Blog

Articles for Edification

Lordship Salvation: What Does It Mean to Believe?

A glittering, sparkling crown with the words "I believe" at the bottom represents the Lordship of God.

Hanging out with Christians on social media can be a trip sometimes. Whether in Facebook groups or just in the comments on ministry posts, you can encounter many different viewpoints among people who are all supposed to be in one accord. This week, two people on two different sites stated definitively that giving one’s life to the Lord was unnecessary for salvation. Both insisted that the only requirement was a profession of faith. “Yes, I believe that Jesus died for my sins.” Done. Anything past that, they both cried, was adding to the finished work of the cross. They called it works salvation (also called Lordship Salvation) and heresy. But what these guys are missing is what the Bible says about what it means to believe.

Belief Is More Than a Mental Assent

James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” It’s one thing to acknowledge with your head that something is true. It is quite another thing to believe it with your life. James 2:14-17 says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” The point here is that WHEN you believe something, you act a certain way because of that belief. It’s the evidence, or fruit, that you believe it.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” But, the very next verse qualifies the statement. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” It’s not our works that save us. But, the good works we do have been prepared for us ahead of time by God. We walk in them, meaning that we do good works, because we believe that He has work for us to do.

Belief Means Living Like You Have a God

You can say you believe that a chair will hold your weight. But, if you are unwilling to sit on the chair, your actions belie your so-called beliefs. If you say you believe that there is one God who sent His Son to die for your sins so you can live, you have to live like you believe it, or your words are empty. Romans 1:18-20 says that deep down everybody knows that there is a God because they have been shown it, and there is no excuse. But everybody who KNOWS it doesn’t live like it. Romans 1:21 says, “…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Think about it. If you say you believe there is a God, a real God, is it still okay to go about living your life like everybody else who says there isn’t? Wouldn’t you talk differently if you believed Matthew 12:36-37? (“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”)  If you truly believed, wouldn’t you think differently like it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5? (“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”)

Wouldn’t your priorities be different if you believed 1 John 2:15? (“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”) Wouldn’t you act differently if you believed Matthew 5:44? (“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”)

Belief Means Worshiping God as God

Finally, wouldn’t you worship differently if you truly BELIEVED that there really was an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God with real feelings and desires? After all, would a real God (who is sovereign and not just a creation of our imaginations) tolerate worship of anything else other than Him?  Right now we live in a world that is in the hands of the evil one. Everything competes for our worship. Idols of materialism and pride/self-love wink at us from every advertisement. Music and contemporary culture pound those ideals into our brains with every picture, song, article, and post.

Can we say we believe in God but never take time to read the Book He wrote to us? Can we worship God for an hour on Sunday but live for the world and ourselves the rest of the week? Or does worship mean giving our lives to the one who gave His life for us?  In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” We are not our own. He is our Lord and Master.

Belief Means Giving Our Lives to Him

Verse after verse of the New Testament assures us that more of us is required than nodding our heads. We must give our lives to Him if we believe that He is who He says He is.

  • Luke 9:23 – “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
  • Matthew 10:38 – “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
  • Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
  • Galatians 5:24 – “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
  • Luke 14:23 – “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
  • Luke 6:46 – “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Belief Means More Than Just Saying “Lord, Lord”

Some of the scariest verses in the entire New Testament are found in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

These verses are talking about people who think they are Christians. They have done works as Christians, but they did not have a relationship with God. He doesn’t KNOW them. They didn’t do the will of His Father. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, we read, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” From the Strong’s Concordance the word “sanctification” is ἁγιασμός in Greek, (pronounced hag-ee-as-mos). It means “the process of making or becoming holy, set apart.” We must be set apart for the Master’s purposes.

God Gives His Holy Spirit To Those Who Believe

When you believe that God is who He says He is, you will commit your life to Him, and He will give you His Holy Spirit. You will be born again. John 3:5-6 says, “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Romans 8:9 says, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” When you have the Spirit of God, you have a relationship with Him. You hear Him speak to you, and you do your best to obey. John 10:27-28 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

From Lukewarm to Red Hot

This subject is of special importance to me, and it’s the basis for my blogging ministry. My whole life I called myself a Christian and believed that I was one. I went to church every week, prayed every morning and night, and always listened to Contemporary Christian music. I had said the prayer of salvation as a kid. In fact, I said it again a few more times over the years because I never felt changed. Then one day when I was 41, God woke me up to the times we are living in (the end times). He also brought to my attention one very important verse from Revelation 3:16: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

All those years, I believed with my head, but I was still living for myself. I was the lord of my own life. Once I realized that His Word was true and He would not accept me in this condition, I decided to live my life like I really believed that everything the Bible says is true. From the moment I made that decision,  He gave me His precious Holy Spirit. Since then, I have never been the same. I’m a new creation with a desire to worship Him with my entire life. He PUT the desire to live for Him inside me, and my life is now focused on the Lord Jesus Christ as my heart’s greatest desire. If you would like to watch my testimony video, you can find that here.

Lordship Salvation

Lordship salvation is controversial in some Christian circles. Some people don’t want to think that there is any requirement past acknowledging that Jesus died for our sins. After all, John 3:16 says that “whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life,” and it’s absolutely true. When we believe with our hearts, we are saved. But believing is more than agreeing that something is right. It means LIVING the truth of the thing we believe. If God really is God, He deserves that we give Him our everything. And if His Word is true, He will accept nothing less.

Want to hear more about Lordship Salvation? Check out Got Questions. Interested in more articles about testimonies? Check out A Testimony of Healing After a Prayer in Faith. Or, for something a little different, try my tract called Plugged In. It’s a symbolic short story. It illustrates the concept that Christianity is the only way, and only those who do it God’s way will make it to heaven.

Lessons to Learn

An Object Lesson About Pride in Our Hearts

This is the space heater that God used to show me an object lesson about pride.

God does enjoy a good object lesson. In Ezekiel 4, God has the prophet lay on his side, eating food by weight for 380 days, to illustrate the siege of Jerusalem. In Hosea, God has the prophet marry a harlot to show the relationship between faithful God and unfaithful Israel. Both of these stories involve spiritual concepts symbolized by physical items in order for the audience to better understand. God still uses object lessons today for those who are watching for them. The winter before last, He used an unlikely scenario with a space heater to show me a lesson about pride.

The Set Up

It was a cold January morning around 5:30 am when I hit the bathroom to get ready for work. Immediately, I reached to turn on the space heater that my son had bought me for Christmas the year before. Nothing. I saw that my husband had unplugged it to charge his phone, so I plugged it in and tried again. Nothing. Thinking it might be the outlet, I took it to my side of the bathroom and plugged it in there. It still didn’t work. I was frustrated that my relatively new space heater wasn’t working, so. I set it on the edge of the bathtub for a minute and turned on the shower to get the water warm. 

