Mere Chance . . . or God’s Glory?

“Seeing is believing.”  It’s a common phrase, thrown around without much thought.  Three little words that leave no room for negotiation or qualification.  But is it true?  Looking online for other perspectives on this question, I appreciated Brandon Stanton’s response.  Stanton, author of the enormously insightful blog, “Humans of New York,* responded to the question of the veracity of the phrase, “seeing is believing”, with this observation:

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What do you see?

What’s something about the eye that most people don’t realize?  The eye doesn’t see. The brain sees. The eye just transmits. So what we see isn’t only determined by what comes through the eyes. What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we’ve seen before.”

In other words, our perceptions are impacted by our past experiences and overall mindset.

Certainly, in Jesus’s day, seeing was not necessarily believing.  There were many who heard Him teach and witnessed many of the miracles He performed, yet never embraced Him as the Christ.  When it comes to faith, unless the heart is open to conviction and being changed, seeing is not necessarily believing.

As my husband and I traveled this year, I was continually struck by how our perceptions influence what we “see.”  This was most strongly brought to my attention during a group tour.  (You know, one of those–“See All of Europe (without sleeping) in 17 Days” tours.)  Actually, our trip was intense but it was great.  We saw and experienced all that we had hoped to (and then some!)  The bonus for us was traveling with 32 people we had never met before.  Traveling together on planes, trains, tour buses and boats for nearly three weeks enhanced our experience immensely.

But there was one aspect that I struggled with during our shared journey. As we traveled we enjoyed amazing weather–everything we had read urged visitors to bring an umbrella, because it rained a lot everywhere we were going.  Yet, in the nearly three weeks we traveled together, it rained two mornings!   Sadly, the most common response to that gift were remarks about “how lucky” we were.  When I pointed to God as the source of that blessing, I largely received blank stares.  To be fair, I don’t know how many in our group were Christians, so I’m not condemning them.  However, it is not uncommon in “Christian circles” for some to bear tribute to “good luck” for the blessings in their lives.  This may may seem trivial, but in a secular world that has increasingly marginalized God, IT MATTERS!

Consider the perspective of Apostle Paul as he wrote to Believers in Rome:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven
against all the godlessness and wickedness of men,
who suppress the truth by their wickedness–
since what may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
His eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God,
they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him,
but their thinking became futile and
their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Romans 1:18-20

How do you respond when you watch a sunset?  I invite you to slow down and consider the perspective Scripture provides:

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
    the skies proclaim the work of His Hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard, 
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.”
Psalm 19:1-4

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:26

So, what do you see when you look at the sky?
Mere chance . . . or God’s Glory?
If it’s the glorious evidences of God’s handiwork that you see,
then PRAISE HIM with all of your heart!

All to His Glory!

*Humans of New York“, sensitively features ordinary people Stanton meets on the streets of New York City,“one story at a time.”

She Was Brave . . . .

Bravery:  a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger without showing fear.
Synonyms: courage, courageousness
WordNet Dictionary

Over a lifetime I have learned that it takes courage and determination to love others well.  My cousin Janie was one of those brave individuals, who sacrificially gave of herself to bless those God put on her path.

Janie went home to be with her Lord on the morning of July 5th.  I wasn’t there but trust she was in much the same frame of mind as when I saw her two weeks before, concerned more for her family than for herself. Reading her obituary yesterday, I was touched by this very apt description of my dear cousin,

“Jane* was a dedicated and caring family woman and teacher,
full of love, pure goodness, generosity, enthusiasm, and the best advice.” 

There is no question that Janie measured up to those wonderful accolades.  But there is another attribute to add, that was foundational to her ability to love and impact the lives of so many: Janie was brave.  This is not to imply that she was never fearful.  It is simply to say, that Janie set aside her fears because she cared about people.  Here’s an early example:

She was brave . . . .
She was brave . . . .

My first clear memory of Janie was playing together on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm–I must have been about five and she would have been seven.  All the grownups were inside that late afternoon, enjoying the simple pleasure of “visiting”.  Outside I remember an undercurrent of competition between us cousins as we dared one another to climb higher and jump off some hay bales stacked to one side of the yard.  Not wanting to be outdone, I remember making my way up to the highest bale and then jumping off.  I hit the ground so hard that my legs buckled and I landed on my bottom.  Momentarily stunned, it was probably the first time I actually saw stars!

