Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Don't Be Afraid. I Am Here!"

Psalm 119:77 (MSG)
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;  Your revelation is the tune I dance to.

Over 10,000 people came together to support and stand with the Owens Family.
The candlelight vigil on Saturday was incredible as over 10,000 people lined the street on a cold February night to let the family of Hailey Owens know that as a community we are standing with them during this heartbreak.  The show of support for this family has been overwhelming!  There were no reports of any invasions from disruptive groups, although they could have been there and they would have been suffocated by the light.  Light does that you know?  When you enter a dark room and turn on a light...the darkness is no longer present.   

Last night was the visitation service for Hailey and today is her funeral.  As the sun was setting over the streets of Springfield, the sky turned to a beautiful pink and purple.  Amazingly beautiful.  I will never understand the actions of evil men.  I will never comprehend their vile plans, but I will chose to focus on the goodness that surrounds us each day.  The bright hearts of people from all over the world and in this community have confirmed to me this week that the light of Christ in this world is most certainly brighter than any darkness that will attempt to invade us. 

This was the sunset over Springfield last night.
It was a gorgeous pink and a lot of us have been
wearing this week in remembrance of Hailey.
(Thank you Sherry Brock for this photo.)

Matthew 14:27 (NLT)"Don't be afraid," He said.  "Take courage.  I am here!"

We worship and adore You today!
You are the Creator of all good.
You are the Giver of Life.
We will praise You in our situations
and stand firm in You.  Continue to
shine Your beauty and color into the lives
of this family and each one reading this
today.  Help us to feel Your presence,
because we believe that "You are here!"
In Jesus Name,

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Testing My Resolve........

Psalm 119:75 I can see now, God, that Your decisions are right;  Your testing has taught me what's true and right.

There is a rumor that a supposed "church" is coming to Springfield tonight to "picket" against our community's Candle Light Vigil that has been designed to show support to the family and friends of Hailey Owens.  These people obviously have another agenda and it sort of makes me want to vomit.  To think that a group would attempt to use the platform of an innocent girl's memorial as a mouthpiece for their hatred, churns my stomach and brings about feelings of anger. 

I suppose, as with many circumstances in life, rather than just get mad and stop there, I need to chose to use this as an opportunity to be taught some important lessons of truth and righteousness from a loving Savior, as these words from Psalm 119:75 describe.  These types of situations are exactly the ones that, if I yield to Him, will grow within me a deeper dependence upon the Holy Spirit and will be evident in the fruit I bear.  Once again, I am reminded that what I do with my emotions is what truly my anger...I shouldn't sin.

I was blessed to read Pastor Kevin Carson's blog post on this very subject.  He is the senior pastor of Sonrise Baptist in Ozark, MO.  I am leaving you the link to his post, because he gives a tangibly practical description of how a Christ follower needs to respond tonight if and when we are confronted with any negativity.  Pastor Kevin's description of "determined kindness" with the humble response of Christ is, in fact, exactly what I needed to hear at this point in time!  If you have a few minutes to read his words, I know you will be as blessed as I was. 

Pastor Kevin's post is titled:  "What Do You Do When Westboro Shows Up At Your Memorial?"  (Click here to read the post.)

May Your protection be upon each and every person who participates this evening.  May Hailey's family and friends feel Your hand of love extended to them tonight through this visible show of support.
In Christ's Name,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In Honor of Hailey Owens....

Psalm 119:76(MSG)
Oh, love me--and right now--hold me tight--just the way You promised!

If you've been anywhere within ear shot of a media outlet over the past 36 hours, then you know about the devastating loss of a sweet young girl from our community by the name of Hailey Owens.  She was abducted from a Springfield neighborhood, less than 48 hours ago on a warm sunny afternoon as she walked care freely down her street, only to be found dead a few hours later.   (Click here to read complete story.)  Many people were desperately looking...praying...and hoping beyond all hope that she would be found unharmed.  Unfortunately, that was not the outcome.

As I sat across from my parents this morning while sipping a warm cup of coffee and visiting with them, I watched my 77 year old mother and my 80 year old father's eyes begin filling with tears.  They wanted to talk about Hailey and try to process what has happened right here in our midst.  I think they represent many of us in our town today, as we try to wrap our minds around this tragedy.

Details are flooding in listing the heroic efforts from bystanders, first responders, police and rescue personnel as they attempted to stop this heinous crime.  One gentleman near the scene, giving no thought for his own safety, jumped into his car and gave chase at a speed in excess of 55mph in a failed attempt to return this child to her home.  What a selfless act of love and bravery!    

