my dad passed, my family’s restaurant won a cruise through one of their vendors. My mom asked if I wanted to go with her. As a junior in college, I met my future employer at dinner one night. He gave me his business card and told me to call him when I graduated. Sure enough I did and he was my first employer out of college. I could write another blog on how the Lord orchestrated each step and I am thankful He has made it so clear to me.
What a beautiful reminder even now that no matter the situation, the Lord is going before me and I need to trust and wait on Him!
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
5. The Hope of Heaven
Oh our God is so, so good! He is faithful to me now and His Word is true...I WILL see my daddy again one day! I always say that I know he will be waiting right behind Jesus to welcome me into Heaven! What a sweet reunion that will be!
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
What is it that life is throwing at you that just doesn’t seem fair? It may not be the death of someone, but we all walk through suffering of some sort. How has suffering shifted your focus towards the Lord? Maybe you are not there yet. Maybe you have lots of questions and your heart is full of anger right now. Can I encourage you to spend time with the Lord? Ask Him to teach you as you walk through the valley. You are never alone, He is with you every step of the way!
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
In the five short months since this blog launched, we have written three responses to national tragedies. First, it was A Response to Las Vegas. Next, it was When the Day of Evil Comes. And, just yesterday, it was When Tragedy Hits Home. Never did we anticipate such a task before us when the live button was pushed on September 1, 2017 making By Faith She a voice of faith and hope.
These topics are hard; the writing assignments difficult. We, too, struggle with the “Why’s” and grapple with the fear these events evoke. Like you, we have also asked ourselves, “Where is God in all of this?”
Yesterday’s shooting at Marshall County High School hit my home turf. My niece was in the room right next to the shooter. My friends’ children were in that building. For me, it wasn’t just some tragic event that was on the news. It was much more real. I, too, received the frantic phone call. My social media was one post after another of constant news footage, calls for prayer, and Marshall Strong profile pictures. Today, my friends and family are scared to send their children to school. It will forever leave an ugly scar on the people that I love most.
The one word that I read and heard over and over yesterday was, “senseless.” We cannot wrap our minds around what happened. Our comprehension fails us. There are no quick answers to the “Why’s?” And yet, they still come.
As I went through the motions of tending to house and children last night, heart weighed down by grief, my thoughts were anchored on Genesis 50:20 –
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”
Good? How could good come from such senselessness? I can hear you thinking right now, "There is absolutely nothing that is good about any of this." And, I agree. There is indeed nothing good about it…yet. Our hope, and the only way we can go forward with healing, is knowing and believing that God will turn this tragedy into something good – something very good.
This confidence in a God who turns evil into good was spoken by Joseph, a man who Scripture says was hated by ten of his brothers. It was Joseph who, with vindictive jealousy, they plotted to kill. It was Joseph who they threw into an empty well. It was Joseph who they sold into slavery. It was Joseph who pleaded for his life. And, it was Joseph who they claimed had been devoured by wild animals to his distraught father.
AND YET, it was Joseph who said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”
How was that possible?
Joseph goes on to say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
What happened to Joseph was terrible. Abandonment. Slavery. Prison. Isolation. There was not an inkling of good in what his brothers did to him. It was tragic, horrific, and, yes, absolutely senseless. Why didn’t God react? Where was God?
It took over 20 years to answer these questions. When Joseph made himself known to his brothers, he told them:
For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Genesis 45:7
God had turned evil into good.
The very thing the enemy used to harm Joseph with, God used to bring about the salvation of his people. Had Joseph not been in Egypt, the sons of Israel would have perished because there was no food in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away. Genesis 47:13
God’s chosen people would have wasted away. But, they didn’t. They didn’t because God used the situation that Joseph found himself in when stripped and chained to a traveling caravan bound for a foreign land for a greater good than Joseph could have imagined. That’s how He works.
