Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Support Christmas This Christmas!

"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,
and having on the breastplate of righteousness..."
Ephesians 6:14

I am so excited that Christmas is coming soon!
Just one month from today!
What a wonderful, happy time of year!  
I look forward to it all year long, and there is a certain sweet boy in our household
 who gets even more excited about it than I do!  
The fact that his birthday happens on the day after Christmas just multiplies his excitement!  
May he never lose his sense of wonder!

Okay, so I know everyone is probably kicking their Christmas shopping into full swing about now,
and Black Friday is quickly approaching, 
so I wanted to post a reminder to check out 

Every year, they publish this list based on how much a business supports Christmas.  
I don't know about you, but I take this very seriously.
If a store refuses to use the word Christmas in their advertising and displays, 
then I refuse to give them a cent of our hard-earned Christmas shopping money.  
Why would I?
I not only stop patronizing them at Christmas, 
but I try hard not to give them a dime throughout the year, too.  
If they refuse to acknowledge the true meaning of Christmas, then I refuse to acknowledge they exist. I don't mind driving miles out of my way in order to shop in a store that supports Christmas.
 I just feel that strongly about it.
Thank the dear Lord, there are still plenty of Christmas-supporting competitors out there,
so we all have more than one choice.

You know one of the things that irritates me the most about
their refusal to call Christmas by its real name (in addition to the obvious reason of the fact they are trying to eliminate our dear Savior and Messiah from everything possible)?
Every, single one of these stores see a massive increase
in their bottom line every November & December.
They reap the financial benefits.
Yet, they refuse to acknowledge the reason why.

I have been known to get into some very "healthy" debates over this,
as I write to companies trying to encourage them to stop surrendering to a very tiny block of the population and pointing out that the vast majority of us
have no qualm or issue with the use of the word Christmas.
In fact, we cherish it.
Most of us long for the preciousness of it all.
We still feel the warmth, comfort, and joy of Christmases past,
which includes the fun and excitement of shopping for gifts for the ones we love.
Most of us long for tradition, stability, and continuity.

So, to stop standing up for Christmas just because a select few are offended by it
is just incomprehensible to me.
It is just one more way that we have caved and waved the white flag of surrender
to a secular, atheistic, liberal-minded worldview and mindset.

I have also been known to send emails and letters that contain lofty words of commendation
to those companies who make it a point to proclaim Christmas.

There are two main stores that I feel need special recognition here.
Walmart and Dollar General Stores stand head and shoulders above the rest in their support of Christmas, in my humble opinion.
The word Christmas shows up all over the place...
in their commercials, circular advertisements, and stores.
They are the recipients of the biggest bulk of our Christmas spending,
along with Christian companies we try to faithfully patronize all year long,
such as Christian Book Distributors and Lifeway Christian Store.

Maybe the Lord will lead you to write a letter of your own this Christmas.
Why not take a few moments to click here to commend Walmart's corporate headquarters,
and/or click here to contact Dollar General.
Let them know how much you appreciate their stand in support of Christmas.
They truly do read these comments and often respond.
Every voice makes a difference!

I am so grateful to the American Family Association for their dedication to this cause.  
I know they have made and continue to make a huge impact and difference.  
I rely heavily upon the integrity of their research every year, and I truly hope you will visit their site and use this invaluable list as a factor in deciding where you will shop this year.  

Supporting stores and companies who support Christmas
 is another wonderfully effective way to overcome evil with good.

Let's make a statement this Christmas!
Let's consolidate our efforts and refuse to patronize those who refuse to uphold Christmas.
Let's only shop in stores that support it.
Together, we will make an impact and positive difference, and perhaps all will see that, we Christians are a force to be reckoned with!!
That we literally put our money where our mouth is.
That we stand behind our verbal profession of faith and loyalty to our Lord.
That "there be more with us than be with them".  2 Kings 6:16
Let's do this!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Eleven Ways To Overcome Evil With Good & UPDATE On Makeya & Max Brown

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:21

I don't know if I have ever been fought so severely while trying to complete a blog post.
The past several days have been SO difficult.

I don't want to waste God's....or your time here,
by giving satan credit for the evil things he hurls in our direction to try to foil God's purpose in us.
But, I feel led to share just a tiny glimpse into the spiritual warfare I have been fighting.

It just amazes me how satan attacks the parts of us that God NEEDS to use.
It hit me tonight and became so transparent.
Two vital components that are needful to fulfill my calling are my voice and hands....
to speak and sing God's messages and encouragement and to write/type the devotionals for this blog.

So, what are two things (among others) that have been the hunted targets of some of satans' latest schemes?
You guessed it.

For the sake of not wanting to take up too much space for this,
I will forgo the voice/throat attack and other trials and move on to what happened to my hand today.

