Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When God's Will Doesn't Make Sense

"O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor?"
Romans 11:33,34
(KJV)

I admit that I am in the midst of a struggle...
feeling so certain that things were going to go a certain way in our lives,
then taking a huge leap of faith and launching into unfamiliar depths,
because we felt God told us to,
only to see no apparent expected results over two months later.

I feel confused, and that bothers me because I know that
God is not the author of confusion.  (I Corinthians 14:33)
He is the author and finisher of our faith.  (Hebrews 12:2)

I feel confused, because I felt so certain ahead of time that a certain result would ensue,
and that result has not yet happened since we launched.
(Not saying that it still won't happen;
just saying it has not happened yet.)

Have you ever felt this way?
Have you ever prayed with all your heart,
had at least the size of a grain of mustard seed faith ~ even more than that ~
only to see NO results from your believing?


This has happened to me different times throughout my walk with Jesus, 
but none of the times ever effected me so profoundly or hurt more deeply than what took place on June 5, 2000.
I was 11 1/2 weeks along in my pregnancy with Zach.
Dad had been struggling with many health issues for several years,
but, each time things escalated to the point of a hospital stay,
we would rally in prayer, intercede on his behalf, and God, in His abundant mercy,
would intervene and pull Dad through.
So, when Mom told me Dad had been having chest pains,
and they had taken him to the ER,
I panicked, but I also felt hopeful that Dad would be fine.
Hadn't the Lord always spared his life through all of the scares and traumas before?
And, after all, I was finally pregnant, 
after almost 12 years of Kevin and I having to deal with the pains of infertility.
Surely, there was security in that, right?
God would never, in a million years, take Dad away from us, 
knowing that Dad's first and only biological grandchild was on the way.
Would He?
That just wouldn't seem fair.
It wouldn't seem right or just.
And, we all know God is a just God.

It was a downright, Divine-intervention miracle that I was pregnant.
There is no other explanation.
After the 4th doctor I visited had taken bloodwork and completed her evaluation,
she explained that even WITH fertility drugs, my chances for getting pregnant were extremely slim.
I'll never forget the moment she looked at me and said,
"Cheryl, do you still want to try to get pregnant, or do you just want to feel better?"
I can still hear her asking me that, and I can still feel the inward tug-of-war that followed.

To be perfectly honest, after almost 12 years, I was sick of the fight.
I was absolutely exhausted from hoping for a miracle,
weary of buying pregnancy tests,
and tired of struggling to hold on to the promise God had made to me so many years before.
At that point, I wasn't even sure it had even been God Who made the promise,
and I was doubting my own ability to recognize His voice.
I was discouraged and feeling like a complete failure as a woman.
Women are meant to conceive and bear babies.
I was doing my utmost to live out I Timothy 5:14,
"I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, 
give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully."
I had married my best friend and the love of my life,
and the natural next step was to bear children, right?
What had I done wrong?
Why couldn't I just be normal?
Was God punishing me for past sins?
Could things that happened earlier in life be preventing my ability to conceive?
Was God angry with me?
Was this my fault?
Most of my friends were moving on to the next expected step,
and I felt like the one left behind, with no power to change anything.
If you are now fighting your own infertility battle, or if you have ever found yourself there,
you will understand what I mean.
To tell you the truth, after nearly 12 long years of hoping and believing,
I was drained from the crushed yearning deep inside of me for a baby of our own.

After thinking about her question, I looked squarely into the eyes of the OB/GYN sitting across from me, and I softly gave her my agonized, carefully-thought-out answer.

"I just want to feel better."
I remember how guilty I felt even saying that.
Shouldn't I be stronger and keep battling for the baby we wanted so much?
To tell you the truth, I was just tired.
Defeated.
And, I was weary of too much disappointment.

I walked out of her office with her offer ringing in my ears,
"We can try fertility drugs, if that is what you want to do.
Just let me know."

Why would we even want to put ourselves through that, 
when she had just explained my issues in detail
and given proof that even WITH the drugs,
in so many words, my chances were slim to none?

"I'll talk it over with my husband, and we will decide."

We did talk about it.
Together, we made the decision that we would forego the fertility drugs.
We knew deep in our hearts that if God wanted us to have a baby,
He would make it happen.
If He didn't, we would try to find a way to accept it.
There comes a point when you just realize that surrender to His will 
is the only path to true peace.
Regardless.

So, we surrendered.
And a measure of peace did ensue.
And we went on with every day life.

And, then somewhere around two years after that doctor visit,
I found out I was pregnant.
I cannot explain it.
It can't be explained in any other way than the fact that God chose to open my barren womb
for one moment in time, and allow me to conceive.
I wish I could put into words how ecstatic and full of gratitude we were,
but I don't think there are words for that.

My pregnancy started out on rocky ground, 
due to my near-non-existent progesterone level and several other health issues,
so when Dad was admitted to the hospital after that ER visit,
my stress level went through the roof.
We prayed so hard for him and for the baby I was carrying,
and I just felt so much faith that all would be well,
and Dad would live to see his grandchild.
I could just imagine how happy we would all be when the baby arrived.
I had SO much faith.