When I turned back around, I noticed something I hadn’t before. There was a band-aid stuck to the plug. Now, I know what you might be thinking: this is pretty far-fetched. And, I have to agree. But, this story happened exactly like I’m telling it. When my husband unplugged the heater, the cord had come down into the tiny trashcan next to the counter where it must have picked up the sticky band-aid. As soon as I pulled off the band-aid and plugged in the heater, I was in business. The heater worked just fine.

I wondered at the whole scenario as I finished getting ready for work. I knew that God can help us see things that we wouldn’t ordinarily see. Apparently, He also sometimes can help us miss things that we wouldn’t ordinarily miss. But why? I had a very strong suspicion that this was a lesson of some sort. Really, there could be no other explanation for the weird way it went down. It wasn’t until later that day when I happened onto a Word from the Lord that it all came together.

The Lesson and a Confirmation

Someone on my Facebook feed said that she had heard from the Holy Spirit that pride can block the flow of love. Then it hit me. The sticky band-aid had blocked the flow of electricity to the space heater. It was a perfectly good heater. It simply could not get the power it needed to operate because it was blocked. This was a physical representation of a spiritual lesson. I commented on the post about my experience, and we both had confirmation that the Word was from God. But what specifically did it all mean?

Pride Blocks us From Loving the Weak

When we have pride in our hearts, it can lead us to look down our noses on those around us who are not as strong and/or healthy as we are. I thought about times when I was exasperated by people who didn’t seem to be “pulling their weight” at work or others who seemed not to have the same commitment to coming to church every service because of illness or pain. Instead of having compassion on those who are built differently or who have different crosses to bear, I have been guilty of thinking of myself as better or more committed instead of loving them and asking how I can help.

Pride Blocks Us From Sharing Our Faith

When we have pride in our hearts, it is very hard to live our lives out loud for God. Worrying about how other people see us can cause fear to overcome any sense of love or compassion for people who will find themselves in hell without our Savior Jesus Christ. We are commanded to tell others about Jesus. But how many of us go about our lives interacting with store clerks, customers, bank tellers, and the like without ever mentioning Jesus to any of them?

A while back, God convicted me that I needed to do more, so I do pass out tracts when I’m out, but I struggle with pride every time, forcing myself to do it and even sometimes scurrying away with a quick, “Have a blessed day!” instead of sticking around to see if there are any questions or prayer requests. I worry about how people see me instead of being concerned about the consequences of not sharing the great blessing of salvation that someone had to first share with me.

Pride Blocks Us From Loving God With Our Hearts

Finally, having pride in our hearts can block the flow of love toward God Himself. He requires obedience and humility. When we are disobedient or proud, He chastises those whom He loves. When this happens, we have two choices. We can submit and humble ourselves, or we can bristle, get defensive, and pull back from Him. Like a child with a parent who says, “No,” or “Stop,” we can start to see God as strict or (God forbid) mean instead of the compassionate, loving God that He is. It’s obvious to us why children can’t go into the street or touch hot stoves, but as adults, it isn’t always clear why God has us do (or not do) certain things. We just have to remember that it is all for our good and His glory. We must humble ourselves to be grateful for His correction and love Him with our whole hearts.

Pride is bad news. It’s the sin that caused Lucifer to fall, and it’s the same one that is still causing trouble for many well-meaning Christians today. Just like the heater was blocked from power, our hearts can be blocked from having compassion for others and even fully loving God Himself when we have pride there. But loving God and loving others are the two greatest commandments, and without that power, we aren’t truly functioning the way Christians should. It is up to us to pull off that sticky pride and plug ourselves into the Source once again.

Enjoy object lessons? Check out Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe. In it, God uses a housefly to teach me about the way I should view the enemy. Or, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change. In that one, God shows me that we don’t have to stick with bad choices once they have been made.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Edification

3 Steps to Forgive From the Heart

The parable of the unforgiving servant has a pretty straight forward message that we all understand. Forgive so you are forgiven. Got it. But as easy as the lesson is to get, that’s how tough it is to actually put into practice. Add to the whole scenario that Satan is trying to wear out the saints and iniquity is abounding, and all of a sudden we have a real danger on our hands. There is a big difference between forgiveness and stuffing those hurts and offenses deeper and deeper under the rug of the mind. We must forgive from the heart.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: The Setup

The story takes place in Matthew 18:21-35. It starts when Peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive a brother who sins against him. He suggests what he probably thinks is a very large number: seven. But, “Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Now, some versions say 77 times, which just might be a more accurate translation. It is most likely an allusion to Genesis 4. In it, Lamech murders a man who wounded him but insists that, like his ancestor Cain who was protected by God, he can’t be harmed in return without being avenged by God. He says, “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Jesus is reversing things from radical vengeance to radical forgiveness.

In any case, we are simply to interpret the numerical phrase as an “unlimited number of times.” Then Jesus tells a parable to illustrate the concept of grace for grace. 

The Parable Itself

The kingdom of heaven is like a master who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. He called for a man who owed him 10,000 talents. Now, a talent was the equivalent of 6,000 to 10,0000 denarii. One denarius was a day’s wages for twelve hours of work, and people typically earned about 300 denarii per year. That means that it would take 20 to 30 years for a day laborer to earn just ONE talent. In modern terms, at minimum wage, he owed roughly seven billion dollars.

It was an impossible sum that, of course, he could not pay. When the master ordered that he and his wife and children be sold to pay the debt, the servant fell on his knees and begged for mercy. “‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’” A hollow promise at best. But, the master took pity on him, cancelled the debt, and let him go.

Now, as soon as the man left his master, he went right to one of his fellow servants who owed money to him. This debt was much smaller, though. It was only 100 denarii. It was about a third of a year’s wages. In our time, that is about $11,733.00 at minimum wage (with overtime). When the man could not pay, the servant began to choke him, demanding the money immediately. The servant fell at his feet and begged him. He used almost the exact same words that he, himself, had spoken just a little while before. “’Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’” With this comparatively small sum, he probably could have, too. But this unforgiving man did not have pity. He threw the debtor into prison until he could pay back every penny.

The other servants who saw what had happened were not happy. They went and told their master what the ungrateful servant had done. He was immediately hauled back in before the master. The master said, “’You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’” Then he handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all he owed.

The Lesson

The parable ends with a very chilling statement that is aimed at you and me. 

So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Matthew 18:35

The lesson is clear that we are to give grace for grace. We are not to withhold forgiveness to anyone. No matter what the person has done to us, it is NOTHING compared to what we have done to God. God has new mercy for us every day, and most days (I don’t know about you) I need it. I try to bring every thought into subjection, but those little buggers are nasty sometimes. And, certainly, I try to keep control of my mouth, but the Bible doesn’t call the tongue “untamable” for nothing.  

As hard I try, I still have a deceitful heart that gets me into trouble and flesh that is constantly trying to talk me into bad business. And none of this is even a drop in the bucket to my behavior before God saved me and gave me His precious Holy Spirit. Now, every time I step over the line, He is faithful to remind me Whose I am and Whom I serve. I immediately repent, of course. And, every single time, without fail, God’s mercy brings me back into right standing with Him. 

