SEEK JUSTICE: Micah 6:8


Seek Justice Matheus Viana from Pexels

Photo by Matheus Viana


Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 AMP)

We are facing real issues of injustice in our nation right now. The deaths of Floyd, Arbery and Taylor are deeply painful wounds in a long standing and evil injustice. People are profoundly hurt and justifiably angry! It is an injustice that is wounding our hearts and souls, and our nation. It needs to end now! I truly believe most people are united in the desire to bring this evil to an end. How do we seek justice without going to war against each other? How do we create safe places for people to speak their pain and hurt in a way that fosters true healing and unity? That is unity, NOT uniformity.

In studying the life of Jacob I have found my way through. I have found my voice. I am not saying I have all the answers. I don’t. However, in Jacob’s story I see a way to address the situation. The thing that has stood out to me most in this study, is the relationships, especially the relationship between Jacob and Laban.

Jacob worked for Laban for 20 years, 14 of those as an indentured servant. Throughout their relationship, Laban operated deceptively and opportunistically. At every turn he cheated Jacob. When he did agree to pay Jacob, Laban continually changed the terms of Jacobs pay to benefit himself and keep Jacob indentured. It was one betrayal after another. In that time Laban profited tremendously from Jacobs abilities and favor with God.

It is the hallmark of the abuser to devalue others and see them only as tools to be used. Laban valued Jacob only for what he could get from Jacob and used him. By contrast Jacob valued Laban as a creation of the almighty and dealt with him with integrity. Jacob exercised great integrity and humility. To be VERY clear; humility is NEVER to be understood as passively complying with someone who uses and abuses you! Real humility, the humility that Jacob displayed, was to acknowledge Laban as a human being made in the image of God, whether Laban reflected it or not. Jacob submitted himself to God, then dealt with Laban was an extension of his relationship with God. That takes real strength of character and True integrity.

After 20 years of servitude, Jacob asked to leave with his family. Laban offered Jacob a salary. Laban doesn’t do this from a place of integrity. He does it so he can continue to benefit from Jacob’s skill and favor with God. Because Jacob is following God’s lead, he agrees to Laban’s terms for wages. True to character Laban continues to use and cheat him.

Amazingly, Jacob didn’t use Laban’s breach of contract as a reason, though justified, to go to war with him. Instead of fighting against Laban’s deception and treachery, Jacob stays within the terms of the contract and allows God to turn events to Jacobs benefit. No matter how Laban cheated, God used Laban’s treachery to benefit Jacob. Because he followed God’s lead, Jacob prevailed and God was able to prosper and protect him in a way that would have been impossible otherwise.

Ultimately God Himself deals the blow that ends Laban’s abuses. God tells Jacob he is free to go without Laban’s consent and warns Laban to leave Jacob unmolested. Laban can’t quite do that, so he confronts Jacob about ‘sneaking away’. Jacob responds, “if the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, had not been with me you would surely have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the labor of my hands and rebuked you.” (Gen. 31:42) It is Laban who walks away empty-handed. Jacob prevails.

Jacob’s integrity and humility in the face of Laban’s injustice are why he prevails. It is one of the reasons God changed his name to Israel. Israel means contender or one who prevails. Jacob contended with Laban, but it wasn’t all out war. Like a prizefighter, Jacobs made choices and took actions based on godly values and principles. As a result, Jacob prevailed. I want to believe that Laban was changed through this interaction but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is I need to choose whose lead will I follow?

Will I be like Laban valuing people only for what I can get out of them to further my agenda?

OR

Will I choose to be like Jacob and acknowledge the image of God in everyone and treat them with integrity and respect?

Like Jacob we follow God’s lead in the present and demonic situation. We do what God tells us to do and move when he calls us to move. We allow humility and integrity to direct our actions. We acknowledge and honor the image of God in every human being. We speak humbly with the strength of the Spirit. We wrestle with God and NEVER let go until He changes our name, until He transforms us into godly contenders who prevail without destroying. Then whatever God tells us to do, we do it! Perhaps then God can bring an end to the humiliation and affliction of racism.