PLEASE NOTE...I feel I should warn you that
what follows is not for the faint of heart and contains a graphic description of an injury. :~)

With that being said,
Mom Smith is very ill and in the hospital,
(we would deeply appreciate your earnest prayers for her healing),
and during our visit with her today,
we went to the cafeteria vending machine to get Dad S. a snack.
The bag of Dorito's got stuck, so I reached in to give the metal flap a tap to try to jolt the bag
and cause it to fall down into the opening far enough for me to reach in and fish it out.
Instead of this happening, the metal flap got stuck,
and when I tapped it again, it sprang loose, flew shut HARD,
and clamped down on my finger, in the process.
It all happened so fast!
When it slammed shut, reflexes kicked in automatically,
and I jerked my hand out of the machine.
As I did, a chunk of the top layer of the middle finger of my left hand
stayed wedged between the hard metal flap and the ridge of the bottom of the machine.
It hurt so much, I nearly passed out.
I was terrified to look down...I honestly did not know what I would find.

It was not a pretty sight, let me tell you.
Blood was gushing...pouring out, as I sank into a nearby chair.
Several people around us saw what was going on, and rushed to my aid...
handing me napkins, getting bandaids, and speaking kind words.

I sat there for a while trying to get the bleeding stopped...wishing I had cayenne pepper in my purse...
YES, it really does work and instantly clots a flow of blood...
we have tried it and experienced it, firsthand, more than once. :~)
But, I foolishly had no cayenne on hand, and the blood continued to pour.
(NOTE:  I am not a doctor or a medical professional, so I assume no personal liability
for individual results or repercussions.  I am only sharing what has been helpful to our family.
And, YES, to answer your question, it burns!)

I finally felt strong enough to walk back to the elevator with Kevin and Zach,
and once we reached Mom Smith's room on the third floor, I was feeling pretty faint.
I walked out to the nurse's station to see if she could provide more bandaids
and possibly some antibiotic cream.
She took one look at me and strongly suggested that I head downstairs to the Emergency Room.

By this time, I easily consented.
To spare even more gory details, I will fast forward to tonight.
Here I sit....
tightly-bandaged, thickly-wrapped middle finger...
trying my utmost to type because I know God called me to write.
I am convinced Homespun Devotions was and IS His idea.

I started writing this devotional days ago, and, by God's grace,
I intend to finish it...in spite of how difficult this is.
This is not about me.
It is all about Him.
And I want to be faithful to fulfill my calling and convey what He has laid upon my heart.

So, I proceed...in His strength alone...because I want good to overcome evil...
in this and in every other situation.


To me, one of the saddest predictions Jesus made concerning the end times
is found in Matthew 24:12,
"And because iniquity shall abound, 
the love of many shall wax cold."

This verse in the NIV reads this way,
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold."


the Weymouth New Testament words it like this,
"..and because of the prevalent disregard for God's law the love of the great majority will grow cold."

I don't know about you, but when I read this verse, I am brought to tears.
There is a sad, deep ache in my spirit, especially when I realize that you and I...right now...
are watching the dismal and heartbreaking fulfillment of Jesus' words.

It is happening, my friend.
Iniquity is abounding.
Wickedness is increasing.
There is a prevailing disregard for God's law.
And because of these facts, the love of many is in the process of growing or has already grown completely cold.

Have you ever seen such a dog-eat-dog mentality,
such a lack of consideration, concern, and respect,
and such a self-seeking time?

Jesus said it would be like this in the last days....
all because of the increase of wickedness in the hearts of mankind.

As I said in my last post, it feels like evil is winning the war.

When we feel defeated and outnumbered, there is this impulse...this temptation...
to just give in and adapt the mindset that it if we can't completely obliterate the evil,
if we can't make a huge, show-stopping difference,
if we can't impact the whole, wide world at once,
then we may as well just cave and succumb to hopelessness
and do absolutely nothing at all.

This is exactly where satan wants us to be...to stay.
His goal is complete apathy....
impassivity; unresponsiveness; indifference; lack of interest, enthusiasm, and concern,
a total suppression of spiritual passion for God,
and complete spiritual paralysis.

" The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke

Concerning apathy, Wikipedia says this,
"...apathy is described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess
the level of skill required to confront a challenge."

The enemy wants us to feel that we can't do what needs to be done
and that our individual contributions are insignificant.

We, as Christians, are facing some of the most challenging of times,
and if satan can convince us that we are unequal to these challenges,
he has already won the war.
Because if he convinces us that we are incapable,
he will have persuaded us that there is nothing we can do...
to turn the tide,
to make a difference,
to bring a reviving to the spiritual deadness.

Another ploy I see him using is a little more subtle.
He is managing to convince us that since we are living in the end times, there is no need to even try to make a positive difference...
that we are defeated before we start, so, what's the point?
Please hear me out.
He will do this in whatever underhanded, conniving way he can.
He will even quote Scripture.
He tried it while tempting our Savior, remember?
Three, separate times, satan came at Jesus with God's Word.
If he had the audacity to tempt Jesus Christ through the use of Scripture,
don't you think he will try it on us?

