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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Evil in the Church

Pegg3

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” ~ I Peter 5:8

Here we go again. For the second time in our lives, my husband and I find ourselves in a church that is being torn apart by―let’s just call it what it is―evil.

It doesn’t happen all at once. Evil doesn’t march into the front doors of a church and take it over at gunpoint. It happens bit by bit. A disgruntled person here. A malicious thread of gossip there. A ploy for power over there. It builds. It strengthens. It divides.

Satan isn’t stupid. He’s crafty and wily. Unfortunately, people are all too often agreeable to fall in line with his plans. Maybe not willfully. Maybe not knowingly. But they serve his purpose all the same. And make no mistake; Satan wants nothing more than to infiltrate the churches.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

Equally unfortunate, people are all too often reluctant to stand in opposition. It’s hard to confront our brothers and sisters in Christ in a loving, honest way when they step over the line. It’s hard sometimes to even define that line. But we must.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ~ Galatians 5: 19-21

So how can we fight evil in the church?

“Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:13

That’s harsh. But it’s scriptural. Does it mean that a wicked man―or woman―can never be redeemed? Of course not! Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost. Any repentant sinner can come boldly before His throne. His forgiveness is beyond human understanding.

I know―because He forgave my sins.

Pray for those in churches who are causing strife, disputes, dissensions, and factions. But also pray that church leaders will make the hard decisions regarding those who are not repentant. Pray that good men and women will stand strong for the health of our churches. Overcome evil with good.

~ Pegg Thomas

image from morguefile.com

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Pegg Thomas

 

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Esther Moments

Marge5I love the story of Queen Esther, the young woman whose actions reflected courage and selflessness. I often try to imagine what went through her mind when she was asked to plead with the king to spare her people from certain death. To come before the king uninvited meant she could be killed. In those moments before he held out the golden scepter to her, she had no way of knowing if she would live or die. She couldn’t flip the pages to the end of her story and see the happy outcome. She didn’t know what would happen, but she chose to risk her life for her people.

I sometimes have what I like to call “Esther moments”. Those situations where I’m faced with making a difficult decision, and I don’t always know what the outcome will be. If God has put something on my heart, do I obey? I might not face death, but in doing the right thing, I might risk a friendship, a relationship. I might be ridiculed or looked down on. One thing is certain. The King of kings will hold out His scepter of faithfulness to those who trust in Him.

~ Marge Wiebe

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Marge Wiebe

 

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Justice For All

A story’s resolution is bittersweet. Bitter, because the story is about to end, but sweet, because what was wrong has been made right.

You’d think writing the justice scene would be easy. But crafting that scene is challenging because it’s so important. The villain deserves his comeuppance and the victim, vindication.

Readers love justice. By the last page, we want to see the problem rectified and the evil overcome. We don’t want the murderer to escape punishment (unless it’s a sequel, and even then, we want the villain to eventually be apprehended or reformed).

Those new endings, where justice doesn’t prevail? Not a fan.

Here are tips for writing justice into your story.

Take lessons from life. We wait years for justice to be dispensed. Bring that kind of tension to your story, and you’ll have a true nail-biter.

Let your emotions dictate the scenes. In real life, we must be patient, swallow our words, and play by the rules. Not so in writing. Your victim can be as proactive as you desire. My critique partner, Kara Hunt, is genius at this. Her passionate characters leap to action.

Walk the line. This doesn’t contradict the previous statement. Your administration of justice must be credible, or your readers will be rolling their eyes. Elect realism over fantasy. Unless, of course, you’re writing fantasy.
The punishment should fit the crime. You could murder your villain over her infidelity, but wouldn’t it be more satisfying to watch someone be unfaithful to her? The sow and reap principle fulfills, and in most cases, exceeds, reader expectation.

~ Jericha Kingston
image from morguefile.com

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Jericha Kingston, Writing

 

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Oceans

Have you ever heard Oceans by Hillsong UNITED. If not, I urge you to listen to a few minutes of it. I heard it for the first time when I visited a new church a few months ago, and it touched me so deeply, I prayed the words as they scrolled across the screen.

Not thinking that God might actually take me up on it.

In my heart, I agreed with those words. I prayed along with the song–Lord, take me to a place where my feet no longer touch the ground, and I will be fully dependent on you.

I should have thought a little more about what I was saying. If I had, I might have hesitated to make that my prayer.

Eleven days ago, my brother and his wife were in Dallas planning to board a plane for their honeymoon when he started to feel sick. His bride took him to the emergency room, and he’s been fighting for his life ever since. Instead of seven days in Cancun, they’ve had almost two weeks in ICU with no end in sight. Both at his bedside—where I haven’t been nearly enough—and here at home with my family, all I can think of is my brother, those machines tracking his every bodily function, that ventilator regulating his breathing. He is helpless, desperate. And so are those of us who love him.