THE VALUE OF LIFE

God said, Let us make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness…In the image and likeness of God He created them: male and female He created them. (Gen 2:26, 27 AMP)

I avoided watching the George Floyd video. I have lived through enough violence in my life, that seeing it affects me deeply. A trusted friend suggested I needed to see it, so I watched. I was horrified by what I saw! It gutted me! Seeing a police officer, sworn to protect citizens and uphold the law, murder a man in such a brutal and indifferent manner shredded my soul! Now, everyone wants to put their spin on it.  ‘He was a lifelong petty criminal with a history of drugs.’  ‘He was a Bible believing Christian with a history of ministry’

The fact is, neither of those things matter. If he had been a full-on enforcer for the worst gang in the country, responsible multiple deaths, his murder was still unjust and wrong. It is not a police officers’ job to execute punishment for crimes by kneeling on someone’s neck until they are dead. His life was not the officer’s to take.  IF, by the laws of this country, George Floyd had been CONVICTED of crimes worthy of the death penalty, it is the job of the court system to determine and dole out punishment. If that had happened, it certainly would not have been the cruel and unusual punishment exacted by that officer. Likewise, it doesn’t make his death more unjust or more wrong, if he was a Bible believing minister. It might make it more tragic but not more unjust or more wrong.

The value of human life isn’t based on good behavior or devalued by bad.  A person’s character may be tarnished by bad behavior, but our value as human beings is a constant based on being made in the image of God, plain and simple. It can’t be changed. It can’t be enhanced or diminished. Our value is inherent, meaning it is a permanent and essential part of being human. It can’t be taken away. George Floyd was deprived of the basic human right of life by an act of depraved indifference to his value as a human being made in the image of God.  It is wrong on its face.  How George lived his life does not determine his value as a human being or justify taking his life.     

Whenever we start defining the value of human life based on something other than being made in the image of God, we are on DANGEROUS ground. We have missed the point. Defining the value of another human being based on good or bad behavior, the colour of their skin or any other category we want to place people in, is a trap from the enemy. It is wrong. It is evil incarnate. Left unchallenged, it will ultimately lead to the subjugation and destruction of the value of all humanity under the heels of hateful and evil people. It MUST be rooted out and opposed in all its forms!

Mr. Floyd may have committed a crime.  If he did, he deserved to be tried in a court of law. If convicted he deserved to be given a punishment equal to his crime.  He did not deserve to be deprived of his value and dignity as a human being. He did not deserve to be murdered in the street in the brutal, depraved and racist way he was. We need to value and protect human life and treat each other with dignity even, and perhaps especially, in difficult circumstances. When we are in situations of conflict, we need to protect the rights and dignity of all people or no one will have either. Every life is valuable. Every life matters, without exception

WALKING BY FAITH: a 2020 Survival Guide


walk by faith picPhoto by Betsy O’Neal


“However, we possess this precious treasure, the divine light of the Gospel, in frail, human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of power may be from God… We are hedged in and pressed on every side, troubled and oppressed, but not crushed, we suffer embarrassments and we are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair. We are pursued but not deserted to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never…destroyed” 2 Cor 4:7-9 AMP

With COVID being such a BIG part of our daily lives, these words have taken on a new meaning. We are painfully aware of the frailty and vulnerability of our bodies. If you’re sheltering, being hedged in is not a metaphor, it’s a reality. Social distancing can lead to almost total isolation for those who are sheltering alone.

COVID is pressing in on EVERY side, oppressing the whole world. We are struggling to find a way out. We are working to understand how to contain its spread and heal those who have been infected. It can all seem so devastating. However, we have a promise from God, Himself. He promises that that we will not be crushed, or driven to despair. We will NOT be deserted or forced to face this crisis alone! We will NOT be destroyed!

But what if we’re not experiencing these promises? How do we get to a place where we can live this victory?

“For we walk by faith, not by sight, living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises.” 2 Cor 5:7 AMP

Walking by faith is something we all aspire to do. But let’s face it, it’s one of the hardest things for us to accomplish. Part of the reason it’s so hard, is that walking by faith means that we aren’t in control. Few of us are overly comfortable with being out of control. I know I am not!

I recently experienced a visual disturbance in my brain that caused me to see double. For over two weeks, walking anywhere was a major trial. The only way I managed it, was to walk eyes closed. This worked well enough in our house. I have lived here for almost 20 years. My body has the muscle memory of every inch of our home. I subconsciously know exactly how many steps from our bedroom door to the top of our stairs. I just had to trust my bodies internal direction.

Walking in our house was one thing. Walking outside was a whole different problem. Every evening my husband and I go for a walk together. We have done this almost every night since we were married. Our nightly walk is something I LOVE. I was unwilling to give it up. So, I closed my eyes, placed my hand in my husband’s hand and let him lead me through our evening walk.

At first, it was difficult. I was scared. However, it didn’t take long before I was moving along comfortably at our normal pace. Why? Because I trust my husband. I know his love for me. I know the quality and composition of his character. He takes his vow to provide for and protect me, wild child that I am, very seriously! No easy task I can assure you! I was able walk beside him blindly, confident in my safety, because I know he cares for me affectionately and watches over me carefully. The same is true when it comes to faith.

