by Dr. J.D. Wilkins
“When you come to the fork in the road, take it” refers to a 1998 quotation appearing in “The Yogi Book”. Berra declared that he employed the phrase while explaining how to reach his house to Joe Garagiola.
In 2009 the biography “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee” by Allen Barra was published, and it included a wonderfully appealing rationale for Berra’s famous remark. While traveling to Berra’s house one may choose the left fork or the right fork and both are acceptable decisions because both efficiently lead to his house.
Today, I invite you to think of this famous phrase a little differently. We are traveling down a path that most of us today have never taken. We are living out an existence in the middle of what globally has been referred to as a “pandemic.” We have all been affected. We may at this point, all know someone who has been tested positive for the virus, or perhaps suffered greatly, or died from the virus. It is real. It is dangerous. It is still quite unknown.
And that’s the scariest part. The unknown.
We’re being told we must stay in our homes to mitigate the effects of the virus and not overrun the hospital/medical system in our country. We’re being told we are to wear masks out in public, and only certain businesses may be open because they are “essential.” Yet, almost every public official when issuing these decrees is not wearing a mask. They are still receiving a paycheck. And while the models used to tell us how bad the virus is changes almost daily, the question becomes “how long?”
How long are we going to live under these guidelines (edicts from on high) before we can even attempt something that looks like “normal” life again? How long are we going to listen to the ones who seem to want only to keep us under their control, tell us what we can or cannot do, under penalty of law? From a purely spiritual perspective, maybe we should get a grip on three principles of the spiritual warfare side of what’s going on here.
First, it has always been Satan’s desire to destroy humankind. This is just the latest attempt in his efforts to breed fear, depression, and loss of purpose. Every day that goes by when people cannot return to normalcy, Satan smiles, laughs, and clutches tighter around our hearts and minds. The fear sets deeply, the depression paralyzes, and our sense of purpose is so blurred it becomes almost non-existent. So we have to ask, “Is this really what God wants from me during this time?”
Of course not.
Second, from Scripture we can find dozens of stories from highly celebrated and revered Bible heroes who have gone through similar testing by Satan. From Adam and Eve, to Abraham and Sarah, Moses, King David, and Elijah, just to name a few… all went through experiences where they had to choose to listen to God or listen to Satan. So this should encourage you by understanding you are not alone, and not the only one who feels this way today, or has ever felt this way.
What was God’s message? What has God said to mankind over and over and over, that might give us some perspective and hope today?
Third, God is consistent in His message to us.
Do not Fear.
I will never leave you or forsake you.
Here are God’s actual words to Joshua:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9 NAS
Our purpose, the reason for our existence, is to bring God glory in all that we do.
Elijah found himself sitting under a bush in the wilderness because he had turned fearful, depressed, and had lost his sense of purpose. You can hear it in his own voice, when God asked him, “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” – 1 Kings 19:10 MSG
This looks and feels a lot like fear, depression, and lost sense of purpose to me. What about you?
In Elijah’s case, God points out that He will (not might, but will) use the prophet once again to appoint two new kings (one for Israel, one for Judah), as well as anoint the man God has chosen to replace Elijah when his work is completed. Basically, God says, get up and get busy. Put aside your fear, depression, and loss of purpose, and get back out there and do what I called you to do.
Look folks. Today, right this minute as you read these words, I believe God is calling us to get back out there and get busy doing what God has called us to do… bring Him glory.
Will we be able to go back to church right away? I doubt it. But can we make a difference in our world today, in this wacko-crazy Satan-influenced culture and society? Yes! How will we do it? What will enable us to get busy once again?
Just remember one thing, then three things.
One Thing: Jesus is LORD.
Three Things: Jesus in in Control, has sole authority, and will always be present with us!
So, when you come to the fork in the road today … or tomorrow … or one day soon … you must choose to listen to Satan or God’s Authoritative word… which will you choose?
Will you continue in fear, depression, and lost purpose?
Will you listen to God’s voice, calling you to get up, get busy, cast aside the fear and depression, and find a renewed purpose to bring God glory right where you are?
Your choice. Your’s alone. You choose.