Iniquity is Abounding & Satan Knows His Time is Short

We are to forgive everything, but offenses are waxing worse and worse. Not to mention, they are getting more frequent in these last days. Iniquity is “grossly unfair or immoral behavior,” and it is abounding about now.  When speaking about this time, 2 Timothy 3:2-3 says, “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” With all that bad behavior out there, the Christian is sure to get hit in the crossfire on a regular basis. When this behavior affects us – and Satan makes sure that it does pretty often – we must forgive from our hearts. This is hard to do once, even harder to do seven times, and impossible (without God!) an unlimited amount of times.

Sweeping It Under the Rug of the Mind

So what do we do when we know we SHOULD forgive, but we are so fill-in-the-blank (angry, sad, upset, tired, betrayed, disgusted…etc.), that the best we can do for the moment is an “It’s fine” through clenched teeth. We paste on a churchy smile, but inside we can start to feel a little like a punching bag. The world knows we are Christians and are required to forgive, so some people push and push. In fact, sometimes and with some people, the offenses come so fast and furiously that it’s hard to even keep up. “I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive,” but instead of forgiving, we are stuffing. Out of sight, out of mind.

“It’s fine. I forgive,” but ten minutes later when the subject comes up, our nostrils flare, and a string of words will come out of our mouths before we have had a chance to check our WWJD bracelets. Just because we don’t scream back or retaliate at the moment doesn’t mean we have forgiven from our hearts. We could just be sweeping all that hurt under the carpet of our minds and deceiving ourselves that we have dealt with it appropriately. But you can’t keep sweeping things under without one day getting tripped by the big, fat bulge in the rug. It’s the same with unforgiveness.

Three Steps to Forgiving From the Heart

So how do we forgive every single time from our hearts? After meditating a lot this week, I believe it comes down to a three step process.

Step 1: Acknowledge Our Feelings

First, we must acknowledge that there has been a wrong done and we feel some type of way. Someone has sinned against us, and it is okay to be upset. Ephesians 4:6 says, “Be angry, and sin not.” We aren’t robots. Ignoring our feelings and shoving them down deep just creates a hardness of heart that we must guard against at all costs. In order to keep our hearts of flesh, we have to allow ourselves to have feelings. Maybe it was a snide comment, a snap, a disrespectful tone, or even a betrayal of trust. Or, it could be something significantly bigger. Maybe someone caused you to lose money, a big opportunity, or even the life of someone you love. We must acknowledge that the actions were wrong and that we have feelings of hurt or anger in response.

Step 2: Forgive and Give it to God

Second, we must consciously choose to forgive and give the situation to God. Whatever the offense “deserves” for justice to be done, in Romans 12:19, God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” Luke 17:3 says, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” Let’s be clear here. Nobody is getting away with anything. Even if God doesn’t send lightning bolts to zap people much these days, every single person will stand before God to give an account on judgement day. Every careless word spoken will be accounted for. Every negative action will have a price unless covered by repentance and the blood of Jesus. 

Step 3: Pray

Third, and I think this is pivotal, we must pray. We must give thanks to God for His grace to us, reminding ourselves that God is our Master who has forgiven us a sum that we could never ever hope to repay. In response, we must cancel the debts that others owe to us. Next, we must ask for clemency for those who have hurt us. In Luke 23:24, Jesus was betrayed unto death but prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In Acts 7:60, Stephen was being stoned but took the time to breath, “Lay not this sin to their charge.” Matthew 5:44 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” It’s important to pray.

Forgiveness Is for US, Not the Other Guy

Refusing to forgive others doesn’t hurt the other people, and it certainly doesn’t create justice for the wrong done to us. It only hurts us by making us bitter, angry, or upset, and worse than that, it is an offense to our Master who has forgiven us of so much. This is an item that I think a lot of people understand on a cognitive level but have never taken to heart. We MUST forgive to be forgiven.

Our faith in Jesus allows His sacrifice to pay for our sins, but unrepentant sin cannot be covered by His blood. Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” We must forgive from our hearts. Every offense. Every time. Because no matter what anyone has done to us, nothing is worth trading for the words, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Read More

If you like to look at scripture more closely, try Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job 28. Or, A Different Interpretation of the Pearl of Great Price. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Edification

9 Reasons God Doesn’t God Hear Our Prayers

A doorbell that says "Press for Attention" to represent getting God's attention to hear our prayers.

The old hymn “Prayer Bells of Heaven” is a song about communicating with God. It uses the picture of a bell at the Lord’s right hand. When we are in need, we pray our prayers, and the little bell rings to get God’s attention to hear us. The other day when I was praying, I had a surprising thought about why prayers might go unanswered sometimes. I thought of prayers like a doorbell. If you have ever tried to get someone’s attention using a doorbell when the power is out, you know it doesn’t work. You can press the button until your finger is purple, but the people inside the house will still never know you are standing there (unless you call them or bang on the door).  Doorbells need power. They have to be connected. Some people have no connection to God and are ringing a dead bell.

1. God Doesn’t Hear Us When We Have Unconfessed Sin

Sin separates us from God. It’s that simple. It’s like slamming down a barrier in between us and God. The only thing that will open the gates again is repentance. This is why it is so very important to live a life characterized by self-examination and repentance for sins so that He can forgive us and cleanse us. Then He will hear our prayers.

  • Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God;and your sins have hidden His face from you,so that He will not hear.”
  • Micah 3:4: “Then they will cry to the Lord, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.”
  • Psalm 66:18-19: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear but certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
  • Proverbs 28:9: “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
  • 1 John 3:22: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

2. God Doesn’t Hear Us When We Worship Idols or Put Other Things Before God

The Old Testament is full of idolatry as a major sin. It can be hard to relate to people who melt earrings to make golden calves, but modern idols are “alive” and well. It’s just that today, those idols are all based on self: materialism, ego/pride, science/naturalism, self-indulgence, and works to name a few. When we put anything other than God on the throne of our hearts, it causes a barrier.

  • Ezekiel 14:7-8 “For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
  • Galatians 5:4 “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

3. God Doesn’t Hear Us When There Is Unforgiveness

We must forgive to be forgiven. It is simply not okay for a Christian to have anything against anyone. We must choose to forgive and give those hard feelings to God for His disposal. We must live at peace with others in as much as it is within our power to do so. The parable of the unforgiving servant illustrates just how ridiculous it is when we don’t forgive others since God has forgiven us so much.

  • Mark 11:25 ““And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
  • Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

4. God Does Not Hear Us When We Lack Charity

The Bible says, “Give to those who ask you,” and although there are certainly exceptions, if we know that someone has a need and we have the ability to meet that need, it is up to us to help. After all, we are but stewards. Everything we have has been given to us. We must do good and share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16).