As days went by, Dad's condition steadily grew worse,
as, one by one, his organs began to shut down,
and on a sunny, Florida Monday afternoon,
he slipped away from us.

Devastated isn't a strong enough word to describe my feelings.
Shocked beyond belief comes close.

All I could think of is why couldn't God have let him be okay one more time?
Why couldn't He have allowed him to live for just a few more months to see his grandchild, 
then taken him home to Heaven?
Seriously?
Would a few more months have been too much to ask?
This couldn't be happening.
Not like this.
It wasn't fair.

The next months were the most bittersweet of my life.
My emotions were all over the place.
Over the top excitement to know that we would finally have a baby of our own,
despair beyond words knowing Dad was gone, and our baby would grow up without him.

My biggest question was why.
Dad was only 65.
He hadn't been permitted to live out his "allotted time" of "three score years and ten".
It just felt like his life was cut so short and like it shouldn't be all over,
and he should have at least been allowed to meet Zach.

My biggest question was never answered.
I sought God so earnestly, I begged and pleaded for an answer,
for some logic, some explanation, some revelation.
I wish I could tell you that, today, as Zach is a 15 year old high-schooler and such a dear joy to our lives, I ever did receive a definitive answer.
I wish I could say that I have made sense of it all...
that there was this "magic moment" when everything became crystal clear,
and I could finally say, 
"Oh, now I see...THAT is why God took Dad, instead of healing him.
THAT is why He called him home when He did."

A magic moment never came.

What I can tell you with certainty is that even though my pregnancy was high-risk,
and there were many scares and bumps along the way,
and Kevin tells me how I cried myself to sleep every, single night 
(I don't even remember that or much more about a lot of those months following Dad's death),
God absolutely came through for us and gave us the most precious miracle son.
Miraculously, I carried Zach a full nine months...and nine days extra!
He was born perfectly healthy, completely normal, and beyond dear to us,
defying many, many odds and victorious over satan's schemes to end the pregnancy.
God did this....for us.
This wasn't a miracle I had read about so many times in the Bible.
This miracle son born to a couple with a woman who had a barren womb wasn't meant for Elkanah and Hannah, or Jacob and Rachel, or Zacharias and Elizabeth, or Abraham and Sarah.
They weren't mean to be Zachary's parents.
Zach wasn't meant to be raised by them.
This precious, modern-day, opening-of-a-barren-womb miracle was for Kevin and me...
we were to be Zach's parents.
He took my dear Dad.
He gave us a precious son.
To HIM be all glory forever and ever, amen.

Why they never had the privilege to meet, I will more than likely never know.
Has it ever made sense to me?
No.
Does it make sense to me now?
No.
But, my heart is overflowing with gratitude that I am a mother after waiting for 12 1/2 long years.

Zach often tells Kevin and me how much he wishes Dad was here.
He longs for a solid bond and a close relationship with a grandpa...
something he has never had and never will.
Dad was SO excited over knowing he would finally be a grandpa,
and he would have poured his whole life into loving this boy.
Where is the fairness in any of this?

For years, I felt like Dad's death was my fault.
I felt like I didn't pray hard enough,
that I was so caught up in being happy over finally being pregnant that I didn't focus enough on interceding for his healing.
That I should have done more to try to convince him to take further medical treatment.
On and on the "should haves" and "could have done betters" haunted me,
leaving me utterly exhausted from the weight of carrying such guilt.

I cannot say that I was ever given a definitive answer as to why God took Dad when He did,
but I can tell you this.
I finally found a sense of peace in knowing that GOD KNOWS WHAT IS BEST,
and Dad's death was, in no way, my fault.
As I heard in the lines of a Christian movie recently,
"Sometimes we just have to trust what God did and did not allow."

If we do all we know to do to make something happen, 
and it still does not come to pass, we must just trust that it was not God's will.
I had to finally come to terms with that.

Will we ever understand it all?
I don't know and can't answer that.
There are some answers that God reserves to Himself,
and whether or not He ever makes us privy to them is ultimately up to Him.

Perhaps, one day, on Heaven's bright shore, He will explain it all to us.
But, by then, will it matter so much?
For then, we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone on before us.
And the time we spent apart will seem like a mere moment, 
when compared with the eternity we will share together.

Sometimes, in this life, He does give us answers.
It is all up to Him, and this is what trust is all about.
Zach often reminds me of the acronym God gave him...

To
  Rely
  Upon
   Strong
  Truth

The truth of the matter is, God loves us.
He only permits what is best...for all concerned.
And, this life is far from being all there is.

Will our current quandary and dilemma ever be explained?
Will we ever know why He called us to launch?
Will this be another one of those unrevealed mysteries, in which we are left wondering why things happened the way they did?
Time will tell.
Whatever the outcome, we know in our hearts that we have absolutely been obedient
and done all God has asked us to do.
The rest is up to Him, and even if we never know the reasons why,
the only way we will find peace is to surrender the outcome to Him.

Even when we can't understand God's logic,
we have to trust His wisdom.

Not too long ago, I shared a song here, sung by the McKameys called, 
"The Shepherd's Point of View".

