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The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. Habakkuk 1:5

20151017_152407A friend tells the story of his encounter with a bear one fall day. He’d gone to his hunting land and walked the quarter mile trail into the forest. He climbed his stand and sat quietly waiting and watching for a deer. He made mental notes of which shooting lanes should be trimmed.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of rustling leaves. At first he thought it was a deer, but quickly decided the sound was too loud for a deer. It sounded more like human feet and this angered him. The land was clearly marked as private property and with NO TRESPASSING signs. It was approaching dusk, so he decided it was a good time to climb down, confront the intruder and head home.

He stood up and saw a dark form approaching his tree. This was the noise maker. This was the ‘intruder’. However, he immediately decided confrontation would not be wise since the trespasser was a black bear that he estimated to be 500 pounds! He hollered at the bear hoping to scare if off but the opposite happened. The bear got closer to the tree and once at the bottom decided to climb up and investigate this noise-maker!

Needless to say, my friend was terrified as the huge bear began to climb the tree effortlessly. His screaming grew more intense and he began to jump on the floor of his stand hoping to make as much noise as possible. Whether it was the noise, disinterest of the prayers being offered up in fear we’ll never know. But just below the stand the bear decided he’d had enough. He lowered himself down the tree and wandered into the woods.

My friend made record time getting down the tree and back to his car!

There are times in each of our lives when we may feel trapped by our circumstances. Like my friend we come face to face with things in our lives we aren’t prepared for and seem way beyond our ability to conquer. It’s during those times we need to remember who we serve.

The prophet Habakkuk served Israel during a time of national despair. The enemy surrounded them and they were without hope. It was during this dark hour that God spoke to him, as he does today. “Don’t be afraid! Wait to see what I have in store! Your enemy will be completely subdued by my power” (my paraphrase, obviously).

The military has a doctrine they refer to as shock and awe. Simply put, Shock and Awe is defined as “the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.”

Whatever enemy is attacking you; whatever fear is rising up within you, remember this. We serve a God who will one day conquer our enemies. They will be so overwhelmed by what they see that their will to fight will be destroyed and they will bow their knee in submission.

Don’t fear the one who can take your life. Align yourself with the one who determines the destiny of your soul.

PRAYER: Father God, creator of heaven and earth. There are those who threaten to destroy us. There are those who seek to weaken our resolve to rely on you. Help us, through the power of your Spirit to rest in the fact that one day you will reign over evil. Until then, keep our minds stayed on you and our hearts at peace. Amen.


Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Many years ago I Proverbs 10 12was playing on a church softball team. It was our first year playing in the league and we weren’t very good. Most of our players were young teens, some had never really played ball.

One week we were playing one of the better teams in the league and, as expected, it wasn’t much of a game. On one particular play a rather large woman on the other team was running from first to second. Our second base-person, a small 12-year-old girl, was just getting ready to catch the ball and make the play at the base when she was completely flattened by the base runner, jarring the ball loose so that she arrived safely on base. Fair play? Yes. Appropriate under the conditions, I thought not.

I went out to help the girl up and make sure she was okay. As I left I had a few choice, not exactly Christian, words for the base runner who was now standing smugly on base. The guy who was with me grabbed my arm and helped me off the field as the woman said “Hey, it was her fault. She was in the baseline.”

I stood in the dugout seething about the dangerous play and smug attitude of the base-runner until a small voice inside reminded me that ‘Hatred stirs up dissension’. My anger turned to conviction for my words and as the inning ended I headed out to the field. I took a slight side trip and walked by the opposing dugout, not to get a parting shot, but to apologize to Joyce, the base-runner.

The next day at work I was talking with a friend of mine who happened to have been playing on the other team the night before. In the course of our conversation he chuckled and said “Boy, you really sent Joyce spinning last night.”

I asked what he meant and he explained that Joyce didn’t have much respect from anyone on the team. They were all angry with her behavior the night before and she had done similar things in other games. But after I apologized for my outburst she walked around the rest of the game asking ‘Why did he say that?’ ‘Why did he apologize.’

My words of apology had sent a message far deeper into her soul than the outburst I’d sent her way earlier.

There are always going to be people in our lives that hurt us. There will always be those who betray us, lie to us and in some way abuse us. When we’ve been wronged the easy way out is to become angry, defensive and full of hate. The healthy way out is to practice forbearance. By definition forbearance means to have patience, self-control, restraint and tolerance. Forbearance doesn’t mean I agree with the way you are. It doesn’t mean I’ll trust you again. It doesn’t mean what you did doesn’t matter.

What forbearance does mean is that in the name of love I will forgive you. Forgiveness is for the benefit of the one wronged, not the perpetrator of the hurt. In other words, I forgive you for what you did to me so I can be healthy.

Forbearance can’t be practiced effectively without help from the Holy Spirit of God. When we are in tune with our Heavenly Father; when we live in recognition of the pain he bore, the patience he has with us; the power we have available to us through his Spirit, then, and only then can we live at peace with those who we don’t agree with or oppose us.

May each of us learn to daily live in the power of forbearance!

PRAYER: Father God, I pray for those of us who are living under the weight of abuse and hurt. I ask that through the power of your Spirit we may be able to be patient with those who fail us; live a life of self-control when we’d rather lash out; and live in tolerance of those who have different beliefs than ours. In a word, Lord, help us to live in a way that your unconditional love will shine out to others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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