Tag Archives: fear

Addressing the Elephant in the Room…

When his brothers got ready to leave Egypt, Joseph called the manager of his palace once again, and ordered, “Fill the men’s packs with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money just inside his pack.  Then, put my silver goblet just inside the youngest one’s pack, along with his grain money.”  The manager of the palace did as he was commanded.

The brothers left with their donkeys at daybreak, but before they were far from the city, Joseph gave this order to his palace manager, “Chase after those men and when you catch them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!'”

So, the palace manager took off and chased them, and when he caught up with the brothers, he exclaimed, “Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!”

Joseph’s brothers were shocked at the man’s accusation, and replied, “Why do you speak this way, my lord?  We would never do such a thing, may heaven forbid it!  Don’t you remember?  When we found the money inside our packs, we brought it back to you from the land of Canaan!  So how could you think that we would steal silver or gold from your lord’s palace?”  Confident that they were guilty of no crime, they finished with, “If you find the goblet on any one of us, put him to death — and the rest of us will serve as your slaves!”

“No,” the palace manager replied.  “The one who has my lord’s silver goblet will be my slave, but the rest of you will be blameless.”  Then, each one of the brothers hurriedly placed his pack on the ground and opened them.  The manager searched each bag, starting with the eldest brother, and ending with the youngest, and he found the governor’s silver goblet where he had planted it, in Benjamin’s pack.

When the brothers saw this, they moaned and ripped their clothes in grief.  Each of them remembered their father’s fearful countenance, when he had finally allowed Benjamin to travel to Egypt with them.  Losing Benjamin, on top of his continued grief for Joseph, would kill him, and then, his death would be on their shoulders, too.  Each of them, except for Benjamin, who didn’t know of their sin against Joseph, realized their sins had finally caught up with them.  They believed that God’s retribution was finally upon them.  Therefore, each one quickly reloaded his donkey and returned to the city to face the governor.

Joseph was still in his palace, when Judah and his brothers arrived, and all of them fell down before him on the ground, trembling with fear.  Joseph was startled to see that all of them had returned, and he said, “How could you do this to me?  Don’t you know that I’m able to see into the future?”

Judah fearfully replied, “O my lord, what can we say?  There’s no way for us to prove our innocence.  God is repaying us for our sins, so here we are.  We have all returned to be your slaves, not just the one with whom my lord’s silver cup was found!”

Again, his brothers surprised him, and Joseph replied, “Heaven forbid!  I would never do such a thing.  Only the man who stole my goblet will be my slave, and the rest of you may go in peace to your father.”

Judah’s heart broke as he remembered both his father’s fear of losing Benjamin just as he’d lost Joseph, and the promise that he had made to protect Benjamin from harm.  So, he arose and beseeched Joseph, “Please, my lord!  May I speak freely with you, without arousing your anger?  For you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.” 

At Joseph’s nod, Judah proceeded, “Do you remember when you asked us, ‘Do you have a father?  Or a brother?’  We truthfully answered your questions, my lord, telling you about our father, who is an old man, and about our youngest brother, who is a child of his old age.  We told you that this youngest brother also had a full brother, who is dead, and that he alone is all that remains of his mother’s children, and our father loves him greatly.

“Then, when you ordered us to bring our brother down to you, so that you could see him, we told you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father, for if he were to leave him, our father would surely die.’  When we told you this, my lord, you said that we would not see your face again, unless we brought our brother back with us, so we went back home to your servant, my father, and told him what you had said, and when our father told us to return to Egypt to buy some grain, we told him that we couldn’t.

“We said, ‘We can’t go down to Egypt again, unless our youngest brother is with us, because the governor won’t let us see his face without him.'”

Wiping tears from his eyes, Judah drew a deep breath, and continued, “Then your servant, my father, said, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons.  The one left and never returned, for he was surely torn to pieces by some wild animal.  Now, if you take this son away from me too, and something happens to him, you will send this white-haired old man down to his grave with grief.’

“So, how can I go to your servant, my father, without his youngest son?  For his heart is bound up with the boy’s heart, and when he sees the boy isn’t with us, it will kill him.  If his heart is broken yet again, the grief will send our white-haired father to his grave, and it will be my fault.  For I, your servant, guaranteed my brother’s safety.  I told my father, ‘If I fail to bring him to you, then I will bear the blame forever.’

“Therefore, my lord, I beg you to let me stay as your slave instead of the boy, and let him return home to my father with our brothers.”  Judah sobbed, remembering Jacob’s pain when he lost Joseph, because of his and his brothers’ sin.  Now, more than twenty years later, his father still grieved for Joseph, and losing Benjamin would no doubt kill him.  “Please, my lord,” Judah pleaded, “allow me to stay as your slave, and let Benjamin return to our father, for I couldn’t bear to see his anguish, if I return without him.”

When he saw their compassion and discerned their repentance, Joseph could contain himself no longer.  He ordered his servants and attendants to leave the room immediately.  Then, when no one but his brothers remained, Joseph wept loudly, and revealed himself to them.  More than twenty years of torment were loosed with Joseph’s tears.  Indeed, he wailed so loudly, his entire household and even Pharaoh’s household heard his keening.

“I am Joseph!” he gasped in the midst of his wailing.  “Is it true that my father, Jacob, still lives?”  His brothers were so dumbfounded at the governor’s actions, that they couldn’t speak at first.  So, Joseph beckoned his brothers, “Please!  Come closer.”

elephant in the room 3

They approached him hesitantly, as fear and hope warred within each of them.  “I’m Joseph, your brother, whom you sold as a slave to Egypt,” he told them.  Their eyes widened in alarm, as the truth of their sin was finally exposed, and the elephant in the room was addressed for the first time in more than twenty years.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said, as the tears continued to flow down his cheeks.  He looked into the eyes of each of his brothers, who had betrayed him, starting with Reuben, the oldest, all the way down to Zebulun.  As he looked into each of their eyes, they at first tried to avert his gaze, but then they each looked back at him, and tears soon flowed from their eyes too.

Meanwhile, Benjamin stared at Joseph, completely enthralled by his brother, and filled with joy.  He couldn’t wait to share the good news with his father that Joseph, who had been lost to them for more than twenty years was found.  He couldn’t wait to see his father’s joy when he discovered that his son, whom he thought was dead, still lived!

Joseph grinned at him, then turned back to his other brothers.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said again, as he fully addressed the elephant in the room.  “For it was really God who sent me ahead of you to preserve your lives.  Indeed, the famine that has been over the land for the last two years will continue for yet another five years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

“Don’t you see?”  Joseph asked.  “God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance.  So, it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.”

Joseph drew closer to them and said, “Brothers, hurry up and go to my father.  Tell him that Joseph says, ‘Elohim has made me lord of all Egypt!  Come down to me and don’t delay!  You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me with your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds and everything you own.  I will provide for you there, so you won’t be impoverished because five more years of famine are yet to come.’

Artistic close up of an African elephant in black and white

“Brothers, you can see with your own eyes see that it truly is me, Joseph, speaking to you.  Benjamin, you see with your own eyes that I am truly Joseph, your long-lost brother!  Now go,”  Joseph said, as yet more tears began to flow from his eyes.  “Tell my father how honored I am in Egypt and everything you have seen, and hurry up and bring him down here to me!”  Finally, Joseph gathered Benjamin into his arms, and wept as he embraced him.  Benjamin, too, wept into Joseph’s neck.  Joseph then kissed all of his brothers, washing them with his tears.  Then, Joseph’s brothers finally began to speak to him, and each one finally gazed at the elephant in the room, the horrible sin they had tried to bury, and addressed it…

If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.  (1 John 1:9 Complete Jewish Bible)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

When All Hope is Gone…

The burden Joseph’s brothers carried on their shoulders, when nine of them, and not ten, left Egypt was crushing.  “How are we going to tell Abba that Simeon is now imprisoned in Egypt, and their governor wants to see Benjamin as well?”  Reuben choked out, as he fought back the tears that flowed freely from his other brothers eyes.  As the eldest brother, he had to be strong for the others.  “This could kill him!”

“I know,” Judah sighed.  “But perhaps El Shaddai will show him mercy.  For it was we, who sinned against Him, when we sold Joseph into slavery and death, not Abba.  This punishment should be ours alone.”

“Maybe,”  Levi said.  “But I’ve noticed that every time we sin against El Shaddai, everyone, even the innocent, ends up suffering.  Look at Abba.  He has suffered enormously since Joseph died, and look at Benjamin.  He certainly committed no sin, and yet, he too, has suffered.  Since Joseph’s death, Abba won’t let him out of his sight.  He smothers Benjamin in his grief.”

The brothers nodded in agreement, then fell silent, as they made their way home, with their donkeys.  They made camp by a river, as the sun began to set, and a few collected firewood, while others led the donkeys to the river to drink.  Then, after the donkeys had their fill of water, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and discovered his money on top of the grain.  He face paled, and he began to tremble, as he called for his brothers to come.  “Look!  My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!”

Their hearts sank, as they gazed at the money in his sack of grain, and they, too, began to tremble.  Fear filled their hearts and minds, and they asked each other, “What has God done to us?”  But no one had an answer to that question.  Needless to say, no one slept well that night, and they were up before dawn.  They quickly packed their belongings, and were headed home, just as the sky began to lighten.

When the brothers got home to the land of Canaan, they went to see their father, Jacob.  There was no point in putting things off.  “Did you get the grain?”  Jacob asked, expectantly.

“Yes Abba,” Reuben spoke for the group, and continued, “but the man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us.  He accused us of being spies scouting the land.  We told him that we are honest men, not spies.  We said that we are twelve brothers, sons of one father.  We told him that one brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan,

“Then the man who is governor of the land said, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men.  Leave one of  your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  Then I will know you are honest men and not spies.  Then I will give you back your  brother, and you may freely trade in the land'”

Tears welled up in Jacob’s eyes, as he gazed at his sons.  “He took Simeon?”  Jacob whispered and the brothers nodded, with their eyes downcast.  Then they opened their sacks, and everyone saw the bag of money, which they had used to pay for the grain, in each man’s sack.  Jacob began to wail, and he mournfully ripped his robe, as terror swept over him and his sons. Then he exclaimed to them, “You are robbing me of my children!  Joseph is gone!  Simeon is gone!  And now you want to take Benjamin, too.  Everything is against me!”

Reuben knelt down in front of his father, and the tears he had kept at bay for so long, ran down his face and into his beard.  He gently placed his hands on his father’s shoulders and waited for Jacob to look into his eyes.  Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you.  I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

Overwhelmed by grief and anguish, Jacob had lost all hope.  He had forgotten that El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God, cared for him and his sons.  He forgot the visions and dreams he had received from El Shaddai over the years.  He forgot the many times El Shaddai had provided for him and his family.  He forgot the promises El Shaddai had made to him, his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, before him.  In his pain, Jacob was blind to the many blessings El Shaddai had given him.  He only saw what he had lost. “My son will not go down with you,” he spat at Reuben.  “His brother, Joseph, is dead, and he is all I have left.  If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.”

Beloved reader, have you ever felt such searing pain and loss?  Have you been so blinded by grief that you are no longer able to even see the many blessings God has given you?  I have.  When such agony envelops you, it is impossible to rise above it, as wave after wave of despair encompasses you.  But thanks be to God!  Even in the midst of our suffering, He is with us, ready to heal and deliver us from those broken places, if we will seek His face.  When we are overwhelmed with hopelessness and grief, let’s cry out to God, as this psalmist did:

Psalm 42
Complete Jewish Bible

Just as a deer longs for running streams,
God, I long for you.
I am thirsty for God, for the living God!
When can I come and appear before God?

My tears are my food, day and night,
while all day people ask me, “Where is your God?”
I recall, as my feelings well up within me,
how I’d go with the crowd to the house of God,
with sounds of joy and praise from the throngs
observing the festival.

My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for the salvation that comes from His presence.
My God, when I feel so downcast,
I remind myself of You
from the land of Yarden, from the peaks of Hermon,
from the hill Mizar.
Deep is calling to deep
at the thunder of Your waterfalls;
all Your surging rapids and waves
are sweeping over me.
By day Adonai commands His grace,
and at night His song is with me
as a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
under pressure by the enemy?
10 My adversaries’ taunts make me feel
as if my bones were crushed,
as they ask me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’ ”

11 My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for being my Savior and God.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

The Elephant in the Room

Can you imagine Jacob’s torment?  Can you imagine the pain he must have felt, when his sons returned to his tent, the day they sold their brother Joseph into slavery?  He thought his son was dead, and the pain nearly killed him.  It aged him overnight.

I wonder how much greater his pain would have been, had he known what really happened to Joseph?  Do you think he ever suspected foul play at the hands of his older sons?  Do you ponder whether Jacob ever doubted the validity of what his ten oldest sons claimed had happened to Joseph?  The bible doesn’t say for sure, but I reckon Jacob suspected more than he let on.  Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, too often, there are just some things that are too painful to be spoken out loud.

Jacob must have known how much his other sons hated Joseph, for they had made no attempt to hide it from anyone.  They openly mocked him at every turn, and their jealousy of Joseph was evident to all.  It must have seemed dubious to Jacob, when Joseph turned up dead, after he sent him to check up on his brothers.  After all, he knew full well, when he sent Joseph to them, how angry they already were with Joseph.  After all, hadn’t Joseph given their father a bad report about them, just days earlier?  And what about the beautiful robe Jacob had given to Joseph?  It was the same robe his ten older brothers later returned to Jacob, covered with blood.  Their rancor towards their brother had known no bounds, when Jacob rewarded Joseph with that beautiful robe.  Indeed, Jacob had made it abundantly clear, over and over again, that Joseph was his favorite son, which caused their loathing for Joseph to burn even deeper.

Elephant-in-the-room (1)

Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, they ignored the proverbial “elephant in the room,” and no one ever addressed the issue.  The ten eldest sons never spoke directly to their father about the pain he had caused them, in showing favoritism towards Joseph.  Instead, they allowed their bitterness to fester, turning into a poison that blackened their souls, until their hearts turned violent.

Indeed, this wasn’t the first time that these ten sons of Jacob had turned violent.  They had slaughtered and plundered an entire town, after a man named Shechem, the prince of that town, raped their sister, Dinah.  True, what Shechem had done was evil, but what these ten sons of Jacob had done, was no less evil.  For they had tricked the men into believing that they had forgiven Shechem, and they would allow him to marry their sister, Dinah, if he, and his entire town would be circumcised.

Eager to make amends and marry Dinah, Shechem, and his father, King Hamor, agreed to the deal, and when they met with their council, they agreed too.  Therefore, all of the men in that community were circumcised.  Then, three days later, while all of the men were still in great pain from their circumcisions, the ten eldest sons of Jacob attacked and killed every single male, and afterwards, they took all of the town’s livestock, and enslaved the women and children who remained.

elephant-in-the-room

Yes, Jacob surely knew the violence his oldest sons were capable of, but, again, like the proverbial elephant in the room, he didn’t discuss his suspicions with them, because to actually hear the truth spoken aloud was too much for him to contemplate.  And now, as famine swept across the land, Jacob worried about his family’s fate.  There was no grain to be obtained in all of Canaan, but he had heard that there was grain available in the land of Egypt, so he assembled all of his remaining sons, and had a family meeting.

“We’re going to starve if we don’t get some grain,” Jacob spoke bluntly to his sons, who exchanged glances with one another, but said nothing.  “Why are you standing around looking at one another?” he asked impatiently.  “You know what I say is true.  However, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.  Therefore, I want you to go down there and buy enough grain to keep us alive.  Otherwise, we’ll all die.”

“You’re right Abba,” Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son, replied.  “We must go to Egypt right away.  Come brothers, let’s pack up and leave for Egypt at first light tomorrow.”

“NO!”  Jacob shouted.  “Benjamin, you will stay with me, and your brothers will go to Egypt.

“But Abba,” Benjamin protested.

“NO!”  Jacob shouted once again, as he fought the panic that boiled up within him.  His heart pounded loudly in his ears as he drew a shuddering breath, trying to slow his heart rate, and speak calmly.  “No, my son,” Jacob repeated.  “This is a job for your older brothers to handle.  You must stay with  me.”

Benjamin looked closely at his father, and noted the terror in his eyes.  Then he knelt down beside Jacob, and gently hugged him.  “Alright Abba,” he whispered softly.  “I will obey and stay here with you.”

Jacob’s oldest sons exchanged guilty glances with one another, for they, too, had seen the fear and pain in their father’s eyes, and they knew that they were the cause of his agony.  Though no one said a word, once again ignoring the elephant in the room, the brothers knew that Jacob wouldn’t allow Benjamin to travel alone with them, for fear they might harm him, just as they had harmed Joseph.  

Both Jacob and his ten eldest sons felt guilty.  Yet, still, they didn’t speak of what they had done.  Each was trapped in his own torment, and it seemed there was no hope for redemption.  Each one was a captive of a moment that had long since passed. Jacob was trapped in the moment when he had chosen to love Joseph more than all of his other sons.  In doing so, he had rejected their love as insignificant.  His rejected sons were trapped in the moment, when they had taken their anger out on the wrong person, their brother, Joseph, rather than confronting their father for neglecting to love them as a father should.  They were all, utterly without hope.

Yet, in the midst of all this turmoil and anguish, El Shaddai had a plan.  It was time for each one, Jacob and every one of his sons, to face the elephant in the room, and address it once and for all.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Tragedy? Or God’s Will?

Filled with hatred and rage, Joseph’s brothers had thrown him into an empty cistern (click here to learn more about cisterns).

ancient-cistern

Can you imagine the fear he felt at his brothers’ rage?  Joseph was simply doing his father’s bidding.  I’m sure he knew his brothers didn’t like him, because they had made no attempt to hide their disdain from him.  Yet, they were still his brothers, and, confident in his father’s love for him, I don’t imagine it ever occurred to Joseph that his brothers’ would ever want to kill him.

Yet, their hatred of him became nauseatingly obvious, when they grabbed him, ripping his coat off him and hurling bitter angry insults at him.  Joseph was only seventeen years old, and there were eleven of them against him.  This was no mere child’s play.  He could see the fury in their eyes, as they grabbed him.  There was no gentleness in their touch and no holding back their ire.  They hated him, and they wanted him to know it, as they roughly dragged him to the empty cistern and threw him in.

Can you imagine how Joseph must have pleaded with his brothers, begging them for mercy?  Can you imagine the utter terror he felt, as they ignored his pleas?  Then after being dragged by his brothers, he was forced into the small opening of an empty cistern, falling, who knows how many feet to the bottom?  I can picture them covering the cistern, then walking away, while the boy cried out to them, still pleading for mercy.

Alone in the dark cistern, his throat raw from crying out to his brothers for who knows how long, do you think Joseph prayed?  I can picture his tear stained face pleading with El Shaddai for mercy, as it began to dawn on him that his brothers would show him none.  I imagine he thought of his father, weeping at the pain his death would cause the old man.

Then, probably after many hours, Joseph heard the sound of the cistern’s cover being rolled away.  I imagine his heart leapt to his throat, as hope filled his chest.  His brothers had returned!  They were sorry for their actions.  Praise YHWH (Yahweh), who had heard his prayers and answered them!  As light filled the dark chamber, I believe Joseph would have forgiven his brothers.  I can picture him grinning up at them, as he stood there, bloodied and dusty, with the stains of his tears still on his cheeks.  Did he thank his brothers for their mercy, as they dropped a rope down, for him to tie around his waist, so they could pull him up?

Did his joy turn into fear once more, as they drew him up, and he saw the same hatred in their eyes as before?  Did he fear they were going to kill him?  As he looked from one brother to another, did Joseph even notice the Midianite traders at first?  Was it his brothers or the Midianites, who informed Joseph that he was now a slave?  Did his brothers smile in satisfaction, as they saw the look of horror on Joseph’s face, when the realization hit him?

Did Joseph see his brothers, with their backs turned against him, greedily dividing the 20 pieces of silver they had just earned for selling him?  Did he rue the day that he was born?  Did he wish for death at that point? Did his faith in the Most High God falter or remain strong?  How he must grieved the loss of his father, his home and yes, even his brothers!  What a tragedy for such a young man to endure!  Or was it a tragedy?  Could Joseph’s tribulation have simply been the fulfillment of God’s will?

Too often, in today’s church, we are taught to believe that if we are faithful, our lives will be filled with health and wealth.  But, if you truly study God’s word, you will discover that this is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33 NLT)

Beloved reader, His words weren’t just for His twelve original disciples.  They were for everyone who would follow Him, then and now.  We will face many trials and sorrows in our lives, just as Joseph did, just as Jesus did, and just as His disciples did.  If someone tells you any different, they are lying to you.

Joseph's Bloody Torn Coat

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are alone in your suffering.  Joseph wasn’t.  Imagine how Jacob, his father felt, when his sons returned to him with Joseph’s bloody, torn coat.  Those of us who are parents, can imagine nothing worse than losing one of our beloved children.  I can only begin to envision Jacob’s horror, as his elder sons informed him of his loss.  How he must have lamented sending his beloved son to check on his brothers that day!  Did he blame himself for Joseph’s loss?  While his other sons tried to comfort him, Jacob swore that he would go to his grave mourning for Joseph, as he wept.  (Read Genesis 37)

Did his brothers feel any remorse for their crime?  Did they, too, suffer for the sin they had committed against their brother, Joseph?  Do you think they felt pain for their father’s grief?  We’ll explore this another time.

But remember this.  As tragic as it was, if Joseph had never been sold into slavery, there would have been no need for Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, more than 400 years later.  So, was this truly a tragedy, or was it simply God’s will?  Is your life a tragedy?  Or is it, too, God’s will?

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Lord Have Mercy!

In a world filled with bitterness and injustice, it’s no accident that after sharing the beatitude about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus followed it up with the beatitude on mercy…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.  (Matthew 5:6-7 NKJV)

In this world, where mothers and fathers mourn the lives of their children, murdered by men full of violence, we need mercy as well as justice.  In this world, where men, women and children are raped and tortured, we need both mercy and justice.  In this world, where governments lie, cheat and steal from their citizens, we need mercy to go hand in hand with justice.

What is mercy anyway?  For much of my life, I’ve confused mercy with forgiveness, but in this study, I was moved to seek out the biblical definition, as well as the world’s definition, and I was surprised to discover that mercy and forgiveness are two different things.  Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is as essential to our walk with Christ as mercy is, but Jesus addresses that elsewhere.  So, for now, we are going to talk about mercy…

This is dictionary.com’s definition of mercy:

[mur-see]

noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.

  1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offenderan enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassionpity, or benevolence:  Have mercy on thpoor sinner.
  2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
  3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty. 
  4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
  5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.

According to Strong’s Lexicon, this is the Greek word translated as mercy in this scripture, and its definition:

eleeō

[e-le-e’-ō]

verb

to be compassionate (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace):—have compassion (pity on), have (obtain, receive, shew) mercy (on).

Beloved reader, in this world that often shows little to no compassion for those who are hurt and afflicted, Jesus commands us to be merciful.  In this world of unrighteousness, we are to show mercy to our enemies, to our friends, to our family, to the poor and forgotten… Indeed, we are to show mercy to everyone we come in contact with.

Do you want to receive mercy?  Be merciful.  Show compassion on those who are less fortunate than you are.  Show compassion to those who are more fortunate than you.  Show compassion to all you come in contact with.

Think about it, even as He was suffering, hanging, naked and dying on the cross, Jesus looked down and saw those who had tortured and hung Him gambling over His clothing, and instead of calling on God to strike them dead (which justice surely demanded), He was moved with pity for them.  Can you imagine feeling pity for your tormentors, in the midst of your suffering?  Jesus did, and He cried out to His Father, not to condemn them, but to have mercy on them…

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)

Beloved, if Jesus, who was and is wholly righteous, could have mercy enough on those, who yet tortured Him, to forgive them, how can we do any less?  “But He is God,” you might say.  “It’s harder for me to forgive, because I’m not God.”  If you are truly a child of God, then His Spirit lives within you, and enables you to show mercy.

