Wednesday Wisdom: A True Story of Revival

As you know, I stopped doing Wednesday Wisdom officially about a year and a half ago. However, occasionally, I come across something that I can’t resist sharing–like this testimony of a pastor from the former USSR. His memories of what his country was like is so eerily similar to what’s going on in America, that I thought this may help us find the silver lining to the dark cloud. Perhaps true revival will come to America, as well!

By Georgi P. Vins
(Pastor in USSR who spent 8 years in Soviet prison camps for his faith | Author of The Gospel in Bonds)

Photo: A communion and worship service in the persecuted church in 1984 in Kiev, Ukraine (taken from The Gospel in Bonds; from the personal collection of Georgi Vins’ daughter, Natasha Velichkin; used with permission)


At the beginning of the 1960s, the Lord sent a spiritual revival among the Evangelical Baptists of the Soviet Union. The revival preceded a great assault from the atheistic authorities. Soviet newspapers and magazines spewed an endless flow of articles against believers and the Christian faith, against the Bible and God. Radio, television, and movies were used for anti-religious propaganda. Believers were fired from their jobs, and Christian young people were kept out of educational institutions.

In 1960, the Soviet leader, head of the Communist party, Nikita Khrushchev, announced a twenty-year program of definitively creating communism in the Soviet Union. By 1980, there was not to be a single Christian left, nor one church. All citizens of the USSR would have to become atheists and confess only Communist ideology.

In Evangelical Baptist churches, sermons on salvation were forbidden, and children under the age of sixteen were not to be permitted to be present at church services. As a primary measure, it was also forbidden to baptize young people under the age of thirty. This decision of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was enforced by the KGB, the police, and other authorities.

 Unfortunately, some of the ministers of Evangelical Baptist churches, fearing persecution, accepted these ungodly decrees as the basis for their ministry and actively began to implement them in the church. The churches were going through great testings. Many thousands of believers raised their voices in fervent prayer to the Lord for help and deliverance. The Lord heard those prayers and answered His people, as it is written in His Word: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Psalm 119:126).

A spiritual awakening began. New churches started to take shape, and groups of believers who refused to compromise with atheism proclaimed the Word of God as the absolute authority in all matters of faith and life. Young people and children attended newly formed congregations whose worship services often took place in crowded private homes or in forests. These meetings were subject to cruel disruption by the KGB and police, with the police beating up believers, and throwing them out of the meeting houses into the snow. Bulldozers were sometimes used to destroy the places where the meetings took place.

The atheistic authorities went to believers’ work places with threats of arrests and trials. But no one could stop the revival, because the Word of God says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).

By 1966, several hundred independent fundamental Baptist churches had formed. Sixty to seventy percent of the membership of these churches were young people between the ages of fifteen and thirty. The hearts of believers burned with great love toward God, courage, and selflessness in ministry. My poem “Revival” was written in January of 1966, and five months later, in May of 1966, I was arrested in Moscow for taking part in the revival.

My Savior! How I love Your precious call
To slaves of unbelief, by sin defeated.
You long to bless and have each one delight
In all the joys of our eternal promise.

My Jesus! Mighty is Your matchless love,
Your hands are full of tenderness and kindness,
As constantly You lift to life anew
The sons of earth, to save them from destruction.

Our brethren You have visited once more
With Your pure flame of heaven-sent revival!
For exploits and for suff’ring You inspired
To stand for truth and infinite salvation.

When I behold the vibrant Christian youth
With glowing faces, joyous and exultant,
Their gladness like a boundless ocean’s tide,
Burst forth in ever glorious songs of triumph. . . .

And when I listen to a youthful soul
For the first time, his heart to God uplifting:
Scarce breathing then I reverently pray,
While in my thoughts the sufferers recalling. . . .

I know that not in vain their blood was spilt!
They did not bear the pain and grief for nothing.
For now I see our youth’s pure, fervent love
Their hands stretched out to Christ in supplication.

For the revival burning in our church
And for our youth rejoicing in the Savior—
We may, without misgivings or dismay,
Lay down our very lives in distant prisons.
January 1, 1966

Praying for Our Children


Many years ago, when I was just a young girl, I became aware of the fact that I had some grandparents praying for me. I also learned that my parents were praying faithfully for me. I know that their prayers affected the course of my life and the life of my brother (and cousins). I can see now how God worked despite some less than perfect circumstances.

