5 Officers Killed In Dallas And Truth For Your Soul

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I turned on the TV this morning to find a kid show to watch for my daughter. But I didn’t leave the channel. “CBS Live Report: 5 Officers Shot and Killed in Dallas.”

My heart sunk. My eyes widened and I stared, as the TV showed nightmarish scenes of these brave officers who were led into an ambush, and shot. And killed.

The screen’s red and blue lights shone, and they blurred out the officers dead bodies in between their police cars.

Then the whole screen blurred, with my tears. My heart is grieved over this. Over men trying to protect us. Over men whose lives were stolen away, in a moment. Over their wives, and kids, and friends, whose loved ones were snatched away by wicked people.

“These weren’t like other attacks,” the officer they were interviewing said, “This was a skilled, military-style ambush.”

The female newscaster then said, so accurately, “It seems like every day many Americans wake up, not sure what tragedy they are going to find, that’s even worse than the day before.”

“What do you make of it?” she asked the officer being interviewed.

“Well, to be honest, our culture is changing,” he said, “People are not satisfied with anything any more. They are impatient. Nothing is good enough for anyone. They are more callous and rude. They take matters into their own hands. And with the right kind of weapons they’re very dangerous.”

“It seems that the anger of the American people is at a tipping point,” she said.

“What can law makers do to stop this from happening?”

Law makers??

What can law makers do?!

I wanted to pick my TV off my wall and shake it.

Nothing. 

How I wish “lawmakers” could change it somehow.

The problem isn’t the laws. It’s the people.

There is no law that can stop this. You know why?

The problem is in the heart. 

In all of our hearts.

 

And that’s the truth that our culture refuses to hear.

Our culture: that believes we are all right in our own eyes. 

And we preach tolerance–because everyone is okay.”

No. I’m sick of it.

We are not okay.

I am ready to scream from the rooftops,

“We are not okay! Look around! We are not okay!”

Let God be true and every man a liar.

The words the officer said began to ring louder and louder in my ears.

“Our culture is changing.

People are angry.

No one is satisfied. 

We’re getting worse.

People are more rude than before.”

And just like that the Holy Spirit reminded me of a passage in Scripture, where God utters these very words. It’s in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

 

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Is this not our culture? The description here could not be more accurate.

I don’t say this as an innocent person. I say this as a sinner. Who is guilty of most of what is on this list. We all are.

But I don’t share this to shame you. I say this to encourage your spirit.

When you see what’s happening on TV, and all around you–you need something solid to stand on.

You need to find comfort. And it’s found not in how many weapons you have, so you can hunker down and build a bunker for when it all goes down.

It simply comes down to one weapon. 

You either have it, or you don’t.

But you sure as hell, better get it. Because when hell breaks loose–you are going to need it. 

Here is the weapon: the Sword of the Spirit.

God’s Word.

You can laugh. You can mock it.

But you can’t live without it. 

Hell is coming for you. Whether it’s through the hands of terrorists…or simply through the selfish desires in your own soul, that make you want to love pleasure more than God.

Do you have a weapon?

Do you know how to wield it?

You need to learn. I need to learn. 

Today, drop what you are doing. Get your sword out. Open God’s Word. And if you don’t understand it, learn from someone skilled in it. As if your life depended on it.

Because it does. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

That passage in 2 Timothy, the one that says how our culture is going from bad to worse–there is an encouragement there for believers. Here is what it says,

“But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:13-15

It’s not a joke. The thing we are told to stand on is: God’s Word.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

You wan to be equipped for every good work?

I don’t care how Sunday School-ish it sounds: read God’s Word. 

Devour it. Hide it away in your heart. Soak in it. Let it penetrate your soul.

And live it.

It’s the only way.

We are a people, who are not okay. 

Every. Day. We need reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. So that we may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I don’t know what bombs or bullets may come against me.

But we aren’t warned in God’s word about bombs and bullets. We are warned about “principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Maybe I will get shot in a movie theater. Or maybe I will be the victim in some terrorist invasion. Who knows? The way our culture is going, the odds are going up every day. But however I die–is not up to me. It’s up to God.

But how I live–that is up to me.

Every day it’s up to me.

And I live in a culture that is slowly, or quickly, killing itself. People have no hope, no God, and desire pleasure, always, more than God. And it pulls me down with it. Every day is like trying to crawl out of quicksand. But we are not called to simply try to “survive.” We are called to so much more in Jesus Christ. We are called to stand up. To play a part in Jesus’s rescue mission in this world. Because our lives are not about us, they are about Him.

Our lives are not about bunkering down in our little kingdoms, they are about wildly advancing His Kingdom. 

They are about letting Heaven invade earth. 

So, we don’t have to hide, we have to stand. We have to stand and not deny God’s power. 