To walk by faith, we need two things.

1) We need to put our hand in God’s mighty hand and trust Him to lead us. If we allow Him to, He will guide us safely through, not just COVID, but all of life!

2) Walking by faith requires that we get to know the One we are trusting with our welfare. We need to know God LOVES us! To walk by faith, we need a RELATIONSHIP with Him.

We need to know the quality and composition of His character. We need to believe that He protects and provides for us every minute of every day. We need to know that He cares for us affectionately and watches over us carefully. When we know this, we can cast the whole of our cares; all our worries, anxieties, and all our concerns, regarding the COVID situation and all of life, onto Him and walk by faith. (1 Peter 5:7)

When we know the One making the promises, it becomes easy to live our lives trusting CONFIDENTLY in those promises. Because we KNOW Him, we are able to walk by faith not by sight.

MANAGING MARITAL STRESS: a 2020 survival guide


Photo by vera Asric cropped

Photo by Vera Arsic


With social distancing being the order of the day and tons of folk working from home, couples and families are finding themselves spending non-stop time together. No matter how much you love your spouse and kids this non-stop togetherness can get stressful! That stress can lead to conflict.

In our home we have two very strong willed, very different personalities. My husband’s means of coping with stress is “a place for everything and everything in its place”. My coping mechanism is doing creative projects. The two styles couldn’t be more in conflict! Creativity does NOT lend itself well to “everything in its place.” According to Joe, it’s more like chaos in motion. He’s right!

In addition, we have polar opposite processing styles. My husband is a sequential processor. I am a random processor. That means when there is a task to be accomplished, he progresses through the steps in an a-z sequential order. Whereas I pop around the steps in a very random way.

Each style has its strengths and weaknesses. His style makes him world class at logistics. If it takes careful planning to execute, he’s your man! The weakness is, if things can’t be executed sequentially it can really throw a wrench in his works. Because I navigate situations randomly, constantly changing variables don’t throw me off as badly. However, I can miss important details by popcorning around a situation.

The thing is, it takes BOTH styles to manage life on a normal basis. In our COVID dominated environment, having BOTH styles is a HUGE blessing! So, if we are operating with polar opposites, how do we make the most of our differences?

1) Keep in mind that God brought us together as couples for a reason. He knows our personalities, strengths and weaknesses better than we do. He paired us with our spouses deliberately. Our combined differences as people are our strengths as a couple. Our spouse’s polar opposites may be the exact balance needed to mitigate our weaknesses. So, value and respect what you each bring to the table.

2) Marriage needs to be other centered. In the book ” Sacred Marriage” author Gary Thomas suggests that the true purpose marriage is to become more like Christ. Put bluntly, marriage isn’t about meeting my needs. It’s about loving my spouse in the way that Christ loves me and making the needs of another my priority. Keeping the chaos to a minimum may not be the best for my creative process, but it’s good for my husband and our marriage!

Phil 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with an attitude of humility, regard others as more important than yourselves.”

3) As married couples, we aren’t in this alone. We are a threefold cord with God at the center. Eccl. 4:9 says “Two are better than one.” There are going to be times in all this where each of us will falter, fail and fall. Being married means that we have a companion to lift us up when we go down (Eccl 4:10). We have our combined strength to resist the being overpowered by the problems and stresses. We need to lean into and on each other and center ourselves in God.

4) Most importantly, we need to extend each other GRACE. In his marriage devotion “Love Sex and Lasting Relationships” Chip Ingram defines love as “Giving the other person what they need most when they deserve it the least”. This is the ESSENCE of Grace. It is EXACTLY what Christ did for us. He gave up everything, including His life, for the most undeserving people ever! In this time of non-stop togetherness and high stress, we need to extend each other this same kind of grace.

This kind of Grace isn’t easy, but we don’t have to muster it out of our own resources. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is equipping us with everything we need for life and godliness. He will teach us how to walk in this kind of grace. If we surrender our will to His, He will enable us to give grace even when it’s the last thing we want to do and our marriage will be stronger when this is over!

BUILDING FAITH: a 2020 survival guide


contemplation be still


This post I am featuring fellow writer Laura Mirriello Campbell. Her thoughtful and vulnerable perspective on the beauty that can be found in this time of social distancing is WELL WORTH the read! There is GREAT value in being still with God especially now. This is a unique opportunity to build our faith in a way that nothing else can. Take it. Revel in it. Celebrate it! Take this time to Build your Faith!


