Darkness closing in…


Many people, it seems, have problems with depression and fear. You hear about suicides among Veterans and police and other service people like EMT’s and firefighters. Why does this happen? Is it because of the jobs that they have and the things which they see on a daily basis? In part, that is it. I worked as an EMT/Firefighter for a total of ten years. Not very long I know, but the things that I saw and the people that you come into contact with will bring you down. You can’t let it get to you while you are on the job so you learn to compartmentalize it and just push it away until the job is done. But…when the shift is over and you go home, that is when the enormity of your feelings about what you saw and had to deal with comes crashing down.

I’ve never really talked about this to anyone and it has been almost thirty years since I got out of being an EMT/Firefighter. But from what I understand the trauma and the stress that I experienced during those years never really goes away. For years I would still have dreams about my old job and wake up sweating in the night for no apparent reason. I could hear, in my mind, the siren from the ambulance or the fire truck even when there wasn’t one around. The different types of death from suicide and murder and car accidents and fire…you never forget them entirely. Some days it comes back so hard until I just feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. But even if I do, these images never go away.

The worst part of this is that you can’t sit and talk to someone about this. Nobody would understand unless you could sit and talk with another person who worked with you in the same type of service. Even then, they really don’t want to relive it either so usually you both just stop talking and change the subject or get a beer or something. Since I am a pastor now I have to shove these things away from my life and my work because nobody in the congregation would understand either. I have never talked about this with my family either just because it is something that they wouldn’t understand.

This is the reason that I am writing it here. As a bit of therapy for myself and to let others know that we feel deeply about what we have experienced. So deeply that even after thirty years it still comes back to haunt our minds and our feelings. Even now my heart is picking up speed just writing this.

I know that God can and will get me through this because He has done so in the past. I am asking all of you who read this to please sit with someone who works in a service job like I’ve mentioned. Just talk to them about anything or nothing. If they like to fish, take them fishing. But be there for them if you can. Because we have days which most people cannot understand and feelings which are hard to express. Please pray for me today and if you know anyone who was in the military or police or fire service, pray for them too. The suicide rate for them is much higher than for the rest of the population.

Psalm 51 is a good read for days like this.

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

(2 Samuel 12:1-12)

1{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.} Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.King James Bible

How foolish are we?


God’s Word says in Psalms 14:1: The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good.

The wisdom of God is foolish to a man who has not given his heart to the Lord. This is a paraphrase of this scripture which the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 2:14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. There is no man who can understand God’s wisdom from His Word without the Holy Spirit dwelling in his heart. So why do some men in our world today seem to think that they have God and His wisdom all figured out? Mankind cannot understand God’s Word without Him and there are so many who either don’t want to know Him as their Savior or they are following a religion which has blinded them to the actual Truth which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Life is hard enough without living it foolishly and without Jesus Christ as your Savior is a very foolish way to live. Why is this true? Because we do not have a promise of a certain number of years that we will live. We don’t even have a promise of waking up in the morning. So, what will it take to get away from the foolishness of our sinful lives and turn toward God, toward Jesus, and save our eternal soul?

Are we actually foolish enough to believe that we are good enough to get into Heaven without Jesus? I hope not. Because the Bible says that our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight. We are not righteous unless we are forgiven under the blood of Jesus and that is our covering because He purchased our soul with His blood and unless you truly believe in Him and His sacrifice for you, then you have no place in Heaven. Is it hard for us to give our heart to Him? Sometimes it is, but when God convicts you of your sins and you realize that you truly need Jesus as your Savior, it is then that you find that it is simple…believe that He did this for you.

Even if you or I were the only people that Jesus could die for and save…He would’ve done it anyway. God loves us enough that if there were only one person that would been saved because of His sacrifice, He would have come to Earth and gave His life for us even if that “us” was only one person. God’s love is hard for us to comprehend and it is likely that we will never truly understand it, even when we are in His Presence but He did it for all of us.

I pray that we will not be foolish in thinking that we can gain entry into Heaven on our own. The only door to eternity in Heaven is by Jesus Christ and belief in Him alone. Amen

The Word will accomplish it's purpose!


Your life, if you are a Christian, belongs to God. His Word will accomplish those things which He desires. It is His purpose which will be done and which should be your purpose because you have given your heart to Him. Live as a disciple and a witness of God because of the great love that He has shown toward you and in your life. If you aren’t sure about His love for you, consider that it is God Who allowed you to wake up this morning. It is by His purpose that you walk and breathe and do the things which you are able to do. God knew you before the world was formed and He has already made a way for your life to be useful in His hands.

All that you need to do is realize that and seek Him for your salvation. Your life is not your own, it belongs to God and it is His to do with as He will. Some of you who read this will deny that God has a place in your life, but He has the power to stop your heart in the next sixty seconds if He chose to. I’m not trying to scare you by saying that, it is just the simple truth. God wove your DNA together and He knows exactly what you are capable of accomplishing in your life and for Him. If you have felt the call of God on your life at any time in the past or even now…don’t push Him away. Lean into Him and ask for His strength and His forgiveness of your sins. Ask Him to take the old you and mold him or her into the person that He knows you can be.