The Marshall County tragedy is still fresh and happening in real time. It is hard to see any potential good at this present moment. However, how about Las Vegas? How about Sutherland Springs? If God can bring good out of evil is there evidence of it happening in these two places?
The answer is yes. Absolutely yes.
Last night I reached out to a friend who left the comforts of the Bible Belt last year to plant new roots in Las Vegas. She and her family went for the sole reason to support a church plant. Her courage to step into a foreign world with no guarantee of success are heroic in my book. In my message to her, I asked, “How has the church been impacted by the Vegas shooting? Have you witnessed a revival of any sort?” Her answer gave me chills:
“Everywhere you look you see ‘Vegas Strong’ on car windows, hotel signs, billboards, clothing. It hasn’t stopped lost people from acting lost but I see people being more aware of personal suffering around them. We have about 15 football players at our school who have given their hearts to Christ, followed by baptism, and are now participating in their first ever FCA at the school. This is only a glimpse of what has been going on in our part of the city.”
A school of over 2,000 students now has a Fellowship of Christian Athletes. A fourth of the football team has been saved. Community compassion is growing. And, that is only from one person’s vantage point. Can you imagine how else God is moving in that city? Can you imagine how many more hearts He has revived and rescued?
What about Sutherland Springs, Texas? How can God bring good out of such an evil that occurred in His very own sanctuary? Well, according to CBS News the church had to be moved from a community center to a baseball field in order to accommodate the large crowd of worshippers. The Sunday following the shooting was the largest gathering in the church’s 100-year history. Thousands of people have come to hear the Gospel – some for the first time.
Does this mean that these cities aren’t still hurting? No. But, this does mean that these cities can be filled with hope right now as the Holy Spirit is sweeping through them and turning hearts to Jesus Christ.
Joseph told his brothers that God had sent him ahead of them long before the disaster came so that he could save their lives. The evil act that befell him by his brothers’ very own hands brought about their deliverance. What a beautiful picture of unmerited grace and redemption!
Knowing many of the youth leaders, teachers, counselors, pastors, and people who love on children in Marshall County and the surrounding areas, all men and women of great faith, I know that God put them into their positions long before yesterday so that they would be ready for the salvations that will come from this. Just as Joseph was reunited with his father in an emotionally charged scene in Genesis 46, many of these children, and maybe even some adults, will come to know their Heavenly Father because of the people who are pointing them to Him at this very moment.
The only way that the enemy, who is as old as Genesis, wins is if we let him. My son asked me the other day, “Mom, when does the devil quit shooting his arrows?” My reply was, “Never.” Well, at least not until Revelation 20. Why is that? Because, like Joseph’s brothers hated him, our enemy HATES God. He will plot, scheme, and attack in order to silence the Gospel, paralyze the church, and cripple the people with fear. We cannot let him. Had Joseph languished in prison, rolling around in his plight, the people would have perished. Their salvation and deliverance depended on him rolling up his sleeves and getting to work. The fields were ripe for harvest and so are ours.
Just like Joseph’s story, and so many more in the Bible – from Esther to Jesus to the Early Church – God has used the evil acts that occurred on the soil of Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and many, many more lands throughout history, to bring about one thing – the salvation of souls. And, I can guarantee you, He will do it for Marshall County, too.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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Today, evil has struck my hometown. The people are hurting, they are questioning, and they are clinging together to make sense of such an awful act of violence. Today, my alma mater, Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky had an active shooter.
As I woke up this morning, I had all intentions of posting Part 2 of my Holy Land trip. But, phone calls and texts began coming through as the news outlets began reporting. My social media filled with friends worried about one another. That's when I knew that I had to shift my direction.
Marshall County is a place of sweet memories for me! I hung out with my friends in those same places at school, just like the students did this morning. It’s a place where I learned what dedication and commitment meant. It’s a large high school, with loving and caring teachers and administration that pushes you to be the very best you can be. So much of who I am today is because of the drive that was instilled in me there. So, seeing the community hurt, makes me hurt, too.