God is our refuge and strength, mighty and impenetrable, a very present help in time of trouble…”Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the Earth.” Ps 46:1, 10 AMP


By Laura Mirello Campbell

Taking a step back. A break. A breather. Social distancing. Whatever you want to call it… it can be a beautiful thing. I have been practicing this for quite a few months now because I have been heart-sick and have been in desperate need of hearing what God would want to speak into the broken places of my heart.

I have been sharply reprimanded by a few people for this. I suppose it’s because some people can’t understand not keeping a full calendar with visits, coffee dates, and luncheons. Don’t get me wrong. I love all these things but I have chosen to be selective in my social engagements.

I think we have become so accustomed to social gatherings and not doing life alone, that we have forgotten that there is a quiet place, and sometimes quiet seasons, where God longs to meet with us and speak/breathe life into the depths of who we are. His desire is to have an intimate relationship with each and every one of us. And sometimes, intimacy requires aloneness.

Think about it… you wouldn’t be intimate with your spouse in front of others, let alone in the midst of a large gathering of people, would you? Of course not… because the intimacy you share/have with your spouse is for you two, alone. It is the time that brings you together as one, it builds and strengthens your relationship. It’s a time when that one person can speak to your heart like no one else.

I believe God desires aloneness with us. I believe He longs to have one on one conversations with us. I believe He wants to speak into the broken places, the dry places, the hurting places, the confused places, the sick places, the addicted places and the anxious places of our hearts like no one else can. But I wonder how many of us can’t hear His call to that secret place because we are so distracted by the noise and priority we have placed on social gatherings?

Now that people all around the world are being forced or cautioned to distance themselves socially… my heart hopes that we will use this time to reconnect with God. That we will find and sit in those secret places of intimacy with Him. I hope we will reconnect with our families. I hope we will be more discerning and be made aware of the needs of others in our communities. I hope that this alone time causes such a deep reach from within that we can’t help but reach out to bless our neighbors by praying for them and with them when possible. Maybe just drop a few necessities on their doorstep or tape cards of encouragement to their storm door.

Aloneness doesn’t always have to mean being alone. It really can mean togetherness. It can speak life and wisdom. It can produce wholeness and healing. It CAN be a beautiful thing.


Find a place to be intimate with the one who loves your soul, deeply and intimately. Take this time when we have been ordered to shelter and take shelter in the one who cares about you with the deepest affection and watches over you carefully (1 Peter5:7 AMP). Build your faith in the One who is unfailingly faithful!

FINDING FAITH; a 2020 survival guide


alex-woods- faith that never fails

Photo by Alex Woods


At one time or another we have all placed our faith in someone or something that ultimately let us down. If you’re are like me that means that you’re a bit more cautious when placing faith again. The more times we get let down, the harder it becomes to take that leap of faith. The crap storm that COVID has brought in its wake is changing how we need to respond to life and to each other. Faith, hope and love are vital to surviving and thriving in this COVID dominated landscape. (see Faith Hope and Love :a COVID-19 survival guide)

So how do we find a faith worth taking the leap for?

For me, that faith was found through the actions of another. When someone demonstrated UNDESERVED love to me, it gave me something REAL to put my faith in. I found a faith that will NEVER fail because I found the One whose very nature DEFINES what it is to BE faithful!

For most of us it is easy to love people who love us. However, when we are hurt or betrayed, love becomes a challenge. Loving an enemy seems almost impossible. Everyone experiences times when love is a hard-fought act of will! The thing is, loving others the way God loves us, has the potential to change their lives. My Dad exemplified this kind of love.

My biological father was a violent and abusive alcoholic. My parents were divorced when I was 7. My mother has mental illness issues and suspect taste in men. Following the divorce, a parade of very abusive men came in and out of our lives. By the time I was 12, I had become accustomed to managing the dangers these men posed. When my mom remarried, everything changed.

In my experience, no matter how nice men were in the beginning, abuse was always just a miss-step away, hidden behind the smile. As a result, I was horrible to my mother’s new husband in a way only an abused, distrustful 12-year-old can be. I flatly refused to talk to him. I was deliberately disobedient and spiteful. I encouraged my sisters to be disobedient. Even though I sat next to him at dinner, I wouldn’t look at him or pass food.

After six weeks of silent warfare, I finally condescended to speak. In my most sarcastic voice I asked: ” So what are we supposed to call you? Uncle Chuck?” I grabbed the seat of my chair and braced for the blow I was certain was coming. He met my defiant gaze, and lovingly said: “I don’t know, but I would like it if you called me Dad.”