He will remind us that "evil seducers will wax worse and worse" 2 Timothy 3:13,
and he will bring many other prophecies to our minds to make us believe that since these prophecies must be fulfilled and it is inevitable that it happens this way,
we may as well remove our armor, lay our weapons down,
and sit still in a state of hypnotized paralysis...
just waiting for the worst.

Please don't misunderstand me.
I believe we ARE in the last days, and yes, these prophecies ARE being fulfilled at record speed,
and Jesus is surely soon to come.
I believe that with all my heart and soul.

But, just because this is reality,
just because this is definite and will take place,
Jesus did not tell us to throw in the towel,
throw up our hands,
and throw away our courage.

He never said we should stop fighting,
just because we are nearing the end of the war.

He said to "Occupy till I come."  Luke 19:13

The original meaning of "occupy" in this verse means...
"to busy oneself;
transact business, trade;
to bear much fruit i.e. the opposite of being fruitless
because of refusing to make trades by playing it safe."

Just look where "playing it safe" has landed us.

Jesus did not say to occupy until close to the end, then quit when things look really hopeless.
He said, "till I come", however long that takes, whenever that happens to be.

Evil is rampant.
You and I are here...for such a time as this...to overcome evil with good.
To make a difference.
To stand in the gap for the sake of our children, our family, our nation, and the church.
To "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die..." (Revelation 3:2).
To be the positive change we wish to see.
Sometimes, we can be the answer to our own prayers.

So, here we are.
As Christians, we are the light of the world.  (Matthew 5:14)
We are the salt of the earth.  (Matthew 5:13)
We are the city that is set on a hill so high that the whole world is watching us.  (Matthew 5:14)
We are, after all, the ones who have dropped the ball,
allowing the enemy to gain such a foothold in not only our society,
but even more alarming, the ranks inside the church.
Passivity got us into our present state.
Occupation will get us out and move us forward.

So, as salt and light, what are we to do?

Salt heals.
It preserves
It seasons and disinfects.
It enhances and brings about positive change.
Salt creates thirst.

Light dispels darkness.
It illuminates.
It comforts.
It exposes.
It dispels fear and becomes dominant.

When Jesus stepped onto the scene of earth,
our world was permanently and irrevocably changed for the better.
No level or power of evil could extinguish the goodness of His light.
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
John 1:5

Darkness will never be able to extinguish light.
When light appears, it always wins.

I think a big part of overcoming evil is to simply take control of a bad situation and turn it around, reversing the enemy's intended outcome, in the process.
This is not easy, but it is possible, by God's amazing grace working within us.

In no particular order, what follows is an abbreviated list of eleven categories and lots of simple ways that we, as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, can overcome evil with good.
I say abbreviated, because, truly, the possibilities are endless,
and to narrow them down to fit into one blog post would be impossible.

1.   Keep God first, front, and center.
Let Him be the first person you talk to in the morning,
and the last person you speak with at night.
Saturate yourself with His goodness.
Give Him your all.
Make your relationship with Him paramount.
Don't do anything without consulting with Him in the first moments of your day.
Listen to His voice.
Be in tune with His prompts.
Walk in complete obedience to His will.
This is the best and truly the only way to be properly and adequately prepared
for the guaranteed onslaught of evil waiting for each one of us on any given day.
Living life this way, seeing everything through God's lens,
weighing all upon the scale of His Word,
 will automatically help us discern the difference between right and wrong.
If we stay continually filled to capacity with His goodness,
this is what will automatically flow out of us in every circumstance.
It will be there when we most need it to be called forth to combat and defeat the evil around us.
The goodness of God on the inside will rise to every evil occasion on the outside and overcome it.

2.  Love your family.
Mom used to tell me that "charity begins at home".
If we can't overcome the evils of friendly fire inside the "safe" walls of home, how do we expect to be able to overcome the evil hurled at us from enemy ranks on the outside?
Perhaps you have a hard row to hoe at home.
Maybe the ones you live with aren't the most pleasant.
It could be that they are downright hateful and difficult.
If this is true in your situation, you are in good company.
Jesus said, "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."  Matthew 10:36
He knew this very well from firsthand, human experience.
The Weymouth translation of Mark 3:21 says,
"...His relatives came to seize Him by force, for they said, He is out of His mind."
I wish we had more information about the daily happenings of our Lord's life.
This incident was only a small glimpse into what it must have been like for Him,
yet it speaks volumes.
Jesus' family members were not supportive of Him, His mission, or His ministry.
I have a hunch that Jesus had some very difficult, disparaging relatives.
Actually, it is more than a hunch, because Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was tempted in
every, single point that we are....yet, He never sinned.
This confirms the fact that He had to deal with overcoming evil with good on every possible level,,,
even within the realm of the ones closest to Him.
Love is stronger than hate and more powerful than revenge.
Sometimes, we treat strangers with more respect than we treat the members of our own household.
No matter what, in spite of all, love your family, with all of their quirks, idiosyncrasies, and faults.
If your parents are impossible to please, demanding, and continually provoking you to anger,
make an inward determination to love them and prove it daily.
You know them better than anyone.
Lighten their load.
Be there for them.
Be the bigger person.
Just because they are older doesn't necessarily assure they possess wisdom,
but we still owe them and are Biblically commanded to extend to them our respect.
"It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right."
Job 32:9
If your spouse is ill-tempered, why not say no to the temptation
 of reacting in a similar way, and try being extra-sweet instead?
If your child is being contrary, instead of losing your temper and yelling,
adding fuel to the flame, why not try to find a constructive, productive activity for them to engage in,
re-channeling all of that rambunctious energy, in the process?
If your in-laws are nit-picky and quarrelsome, diffuse tension by lovingly serving their needs.
Sweetness will win out every time.
Do something nice, in return for spiteful behavior.