How much harder was it for Jesus, who knew no sin, to suffer at the hands of sinful man?  How much harder was it for Him to have mercy on me, knowing how many times I have let Him down in the past, present and future?  And yet, He continues to pour His mercies on us…

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.  (Psalm 103:11-18 NKJV)

Beloved, this walk with Christ is not an easy one.  We are tested and tried at every turn, just as Jesus said we would be.  And yet, by His grace, and in His strength, we can run this race, for He will give us the endurance to see it through.  It’s time for us to stop seeing everything through the eyes of the world, and start seeing things through the eyes of Christ.

Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Then you will be filled, as you show mercy to others.  And as you show mercy to others, rejoice!  For you are blessed, and you will receive that same mercy from the God of all mercy, and let’s not forget:

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”  (Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Where Do You Live?

I’ve lived in the same old farm house for the last thirty-one years.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s my home.  When I’m at home, I know that I’m sheltered from the many storms that have blown through over the years.  This old house has endured blizzards, hurricanes and tropical storms, yet it has stood firm, despite being more than seventy-five years old.  That could be because the floor joists beneath this old house are whole logs (with the bark still on them), and there are actual 4″x4″ posts, (as opposed to today’s 4″x4″ posts, which are really only 3.5″x3.5″) in the walls, and the 2″x4″ boards truly  are 2″x4″ as well, (not today’s 1.5″x3.5″).

At any rate, when I’m in my home, I feel safe and secure.  If I’ve been out in the world, and someone hurts me, I long for the security of my home.  Whenever I leave my home for a long period of time, I always feel great joy, when I return to the house I live in, because home is where my heart is.

house_PNG50
House (Image Not Mine)

The same thing can be said spiritually and emotionally.  Where we abide is where we live.  Where do you live?

4 *Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it *abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you *abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who *abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not *abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you *abide in Me, and My words *abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

(John 15:4-8  NASB)

Strong’s Lexicon Definition for Abide

ménō, men’-o; a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), × thine own.

For many years, I lived (abided) in Jesus, and I was quite happy there.  I’ve preached and shared the gospel with many people, and I’ve been blessed to rejoice in the salvation of others, who came to know and love Jesus.  Yet, because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen, even when we’re in our homes, where we feel safe and secure.

Six years ago, my back started hurting, causing weakness and shooting pains in my legs.  I’ve dealt with back pain my entire life, off and on, and when it started, I figured it was just another flare up, and soon I would be back to normal, but that’s not what happened.  Before long, my back and legs were hurting constantly, and within a year, I had to stop doing prison ministry, and shortly thereafter, I had to leave my job, because I was no longer able to work.  The constant pain began to consume me.

During the next six to eight months, my mother passed away, and my children and grandchildren moved far away, to other states.  I fell into a deep depression.  I was totally overwhelmed by the darkness of pain and depression, and my faith began to waver and wane.  I was no longer abiding in Christ; I was now abiding in pain, depression, guilt and anxiety.

Because of the constant, chronic pain, I was unable to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with my mother before she died.  And although I had shared the gospel with her many times over the years, I was unable to do so, while she lay dying, and I was consumed with guilt because of that.  I questioned  my own salvation.  “How could God continue to love me, when I couldn’t even minister to my own mother?”  I thought.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; *abide in My love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

(John 15:9-11 NASB)

Over the next several years, I continued to abide in pain and depression.  I no longer prayed, because I was so disappointed in myself, and I was sure God was too.  I no longer felt His presence.  I simply lived in my pain and depression.  This was now my new abode, and to be frank with you, I’ve been miserable.

Then, just this week, while reading, I was reminded of the scriptures above, and I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Abide in Me.  Abide in My love.”  He was telling me to live, dwell, endure, tarry, stand in His love; in Him!  I still have the same physical pain, but I don’t have to live in and wallow in it.  Instead, I choose to immerse myself in His love for me.  His love didn’t stop because I didn’t share the  gospel with my mother one last time before she died.  My pain isn’t a punishment from God.  It’s just a part of life in this fallen world.

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

(John 16:33 NLT)

Losing my mother, my chronic pain, and having my children and grandchildren so far away from me are just a few of the many sorrows and trials I will endure, but I don’t have to try to go it alone.  Jesus tells me to take heart, because He has overcome the world.  I’m not alone and unloved, for His love is unending, just as He is, for God is love (1 John 4:8b).

I am so very thankful to serve the God of all grace, who remains faithful to us, even in our frailties.  Yes, I continue to have chronic, sometimes debilitating pain, but I don’t have to live in pain.  Instead, while living with pain, I will live in Christ.  Where will you live?


* Emphasis added

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

Woe to You Barak Obama!!! Woe to You Citizens of the United States!!!

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:6  NLT

 All sides are weighing in on this most recent outrage of Obama, and it’s plain to see that he is intent on leaving this nation a legacy of selfishness, perversity and sin.  Obama wants to build a monument to honor the LBGT community, by erecting a monument on a piece of parkland across the street from the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, because this is supposedly the birthplace of the American LBGT activist movement.  Apparently, the movement began as a result of protests in 1969 against police raids on Stonewall Tavern.

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Frankly, he could have stopped there, and it would have been bad enough, but now he’s taken things further, choosing to put our nation’s children at risk, for the sake of a few confused souls.  Make no mistake, by trying to create a law allowing both males and females into children’s and teen’s bathrooms at school, the president is not only establishing his legacy of wickedness to the nation, he is also endangering this nation’s children.

Advocates for this cursed reform, claim that this new law endangers no one, it simply allows transsexuals to be themselves.  However, by opening this door that has heretofore been closed, we are saying that any man who claims to feel as though he is a woman can enter a female bathroom, to relieve himself, and vice versa.  For the sake of a few, are we willing to put all of our children at risk of pedophiles entering their bathrooms, by claiming to be transsexual?  Yes, there are those who say pedophiles will commit their crimes anyway, and yes, this is true.  However, does this mean we should make it easier for them to commit their crimes against our children?  Think people!  Has this nation completely lost its mind???

Do you really wonder why this nation has such poor choices in the upcoming presidential election?  Have you entirely lost your ability to reason???  Take heed United States of America, or you will suffer just as Israel suffered many years ago.  Take heed, or you too, will topple like Sodom and Gomorrah.  Hear the word the Lord spoke to Isaiah the prophet, and let us recognize the similarities between then, and now…

He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.

Isaiah 6:9-10  NASB

Does this not sound like America’s current status?  People see what is right and true, but they don’t see.  They hear the truth, but they don’t understand it, because their hearts are insensitive.  They just don’t care about endangering our children.  Their own sinful urges are all that matter to them.  Do you wonder why our only choices for the presidency of this country are Hillary Clinton, a known liar and a criminal, Bernie Sanders, a socialist fool, and Donald Trump, a bully and a womanizer?

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:21-32  NASB

Beloved readers, if we don’t rise up and cry out against our nation’s foolishness and corruptness, maybe God will still excuse us.  However, when a nation begins sacrificing millions of innocent children, so that others may freely and openly practice their sinful ways in freedom, and we stand idly by, doing nothing, it is inexcusable!  Oh, wait a minute!  We’re already doing that now, aren’t we, by sacrificing millions of unborn babies every year to abortion, so that millions of women are free to sin as they wish, while perverted baby-killing agencies (perhaps better known as abortion agencies), get rich off the sacrifice of these babies.  So, America, what shall we do now?  Once again allow our nation to sacrifice millions more innocent children to the fires of Molech?  Or shall we arise, lock arms, and take this as far as we can, even by pulling our innocent babes out of the schools that allow people of all sexes to enter in the bathrooms?

21 You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.

Leviticus 18:21  NASB

Beloved readers, hear me when I say that God will not allow this to continue forever.  There is coming a day, when He will step in to avenge the millions and millions of infant lives already taken, and do not think He will overlook the lives of the innocent children that Obama is putting at risk.  Obama will one day answer for his crimes against God, and against His children, and so will we, if we do nothing to protect the innocent.  “But how can I help the children?” you may ask.  I will tell you.  Do not send your children to schools that enforce Obama’s hateful toilet policy.  Write, protest, cry out against it.  Refuse to vote for anyone who endorses these policies.  And take this wise advice from the prophet Micah…

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8  NASB

Do justice, people.  Do justice.  I was violated by a pedophile, who lived in my own home – my stepfather.  Though she knew what happened, my own mother failed to protect me.  Now, Obama wants to place our nation’s children in harm’s way, and we have an opportunity to take a stand against this great evil.  I praise God for North Carolina’s state government, for their strong stance against this, as well as Texas’ state government.

It grieves me to say that Governor Jack Markel of my home state, Delaware, welcomed this latest policy with arms wide open.  In a statement to the press, he stated, “Our mission to build a welcoming and accepting state that can compete in the global economy requires laws that reflect our values,” Markell declared. “Today, we guarantee that our transgender relatives and neighbors can work hard, participate in our communities and live their lives with dignity and in safety.”

How dare he???  It is not ever a good mission to welcome and accept everyone.  I do not and will not, welcome pedophiles, nor any other sexual deviants to have access to my children, my grandchildren, nor any other child, as long as I have breath.  I know firsthand the damage that can be done to a child who is traumatized by someone’s perverted sexual deviances, and I would never want to even risk something like that happening to another child.  Will pedophiles continue to commit crimes, regardless of this latest grievous law Obama has tried to enact?  Yes, however, that doesn’t mean we should make it easier for them to access innocent children!  How interesting that Obama didn’t enact this law while his girls were in public school…  Oh, that’s right!  His girls go to private schools, and are surrounded by the secret service, who protect them from harm’s way!

The time for silence has passed.  The time for civility has passed.  It is past time for Christians to be “nice.”  As a matter of fact, nowhere in scripture are we told to be nice, although we are commanded to be kind.  The difference between nice and kind is that nice people say and do whatever makes someone happy, whether it’s good or right or true, or not.  Kind people know how to speak the truth in love, even if it is painful to the person hearing them, because that is what’s best.

Today, you have a choice, so be wise.  Will you choose to stand up and protect our nation’s children, and fight for them till the end?  Or will you choose to sit quietly, ignoring what is happening all around us, as our country sinks deeper into wickedness and perversion?

14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:14-15  NASB

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

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And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Hurt? Overwhelmed? Fearful? Angry?

Do your problems seem insurmountable?  Does it seem like you have a mountain of debt?  You’re all alone?  Nothing’s going right?  Nothing will ever work out in your favor?  Then I have a word for you!

Depressed

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

Isaiah 61:1-2  NLT

depression1600x1200

The Lord has given me a word to share with all who are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, lonely, hurt, grieving and angry.  This is a word for those who have given up.  It’s a word for those whose problems have become impossible.  Let those who have an ear, hear what the Spirit says.

The God I serve is holy and just.  He is not a God who can’t hear. The answer to your problems is closer than you think…

11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14  NLT

Your problems are not insurmountable.  They are not as big as you imagine.  Beloved children, the monster in your closet is only a shadow, and though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear not, for the Lord is with you.  His rod and His staff will comfort you.

For just as Peter lost his focus when he walked on water, so you have lost perspective with your problems.  The winds that night were fierce, stirring the waves up into a terrible froth, as their caps battered the boat the disciples were in.  Yet, when Peter saw Jesus walking on water toward him, he forgot all about the violence of the winds and the waves. He only had eyes for His Lord and Savior, who was calmly walking on top of the raging sea, coming to them…

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Matthew 14:28-29  NLT

Think about it.  The storm was impossible.  The waves were high as they crashed into the boat, and the wind blew against them, battering their bodies and the boat.  And while the wind blew the stinging needles of the salt water against their skin and their faces, Peter noticed none of it when he saw Jesus walking to them on the water.  Indeed the wind and the waves were nothing to him in that instant, as he shouted across the water to Jesus.

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Matthew 14:28  NLT

Then, when Jesus told him to “Come,” Peter leaped out of the boat, and immediately walked on the water towards his beloved Savior.  You see, in that moment, his focus was sharp, and his perspective was clear.  For nothing is impossible with God.  Peter knew that, perhaps better than anyone else, for he did what no man has before or since he and the Savior walked on water.  Indeed, he was really doing it, until, for some reason, he took his eyes off of Jesus, and looked around, noticing, for perhaps the first time, since he had started his great adventure, that the wind and the waves were really whipping against him.

30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:30  NLT

Can I tell you something, beloved?  The wind didn’t just suddenly start in that instant, when Peter first noticed it.  It had been blowing all along.  The other disciples were already aware of this, and they were scared, which is why none of them cried out to Jesus to command them to come.  Yet, though the wind was beating against him, Peter took no note of it, as long as he was focused on Jesus.  Beloved reader, have you been like the rest of the disciples, focusing on the wind and the waves?  Or are you like Peter, focusing on Christ instead?

We are all human, and sometimes our  problems seem to loom so largely against us, yet, it is in these most difficult times that we must look away from the problem, and look to Jesus, the answer to all of our problems.  Let’s look at the seraphim, who circle the throne of God day in and day out, 24/7…

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with His glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6:1-4  NLT

Throne Room by Pat Marvenko Smith
Throne Room
by Pat Marvenko Smith

These seraphim continuously cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!  The whole earth is filled with His glory!”  What leads them to cry out like this continuously?  They never stop calling out to one another about God’s holiness, no matter what else goes on at the throne of God…


One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed My servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God.10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Job 1:6-12  NLT

Now, we all know that Satan is the devil himself.  We know that he’s a liar, and the father of lies.  We know that he comes to steal from us, to kill us and destroy us.  We know that it is this terrible beast, who is behind all of mankind’s troubles.  We know that this old serpent lied to our forefathers, and deceived them into giving up their dominion over the earth.  We know that he has led many men to do horrible things to one another.  We also know that at one time, he was a big deal in heaven, until he rebelled against God, and led 1/3 of heaven’s angels in the rebellion against the Almighty.  We also know that Satan is constantly appearing before God’s throne, accusing us day and night…

… For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
    the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10b

So, what do we do about it?  Let’s look and see how the seraphim, those creatures who encircle God’s throne respond, when our accuser appears before the throne…


In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.

In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,  

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—     the one who always was, who is, and who is still to     come.”

Revelation 4:6-8  NLT


Day after day, and night after night, the keep saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty…”  When their enemy and ours approach God’s throne, they don’t even notice him, though they have numerous eyes, because to them, he is nothing in the light of God, and all of their eyes are fixed on Him alone.  And beloved, it isn’t just the seraphim that have things in perspective.  The 24 elders do as well…


Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, 

11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
        to receive glory and honor and power.
        For You created all things, 
        and they exist because You created what You                pleased.” 

Revelation 4:9-11  NLT


Beloved, I know we are at war.  I know how the enemy is trying to tear you down, because his demons have been tormenting me as well, with pain, fear, poverty and depression, but the time has come for us to stand.  We must remember that we are not alone in this battle, no matter how lonely we are.


So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.11 All power to Him forever! Amen.

1 Peter 5:8-11  NLT


Beloved, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.  Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you!!!  Beloved, the word of the Lord for all of us is to refocus.  We must stop focusing on our insurmountable problems, (for with God, all things are possible, even those things we think are impossible…) and look to Christ.


Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.

Colossians 3:1-3  NLT


16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NLT


Finally, beloved brothers and sisters, as we stop focusing on our impossible problems, and gaze upon the author and finisher of our faith, it is important to remember how we overcome the accuser of the brethren, the enemy of our soul…


10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the           Lamb
    and by their testimony.
    And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT


© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Fight the Good Fight

Fight

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate?


What does it mean to fight, and is there ever a good reason to fight?  Is there anything worth fighting for?  Or against?

There are several different definitions for the word fight, in dictionary.com.  However, for the sake of this post, I will use the following definition:


verb (used without object), fought, fighting.

7.

to engage in battle or in single combat; attempt to defend oneself against or to subdue, defeat, or destroy an adversary.

8.

to contend in any manner; strive vigorously for or against something:

He fought bravely against despair.
verb (used with object), fought, fighting.

9.

to contend with in battle or combat; war against:

England fought Germany.

10.

to contend with or against in any manner:

We are currently living in a time, when many of the values that we hold dear in our hearts, are being turned upside down, and those of us, who call ourselves Christians, are expected to accept these changes silently.  If we don’t, we run the risk of being labeled “intolerant,” “homophobes,” “bigots,” “haters,” or worse.  So, we’re left with a question, “Do we strive and fight against these changes that seem to be inevitable, no matter what we do?  Or do we meekly accept the changes that grieve our very souls, in order to keep the peace?”

Fought the Good Fight
I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about these things, and, no matter what the world thinks of me, in the end, I have to be true, not to myself, but to the God and Creator of the universe, the One whom I serve, and love with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.  When I am at the end of life, here on earth, as we know it now, and I meet with my Father, face to face, I want to be able to look at Him and say, the same words that the Apostle Paul said at the end of his life…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.


So, what things are worth fighting for?  Certainly the lives of those, who are unable to care for or defend themselves, specifically unborn children.  Although, those who have been pro-choice have tried, for years, to claim that life begins only after a baby is born and takes his/her first breath, ultrasound and many other tests that are done routinely, prove otherwise.

Those of us who are pro-life, know that the instant the sperm fertilizes the egg, life begins, because in order to grow, something must be alive.  We know this from a physical standpoint, when at 12 weeks, we are  first able to hear the heartbeat of that unborn baby, and we know this from a spiritual standpoint, because scripture tells us of this fact…

 


13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as My prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 NLT


Psalm 139-16

According to  the word of God, we live before we are even born, because He already knows us, even then.  Now, whether someone shares my spiritual beliefs or not, is beside the point, because I believe this with all my  heart, and because I believe this, I must fight for the life of every unborn child.  An unborn baby is  not merely a parasite, he/she is a living human.  Therefore, according to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, the fact is, that abortion is the murder of an unborn baby.   Whenever someone snuffs out the life of the unborn child, you are stealing the very rights that every man, woman and child has been endowed with.  With every life that has been taken by means of abortion, you are taking the place of their Creator, and saying that their life is not as important as the mother’s life.  With each abortion, that is performed in this country that guarantees these rights, the child is denied the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These are the very things our forefathers believed were worth fighting for.  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are God-given rights (They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…), NOT man-made rights.  Therefore, mankind DOES NOT have the right to take away someone else’s rights, whether those of grown men and women, those of little children and infants, or those of babies, who have yet to draw their first breath, while they grow in the safety of their mothers’ wombs.

As a follower of Christ, I must fight the good fight for these precious children, who are unable to speak for themselves…  Jesus made His love for children very clear, and He also made it clear that those who harm children have a heavy price to pay…

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:1-5 NLT

Beloved readers, when I think of the millions of abortions that have been performed in the United States, since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, my heart breaks, because for every single one of those millions of unborn babies who was not welcomed into this world, millions of mothers, fathers, nurses and doctors were not only denying the children their right to live, they were also telling Jesus that He was not welcome in their lives either.

So we come back to the word fight.  Are there things worth fighting for?  Absolutely.  It is certainly worth fighting for the life of every unborn child, who has yet to draw his/her first breath.  Is there anything worth fighting against?  Again, the answer is absolutely.  Until we draw our  final breath, we must fight against evil, no matter what form it takes.

We must fight against the evil of racism, whether it comes in the form of white men hating black, hispanics or other ethnic groups, or whether black men hate white men.  For, no matter what form it comes in, racism is ugly, and those who hate others because of their skin  tone, also hate the God and Creator, who created ALL MANKIND in His image.

We must fight against the evil of sin, in every form, because it, like cancer, kills.  Until we draw our last breath, we must fight against hatred, bitterness, cruelty, and anger.

We must fight against anything that is detrimental to the family, as God created it to be.  For, in order to truly create a family, there needs to be a father (a man), and a mother (a woman).  Since the beginning of time, this has been the only way for a child to be conceived.  Without a man’s sperm, and the woman’s egg joining, mankind will cease to exist, and the fact remains that no matter how man has tried to alter this fact, both a man’s sperm, and a woman’s egg are still required to create life, and it will always be this way, no matter how man may try to alter or procreate in other ways.

Perhaps many of you  are now calling me intolerant, because I say that homosexuality and lesbianism are abhorrent to creation, because no matter what attempts they may make to change this, it cannot be done.  Lesbian women still need man’s sperm cells in order to procreate, and homosexual men still need women’s eggs and their uterus, in order for procreation to occur.  I didn’t design it this way, God our Creator did.  In fact, the Apostle Paul felt that homosexuality was a battle worth fighting over, more than 2 thousand years ago…

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:24-32  NLT

Now, more than 2 thousand years later, this is still a fight worth fighting.  Numerous children are being led astray by the lies the homosexual community spouts as they try to convince the public that homosexuality and lesbianism are normal, and should be accepted by all.  Yet, the fact remains that this lifestyle is not, nor has it ever been normal or right.  Those who choose to maintain this lifestyle choice do so, in rebellion to God, our Creator.

Ephesians 6-12

I’m sure that there are some, who are very angry and offended by what I have written here, but I don’t write these words to stir up strife.  Let me be very clear to all who question my motives, I do not hate homosexuals and lesbiansIndeed, I love them, for they are men and women, just like those of us who do not participate in that lifestyle.

My children have done many things that I didn’t like, when they were growing up.  Indeed, the truth is, that I hated some of the things they did, but I never once hated my children.  I never once stopped loving them.  The same holds true with those who call themselves gay.  Although I hate the homosexual acts they commit, and though I abhor many of the things they say, I don’t hate them.

Perhaps some of you reading, think me intolerant, and you’re absolutely correct.  As I have stated all along, in this post, there are some things that are worth fighting for, and some things worth fighting against.  Homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism, beastiality, pedophilia and other sexually deviant practices are sin against one’s own body, and against the bodies of others, and should not be tolerated, much less encouraged, under any circumstance, and while I have breath, I will speak out against such practices, and I will write against them, because such lifestyles are unhealthy and deadly.

More importantly, I fight against these things, regardless of the consequences, because these practices are against God’s will, and when I stand before my maker one day, I want to be able to say these words to my Lord and Savior:

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

God Hears Our Voice, and He Answers Us

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

A friend of mine wrote a short post on Facebook, thanking God for listening to us, and for not only listening, but for speaking to us as well, and the Spirit within me leaped for joy.  Have you ever taken the time to meditate on that thought?

Just think, the God and Creator of the universe and all that is within it, not only hears my voice, but He recognizes it from the noisy cries and shouts of billions of people, and animals, and machinery.  He hears my weakest whisper in the midst of bombs going off, gunshots ringing, and the shouts of angry mobs, and in spite of all that the God of all must do, He’s not too busy to pause and listen to me.  And just think, with all that He is doing, to prepare for great and terrible day of the Lord, He makes time to speak to me, and not just to me, but to everyone who calls upon His name!

Just stop what you’re doing right now, and think about that for a minute…  If you are a child of God, He listens to you, when you cry out to Him, and even when you’re too weak to utter His name, and when you don’t even know how to pray or what to pray for, He sends His Spirit to pray for you…

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 NLT

Isaiah 65-24

I don’t know about you, but I find that so encouraging.  When I am at my weakest, and everyone else has turned their backs on me, God hears my cries, and He answers them.  When I have failed God, and broken His heart yet again, in His mercy, He still listens to me when I cry out to Him.

16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell you what He did for me.
17 For I cried out to Him for help,
    praising Him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
    or withdraw His unfailing love from me.

Psalm 66:16 NLT

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times God has heard my cries and delivered me.  And when I have forgotten how great His love is for me and for you, He reminds me yet again, by listening, and responding to my cries.  And get this, this love that I’m telling you about is not just aimed at me.  He loves you just as much as He loves me.  His love for us knows no bounds.  If you won’t take my word for it, then take King David’s…

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles...

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 34:4-6, 15-17 NKJV

Imagine that!  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this, yet I know it is true, because this poor woman has cried out to the Lord over and over again, and He has heard my cries and delivered me from all my fears.

How can I help but respond with love to the One who loves me with such a fierce love?  How can my heart not beat faster at the sound of His voice?  How can I not love the One who sacrificed everything for my sake?  How can you not love the One who gave His all for you, and leans close to hear your voice?

I love the Lord because He hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because He bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalm 116:1-2 NLT

Thank You Father, for the great love You have for Your children.  Thank You for hearing our voices above the cacophony all about us, and most importantly, thank You for actually listening and responding to us, too.  Thank You, Lord for Your still small voice, and help us, help me, to be still, and listen. 