In that moment I experienced the full weight of God’s grace. I broke! Later that evening I asked my Dad how he could treat me with such love when all I had given him was contempt. In response, he introduced me to the faith that has sustained me through thick and thin; faith in Christ Jesus.

I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and I have given my life to God. The relationship that has been forged in this act of faith has enabled me to have hope in whatever situation I find myself in because I know I am not alone. I KNOW that the One who walks beside me is FAITHFUL in ALL things. God is ALWAYS with me guiding, protecting and cherishing me. God is my comfort, my wisdom, my teacher and so much more! He enables me to manage whatever life throws at me and brings good and joy out of it all!


God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:9 AMP (emphasis added)


God is calling us into a relationship , into companionship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. This RELATIONSHIP of faith is open to EVERYONE. Simply pray:

Lord God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Help me turn away from sin and follow you. I surrender my heart to you. I believe you are Lord of all creation. I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and you rose from the dead to conquer death. Come into my heart and be Lord of my life. Amen (Romans 10:9-10)

FACING FINANCIAL FEAR: a 2020 survival guide

Betsy Oneal2

Photo By Betsy Townsend O’Neal


He said, “I will never leave you under any circumstance, desert you nor give up on you, nor leave you without support, nor will I, in any degree leave you helpless. I will not forsake you or let you down or relax My hold on you, assuredly not!” Heb. 13:5b AMP

We often quote this verse when trying to bring comfort and peace of mind to a people facing a variety of crises; from dealing with illness to managing marital difficulties. Its true that God will never desert us to face any situation alone. But if you look at this verse in context it actually about something VERY specific, money.

Everyone is experiencing the effects of COVID on our finances. Many businesses are temporarily shut down. People have lost their source of income completely. Some effects are more subtle but no less difficult. My husband’s company relies heavily on components from China. As COVID has ravaged China, they can’t get their components. No components, no product to sell. No good.

A survey by Northwestern Mutual found that money was the dominant stress for 44% of all Americans. Money worries rank as one of the top three causes of marital conflict. Fear over finances can be directly linked to depression and illness. With COVID creating such chaos, the percentage of Americans stressing over money has skyrocketed.

So how do we manage financial worries in this COVID dominated landscape?

1) Know that this is TEMPORARY! Right now, it feels like COVID has taken over the world and will never go away. There will be aftershocks in our finances from earthquake COVID. BUT, the intensity and level of disruption from the current crisis WILL PASS.

2) Know that God will never leave us or forsake us in any degree by leaving us without support. He will NOT let us down or relax His hold on our lives, EVER. He will provide for us. We may not see or understand the means. It may not come in the way we would have imagined. But it WILL come!

“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life for all you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing – everything your body needs…Look at all the birds-do you think they worry about existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father?” Matt 6:25-26 TPT (emphasis added).

God clothes the lilies of the field in unmatched splendor! He clothes the grass that is here today gone tomorrow. If He orders and cares for the world He created for us, WHY would He neglect us? We can trust Him to provide for ALL our needs.

3) We need to be willing to look beyond our own needs to the needs of others. Resist the urge to pull in and horde. When Jesus fed the five thousand, He gave the loaves and fish to the disciples and instructed them to feed the people. He gave the provision. They distributed it. We are Jesus hands and feet on this Earth. God is the provider. We are the stewards.

A wise and good steward takes care of the needs of those within their scope of authority. Jesus returned authority of this Earth to humanity when He died on the cross and rose form the grave. We need to step into that authority and be the stewards God has called us to be. We need to look to the needs of each other and love each other in action! We need to share our surplus and serve without expectation of return.

This crisis won’t last forever. We have the opportunity and privilege to be part of enabling others to come through this and make it to the other side.

FAITH HOPE AND LOVE: A 2020 survival guide

Photo by Virendra Verma from Pexels1

Photo by Virendra Verma


In the last week the major sports have canceled or postponed significant portions of their schedules. Schools have closed. Restaurants and bars have been shut down. Movie releases and production of TV shows have been postponed. I couldn’t have imagined this happening two weeks ago.

Whether you believe this is a real danger or an overreaction, you can’t help but notice the effect it is having on our daily lives. Just try scoring a package of TP! With everything that is happening in our social environment, it is not surprising that it is having an effect on our emotional environment.

We went to Walmart to do our provision shopping. There were just as many people in the store as usual, but the whole store was eerily quiet. I mean 4 am on a Monday night quiet! People were very subdued. They were like shocky crash victims just trying to get a handle on what was happening. Fear is rising. It would be easy to get swept away in its tide.