Scripture tells us in Ephesians 6:12, “for our struggle is not against flesh or blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.”
How do we make sense of a school shooting? How do we make sense when innocent lives are injured and even lost? How do we make sense when precious minds are wounded by such trauma and fear?
The only way that we can go forward is by trusting that God’s Word is true. Satan will attack any way he can – even through our children. Marshall County is a community that loves the Lord and each other. So, Satan looked for and found a way to try to hurt and cause division there.
But TODAY, Satan does not win! TODAY a community will cry together, mourn together and pick one another up when they can’t rise on their own.
Yes, this act of violence hit home for me, but, what I pray I take from this is that for every act of violence in this world, I must remember that someone is hurting or being impacted just as I am today. May my heart be burdened and may my prayer life be consistent for others that I may not know or have a personal connection with. May I not click to the next channel or scroll to the next post without being completely burdened for those that are hurting. May I take the dedication and commitment that I learned at Marshall County High School and turn it into dedication and commitment to pray.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” - James 4:14
So what is your life? There is so much impact we can make for the Kingdom of God while we are here on this earth. Every human being was molded and made by our Creator and we are all precious in His sight. That makes us valuable and of great worth. Today, let’s pray for all of the victims and let’s pray for the shooter. I don’t know his/her heart condition, but I know a God that can redeem and restore anyone!
Inside the walls of a church building is where life happens. It’s where babies are dedicated and their parents vow to train them up in all the ways of the Lord. It’s where newly wedded couples promise before God and man to love one another unconditionally as long as they both shall live. It’s where broken sinners kneel at the altar of God’s infinite grace and hand their lives over to Him so that they can be born anew. It’s where new believers are submersed under the baptismal waters as a public acknowledgement of their new life in Christ. It’s where Scriptures are taught, songs of worship are sung, countless prayers are cried, and families gather on pews. It’s where the resurrected life of Jesus Christ is celebrated week after week, generation after generation. Big or small…the size of the building doesn’t matter. Anywhere a Cross is hung and the Gospel is preached is hallowed ground. It is a sanctuary of security. It’s the only place in this world where it is safe to be a Christian.
November 5, 2017 is the day when that safe place became unsafe. A gunman in full body armor paced the center aisle of a tiny rural church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot at every breathing soul who had gathered inside to do what they faithfully did each and every week – worship Jesus Christ. This madman took aim at God’s people, and, to the world, it looks like he won.
Churchgoers around the world either turned on the news or opened up social media after they left their own churches on Sunday afternoon and came face-to-face with the horror of what had happened. Despite the uncertainty of details, one fact was clear…this was spiritual warfare. The evil that once lurked outside of the church, covertly targeting believers’ private lives, had found its way inside and it came with one intention – it came to kill. John 10:10
The Apostle Paul concluded his letter to the church of Ephesus with, “Finally,” and then he proceeded to tell them about the spiritual battle that they need to be prepared for. He said:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13
When the day of evil comes. Until this past Sunday, I think most American Christians in this modern age never comprehended how evil “the day of evil” could be. While evil seems to be increasing at an alarming rate, drowning us in daily newsfeeds littered with more terrorist attacks, teenage suicides, pedophilia, perversion, and corruption than ever before, we never thought it would hit us in our holy spaces at point blank range. Despite all the heart-wrenching, gut-twisting news that touches each and every community, each and every day, we have always had our safe houses of worship to run to every Sunday to escape the evil outside of it and to seek solace from its pain.
If what happened to the church on Sunday is indeed a spiritual battle, how do we make use of the spiritual weaponry that Paul lists in this ancient 2,000 year old letter when our battle is now against AR-15s and tormented souls in tactical gear? How do we stand firm while our enemy uses other delusional pawns to plot and plan against us?
The answer comes from the two men who are most affected by the horrific evil that has come upon the churches at Sutherland Springs and the body of believers worldwide. The pastors of this small community, one being the pastor of the church who will lay half of its congregants, including his own daughter, to rest this week, are showing us all how to do exactly as Paul tells us when he says, “Put on the full armor…and stand firm.”
