Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Be Who God Wants You to Be

In the past I have posted things that are pointedly against some of today's popular leaders. Some thought me "mean", others considered me "hard-hearted", and still others "divisive" or "self-serving". However, there has been a real purpose to my pointing out the problems with current day leadership, and -- believe it or not -- it actually has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the way so many view themselves and how God would love to change that misconception. It about changing the status quo to God's glory.


The point to my complaints against the leaders of our day is that God uses lay people. We have been taught that He prefers the well-educated, denominationally correct, gender specific, etc.; but look at who Christ actually called. He called the fishermen, and the tax-collector. He could have called the Pharisees, but He chose ordinary men. Why? 

Ordinary men tend to know they are ordinary. They aren't looking to themselves to solve the world's problems. If they belong to God, they are looking to God. The Pharisees were looking to themselves. And guess what, so are many of the approved leaders of our day. The Pharisees had no idea how to live by faith. Neither do many of today's leaders.

Brothers and Sisters, the point is that Goliath was felled by a lowly little shepherd boy who had enough faith to believe God and act on it. We need to step into the shoes of David, Peter, etc. We need to stop trusting in human leaders to do the work that desperately needs to be done -- removing our many Goliath's -- and start acting like we know God can work with nothing. We need to remember that everything that is was made by Him from nothing. Therefore, He can take us and make us into Davids, Peters, etc.

It isn't about tearing down the respected leaders of this day. It is about calling out those willing to be used by God despite their own inabilities, etc. I believe God searches for those who will stand like David -- not in their own strength or ability, but in completely dependent faith. I believe He searches and rejoices every time one steps forward. Because, Brothers and Sisters, God is not glorified by the proud, accomplished man who sees himself as someone God's lucky to have. No, God is glorified in the humble, little nobody who sees God as completely willing and able to do everything He says He will.

I don't care how many followers a person has or how famous they are. They are less than nothing if they have forgotten that we are here to glorify and serve Him, not draw attention to ourselves. We didn't save anybody. We couldn't ever save anyone. We are the redeemed, and we are so because He loved us enough to take our well-deserved punishment on His sinless self. He doesn't need us. He isn't blessed by our showy accomplishments. No. Like the Pharisees we have it backwards. No matter how high up on the food-chain we are, our value isn't in us, it is in Him -- and we don't even have that if He isn't the very breath of our lungs and blood of our veins. I'm just saying, Brothers and Sisters, if it isn't about Him, it isn't worth doing.

So, let us set aside the earthly encumbrances that tell us we can't or shouldn't because we aren't "qualified" or "approved", and run the race like Paul -- knowing that our God -- our wonderful, incredibly able, merciful Creator -- is perfectly willing and able to take our frailties and fell every Goliath in our path and make us true fishers of men to His great glory.

Praise God! I tell you the truth, Brothers and Sisters, He is just waiting on us to take hold of this truth and break out in real, mountain-moving faith. Ask Him today. Present yourself to Him today. Say to Him, "Here am I, Father. Send me where You will. Lead me where You would have me go. Take over my life and use me to Your glory." I promise you -- if you are sincere, you will not be disappointed. No, this is where real blessings lie, dear Brothers and Sisters. This is where ordinary becomes extraordinary as God reveals that He is neither silent nor disinterested nor in any way removed from His children. No, this is where we find out how truly awesome our God really is.

I pray some of you will do this today. I pray some of you grab for that joy He holds out to us. I plead with you to consider His nature. Is He not faithful? Is He not true to His word? Yes! Yes, He is. From the beginning to this very day His has proven Himself, repeatedly, to be the great "I AM"! Therefore our success is not limited by His ability; but rather, our willingness to submit to His Supremacy over us -- meaning that the more willing we are to be changed into a "David" the more we will be changed.

So, do not look at yourselves, dear Brothers and Sisters, thinking "I don't have the skills" or "I do not have the training", etc.; but rather look to God and consider that He is able. And do not think that you have no value -- because you know all your faults -- but remember that Peter denied Christ three times, yet Christ still raised him to lead many to salvation. We are not what our earthly leaders say we are nor are we what we think we are. We are what we are willing to let God make of us. Therefore, there stands among us those who could bring down the walls of Jericho, those who could bring plagues upon Pharaoh, those who could slay all our Goliaths -- Brothers and Sisters, the possibilities are endless because the ability of God knows no bounds! Except, of course, the limits put on Him by the failing faith of those who should be living by faith.

Do not be deceived, Brothers and Sisters, the power of God exists in EVERY obedient believer for we are nether abandoned by God to the rulers of this earthly existence nor beyond His ability to deliver. No, we are MORE than conquerors in Christ (Rom 8:37), if indeed, we are truly His.

God's peace,


Sunday, June 29, 2014

This Morning's Word

I'm always asking the Lord, "What about . . ." this or that. Typically, He answers by putting me in Scripture that is too accurate to be coincidence. Lately, I've been querying Him regarding those who claim the Cross invalidated their responsibility to take up the children's case.

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

For we know Him who has said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. -- Heb 10:26-31

The law of Moses tells us that God holds us accountable for the lives of our fellowman (Gen 9:5), that we are to take action to prevent the shedding of innocent blood (Deu 19:10), that He considers guilty those who ignore the shedding of innocent blood (Exo 23:7), and that failure to hate bloodshed brings bloodshed to our own doors (Eze 35:6). Add this in Hebrews and those who do not regard the children's lives should be able to recognize the judgment at our door as witness to His unchangeable character.

He hated child sacrifice in the Old Testament and punished the Israelites for it. He hates it now. Please, Brother and Sister, take up their case. Plead for their precious lives. Today, turn back before it is too late.

God's peace.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This Convenient Gospel

Last week I journeyed once to the nearby abortuary to plead for the lives of helpless little children. While there I encountered a man who began to viciously berate and abuse me. His language was foul, his demeanor threatening. Yet, he would stop every so often as if to invite me up to speak to him, implying he both needed and wanted assistance.

Supposedly his child died in the womb and they had come to have it removed. I say supposedly because mothers and fathers routinely lie about what motivates them to an abortuary. We know this because many have confessed to lying after experiencing a change of heart. Nonetheless, upon hearing of the man’s misfortune I offered my heartfelt sympathy and explained that we were still obligated to God to speak up for the children being slaughtered. At which point, I also offered him a beautiful blanket for his child’s burial as a token of our regard for his loss.

His primary argument was that we absolutely had no right, and that no one – no matter how needy -- who came to an abortuary deserved to be helped anyway. At which point, I began to explain that our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross obligated us to love our brothers and sisters enough to be there in His stead. Further, I explained that we truly loved him, too, and were deeply sorry for his loss.

After considering all this, he suddenly confided that he, too, was a Christian, and it was his Christianity that caused him to be absolutely humiliated by our efforts. Then he began to threaten me, saying that if we (clearly meaning me) did not cease, he would file a complaint against me and see me arrested. Understand, all this occurred while he cursed and abused me verbally with his every breath.