Everything in nature has its oppositional force; light and dark, cold and hot etc. The spiritual world is no different. We often think that the opposite of fear, is courage. It’s NOT. Courage is a response to fear. Fear’s true opposite is faith. Faith enables us to believe that every situation, crisis, or obstacle is creating fear can be overcome. If we can believe that there is a way to victory, something amazing can happen. Faith can spark hope.

Hope enables us to take our eyes off the waves of crisis and the mountains that stand in our way. When we stop focusing on the situation, we begin to see the things that we can’t see when fear has us fixated on the problem. We can see possibilities and allies. Hope breaks us out of tunnel vision and enables us to get a better perspective on the situation. Getting a new angle can reveal an unseen path around or through the mountain in our way. Getting perspective can temper a crisis enough to enable us to begin formulating solutions.

Hope may seem frail but it has a hidden strength. Like striking a match, hope starts out as a small flame. That small flame may enable another person caught in the darkness of fear to strike their own match. If you have even held one lit match beneath another you know that the resulting flame is taller than the height of the individual flames. Together the flames are greater than the sum of their parts. Hope thrives when we look beyond our fear filled situations and dare to join with others.

The next step out of fear is when faith becomes action. Love is faith in action. If we can risk joining our little flame of hope with others, that combined hope sheds light on the fact that we are not facing this crisis alone. We are joined with other people. We NEED to join together and love our neighbors as ourselves to survive this. Together we have enough light to begin to build tunnels through the mountain and bridges over the crisis.

Love enables us to come together and begin sharing each other’s burdens and fighting alongside each other. Then we can begin creating solutions instead of pulling in and hiding. Instead of hording in our fear filled basements, we can share our surplus. We can step out in faith and believe that others will do the same. When we put faith into action, fear has a way of dissolving like mist in the morning light.

These aren’t just words. If you look around you will see people ARE reaching out. People ARE coming together in small grass roots organizations like KC CARE and Spare a Square to deliver groceries and make hard to find supplies available. Companies like Scholastic are offering free online courses for students whose schools are closed. People are making resources available to maintain social connection. Teachers are offering digital office hours for kids to check in and chat with each other. Artists are using Facebook to do art classes for kids stuck at home.

People are gathering together in online groups offering practical solutions to the difficulties occasioned by realities this virus. They are offering encouragement, prayer and a listening ear. They are offering matches to illuminate the darkness of fear with the light of hope. They are loving their neighbor as themselves! When Love becomes faith in action, it’s more than just pretty words. It’s the opposing force to fear that gets us over crisis and through obstacles. It becomes the faith that saves us!
If you are in the Kansas City area and need help or can offer help PLEASE visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/spareasquare/

THE HOPE IN DEATH

Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels 1APhoto by Irina Iriser


I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


Beyond the pain of loss, beyond the tumult of grief, there is death. When it comes, it is important to know that there IS HOPE, even in death.

Yes, death is a school yard bully threatening everyone and everything. It’s the great equalizer, the ONE thing that every living thing on Earth has in common. At some point, we will all die. It’s not a matter of if, only when. It’s part of what makes death seem so hopeless. The end of everything is death. But, is death the end? Standing grave side, watching the casket being lowered into the ground, death can truly feel like the end. There is nothing that looks more like the end than watching the ashes of your loved one scatter on the wind.

It was disobedience that brought death into the world.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” (Gen. 1:1). He called light into being and divided the waters above and below. He set the boundaries of the ocean and let dry land appear. He caused plants to grow and filled the expanse of heaven with the sun, moon and stars. He filled the air and the seas with life. He called the Earth to bring forth living creatures. Then, with His own hands He fashioned humanity from the dirt. God breathed His own breath into their lungs and gave them life.

When He was done, He placed humanity in a garden paradise. God gave the fruit of every tree in the garden to them, with one exception. God told them never to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He told the man that if they ate from that tree they would die. They disobeyed. Through their sin, death entered creation and was given authority over the earth and everything in it.

So, does death have the final word?

Thankfully NO. Jesus has defeated death!

Sin and death were brought into the world through the disobedience of one man. So, one man, Jesus, came to Earth to conquer sin and death for all time. He willingly gave up His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and end the reign of death. His sacrifice brought freedom from sin and death to all who acknowledge Him as Lord and place their faith and trust in Him. Because of this there is hope even in death!

Death is not the end. When this physical life ends, our souls continue. As a Christian, I have the assurance that death is only a passage into life eternal with God. If those I love acknowledge Christ as Lord and place their faith and trust in Him, death cannot rob me of them. They are safely in God’s loving embrace. I have the promise that I will be reunited with them someday! I will see them again!

