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Archive for the ‘God’ Category

The Meaning of “is” – How Redefining our Vocabulary Has Destroyed the Fabric of our Justice System

In Bible, God, Justice, moral corruption, prayer, Scripture, terror, Truth on September 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

impeachment

I was home watching President Clinton’s impeachment hearing the day he said that now infamous line, “It depends on what the meaning of the word is, is.” I laughed out loud when, in a desperate attempt to appear innocent, he threw that preposition under the bus hoping it could modify his situation.

We sneer and snicker at that ridiculous statement now–in fact, that silly line made it’s way into our lexicon–but are we even aware of the massive damage it did to our society?

Watch the news every day for one solid week and you will see that a clear pattern has emerged in our courtrooms of such insane statements. People of all ages, race and gender are tossing out alternative definitions to their wicked behavior. The unbelievable thing is, these new definitions are actually being taken seriously by the courts!

Can’t they see that this redefining of our vocabulary is destroying the fabric of our justice system? If all we have to do is stand up in a court of law and simply redefine our actions to excuse our behavior, why do we even need a judge or a judicial system at all? Is there no accountability? If there is no standard in which we measure right and wrong — will we not then destroy ourselves completely?

My heart is torn over the horrible state of our country. On this sacred day, 9/11, I opened my Bible, hoping for answers and comfort. I opened to Psalm 12 and was shocked at how exactly it describes the condition of America and my prayer for our beloved country:

PSALM 12

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other,
speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
 
May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
and silence their boastful tongues.
They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”
 
The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless,
and I have heard the groans of the poor.
Now I will rise up to rescue them,
as they have longed for me to do.”
 
The Lord’s promises are pure,
like silver refined in a furnace,
purified seven times over.
 
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
and evil is praised throughout the land.

Look at the keywords in that chapter: boastful, flattering lips, lie, deceitful, violence, helpless, groans, oppressed, lying generation, wicked . . .

Does that not describe our nation now?  Do not “the wicked strut about?” Is not “evil praised throughout the land?”  Neighbors lie to each other and they don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re lying! There is no shame–in fact, if you try to confront their lying, they blow you off with “Our lips are our own–who can stop us?” In other words, “You live your life, I’ll live mine.” and, “What’s right for you is not necessarily right for me.”

Notice that in this Psalm it states, “The Lord’s promises are pure” What are his promises but his own word? We have a clear, written record of the Lord’s promises — it’s called the Holy Bible. In 1776 the Holy Bible was the standard that our Founding Fathers used to create our justice system.

Today, the Holy Bible has been tossed aside, redefined to fit individual conduct. But this insane, incessant redefining hasn’t stopped there. People are redefining our Constitution and its Amendments. Our own president changes the definitions of his words from speech to speech! Our school system is being redefined. Our religious rights are being redefined–even in the military! The definition of our sacred institutions of marriage and parenting are being redefined and maliciously, militantly attacked. Our school system has been redefined. Even our genders are being redefined!

The most heinous of all: redefinition has breached the walls of the womb. Life itself–given and ordained only by our Creator–has been called into question by His creation!

What does it matter if we redefine when life begins? It matters when that redefinition gives us license to take the life of someone else. It is one thing to simply paraphrase the law–as egregious as that is–but it is altogether damning to have the blood of millions of innocent children on our hands!

What have we become, America? What lie from the pit of Hell have we bought that tells us it’s okay to simply rewrite the laws that once governed our country, our states, our communities, our schools and our homes simply because it makes us feel uncomfortable, or hinders us from doing whatever we want to do? How did we get so far off track from our foundational standards?

There is only One Who can help us now. His name is still printed on our money. (That, too is in danger of being redefined! Today the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit against the national motto, “In God We Trust”!  see petition to stop that here: http://aclj.org/in-god-we-trust/committee-protect-national-motto?sf16864079=1)

Will you stop right now and pray to God with me?

