God is Good All the Time

I find myself sitting in a hotel room for the sixth week in a row while my house gets fixed from a broken pipe that we’ve waited months for repairs.  It’s hard not having an oven to cook in, a comfortable couch to rest on, or having a backyard for our puppies.  And to all that add an awful virus from which I’m just now recovering (yes, the awful one). Despite all the worldly things around me going wrong, I’m still grateful.  Why?  Because my God is good all the time.  My joy is not in my circumstances or from what is happening around me.  My joy is based on who my God is.  It’s taken me some time to learn this lesson, and I pray I will remember it so I don’t have to repeat my lessons! ☺  

My wonderful Savior has been putting this psalm in my heart, and I hope that it is an encouragement to you today:

Psalm 121

“I will raise my eyes to the mountains; 

From where will my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, 

Who made heaven and earth.  

He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who watches over you will not slumber.

Behold, He who watches over Israel 

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your protector, 

The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun will not beat down on you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The LORD will protect you from all evil;

He will keep your soul.

The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in 

From this time and forever.”

We worship the Creator of the Universe who knows every detail about everything.  We can trust in His character and goodness even when things are not as we would like them to be.  We can trust that our God will take care of us, sustain us, and watch over us.  He doesn’t even need sleep like we do!  He is our protector and will always be with us.  Even in the midst of hardship, He is there.  He is our Sustainer, and He is Good All The Time.  Rest in the goodness of our Creator today friend, regardless of the circumstances and what happens around us. 

About the Writer:  

Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

Oh, Why not To-Night?

One of the most commonly asked questions today is “Have you been vaccinated?” While the COVID pandemic was spreading rapidly worldwide last year, there was a determined effort by the medical and pharmaceutical researchers to develop a vaccine to “stem the tide” and bring about “herd immunity” to as many populations as possible. In late 2020, there was an announcement that one vaccine was available and that another one was soon to be on the market. Great celebration followed, and lines formed for people to be vaccinated against this dreadful disease that had already taken many thousands of lives in America. 

In full disclosure, I confirm that I received two doses of the Moderna vaccine in January and February and was very glad to be protected. But after many months, there are still people who have chosen not to be vaccinated. There are many reasons for their choices, and I am not trying to influence anyone in that decision. However, I have observed a few of the reasons for people’s reluctance. Some have always been fearful of NEEDLES! Others are afraid of possible side effects. Some doubt the vaccine’s efficacy. Others are suspicious of the federal government, as well as the health experts. A few believe the vaccine is experimental and are waiting for “final approval.” I recently heard an anecdotal account from a critical care doctor who was treating a COVID patient on a ventilator. The patient struggled to enunciate the words, “Doctor, I would like to get the vaccine now,” to which the doctor could only reply, “I’m sorry, but it’s too late for that.” What a sad outcome for this patient who put off receiving the vaccine until it was clearly too late!

Hearing this story, I was struck by its comparison to the urgency of a person’s decision concerning salvation and eternal life! Though the results are not on the same level, the factors involved are worth comparing.

1. Just as the COVID vaccine has been offered free of charge to everyone, so

    salvation is a free gift of God’s grace to all who believe in Christ. Read Romans 6:23:  

  “. . .the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2. As the COVID vaccine is available to everyone over the age of twelve, regardless

    of race, gender, income, social status, religion, or citizenship, so salvation is available

    to everyone, without distinction—“whosoever will.” Jesus said, in John 3:16, “. . .

    whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

3. Receiving the vaccine is voluntary (at least for now) and so is salvation. Though it is

    God’s desire that all should be saved, He does not force anyone to accept the 

    atonement for sin provided by the shed blood of Christ. It is received by making a 

    conscious decision to trust Jesus: “. . . Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be 

    saved. . . .” Acts 16:31

4. The opportunity to receive the vaccine is time-sensitive, as is the opportunity 

    to receive God’s gift of salvation and forgiveness. Once the patient was fighting 

    for breath and life, the vaccine would not help him. And once a person leaves this life,

    the opportunity to repent and turn to Almighty God for everlasting life through faith in

    His one and only Son is over. Consider Hebrews 9:21: “. . . it is appointed for men to

    die once and after this comes judgment. . . .”