This HOPE is available to every person ever born. HOPE begins with acknowledging that we are sinners. We have all sinned. We all do things that are wrong, things we are ashamed of, things we regret. In moments of anger or temptation we do things we know we should not do. We lie to avoid responsibility. We lust after things that won’t bring satisfaction or covet that which belongs to others.

This sin separates us from the HOPE Christ Jesus died to give us. If we acknowledge our sin and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and be Lord of our lives, our sin is wiped away. Our slate is cleaned by the blood of Christ. We are given both life abundant and life eternal. We come to know the one who provides HOPE EVEN IN DEATH!

If this is a hope you would like to have, it is available to all for the asking. Simply pray:

Lord God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Help me turn away from sin and follow you. I surrender my heart to you. I believe you are Lord of all creation. I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and you rose from the dead to conquer death. Come into my heart and be Lord of my life. Amen (Romans 10:9-10)

If you prayed this prayer, feel free to contact me at tamellakwhite@gmail.com. I will be happy to guide you in learning more about the one who loves you enough to die for your sins and mine. God bless!

Tamella

THE GIFT OF GRIEF


Photo by Ylanite Koppens

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels 1A


I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


The gift of grief?

It seems like a contradiction of terms. After all, how can something that makes you feel like your heart is being ripped from your chest, be a gift? Few things wound us as deeply as the death of a loved one. Losing someone we love is like having a hole carved out of our hearts. When grief is a welling pit of pain and sorrow, it is really hard to see it as a gift. None the less, that is exactly what it is.

I recently heard a sermon on the importance of perspective. The pastor suggested that the thing we need most when we feel completely crushed by the weight of our problems, is a change of perspective. When life threatens to overwhelm us, we need to get our eyes off the problem and onto the creator of the universe. When we recognize that the one who stretched out the expanse of the heavens and formed the foundations of the earth, is at work on our behalf, then our whole outlook changes. The same is true of grief. When it feels like our heart is being ripped out of our chest and put through a meat grinder, what we need most is a change of perspective.

105 people die every minute. That is a staggering statistic. But it is more than a statistic. It represents real people, with real families just like ours. Yet as sobering and sad as it is to think that every minute the families of 105 people are experiencing the pain of loss, it doesn’t have the same emotional impact on us as the death of our loved one. Why not? Are we cold uncaring people? No. We are not impacted in the same way by the death of those 105 people, because we don’t have a relationship with them. This is where a change in perspective comes in.

The reason we grieve is we had a relationship with the person we lost. We did life together. We shared experiences. We laughed and cried together. We fought with each other. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We had each other’s backs. We grieve because their presence in our life had an impact on us. They were a part of the fabric of our lives. Without them our lives would have been much different. That is why we grieve. While we may be sad for strangers whose lives have ended, we only grieve for people who were an important part of our lives.

At first grief feels like an uncontrolled prairie fire, blazing through everything in its path. When the loss is fresh, the pain of it threatens to consume us. It feeds on our energy, thoughts, even our memories. It seems to draw strength and stamina from the experiences we shared with our loved one. In the first stages of grief, it can feel like everything we shared with that person is being devoured by the flames. As time passes, the pain of loss burns off and what remains are the warm embers of the love we shared. Our grief is a gift because, it enables us to get from the pain of loss to the place where we can cherish the memory of that person and carry them with us always.

If we are grieving, it means we had someone special in our lives. Someone with whom we shared a meaningful relationship. Losing them is painful beyond words. However, the same thing that causes us such pain at their loss is what makes them an enduring and indelible part of our lives. If we are grieving, it means they mattered! They left a permanent mark on our lives. It means we made a real and lasting connection! One that cannot be broken, even by death. Grief is a gift because it affirms their value. It honors who that person was. Grief enables us to continue to hold them close emotionally even if we have lost them physically. As long as we cherish their memory and hold them close to our hearts, they will always be with us. Grief enables us to do just that.

That is the gift of Grief!

© TamellaWhite 2020

FACING FEAR

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It’s interesting to me how often events in the physical realm exemplify principals in the spiritual realm. My journey on the path of the Leap of Faith started on a canoe trip with my husband. The beauty of the White River and the countryside it flows through combine to make it a perfect setting for a float trip. About half way down the designated route, there is a large sand bar that serves as a picnic spot. We put in, found a spot among the throng of about forty people gathered there, and ate our lunch.