Help me to wait on You Lord, and teach me how to bless You, just as You bless me.  Lord, I pray that those who read this will rejoice in You, because no matter what’s going on in the world, You still have time to listen to Your children, and to answer them.  Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that You will continue to hear us when we call upon You, and that You will continue to answer and show us great and mighty things that we don’t know.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Whom Will You Choose to be Your King???

The United States is at an interesting juncture in its history.  For what may be the first time in our history, we no longer feel as strong and invincible as we once did.  Many of us, who call ourselves Christians, feel especially threatened, as our nation becomes more and more sinful, and rejects Christ, and all that He, and therefore, we, stand for.  Because of this, many Christians, fearful of living in a nation that seems to have turned against us, are looking for a leader to rise up and fight for us, much like Israel did, when they wanted a king to rule over them, rather than the prophets and judges, whom God had chosen…

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

1 Samuel 8:1-5 NLT

united_states_of_america_flag-normal

Doesn’t this sound like our current state?  Things are pretty bad, as many who are currently in office, are greedy for money and power, and have perverted justice.  When we look at President Obama’s current administration, there has been deceit since day one. Not only that, marriage laws, between one man and one woman,  have now been abolished, in favor of same sex marriage.  Parents are no longer only one mommy and one daddy.  Now, children may have two mommies or two daddies.  Then, as President Obama nears the end of his term in office, we are faced with the possibility that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders could be our next President, neither of whom are friends of Christ.

Therefore, many of the people of God, out of fear, are looking for someone to rescue us from sinful liberals, so they have looked to the Republican party for a hero, who will fight for our rights…  And it seems they have found an unlikely hero in Donald Trump.  Perhaps hero is the wrong word…  how about fighter?  Donald Trump is indeed a fighter.  If you don’t agree with him, or if someone questions him or his motives, he comes out swinging, often lacerating people with his tongue.

Now, before I continue talking about Donald Trump, let’s look back at what happened to Israel, when they said they wanted a king…

10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”

21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.

1 Samuel 8:10-22 NLT

Beloved readers, what kind of a king are you asking for?  A wise and kind king?  Or a king who is cruel and harsh?  Are you looking for a man after God’s own heart?  Or are you looking for someone else?

Have you ever been bullied?  I have, and being bullied is something that no one wants to experience.  Bullies cause damage that can last a lifetime, and if you vote for Donald Trump, you are voting for a bully.  I’ve seen how “The Donald” bullies those he dislikes, and I also remember that he claims to be a Christian, and has even been seen holding a bible recently, for all to see.  The thing is, just because someone waves a bible and says, “I’m a Christian,” doesn’t make him one.  And for the record, the pope was not out of line, when he said, “And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel…”

trump bible

Look at Trump’s history, as well as his current behavior.  If someone disagrees with him, he resorts to bullying and name-calling.  Instead of sounding like a grown man, full of wisdom and capable of leading an entire nation, he sounds like a petulant child on the playground, bullying the weaker children.  In fact, if he were my child, I would likely spank him, and ground him.

Believers, yes, Donald Trump is a fighter, but so is our GOD!  He is a Mighty Warrior, and HE is our protector.  Do not look to someone like Trump to defend us, because he cannot protect us by using evil tactics.

Do you really want to be responsible for putting a bully  into office?  As believers, we are responsible for our actions.  If I vote for someone who calls women or anyone else, “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” I’m implying that I am in agreement with him, and you know what Jesus said about name-calling…

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

Matthew 5:21-22 NLT

Beloved followers of Christ, have you forgotten who your true King is?

20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21  NIV

Have you forgotten Who truly provides for you?

19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 NLT

Beloved believers, why would you vote for someone who constantly spouts evil?  Can you truly picture Donald Trump as the head of state?  With his temper, and the wicked things that come out of his mouth, if he becomes our President, he could very well insult the leaders of other governments, and lead us into war.

What about our freedom of speech?  This is a man who wants to sue anyone who says anything in disagreement with him.  How about freedom of press?  Under Donald Trump’s reign, only those things that he approves of will be allowed.  Do you think I exaggerate?  Be careful who you cast your vote for, or God may very well give you what you’re asking for.  Do you think Obama’s reign has been horrible for our country?  Just wait and see what life under Donald Trump will be.

Do you know what the Lord said to Samuel, when Samuel told Him that the people wanted a king?

Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting Me, not you. They don’t want Me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned Me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

1 Samuel 8:6-9 NLT

Beloved believers, if you are looking to Donald Trump to lead you, because you fear what Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will do, then I must ask you this question.  Have you lost your faith in God?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
    and He will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

We’re still in the midst of the primaries.  The Republican candidate who will run for the presidency has not been chosen yet.  Look at the other candidates.  Look at what they stand for.  Examine their lives.  There is one, Ben Carson, who is still in the running, though his polls are way down, who has always claimed to be a Christian.  This man has not joined in with the others in name calling and hatefulness.  His plans to help our nation make sense.  I would much rather vote for a man, who has shown himself to be wise and kind, than one who has shown himself to be hateful.

Ben Carson

Perhaps Dr. Carson won’t be elected, but at least when I lay my head down at night, I will know that I did what I could for our country, and that ultimately, I have chosen to trust the King of kings and Lord of lords to care for me and protect me, and not someone who is filled with hatred and anger.

Beloved  Christian readers, in the end, whomever you choose to vote for, let’s remember that in the end, President Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, nor Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson are our enemies.  We are not at war against them, nor with any other man.

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Don’t Tell a Soul!

Evasive Action

by Michelle W.

What’s the most significant secret you’ve ever kept? Did the truth ever come out?


Don’t Tell a Soul!

I grew up in a house of secrecy, where things weren’t what they seemed.  To the world outside, we seemed to be a normal, happy family, but inside, was a different story.  That’s not to say there weren’t happy times, because there were.  However, the abuse within, made my happiness fleeting.

Within the house, there was a lot of fear, anger and bitterness, which was hidden from the rest of the world.  The most significant secret I ever kept was when my stepfather began molesting me as a little girl, and for several years after.

The first time it happened, I did exactly what they tell children to do in school…  I called my mother at work, and told her what he had done to me.  Thus, the biggest secret in our household began.  I called my mother at work, around 3:00 that afternoon, as soon as the man I called “Daddy” left the house.  As soon as Mom answered the phone, I burst into tears and told her what my “Daddy” had done to me.  She spoke softly, so no one else in the office could hear her, “Did he rape you?” she queried.

“No,” I responded as I tried to hold back my tears and listen to her.

“Okay,” Mommy replied.  “Your sister will be home in a few minutes, so you should be alright until I get off work.  He won’t do anything else to you, while she’s there.  Now don’t say anything to her, because you don’t want to hurt her, right?”

“Yes Mommy.  I won’t tell her.”

“Good.  We’ll talk about this more, when I get off work tonight. Okay?”

“Okay, Mommy.”  I was disappointed that she wasn’t going to come home right away and hold me, because I was so scared.  I then began to imagine what would happen when Mommy got home from work.

I pictured her coming home and telling my “Daddy” to leave, and never come back.  Things would be hard, I figured, but I would help my Mommy with the cooking and cleaning, and I would take care of my little sister, too.  It would be hard, but we loved each other, so it would work out.

Isn’t it sad that things seldom turn out the way we hope and imagine they will?  When my mother got home from work, instead of confronting my stepfather with the truth, she kept the fact that she knew the truth, secret.  Instead, she simply told him that I had called her up and told her that I was afraid of him.  He then, kept His secret from her, and responded that I was afraid of him, because I had been bad, and he’d had to spank me.

My mother, then came to my room, and asked if my stepfather had spanked me for being bad.  I was genuinely confused.  “No Mommy.  I told you what happened.”

She nodded her head, and then said, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about anymore.  I told him you’re afraid of him, and he said you’re afraid because he had to spank you.”

“But Mommy, that’s not true!”  I cried.

She nodded and continued, “Now, don’t tell your sister what happened.  You don’t want to hurt her, do you?”

“Okay,” I choked out, but inside, I was crying, “What about me???  Don’t you care about hurting me?”

“One more thing,” my mother said.  “Your daddy wants to talk to you.  Okay?”

What could I say?  Did I really have a choice?  “Okay,” I said, trying not to cry.

Mom walked out, and a few minutes later, my stepfather entered my room.  I had a hard time looking at him.  My eyes stared into the distance, at nothing.  I just couldn’t make myself look at him, as he told me that he had talked to Mom and told her that he had spanked me, and that’s why I was afraid of him.  He told me not to say anything else to Mom or anyone else, because I didn’t want to hurt my sister, did I?  I’d already been through this with Mom, so I just nodded my head in agreement.  He then left my room, and Mom entered the room again.

“I don’t think you have to worry about anything happening again, but if it does, just let me know, and we’ll figure out what to do next, okay?”  I nodded silently, as she continued.  “Let’s not tell anyone about what happened, okay?  You don’t want to destroy our family, do you?”  I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, as I agreed to keep the horrible secret.  It was abundantly clear that my feelings, and my safety weren’t as important as everyone else.

And so, I kept my secret for more than twenty years, because I didn’t want to destroy my family.  Meanwhile, over the years, I felt as though my life was crumbling around me.  I felt unloved and unlovable, until I met Jesus, who began to rock my world.

As I came to know and love Jesus, He began to speak truth to me.  It was He who told me my worth…

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14  NASB

As He began speaking life to me, He also spoke the truth to me.  It was He who led me to let go of the lies and the secrets that had bound me for so many years…

Layout 1

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Psalm 51:6  NLT

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32  NLT

Jesus wanted me to let go of all the lies and secrets, and to begin living my life in truth.  I wanted to obey Him, but I was extremely frightened.  After living for most of my life shrouded by secrets and lies, I was afraid to let go of them, and begin living a life of truth.  What if I destroyed the family?  Finally, after living a life of secrecy and lies for most of my life, with the love of the Lord enveloping me, I broke the vow of secrecy that I had been forced to agree to, as a child.

I was terribly afraid that when I revealed the truth, I would destroy my family, but it didn’t.  When I first revealed the truth, my family drew closer together, in their anger and rage against me.  It broke my heart, as it became clear that my pain didn’t matter to them.  Yet, although my family turned against me, God was closer to me than ever before, as were my husband and my children…

Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

Psalm 27:10  NLT

I can truly say that during that difficult time, God remained close to me.  And though my family forsook me, He held me close.  Eventually, over time, I was able to make peace with my family, though my stepfather never repented or apologized for the sin he had committed against me.  He went to his grave without apologizing to me, even though he had claimed that I had caused him to molest me.

Now, twenty years after revealing that terrible secret that I had held onto for so long, I can honestly say that I am thankful the Lord helped me release that secret.  You see, as long as I held onto that secret, I also held onto the lies that I had been told…

… the lie that it was my fault that I was molested.

… the lie that if I told the truth, I would destroy my family.

… the lie that my feelings didn’t matter.

… the lie that I was unimportant.

I no longer hold onto secrets and lies, because I’ve been set free from the terrible secrets and lies that destroyed my life for so many long years.  That’s why I’m so grateful to Jesus for setting me free…

32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32  NLT

36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

John 8:36  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Obedience = Love/How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit

Spirit filled

18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18-19  NLT

The first part of Ephesians 5:18, (Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life…”) is a no-brainer.  We’ve all known and loved people who allow drunkenness to ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones as well.  Too much liquor over a short time, can at the very least, cause people to act foolishly, and at the very most, cause death, either from alcohol poisoning, or by drinking and driving.  Drunkenness leads to a loss of self-control, and clouds one’s mind, leading to broken families, broken marriages and much pain, to oneself and to those who care about that person.  This is a warning that all should heed.

Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18b-19

… Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit…  What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit?  On the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples how to be filled with the Holy Spirit…

john14_15-16

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, Who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”

John 14:15-21  NLT

Let’s examine this passage closely, and see what Jesus says about being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The very first thing we must do, according to Jesus is to love Him and obey His commandments.  Let’s ask ourselves, “Do I love Jesus?”  If we do, we will obey His commandments.  These aren’t my words or interpretation, they are the words of Jesus…

15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15  NLT

Those are powerful words.  Obedience isn’t popular these days.  Perhaps obedience has never been popular, but it is absolutely necessary, especially if we claim to  love Jesus.  Do you love Jesus?  If you do, obey Him.  Do you hate Him?  Then don’t obey Him.  It’s just that simple.  Those who truly love Jesus, obey Him.  Jesus makes this very clear to us.

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

John 14:22-26  NLT

A lot of people say they love Jesus, but their lives tell another story.  All who truly love Jesus will do what He says.  Again, those aren’t my words.  They are the words of Jesus.  Anyone who doesn’t love Him, will not obey Him.  These words force us to examine our own hearts.  Do I obey Jesus?  Or do I rebel against Him?  What are Jesus’ commandments?  An expert in religious law once asked Jesus this question:

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40  NLT

1-the-greatest-commandment-rose-santuci-sofranko

Do we love the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?  According to Jesus, this is the first and greatest command.  Therefore, if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will obey His commandments, and that means that not only will we love Him, but we will love our neighbors as we love ourselves. 

So, who is our neighbor?  When He was asked that question, by an expert of religious law, Jesus answered by telling him the story of the good Samaritan, who showed mercy to an injured man, who normally would have been his enemy; while those who should have loved him and cared for him, left him to die.  (See Luke 10:30-37)  Therefore, according to Jesus, our enemies are our neighbors, and we must show them love and mercy.

So, let’s ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus?  Do I truly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”  If your answer to these questions is yes, then we must obey His commands.  We must love our neighbor and our enemy, as we love ourselves…

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Before we continue with our study of being filled with the Holy Spirit, let’s examine our own hearts.  This command that Jesus gives us is not an easy command.  It isn’t easy to obey this command to love our enemies. 

I’ve heard many people preach and teach about loving your enemy, and I’ve heard a lot of false teaching about it, so I want to be sure that we truly understand Jesus’ command.  The best example for knowing how to love our enemy comes from none other than Jesus.  Let’s see how He handled His enemies, beginning with His betrayer, Judas Iscariot…

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.

John 13:1-5  NLT

Fully aware that Judas Iscariot had betrayed Him, Jesus still chose to lovingly wash his feet.  Later, after the foot washing was done, Jesus spoke about His betrayer…

18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats My food has turned against Me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes My messenger is welcoming Me, and anyone who welcomes Me is welcoming the Father who sent Me.”

21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!”

John 13:18-21  NLT

Think about what Jesus must have felt as He knelt down on His knees to wash Judas Iscariot’s feet, knowing that this man, whom He had loved and cared for, was His betrayer.  What strength Jesus showed, in kneeling before him, and washing his feet, just as He had washed the feet of His other disciples.  What kindness He showed Judas, by not revealing His betrayer’s identity to the other disciples…

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom He could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s He talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when He had dipped it, He gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

John 13:22-30  NLT

Whenever I read John 13, I can’t help but marvel at the great love Jesus showed to His betrayer.  Although He knew very well that Judas was a thief (John 12:6), as well as His betrayer, Jesus treated Him with great lovingkindness and mercy.  Just think about it, the closer you are to someone, the more painful the betrayal.  Jesus loved His disciples like brothers, and this brother’s betrayal cost Jesus His life.  Yet, even knowing this, Jesus didn’t shout his name out, so the other disciples would perhaps take care of Judas Iscariot on their own, and get rid of  him, using any means necessary.  Instead, Jesus lived what He taught.  He lived a life of love and obedience.

What about you?  Have you ever been betrayed?  Have you been stolen from, lied to, used or abused?  Do you love your abuser?  Or do you hold on to your pain, hating those who have hurt you and betrayed you?  Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Then choose to obey Jesus’ commandments, starting with His command to love…

Father, I pray that You would touch the heart of every person who reads these words, and that You would fill our hearts with Your love.  Help us to love those who don’t love us.  Help us to love those who love those who have harmed us.  Help us to love others, just as You have loved us.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Victory in Jesus

Victory-In-Lord-Jesus-Christ-impending-doom-8956674-1024-768

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  

(James 4:17 NLT)

I haven’t written anything in months and months.  Actually, it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything.  I’ve been dealing with pain and medication issues, sleep depravation, and depression, so to tell the truth, I just haven’t felt like writing, and the few times I started to write something, I fell asleep.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time reading or studying God’s word.  Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with Him either.  So, when I saw something that reminded me of the scripture above, I felt motivated to do something good.  Therefore, even as I write this, another scripture comes to mind, and I am sure the Lord is speaking to me, yet when I just now turned to that scripture, so I could paste it here, I backed up so I could read the scripture in its context, and again, I can hear the Lord patiently speaking to my heart…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle, which has been raging against me and wreaking havoc in my life for three and a half years, and the truth is, at some point, not too far into this battle, I gave up.  Unlike Paul, the apostle of Christ, I stopped fighting the good fight.  And I deceived myself into believing I couldn’t do anything about it, because I can’t do the things I used to do.  Yet now, as I write, I again hear the Lord’s voice whispering to me…

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
Salvation and power
And the Kingdom of our God,
And the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
Has been thrown down to earth—
The one who accuses them
Before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
And by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
That they were afraid to die.

I sense the Lord urging me to share my testimony of the last few years, that led me to my current state.  I feel Him pressing me to once again, place the belt of truth around my waist as I wear the rest of God’s armor and carry the sword of the Spirit.  So, please, bear with me, as I take you back approximately three and a half years.

I had been in constant pain for more than a year.  My back hurt so bad, that it felt as though it would snap in two, yet I struggled to hold on to my job, because neither my husband or I are rich, but it was getting more and more difficult to go to work.  I can remember praying as I walked across the employee parking lot to the building, “Please Lord, help me take just one more step.  Oh God, help me to make it to the building.  Lord Jesus, please help me.”  The pain was excruciating, but it didn’t end once I was in the building.  Then, I had to pray for Him to help me walk down to the basement and to the time clock.  Then, once I punched in, I prayed for the Lord to help me walk all the way down the long hall to my office.  It was horrible, and it got to the point that I started writing my time down and having someone initial it, so I could have my co-worker in the office, who did payroll along with me, manually enter my time into the system when I clocked in and out.  The pain got so bad, that I would avoid going to the bathroom, which was just next door to my office, until I absolutely had to go, because it hurt so bad to walk.  Then, at lunchtime, my co-worker would go and get my lunch for me, so I could remain sitting.  Of course, sitting at the desk all day caused another kind of pain, but it was certainly more tolerable than standing or walking.

My mother, who lived in the nursing home, where I was employed, lived two extremely long corridors down from my office, and my pain was so terrible, that I stopped visiting her as often, and when I did, I waited until I got off, and made the long walk to my car, then drove around to see her.  I came to regret that I didn’t visit her more often, but in all honesty, I was struggling just to make it through the day, and by the time I got off, I was in too much pain, and I was just too exhausted to visit her.

I wasn’t sleeping at night either, because the pain kept me awake. Therefore, my husband had to drive me to work the last few months, because I was in so much pain, and I was so worn out, that I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel.  I started missing more and more time, and at the end of August, my boss told me I’d better file for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), or I was in danger of losing my job, so, I filed for intermittent FMLA.  However, when my boss and the HR (Human Resources) department saw my many diagnoses and my prognosis, they told me that I didn’t qualify for intermittent FMLA.  Instead, I would have to go out on a full FMLA, and I couldn’t return to work, until my doctor signed a release stating that I was now able to work full-time.  Both the company and I knew that I wouldn’t be returning, and so, August 31, 2012 was the last day I worked.

I was also a prison minister, and at the beginning of January, 2013, I had to resign, because I was unable to sit or stand long enough to minister to the inmates.  Also, I was feeling too defeated to to minister the gospel of hope to the inmates.  It broke my heart when I had to stop ministering in jail, and I began to dip into depression.

Then, my mother became ill, and had to be admitted to the hospital.  It was extremely difficult to see how sick my mother was, but I went to see her during the day, and the long walk to the elevator, and then to her room was nearly more than I could bear.  Sometimes, when my husband came with me, he would get a wheelchair and push me to her room.  However, he had a job, so he couldn’t always come.  My sister worked, and because I was now not working, I wanted to help her and stay overnight at the hospital with Mom, so she wouldn’t have to, but my pain was so bad that I just couldn’t stay every night.  I did stay a few times, but the pain was horrid.

At that time, I was taking massive doses of pain medication, which made it hard for me to even function, and although I was taking hardcore pain killers, they weren’t killing the pain, which continued to increase.  From April of 2011 until sometime in 2014, not a day  went by that I wasn’t in pain, and it was wearing me down.

On top of that, my sister and I were having issues.  I’m sad to say, we’ve always had a difficult relationship.  I love her with all my heart, and I think she loves me, but we’re two different people, or maybe we’re both an awful lot alike.  Still, whatever the reason, we’ve always had trouble communicating and getting along.  Perhaps my sister remembered all the times I played hookie from school by faking illness, and though she never came out and said so, I don’t think she believed I was really in as much pain as I was.  Whatever the case, every time I went to visit Mom, I could feel her anger fill the room, as she ignored me, or spoke sharply to me.

My response to the situation was equally wrong, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, so I would sit there watching Mom in silence, engulfed in self-pity, because I hate conflict, and I was afraid of making her angrier than she already was.  I really wanted to be there for my mother, but I also wanted to just run away from the painful situation, like I had done my entire life.  Whenever things got too painful or difficult, I tried to run away and avoid it, by trying to ignore the problem and pretending it didn’t exist.  If I couldn’t physically avoid the painful situation, as was the case at that time, then I tried to zone out mentally and think of other things.  I sometimes asked friends or my husband to accompany me, so I could feel that I had at least one person there who loved me.

Again, I was in the midst of a spiritual battle, and my enemy was not my sister, yet, rather than remaining firm in my faith and standing against the enemy of my soul, I reverted to my childhood ways, and responded to things the way I did when I was a little girl.  You see, instead of humbling myself and completely trusting my loving Father to carry me through the pain, I simply gave up without a fight, and allowed the enemy to steal my faith, my joy, my health, and my peace.  I forgot one very important thing that could have sustained me through everything that was happening…

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

(Philippians 4:13  NLT)

Instead, I reverted to a passive-agressive state.  I became a self-pitying martyr, and I felt very justified about it.  But the fact is I should have clung to my faith, instead of reverting back to the little girl I once was.

On February 15, 2013, my mom passed away, and it ripped my world apart.  At almost fifty-two, I became an orphan, and Satan’s demons and my own mind waged a terrible war against me, and by this time, I was incapable of fighting back.  I was a basket case.  I was wracked with guilt, feeling that I should have done more to save my mother’s life.  I began having nightmares about dying, and I was terrified that I would die and go to hell, because I didn’t help my mother.  I was so disappointed in me, that I was sure God must feel the same way about me.

After all, I was supposed to be a strong minister of God, but I was a failure.  Worse yet, even though others tried to tell me it wasn’t so, I knew that God knows my heart, so how could He possibly love me or forgive me?  I couldn’t even forgive myself.  After the funeral, I couldn’t bear to be around my sister and my other relatives, who I was sure hated me too, so I went home with my husband and my children, who comforted me.  Yet, I couldn’t believe that the Lord would want to comfort me, and so I fell deeper into depression, as I walked in the valley of the shadow of death, forgetting this important thing…

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

(Psalm 23:4-5  NLT)

It is only now, as I sit here, writing these words, that I can see the truth.  God was with me in that dark valley.  Not only was He with me, He was close by me, protecting me and comforting me the whole time, yet, because I had given up on myself, and more importantly, on Him, I felt no comfort.  It is only now, as I read the timeless words of the 23rd Psalm, that I realize if I had gone to the gathering after Mom’s funeral, that He would have honored me by preparing a feast before all who were against me, and anointing my head with oil.  Instead of allowing Him to fill my cup to overflowing with blessings, I allowed self-righteousness and self-pity to fill my cup to overflowing, a cup that also overflowed with pain, fear and illness.

Two weeks after my mother died, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a horribly debilitating and sometimes deadly stomach infection.  I was now out of work, uninsoured, living on only $500 a month, and so sick I thought I was dying.  I remember praying in the ER this scripture from  Jeremiah, more to convince myself, than out of faith, because I was truly convinced that I was dying, and going to hell.

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV)

I was quickly descending into the deepest, darkest depression of my life, and I still had a little farther to fall.  A week or two after I left the hospital, my daughter and her family, who had been living with us at the time, moved more than 700 miles away.  Suddenly, our house was empty.