You might say, “But…that might hurt!”. Change in any form hurts sometimes, but it is needed at times to. When you exercise by running or lifting weights your muscles get sore for a time because you’ve pushed them to do something that they weren’t or hadn’t done before. When you begin serving God, you will have to change and His Spirit will change you gradually or drastically, depending on how much change is needed. It may hurt because some of your family and friends won’t understand where this new person came from. They may not recognize the person that you care becoming, but God knows who you are and He can and will change you into the instrument that He needs you to be.

Jesus brought a message that God loves us and He wants us to be His children every day of our lives. He told those who would listen about this and some received it with gladness. Others thought His message was foolish but Jesus kept telling those who would listen that He was bringing the Kingdom of God to them. Some heard Him and believed but others thought He was crazy. The fruit that we are supposed to produce is peace and love and joy through Jesus Christ our Lord! Not this message you hear about today which says “I can do all things myself and I don’t need God!”.

When you hear someone say that they don’t need God, ask them if they can make a flower bloom? They will probably laugh at your question but if they think that they don’t need God then they are declaring that they are like God. They are delusional in this of course. Ask them if they can change their hair from gray to whatever color they had in their youth? Ask them if they can make themselves taller? If they can’t accomplish these things, then they need God badly in their life. Nobody can do these things except God but some of the “new age” religions are telling people that they can do these things.

God lit the stars and He can put them out. He brought the life to this world in the form of trees and animals and fish and birds just with His Word. Can you do that? Of course not. God loves you and He knows you, even if you don’t know Him yet. One day we will all bow before Him and I hope that you will know Him and that He will know you as well because those that He doesn’t know will be taken to a place of torment because they had the chance to give their life to Him but they chose not to.

How many "buts" are in your life?


Before I go too far into this small writing, I want to make sure that you understand that I’m not talking about the part of your anatomy which you sit on!

I am talking in this space about the times when you yourself are the “but” that is getting in the way. Sometimes we believe God can do all things but we don’t have deep, strong faith in Him to the extent that we can see where He wants us to go. We tend to place a “but” in places where it should not be. Just as the Israelites who spied out the Promised land did. They saw all of the fruit of the land while they walked the land for 40 days but they saw giants in the land, sons of Anak. They brought back a cluster of grapes so large that it had to be carried on a pole between two grown men! God had already told them that He was giving them the land. But they saw the children of Anak and the Nephilim, men of great stature, giants!

When God told them that He was giving them the land, why didn’t they believe Him? Which is bigger, God or a giant? How strong is a walled city compared to God? Where was their faith? Most of them had seen the miracles which brought them out of Egypt. They walked through the Red Sea on dry ground and with walls of water on each side of them. He gave them water from a rock and yet they didn’t believe that He was able to take care of the giants and the walled cities to bring them into the inheritance that He had promised them. God doesn’t break His promises.

Even today we place “but” in places where it should not be. “I know He has cured my cancer but will He provide for me and my family?” “I’m disabled now, where was God in my problem?” God can and will provide all these wonderful things even when we doubt Him. But…doubt causes some of our rewards to be delayed or possibly lessened. The reward may turn out to be less than it would’ve been if we had placed our full faith and belief in His ways and in His provision. It is usually our own “buts” that cause a blessing or a provision, which He was sending to us, to be delayed.

We need to wake up every day thanking Him for the day and for the blessings of it, whatever they might be. Good or bad, enough or maybe more than enough, God can supply all of our needs. But when we doubt Him or when we don’t think that He will do or provide for us as we have prayed for, it is our “but” and our lack of trusting faith in Him that is getting in His way. Its like we are saying “Are you really able to do this?” “Do you love me enough to provide for us?”

Doubt and fear tend to make our “but” moments more than they should be. We need to remember that God is the Creator and He has known each of us since before creation began. He lives outside of time so He is not contained in it like we are. He can look back to when the world was fresh and new and He can see what is coming in the next 1000 years because He is there and He is here too. So we should consider this before our problem or our storm hits. God stood at the threshold of creation and spoke all that we see into existence. The stars and galaxies, the planets, the sun and moon and all of life on Earth. While it is true that you can choose to believe the Bible’s version or you can go along with science and their “theories”, I know that God can do the things which are described in His Word and He cannot and will not lie. He gave the history of our world to Moses on the mountain, because Moses could not have made all of that stuff up.

Think about how many times there has been a “but” somewhere in your life. Did it work out the way you wanted or did it fail miserably and you had to pick up and go on anyway? There are many days and have been many times in my own life when there was a “but” moment. Then later I can look back and think to myself, “Self, you should’ve trusted God there more than your own ideas.” Usually it is at this point I sound a lot like Homer Simpson, “D’OH!” Because it is too late to fix a problem or the problem, by the time I realize that I messed up.

If I had prayerfully sought God’s provision and His answer for my problem, it would’ve worked out a bit better. So from this point on I am going to seek Him in the problem and for the solution before I try to fix it myself and find out that my efforts are just not good enough.