Now, I ask you. Where do these “Christians” come from who believe such behavior is either pleasing to God or acceptable to Him? The sad thing is that many do come from a church environment – one that is so open to whatever feels right that all these things are considered appropriate.

Clearly, the man was hurting. He had lost his child and was deeply wounded by that loss. If he were a singular example, we might even say that his sorrow just went too deep. Unfortunately, this is not so. For every week we see many enter the abortuary with the sign of the cross, the sign of the fish, a Bible on the dashboard, or a Christian bumper sticker on the back! These men and women flash vulgar signs at us, curse us vehemently, threaten us . . . even aim their vehicles at us.

I would have put my arms around this man and wept with him, but he would have preferred to see me in chains. I would have prayed with him for healing and deliverance. Yes, I prayed for him anyway, but he did not get to feel that compassion nor experience that motherly embrace. He was too angry, too blind, and far too uneducated in the ways of God.

Christianity is not just a word. It is a conversion that affects us completely. I saw no such evidence in this poor man. In fact, before he finished his tirade, he had soundly cursed even the Lord. Nor do we see evidence of the Lord in those who come with their tokens of Christianity; but rather, we see the love of self – the love of convenience – the love of the lie.

It is inconvenient for me to go to plead for the lives of the children. It is hard to make the blankets I give away. It is heartbreaking to know that the children are being slaughtered as we stand outside pleading with their parents. But Christianity – true Christianity is not convenient. It requires sacrifice from us. It required the ultimate sacrifice from Him. Why now do so many think themselves so much better that they should not be inconvenienced even in the slightest? I tell you the truth, it is because so many have not been transformed – that is to say, they are only Christian in their minds, because their deeds speak clearly of an allegiance that is decidedly not heavenly.

God’s peace,

How Great is My Fear of You, Heavenly Father!

Why, Lord, do the people not fear You? Why, Lord, do they not tremble at their own disobedience? Surely You are righteously angry, for You suffered and died that we might be forgiven -- not that we might live lives of sin.

Father, I see You. I fear You. I tremble and weep for Your wrath is very great. You look upon our lukewarm hearts with contempt and are reviled at our disregard. I see Your anger, Your disappointment, and I am broken by it.

Father, what  can I do? I am but a little one. The nation does not see that I know of Your heart. They do not comprehend that You have revealed Yourself to one so insignificant. Not even John, who came to prepare a way for the Lord, could reach those who were not given to Him:

To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is give him from heaven." -- Joh 3:27

What am I to do? I drown myself in sorrow and weep until I am weak. I rush to do Your bidding; pleading and begging, speaking and sharing what You have said. Yet, far too many turn a deaf ear and spurn Your rebuke.

You said I would be like Jeremiah, speaking to a people who would not hear. You said we would be judged for preferring our wealth to You. Surely, that judgment is upon us. How we have wearied You! Again and again, You point me to these Scriptures!

You have wearied the Lord with your words.

"How have we wearied Him?" you ask.

By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and He is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?"

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, who you desire, will come," sa
ys the Lord Almighty.

But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in the days gone by, as in former years.

"So, I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud the laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear ME," says the Lord Almighty.
-- Mal 2:17-3:5

Because we call the slaughter of innocents a "necessary" evil, we are guilty before You. Because we ignore the truth of Your word, we are guilty. Because we love the liar more than those who tell us the truth, we are guilty. Because we prefer to be entertained more than to be rightly instructed or corrected, we are guilty.

How my heart aches for the children of a nation that is so willfully blind! How I mourn the man of God that has abandoned the pulpit for fame and fortune! How I weep for the mothers who have killed their precious babies! Like Jeremiah, there is no end to my anguish over this arrogant, undisciplined nation! Father, what can I do!

Will You give me some who turn back before it is too late? Will You heed my tears and profit Your word? Will You not have mercy because of Who You are? Have we gone too far? Is it just too late? Father, yet have mercy for there are others like me who seek Your will. I am not alone in pursuit of Your deliverance. I am not alone in the desire to return.

Turn us back, Father, but do not completely destroy us. Rebuke us, Father, but do not remove us completely. Have mercy, Father, not because we deserve -- for surely we do not; but rather, have mercy, dear Father, because we are but dust and You the whirlwind of our destruction. Have mercy for You are just too much for us and we are completely -- utterly at Your mercy. I plead with You, Father. I beg at Your feet. Hear my pleas. Respond to my requests. Do not turn aside. Do not abandon us to our guilt.

In Yeshuah's precious name, amen and amen.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Today's the Day

Off to the abortuary again this morning with a pink blanket on one shoulder and a blue on the other. I'll be pleading for the children's lives, rebuking the evil, offering help for mothers, and speaking the truth of Scripture. God is not silent as so many believe on the shedding of innocent blood; but rather, warns us strongly to stand against us.

"Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land . . . so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed." -- Deu 19:10

" . . . And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellowman." -- Gen 9:5

"They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood." -- Psa 106-37-38

Deuteronomy tells we don't have to kill to be guilty. Genesis tells us we are responsible for lives of those around us and Psalms tells us that our land is ruined by the blood of innocents. Why does the church still think it's innocent? Because once we determine not to know, He will let our thinking become deluded. Not only is God not pleased with us, He is angry enough to give us rulers to have no regard for us whatsoever.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Money Problems?

Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains in ruin?”

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” – Hag 1:3-6

Sound familiar? Many work sixty hour weeks, but can’t pay their bills. Many are homeless. Many face an empty cupboard. Businesses fail all around us. And it seems like every week, we are told we must find more and more money for our leaders to spend. Our financial problems are indeed serious; but, like ancient Israel, we do not recognize that they are the product of a lack of regard for the things of God.

The ancient Israelites had been told to rebuild the temple of the Lord, but they wanted to build homes for themselves and fix their financial problems first. So, work had stopped on the temple. Here God tells them, through Haggai, that their financial problems were actually the result of not putting Him first.

Today, we see our problems largely as caused by greedy or inept rulers. What we need to recognize is that greedy or inept rulers are a result of wrong priorities. We are busily trying to protect our “American Dream” lifestyles. What we need to do is get busy about putting God first in our lives.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is NO authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. – Rom 13:1

The Israelites had returned from captivity in Babylon. Their nation was in ruins, but they had been overrun because they had allowed their hearts to love other gods. They had turned from the truth of God’s word to the lies of the devil. They had put the God of their fathers – the One who had delivered them from Egypt –on par with idols and forsaken the things of His heart. And God was angry.

Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in His name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and His anger will burn against you, and He will destroy you from the face of the land. – Deu 6:13-15

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. – Gal 6:7

God is not mocked. He didn’t tolerate their disobedience, and He isn’t tolerating ours. They sowed disobedience – sacrificing their children to idols, worshipping other gods, failing to hold to the truth of His word -- and reaped destruction. We have allowed in their footsteps like they were leading us to mountains of gold, and we are seeing His disapproval in every area of our lives.

Ancient Israel returned to rebuilding the temple and God returned to blessing them. That’s how it works. We put Him first and He takes care of everything else.