Then, there was the church that I was attending at the time.  I was no longer in church every Sunday, and whenever the doors were open.  Instead, the pain and the medication I was taking, made it very difficult to go to church and sit for hours, not to mention the fact that I was afraid to drive myself, because I would fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I also found myself dozing in church, which made me feel extremely guilty.  Then, there were different “ministers” who would pray for me.  Some would declare I was healed, and because they said so, I should feel better, but the fact was, I wasn’t better.  I also felt that the Lord told me that this was something I was going to have to walk through, and when I expressed this, I was accused of having weak faith.  One visiting “minister” even said that I had brought this chronic pain on myself, because I wasn’t faithful enough.

In my ever deepening descent into the dark pit of depression, I found myself at the bottom.  I no longer left the house, except to go to my doctors’ appointments, and I cried constantly.  I was consumed by pain, both physical and mental, and I saw no way out of the darkness.  When my husband treated me with lovingkindness, I felt so unworthy of his love, but he never gave up on me.

Through his kindness, and through the wisdom and kindness of the Christian counselor I saw, I began to ascend out of the deepest darkness.  However, I never fully recovered.  I still struggle with depression, and I still live with chronic pain, although thankfully, it is no longer unending.  I hurt most of the time, but occassionally, I do have  good days, and I am thankful for them.  Yet, there is one area that I haven’t fully recovered from.  You see, I felt that I lost the purpose for my life.

Chains are Gone

And then, the Lord began to minister to me today, reminding me that anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins, and as I began to write and ponder on that, He led me to the next scriptures…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

Do you know what?  I’ve forgotten to rejoice in the Lord!  Do you know that my husband and I have lived off of his small pension only, for more than three years?  Yet, the Lord made a way for us to keep our home, and during a time when we’ve had less to live on than ever before in our married life, our house looks better than it ever has, and we’ve actually had more through the generosity of others, that God moved to act on our behalf.  Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?

You see, I’ve been so caught up in my pain and depression, that I took my focus off God, and those things that are true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely, and admirable, and I looked within myself, at my chronic pain and the losses that I’ve suffered, and as I did so, the blackness smothered me with hopelessness.  I stopped fighting the good fight, until today, when the Lord spoke so clearly to me, urging me to put on my armor and fight back against the enemy of my soul, and against the darkness of my own mind.

Therefore, let me share the good things that God has done for me in the midst of my pain.  He has given me a few good, pain-free days, and even though most days are still really painful, some days, the pain is actually tolerable, and I rejoice in that too.  After more than three years of doing battle with Social Security Disability, I finally won my case, and I now receive my disability pay, and though it might not seem like a lot by some people’s standards, to me, it is huge.

In the midst of our poverty, my husband and I didn’t starve, for God provided us with food assistance.   Although it has been very hard for me to live so far away from my children and my ten grandchildren,  He has made a way for us to see them a couple of times a year.  No, it might not be as often as I’d like, but a little is better than none, isn’t it?

Then, what do I do, when I’m at home, so far away from the children and grandchildren that I love so much?  I have a wonderful and loving husband, who has been patient and kind to me.  When I have so much, why should I dwell on the bad things in my life?

I serve the Creator of the universe, and He loves me.  He never stopped loving me, and it was only when I began to focus on my problems, rather than the good things He has done for me, that I fell into darkness.  And now, today, even though I’ve been fighting nausea and sickness all day, I found that as I began to focus on Him once again, even though I don’t feel well, it is well with my soul.  Thank You Father, for Your unending kindness and Your undying love.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Duggar’s 19 Kids and Counting Canceled: My Response to the Revelation of Child Molestation Committed by Josh Duggar & His Family’s Response to the Revelation

Josh Duggar

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”  (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)


If you live in the U.S., and you have access to newspapers, magazines, the internet or television, then by now, you’ve no doubt heard about Josh Duggar’s shocking statement, in response to allegations of child molestation.  Many people have commented and weighed in on this subject, with some valid points and some foolish ones.  This is an extremely difficult situation, for the victims of Duggar’s actions, first and foremost.  It is also extremely difficult for his parents, the siblings who weren’t molested, as well as Josh’s wife and children.  Many people have already cast judgment on Josh Duggar and his parents, and while I can’t judge the Duggar’s hearts, what can be judged is their behavior at the time Josh molested five different girls, and their behavior now.  In judging their behavior, let us remember that it is the responsibility of Christians, to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, when they fall into sin…


Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  (Galatians 6:1  NLT)

20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”  (Ezekiel 3:20-21  NLT)


As a former victim of child molestation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on this indredibly painful topic.  First, I’d like to address the announcement that Josh made.  One thing that jumps out to me in his account is the fact that Josh appears to tiptoe around the subject.  While he comes across as sounding regretful and repentant, there is a part of me that questions Josh’s sincerity.  If you glance at Josh’s statement, he seems to address the issue, but read it again.

Never once does Josh confess his sin, which is all over the tabloids.  Not once, does Josh admit to molesting anyone or committing incest, not to mention pedophilia.  Instead, he merely says, “I acted inexcusably…”  A teenager acting inexcusably could be guilty of any number of offenses, ranging from minor ones to major ones.  Perhaps, you think I’m being too picky, and that Josh’s disclosure of his “inexcusable actions” is enough.  However, the fact is that he hasn’t said enough.  In his statement to the press, Josh never really confessed to the crimes of molestation, pedophilia and incest that he allegedly committed.  Is it necessary for him to say the words?  Absolutely.  Just as an alcoholic needs to confess that he/she is an alcoholic, so too, a pedophile and a child molester must admit that he/she is a pedophile and a child molester.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9  NASB)


According to scripture, we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven.  According to dictionary.com, the definition of confess is:


verb (used with object)

  1. to acknowledge oavow (a fault, crime, misdeed, weakness, etc.) by way of revelation.
  2. to own or admit as true:
    I must confess that I haven’t read the book.
  3. to declare or acknowledge (one’s sins)especially to God or a priest in order to obtain absolution.
  4. (of a priest) to hear the confession of (a person).
  5. to acknowledge one’s belief or faith in; declare adherence to.
  6. to reveal by circumstances.
  verb (used without object)
  1. to make a confession; plead guilty; own:  to confess to a crime.
  2. to make a confession of sins, especially to a priest.
  3. (of a priest) to hear confession.

According to the above definition, when Josh Duggar gave his press report, he did not confess to, or own the crime he committed.  He only admitted to acting inexcusably.  Many of us have acted inexcusably, but our inexcusable actions did not include child molestation or incest.  Josh Duggar needs to own and confess what he has done, without hiding behind words that are meant to minimize the crime, so that it doesn’t sound as bad as it is.

Another thing that greatly disturbed me when I read Josh’s statement was this comment:


“… I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life…” (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)


Perhaps you’re wondering how I could possibly find this statement disturbing, but I urge you to read his entire statement, and take note on whom he focused.  Josh understood that if he continued down that road, he would end up ruining his life.  He’s absolutely right.  He may well have ruined his life with those actions, but what about the lives of his victims?

Regardless of whether he continued on that path, he certainly, at the very least, damaged the lives of his victims.  And who, besides God and Josh, truly knows how many other victims there were?  We do know that Josh’s actions have already harmed the lives of at least five, not including the rest of his brothers and sisters, his parents, his wife, and the babysitter and her family, as well.

I also found it terribly disturbing that in their interview on  The Kelly Files,  Mr. and Mrs. Duggar repeatedly minimized the seriousness of their son’s crime against his victims, two of whom were their own daughters!

duggars_kelly


J.B. Duggar:  “… And the girls, we talked to them, and they didn’t know that anything had happened because they were asleep…”

Kelly:  “Like when you went to bed at night during that time frame, were you scared?  Were you worried?  You know, he’s 14, he’s having this problem.  What’s going to happen when we go to sleep?”

J.B. Duggar:  “Right.  Nothing ever happened like that again in the girls’ bedrooms after that.”

Kelly:  “Ok.”

J.B. Duggar: “Ok.  So, we had safeguards that protected them from that.  But there was another incident where — two different incidents where the girls were, like, laying on the couch, and it was — he had touched, like, over the couch and actually touched their breast while they were asleep.  And so –“

M. Duggar:  “Over their clothes.”

J.B. Duggar:  “– over their clothes. And so it was a very difficult situation. But as we talked to other parents and different ones since then, a lot of families have said that they’ve had similar things happen in their families. And so — I mean, this is, for us, of course, this is public shame that our son did this back 12, 13 years ago…”

J.B. Duggar:  “… All of theseagain, this was not rape or anything like that, this was like touching somebody over their clothes. There were a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like a few seconds and then he came to us and was crying and told us what happened, and it was after that third time he came to us is where we really felt like, you know what?…”

Kelly:  “And we’ll going to get to that in one second. The subsequent incidents after the first one involved daughters who were awake, at least a couple of them?”

J. B. DUGGAR:  “There was a couple, yes. And they didn’t really understand, though, what happened.

Kelly:  “Yes. What –“

M. Duggar:  “It was more his heart, his intent. He knew that it was wrong. But in theirs they weren’t even aware. They were like, you know, it wasn’t — to them they didn’t probably even understand that it was an improper touch.”

Kelly:  “I know that the ultimate one before you really got help involved a very young daughter, and I’ll avoid the age because I don’t want to identify anyone specifically, but a single digit. I mean, what was that like for you to hear? You know, one, you must have thought for some time this is a pubescent boy, I don’t know what he’s going through, but he’s testing. But when it moves to a young daughter –“

J. B. Duggar:  “Right. At that point, that’s when we pulled him out of the house and we said, he can’t be here. And so, we pulled him out and then, he went through working with that man –“

Kelly:  “Yes. He goes through counseling.”

J. B. Duggar:  “Yes.”

Kelly:  “And then when he was done with the counseling, this is not like a licensed therapist, it’s somebody, a Christian-based –“

J. B. Duggar:  “Christian based. But I’ll tell you why.”

Kelly:  “Treatment facility…”


Kelly:  “… I’m asking you more as the father of your girls than as the father of Josh. You know, it must have been very hard to look at your little one and know the behavior had been ongoing, as difficult as your position was.”

J. B. Duggar: “Right. I was so thankful, though, that Josh came and told us. And our girls, even though this was a very bad situation, as we’ve talked to other families who have had, you know, other things happen, a lot of their stories were even worse…


To read the entire transcript of the Duggar’s interview, please click this link:

kelly_duggar_060415

The repeated minimization of Josh Duggar’s criminal actions against his sisters is disturbing.  In much the same way that King David, of Old Testament times, ignored the brutal assault that his son, Amnon, committed against his half-sister, Tamar, the Duggar’s also appear to ignore and minimize the traumatizing effects of their son, Josh’s, sexual assault against their daughters.  Indeed, protecting and defending their son’s reputation seems to be more important to them, than acknowledging the seriousness of the crime committed against their daughters.

As a matter of fact, the following statement, made by J.B. Duggar, shows just how out of touch with reality they are…


J.B. DUGGAR: I think you actually said pedophile, and a pedophile is an adult that preys on children. Josh was actually 14 and just turned 15 when he did what he did, and I think the legal definition was 16 and up for being an adult preying on a child. So he was a child preying on a child.

KELLY: You do not view Josh as a pedophile?

J.B. DUGGAR: No.


Just to clarify, Wikipedia provides this definition of pedophilia:

Pedophilia or paedophilia is psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.[1][2] As a medical diagnosis, specific criteria for the disorder extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13.[1] A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years of age, but adolescents must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.[1][2]


While it may be true that Josh committed these crimes when he was between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, at least one of the children was more than five years younger than he was.  Furthermore, what difference does one year or two make in a situation like this?  Let’s remember that Josh molested one of his sister’s, who was under ten years old.

The Duggar’s appeared to be more concerned about the release of Josh’s records, than the crimes he had committed against his sisters.  Quite frankly, this whole situation is troubling to me, though many Duggar’s fans claim that they are being unfairly attacked because of their Christianity.  I’m a Christian, and I find both Josh’s actions and their response to his actions terribly troublesome.

I believe the Duggars mishandled this situation from the very beginning.  Josh Duggar should be on the sexual predators list, just like all others who commit the same crimes.  Also, because of the nature of his crimes, he should never be left alone with children, who are unable to protect themselves.

Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on Josh Duggar and his family, but I would suggest that they did not then, and still have not taken this situation seriously enough.  I love the Lord, and I’m not questioning their faith in God, but consider this… 

Suppose there was a really nice young man at your church, who taught Sunday School, or worked in the nursery, and his background was just like Josh Duggar’s?  Would you, as a parent, feel comfortable leaving your children in the care of this man, who says he is a Christian, and he’s turned his life around, or would you remove your child from his class?  Knowing this person’s background, I believe that any parent who left their children in the care of someone who had committed incest and pedophelia, would be grossly negligent.  

Even if this person had totally turned his life around and given his heart to the Lord, I would not leave my child alone with him, because even after we are saved, we still struggle with temptation, and though I pray Josh has truly changed, to risk a child’s well being, when only God truly knows his heart would be a sin.  You see, up until very recently, this was something that was hidden in the dark, and it wasn’t Josh who brought it into the light.  He was content to leave it in the darkness, and because God hasn’t revealed whether or not it is now safe for Josh to be alone with children, I reiterate that it would be sinful and grossly negligent to leave a child alone with him.

19-kids-and-counting

Because of this scandal, TLC has now cancelled the Duggar’s hit television series, 19 Kids and Countingand I believe it was the right decision.  While I understand that many Christians love the Duggar’s show, and they see a double standard here, believing that this cancellation is an attack on Christianity, again, I disagree.  Should the Duggar’s be held to a lesser accountability than other television stars, who have fallen in disgrace due to their sins?  Should they be allowed to continue to air their show, when Bill Cosby, for instance, who has been accused of drugging and raping numerous women over the years, has had his syndicated series’ cancelled?  I would have to say no.  

Friends, let us remember that we, as followers of Christ, are held to a higher degree of accountability than the world is, and although we may have sinned and committed crimes before our salvation, we are not exempt from the consequences of those sins and crimes, just because we are born again.  Accepting Christ as our Savior does not give us a “Get out of Jail Free” card.  What we receive instead, is a much greater gift, instead.  For, when we are saved and delivered from our sins, we receive eternal life, and a “Get out of Hell Free” card.

I won’t deny that this scandal tripped many triggers in me, due to my past.  However, I’m not condemning Josh Duggar or his parents.  I truly do pray that he has turned his life around with help from the Lord.  I also pray that Mr. and Mrs. Duggar will stop minimizing the incest and molestation committed by Josh against their children and their babysitter, and face the true scope of their son’s sin, and the harm that was done to the victims, so that all of them can truly heal from their pain.  

As for my fellow believers, let us all agree to pray for deliverance and healing for everyone who was involved in this crime, both the victims, their families, and the perpetrator and his family. 

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

God Dreams and Spiritual Warfare

Last night, I had two different dreams, yet both had the same theme.  The dreams were what I call “God Dreams,” because both dreams were scripture filled, and they dealt with spiritual warfare.  I wasn’t sure if the first dream really was from the Lord or not, because it dealt with a friend, and usually, when I have a “God Dream,” I KNOW it is from the Lord.  Yet even though I didn’t know for sure if it was a “God Dream,” I felt a strong compulsion to share it with my friend in writing right away, before I forgot it.  I felt very strongly in my spirit that my friend was in danger and needed to be warned of this danger.

Image Credit: tituslive.com
Image Credit:
tituslive.com

In the second dream, Abraham, Isaac and Israel were there, as were many others, including me, and we were all joined in an angelic battle against evil.  I felt the darkness all around me, as many, who I thought were friends, who were saved, turned out to be evil.  I remember battling against the evil, and many good people were killed.  Even some of the angelic beings, who loved and served the Lord were killed.  Yet, even so, it was during these battles that I witnessed many miracles, as the dead were raised, and some who were wounded, were instantly healed.

One thing I remember during this dream, which, like all dreams, seemed so real at the time, even though there was evil and darkness all around, I had no fear.  Now, you should know that I do not consider myself to be a brave or courageous person.  I DON’T like pain, and though I love the Lord with all of my heart, I am in no hurry to die.  Yet, I waged war against evil in that dream, and I was fearless.  Were there times when I was afraid?  Yes, the war that was taking place was very real, and there were times when my heart would pound a little harder, but the Spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew, and heard it said in my dream, over and over, “The battle is the Lord’s.”

I won’t share my other dream with you, because that wasn’t meant to be shared with anyone but her.  However, suffice it to say that she, too, was in the midst of a spiritual battle.

Image Credit: Tales From A Mother
Image Credit:
Tales From A Mother

I’ve thought of these dreams off and on all day, today, and I feel such an urgency within.  Friends, I truly believe those dreams were meant to remind me, and now you, as I share this with you, that we are living in very dark times.  We are living in a time and place that calls good evil, and evil good.  We are living with those who call right wrong, and wrong right.  We live among those who call the darkness light, and the light darkness, and there are too many, who call themselves children of the Lord, who don’t know the difference.

What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.  (Isaiah 5:20  NLT)

Beloved reader, heed my warning.  The time is upon us, when there are false teachers, false prophets and even apostates teaching false doctrine, and many are falling for it, because they do not KNOW the Lord.  Oh, many know of Him, but they do not truly KNOW Him, because they don’t want to know Him.

He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.  (Psalm 103:7  NASB)

What about you?  Do you know God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Or do you simply know of Him?  Do you know His ways?  Or do you just know about the things that He’s done?

God calls Himself our husband.  Jesus is the bridegroom, and we are the bride.  I’ve been married for thirty-four years to the same man, and you know what?  I KNOW him.  I KNOW his ways.  My husband doesn’t have to say a word to me, and with just one glance, I KNOW what he is thinking.  We KNOW each other so well, that we finish one another’s sentences.  I know what makes my husband smile, and I know what makes him angry.  I know what makes my husband happy, and I know what hurts him.  When my husband hurts, something within me hurts too, because I KNOW him so well, and I love him.

That’s the kind of relationship that God wants with each one of us.  He wants to reveal His character, His intimate ways to us, not just His mighty acts.  He wants us to feel His joy when a soul is saved, and He wants us to feel His pain, when someone is lost.  He wants us to love what He loves, and to hate what He hates.  Yet, sadly, most people will never know Him that well.

Instead, most will settle for a “prophetic word” from someone who may be nothing more than a glorified fortune-teller, wrongly called a prophet in the church.  People like those prophets who prophesy “entrepreneurship” or “money in your future.”  They like when people tickle their ears, and they believe what they want to believe.  What about you?  Do my words offend you?  Beloved, I don’t want any false prophets tickling my ears.  I want to know God so well, that when someone lies, I know it deep within my being.  I want the truth, not a lie that gives me false hope.

I want to hope for what is real, and I don’t need someone to prophesy over me, because I KNOW the Lord, and HE talks to me.  Does He talk to you?  Or are you so busy listening to what your pastor says, that you can’t hear God?  Pastors are meant to help us draw closer to God, NOT to take His place.

Do you know what His word says?  Or do you only know what you’ve been taught that the word says?  Beloved, I urge you to talk with God, listen to God, and read His word, so that you can begin to know Him and His ways.  Don’t simply read what I write, or what some other author writes, or what some evangelist or worse yet, some televangelist says.  We are ALL human.  We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God.  We ALL get it wrong sometimes.  SOME get it wrong ALL of the time, and if you don’t know God, you won’t know the difference.  Someone could be “ministering” to you now, and because you don’t really know God, he/she could be leading you straight to hell.  And understand this, my friend, YOU will be held accountable if you don’t know God, because God has given every one of us ample opportunity to know Him.

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.  (2 Corinthians 5:10  NLT)

Beloved reader, the dreams I had last night are a warning.  Let he who has an ear hear that warning.  The days are getting darker and darker, and there is a war taking place in the spiritual realm that most don’t even know of.  That war is being waged for your soul and your spirit, and if you don’t know God, you don’t stand a chance.  Do I sound melodramatic?  Yes!  I know I do, because it is THAT serious.  Therefore, I will close with the words Moses spoke to the children of Israel before he died.  And I pray with all my heart, that you would heed these words and choose life!

15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  (Deuteronomy 30:15-20  NLT)

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

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The Evil All Around Us

The evil all around us permeates the atmosphere, invading homes, neighborhoods, cities, towns, municipalities, states, regions and nations with fear and angst, deception and theft, as well as hatred and murder.  From racist cops to criminals and terrorists, including many others in between, evil is all around us.  How did this evil get here, and who is responsible for it? 

While most people like to believe that mankind is basically good, with only a few who are capable of evil, I subscribe to another, less popular viewpoint.  It is my belief that since Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, forbidden to them by God Almighty, the Creator of mankind, everyone birthed thereafter, was born with a sinful nature, which makes each one of us susceptible to evil.  Indeed, as the knowledge of man increases, so does his capacity for evil, and it is the sin, into which we are all born, that destines us to death. 

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Image Credit:
nymphschampions.wicki.com

Many, who don’t ascribe to my views often pose this question to those who believe as I do, “If all of mankind is truly born into sin, then how can there be any good people?  The answer to that question is that the Creator of all humanity has given everyone a free will, which enables them to choose whether to succumb to their sinful nature, or choose to do good.  Furthermore, He gave people (who, because of their sinful nature, were all condemned to die once, and after that, receive judgment), the option to receive the free gift of salvation and redemption, if they would simply choose to have faith in Him and His Son, Jesus.  However, as simple as that sounds, our humanity rebels against the notion that our salvation rests on something as simple as having faith in the One who created us.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 
(Romans 5:12  NLT) 

Adam’s single act of disobedience to God’s command led to the first murder, which, incidentally, was also the first death, when his and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, killed his younger brother, Abel, in a jealous rage.  I’m certain, that when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, in an act of rebellion against their Creator, they never dreamed that this single act of disobedience would lead to the devastating loss of not just one, but two sons.  For when Cain slew his brother, Abel, not only was Abel lost to them, but Cain was as well, for the Lord punished him by cursing the ground he walked on, forbidding it to yield crops to him.  He also banished Cain from the land, and condemned him to walk the land as a homeless wanderer.  From Cain’s vicious and murderous attack on Abel, man grew more and more sinful, and more and more violent.  If Adam’s one act of disobedience could have such devastating effects, that have continued to grow more and more horrible, with each generation that followed, how do we effect the world and the people around us, when we reject our Creator and His commands?

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. 
(Ecclesiastes 7:20  ESV)  

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Image Credit:
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Because each of us is born with a sinful nature, sin is instinctual to us.  Children need to be taught what good is, and how to do it.  Yet, no one has ever had to teach a child how to sin, because that comes naturally to us.  Have you ever noticed that when a child begins to crawl around and walk, discovering the world around him, he immediately begins discovering the many dangers around him?  Though we try to baby proof our homes, there is always some danger that the toddler discovers, that causes our hearts to pound in fear for him.  It is during this time, that we begin to tell the little one, “No,” and the child quickly learns what “No” means.  However, although that child knows that it is wrong to touch certain objects or to go to certain places within (or sometimes even outside) of the home, for some reason, the child seems to gravitate towards those things.  Did you ever wonder why that is?  It is because that baby, just like every other baby born after Adam ate the forbidden fruit, is born with a sinful nature, and it is the responsibility of the parents and those who are involved in that child’s life to teach him what is good, and how to do good.

Though all of us have different weaknesses, every one of us has been guilty of some wrongdoing, and no one had to instruct us on how to do the wrong thing.  Indeed, no one even needs to tell us that it is wrong.  For just as we are all born with a sinful nature, we are also born with the knowledge of right and wrong, because God, in His infinite mercy, has written His law on the hearts of mankind, so that no one can truly say, “I didn’t know my actions were wrong.”  In fact, that very law that is written on our hearts not only checks our actions, but even our very thoughts, so that we also feel guilty, when we are simply thinking about those things that are wrong.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
(Romans 2:14-15  NLT)

“If this is true,” some may ask, “then why do so many people commit such heinous crimes, without feeling any guilt?”  The answer to this question is very simple, yet very profound.  For although we may feel guilty when we first commit a sin, the more we engage in that or other sins, the less guilty we will feel about it, until, eventually, our conscience is seared. 