Can you say Pandemic?
Three years ago, May 5, 2017, I wrote an article stimulated by what was then called “The Word of the Day.” Wordpress was using this title to stimulate bloggers to be creative and write about a word they had chosen for that particular day. I really enjoyed those times of sometimes silly, sometimes serious articles I wrote.
Fast forward three years when yesterday I noticed someone had read this particular article I’m reposting today. It’s fascinating that I wrote these words three years ago… since I could have written them just yesterday…
Share with your friends if you like… it goes like this…
A panic attack is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as:
… an abrupt and discrete experience of intense fear or acute discomfort, accompanied by symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and worries about going crazy, losing control or dying.
Did you know that 8-10 percent of the population has panic attacks, or that in 5% it becomes a disorder, occurring without any obvious stimulus, making the attacks even more terrifying? In these cases it isn’t just a rush of anxiety, like most of us might experience from time to time. No, these patients describe it as the most frightening event they have ever experienced. Research has discovered what leads to or causes a person’s first panic attack, as well as some clues about how to avoid an attack in the first place. The simplified version is that panic attacks often result…
…when our normal “fight or flight” response to imminent threats—including increased heart rate and rapid breathing—is triggered by “false alarms,” situations in which real danger is absent.
The good news for those who suffer this chronic disorder is, first, all panic attacks are triggered by known events, even though the person may not be aware of those events. Knowing this can often reduce the anxiety stemming from a sense of unpredictability. Second, though it is affirming to learn the attack is caused as a misfire of the fight-or-flight response when there is actually no danger.
In a culture spawning “fake” news, political corruption, excesses and entitlements, it’s little wonder that we all don’t run into the ocean, screaming in a wild panic. I’m sure that we could learn quite a bit from a shepherd boy, if we only would. Just because things look dangerous, or complicated, or “glass-half-empty,” (or completely empty), doesn’t mean God sees it this way. If only we could see the world, ourselves, and our situations through God’s eyes, I believe it would make a huge difference in the way we live daily. Maybe we wouldn’t become panicked quite so much.
The key to David’s life was his ability to not see things as they are, but to view them as God sees them. Enter Goliath, a huge 9 ft. tall giant of a man, hardened by war, trained in battle. He wears armor plated garments, has both spear and sword, and a shield to ward off enemy attacks. He bellows at the top of his lungs, the wild ravings of the blood-thirsty heathen that he is. And every time he does so, every man in the camp of Israel… well, they are trembling in a crazed panic.
Along comes David bringing food to his brothers in the army of Israel. Upon hearing Goliath’s threats and railings, David’s response is not flight, it is fight. It’s not an imagined danger, it is very real. It is tangible. This is death with a face on it. Yet, David’s instant response to the Israelite men trembling in panic was this:
1 Samuel 17:26
Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
I can almost hear it in David’s voice. The overwhelming confidence that God will not stand for His people to be challenged in this way without retribution. God will not allow for the heathen to cast dispersions and heresies about Him without punishment. David is clearly not panicked. (1 Samuel 17) How did God use David’s confidence to demonstrate His own sovereign control, authority, and covenant presence? Watch. After using his trusty slingshot to nail the giant with a stone David gathered from the river…
1 Samuel 17:51
Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
Now it’s the Philistine army’s turn to be panicked, and well they should.
So, here’s the thing. That event or circumstance (think Coronavirus) that frightens you most right now, whether cancer, relationship struggles, financial difficulties, or emotional strains to difficult even to talk about… hear me… God is still in control. The authority of His word still stands. His covenant presence with you is designed to annihilate the panic that so easily sets in to destroy us. Here are God’s simple words to avoid becoming panicked:
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.
True three years ago… still true today.
Hello friends. We started back with our study of Acts of the Apostles last night on Zoom.
Click below to study this lesson (audio) with us, and download the outline and discussion guide if you like.