I am sharing it again, in hopes that if you are going through a similar struggle,
you will be able to find comfort in knowing "things are different on the mountain from the Shepherd's point of view."

I also wanted to include the lyrics for you to read.
They are powerful, and I cry every time I hear this song.

God bless you, dear friends.
Thanks ever so much for reading what God places upon my heart!

The Shepherd's Point of View
Written by Sandy Blythe

Verse 1
You are standing on the mountain, holding to the Shepherd's hand,
The valley you just came through, was hard to understand.
Then the Shepherd draws you closer, there's something He wants you to see,
And He points back to the valley, and unfolds it's mystery.

Verse 2
As the eagles soar around you, and you look back on where you've been,
One by one He answers questions that He did not answer then.
He now shows you the danger of going your own way,
All those roads you thought were better, would have led your soul astray.

Verse 3
He reminds you of that moment when you could not make it through,
Now you see one set of footprints where He reached down and carried you.
As your tears fall on His shoulder, and you thank Him for His love,
He says, "Child, I knew that one day, you'd see this valley from above."

Chorus
Things look different on the mountain from the shepherds point of view,
Standing high above the trial, that He brought you safely through.
All the valleys disappointments will never look the same to you,
For things look different on the mountain from the Shepherds point of view. 


If video doesn't load, click here.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Good-bye, Uncle John ~ 9th Update on Brody ~ Pray for Glenn Stevens

"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
Matthew 5:4
(KJV)

It's amazing how much we take for granted when our loved ones are still with us.
When I was little and throughout life, Mom used to sing a precious song to me, among many others.
Since her death, I have unsuccessfully tried and tried, so many times, to find the words.
I so wanted to remember this song, because it reminded me so much of Mom.
Today, praise the Lord, He allowed me to finally find the words online HERE!
I can still hear Mom's sweet, trembling voice singing this to me, not long before she died.
Perhaps you have heard it...here are the words to the first two verses.

"What Should We Do Without Jesus?"
Words written by Mrs. May Olinger and Melody written by H. C. Clausen
(Songs of Grace and Glory songbook, page #141)

What should we do without Jesus?
What should we do all the day?
With no kind Savior to guide us,
No one to care if we stray?
What should we do when we're weary,
No one to tell of our cares,
No one to help when we're tempted,
No one to answer our prayers?

What should we do without Jesus?
When in affliction and pain -
No one to touch us and heal us,
No one to make well again?
Life would be scarcely worth living,
If the dear Lord were not near,
Comforting us on life's pathway,
Filling our hearts with His cheer."

I think often of the line, "what should we do without Jesus?", 
and I wonder what on earth I would do without Him.
He is my Rock.
My shelter.
My all in all.
I find that I turn to Him so many times throughout any given day,
and the comfort I find while calling out to Him in prayer is what sustains me.

Prayer is so precious to me, and He is more precious still.
I have thought of Him much yesterday, on "Good Friday".
Thought of where He was at certain times of the day...all those years ago...
and thought of where He is now, seated by His Father in Glory,
no longer a victim, but the ultimate Victor over death, Hell, sin, and the grave.
Praise Him for all He suffered for us!
Oh, I do love Him and want to try my utmost to live a life that will prove my faithfulness to Him.

I wanted to say a BIG thank you to all of you precious readers who have cared
and prayed for my dear Uncle John, for the past nearly three years, as he fought a long and hard battle with cancer.
On March 10th, the angels came and took him home to be with Jesus,
where he now rests free from pain and disease.

Rest in Peace, Uncle John
9/21/1937 - 3/10/2016

Losing him was hard.
He was very special to us.
And laying him to rest, just a few feet away from where we laid Mom to rest almost four years ago, was so difficult.
It is hard to believe that not so long ago, he is the one who was comforting us.
He was mourning, too.
She was his only living sister, and they were close.

Uncle John and me on the day we buried Mom

I find it so hard to believe he is gone.
The other day, on the day after his funeral, we went by his house to visit with Aunt Linda.
I've walked up those steps countless times through the years,
and every, other time I have gone there, Uncle John was always there, with a warm welcome,
mischievous grin, and that McCoy sense of humor that never failed to make me laugh.
Seldom, have I gone there through the years, and not heard him play his guitar before leaving.


As we visited with Aunt Linda and her son, Jeff, the other day, my eyes were drawn to the basement door on the side of her kitchen more than once.
Oh, the memories behind that door!
The basement is where we would all gather to play music and sing together
so many, many times throughout my years growing up.
Aunt Linda would have a feast prepared and spread on the table,
and countless family members and friends would come and go as we picked and sang.
I was nearly overwhelmed as I sat there and realized those days are gone forever.
Uncle John and Dad used to harmonize so well together.
Their harmony was impeccable.
How I wish I could figure out a way to share some of that with you here!
They loved singing those old Louvin Brothers songs,
and Uncle John used to say that Dad sounded just like Ira Louvin singing high tenor.
He and Dad had that "high lonesome" sound down to a science.
It is hard for me to even imagine that they are both gone now,
and it leaves a deep, aching void in my heart.

The Spinney Brothers epitomize high lonesome and remind me a lot of what Dad and Uncle John sounded like singing together with Dad on his five-string and Uncle John on his guitar.