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.  Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.  13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
(Hebrews 3:12-13  NLT)

This is true for all sins, no matter how big or small they may seem to be.  For God does not measure the size of a sin to determine one’s guilt or innocence.  God hates ALL sin, because sin is deadly.  It’s like cancer, killing and destroying every cell within us, until we, like every man, woman and child, since Adam sinned against God, finally die.  For those, whose hearts are hardened against God when they die, there will be no other chance for redemption.  Those, who choose to believe in their Creator, and His Son, Jesus, will receive eternal life, though their earthly bodies have died.

Yet, in spite of God’s great mercy and compassion on mankind, the overwhelming majority of mankind will choose to reject their Creator, choosing, instead, to follow their own sinful nature.  Although God has written His law on the hearts of humanity, they will still choose to go to hell, rather than heaven.  Indeed, despite the knowledge that is written on every heart, they will still choose to ignore that knowledge and follow the road to destruction.  They even make jokes about it, saying, “Well, if I go to hell, I won’t be alone.  All of my friends will be right there with me.” 

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” 
(Matthew 7:13-14  NLT)

When I look at the world we live in today, it both saddens and sickens me to see how much evil has increased since I was a child.  When I was a child, there were the occasional fights in school, talking too much in class and chewing gum.  Most crimes were limited to big cities, which were far away, and though we had bomb drills, and lived during the Cold War, we had no fear, for who would ever be foolhardy enough to dare attacking us on American soil?

12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 
(Matthew 24:12  NLT)  

Now, I am fifty-four years old, and in today’s world, children and their parents fear they might not come home from school, alive, each day.  We now live in a world, where children plot and kill their parents, and where not only fathers, but also mothers, murder, abuse and molest their own children.  There are also police, who are corrupted by power, and use it to commit violence and homicides against both innocent citizens and unarmed criminals, thereby violating their duty to protect and defend.  Though they have made an oath to heal to the best of their ability, and to do no harm, doctors and nurses murder the very patients they have sworn to care for.  Yes, things like this have been happening since Adam’s rebellion, yet it is becoming more and more prevalent, and the crimes that people commit against one another are becoming more and more heinous.

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Image Credit:
openwalls.com

As we look at the evil all around us, and perhaps even within us, it would be easy to lose heart.  Yet, the very God who created us, also loves us with an unfathomable love, and He knew, long before He created the heavens and the earth, that Adam would sin against Him, thereby ushering sin into His beautiful creation.  Therefore, because sin is so deadly, God had a plan worked out for the redemption of mankind, who was created in His image, even as He breathed life into Adam and Eve.

For the penalty for sin is death, and because sin is so deadly, there are no exceptions.  Whether you eat a forbidden fruit, or whether you destroy the life of another human being, the requirement for the atonement of sin is the death of the sinner, for the sins he has committed.  Yet, despite the evil all around us, God’s love for mankind was so great that He made a way to redeem the life of man…

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” 
(John 3:16  NLT)  

God knew the depths to which the depravity of man would sink, still, even so, His love for us was so great, that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son, so that we could live.  He knew that Nero would be born, and that he would commit terrible, torturous atrocities against those who followed Christ.  He knew that Adolf Hitler would one day, destroy the lives of untold millions, and in the process, slay six million Jewish men, women and children.  God knew that Osama bin Ladin would rise up and kill thousands, in the name of his false god, Allah, as he spewed out violence and hatred.  God also knows that one day the antichrist will rise up against Christ and His people, torturing and killing countless men, women and children.  Still, God chose to give the life of His one and only Son, so that you and I could live and be with Him in eternity.  And don’t think that Christ had no say in the matter, for He made it very clear that His love, is so great, that He laid His life down for us willingly…

17 “The Father loves Me because I sacrifice My life so I may take it back again.  18 No one can take My life from Me.  I sacrifice it voluntarily.  For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.  For this is what My Father has commanded.” 
(John 10:17-18  NLT) 

Yes, it is true that we live in a world with evil all around us, yet we don’t have to be discouraged or afraid.  For Jesus has told us in His word that as long as we live here on earth, there will be pain and tribulation, but we mustn’t fear, for He has overcome the world.  In fact, the word of God also tells us something else that many Christians in the western hemisphere have chosen to ignore…

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  13 Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.  15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.  16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.  Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name!  17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.  And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?  18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” 

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.
(1 Peter 4:12-19  NLT)

Sadly, not only do these “leaders of the church” ignore this passage, they also accuse those who suffer of having weak faith, causing believers to doubt their own faith in God, sometimes even causing them to turn away from the Lord, because they feel hopeless.  Those so called “leaders,” who make these false claims that someone’s suffering is their own fault, because a true child of God would claim healing and walk in it, will be held accountable for every false statement they have made in the name of God.  Indeed, the blood of every man, woman and child they have caused to stumble and turn away from God, will be on their hands.  For those who do these things, causing emotional pain and spiritual death, are just as evil as those who cause physical harm to another human being, and God will hold them accountable for every sin they committed in the name of Jesus.

As I stated earlier, there is evil all around us.  The spirit of evil dwells in the hearts and souls of many men and women, and it also exists in Satan and his demons.  Even so, when the enemies of our souls attack us, remember this, and take hope; though the evil all around us can steal our bodies and our minds, those who belong to Christ, should have no fear, for the evil cannot touch our spirits, which belong to Christ, and will one day arise from the grave in triumphant victory, clothed in our heavenly bodies.  Therefore, when you read of evil in the news, or watch it on the television, fear not!  For if God is for us, who can be against us?

It’s Not a Black Thing or a White Thing – It’s a Jesus Thing

The following is a letter that I posted on Facebook this morning, and I believe it’s important enough to post here as well, for it is vital to the life of our church and nation:

Greetings to ALL My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

To each and every man, woman and child, who has surrendered themselves to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, out of a heart filled with love and gratitude to our Savior, who willingly paid the penalty of death for your sins and for mine, I greet you in the name of Jesus.  I’m writing this letter to you because my heart is filled with love and grief for the church, and for this beautiful nation that God has blessed us with.  I have always felt honored and blessed to live in this great nation, which was founded on the principles that…

… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… (Declaration of Independence)


I believe with all my heart that this is true, not because the Declaration of Independence says so, but because the bible tells me so…

26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.  28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.  For you are all one in Christ Jesus.  29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.  (Galatians 3:26-29  NLT)

Beloved readers, do you understand what this means? It means that once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus, Himself!  It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, a servant or a king, black or white or any other shade in between, you are a child of God, who loves each of His children equally.  It doesn’t matter whether you are very intelligent, or whether you have a learning disability, your Daddy (Abba/Father) loves you just as much as He loves His other children.  It doesn’t matter if your parents loved you more or less than your siblings, because God is your Father now, and He is just.  He loves you just as much as He loves me.  He loves you just as much as He loved King David, the Apostle Paul, Peter, James and John.  Do you understand?

If you understand this, you need to understand something else.  When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you become God’s child, you also gain some new siblings, who are also children of God.  Do you know what this means?  It means that you have brothers and sisters from every race and culture, and because they are your siblings, you have to love them, no matter what, because Daddy loves them, and if Daddy thinks they’re worthy of His love, don’t you think they’re worthy of yours too?

Now, I’ve told you that I’m writing this letter because my heart is filled with love and grief for the church, and for our wonderful nation, and I’ve established a very good case for why we should love ALL of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, so now, I’m going to take this love thing a step further, before I share my grief with you.  Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, not only are we supposed to love our brothers and sisters, but according to the bible, we’re supposed to love our enemies too…

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:43-48  NLT)

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16  NLT)

After reading these words of Jesus, it is very clear that God expects us to love each other AND our enemies. There is no wiggle room, no way to escape this.  And, beloved reader, please allow me to make this perfectly clear, for it is of the utmost importance that you understand.  Jesus isn’t saying, “Try to love your enemies.”  He isn’t saying, “Love good people.”  Jesus is COMMANDING us to LOVE our enemies.  Do you still need more evidence?

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:9-13  NLT)

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15  NLT)

Do you want to be forgiven?  Then forgive ALL who hurt you.  Do you want to remain in God’s love?  Then love ALL mankind.

This brings me to the reason for my grief.  We are all aware of the deep rooted racial anger that exists in our country.  It is like a dark plague that is killing the church and this once great nation.  You may ask why I say it is killing the church, and I will tell you, but first, I will remind you of my love for each and every one of you, my beloved readers, friends and enemies.  Some may read what I am saying and take offense, and I can live with that. However, one of the things that truly grieves me is that some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord may take offense, and it is this very thing that is killing the church.

Let’s talk about what is going on in our country, not as black or white people, but as Jesus’ people, okay?  You see, when we became children of God, we took on HIS identity.  I am no longer defined by my race or ethnicity, and neither are you, brothers and sisters.  I am now called “Christian,” and when I interact with people of the world, I want them to see Christ in me, not the white in me.  Also, when I look at my brothers and sisters of different races, I don’t see the color or lack of color in them, I look to see the same Jesus, who lives in me, in them too.  When I see the Christ in you, my beloved brothers and sisters, how can I help but love you?

Not only that, but when I look at those who don’t know Christ, it isn’t their color that I care about, it’s their heart.  My heart is filled with love for those who don’t know Christ, because I know the One who could set them free from their anger and bitterness against people of different races.  I grew up in a racist household, and I know firsthand that racism breeds bitterness, and that terrible root of bitterness chokes the life out of every other relationship the bitter person has.

Church, the reason I’m grieving is because WE are supposed to be different from the world.  WE are the ones who are supposed to be setting the examples for the world, and yet, how many of us have found ourselves caught up in the anger that is all around us?  How many of us are part of the problem, instead of trying to be part of the solution?  What if God’s people united as ONE, just as Jesus prayed we would be, and what if we humbled ourselves and prayed, and turned from our wicked ways?  And what if we joined together, seeking God’s face, and asking Him to bring unity and love to our land?  I believe God would hear our cry and He would heal our land.  Do you know why?  Because the bible says so.

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:14  NKJV)

But sadly, something is preventing us from uniting and praying together, and do you know what that something is?  This may be offensive to you, but the words I write are written in love.  My heart’s desire is for God to heal our land, and in order for this to happen, we must humble ourselves, but PRIDE is preventing this from happening.  You see, there are some among us, who are proud of our race.

Now, I have to be honest with you, and if it offends you, I encourage you to study God’s word, and pray about it.  You see, there are some white people who are proud of their lack of pigment.  There are also some black people who are very proud of their dark pigment.  Now, here’s where I stand on the matter.  I’m white, but I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it.  I didn’t choose to be white.  In fact, I had nothing to do with it, because long before He laid the foundations of the earth, God had determined that I would be a white woman.  He’s the One who carefully formed me, and knitted me together in my mother’s womb, and for reasons that only He knows, He didn’t bless me with as much melanin as some of my darker brothers and sisters.  That’s okay.  I don’t feel slighted.  In fact, in the whole scheme of eternity, my lack of melanin, and someone else’s abundance of melanin is really unimportant.  After all, the current tent that I dwell in is only temporary, and at nearly fifty-four years old, it’s starting to break down.  In fact, one day in the not so distant future, it will finally wear out, and my spirit will leave this body.  At some point in time that only God knows, I will eventually receive an eternal body (my forever body), which will never wear out and die, so why should I care about the color of my current flesh?

Indeed, people of God, why should any of us care about our skin tone?  You don’t have to tell me the answer to my next question, but it is something you need to pray and talk to our Father about it.  Do you have white pride?  Do you have black pride?  Are you prideful of your race?  If so, you need to lay that pride aside and humble yourself and pray for forgiveness. You do know that Lucifer was cast down out of heaven, because he was proud of the body God had given him, right?  Do you think that God likes racial pride?  Think again.  If you want something to boast about, children of God, boast about this:

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31  NLT)

14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. 16 May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.  (Galatians 6:14-16  NLT)

Beloved children of God, it’s time for us to stop allowing our flesh to control our thoughts and our attitudes.  It’s time for us to stop taking sides in the current trouble our nation faces.  The fact is that there are good white cops, and there are bad white cops. There are good black cops, and there are bad black cops.  There are good black men, who have been the innocent victims of bad white cops, and vice versa.  However, there are also dangerous and criminal black men, who have attacked good white cops, and been shot in self-defense, and vice versa.  So, what can we, as children of the Most High God, do to bring peace and righteousness to our land???

We can start by repenting of any pride that we may be clinging to.  We can unite as One church in this battle for peace in our land – no more “white” churches or “black” churches.  Let us come together as One people, not to preach or shout or argue about why “I” am right and “You” are wrong. Instead, let us come together as the sons and daughters of God, and let us humble ourselves, as Jesus did…

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.  3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:1-11  NLT)

My beloved brothers and sisters, do you want to heal our land and bring about a true and lasting peace?  Or, do you want to hold on to your bitterness and anger? Do you want to prove that you are right, holding fast to your pride?  Or do you want to surrender it to Christ and join together with ALL of your brothers and sisters, humbling ourselves and praying?  Do you want people to see the black or white in you?  Or do you want them to see the Christ in you?  Are you willing to risk offending friends and family for the sake of the cross?  Or are you ashamed of this gospel of peace?

Shall we teach our children to respect law enforcement officers and pray God removes the bad ones?  Or should we teach them to rebel against the law? Shall we love our friends and hate our enemies? Or shall we love our enemies, with no regard to race, and bless them, as Jesus commanded?  The choice is yours.  Shall we choose a time to unite and come together to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face?  Or will we hold on to our bitterness and malice towards another race, refusing to forgive?  The choice is yours.  If you want to meet and join together, please leave a comment, and we can figure out where and when to join together and cry out to Jesus for our children, our law enforcement officers and our land.

In closing, I’d like to share the priestly blessing with each one of you.  For not only are we children of God, but we are also a royal priesthood…

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” 

In the blessed name of Jesus, I remain,

Your Sister Cheryl

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Hosanna!

“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;

Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

Image Credit: The Redeeming Sacrifice
Image Credit:
The Redeeming Sacrifice

He heard the roar of the crowd from a distance, as the young donkey He rode, slowly trudged toward Jerusalem.  He was a Man on a mission, and He was determined to accomplish that which He had been sent to do. Nothing or no one would stop Him.  He would do just what He and His Father had planned to do before the foundation of the earth was laid.  Indeed, for the joy that was set before Him, He would do what was necessary, enduring the pain, though He despised the shame of the cross.

Sitting astride the donkey colt, He quietly watched the throng of humanity, many dancing and shouting, and spreading their capes and coats on the ground before Him.  Others cut palm branches off the trees and laid them on the ground, so that it appeared to be a predominately green carpet (much like today’s red carpet is used for special events and for special people to walk upon),  inlaid with the colorful garments the people had laid down for the King of kings to ride upon.

Image Credit: Sweet Older Sister
Image Credit:
Sweet Older Sister

As He observed the mass of humanity singing praises and dancing before Him, Jesus didn’t just see a crowd, He noticed each individual.  He took note of the woman, whom He had healed from the issue of blood, rejoicing in His presence, and smiled gently at her.  He saw Bartimaeus, nevermore to be known as Blind Bartimaeus, since Messiah had healed him, wildly waving his palm branch when Jesus came near.  He then laid it down in front of Jesus, and prostrated himself to His Savior and Healer, in worship.  Jesus grinned at his enthusiastic worship, filled with love for each and every one of His people, as they cried out to Him with fervor, shouting:

“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

Image Credit: Request.org
Image Credit:
Request.org

He knew that some genuinely thought that He was Messiah, but their faith was weak, and though they celebrated Him that day, they would revile Him in just a few days hence, and He felt a pang of pain in His chest.  There were others who were roaring and rejoicing with the crowd that day, and caught up in the excitement of it all, but they never knew Him.  Just a few days later, He knew that they too, would be caught up in the hysteria of another crowd, and then, they would no longer shout, “Hosanna (Save Now!) to the Son of David (the giant slayer)!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  On that day, these same people would shout, “Crucify Him!  We will take responsibility for His death – we and our children!”  Again, though the crowd rejoiced, Jesus’ heart was  heavy.  Though they had no way of knowing, He knew what was before Him, and how the journey, begun on this day, would end.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

~ Luke 19:38  NLT ~

“Rabbi (Teacher).  He heard the angry voices of the Pharisees, vying for His attention, and He fixed His saddened gaze on them.  “Rabbi, rebuke Your followers for saying things like that!”  He looked at each one of them, then, taking note of their self-righteous indignation, as they stood there piously, looking at Him and His followers with barely veiled contempt. His heart was especially heavy, as He gazed at these men, who saw, and yet didn’t see.  Perhaps their situation was the most dire, for they acted so religious, but they rejected the power that could make them godly.

Image Credit: rl-blesses.tumbler
Image Credit:
rl-blesses.tumbler

Sighing, Jesus replied to their angry demand, “I tell you, if they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”  Then, as the little donkey on which He rode, drew closer to Jerusalem, the pain in His heart was too much to contain, and He wept. As he sat upon the little donkey, and stopped to look upon Jerusalem, God’s holy city, He spoke these words, though no one responded…

42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

~ Luke 19:41-44  NLT ~

Then, setting His face like a stone, Jesus continued His trek into Jerusalem, and remembered the words of the prophet, Isaiah…

Because the Sovereign Lord helps Me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set My face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.

~ Isaiah 50:7  NLT ~

As I have read and reread the accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I’ve often wondered how He felt that day.  He knew who He was and why He was there. He knew that by the end of the week, He would be tortured and hung on the cross to die a painful death.  He knew that while the crowd was rejoicing, there were many, who wanted Him dead, perhaps, even some of those who rejoiced that day.  What a great love He had (and has) for us, that He was willing to endure the pain and the shame of the cross, so that we might live!

I pray that you will be blessed and take the time to meditate on all that Christ did, and still continues to do for each one of us, as we remember His life, death and resurrection this week. God bless you!

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Help Me Lord, I Need An Answer!

He had never felt so dejected, so all alone before. Though he cried out to God over and over, He was silent.  He was a strong and fearless man, as long as he was hearing the voice of God, and as long as His Spirit rested on him, but from the time of his arrest, YHWH remained silent, leaving him with nothing but time…

Time to reflect on his life and wonder, “Could it be that I misunderstood?  Is it possible that I got it all wrong?  El De’ot (God of Knowledge), please give me wisdom!  Reveal the truth to me!” he cried in anguish, thinking back on his ministry.

Image Credit: Pinterest
Image Credit:
Pinterest

He had heard of his destiny from the time he suckled on his mother’s breasts, as both parents shared the miraculous events leading up to his birth.  His father, Zechariah, a priest of the Almighty, who served in the Temple, told John about his visit from Gabriel, one of YHWH Tzevaot’s (God of Hosts’) angelic warriors.  It was Gabriel who informed Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had found favor with YHWH, and that Elizabeth would give birth to a son, whom Zechariah was to name John.  Gabriel also told his abba (father) that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth, and that he would bring joy to many.

“Adonai,” John whispered in the silent darkness of the dungeon, “from the time of my birth, I never so much as took a sip of wine or allowed any other alcoholic drink to  pass my lips, according to the command Your angel, Gabriel gave to my Abba. I lived in the wilderness, and I cried out to the people, according to Your word:

“‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…’  (Matthew 3:2  NLT)

“And Adonai, I was fearless and bold, knowing I was doing what You had called me to do. When the Pharisees and Saducees came to watch me baptizing many in Your name, I cried out to them in righteous anger:

Image Credit: Matthew James Collins
Image Credit:
Matthew James Collins

“You brood of snakes!  Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with His winnowing fork. Then He will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into His barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.  (Matthew 3:7b-12  NLT)

“And El Shaddai, I was so certain, when I saw Jesus that day and baptized Him, that He was the long awaited One, but now, in this foul and wretched dungeon, I haven’t heard You speak to me, and my heart is heavy.  Could I have been wrong?  O YHWH!  Speak to me, please!”  Yet, though he cried out, there was no comfort to be found in that dreadful dungeon, where the only certainty seemed to be his impending death.

The nights were the worst, for it was then that the darkness was thickest, and it was then that the tormenting doubts were at their worst.  During the days, there was a thin shaft of light that came through a small window, high above him.  John tried to keep track of each new day, by that small bit of light, but as his strength ebbed, with little nourishment, and only a cup of water in the morning and at night, he lost all track of time.

One day, he heard the voices of his disciples, calling down to him from the small window above.  Though he couldn’t see them, he rejoiced to hear their voices, picturing each one in his mind.  His eyes filled with tears, as his disciples reported the many things that Messiah was doing.  It had been so long since he had heard a report from Adonai, and as he listened to their report, John stood up and called two of his disciples by name, telling them, “Go to Jesus for me, and ask Him:

Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'”  (Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19  NLT)

Image Credit: Christian Assembly Church
Image Credit:
Christian Assembly Church

His disciples departed quickly, to do their prophet’s bidding, while John sank to the prison floor, and closed his eyes.  Exhaustion overwhelmed him, and within minutes, he was asleep.  It was dark, when he awakened.  His throat was dry and parched, as though all of his saliva had been blown away in a desert sand storm.  Disoriented, he shook his head, trying to see in the vast darkness, but there was only black all around him.  He was unable to even see himself, let alone his surroundings.

“John!” he heard a familiar voice calling his name in the darkness, somewhere above him.  “Are you in there John?” the voice of his disciple called, as John suddenly realized where he was and who was calling out to him.

“Yes!” he tried to shout, but his dry and raspy voice sounded more like the croak of a frog, than the shout of a prophet of God.  “Did you find Him?  What news do you bring?  What did he say?”  Closing his eyes, tears welled up in them once again, and John breathed a soft prayer to El Elyon (Most High God)“Please, El Roi (God who sees me), let this be the answer to my prayers.”

“We found the Rabbi (Teacher), John,” they spoke in unison, hoping John would find comfort in their message.

“Did you ask Him if He is Messiah or if we should look for someone else?” 

“We did, John and Jesus told us to:

Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him, ‘God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.’  (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:22-23  NLT)

“That’s all He said, John, nothing else.  Is there anything else we can do for you?”

“No,”  John said.  “You’ve done enough.  Thank you.  Go quickly now, before someone discovers you here.”  His disciples quickly departed, promising to come back to visit him again, as soon as they could.

Tears rolled freely down John’s cheeks, mingling with the mucous from his nose and falling to the dirt floor of the dungeon, as John whispered to himself, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

John repeated the words again, smiling through the tears, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

Rejoicing, John began to repeat the words of the prophet Isaiah, that his father, Zechariah had taught him so many years ago, when he was just a boy…

“And when He comes, He will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.  The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.  The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.  Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.  And a great road will go through that once deserted land.  It will be named the Highway of Holiness.  Evil-minded people will never travel on it.  It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.  Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers.  Only the redeemed will walk on it.  10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.  They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.  (Isaiah 35:5-10  NLT)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, for the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”  (Isaiah 61:1  NLT)

Again, John repeated the message Jesus had given Him, laughing aloud as joy welled up within him, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

“El Chaiyai (God of my life), thank You.  This poor man cried, and You heard me and saved me out of all my troubles.  You sent Your word out to me, and it produced the fruits of joy and peace, accomplishing exactly what You meant it to accomplish, and it has prospered me.

“Thank You for Your lovingkindness in the midst of my weakness.  The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.  Adonai, I am not offended because of Messiah.  I can now die in peace, because You have spoken to me in the depths of darkness and misery.”

I love this story of John the Baptist, because it shows his humanity.  John was a strong and powerful man of God.  Even Jesus, Messiah, the Son of the Living God, respected John.  In fact, after John’s disciples departed to deliver Jesus’ message to him, Jesus said this about John:

“What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, and he will prepare Your way before You.’

28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”  (Luke 7:24-28  NLT)

Do you want to know one of the reasons I love this story about John the Baptist?  It is because Jesus honored John by telling this to everyone after John had asked if He was truly the Messiah.  Jesus wasn’t angry when John, in a time of weakness, doubted.