And so when our children were born I realized the importance of prayer because of this godly heritage with which I had been so incredibly blessed.

When we met our oldest daughter for the very first time, we felt so overwhelmed and even a little scared. We knew the instant we held that first baby in our arms that we had been blessed with an awesome responsibility.

The heaviness of this settled in through the next few weeks, as we took our newborn home and got settled in. This wasn’t just a baby. This was a new life with the potential to do great good or great evil in this world. It was a life with the potential to bless others or to cause great pain. And this new little life was born a sinner (Romans 3:23) and in great need of a Savior (John 3:16).

Along with recognizing the seriousness of this responsibility, came the awareness that who she married also had the great potential to make or break her life.

I wondered how in the world we would be able to bear these great responsibilities, especially the ones that were outside our control– such as who she would marry.

And so, early on, I started praying for her and for her future husband. I had no idea who he was, but I was praying for him. As the other kids came along, I did the same. So I can confidently tell the young men and woman that my children are marrying that I have prayed for them for most of their lives!

Through the years, as I would pray for my children, I would find it easy to get distracted by the problems and trials that loomed in front of me at that moment and I would find myself praying directly about these situations. And there wasn’t anything wrong with that.

But somewhere along the line, I learned that I needed to be praying for their spiritual health most of all. If they weren’t right with God, then their career and who they marry wouldn’t be chosen well. This means that how they would raise the future generation would be in jeopardy.

And so I latched on to Mark 12:30 and have been praying that for my kids for a very long time.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

I’ve asked the Lord to help my kids to do this.

I’ve prayed through this verse for them when I would fall into bed exhausted after watching four young children.

I’ve prayed through this verse for them when they were teenagers and their spiritual future looked very, very bleak.

And I continue to pray this verse as I watch them start their own lives and make choices completely independent of their parents.

A few years ago, I was talking to my brother (Pastor Dean) about this subject of praying for our children and he mentioned that he also regularly prays that his daughter will love righteousness and hate evil. As he spoke, I realized the wisdom in such a prayer. The Psalms talks about this subject over and over again. If you are reading the Bible Challenge with me, you will have just read through many of these with me. And so I started praying this for my kids, as well.

Another prayer that I try to pray on a regular basis is that my kids would love God’s Word. The keys to a healthy spiritual life are held within its pages. There is no possible way to be a godly man or woman without reading and studying the Word.

And, finally, I pray very regularly for my future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I pray that they would be bolder and stronger Christians than me. That our family would grow deeper spiritual roots, instead of being one of those families that gradually falls away from God.

My kids are not perfect and we’ve had our struggles and continue to do so. In fact, we will sometimes talk about how we wouldn’t want to be judged for our parenting skills on how our kids behaved as teenagers. How they were in school was not always the best example and they did not always make the best choices. Adolescence can be a very difficult time. But I just kept on praying through it, sometimes with many tears.

The spiritual battles continue and I continue to pray. Satan wants the hearts of our kids. If he can distract us by the temporal and keep us focused only on the present trials in our praying, he will have won half the battle.

God is faithful. He has answered so many of my prayers for my kids. There were times that I doubted and feared that we had lost a couple of them. But God heard our prayers and saved them. I get choked up thinking about his great mercy and kindness to us through those difficult times even now.

Our prayers will never make our kids perfect and they will still struggle and make bad choices and still have so far to go. But then I guess so do you and I.

This reminds me of something I once heard John MacArthur say: It is about direction, not perfection.

If our kids are headed in the right direction, we have much for which to be thankful.

So let’s keep praying for our kids. God is faithful. He knows them better than we do. And He loves them even more than we do!

While We Were Sleeping


I went in for minor surgery the other week. I never love the idea of going under. It’s so strange, isn’t it? One second you are listening to the conversation going on around you and the next you are totally conked out.

As I awoke in the recovery area, I slowly became aware of my surroundings. The nurse asked me if I was okay. My sluggish thoughts gathered enough to say “I think so.”

I was definitely awake enough to realize that I was incredibly thirsty.

She put me off drinking anything for a half hour.

Finally, she set a plastic cup with a straw in front of me. Ginger ale never tasted so good!

After explaining the surgery and giving me a small dose of extra pain meds, she brought my mom back and told me I could get dressed. I still had not seen the doctor.

I finally asked, “Isn’t the doctor going to come in and talk to me?”

The answer I got stunned me: “She already did.”