Within 24 hours of their day of evil, these two pastors appeared on national media, drew up their swords, and struck back at the enemy with two blows:
Pastor Frank Pomeroy, First Baptist Sutherland Springs:
“Christ is the one who’s going to be lifted up. And, as I was telling everyone, you lean in to what you don’t understand…you lean into the Lord. And, I will submit this to everyone, my families here and you guys there…whatever life brings to you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don’t understand but I know my God does and that’s where I’ll leave that.”
Blow #1: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Pastor Paul Buford – River Oaks Church, Sutherland Springs:
“It’s only our faith in God that’s gonna get us through this, and it’s our faith in God that’s gonna say that we trust that everyone that was in that church that didn’t come out of there is present with their Lord and Savior right now. Because the Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Blow #2: So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
What exactly is the Sword of the Spirit? How did these pastors use it?
“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” is translated in the original Greek as “machairan pneumatos o rhéma theou.”
A machairan (sword) was a 19” razor sharp double-edge sword with an upward turned tip. Of all the Roman soldier’s five swords, the machairan was feared most. It was designed not only to kill but to rip the enemy to shreds with a stab and a twist to the gut.
The Greek word rhéma (word) describes something that is spoken clearly, spoken vividly, or spoken in undeniable language. According to Greek expert Rick Renner, it carries the idea of a quickened word, such as a word of Scripture or a “word from the Lord” that the Holy Spirit supernaturally drops into a believer’s mind, thus causing it to supernaturally come alive and impart special power or direction to that believer.
Putting these two definitions together, the sword of the Spirit, which is our only defensive weapon in the Armor of God, is like the deadliest, most feared sword and is activated when we SPEAK the Word of God to our enemy. It is the SPOKEN Word of God given to us by the Holy Spirit in our time of need.
Jesus Himself showed us how to wield the sword of the Spirit in Matthew 4:1-13 when He faced the enemy head-on after a 40-day fast in the wilderness. Jesus spoke Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, and 6:13 back at Satan after Satan tried to tempt Him. Jesus countered every temptation with Scripture. After three failed attempts, Satan fled. Poof! Gone!
The Word of God, which is sharper than any double-edged sword Hebrews 4:12, had the power then and it has the power NOW to make Satan flee. These Sutherland Springs pastors gave him a big one-two punch when, by speaking Scriptures, they fought back by saying, “No, I don’t understand but I lean on God’s understanding,” Proverbs 3:5 and “I am confident that the ones you took from us are in the presence of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. With these two Scriptures, they showed the entire world how to put their hope and faith in an all-faithful, victorious God. Death will not leave its sting in Sutherland Springs. With remnants of unspeakable evil all around them, they still testified that CHRIST WILL BE LIFTED UP some way, somehow. They believe as Paul believed, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” Philippians 1:12
These two pastors, led by the Holy Spirit, are showing all the grieving, scared body of believers how to withstand such terrible evil. These pastors are refusing to be moved an inch from their faith in the goodness of God. They will not quit worshipping. They will not quit gathering. They are using the Word of the Living God to fight back. They know a sweeping work of the Gospel is happening right now because of the evil that befell their community. They are confident that God will turn ALL of this into something good.
One tiny church in rural Texas, riddled with bullet holes and roped off with police caution tape, reminds us that there are no safe places anymore. The only safe place we have is in the arms of Jesus. Only He can deliver us from the evil one Matthew 6:13, from the lion's mouth 2 Timothy 4:17, and from every other evil attack 2 Timothy 4:18. And, only HE can bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom one day when our work on earth is done 2 Timothy 4:18. And, until then, as God’s people left to stand firm in this dark and evil world, we are called to put on the FULL Armor of God and join them in this great and mighty work.