Think about it, John’s father, Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s prophecy of John’s birth to him and his wife, and because of his doubt, Zechariah was made mute, until after John’s birth.  I’m certain that his father must have shared this with his son, on more than one occasion, as he grew up, and now, John was imprisoned, and faced with his own doubts.  In light of Gabriel’s response to his father’s question, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”  (Luke 1:18  NLT)  I wonder if John feared Jesus’ response to his question, “Are You the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”  (Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19  NLT)

It’s obvious that there is a difference in the questions that were asked.  Zechariah’s doubt stemmed from the fact that he simply didn’t believe what Gabriel had told him.  John’s doubt was different.  He was at a low point in his life (Can you relate?), imprisoned and alone, no longer able to minister as he had been called to do, and in his weakness, he became uncertain.  It wasn’t that he didn’t believe.  He had lost everything, and that’s when he started to question.

Have you ever been there?  I have.  When I was no longer able to continue ministering in prison, because of my back problems, I had questions.  If I could no longer work and no longer minister in prison, was my life over?  Was I a disappointment to God?  Had I imagined that I was called by God to minister?  Like John, I struggled with these questions.  And I cried out to God for comfort and reassurance, and for awhile, all I heard was silence.

There’s another reason why I love this story so much.  The reason why this story blesses me is because of the way that Jesus answered John’s question:

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.  (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:22-23  NLT)

Jesus could have simply replied, “Yes,” but I don’t think that would have assuaged John’s doubts.  You see, John needed a word from God.  He needed to hear the word from the Word.  From the time he was in his mother’s womb, he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and after his birth, I’m certain that Zechariah and Elizabeth shared God’s word with him, in preparation for the ministry he had been called to.  Therefore, the only thing that could mend John’s broken heart and renew his hope, was the word of God.  Knowing this, Jesus answered him by quoting Isaiah’s prophecy about Messiah’s coming.

It is the same way with me, and all who seek the truth.  When I need the truth, I find it in God’s word.  When I am anxious or fearful, I find peace in the word of God.  When I am uncertain or unsure of what my next step should be, I find my answer in God’s holy word. For peace, joy, certainty and truth can only be found in the Word of God.

After having to give up my job and my prison ministry, I was crushed, because I thought God would no longer be able to use me if I was stuck at home.  And then, I heard a message from the Lord, instructing me to begin writing again, something that I hadn’t had time to do for many years.

Then the Lord said to me, “Write My answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”  (Habakkuk 2:2  NLT)

I was excited to do what He had called me to do, and then this thought came to me, “I should start a blog.”  Now perhaps that doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary to you, but at the time that thought came to me, I had no idea what a blog was.  I had heard the word before, but no one had ever explained it to me, and I was never interested enough to know what it was, until the Lord placed it in my spirit to start a blog.  Therefore, in October, 2012, I started a blog, and this has become my ministry.

Image Credit: Bob Bugg
Image Credit:
Bob Bugg

Beloved reader, are you in a dark place right now?  Do you have questions and uncertainties?  If so, I encourage you to pray and seek your answers in God’s word.  It is easier now, than ever before, to search for the answers you need from God’s word.  You have only to use your favorite search engine online, and enter “Scriptures about _________.”  You fill in the blank.

Also, you can read scriptures from just about any bible version you want at the sites listed below.  There are many other sites as well, but the top three are ones that I use most frequently.

If you are looking for answers like John the Baptist was, or like I do, I encourage you to seek those answers in the word of God.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  (Hebrews 4:12  NLT)

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Creflo Dollar’s Plea for More Dollars

Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions.These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.

~ 1 Timothy 6:3-5  NLT ~

TBN Logo

I absolutely refuse to watch TBN and many of the other “Christian” television stations.  Does this shock you?  At first, I thought there was something wrong with me, because many other believers love televangelists like Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Joyce Meyer and so many others.  Therefore, something has to be wrong with me, right?

However, as I searched the scriptures and compared the gospel preached by these people, to the Gospel of Christ, I discovered that they were preaching a false gospel.  Not only that, but in addition to deceiving many good men and women who are seeking the truth, these false teachers and false prophets also fleece their followers.  

These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.

~ 1 Timothy 6:5  NLT ~

These men and women make the proud and boastful claim that they need your money in order to save a lost and dying world.  However, when Jesus walked this earth as a man, He touched the hearts of a lost and dying world, without pilfering anyone for money.  Furthermore, when the apostles went to Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the world, they did so without begging for money. Indeed, the gospel was shared by many of them, as they fled from persecution. Not only that, the Apostle Paul, who traveled through many countries, sharing the gospel to a lost and dying world, was careful not to be a financial burden on the people that he served…

Preaching for Money Church

17 If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. 18 What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.

~ 1 Corinthians 9:17-18  NLT ~

12 When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you. 13 The only thing I failed to do, which I do in the other churches, was to become a financial burden to you. Please forgive me for this wrong!

14 Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have—I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children. 15 I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.

~ 2 Corinthians 12:12-15  NLT ~

Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.

~ 1 Thessalonians 2:9  NLT ~

You see, Paul wasn’t interested in how much money he could get out of believers; he wanted to win their hearts.  Paul truly sought to save a lost and dying world.  Today’s televangelists, evangelists, teachers and various other ministries could learn from his example.  For though many of these ministries claim they want to seek and save the lost, their lifestyles paint a different picture.  

Let’s look at Creflo Dollar, whose website, on Friday, March 13. 2015, announced a new project entitled, Project G650. 

According to this video, the ministry’s current jet is over 30 years old and is now out of service.  Therefore, they now need a new one, which will cost $65 million dollars.  Really???  He and his ministry team aren’t able to fly commercial flights, like the rest of us???

In doing research on Dollar’s life and ministry, I discovered that his church began in the Kathleen Mitchell Elementary School cafeteria in 1986, to a congregation of eight.  In the years following that, his ministry began to grow, and eventually moved to a chapel.  Around this time, Creflo Dollar began preaching on the radio, and he began having four services on Sundays.  The church continued to grow, from the tithes, offerings and donations they received from parishoners and people around the world, and World Changers Church International (WCCI) eventually built moved into the World Dome, a sanctuary that seats 8500 people, located in College Park, GA.  This $18 million dollar church was built from the donations of many men and women, with no bank financing.  WCCI also has a church in New York as well.

The ministry isn’t all that has prospered since its humble beginning; Creflo and wife, Taffi Dollar have also prospered.  Though he has refused to disclose his salary for many years, it is estimated that Mr. and Mrs. Dollar’s net worth is $27 million dollars, much of which has come from the tithes and donations of many men and women like you and me.  

When giving to a ministry, I want to be a good steward. I want to know that my offerings are going to help the needy, widows and orphans, as well as the disabled.  I want to know that the money is being used wisely, according to God’s will, and not the will of a greedy man.  I would be very angry to think that I have given money to bring the gospel of Christ to those who have never heard Jesus’ name, and to help those who in need of food, money and shelter, according to God’s will, only to find it has been used to line the pastors’ pockets.  

Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.

~ 1 Corinthians 4:2  NLT ~

Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, heal those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases, and drive out demons. You have received without paying, so give without being paid.

~ Matthew 10:8  GNT ~

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

~ Matthew 10:8  NLT ~

Pardon me, but I have to ask, how much of the money that is donated to the ministry, for the salvation of souls and to help those in need, is actually going to the needy?  Dollar and his wife not only have a net worth of $27 million dollars, as I stated earlier, but he also owns two Rolls Royces, a $1 million dollar home in Atlanta, and a $2.5 million dollar home in Manhattan.

Creflo Dollar Mansion

With all of this wealth, I find it very brazen for Dollar to ask 200,000 members to donate $300 so that he can get a new jet!  After all, his wealth has come from the donations of many people who have a net worth of little or nothing, because he preaches a false prosperity message and claims that if his congregants will give at least ten percent of their income, they too will prosper.  Frankly, with his wealth, Dollar can either purchase his own jet, or he can do as the rest of us do, and fly the friendly skies on a commercial airline!

Minister Creflo Dollar Attempts to Raise $65 Million to Purchase Private Jet
Minister Creflo Dollar Attempts to Raise $65 Million to Purchase Private Jet

Beloved reader, true ministry begins with you and me, not with some preacher, who is more interested in what you can give him, instead of how he can help you.  Do you want to reach a lost and dying world with the gospel?  Then share the Good News with your neighbors, your coworkers, and the people you see on a day to day basis.  Pray for them.  Love them.  Talk to them about Jesus, not about your church.  This is how souls are won, not by sending your hard earned money to a charlatan who preaches a false gospel.

Finally, since I have shared my concerns about Creflo Dollar and his ministries and net worth, I would be remiss if I did not address one other scandal that was in the news in 2012.  On June 8, 2012, Creflo Dollar was arrested for Simple Battery Family Violence and Cruelty to Children for allegedly throwing his fifteen year old daughter on the ground, choking her, punching her and hitting her with a shoe.  The girl’s nineteen year old sister witnessed the alleged assault and told the same story her sister did, when questioned.  Below is his daughter’s 911 call.

Dollar told a different story, stating that he and his daughter were arguing over a party that he said she couldn’t attend because of her bad grades.  He stated that after entering the kitchen and asking why she was upset, his daughter was disrespectful to him, and he tried to restrain her.  After restraining her, he said that she began hitting him, and he wrestled her to the floor and spanked her.  Below is a copy of the actual police report for Creflo Dollar’s arrest:

Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Report –
Creflo Dollar

On the Sunday following his arrest, Creflo Dollar spoke to his congregation, and listeners all over the world, about his arrest.  Below is the video of his address.  

Now, here is the issue I have with Mr. Dollar’s address…  Firstly, I want to address the congregation’s response, when Dollar entered the pulpit.  I was greatly disturbed by the standing ovation and the cheers and whistles that arose in support of him.  With absolutely no evidence of his guilt or innocence, the congregation loudly cheered this man, who had been accused of abusing his daughter.  The congregation gave no thought for the troubled teen.  Now, please understand, when I refer to Dollar’s fifteen year old daughter as a troubled teen, I am in no way implying her guilt or innocence in telling the truth.  Either way, this was a traumatic event, and anyone would be troubled by what allegedly happened.  On the other hand, if she did indeed lie, as Dollar’s statements implied, she would still be considered troubled, for contriving a lie.  In their loud cheers for her father, who was potentially her abuser, the congregation made it clear that she and her feelings were unimportant.  

Secondly, I want to address the following statement by Creflo Dollar, by sharing his own words from this address… “I will never put any fault on my children as Jesus would never put any fault on me. I love her with all of my heart. Amen?”  That statement, sounds as though it comes from a benevolent and loving father, doesn’t it?  However, in keeping it in context with this very same address to his congregation, and all, throughout the world, who view this statement, I have to ask, who, then, if not his daughters, is he faulting?  Certainly not himself!

  • “As everyone knows, raising children in our culture of disrespect, is a challenge and a responsibility for all of us who are parents.”
    • Isn’t this just another way of saying that his daughter was disrespectful, and in so doing, isn’t he putting the fault on her, something he said he would never do”?
  • “The truth is, she was not choked.  She was not punched.  There were not any scratches on her neck, but the only thing on her neck was a prior skin abrasion from eczema.  Anything else is an exaggeration and sensationalism.”
    • It was his daughter who called 911 and also reported to the deputy that she had been choked and punched.  Therefore, isn’t this just another way of saying his daughter exaggerated and resorted to sensationalism (another way for calling her a liar)?  Again, wasn’t this something he said he would never do”?
  • “I mean, I can’t imagine. If I punched my kid, (emphasizes by punching open palm) I would hurt her.  If I choked my kid, you would see visible signs on her neck.  But to come and take a picture of a mark that’s been there for ten years, and not have enough intelligence to at least ask the parent what it is, is appalling.”
    • Let’s remember that Creflo Dollar had been accused, by his fifteen year old daughter of choking and attacking her.  Don’t you think the officer asked the girl what the mark was from?  Why would he ask the alleged perpetrator of a crime how she got the mark?  How likely would he be to tell the truth?  I wonder, how likely was he telling the truth in this statement? Also, let’s not forget that her nineteen year old sister corroborated her statement.
  • “Again, I would never approach one of my children to inflict bodily harm.  I love my children enough to establish proper boundaries and help them make right choices.”
    • Again, he is implying that his daughters are lying about what happened. I do believe that he was trying to establish proper boundaries and help them make right choices, but I also believe that it is entirely possible he lost his self-control in the heat of the moment, and threw his daughter to the floor, choking, hitting, and punching her.
  • “I will never put any fault on my children as Jesus would never put any fault on me. I love her with all of my heart. Amen?”
    • His entire statement has one goal… to deflect the blame off himself, by placing the blame onto his daughter.
  • “I want to say this very emphatically: I should have never  been arrested.  Never!  And when the facts of this come out, you will be appalled.”
    • Again, though he doesn’t actually say the words, his statement implies that his daughter lied about his assault on her.
  • “You’ve got to understand something.  It’s not as much against me as it is against this message of grace.  The devil knows in order to discredit the message, you have to first of all discredit the messenger…”
    • Here, Dollar implied that his daughter was used by the devil.
  • “… I want to close and I’ll have nothing else to say about this.  I want to close in the book of Psalms, chapter thirty-five, and it’ll describe to you, what is going on.  Verse eleven, Psalms thirty-five…

11 Malicious witnesses testify against me.  They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.  12 They repay me evil for good.  I am sick with despair.  13 Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.  I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered.  14 I was sad, as though they were my friends or family, as if I were grieving for my own mother.  15 But they are glad now that I am in trouble; they gleefully join together against me.  I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly.  16 They mock me and call me names; they snarl at me.

17 How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?  Rescue me from their fierce attacks.  Protect my life from these lions!  18 Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly.  I will praise you before all the people. 19 Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat.  Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.  20 They don’t talk of peace; they plot against innocent people who mind their own business. 21 They shout, “Aha!  Aha!  With our own eyes we saw him do it!”

22 O Lord, you know all about this.  Do not stay silent.  Do not abandon me now, O Lord.  23 Wake up! Rise to my defense!  Take up my case, my God and my Lord. 24 Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice.  Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles.  25 Don’t let them say, “Look, we got what we wanted!  Now we will eat him alive!”

26 May those who rejoice at my troubles be humiliated and disgraced.  May those who triumph over me be covered with shame and dishonor.  27 But give great joy to those who came to my defense.  Let them continually say, “Great is the Lordwho delights in blessing his servant with peace!”  28 Then I will proclaim your justice, and I will praise you all day long.  (Psalm 35:11-28  NLT)

Creflo Dollar continued, as though this next passage was a part of Psalm 35, but it wasn’t….

10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts.  11 Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. 12 Look! Those who do evil have fallen!  They are thrown down, never to rise again.  (Psalm 36:10-12  NLT)

Now, as you read the scripture above, imagine that you are Dollar’s fifteen and nineteen year old daughters, who signed a witness statement against him.  Certainly the pastor’s word, this “man of God” carries more weight than a disrespectful fifteen year old and her nineteen year old sister, who are both indirectly referred to as “malicious witnesses” accusing him of crimes he knows nothing about.  After all, he has always taken care of them, even when they were sick, and he’s fasted and prayed for them, and look how they have repaid evil for his good.  See how gleefully they have joined together attacking him?  Because of their behavior, they have caused people he doesn’t even know to slander him… 

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a pastor preach a message against you personally, but I have.  I pray this has never happened to you, because there is nothing more painful than to have the word of God aimed as a weapon of destruction against you.  It doesn’t matter whether you are truly in the wrong or not.  It is painful to be exposed, and know that there are others who are listening to the sermon, who also know that the pastor is using you as an example.  God’s word is not intended to be taken out of context to condemn or destroy someone else.  As you read the scripture in the way Mr. Dollar presents it, he is the victim of a terrible injustice.  

Finally, after praying for God’s intervention, just as David prayed against those who treated him injustly, Dollar curses his attackers (in this case, his fifteen year old and nineteen year old daughters, who called the police and signed the report against him) asking God to humiliate and disgrace them, and cover them with shame and dishonor.  Regardless of who was speaking the truth, or who was lying, how do you think Dollar’s daughters felt as they listened to their father’s speech that morning?  Do you think they were drawn to God?  Or did they feel shamed and humiliated by Him?

The assault charges against Mr. Dollar were eventually dropped in January, 2013, in exchange for him attending a pre-trial intervention program, which included him attending an anger management program.  In addition, Dollar had to pay $1,072 dollars in fees and court costs.

There are many reasons to be wary of this man’s teachings.  His sermons usually revolve around a prosperity message with money and personal wealth as the focus.  It’s the kind of message that people want to hear; the kind of message that makes them happy, but is it true?

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4  NLT ~

Study_to_Show_Thyself_Approved

This is why I strongly urge you, beloved reader, to seek God’s face.  Study His word for yourselves.  When someone preaches or writes a post (including me), read the scriptures to see if what this person is preaching or teaching lines up with what God says.  Then, if it doesn’t, find someone who speaks truth, while you continue to study God’s word.

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

~ 1 John 4:1  NLT ~

15 Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

~ 2 Timothy 2:15  AMP ~

Finally, beloved reader, pay attention to the way leaders conduct themselves, when preaching, and when they’re not in front of a group.  What does he/she like to talk about most frequently?  If the person talks mostly about money, that’s because this is what is most important in his/her heart.  How does he/she treat his/her followers?  Does this person like to serve, or does he/she expect to be served?  For a true leader will lovingly and joyfully serve his/her followers, expecting nothing in return. 

Abundance of the Heart

18 But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him].

~ Matthew 15:18  AMP ~

12 So then, whatever you desire that others would do to and for you, even so do also to and for them, for this is (sums up) the Law and the Prophets.

~ Matthew 7:12  AMP ~

43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.

~ Mark 10:43-45  NLT ~

The scriptures above are the qualifications of a true leader, given to us by the King of all other kings, and the Lord of every lord.  If the minister you have been following does not meet these qualifications, prayerfully seek one who does.  This person should be willing to give to his/her followers, not to take.  In light of this, where does Creflo Dollar fall in the spectrum?  You decide.

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

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A Lie By Any Other Name Is Still A Lie

16 There are six things the Lord hates — no, seven things He detests: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, 18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, 19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

~ Proverbs 6:16-19  NLT ~

Is it me, or does it seem that lying has reached epic proportions?  Think about it…  Politicians (including the President), whom we vote into office, lie so much and so often, that we’ve come to expect it from them.  Indeed, it has become the norm, and most people are seldom even shocked or angered when a politician is caught in a lie.  And what about lawyers, who are supposed to be teachers and keepers of the law?  Most are quick to lie, especially if it means winning their case.  And what do we do, when we discover that someone has told yet another lie? Many  just make jokes about it…

18 Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon 19 is someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking.

~ Proverbs 26:18-19  NLT ~

Let’s look at Brian Williams, NBC’s anchorman, who claimed that while he was in Iraq in 2003, his helicopter was shot at and hit by ground fire. However, this wasn’t true…

An honest witness does not lie; a false witness breathes lies.

~ Proverbs 14:5  NLT ~

Many people were outraged, when Stars and Stripes published the truth, as reported by U.S. soldiers, who were actually involved in the incident, Williams claimed to have been a part of, and according to them, his helicopter was an hour behind the ones that were shot at.  After being caught in his lie, Brian offered the following apology…

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

~ 1 John 1:9  NLT ~

I’m troubled by the fact that Williams didn’t apologize for lying or misleading the public.  He merely apologized for making a mistake. Below is the definition for the noun, mistake according to dictionary.com

  1. An error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment, caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
  2. A misunderstanding or misconception.

A mistake is unintentional, but he deliberately lied, and not just once either, though his apology seemed to imply that.  The truth is that he has told this repeatedly over the years, on NBC’s Nightly News, in books, in print, and also in the above interview with David Letterman.  With each telling of the story, it has evolved over the years, and Williams’ personal involvement in the shooting has grown from zero to hero, His apology seems very insincere too, because he never accepts responsibility for lying.  Instead, after being caught in his lie, Mr. Williams confessed that he “made a mistake in recalling the events of twelve years ago…”

Now, as you might imagine, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly had something to say about Mr. Williams’ lie, near the end of one of his segments.  Unfortunately, O’Reilly’s statement makes it sound as though ‘t Williams’ lie wasn’t a problem, but the fact that he got caught in his lie…

“He knows what he did was wrong, a lot of people exaggerate their life experience, and he did and he got caught.” 

Of course, Bill O’Reilly has also been called out on several occasions recently, by former coworkers at CBS, who say that his claim of having been in the “war zone” during the Falklands war between the United Kingdom and Argentina in the 1980’s, is false.  In fact, NO American journalists ever reached the war zone in the Falkland Islands and other territories in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, during the conflict.  The difference between Mr. O’Reilly and Brian Williams, is that O’Reilly chose to attack those who called him out for lying, admitting to no wrong doing.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

~ Matthew 7:1-2  NLT ~

Within just a few days of the aforementioned scandals, we learned about yet another scandal, this time from one of the members of the President’s cabinet.  While on CBS Evening News, recently, when a homeless veteran told V.A. Secretary, Robert McDonald, that he had been in the Special Services unit of the armed forces, McDonald replied, “Special forces? What years? I was in special forces.”  Sadly, that turned out to be a lie…

McDonald’s lie was discovered and reported within days of Brian Williams’ scandal, and like Williams, Mr. McDonald publicly apologized…  Furthermore, just as Brian Williams’ apology seemed insincere to me, Robert McDonald’s apology also seemed phony.  For, just as Williams did not confess and apologize for lying, neither did McDonald, who claimed he had “incorrectly stated that I had been in Special Forces.  That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”   According to this apology, McDonald was just trying to connect with the homeless man and while doing so,  he misstated his military history.  Really??? Give me a break!

In the midst of all these lies, the media is having a hey day, as they gather around the liars like vultures, ready to feast on the road kill.  Meanwhile, the military and its veterans are outraged over the lies, and rightly so.  The general public is also incensed over the lies, and I have to admit, I was too.  Then, I started thinking…

How many of us have lied and justified or excused ourselves for doing so?

“It’s just a little white lie…”

“I only told a small fib…”

“I exaggerated about what happened…”

“I misspoke…”

Have you ever lied to your spouse or your parents about how much money you’ve spent on something or where you’ve been?  Have you lied to your boss about why you really called out?  Did you ever tell someone to say you weren’t home, so you wouldn’t have to talk to the person at the door, or answer the phone?

Have you tried to justify your lie, because you wouldn’t need to lie if that person didn’t always over-react to situations? Or perhaps you’ve excused yourself, because one little lie never hurt anyone…  Maybe you’ve even told yourself it doesn’t really matter, because no one will ever find out about it anyway…

17 For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

~ Luke 8:17   NASB ~

Many of us become completely outraged, when someone lies to us.  It also makes many of us furious, when someone like Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly or Robert McDonald lies.  After all, someone in their position should be credible, right?

Lying Tongue

As a child, I lied constantly.  It’s true that I was abused as a child, and many times I lied for survival, but that doesn’t justify it or excuse it.  In fact, the more I lied, the easier it got, and the lies grew.  I lied so much, that I was often able to convince even myself that a lie was true.  I lied to survive, and I lied about things that didn’t  even matter.  You see, when you tell one lie, you become enslaved to it, because one lie leads to another, then another, and so on.

I  wish I could tell you that when I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, one summer, somewhere between the ages of eleven and fourteen, I stopped lying, but that wouldn’t be true.  I will say that I tried really hard to stop lying, because I knew it was sinful, but lying was a stronghold in my life, and the harder I tried to stop lying, the harder it was to quit.

During my teenage years, I fell away from the Lord.  I still believed in Him, but I was also filled with doubts about Him.  You see, someone, who habitually lies, usually has a deceiving spirit within him/her, and not only does that spirit lead him/her to be deceptive; it also succeeds in deceiving the deceiver.  So, basically, I was a liar who found it easier to believe lies rather than the truth… 

I was around fifteen years old, when I stopped walking with the Lord, and for the next ten years, I chose to go my own way.  I am so grateful that during the time I walked away from God, He never left me.  When I lied, He continued to convict me of my sin.  When I cussed and told dirty jokes, He was still there, reminding me that my behavior was sinful.  When I was twenty-five years old, my son was three, and my daughter was a little over one, and I decided it was time to take my children to Sunday School, because they needed Jesus.  I didn’t realize that I needed Jesus just as much or more than they did, but God knew. He also knew that before my children could know Him, I needed to know Him.

I hadn’t been bringing the children to Sunday School for very long, when I was asked to start teaching Sunday School.  Now, in order to teach Sunday School, you have to prepare for it, and the way to prepare for it is to pray and read and study the bible.  As I began to study the bible more and more, I realized how much I needed Jesus back into my life.  Meanwhile, though I struggled to stop, I continued to lie, and since I’d rededicated my life to Christ, I was racked with guilt.  