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Ephesians 6:14-18

It’s not that our world has too many weapons. It’s that we don’t have the right kind of weapons. 

Without the weapons of the  Spirit–we fight this battle like a naked man. 

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10

 

 

Put your armor on. And do not deny His power.

We don’t need more lawmakers.

We need Jesus. We need heaven to invade earth.

For His is the Kingdom,

the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Photo credit: CNN.com

When Waiting Weakens You

 

 Have you ever thought you were finally almost out of a difficult season in your life only to find–it’s not over yet? Or, it ended briefly, only to return with more full vengence? Have you ever thought things were finally changing, or finally “good,” and then find they are even worse than before?

I was looking out the window this morning and it was just so dark and dreary. There are still remains of snow and unmelted ice. And the yard, and ground, and earth are all muddy and brown. It’s really quite ugly. There’s just so much mud and dirt and yuck outside. And the thermostat is only topping off at 40 degrees. Which means we’re all still trudging around in boots and coats. 

It’s supposed to be Spring. My calendar says so.

We’ve gotten a few tastes of it, but for the most part we’re still stuck in this winter. This awful winter, that has landed us yet again in the top 5 snowiest cities. We thought it was finally over. We thought we were finally out of it.

And then it snows again. Isn’t this supposed to be over? Isn’t this supposed to be different…by now?

That’s how it feels sometimes, when we are waiting on God to deliver us. Or deliver someone we love. Or to free us from a certain situtation. Or heal us from a certain disease. Or to restore a broken relationship. To rebuild shattered trust. To rebuild our finances. To cut us loose from a horrible job, and give us a new one. To give us the thing that we’ve been so desperately asking for. 

Sometimes the waiting feels so long. Sometimes the nights feel so desperate. Sometimes the days feel so alone. And sometimes we’re just left wondering: 

Will Spring ever come?

I’m not talking about weather. I’m talking about whatever “Spring” is for you. The “Spring” of your soul, the season of warmth, and ease, and pleasure. The comfort for your afflicted soul. 

I want to encourage you this morning. It’s coming. He is coming. For you.

As I looked today at all the mud, and yuck, I realized something today:

Sometimes things look worse, when they are actually getting better. Like the earth, it is undergoing a change right now, to transition into the next season. And while it looks ugly, and dirty, and dark outside–underneath it all–God is doing something. He’s watering the earth. He is preparing it for the next season. New life is just about to break forth.  Spring is coming.

So, don’t throw away your hope. If things in your life suddenly look worse than they ever have, perhaps it’s because God is preparing you for new life. There has to be mud, before grass. Think about how during childbirth, the last phase of labor is the most difficult. The moments of the most intense pain come right before the baby is delivered. The moments of feeling like “I cannot take this anymore,” come right before the deliverance. 

Maybe it feels like your hope has been deferred just one too many times. Maybe you aren’t sure if God is hearing you. Maybe you don’t know if God can sort through such a complicated situation. Maybe you wonder if He has any grace left for you. Maybe you wonder if God still heals. Maybe you can’t remember a time when things were good. Maybe you are so sick of the “same problem.” Maybe you haven’t seen grass in a very long time. Or new life. 

 

Sometimes the ugliest moments come before the most beautiful ones. And God is bigger than your pain, bigger than your dispair, bigger than your confusion. 

So don’t lose heart—if things just suddenly “got worse.” Don’t be afraid. God is in your midst. The ground looks the ugliest before new grass comes, before flowers can grow. You are not forgotten, your way is not lost. Your life is ever before Him. And He knows, He sees you. He hears you. 

“O you afflicted one, 

Tossed with tempest and not comforted,

Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,

And lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

Here’s a prayer to pray if you can’t find the words:

Oh God, I thought it would be better by now. I thought we were done dealing with this. I thought we wouldn’t have to go through this again. And Lord, I confess, I feel I can’t go on anymore. I feel I can’t see anything. It’s so dark sometimes. I can’t see You, I can’t see the light, I can’t see anything but this awful “thing.” My hope is so fragile, and weak. But here, right here in this mess. Right here in this chaos. Right here in this death. I lift my hands to you. Like a child needing to be carried. Like someone needing to be rescued. Come, rescue me. “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me…” (Habakkuk 2:1) I will wait for You, like the watchman waits for the morning. I won’t fear the night. This long season of darkness. Because in the darkness, You speak. In the mud, you plant seeds of new life, that will spring up. 

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off fom the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls–Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

He is the hope for the one whose feet fail. If you are at a point where your feet cannot go any futher, and you have no more strength–good news! He gives you new feet. Right at the place you can’t walk anymore. He makes your feet like the feet of a deer, so that you can. Praise God, because you don’t have to pull up your boot straps. You can just take off your shoes. And say, “God, I need new feet.” And He will give you new feet. He will enable you to walk in a way you never have before. He will enable you to walk upon the heights. And  you will be able to say,

“The LORD God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.” Habakkuk 3:19

My Deliverer is coming, my Deliverer is standing by. –Rich Mullins

Spring is coming. Your God is coming. For You. And all who hope in Him,

will never be put to shame. 