  • Proverbs 21:13 “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”

5. God Does Not Hear Us When We Don’t Ask Correctly

When we ask for things for our own selfish pleasures, or when we want things that are not in the will of God, He doesn’t hear us. When we make vain repetitions with words after words that never touch our hearts, He may not listen. But when we ask according to His will, with our hearts, and in His name, He will hear, and we will receive.

  • James 4:3: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
  • Matthew 6:7:  “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
  • 1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
  • John 16:23-24: “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

6. God Does Not Hear Us When We Ask in Unbelief

God won’t answer our prayers when we don’t believe He will do so. He hears us when we pray in belief that He is both listening and able to answer our prayers.

  • James 1:6-8: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lordhe is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
  • Matthew 21:22: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

7. God Does Not Hear Us When We Are Disobedient

My pastor says “Do what you know God wants you to do. If you’re not sure, do what you think He wants you to do.” But when we know what God wants and deny giving it to Him for our own selfish motives, we are in rebellion to God, and that is sin.  Even when what He is asking is hard or puts us outside our comfort zone, we must submit to God always.

  • Zachariah 7:11-13: “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
  • Proverbs 10:24: “The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted.”

8. God Does Not Hear Us When There Is Family Discord

Problems in a marriage can affect God’s willingness to hear our prayers. We must honor our partners so that our prayers may, in turn, be honored by God.

  • 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
  • Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

9. God Doesn’t Hear Us When We Don’t Ring the Bell

Finally, a working doorbell is only helpful if someone pushes the button. When we try to use worldly means to get the things we think we need and want, we can cause ourselves more harm than good. Instead, we should humble ourselves and ask God for His help.

  • James 4:2 “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

God DOES Hear Us When We Are Right With Him

God does listen to prayers from His children who are right with Him. He knows us, and we have a relationship with Him that opens the lines of communication. We believe in Him, trust Him, and spend our lives trying to please Him. The Bible is full of promises that God will hear us when we are in a right relationship with Him. 

  • John 15:7: “f you abide in Me, and My words abide in youyou will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
  • John 9:31: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.”
  • Psalm 91:14-15 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
  • Psalm 145:18-20 “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. The LORD preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.
  • Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
  • Psalm 34:17: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
  • Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

We Simply Must Be Connected to Be Heard

Like a doorbell that must have power, our prayers must have a connection to God in order to be heard. He doesn’t hear us when we are separated by things that displease Him, but when we are in good standing with God, He promises to hear us and grant those petitions that are in His will and good pleasure.

Do you like hymns? Check out Prayer Bells of Heaven. It’s on my YouTube channel playlist called Hymns With Hannah. Subscribe for new music each week.

f you like analogies, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change . It is an object lesson about changing for the better. Or, try The Waves of God’s Judgement and the Child of God. In it, we can see that the closer we are to God, the more protected we will be in times of trouble.

Articles for Encouragement

A Message of Hope in a Time of Great Trial

This week, like I often do, I was asking God to speak to me. He does that once in a while, and it thrills me every time. Sometimes I will get a word or phrase that will turn out to be what the pastor is preaching that Sunday morning. Sometimes, it’s a message that will show up in my Bible passage later that day. And sometimes it’s a dream that brings encouragement or correction. This time was different, though. I woke up Wednesday morning in the middle of night to use the bathroom, and I again asked God to speak to me. When I got back into bed, four words popped into my head. I immediately recognized them as the title and chorus to a rock song from the 1970’s. After looking at the lyrics, I believe that God was giving me a message of hope for His children during a time of great judgement and trial.

The words were “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” and the song was published by REO Speedwagon in 1973. Before I looked up the song, those were the only four words I actually knew. I hadn’t heard the song itself for probably well over twenty years. The story behind the song was that the band was touring in Colorado when they decided to play a trick on their manager by pretending to get lost. It started snowing really hard, and they ended up getting lost for real in the Rocky Mountains. It turned into a dangerous situation in which they had to ride out the storm.

When I looked at the lyrics, a few things jumped out at me right away as symbols. The rest came little by little and piece by piece as I prayed about it this week.

“Ridin’ the storm out, waitin’ for the thaw out On a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter”

The Rocky Mountains are at a higher altitude than the cities nearby. With deep snow and high winds, the weather can get dangerous very quickly. I thought of this as the Christian life. We are closer to God, but as such we not only fight the regular storms and trials of life in a fallen world, but we are battle our flesh and specific attacks of the enemy. We are all waiting for the day when Jesus will come back to fully vanquish the devil and all his storms. A full moon is just a reflection of the sun. As Christians, we reflect the Son of God. We are lights in a dark world.

“My wine bottle’s low, watching for the snow”

Wine symbolizes a few things in the Bible. The first thing that comes to mind is the “new wine” that is the symbol of the New Covenant with Jesus. But wine has another meaning as well. It is paired with judgement and God’s wrath in Jeremiah 25:15 where it says, “For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: ‘Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.'” I believe this is speaking of a time in which will God pour out His judgement on nations. As Christians, we are already looking for it because the watchmen have been warning us for a long time that it is coming. Many countries, especially America, will be judged for turning their backs on God.

“Thinkin’ about what I’ve been missin’ in the city And I’m not missin’ a thing”

The city represents the world. The storms don’t hit the city as hard as in the mountains. For some people without Christ, they have easy lives and only have to think of themselves and their own needs. But as Christians, we constantly fight the flesh, bringing every thought into subjection. We are striving to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We also fight the enemy who wants to wear us out and cause us to stumble.

Once we are saved out of the world, we are not to turn back. We are not to be envious of those who seem to “get away with” doing things the easy way. Also, during a time of judgement, some of the old comforts of life will be taken from us to achieve God’s purposes. We are not to spend our time wishing for those days to return but we are to be about our Father’s business.

“Watchin’ the full moon crossing the range Ridin’ the storm out Ridin’ the storm out”

God is our refuge and our fortress. When storms blow in, He is our shelter. He will be with us in times of trouble no matter where we go. But there will be an end to the storms, and those who endure to the end shall be saved. It’s just a matter of riding out the tough times until the end.

“My lady’s beside me, she’s there to guide me She says that alone we’ve finally found home”

These were the first lines to jump out at me as symbols. I immediately thought of the Holy Spirit who guides the children of God. This thought brings great comfort to me as I reflect on the idea that He is always with me, guiding me, even when I don’t realize it. While we are here on earth, we have a constant companion and Comforter, a little taste of what forever will be like when we get to our true home with Jesus.

“The wind outside is frightening”

Life can get tough, and when judgement does hit in is fullness, we could see some very frightening things. Wind can be noisy. It can knock things over and make the doors and windows rattle. But inside the comfort of a mountain cabin, the wind can do little more than make you shiver with gratitude that you are inside and warm. When we are under God’s feathers, we have the ultimate comfort in knowing that He is in control, and nothing happens without His permission. All things work toward the good of those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. We might go through some terrible things, but God has a plan, and we will never be alone.