Country music is not everyone’s favorite. I personally am an equal opportunity musical genre listener. I love music. For 10 years, when I was leading worship, we sang karaoke style. I would find music tracks that would lead the congregation in preparation of the message from God’s Word for that day. Found in the list of any given Sunday worship might be some gospel, choral, hymns, praise, contemporary, or even country music. Regardless of what “style” or “genre” before we ever opened our mouths to sing, I would always remind the worshipers, the most important part of any song we sing to God’s glory, are the words. Words are our communication point. Words capture our emotions, tune our hearts to God’s Spirit. Words combined with music have a power pull on our psyche to really discover the power, riches and grace of God towards us.
Think about one of the songs we sing regularly, “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship. I love this song because it reminds me of an important fact of scripture. I am not concerned with what others say about me, or who they say I am. I am not caught up in who I might want to be, or who I think I might be. God alone determines my existence, and experience, and I am who God says I am. And God says, I am His child. Where?
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:1-13
This week on my blog I wrote about Christmas, Easter, and the Resurrection. I won’t rehash that here. But writing this article did tune my heart toward the importance of the Easter season. It always comes at the beginning of Spring, when our outdoor world is transformed before our eyes from the cold and dark of winter, to new life in the green grass and leaves. While listening to music, we were puzzling again, and in a flash the words to this song from 16 years ago, had new meaning for me again.
Here are the lyrics…
Mother, do not cry for me
All of this is exactly how it’s supposed to be
I’m right here. Can you hear my voice?
My life, my love, my Lord
my baby boy
As they nail me to this tree
Just know the Father waits for me
God how can this be your will?
To have your son and my son killed?
Whatever happens, whatever you see,
Whatever your eyes tell you has become of me
This is not
Not the end
I am making all things new again
I remember when you were born
In that manger where I first held
You in my arms
So many miracles and lives you’ve changed
And this world repays you how?
With all this pain
Whatever happens (Whatever happens)
whatever you see (I don’t wanna see)
Whatever your eyes tell you has become of me
This is not
Not the end
I am making all things new again.
Sung by Sara Evans and Brad Paisley, released in 2004, the words and the music capture my heart, and tune my mind to the truth. Click the link below to watch this awesome video.
In the Resurrection of Jesus, God makes all things new.
Not right this minute. It doesn’t feel new does it? In the prison of our homes, incarcerated and alone, with no touching, and very little communication, what we’re doing in response to a worldwide pandemic, what we must remember, where we must focus, is on this truth:
Jesus makes all things new again.
What will Easter next year look like?
What lessons will we take with us into the future, because of the work Jesus does during this time?
See, we can’t know these things.
But today, on Easter Sunday 2020, we can know that God is in Control.
Jesus Christ is Alive!
My old Uncle Wylie always cracked me up when he would hear something that brought joy to his life. He would say, “Well, praise the LORD, and pass the biscuits!” It was just his way of saying, God is in control!
I think our worship today should reflect our belief. How about you? Will you join the worship groups all over the planet today, on this Easter Sunday 2020, and lift your head and hands to the LORD of heaven, shouting and singing to His glory?
He alone deserves it.
He is Alive!
The Christmas story and the Easter story have always intrigued me as the focal points of the Christian faith. My sense is that many people treat them as singularities, to be celebrated in grand fashion, but wholly separate from one another. This has always given me pause. I keep asking myself… “How can you have a cross without a manger? How could there be a man without a baby?”
The two images are more like a microscope and a telescope.
Looking back through the microscope of a manger scene where Jesus lies wrapped in “swaddling clothes” we see the creation of life as God intended. Adam and Eve were perfect people, and God intended when they procreated, they would have perfect babies. Not perfect in the “oh how beautiful a child!” but one that is born with a perfect relationship with God. This is what they enjoyed, and without that one awful decision when they listened to the Father of Lies, it may very well have been our reality today. But that didn’t happen did it?
From the manger looking through the telescope of the cross where Jesus hangs on a Roman instrument of torture and death, we see a glimpse into God’s answer to the awful decision by Adam and Eve. We see the great I AM giving His own life, so that we might be restored into that perfect relationship with our Creator. We also see the truth of heaven revealed above the Savior’s head, there on a plaque was written, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and is a King, but not just of the Jews. The great I AM is King of the universe!