The Armor of God Series -
Part One: Know Thine Enemy
Part Two: The Devil's Destination
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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Did He deserve my praise because of what He had done for me, or because He was God?
I think we all know the correct answer to this question, the church answer. But do we know why and do we truly believe that God is good no matter what our circumstances?
I recently had a serious health scare that landed me first in the hospital and then on an operating table. For several days (which seemed like an eternity), the “C” word (cancer) was used many times as a possible cause for the problems I was experiencing. I was transferred to a hospital nearby in order to have a surgical oncologist perform my operation.
If you'd like to read more about how The Lord walked with me through this difficult time, check out my post called, Spiritual Drought. But for now, He is leading me to tell a different story.
A couple weeks after the surgery I received the wonderful news that there was no cancer found. What an answer to prayer! Days later, I returned to church for the first time. During the worship, as we stood to sing and praise the Lord, I felt so truly grateful for the healing the Lord had provided. I was happy to be back with my people and to be feeling somewhat normal again. But a strange question shot through my mind, almost as if God Himself was asking. What if He hadn’t healed me? Was He still good? Did He deserve my praise because of what He had done for me or because He was God? After all, the lady in front of me buried her daughter just months before, and another friend her husband. A young boy standing nearby, who has since passed, was in the middle of battling his own life threatening illness right then. There were scenarios all around me and even circumstances in my own life that had turned out much differently than anyone wanted. So what did I make of this and what was true about God’s goodness?
I believe in the sovereignty of God - that He knows what is best and that He has a plan. James 4:13-14 reminds us that our lives are in the hands of God and we ourselves should remember that we aren’t promised another second. It is only by His will that we live another day. I also believe in the power of prayer. I know that it touches God’s heart when His people come to Him in desperation and plead for His healing power. 2 Kings 20 tells the story of King Hezekiah. God reveals to Hezekiah that his life is over and he needs to prepare for the end. But Hezekiah cries out to God and God answers, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.” 2 Kings 20:5
As a side note, let me ask, why is it that we are so surprised when God answers our prayers? While I was in the hospital having tests run and waiting for surgery, I looked at Jordan and said, “I think something is wrong!” “Why? Are you hurting?” he asked. “No, I’m not having any pain and that’s not normal.” I told him. “Something must be wrong.” At this point, we hadn’t told many people that I was sick because we had no idea what was going on, but Jordan quickly reminded me of the friends and family we had asked to be praying. One of the main things we had asked them to pray for was that God would ease the pain. Instead of thanking God for answered prayer, I was questioning why it was happening. “Just rest and enjoy this answered prayer.” he encouraged. Praise God!
Was my healing God’s plan all along or was it because the prayers of His people? I am so very thankful that the Lord chose to heal my body and restore my health, but I don’t know the answer to that question, and probably won’t know this side of heaven. What I do know is that He is a good God no matter what the outcome and that He deserves praise because of who He is, not for the things He does that I agree with. Fortunately, when this question shot through my mind in church that day, I had already talked through the answers with God while in the hospital. I knew that no matter what His will revealed, because of His faithfulness to me throughout my life, that I could trust His plan, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped for.
If you haven’t walked with God for long or if you aren’t a believer, this may be puzzling to you. How could you believe that a God who would allow bad things to happen, could be good? When I first became a Christian, I didn’t understand this, and there are still many days that it’s hard to comprehend. But when I chose to believe Him and trust what His Word said was true, He slowly began showing me through my life circumstances how true it was. It’s actually been through the harder times that I’ve learned to trust Him more.
It’s like the pain I experienced through my recent illness. It was horrible, excruciating pain. I would have done almost anything to make it stop. But the doctor told us that the pain actually led us to discover the problem and the need for surgery so he could remove what was bad inside. Without the pain, we never would have known it was there and it could have created horrible problems. So many times the pain and problems in life show us our true need for God’s healing in our soul instead of our body. It’s only through trusting Him that we can truly experience His goodness in our lives. Our circumstances will by no means become perfect, but the condition of our souls will be changed forever and each day of life will become sweeter.