Then we made our way out to the pasture where the cows were.  Continuing to test our bravery, we ran around among the cows–until we saw one mean-looking bull standing off to one side.  Suddenly aware of the danger, we ran for our lives and ducked under the fence just in time . . . or so we thought.  When we turned back and looked, there was Bette Jo–no bigger than a peanut–still in the middle of the pasture!  As I looked on–too scared to move–Janie ducked back under the fence, ran to pick up Bette Jo and brought her to safety!  Embarrassed by my fearfulness,  it was then that I knew without a doubt . . . Janie was brave.

Looking back I see this pattern of living courageously throughout Janie’s life: sacrificially stepping in to help others, facing difficulty head-on as she made what were painful but right decisions, encouraging others with her humor and sense of irony.

When I first heard Janie was sick last fall, I messaged her through Facebook.  Fearing the worst, it was several days before I received this response:

“Kathie, what a prayer warrior you are!  
The doctors are amazed that I’m not experiencing more pain than I am,
but I know you’re praying for me–keep it up!”

That was pure Janie–taking the focus off of herself as she encouraged me to continue doing the one thing I could do living so far away–PRAY!  So that is what I (and many, many others) continued to do.

In May my husband and I (taking advantage of his recent retirement) began an adventure we’d talked about doing most of our married life: going to those “off the beaten path” places we never could go to before.  In the back of my mind I hoped to visit Janie when we got to California, but knowing she was so sick I tried not let my hopes get too high.13442057_10208969039816875_678463191_o

God was gracious in providing us the opportunity to get together one last time. As my husband and I approached the home where Janie was being cared for, I was excited but scared.  Deep down I was afraid of what I was going to see–a frail, weak Janie who needed rest far more than she needed to see me.

When I walked through the door and Janie spoke, it was as if we became those two girls looking through the pasture fence.  This time though, Janie urged me to enter into the safety of the pasture with her–the mean bull was long gone and her Shepherd was there!  She beamed as she told me how God was helping her to look for good in every single day (no matter what had taken place) and to leave the bad behind.  When I started to ask about a bad fall the previous month that put her back in the hospital, her eyes widened as she looked at me saying,

“No Kathie, we’re not even going to go there.  I have learned to trust God daily; to count my blessings and leave what happened in the past behind.  I admit that part of me is a little afraid of what may come tomorrow, but I have given that to Him as I give thanks to Him for the Gift of TODAY.”  

Appreciating her wisdom and courage we entered into the joy of the moment.  Our visit of two and a half hours could be likened to the “wild rumpus” of the children’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are.**  We laughed so hard that tears came and talked about many things.  When I asked her how she wanted me to pray for her, Janie got very serious again as she urged me to pray for those she would be leaving behind–“that their hearts would not harden toward God.”  Pure, wonderful Janie . . . putting her concern for those she loved above all else.

Since then I have thought a lot about Janie’s bravery and our “wild rumpus” celebrating God’s goodness together.  Pure and simple, it was a gift from God to be given a glimpse into Janie’s heart.  Something happened that was so much more than magical as Janie chose to live out the wisdom of I Thessalonians 5:16-22,

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all;
hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”

Reflecting on the larger passage, I am struck by God’s goodness in providing Janie the courage to enter into His Pasture with an open and trusting heart.

“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and HE will do it.”

I Thessalonians 5:23, 24

All to His Glory!

*Most people knew her as Jane, but having grown up together as cousins, she has always been Janie to me and most of our family.
**Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1963.

When God Is Big And We Are Small: The Journey Continues . . . .

The old adage, “Hindsight is 20/20”, is certainly true when it comes to the way God works in our lives.  When my husband and I took off on our camping adventure seven weeks ago, we felt like a couple of kids cutting school.  For years we had talked about taking off to explore the places we never got to because of time constraints.  With my husband’s retirement, we realized that the time had finally come.  With our new smallish camper in tow, we were as giddy as newlyweds out on a lark.  Little did we know how God would deepen our faith through seemingly unrelated lessons.

In my last post I wrote about the tragic deaths of two young men in our church. Killed in separate accidents in the same week, we struggled to comprehend the reality that Josh and Heath were suddenly gone.  Three thousand miles from home, our “lark” quickly become despair. But God gently ministered to us in the enormity of the California redwoods through Psalm 46,  

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the City of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts . . . .”

Where verses 1-6 spoke to the immediacy of our pain, it is verse 10 that continues to direct our steps:

Be still and KNOW that I am God.”