Want decent rulers? Make God the authority in your life. His word should be our law. We should take it just that seriously. It isn’t that He hasn’t given us directions; but rather, that we are not following them.

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? – Deu 10:12-13

Want to be blessed? End child sacrifice. God does NOT approve of the shedding of innocent blood. Our nation is literally drowning in it.

Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed. – Deu 19:10

We are guilty. He told us we would be if we did not do something to stop it. For the most part, we have looked the other way, and we are reaping the fruit of our disregard.

We need to stop tolerating evil and speak up for the things of God. We need to go out and witness to the lost. We need to demand that abortion be outlawed. We need to stop putting our comfort ahead of the things of His heart. In ancient Israel they were to show their respect for Him by rebuilding His temple first. In this nation, we need to show our respect by abandoning our ungodly ways.

Until we stop having wrong priorities, we are going to be punished. God is no respecter of persons. We are just as guilty as ancient Israel. We had a blessed land while God was the God of our hearts. Returning to those blessings requires a returning to Him. It’s just that simple. Don’t complain about an empty bank account. Start worshipping and returning to Him. He’s not broke, but He isn’t going to bless us until we get our priorities inline with His will.

God’s peace.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Shall We Gather . . . ?

by Betty Baker Bailey

Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn;
  wail, you who minister before the altar.
Come, spend the night in sackcloth,
  you who minister before my God;
for the gain offerings and drink offerings
  are withheld from the house of your God.
Declare a holy fast;
  call a sacred assembly,
Summon the elders
  and all who live in the land
to the house of the Lord your God,
  and cry out to the Lord.

Alas for that day!
  For the day of the Lord is near;
  it will come like destruction from the Almighty. – Joel 1:13-15

Here the priests are called to gather together to seek the Lord because the evidence of His displeasure was unmistakable. The economic repercussions from the loss of crops had set their economy into a tailspin. So, Joel calls them together to fast, weep, and seek – knowing that God honors honest contrition.

Today we are in just such a tailspin. Yet, few call out for a gathering of the priesthood – more commonly known as the saved, and even fewer gather. Why? Well, part of the reason is that some do not truly understand the need. Another is that some don’t care to hear that they have sinned, much less what those sins are. Some like their sin so much they are completely unwilling to change or be changed. Even among those who do gather, some are still speaking “empty words”.

First off, anyone who considers it acceptable to speak empty words to God needs to seriously consider what that says about their relationship with God. Did you think He would not know? I implore you to consider the problem of attempting to lie to One of such great Supremacy. Do you not take your very life in your hands? Turn back before it is too late. You cannot hide from God. He knows the truth of your heart better than you do. It would be far better for you to be silent than to risk His ire so contemptuously.

Secondly, Christ made it clear that He came for the lost; rather than, the self-righteous. If you will not be turned from your sin, you will be left in your sin, and to the judgment that comes with it. Turn back before your pleasure consumes your eternity.

God hears prayer uttered in honest, humble submission to Him. He does not care for the idle repetitive prayer. He has no love for the screaming insistent prayer. Nor does He value the self-righteous prayer. We are all saved by grace -- His grace. Therefore, our righteousness -- if, indeed, we have any -- is from Him. He will not be moved by our abundance of words, our raised voices, nor our inflated self-worth. No, He looks at the heart and sees even what we attempt to hide. Though we recognize not our unrepentant desires, He most certainly does. 

Further, we can gather from dawn 'til dusk – every single day of the week; but until our hearts genuinely seek His will, it will avail us not. He isn't interested in the semi-dedicated. He's interested in the fully committed. He has no regard for the self-inflated, but graciously attends the brokenhearted.

Yes, we must gather. The sin that has brought this judgment upon us requires repentance -- sincerely committed repentance. We cannot just pretend like we have no part in it. It is our guilt that brought His wrath upon us. Therefore, we must gather to seek forgiveness and mercy from our holy God. However, it must be with those sincerely ready to be broken by Him – for when He breaks us, it is truly to our own good. (How much better it will be to be a stubby branch than an errant vine. One will be cut down and cast into the fire. The other will, by grace, be covered in blooms.) We must seek His mercy in earnest. We must set aside our own plans, our own desires, and be drawn apart unto Him – to seek His heart exclusively. 

Let it not be said that those of this generation did not take the time to earnestly seek Him; but rather, let it be known that we esteemed Him so highly that we thought of little else. What greater acclaim could a generation attain? Though His grace is not for the perfect, it most certainly is for those who, recognizing their own frailties, choose His will over theirs – even to the point of allowing His pruning according to His will.

God’s peace.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Let Us Not Stand Silently By

Dear Professing Christian,

If you're not deeply insulted and repulsed by the effort to silence or marginalize Christianity, then you should seriously consider whether or not you have anything of substance to lose. Because we were not purchased by the blood of Baptists nor Methodists nor Catholics nor any other denomination under the sun, but by the pure and holy blood of the Son of the great I AM -- the same Son who was with the Father at the beginning of creation and now sits at His right hand in Heaven. So, while it may be considered acceptable to ignore so great a sacrifice when made by a mere sinful man, it must be held entirely reprehensible to ignore the sacrifice of One so completely holy and Supreme -- if indeed we are, as we claim, purchased by that blood.

For such is this salvation -- if we are in Him as His children, then He is everything to us. The desire to please, to serve, to glorify Him permeates every part of our life. To expect us to be silent is akin to asking us to cease to breathe or take nourishment. Our hearts yearn to share Him with others, our minds are filled with His words, and our souls overflow with His love. To disregard His sacrifice as though it mattered not is profoundly reprehensible – unthinkable even, because He is our holy and most worthy Lord. Whether profitable by the standards of man or not; we must speak of His righteousness, His mercy, and the eternal wealth of belonging to Him.

Consider rightly then to whom you align yourself. If man, then silence is acceptable. But if God, would not that same silence be both highly offensive and unacceptable to Him?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely? – James 4:4-5

The simple truth is that our God, the great Creator of the Bible, is a jealous God. When we prefer man’s approval more than His, we literally say to Him we value man more than Him. Further, the idea that we should “keep the peace” is contrary to the will of the God we claim to serve. We are not here to “play nice” with others. We are here to fight for the souls of our neighbors, our relatives, and even those strangers we meet in our everyday lives. That is what it is to be truly Christian, to contend for the faith. Consider how the disciples lived. Did they not contend for the faith as though salvation was all that mattered, giving even their very lives to reconcile us to Him? Therefore if being silenced in regards to the things of Him does not offend us to our very core, then we need to recognize that our core must – by the examples set before us -- not be fully His.

In closing, to stand by while the truth of the cross is silenced, marginalized, belittled, maligned, and/or compromised; is to say that we regard Him not and, having said that, that we are indeed not nearly as committed to Him as we profess – for salvation does not lie in the mere professing of belief – even the demons believe (James 2:19); but rather, in the transformation of our sinful natures by the Spirit of God within us (Romans 12:1-3).

