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God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary

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Several weeks have passed since the devastating hurricanes in Houston, SW Florida, and Puerto Rico. The news trucks have long ago departed for their next assignment, the local newspapers have pushed any stories related to hurricanes to the 3rd page, and those not seriously impacted by the storms have returned to their normal lives.

hurricane Maria

NASA satellite photo of hurricane Maria

For the tens of thousands whose lives were devastated however, normal will never be “normal” again.

Living all but the last year of my life in the Midwest, I had never encountered a hurricane until Irma came rushing through SW Florida. Like most Midwesterner’s, I never thought much about hurricanes, as tornadoes and the occasional blizzard were the worst type of storms we had to deal with.

Believe me, my thinking has been altered after witnessing the devastation all around me, and I’ll never think of these storms the same way for the rest of my life.

To gain a better understanding of the situation, I was privileged this past week to attend a meeting of SW Florida pastors and their associates where we were to receive an update on the various rebuilding projects in the aftermath of hurricane Irma. After a wonderful fellowship meal, we were ushered into the sanctuary for a time of worship, which I have to say was much needed and appreciated.

MWOA worship

Broadway Community Church, Ft. Myers FL.

There were two local pastors there who spoke of the devastation their churches received at the hands of hurricane Irma.

To see the videos and pictures, plus hearing their first hand accounts, was a bit overwhelming to this previously “sheltered” country boy.

It was immediately apparent that it’s altogether different seeing the news on TV vs. hearing it from someone who lost everything. Listening to the anguish of a now homeless mother, seeing the tears of those rendered helpless, these are very powerful and very moving things.

Of course, many churches and businesses in the area suffered catastrophic damage, just as thousands of homes did. Trying to grasp the level of devastation to families who have lost everything is not easy to do. No wonder such a feeling of helplessness hangs over the affected areas. Can anyone blame those who ask “God where are you”?

 

The main speaker of the evening was the denominational leader for Men and Women of Action for the Church of God, who gave a riveting,”boots on the ground” account of their work in Houston, SW Florida, and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, and Maria have kept them going nearly non stop, and to say this team has been busy would be quite the understatement!

His message centered around the theme of how God will take ordinary men and women and use them to do extraordinary things for the kingdom. MWOA 1

I heard powerful stories of God’s provision and care to those in need, and it was a blessing to see first hand how ordinary men and women are transformed into the hands and feet of Jesus.

This is real ministry. 

The main takeaway for me was that even though during a major disaster we sometimes feel as if God is a million miles away, or question why He didn’t stop it from happening in the first place, the truth is God is never far from us.

In this life it is very likely that we will never understand why we must endure the catastrophic events that are a part of our lives. In reality, we can drive ourselves nearly crazy trying to figure these things out.

What I have found to be most important is not the “why”, but rather knowing that in spite of the storms of life, God is there to help us pick up the pieces and rebuild. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc. are just as much a part of life as the personal tragedies we endure. Yet in spite of it all, God is still God!

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;    Isaiah 59:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Psalms 46:1

Be blessed!

Ron

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Make America Great Again?

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Catchy slogans are just that: slogans.

make America great

They’re words on a billboard,magazine cover,or TV ad.

Oh, and they’re on ball caps too.

Mostly though,slogans are just words that someone thought would provide motivation to accomplish a goal or a task.

Did you know there are companies that employ people to make up slogans? I found that out when I was still working. Go to any trade show or conference and you will see booths plastered with eye catching slogans.

So while the slogan “Make America Great Again” sounds wonderful,we must be careful to understand that it is impossible for a simple slogan to make that happen.

It’s sort of like our paper currency. The slogan “In God We Trust” sounds wonderful. But does it actually encourage people to trust in God? I think you know the answer to that.

You see, patriotism and nationalism aside,and forgive me if I don’t sound like a team player here,but neither hard work,government intervention,or catchy slogans can make America great again. Any more than riots and demonstrations in the streets will make America great again.

I happen to believe that slogans and demonstrations aren’t what is needed in order for America to become great once again. Oh sure,they may effect change at the local level,and they can be effective at rallying the troops.

Our need however,is so much greater than that. For America to become great again she must look beyond herself. Far beyond herself.

Our priorities are out of order. We seem to think that we alone can fix what ails us. Lest we forget, the brightest minds and trillions of dollars combined have failed to right the ship.

This is what happens when a people is lifted up with so much pride that it replaces God with themselves. We cannot see the forest for the trees! We have bought into the lie that we are in control of our own destiny because our collective pride will not permit us to recognize One greater than ourselves.

And if we are brave enough to dig even deeper, what we have in America is a consciousness problem. As in…

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” I Timothy 4:1-2   emphasis mine

Paul’s letter to Timothy contained an important message for the church of today. What we have failed to recognize is that as the church goes, so go the nations of the world. Think about that for a few moments.

I will end this post by saying this. A couple of thousand years ago a warning went out to a group of churches located in what we now refer to as Asia Minor.

revelation_Turkey_map

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:17,18

While the verses above were directed to the church of Laodicea, America clearly resembles these words from Revelation almost to a “T”.

Make America Great Again?

The only way for America to become great again is for Americans to make God great again in America.

I’d like to see that on a ball cap.