This song reminds me so much of the two of them.


If video doesn't load, click here.

Please pray for Aunt Linda, as she misses Uncle John and tries to walk on without him.
They were married for 42 years, and it will not be easy for her.
Pray for all seven children and the many grandchildren and all who are mourning his passing.

I can't thank you enough for every prayer you have prayed for Uncle John,
and I know God answered so many times, as He spared his life far beyond what doctors predicted.
Now, he is home, and he has joined that angel band.
God rest his soul and hold the rest of us close.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Revelation 21:4

***************************************************************

I received an email from little Brody's grandmother, Debbie yesterday,
letting me know that Brody is back in the hospital.
I will include part of her email here.

"Brody did make it to Duke, and that was last week. 
He got back home Saturday morning. 
They kept him in the ICU unit for two days just to watch him. 
He is sick now, started with a stomach bug, and now he has tested positive for that Rhino virus. 
Jenn said there were soooooooo many real sick babies and children all around him, so Brody was probably exposed to many germs. 
He is back in the (local) hospital, and again, on ventilation. 
I am devastated and simply shocked this has happened again. 
This little fellow has went through so much. 
He was doing so well, too. 
Please pray for Brody to be able to fight this again. 
Once he makes it through these young months, I hear it will get easier for him because of larger airways. 
We just have to get him to there. 
I appreciate the prayers, and I have you and your family in mind."

\

Poor, little guy.
It is hard to fathom all he has suffered and been through.
Dear friends, please continue to lift his name to the Father, 
and also to pray for Debbie, and her daughter, Jenn (Brody's mother),
as they go through the stress and trauma of yet another hospital stay.
God bless them and have mercy upon them all.

To read previous posts about Brody, please click the follow links:

Jesus knows, and He cares,
and praise God, we will never have to be without Him, for He will never leave us or forsake us.

**********************************************************

Chris Thompson's Daddy, Glenn Stevens, is also in the hospital and in dire need of prayer.


Glenn has been fighting a very hard battle since December, when this post was published.
In addition to Glenn's physical problems, he is in the throes of an intense spiritual warfare battle,
and he desperately needs God to help him.
Chris explains the situation more clearly HERE.
Chris is truly interceding for her Daddy, 
and I am asking that you please keep her and her family in your prayers, too.
God knows what they need at this trying time,
and He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all any of them can ask or think.
(Ephesians 3:20)

*********************************************************

Aren't you glad that Jesus has broad shoulders?
That He never tires of hearing us pray?
That there is a balm in Gilead?
(Jeremiah 8:22)
He bids us to come to Him.

"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: 
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Matthew 11;28-30

"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; 
and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."
John 6:37

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

I love every one of you so much, dear friends,
and I appreciate your faithful prayers and support more than I could ever say.
I know you all have your own burdens and needs and concerns,
yet, you have helped to carry mine so many, many times,
and you have pushed beyond your own pain to reach out and encourage and pray.

Kevin, Zach, and I were talking yesterday about this blog and how when I started it,
we never dreamed how many doors it would open,
how many wonderful people God would allow us to meet through it,
how much encouragement it would bring to the three of us,
and the way it would serve to enlarge our coast.  
We began praying for that several years ago, 
when we read The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkinson, (order it here), 
and started regularly praying that prayer, as a family.

"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested."
I Chronicles 4:10

God is surely enlarging our coast, and one of the ways He is doing that is through this blog.
I am eternally grateful....to God...and to you.
I am so thankful to have you, faithful readers, in my life.

God bless you abundantly and meet any needs you currently have.
He is ever faithful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Urgent Call To Intercessory Prayer

"Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. 
But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, 
and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay."
Jeremiah 20:9
(KJV)

Every time I ponder the possibility of taking a pause in sharing God's Word,
or even ceasing to write these devotions, I find that I cannot seem to stop.
Every time I feel a hesitancy or a temptation to hold back and am tempted to not proclaim the FULL, pure, unadulterated, straight-from-God's-heart TRUTH,
I find that a higher call compels me forward.
Every time I even remotely consider the possibility that maybe I am just too old-fashioned,
perhaps I should compromise just a bit,
and no one holds to a full Biblical standard anymore,
a vision flashes before my eyes.
It is SO hard to look at.
I cringe each time I see it.
It sends pain deep inside my spirit,
because it is HIM.
He hangs there...between earth and Heaven.
 His back is raw.
 Freshly-inflicted, deep wounds rub roughly against jagged, splintered wood,
each time He pushes up to draw in one more, labored breath.
He cries, "I thirst".
Blood oozes from lacerated skin and thorns embedded deep.
His eyes...they are pleading.
Hopeful.
Beckoning me to do the right thing.
To not let His death be in vain.
To keep His truth alive.
To uphold what He condescended from Heaven, lived as a human being,
and ultimately died for.
To not settle for less than what He died to preserve.