God’s peace.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A word of appreciation this morning:

by Betty Baker Bailey

Without God I would have been dead long ago. Granted, I would never have even been born had God not first created me, but I'm referring to the mistakes I've made since my birth. When I look back, I'm seriously humbled by the abundance of grace and mercy poured out on someone as insignificant as me. What I do have to offer the God who lacks nothing? What possible worth is there in my life?

I tell you the truth it is mercy upon mercy that God has had on me. Mercy I did not deserve. Mercy I could never earn. Yet, at every turn He has reached out His mercy to lift me up, to carry me forward, and to put me back in His army. I stand completely amazed at His generous abiding love.

How can I not love this awesome, inspiring God! He gives me hope when I am at the bottom of the darkest pit. He moves my soul beyond this earthly boundary until I am overshadowed by His wings. He is my everything. He is my God, the One true God, and He is awesome indeed!

When i think of how my Lord hung on that cross, how He took those awful beatings . . . I am moved to tears and sacrificial gratitude. I would impart to the whole world the loving mercy I receive on my face before His throne. (There is no greater position for a servant; and yet, it is the most satisfying position I have found.) I love to worship Him, to seek Him, and to submit to Him. There is a peace that comes from abandoning all for Him, a joy unspeakable. I would that the world knew Him this way. No servant could ask for a better Master. No other slavery could possibly be so dear.

To Him be the glory! To Him be all praise! Come, let us worship this Savior who was raised from the dead that we, too, might die to sin and be reunited with Him.

Hallelujah, Thine the Glory! Hallelujah, Amen!
Hallelujah, Thine the Glory! Revive us again!

Thank You, Lord, that You!

Friday, April 11, 2014

"Come, see . . ."

by Betty Baker Bailey

When the Lord witnessed to the Samaritan woman, she was so struck by the reality of who He was that she went back to the town, calling her people to, "Come, see . . ." (John 4:28-29). She could not keep this incredible revelation to herself. It was too great for that. No, she wanted everyone to know that she had met the Messiah. He had shown Himself to her and she was forever changed.

Most true Christians feel exactly the same way today. We have met the Lord and found Him so completely awe-inspiring that we cannot keep Him to ourselves. We want everyone to know Him. We want everyone to partake of Him.

My walk with the Lord has been marked with miracles and wonders, inexplicable joy and peace, and a comfort and security that nothing can shake. Even with all odds against me, He has carried me through time and time again. These days I hear angels singing in my sleep -- beautiful songs of worship performed by a heavenly choir. I get up to put them down so that I can sing them myself and they literally write themselves, because I've been listening to them in my dreams.

God is good. He is infinitely loving and kind to those who are His. With all that's wrong around us; He gives us His peace, His joy, and lifts us away from this earthly plane. Satan may roar like a lion, but he is defeated. The battle is over. Yeshua won. Come, see, my friends. Belonging to the Lord is the most important decision we will ever make. The benefits are amazing.

Psalm 34:8 declares, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed in the man who takes refuge in Him."

God's peace.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Righteous and the Wicked

Psalm 37

Do not fret because of evil men
  or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
  like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
  dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
  and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
  trust in Him and He will do this;
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
  the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
  do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
  when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
  do not fret -- it only leads to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
  but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
  though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
  and enjoy great peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous
  and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
  for He knows their day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword
  and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
  to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
  and their bows will be broken.

Better the little that the righteous have
  than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
  but the Lord upholds the righteous.

The days of the blameless are known to the Lord,
  and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
  in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

But the wicked will perish;
  The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
  they will vanish -- vanish like smoke.

The wicked borrow and do not repay,
  but the righteous give generously.
those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
  but those HE curses will be cut off.

If the LORD delight in a man's way,
  He makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
  for the LORD upholds him with His hand.

I was young and now I am old,
  yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
  or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
  their children will be blessed.

TURN from evil and do good;
  then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just
  and WILL NOT forsake His faithful ones.

They will be protected forever,
  but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
the righteous will inherit the land
  and dwell in it forever.

The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
  and his tongue speaks what is just.
The law of God is in his heart;
  his feet do not slip.

The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
  seeking their very lives;
but the LORD will not leave them in their power
  or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

Wait for the LORD
  and keep His way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
  when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
  flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
  though I looked for him, he could not be found.

Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
  there is a future for the man of peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
  the future of the wicked will be cut off.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
  He is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
  HE delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
  because they take refuge in Him.

Although this is a long Psalm it is well worth studying for the contrast it reveals between the wicked and the righteous, most importantly the way God deals with them. For the righteous, there are great promises and assurances. For the wicked, there are dire warnings and admonitions.

While the righteous are instructed to trust in Him, the wicked are warned that their evil ways will cost them everything. The righteous will be upheld, protected, and provided for. The wicked will be destroyed and removed! Though the wicked give all that they have to rid the world of the righteous, it is the wicked who will not survive.

In keeping with the compassion of God, the wicked are cautioned to turn back from their evil ways, to consider and observe the path of righteousness as the better way. From this we know that it is possible for the wicked to become righteous. Indeed, because the righteousness of man is from God, man is able to turn from evil to God. Thereby, becoming the blessed rather than the cursed.

Come then, dear weary and scarred soul, seek the One true God of the Bible -- setting aside the worries of this world for the eternal joy found in Him. Replace that fleeting moment of sin's superficial pleasure with eternal peaceful bliss in the One Who sent His only Son to save you. Christ does not turn away those who come to Him in earnest; but rather, welcomes them with love.

God's peace.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Obnoxious and Offensive

by Betty Baker Bailey

I have been urging everyone to recognize the guilt we have before the Lord for failing to deal with the sins our nation now considers completely acceptable. Many see me as harsh, sometimes even too harsh to deal with. But here's the thing: God is the One we have to deal with. Where is the kindness in ignoring the sin that brings His wrath upon us? There is none. We can not escape Him. We can not over-power Him and He will not suffer our disrespect forever. There will come an accounting. Truly even now we are seeing that in our nation.

Do not foolishly believe, as some do, that this is the work of man for the battle is spiritual. We had to be given over by the One who protected us for these things to come to be. Nor should you be comforted by the idea that it is the end times. For the "end times" began with the coming of Christ and may yet continue for another thousand years. Or do you not realize that the early church prepared for Christ’s immediate return? Yet, 2000 years have passed. No, dear brothers and sisters, I tell you the truth, we are in judgment. IF the Lord returns now, He will not be nearly so happy with us as many choose to believe.

For the sin of ignoring the slaughter innocents, we will see bloodshed and death. For the sin of treating Him as though He had no authority over us, we will find ourselves abandoned to those powers that wish evil upon us. For the sin of disrespecting the cross, we will suffer persecution for our faith.

Some like to place the blame for all these rebukes on our governmental leaders, but in truth it belongs with those who call Him Lord; because:

It was our job to stand against the slaughter. It was our job to insist His authority be maintained, and our job to uphold His laws as law.