Help, O LORD! You promised in Your Word, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

We repent! Wash us clean from our sins! We cannot survive without Your divine intervention. We fall to our knees and repent! Save us O LORD!

Amen.

May God bless the United States of America!

~ CCS

11 Lies Every American Needs to Stop Believing

Disclaimer: the intention of the author is not to imply that the current state of the Union was caused by
President Clinton's comment as quoted in this above post.

In Like a Flood: How to Overcome the Onslaught of Evil in Our World

In Bible, choices, faith, fear, God, Jesus, prayer, Scripture, terror on September 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

The Boston Marathon bombing poses searching questions for counter-terrorism agencies across the world. Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

When I was a child, the nightly news seemed like a foreign movie. It seemed that everything evil happened on the other side of the planet, far from our suburban home.

When we went to church and heard the Holy Scriptures, sometimes one of those news stories would surface in the sermon and the pastor would use it as an example that God was seriously going to punish those who did evil—but not here in the United States. At least that’s how I interpreted the sermon. After all, we’re all safe here in the good ol’ US of A, right? Sure, we had our crime as any country does, but generally, my view of America was that we are the peacemakers, the humanitarians—the civilized.

As Christians, we are called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ across the globe, but the uncivilized, dangerous and evil people were handled by missionaries. These were people specifically called by God to leave the comfort of their American home, travel to a jungle and tell the natives they need Jesus.  At home, we would dutifully pray the Lord of the Harvest to send workers to the fields to gather in the lost souls as Jesus told us too—but secretly we’d pray: please, Lord, don’t send me!

With the truly sacrificial duties left to the missionaries, we could focus on gossiping and judging each other; arguing about what color the carpeting should be in the new sanctuary and snubbing those who dared to enter our place of worship unkempt. After all, did God not say we must be holy and separate from the world?

Now our children kill other children for fun. Our teens set off bombs in our streets. Our junior high boys stock up ammo in their room and bring it to school so they can shoot as many people as possible.

How did this happen on our soil? The talking heads have endless theories and solutions, and some of it may indeed help, but those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior can no longer play church. Evil is here, in our homes, our schools, our churches and streets. Evil has come in like a flood and we will quickly drown in it if we don’t pay attention and get on our knees. We can no longer pretend that the bad stuff happens off shore. We can no longer just put a dollar in a church envelope as the offering plate passes by and smugly feel good that we’ve blessed someone somewhere.

The ancient book of Isaiah, Chapter 59, practically describes our country word-for-word. Life is bleak and overwhelmingly hopeless and our own sins have brought dark consequences upon us. Justice flees from us; peace eludes us and shedding blood is a sport. What can good people do? We try to live good lives and we give our time and money to help others, so what do we do about all this evil in our beloved country? Many snipe at the government, others snipe at the school system, the justice system, the lack of two parents in the home, etc., etc. Yes, all these are factors in our dilemma, but not one of them alone released this flood of evil into our streets.

In fact, none of the solutions we concoct matter in a flood–all that matters is survival, and undoubtedly, a flood of evil is here. It is sweeping away our religious traditions, setting our church buildings on fire and driving us into corners of fear and hopelessness.

Is there no answer?

In verse 19 of Isaiah 59, the Lord proclaims that, “When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Though this chapter is written to Israel, God is the same everywhere, and He will not allow evil to destroy those who love Him. Interestingly, the west is mentioned in the first part of the verse:

“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

God will save us, America, but we must fear only Him. We must call upon Him with repentant hearts and pure motives. This flood of evil rushing over our precious land, threatening to devour our families will not prevail if we get on our knees now and call out to the only One Who is mighty to save!

The church was never meant to be a building for good people to gather and revel in their goodness while everyone else gets what they get. The church is here to represent the unconditional love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who loved us so much He chose to pay the penalty of our sin so we could be delivered from evil.

What will you choose? Will you drown in the flood of evil, or will you embrace the standard that God raises against it and look to Him for your salvation?