As the incomprehensible assailed us, Psalm 46 became a blanket that enfolded us with these tender assurances:

“Hush. Stop striving to understand what is far larger than you can comprehend.
Hush . . . be still.  KNOW that I am with you and in the coming days will carry you.
This isn’t the end of the story.
Hush . . . you must trust Me in this.”  

Reminders of lost loved ones suddenly taken . . . .
Reminders of lost loved ones suddenly taken . . . .

Looking back, we can see how God had been preparing us weeks before in our travels.  We had noticed them before we left–little “shrines” along roadways marking where someone was killed in an accident.  Typically a simple cross with a name on it; at other times flowers, teddy bears, and other personal reminders are placed as a memorial.  Our awareness grew as we traveled through Montana, where the State marks every life lost on its roads with a small white cross.  We began watching for them as we drove and were stunned when more than one cross marked a scene.  In this age of “political correctness” we wondered how long the practice of using a “religious” symbol would be allowed to continue. Looking back, it was then that what had been “a lark” became a journey within a journey.  It was as if the roads we traveled on, “scenic” or ordinary, became grim reminders of loss.

When we received the news about Josh and then Heath, we remembered those crosses. They were with us, full of life one moment . . . and then suddenly . . . they were gone.

So what does it mean, to “be still and know that God is God”,
when we are stung by such painful loss?
For us, the biggest thing has been to remember that God is Big and we are small.  

To be still and know is a call to humility.  James 4 speaks to the battle that is on-going in our hearts, especially when life hits hard:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and He will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and
purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Grieve, mourn and wail.
Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

(Verses 6-10)

"Be still and KNOW . . . ."
“Be still and KNOW . . . .”

Since leaving Montana, we’ve driven through eleven more states.   In that time God’s incomprehensible enormity has been demonstrated in countless ways.  The day after receiving the devastating news, we watched whales basking in God’s Provision off Patrick’s Point and then appreciated the solitude of three days camping in the Avenue of the Redwoods–where God was indeed big and we . . . were tenderly cared for.  After that, visits with long missed family and friends ministered greatly to our hearts.

In the weeks since, we have learned that when life hits hard, it is tempting to doubt God’s goodness. But when we entertain those doubts, the world around us dims as we distance ourselves from Him.  Yet it has been through those struggles, that we have gratefully embraced the Shining Hope of the Gospel, as the Cross speaks:

Death, Loss and Eternal Darkness
for those outside of Christ,
but
Redemption, Hope and Life Eternal
for those who are in Christ.

Today, we continue to mourn the loss of two very special men along with family and friends.  But we have learned to give thanks to God:

  • For His faithfulness in loving us–even in our doubts.
  • For ministering to us–as we have been privileged to witness the enormity and ever-changing diversity of His Creation.
  • For Josh and Heath’s lives–and the assurance that they are safe with Him . . . .

When God is BIG and we are small,
doubt recedes as we find HOPE and SHELTER in HIM.
Giving thanks!

All to His Glory!

Meaningful Soul Work: It Takes Two . . . .

The question I ask every Client I meet for the first time is, “Do you have any questions you would like to know about me personally or professionally?”  I encourage their questions because I believe they have a right to know something about the person they are about to open their lives to.  We live in a world where we can no longer assume that “spiritual counseling” is Christian counseling; where terms such as “soul work” have more to do with the sovereignty-of-self than with God’s Sovereignty.   This was affirmed recently when I googled, “Soul work–What is it?”   What appeared on my laptop screen were ten articles on self-healing, self-exploration and “being fully immersed in MY truth and purpose.” (Emphasis mine.)

The question raised in my mind after perusing several of the articles was:

"Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden . . . and find rest for your souls."
“Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden . . . and find rest for your souls.”

Can truly meaningful soul work happen apart from Christ and the Scriptures ministering to the human heart?  

In thinking about this question of meaningful soul work, the teaching of Jesus helps to clarify this spiritual mystery:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word
and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged
but has crossed over from death to life.”
 

John 5:24

Soul work is a God-thing.  It is belief in God’s provision, His only Son, that brings us from death to life in Christ–body, mind and soul.  Thinking about this I realized that I do have a story to share that I pray will be helpful in sorting out this question of meaningful soul work:

I was seven years old when I first became aware of the soul.  Even now, I can remember feeling the lump forming in my throat as I contemplated reciting the words of the classic children’s prayer:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”*

Contemplating the seriousness of facing my own mortality and God, l ignored the lump, swallowed hard and prayed the words as best as I could.  That simple prayer, along with the Twenty-Third Psalm, became my “go-to” prayer for many years, long before I entered into a relationship with Christ:

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . .
I will fear no evilfor You are with me;
If I should die before I wake, I pray dear Lord, my soul to take.”