3.  Take control of the tone.
Don't allow evil to hold on to the upper hand.
Don't play into its plot by perpetuating it and reacting in the same evil-like way you are being treated.
Overpower it, the minute you discover and identify it for what it really is.
React as Jesus would.
You walk into the grocery store and cringe, because the first person you see is the cashier who consistently makes it obvious that the last thing she wants to do is to speak to you, let alone serve you in any way.
All you can think about is the many times you have been forced to go through her line
and left the store in total frustration because of her rudeness.
How to overcome the evil?
Expect the challenge, and be mentally and spiritually prepared for it.
Don't allow your attitude to be dictated by hers.
Don't let your niceness be contingent on whether or not she is nice.
Chances are, she won't be, but, as God's ambassador, you still can and should be.
Smile at her.
It doesn't matter if she smiles back.
Ask her how she's doing as you walk past her towards the produce department.
Don't be annoyed if she doesn't ask you the same.
Chances are, she won't, so don't even hope for it.
After you shop, make it a point to go through her line.
Tell her she is doing a great job, and you appreciate her help.
Keep command of the situation forcing good into it, continually replacing the evil.
This will not be easy.
Be persistent without being pushy.
Don't allow her to ruin your day.
Stay sweet, regardless of what she does or does not do.
As you load your groceries in the trunk of your car,
you will know that good overcame and won the battle,
because you did what was right.

4.  Find something to pity.
It is hard to react in duplication to someone's ill-treatment
while your heart is going out to them in compassion.
Learn the fine art of empathizing.
Put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Imagine the weight of the cross they daily bear.
Keep in mind that their burdens may be greater than yours.

Convince yourself of the reality that underneath the roughness and crude exterior,
there is an undying, eternity-bound soul that Jesus loved enough to suffer intensely for
and lay down His life to save.
Look at the person who is annoying you through the eyes of Jesus Christ.
Imagine how He must see them.
In a way that is not condescending, react with genuine compassion,
as if the person were someone dear to you...
because they are worthy-of-dying-for dear to our Lord.

5.  Be kind.
I know...this is so basic, so simple.
But, too often, we forget who we are,
we overlook Who we profess to imitate,
and we do the opposite of what He would do.
Make a commitment to do one kind thing every day.
It doesn't have to be elaborate or costly or difficult.
You don't even have to leave the house.
Keep a box of assorted greeting cards on hand....
especially the genres of get well, sympathy, encouragement, friendship, and thinking of you.
Take out your address book, and carefully consider each person listed.
Is there a reason you could send them a card?
Do you even need to have a reason?
Just take out a card, add a few heartfelt words of your own,
put it in the envelope, address it, add a stamp and return mailing label,
and walk it to your mailbox for the delivery person to pick up.
This is especially beneficial in overcoming evil with good if there is a measure of contention
between you and someone else.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath..." Proverbs 15:1
Let an act of kindness be your soft answer.
Don't go to bed at night, until you have done one kind thing.
You never know how many ripples of kindness you will unleash,
just by one small, sincerely-kind deed.
No one knows the length of their individual days, but if you start this pattern today, just imagine how many kind deeds you will be able to squeeze in before you leave here!
"I expect to pass through life but once.
If therefore, there be any kindness I can show,
or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now,
and not defer or neglect it,
as I shall not pass this way again."
William Penn
There is an expiration date on every window of opportunity.
Seize and take full advantage of every chance to be kind.
Kindness multiplies.
It is contagious.
Once you try it and realize how good it feels,
you won't want to stop at just one random act of kindness per day.
Soon, it will become your normal way of life.

6.  Extend grace periods.
Haven't we all needed one of those at least once in our lifetime?
For a bill that was due before we had the money to pay it?
When we were unavoidably hindered in doing something we said we would do?
When we got in the wrong lane on the interstate and needed to make a quick change?
Instead of cutting people off so quickly,
give others the benefit of the doubt when you don't understand their actions.
Assume the best of them, until proven otherwise.
Cut them the same amount of slack you long for
when you make a mistake and need a season of grace.
Don't be so quick to write them off and automatically assume the absolute worst.
Lots of things can happen in between the moment someone makes a promise
and the moment they are able to keep it.
Have mercy, for goodness sake.