I hated lying by now, but I just couldn’t stop it, because I lived in fear.  Looking back over my life, I understand that the biggest stronghold in my life, which led me to lie, was fear.  When I was younger, I lied because I was afraid of losing my parents’ love, as they beat me and cursed me.  As an adult, I lied because I was afraid of losing my  husband’s love.

lying tongue 2

I remember fasting one Saturday, and going to church to be alone with the Lord, praying and preparing for my Sunday School class.  As I was praying, the Lord pressed me to tell my husband about a secret I’d been keeping from him, but I was afraid he would leave me, so, I refused.  I lived in such fear of losing his love, that I didn’t tell him, when some of our bills increased beyond what we were able to pay.  Though he never abused me, I’d grown up in an abusive household, and I was terrified of losing him and being forced to live with my parents again.  The Lord kept leading me to tell my husband about this, but I was afraid to trust Him, so I continued to refuse.

Then, a few days later, after a medical procedure, which left my husband feeling very sick, he began to talk about how much he loved me, and what a great wife I was.  I told him to stop saying that, because I wasn’t a great wife.  I told him I wasn’t even a good wife, but he just looked at me with love in his eyes and said I was a wonderful wife, and he loved me very much.  Guilt and shame overwhelmed me, and I confessed everything to my husband, just as God had commanded me to do.  After confessing my deception to my him, my husband looked at me through his eyes of love and told me not to worry.  Together, we would take care of things.

After that day, I was no longer bound by fear and deception.  Does that mean that I haven’t failed since then?  No, I’ve lied since then, but I’m quick to confess and repent of my sins, and here’s the funny thing.  I don’t lie now, because that sin no longer binds me.  God set me free from fear that day, and I’m no longer afraid to tell the truth.

32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

~ John 8:32  NLT ~

What about you, beloved reader?  Before you get angry with those who lie and try to deceive us, have you examined your own heart?  Are you free from deception?  If so, praise God, and instead of being angry at people like Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly or Robert McDonald, pray for them, and ask God to set them free from their fear of the truth, in Jesus name!

If you still continue to lie to people, especially those you love,  ask God to deliver you from fear and deception, in Jesus’ name.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

~ 2 Timothy 1:7  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

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Fifty Shades of Grey

Please note ~ the following post deals with sexually explicit material that may be offensive to some, or may trigger others.  However, my intent is not to offend or hurt, but to cast some light on a dark subject…

When the book came out, I was still working, and I remember many of my coworkers going on and on about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and how good it was.   Most would tell me how great it was, and then say, “But you shouldn’t read it, Cheryl. You wouldn’t like it.”  Most of my coworkers knew that I was a minister of the gospel, and that I wouldn’t enjoy this kind of book.  Most of my coworkers knew me well, yet I worked for a retirement facility, that employed more than two hundred people, so there were others, who were only casual acquaintances.

I remember this one woman who worked the evening shift.  She usually came on duty just as I was preparing to leave for the day.  One evening, before I left for the day, she stopped by the office, where I was working, to see if I knew where our boss was.  After telling her, she turned to leave, so she could finish administering medications to the residents she was caring for, but suddenly, she spun back around, facing my office mate and me again, as she asked, “Do you read?”

“Well,” I jested, “we’re not illiterate.”

Laughing at my comment, the woman gushed, “Then you just have to read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s so good.  It’s a love story with a little ‘soft porn.'”

After hearing so many people rave about this book, I was curious to know what the big deal was, and why so many people were talking about it.  Therefore, I went online, and looked to see what it was about.  Needless to say, I was shocked.  After reading an overview of the book, I wondered how so many good people call this book good?  Though it’s been touted as a “love story,” nothing could be further from the truth.

shades-covers-1024
Image Credit: People Magazine Evangelicals Offer to “Trade Your Shades” for “Christian Perspective” Intimacy Book

I really never thought too much about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” after that, until the movie was released, on Valentine’s Day, and yet again, people were boasting about this “must see” movie event, which raked in more money at the box office than any other movie has ever done.  Numerous people, from all over, flocked to see this “romantic film.”  Really???  Give me a break!  I’ve remained quiet about the subject until now, but enough is enough, and if I don’t share what’s on my heart about this, I just  might explode.

Therefore, let’s just call a spade a spade.  While I haven’t read this book or seen the movie (nor do I intend to), I still know enough about it to comment on it.  This serial (“Fifty Shades of Grey” is the first installment in a “Fifty Shades” trilogy.) is neither a love story, nor a romance.  Hence, in order for us to determine if “Fifty Shades of Grey” is truly a love story or not, we must first know what love really is.  To discover what love is, let’s look at the best definition of love that has been revealed to man…

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  NLT ~

But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

~ 1 John 4:8  NLT ~

Now, let us look at “Fifty Shades of Grey,” in light of this definition…  As we examine the relationship between the two main characters, Chrisian and Ana, it becomes obvious almost immediately, that there is no patience or kindness between the two.  As Christian treats Ana as his personal sex slave, there is not romantic or loving about their relationship.  It is both cruel and hurtful.  These two characters are involved in an unhealthy relationship, instead of a healthy and loving one, where both people treat one another with respect and dignity.  This is an abusive relationship where Christian domineers Ana.

Image Credit: The Busy Mom Heidi St. John
Image Credit:
The Busy Mom
Heidi St. John

I must say that I am really surprised that more Christians have not spoken out against this novel/movie, and I’m also surprised that most women’s rights groups seem to be uncharacteristically silent on the subject.  Such an unhealthy relationship should be denounced for implying that women actually enjoy being tied up, beaten, and verbally, sexually and physically abused.

… Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude…

~ 1 Corinthians 13:4b-5a  NLT ~

Love is not jealous…  The main character, Christian, is jealous of other men who are a part of Ana’s life.  Now, I’ll grant you that there are some women who think it would be nice if their boyfriend or husband was jealous of other men in their lives, but that’s because they’ve never actually experienced the jealousy of a lover.

Jealousy is ugly.  Those who are jealous are mistrustful and resentful.  Because resentment can quickly grow into hatred, it also often leads to violence.  Many times, when a man is jealous of another man who is involved in the life of a woman he cares about, that jealous rage will be taken out on the woman that he supposedly cares about.  Does this sound like love to you?

Love is not boastful.  Someone who truly loves someone else will not flaunt his/her advantages to the one that he/she loves.  The one who truly loves will not ever want to make his/her beloved feel as though he/she is unworthy.

Likewise, the one who truly loves, will not allow his/her pride to enter his/her relationship.  The partner who truly loves, will be willing to humble him/herself to the other person.  The one who loves will be willing to submit to the wishes of his/her beloved, just as the beloved will also be willing to do.  True love is a partnership, in which both parties are willing to give 100% to their relationship.  If only one party is willing to do so, then there is no relationship, for a relationship requires two people.

Love is not rude.  Love would not even suggest that one partner submit to being tied up, whipped, gagged or sexually abused.  Love understands that these actions constitute rape, which is a violent act committed against someone.  Rape is not fun or sexy.  It is extremely damaging and harmful to the victim, long after the act has occurred.  Indeed, most people say that rape is not a sex act, but an act of violence.  Violence is not love.

or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

~ 1 Corinthians 13:5  NLT ~

Love does not demand its own way.  Women, girls, men and boys, hear me now.  Love does not demand its own way.  If someone truly loves you, he/she will not demand or insist that you participate or allow him/her to sexually abuse or exploit you.  If this person truly loves you, he/she will accept it when you say, “No.”  If the person you loves demands that you participate in sexually deviant acts, (any sexual act that is not condoned in the bible), even after you’ve said, “No,” then he/she does not love you.

If the person who claims to love you becomes angry or violent because you have told him/her, “No,” they are not treating you with love.  If the person begins to list all of the times you’ve failed to do what he/she wanted you to do, this person is not acting in love. Instead, he/she is acting selfishly, which is the polar opposite of love.

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 

~ 1 Corinthians 13:6  NLT ~

If the person who claims to love you takes pleasure in hurting you, (physically, sexually or emotionally), he/she is rejoicing about an injustice that has been done to you.  This is NOT love.  It is not fun.  This is cruel and harmful to you.  If the person you are in a relationship with does not rejoice in the truth of these words that I’ve written, then he/she does not truly love you.

Now, I’d like to share a few words with those of you who read the book and/or went to the movie, 50 Shades of Grey…  How would you feel if your daughter, your sister or perhaps, even your mother was involved in this type of relationship?  Would you talk to her about it?  Would you worry for her safety?  Would you worry about her emotional stability?

Or would you find it tantalizing?  Would you think it was exciting and sexy?  Would you encourage her to go ahead and do it, if she asked for your advice?  Would you want her to tell you all about it for your pleasure?

If you would find it disturbing for your beloved daughter, sister, or mother to be involved in this type of relationship, then why would you take pleasure in a book or movie that celebrates this type of behavior?  Suppose your daughter, sister or mother, knowing that you had read and enjoyed this book, shared that she was involved in a relationship like this?  How would it make you feel?  How could you argue against your loved one taking part in this?

Suppose your son, brother or father was involved in this type of relationship.  Would you feel proud of him?  Would you trust your daughter to be alone with him?

Maybe you’ve read what I’ve written here, and you think I’ve carried it to far.  I don’t think so.  This needs to be discussed.  We need to examine our hearts, for none of us should take pleasure in these things.  If this is something you wouldn’t want your loved ones to be involved in, then ask yourself why you’re involving yourself in it.  For when you purchase books such as these or go to see this movie, you’re condoning it, and welcoming it into your own life.

Perhaps you’re angry at what I’m sharing.  I can live with that.  For the fact is, that there are young women, wives and girls who are involved in sick relationships like this, and they would give anything to get out of it, yet they are trapped.  And then there are those who will copy what the movie or the book showed, and they will end up raping and hurting other women, and feel perfectly justified in doing so.  After all, the movie implies that women like to be treated this way, and every man and woman who bought the book, or a movie ticket also signified this was okay.  How would you like it if your spouse or boyfriend treated you like Christian treated Ana?  By taking pleasure in this book and/or the movie with him, haven’t you sent that message to him???

Do you think I’m exaggerating the dangers of this movie? If so, I urge you to read this newspaper article taken from the Chicago Tribune on February 24, 2015, by clicking the link below:

Prosecutors: UIC student charged with assault said he was re-enacting ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Finally, I urge you, therefore, my beloved readers, to do something that many, especially those within the Christian community, are often reluctant to do.  Talk with your children, both male and female, and let them know how much God values their lives.  Let them know that they are worth too much to devalue themselves as someone’s sex slave or whipping boy/girl.  Make sure they know how much God loves them, and how much you love them, and let them know that they will always have a safe place to come to, if they do get involved in an abusive relationship.

And if you, my beloved reader, have taken pleasure in this perverted story, you are not so far away from God’s mercy and grace that you cannot be forgiven.  You have only to repent and confess your sins to Him.

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

~ 1 John 1:9  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

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Adopted Into God’s Family

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Image Credit: The Journey of Faith
Image Credit:
The Journey of Faith

For every heart that has ever been broken, destroyed by abandonment, rejection and betrayal, and for those that have not, you have been loved with an everlasting love before there was time.  These words the Lord spoke to Israel are for all who will call upon His name:

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

Do you doubt that these words are meant for everyone who will call on His name?  Not only did God love Israel with an everlasting love, He also loves ALL of mankind with a love so strong that He was willing to sacrifice His One and Only true Son for the sake of ALL of us.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

~ John 3:16  NLT ~

Those who have been broken, abandoned, rejected and betrayed all long for that one thing. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, there is an ache deep within your heart, a longing for love that cannot be quenched.  And how do I know this?  I know this because I am one of the broken, abandoned, rejected, and betrayed, and my first memories are of a little girl who had a hunger for Someone to love me no matter how bad, or how ugly, or how undesirable and unlovable I was.

When I was very young, my mother and father divorced.  After they divorced, I can count on one hand the number of times I saw my birth father again. Now that I’m an adult, I understand that my father’s abandonment was not because I was bad, ugly, undesirable or unlovable.  Instead, it was his problem, but as a child, I believed every single one of those things about myself. 

God-knows-uWhen I was around two and a half, my mother married my stepfather, a man that I grew up thinking was my daddy until right before I entered the first grade, and I had to learn how to write my name.  You see, up until that time, I thought my name was Cheryl Mitchell, and I already knew how to write that, but now I learned that my real name was Cheryl Payne, and I didn’t really belong to the man I called Daddy.  I wondered why God had made someone like me.  You see, even then, I knew there was a God, and though I didn’t yet know Him personally, He knew me, for He was the One who had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had a plan for my life.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

~ Psalm 139:13-16  NLT ~

I was one of those children that trouble seems to follow, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I was the one following trouble.  I hated school, from the first day I set foot there.  It seemed like I was always in trouble once I was in school.  When my parents went to parent/teacher conferences, they were told that I could do better if I would just apply myself.  I always dreaded those parent/teacher conferences, which would lead to my parents’ cussing me and telling me how worthless and stupid and lazy I was, as they beat me over and over and over again.  I was afraid to go to sleep at night, because they would come into my room over and over again throughout the night, until they went to bed, pulling me out of the bed and beating me yet again.

Cheryl - Grade 6
Cheryl – Grade 6

When I was in the sixth grade, I really did something stupid,  You see, if I brought home a bad report card, I would receive several beatings, then be punished for the following nine weeks, until the next report cards were issued.  My punishment consisted of being banished to my bedroom to study for those nine weeks. I was not permitted to go outside, receive phone calls, play or watch television during those long weeks. I was only allowed out of my room to use the bathroom, eat dinner, go to school and to go to church.  I thank God for the church bus that would pick my sister and me up on Sunday mornings, because that was when I was able to laugh and sing and feel loved.  

Anyway, when I was in the sixth grade, I received an “Inc.” (Incomplete) on my report card for not writing my fire prevention essay.  Don’t ask me why I didn’t write it, because I honestly couldn’t tell you.  I knew the incomplete was coming, but I didn’t worry about it until it was actually there, on my report card.  When I saw that grade, I panicked, and then I got this “brilliant” idea.  I had learned that if you licked the tip of an eraser, you could erase ink.  As soon as I got home from school, before my parents came home, I did just that, and changed my grade from an “Inc.” to a “G” (the equivalent of an “A”).  I actually got away with my ruse until nine weeks later, when report cards were once again issued.

In those days, we carried our report cards to each class and the teacher would call you forward and print your grade on the report card.  My heart pounded all morning long, and through lunch, until it was time to go to my Language Arts class.  By then, I was really worked up.  I must have had millions of butterflies in my stomach – so many that I was beginning to feel ill.  When my teacher called me, my whole body shook with fear, yet still, I walked forward to her desk.  As soon as she took my report card out of the envelope, she looked at me and stated loudly, “You erased this!”

I looked behind me, hoping against hope that my classmates hadn’t heard her, but of course, all eyes were on me.  I shook my head emphatically, as I looked her in the eye and whispered, “No I didn’t.  You did. Don’t you remember?  You accidentally put someone else’s grade on here, and you changed it,” but she wasn’t buying it.  

“You erased this report card and I’m calling the principal.”  With that said, she stood up and walked over to the intercom to call the principal. I was truly panicked by this time, and I didn’t care that my classmates were all staring at me as I cried and pleaded with her not to call the principal, but to no avail.  She stood by the intercom and told the principal what I had done, and he hurried to our classroom, where I was weeping inconsolably, and pleading with her and then him not to call my parents.

At that point, I was such a wreck, that they sent me to the nurse’s office.  The nurse tried to quiet me, and then she began prying into my business, asking why I was so afraid.  She asked me if my parents beat me.  Did they abuse me?  As she questioned me, all of my fear now turned to anger and hatred, not against my parents, but against her.  I was already in enough trouble, without her being nosy and trying to make things even worse for me.  It wasn’t until nearly thirty years later, that I realized she wasn’t being nosy.  She was trying to help me, but I was too blinded by fear and misplaced anger to realize it.

I thought about running away, but I didn’t know where to run to, and I was too afraid to do it.  So, I just sat in my bedroom waiting until my mother came home at 6:00 that evening.  By then, my fear had grown immensely, and with good reason.  Soon, the bedroom door was opened, and there stood my mommy and my stepfather, whom I thought of as my daddy.  My mother began shouting at me, and then my daddy began to speak, and the angrier she got, the louder she was, while the softer his voice got, the more I feared him.  They told me how stupid and lazy I was.  They said that I was worthless and nothing but trouble.  And then, my daddy said the words that really crushed me, “I’m ashamed that anyone thinks you’re my daughter.”

Then they each took turns beating me, but as bad as the beatings were, the thing that still hurts, even now, at 53 years of age, were those words spoken by my “daddy,” the man I truly adored.  I wasn’t angry at him or my mother, though, because they were right, I thought.  I believed every single curse they spoke over me, and it took many years for the Lord to finally set me free from them.  All night long, until she finally went to sleep, my mother would sit in the den smoking cigarettes and thinking about what I had done, and the more she thought about it, the angrier she became, again and again.  Then, she would burst into my bedroom, snatch me out of bed and begin beating me again and again.  I laid in the bed, shaking with fear, and crying, and it seemed like every time I would begin to doze off, my door would slam open, and I would be snatched from the bed and beaten again and again.

I was punished for the following nine weeks until the next report card was issued and my grades were good, but until then, I was berated over and over again.  I wasn’t angry with my mommy and daddy though.  I was angry with my teacher and myself.  I hated her for many years, but I hated myself for many more.  

On the church bus every Sunday, we would learn different scriptures, and one of the first ones I learned was John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Now, I remember my thoughts when I first heard those words, “For God so loved the world…” 

“Yeah,” I thought, “but He doesn’t love me.  He knows how bad I am.  He knows everything about me, and there’s no way He could ever love me.”

It wasn’t until many years later, on a Saturday as I prepared a Sunday School lesson for children who were the same age that I had been when I first heard those words, “For God so loved the world…” that He revealed to me that those words included me too.  While preparing a lesson on Psalm 139, as I read, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Cheryl, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  It was I who knit you together in your mother’s womb, and I knew every single day of your life before you were born, and I loved you.” 

Beloved reader, can you believe that? Those words are not just for me. They’re for you, too. And get this, the very same God who knit each and every man, woman and child in their mother’s womb, decided long before then that He would adopt those of us who wanted Him to be their Daddy.

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Isn’t that wonderful? And do you know why He chose to adopt us?  He didn’t do it because He pitied us, or because He felt like it was something He should do. No!  He adopted us into His own family through Jesus because He wanted  to do it!  Not only that, it gave Him great pleasure to adopt us!!!

Beloved reader, has your heart ever been broken, abandoned, rejected and betrayed?  Have you ever felt unloved and unlovable?  Have you ever longed for a Daddy who would lavish His love on you, without feeling like you must earn His love?  Do you have a hole in your heart that cries, just as mine did, “Please won’t Somebody love me, even though I don’t deserve it?”  

Image Credit: Pinterest.com
Image Credit:
Pinterest.com

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

~ 1 John 3:1  NIV ~

Beloved reader, my whole life, I felt like I was nothing but a burden to my family, who I loved deeply.  But I now have a Daddy who loved me long before He formed the earth, and He chose me to be His adopted daughter, because I bring great pleasure to Him.  

I shared all of this with you, not to make you pity me, but so you can rejoice with me.  For you see, I was always loved, even when I felt like no one loved me, and I am no better or worse than you.  God loves you, just as much as He loves me, and if you want to experience that love, call upon His name.  The following prayer that Paul prayed many, many years ago is the prayer that I now pray for every person who reads this post:

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.17 Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

~ Ephesians 3:14-20  NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

God Loved Us Even Before He Created the World

Galaxy

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

One of the things I love about the Lord is that He loved us even before He made the world. Isn’t that wonderful? Just think about  what that means… Who knows how old the earth is? Only God truly knows, but before He even laid the earth’s foundation, long before the earth was ever formed, God loved us. Do you know what this means?

It means that even before the heavens and the earth were made, God loved us…

It means that before we were planted in our mother’s womb, God loved us…

It means that before our mother even knew we were planted in her womb,
God loved us…

It means that before our eyes were opened in the darkness of the womb,
God loved us…

It means that before we ever drew our first breath,
God loved us.

It means that though we were born sinners from the moment we were conceived,
God loved us.

 It means that even though no one else does,
God loves us.

So, you’ve heard this before, but what does it mean to you? Perhaps, like me, you’ve lived a lifetime feeling unloved, and even though you’ve heard that God loves you or Jesus loves you, you haven’t experienced it.

Believe me, I understand those feelings. I grew up in a home where I felt unloved and unlovable. I was always in trouble for something. Sometimes I got in trouble for things I had done, and many times, for things I hadn’t done.

I hated school. When I went to school, I was tormented by the other children. I had buck-teeth, and believe me, I was called every name you can think of. Not only did my classmates hate me, my teachers did as well, and when I went home, I felt no reprieve.

When report cards would be issued every nine weeks, my grades were often lower than what my parents expected of me. This doesn’t mean that all of my grades were terrible. They just weren’t good enough. “C’s” were considered to be as bad as “F’s”, and if I received an “A” one marking period, and a “B” the next, I was subject to punishment.

Punishment for bad report cards was extreme. For a “bad” report card, both parents would beat me. Then, I would be banished to my bedroom for the following nine weeks. I was only allowed to leave my room to go to school, go to church on Sundays, and to accompany my parents when they went to visit my aunt and uncle. On those occasions, I was banished to the living room to sit by myself, while Mom and my stepfather played pinochle, and while my sister played with my cousins, who would take turns walking past me, to laugh and point at me.

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a pretty good report card, except for an incomplete in Language Arts. As an adult, I can see the stupidity in a plan I conceived, but at the time, I wasn’t thinking about the future or getting caught. I was just thinking about how I could avoid getting in trouble at that time. Therefore, even though the grade was written in red ink, I licked the tip of an eraser (a trick I had learned for erasing ink) and I erased the red “Inc.” for incomplete, and I changed the grade to an “A”.

I knew my mother would notice that the grade had been changed, so I blatantly lied, saying, “Mrs. Murray was looking at the wrong line and accidentally wrote someone else’s grade on my report card.” It’s nothing I’m proud of, but I was a believable liar, and so, I was free from punishment for the following nine weeks.

Of course, nine weeks later, we received our report cards again. Things weren’t computerized in those days. The grades on the report cards were handwritten. So, at the beginning of each class, we would read and work on lessons until the teacher called our name. Then, we would go forth, with report card in hand and the teacher would place your current grade on the report card. 

Fear and dread filled my heart when I got to Mrs. Murray’s class, and it only grew with each minute that passed. Since my last name began with the letter “P”, I was one of the last students to be called forth to receive my grade. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest as I walked forward, 

I was shaking all over as I handed Mrs. Murray my report card. I foolishly prayed that God would make her not notice what I had done, even though the evidence was very clear. As soon as she pulled my report card out of the envelope, she looked me in the eye and said so loudly that the entire class heard and every eye was on me, “You erased this report card.”

Fearful and ashamed, I whispered softly and desperately, “No I didn’t. You did, don’t you remember? You accidentally wrote the wrong grade on here and you had to change it.” I was so scared and so embarrassed. The kids in my class already made fun of me, and I didn’t want to give them another reason to torment me.

“No, I didn’t change your grade,” Mrs. Murray stated very loudly. “You did, and I’m going to call the principal and have him call your parents.” 

Every eye in the classroom was on me, but suddenly that didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was convincing them not to call my parents. “Please don’t call my parents,” I cried, as she walked over to the intercom and called the principal, once again telling what I had done in front of the whole classroom of students, who were snickering. Still, it didn’t matter, as long as I could convince them not to tell on me.

I begged Mrs. Murray not to tell on me, and when the principal came to the classroom, I begged him not to tell. The principal took me to the nurse’s office because I was so distraught, and she began to question me. “Cheryl, why are you so afraid for us to call your parents? Is everything okay at home? Are you afraid of your parents? Cheryl, do your parents beat you?”