“But it’s kinder than the lightning life in the city”

Whatever we see and experience as children of God, it will always be better than living a life without Him. Here, that life is empty and characterized by vanity. In eternity, for the soul without Jesus, there is only eternal pain.

“It’s a hard life to live but it gives back what you give.”

This last line really stuck with me. The gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life. During a time of judgement and maybe even persecution, we aren’t only going to be able to think of ourselves and our own needs – or even those of just our immediate family. We will need to be listening for God’s voice and doing His will during a time when people will be scared and looking for answers. We will all be held responsible for what we do with our time here on earth and rewarded for all the works that stand in eternity.

Putting It All Together

If you follow biblical precedent at all, you know that many countries, including America, are due for some very hard times as God pours out judgement on nations that have forgotten Him and His ways. But there is, here, a message of hope in that judgement. God will always be with His children, and He will guide us when we keep our eyes focused on Him. We must obey His voice even when things get tough, but with His help, we will all be able to ride out the storms until Jesus calls us home.

If you are in a storm right now, here is a gospel song that might help. It’s called “Ride Out Your Storm, Turn to Jesus.” It has a similar message of hope for better days with an assurance that Jesus is with you in hard times.

If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It compares aspects of the Christian life to a dishwasher. Or, try Three Reasons We Can’t Stop Trying to Save the Lost. It’s an analogy of the Parable of the Starfish.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Points to Ponder

Bumper Bowling and the Christian Walk

Bowling lane with the bumpers up and a clearly marked foul line to see the analogy between bumper bowling and our Christian walk.
Picture taken at Alley Cats. There were screens above, so lanes reflected the lights there.

If you have ever gone bowling with a child, chances are, you know about bumper bowling. It’s simply an adaptation to the lane for young children who are first learning to bowl. With the touch of a button, bumpers come out to cover the gutters so that bowling balls will stay on the lane. Nobody likes a gutter ball, and it’s a lot more fun for everybody when pins are hit. The other night in my prayer closet, a thought occurred to me about how the Christian walk is a lot like bumper bowling. What started as a random thought turned out to be a full-fledged analogy after seeking God in prayer. 

The Straight and Narrow

Matthew 7:14 says that it is the narrow way that leads to life (KJV). That is the exact path a bowling ball needs to travel to hit all ten of the pins. A little to the left or right, and you might only get a few or end up with a split. But for little ones just learning the game, aim can be lacking. With bumpers, balls that might be skewed too far to one side or the other are gently bumped back toward the center for a better chance at hitting something. Proverbs 3:6 tells us that when we trust in the Lord, He will make our paths straight (NIV). 

Bumpers Are Boundaries

So what are the boundaries that God has set up to keep His children moving safely down the narrow path? First and foremost is the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth and lets us know when our thoughts or actions are not pleasing to Him. God chastens those He loves. Listening to His correction and submitting to His will for our lives is like a gentle bump back to where we need to be on His lane. 

Second, like 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, we must “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” This is actually where the thought for this analogy came from. I felt like I was continually catching myself out of bounds with my thoughts and having to reign them back in. At times, we can have the tendency to “overcorrect.” Having trouble with feeling worthless? Be careful, or you will overcorrect to pride. We go from one bumper to the other, ever trying to hit that perfect sweet spot in the center.

Third, we must be always trying to conform ourselves to what we see in the Bible. We must be doers of the Word and not hearers only. When we catch ourselves acting in a way that is contrary to what the scripture says, we need to stop what we are doing and repent. That just means we need to turn around and go the other way. In 1 John 5:17, we learn that “all unrighteousness is sin.” We must try to behave the way the Bible commands. We must stay away from the behaviors that grieve the Lord.

The Weight of the Ball

One ingredient in the bowling experience that can make a big difference is the weight of the ball. Young kids can’t lift very many pounds, so maybe a six or eight pound ball is all they can handle. Older kids and strong men can lift balls as heavy as 12 to 16 pounds. Lighter balls are easier to swing and release, but often the heavier balls can pack a bigger punch to the pins.

As believers, we are not all given the same advantages and disadvantages on our Christian walk. Some of us live easier lives and may only hit a few pins. Some have lived through terrible calamities and may end up with a perfect strike. God uses each of us for His purposes, but often those who have come from desperate situations can make a big impact for others going through the same trials. And people called to lives of hardship can often focus more on the Lord than those who live lives of ease.

Where Do the Balls Go?

Unless you make a wild swing, all the balls on the lane end up in the same place. They go back to the docking station next to the bowlers to be used on their next turns. The Bible is clear that believers can lose their salvation if they choose to leave the narrow path. Otherwise, all genuine, Holy Spirit-filled Christians will end up with Jesus no matter how many pins are hit in the process.

What Are The Pins?

The pins are rewards in heaven. Matthew 16:27 says, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Now, we are not working for our salvation at all. All balls on the lane end up in the docking station with Jesus. But, everyone’s aim and success with the bumpers will not be the same. Some will knock down many pins, making a big difference for the kingdom of God and living a life characterized by sacrifice that will translate into big rewards in heaven.

In 1 Corinthians 3:14, we learn that “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.” Some, on the other hand, even with the bumpers will still hit the gutter. In 1 Corinthians 3:15, we hear that  “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

The Foul Line

Last but not least, the foul line is important in the game. Bowlers must stay behind the line when delivering their swing to keep the game safe and fair. Lanes are polished so that they are very slippery, so people can fall and get hurt. Also, the line acts as a neutral starting point so that no one player has an advantage. If someone does end up over the foul line, any points scored are forfeited. Satan is our adversary in this life. He is constantly trying to lure us over the foul line so that we can be hurt or deprived of our points. It is up to us to stay close to the Lord and well back from his line so that we may keep the rewards we have earned. Colossians 2:18 says, “Let no one cheat you of your reward…” 

A Final Thought About Judgement

Maybe, like me, you haven’t thought of bumper bowling in a very long time. It is kind of a weird comparison for the Christian walk, but it works. No matter what size ball we have been given, it’s up to us to use the bumpers to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow path and try to hit the pins that make a big difference for others and will reap rewards in heaven. Every single one of us will appear before the judgement seat of Christ. We must all give an account, and we all want to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” After all, pleasing Jesus is the very best prize we could win.

Do you like analogies? Try reading It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It’s an article that compares a dishwasher to aspects of the Christian life. Or, try Born Again: All About That Butterfly Life. An article about being born again using the analogy of metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.

Articles for Encouragement

Standing on the Promises of God

This is the view from my desk in my classroom.
The view from my desk.

Just ask anybody: spiritual warfare is intensifying. The devil knows his time is short, and he is seeking to wear out the saints. Now, we know that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We know that. But when an attack comes at us full force, it can help to have a plan of action ready to go. An incident I had this week in my classroom involving disappearing and moving objects taught me the very best way to combat the worry, stress, and confusion the devil tries to bring: standing on the promises of God.