Wait? What?

I had NO recollection of that, whatsoever. None.

But, apparently, I had answered and responded to her.

That is a little scary, if you think about it!

As I pondered this over the next week, I thought about unbelieving friends and family and wondered if they aren’t a little like I was when I was under? In that they are listening and responding, but, spiritually, they are asleep.

Until they are awakened spiritually by God (John 6:44), they are talking in their sleep. They are blind and cannot understand (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Look, I don’t know how this works together with free will. I know they both exist– man’s free will to choose God and God’s election. Somehow they work together in a parallel way that is incomprehensible to us.* I do not need to understand it. Why do we think we need to understand this?

Do you remember when you first came to know the Lord? For some of us, it was totally life-changing–a dramatic change of lifestyle. For others of us, it wasn’t a very drastic life change since we were children or adolescents in Christian homes. But in understanding God’s salvation plan, whether the life change was minimal or drastic, we became aware that we were sinners and needed to repent and turn a different direction. We became aware that the death of God’s Son paid for my sin on the cross and made a way for me to be reconciled to Him. God removed our blinders. We woke up.

So what is my point?

I have three, actually–

1. Never, ever underestimate the power of prayer in winning someone you love to Christ. You can argue, cajole, debate, and sweet-talk–and some of these things will plant seeds that the Lord will use later– but never lose sight that God does the waking up. Pray earnestly and frequently for your unsaved friends and family.

2. Don’t take the conversations and interactions you have with unbelievers too personally. This one can be difficult. When we are in a conversation about God, people can get pretty touchy. They can say things they shouldn’t as we share the gospel with them. They may hurt our feelings or attack us personally. They may grow resentful of us and try to cause us to stumble as we try to hold to a biblical standard. Does it help to remember that they are, in essence, still sleeping? They have not awoken yet to the glorious promises of God’s amazing grace and wonderful mercy.

3. We have the important task to respond with love and gentleness to all–even the meanest, vilest person. I have heard several testimonies of the most unlikely people becoming saved when a Christian has been kind and loving to them, even while being teased and tortured mercilessly. No one is beyond hope! There is no place for flaring tempers and sulkiness in this business of sharing the gospel. Let’s be a help and not a hindrance to our heavenly Father as we share the Good News.

As we share the true gospel in the midst of this foreign land we find ourselves in, let’s remember to be kind, to not take anything too personally, and–most importantly–to pray for the salvation of those God has put in your life’s path. Pray for the glorious day of awakening!


*If you struggle with this concept, listen to this excellent sermon by John MacArthur, explaining that we can NEVER understand how these work together. He has been very misaligned in this area of election, so if you have heard that he is unbiblical in this area but have never heard his view from his own mouth, then I encourage you to listen to this sermon. You will find that this isn’t the case at all.



A Call to Prayer for Our Men


{my apologies that my subscribers are receiving this post twice. I actually had to restore my site and re-post this.}

My daughter and I met some friends for lunch on Friday. The hour and a half drive there took us through a section of road that has adult stores dotting the roadside for several miles. Usually these stores have cars in front of them that are very obviously parked so that no one can see their license plates. A sure sign of embarrassment and shame.

As we drove back home on Friday, I happened to see a man get out of his work truck in front of one of these stores. He went around the side of his truck to fix or rearrange something. I stared at him as we went by. I wanted to see just what kind of men frequent such places.

And guess what? He looked like an ordinary guy that we’d hire to fix our car or stand and talk to at a sports game. He certainly didn’t look like an evil monster.

Now, truthfully, I didn’t expect him to look like a monster. So what’s my point? I believe that we women have done a great disservice to our men if we are not praying for their sexual purity.

It makes us so uncomfortable to even talk about this. Even now, some of you will be appalled that I would be writing about such a thing. But, honestly– unless you are living in blind ignorance–you must realize that pornography has become a problem of epidemic proportions in the American family. Even in Christian families. So many face the consequences of this deadly, secret sin in one way or another.

I’m not going to speak to the men since I obviously can’t understand how that temptation works for them. However, I am going to challenge the women reading this– wives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers– to pray for the men in their lives regarding sexual purity. Pray for your husbands, sons, nephews, grandsons. Ask the Lord to protect them from this particular temptation.

We can’t just turn our heads and pretend this problem doesn’t exist. Because that doesn’t keep it from existing.