How utterly tragic it will be for those who have put off responding to the urgings of the Holy Spirit of God throughout their whole lives and who will assuredly stand before Him one day to give an account of their lives. They may say, “I see now that You were telling the truth about Jesus and that He is actually the only Way to the Father! I’d like to change my mind now about having His blood applied as the healing agent for my sins and the protection from eternal death.” But it will be incomparably, indescribably heartbreaking to hear the words, “I’m sorry but it is too late for that.” Think about this: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12a,15

Don’t stop reading until you absorb the fabulous, outstanding, glorious GOOD NEWS: The major difference between the COVID 19 vaccination and the free gift of salvation is that salvation through Jesus Christ never needs a booster! It will last forever! This is the Lord’s promise to you and to me: “. . . I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” Praise God now and forever more!

About the Writer:

Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans who call her “Gigi.”

Chocolate Anyone?

I think I know some reasons why chocolate is referred to as a “girls best friend.”  She can have it near her in happy and bad times, it can comfort her, and it tastes good!  Well, maybe more than just good, it can be quite delightful and decadent!  What it also gives her that she might not realize or care about at the time are those extra calories and sugar that she puts into her body.  She has to decide if the good outweighs the bad!  

There were some days that I was just craving chocolate–you know the rich, melt-in-your-mouth kind of chocolate? I would eat some and then realize that I wasn’t satisfied.  It wasn’t meeting my needs.  And then it hit me. I hadn’t spent time with my Savior yet that day.  I was missing out on THE relationship that helps me in good times and bad.  He comforts me and is always there for me!  

Our relationship with our Lord and Savior can be even more delightful and fulfilling than chocolate!  When we become children of God and ask Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, we begin a new relationship with The King of Kings and The Lord of Lords! 

 Isaiah 41:10: “I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  

The Creator of the Universe is there to strengthen us and help us, and He will uphold us all of our days.  What a beautiful gift for His children!

Not only will He strengthen us, but also we can rest assured that He will not leave us!  

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or in dread of them, for the LORD, your God is the ONE who is going with you.  He will not desert you or abandon you.”  

We can trust God’s Word that He will always be near to us, regardless of what our feelings are telling us.  

One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17. 

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.  He will rejoice over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”  

God is there in the good times and the bad.  He rejoices over us with joy!  HE is a victorious warrior and will quiet us with His love.  We can tell our Father everything that is going on knowing that He cares for us and wants what is best for us.  

So the next time we want to grab for the chocolate when something happens to us, let’s remember that we have The God of the Universe to talk to!  We can always confide in Him, He’s always there, and as Matthew 28:30 reminds us,

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  

What a wonderful God we serve!               

About the Writer: 

Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

A Woman Who Fears the Lord

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Recently, I was part of a group of women “of a certain age” waiting to have our pictures taken for a brochure. The Texas sun was almost directly overhead as we gathered outside, searching for the most flattering angles and backgrounds. A couple of us opted to wear our sunglasses for the photos, a technique every woman knows can erase at least 5, if not 10 years. Much to our dismay, the sunglasses were nixed and we stood bare-eyed in all our middle-aged glory, squinting and smiling for posterity. The fact that the purpose for the photo shoot was a BIBLE study brochure didn’t lessen one bit our concern with how we would appear on those glossy 5 by 7 pages. After all, God reminds us that while He looks on the heart, men (and especially women getting their pictures taken) look on the outward appearance. (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Hebrew word “beauty” in Proverbs 31:30 literally means “a breath, or vapor.” Just as quickly as our makeup evaporated under the hot midday sun, so fades the “beauty” of what the world considers important. Those of us who have seen more than three decades know how literally we are outwardly “wasting away.” Yet, hopefully, we are inwardly being renewed day by day…IF we are fearing the Lord instead of fearing growing older. (2 Corinthians 4:16) For, truly, this is vanity: the preoccupation with our outward appearance, which is destined to be left behind once we step into the timelessness of eternity anyway.

The gods of this world — money, prestige, power, lots of social media followers, fame, physical beauty, and looking forever young — are constantly vying for our worship and calling us to “fear” them, to be in awe of the created instead of in awe of the Creator. Psalm 1:1 tells us that we are blessed when we do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. It’s a good idea to check from where we are allowing our hearts to be most influenced. Elisabeth Elliot wrote in her devotional Keep a Quiet Heart: “Be cautious when the advice given makes you feel comfortable when you know you’re really wrong.” But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30)  . . .  and she “smiles at the future” (Proverbs 31:25) . . . laugh lines and all!

About the Writer:
Nan has been married to her college sweetheart, Jim, a pastor, since graduation. Over those 40 plus years, they have been blessed with four wonderful children, a daughter-in-love, and a son-in-love. She enjoys discovering more about God’s love and sharing it through writing. 