And when I see this...this amazing, dreadful image flash before my eyes,
I know that I cannot let Him down.
I can no longer forbear.
I must stand firm and fight for what meant enough to Him to cause Him to lay down His life.
Though it cost me, I must persevere.
At the expense of rejection, scorn, and yes, even persecution,
I must proclaim His Word.
His truth.
His burden.
Ever since I was a little girl, Mom and Dad taught me about Jesus.
They instilled a deep love and tenderness in my heart for and towards Him.
From my earliest recollections, I remember memorizing His Word and hiding it deep.
It is there...a living, thriving part of the fiber of who I am.
And to hold it in and not proclaim it feels like a burning fire shut up in my bones...
it burns within me all the time.
I think I understand, at least a little bit, how Jeremiah felt and what he meant.

31 days ago, on February 22nd, an unusually pressing call to prayer began to stir within me.
Not a normal, run-of-the-mill desire to pray, mind you, but something far beyond that.
As these 31 days have passed, the burden has not lessened.
Contrariwise, it has intensified...
to the point that every, single night,
I feel the same strong, compelling call to lay aside whatever I am doing
and retreat to the far end of the house to enter into God's presence for a time of intense intercession before His throne.

Dear Zachary!
On night one, I asked him if he would join me in praying.
I had no earthly idea that was the start of such a long-lasting endeavor.
I thought that night was just one of those "normal" times when I ask Zach to pray with me...
it is something we often do together.
I cherish those moments more than I could ever put into words.
Zach was so happy I asked, and, bless his dear, kind, loyal, dedicated heart,
 he has stuck with me every, single one of these nights....
interceding, agreeing in prayer, pouring out his heart, right alongside me,
with the same degree of intensity as his Mama.
Though Kevin works all night from home and is not always available,
he faithfully joins in with us every chance he gets.

I have been a prayer warrior for as far back as I can remember,
and, many times, throughout my Christian journey, I have felt such dire need for times of fervent prayer.
I can't even recall all of the times God has laid burdens upon my heart,
and their heaviness has forced me to earnestly pray and seek the face of God for help.

But, never, in all my years of serving the Lord, have I experienced this.
This is different.

This feels like utter desperation.
Spiritual anguish beyond what I have yet encountered.

Several years ago, I watched a sermon, preached by David Wilkerson called,
"A Call To Anguish".
I will never forget it.
I remember being so touched by hearing him talk about being "baptized in anguish".
It was one of the most stirring sermons I can ever remember hearing,
and, growing up with a Papaw who was a pastor and attending church regularly,
that is saying a lot.

The other day, it occurred to me that an experience such as David Wilkerson was preaching about is now occurring in my own life.
God has called me into a depth of spiritual anguish that is beyond anything I have ever before felt.
Why?

Because my heart is broken...
over the fact that Jesus is surely coming soon, and there are many who are not ready to meet Him,
over the rapid progression of the downward spiritual spiral of the United States of America,
over the upcoming presidential election and all of its ramifications,
over the divided condition of God's people and the desperate need for a unified coming together to fight the real enemy of our souls,
over certain situations in the personal lives of my family and me,
over physical illnesses and afflictions,
to name just a few reasons.

Some of this burden is for me.

I want God to shake me out of any remaining apathy.
To open my spiritual eyes as never before.
To not allow my spirit to succumb to complacency.
To keep a continual stirring within me to pray and intercede.
To compel me to do all I can to make a positive difference in this steadily-declining-towards-evil world.

This anguish is not passing.
It lingers with me night and day.
I cannot say how long it will last,
and it really doesn't matter to me.
Because it is a small price to pay to see God answer prayer.

I care, dear friends.
I care enough to cast aside other things for the sake of nightly entering into an agonized fervency of prayer to Almighty God for mercy.
He is our only hope.

I mean no disrespect by anything I am saying, 
but if we do not get a hold of God and plead His mercy upon our nation, we are going to lose it all.
That is all there is to it.

You cannot pull the foundation out from under a standing building and expect any other outcome than utter ruination.

Photo and Design by Zach Smith

America was founded upon God's Word.
Period.
There are those who are trying to re-write history.
Those who insist upon removing certain pertinent details that absolutely prove
that our nation was founded upon Christian principles.

History cannot be rewritten.
What has been, has been, and it will not be altered.

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; 
and the people whom he hath chosen for His own inheritance."
Psalm 33:12

Because we were established upon the principles contained in God's holy Word,
we have been a nation highly favored, blessed, exalted, and protected.
For years, He has richly and abundantly endowed us with prosperity.

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."
Proverbs 14:34

We now stand a nation who has turned their back on Almighty God.
We have removed prayer to the one and only true God from our public schools.
Students are forbidden to read God's Word, and references to the Bible have been removed from public school curriculum.
Our children are being taught that they evolved from apes, and to speak of the Biblical and accurate account that man was created in the image of God and formed by God's Own hand is prohibited.
Teachers are standing in classrooms and filling young minds with the lie that our world was suddenly brought about by a big bang, and their jobs are put in jeopardy if they dare speak of the fact that it was the voice of God Himself that spoke this world into existence,
and it is continually held in place by His command.
Babies are being slaughtered by the millions and denied the right to life,
simply because their conception is viewed as a "mistake" or their presence would be an unwanted intrusion.
Their little body parts are being "harvested" and sold to the highest bidder,
as their voices are forever silenced by the hands of those who have taken an oath to preserve life.