Here are some of the promises that I can lean on when it’s hard to understand or trust God’s plan.
Jeremiah 29:11 promises that God has a plan for His children, to prosper them and not harm them, to give them a hope and a future. This does not mean that nothing bad will happen in our lives. This does not mean that we will always get what we want. There will come a day in all of our lives that we will come to the end. But when you know The Lord, He has a future plan for us, even in death.
In Matthew 26:36-42 Jesus knows he is about to die a painful, humiliating death on a cross. He is praying, asking God if there is another way so that He doesn’t have to experience this. But then He says, “Father, not as I will, but as you will.” Even Jesus didn’t want to go through this horrible situation in His life, but He knew God had a plan and that God’s will was always best.
Job is a short Old Testament book, and such an encouragement when you are going through a difficult time. Life went horribly wrong for Job, and even though he didn’t understand why, He knew God was sovereign and His ways were right.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 says, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
Followers of Christ are victorious even in death because Jesus has defeated sin! The only reason to fear death is if you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord, because then in death, you will have to pay for your sins yourself.
Romans 8 is filled with verses of hope for God’s children. If you don’t have time to read the entire chapter take a look at these verses:
Verse 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
So even the bad stuff that happens in our life, God will use it for our good.
Verse 31: What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
My future is secure in Jesus! No matter what anyone does to me or what happens in my life, God is for me and my life is in His hands. I have nothing to fear.
Verses 38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Take comfort with me today friend, that as God’s children, even in pain, even in heartache, even in death, we cannot be separated from Gods’ love!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him
Hi y'all, its Audra and today is Friend Friday. Its in our darkest hours that our relationship with the Lord becomes the most real. He shows up in ways that we never experience in regular daily life. Today, my friend, Teryn, shares this type of story from her own life. It's taken some time, but she's ready to tell you about how God's grace has proved to be enough and how His power has been perfect in her weakness.
On the weekend of February 18, 2017, my family and I took a trip to East Tennessee to visit my sister’s family and celebrate her 41st birthday. Our families get together throughout the year for birthdays, holidays, and just because. It was such a perfect weekend spent with my husband and two kids, my parents, and my sister, Luanne, and her husband and two girls. We did nothing super special but had an amazing time. We enjoyed cooking, eating out, paddle boarding, sitting by the pool and talking (it felt like springtime), makeup sessions by her oldest daughter, playing games, and quality family time. When we left to come home, I hugged my sister and told her I loved her. Later that week, I sent her a text letting her know how much fun we had and told her how I was explaining to my kids that the sadness we feel when we leave her house from the weekend is just because we love them so much and that should make us look forward even more to our next weekend together.
Fast forward six days. My life was about to forever change. It was Sunday, February 26 around 6:00 pm. My husband and I were eating out with our kids when my mom called. I could hear the panic in her voice followed by the words, “Luanne committed suicide.” My heart completely fell to the floor. This couldn’t be true! We rushed to my parents’ house to pick them up and immediately drove to East Tennessee. That was the longest four-hour drive of my life. My mind was racing and trying to make sense of it all. Our past weekend together was nothing short of perfect. Why didn’t I see her hurt and why didn’t she express her needs to me? I had known for the past five years that her husband had had multiple affairs and that their marriage was far from perfect, yet she chose to love him unconditionally and sacrifice her happiness to keep her family together. Her girls, ages 10 and 13, were everything to her and she had told me in the past that she couldn’t imagine one night away from them.
We arrived at my sister’s house at 4:00 am. I can’t explain the horrible feeling of being at her house knowing I wouldn’t be seeing her and knowing that the sadness from leaving her the past weekend was now permanent. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 12 years old, but for the first time in my life, in my desperation, I cried out to God asking the Holy Spirit to fill me and give me strength to face the next few days. I knew I could not do this alone. How was I going to help my parents plan her funeral? How was I going to take her girls shopping for dresses to wear to their moms’ funeral? How was I going to view her body for the first time and even paint her fingernails while she lay in the casket?