On the Other Side of God’s Call to Go

While dialoguing over their yesterdays with family and friends, most all have heard the expression, “back in the day.” This expression usually precedes an introduction to an about-to-be-communicated story of former times and enjoyable memories. As of late, I have found myself pondering over this phrase while returning to dwellings and certain eras in my life

Recently I had the opportunity to travel home to visit family. One day I was sitting in my mother’s den watching both her and my sister go through picture albums. Narratives began to unravel as they reminisced about days gone by. As they continued this regimen, I sat quietly and pondered intensely over many things.

Later in the day, I traveled to see additional family members. After a time of visitation, I left to return to my mother’s home. During the drive back, I found myself doing some reminiscing of my own as I passed by familiar locations that prompted various memories.  

I found myself recalling those “back-in-the-day” periods and places that had marked my life in some form or fashion. Instead of returning immediately to my mother’s home, I decided to revisit some of those places where I had once spent so much of my time.  

One road led me to a parking lot of a once-familiar dwelling. As I sat alone in my vehicle, remembrances of my yesterdays began to resurface. An array of thanksgiving flooded my soul for how God had grown me during those previous seasons of my life.  

As I continued to travel down other previously traveled roads, I found myself driving by a mentor’s home where God had used a precious widow to teach me of His ways. On another road, I visited with a dear woman in her front yard who had meant so much to my family and who loved Jesus more than anyone I had ever met.

As I continued to travel down particular roads, remembering dreams I had once cultivated, fun times I had shared with friends, and detours I wished I had never taken, my heart began to stir with a deep awareness and thankfulness of all that God had done for my life throughout the years, as well as the place where He has currently brought me.

I have often witnessed people who long for those days of old and even wish they could go back. I, on the other hand, am not one of those individuals.

That was then—and—this is now.

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-1

The place, the period, and the season to which God has currently brought me has served as one of the most wonderful periods of my life.

I love the story of Ruth. After suffering a great loss, Ruth left behind everything she had ever known—family, friends, and a home—to follow her mother-in-law to an unfamiliar place. She embraced a new future instead of holding on to her past. Ruth never could have envisioned all the blessings that awaited her as God orchestrated her steps to a field where she would be noticed, protected, and provided for by a man named Boaz. Later, she was united in marriage with Boaz and blessed with a beautiful child.

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’” Ruth 1:16-17

Embracing the new thing God is doing in my life has not always been easy, but I can say with certainty that it has always been worth it. I never dreamed God would call this small-town girl to travel down the paths He has called me to travel. Yet, I am so thankful He gave me the grace to answer His call.

On the other side of God’s call to go were blessings I never envisioned.

Oh, what I would have missed had I listened to my fears, my doubts, and even those voices attempting to thwart me from moving forward to the future destiny God had waiting for me. I want to share some important truths that I pray you and I will both grasp and always remember.  

1. Fear will sit you down and cause you to shrink back. Yet, saying yes to the call of God will move you forward to your destiny.

2. Doubt will cause you to ride the waves of unbelief. Faith will keep you anchored.

3. Not everyone will understand the call of God on your life.

4. Not everyone will support you as you move forward to the new thing God is calling you to do—some from a lack of understanding and others from jealousy.

5. Not everyone will agree with your transplanting to a new place, and some may even cease their friendship with you.

But REMEMBER THIS: You and I will not stand before those “Everyones.” Rather, we will stand before God.

I learned early on to move forward with Jesus—and leave those “Fears,” those “Doubts,” and those “Everyones” to His care.

Though none go with me—I still will follow.

While journeying down roads previously traveled, we can enjoy those memories and those precious moments from our yesterdays. I will always hold dear my precious memories, but I pray to hold tighter to the hand of Jesus as He ushers me to move forward with Him wherever He leads. For on the other side of His call to go is where I long to be more than any place else in this world.  

About the Writer:

O’Shea is the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min at Southwestern in Family Ministries.

The Sound of Silence

Music moves me. It always has had a special place in my heart. My mom says that as a kid I sang before I could speak, and I hummed even when I had food in my mouth. There was always something soothing about music – I couldn’t really appreciate silence because the comfort of rhythm and tempo helped me feel peace. Even though the song “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel came out before I was born, I was drawn to its dramatic lyrics and melancholy minor chords. Paul Simon has said that he wrote the song because people didn’t know how to communicate their emotions. It’s not a song that elevates silence; it’s a message that people use silence inappropriately in an effort to find peace.