7.  Forgive.
One of the best gifts you can offer someone else is to forgive their wrongdoing.
Forgiveness will quench fires of contention.
Haven't we all needed forgiveness?
Who among us will never need it again?
Grudges are heavy burdens.
Forgive to the degree and at the speed you long to be forgiven.
Instead of perpetuating the disagreement and discord, be the bigger person, and just let it go.

8. Supply the needs.
As you are able, use your excess to bless.
Donate money, extra clothing, shoes, food items, blankets, linens, and household goods directly to those who need them or to charities that will pass them on FREE of charge.
Volunteer your time to serve at a homeless shelter or Gospel mission.
Jesus said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8
"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren,
ye have done it unto Me."  Matthew 25:40
Kevin doesn't like to be bragged on or exalted.
He lives his life in a generous, compassionate, caring, altruistic way, without the necessity of fanfare.
While I deeply respect his need for anonymity and lack of publicity,
I am compelled to insert something here that he does on a regular basis.
He prays before he goes in the grocery store that God will lead him to someone to bless.
God knows who needs help the most, and Kevin relies on that fact.
As God leads, he prayerfully and gently approaches the one(s) God directs him to,
and he offers to buy their groceries.
Oh, the stories he could tell...if he weren't so modest about it.
One thing I will tell you is that no one has ever turned down or been offended by his offer.
Zach and I love hearing about his adventures in blessing others after he returns from the store.
I think this is the part of grocery shopping he enjoys the most.

9.  Suspend judgment.
It really isn't our business or duty to be the judge of others.
In fact, Jesus commanded that we don't judge one another at all.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged."  Matthew 7:1
Pretty plain, straightforward, and easy to understand words.
Jesus' message is like that.
Critical, judgmental behavior is horribly evil.
It is not Christlike.
It has turned many a soul away from Jesus and all He is and all He longs to do in their life.
Judgmental behavior is ugly and offensive and off-putting.
When a woman was brought to Jesus who was caught in the very act of adultery,
He, the only true, righteous, and rightful Judge,
had every reason and justification to condemn her on the spot.
The self-righteous, legalistic Pharisees thought they had done something big and religious
by pointing out her sin and airing her dirty laundry on the public square.
They stood there with a sense of pride and self-gratification, even glee, stones in hand,
waiting with baited breath for the Son of God to dole out the severest of punishments,
giving them the green light to start slinging their rocks.
Jesus' reaction must have shocked them to their holier-than-thou cores.
He said nothing...at first
Instead, He stooped down and wrote something in the dust on the ground.
Wouldn't you pay money to know what He wrote?
I would.
We've all heard theories, one of which includes the thought that maybe He was writing their names,
along with the sins THEY had committed and were hiding.
None of us know for sure.
Whatever it was, it was profound...as was every word and action of Jesus.
When He was finished, He said this,
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."  John 8:7
Do we comprehend the volumes He spoke here?
We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.
This is a Biblical fact.  Romans 3:23
So, basically, we are all on an even playing field, right?
We are all fallen beings, who come miserably short of God's perfection and holiness.
Those who think themselves to be exalted and elevated above others are desperately deceived.
None of us have any right to judge anyone else.
God will take care of it.
"But why dost thou judge thy brother?
Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
Romans 14:10
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;
that every one may receive the things done in his body,
according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:10
We would do well to leave all judging to the Judge.

10.  Look beyond exteriors.
Open the book, before you automatically decide you don't like it.
Why does a person's skin color create such assumptions?
Why do we automatically prejudge another person based on their outward appearance?
Did not the Lord God create us all?
Do we not all look the same on the inside?
Aren't we all brothers and sisters in the body of Christ?
It is time to stop the hate.
To stop thinking the worst of one another, based solely upon the hue of our skin tone,
denominational label/"group or sect affiliation", quality of clothing, or financial status.
 To put an end to the hate-filled behavior and overcome it with Divine love.
Jesus died on the cross for all of us, and there is no respect of persons with God.
It shouldn't exist among us, as Christ's earthly body, either.
Shame on us if it does.