At this spot there is an old truss bridge that spans a deep section of the river. It’s a canoe trip rite of passage for those who float the White River to jump off the bridge into the river below. We watched as, one after another, people climbed over the railing and successfully jumped off the bridge into the water 25 feet below. I am not afraid of much, however, heights is one of my BIG fears.

I DON’T like being afraid. No decision I have ever made or action I have taken from fear has ever been a good one. So I take every opportunity I can to face my fears. A 25 foot drop is a good challenge, so we decided to give it a go. My husband jumped enthusiastically. I climbed tentatively over the railing, perched myself on the outside ledge of the bridge and prepared myself to jump. Unfortunately, I looked down. Instantly fear took over!

Try as I might, I could not move. I was stuck like a butterfly pinned to a display board. I couldn’t go forward and I couldn’t go back. The only thing my fear addled brain could determine for certain, was that I couldn’t stand there riveted to the railing forever. I either had to jump or climb back to safety. If I remained riveted there, I would eventually fall asleep and fall off the bridge. Admittedly not every leap is worth making; and I won’t argue the wisdom of getting up there. It does however illustrate what often happens when we step out on the Ledge of Faith.

Maybe you’re risking going for your dream job or giving up a secure job to pursue a calling with less pay but more purpose. Perhaps you’re going back to school at 50 to get or finish a college degree. It could be saying yes to a proposal even though you have failed at marriage in the past. It could be, being vulnerable enough to be seen without your protective facade and carefully crafted image, to risk being known and loved just as you are.

Whatever your ledge is, know that it will not come without fear. Remember the truly deep, inspirational question is NOT: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” It is: “What would you risk doing even though you know you could fail?” Risk, by nature, involves the possibility of failure. Fear is a natural part of the equation. The key is in how you handle it. Do you let fear rule you, or do you allow faith to master fear? As for what happened on the bridge, that is a story for another day.

© Tamella White 2019

STANDING IN THE FLAMES: Surviving the Pain of Loss

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I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


The pain of loss can feel like a consuming fire. It burns through everything that made the relationship with our loved one joyous and meaningful. When my Dad died, my whole world felt like a giant bonfire of grief.

His life was woven through every aspect of mine. Every day was a fresh reminder of my loss. A song would play that reminded me of him and the tears would flow. I would need advice and catch myself picking up the phone to call him, only to remember that there is no phone made that would reach him. Activities that used to bring me joy like; looking at family photos, playing cribbage or going out for coffee, became painful reminders of my loss. His birthday and holidays were especially hard reminders of his absence.  

Eventually the pain of loss burns off and is replaced by the warm embers of the love we shared. But how do we survive the flames in the meantime? If grief enables us to get from the pain of loss to a place where we can cherish the memory of our loved ones, how do we stand in the flames without being consumed? When the flames of my recent loss threaten to overwhelm me, I remind myself that others have faced the flames and survived.

When he was King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar built a 90-foot idol. He commanded that all people should fall down and worship his idol. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to submit because they were committed to worshiping God alone. Nebuchadnezzar warned “if you do not worship, you shall be cast at once into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who can deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood fast in their refusal. So Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they be thrown into a furnace so hot that it killed the soldiers who brought them to the entrance. Yet, when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the flames, instead of seeing three men burning to death, he saw four men “walking in the mists of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the fourth is like the Son of God!” (Daniel 3:25)

The pain of loss boasts that there is none who can deliver us from its consuming fire. Yet, just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t need to fear Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath, we needn’t fear the pain of loss. When the death of a loved one threatens to cast us into the furnace, we can be certain of two things; the flames will not consume us and we will not be in the furnace alone! Jesus is in the fire with us, protecting and preserving us through the flames!

Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 AMP)

That truly means wherever we go! Even through the flames of loss, God is walking right beside us like a shepherd guiding and protecting His sheep from all harm. He will guide us safely through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’ I used to think that just meant that God is with us when we are facing our own death. What I have come to understand is that God is with us whenever death appears on our horizon. He is with us in the valley of the shadow of death when that shadow is a negative diagnosis. He is with us at the bedside of a dying friend. He is with us when a loved one takes their own life. He is beside us when the valley we are traveling through is grieving for a loved one who has passed from this world to the next.

As we stand in the flames of the pain of loss, He is the shield that preserves us until those flames burn down and our memories become the embers that warm our hearts with the love of the person who has passed on. So be strong and courageous in the midst of the pain of loss. Do not be dismayed because we are not facing that pain alone. The God who cares for us affectionately and cares about us watchfully will cover us with His wing until the flames die down, because they WILL die down! God is with us every step of the way through that valley of the shadow of death. Be assured, we will travel safely through the flames.

© TamellaWhite 2020