Did you know that in the original, classical version of the Hippocratic Oath,
these words were included?
"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. 
Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. 
In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art."

No doubt, Hippocrates, called "the father of medicine", would turn over in his grave, 
if he saw the modern version of this famous oath that has, in most cases, removed any reference to euthanasia, abortion, and even the forbidding of sexual contact with patients.
I am basing these points on the research I came across in this article.

The God-given, God-ordained institution of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman is being legally overridden by Supreme Court Justices,
who think they know better than God, and have presumptuously and defiantly attempted to re-write the legal definition of marriage to include two members of the same gender. 
They may re-write the legal definition, but they will never re-write God's definition.

Christians are being persecuted, attacked, and demonized, are being fined and penalized,
and are losing their jobs and homes and businesses for taking a stand and not being willing to participate in and contribute to such events.

Do you know that there is now such a thing as sologamy,
which defines marriage as between one man OR one woman,
in which a person marries their own self?

Have you ever heard of such absurdity?
But, should we be surprised?

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
2 Timothy 3:1-5

How far will America go in the wrong direction?
I don't think I want to know the answer.

Why am I determined to continue this intercessory fervency in prayer?
Because the Word of God that is burning within me
lets me know where we are headed.

"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."
Psalm 9:17

And, I know how serious the upcoming presidential election is to the future of our country.
And, I realize and acknowledge that GOD is our only hope.

Every night, in my time of intercessory prayer, I pray hard,
and I plead with God to give us one more chance.

God is a forgiving God, and though we have spurned His law, 
disregarded His Word, and tried to abolish Him from our public square,
He would much prefer that we repent and turn our hearts back to Him,
rather than send forth the judgment that we deserve.

There is hope, dear friends.
There is a path back to God's favor.
It comes by the tried and tested way of the cross upon which His Son bled and gave His very life.
It comes through a humbling of our hearts, a pleading with Him for forgiveness and mercy,
through repentance and turning away from our sinfulness.

"If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

"At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, 
I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."
Jeremiah 18:7-8

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9

"But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, 
and plenteous in mercy and truth."
Psalm 86:5

"But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to Thy commandments, and refused to obey, neither were mindful of Thy wonders that Thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsook them not."
Nehemiah 9:16-17

"And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.
Joel 2:13

So, my dear friends, I present to you a challenge.
Will you join me?
Will you pray?
Will you make a commitment to intercede to God each night...
to repent for the sins of our nation, for our own sins,
and to plead with God for mercy?
As you pray, will you humble yourself, and seek God's face, and determine to turn away from anything His Word calls wicked?
Will you allow God to bathe your soul in anguish over the sins of our nation?
Will you make this sacrifice?

By God's grace, and Lord willing, I promise you that I will be doing this every, single night,
until GOD Himself tells me to stop.
It is just this important to me, and I cannot let Jesus down.
I just can't.

I have written this blog in tears.
My heart is so stirred.
We need God...as we have never needed Him before.

Prayer is the most powerful resource and weapon we have.
It absolutely touches the heart of God to hear His children pray.

"And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, 
though He bear long with them?
I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. 
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:7,8

Will you heed this call to intercede before His throne?

If you still aren't convinced,
will you take 56 minutes and 2 seconds to watch this video?

If video doesn't load, click here.

God bless you for reading this very long post,
and for sharing in the heavy burden that is upon my heart.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Can America Revive?

"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, 
and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 
And caused me to pass by them round about: 
and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? 
And I answered, O Lord GOD, Thou knowest."
Ezekiel 37:1-3
(KJV)

The valley of dry bones.
This passage has always held an extra special interest to me,
but never more so than it has recently.

During this event in the prophet, Ezekiel's life, God asked him a very pointed question,
after showing him the dead, dry bones.
"Son of man, can these bones live?"

God is omniscient.
He knows everything.
So, we may look at this story and wonder,
why, when He already knows everything, would God ask Ezekiel if the bones could live?

God is omnipotent.
He has unlimited power and is able to do anything.
He called Lazarus forth, by name, from the grave,
after he had been pronounced dead for four days.
He spoke, and our world, as we know it, came into existence.
There is nothing, in this world or the world to come, that is impossible with God.
So, why, when He can do anything, including raise from the dead, 
would God ask Ezekiel if the dry, dead bones in the valley could once again come to life?

Could it be that the reason God asked Ezekiel this question was for the sole purpose of testing him to see how he himself would react to the question?
Is it possible that the outcome of whether or not the bones could once again live
rested solely upon Ezekiel?
I truly believe it did.

I don't know about you, but if God were to carry me in the Spirit of the Lord
and set me down in a valley of skeletons, so long-dead that they were completely dry,
and if He were to ask me, "Cheryl, can these bones live?"
I think I would be pretty skeptical.

I love Ezekiel's answer.
"O Lord GOD, Thou knowest."

The next words uttered by God never cease to astound me.
"Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, 
O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD."

What?
Preach to the dead???
Can you imagine?