Our founding fathers set the system up according to Biblical principles. Instead of holding to them, we have incrementally allowed them to be replaced by humanism, secularism, and socialism -- from a nation founded for freedom to worship the God of the Bible as one pleases, to one where the worship of any god except Him is acceptable. So concerned were we with offending others, that we offended Him. So comfortable were we with our wealth that we alienated Him.

So, do not rant, dear brothers and sisters, against the earthly powers that oppress us. They are in place for cause. Look around you. Do we not now see: fornication, adultery, the shedding of innocent blood, lying, stealing, homosexuality, etc. as accepted practices? Even those who call themselves “His” consider these things "inevitable" or "normal". Yet, for such sins Christ suffered and died.

The consequences of these sins are death to a society and its people. We do not show love to the homosexual by embracing his sin. No, we give him over to physical death and judgment -- the very real wrath of God. We do not elevate women by allowing them to kill their children. No, we sentence them to decades of remorse and regret, followed by judgment -- the very real wrath of God.

We act like we've either forgotten or never understood that God did not make laws because He could; but rather, for our own good. We should obey and teach them, because He is God. Failing to do so for that reason, we should then teach them because they are life, itself, to us and our children. As errant children, we have ignored and/or spurned them as though they mattered not.

Yes, people find me obnoxious, and offensive -- and some walk completely away from me, but some listen and turn. To those turning, I am seen as loving to the point of sacrifice, because I risk myself to reach them (far beyond what many know). To those who plug their ears, I am unacceptable and inexcusable. From the later come accusations of self-promotion. Yet, since I do not charge nor am I paid, their argument falls flat. No, my benefit lies purely in knowing that I am obedient, in believing that obedience to Him is imperative, and the hope that by my faithfulness some will be saved from the wrath to come.

Yes, I prefer to be considered offensive to being guilty before Him. If I did not love those caught in sin, I would be silent. They would still be punished, and I would avoid the aggravation of trying to save them. It is to great extent a thankless task. However, I would still find myself trying to explain to God, who knows all – including all He has shown me, how I could be so heartless as to not speak the warning I have been given. Man’s wrath versus God’s? I’ll take man every time. Although I love my brothers and sisters and would be at peace with them, I am nothing without Him. He is my everything. How can I not obey?

Through it all, brothers and sisters, I do know that what I am saying must be said. Truly, I do not sit around thinking of things to say nor do I do scan the Scriptures looking for things to pad my texts. No, I ask God. The things I take a hard stance on are the things He has shown me His offense at. Not only is He still speaking, He has plenty to say about His disappointment in those who have treated His generosity with such disdain.

We have embraced evil by indifference, by silence, and by allowing other gods to be given equal -- or higher positions -- than Him. If the reality of that does not give you pause, perhaps you don't know Him as well as you think you do. These are things the God of the Bible will not long tolerate. We think He will, because He has been patient with us, but His graciousness will come to an end.

Old Testament prophets were usually rejected by those they tried to reach. Both John the Baptist and the Lord were rejected by the religious leaders of the day. The Lord’s earthly mother and brothers came to put Him away, thinking He had lost His senses. The gospel is by its very nature foolishness to those who do not understand it, because it is spiritually discerned. The spiritual leaders of Christ’s day thought themselves so far above Him that they considered it insignificant to kill Him – though they knew who He was!

Therefore, do not put your hope in the leaders of this day. Far too many are more concerned with their own lives than His will. They promote themselves. They speak for themselves. They do not hear Him, because they do not honestly seek Him nor are they interested in His direction for they prefer their own. They are applauded and loved by the world, but they do not serve Him. No, like the priest of Yeshua’s day, they love their position more than Him.

Instead, brothers and sisters, look to God. He -- who took the time to create you, provide for you, and sent His only Son that you might be saved – is still very intimately concerned for you. He is not silent. He did not leave us to the men and women of this world. No, He still seeks a personal relationship with you. He still wants to commune personally with you. If you ask Him . . . if you seek Him, as if looking for pure gold . . . as it is promised in the Scriptures, He will be found. Then you will know that these things I have said to you are from His heart. True to His nature, He does not want anyone to be lost. Therefore, He sends someone to tell those who will listen and those who will not, that it is He coming against them. He does this in order that those who will listen may repent; and that who will not, will have no excuse.

I lament losing some I love to the love of the lie. My heart breaks for them, but they had a choice. I did not make it for them. I have done all I know how to encourage them to choose wisely. If they can hate me for that effort, then I have to let them go – for the only other choice is to choose hell with them. (There are only two sides. We will choose God or we will choose to be without God, refusing to choose results in not choosing God. Behaving as though God does not effect change in one’s life is to not be changed by God; and so, not belong to God. Those are the rules. I didn’t make them; but rather, just report that they are true.)

To those brothers and sisters who know I am speaking according to God’s will, I encourage you to spread the word. We do not know that He will not have mercy on us if we truly repent; only that He will not, if we do not. Even David, though his sin was great, continued to plead for mercy until the child died. For while the child lived, there was still a chance. Let us, too, be faithful to seek repentance instead of acceptance. There is yet time for God to have mercy. It is His nature to give mercy where it is undeserved; but only where there is sincere repentance. Therefore I plead with you to urge repentance to all who will listen.

To those who have separated from me, but long to reconnect – I bear no ill will to anyone. Time is short. If you seek me desiring reconciliation without needing to control, we can be reconciled. Understand, if I let you control me, I will not be led of God. I am hard at work for the Lord, the Spirit urges me onward with conviction. So, I will not be muzzled by those who do not understand. It is enough that I understand and am convinced that it is God who speaks to me. Be assured I have not stopped caring for you; but rather, I have just given you over to the choices you’ve made. You, alone, can unmake them. You know who you are. You know where I am. Do not let a fear of being rejected keep you from seeking resolution.

I am encouraged evermore to stand fast on what I have been shown. I believe the time for repentance is very short. Please, dear brothers and sisters, repent before it is too late. Churchology does not save us. It can’t, because it is manmade. We suffered a supernatural death in Adam. We must be imparted a supernatural life through Christ. It is the only way.

God’s peace.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A State of Disrespect, as adapted for "The Air of Heaven", including the follow-up prayer

For some time I have been seeking the Lord regarding revival and the deliverance of this nation. Our decline and imminent destruction is broadly apparent to me and weighs heavily on my soul. I have pleaded for wisdom and instruction; and wept over my sins and inadequacies. I share with you now what the Spirit has revealed to me regarding our desperate need for revival.

When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and robe, pulled some of the
hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled. Then everyone who
trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account of the unfaithfulness of the
exiles gathered to me, and I sat appalled until the evening offering. Ezr 9:3-4

Ezra is the priest mentioned in Nehemiah Chapter 8 who read the word of God that sparked the revival of His time. He placed great emphasis on God’s word. That was his area of expertise. He was a scribe who studied the Scripture and taught the Israelites. He, also, wrote a short little book in the Old Testament that is amazingly appropriate for our situation today.

