Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fear: Terrorism of the Mind

It is no secret.  We live in perilous times.  Twice this year Ann and I have participated in church services where intense personalities and intense moments precipitated the need for  weapons to be pulled and placed in the pew beside their owners.  In neither case, praise the Lord, did the weapons have to be used, but having been in the room observing the circumstances, there was a distinct urgency and likelihood that force could have been needed for the protection of innocent church goers.  It's amazing the difference eight years can make.  That happens to be how long I've been at Downing Ministries.

When I first came to work here, the thought never crossed my mind that on any given Sunday I might be the only person standing between an intruder with deadly force and hundreds of unarmed worshipers.  The reality is, due to the typical placement of sound equipment, I'm usually closest to the entrance or up in a balcony where I can oversee everything happening below.  I'd be lying if I said I don't survey my surroundings for items light enough for me to propel toward a target but heavy enough to inflict an injury that could buy precious seconds.

I'm not sharing this to get into a debate about 2nd amendment rights.  If you go there, you're taking my words out of context and twisting my stated intent.  I'm sharing this to let you know that Christianity isn't just under attack in Asia and the Middle East.  Christianity is under attack on every continent, in every country, in every kingdom and municipality across the globe.  This includes your town... your very home.  Why?   Because Satan is real and is working to kill as many God-followers as possible so the message of the Gospel can't be spread to a world in dire need of its hope.

Th word "kill" implies mortality, the certainty of death, but did you realize that you don't have to be physically dead in order to be a dead Christian?  If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, He makes it clear in John 15 that pruning is going to take place.  Satan knows this, and not only is he real; he's the original terrorist.  His motto could be "Terrorizing minds since before Christ's birth," and for once, he'd be telling the truth!  Don't believe me?

Have you or someone you've known experienced the fear of being ostracized for not going along with societal norms?  The fear of being targeted as a hypocrite and hate-monger for standing firm in your scriptural beliefs?  Do you shy away from conversations about controversial subjects out of fear for who might hear, read, or have something to say about what you believe?  It's all terrorism of the mind, and I assure you it is inflicted by Satan.  He is, after all, the author of fear.  It is my belief that denying what I know to be true about God's Word is the same as denying Christ himself.  Come what may, I pray that I'm one the Lord can count faithful in standing firm until He comes.  While I'm aware of the seemingly new dangers that come with my work, I refuse to become paralyzed by the fear Satan wants to use to control my mind and behavior.

Compromise has its place, but don't be fooled into dying on the vine.  Satan would love nothing more than to see you pruned away.  And when you think of it, please be praying for churches all across the world, and I ask that you pray especially for people like Ann and me who do not always have the benefit of knowing a lot about the areas where we're called.  We go knowing only that He's said "go" and that with His guidance, protection, and the gift of common sense, we'll be kept safe as we carry the truth about Jesus and His love through song, and though imperfect, through example.

Written by:  Karissa Petty

Saturday, August 6, 2016

To Know He Hears

I can remember as a kid, I’d often try to get Mama’s attention, which wasn’t an easy task; she was always focused on whatever she was doing at the time.  Mama had a strong work ethic, and when she was in the middle of a project, she didn’t have much time for anything else.  I’d say, “Mama” and a lot of times hear nothing back.  So I’d say it again, “Mama!” The second time I always added a little more gusto.  She may not turn towards me, but she’d always say “What do you want?”  She just knew that I “wanted” something if I called out to her.  To tell the truth, just the fact that she acknowledged me was enough, really.  But of course, if she felt it was something she needed to do or listen to, she’d tune me in.

A lot of times we think He doesn’t hear us the first time, so we ramp it up a little and call out again.  Of course we believe it when He says in His Word that His ear is always open to us.  Sometimes we need to hear, “What do you want?” and it’s enough just to know that He’s listening.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It's Simple: The Lord Provides

Guest blogger this week:  Karissa

​I'm not going to get into anything majorly complicated... no deep theological truths except to say that the Lord provides.  Now that everyone has collectively said, "well, duh."  Moving right along.

June was a ridiculous month here at Downing Ministries.  The van was in the shop twice totaling almost $2,000 in repairs, my GPS went out, my cell phone croaked, my computer had to be replaced because of a $3 part, and we would typically have 12 or more concerts / events scheduled in a given month... no, not June 2016.  How many did we have?  3.  T-H-R-E-E.  Tres.  Trois.  As in 4-1.  I'll say it again; June was ridiculous.

To be honest with you, there is no way we should have pulled through the slump.  On paper, it absolutely doesn't add up.  Been there?  We had some wonderful friends of this ministry who stepped up in a big way.  You know who you are, and I thank you ever so sincerely.  Even so, things still didn't add up.  So what makes it work?