As I sat there sobbing uncontrollably, I looked at the nurse with hatred. Then I responded angrily to her nosy questions, “I’m not afraid. I just don’t want to upset them. Everything’s fine. I’m not afraid of my parents. No, they don’t beat me,” I lied, answering all of her questions. I knew what she was up to. She just wanted more ammunition to get me into even more trouble than I was already in, and I wasn’t giving it to her. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was an adult, that I came to realize the nurse was trying to help me. She wasn’t trying to harm me.

When I got home from school that day at 3:30, I had to wait for two and a half hours for my mother to get home. I sat in my room, fearfully dreading her arrival, and the long wait only increased my anxiety. I knew what was coming, and I prayed God would protect me.

I was still in my bedroom when Mom got home. Dad (my stepfather) had gotten home an hour earlier, but he hadn’t said anything about report cards, and I certainly wasn’t going to bring that dreaded topic up. As soon as I heard my mother open the door my heart began to hammer my chest, and my whole body trembled. I could hear her talking to Dad about what I had done, but I couldn’t hear his response. That did not bode well, for when Mom was angry, she was loud and shrill, but the angrier Dad was, the quieter he spoke.

All too soon, I heard Mom’s feet stomping toward my bedroom, followed by the shuffle of Dad’s feet following her. Then, my door burst open and there she stood, with her eyes flashing in anger. I realized it would be foolish to lie now, and so, when I was confronted with the truth about erasing my report card and changing the grade, I admitted that I had done it and I was sorry. 

Mom and Dad were both cussing at me and telling me how worthless and stupid I was. Then one would beat me, while the other watched and waited for his/her turn. I had never seen such fury in Dad’s eyes before, as he told me that he did electrical work for the school, and that the principal was his friend. Then he spoke the words that just crushed me. For you see, though I was bruised and battered from the beatings, I eventually healed from them, but the verbal and emotional abuse took a lifetime to recover from. Indeed, it seems just when I think I’ve got it licked, those old feelings of worthlessness raise their ugly heads at me.

“I’m ashamed that Mac (the principal and my stepfather were friends) knows you’re my daughter. I wish I could tell him I don’t even know you and you’re not related to me,” my stepfather said softly and angrily. My birth father was like a stranger that wandered in and out of my life only a few times when I was growing up, and I loved my stepfather as though he was my daddy, and his words just crushed me. Then he beat me again.

After this, the first round, he and Mom left my room and Mom prepared dinner. I was summoned to the dinner table, even though I wasn’t hungry at all. “What’s wrong with your dinner?” one of them asked me.

“Nothing,” I replied, trying to swallow the big lump in my throat that wouldn’t allow me to eat.

“Do you think you’re too good to eat after your mother worked all day and then came home to fix your dinner?”

“No,” I choked out, as tears streamed down my face. I was rewarded by another beating, though I can’t remember if one or both administered it, nor can I remember who did it. I was then sent to my room, which was a welcome reprieve for me, though not for long.

Within a few minutes, I heard the stomping sound of my mother’s feet coming toward me. I hurried up and sat up, just as the door burst open. I don’t remember what words were spoken to me, only that they hurt, and then I was beaten yet again.

Off and on all night, the door would slam open, and I would be cursed and beat. I was terrified of falling asleep, for fear that the door would bang open, and Mom would curse me and beat me again. And she did, over and over again, all night long. Sometimes, I would drift away into an exhausted sleep, only to feel my arm being grabbed, as Mom pulled me from the bed and beat me over and over and over again.

I was a nervous wreck, and I believed every curse they spoke over me. I was stupid, lazy, worthless and, unlovable. I was a whole lot of other things too, but they aren’t worth writing. You get the picture anyway…

So, I grew up feeling unloved and unworthy of love. I knew the scriptures that said God so loved the world, but I truly thought that meant everyone but me. Even when I married my husband, I believed that if he knew the real me, he wouldn’t love me. Like I said, I felt I was unlovable.

i-am-chosen-before-the-foundation-of-the-world-e1392133248302

But, as I began to know Jesus more and more, I began to feel His love. Psalm 139 forever changed my life…

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! 
      Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter
seclusion, a
s I was woven together in the dark of the
womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
      Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
      Every moment was laid out before a single day had
passed.

17 How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
    And when I wake up,
    You are still with me!
~ Psalm 139:13-18  NLT ~

I remember preparing a Sunday School lesson for my students, based on Psalm 139, and though I had read this before, this time the words spoke to me. God had made all the delicate inner parts of my body, and He had knit me together in my mother’s womb. Suddenly, I began to see myself through God’s eyes, and not through the warped reflection of what others thought of me, nor even what i thought of myself. God makes all things good, and that included me, with buck-teeth, scoliosis, and all that made me the unique being that I am. Indeed, He saw me before I was even born, and His thoughts about me are not terrible, but precious. Though my understanding of God’s love continues to grow, back then, it was my first glimpse of His love, and for the little girl inside me, who always hungered for love, it began to heal some of my wounds.

Fast forward to five or six years later, my daughter (who was pregnant with her first child) and I were going for a ride, and as we rode along, we talked about baby names for her little girl. As we talked about the various baby names she was thinking of, she would share the meaning of those names.

Suddenly, I asked my daughter, “Do you know what Cheryl means? “When she said, “No,” I responded, “Cheryl means “Beloved.” It was then that I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to my spirit. “Beloved, I gave you that name before  you were conceived in your mother’s womb. Indeed, before the foundations of the world were laid, I named you Beloved, for you are My beloved.

“When you were a lonely little girl crying and longing for someone to love you, I loved you. When you longed for your parents love, I loved you with a Father’s love for My daughter. When you thought no one would ever fall in love with you, I made you My bride. Child, I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.
~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

Beloved reader, do you feel unloved and/or unlovable? If you do, rejoice, for God is no respecter of persons, He loves you just as much as He loves me, and who knows? Perhaps God had me share this lesson now, for such a time as this, so that you would know that God loved you, too, even before He created the world,

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Whoever Has the Son Has Life…

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:12  NLT ~

Image Credit: Whoever has the Son has eternal life.
Image Credit:
Whoever has the Son has eternal life.

What a powerful scripture! “Whoever has the Son has life…”

When we’re drowning in sorrow, as long as the Son of God dwells within us, we have life.

When pain overtakes our body, we still live, despite the affliction, because Christ lives within us.

No matter what we endure for His name’s sake, we still have life, as long as He remains within our hearts.

And though our world crumbles and falls, even still, we live in His name.

Yes, although we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are assured that though we die, yet, we shall live, when the Son of God is our Lord and Savior.

Image Credit: Nevada Pain
Image Credit:
Nevada Pain

I live with chronic back pain that keeps worsening with the passage of time. It often renders me unable to do the simplest daily activities, things that you never even think about, until you can no longer do them for yourself. I now require help to do things such as…

  • Bathing myself…
    • Dressing myself…
      • Cooking…
        • Cleaning…
          • Handicap Parking…
            • Walking (I must use a cane)…
              • Shopping (I must use a scooter)…
                • Playing with my grandchildren…

My husband now carries the load of cooking, cleaning and caring for me, and while I am so thankful for this good man, I also worry that I’ve become a burden to him. When I express this concern to him, he asks me if I thought he was a burden, whenever he’s been sick and unable to do anything, and my answer is, “No, of course not. I love you.”

He then smiles at me, and replies, “I love you too,” and I know this is true. I don’t understand how or why, but I am so grateful to my God and Savior, who knew me before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, and chose me to be His. I am thankful, because He knew, long before He placed me in my mother’s womb, that I would one day suffer with chronic back pain, and He had a plan to help me endure it. For three years before I was born, He had created a little boy, who would one day grow up to be my husband. So, knowing the love and patience that would be required to help me endure, He gifted my husband with love, joy, patience, gentleness and kindness…

Image Credit: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Image Credit:
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

I wish I could tell you that I’ve accepted my circumstances graciously, but that would be a lie. My faith has been attacked from every side, and there have been many times when I’ve given up. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to believe that God will answer my prayers for others, than it is to believe that He will answer my prayers for myself. Therefore, like the father of the boy with the murderous deaf-mute spirit that tried to kill him, by throwing him into the fire or water, while his body was overcome with convulsions, I find myself uttering his same desperate cry to Jesus…

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if You can.”

 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, He rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” He said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with His disciples, they asked Him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” ~ Mark 9:20-29  NLT ~

Like this boy’s father, I desperately want to believe that Jesus will heal me, but what if that isn’t His will? What if His will is for me to endure this pain for reasons I don’t know? Oh, I know that many churches tell us that it is not God’s will for His people to suffer, but how do they explain the suffering endured by every one of the great heroes of faith?

  • Abel was murdered by his own brother because he offered a more acceptable gift to God than his brother…
    • Joseph suffered unjustly, betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave. Then he became a prisoner in a country far from his home…
      • David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered greatly, chased by the murderous King Saul, losing his and Bathsheba’s first child to death, and later, betrayed by one of his own sons…
        • Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, for he suffered greatly for the Kingdom of God.
          • Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were thrown in a fiery furnace…
            • Daniel was thrown in a den of lions...
          • 13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.  ~ Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT ~
        • 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. ~ Hebrews 11:35-40  NLT ~

Now, many might argue that these are all Old Testament examples, and that we are living under the New Covenant, not the Law, and that is true. However, let us not forget that God is the same today, yesterday and forever…

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8  NLT ~

17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  ~ James 1:17  NLT ~

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.  ~ Malachi 3:6  NLT ~

While it is true that the examples above are Old Testament references, it is also true that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Not only did Old Testament men and women of God suffer for His name’s sake; New Testament men and women of God suffered as well…

And, because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, let us not forget that Old Testament and New Testament Christians weren’t the only ones to suffer…

  • Joni Eareckson Tada, a wonderful woman of God, with a powerful ministry, was in a terrible diving accident as a teen, and though she prayed for healing, it was God’s will for her to remain a quadriplegic, while still ministering for His glory.
    • Dave Roever, a godly man who served his country faithfully in the unpopular Vietnam war, was badly wounded by a hand grenade that exploded in his hand. Though his face was badly disfigured, he still gave glory to God, and ministered throughout the United States as an evangelist, then eventually returned to Vietnam as a missionary, at the Lord’s leading.
      • Patsy Clairmont, another woman of God, suffered for many years as an agoraphobic (fear of open places and crowds), before becoming an author and minister for the Lord.
        • Fanny Crosby, author of more than 8,000 hymns, loved the Lord and served Him faithfully, though she remained blind her entire life. And, rather than lamenting her circumstances, she once said, “Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind… for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

Therefore, despite the things I’ve been taught, when I examine the scriptures and the history of the church, I have come to realize that it isn’t God’s will for His people to remain trouble free, no matter what we’ve been told. In fact, it seems to me that it is in the dark times of suffering, in our weaknesses that God’s strength is revealed. In fact, even the apostle Paul asked God to remove his suffering…

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10  NLT ~

As I study the word of God, concerning suffering, I am beginning to understand that those who have claimed that my suffering is God’s punishment against me, are absolutely wrong, and it is they who do not understand what God’s word truly says about suffering…

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5  NKJV ~

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~ James 1:2-4  NLT ~

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. ~ Romans 8:18  NLT ~

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NLT ~

As I read the Word of the Lord, my faith is being renewed and restored. For too long, I’ve allowed the false teachings and the opinions of others to weigh me down, filling me with fear and doubt, which only magnifies the physical pain I must endure. As I write these words and share the words the Lord has given me, I believe that God will use them to strengthen and encourage others who are suffering as well. 

Beloved readers, don’t allow false teaching and man’s opinions to influence you. If someone tells you that it isn’t God’s will for you to suffer, or if they blame your circumstances on your lack of faith, don’t allow those words to fill you with shame. If someone tells you that your suffering is a punishment from God, or an attack from the devil, don’t allow those words to influence you.

Instead, 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33 NLTBeloved readers, don’t assume that your suffering is a punishment from God or an attack from the devil. And don’t assume that your suffering is not a part of God’s will for your life, because nothing happens by chance, and if you are truly a child of God, and you are living in obedience to Him, then He will keep you in His will. In fact, don’t even waste your time asking why you are suffering. Instead, remember these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples…

33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33  NLT ~

Finally, beloved readers, no matter what you are suffering, the most important thing for you to cling to is your relationship with Jesus. Have you been born again? If so, then whatever your circumstances are, no matter how much pain and suffering you endure, no matter how oppressed and depressed you are or have been, rejoice, because you have life!

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.” ~ John 11:25  NLT ~

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  ~ 1 John 5:12  NLT ~

In closing, I would like to share this final word with those people who are suffering and have never been born again. If you have read this post all the way to the end, rejoice, because God has not given up on you, and He can turn your suffering into a reason to rejoice, as well. It is not by chance that you found this post and read it; it is because God has led you here so that you can be born again and live.

In order to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you don’t have to pray a “Sinner’s Prayer.” You just need to  believe and do what the following scriptures say…

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  ~ Romans 3:23  NLT ~

According to this scripture, everyone has sinned against God, (except for Jesus, who was the Son of God and completely without sin). This means that every man, woman, boy and girl has sinned. It means that you have sinned, and I have sinned too. It means that even preachers and prophets have sinned. The scripture tells us that everyone has failed to meet the standard that God has set for us. This means that just as the worst criminal has fallen short of God’s glorious standard, we, too, have fallen short of His glorious standard. Do you believe this?

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~ Romans 6:23  NLT ~

According to God’s Law, the penalty for sinning and falling short of His glorious standard is death. As you can plainly see, there is no differential for how big or how small the sin is. It simply says that the payment or wages for sin is death. It sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? But God had a rescue plan for us…

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.  ~ John 3:16-21  NLT ~

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  ~ John 14:6  NLT ~

27 Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God. 28 In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for Him. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28  GNT ~

Do you believe this? Would you like to be born again and saved, so that you can spend eternity with the King of all kings and Lord of all lords? Would you like to have a personal relationship with the One who loved you before He laid the foundations of the earth?

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10  NLT ~

Do you believe all of this? If so, openly declare it, so that all will know that you have been reborn. Then, to help you grow in your faith, begin reading and studying the Bible, for its pages contain God’s word. You don’t need to read large portions either. Instead, before you begin to read, ask God to give you an understanding heart. Then, read a small portion of it… (i.e. – John 1 is a good place to start, so begin reading John 1:1-5. Then, read it again, out loud, and meditate {think} about what it says. You might want to study just that small portion for a week, and write your thoughts about it. Then, begin reading the next portion and meditate on it.) [If you don’t have a bible, you can visit Bible Gateway and read the bible in any version you prefer. Try several different versions, and see which ones are the easiest to understand.]

Also, ask God to place other believers in your life, so that you can worship with them and grow spiritually. Welcome into the family of God, beloved reader. If I can help you in your new walk with God, write me a message and I will answer you and pray for you. God bless you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

My Soul Longs for You, Lord

Image Credit: pinterest.com
Image Credit:
pinterest.com

1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him?

3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God!

~ Psalm 42:1-6a — NLT ~

Times and seasons change, and much as we love those mountaintop experiences, they don’t last. For as surely as we will enjoy the highs, there will also be those times when we are brought low. And as joyful as those high times are, the valley experiences will carry as much or more pain…

depressedSo how do we endure? And why, if I’m a child of the Most High God, can’t I stay on top of the mountain? I’ve been told, and even foolishly believed it myself, that Christians aren’t supposed to be depressed or discouraged. And those who do experience such emotions are at the very least, weak and faithless Christians or at worst, not really even Christians at all…

Father, forgive me for all of the foolish things that I’ve believed over the years, based on what men say, rather than what Your word says. Forgive me, Father, for the times I’ve condemned myself and others, for the pain we were enduring due to being weighed down by a spirit of heaviness. 

When I think of all of the biblical heroes who suffered from depression during their lifetimes, I am ashamed for the pain I’ve added to others who suffered from it, due to my ignorance…

King David suffered from depression many times during his life, when King Saul sought to kill him… when his murderous, adulterous affair with Bathsheba was revealed, resulting in the death of their first-born son… when his son, Absalom tried to steal his kingdom from him, just to name a few…

Job_113-1180Job, a blameless man of complete integrity, was quite depressed after losing his family, fortune, and his health. Having to endure the hurtful speculation of his friends about what could have caused his loss only served to increase his pain, and as if his friends’ criticism wasn’t bad enough for the poor man to endure, his wife went to him and told him that he might as well just curse God and die!  Then, there was Elijah, one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets, who in just one day, called fire down from heaven, consuming both his offering and the offerings made to the false gods of 400 other prophets. As if that demonstration of God’s power through His servant Elijah wasn’t enough, Elijah then singlehandedly killed those 400 false prophets, before falling into a deep depression just a few hours later, when the wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him…

After being imprisoned, and with his impending beheading looming ahead, John the Baptist fell into depression, which led him to doubt and question the very thing that he had once been so certain of…

2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

~ Matthew 11:2-3 — NLT ~

john_the_baptist_in_prison_350Now, remember, this is the same John, Jesus’ cousin, who leapt in Elizabeth’s (his mother’s) womb, when Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) greeted her. For even in utero, John recognized the Savior that he was to be the forerunner for. And when he saw Jesus again, at the Jordan River, more than thirty years later…

John testified about Him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’”

~ John 1:15 — NLT ~

John also made this testimony about Jesus…

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A Man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that He might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon Him.33 I didn’t know He was the One, but when God sent me to baptize with water, He told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God.”

~ John 1:29-34 — NLT ~

Here, we see that even this mighty man of God’s faith wavered in the midst of depression and anxiety, and it’s important to see how Jesus responded to John, so that we, too can respond to our brothers and sisters who may be in the midst of depression and anxiety in a like manner…

4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.’”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces.9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    and he will prepare your way before you.

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

~ Matthew 11:4-15 — NLT ~

Do you see that in Jesus’ response to John’s question there is no condemnation of John for his weakness? Instead, Jesus affirmed what John already knew and had testified to, before he was imprisoned and discouraged… “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.'” You see, Jesus was telling John that Isaiah’s prophecy of Messiah (Isaiah 61:1) was being fulfilled through Him. He also encouraged John not to turn away because of Him, because God would bless him… 

I also love what Jesus then told the others about John. Instead of calling John a loser because of his discouragement and doubt, Jesus informed them that John was more than a prophet. He also let them know that John was Messiah’s forerunner, and that none who had ever lived was greater than John the Baptist… Isn’t that wonderful? In the midst of John’s terrible situation and his depression, Jesus still counted him as great in the Kingdom…

helpesless8trackscoverTherefore, knowing that so many great men and women of God suffered from depression and discouragement, how can we as Christians, condemn one another by minimizing the feelings of a brother or sister in Christ, who is depressed? Is it really fair for us to claim that a “good Christian” should not experience the depths of depression, when clearly, scripture shows us something altogether different? Should we hurl accusations of the person’s faith being “weak”? Or should we pray for our brother or sister, and encourage him/her with the word of God?

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God!

~ Psalm 42:5-6 — NLT ~

Do you suffer from depression and discouragement, man or woman of God? Be encouraged! You are not alone. Men and women of God throughout the centuries have suffered through and overcome depression, and it does not make them any less a man or woman of God. Indeed, those who suffer through these difficult times often learn to draw closer to the Almighty One, who alone is able to deliver us from our pain! May the Lord bless you and set you free!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

What’s Your Problem?

Image Credit: James Seward
Image Credit:
James Seward

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

~ Matthew 8:23-26 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Jesus Calms The Storm El Shaddai's Jewel
Image Credit:
Jesus Calms The Storm
El Shaddai’s Jewel

Imagine this, Jesus gets into the boat with His twelve disciples, to set sail across the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Gadarenes. Sailing across the sea of Galilee, which was quite large, approximately 13 miles long by 8 miles wide, would have probably taken around 2 hours on a good day with a good wind. It seems like all is well as they take off to cross the lake, and Jesus, who is likely exhausted from ministering, goes to the back of the boat by Himself to lie down, after which, He quickly falls into a deep sleep. The disciples were probably laughing and joking, possibly discussing all that they’ve witnessed while walking with Jesus.

Suddenly, who knows how long they had already been sailing?, a wild storm arose. Now, because the Sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level, and surrounded by hills and mountains that rise to 2000 feet above sea level, the air coming from the mountains is cool and dry, while the air down around the Sea of Galilee is very warm and moist, almost tropical, so, when the two air masses collide, it often sparks violent storms. Also, because the Sea of Galilee is only approximately 200 feet deep, when such storms arise, the water is churned up much quicker and more fiercely than deep water would be.

Image Credit: William Hole
Image Credit:
William Hole

Therefore, the storm that arose, rapidly became wild and brutal. I can picture the disciples rushing around the boat, doing all of the necessary things one would do when in a sailing vessel in the midst of a storm. They probably hastily lowered the sails, and threw the anchors over, in order to protect themselves and the vessel they were in, but it was all to no avail, as the storm raged on, and they began to panic.

Put yourself in their place, and try to imagine the terror they all must have felt. Before dedicating their lives to Christ, eight of the twelve men worked on the land, so their immediate terror is understandable, but let’s not forget that Peter, Andrew, John and James were professional fishermen before following Christ. They made their living on the sea, and I’m certain they had probably faced many storms on the sea, so I don’t imagine they panicked right away, as they went about their business, barking orders to the others, and trying to control the ship caught up in the tempest, but still, the storm raged, increasing its assault on the men and their sailing vessel, which seemed to get smaller and smaller, as the waves grew larger and more powerful, now washing over the sides of the boat. It seemed as if all hell broke loose, and maybe it had, and soon, even the stalwart fishermen were reduced to fear and trembling, as their lives flashed before them.

Image Credit: GoodSalt.com
Image Credit:
GoodSalt.com

Still the terrified disciples frantically tried scooping the water out of the boat, which was in danger of sinking or being torn asunder, when suddenly, one or more of them realized that Jesus was missing. I can almost hear them shouting to one another above the storm, “Where’s Jesus? Have you seen Him?”

“No — the last time I saw Him, He was asleep!” Can you even begin to understand their fear? They were now clinging on to the boat and to one another to keep from being washed over the side and drowning, and the last time anyone had seen Jesus, He was asleep, in the back of the boat. What if He had washed over? What if He drowned? What if they drowned? They all rushed, as quickly as they were able to move across the water-logged deck, through the hurricane force winds, and the pounding rain, to the back of the boat to see if their Lord was still there.

Can you imagine their relief at seeing Jesus, still very much alive, and sleeping peacefully though the terrible storm fumed furiously all about Him? Can you understand how their relief might have quickly turned to ire, as they all stood their soaking and trembling, fearing they were all about to die, while Jesus slept on, as though He didn’t have a care in the world?

Image Credit: http://farm4.staticflickr.com
Image Credit:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com

Have you ever felt that way when you’re in the midst of a storm? When it seems as though all hell has broken loose around you, and you’re in danger of losing your sanity, do you ever wonder where Jesus is? When it seems as though your whole world is crashing down around you, and you’ve tried to do all of the right things, but your storm just seems to get worse and worse, do you ever wonder if Jesus even cares about you?

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?”

~ Mark 4:38 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://www.vocations.ca
Image Credit:
http://www.vocations.ca

I wonder how Jesus felt, as His disciples awakened Him so abruptly? I can be pretty grouchy when someone wakes me up from a deep sleep so abruptly, and yet, given their circumstances, and given the fact that Jesus was filled with the Spirit, I imagine He felt love and patience for His battered and frightened disciples. His anger was directed, not at His disciples, but at the prince of the air, and so, after looking at His terrified, wet and wind-blown disciples, who looked as though they were on the losing side of a battle for their lives, Jesus arose…

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

~ Mark 4:39 — NKJV ~

… Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

~ Matthew 8:26b — NLT ~

… When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.

~ Luke 8:24b — NLT ~

Now, who does it say that Jesus rebuked, and what does it mean to rebuke or to be rebuked?

re·buke[ri-byook]  Show IPA verb, re·buked, re·buk·ing, noun

verb (used with object)
  1. to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand.
noun
    2.  sharp, stern disapproval; reproof; reprimand.
 Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. Think about this… Jesus expressed sharp, stern disapproval of the wind and the waves. I’ve heard many people say that Jesus rebuked the disciples, when He spoke to them, but the bible doesn’t say that. The bible says that Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, and He spoke to the disciples…
Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Then He asked them,“Where is your faith?”