In the Bible, David was also a musician. In fact, he was so known for his musical giftedness that he was summoned to play the harp for King Saul to soothe his anxious thoughts.

I also suffered from anxiety as a young adult. I was particularly struck (and, if I’m being honest, offended!) that a therapist once suggested I needed to have times of complete silence in order to gain some peace. 

The conversation went something like this:

Therapist: Yada yada yada…you should go somewhere where you can be completely quiet.

Me: Excuse me? I don’t have time for that. What do you mean, “completely quiet?”

Therapist: No music, no phone, no noise, no nothing. Just still and silent. I suggest starting with 15 minutes.

Me: I don’t think I can do that.

Therapist: You can’t. Until you do. Just trust me.

I took her up on her challenge.  I reluctantly drove to the nearby lake. I sat in my car with the windows down and the car off. I was jittery, anxious, shaking, and looking back and forth to see if anyone was spying on my ridiculousness.  I constantly checked my watch – 1 minute…2 minutes…4 minutes…7 minutes…and right around 10 minutes, something happened. My breath slowed and my anxious thoughts ceased. I hadn’t known this feeling since sitting on top of our boat on the Amazon years before. It was a feeling I didn’t know I had left behind but now realized how much I missed it. More than that, it WASN’T silence I was looking for after all. It was something deeper and more fulfilling.

Peace.

Now, as a middle-aged mom of four, peace and quiet doesn’t happen often. But I search it out. In fact, I’m convinced now that true peace may be the most undervalued gift we can have. And true peace only comes from God. His Spirit is known to have filled His people with peace. His Son is known as the Prince of Peace. In fact, Jesus is our peace! (Ephesians 2:14)

“These things I have spoken to you while remaining with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.”

John 14:25-27

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

About the Writer:

Rachel grew up ministering on a boat on the Amazon in Brazil where she was a missionary kid.  Rachel is married to Alessandro, homeschools their four children, and loves serving in various ministries through First Baptist Dallas.

Just When You Think It’s Over . . . Suddenly

A beautiful Thursday morning dawned as the ship set out on a journey with a desired destination. The waters were calm and the sky blue as the vessel commenced leaving the harbor. Yet, many hours into the voyage, the ship encountered a fierce storm, rapidly turning the once-secure journey into a perilous one.   

By nightfall, intensifying winds strengthened the storm. Beaten and battered by the waves, the vessel began to lose control. The sky was now black and the fog so thick one could barely see what lay ahead.

As the hours drifted slowly by and the ship was caught up and driven by the wind, the precarious scene began to depict hopelessness. By this time, the captain had abandoned all hope. However, what appeared to be the end of a journey was about to be met by divine intervention.

Way into the night, the captain of the ship spotted a bright light piercing the fog. The light was the beam from a lighthouse that stood beautifully on a nearby shore. The only thing the captain could see was the ray of light as he fought fiercely to gain control of the wheel. After securing control, he steered the ship toward the beam until he reached the safety of the shore.

Due to the effects of the storm, the captain could not envision a shoreline or even a lighthouse to lead the ship to a safe harbor. For a period, the captain listened more to the tempest cries than to any utterances of hope.   

We, too, have been on that same ship at one time or another in our lives—a ship tossed and turned by the waves of a troubling storm—a scene depicting hopelessness versus victory. Recently, for a moment, I was in that ship. I was on a journey in which I felt secure and I thought was heading in a certain direction. All of a sudden, it took an unanticipated turn, and before I knew it, I was caught up in the strength of that storm.  

After days of being tossed by the effects of the tempest, I stepped into my closet, sat down on the floor, and cried out to God. Questions began to flow to the Lord as confusion was attempting to trample out my faith. Had I heard wrong from God? Suddenly, a ray of a light beaming through a very thick fog of uncertainty illuminated my heart revealing a particular passage of Scripture. The light was none other than God’s personal Word to my situation.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

On this day, I was reminded that God is faithful to His promises, as well as to His child. No storm or thick fog ceases His promises from being brought to fruition. God’s Word was the piercing ray of hope that safely led me to a safe harbor of renewed faith and unshakeable hope.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

About the Writer:

O’Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She is the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min at Southwestern in Family Ministries.

It’s Not About the Masses – But About the One!

Years ago, the Lord called a woman into full-time Christian ministry. He placed her in a particular setting where He wanted her to minister. Developing projects for the local church was her love, as well as writing, which she enjoyed immensely.