Here he is speaking in regard to the ancient Israelites who had recently returned from captivity in Babylon; a captivity arranged by God for their rejection of Him. By God’s provision they had just rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem; and yet, here we see that they had sinned so grievously that Ezra was just absolutely speechless.

We have a tendency these days to lessen the importance of the Old Testament. Certainly there are many things that are not necessary now that were profound requirements of that day. We don’t offer animal sacrifices. We don’t have a priesthood decided by physical birth. We don’t have to be an Israelite to be part of God’s family. The differences are indeed considerable, but an appreciation of the Old Testament is absolutely essential for us to be able to grasp the reality of a pre-cross relationship with God. In it we see how God dealt with sin before there was an Advocate to turn to (1 Joh 2:1).

On one occasion priests offered unsanctified fire. This sin caused them to be immediately consumed by fire. Their father, Aaron, kept his mouth shut regarding the incident. He knew what they had done and Who they had offended. Wisdom does indeed begin with the fear of God. (Lev 10:1-3)

Achan took what was God’s. That offense caused Israel’s army to lose battles and cost the lives of many men. When Achan’s disobedience was discovered as the cause of God’s wrath; he, his entire family, and all his animals were stoned to death and then burned. Israel knew it was either Achan or them. (Jos Chapter 7)

Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant. The oxen had stumbled and Uzzah reacted. He reached up to stop it from tumbling over and incited the wrath of God. God struck him dead on the spot, because He had told the Israelites not to touch the Ark. Uzzah’s intentions may have been good, but his actions reflected a lack of faith in God’s ability to protect His own and a disrespect for God’s authority. (2 Sam 6:67)

God’s opposition to sin was very clear to ancient Israel. Having so recently returned from captivity, Ezra’s Israelites were even more acutely aware of just how forceful and effective the wrath of God is. They hadn’t seen a handful of their country-men punished. They had seen their entire nation punished. They weren’t left wondering whether or not God would punish their unrepentant sin, they knew for absolute certain He would. Ezra’s reaction reflected that certainty.

He tore his clothes. Which doesn’t sound like much in a civilization where clothes are so readily available, but in Ezra’s day they weren’t. He wasn’t able to just go to the mall and buy a new tunic. His clothes, which were priestly garments, were difficult to come by. They had to be specially made. There were strict requirements to be adhered to. But when he heard of the sin, he grabbed them and ripped them apart forcibly – most likely completely destroying them.

Then he pulls the hair from his head and his beard. Again, it doesn’t sound like much to us, but there were requirements regarding a priest’s hair. It wasn’t to be cut. It was to be worn a certain way. Further, Scripture assures us that each hair on our head is accounted for and here he is yanking them out.

His frustration and fear is real. He shows it in his self-abasement. I suspect Ezra saw himself as somewhat to blame. He was a priest, a teacher of God’s law. If he was anything like us, he had to be thinking, “Where did I go wrong? What did I miss that caused these people to turn, yet again, away from God?” And he sets there for hours, totally appalled, totally distraught and, you have know he’s thinking about how the holiness of God is going to react to their sin. It’s just that big a deal for Ezra. 

What was the sin that had Ezra so deeply concerned? The Israelites had taken foreign wives. After being ordered not to intermingle with other nations, they had done just that. Further, these women had born them children and there they were living in God’s land; under God’s provision and protection; and yet, still breaking God’s law.

One of the primary reasons the Israelites were destroyed and carried into captivity in the first place was that inter-marriage had led them to forsake the One true God for the false gods of the other nations. And here they were at it again. It was a little like playing chicken with an 18 wheeler and you’re advancing on a skateboard. (Thump, thump!)

So, Ezra was understandably distraught and he prayed before the Lord this way:

But at the evening offering, I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment
and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord
my God; and I said, “O my God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my
face to Thee, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt
has grown even to the heavens.”  -- Ezr 9:5-6

Ezra was mortified. He was embarrassed and deeply, deeply ashamed. He had enough sense to realize God already knew all about these sins. So, even though he had not committed this sin himself, he took responsibility for their actions and humbled himself before God.

My stepfather used to hunt deer. He studied the quickest, most efficient way to harvest them while damaging as little meat as possible. He was proficient at breaking their necks with a single bullet. Respect for the animal was shown by a swift death and reduction in the loss of meat. The animal did not die in vain, either. We used every bit. By these things we showed our appreciation for the animal’s sacrifice. We showed them respect.

In ancient Israel the sacrifices had real value as well. It wasn’t about dead animals. It wasn’t just meat. It was an offering before a Holy God; whether for sin or healing or a son, etc.; they had a purpose. It was all about obedience. There were many occasions for sacrifice and many rules regarding it; and all had to be strictly abided by. Death, again, would have been swift and efficient. They weren’t interested in torturing the animals. They were interested in keeping a right relationship with God.

Today we tell ourselves there is nothing to fear because God is love. We stand on the promises of Christ, but we do not seriously consider even the idea, as a rule, that He might carry out His wrath upon us. This has led to a disrespect of the cost of the cross and a lack of regard for His laws. We, literally, live as though His sacrifice freed us from the obligation of obedience.

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and
against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the
orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me,” says the Lord
of hosts.

For I, the Lord, do not change . . .” Malachi 3:5-6

Ezra’s Israel was forced to send away the wives and children of their disobedience. I suspect, given the nature of ancient cultures, for many it was a journey to their deaths. Do not think either that they did not love these wives or their children. I’m quite certain they did. Fortunately, they realized that disobedience would result in even more disastrous repercussions.

So they chose the holiness of God over the depravity of life without God. They knew in no uncertain terms what kind of future lay in store for them. It was simple really. With God they had won wars and been prosperous. Without God, they had been given over to be killed and enslaved.

We have a lot to learn from Ezra’s Israel. They took sin seriously. In reality, we do not. They lived in fearful reverence. We live expecting, sometimes even demanding, to be blessed. Their forgiveness cost them. Ours is considered free to us, in that we were not sacrificed for it, but it was far from free for Him.

Unlike the sacrifices of Ezra’s day, the Lord spent much of His life knowing exactly what lay before Him. He carried the weight of that knowledge with Him as He ministered to the lost. He knew that He’d be betrayed by those who claimed to serve His Father and He knew His Father would look away. He was without sin; holy and perfect – completely God and completely man – worthy beyond compare, the perfect sacrifice. He knew He would be beaten mercilessly. He knew they would shred His skin. He knew they would mock Him and spit on Him, but He went anyway. He didn’t get a bullet to the neck. He didn’t get a knife in the throat. No, He took nails pounded into His hands and feet instead.

As a society we seem to have lost the ability to appreciate just how great His sacrifice really was. We don’t seem to identify with it at all. There aren’t altars covered in animal blood scattered around the countryside to remind us. There aren’t people hanging from crosses. We don’t see people flogged until their bones are laid bare. Yes, there is a lot of brutality in the world today, but much of it is so white-washed as to be unrecognizable.