What grabs me is how fickle the hearts and minds of people can be at times. One gift given to all mankind, in the form of a baby destined to become Savior of the world, is not enough for some. We have turned the story of a Savior into a gift-giving madness where bigger is better, and more is better, and regardless of what we do receive it is never enough.
We watch the Easter vids, or we listen to the stories of people lining the streets waving palm branches and throwing their outer cloaks on the ground as Jesus makes His way into Jerusalem and we too have a sense of celebration. But these first-century folks were fickle too, they went from shouting “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him!” in a short minute. We buy new outfits, new dresses, to gather in a place of worship and shout “Hosanna!” After which, our lives go back to normal, whatever normal may become these days.
But here’s the thing.
There is a third part of the story. Life in the manger didn’t end on a Roman cross. In a garden tomb, the light of the world overcame death in a final victorious resurrection. Jesus the man, was transfigured into His true identity – Jesus the LORD – for the final time. He rolled away that stone from inside the tomb and walked out the other side. Or did He?
My question is not whether or not Jesus Christ is alive today. My challenge is to get us past this idea that as the transfigured LORD how He could have been held by any tomb or any boulder across its opening? Why would He need to roll away the stone to leave the tomb, if later that day He would appear in a locked room without having come through the doorway? Yes, the stone was rolled away. Maybe just pause and think for a moment, that happened for YOU as a SIGN of the resurrection… not to facilitate His leaving!
The microscope of the manger and the telescope of the cross will have no transforming effect on your life today if you don’t believe then apply the empty tomb and resurrection of the Savior. Here it is, and you know you’ve heard it a million times from me in the past couple of years.
Jesus is LORD.
The Lordship attributes of Jesus are:
Jesus is in Control
Jesus in sole Authority over all things
Jesus is present with us, right here, right now
This Easter we are sheltered in place and not meeting at the House of Worship. You think it’s hard being cooped up where the kids are screaming, you’ve gained 5 pounds eating snacks all day, and watching more TV in a few weeks than in your entire life?
Imagine being dead, and in a cold, damp tomb for just three days! Jesus didn’t “want” to be there any more than you want to be at home right this minute.
But He did it to save mankind. Because this was God’s will. He said “yes” to God’s will.
How about we do it for the same reason? For just a few more days, weeks, or whatever it takes…
Can we do it? I really think so.
Because I believe in Jesus as LORD, and He has got this!
Happy Easter ya’ll! Praise the LIVING LORD JESUS for all He is doing … that we can’t even see!
Do you see what I see? I see a universe being held together by God’s own hands. I see stars that He calls by name. I see the earth in this picture relative to distance and time. Yet, even the details of our own planet cannot be seen, except in the image on the bottom left. This image of God’s creation is what I call big.
Do I have any Biblical evidence that my statements are true? Sure. First let’s consider:
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
This supports my claim that God made everything you see in this image, and all the tiny details which you cannot see, on every dot in the image, including planet earth.
What about God making it all, and holding it together?
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
What about God knowing all the names of the stars?
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.
Look at the image again and see the marvelous truth that we are NOT ALONE! “You are here” in this image gives clear indication that the LORD of all the universe is fully in control, has sole authority over this pandemic and your life individually. But most important of all, HE is RIGHT HERE TOO! He is present with us. Right now, right here.
Based on these truths, let me pray for you now.
Father, thank you for demonstrating your power, in Your words, as seen in this image.
I pray today for all those reading these words, who need your hand to touch their hearts and minds with peace. There are those reading this who are terrified, please calm their hearts. There are those who are single, living alone, facing the hours and hours of uncertainty, so please Father, reveal your presence to them in these moments. Help those who live alone, know without doubt, they are not alone because You are there with them.
There are moms and dads who while loving their children, have never been faced with this much time together and under these conditions. Father I ask that love, gentleness, and relationship building take the place of frustration, anger, and depression. In addition to these relationship struggles LORD, some families are facing financial crisis, and I pray You would send them help. Not just from our government, but from Your people. Open our eyes to see the needs around us.