Just picture yourself standing in a graveyard filled with what used to be corpses,
now reduced to mere bones, and God telling you to prophesy upon the bones and tell them to hear the word of the Lord!
Would you do it?
What would you think if you were to walk past a valley filled with skeletons and see a minister standing upon the bones, telling them to "hear the word of the Lord"?
The illogicality of such a thing seems beyond irrational.

As Ezekiel stepped beyond what must have felt ridiculous and minded God,
God filled his mouth with these words, to be spoken straight to the bones.
"Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD."

As soon as the words were spoken, 
extraordinary things began to happen.
In the words of the prophet himself, 
"...and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, 
and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, 
and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, 
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, 
that they may live.
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army."

Oh, dear friend!

Does something well up from deep within you as you read these words?

My heart is so stirred!

I look around at the conditions of our spiritually-dead, morally-decaying culture, and I weep.
And, I confess, I find myself asking the question God asked Ezekiel,
"Can these bones live?"

I pray hard and often and fervently for a spiritual awakening to sweep over our land,
such as has never been seen, and as I pray, there is a place deep inside of me that has to wonder, 
is it even possible?
Can America revive?
Are we too far gone?
Have we spurned God so often and wounded Him so deeply,
that His mercy is forever turned away from us?
We have stood in His face, time after time, and made it known, loud and clear,
that we do not want Him or His control...
in our classrooms,
in our courthouses,
in our politics,
in our individual lives,
and, sad and near-impossible to believe, but even in our churches.

Could it be that He has honored our request?
Has He stood back, taken His hands off, and said,
"You say you want Me out of your society.
So be it.
Have at it.
Just watch and see what an America without GOD looks like"?

I pray, and I pray, and I cry anguish-filled tears,
as just when I think things couldn't get any worse, 
they do.

In the valley of dry bones, there was only one way the bones had any hope of coming to life.
They had to hear the Word of the Lord,
and the only way they could hear His Word was for
Ezekiel to stand upon them and prophesy and speak God's Word into existence
in the hearing of the bones.

The only thing that was powerful enough to cause the long-dead bones to come back to life
was hearing the spoken, preached Word of God...
in the exact, precise, specific way He wanted it to be spoken. 
It caused an awakening.
A resurrection from the dead.
"For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, 
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, 
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

My dear friends, this is what we now need!

A spiritual awakening is started by the proclamation of God's Holy Word in Its purest form.
It needs no editing,
no added embellishment,
no accompanying entertainment.

In our homeschool world history this year, 
Zach has been learning about previous spiritual awakenings that have taken place in the past.
Each time we study about them, a longing springs from deep within my soul,
and, OH, I cry out to God!
I long, and I weep, and I BEG Him to send a revival such as these!
One that would sweep our land and shake us out of our complacency and stir us to the point that we will rise up out of our apathy and be the people God is needing us to be.

Wikipedia describes the "Great Awakenings" this way...
"The term Great Awakening can refer to several periods of religious revival in American religious history. Historians and theologians identify three or four waves of increased religious enthusiasm occurring between the early 18th century and the late 19th century. Each of these "Great Awakenings" was characterized by widespread revivals led by evangelical Protestant ministers, a sharp increase of interest in religion, a profound sense of conviction and redemption on the part of those affected, an increase in evangelical church membership, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations."

But, the part that I want us to pay closest attention to is the next paragraph on Wikipedia.
"The Awakenings all resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of personal guilt and of their need of salvation by Christ."

Powerful preaching.
What is it?
How does such come about?
Of what is it comprised?
Can it be contrived?

I believe powerful preaching is a two-fold process that requires two vital components.
To explain what I mean, let's think back to the valley of dry bones.

First, 
God told Ezekiel to prophesy upon the bones.
It was Ezekiel's responsibility to preach....
to speak the anointed words of God upon/unto the bones.
After he did this, sinews (tough fibrous tissue that unites muscle to bone and bone to bone; tendons and ligaments) and flesh (the soft substance consisting of muscle and fat that is found between the skin and bones)
and skin miraculously came back onto the bones.
Can you imagine seeing such a sight?
But, as incredible as it was to see and as monumental as the miracle was, 
there was no breath in the bones.
No spirit.
No life.
Just bones, muscles, ligaments & tendons, and skin.

The bones now had substance, but they needed life!

Which brings us to the other part of this.
Second,
God told Ezekiel to prophesy unto the wind and say to the wind,
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, 
that they may live."

What does this mean?
To what or whom was Ezekiel prophesying when he spoke to the wind?
I think we best find our answer in the words of The Word, 
as He was speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:4-8.
After Jesus introduced the thought of being born again to Nicodemus, 
he asked Jesus this question,
"How can a man be born when he is old? 
can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Jesus answered, 
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Remember when Jesus told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they would be endued with power from on high?  (Luke 24:49)
That power was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them, and it happened as they followed instructions and obediently and faithfully waited in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, 
as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Acts 2;1-4

The Holy Spirit is symbolized in the Bible as the wind.
As Ezekiel prophesied and spoke to the wind, a miracle even greater than the phenomenon of muscles, tendons, and skin appearing upon the bones took place.

"So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army."

At the application of the power of the Holy Spirit, the bones sprang to life,
stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army!

