Once Upon a Time There was a Cow Stuck in the Ice

We live in a rural area of Rhode Island, and during my father’s decades of firefighting, many of his rescues involved wildlife or domestic animals.

One winter at dusk, he responded to a call for a cow stuck in the ice. It was snowing, and the firefighters racing over slick country roads in my dad’s car vowed never to ride with him again!

He and his firefighters set up at the local pond as darkness descended, and donned gear for an ice rescue. The herd milled around moaning on the banks, fretting over the commotion. Continue Reading →

Whiny Baby Sissy-Mary Christians (the call to courage in these times)

pout-1190741_640Outside of this blog, I’m not very brave.

It bothers me when people don’t like me or misunderstand something I’ve said or disapprove of my opinion. I know I have a high tolerance for pain, but if someone made me sit in an uncomfortable chair in a room with nothing to read or do and ignored me, I’d be giving up state secrets in a matter of hours. That’s all to say that what I’m about to write is as challenging for me as it may sound to you.

I believe a time is near when American Christians will endure intensified social persecution but I think we shouldn’t whine about it.

It’s good that there are watchmen and watchwomen who post blogs and news reports about ways that our religious freedoms are being eroded (more quickly every day, it seems) in favor of social agendas and political correctness. I don’t think, though, that we should gather on Facebook or Twitter and bemoan the coming tide or reminisce about the past like a bunch of hand-wringing school marms wondering what to do when the black hats ride into town. Continue Reading →

Our God is an Avenger

sunset-50494_640Dear Yazidi mother,

I cannot imagine your pain.

I’ve read reports of what you’ve endured and can hardly bear to read another. Your husbands and sons murdered, your daughters ripped from your arms and sold to men who tell them their god gives them permission to rape and to enslave. A world feasting on the lurid details of your daughters’ pain but largely helpless to force their way into those dark rooms and carry them to safety. Words, words, words, and here, I add more. I’ve no combat detail at my command, no special forces, no stealth weaponry to deliver them and bring them home. Even worse, I know where my children are. I can see them, hold them, watch their laughter, and hope for their future. What have I to offer you, dear Yazidi mother, except that I know you are out there in unrelenting pain?

You may or may not have heard of my God. I had never heard of your people before ISIS took your daughters. What little I know now has not been from you but from observers half a world away. Forgive me that I neglected to know more until you became a headline. Your plight has spurred me to understand more about the people where you live and become familiar with cultures that are largely unnoticed until calamity strikes. I know the enemy takes advantage of our ignorance and the scarcity of intercession for these unknown peoples. May your children’s pain bring an end to this lack of knowledge and the dearth of believers’ prayers. Continue Reading →

The Bible Verse None of Us Believes – at First

knight-1421358_640Some days you feel like the warrior you are because of Jesus.

Your armor glints in the sun. Your soul senses the power of the risen Christ within you and you itch for a front-line assignment. The enemy is before you, ever at work, but greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world is the motto emblazoned on your shield and you sink your teeth into the truth of it. You follow the One of the divine pronoun and believe the lower case he is already defeated, you have only to step into your freedom to see victory.

This is not one of those days.

Today, you remember once feeling like a warrior and somehow you know it must still be true, but there is no glory where you lay. Your armor is on but it’s soiled and covered with dried blood – yours and the blood of fellow warriors. You fell, wounded, duringgothic-1228022_640 that stint on the front lines where it didn’t feel like sure victory but instead, like a mouthful of gravel, confusion, noise, discomfort, and pain. You take by faith this will not be in vain but right now the enemy whispers into your ear where your helmet has gone askew that you’ve failed your King and have become of no use in the battle. Continue Reading →

Ten Reasons You Kill Christians

sunset-50494_640In the past several days, reports from Belgium, Nigeria, and Pakistan of suicide bombers targeting Christians have seemingly rolled in like waves. One month ago, four Wycliffe translators were martyred in the Mid-East and a kidnapped Catholic priest was crucified in Yemen over the weekend. I believe, with headlines destined to stir fear, it is upon the Body of Christ to foster courage in the ranks and a focus on the truth that our lives are now, as always, in the hands of the One we trust the most. It is for that reason, I share this post again, so you can share with others the word that neither evil nor ISIS nor any other mechanism of darkness on earth has the final word on this battle. The battle belongs to the Lord.

This is a message for those who persecute, torture, imprison, and kill Christians. We know why you’re killing us – do you?

Killing Christians is a practice as old as Christianity. Those who practice it do nothing more than imitate their predecessors. Predecessors who attempted but failed to snuff out the life of our faith in its infancy. The practice of persecution is hard for some to fathom but it’s actually an understandable act. In fact, I can think of at least ten reasons to kill a Christian: Continue Reading →

Discomfort Ye My People – Or Why Guitar Players Make Effective Christians

guitar-756326_640My development as a guitar player is seriously arrested.

I am a guitar player. I own one. In fact, I own two – a six-string acoustic and a twelve-string. I’ve played on church music teams. I can pick it up, finger some basic chords, and strum. By sixth grade, I could play simple worship songs and John Denver tunes (Don’t judge me; it was the seventies).

Here’s the trouble. I still play the way I did in sixth grade. The ten basic chords I learned from Ms. Basillion, my music instructor, remain, nearly fifty years later, the extent of my guitar playing ability. I suffer from arrested acoustic development.

There’s a simple reason why this is true: to grow as a guitarist I must endure discomfort. Continue Reading →

I Want What You Have – a Story from the Dragon Files

dragon-1014565_640I want what you have.

It’s bad enough I don’t have it but when I see you enjoying it, the dragon appears. This dragon was already whispering to me that I should have what you have, that I should find some way to get it for myself. When I noticed you have what I want, the dragon went into overdrive.