Will you join me in praying for the sexual purity of our husbands and sons? Our nephews and grandsons? Our brothers and brothers-in-law? And even our pastors and spiritual leaders? God will use our prayers to help them to resist the temptation of this secret sin that destroys so many marriages and families. We must never underestimate the power of prayer!

Obviously, this is not my typical kind of post. But when I saw that normal-looking man walk into that store, my heart broke for him and his family because I know that they have a serious problem that will only grow worse unless he seeks help. And it reminded me to pray hard for the men in my life in this particular area. I thought I would share this with you, in case you, too, would like to ask God to strengthen and protect the men in your life.


It Will Be Worth It All.


I derive comfort from these words and thought I would share them with you, as I will find it difficult to write today.  This is a beautiful old hymn that gives hope in the midst of discouragement and darkness.


Sometimes the day seems long,
Our trials hard to bear.
We´re tempted to complain,
to murmur and despair.
But Christ will soon appear
to catch his bride away!
All tears forever over
in God’s eternal day!

It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus!
Life’s trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face,
all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

At times the sky seems dark,
with not a ray of light;
We’re tossed and driven on,
no human help in sight.
But there is One in heaven,
Who knows our deepest care;
Let Jesus solve your problems,
just go to Him in prayer.

Life’s day will soon be o’re,
all storms forever past;
We’ll cross the great divide
to Glory, safe at last!
We’ll share the joys of heaven:
a harp, a home, a crown;
The tempter will be banished,
We’ll lay our burdens down.


Wednesday Wisdom: Thinking Outside Our Box


It was mid-afternoon and I was running out of energy after a busy morning. I decided it was the perfect time for a cup of coffee. I put a cup into the Kuerig and while it brewed I noticed the May issue of the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter lying on the table. Perfect. I would read while I took a short coffee break.  

For a few moments I entered a different world. In this world being a Christian means great sacrifice. I read of a couple who lost a job, their home, and familiar surroundings because of their new found faith. As I turned the page, I learned of a  family whose father was ruthlessly shot in front of his young children while his wife had run out to help a neighbor. 

I was overwhelmed with how small so many of my problems are. And challenged, too, wondering how strong I would be in similar circumstances. I felt a deep sense of sympathy for my Christian brothers and sisters in other lands. But, mostly, I felt admiration for the firm faith of these believers as they face the unthinkable. Their faith does not disappear under the weight of their trials, but grows stronger. Surely our God is alive! 

I wanted to share one of the stories here with you, but I could not find the newsletter online. However, I did find a very similar one on their website. Please take time to read this. I can say with assurance that many (of course, not all) of our trials pale in comparison. Violent movies and video games are part of almost all American homes, and yet most of us aren’t willing to face the very real violence that goes on every day in the lives of those who love the Lord Jesus. They deserve our prayers. Let’s step outside our comfortable boxes for just a moment–

Four months ago, National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas demanded that Alicia Castilla leave her home in Arauca, in northeastern Colombia. On the evening of Jan. 7, during a visit from the family’s pastor, assassins entered her home and shot her in front of her three children and her father. She died immediately. The guerrillas had killed Alicia’s husband, a lay-minister, two years earlier.

The guerrillas told Alicia’s 18-year-old son, Hernán, that the rest of the family had three days to leave the region. After that, they warned, the killers would return and kill the other family members one by one.

Alicia was the widow of lay-evangelist Nelson Ramos, who was killed by the ELN in January 2011. Nelson became a Christian two years before his death and often shared the gospel in Saravena, a town near Colombia’s border with Venezuela. A few months after his conversion, the ELN issued its first expulsion order against him and his family.

According to Hernán, the guerrillas never fully explained why they were so adamant about driving the family out of the area. Nelson was shot to death in the family’s home as his wife and two small daughters, now 9 and 6, watched.

After Nelson’s death, Hernán declared that he would avenge his father. He intended to join the Colombian military to gain training in weaponry, but he renounced his vow after a July 2011 encounter with children whose parents had been killed because of their Christian witness. Instead of seeking revenge, he was baptized and became deeply involved in church activities.

Hernán’s mother was at a workshop for widows of martyred believers in December when ELN guerrillas visited their home and warned them for the third time to leave the area. Although Alicia was willing to move, her elderly father was not.

After Alicia’s murder, government authorities refused to remove her body from the crime scene for fear of retaliation by the ELN. Funeral-home workers finally retrieved her body.