~ CCS

How to Know God

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP “The Boston Marathon bombing poses searching questions for counter-terrorism agencies across the world.”

The Prayer Chair

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, death, God, Heaven, Jesus on May 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Ledersessel

Daddy met Jesus in person in the same place he met him in prayer every morning.  It was a burgundy recliner, worn from the years and matted down by the sweat of many days of hard work. Next to it was his abandoned Bible with a duct-taped spine. He didn’t need it anymore because he left earth with its Author.

If you read my column regularly, you know my dad died in January, 2011. Each month’s article in 2012 was written in honor of the life he lived and the godly inheritance he left me and my brothers. I know I have completely mourned his passing, but the other day on my way to church a song on the radio opened up my eyes to something I hadn’t seen before, something about the place where he died.

The song, by Chris Rice, was Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus), one of my favorites. I was just singing along, relishing the reminder that I am loved by a wonderful Savior when the last verse of the song burst my heart open:

And with your final heartbeat,
Kiss the world goodbye,
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory`s side… and

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live,

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live!

Extreme joy flooded my whole being, forcing a cool stream of tears from my eyes. In my mind’s eye, I saw my Daddy in his prayer chair looking up into the eyes of his Savior who personally came to take him home.

How do I know that’s how it happened? Well, according to my mom, Daddy, came downstairs that Wednesday afternoon and sat in his recliner next to hers to have a fruit cup and watch TV. He had just spent about an hour snow-blowing the six-to-eight inches of snow that had fallen the night before and was worn out. Within seconds of sitting down, he was in the midst of a massive heart attack. Mom jumped up when she saw his contorted face and said, “I’m calling 911!” Daddy said, “No don’t.”

The paramedics were there in minutes and later, one of them told us that when they got him into the ambulance, they tried to put a nitro-glycerin tablet under his tongue to help jump-start his heart. Daddy closed his lips tight so they wouldn’t put it in his mouth and shook his head, “No.”

In the ER, a doctor and his team worked on his chest with paddles, shocking his heart over and over when all of a sudden Daddy lifted his hands and waved them all off, shook his head as if to say, “No more,” and died.

Why would someone in the midst of such a life-threatening crisis refuse the help of capable hands? I believe it’s because Daddy finally got to look into the eyes of the One Who created him in his mother’s womb; the One Who saved him from a deadly fall after a night of drinking with his U.S. Air Force buddy in Berlin in 1956. I believe it’s because he got to look full into the perfect face of the One Who gave him a new life that night so long ago when he embraced the cross of Jesus Christ as payment for his sin—an acquittal from the damaging choices he had made up to that point. Daddy wanted to go home! He wanted to fly to Jesus and live!

Do you have a prayer chair? Do you have a place where you meet your Creator in person every morning, a place where you feed your soul for the day? My Daddy did and now I do, too. Every day I long to look into those forever eyes like my Daddy did on that day. I want to know Him, the Father of Lights, as he is called in the Bible. I want to know Him so completely that when it is my time to leave this earth and He comes to take me home, nothing on this earth will keep me here. My prayer chair will be empty and my Bible will be there next to it because I will be with its Author, the World’s Best Father!

Deliver Us From Evil

In choices, God, help, Jesus, judging, parenting, plots, terror on May 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva

“America took my kids away from me,” said a woman who is wanted in the U.S. on a felony charge; a woman who left her two sons here to fend for themselves.

This woman, the mother of the Boston bombers, wailed and screamed into a camera on the other side of the world, blaming America for framing her sons, suggesting that we poured red paint all over Boston’s Boylston Street to simulate blood and stage the unconscionable bombing in April.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva rocked back and forth in her seat, flapping her arms up and down at what appeared to be a press conference from Dagestan, crying, “I thought America was going to, like, protect us, our kids, it’s going to be safe,” she told reporters. “But it happened, opposite. My kids just — America took my kids away from me.”