We have covered it with psychology and human reasoning. We fault the way we were raised; rather than, the sin we’ve embraced. We blame God and alter His Word to suit us. We have fallen into a despicable state of disrespect. We don’t understand the cost of our salvation so we don’t consider its worth. We’re not trembling like Ezra. We’re not pleading for forgiveness. We generally don’t even acknowledge that we have any sin to repent of.

We say, for instance, that killing children by abortion is acceptable because it is a woman’s right. Yet, God says, “Do not shed innocent blood.” We say that there are many gods and all are equally important. Yet, God says, “I am.” Many professing Christianity abort their children, divorce and remarry, lie, cheat, blaspheme, steal . . . we don’t act like our forgiveness came at a high price. We act like we are owed it. We are far more concerned about offending the feelings of those opposed to God than of inciting His wrath. We have no real fear of Him, and that lack of regard is borne out by our actions.

Yet, God absolutely demands our respect. We see that clearly in pre-cross, ancient Israel. We see it in the way they lived. We see it in the way they worshipped and we see it in the way He dealt with them. What we need to get a grip on today is that He is exactly the same God today that He was then.

We need to understand that there are rules. Ezra’s Israel understood that concept. That was what enabled them to send their wives and children away. We absolutely would not do that today. We wouldn’t. No, we would say, “God wouldn’t ask that of me.” We have the attitude that what we want is all that matters. We’ve completely lost sight of the fact that it is what He says that actually matters.

If we were priests with forbidden fire, we’d be rendered to a pile of ashes. If thieves, we’d be stoned -- if faithless, stuck down in our tracks. But we harbor an even more sinister and appalling sin. We deny the authority of God over us and, in doing so disrespect the precious sacrifice of His only Son.

We believe that He wants to bless us and we welcome that. We accept that He wants to forgive us and expect Him to do just that. But we deny that we are also His to govern and, in doing so, spurn the cross.

We need to be more like Ezra. He searched the Scriptures and found the truth of God’s will and carried it out. We need to search the Scriptures as well. We need to remind ourselves of God’s law. We can’t appreciate the sacrifice if we’ve no understanding of that sacrifice. We can’t turn from our sin until we accept that it is sin.

The solution for Ezra’s Israel was that they put away all foreign wives and children and reconse-crate themselves wholly to God. Our solution is much the same. We must abandon our sins. We must search the Scriptures until we recognize them as sin and turn away from them whole-heartedly. If we approach humbly before the throne of grace – like Ezra; acknowledge and turn from our sin – like ancient Israel; and re-commit ourselves to His will – then can we expect revival – not before.

God is still holy. He did not allow His Son to suffer the torment of the cross that we might live as though that sacrifice was of no value. That is why we cannot just speak our submission, we must act on it. Sin in ancient Israel had real life consequences. Sin today still does. Thousands of dead children testify quite loudly to that fact. Every single time we act like sin it isn’t an issue we disrespect the One Who loved us enough to endure the cross that He might reconcile us to Himself for eternity. Put yourself in God’s shoes. This is His Son we’re talking about. I don’t know about you, but I’d be more than just a little angry.

Patiently merciful heavenly Father, thank You for the
great kindness You have shown us by giving us time to
recognize and repent from our crippling sins.
Help us, Lord, open our eyes to just how serious
our current state of disrespect really is. Remove
the blinders, Lord. Cause us to truly see.

Deliver us from the wolves that desire to lead us astray.
Close up their mouths and let them reap what they have sown.
Convict us, Lord, as only You can of the need to change
our ways to be inline with Your will and Your word.
Let the difference be clear between the wolves and
Your truth – which is the only real truth.

You, Father, are the One to whom we must surrender
our ideas of self-supremacy. Help us to recognize them
and cast them aside as we turn back to You.
Earthly wealth is nothing beside You.

Keep us, Lord, from quenching Your Spirit
that we might have even more of You in our lives.
Forgive us for taking Your mercy lightly. We have
been foolish, indeed. Break our hearts, Lord, but have
mercy and do not destroy us completely.

Shake us awake, O Lord, and draw us back to You
to Your glory. Do not leave us in the pit where we have
fallen to be burned up as useless, fruitless branches;
but rather, deliver us because of Who You are.

Do not punish us as our sins deserve; but rather,
lead us to an obedient appreciation for You.
We cannot praise You from the grave, O Lord.
We cannot share Your magnificent love from the pit.

You, Father, are the great I AM. Help us to remember
what that means, but do not forget that we are dust
in Your hand. Have mercy, Father, have mercy.
We are grateful, Father, for Your merciful, patient love.
We ask that You open our eyes, convict our hearts,
and turn us back to You to Your glory in Yeshua’s name, amen and amen.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Beloved Granny

by Betty Baker Bailey

Long ago when I was young,
When nursery rhymes rolled off my tongue,
I remember Granny come to call
With goodies packed away for all.

Her silver hair was her disguise
For Granny was both young and wise.
She told us truths to make us think
And set us laughing with her hi-jinks!

And when she cooked, we all drooled.
Her cakes and pies rarely cooled.
Eggs blossomed into royal feasts;
Luscious treats from a little yeast.

Fun as such few ever knew
Was mine as Granny and I grew.
She taught me how to tell a tale
So it could never quite grow stale.

She helped me see the truth of God;
To trace the steps that Jesus trod;
And gave me purpose just to know
That in His way I was to grow.

Yes, Granny, I do miss you, dear.
Forgive as I must shed a tear.
Not because I begrudge your date
With the keeper outside Heaven’s gate.

It’s just that I still love you so
Sometimes I almost want to go;
To join you somewhere in the skies
Where angels sing you lullabies.

A forgotten scene flashes out of time,
A graceful Granny in her prime.
Her gray hair flowing in the wind
She races past me to the end.

Perhaps it’s Granny with a wink
Reminding me to stop and think;
Where others may be meek and mild
My Beloved Granny may just be . . . running wild!

One Last Gift

by Betty Baker Bailey

It would be absolutely impossible to accurately describe my Grandmother to anyone who had never had physical contact with her.  The word “unconventional” comes to mind, but even it fails to describe the extent of her extraordinary outlook on life.  Equally as difficult is explaining her ability to give gifts that benefit a lifetime.

I vividly remember my Granny coming to visit as a child.  Besides the obvious delight of having someone whose love could not be questioned, she never came empty-handed.  From much needed and loved hand-me-downs (which once included a real fur stole) to fresh fruit, she always managed to capture our hearts with her generosity.  Once she even passed out delicious honey bears for each of us.  We sat on the front porch smacking and slurping enthusiastically while she and mother visited about “adult” stuff.  To this day I value gifts of the heart far more than “trinkets”.

One of the earliest gifts I remember was an old, tattered hymnal.  She brought it with her once and I commented, like children will, about how we did not have anything like it.  She graciously gave it to me.  Hymns were and are still my favorite of all songs.  To this day I can hear her patiently guiding me as we sang one after another with great gusto, if not in key.