I teach in a public high school. At the beginning of the school year, I consecrated my classroom to the Lord. I asked for His protection and peace. And, I took a stand against any enemy spirits that might have wandered in over the summer with the various cleaning crews that came and went. As a general practice, I pray over my classroom often. Any time there is any kind of incident or strife in my classroom, I anoint again with oil. 

Disappearing and Moving Papers

The incident happened on a regular Thursday during the last block of the day. I had two kids come in to make up a test for me while my regular eighth-period was having class. I have two versions of the test, one green and one blue. The girl finished her green test, and I grabbed the answer keys out of the drawer where I keep them. At first I started to use the blue one, but I realized her test was green, so I put the blue one back in my drawer. I graded her test and put it into the gradebook. I thought I put the green key in the drawer with the blue one. A few minutes later, the boy finished his blue test, so I went to grab the key out of the drawer. The drawer was empty. Neither key was inside.

I started looking everywhere. As a teacher with lots of papers and a lifestyle of constant multi-tasking, sometimes I stack papers and put them in places they shouldn’t be. I looked in all my drawers as well as the drawers for the graded work where I put the tests when I’m done grading them. No keys. Frustrated but still thinking there was a rational explanation, I contacted another teacher on my team and asked to use her keys to make new ones. She brought them over, and I hole punched a new set. All the while, I was alternating playing the audio book for the novel we are reading and discussing it with the kids in my eighth-period. 

I used my friend’s key to grade the boy’s blue test. Then I put her two keys in that same top drawer where I always keep my keys. I put my new ones on top (I still had to finish taping them.) Later, I went to get my friend’s keys out, and they were NOT in the drawer. I started my search of drawers once again. I found them in the drawer below along with another, smaller key that had been “floating” in my top drawer. Needless to say I was quite freaked out. Either I was losing track of my actions, or something or someone was messing with me. I was standing there the whole time. No kid could have snagged the keys from my desk, much less moved them from desk drawer to desk drawer. Something was going on.

Searching for Answers But Finding More Questions

I spent the whole drive home praying and asking God to show me what He wanted me to see. After all, nothing happens to His children without His say-so. Did I have an open door that needed to be addressed? Was He trying to teach me a lesson? Did my run-in with the mouthy girl during fifth-period allow permission for the enemy to attack me? Were her words of anger when she realized I called her parents somehow responsible, either directly or indirectly?

I didn’t get any answers on the drive. When I got home, I went to get into my pajamas like I always do, and I noticed that the two or three lights left in the chandelier in my bedroom were out. The room was completely dark. I didn’t think anything about it until I went to my bathroom and saw that two of the four lights in my bathroom were out as well. Now the darkness felt coordinated.

Requesting Prayer

So I put out some requests for advice and prayer. First, I talked to my pastor and his wife. They assured me that the missing keys problem was probably just a mistake in stacking that the enemy was using to cause confusion, self-doubt, and distress. They acknowledged the lights were probably a direct attack and prayed for me to have peace and protection. I also talked to several close Christian friends online who have had supernatural experiences involving objects being moved and removed. 

A brother in Christ told me about a mutual friend and sister in Christ who was having trouble with objects being taken out of other children’s backpacks and being placed into her daughter’s bag (to frame her for stealing). A sister told me about a time when she went to turn the light on in the basement, but it was out. On closer inspection, the bulbs were laying on the ground, fully intact, directly below the fixture. She had been alone in the house at the time. Another sister told me about a recent incident that involved brain fog and flickering lights. Both of them stopped after a warfare prayer.

The Solution Was to Stand

In any case, no matter if some entity had moved my papers or simply used mis-stacked papers to upset me, the burned bulbs and the feeling of confusion, stress, and worry pointed to a real attack. So, when I got to my prayer closet that night, I had a heartfelt talk with God. I told Him that I knew that I was His child and that I have authority over entities that would seek to torment me.

The Bible says that I don’t have to fear because He is with me, and I believe that He will strengthen me and uphold me with His righteous right hand. I trust Him to be my protection, and I was going to stand on those promises. I played the song “Standing on the Promises of God” and then read my passages in the Old and New Testaments right at my bookmarks like I always do. 

After I finished, I had the idea to read Psalm 37. There were the words from my prayer: “Trust in the Lord…does not forsake His saints…They are preserved forever, But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.” I fully believe that God uses His Word to speak to us just at the right time. I was encouraged and relieved. He had heard my prayer and confirmed my thoughts were from Him. Whatever had happened, He was in charge and on top of the whole situation.

He is With Us in Our Praise

Then a song popped into my mind to play before I left my closet. It’s my new favorite song and a song that praises and thanks God. “When I Think About the Lord” has the most amazing chorus: “Hallelujah, thank you Jesus. Lord You’re worthy of all the glory and all the honor, and all the praise. It makes me want to shout!” The Bible says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. When I worshipped the Lord, I could feel His presence with me. As I went to bed, I was not afraid, and I slept soundly until the next day. That next morning, I spent a few minutes re-sanctifying my classroom, and I had a super day.

Warfare is bound to happen, and as we get closer and closer to Jesus’ return, it will more than likely increase in scope and frequency. But when those attacks come, whether physical or mental, we must remember our position in Christ. The enemy is more powerful than we are, but he is nothing in the face of our God. So the next time you are under attack, remember to take authority in Jesus’ name, praise Him with your whole heart, and keep standing on the promises of God..

Check Out These Other Posts

If you like articles about spiritual warfare, try Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe  in which God gives me a visual about the devil’s eventual demise. If you like more stories about school, try God Knows Even When You Don’t — So Pray in which prayers take care of a graffiti problem on campus.

Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.

Articles for Encouragement

God Knows Even When You Don’t – So Pray!

Three public restroom stalls with green writing that says "Jesus Loves You" represents the place I prayed a prayer for a stranger only God knows.

As Christians, we pray every day. We just do. We pray for ourselves, our families, and our fellow Christians, as well as a variety of other people and situations that present themselves in our lives each day. God knows us and guides us, many times by those very prayers. So, when something happened at the school where I teach a couple of weeks ago that made me feel helpless in and of myself, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. And that prayer made a difference for a stranger I may never know beyond the name I gave to her when I spoke to God: “Green Marker Girl.”

Disturbing Messages

I teach in a public high school in the DFW area. The school is well run, and the problems that come up on campus are dealt with swiftly in order to stop a snowball effect that can and does happen when discipline is ignored in schools. Restrooms are cleaned regularly, and stalls have always been kept pristine – until two weeks ago. It started with one stall in the girls’ restroom in my hall. The words were disgusting and written in green marker on the door of the stall I usually use. The next time I came in and used a different one, I noticed the same green writing. There was another dirty message about sexual activities done to a certain boy on campus. 

I called down to the office and left a message for the school secretary to have someone come upstairs and clean the walls. The four letter word used is pretty common to teens, but some of the other words this girl was writing might be “educating” some of the young freshmen who also use the facilities. The secretary was out, though, so nothing was done. By the next day, every stall I went into had green writing. After school, I talked to the night janitor myself. I specifically asked him to clean the stalls, and he did. 