When I entered my twenties I set thoughts about God aside.  More than anything I wanted a family of my own.  I fell in love with a wonderful man, married and we began our family.  Outwardly things looked good, I had everything I had ever wanted.  However, it was the seventies and as time passed, the words of Helen Reddy’s popular recording, “I Am Woman”, became “my truth”:

“You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul.”

I probably fooled a lot of people with my outwardly confident appearance.  Yet inwardly, there was a darkness encroaching that I had little control over– all was not well with my soul.  The challenges of marriage and having young children left me feeling constantly defeated by a fierce anger that seemed to well up out of nowhere.  I made vow after vow that I would control my temper.  Yet after being defeated continually, I got to the point where I realized that I deserved to go to hell.  “Now I lay me down to sleep” was no longer enough to quell the ever deepening darkness.  It was at that point that I prayed a small desperate prayer, “God, please help . . . .”

In the weeks that followed I was invited to a Bible study** where I found opportunity to take an honest look at the Scriptures.  During that study the words of Jesus called through my self-focused darkness:

“The time has come . . . the kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…”
Matthew 11:28-29

Only after surrendering my life to Christ did light and hope begin to dispel the darkness . . . finally, I found rest for my soul!

Six decades later, I continue to find comfort in the simplicity of leaning into the wisdom and assurance of Scripture, as God’s Spirit tends to whatever fear crops up:

“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.”
Psalm 62:1,2, 8

I am struck by the contrast between my life before and after surrendering all to Christ.  That is why I urge every Client I serve to do the same through the Journey Notes process–a simple means of starting (or jump starting) an honest dialogue with our Creator/Soul Maker.

So . . . can meaningful soul work take place apart from the influence of our Creator?
What do you think?

All to His Glory!

*The New England Primer, 18th century textbook.
**Community Bible Study– http://www.communitybiblestudy.org/get-connected/find-a-class/

Faith: The Grit That Moves Us Forward . . .

Have you ever wanted to run away?  In those seasons in life when we are hit hard by the pain of disappointment, rejection or failure . . . the thought of escape is absolutely understandable.  Many years ago, although my circumstances had actually improved, thoughts of running was hitting especially hard,  Tired of fighting, I ran to the Scriptures for the help and perspective I needed.  For two or three days I wrestled with my fear:“What if it happens again?”  When I received no answer to my query I changed my question to, How do I move forward?”  

"Be imitators of God, therefore . . . ."
“Be imitators of God, therefore . . . .”

The answer was immediate and almost took my breath away when I opened my Bible and read:

“Get rid of all bitterness (and) rage . . . along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving . . . just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us
and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 4:31-5:2

As I was forced to face the basis of my fear–bitterness and pride–I felt as if I had been slammed in my gut.  Even so, I was profoundly encouraged by God’s answer to my question, couched as it was His reminder of my own need for redemption:

“Walk in the way of love . . . as Christ did . . .
who gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

The realization that it took enormous determination and a gritty courage for Jesus to carry out His Father’s Plan encouraged me like never before.  When Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done,”* He fully understood what was to come in a very few hours.  In those moments of reflection, I found courage in Jesus’s gritty steadfastness, to love, to forgive and to trust again as I placed everything at His feet.

These days many scoff at faith as being “naive . . . not in touch with the real world . . . a false hope for weak people.” But those who have entered into a faith relationship with Christ will tell you, faith is anything but naive.  In fact,

  • Faith faces the fact of our human condition before a Holy God–there is no such thing as a “good person”.
  • Faith recognizes that we cannot save ourselves“For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.”***
  • Only a faith invested in the gritty love demonstrated by Jesus, who knowingly faced rejection, torture and a very public execution, is a faith worth having.

Thankfully, it doesn’t stop there . . .

Faith knows that Sunday is coming and an empty tomb awaits for all the world to see
Praise Him for a gritty faith that moves us forward,
to live for, love and serve Him with glad hearts!

“Yet to all who received Him, to who believed in His name,
He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will,
but born of God.”
John 1:12, 13

All to His Glory!

*Luke 22:42
**Maundy Thursday commemorates the last meal Jesus and His disciples shared before His arrest and crucifixion.
***Romans 3:23

We Dare Not Turn Our Backs . . . .