11.  Infuse positive change.
Be Jesus' hands and feet.
Love as He loves.
Be moved with compassion as He is moved.
Go about doing good, as He did.  (Acts 10:38)
Leave every situation better than you found it.
Take someone under your wing.
Be a mentor to a motherless or fatherless child.
Adopt a family this Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.
Go up to bat for those who need a human advocate.
Become an intercessory prayer warrior on behalf of someone who has no one to pray for them.
Stand in the gap for those who have no spiritual connection with God.
Repent for the sins of our nation.
Place a gift card in an envelope with your pastor's name on it, & leave it on his seat at church.
Discreetly and quietly pay for another family's restaurant meal, as you pay for your own.
Give your waiter/waitress an extra-large, much-deserved tip.
Take a trash bag to the dumpster for an overworked janitor.
Smile at the sourest person you know.
Slip a $20 bill into the backpack of an underprivileged child.
Call your Mom and/or Dad.
Volunteer at a nursing home.
Send a gift bag laden with goodies for your child's Sunday School teacher with him to class.
Read to a blind person.
Text your spouse just to say I LOVE YOU.
Take a meal to an overworked Mom.
Put quarters in every wash machine in the laundromat.
Ask the person in front of you in line at the grocery store to allow you to buy their groceries.
Leave a tract that shares the good news of the Gospel in a bathroom stall.
Spend a whole day doing nothing except what your child wants to do.
Go to the electric company and anonymously pay someone's heating bill this winter.
Shovel a neighbor's sidewalk.
Say thank you to a motel maid, and prove your gratitude by leaving an adequate tip in your room.
Remove motel sheets and trash bags and gather linens into a pile before checking out.
Commend good service to management wherever you go.
Send an unexpected, "just because" package to an out-of-state child in your life.
Leave an unexpected, "just because" package outside the door of your own child's room.
Mow the grass for your husband.
Bake or buy a sugar-free dessert for a diabetic friend or relative.
Have a pizza delivered to the parents of a new baby.
Make a goodie basket for an elderly person at church.
Give up one meal each week to fast for spiritual awakening in our country.

Together, let's turn the tide.
Let's make this happen.
Let's stay occupied until Jesus comes!
Let's be the change.
Let's let our light shine...into the dark sadness and gloom of our present world.
You brighten your corner, and I promise to do my utmost to brighten mine.
Every little light counts.

Now for an update on Makeya and Max Brown, by their Mommy, Shyla....

but first a video of the little guy!

Doesn't it just bless you to see how far he has come?

All glory to God!!!

Now...from Shyla....

"When they did X-rays on Max to see if he can get his brace off, 
they saw that he still had some spots on his lungs where it is still a little collapsed behind his heart, but it is better.
 The vest treatments seem to be helping, and he is doing good. 
 He will have another test on his bladder to see if he may have to have yet another procedure,
so just keep praying."


"Max is doing a lot better....Tuesday when Max had his test done, Keya also had a urology appointment, and the same test was done on her. The results for both came back today. Max's looked great.  As of right now, nothing needs to be done. Keya's on the other hand, was not so good. They are going to do a few more test on her next week, and they may, depending on what these next 2 tests say, have to take her back in to the operating room. Nothing major.  They will just run a camera up into her bladder and use needles to do a botox to her bladder to relax the muscles in it. If this has to be done, she will get to come home the same day. This procedure won't help her long term though, if she continues to have spasms, so they may or may not have to do something else when she gets older. Plz cont to pray for my babies."

Please don't ever forget to keep Max, Makeya, Steven and Shyla, in your constant prayers.

To read previous posts about the Brown Family,
 and 3RD UPDATE,
and 11TH UPDATE,
and 22ND UPDATE.)

If  anyone would like to send the Brown family a card of encouragement,
please contact me, and I will provide the mailing address to you, individually.

If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to this family,
there are two ways to donate.
1.  An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.

Please mail donations to:

Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY  41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
2.  You may donate online by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Overcoming Evil With Good & Lauren Hill Update

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:21

I have been working on this post for days.
Not wanting to take the chance of offending,
yet, feeling I needed to release the words, so the burden would lift.
Please know that I write this in love and only because I care so much.

I suppose God had me wait to post this until AFTER yesterday's election.
Because standing there yesterday, in my little voting booth,
I felt conviction fall over my spirit with a powerful force.
Never before have I taken the voting process so seriously.
I'll explain the reason for my dilemma later in this post
but first, I'll ask you a few questions, if I may....

Do you ever feel like evil is winning the war?
Like things are so far gone, there is no hope of recovery?
Like we all may as well raise a white flag of surrender,
because there is just no sense in continuing to fight?
Like nothing we do will ever be able to make a difference anyway?
Like you are weary of swimming upstream?
Like you are fighting a forest fire with a garden hose?

I will admit to you that I have become very disheartened over the downward spiral
that seems to be picking up speed at an alarming rate in our nation and world.
It grieves my heart more than I could ever express in mere words.
I can hardly pray without weeping anymore.
It just hurts so much.

We have been studying American History in Zachary's 8th grade curriculum,
and as we read together, sometimes I have to stop, because the tears overpower my words.
As Zach and I read his lessons each day, my heart yearns for the old paths.
When I look at our nation today and compare it with the way it started,
it breaks my heart.

The men who founded this great nation of ours believed in God.
They prayed to God.
They made God the focus of their endeavors.
They trusted in Him and founded our legal system upon the foundation of His Word.

I have often wondered what on earth they would think if they could rise from the dead
and see the state of our present society.
Oh, dear Lord!
Don't we realize we will be judged by the same Book as them?
Just because time has marched on, do we think God has changed His mind?
That He has suddenly decided to condone evil as acceptable behavior?

God's Word is forever settled in Heaven.  (Psalm 119:89)
It has not, nor will It ever change.