Powerful preaching of God's words spoken through Ezekiel, coupled with the breath of the Holy Spirit is what it took to bring life back into the dead, dry bones.
Powerful preaching of the Word of God administered under the anointing of the Holy Spirit is what has produced the Great Awakenings of the past.
Do we need to wonder what will bring about the desperately needed Great Awakening of our time?

In Amos 8:11, we read,
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it."

We are now, in America, suffering a real famine of hearing the true, unadulterated, unfiltered,
un-apologized-for, un-watered-down, un-sugar-coated Word of God.
Don't get me wrong.
There is no scarcity of preaching.
There is no lack of mediums to promote and perpetuate our preaching.
But, what exactly are we preaching?

Are we skirting around the issues?
Do we refuse to mention "things" in our preaching?
Have we stopped calling sin by its real name?
Are we preaching the truth?
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to have complete control?
Are we void of His presence in our preaching?

Powerful preaching of the words GOD wanted spoken is the very thing that resurrected the dry bones.
Ezekiel didn't get to choose the words.
God did.
As Ezekiel prophesied the words GOD chose, the result was an awakening...
a quickening...a revival of LIFE!

"My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."
Proverbs 4:20-22

Friends, I need to ask you a question.
Do you discern the dead spiritual condition of our nation?
In case it does not seem self-evident, may I give you one example that proves where we stand?

convicted sex offender in Charlotte, NC just promoted and successfully convinced a mayor and the majority of seven city council members to pass an ordinance (by a margin of 7 to 4) that will allow "gender-confused" men to legally walk into women's bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms, at will, beginning on April 1st.
The Benham Brothers, along with Concerned Women for AmericaNC Values, and many others fought hard against this, but evil won this battle.
Consequently, beginning on April 1st, if you have a daughter who attends public school in Charlotte, you should find yourself concerned alarmed, because any  boy who chooses to identify himself as a girl can walk into the school bathroom with your daughter, and he can choose to shower with her and her friends in their locker room, instead of those of his own biological gender, without retribution!!!

Sorry to be so graphic...just telling it like it is.

(Even if you do not live in NC, you can take a proactive stand by signing an online petition asking NC Governor Pat McCrory to call a special session of the General Assembly of NC to revoke this horror before it begins on April 1st, by clicking HERE.
If you do not live in NC and want to sign this petition, just click on the bottom right button that says,
"Concerned citizens outside NC".
You can also read an article published by The American College of Pediatricians that contains their thoughts and position on gender ideology by clicking  HERE.
Thank you, Tonya!)

Jesus said,
"Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?"
Matthew 19:4,5

If the Charlotte bathroom bill situation doesn't convince you how far from God America has drifted and how like the "valley of dry bones" we have spiritually become, I must say, I don't know what will.

Holy is being called profane; profane is being called holy.  (Ezekiel 22:26)

God needs us to rise up from our apathy.
To WAKE UP!!
To stop burying our heads in the sand.
To face the reality of where we are.
To DO SOMETHING about it.

If you are a preacher, I implore you to get alone before God and seek His face as to whether or not you are preaching the truth.
Question your own motives.
Be brutally honest and determine why you preach what you do, and why you omit what you omit.
Face fear head-on, and realize that there is a greater law than the "law of this land", and that one day, you will stand before the Lawgiver and be judged by His law Book, and His alone.
Are you willing to take the chance of having blood on your hands on Judgment Day?
(Ezekiel 33:7,8)

If you are a Christian, I implore you to ask God to open your eyes to the conditions.
To pray for courage to step up.
To stop waiting for others to do what you know God is calling you, personally, to do.
To seek Him earnestly to raise up ministers who will proclaim the full truth of His Word, and nothing less.

"Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest."
Matthew 9:37,38

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
Romans 10:13-15

And, may I lovingly remind you that there is a presidential election coming up in November?
Shouldn't we be praying NOW that God will give us a Godly president?
Many states are still to vote to choose who the nominees will be.

The dear, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia is no longer present in the Supreme Court
to defend our Constitution and conservative values.
His absence is already keenly felt.
His vacancy will soon need to be filled, along with the possibility of 3 to 4 other Supreme Court Justices over the next few years.
Ask yourself, who would you most trust to appoint judges who will fight for a conservative, Biblical worldview?
Remember, Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President of the United States,
and, once in position ,they are there for life.
Their influence will affect not only our generation, but several generations to follow.

There is much at stake.

We can no longer separate our faith and our politics.
It is time that the two must merge and become one.

God asked Ezekiel if the bones could live because whether or not they could ever live again depended upon Ezekiel's response to their dead condition.
Had he chosen to refuse to rise up and follow God's command, regardless how absurd and impossible it seemed, the bones certainly would not have revived on their own.

Can America revive?
I am convinced that the answer to that question depends solely upon you....and me...
and our faithfulness to defend the cross of Jesus Christ.


The other day, Kevin came home and couldn't wait to share this song with me.
It is sung by the bluegrass group, "Blue Moon Rising",
and written by Chris West, lead vocalist for the group.
This song has quickly become one of my favorites,
as it surely explains the heavy burden upon my heart.
I hope you can take the time to listen.


If video doesn't load, click HERE.
.