I do not begrudge a grieving mother her words while in a state of shock, and rarely do I write opinion pieces on news stories, but this particular rant smacked me in the face.

America is many things, but we did not stage the bombings in Boston that killed and maimed our citizens like a Hollywood movie set just so we could create a reason to kill her sons. While details are still flowing in on the Boston bombings, my point is simple: America is not responsible for the choices those bombers made. Those boys researched how to make those bombs. They planned their entire route and where to place those bombs. They stood there on our streets with utter contempt for us and detonated those bombs without as much as a flinch. They walked calmly away as everyone around them instinctively rushed to help their fellow Americans.

No, Mrs. Tsarnaeva, America didn’t take your kids from you. You left them here and they took our welfare checks, they took our pressure cookers, they took the lives of our citizens and maimed hundreds of innocent Americans who were out celebrating patriotism.

As disturbing as this woman’s claims are, hers is only one voice amongst a growing army of radicals who believe that America is evil and must be eliminated. That is downright sick. To some of you, it stinks of Nazism, for you remember all too well the atrocities Hitler perpetrated on the Jews. But America is not the only target of radicals. Dictators around the world continue to spew their venom of hatred towards other nations and people groups.

Such is the voice and the ways of evil, right? I mean, what can we do? We are just innocent citizens minding our own business, working for a living and hoping none of that crazy stuff happens in our town, or on our street, right? Ask that of the couple whose boat became famous the night Suspect #2 climbed into it to hide from the cops. They were just minding their own business in their quiet little suburban home and in an instant the entire world was watching every movement in their backyard.

My fellow Americans, now is the time to fall on our knees and plead with the God who formed this great nation to intervene on our behalf. Now is the time to put our faith and trust in the only One who can conquer the forces of evil in our land. But know this: God gave us a will. He doesn’t interfere with our lives unless He is asked. It’s time to ask.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Deliver us from evil.

The Un-lived Life of Russell Stone, Part 6

In Bible, child abuse, death, divorce, fiction, God, plots, trust on October 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Mrs. Stone’s journal shakes in Rachel’s trembling hands; the poem devours her like quicksand. It is 8:15 AM.  

The ink on the page dripped with pain. I read it again…

 

He died at 8

The funeral was at 12.

He emerged a zombie at 18

Married at 21.

It died at 24.

The second wedding

Was ’94.

5 years later it too dissolved.

Now he lies with me –

Un-alive at 53.

Mr. Stone died at eight? Our records show 1:03. She dated this last night, so he was still alive; must be years. I knew Mr. Stone had been married prior to marrying Mrs. Stone, but twice before? And what’s the whole zombie thing?

My thoughts were interrupted.

“Rachel?”

I jumped at her voice, her journal stuck in my hands, my gaping mouth void of words. Mrs. Stone stood staring at me from across the room. I have no recall of hearing the door open or close.

“Do you want to know?” She whispered.

I could only nod.

She crossed the room, took the book from my hands and alighted on her late husband’s bed. Stroking the fresh bedspread, she unfolded the un-lived life of Russell Stone.

My soul is not big enough to contain all that Mrs. Stone relayed to me that day; much of it fell on the floor, never to be heard by another ear. What lodged in me was an education far beyond my Ph.D.

“In ancient times, invading armies would rob the city’s temple, take all its holy objects and burn it to the ground. Such practice was strategic. These barbarians knew that in desecrating the sanctuary, they could subdue the entire nation and cripple their soul.

“It is no different today, though invasions are far more clandestine. Savages infiltrate homes and rob the temples of children—the holy objects of their precious souls: innocence, trust, a pure connection to God, are all pillaged and defiled in the most heinous way. These children survive physically but live unlived lives.

“Mr. Stone was a victim of sexual child abuse?” I whispered. She nodded, her eyes on the floor.