Though she never really had much that society would call of “value”, Granny somehow always seemed to be happy.  She had a hysterical sense of humor, laughing as much at herself as others.  She would often do very embarrassing things and then tell us about it, snickering all the while.  Part of our enjoyment revolved around the fact that she actually repeated the tale.  She embraced life unashamedly, leaving me with a rather unconventional sense of humor.  (And yes, I tell on myself regularly even when it’s embarrassing.  Better to laugh at the spectacle than pretend you’re not one!)

Early in grade school she taught me a wonderful skit to do for my class.  It revolved around searching desperately for a pair of “lost” glasses that nestled safely on top of her head.  I can still see her crawling around on hands and knees while I laughed ‘till my sides ached.  I can still hear the class roaring as I “popped” the glasses down on the bridge of my nose.  The whole experience gave my self-esteem a much needed boost that’s been carried into my very public efforts today.

Hot summer days with Granny were made for wild cactus berry juice which she dutifully gathered on her morning hike.  No one but Granny would have even given them a second glance.  Neither would anyone else have considered the wild mushrooms that grew nearby, but to Granny they were a potential delicacy not to be missed.  Always the consummate teacher, she constantly strove to teach creative thinking.  I can not tell you how many times being able to do so has literally saved my bacon.

A master of nonconformity, her gifts were not just lavished on family.  To her money was something you used not something you held onto.  She once purchased a piano for a blind girl while living largely off things she had grown in her own garden.  The girl became quite the pianist, even going so far as to make at least one album.  To Granny, the girl’s happiness made it money very well spent.  She loved everyone and gave generously to all.  I know that part of my heart for the children taken by abortion comes directly from her.

Living alone most of her life, Granny was an expert in making things work.  She could grow a garden on rock, feed a family from a “bare cupboard” and make good use of every bit of “trash” she encountered.  She was self-sufficient without being distant.  She was frugal without being stingy.  She was industrious without being demanding.  She was an independent woman in a time when such a thing was very much frowned upon, but she never let the approval of men keep her from completing her duties.  My refusal to sit down, shut up and stay out of the fight for life is directly related to the example she set.  (Interestingly, if she had of “followed the rules of the day” she would never have survived even her first week of life.  She weighed in at around 2 pounds in 1912!)

Even in her sixties, Granny would get up before us each morning and begin the tasks she considered her responsibility.  She rarely quit before we did.  She had learned early the secrets of working wisely.  She could always manage to lift things too heavy for her or fix something that was “beyond repair”.  Part of this came from living through the depression, but part of it was her desire to see the job through.  These days my mother comments on my refusal to give up in areas where many would.  My tenacity is straight from her.

As far back as I can remember, Granny read her Bible regularly.  She taught all her children, and everyone else’s too, about Biblical truths.  When I first began to have “encounters” with God, she was the one who helped me realize that it really was God speaking to me.  Her commitment to Him gave me a strong appreciation for Who He is.  Her Biblical knowledge gave me an appreciation of the importance of Scripture.  She worked harder at being faithfully obedient to share the love He had given her than in any other area of her life.  How well ingrained in me is the realization that the key to living successfully lies in the obedience to His will.

The last time I saw Granny she was old and frail.  Unable to get around easily, she walked slowly, carefully and very quietly.  My youngest was only a few months old and still very fragile.  My mother, my sister and I had traveled to visit and were staying in her home.  I turned away from my daughter for a moment and when I turned back there stood my Grandmother swaying slightly.  Arms out-stretched, she was reaching towards my tiny offspring.  A look of total love covered her face.  This epitomized Granny.  She needed me to know she loved my children as much as she had always loved me, but she also in no way wanted me to fear for my child’s safety.  She knew her physical strength was gone.  She also knew it was her love that we all cherished the most. That moment is etched on my heart forever. When my daughter is old enough, it will be pure joy to share it with her.

For the last several years Granny struggled with poor health, falling victim to strokes and infection.  She went from being the mountain climber who harvested wild berries to being bed-ridden and unable to recall who people were.  She suffered long and hard, becoming childlike and dependent.  My blessed aunt went to great trouble to take care of her; seeing to her every need and treating her with the love she had so richly earned.  All of her children, grand-children, great-grand-children and great-great-grandchildren knew she was dying.  Still, we hung on to each day; praying the inevitable would not come.

About a month ago, my Granny gave me one last gift.  Something extra special . . . like all her gifts . . . that’s better shared . . . also like all her gifts.  She came to me in my sleep looking much like she had in years previous and laughing as joyously as I had often heard her as a child.  She patted my cheek and drew me close, all the while laughing cheerfully.  I pulled back a little knowing she was gone and wanting to cry over my loss.  She laughed sweetly all the more.

“Don’t cry . . .” she urged.  “Don’t cry, Baby.  Granny is all right. Granny is all right!”

I tried.  I really did.  I had said for years that it would kill me to lose her.  I wanted to cry my eyes out; to wallow in a deep pool of self-pity, but she simply would have none of it.  She laughed and laughed and laughed . . . so joyously that before I knew it, I was laughing with her.  I awoke that morning laughing out loud; grinning from ear to ear and shaking my head in wonder.  Only Granny would have seen that need so clearly, put her own aches behind and comforted her soon to be hurting grandchild.

On May 29, 2002 after making considerable effort to physically recognize and remind her older children who were by her side that she loved them, my Granny went on to be with the Lord.  Her suffering ended, she left behind children beyond those she bore who loved her dearly.  No child was ever unwelcome in her home.  She always attempted to feed, teach and give gifts to all she could reach.  Her blood descendants included 3 children, 17 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, 11 great-great-grandchildren and 4 pre-born great-great-grandchildren.  Always a staunch supporter of life, abortion was simply never considered.

Granny’s funeral was as exceptional as she had been in life.  Her son officiated.  Her oldest daughter dressed her in a glorious light blue gown and robe.  One of the oldest granddaughters soloed beautifully, “I am the Bread of Life” and “Amazing Grace”.  Her teenage great-granddaughters picked and placed a bouquet of wildflowers in her hands, her flower of choice.  Grandchildren offered prayers and read Scripture.  Instead of “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, children appropriately sang “Granny loved . . .”  All who wanted were given opportunity to partake; to share a part of her influence in their lives.  I stood to tell of the dream in hopes of imparting some small portion of her joy to the rest of the family.

Many others sang, read poetry or gave testimony.  Everyone acknowledged her love had had profound effect on all of us.  Though I could not always hold back my tears, it was impossible not to hear her joyous laughter in my heart; the kind of joy that could have only come from being in the very presence of God.  Besides comforting me, I know this is exactly what my beloved Granny wanted shared with all she loved . . . that the joy of being at home with Him far exceeds all suffering.

(Realize I don’t claim to understand how any of this could have been possible.  At the point of the dream Granny was in a semi-vegetative state, lapsing in and out of consciousness.  I do know that strange things like this have happened to me for as long as I can remember.  Perhaps it’s just another part of Granny.  I really do not know.  I do know that she had always known when we were going to lose another member of the family and would warn us in advance.  I also know from extensive experience that a significant number of my dreams come true.)