One day, the lady’s focus began to shift. She began to doubt if what she was doing was even making a difference. She had worked tirelessly on countless assignments, while seemingly impacting only a few people.

Finally, this disheartened woman went before the Lord in prayer. The lady reminded God on this day that He had called many people to ministry and was using them to reach thousands-upon- thousands of people. With the few individuals she seemed to be reaching, the woman wondered if the continued effort was worth it. She even began to doubt her usefulness to the Lord. Out of desperation, the lady posed a question to God: “What can I bring to the table?” Discouragement clouded her call, as well as the Lord’s overall mission for her life.  As the lady continued spending time with the Lord, a long-ago story quickly came to her mind. The story reminded her of God’s love—not only for the masses, but, also, for the one.  

The Star-fish Story

“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, ‘It makes a difference for this one.’ I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
Loren Eiseley

After reading the story, the lady knew God was ministering to her heart, while reminding her that she was making a difference—one person at a time. Afterwards, she picked up her computer to check her emails. To her surprise, she had received a message that would echo what God was teaching her on this day. The email stated: “Thank you for writing to encourage so many that needed to hear this, including me.” As the lady pondered over the email, she became fixated on the statement, “including me.”

On this day, she became encouraged by a powerful message God was presenting to her: It is not about the masses, but about the one! For when you reach the one, that one will reach another one,  and these “ones” will become the masses.

In John, chapter one, we read a powerful story of how Jesus reached the people.  

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?’ He *said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter.) John 1:35-42 NASB 

Notice: “He found first his own brother Simon.” Simon was one person, yet look how God used him to reach the masses.

The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’  John 1:43-45

Notice: “Philip found Nathanael.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!’ 48Nathanael *said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’” John 1:47-48 

Notice: “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Truths to Remember: God cares as much for “the one” as He does for “the masses.” Let us set our minds on following Jesus—finding those Simons, those Philips, those Nathanaels—one person at a time. Do not get caught up in the masses, but instead in the oneor the few—to whom God has entrusted you to minister and share about Christ.

About the Writer:

O’Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She is the Executive Director of Entrusted Hope Ministries where she loves serving through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, O’Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her D.Ed.Min at Southwestern in Family Ministries.

Look! In the Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s . . . A UFO?

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called 

Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. . . . 

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written,

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Revelation 19:11,16

In recent days there has been a spate of sightings of what most people refer to as UFOs, Unidentified Flying Objects, and a renewed interest in speculation as to what these objects are and where they originated. I am reminded of the old sci-fi movies of my childhood such as “War of the Worlds,” “The Thing,” “Them,” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” I also faithfully watched “Flash Gordon” on TV, streaming along through space in his “cardboard” space ship and spending a great amount of time on Mars dealing with Emperor Ming and all of his minions who were always planning to attack Earth! And, of course, the story of Superman is an enduring one, even still providing material for a TV series being presented currently! Along with everyone else, I was fascinated by these fictitious tales and was often terrified by some of the dangerous monsters I saw on the screen. 

There are folks who spend their whole careers delving into everything that is “known” about UFOs, as well as crop circles and good old Bigfoot! Personally, I believe these endeavors to be somewhat a waste of time and money because I tend to believe that all of these sightings can be attributed to scientific, natural occurrences having nothing to do with alien beings traveling for billions of miles to come to our world just to take a look around. I guess Bigfoot wouldn’t have to travel so far since he has always been “spotted” in the forests on our own planet.

I am definitely not a scientist, so I cannot produce any kind of proof of the nonexistence of extraterrestrials. In fact, I know that our God is so powerful that He can do anything He chooses to do. He could certainly create a whole order of beings different from us and place them on any of the many planets in the galaxy. So if there is a possibility that there are actually sentient beings scattered around the universe, popping in from time to time to check us out, what makes people assume that they are a “higher order” than human beings? After all, God created Adam in His own image from the dust of the ground. What could be better than that? Nowhere in Scripture do we find recorded that God created any other group of “people” who do not inhabit our world. I realize that the absence of such an account does not mean that it didn’t happen, but I just don’t think so. Another reason for my humble opinion is that Jesus is the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, totally righteous, holy, pure, without sin of any kind. He is the only one who could have shed His blood as an atonement for the sins of humanity. Please note: He is the ONLY ONE! That is a definitive statement from John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

If those poor creatures actually living in outer space have ever done anything wrong, then how would they know how to be saved? How would they know how to trust Jesus for forgiveness for their sins? Or are we to believe that there is somehow a race of sinless beings “out there?” If that were the case, then we would have nothing to fear from them. On the contrary, we would expect them to be kind and benevolent, wanting to make our world a better place, don’t you think? The fact is that whether or not there are alien beings cruising around in our atmosphere, there is absolutely not one thing I can do about it! And I am convinced that I merely have to trust God to take care of that situation. I refuse to run to and fro in a panic about these things that are so far unidentified. 