He whispered things to me. Things that made me feel lesser because you have what I want. Words that helped me see that if you have what I want and I don’t, somehow you win. Somehow that puts you ahead of me or above me or more loved than I or more powerful. The dragon’s words are very convincing.

In fact, even though I loved you, now I despise you. I want what you have so much I’m willing to destroy you, even though that won’t get me what you have. You can’t see what’s happening because I’m still smiling, wishing you well with my words, my expression, and my stance but in my eyes, there’s a fire-breathing dragon and he has us both in his sights. He loves this sword because it slices us both with a single glance. Continue Reading →

And the Chariot You Rode in On, Sir!

chariot-1151742_640If I was in a war, I would want a horse. Just sayin’.

In the movies, the warriors with the most power in battle, the ones who make it out alive – these guys are the ones on horseback. I would want a large, well-trained, battle-tested horse that was committed to me and could run like the wind. I’m not even that into horses but if I was in a war, I would want a horse.

and a chariot.

Or, the modern equivalent of a chariot. What would that be? Maybe an armored Humvee. Okay, I couldn’t take my horse on my Humvee, but the point is I would want the advantage over, not only the enemy, but also my own chances of being one of those on my side who makes it out alive. The horse would give me that advantage.

Except, that’s not what God says. Continue Reading →

The Precise Moment the Battle Turned (Flashover Fiction)

soldiers-1002_640An army of men and women, old and young, stood on a battlefield crying out to God.

“Help us, O Lord!” they cried. “The battle is fierce and many are falling all around. Do you see our suffering? Send us help!”

A battalion of prophets and teachers walked throughout the battlefield. “What are you all doing?” they asked. “Do you not see the battle raging around you?”

“Of course,” the army replied, “and many are falling but what can we do? We’re making as much noise as we can!”

The members of the battalion pointed to the weapons lying at the feet of the soldiers. They pointed at them and indicated their own. “Why haven’t you employed the weapons God has provided?”

I tried using that weapon once. It didn’t work.

No one’s ever shown me how to use mine.

I don’t believe that weapon exists any longer. It was only for a time.

I only use that weapon on Sundays when I can find the time.

I’m not that kind of soldier.

So many others have weapons and they’re better at using them, I didn’t think the battle needed mine.

I used mine once but no one appreciated it, so I’ve stopped for now.

I was skilled in those weapons when I was a youth but now I’m old. It’s someone else’s turn to fight.

Someone said I was too young to be effective in the battle so I gave up.

I was told I wasn’t doing it right by a more experienced soldier so I threw it back down. Why bother if I’m not going to get it right.

Mine doesn’t always accomplish what I want it to so I don’t see the point.

Aren’t those just for you prophets and teachers to use?

I tried to tell the others we should be using them but no one would listen so I figured what difference could I make alone?

One in the battalion fired off a powerful round and the words buzzed around the ears of the soldiers like sniper fire:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:2b-10

“Loved ones,” the battalion cried out as one, “Loved ones, the battle is the Lord’s and we are His army. He has equipped us with everything we need sunset-50494_640for life and godliness! You’re efforts are not lost or unseen. Every soldier on the field contributes to the tenor of the warfare. We depend on the Lord and we rely on one another to live up to His call to us. Now is our time! Will you not employ every weapon God has provided?”

Many just stared back at the battalion as the war raged around them but one old woman began to pray. Seeing this, one young girl turned to obedience and another chose to endure. An older gentleman nudged the young man beside him as he reached for God’s Word. The young man stooped down and chose love and forgiveness over anger and rebellion.

woman-825154_640It was precisely in that moment, the battle began to turn.

 

**CHALLENGE: I’m issuing a challenge today to my fellow Christian writers. Flash fiction is a short story under 1000. Flashover fiction is a story under 1000 words that is intended to light a fire. (A flashover is the near-simultaneous ignition of most of the directly exposed combustible material in an enclosed area.) Let every believing writer ignite a fire in the hearts of our readers whether we have many or few. Write your own flashover fiction story and post it on your blog today. Pray. Read God’s Word. Then, right what you hear. Paste a link to your story in the comments here. Let us use every gift at our disposal to awaken as a church and engage with Jesus Christ in the greatest battle of all time – the war for souls. If you aren’t a writer, you can join in the challenge by sharing the flashover fiction stories that inspire you through social media, email, or reading aloud in your home or other circles.

When God Gets a Busy Signal – A Post to Set You Free

waiting-410328_640My Dad wanted to reach me the other day, so he called. Repeatedly.

I was having a long overdue chat with my best friend on my cell phone. I saw him beep in but I ignored the call. I could speak with him later. The house phone rang and knew it was him. Again, he beeped in my cell – twice.

I’d already seen him that morning. Knew he was fine. He was working on a particular project for my adult son. We live across the street from one another so I saw there was no ambulance in his driveway. I continued my conversation with my friend.

He tried again on the house phone and then the cell. I was winding down my chat when suddenly, I heard his screen door slam and watched his car pull out of his driveway into mine. “I gotta go,” I mumbled to my friend. “He’s actually driven to my house.”

There was nothing wrong with my chatting and nothing wrong with expecting him to wait. Dad wasn’t angry with my not answering. We have a strong relationship and he assumed I had an important call. He just was intent on getting me a piece of information for my son. He knew exactly where to find me just as I usually know exactly where to find him.

I was thinking about that in the past weeks as I’ve endured an unusually busy time for me. For years, I crafted a life that allowed me to be available to God and to others, to be the person who isn’t always busy so I could spend time with God. Spend time with hurting people. Pay attention to my kids. Continue Reading →