After spending hours watching events unfold in the news and listening to the chatter of a myriad of opinions as to how to respond–it was after I finally turned off the television, that I experienced palpable relief from the tug-of-war going on in my mind and heart.  It was then, as the quietness settled within me, that a verse from James ran through my mind like a wafting banner:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault . . . .”

(James 1:5)

Ah, yes . . . PRAYER!  I was grateful for the reminder that the evil unfolding before us is not merely political or sociological.  It is part of an age-old spiritual battle.  The Apostle Paul gives clarity as to the stakes and the means whereby we must do battle:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

II Corinthians 10:3-5

So what are Christians to do?  The best way to stay on course is to depend on the guidance of Scripture and God’s Spirit to provide the wisdom and strength we lack.  The following is a “game plan” that I have found helpful:

A Call To Prayer . . . To be quiet before God who already knows the end from the beginning.  As I bask in the quiet of God’s call, the weight in my heart is lifted as I pray for the displaced millions of men, women and children who, through no fault of their own, have no place to call home.  James 1:27 declares,

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

 Bottom line: WE DARE NOT TURN OUR BACKS ON OTHERS IN NEED.

Pray also for our political leaders, that God will convict their hearts as He ultimately works out His Plan through them.

A Call To Face Our Enemies . . . .   

  1. Some call it, “madness . . . sheer madness!”  Be it one individual shooting up a theater full of people or an organized group, it is a calculated, ugly, hate-filled assault on people–seemingly the more innocent the better.  After the killing is done, the descriptions reported by the survivors are similar as they describe the perpetrators as, “emotionless . . . robotic . . . appearing dead except for the merciless shooting.”  The problem is real, it is global and it is not any one group–an angry deadness of the soul.
  2. The second enemy may surprise you, but it must be faced to gain the wisdom we need to face enemy#1: FEAR fueled by what I call, “the court of public opinion.”  It is easy to get sucked into fear, for me it is a constant battle. When fear grips the heart, wisdom and faith are far removed. What keeps us steady is in knowing that FEAR is a ploy the devil uses to deter us.  Here’s what James wrote to Christians facing adversity 2,000 years ago:

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Come near to God and He will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James 4: 7, 8 & 10

 A Call To Faith . . . I have said it to many a Client and learned it long ago:

To be overwhelmed by trials and uncertainty
is an opportunity to trust God more.

God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.
If we claim to have fellowship with Him
and yet walk in the darkness,
we lie and do not live out the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

I John 1:5b-7

Over time I have learned to listen less to my fears as I  have determined to trust God with it all.  These words (also from James) have been a tremendous encouragement to me and to those I counsel facing hardship:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4

A Call to Action . . . REFUSE TO TURN YOUR BACK!

 1.  It is easy to hate the perpetrators of evil, but when hating comes easy we are in danger of becoming like them.  Take seriously Jesus command in Matthew 5:43:45:

“You have heard that it was said,
‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:43-45

God knows the heart of everyone.  Pray for the individuals caught up in this evil; that the attitudes and actions of Christians being held will touch the hearts of their captors.  Pray also that fleeing Christians will reflect the love of Christ to those who are also fleeing but do not know Him.

2.  Start looking for ways to help.  If your church has organized a means of reaching out in big and small ways, then by all means support that.  (Last year my church found a way to support Iraqi Christians by sending dental supplies {tooth brushes, toothpaste, etc} through a friend with contacts there.  It was such a small thing but I know it was an encouragement to those who could give as well as those receiving those small gifts.)

There are numerous charities working to help in this global crisis.  The following are some of my favorites:

Samaritan’s Purse
http://www.samaritanspurse.org

Mission to the World
https://www.mtw.org/disaster-response

Open Doors, USA
https://www.opendoorsusa.org/donate/

Voice of the Martyrs
http://www.persecution.com

3.  Watch the news following the stories of those caught up in this crisis and begin to pray for those who touch your heart.  There are several bloggers doing excellent work to help with this.  This post, by Humans of New York, is a good place to start: https://medium.com/@humansofnewyork/humans-of-new-york-refugee-stories-243336f4adeb#.ywdau2x1t

In good times and in bad, God calls us to prayer and to action as we live out our faith.
These are scary times to be sure, but they are potentially growing times
as we entrust ourselves to the One who Saves.  

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea . . . .
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts.”
Psalm 46:1-6

All to His Glory!

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