I did not do any of the above. The Holy Spirit came to me in my weakness and carried me through the hardest week of my life. 1 Corinthians 15:10 says “Yet not I, but the grace of God within me.”
As I returned to Jackson after the funeral, I began feeling sorry for myself. I was only 36 years old and was supposed to have my sister to grow old with and now I didn’t. I couldn’t even look at my parents without crying, knowing they had lost their child and knowing the agony they must be feeling. I felt overwhelmed knowing I now had to pray fervently for my sister’s girls since their mom wasn’t here to pray for them. It’s hard enough circling the right prayers around my own two kids and now more had been added to my plate.
A dear friend gave me a book called The Red Sea Rules by Robert Morgan. It shares 10 biblical rules to help you through difficult times. Rule #1 says: Realize that God means for you to be where you are. Rule #2 says: Be more concerned with God’s glory than your relief. Wow! This isn’t about me! It’s about God and His plan for me! I’m thankful I took on the task of praying for Luanne’s girls because the oldest one has followed through with believer’s baptism since her mom’s death. Thank you, Jesus, for this answered prayer!
In the weeks to come, I decided I was going to do a little research on my own to try and find some answers as to why my sister took her own life. I sure didn’t want my parents to have to do any of the grueling leg work so I began making phone calls. I spoke with detectives who were in charge of the case and I spoke with the neighbor who was the only witness that night. I called the medical examiner who gave me information I wasn’t even prepared to know. I also called her close hometown friends who told me about some things she had been dealing with. I came to the conclusion that I had to respect the fact that Luanne chose not to tell me or my parents about the continuing problems because she was embarrassed and didn’t want to burden us with the ongoing issues. I was told by a professional counselor that this is typical behavior from someone who is dealing with emotional abuse.
As I worked to piece together the puzzle, I realized how much anxiety, worry, sadness, fear and anger it was causing and then I had a revelation: I had depended on God fully the entire week leading up to my sister’s funeral and He carried me through everything I asked from Him, so why was I, once again, trying to figure this out all alone? I dropped my kids off at school, pulled into a parking spot and prayed. I told God I couldn’t find the answers to my questions. I couldn’t understand why, and I couldn’t fix the situation. I handed it to Him and immediately felt the weight I had been carrying lift from my shoulders. What a simple concept: Let go, and let God. Yet, I tried to do this all by myself.
Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind forever in Christ Jesus.” For the first time since, February 26th, I had peace! Peace from the Lord that is so unexplainable. It only comes from the Sovereign, Most High God, we serve, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
Priscilla Shirer wrote in her Bible study “Discerning the Voice of God” that life's interruptions are divine interventions. She went on to say “if you’re delighting in Him Psalm 37:4, He will often stir your heart, redirecting your feelings and desires in a certain way.” I was supposed to worship God and not my situation. Knowing my God is sovereign has changed my perspective. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
While I still long for the missing pieces, and while I’m still deeply saddened by the loss of my sister and struggle with difficult days, I choose to intentionally fix my eyes on the hope of Jesus Christ. I find comfort in His promises! As the song goes, “And I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace. For I am yours, and you are mine.” I’m loving my daily walk with God and his confirmations assure me that I am on the right track. I know he is equipping me now for what is to come in my future.
Rule #10 from The Red Sea Rules book is: Don’t forget to praise Him. A best friend of mine gave me a CD shortly after the death of Luanne. I put it in my car and began listening to it daily. The songs, “It is Well with my Soul” and “In Christ Alone” became my prayer. I couldn’t sing them at first without tears streaming down my face. Through it all my eyes were on Him and I wanted it to be well with me. I wanted to let go and trust God’s plan. I knew my only hope was in Christ alone. Today, I sing almost tear free as I am standing on the solid rock! To God be the glory! Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”