No End in Sight

For a few hours the next day, the walls were clean and perfect once again. And then they weren’t. Green Marker Girl had struck again. This time, the writing came with smears of bodily fluids and messages of activities done there producing said mess. I was disgusted and distraught. Cleaning the stalls didn’t work. Cameras are not allowed inside the restrooms for good reason, and the cameras in the hall itself wouldn’t help catch someone who could come in with the marker hidden in a purse or backpack. There was really no way to stop this girl from writing on every stall, every day.

And then I thought a little more about Green Marker Girl herself. What must this girl’s life be like that she felt the need to do this? What demons must she have to prompt her to act out in a way that was so beyond normal behavior even for troubled teens? I had no idea who she was or even how to help, but God knows. So I prayed for her.

Prayers Make The Difference

I prayed for her to feel conviction, that God would impress upon her how wrong it was for her to be putting messages where other girls could be tainted by perversion. I also prayed that God would allow her to feel His love and peace, that she would know and understand that God loved her. Even if her situation was rough, I prayed she would think to turn to Him for comfort instead of acting out in such a way. Every time I came into the restroom, I would think of her and pray. The janitor cleaned the writing again that night. And then the writing stopped.

The stalls in my hall’s restroom have been graffiti-free this whole past week, but my prayers have continued. I keep praying for Green Marker Girl to know and feel the love of Jesus and for God to send people into her life to lead her closer to Him. I even pray that one day I might meet her as a sister in Christ in eternity.

We Are Never Helpless

Psalm 121 says that we should lift our eyes and look to the Lord for our help. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and He is also actively involved in our lives. My personal prayer each and every day I walk into the school is for God to see me as one of His “guys on the ground” on my campus. Just like in Acts 18:10 when God told Paul that He had “many people in the city,” God knows where His people are, and I want Him to consider using me when He sees a need at my school. I want Him to send people and situations my way so I that can help others and bring glory to Him. 

We don’t have to know all the details in a given situation. Names are not important to a God who knows everything. We just have to pray to be in the right place at the right time for God to use us and to keep lifting people up to Him. We are never helpless. He is our help. And He can and does move on behalf of our prayers.

Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make God’s Will My Will: A New Way to Pray. It’s a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. Or, see God Answered the Prayer I Did Not Pray. In it, God teaches me a lesson about leaning on Him for strength.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Points to Ponder

More of You, Less of Me: Let Me Be an NPC

Last week, I published a blog on The Mandela Effect and the Character of God. I got lots of comments on social media as well as on my YouTube channel where I read the blogs for people who like to listen while they do other things. One person on my video simply commented “NPC.” Unfamiliar with the acronym, I looked it up on the online urban dictionary. The definition hit me pretty hard. But what the man with the skull avatar meant as an insult to me has become my new fervent prayer: “More of you, less of me. Lord, let me be an NPC.”

What Is An “NPC”?

NPC is short for “non-player character.” It’s video game language for any character that is not controlled by an actual human player. Also called a “bot,” an NPC is like an “extra” in a movie. It responds to actions or dialogue from real players with a predetermined script. In the context of the Mandela Effect, in which some say that we are actually only participating in a simulated reality, NPCs are those people who cannot think objectively but simply repeat programmed “opinions.” It was a favorite insult on Twitter in 2018 when pro-Trump supporters put cartoon faces over the tops of news anchors who spouted liberal talking points.

The Implications

When I realized what the man was saying, I immediately understood two things. First, he was insulting me for not thinking for myself.  Second, in the context of who I am in Christ, I could take this as a great compliment. My article was about having faith that God is who the Bible says He is. Even more, it was about refusing to accept that He would act in a way contrary to that. I was repeating the truth of the Bible without deviating or stopping to entertain any possibilities apart from it.

In essence, I was refusing to think outside the biblical “box.” And I was encouraging others to do the same. It was an “aha” moment of sorts as I processed through the idea that my commitment to the Truth of the Bible meant that I didn’t want to think “for myself.” But no sooner had I patted myself on the back for being just an empty vessel, the Lord showed me that I’m not quite there just yet.

Not There Yet

That night was a Wednesday. As I drove to church for evening services, the song “Nobody” by Casting Crowns and Matthew West came on the radio. The lyrics go, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who saved my soul…I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus.” Yes! I thought. I’m a nobody, a nameless Christian just believing what the Bible says and living the way God commands us to do. But God loves to use both irony and foreshadowing, and 1 Corinthians 10:12 pretty much sums up what happened next: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

It was about 20 minutes later during the service when an idea popped into my head to do something in worship that sounded incredibly embarrassing. The song leader was wrapping up the last song, and I knew I only had a couple of minutes to decide if I was going to do it or not. So the arguments started in my mind. Surely it can’t be God leading me to worship in a way that was outside my comfort zone. Maybe it’s just the devil trying to embarrass me. Maybe it’s simply a meaningless wild hair. If it is God, I want to submit, but why would God want me to do that? I was still arguing when the song ended and the pastor started his sermon.

Lesson Learned

The sermon was about Exodus 33:18 in which Moses, after receiving an answer to his prayer and a great compliment from God, didn’t just say “Thank you.” He asked to see God’s glory. He wanted more of God. But how many times do we just want what we want? We think God might be asking us to do something, but we misunderstand – or worse, refuse to submit to Him. Then another thought popped into my head: maybe I wasn’t such an empty vessel after all. I still had a ways to go before I was an NPC, simply speaking truth and responding without thought to the Master’s wishes. There were still way too many of my own thoughts, desires, and opinions rolling around up there. There was still way too much of me and not nearly enough of Him.

My New Prayer

So I prayed, “More of You, less of me. Lord, let me be an NPC.” I want to believe God and speak and act in a way that the Bible tells us to do. I want to die to self and live for God, responding without question when I believe it might be God doing the asking. Of course, we must always test the spirits. God will never suggest things that go against scripture. But sometimes He might want us to do things we don’t understand, things that might even cause us personal discomfort. But NPCs don’t get embarrassed or offended. They simply do what they are programmed to do without thought or argument. And that’s the way I want to be. 

Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make Mine Yours. It’s a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. Or, see Hope for Lost Loved Ones: God’s Mercy In Trials in which God teaches me a new way to pray for lost loved ones.

Articles for Edification

The Mandela Effect and the Character of God

A lion and lamb basking in the sun represents the argument that the Mandela Effect changed the Bible from "lion will lie down with the lamb" to "wolf will lie down with the lamb."