Founded in 1964, the ELN is one of several illegal armed groups fighting for control of the rich petroleum resources along the Colombia/Venezuela border. The guerrilla groups use the Arauca area as a narcotrafficking route. They forcibly recruit children into their ranks and persecute those who oppose them, including the church.

You can read more stories of faith and courage at It’s a great site to visit for a “perspective check”.  Voice of the Martyrs is an important ministry that helps persecuted believers and is worthy of our support. And, no, I have not been paid to say that! ;) 

You can find the above story here.


Wednesday Wisdom: Should “Christian” and “Yoga” be used in the same sentence?


It has been heavy on my heart that so many fellow believers view yoga as a benign exercise. Somehow they believe that the physical poses of yoga can be separated from the spiritual purposes of yoga. But here is what a Hindu himself says about yoga:

While yoga is not a “religion” in the sense that the Abrahamic religions are, it is a well-established spiritual path. Its physical postures are only the tip of an iceberg, beneath which is a distinct metaphysics with profound depth and breadth. Its spiritual benefits are undoubtedly available to anyone regardless of religion. However, the assumptions and consequences of yoga do run counter to much of Christianity as understood today. This is why, as a Hindu yoga practitioner and scholar, I agree with the Southern Baptist Seminary President, Albert Mohler, when he speaks of the incompatibility between Christianity and yoga, arguing that “the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine” is fundamentally at odds with Christian teaching. This incompatibility runs much deeper (bold is my emphasis).

You can read the rest of this article here. It is a very interesting read.

So why have so many Christians fallen prey to becoming part of this false religion? Because we have been told that it’s simply a relaxation technique and a good form of exercise. But as believers, we have a responsibility to make sure that what we are being told is actually true.  And before I hear the argument, “Well, it doesn’t affect me…I do it just for exercise,” think for a minute why you would even desire to do something so spiritually intertwined with a false religion. Should we draw closer to false religions and play around with their rituals and traditions or remove ourselves as far from them as possible? 

I found this article by Marsha West. I have only the second half of the article here, but you can read the rest of it by clicking on the link at the bottom. 

Many Christians have been duped into thinking that yoga is just relaxation and exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Classical yoga is intended to put one into an altered state of consciousness. Believers who think they’re “just exercising” are being swept into a counterfeit religion.

Not all religions are equal, as liberals would have us believe. Orthodox Christianity teaches that there is one true God. God as the all-knowing, all-powerful being who created the universe and still rules it today. “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:6,7). Moreover, orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes”(Romans 1:16). On the other hand, “Progressive Christians” (PC’s) believe that the Bible is a book of myths and legends. PC’s “read the Bible symbolically or allegorically, as a collection of interesting stories to take whatever meaning out of that pleases them. This allows them to reject various portions of the Bible they disagree with. Liberals label their interpretation as a “critical” approach, which essentially allows most of their theology to consist of finding ways to criticize the Bible, rather than actually trying to determine what it says.”[4]

PC’s see nothing wrong with yoga. They see nothing wrong with Christian mysticism either. But that’s another article.

According to God’s Word, mystical practices of any sort are evil. Romans 12:9 instructs Christians to, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Sooner or later the sharks will pull Christians who wade into mystic waters under. Jesus gave this warning in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Eastern mysticism leads to destruction.

Professor Tiwari is an authority on classical yoga. He believes that yoga cannot be separated from its spiritual center. “The simple, immutable fact,” he says, “is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it.” These facts need to be unequivocally stated in light of some of the things being written to the contrary by yoga teachers. The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised, the yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances). These ethical tenets and religious practices are the first two limbs of the eight-limbed ashtanga yoga system which also includes asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (contemplation/Self Realization). Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga.”[5]

If your church is integrating “Christian yoga” or any other New Age practice into its services, it’s incumbent on you to speak up. Gently lay out your concerns to your pastor. Explain that yoga is a Hindu or Buddhist practice and has no place in a Christian church. 2 Corinthians. 6:14 says, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Many pastors are unaware that some yoga practices, especially meditation to achieve an altered state of consciousness, can be spiritually damaging. If your pastor chooses to ignore your warning, you might want to consider finding a new church home.