I’m sorry to say I couldn’t find much pity for the deceased. Don’t get me wrong, I am repulsed by such crimes and fiercely advocate the death penalty for sexual child abusers. But Mrs. Stone’s revelation didn’t add up. Mr. Stone’s behavior contradicted the archetypal sexual abuse victim. He exuded confidence, a gentleman’s gentleman; a self-made man.

I looked at the clock. I had a half-hour to get to the courthouse to finalize my divorce and could not afford to partake in her drama another minute.

But I admit I had a more personal reason for keeping pity for Mr. Stone at bay. It just so happens that this same story is what drove me to file for a divorce from Steven.

To be continued….

_______________

Read from the beginning…

Window Shopping

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, faith, God, growth, Jesus, Scripture on October 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

iStock-windowSmallOver the past few months I’ve been reading through the Gospels in my Bible. Starting with Matthew, I’ve read a chapter a day with a deliberate desire for God to reveal His Word to me in a fresh, new way.

By the time I reached the last verse of Luke 19, it dawned on me that God’s Word was so much more relevant and alive than all the times I had read the Gospels.

When this revelation fully manifested in my slow brain, I saw clearly that I had been ‘window-shopping’ through the most significant sections of my Bible.

“Oh, that’s neat,” I would say when reading how Jesus fed 5000+ people with a boy’s lunch.

“Huh, that’s cool,” I would mutter when I’d read that Peter got out of a boat and walked on water to Jesus.

I casually passed over these phenomenal acts of God’s Son with little more than a yawn and headed back to the Psalms where I could better relate to the ‘woe is me’, ‘please change my circumstances, Lord’  and ‘save me from my enemies!’ passages.

Don’t get me wrong, the Psalms are timeless writings of precious, heart-wrenching intimate moments of doomed souls crying out to God for salvation, deliverance, hope and healing. So why breeze through the four written accounts of God’s Answer to all those ancient pleas?

I am ashamed that I have merely glanced at the Gospels’ priceless treasure. In them is the path, the door, the key, the hope, the fruition of God’s promise to Abraham and all who would believe – by faith alone.

Now, I’m tearing apart my house like a crazed, madwoman who lost a valuable coin.  I’m selling everything I have to buy a field where I found a priceless pearl.

I finally get it.  The kingdom of heaven should be pursued.  It’s not history. It’s not a shopping expedition for what fits best into our lives.

It’s real. It’s here.

It’s mine.

Lost for Good

In believe, fear, focus, God, lessons, love, trust on September 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

They are quite a pair – deep red rubies nestled with shimmering diamond marquises in golden snowflakes.  The earrings were a special gift of love from my Mother, but soon became an object lesson of my Heavenly Father’s love.

iStock_000004564205XSmall

One morning, a few weeks after I received them, I woke to a nagging alarm clock and pushed myself through another morning routine.  Rattling off my mental list – lipstick, heels, lunch, jewelry – I grabbed the new earrings, tossed them into my suit jacket pocket and bolted down the 21 stairs from my apartment atop a restaurant in an old building.

I had managed to put one of the earrings in my left ear as I descended, but when I got out to the gravel parking lot, I reached in for the other and my finger slipped through a hole.

My racing heart smacked into a wall of fear. No way! I did not just lose that earring!  Where is it?! Is it in the gravel? I’ll never find it there!  Maybe on the staircase, I’ll go back…how stupid I am! Why did I put them in my pocket before checking for holes?! I have got to find that earring – I’ll break my Mother’s heart!

Hyperventilating, I ran to my car, stuffed my bags inside and quickly retraced my steps. Like a crazed madwoman I hunted for the missing jewels, scouring all 21 steps three times over. I went all the way back to the beginning of my day, mimicking my every move prior to the realization that my precious earring was gone.  Between screams at myself for being so foolish, I choked out, God! You can see it!  You can see everything! Please show me where it is! You know where it is God, please, please show me!

Every day for the next three months I begged and pleaded with God for its return. I even went so far as to suggest that He dispatch an angel for a swifter delivery!