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change. But there is a whole group of Christians out there right now who are convinced that the Bible does. They are calling it the Mandela Effect and are attributing the changes to a variety of possibilities. Some believe in multiple realities and a slide of consciousness from one to the next. Some say that it is the work of CERN, the great Hadron Collider, and a break through to a “mirror universe.” Others just believe the world is like a “holodeck” (to use a word from Star Trek) or a “matrix” (like the movie with the same name) with a glitch. Still others say it’s time travel or magic from the devil. Whatever the explanation, these Christians are sure that it is happening. And, they are slamming their Bibles shut in protest, claiming a “famine of the word of God.” But while these Christians will bring piece after piece of so-called “evidence” of the Bible’s “changes,” they are all ignoring one very important problem with any and all of these theories: the character of God.

What Is The Mandela Effect?

Fionna Broome coined the term “Mandela Effect” in 2009. It describes large groups of people all clearly remembering events that never happened. The name comes from a situation with political activist Nelson Mandela. While history records that he died in 2013, many people remember him dying in prison in the 1980’s. In fact, when comparing these false memories, Broome noticed there were similar details of the supposed funeral and a speech that his “widow” made.

But Mandela’s double funeral was just the beginning. As soon as people started hearing about the phenomenon, all of a sudden there were lots of examples. There were tons of tiny details that people were remembering very clearly one way but were finding out that they were not that way at all. The supposed changes involve characters and lines in movies, the spelling of names, and even the location of countries on the map. Whole groups of people remembered things that were simply not in historical evidence.

But the spelling of Berenstain Bears (versus Berenstein Bears) and the silver color of C-3PO’s leg (versus the all-gold version people remember) are minor compared to the “changes” people started to find in the Bible. The most famous one is Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb…” (versus the lion and the lamb people remember, probably from the fact that Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb). But there are also questions with the words “bottles” (used in the KJV when people remembered “wineskins” which is used in the NKJV and other versions) and “stuff” (which people argued was not a word in use at the time the Bible was written but was actually in the Oxford Dictionary as early as the 1400s.) 

Malevolent Bible Changes

Worse than that, people started finding words that they claim point to a new perversion in the Bible. For example, a website proclaiming supposed Bible changes said that the Bible is now condoning homosexuality. They cite the following verse. “Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left.” They say that it USED to say “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.” As you will know if you search for these scriptures, the first one is actually Luke 17:35 and the second one is Matthew 24:41. They are BOTH in the Bible (and always have been). The gospel writers just chose a little bit different words to describe the same scenario.

Ridiculously enough, I also found a site that claims that the Bible now promotes the transgender agenda. It cites verses such as Isaiah 49:23 in the KJV. “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers…” Now, as we all know, basic Bible learning is known as “milk.” Mature, deeper learning is known as “meat.” Is it so amazing that the King James Bible would use a metaphor here? John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible interprets the verse just that way. It says that Christian kings and queens would come “who feed the church with the milk of the word, and the breasts of ordinances.”

A Spiritual “Pull”

If you start to research this, first of all, please cover yourself with prayers of protection against deception. There is a real spiritual “pull” there that tells me that this whole idea comes straight from the enemy. Secondly, you will see terms like “the newest changes” as if this is some kind of ongoing project to rearrange and replace words throughout the Bible. You will also see verses you know, love, and remember, and claims that they have always read a completely different way than you know they have. It’s a frenzy; it’s a blindness. Once people believe this lie, they stop trusting everything in the Word of God. It leads people to paranoia, distress, and lack of faith in the things of God.

The Character of God

Put aside for a moment that the theories of “quantum pollution” and parallel universes are farfetched and like something straight out of science fiction. Ignore that people’s memories are fallible and susceptible to suggestion. Never mind that internet search engines and available information can be tampered with and pounding people’s brains with false information from memes, t-shirts, and broadcasts can make a big difference in how they remember things. Forget how different Bible versions and slightly different wording in different chapters can cause confusion. Dismiss people’s tendency to paraphrase when they can’t remember the exact words to a verse and the even greater tendency to repeat what people say, handing down verses and prayers in an oral tradition, instead of checking what the Bible actually reads. Discount all of these great explanations for why people are misremembering what the Bible says, and you are still left with the greatest problem with this theory: the character of God simply would not allow for His Word to be changed.

Is God Weak?

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” 1 Peter 1:25 says that “the word of the Lord endures forever.” Hebrews 4:12 says that the “word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” John 10:35 says that “scripture cannot be set aside.” If the Bible is God-breathed, enduring forever, alive and active, and cannot be set aside, is God too weak to protect His Word and His own reputation for Truth? God forbid! The God who created the universe and calls the stars by name is well able to protect His own words. He is not at the mercy of quantum physics or the devil’s wiles. He is in control.

Is God Careless?

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the spirit is the Word of God. We are in a battle. Most of the full armor of God is defensive, but the sword is the one offensive weapon that God gives us to fight the enemy. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He fought using the Word. He used Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:16, and Deuteronomy 6:13 to withstand the enemy, and the enemy had to leave. It is the same with us today.

As believers, we stand on the promises God made in His word. We resist the devil, and he has to flee. Does God care so little about His children that He would allow someone or something to sabotage our weapon? Would He allow the very words that will vanquish the enemy to be changed little by little? God forbid! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strong holds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…”  

A Great Deception

It is the strangest thing talking to people who believe this great deception. The people simply refuse to answer the question as to why God would allow His word to be corrupted. When talking to someone on YouTube about the phenomenon, I commented that people should be very careful what they lend their ears to because to “and to you who hear, more will be given.” The person’s comment was that I didn’t even know the Bible. The actual verse read “for whoever has, to him more will be given.” But he was correcting me to Matthew 13:12 while I was quoting Mark 4:24

Likewise, people comment that the Bible warns about the Mandela Effect when it says that in the last days, there will be a famine of the word of God. But that isn’t what Amos 8:11 actually says. It says there will be a famine for HEARING the words of the Lord. These people are so worried about the Bible being changed by nefarious sources that they have stopped reading their Bibles altogether and are relying solely on what they remember. This absolutely contradicts what the Bible tells us to do. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.”

Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  Ephesians 5:26 talks about the “washing of water by the word.” Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Besides being a sword to fight the enemy, faith, guidance, cleanliness, and protection from sin are just the start of the massive benefits to daily Bible reading. But when people start to question the Word of God, they are questioning the character of God as well. Those who say the Bible has been changed are falling into a trap of the enemy. They no longer trust God or His Word.

The Final Trilemma

CS Lewis popularized the “trilemma argument.” The argument goes that when you add up the things that Jesus Christ said and did when He was on earth, it was not possible that He was just a “nice man” or a “good teacher.” He either had to be a liar, deceiving others for His own gain, a lunatic, himself deceived into believing He was a deity, or Lord, God in the flesh. Given recorded history, there is no other alternative. I believe the same kind of trilemma exists with the so-called Mandela Effect and the character of God. Either God is weak, unable to protect His Word from the haphazard changes of the universe, He is careless, leaving His people vulnerable to fight the enemy with a defective weapon, or He is well able to protect both His people and His Word.

If you like articles heavy on scripture, try God’s Like Button: How to Know God Is Pleased. In it, we explore the scriptures that show what pleases God and the tangible evidence of His pleasure. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.