To all you Christians who want to get in shape, I say halleluiah! I’m all for physical fitness. To stay in shape I’ve taken ballet (for the novice), jazz dance, aerobics, stretch classes, played tennis and racquetball, hiked in the mountains, and gone on brisk walks. All of these things will keep you in great shape. You don’t need yoga to stay fit


4, Liberal Theology Misses Plain Truth By Rachel Alexander
5, Yoga Renamed Is Still Hindu By Subhas R. Tiwari

© 2006 Marsha West – All Rights Reserved

Read this article in its entirety here:

My Compass in Uncharted Territory

954282_65316292 (1)After a busy, busy weekend, I was completely exhausted. I decided to turn on the TV. One of my favorite shows from the 90s was on. It was almost over, but I made myself comfortable and started to watch. I laughed at the family dynamics that are so part of any household.

One of the boys, on the cusp of teenager-hood, had done something really stupid. As the credits rolled, the parents joked about how their moms had wanted them to have kids just like them and now it had happened. It was funny and everyone was laughing.

But then the Dad said, “Seriously, what are we going to do?” He was wondering how they were going to handle this boy as he grew into an adult. The Mom put her arm around Dad and said, “Well, we just be the best parents we can be.”

I was immediately struck by what was missing. There was no God there. No power higher than themselves as they struggled through this journey of raising kids. They were relying on themselves alone.  It made me feel empty….for them.

Oh, I know it was just a television show.  But millions of parents around the world approach parenting this same way. They have no lifeline, no Helper, no power outside themselves.

I guess before seeing that little clip on TV, I had never thought about just how precious prayer is in the raising of our kids.

I mean I mess up–all the time. I am growing every day, but I still have such a long way to go. I can’t imagine approaching raising kids without a Heavenly Father to go to for comfort, for answers, and for grace.

Anything my kids are or will be is because of His grace.

We love our kids and we work so hard to raise them right. But, inevitably, we make mistakes and run into problems outside of our control.

But God is so faithful to answer prayer. Sometimes, it is not on our timetable. Sometimes, it hurts as we go through difficult days and nights of pain watching our kids make mistakes and paying the consequences of those mistakes.  But we never stop praying for them and trusting God for their spiritual growth.

Because there is a Power outside of ourselves. The world will tell you that you are the power. That you can do anything, including raising your kids. You can do it alone and without help.

Well, I am here to tell you – even if that is true (and it’s not) – I wouldn’t want to.

How thankful I am that I don’t have to. I serve a God who cares about the smallest thing. I serve a God whom I can talk to when it looks like my child is moving away from Him. I serve a God who comforts me. I serve a God who is my compass when I am utterly and totally lost. My help comes from the Lord!

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.

Psalm 60:11 Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless.

Psalm 121:1-2 I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

I once was blind, but now I see!

693495_77038354Since my mother was a little girl she has been almost blind. She was quite unable to see or do much of anything without the aid of her eyeglasses. Somewhere during my childhood she got contact lenses and that made it more convenient. But the bottom line was that, unless she had some correction for her eyes, she only saw dark, undefined shapes.

But then a few months ago, she had the opportunity to get Lasik surgery. And I had the privilege of taking her to the appointment for her first eye. My daughter and I went for breakfast together while we waited for the surgeon to work his miracle in about an hour. When we returned we only waited for a few minutes before I was called back to see my mom in recovery.

As I entered the room I saw her sitting there with a clear bubble placed over her eye. She just kept saying, “This is amazing! This is amazing!”

Even with the bubble on, she could see incredibly clearly. She had gone from seeing only a dark, undefined, muddled world to seeing the whole world clearly!

What a great picture of what happens when we get saved. When we repent of our sins and are transformed by His glorious grace–only then are we given “spiritual sight”.

Matthew 13:16-17 puts it this way: “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

While some things remain a mystery, we are given the gift of spiritual insight when we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. Sure, it is not always an instant gift. But God gradually opens our eyes to the treasure of His Word and it becomes a bottomless well of wisdom and an incredible help for life.

But our unbelieving friends don’t understand. They mock us and they make decisions that destroy their lives and we just don’t understand why.

But if we stop and think for a moment, we do know why. They see darkly, unclearly. They don’t know what we do. And that means that, instead of harshly judging them, we should pray for them.

They are not living by the same rule book as you and I are. It seems so basic and yet we Christians seem to have a hard time understanding this.

If you got saved as an adult, you probably understand this so much better than me. You truly experienced a transformation. You know exactly what it means to live in blindness and then have your spiritual eyes opened upon your salvation.  While I experienced a transformation as a child, it was much less dramatic.