Somehow, we have deceived ourselves into thinking that evil is good,
and good is evil.
How did things become so distorted and upside down?
How is it that standing up and reading straight out of the Book of all books...
God's Divinely-inspired, Holy Word,
has become something that is labeled hate-speech?
The Bible is 100% good, righteous, and true.
So, how could this be labeled evil?
And how can the things the Bible condemns as evil,
now be called good and acceptable?

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness..."
Isaiah 5:20

The lines have become blurred in our vision.
What is so clearly black and white/right and wrong in God's Word
has faded into a muddled shade of grayed confusion in our minds and society.

How did this happen?
How did we stray so far from the ways of our founding fathers
who feared God, respected His Word, and had a genuine disdain for evil?
How have we become so desensitized to the exceeding sinfulness of sin?  (Romans 7:13)

In order for there to ever be found a solution, we must first figure out how we got here.
I believe there have been several contributing factors,
but the biggest culprit, sad, sad, sad to say, is surprising and appalling,
because it lies within the confines of the last place we would ever think to look....
the church.
Where am I going with this, you ask?
How can I be so audacious as to place the blame on something so "benign" and "innocent"?

Please stay with me, and hopefully, as you read, you will sense the heavy burden upon my heart,
and you will come to see that we, the church, are very much to blame for the current state of spiritual affairs in our nation and in our world.
I believe we have dropped the ball.
Plain and simple.
I will give you my reasons.
Watered-down, sugar-coated, ear-tickling preaching, for starters.
A lack of proclaiming the full truth from Sunday morning pulpits.
The watchmen on the walls (Ezekiel 33) seeing the signs of danger,
but choosing to ignore them, failing to warn the people,
 and hoping things will "just get better on their own."
Picking and choosing which parts of the Word of God are most palatable
and only preaching those select parts from rostrum platforms.
Fearing the loss of members and allowing that fear to control and dominate
the subject matter of sermons.
Turning sanctuaries into "feel-good" arenas of entertainment,
where church-goers are made to laugh, dance, and worship celebrity idols,
instead of worshiping the Lamb of God, Who died for our sins.
Concern over "offending" the more generous tithers and donors,
therefore withholding Biblical information that contradicts their life choices.
Slipping from complacency into downright apathy.
Failure to get involved in utilizing our God-given right to vote for political leaders who
share and defend the same Biblical values we so strongly believe and support.
Sitting back in our fantasy world of making believe that all will end well,
even if we make the choice to do nothing.
Pretending we possess no personal responsibility or accountability.
Lack of unity among Christ's earthly body.
Refusing to lay aside our petty differences for the sake of a world literally going into eternity,
without God and without hope.
Holding each other within the ranks of Christianity at arm's-length,
tearing each other down, envying one another's individual successes and victories,
trying to outdo one another, competing with one another for applause and acceptance,
and biting and devouring one another in the process.  (Galatians 5:15)
Ignoring the needs of "the least of these",  (Matthew 25:40)
turning a deaf ear to their cries,
and closing our eyes to the reality of their pain.
Completely disregarding God's command to turn from our own wicked ways,
to repent, and to earnestly seek His face for healing and restoration.  (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Placing man-made labels upon ourselves,
boxing ourselves into little huddles of man-made groups and factions,
and refusing to let anyone else in....or out.
Placing the blame on everyone else, when we, ourselves are lackadaisical and refuse to lift a finger in the direction of positive change.
Refusal to call sin by its real name.

Does this younger generation even know or comprehend the definition of sin?

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..."
Hosea 4:6

"Therefore My people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge:
and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst."
Isaiah 5:13

"Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned Mine holy things:
they have put no difference between the holy and the profane,
neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean,
and have hid their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them."
Ezekiel 22:26

If we are blurring the lines from behind pulpits and microphones,
how can we expect those who watch and listen to know the difference between what God calls holy and what He calls profane?

Unfortunately, there are many who rely solely upon their pastor/minister for their spiritual guidance.
There are way too few independent thinkers, who will listen to what is being said,
then go home, take out their Bible, and prayerfully delve into Its contents,
comparing what the Holy Spirit reveals to what they have heard from the pulpit.

We cannot afford to place the most precious part of our being into the safekeeping of another human,
no matter how highly-regarded, well-respected, popular, or world-renown they are,
how many books they have had published,
how many Facebook followers or likes they have,
the square footage or number of pews in their mega-church,
or how many parishioners sit under the sound of their voice every Sunday.

At the end of the day, when all the dust settles, whether they or anyone else likes to admit it,
every single one of us is human.
We are fallible.
We may or may not be withholding necessary information.
We may or may not be blurring the lines.
We may or may not be skewing the facts.
We may or may not have the best interests of our eternity-bound souls at heart.

What if their motivation is greed?
What if they aren't truly God's anointed, but self-appointed?
Is it worth taking the chance of putting the entire weight of your spiritual guidance
on their very mortal shoulders?