The emotions that we are feeling over her loss are raw and uncensored.  Facebook and Twitter are lit up with a myriad of responses ranging from anger, confusion, and outrage to distraction and an overwhelming sense of grief.  Reporters, police, witnesses, and even the prosecutor himself, became choked up during their reporting of the facts surrounding the story.  The people of Springfield are mourning the death of an innocent little girl that most of us never even met, but, because her eyes are seen in our own children everyday, we can't and won't forget little Hailey's bright light.  Last night, all over Springfield, porch lights were lit in an effort to show a sea of support and loving kindness to Hailey's family.  The people here are just wanting to do let her precious family know that, while we cannot possibly understand what they are going through, we are standing with them.

This rose is for Hailey Owens' family.
The tears are flowing...
but we will keep our light bright for you
in honor your sweet baby girl.
The family described Hailey as a joyful and smiling little girl who loved to cheer people up when they were down.  She brought light and laughter to every situation.  Her life was a gift and a unique blessing to all those that knew her. 
I wish I could have met her, but sense I didn't, I will choose to see her in every little innocent life that I come in contact with in the coming months.  If I could talk to the family of little Hailey, today, I would say, "I am so sorry that you are suffering because of one person's madness.  I am sorry that we live in a sinful place that has fallen so far from what the Lord designed it to be." 

The world can be a dark place where many do not understand the sanctity of a human life nor the profound impact that their horrendous choices will have on those around them.  But, what shall we do then?  Give up?  No.  No we can't and we won't give up shining our light in a dark and terrifying world.  The light of Christ and His love is brightly burning and we must not let it go out. 

If you are in the Springfield area, there will be a candle light vigil for Hailey this Saturday evening to show our love and dedicated support to this beautiful family(Click here for details.) 

I will never understand the sinful evil actions that have led to the death of one of Your cherished kids.  I know that this was not Your perfect plan for her life.  I guess it isn't even my place to try to figure it all out.  It is my prayer today that You will hold Hailey's family tight in Your the verse above states....and give them Your promises of peace and comfort now and every single day, until they can see and hold her again.
In Jesus Name~

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Review: Angelguard (The Angelguard Trilogy) by Ian Acheson

Angelguard by Ian Acheson is an action packed thriller with a large cast of colorful characters!  Imagine for a moment the convergence of a novel by Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Frank E. Peretii and CS Lewis.  After having that thought in your mind, you now have a sense for what you will experience when you read Angelguard.  Don't miss this novel!
Angelguard is filled with suspense
and intrigue front to back!
From the front cover with those menacing eyes, to the final page,  Angelguard had me on high alert with anticipation.  The author, Ian Acheson, skillfully writes an intricately woven story of good verses evil with endearing human characters challenging a multilevel ring of worldwide corruption.  Meanwhile, in the unseen spiritual dimension, the battle between angels and demons rage, as each side vies for the life of the souls within the cast.

From the very first chapter of this book to it's completion, I found myself absorbed in the action and completely connected to the relational characters.  The additional layer of descriptively imaginative angelic and demonic involvement brought a level of discomfort that, if we could see beyond the vale, might be closer to reality than we realize or care to acknowledge.  The author's attention to detail and superior ability to orchestrate so many stories within the main plot is to be commended.  He even supplies a comprehensive list of each of the character's names and connections at the beginning of the book to assist the reader in following all the pivotal twists and turns.  I must confess that I had to utilize this directory a time or two to remind myself who was who! 

Angelguard by Ian Acheson is a book that affects you in a positive manner beyond the completion of reading it.  The model of a praying, faith filled Christian is displayed frequently within this book.  The author steers us to respond to the emotional obstacles of grief, fear, confusion, and other seemingly insurmountable roadblocks with the simple act of prayer.  His penning of many conversations between the Lord and the main characters as they face challenges throughout the novel is beautifully moving and could be instrumental in strengthening or even creating a walk with Christ.  The tangible warmth and sense of protection that is felt through the description of the active presence of angel's in our lives is undeniable.  

Angelguard  is a wonderful novel debut by Ian Acheson.  The action, mystery, suspense, and emotional roller coaster ride he takes the reader on is exhilarating!  The incorporation of spiritual training in prayer, salvation, consistency, and faith cannot be understated.  I would highly recommend this book and am anxiously awaiting the release of his next book in the series:  Wrestling with Shadows.  Ian Acheson can be found on Twitter at:  @achesonian.