This is why we should not point fingers of judgment at the world. They don’t get it. They really don’t. That is because they can’t SEE. They have not had spiritual surgery.

Today, let’s mourn–and pray– for our lost family and friends who are honestly unable to see the Truth. And let’s express our humble thanks to the Lord for this undeserved gift of spiritual sight. Only when we are saved can we understand these amazing words:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see!      

January Joy Challenge #3: The Obedience Connection


Last night, we were awakened by a loud and incessant sound around 4am. My husband jumped up to look out the window. Our son came over from his bedroom because he had heard it, too. The three of us went racing down the stairs to figure it out. When we opened the front door, we realized that there was a vehicle horn stuck on somewhere nearby. Now my mind started racing. Someone must have had an accident. My eyes tried to focus in the darkness to look for something out of the ordinary. My ears strained for the sound of human suffering.  Nothing.  Meanwhile, my husband had started running towards the noise. As he got closer, he realized that it was one of our old work trucks. Somehow (who will ever know how?!?) the horn had gotten frozen in the ON position. He hit it briefly and it released itself. He came running back in and we all went back to bed. But I couldn’t go back to sleep. How had that happened? And I confess my imagination started running in all different directions.  After awhile, I found myself thinking on today’s blog post. Was there a connection between the horn and joy? And if so, what was it?

I started turning it over and over in my mind and realized yes, there was a connection. A big one.

You see, most of us have warning bells that we hear in our mind when we first choose to sin. Whether we choose to do something wrong or not to do something right, God has created our conscience to warn us. And our conscience is like that horn, loud and relentless…at first.

But after awhile– after we have continually been drowning ourselves in the world and its ways–we start being able to ignore it.

A good example of this is television. If we are in the habit of watching a lot of TV that is so good at glorifying all that God hates, we grow hardened to it. Instead of choosing to turn it off when we see something which we know goes against biblical principles, we trick ourselves into believing that it’s no big deal. Instead of running away from sin, we immerse ourselves in it. Each time we make that choice, our ears grow a little deafer to the horn of our conscience.

But this is just one example in a sea of thousands. Galatians 5:19-21 gives an example of the works of the flesh:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions,  jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Look at that list a moment. How many on that list have we fooled ourselves into thinking are just a part of life? Statistics show us that “Christians” (I use quotes because I have my doubts that all those surveyed are actually saved) are having affairs and living together outside of marriage at almost the same rate as non-Christians.  Many churches are failing because of contention and jealousy and heresies. Homes are sad places because of outbursts of wrath. Selfish ambitions lead mothers away from homes and young people to lives of indulgence and eventually hopelessness. But, instead of boldly pronouncing these things as sin, we make excuses. We make excuses for ourselves, for our children, and for our churches.

The thing is– we hear the horn when we first move in the wrong direction. But we become so used to ignoring it, that we start to think like the world. We actually start thinking that we are doing the right thing, responding the right way, saying the right words–even when we aren’t.

What is so ironic is that if we would just stop and examine our lives for a minute, we would realize that we don’t have an ounce of joy. Not one thing on the list in Galatians brings joy. In fact, I would propose that it does just the opposite. They bring strife and tremendous grief into our lives.

And then we cry, “Why me? I don’t deserve this!”

But, wait a minute. Maybe we do.

God is an amazing, personal God. When He wrote His Word, He included many commands for us there. He did not do this because He is cruel and hateful, but instead because He loves us so much.  He knows, and has always known, the turmoil and chaos that is a guaranteed part of the human life when the sinful self is allowed to rule. And so, in His great goodness, He showed us a better way to live. He has made it so clear how we can have true joy. But most of us leave our Bibles on our shelves the whole week (we may dust it off on Sunday — although that is even becoming less and less frequent in this modern church age). We don’t know what the Bible says and we don’t really want to. Instead we turn our backs to God and go our own way, always wondering why we don’t have any joy.

So what’s the challenge for this week? Here it is: Pray and ask God to help you see what sin in your life may be causing you unnecessary heartache and strife. Ask your spouse, or someone else you trust to tell you the truth, for their opinion.  And then throw out your pride and get to work. 

This is no easy exercise, I know.  However, the rewards of this will be great.

JOHN 15:10-11 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
 But true joy, happiness, satisfaction, and all other such feelings are by-products of knowing and obeying God’s truth.
~John MacArthur
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