The summer of ’94 cooled into a painful winter and my prayers became focused on a much bigger loss; another divorce. Crying myself to sleep one night I asked,  God, do You hear my prayers? Do you hear me? Do you care that my life is falling apart again?

His answer arrived unmistakably the next morning as I placed my bags in my car.  There on the freshly vacuumed carpet behind the driver’s seat was the missing earring.  I have never doubted his love and attention again.

I knew my earring had been lost for good.

Barren

In garden, God, growth, Jesus, obedience on September 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm

iStock_000004449387XSmall

That’s how he found it. He had planted the tree on his land hoping for an annual crop of tasty fruit. He nurtured it from a sapling, watered its ground, even talked to it.

His land was vast and he was pulled in different directions to tend all his gardens, vineyards, groves and crops, but this tree he loved most. When it’s season arrived, there was no fruit.

The farmer swallowed his disappointment, dug around its roots and fertilized it, saying, “This will help you bear fruit.” And another year passed. No fruit.

After the third year of no fruit, the farmer’s concern turned to frustration. After all he gave to this tree – more than any other tree, crop, vine or garden, it gave nothing in return.

In Christ we are called to bear fruit:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

(Galatians 5:22,23)

When God comes to you and looks at your life, will he find it barren, fruitless?  Jesus told this parable in Luke 13:6-9.  The gardener came to the tree and found it barren.  He said, “Cut it down, why does it use up ground?”  If you feel your life is barren and there is no sign of the ‘fruit’ listed above growing in your life, you are at risk!

But thanks be to God, our Advocate, Jesus Christ, says to His Heavenly Father on our behalf, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if it does not, after that you can cut it down.”

Thank You God for second chances!  Please help me allow you to grow this spiritual fruit in my life so that when You come to examine me, I will please You.

Everything

In garden, God, healing, help, love, power, relationships on September 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm

With God I neiStock_000004551858XSmalled nothing.

He is my…

Father, Physician, Husband, Attorney, Confidant,  Travel Agent, Accountant and Concierge.

He is my Counselor, Mother, Financial Adviser, Interpreter, Professor, Gardener and Surgeon.

He’s my Nutritionist, Manager, Driver, Landlord, Planner, Negotiator, Mechanic, and Army.

He’s my Real Estate Agent, Defender, Carpenter, Banker, Insurance Agent, Creditor and Healer.

He is my Pastor, my Proxy, my Brother, my Judge.

He is my Safety Officer, Designer, Architect and Friend.

He makes me laugh.

He’s my Exterior Designer, decorating my life with sky paintings that shame the masters.

He accessorizes my landscapes with colors and shapes that fill my senses with pleasure.

He unscrambles my brain.

He calms my craziness.

He corrects me.

He is my Search Party when I get lost, kidnapped or wander away.

He collects my tears in a bottle.

He loves me.

He blows me away.

Without God, I am bankrupt.

Single.

In change, focus, God, purpose, single on September 19, 2009 at 2:13 am

iStock_000008938931XSmall

How single, God, are You – how whole!

One Source are You, on Way, one Goal.

I tend to splinter all apart

With fractured mind, divided heart;

Oh, integrate my wand’ring maze

To one highway of love and praise.

O single, mast’ring Life of peace

At Whose command the ragings cease,

Keep calling to me “Peace be still,”

To redirect my scattered will.

Keep gath’ring back my heart to You.

Keep cent’ring all I am and do.

O focused Spot of holy ground,

Silence which is the Source of sound,

I drop the clutter from my soul,

Reorganized by Your control;

Then single, whole, before Your throne,

I give myself to You alone.

~Anonymous

It was 1995 and I had just signed another set of divorce papers. I was shattered, fractured, divided and torn. Still, I was searching, trying to figure out what went wrong and what purpose I served here on earth.

Then I found this poem.

It took a few years, but I found my focus, my purpose, and it’s all in God.