I understood the metaphor of this song on an intellectual level, but after eleven days of praying for my brother’s survival, I understand it on a new level. Each member of my family is treading water, desperate, struggling to keep our eyes above the waves—the waves of bad news, of negative reports, of pessimistic doctors. The crashing waves of fear and uncertainty. We are struggling to focus on the perfect, immutable God who holds my brother in the palm of his hand, who comforts his bride and each of us who love him.

Today, I praise God for His care, His love, His help. I praise Him because He is good, all the time. And His love covers all of this.

Have you ever been brought to the end of yourself, knowing that God has indeed given you more than you can handle, and only with His help can you keep from drowning? How did you keep your focus on Him and off the circumstances? What did you learn from the situation?

~Robin Patchen

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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Old Lady Rant #217

Pegg4When did we replace the syllable “ant” with the grunt “uah?”  And why?  I hear it most often in the word “important” which is now “importuah.”  Seriously?  What is the reasoning behind this little bit of intellectual laziness?

I’ve yet to see anyone with their tongue in a sling, sprained from the arduous task of pronouncing “ant” or “ent” or even “an.”  I don’t remember teachers when I was in school – which regardless of the rumors consisted of more than one room – slapping rulers on the heads of students who couldn’t pronounce “ant” or “ent” correctly.  We managed the language with narry a grunt for centuries.

So what’s the issue now?  Did this happen with the rise in popularity of tongue studs?  I still believe the more accurate term for those is – permanently attached adult pacifiers.  Oh, excuse me; we can’t say it that way anymore.  Make that permenuahly attached adult pacifiers.

Is rap music the culprit in this particular linguistic shift?  A severe majority of that art form resembles grunting if you ask me.  Not that anyone did…or is likely to.

I fear the grunterization of our language is spreading.  Here in Michigan we have a college whose sports teams are known as the Spartans.  On the radio a few days ago I heard – you see this coming, right? – a sportscaster talk about the Spartuahs.  Oh yeah.  The sportscaster.  Someone who, one would hope, actually graduated from some at least vaguely accredited journalism course.  Perhaps he was even a Spartuah.

~ Pegg Thomas

image from morguefile.com

 

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Humor, Pegg Thomas

 

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The Nerve

My son had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday. Two of the teeth were impacted and close to the nerve. Though it was painful for my son, the procedure was necessary. Thanks to the surgeon, infection, decay, and bone loss is no longer a worry.
During my son’s post-operative agony, he sat on the couch, clutching an ice pack to his jaw. He rocked back and forth, and then moaned, “I’m glad those teeth are gone.”
How humbling. I would’ve said:
“When will it end?”
“Why me?”
“If I could reach that oral surgeon (fill in the blank).”
When something inside of you is exposed, fractured, and ripped out by the root…when you’re left bleeding and clawing for relief, how do you respond?
Physical trauma isn’t the only catalyst that triggers honest response. Emotional, relational, and spiritual extractions also reveal our character. We either engage in self-pity, anger, and blame, or we respond in faith and gratitude. Painful events are opportunities to trust and glorify God, even when we don’t know the reason for the anguish.

The Great Physician knows what’s needed. He works all things for our good.

~ Jericha Kingston
 
 

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Sunset Moments

sunsetKnow what I love about novels? Well, there are a thousand things, but here’s one: I love that at the end of great novels, all the loose ends are tied up and the problems are solved. I love that “ride off into the sunset” moment, and I love the journey getting there.

I have a friend who will read the last page of a novel before she reads the beginning, because she doesn’t want to waste 300 pages worth of time on a novel if she knows she won’t like how it ends. Not me. I’ve been known to cover the bottom half of a page to keep my anxious eyes from glancing ahead. I love the anticipation, wondering how it’s going to turn out, if it’s going to turn out all right, and how. And in great novels, it always looks like there’s no way it can end happily. And then it does. (If it doesn’t, then I don’t consider that a great novel. I like those happy endings.)

So I would never skip ahead in a novel. But in life? How I would love to read those last couple of pages and see how this is going to turn out—for me and my husband, for our three kids, for all those we love. What will that ride into the sunset look like for us? I see all the obstacles we have in our lives right now, and I wonder—how can these ever work out? God has promised to use all of it for good, because we do love Him so much. But what will that journey look like? Will I be able to handle the next trial? Will I handle it better than I did the last?

It takes faith to go into the unknown, faith to face it with joy and peace. As much as I’d love to skip ahead to that last page, I’ll trust God to take us through each obstacle as they hit and bring us to that sunset moment in His perfect timing.

~Robin Patchen

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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