Here’s the thing. People can spend their whole lives speculating about these happenings and worrying about what they mean and preparing for the eventuality that somehow they would have to deal with them. But of much greater importance is what the Bible says about another celestial event that will happen in the future, the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in triumphant power in the sky to defeat Satan and his followers once and for all and reclaim the earth for Himself. On that day, it won’t matter what conclusions people have drawn regarding outer space visitors. The only thing that will matter is how they can answer this question: 

“What did you decide regarding Jesus of Nazareth?” 

The only acceptable answer will be that they have trusted Jesus as Savior, believing in Him as the Son of the living God, the one who shed His blood for the sins of the world, not merely collectively but individually. And that includes you and me and everyone else who has ever lived. So don’t be overly concerned about the answers to some of the questions that are disturbing to other people. Be concerned about your eternal soul and the only one who can guarantee that you will have eternal life, right here and now!

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but through Me.’” John 14:6

And Heaven opened . . . .

About the Writer:

Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans, who call her “Gigi”.

Fact Checker

Imagine you’re taking an exam, and it’s a big one, heavily weighted, and the stakes are high. Thankfully, the exam is “open book.” Your instructor has told you to use your textbook as it has all the answers you will need to be successful. The instructor then leaves the room as the exam begins. 

Suddenly, someone enters the room and states he’s taken this exam before and can give you all the answers.   

As you move through the exam, you begin to question his answers because they do not correspond with what you remember learning. You start to notice a feeling deep inside that something just isn’t quite right. Your textbook is still available on your desk. So, do you check his answers against the textbook your instructor has told you to use, or do you decide to trust this person instead? If you decide to check his answers with your textbook, you will find that his answers are actually…false.

Ironically, our very existence on this earth is much like a heavily weighted exam, but the stakes are the highest-of-high, our eternal destination! Thankfully, the Exam of Life is open-book, and our Instructor (the Lord) has given us a textbook (the Bible) which contains all the answers we need to know. 

Also, as in this scenario, there is someone (Satan) trying to tell us the wrong answers.

 “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his trickery, your minds will be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, this you tolerate very well!” 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Paul was warning of false teachers who were apparently teaching a “different Jesus” and a “different gospel” to the members of the church in Corinth. The congregation there seemed to be trusting these guys over their textbooks, the Scriptures (their Bible during that period). 

Messages that are either contradictory or not found in the inspired Word of God are spread by false teachers who are being led by Satan. In 1 John 4:1 the Bible says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Believing in something outside what God has said in His Word can have detrimental consequences. 

Satan is crafty. A common tactic of our enemy is to take an idea that seems righteous on the surface, but when the layers are peeled back, a flawed concept is revealed. 

See if you can spot the major flaw in this statement: “Life has purpose and meaning. God, our loving Father, wants us to find happiness.”

Well, isn’t that sweet? But it’s wrong. This concept is not found in the Bible. 

But wait! It has the words “God” and “Father” in it! And they are even capitalized! Alas, despite the utilization of “Christian” buzzwords and correct grammar usage, it’s still wrong. 

God truly is loving, and our lives do have a purpose, yet that purpose is not to find happiness as this statement implies. Our purpose is to glorify God by doing all that Jesus commands us which is primarily to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20a

“Find happiness” is a not the same as “go and make disciples.” Despite being vastly different concepts, the flaw was craftily subtle, wasn’t it?  In fact, it was so subtle that if you did not open your Textbook to check that answer, you would probably miss it. 

We must analyze all statements with what God says in His Word to prove their validity. The Bible is our textbook, and all things must be measured against it.  God has mercifully provided it for us to find all the answers we need to be successful in the Exam of Life. 


About the Writer:

Natalie is primarily a stay-at-home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. Natalie is on the teaching team for Women’s Bible Study at First Baptist Dallas, and she and her husband, Paul, are members there. Natalie is also a member of the SEEN Collective, a musical group that tells the stories of the women of the Bible through song and leads worship. Visit www.seen-collective.com to find out more.

 [PM1]And a “different gospel” [PM1]