He makes all things new. He makes all things grow. He leads you beside quiet waters. He makes you lie down in green pastures. And however long this winter, the day is coming when you will walk in the new grass, with bare feet. 

So don’t despise the mud, life is about to break forth from it. 

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Infertility: Where Is God When You Can’t Get Pregnant?

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We all know that labor hurts. But what most people don’t know is: infertility hurts too. It’s not the loud, screaming kind of pain. It’s long, and slow, and quiet. It’s a different kind of labor altogether. A labor of the soul.

It happens when you toss another negative pregnancy test in the trash can and sit on your bathroom floor and cry.

It happens when you lay in your bed at night, and your husband holds you as you stare into the darkness, while silent tears fall into your pillow.

It happens when you sit at a baby shower and hear all the “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” over every little, tiny gift, and wonder if you will ever have any little, tiny gifts of your own to open?

It happens when you look in the mirror at your flat stomach, and put your hand over it, and pray for life to grow. And try to imagine what it would look like, what it would feel like, if it did?

It happens when you see teenagers pushing strollers past your house. And when the minivan full of children opens it’s doors. And when a friend says they had another “oopsies” pregnancy. And you wonder: Why is this so easy for everyone else? Except us?

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Singing In The Dark: Worship When It Hurts

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I left work early that day, my world was spinning. My heart was in anguish, feeling as if it would burst at any moment. And once I arrived home, I was completely undone. Weeping. It seemed like suddenly all the light had gone out of the world. Out of my world.

Sin and death.

Like two arrows shot straight into my heart. Within one hour that morning.

First arrow, Sin. I was cut deeply by sin, the sin of someone I loved.

Second arrow, Death. A dear friend had passed away, leaving her husband, and three kids. Alone.

Sin and death. All at once, I could feel their power. Taste the bitter. And that night as it grew dark outside, it grew dark inside…me. It felt that night like Satan won.

Like he would always win.

Crushed and broken, I sat at the old piano, with no words, watching the neat black and white keys blur with my tears.

                                                            God, why?

Have you ever had one of these moments? When your world suddenly flickers black?

When tears run dry, and strength wears thin,

No hope of going on again,

When hands are fragile, thin, and weak,

No words are left to even speak?

There are nights in this life that are simply dark.

When I was a little girl, I was afraid to go upstairs in our house because…it was dark. So my mom taught me to sing. To sing in the dark.

I’d run upstairs belting out Jesus, Loves Me and flipping on light switches as I’d go…and Mom was right. It did make me feel better. Braver.

And there at the piano, that night, in the dark and death and despair, I somehow remembered. To do it again.

To sing.

The words were choked out, and awkward.

But true.

A song we sing at church, “You Are Good,” a lively, up-beat song—but that night it came out very slow. My voice cracked with pain. Stopping every few words, choked with the weight of it.

I sing, because You are good

I dance, because You are good

I shout, because You are good

You are good to me

 

And in my darkest night,

You shine as bright as day

Your love amazes me

But as I worshipped in my weakness and pain, something incredible happened. The Light began to appear. Like a soft candle in a dark room, growing steadily brighter. Jesus Christ, the Light of the whole world. In whom, there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

I tremble as I write this, but it is true: God is worthy of our worship—even when the darkness comes. And before it leaves. And often, our worship of Him is the very thing that leads us out of the darkness. We take our eyes off our pain, hardship, questions, conflicts, confusion, and put them on Jesus. We do the very thing we were born to do: worship our God.

Singing is powerful. Worship is warfare between darkness and light. It’s not just emotional. It’s not about the “warm fuzzy feeling” that music can induce. We feel better when we sing because the Light of the World actually enters into the room. He enlightens the darkness. He takes us by the hand. He makes us brave.

Whatever your situation, however dark, or grim; however complicated your relationships, or frustrated your efforts—invite the Light into it. Invite Jesus to come into the picture. He will.

The Day is drawing near, when He will stand again on the earth. With a sword upon His side. You with your own eyes will see him. (Job 19:27) And ‘He will wipe every tear from [your] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelations 21:4) He Himself will bind up and heal every wound. Every wound. And for every tear of pain, will flow ten thousand tears of joy. For He is making everything new.

And we will sing a new song that day,

“Where O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?” For Death has been swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:55, 54b)

So,

Sing, Daughter of Zion.

Sing, because of Your God.

Sing,

Even in the dark.

For your Light is coming.

Soon.