Please don't misunderstand me.
I am not trying to spawn suspicion.
I am just saying we need to be careful.
We need to seek God for wisdom.
We need to be filled entirely with His Holy Spirit,
so we will be able to discern what is of God and what is not.
We need to read and study His Word, on our own, outside the walls of our Sunday gatherings,
so we will know 100% certain that we are being told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

Because didn't Jesus say it takes the truth to make us free?  (John 8:32)
Don't we want to hear it straight?
Wouldn't it be best to find out our true spiritual state now,
while there is time and opportunity to make adjustments,
rather than to wait until we stand before our Creator, and it is too late?

I absolutely believe that
"as goes the church, so the nation...even the world...will follow."

Near the beginning of this post, I said this,
"In order for there to ever be found a solution, we must first figure out how we got here."
Deep in our heart of hearts, I think we know, don't you?

So, if we, the church, are to blame, what do we do now?
What is the solution?
Even though our generation has inherited a big part of this,
we have done our fair share in advancing it to where it is today...
simply by our passivity.
Our tolerance.
Our desensitized oblivion.

The solution....the antidote....is found in the one place we can look and ALWAYS find good news,
definitive answers, sound advice, and exactly what we need.

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:21

"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression,
and the house of Jacob their sins."
Isaiah 58:1

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain:
let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:
for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand."
Joel 2:1

Being silent is no longer an option.
Any hope of salvaging what is left will require courage to stand,
even when it is the most unpopular choice, and even when it means standing alone.
We can no longer bury our heads in the sand, with the foolish hope that someone else 
will pick up the flickering torch and carry the truth into this and the next generation.
It is up to you and me, my friend.
We are here.
We live.
We breathe.
We are responsible.
If we, the church, don't take a stand for God's truth, who will?

Now back to my quandary in the voting booth yesterday.
I pretty much knew who I was voting for before we got there,
at least where most candidates were concerned.
That is.....all candidates but one.
He was the only one I was struggling with.

I'll be honest and tell you why.
I really, really like this guy.
We know him and his wife personally.
We have been in their home and patronized their business.
He has participated in charitable activities and even a church event with us.
He is a really, really nice man.

So, why wasn't it just a no-brainer to click the little check mark when I came to his name
in the voting booth?
Why did I stand there for so long yesterday, feeling so completely conflicted?

It was this.
This man, even though he is one of the nicest people you could ever meet or talk to,
and even though I respect him as a person and enjoy being around him,
has a very liberal, unChristian, non-Biblical worldview
on subjects that are very near and dear to my heart.
These are subjects that I simply cannot ignore.

As I stood there yesterday, boy, did I struggle.
It was like I felt a sense of betrayal if I didn't vote for him,
yet, I felt guilty if I did.

I'll tell you the truth.
I have voted for him in the past.
But, that was before I knew or realized what he stands for and against.
Somehow I thought that since he was such a nice, likable kind of guy,
surely he must be someone I could put my weight behind and support.
But is being likable what really matters?
When these men and women sit down to convene and implement legislation
that will affect our individual lives and the lives of our children for years to come,
what matters most?
The fact that they were likable, or the fact that they were RIGHT?

I stood there, struggling, and the Holy Spirit made it plain.
If I voted for him, I would be putting my personal sanction on every political decision he makes.
So, in a small, not-so-significant way, I would be an accomplice to his participation, right or wrong.
Because after all, my vote, no matter how singular or small,
would help to put him in the position to participate in the first place.

I knew what I had to do, and I did it.
Is it better to please man or to obey God?  (Acts 5:29)

Voting has always been important to me.
If we don't vote and make our individual contribution to the process,
I don't think we have any right to complain about the results.
As Christians, we have held back and been way too passive,
not even utilizing our God-given freedoms to make a difference.
And in the process, we have watched our nation drift...farther and farther from God
and everything our founding fathers believed.

Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that politics and spirituality are in separate worlds.
We could not be more wrong.
Can we not see where lack of involvement and participation has landed us....
far from the spiritual ground of our founding fathers?
Is this where we really want to stay?

Prayerfully going to the voting booth on election day is just one way we can try to reverse this spiral.
Preaching the full truth of the Gospel, in the face of whatever comes against us, is another.

Our nation, our world, has been overcome with evil for a long time.
It is time to start overcoming that evil with good.

Don't you want to see things turn around?
Call me a dreamer, but I still have hopes of a Great Awakening.
I still pray for REVIVAL.
It all starts with one heart full of passion for God and willingness
to do anything and everything He asks.
Let it start here, dear Lord.
Let it start right here.

Positive change starts with you...and me.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post on other ways we can overcome evil with good!



Lauren's dream came true when she got to play in her first college basketball game on Sunday!!

I love the Scripture on the back of the T-shirts being worn in her honor.

They say,
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9"

Bless her dear heart!
Lauren has to be one of the strongest, most courageous people,
and her story is inspiring so many!
So thankful she was able to live out her dream
and still believing God for the miracle she needs!

Please keep praying for her and all of the others who need prayer at this time.
God is still on the throne, and He is not limited in power.
Let us keep our faith in Him!