For those infected, and in varying degrees of failing health, LORD JESUS, Healer and Savior, I ask for You to say the word from Your throne which brings healing around our world. We ask it selfishly, for our friends and our families who have been effected. But we also seek this to happen for Your glory. What greater evidence could there be than Your own healing power to be demonstrated this way? Yet, just as You prayed Jesus, not our will, but the Father’s will be done in our world today.
Keep us strong LORD. Keep our minds in perfect peace as we face the unknown. We trust You alone LORD, help us when our trust and confidence waivers. Give us your wisdom on a daily basis, until this unseen force has passed us by.
To You alone be all the glory and honor for all our days.
In Jesus name,
Anyone… and I do mean anyone… can observe what is going on today, and remain calm, rational, logical, and peaceful. But this is a choice. And this choice once made, requires certain actions on the part of the person who desires peace in the middle of this chaos.
The media and those who want to politicize this pandemic want to control your mind with a constant diet of infection projections, death projections, causing you to think you are next. Not might be. That YOU are next. They want you to live in fear. This agenda is straight out of the pit of hell, because Satan wants you to live in fear. Satan wants to rob you of peace, and the joy of your salvation. Whether knowingly or not, those who usher into your mind all these fear factors, are doing the work of Satan to control or destroy your mind.
I recently read about 5 visible effects of Mind Control:
Yes, I know, I’m taking a chance here. But I promise this is not going to be a technical discussion… I’m offering tangible and applicable ways for you to fight against this mind control effort.
We are isolated (1)… causing moody behavior (2).
We are being told that using “the Chinese Virus” is racist and xenophobic. (3 – Metacommunication)
We listen to phrases in the reporting process like, “could be as many as 2 million deaths in the USA.” (4 – Neuro-Linguistic Programming)
We are sheltering in place under penalty of law. (5 – Uncompromising rules)
Many years ago as a young boy, I learned an acrostic (A.C.T.S.) that helps me in times like these. Before I walk through that remember what the Apostle Paul instructed the church in Rome, and us today…
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Turn your thoughts to adoring the Savior, Jesus Christ. Know that His claim to be God is true. Which makes His claim to have Sole Authority over ALL things true as well. He is worthy of our praise. He deserves to be worshiped and adored.
Confess to Jesus you are afraid. Confess that all these statistics and modeling and projections of infection and death are getting to you. Of course Jesus already knows this, but when you tell Him, you are recognizing His claim to know it ahead of time, and that makes it safe to say it out loud.
Think about how this progression works. When you take the time to worship and adore Jesus for being in control, through His sole authority; then take the time to confess these things you can’t control make you fearful… this frees up your mind to simply ease away from the fear and say “Thank YOU for being in Control!” Thank God today for all the first responders, for our national guard, for leaders that are doing everything they can do to get us through this WAR with COVID-19. Thank God for the home you live in. Thank God for the family around you. Thank God for friends you still have, but from a distance. Thank God there is still enough toilet paper to go around. (Did you smile? I know you did!)
About now, if you have followed through with a dedicated to choice to fight against the mind control… you are fully engaged in the spiritual war around us. I’m sure you have a list of people that you are thinking about during this time. I’m sure you have been praying for them already. But what about those not on your list? Why not ask God to open your eyes to see a need you haven’t seen before? Why not ask Jesus to give you some insight on how you can make a difference in this world under attack? Do you get where I’m going here? It’s not about you. Each of us have our own needs, and I am not trying to minimize any of that. But in times like these, we must come together. We must support each other. We must get away from the mind control games of the world, and meet needs. God will help us do that, if we ask Him how we personally can be involved.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
ESV – Isaiah 26:3
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
ESV –Philippians 4:7
Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing can make them stumble.
ESV –Psalm 119:165
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. For the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and He also has become my salvation.
ESV –Isaiah 12:2
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
ESV –Isaiah 9:6
We serve a Mighty God! He is the PRINCE of PEACE!
How about just one feel good story, about how we come together to meet other’s needs?
Did you hear the one about the Dr. going home after work, getting stopped by an officer for doing 85 in a 70 mph zone?
Oh… this is good. When you read it, just see it as God at Work… maybe He wants to use you, in a peaceful state of mind, to reach someone today.
Click here for the story.
share this post with your friends and family if you want.