Ann and I are both firm believers in God's economy.  The Bible says we should tithe 10% of the first fruits back to the Kingdom.  Obviously, your pastor doesn't need bushels of wheat, 3 fatted calves, and a peck of corn these days.  So what do we do?  We tithe the first fruits of our labor in the form we receive them today... dollars.

I'm not telling You that if you give 10% to God that you'll automatically be without debt and accidentally strike gold while mowing your lawn, but if you give out of an abundance of gratitude for what He's provided and out of a heart that yearns to be obedient, You'll be amazed how many times God will prove that with Him there is no such thing as an impossibility.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Seeing the Unseen

I’ve always been grateful that God planned for me to be a singer all of my days.  Well, as long as I have a voice that can be tolerated :).  When considering careers, I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I believe that’s because singing is my calling.  May I add that I don’t think I’ve ever taken that lightly.
Coming with that career/calling is quite a bit of uncertainty.  During the month of June, Karissa and I worked 3 scheduled dates.  Typically, there would have been at least 10 – 12.  Of course, that didn’t mean that the ministry was on hold.  There are always dozens of things to be done here at home in order for the ministry to continue; however, you know that income for the ministry comes from being “out there.” 
Needless to say, these are the times of trusting in HIS provision and not trusting what’s in the bank account.  Have you been there?  You may have been quicker to remember and trust His promises than I usually am.  If you’re in that place right now, the time of not seeing with your physical eyes, will you join me in seeking out the faith He’s already given us to believe when we can’t see?  If we seek Him, we will find Him…He’s already given us our faith!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

LIFE... The Perfect Birthday Gift

I’ve just had another birthday…and I say “Yeaaaaaaaaa…I’m still here!”
Seriously, God help me please to always be grateful for yet another day.  On those worst days, they are a big deal…life is precious.  As long as God is alive, so am I…..HE SAID THAT! 
I have a good friend, AnnieB, who each year, in referring to my birthday, says she wants me to have a birthday present from her in honor of my Mama for giving me birth.  Now, that’s a special “gift” indeed!
I want to purpose this next year to give my life as a gift to Jesus…He gave me my second birth.  I am alive physically because of Mama….am alive spiritually because of Jesus.  Now….THAT’S LIFE!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Life Happens. God Prevails.

We’ve all heard and used (I'm sure!) the phrase, “When it rains it pours.”  We're usually referring to the onslaught of challenges, frustrations, and aggravations we've come to term as "attacks on our daily lives"... and they are!

Remember the little girl on the box of salt who is standing under her umbrella?   She reminds  me of what we must look like when the world rains heavily on our parade.   We’re trying to protect ourselves from all the things that force us to our knees seeking God’s mercy to help us get through the day. 

To be honest, today has been one of those "seeking" days for ADM.  I'm thankful our Father reminded me of a verse I memorized from the King James Version a long time ago, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him”.  Isaiah 59:19b

I’m thinking that the “flood” of challenges that have entered our lives today can’t hold a candle to HIS standard against them.  As I type this, an old quartet song rings in my ear…”Believing is what really counts, and faith unlocks the door”. 

Let’s choose, right now, to live in that kind of faith... the kind that believes in His standard against the enemy.  If we practice it now, I have a hunch our responses to the inevitable future onslaughts will be markedly improved!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Life Lessons from a Lawn Mower

Yesterday, as I sat quietly inside working away at the daily business of Downing Ministries, I heard the buzz of lawn mowers off in the distance, a typical sound for Wednesday, and continued on with the task at hand.  Suddenly, I was jolted from concentration by a very hard something that bounced off some part of the house; thankfully, not a window!  The mowing never stopped, and I'm still not 100% sure what got flung or where or what it hit.  I only know that it most definitely did!

As I gathered myself and determined that there was no way to know if the flying object hit my house, the neighbors house, or if it even hit a house at all, the thought occurred to me that life is a lot like the act of mowing.  The person doing the mowing pushes or rides the machine all over the place basically oblivious to the consequences of their actions, except for the shorter grass which is their intended goal.  In this example, think of mowing as decision making.  We all know individuals who make choices and decisions based on what they feel at the moment with only their agenda and their wants in mind.  They run over, chop down, sling, fling, break, crack, chip or otherwise mar relationships, other people's confidence, careers, dreams, and in some cases physical bodies, with no regard for the affect their behaviors and choices have on those closest to them.  Just like the lawn mower throwing rocks or debris, there are consequences to poor choices and bad decisions.  Unfortunately, those often reach far beyond the decision maker him or herself.

Proverbs 17:6 says, "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers."  Insert whatever is appropriate for in your case... "The glory of the employees is their boss."  "The glory of the wife is her husband."  "The glory of church parishioners is their pastor." "The glory of the students is their teacher."  The list of associations is endless, but one truth runs parallel through them all; if we're walking through life oblivious to how our decisions affect everyone else, we're not going to be anybody's glory and will surely fall well short of Luke 6:31.  "Do to others what you would have them do to you."